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Author: dee

So I Did A Thing…

So it seems like we’re back to updating this thing once a year or so. I don’t seem to have the need to write things out that I once did, or maybe it is just that I don’t have the time and focus to actually sit and type it out. I’m not sure how it felt like I had more time when the kids were babies than I do now, but somehow that’s where we are. Nevertheless, I still do feel the need to document now and then.

A week ago today, something monumental (monumental for me anyway) happened. I finally went in for surgery and had a total hysterectomy. This surgery has been a long time coming…and when I say long time, I mean it has been the inevitable conclusion to about 25 years of pain and suffering. That may sound a bit dramatic, but my first abdominal surgery to remove two large ovarian cysts (one larger than the surgeon’s outstretched hand) happened my freshman year of college. Since then I have had several more surgeries to remove ovarian cysts, an ovary, and to clean out endometriosis. Following the birth of my youngest, I also had my (remaining) tube tied to prevent any further surprises.

It has been 10 years since my last surgery, and while there have still been some uncomfortable issues over that time, the last year or so I have had a lot of health issues that seem to point all in one direction….my uterus and the surrounding area.

My general doc finally decided that we weren’t getting anywhere and referred me to an OB/GYN. My doctor that I went to through all of my pregnancies (and absolutely loved) had retired, so I ended up seeing another doc in her practice. After going over my previous records and some lengthy discussion about my options, we decided together that a hysterectomy was probably the best choice.

I was hoping to have surgery before the end of last year, but the earliest they could schedule it was the middle of January. Covid has affected everything these days, including how surgeries are scheduled. Non-essential surgeries have to be scheduled months in advance to get an operating room reserved. And then of course, prior to surgery, a Covid test is required.

As luck would have it, I ended up getting sick at the beginning of January. It came on with an excruciating sore throat so after a day or two I took myself to Urgent Care and got some antibiotics for Strep Throat. I got them in time to have that all cleared up before surgery. I was feeling much better a few days in and assumed the meds were working. I went to take my pre-surgery Covid test the Monday before surgery and then waited to get my results.

Over the weekend, Caleb had started getting sick, with the same symptoms I had. I took him in to the doctor to get checked and they did both a Strep and a Covid test. Within an hour I had his results back and he was positive for Covid. By that time Brian was also showing symptoms and by later that night Evie wasn’t feeling well. The oldest had been down and pretty much sleeping for 2 days at that point, so we assumed was probably sick as well.

Thursday morning I still had not received my Covid test results, so I was assuming surgery was still on. They said they would only call if it was positive. I took my antibacterial soap shower and had my bag all packed and ready when my phone rang. It was the hospital saying they had just received my Covid results and it was positive. Surgery was cancelled. I cannot even describe the disappointment I felt that day. Later that day we got Covid test results for Brian and Evie that were also positive.

Surgery was rescheduled, but the earliest they could re-schedule was April 21st. The thought of waiting another 3 months was depressing. I was ready to get the surgery done and start feeling better. A few days later, the nurse called me back and asked if I could be available on January 27th because they had another Covid cancellation. I was so happy and excited to be able to get in earlier than April that I would have done anything to re-arrange my schedule at that point.

The week before my re-scheduled surgery date, I got another call. With the surge of Covid cases, all surgeries had been cancelled for the next week. The hospital was short on staffing and beds because of so many Covid cases. My heart sank as we re-scheduled for the third time – back to April but a week later on the 28th.

The time between January and the end of April seemed to drag out forever. Fortunately, the kids managed to keep me plenty busy. The week before my surgery was scheduled, we had another Covid outbreak at church (which is also my workplace) and I had a slight panic. Determined not to get sick, I masked up at work and kept my office door closed as much as possible when I had to be at the office. I even sat in my office during church services and streamed it online to keep myself away from people.

The Monday before surgery, I found out that the Covid testing requirements had changed and I was no longer required to test before surgery. It was a bit of a relief, not only because it saved me time, but also because I was not in danger of getting cancelled again. When Thursday morning came and I still hadn’t received a cancellation call, it felt too good to be true. This was actually going to happen!

With every step closer to surgery I got, I was still waiting for the ball to drop. I don’t think I truly relaxed until they wheeled me into the operating room and were about to put me to sleep for surgery.

I chose to have my mom come to the hospital with me for surgery. I felt like it would be easier on the kids to have dad at home with them, especially since I was going to be there overnight. As it turned out, that was a good choice because my surgery ended up going super long – like several extra hours long. My mom was the last person in the waiting room and was pacing the floor when the doctor finally came out to talk to her.

