Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday Grandpa Harrell!!

A birthday shout out to Grandpa Harrell. He turns 90 today. So as you celebrate New Year Eve - celebrate Granddaddy too.

As for celebrating his 90th birthday, I must say what a feat. I hope that he passed on those genes to Scott and the girls and that a bit of his genetic code rubbed off on me when I took the Harrell name.

And since such an event can't go uncelebrated. We are off to Springfield, TN this weekend to honor the birthday boy. Most of the Harrell clan with be there as well as lots of friends. We can't wait to see everyone.

To everyone I send a Happy New Year. To Grandpa Harrell I send a giant Happy Birthday, too.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

I have been blogging recently, just not here. Since my last post, I have written my final month of blogs for Triangle Mom 2 Mom (it officially ends 1/9, but I submitted all my articles). So this blog, my real blog, has been sorely neglected.

And with that neglect, I am having to roll up Christmas and New Years into one giant entry - here goes...

The Fastest Christmas Tree in the East
We met Mimi, Poppa, and Auntie Em in the NC mountains for an early Christmas. It was unseasonably cold and way below the threshold of my Florida blood. We went to a cut your own Christmas tree farm on Monday morning; it was -10 with the wind chill. Auntie Em thought she was still in Chicago. They picked, cut, and loaded a tree in the car in under 3 minutes (no joking). Jaley and I missed the whole event, because we were in the car trying to put on her gloves. By the time we were set, the event was over. Jaley and I redeemed ourselves and helped decorate the tree.

No Snow, But We Can Still Sled
Mother Nature didn't treat us to any white flakes, but luckily the snow making equipment picked up where she skimped. We took the girls out for a morning of sledding on Tuesday. I don't have proof in pictures, but I promise that everyone took their turns on the sleds - EVEN Mimi and Poppa.

We Had Christmas Morning Twice
I would be happy with one Christmas morning, but this year we got a double dose. We had our first Christmas morning on the 23rd with Mimi, Poppa, and Auntie Em. Then we drove home on the 24th and prepared for Santa's arrival. The man in the red suit and Nana's delivery via UPS did not disappoint. The girls were treated to a second Christmas morning on the 25th. They are now of full opinion that Christmas present opening lasts days on end.

Gifts Galore

Santa and the grandparents were (as usual) very spoiling of our little girls. Sarah (and I reliving my childhood) loves the Easy Bake Oven that Santa delivered. And the whole family is enjoying the lil' b-ball hoop from Nana. Both girls adore their princess clothes from Mimi and Auntie Em. They are set for Disney next spring.

But One Gift Takes the Cake...
Do you remember the bunny suit that Aunt Clara gave Ralphie in A Christmas Story? Now Sarah and Jaley have their very own!!! And their suits were given, no joke, by their aunt - Auntie Em. The only difference is that Jaley and Sarah actually love their costumes. Thanks Auntie Em, they will be hopping and jumping all through 2009.

Happy New Year
Though we like to think we are still in our 20s our New Year's Eve plans scream of being 30 something and settled. Our entire evening celebration plans consist of watching the GT in the Peach Bowl with the help of TIVO after the girls go to bed. There may be a beer or two involved, but nothing more exciting that that. I am guessing I won't even toast at midnight. I have trouble making to midnight anyhow, but I have to work tomorrow, so that sets me up for an early snooze time. Oh well. At least with these unexciting plans, I am assured not to have a hang over on January 1st - and that is something I was never assured of in my 20s.

So I will end this final blog of 2008 wishing you a Happy and Healthy beginning of 2009. That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Enjoying the Christmas Lights

It is night, rainy, and really windy. That didn't matter, Sarah and Jaley wanted to sit outside and enjoy our Christmas lights. By themselves, they carried their rocking chairs down the stairs, tied Sarah's umbrella to the chairs so it wouldn't blow away, brought out snacks, and sat down to enjoy the view. Now that is Christmas spirit.

While the girls are flying high with Christmas joy. Scott and I are grounded in regular life. This was my first week at the new job. The advantage of managing the rentals the past couple of years was that I was the boss - if I wanted time off - no problem - I got it. It isn't quite so easy when someone else is in charge. One of my biggest worries about going back to work, was juggling the work schedule when we had winter colds. I knew I would be tested before the daffodils bloomed, but wasn't expecting it on my first day. Lucky me. Last weekend, we all got sick. Scott was the first man down. I was next, followed by Jaley, and Sarah.

With the help of baby Advil for the girls and full strength Advil for me, we all got out the door Monday morning. With the exception of runny noses (which never fully recede until March) the girls and I were 100% by Wednesday. Scott, however, wasn't as lucky. He is now going on day 6 of this cold. We are trying to avoid his germs, so the poor guy hasn't gotten much TLC this week.

Colds aside, my first few days in the office have been good. I think it will be a really fun job and definitely low stress (which is awesome). The trickiest part is dealing with all the different insurance companies - every one's a bit different. However, I'll get it figured out soon. As a bonus, I will probably learn a lot about the medicine industry by osmosis.

Even though it is the start of a new job, I'm not letting it cramp our holiday partying. I met my girl friends for Holiday Tea last Sunday. We are always much too loud and raucous to be at an Afternoon High Tea - but that is what makes it fun. Tomorrow, Sarah is taking her best friends out to a play space and then having them over for Hot Chocolate. Saturday night Scott and I have a sitter lined up and are off to an adults only Christmas party. Sunday night we are off to see a hand bell group and the man in the red suit.

Ho, Ho, Ho. That is life in the Stroller Lane.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa Question

As soon as kids fully grasp Santa, they start questioning. Scott and I are in sync and prepared for the usual suspects.

Q: How can Santa be at every mall?
A: He has helpers.

Q: How does he get around the world in one night?
A: He makes use of the 24 time zones, plus the 10 hours of night. That is plenty of time.

Q: How does he know who's good or bad?
A: He usual special Santa magic and he just knows.

