Editors note: Buckle up ladies, this is gonna be a long one! I enjoy the more basic things in life. Like glitter (or as my husband calls it.. craft AIDS), cheap wine and pumpkin spice lattes. I spend too much money on makeup, clothing, and […]
I consider myself a bit of a fan of makeup and fussy dresses. I prefer to overdress and gravitate heavily towards vintage and pin-up style clothing. I generally don’t leave the house without a full face of makeup complete with winged eyeliner, foundation, contouring, blush, […]
Oh hey look at that, it’s 2017. If you are reading this, than you made it. Congrats. I could prattle on and on about how 2016 was a Trumpster Fire and all the horrible shit that has happened, but what would be the point? If you want to read about that, go on facebook, I’m sure you can find an article or two. My patience for this has waned in recent months. It turns out when you lose an internal organ it gives you some time to reflect on a few things in your life.
Some people are aware of what has gone on with me the last couple months, but most probably don’t. So saddle up kids its story time.
Several years ago, while I was still in college, I went the Emergency Room with stomach pain. It turned out to be a minor GI problem (most likely due to poor life choices regarding unlimited pizza and fries in the cafeteria). But while they were trying to figure that out, they discovered some weirdness with my Kidneys. There was stuff… and it was all over them. When I returned home for summer break the doctors visits and testing began. I was never given a diagnosis disease, they eventually concluded that I have angiomyolipoma’s, these are tumors that consist of fatty tissue, muscular tissue and blood vessels. They tested to make sure I didn’t have these tumors hanging out anywhere else in my body. I was told to keep an eye on them and if they grew too big to have them taken care of. This is something that is most often seen in women over 40.. so basically I am an over achiever.
So we kept an eye on them, and for the most part they just hung out and we agreed to ignore each other. Until about Christmas two years ago. When a couple of the tumors decided it was time to become assholes. They had grown large enough that intervention was needed. So I scheduled a surgery to have the doctor go in and embolize them. This basically means he shoved a tube into my Kidney and blocked off a bunch of blood vessels feeding the tumors. The point of this procedure was to shrink the little bastards back down.
I should mention the problem with this type of tumor and the makeup of mine specifically is that, they are very vascular (read bloody sacks of ass) so if one were to sustain injury or get a wild hair, it could burst and randomly start to hemorrhage and potentially put me in a life threatening internal bleeding situation.
So I get the operation… it went ok. I somehow managed to get high blood pressure out of the deal due to a complication involving a vessel that may not have gotten totally blocked off. I learned to live with this and given some pills. I am also told to just continue to monitor the tumors.
Fast forward the weekend before Thanksgiving of this year. Friday night, I had some mild discomfort in the kidney area that I was REALLY hoping was just gas. That lasted until Saturday morning, when I went from “hmm this feels not great…” to “Oh my fucking god I am dying! an alien is going to pop out of my stomach and tap dance across the floor “. So off to the ER we went.
Pro tip: Writhing in pain in a wheel chair at ER registration desk will get you seen pretty quickly. I tell them about my little kidney decorations and explain I am worried there is a bleed. So they take some blood tests and send me to get a CT scan. I may have forgotten to warn the tech about the freak show kidney before the CT scan so it was awesome watching the look of panic and seeing someone get sent sprinting to the doctor. By this point I am high as a kite on pain-killer. They got the blood tests back and everyone agreed, “yup, your shit is broke and bleeding all up inside you”(not a direct quote)
Off to surgery I go. This is the same surgery I had 2 years ago, but this time they are going in with the goal of stopping the vessel from pumping blood into my abdomen. I get to be awake-ish for this process. The team of gentlemen were very nice. Luckily I had recently shaved my bikini line, so I was able to avoid that bit of unnecessary bonding with the dude who was my nurse. (They shove the tube through a hole they make in your groin area to access your femoral artery to reach your kidney. So you get shaved if you’re furry). The team did their thing and blocked stuff off and sent me to recover.
