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Rest in peace, Shelley

I’ve held off until now to write this blog entry because I wanted to give Daniel’s family time to find out from a method other than social media or my blog; and it’s only with Dan’s permission that I’m posting this:

Dan’s mother, Shelley, died unexpectedly around the 16th of August. I use bold and the word “unexpectedly” because her death was unexpected. Other than chronic pain due to Fibromyalgia, as far as knew Shelley was in good physical health. The circumstances surrounding her death are yet to be fully known, but we do know that she passed away peacefully, and without any suffering.

I didn’t know Dan’s mother very well, and he only recently (a year and a half ago) re-connected with her after years of not knowing where she was or how she was doing. We last saw her at Christmas, and our last correspondence with her was via a phone conversation in April. She called Dan and left a voicemail that same month, and I mailed her a birthday card in late May. That was it. The next communication was from a family member, informing us of her death.

I’m grieving not only for her death, but for Dan’s suffering. I wish I could adequately comfort him, but I know I can’t. All I can do, and all I’ve been doing, is letting him know I’m here for him whenever and however he needs me.

Rest in peace, Shelley. I’m so sorry you had such painful turbulence in your life, and I hope you’re finally free of the suffering you endured.


Filed under Family
 

My emergency oophorectomy/salpingectomy surgery

On this past Sunday morning my left ovary decided to turn on me. LITERALLY. But first, the backstory: in January (link to blog entry: Be still my twisting ovary), after spending close to eight hours writhing in agony and consuming copious amounts of Tylenol, Flexeril, and Oxycodone, I broke down and sob-begged Dan to take me to Hershey’s ER. The low, left-side pain I was experiencing constantly, as well as in waves on top of that constant pain, was excruciating, and at that point close to 50mg of Oxycodone had barely taken the edge off the pain. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but my best guess was adhesions – perhaps some scar tissue had twisted up around my small or even large intestines? Whatever it was, I wanted to die at that point, so off to the ER we went.

Six hours later, after a CT scan (the norm for me – my history of abdominal pain and surgery-required abdominal issues means an ER visit gets me an automatic CT scan; any other test is secondary) but before an ultrasound, I was informed that my significantly-enlarged right ovary had twisted over on itself. This was called ovarian torsion, and immediate surgery would be necessary to stop the pain, possibly save the ovary, and definitely save me. But in the time it took for the ultrasound technician to come collect me and do the requested trans-vaginal ultrasound to get a better look at the torsion, my fucking ovary untwisted itself. I’m cursing because this next to never happens – typically once a torsion of the ovary occurs, the only change is when the ovary finally dies from lack of blood supply. At that point the pain may lessen exponentially, but without surgery sepsis will kick in and eventually kill you.

But as my luck would have it, my ovary untwisted, and so my case went from “emergent” to “sucks to be you!”. I was sent home with instructions to take Motrin (…no. Just no. Did you even READ my chart?) and get in touch with my gynecologist.

A month later I had another torsion, but by the time I got to the ER the ovary had righted (or lefted, as the case was) itself.

So this past Sunday, when the pain started up again, in my left ovary, you probably wouldn’t have faulted me for being reluctant to raise the alarm. After all, my right ovary righted itself in January, my left ovary righted/lefted itself in February, and during the months of March, April, May, June, and July, twinges of discomfort would come from one or both ovaries without any further twisting or pain.

The twinges began at 8:00am. The pain increased enough to wake me from a deep nap at 11:30am. By 1:30pm, I was texting my mom to see if she could come collect my sorry ass and take me to the ER (Daniel was out of town donating plasma, and to be honest I didn’t tell him the extent of the pain when he left at 12:00pm because I wanted him to go because, hello, money!). At 2:00pm I called 911.

For once the ER visit went quickly and efficiently: I wasn’t dumped in a waiting room or dismissed; instead, within minutes of my arrival the ER doctor came in and promised to order an ultrasound. One hour and one injection of Dilaudid later, I was taken for the ultrasound. At this point I was lying on my right side and trying not to writhe from the pain, and doing my best not to cry. The abdominal and trans-vaginal ultrasounds were uncomfortable but also efficient; and for the first time ever I didn’t have to play 20 Questions or “Just Nod Your Head if it’s a Yes” with the ultrasound tech – she actually turned to me and said, and I quote, “your diagnosis is right”.