Q: If Santa just knows who is good and who is bad, then why doesn't he know what each kid wants? Why do I have to tell him the toys I want?
A: Good Question, we will have to get back to you.

That last one left Scott stumped last Sunday after a visit with Santa at the library. I wasn't with them, but it left me stumped too. If Santa can visit every house in one night on a flying sleigh, and if Santa can know every kid is good or bad, then why the heck can't he know what gifts they want. I have no idea. My best guesses. The malls like kids to visit Santa so we come in and spend more money. And, parents like kids to visit Santa so they can get their Christmas card pictures.

Scott reason to Sarah was much less cynical (and a good answer for quick on his feet). He told Sarah that kids have to tell Santa in person and/or by letter so that he can double check his gift list. He doesn't want to make a mistake. She accepted that answer, but she balked at Santa using magic to know who is good or bad. "I don't believe in magic," were her exact words.

Oh my we are in trouble.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

End of An Era

I just checked the mail and in it was the official copy of the Articles of Dissolution for Harrell & Harrell Properties, LLC. While the rentals have been gone for a while, my stint as an entrepreneur officially ended last Friday when the NC Secretary of State's Office recorded the paperwork. I wanted everything officially closed before year end, so I mailed the paperwork Thursday (thinking it would take a few weeks). Much to my surprise, they received it, processed it, recorded it, and sent my copy back in the mail all on Friday. I guess my tax dollars are at work - that was fast.

And the timing couldn't be better, because my new job starts tomorrow. In honor of being a working mom again, I did the laundry and the grocery shopping this weekend - no more doing much of that during the week. I will be returning to the ways of most Americans - doing my chores on the weekend.

And to leave you with two bits of fun...

  • Sarah, Jaley and I put up the Christmas tree on Friday afternoon. Jaley had an insatiable appetite for putting on ornaments. After each one was placed, she looked at me and said "tree not beautiful yet." Apparently, my two year old has high tastes in tree decorating. But when the very last ornament was placed, Jaley dusted off her hands, looked at me and said "tree beautiful now, Mommy." I don't know where she gets this stuff.
  • Scott and I walked upstairs this morning (things were a little too quiet) to find Jaley buck naked standing in a sink full of soapy water. Sarah was instructing her on how to give herself a bath. The girls know they can't play in the bathtub without adult supervision, so I guess Sarah figured the sink was almost as good.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho - It's Off to Work I Go

My blogging is not real time. If usually runs a few weeks late. So this news of a new job, isn't really news to many of you. But, I had to write about it nonetheless. As of Monday morning 12/8 - I am back to work. Not that running the real estate venture (adventure) and raising two kids wasn't work. In fact, that was the problem with the real estate - it was too much work. But unlike my recent gigs, this job comes with the added bonus of a steady paycheck. Go figure.

Are wondering how I found this new job? I didn't look in the want ads or log onto All I did was get a sinus infection. Yes, that's right a sinus infection - got me my new job. So it goes...A few weeks ago, I had to call the doctor to make an appointment, so I could get those precious antibiotics for my nagging sinus infection. As I was waiting on the phone, the recorded voice said something to the effect of "Our practice has grown. We recently added one new doctor and two new PA's, however our office staff has caught up yet. We are working to correct that. Thanks for your patience in holding."

After I booked my appointment, I thought to myself - that message sure did sound like they were hiring. I figured if they treat their staff half as well as they treat their patients, it would be a great place to work. I faxed in my resume (the real one, not "the other story" one). I had a job interview, two TB tests, a drug screen, and OSHA safety training. I guess I passed them all, because they offered me a part-time job working in the front office. It is just the type of position I wanted. It is part-time with set hours (Mon, Wed, & Fri -- 8-5). It is in an industry that helps people. And I can't take the work home with me. In fact, I won't even be able to log on at home. When I leave the office, I'm off work - completely (except for the whole running a house and raising two kids job).

Since, I have been working from home for the past couple of years, it will definitely be a shock to the system. My feet aren't ready to wear dress shoes again. I don't know when the laundry will get done. I used to throw in a load when I was managing the business accounting or fielding tenant gripes. Somehow, I think I will ease right back into adult conversations and writing with pens instead of crayons. Plus, I believe I will find a way to enjoy the extra cash flow. The mall is calling my name.

As for starting a job two weeks before Christmas, I have been busier than Santa's elves on Dec. 23rd. I have been trying to get all the shopping, shipping, and Christmas cards done in advance. As soon as I finish this note, I am going to start some of the wrapping. The Christmas tree will be going up tomorrow night. If it doesn't get done by Sunday, basically it probably won't get done. But heck that was my goal this year anyway. I even wrote about keeping things simpler in my newspaper blog last week .

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Family, Fun, and Food

The adage goes that you can either enjoy the moment or enjoy the pictures later - you can't do both. I planned to take all these great pictures while we were in Atlanta, but it just didn't happen. You get this picture and you like, because we were too busy having fun.

We spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with the Kurtzer family (my aunt's family). Contrary to the very small number of branches on my side of the family tree, hers goes far and wide. Scott and I hang out with my aunt, grandfather, cousins and lots of other friends and family, while Sarah and Jaley played non-stop with a whopping 11 2nd and 3rd cousins. My aunt and cousins planned tons of fun stuff to do, including football in the park. Doesn't that sound perfect for the Thanksgiving weekend. However, we didn't play nearly enough foodball to run off all the food. The thanksgiving meal alone was four courses. That doesn't count all the other wonderful meals. I am still full. It was grand fun.

The important part of the trip was seeing family, but we did sneak downtown to visit Georgia Tech and the Georgia Aquarium. Downtown Atlanta today is nothing like the downtown Atlanta I lived in. The Atlanta I lived in was dirty and dangerous. The Atlanta we visited was beautiful and upscale. What a change. We all loved the GA Aquarium. I'm not an expert, but all the hype about it being the world's best aquarium seemed pretty true to me. It was amazing.