They give me a room and admit me for a night of poor pain management and lots of crying. By mid morning I am not feeling right and have a sudden pop and excruciating pain in the same area, so they start the testing all over again. It’s another tumor bleeding. So I go back down stairs to the same team and they go in a do it all over again. this time they block of 4 vessels, the day before they blocked 2. The team of doctors I have collected at this point are all twisting their hands and telling me this should do it. Except one : the interventionalist, the one who actually blocked the vessels is saying the kidney is shit and it should get tossed. The Urologist and nephrologist over rule him. So I get released, and I go home to recover.
Except, I didn’t seem to be getting better like last time. I was still weak, I didn’t feel right. I returned to work, I over exerted myself enough to scare me into going back to the ER to check if their was another bleed. (there wasn’t). At this point I now know nurses on site and they welcome me by name. I go back home, still feeling pretty crappy. I schedule an appointment with my general doctor to ask her why I feel so crappy. She does a blood test and sends me for an ultrasound. These come with poor results and she sends me back to the ER. She tells me that my body doesn’t have enough blood. This usually indicates a bleed. She reminds me it’s faster to go the ER to get the test done rather than try to schedule appointments that could take weeks.
There is something very disconcerting about hearing your primary care physician tell you to go directly to the ER. So off I was swept to the ER by my wonderful coworkers. After a short wait, I am taken in back and assigned an ER doctor. She actually took the time to talk with me about this whole shenanigans and I explained what has happened. She runs more tests and tells me going in for a 4th CT scan is probably not a healthy idea given all the radiation I’ve been exposed to lately. She brings the Nephrologist, Urologist and Interventionalist into the mix again… the urologist rolls in and lets me know that it’s never good to come to the ER and be considered an interesting patient and I am a very interesting patient. my general response to this was “well…. shit.” This team of doctors is arguing about how functional it is to send me for a CT scan and try to block off (embolize again) the likely slow bleed that is stealing my blood away. One thinks it’s a waste because the kidney is shit, the other two think maybe the kidney is helping a little and we should try to leave it in there.
Fortunately, I have my family of medical professionals that are breathing fire into my cell phone telling me what to ask for and what they should do. Protip number 2: Always listen to and trust the nurses who are much smarter. On the advice of my mother who has 40 years of nursing experience, I asked the doctors, why they don’t just test the kidneys to see how functional each one is, that way they know if it’s worth keeping or should be tossed in the bin.
It was amazing to watch the light bulb go off in his head. It turns out, that between the three of them arguing about what should be done, it didn’t occur to them to actually check on the function even though it was the simple solution and would settle the argument 100%. So they send me to nuclear testing the coolest sounding department in the hospital that is totally anticlimactic .
Before I went it they told me we are hoping for at least 20% or more functionality on the right kidney so I can keep it for a bit longer and potentially delay the need for dialysis later in life.
I was able to watch the testing, they shot me full of stuff that can be seen on the scan and the left side is lit up like a Christmas tree, the right…. is basically a couple of dots and a weak shadow. It doesn’t look good. The stuff also makes you need to pee like crazy and you get to watch a clock that counts down when you can go to the bathroom. This is about 1000x worse than just waiting without knowing.
They read the results and tell me that the right side is functioning at a whooping 6% meaning the interventionalist wins and doesn’t have to do any more work on me and the fleshy bag of shit that’s stealing my blood. They had me stay the night for observation and are now arguing about when they are cutting this bitch out of me. I am on very explicit instructions that they will not be taking ANYTHING out of my body without my mother there first. They complied to this
demand request They scheduled me for the surgery a few days later with a doctor who is familiar with the procedures and does this frequently. This is a better choice than getting stuck with the on-call doctor who is winging it because this got put on his schedule last min.
I get sent home, mom and dad show up to help. The hospital mails me a bunch of gross sticky wipes and tells me how to shower and clean myself with said wipes. Sitting in the waiting room is a weird experience, because you don’t know what to do with yourself. One of my amazing coworkers stopped by for moral support. It was wonderful and touching and a needed distraction from thinking about all the ways I could die on the table.