Apparently the surgery had gone as expected, but as they were finishing up the final stitches, the tip of the needle broke off and was somewhere inside my body. It was a laparoscopic surgery, so they were working with tiny tools and tiny needles. So, while I was doing just fine, they had to use X-rays to find the tiny needle inside me so they could get it out before they could stitch me up the rest of the way. As it turned out, they had to actually undo some of the stitches and then re-stitch once they found the needle.

When I woke up in recovery, I was confused because people were talking to me and it seemed like they were in a rush to get me up to my hospital room. I was barely alert when they moved me up to my room. My mom got to the room a few minutes after I got up there and explained everything that had happened. They said that the doctor came in and talked to me in recovery, but I don’t remember it at all.

I was finally awake enough to glance at the clock and realized that it was already after 8:00 pm. My surgery was scheduled at 1:00 pm and started right on time. I was worried because I had promised Caleb I would call and talk to him before he went to bed (at 8:30) so I told my mom I needed to call home. Caleb had been a bit stressed about mom having surgery (and not being home) so I didn’t want him to go to bed without knowing that I was ok. I must not have been quite out of my drug-induced drowsiness because my kids thought I was pretty funny on FaceTime.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the night, but after I was able to get up and walk and prove that I could keep liquids down ok, I finally got my hands on a plain turkey sandwich. After over 24 hours without food, that turkey sandwich tasted pretty darn good! I slept pretty good through the night, even with nurses coming in to check vitals and all the other things they do every hour or so.

By morning, I was feeling pretty good. Pain was at a manageable level (with meds of course) and I was more than ready to get home. Fortunately, the hospital staff was in agreement and I got released and was home by about 11:00 am.

Since then I’ve spent a lot of time watching TV, crocheting, and doing a lot of nothing. I was feeling a bit restless by Sunday and spent probably a little too much time up on my feet. So I compensated the next day by doing absolutely nothing but sitting on the couch. Honestly the hardest part has been not doing anything and giving my body time to heal.

The entire week I’ve been waiting for the crash of emotions to happen. Although my doctor did give me a hormone supplement, putting your body into instant surgical menopause typically has some repercussions. Heck, any surgery can put your body in enough distress to cause an emotional crash even without messing around with hormones.

I was doing pretty great until Wednesday. I had to make a couple of phone calls to deal with some difficult kid stuff. Making phone calls in itself is a difficult task for me (IYKYK) but when I’m dreading the outcome, it is even more difficult. I managed to make it through that without breaking, but a little later I was watching a TV show with a bit of an emotional moment in it and before I knew it I was bawling like a baby. I also may have dropped a piece of pizza, yelled at my dog, and then sat and felt sorry for myself for a few minutes.

Other than that little incident, I’ve been fine so far. I’m feeling more tired today than I have the last few days, so I went back to bed after getting the kids off to school. I enjoyed a few more hours of sleep and didn’t wake up until almost noon, so apparently I needed it. Sleeping is definitely getting more comfortable. The first few nights I was only able to sleep on my back comfortably, but now I can shift around a bit. I’m mostly off of pain meds, only needing 1 dose of Ibuprofen about mid-day the last couple of days. I actually prefer to feel some pain so that I know when I may be over doing it and need to stop and rest.

It feels strange to be sitting around not working, though I have snuck in a few minutes here and there. I have another week off to go, but will probably try to do a little bit of work from home so I don’t get too far behind. The bonus is that I’m getting a lot of crochet time in because I can’t stand to just sit and do nothing.

I have five more weeks to go to return to my regular activity level. I’m anxious to get everything healed and feeling better. My incisions are itching like crazy, so I know they are healing. I’m just hoping that I do truly feel better once everything is healed and that the issues I was having are a thing of the past.

I guess there is at least one sure thing now that I no longer have a uterus – I can definitely never be pregnant again. 😉

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And on we go…

We’re now just a couple weeks shy of a full year since the pandemic lockdown started. In the beginning, it seemed like we would be down a few weeks, but here we are a year later still having to be cautious about outings and socializing, and wearing masks everywhere we go.

Time seems to be standing still, yet moving so quickly all at once. It is a strange feeling. I’m experiencing time blindness in ways that I never have before. Even being fully aware of it, I can’t seem to get it under control. I sometimes lose hours without even realizing it – most often in the night/early morning hours. The effect this has had on my sleep schedule is not good. I’m not sleeping well and some nights only make it to bed for 3-4 hours because I don’t realize how late it is.