And to get in one parental brag. The girls were amazingly well behaved for the car ride. Historically, car trips have been anything but smooth for our family. Hopefully, this trip marked turning the corner to make road trips possible again.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Get A Job

Ever since our Harrell & Harrell Properties came to an end in June, I have been planning to get a job. My temporary retirement was supposed to be 2-3 months, but 5 months later I am still at home full time. I have lots of good excuses for delaying my job search, but one of the biggest reasons is that I sure do enjoy sleeping in (at least when the girls let me).

Recently, I freshened up my resume. The last time I went on a job interview or sent out a resume was in 2000 before graduating from UNC. My old resume was missing 8 whole years. As you know, resumes are all about marketing. It is an "As seen on TV" commercial for yourself. I would never lie but I also make sure to only tell the good stuff. That is just what I have done. My resume contains lots of convincing words about my education and work experience - words like: managed, created, invented, directed, and (always a favorite) grew revenues.

Everything on my resume is factual and true, but in the words of Paul Harvey "here is the rest of the story." For my faithful blog readers....

Gigi Harrell "REST OF THE STORY" Resume

Georgia Tech (got out in 1996)
Majored in beer drinking and football games. Got a degree in engineering that I really never used.

UNC (or as I call them the Stafford Loan Years)
Majored in meeting very cool people who are moving up the corporate ladder. I hope to ride their coat tails. Actually, got an MBA, which leaves me qualified for any job working in a cubical.

Work Experience:
My PowerPoint Job - Deloitte & Touche Consulting
Job Responsibilities: Working 12-16 hours a day tweaking PowerPoint Slides. Also, gained vast skills making copies and filing documents.

My Excel Job - Intel
Job Responsibilities: Worked 8-10 hours a day making Excel files. My job was to divy out allotments of Intel computer chips, but back then Intel couldn't make enough of them to meet demand. So I shuffled numbers around paper for no reason at all.

My Too Many Bosses Job - Cisco
Job Responsibilities: I reported to 6 different Managers and 5 Directors in just over 3 years. My main job was learning the names of my ever changing list of new bosses.

My Everything Job - Harrell & Harrell Properties
Job Responsibilities: Janitor to CEO. I was the only worker, I did everything (whether I wanted to or not).

We all have a "rest of the story" resume. I won't be sending this one out with my cover letters, but I still wanted to share it.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

We Three Girls

Scott's in Europe this week. He left on Saturday and is due in Friday night. While I am used to him traveling, I am used to 5 day stints. This trip is just 48 hours longer, but it feels like 48 days longer. I honestly don't know how single moms (and dads) do it. I get worn out doing every meal, every bath, every good night book. After 5 days, I am ready for 5 minutes where I am not in charge. Single parents run the ship 24/7 and never get a break. God bless them.

Scott called to check in on Tuesday and I asked how the weather was - he said it was cold and rainy - just how Europe is supposed to be in November. I told him - North Carolina was cold and snowy - just how it isn't supposed to be November. Yes, we had snow flurries this past Tuesday. I completely missed the weather forecast and thought it was supposed to be in the 50's. Imagine my surprise when I went out to get the mail and was pelted with a face full of snow. None of the flakes stuck, but it was definitely a reminder that it is winter coat time of year.

And when it is winter coat time of year, it is also winter cold time of year. Jaley was the first casulty, followed 3 days later by Sarah, and 3 days later by me. It was just a quick cold and the girls were good as new in a few days. I, however, was lucky enough to get the bonus sinus infection. Trying to be part of the solution instead of the problem, I tried so hard to avoid getting antibiotics. I practically drowned myself in saline using the neti pot - to no avail. (Don't know what a neti pot is? I didn't either until I learned about it from the highest of news sources - Dr. Oz on Oprah). It usually works well, but didn't do the job this time. Instead, I got me some drugs on Wednesday. A 5-day Z-pack and I am feeling a zillion times better now.

So my sinus infection is on the way out and Scott is due home tomorrow. It is definitely will be a TGIF tomorrow. Next week we are headed (finally) to Atlanta. We haven't visited as a family since Sarah was 3 months old. There a many reasons to visit Atlanta, but this visit is about seeing family - specifically my grandfather. He turned 80 in September. But due to my "medical drama," we missed the big party. Ever since, I have been so bummed that we missed seeing him and all of my extended family. I called my Aunt Marie and she just opened up the invitation door. She said come join us for Thanksgiving - I'm already hosting 24, what's 4 more. She didn't have to ask twice, we jumped on the offer. While we won't get to see a GT football game or have time to see very many of our GT buddies, we will get to go to the Georgia Aquarium and MOST IMPORTANTLY see my grandfather, aunt, and all of my cousins. Now that is something to be Thankful for at Thanksgiving.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Craig's List is the Bomb

Do you use Craig's List? If you don't you definitely should. I run my life on Craig's list. Not fully, but almost. In the past year I have: bought stuff, sold stuff, given stuff away, gotten referrals, hired people and looked at jobs - no actual employment yet, but I did have a job interview last week. Tomorrow, I am going to check out at a Christmas gift I found for Scott on Craig's List.

It was the joy of Craig's list that finally brought this year's monster gardening project to completion. After 3 weeks of working on all the planting myself, I gave up. I posted looking for help planting the final plants. Within minutes I had a bunch of responses. I found two gentlemen who were landscaping professionals. The 3 of us (mostly the 2 of them) finished in 3 hours what would have probably taken me 3 more weeks to finish. It is amazing how much faster (and better) professionals gardeners are at planting.

Before. Dead grass. We replanted every year, but the trees sucked up too much water for the puny grass to survive.