I go in they prep me and take blood samples. Eventually they knock me out I wake up and I have 5 glued shut holes in my abdomen. Turns out the tumors were so big they had to scrape them off of other organs to get it out. I asked to keep it and they said no, I was a little upset, they wouldn’t even take a picture. I spend another night in the hospital, and get sent home to heal. This went well for about 12 hours until we realized I have a bowel obstruction (meaning my bowels are shut down and refuse to work) and I get to go spend two more days in the hospital on an all liquid diet. I was finally released to go home Christmas eve, this is the best present I could have asked for. Since then, I have hung out at home doing the healing thing, while trying to walk a little longer everyday. My parents left shortly after I was released and my father in law came to stay for a week. I don’t think I would be in as good a spot as I am now, if I didn’t have this support system to help out. My husband has had to take care of everything and everyone since all of this started. He has done all of this without complaint and constant encouragement and love. I couldn’t be more thankful to be married to him.
So for about 2 months I have been in and out of the hospital dealing with this bullshit. It has changed the things I care about in life and what I worry about for the future. For 2017 I just want to love my family and friends and be thankful for the time I have with them.
We made it to Voodoo Doughnut, I have already had my Capitan Crunch doughnut so all is right in the world. The Bear has been baptized in the confectionary goodness of the Voodoo church. He has seen the light and is a complete convert.
The day has ended on a much higher note than it started. Not in small part due to the RV camp facility having working showers. You learn something about yourself when you go camping. And no I don’t really consider RVing “real camping” it’s “Glamping” at best, and you know what? That is just fine with me. I have been real “go shit in the woods and bring your own paper” camping. That was a lot of fun. I got to sleep on the ground, bathe in a lake, get woken up by my mother screaming about bears and my father mumbling about raccoons. It was awesome.
After minimal reflection I can say I have noticed something about myself on these excursions. For starters on the average day, I hate using public facilities to shower, you always worry about foot rot and stepping on weird hairballs from unknown sources. I’m not even a huge fan of publish restrooms for a host of other reasons. While camping in the wilderness, I would have sacrificed an unnecessary appendage to have any amount of hot running water. The RV shower would have been a gracious gift from god… all six gallons of hot water in it.
While RVing the shower becomes something of a dreadful situation to be dealt with. You have to turn the pump on, turn the water heater on, wait for it to heat, find all of your soaps and conditioners. Next comes the performance of varying feats from Cirque Du Soleil to wash all of your parts, but quickly because there isn’t much hot water and it’s cold as hell in here. Then you clean it all up, dry it all down and hope the condensation buildup isn’t too horrible. Oh and you have to watch your gray water levels because the tanks must be dumped appropriately. Based on this, you can see how a camp site shower suddenly looks like a spa day.
The bear found out the hard way that not all RV sites maintain their public showers properly. After the debacle that was last night, he figured getting out of the RV for a bit might be a good idea. So he gathered his shower pack and headed up the hill to the facility. After turning the water on, he noticed that the handles felt like they were buzzing. Initially he assumed maybe it was a vibration from the pipes, turns out.. nope. The water lines were electrified somewhere and it zap him when he touched them while turned on. Logically, he Noped right the fuck out of there. Needless to say, I skipped that option as well.
After dinner tonight I took a stroll up to the shower at our new site, they were spotless clean, the water was just the right level of scalding hot and it felt like I was being showered with angle kisses. On an average day if you asked me to get naked and shower in that bathroom I would still opt to just wait till I got home, today it was heaven.
So what did I observe? Your willingness to do things that are outside of your normal comfort level can be drastically changed given the circumstance.
Today felt like vacation. We slept in, Coco only woke us up twice in the middle of the night to be let out. I moseyed on over to the fence line to check out the Elk that hang out in the back meadow. They were all kinds of elegant just sitting around chewing and head butting each other. I’m pretty sure the two males were just play fighting. Or they really weren’t feeling the violence today because they were just going through the motions. Who knew Elk could get the Mondays?
I managed my first RV shower. Fun fact, the water heater only holds 6 gallons of water and takes 30 min to heat up. I have learned the importance of turning the water off during any lathering process. My head actually hits the ceiling so it made hair washing a unique and bendy challenge. But I got clean and that was the only goal so therefore it was a success.