There’s a numbing feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. It is a mix of sadness, helplessness, loss, failure, exhaustion, fear, anger, disappointment, and so many other things all wrapped up together. I’m not the only one feeling it. I see it all around me – in my co-workers, my kids, my husband, my friends and family. We are all just done. We’re tired. We’re so ready to get back to a “normal” state, whatever that is.

We throw ourselves into things that we think will make us feel better, searching for that amazing dopamine surge, but after a while even the things that usually bring joy feel a little less exciting. For me, my way out of the doldrums is to create. I’ve been crocheting and knitting almost obsessively since last March. A day rarely goes by that I’m not knitting or crocheting something. The repetitive motion is calming, so much so that I often get lost in it and completely lose any sense of time (see time blindness issues above). I also recently invested in a Cricut machine that is giving me all kinds of ideas of new thing I want to create. There’s something about a completed project that gives me such a sense of satisfaction. It is one of the few things that actually give me a sense of accomplishment right now.

We’re all yearning for change, for the sun to peek through the clouds and shine down on us, for the gray to turn back to green, yellow, and orange. We seek a point of recovery, of normal life, but will we ever truly recover from this? Will our hearts and our minds ever be the same as they once were? Will our relationships with others ever be the same? Will we ever feel truly safe again?

There will be scars for sure, some in places that we can’t see, to be discovered when we least expect it. Others may be more visible and fade over time, but never truly go away. All of the good and the bad of this time, etched into our skin, our hearts, and our minds, shaping who we are for a lifetime.

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Feeling Some Sort of Way

Fitting with my track record the last few years, it’s been a minute since I have updated. The problem with that is that it makes it hard to know where to start.

These last few months have had so many ups and downs and a myriad of feelings that are most often undefinable. While we try to live our lives in the most normal way possible, we remain in the middle of a pandemic. In the beginning there were hard and fast rules as to what we could do, where we could go, etc., but now those mandates have expired and for the most part it is up to us to make the tough decisions. Do we let our kids go to school? Do we gather with family for the holidays? Do we socialize with friends? Do we go back to church? Do we continue to wear face masks, even though those around us often do not?

It is a very fuzzy line as to what is considered safe and what is not. Some people have tested positive for COVID and barely had any symptoms, yet at the same time some are very severe and the death toll increases daily. Deep down, my gut feeling response was to protect my family as much as possible – keep them home and never leave the house. Initially, that is what we did. The kids and I went months barely leaving the house except for necessities. It felt safer to stay in our little bubble. But as time went on, it became very apparent that our mental health was suffering in some big ways. Little by little, as county and state restrictions eased up, we chose to start venturing out more – carefully – with masks and hand sanitizer at the ready.

The hardest decision was whether or not to send the kids back to in-person school. Our district offered a choice of in-person or online. The mama bear in my wanted to keep them home, but virtual school has proven to be a huge struggle for my kids. They all three were adamant that they wanted to be in school and deep down I knew that it really was the best choice for them. Beside the fact that we need the additional support of gifted classes, 504 plans, IEPs and other special services, they needed the return of some sort of routine and normalcy in their day. As it turned out, most families in our district made the same choice, which forced the high school and middle school to move to a hybrid schedule – 2 days a week of in-person classes, and 3 days at home with online activities. Fortunately, the elementary is able to continue a 5 day in-person schedule.

We also chose to allow sports as those opened up. We started back the routine of soccer, volleyball, and karate with practices on weeknights and games on the weekends. With school and sports back on, I started seeing my kids come back to life a little. The need for social interaction was so incredibly important for them. I don’t think any of us are truly back in a good mental state, but the difference it has made at least for my two youngest kids has been pretty immense – enough to know that it was the right choice for them.

We have been fortunate so far that we have all stayed healthy. As allergies have flared up and colds have passed through, it has been a bit nerve wracking. Never knowing exactly when it might be time to go for a COVID test you fret about every cough. We get emails from the school almost daily reporting positive cases, though contact tracing indicates most of those have not been due to transfer at school. I get a little nervous with every email from school, not sure when I will receive one saying that one of my kids has been exposed.