After. Don't fight the trees, join them. No more dead grass. In it's place 2 hibiscus trees, 12 azaleas, 7 gardenias, 12 purple grass shrubs, 20 purple cone flowers, 20 day lilies, and 30 daffodils. If you didn't already guess, my theory is if it doesn't flower it isn't worth planting. If they all survive, this we will an array of flowers from March - October every year. I also planted a bunch of other perennials around the rest of the yard. I figured while I (we) were at I would get all the gardening done.

And with the backyard project done, I am getting started on the Christmas shopping. Every year my goal is to have the shopping done before the turkey goes in the oven. I have yet to ever accomplish it, but at least it gets me started.

Scott was in CA last week, is home this week, and is in Europe next week. His trips usually run Monday to Thursday/Friday. But recently, he has been traveling on the weekends too. His travel should ease up in December and we are all ready for the hiatus. All three of us Harrell girls like to have Scott at home.

After the exciting kid adventures of the last couple of posts, there is honestly not much to report. They are happy and healthy and tell me a zillion times a day what toys they want from Santa. Their list includes every toy advertised on TV as well as every toy shown in the sales flyers in the Sunday newspaper. We keep harping on keeping the list for Santa short. Sarah isn't phased in the least. She now puts a few things on her Santa list and then puts the rest on her Nana & Mimi lists. Grandmas you better get your Visas ready.

Ho, Ho, Ho. That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Just Wanted to Mop The Floor

How long does it take a two-year old to apply an entire box of Band-aids (no actual injuries) and do a considerable amount of coloring (on herself) with markers?

Apparently, the same amount of time it takes me to mop the kitchen floor.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Halloween Fun

I am still juiced up on chocolate. Are you?

We had a really nice Halloween around here. The weather was absolutely perfect. Just chilly enough to feel like fall, but warm enough that the kids' costumes weren't covered up by boring old coats.

And speaking of costumes, our girls had more wardrobe changes than a Broadway show. Thanks to a two-for-one special on Ebay and a surprise from Mimi, both girls had two Halloween costumes. That is in addition to all the dress up clothes that are overtaking our playroom. In order to not leave a single costume unused, they just rotated ---
Pumpkin patch = Pumpkin Clothes
Monster Dash = Princess Clothes
Halloween Party at school = Hello Kitty Ballerina and Dora Regular
Trick-or-Treating = Hello Kitty Princess and Dora Princess
November 1st, Halloween can't be over = Witch Dresses

We hope your Halloween was just as much fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mean Monkey Bars

Injuries happens. Kids trade their injury tales like baseball cards. One says see this scar...and the other chimes in with remember my cast...Visits to the ER are a right of passage for parents and kids alike. But when you are a parent, you always hope it won't be to your kid.

Last Friday were weren't so lucky. Just that afternoon Sarah learned how cross the monkey bars all by herself. Friday evening she wanted to show Scott. We tried to tell her to wait, because it had rained and was slippery. But she (as usual) was one step ahead of us. In this case, one fall ahead of us. Down she came in the classic playground injury, landing wrist first.

We were off to the ER. Amazingly there wasn't a wait. Yes, that is right. There was no wait in the ER on a Friday night. The x-rays were inconclusive so Sarah was sent home with a temporary cast up to her shoulder. Her first (and may it be our last) cast. Lucky for us, the follow up on Monday with the orthopaedic surgeon was great news.

No fracture, just a bad sprain.

The cast came off and a splint went on. I let our a giant sigh of relief. I still hate that her wrist is hurt, but am so happy it isn't broken. I must say, I am not cut out for this parent of a daredevil life. It just about kills me to see my kids hurt. This time last year, Jaley split her eyebrow open to the tune of several stitches. Then there was Jaley's dislocated elbow in the spring. Now Sarah's almost broken wrist. Jaley and Sarah are both climbers. The higher the better. And while things that go up, must eventually come down. My two monkeys occasionally return to Earth with a thump.

While I'm sure there will be more injuries in the future, I hope and pray that they are minor. For their sake (of course) and for mine (my heart can't take too many ER visits). I don't want them to be the kids with the most injury stories to trade with their friends.

Injuries aside, we are in full Halloween mode here. Don't you remember we celebrate for weeks on end. We had a great time at the Pumpkin Patch with Mimi last week. Over the weekend, Sarah's cast didn't slow her down at all. She ran in full costume in the Monster Dash to benefit for WakeMed Children's Hospital. (Note: We were already planning to go to the event, but the timing was great because guess who's ER we went too on Friday - yes the WakeMed ER).

Tomorrow is a full day of Halloween fun. Painting pumpkins and a party at their school. Then there is a parade in the afternoon and, of course, trick-or-treating in the evening. Since Sarah had her trick last weekend, we are planning for only treats tomorrow. Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Something New To Check Out

And I thought Wiki - was just for Wikipedia. It turns out that wiki refers to any website that allows users to modify the content. There are tons of wiki's on the web - a wiki for every "weason."

The only thing better than shopping is shopping on sale. I just found out about a new wiki site to help - ShopWiki.
ShopWiki is like a regular price comparison website only better. They show all stores instead of just stores that have paid for placement.

I haven't tried it yet, but Christmas is just around the corner. They have a whole section just for Babies and Kids (Jaley and Sarah's lists grow by the day) another section for Wine (yes, wine), and even a gift buying guide (since they don't have personal shoppers at my regular shopping haunt - Target).

Brought to you by your friends at

Monday, October 20, 2008

Do the Zoo

Trying to enjoy the nice weather and make up for the fact that we skipped going all year, the weekend before last we ventured to the zoo. The NC Zoo is in Asheboro - about a 90 minute drive. The trip is more of a voyage than a regular field trip, so it was a perfect test to see what our Disney vacation will be like next spring. Yes, we decided with my Orlando roots it was time to see the mouse. We have turned over our Visa card and the deed to our house for a 6-day reservation at the Magic Kingdom. For all the Disney details, you can read about my planning of the Quintessential Family Vacation.