At that point it was about 4:30pm. The blur of doctors and nurses began: doctors to confirm the diagnosis and find out if I wanted to be transferred to Hershey or if surgery within their network was acceptable (it was; they did check with my Hershey gyno who basically left it up to me, since it wasn’t an abdominal issue I didn’t need my bariatric surgeon who knew me and my insides), nurses to start an IV, give drugs, and take blood, and then consent forms for transport from the main hospital to the nearby women’s hospital. The ultrasound revealed that my right ovary was 6.6cm and had its blood supply completely cut off from the twist, so time was of the essence. My mom had arrived by this point, and it was very nice to not be alone, and of course to have her with me when I was so scared and in so much pain.

I have to have surgery to remove the completely twisted left ovary. I am being transferred to a women's hospital and will be having surgery this evening. As long as there aren't any complications I should be home no later than Tuesday afternoon. :hospital

By 6:30pm I was at the women’s hospital. This is the same hospital where I had Alyssa and Ryan. Not much has changed in a decade, by the way. Their triage area was very quiet – I think we were the only ones there. And since they don’t often get emergency surgical transfers, they had to get special orders to give me more pain medication. For some reason that amused me. What also amused me is the term for ovarian removal surgery: oophorectomy. FYI, the term for a fallopian tube removal surgery is a little more vague and not at all relevant in terms of sound/spelling: salpingectomy.

By 8:00pm, after more blood work, lots of forms, a quick verbally-given update of my medical and surgical information/history, a plea to the surgeon to not just remove the left ovary but the right one, too (she said no, not unless the right one showed an abnormality), and my mom using the surgeon’s surgical marker to write “NO NSAIDS! NO TAPE! NO STEROIDS! NO TORADOL!” on my stomach, I was taken to the OR – the same OR where I had Ryan. Only this time I wasn’t crying in fear; I was crying in pain and relief. My mantra from the time I arrived at the first hospital hadn’t changed – “get me to an OR and put me out!”. The last thing I remember was one of the OR nurses holding my hand, and me saying, “you can’t sneak anesthesia on me!” when I felt the burn of the medication in my IV.

I woke up in recovery sometime after 10:00pm, and my first thought was that the ovarian torsion pain was gone. My second thought was OMG, because the post-op pain was bad. Several IV injections of Fentanyl and Morphine later, the pain was down from a 9/10 to a 7/10, and I was transferred to a hospital room. There I was given the choice of the frying pan or the fire – be rolled to my side to be transferred from the OR bed to the hospital room bed, or scoot/drag myself from the OR bed to the hospital room bed. I chose Option B, and bitched and moaned as I carefully but efficiently scooted/crabbed from one bed to the other. Then, more drugs, my mom, some food (stuffing-stuffed chicken and mac & cheese at 1:30am? Yes, please!), wake-up for pain meds at 3:00am, and then it was lights out until about 7:30am.

I was discharged Monday morning, though it wasn’t until after noon by the time Dan arrived that I actually left. We made a quick stop at Target for anti-nausea meds (and flu shots, because Target is giving out $5 Target gift cards with every flu shot! GO GET ‘EM, YOU HERD-PROTECTING TIGER!), and then we were home and I was tucked into bed and I grabbed a few blissful hours of Zzzzs.

* * *

I’m now three and a half days post-op, and overall I’m doing well. I’m swollen enough that I look pregnant, and I’m moving slow, but I’m up and moving so there’s that. Pain-wise this surgery recovery has sucked ass, but at least the pain is lower than where it usually is after abdominal surgery. It only really hurts when I have to stand up, sit down, or twist. Or, if I’m in a sitting position for too long. It’s really annoying but necessary that I stretch out every little bit. You’d think that with so many organs removed (most of my stomach, some small intestine, gallbladder, appendix, uterus, cervix, and now my left ovary and left fallopian tube) that I’d have plenty of space for swelling, but obviously that isn’t the case.