Last weekend was Halloween and yet again came the time to decide whether to proceed with our usual traditions or whether to stay home, hunker down and turn our porch light off. We decided to let the kids dress up and trick-or-treat. The cousins came over and we drove to a nearby neighborhood that was swarming with kids and adults trick-or-treating – very few wearing masks or taking precautions. It honestly made me very nervous and question my decision to let them go. I will not be at all surprised if we have a spike of COVID cases in our city over the next week or so.

The good news, for now at least, is that our sports seasons have finished – except for karate. Less practices and games means less community exposure for all of us. We still have school, work, and Hubby and I have been back to church a couple of times. There are necessary shopping trips and sometimes just a need to get out of the house for a bit. The desire to get back to our regular routines and habits are so strong, but as the COVID cases continue to go up daily it has me reconsidering what is truly necessary again.

Through all of this, I have found myself really struggling with anxiety (and maybe a smidge of depression). It took me a while to really put my finger on it because it doesn’t feel like anxiety in the way that I think anxiety should feel. It hits in waves. Some days it is just this little tiny off feeling that I can’t really define and other days it kind of knocks me over. Sometimes it comes out as irritation with everything and everybody and results in an emotion explosion, and sometimes it shows up in withdrawal. It is in those withdrawn moments that I feel like the depression starts sneaking in – when even the things that usually bring me joy feel more like an obligation. In the back of my mind I hear a little voice saying, “Just keep swimming!” but that constant push and pull of the sinking and then the swimming is exhausting.

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Summer At Last

We are a couple weeks into Summer now, which is feeling a bit more normal. School is done for the year and the stress of online learning is gone. For the kids, the days are much more relaxed – staying up late and sleeping in had already become the norm, but now I suppose it is a bit more acceptable. The only difference for them at this point is that I am home with them during the day instead of going to the office.

A few activities have slowly started back up. Caleb is back at piano lessons and has tutoring a few times a week. One-on-one tutoring has been much better for him than online summer school would have been. The other two kids don’t have much going on yet, but Evie will have volleyball camp in July and Fall team sign-ups will be starting soon. She’s scheduled for church camp if that gets to happen as well. Zach doesn’t have a lot of plans, but will be turning 15 in a couple weeks, so we have printed off the driver’s guide so he can start studying for his permit test. We’re also starting to look into job opportunities for him.

After three months of doing virtually nothing outside of the house, it seems strange now to be making all these plans. My calendar is suddenly starting to fill up again. We’re planning a trip to Texas soon, and while I thought I had a pretty blank calendar, I’m now having to try to schedule that around other things.

As of next week, my office is officially back to regular hours with most of the staff being on-site again. I still plan to work mostly from home for now, but will most likely be back at least one or two days a week. It will feel strange for a while.

Honestly, thinking about going back to a regular schedule after these last few months is giving me nearly the same amount of anxiety that I had when everything started shutting down in March. I feel like things are good right now. I’ve really settled into working from home. I love my home office and finally have it set up to function well. I’ve got my routine down and I’m feeling more on top of things for work than I have in a long time. I am also really enjoying having my evenings free to relax or work on projects around the house. I’ve never really been a fan of change. I guess it will just take a while to get used to our normal amount of crazy again.

In the meantime, I’ve still got a long list of projects to keep me busy and help squash the anxiety for a while. Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks I’ll actually be able to park my car in the garage. We’ve been in our house for a full year now. I suppose it is time to finish unpacking those boxes!

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Day 59

We’re on day 59 of social distancing – essentially two months at home. Our family started a couple days before the official orders came down. We didn’t have any plans really, and with all the uncertainty it seemed best to stay in for the weekend. Things are starting to open up again, slowly, and with restrictions. Some people are ready to just get out there and get back to regular life, but I’m feeling a little more reserved about it – not quite ready to jump back in.

Everything feels different right now. After two months of being home, slowing down, no rushed schedules, no running here and there, and only a very few obligations that require marking things on a calendar, I’m wondering what it will feel like to return to that life. I don’t miss the busy, the packed calendars, the late nights after practices and activities. But then I glance at the calendar and see that Caleb’s soccer tournament should have been this weekend and Evie’s volleyball season should be wrapping up and I am sad for their missed opportunities. I am sad that they are missing the end of their first year at their new schools. They are missing the fun part after working hard all year. There are no yearbook signing parties, no field days, no celebrations for a job well done. It will just be over.

The coming of summer, which normally is an exciting and welcome change every year, seems so anticlimatic this year. Camps the kids were looking forward to will most likely be cancelled, or at the very least be a very different experience than they were expecting. Staying home from school doesn’t seem very exciting as we’ve been doing that already. Travel plans are questionable as we wait to see where things stand in the world.