It was our chance to enjoy the zoo and a practice for Disney. While the weather was great and the animals were out for top notch viewing, the Harrell clan didn't give their A-game. Scott and Jaley were tired from a poor night's sleep. Sarah and I didn't feel well from some sort of little cold. Of course, we didn't fully realize any of this until we were smack in the middle of this giant 500 acre animal preservation. Unfortunately, we only brought a stroller for Jaley. For the first part of the morning we couldn't get Jaley to sit in it. Then was soon as Sarah was too tired to walk, Jaley wouldn't let Sarah anywhere near the stroller. While they bickered about seating, they missed the lions roaring, the gorillas playing, and the baboons procreating. That last one we were happy they missed. Neither Scott nor I are in any way prepared for a birds and bees chat.

At some point we made it back to the car and expected big naps on the way home. No luck. They just bickered over which DVD to watch. Don't let the pictures fool you, this wasn't really an all smiles family field trip.

Now we are locked and loaded for a week of "family fun" at Disney. God save us, because if it is anything like this zoo trip we are going to need the help.

Other Gossip. Mimi and Poppa are arriving tomorrow. The two snowbirds are stopping by as they move from their NC cabin back to their FL home. Since we didn't get to visit them as much as we had hoped, we are all looking forward to their visit.

Rough trips to the zoo aside, we have really been enjoying the girls. All of my medical drama had really stressed out the entire house - girls included. Now that I am (finally and thankfully) back to normal, we are having so much more fun. My recovery cut the tantrum factor in the house by about 60%. A few of the missing tantrums are from Sarah and Jaley, the bulk are from Scott and me. Feeling good is a wonderful thing.

Around the house, we are in the middle of a major overhaul on the backyard. Between last year's drought and the construction of the porch last winter, it is a real mess. It is planting time of year and this is a big project. I don't expect to fully get the dirt out from under my nails until Santa slides down the chimney. In fact, I may have to ask the big guy for a manicure at the start of the year.

That's enough rambling and that is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barking Seal and More

The weather is still in the 80's, but apparently winter colds are already in season. Jaley woke up barking like a seal this morning. Yup, good old fashioned croup. We are off to the doctor in just a bit to confirm the diagnosis, but Dr. Mom knows with certainty it is croup. A little albuterol and a good steamy shower and she'll be good as new by Saturday. We are getting flu shots next week, so maybe we will start cold season now and close it out before Halloween. Wishful thinking, but you never know.

Ironically, Jaley was much crankier last week when she was healthy. She treated us to a couple of her 30 minute tantrum performances. The tickets are free, but we all pay when the crying goes on and on. While she let loose one day, I gave up fighting her. Instead, I logged onto the library website and reserved a copy of Raising Your Spirited Child. I figured it was time to bring in some outside advice. According to child experts, all those great traits that make Jaley so much fun to be around 90% of the time can combine and collide the other 10%. The trick is for parents to stop the eruption before it happens.

After scoring Jaley, Sarah, Scott and myself - it turns out Jaley isn't alone. In fact, we live in a full fledged spirited house. So while Jaley tantrum turned me onto the book, it turns out I am learning more about parenting myself than I am about parenting the girls. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I am pretty much back to myself, but there was another hiccup in my recovery recently. Over the weekend, I had terrible back pain and a bit of trouble in the potty department. I went to urgent care and their quick lab test confirmed my suspicion of a recurrent bladder infection. The problem was that despite the antibiotics I got worse instead of better. I went to my regular doc on Monday morning. By then the urgent care had the full lab results. Final diagnosis, no bladder infection at all - just a bad back. I ain't sick, I'm just getting old (or at least too old to be picking up both the girls all the time). As for the antibiotics, they had prescribed Cipro - so at least I don't have to worry if there is anthrax in my mail - I'm covered.

Since the weather has been so nice we have been enjoying some time outside. Here are the girls decorating our driveway. Yes, they are already wearing their Halloween shirts - I made them wait until October. Scott is back in town this week and back to CA next week. It is time to pay the piper on business travel after his long hiatus to help me recover.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where was this when Jaley was a newborn!

I just learned about a new gripe water for colicky babies. Of course, I am learning about this 2 years too late, but I still thought I would pass it on. You never know, maybe you have a colicky baby (not the grandmas, but everyone else)? Or more likely, know someone who does.

The I have no idea if it works, but I remember Jaley's first year. I would have tried anything (that was safe) for her baby colic. This a new gripe water is called Colic Calm and it claims to help with baby gas and acid reflux. I found out about it because the founder was in PBS.

Again, I have no idea if it will work, but if it does (and it's safe) it would be better than giving gold to a family with a colicky baby.

It Ain't Free, but It May Be Even Better

Last week, I wrote about getting books for free through the US Department of Education. Today, I add to my penny pinching list - this time it's for when you are shopping online. It is a trick that many of you probably already know, but just in case you don't, here is a way to save a little (or a lot).

Most online companies, send out coupon codes to their regular customers to keep them coming back. That is great for the regular customers, but what about the rest of us. How do we get to save? How do we find out the magic-money-saving coupon codes? It's simple, go to!

Just click on their website or a similar one, for a list of all the coupon codes. Now I never checkout without first checking for coupon codes. In just the past couple of weeks, I saved a bunch on items I was already going to purchase.
  • I got extra cash back for switching from Time Warner to AT&T (good ridens to Time Warner).
  • I saved 20% on our car rental with Enterprise for Grandpa Harrell's 90th birthday celebration.
  • I even saved 5% on the Jaley's Halloween Costume (Sarah's I got used on eBay).

Heck, if Wall Street had been more frugal and clipped a few more coupons maybe they wouldn't need a $700B bailout.

Here's to saving a couple of bucks. That is life in the stroller lane.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big Girl Room

I wanted to show off Jaley's Big Girl Room. After placing our order back in 1984, the bed finally arrived. OK, it wasn't 1984, but it was over 4th of July weekend.

