Saturday, June 21, 2008

5 days post-op

I have been really touched by the number of well-wishing emails and cards, and flowers, that I have received from friends and family following the news of my surgery. Thanks, everyone! It significantly boosted my spirits.

So, here we are 5 days post-op. I'm feeling much better. While I can't say that my abdominal pain has gone away--I traded the dull but constant pain for a more biting variety around the incision--I am much more mobile than I was a few days ago. I can go up and down the stairs. Thank God, because I was really going stir-crazy being confined to the upstairs for a few days. And, I can even manoeuver in and out of bed now with greater ease, which is great because I can't tolerate lying in my bed and listening to Jonas cry in the other room. I have to hobble my way in there, even if I can't do much for him. (My mom is taking good care of him in the middle of the night.) Going from standing to lying down is still the hardest thing to do, but it is getting better, less painful. I just have to be careful to not overdo it now. I start to show a little bravado after I get a few painkillers in me, (I mean, I feel so good!) but as they subside, suddenly I find myself tired and slow and needing to rest awhile again.

On Thursday I was allowed to remove the bandage and take a shower. Thank God, for the shower. The bandage was another story. I was scared to lift it up, fearful i suppose, that I would find a crusty Frankenstein-like track of stitches. It took me a good 10 minutes to peel back the layers of bandage, one at a time, until at last all that was left were a couple of strips of tape (?) that were pressed over a line of black stitches. The strips look like that kind of tape that's often used in mailing packages. You know the cream-colored tape that has little lines in it? I always loved the smell of that tape. How do they get it to smell like that? oops, straying off topic a bit. My abdomen is still pretty swollen. It looks like it did 3 weeks post-partum. Sigh. I'm not lovin' that. The area around the incision is kind of hard. All in all though, it looks better than I thought it would.

I heard back from the surgeon today about the pathology report. Remember that they found a benign tumor? Well, first it was a hernia (according to the CT scan); then no hernia, just a growth; and now a hernia again. Say what? Yeah, so get this. Now, I'm going to try to get this right. No guarantees on accuracy since I don't have the report in hand. It appears that I actually did have a hernia near my navel at one point in time, most likely caused during my pregnancy. A piece of tissue (more precisely the omentum, which is a layer of fat that covers your intestines, not be be confused with belly fat) came up into the opening. After the pregnancy, when my rotund stomach went down, the hernia closed and the tissue became "incarcerated" as they say, i.e. stuck. Blood flow was cut off and I believe at that point the incarcerated piece of omentum began to decay. All I know is that report used a word containing "necrosis" in it. They found this little gem when they went in there on Tuesday, removed it and closed me up with mesh as though I had a hernia (they had to go through the abdominal wall in the end, anyway).

I am fortunate that I got this thing taken care of when I did, as it could have turned into quite a nasty infection if left unattended. Who would have known? There is one weird thing that I keep thinking about. During my last trimester, I complained often about the pain in my umbilical area. There was a ring about 2-3 inches in diameter around my navel that was extremely sensitive and felt like it was stretched so thin that I was just waiting for Jonas to bust out, like a chick out of an egg. Everyone kept telling me that as totally normal. Now, I wonder if that is when this all happened, or at least if it was the beginning of everything.

Well, it's all water over the bridge now. Baby's out, tumor's out, hernia's closed and I can finally get on the road to a FULL recovery! I don't want to see another hospital for a LEAST a few more years. :-)

Wish me luck. And, thanks again for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I'm blessed to have such great friends and a terrific family.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Three months!

"Three months" isn't totally inaccurate. Technically speaking, Jonas is a week shy of four months, but so much time has passed since my last update that I thought the three month mark was a good place to start.

It hasn't been easy finding a lot of time to post updates since I've gone back to work. I've taken lots of photos, and I often think of content for the next blog entry while I'm driving to work or walking the dog, but sitting down and actually getting it keyed into blogger often seems outside my reach. Now that I've got a lot of time on my hands to be recuperating this is my golden opportunity to update everyone.

One of the biggest changes for Jonas and me was that I went back to work at the end of May-- three days a week, which makes it very manageable. Jonas goes to a small family operated daycare and is thriving there. He's the youngest of the crew and gets loads of attention from the "older" kids (18 mos. - 2 yrs). The first week was especially hard for me to let go of him, but I knew it was the best for all parties. By now, we've adapted and life is good.

Before my maternity leave ended, my sister came to the east coast to meet her soon to be favorite nephew. Jonas and Auntie Sarah hit it off right away. Like peanut butter and jelly. They were meant to be together.

Joe and I noticed that Jonas and Sarah share some common traits. Both are very passionate beings. And both have the hangry gene. "Hangry" is a term coined by my brother-in-law from the words "hungry" and "angry". Jonas is usually a good natured baby, but when it comes to food, he goes from zero to HYSTERICAL in less than 3 seconds. His auntie is just the same.