Me, currently, after yet another abdominal surgery...my 6th in a year, 14th overall, and my 5th emergency (complete with 911 call, ambulances, and a transfer from one hospital to another). Am I setting some kind of record? If so, I'm going for the gold! :

The only sucky part about all of this is that except for being a little enlarged, my right ovary was otherwise fine, so the surgeon left it. Since it twisted once (January 2016), it could twist again, and knowing my luck it’s not a matter of if, but when. :/

Never let it be said that we don't have a good sense of humor. #oophorectomy #salpingectomy #ovariantorsion #ovarytorsion #twistedovary #ovarianpain #ovarypain #emergencysurgery #surgery #PCOS #polycysticovariansyndrome

 

The Beauty And Body Bible to Feeling Confident In Your Bikini

If you want to feel confident in your bikini, then there are some beauty and body tips and tricks you can try out. While many women hate the term ‘bikini body’, women still want to feel amazing when they wear theirs. It’s all well and good saying that all you need to do for a bikini body is to put a bikini on, but if you have confidence issues, then you aren’t going to rock it like you should. This guide will help you to feel more confidence so you can show yourself off to the world!

Take Care Of Your Skin

If you want to feel amazing in your bikini, start taking care of your skin ASAP. Make sure you do this with the skin on your face and the skin on your body. The smoother and more flawless your skin looks, the better you’re going to feel. Make sure you start as far in advance as you can so you can really make it look incredible. Do the following for the skin on your body:

For the skin on your face, use the following techniques:

The more consistent you are, the better your skin will look. You don’t need to spend a fortune on incredible products to get results. As long as you’re consistent and the products suit your skin, you’ll get great results.

Calendar bikini girl picture
Gabriel Saldana

Hair Removal

It’s a woman’s prerogative when it comes to hair removal. If you’re comfortable with it, then great! However, many women aren’t. Take your time choosing the right hair removal technique based on how long you want it to last, your hair type, and the area. For instance, having bikini line and brows waxed is a good idea. You can simply shave your legs if you want a quick and effective way to get silky pins, but the results won’t last. Make sure you choose the right method, and always go to a professional to do it for you if you’re unsure of what to do yourself.

Other Beauty Treatments

There are many other beauty treatments you can have to make you feel confident in your bikini. Here are just some of the treatments that will make you feel your best:

You get the idea!

Choose The Right Bikini

Choosing the right bikini is essential for really showing off your shape. Make sure you know what types of bikini suit your style and body best, and make you feel amazing. If a certain type of bikini makes you feel amazing but isn’t supposed to ‘suit’ your body, pay no attention. The way you feel is always going to be the most important thing!

Stand Up Tall

Stand up tall will not only make you look more confident, it can knock pounds off your too. Always focus on keeping your head up and shoulders back, as well as keeping your tummy in. Slouching will round off your shoulders and could very well give you a little tummy pouch!

Untitled
photo source: Justin Jansen

Eat Healthily

The healthier you eat, the better you’re going to feel. Not only will the right foods give you more energy, they’ll make your skin, hair, and nails look their best. You may also de-bloat, drop water weight, and even actual fat. The things you eat will impact your health in a big way, so eating right in the long term is very important. Here are some pointers for getting your eating habits just right:

Work On Any ‘Problem’ Areas

Do you have areas that you consider to be ‘problem’ areas? For instance, do you want a peachier bum? Then you should do exercises such as squats, walking lunges, and glute bridges to round them off. However, you should work your whole body for the best results. This Kayla Itsines review could give you some great ideas.

Try Beauty Hacks To Enhance Your Look

There are so many beauty hacks you may not already know about that could enhance your look. These include:

Hopefully, these tips have given you some incredible ideas to make you feel amazing in your bikini. Whether you’re petite or a curvier lady, it doesn’t matter. These tips and tricks can help you feel amazing. Remember, confidence is in your head too. Be positive about your body image and you’ll look gorgeous! Do you have any tips of your own? Leave them below.