The wait ended up being worthwhile. Let's face it, July, August, & September weren't the best months for me to be redecorating. In fact, those months weren't for much of anything, but getting through. And through we did, life here is going really well. I am pretty much feeling like old-Gigi again. Scott is in CA for work. Basically, it is life as usual (which is a beautiful thing).

But back to the point, here is Jaley's big girl room. Since she has been crawling out of her crib for 5 month, she was thrilled to have finally have a bed with easier entry/exit access.

The best part about the bed, wasn't the bed at all. The bed usually came with a toy box and little rolling stools that fit underneath the bed. We decided to not get those pieces. Instead, we ordered a trundle bed for underneath. Upon delivery, they brought the trundle AND the storage container and stools. I love FREE - so I said thanks and kept the extra pieces. While Jaley's 10X10 room left no space for the toy box, I just loved the stools. I used extra fabric from making the window valance to recover the stools and make pillows for her bed.

Now the stools make a perfect reading nook. And we want to encourage lots of reading now in hopes for scholarships later. Let's just say that with the current downturn in the Dow, Jaley and Sarah's 529 accounts are looking quite sad.

We purchased the bed at a local furniture store, however, it turns out you truly can buy anything on the web. You can order the furniture online and the pieces are delivered to your door. Modern Furniture, Contemporary Furniture, Italian Furniture, even Kids & Baby Furniture - all types of furniture. And while I love Jaley's set, I bet it would have been here faster if I bought it online.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Anniversary - A bit late

I would be on schedule with my life plan, if life didn't keep getting in the way. Isn't that the truth.

Technically our 10th Anniversary was September 6th. By the luck of the calendar, the big day fell on a Saturday. We made reservations at a snazzy restaurant and I bought a bottle of champagne. However, that day Tropical Storm Hannah blew through and I felt crapola. We canceled the reservations and left the champagne in the fridge. We still got the sitter, but only went out for a quick bite. We were home and I was asleep before prime time TV started.

Since our anniversary night didn't live up to expectations, we simply took a rain check on the whole evening. We figured if our marriage has lasted a decade, there wasn't too much risk if we delayed a couple of weeks. We cashed in that rain check this past weekend. In the past two months, Scott and I have seen a lot of each other, but haven't really spent much time together. It turns out that when I feel bad I am a really lousy conversationalist. We made sure to change that this weekend. The weather was beautiful, so we started with champagne and a little snack at the botanical gardens. OK, I had the champagne - Scott has a little toast. Then, we ate at Second Empire - a nice restaurant in Raleigh. Finally, we finished up with coffee near our house. It was the perfect evening. We visited and ate too much and I was little giggly from the bubbly.

So now we are starting our second decade as husband and wife. On the one hand, it is hard to believe that we have been together 10 years and I am still holding at 25 years old. On the other hand, it is hard believe that so many memories can fit in such a short amount of time. If the first 10 years is any indication of the next 10, we are in for a great ride.

That is in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mostly Normal

Just a quick check in. Life here is almost back to normal. My energy is slowly coming back. I even braved the Super Wal-Mart today. I don't care what you think about Wal-Mart - you can't beat their prices. It had been so long since my last visit, I needed one (OK, two) of everything. I literally left with two buggies full of stuff. In the process, I tested the new minivan's cargo capacity - it passed.

While, I am definitely still spending more time on the couch we are doing most of the usual things - even a recent trip to go Putt-Putt with the girls (see above). The only good thing out of all this medical stuff (other than getting cured, of course) is that Scott put all his work travel on hold. That joy is coming to end. He is probably gone for 1-2 days next week and definitely gone for 5 days the following week.

Jaley is still wearing panties most of the time. You notice I didn't claim she is potty trained - just that she is wearing panties. The mini rug cleaner is still getting quite a workout, but overall we are seeing the end of the diaper road in our family. It is a beautiful thing.

Sarah started a weekly science class. Her first class was Wednesday and they had a great time "charging" balloons to make their hair stand up. Yes, it's no secret. We are definitely hoping for a 2026 Ga Tech graduation for her.

In the end, I have decided that surgery really knocks ya for a loop. Surprise, surprise. My doc said it would take 4-6 weeks to fully recover. I am 3 1/2 weeks in, though I hate to admit it, I think she was right. I was much more in the 2 weeks is plenty mind set. However, it has been 9 days since my last medical "drama." Other than Advil (which I am actually taking for PMS), I am not taking any medicine. So it may be another couple of weeks until full speed, but I think I am on the downhill slope.

A picture from Sarah's photographic eye:

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feeling Good

Short and sweet today.

Thanks to home made traction for my neck and a fist full of muscle relaxers, I am feeling great. I may not be legal to operate heavy equipment, but I feel great.

In fact, I feel better than I have felt in months. I don't want to jinx anything (I have made this assertion before), but I think we are finally out of the medical drama woods.

I just wanted to share the good news. That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Doctors

I may have posted one blog on other topics, but the only real focus here is on medical topics. Suddenly, I know why going to the doctor is the only thing that old folks chat about. It turns out that if you aren't feeling well it is the only thing you think about. And ultimately you only talk about the things you're thinking about. Vicious circle.

So here you go, more chatter about me and my doctors visits. It only Tuesday, but it has been a busy week. I have already talked to two nurses on the phone, saw one NP, saw two MD's, had X-rays, and made two trips to the pharmacy. So what the heck is up? I'm so glad you asked.

After last weeks hematoma, I immediately started feeling better. So good that I was able to pull the girls out of day care on Friday. The funny thing about pain is that when you have it you don't feel anything else. When most of my pain was gone, I suddenly realized I had all sorts of pressure in my lower abdomen, coupled with some shooting pains and nausea. A quick pee in a cup test showed blood in my urine.

All put together, I just have a bladder infection. That is “just” as in the other alternatives - internal bleeding or kidney problems - are really scary. Final lab results come back tomorrow, but the antibiotic is doing the trick.