We reveled in several celebrations this month. There was my first Mother's Day. Ginger's 8th birthday. And Jonas' first race to attend as a spectator!

I'm holding Ginger's birthday dessert: a doggie biscuit "oreo" with a candle sandwiched in the middle. No, she didn't get to eat the candle.

Memorial Day weekend Joe raced in the Saratoga Duathlon where he took first place in his age group and placed in the top 10 overall.

It's always been Joe's dream to walk up to the podium and claim a race prize with his son. This was Joe's day. First place finishers got a pint glass and a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Look at Jonas' serious expression. ha! At three months he understands just how important it is to wear your 'game face'.

Jonas catching a few z's while Dad rode the 20 mile bike circuit.

Jonas has had a developmental explosion in the past month. We noticed that he was beginning to grasp things.

It all started with these rings that we strung up on his swing.

He couldn't reach and grasp yet, but anything that came near his hands was seized immediately by his death grip, like a venus fly trap. In just a few weeks we've watched him go from being able to hold something with only a finger or two, to wrapping his whole hand around an object. It's amazing!

He also started getting a little antsy with his seating options. The rocker was still "acceptable" sometimes, but he wanted other options than just laying around in a bouncer. So, one day I tried him in the Bumbo seat. He wasn't crazy about it but I just kept trying. At first his neck wasn't quite strong enough to sit here for any extended period of time, so I helped him.

This is him in the "early days" of the Bumbo. Doesn't he look like the football player with no neck?? The Bumbo seat supports his back, but his heavy head would knock around a bit.

Fast forward a few weeks later and he can sit up in it for tens of minutes at a time, and he LOVES it! I think he enjoys the change of perspective. He wants to look around and see what's going on.

Jonas' energy levels have also catapulted, so we need to be creative about how to tire out this kid. Sitting in the Bumbo seat is terrific because he draws on all those core muscles to support himself. He also loves to lie on the floor and reach up and play with this thing that has sesame street characters that dangle down. When he tires of that, we do exercises-- bicycling movements, rolling over, touching the hand to the opposite foot, and now his newest favorite activity-- trying to stand! If his feet merely graze the floor, he'll try to push up to a standing position. I say go for it, kid!

The last milestone that he reached this month, sad as it was for me, was that he moved into his crib. It happened as a fluke. He had fallen asleep on my lap one night while Joe and I were watching a movie. Joe put him in the crib to see what would happen. I stayed up much of the night, waiting, waiting, waiting, for him to start crying. He slept through the night! And he appeared to sleep much more soundly than he had been sleeping in the bassinet in our room. The timing worked out well because he'd gotten so big (he's 17 pounds now and who knows how long) that his feet were all but dangling over the edge of the bassinet. I was so sad at first. "Joe! This is how it all starts! One day he's moving into the crib and tomorrow he'll be moving out." Joe assured me that it wouldn't literally be tomorrow that Jonas would be moving out, and I breathed a sigh a relief.

One day at a time, that's my mantra. We've just got to enjoy each and every day with him. Just as these three months have flown by, so too will the next 18 years, I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Just when you *think* you're in the clear... SURGERY!

So here I am 3.5 months post-partum, doing great, feeling great, excited about getting back to running and about all the adventure that awaits Joe and Jonas and me... when out of nowhere I start noticing some pain on the left side of my abdomen. The location of the pain (left side) ruled out some of the more serious problems: appendix, spleen, etc. And frankly when I first noticed it, I chalked it up to a temporary little digestive issue. I had just eaten a massive quantity of lentils, and while the dish was quite tasty, perhaps it was not so wise to eat a half pound of lentils. Oh well, this will pass, I thought. But it didn't.

I had eaten the lentils on Monday, by Wednesday and Thursday I was having a lot of pain and was quite bloated. I resolved to change my eating habits through the weekend--no legumes, just fruits, veggies, a little protein and lots of water. If I still feel bad, I'll go to the internist on Monday I told myself. By Saturday, I wishing the weekend away for Monday so that I could see the doctor. From there everything happened in a whirlwind.

I got in with the internist on Monday. Had an ultrasound on Tuesday, followed by a CT scan on Wednesday and met with a surgeon on Thursday to discuss fix up the diagnosed abdominal hernia. The CT scan report indicated that a small portion of my colon was coming out through the abdominal wall. Terrific. Argh!!! Just as I was feeling so much better having a challenging birth, and had just returned to work, and now I'm going to be laid up again. Surgery was scheduled for Tuesday (yesterday). Well, what can you do? Honestly, if this is the worst of my health problems, I'm blessed to have something so easily remedied. Still, I was pretty scared. I've never had surgery.