Filed under Articles
 

Turn A Garden Into Your Own Private Paradise

Our homes are the one sure place we can always come back to, relax and regain our thoughts for a little while. Naturally, a lot of us go to great lengths to manipulate our homes, and fill it with all the things we love. In a lot of houses though, it seems that the garden doesn’t get the care and attention it deserves. If you think you’re garden’s been looking a little drab, here are some features that will turn it into your own private paradise.

Japanese Garden Bridge
photo credit: Akathryna

Water Features

I’m not sure about the psychology behind it, but there’s something instantly calming and attractive about any kind of water feature in a garden. Getting a little fish pond, a bird bath or fountain can add a lovely dose of tranquillity to an otherwise boring garden. Ensure that it’s re-circulatory, and you’ll be able to rest even more, knowing that you’re not wasting a drop of water! If you want to make the garden really relaxing, then you may even consider getting a pool or a heated inflatable tub. Just be aware that your kids will have first dibs!

Screens

Tasteful garden screens may not look like much when they’re on display at a garden centre. However, if you can find a good spot for them in your garden, they’ll make a beautiful and practical addition to the whole thing. High-quality garden screens not only look great, but also provide you with a little more privacy, and carve off the garden into different sections. Some of the more rigid ones can even be used to hand flower pots on and grow climbers.

Archways

This is another subtle and yet beautiful way to divide one area of the garden from another. There are all kinds of modern and traditional designs out there, and no matter the size or style of your garden, you’ll be able to find an arch that suits its unique mien. If you’ve got a large tree in your garden that blocks off one corner, then why not put a cute little bench there, and use the archway to guide people towards it? Again, these can be great for growing vines and hanging flower baskets on.

Statues

This is one for the passionate gardeners who have filled their gardens up with all kinds of plants, but that’s pretty much it! Although this is the part of the home for cultivating life, sometimes it’s a good idea to offset all that green with something artificial. A large, well-placed statue, or several smaller ones, could be just the ticket. You don’t have to go with the classic stone Roman statue, unless of course you love these conservative features. These days, we’re seeing a trend of people mounting abstract copper and steel sculptures on their fences. There are countless choices out there, so start looking for an ornament that’s right for you.

Bring these features into your garden, and soon it will start to look like that idyllic image you have in mind!


Filed under Articles
 

CPAPs aren’t supposed to be sexy.

Three years ago Dan was set up with a CPAP machine. This came about a few months after Dan underwent a sleep study. That came about after I convinced him to talk to our (well, my now-former) PCP about some of his sleeping problems – trouble falling asleep, trouble waking in the morning, frequently feeling not-rested/fatigued, and most concerning, him having near-nightly episodes of skipping breaths and full-body twitches. Those last two I was much more aware of than he was, because his lack of breathing and/or sudden body twitches and jerks would wake me out of a sound sleep.

Daniel being fitted for a CPAP mask

Not surprisingly, Dan’s sleep study revealed he had moderate sleep apnea. The study was done in the fall of 2012, but because of health insurance issues he wasn’t set up with a CPAP machine until the spring of 2013. Let me tell you, “>the difference for both of us was immediate! While Dan did have to go through an adjustment period while he got used to the presence of the nose/mouth mask and the constant air pressure, his sleep improved almost immediately. We went from his sleep apnea causing him to stop breathing and subsequently waking me up 2-3 times per week to never.

So now here we are, three years later – and Dan’s CPAP machine is a constant presence in our bedroom and in our bed – and yes, in our marriage and sex life. But does it matter, or infringe? Absolutely not. In fact, the times Dan forgets to put it on I remind him to “mask up”. Most importantly I remind him because untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including heart damage and heart failure; and in the short-term, when Dan doesn’t mask up, neither of us sleep well – he sleeps restlessly because of not breathing and twitching, and I sleep restlessly because every time he ceases to take a breath or starts twitching, I wake up.

And in terms of intimacy and sex, it’s just a matter of planning – or unhooking the mask if someone has changed their mind. ;)


Filed under General