I hung my head low yesterday, pretty bummed that I had yet another issue. I was also bummed because the antibiotic really bothered my stomach. However, last night I found my stash of phenergan (an anti-nausea medicine). That coupled with Tylenol PM and I had my best night of sleep in months.

I woke up all smiles today, when the Jaley alarm clock rang at 6:45. I got her watching Dora and crawled back into bed for a few minutes of shut eye. As soon as I lay down, the muscles in my neck seized up. I couldn’t even move my neck and it hurt like a bitch. A few minutes later, I regained some motion, but had tingling/numbness in my arms. By then I was freaking out - about ready to crap my pants. I thought I may have a herniated or ruptured disc in my neck. My mom went through that and it ain’t pretty. I called my regular doctor's office and they saw me almost immediately.

Luckily, it was just major muscle spasms. That is “just” as in the other alternatives - skeletal or nervous system issues - are really scary.

So now my neck hurts like hell, but I am on muscle relaxers and a physical therapy regime. I hope to be better in a few days. At the very least, I got some extra rest today and that will help the recovery of all my other medical baggage.

And so it goes on the recovery road. I think (pray, hope, wish, desire, long for, and need) this to be the last bump in the road.

So that is the scoop from recovery lane. Next stop stroller lane. Lots of love.

Something other than Doctors

I have a whole bunch of more medical stories. And they're full of excitement. But instead of breaking a second promise, I am going to write about some of the other stuff here. As for the pictures, they are all back from July, since August wasn't really a picture taking month.

First, about our vocal talents. The other day Jaley was screaming. She wasn't upset she just wanted to make noise. Scott asked her to quiet down with no success (no surprise). He changed tactics and asked her why she was screaming. She looked right at him and said "me no squeaming, me singing." With this confirmation of Jaley's limited vocal talents. It is now confirmed absolutely that our family's only chance of getting on American Idol is William Hung style.

Second, tales from the toilet. Jaley decided that it is time to ditch the diapers. I'm not complaining, because the end of diapers is a glorious thing. However, Jaley's timing could be better. She made this decision the day before my second surgery. And given that she pulls her stubbornness genes from both the Pereira and Harrell sides, we couldn't convince her otherwise. However, neither nor I had the focus, energy, or desire to help with such a lofty goal. Luckily Sarah came to the rescue. She just sat Jaley down on the potty, brought in some toys and hung out with her until the first event happened. Since then, Jaley has enjoyed many other successful trips on the potty usually with Sarah directing the action. As for the not so successful times, let's just say the SpotBot is our best friend. My question now is if Sarah can potty train Jaley, what other tasks can I offload. Thanks Sarah.

Finally, new wheels. We ditched VW Station Wagon. That car was a piece of crap. It had a repair problems since the day we bought it. To make matters worse, it was a European import so repairs costs were astronomical. A new battery set us back almost $300. In July, we dropped another $900 in repairs and started looking for a new ride. Last week, we took the plunge and got an ultra cool ride. And by ultra cool, I mean a minivan. In fact, I got a mini minivan. It is the Mazda5. It is actually a little smaller than my old jalopy (the VW), but it has sliding doors and the 3rd row.

This was what my car looked like the day we bought it:

This is what my car looks like today, look carefully to see the spilled cup on the floor:

And to see what my car will look like at the end of September, watch Mom My Ride on YouTube. It will be the funniest three minutes you have today.

Back to drama in the next post. But for now, Lots of Love. That is life in the stroller lane.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I last wrote a week ago. I know I promised lots of stories about the girls, but I lied. My medical drama is much more interesting. So here goes. Last time I checked in, I was singing the praises of getting better. I re-read that blog. It was written at 5AM and I think I still was enjoying the effects of some of my "happy" medicine the hospital gave me upon my discharge. All the sentiments were true, but sorry that everything was written so "syrupy sweet."

I have since learned that the road to recovery is two steps forward and then one step back. And so it goes. I had great days Wed-Fri. I am convinced that my oophorectomy solved all my original problems - which is wonderful. At that rate I was recovering, I thought I would be 100% before we entered September. Then Saturday arrived. I took a nosedive. I slept 14 hours on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. I woke up feeling much better on Monday, but not as good as I did on Friday. On a positive note, all the sleep did my face well. My skin and eyes haven't looked that good since I was 25. It turns out that sleep is better than all the beauty products combined. On the down side, no one could see my face because I was walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

On Tuesday morning, I took my mom to the airport. She was such a help, especially through the weekend when I was Sleeping Beauty. We really couldn't have lasted the week without her help. I tried to put on a smile when she left, but truth be told I was still feeling really lousy.

I called the doctor's office on Tuesday morning. In addition to feeling lousy my large incision was spotting a little blood. The nurse called back at 4:55pm and basically said, you don't sound great, but just grin and bear it unless it gets worse and then call us immediately.

Well worse came about 10 minutes later (conveniently just after the office closed). My incision just started bleeding. Not gushing, but not just one little drop either. I called the after-hours number and the doc called me back. By that time the bleeding had stopped, so she let me skip the ER (I still haven't recovered from the 9 hour ER ordeal 10 days ago) as long as I came in first thing in the morning.

And I must tell you that the young man who mows our lawn accidentally knocked out all of our cable and internet service right then too. To make matters worse, Time Warner couldn't scheduled a repair person until Sunday. Normally, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but Scott was trying to work from home to keep an eye on me. It is pretty hard to work without the Internet. Plus, it is really hard to recover on the couch and not have TV. And the super big plus, it is impossible to take care of kids, when you recovering on the couch and you don't have TV. Luckily the DVD player still worked, so we had some relief.

And I must also tell you that Hurricane Hannah is apparently headed right for us. So we are possibly facing floods, no power, and no water at the end of this week. At our house, we currently had no bottled water, no extra batteries, and no canned goods. We do have two freezers full of food that we might as well surrender at the first gust of wind. And with all three of those, I just looked at Scott and said "Really?." I mean, "Really?" At this point, I was ready to just throw in the towel.