I feel myself being a little more moody lately, going up and down from day to day. Some days I’m all in and ready to make the best of the situation, and other days I just want to sit and get lost in netflix and video games and ignore the rest of the world. Once I get myself into a project or my work I’m usually good, it just takes a lot of effort to get going. My sense of motivation for the things I *should* be doing is really lacking most days. I’m sure the lack of urgency is a big factor there. There is no deadline. I don’t have a problem completing work tasks or even mowing the yard, but I can look at a sink full of dishes for two days before I decide to actually do something about it. I mean, no one is coming over to see how dirty my kitchen is anyway.

In all of this, I do find myself being so very thankful for the internet and all the amazing ways we have to communicate. I can’t imagine how much more isolated and alone we would all be feeling without the ability to connect to our people online. Between gaming, social media, video chats, sharing photos, streaming church services, and even classroom conference calls, we are all able to connect to the people and the things that are most important to us. Those are the things that are getting us through this strange time right now. As much as I enjoy being alone and having time to myself, I do have to say that I’m realizing just how important that human connection truly is.

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Quarantine Confessions

I’m sure by now we are all realizing life is a little different these days. Maybe some of you are like me and have found yourself doing things that you never imagined you would do. TikTok anyone?!?  Maybe you are even a little bit embarrassed about those things. Well, for the sake of solidarity, I’m going to share a list of things I’ve caught myself doing out of sheer boredom during this social distancing quarantine that I most likely would have never done otherwise.

  • I streamed the entire five seasons of Awkward in less than 2 weeks – often staying up until 2 a.m. or later to get in just *one more* episode.
  • After finishing Awkward, I started in on Vampire Diaries with the same late night streaming behavior. It is taking a little longer – I’m only on season 4, but Evie has now caught up with me so we are watching the rest of it together.
  • I insisted that my husband let me mow the lawn so I could count it as exercise even though he offered to do it instead. I also maybe told him not to buy the new deck he needs for the riding mower so I have to keep push mowing.
  • I’ve spent way too much money online shopping – mostly on clothing of the athleisure variety. I mean, if I’m gonna run and work out I have to look cute, right? Now to get back to those workouts….
  • I got sucked into TikTok watching videos of my nieces and then found myself still there more than two hours later scrolling through the “For You” feed of random people. I am now obsessed with and have followed the stream of a pet monkey who receives a ton of fan mail.
  • I bought my kid a new Nintendo Switch that he has been begging for since Christmas, then proceeded to “borrow” it all night and played Tetris 99 for over 3 hours until my hands were cramping and the battery died. I may have then bought another Switch the next day so I could have my own because TETRIS and who wants to share? (Thank you stimulus check!)
  • I actually said, “I’m so bored!” I honestly can’t remember the last time I uttered those words. Life generally keeps me so busy that boredom is not an option.
  • I got bored enough to fire up Fortnite on my switch and *tried* to play even though I had no idea what I was doing. Then my 8-year-old tried to teach me what to do and got embarrassed when I could’t hang. I think I’ll stick to Tetris…or maybe check out Animal Crossing.

I have actually spent some time doing things I’m not embarrassed about too. Some things I may even be a little bit proud of myself for doing – and finishing. I’m really great at starting projects, but not always so great at finishing them.

  • I started crocheting a “Quarantine Blanket” several weeks ago after the stay at home orders started and I finished it last night. It didn’t exactly turn out the way it was supposed to because I crocheted it way too tight to match the pattern and I ran out of one of my yarn colors a bit too soon. But, since the purpose was to use up yarn I already had, I can call it a success. I’m glad to finish it because I found another pattern I want to start on.
  • With the help of a tutorial I found on facebook, a bunch of old scrap material, and some leftover elastic (from back when I had a baby girl to sew cute things for), I sewed up some face masks for the family. Now that they are becoming mandatory to wear many places, I figured we should have some on hand.
  • I also completed a fun painting project. My friend posted about an online painting party she was hosting with some sample projects and I fell in love with one she posted of the Kansas City skyline. She put together kits with all the supplies needed. I missed the zoom party she hosted, but she included enough directions I could figure it out and I think it turned out really good!Painting of a heart with Kansas City skyline

There are a lot of other things I probably should be doing with my time, but it has actually been a lot of fun to just slow down and enjoy some silly time-waster type things.

So, what have you been up to?

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