At some point, I realized that we never really stopped to get groceries in the last two days and the food we did bring is running low. I consider this a badge of honor. Normally I would prepare more food than a football team could consume in a week. Bacon, Hawaiian rolls and some protein bars make for a very filling breakfast.
We tried to find a grocery store in the Town of Orick (human population 650, Cow populations 1000) to stock up on some supplies. We ended up with Oreo’s, french toast sticks, cheese and firewood. It was more of a general store / cess pool of questionable breeding practices. I decided to forgo their offerings of ground meat products. You would need to prove to me it was cow and not ground tourist.
We headed over to Stone Lagoon Beach and let the idiots frolic in the sand and surf. It was delightful and remarkable that we were alone on most of that beach. It is really lovely to travel on the off season. You get to see so many things and share that moment with your loved one without the 9 members of the Clampett family swilling beer and getting into domestic disputes while spoiling your view. It’s weird coming from such a tourist driven state that fills every beach and beach town to the brim with t-shirt shops and sketchy tattoo parlors, to see miles and miles of breath taking coast line that is populated by a herd of very smug milk cows.
We cut the beach trip short after Mango got too excited and his hind legs kinda gave out a little. He’s pushing 13 and we think he has some nerve damage so this isn’t completely unexpected. I had to carry his fat ass all the way back to the RV. He seemed to enjoy that portion of the walk almost as much.
We decided to take the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We kept expecting Little Foot to step out from behind a tree and ask if we have seen the Star Leaf. The Redwoods could only be described as august. I was only slightly disappointed to not find any Ewok tree houses in the canopy. We did get to see the Big Tree and it was. It seems it isn’t actually the largest nor the oldest tree in the park. It’s just the only one that they will tell you the location of. It makes me sad that my fellow humans are such shit balls that the parks have to keep these beautiful giants a secret to keep them safe. How can anyone look at one of these behemoths and do anything but stare in awe and silent wonder at their eminence? This tree is estimated to be over 1500 years old it has endured more than we can conceive and some asshat will probably try an kill it some day.
On our drive back we stopped at a turn off that is a well know Elk hangout. When we stopped the first time, there were maybe 15 just hanging out at the far edge of the field eating grass and waiting to be photographed. This time there were probably 50 and they were almost standing in the parking lot. I guess when your smallest female is over 500 lbs you don’t have a lot to fear. They mostly looked annoyed that we were only using camera phones to document their splendor. I felt the need to apologize and explain that the RV was a rental and we are in fact poor. They weren’t impressed.
We came back to the camp site early so we could relax before we spend much of tomorrow driving up to Oregon. In my infinite wisdom I decided to build a camp fire. I was convinced this was going to be some next level romantic shit. Turns out.. that even with a fire starter mini log and some firewood, you really only get a single smoldering flame and a lot of smoke. It was easily the saddest camp fire in the history of camp fires. The Bear was a good sport and lovingly froze his ass off to humor me while I made hot chocolate and then dinner. I took pity on him when his lips started to turn blue and brought him his winter coat to replace the insufficient hoodie he had on. We gave up once it got dark, so I dumped a gallon of water on the fire and retreated inside admitting defeat against the frosty air.
I am considering a second attempt at sleeping in the bigger bed above the driver’s seat. Now that we have the heater fixed I’m not nearly as likely to freeze to death. The only reason for the change is that any time the bear gets up to take out the dogs or do anything I have to pull myself into a tight fetal position to avoid having him drop kick my legs on his way out of bed. This is not an ideal way to wake up in the middle of the night. The only other drawback about this move, other than the loss of my in bed human powered heating system, is that in order for me to make one of my many midnight bathroom trips, I would need to climb down onto a bench and then to the floor and back to the bathroom. I am not well coordinated in the middle of the day fully awake, caffeinated and alert. I am down right bumbling when I am half asleep. I also get the added obstacle of sleeping dogs laying in the middle of the walk way. I will let you know how it goes tomorrow if my next post is written from the ER.