I was so fortunate to get in with the Chief of Surgery at Albany Medical Center. I had my surgery yesterday. I was really apprehensive about the anesthesia, but they gave me several options: local (no way in hell!), local with iv sedation, a spinal (no thanks) or general. I opted for the iv sedation. I have tiny veins, I'm told, which makes any iv or blood draw a real joy ride. They started with my wrist and had to move to my middle arm. I only remember drifting off in the OR and woke up near the end of the procedure when they were bandaging me up, I think. All I know is that when I came to, I felt like people were poking and prodding a very sore abdomen.

When I came to, Joe and Mom told me that it turned out it was not a hernia after all. Apparently, I had some kind of growth on my intestine, which one (small intestine or colon) I'm not sure. They removed the growth and sent it to pathology, where it was confirmed that it wasn't cancerous. Thank God. Aside from that we don't know much. We're expecting a full report from pathology in a few days. Even though I didn't have a hernia, the close up process was the same as if I had had one. I had the mesh inserted and was closed up with stitching. No staples for me. All in all, though, the surgeon reported to Joe and Mom that everything went very well and that I'm going to recover nicely. Whew. :-)

This was an outpatient procedure, which initially gave me some peace of mind. But, wow, I learned that outpatient has a very drawbacks too. They kick you to the curb pretty quickly! I don't think I was in recovery for more than 2 hours, if that. I really wasn't ready to go yet. I just wanted to rest a little longer because I was pretty groggy, in a good deal of pain and nauseous. But as soon as they urged me to the bathroom, when I came back my bed was gone! Now I just had a reclining chair. Is that a clue you've on the way out, or what?? Probably ten minutes later I was being wheeled to the car with spitoon in hand.

I'm 24 hours post-op and am feeling better than yesterday. I just took TWO painkillers this morning for the first time and that was REALLY nice. No pain!! It's very challenging to move around with a cut in your abdomen. And, I didn't sleep that well because my poor little Jonas had a rough night. I think he knew something was up. He had virtually no contact with his mama all evening. He cried and cried most of the night. It's heartbreaking to hear him cry and not be able to snuggle with him or comfort him. It's just not the same only being able to grab a hand or foot with someone else holding him. I'm hoping in a few days that I might be able to feed him again. We'll see... he's pretty squirmy these days throwing his heft around (17 lbs) with ease. That could be dangerous for my very tender and swollen abdomen.

I have lots of updates to give on Jonas along with lots of new photos. Hope to get those up in the next day or two in between naps. More soon...

Monday, June 2, 2008

On the road again

I did it. First day on the road in running shoes in say... oh about... 9 months. I ran a bit during my first trimester but gave it up when it started to feel like too much.

There's a little story to these shoes. We had to place an order with Road Runner Sports (where we always get our running shoes) back in the winter because Joe was in desperate need of another pair. Even though I knew it would be months before I could use a new pair, I ordered some new Saucony's for me. My old ones have all the miles of the half marathon training, plus the race itself, plus a little summer running, and I wore them all winter while pregnant, when I wasn't wearing the one other pair of shoes that I could tolerate--my Dansko clogs. We stored the shoes away when they arrived. "Maybe I can break out the new shoes when I go to the hospital. I'll probably be doing lap after lap around the delivery ward..." Ha! Yeah, right. By the time I got to the hospital I was doing well just to waddle between the bed and the bathroom! So the shoes stayed tucked away in the basement for another few months.

The weather got warmer; the flowers blossomed; weeks turned into months. I really thought I'd be ready for some light jogging by six weeks. That definitely wasn't happening! By 8 weeks post-partum, I was feeling stronger, but still not up for running. Finally I quit putting pressure on myself and said, "I'll start running again when I am good and ready to start running!"

Well, the time has come. I am proud to say that I've been out for two workout sessions that were walking-jogging intervals.

The first time, I donned my "magic shoes" (think Forrest Gump) and I hit the pavement at a fast walk. I got all worked up and was ready to try it. "Well, here goes..." I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the first two blocks were the most painful stretches that I have ever run. Augh!!! What happened?! I mean, every joint and bone in my body was like, "what the hell is this?!" I walked again for a bit to recover. But block by block it got better. I could remember how amazing it felt to be running in my mind, although not in my body--not yet. The next time I went out, it was a little easier again. I am still doing the walk-run thing, but now I'm enjoying it and get lost in the daydreaming of what's to come.

It's funny. I did the half marathon to prove to myself that I could do something completely unfathomable. I thought if I can prove that to myself, then I'll be ready for child birth. Well, not exactly.... but it certainly didn't hurt. The breathing and discipline helped me a great deal with the birth experience. Now, I'm on the opposite side of fence. I think about what I endured with 23 hours of labor, and feel like now I can conquer anything. I'm a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. Funny how these things work out.

So, here's my dream--I'm putting it down in print so I guess I need to stick to it. I want to do the New York marathon in 2009. We're going to try for the lottery in a few weeks. (Joe's in charge of that. I don't know how it works, but he says we need to get a move on.) I want to do a 5k by the end of the summer and a trail run race series to race by baby-stretched body back into shape.

It's so great to be back on the road again--or the trail, as it were.