Thanks to Spanxs (to keep pressure on the wound and stop the bleeding - I never knew they had so many uses) and the DVD player the rest of the evening continued without issue. Wednesday morning, I dropped the girls at daycare and went straight to the doctor. I hadn't so much as stepped in the door of the doctor's office when my incision just started bleeding everywhere. Let me tell you, if you want to skip the long wait at the doctor's office, just start bleeding on their furniture.

I was convinced that I was going back to the OR, but thankfully I was wrong. I had a hematoma at the incision site. It gave way right then. It was a mess but quickly stopped bleeding. The doctor cleaned out the wound and packed it with gauze. So now, I have the lovely treat of getting to pack my own wound several times a day for the next 4 weeks. The process can be described in one simple word - GROSS. However, it is a zillion times better than a third trip to the OR (which most other bleeding complications would have required).

After the adrenaline (or was that panic) of the doctor's visit wore off. I realized that I felt much better. In fact, I felt even better than I did the prior Friday (right before this hematoma thing started). I have pushed out my "back to 100% September 1st" to "hopefully soon," but I am definitely taking two steps forward again.

And to make yesterday even better, I spotted a Time Warner Cable truck at the nearby gas station. Bold as always, I smiled and asked if he could come to the house. I don't know if was my smile or the gratuity I handed him, but he had our cable back on before I got home 15 minutes later. He was like a knight in a shiny white repair truck.

And to make everything even better, the forecast for Hurricane Hannah is down to Tropical Storm Hannah. And just in case she turns up the heat, I was able to score a couple of batteries and a few cans of soups at the grocery store today. If she cooperates and leaves us alone, Scott and I have sitter booked and dinner reservation made for Saturday night (it is officially our 10th anniversary).

So with things headed in a good direction, I have decided not to throw in the towel and just enjoy the rest of the week.

Lots of Love.

P.S. Once again, my blog topics have revolved around me and my personal drama. I promise that I will get back to chatting about the girls next time (since those are the stories you usually come to read). Or maybe I won't.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - I Feel Great

I had my surgery yesterday and I am feeling great. Here is a list of thirteen reasons why Feeling Great is a Wonderful Thing.
  1. I Feel Better Today, Than I Did On Tuesday: Yes, I feel better just 16 hours after surgery than I did the day before. I couldn't ask for more. It is so nice to be feeling better. I can only guess how great I will feel next week.
  2. Family: I have my mom and Scott caring for my every need. I want a glass of water - there it is. I want a snack - here comes the tray. The rest of our family has also been amazingly supportive, with prayers and cards and more. These folks better be careful, I may get used to this treatment and never leave the couch.
  3. Friends: My friends are AWESOME. Anything that my mom and Scott aren't doing they are. We have meals coming to the house for the next two weeks. We have play dates set up. We even have a brigade ready to run our errands. Thanks you.
  4. Full-Time Day Care: Our girls go to Carolina Kids Academy usually on Tuesdays and Thursday. It is a fantastic school. Through this whole double surgery mess, they have been wonderful by letting the girls come in full-time while I am recovering.
  5. Great Doctors: So Dr. Enochs was an idiot, but the rest of my docs are great. In addition to great care, they supported my conclusions about Dr. Enochs. In fact, my primary care doctor was so bold as to write Dr. Enoch a letter telling him his treatment of me was unacceptable. My GYN did the exact same thing verbally. I bet Dr. Enochs will treat his next patients better.
  6. No Nausea From the Surgery: The hospital gave me the royal treatment for anti-nausea meds yesterday. Plus they finally gave me pain meds that aren't killing my stomach. I told Scott I love him, but yesterday I loved my anesthesiologist more.
  7. No Nausea At All: This is even better than #6. For all the moms out there, you will understand. This pesky ovary has left me with the equivalent of moderate morning-sickness for the past eight months. It's that I feel queasy, but am still hungry sort of feeling. It's that I am not going to throw up, but my stomach is doing flips sort of feeling. As of yesterday, that feeling is finally gone. Bring on the buffet.
  8. No Radiating Pain: Once again, this is an analogy for the mommies. My pain from this cyst has been like early-to-mid stage labor. The pain always started in my abdomen, but then radiated down and up in crampy waves. That pain is gone.
  9. Day Surgery: I arrived at the hospital at 10:30AM. I left at 4:00PM. It is so great to have surgery and then go home to my own bed. Other than my two stays for birthing babies, I prefer to spend as little time as possible at hospitals. Day surgery makes that possible.
  10. Laparoscopic Surgery: Tiny little incisions make for a quick recovery and less pain. I am all for that.
  11. My Three Inch Incision: This cut was more the old school "open surgery" size, but it marks the spot where they took out my right ovary. With that organ gone, I am now on the road to recovery. For the record my ovary was the size of an egg. For Tom, it was chicken egg sized and thankfully not emu egg sized.
  12. Blue Skies Ahead: My hopes are high that this surgery solved my pain/nausea/I always gotta pee problems. With that we only see blue skies ahead. 2008 has been a challenging year (with the loss of my father and my pain/health issues), but I think all the obstacles are behind us. Back in June, I wrote about taking a true summer vacation, just to indulge myself and my family. Albeit, we have had a lot of fun times, it wasn't the summer I envisioned. So the summer of fun, is now the fall of fun. I see lots of great field trips, adventures, and play time in the coming weeks.
  13. I Am Truly Blessed: This ovarian cyst has been a real pain in the a**, but thanks to modern medicine my troubles seem to be solved. I look at my family, my friends, my home, my town, and even my new ugly scar. It doesn't take long for me to see how lucky I am. I am so thankful for all my blessings.
So that is my Thursday Thirteen for this week. While I am feeling great, I am not 100% yet. So I am off to have to take some pain meds and then plan to veg out on the couch.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

P.S. For the past few weeks, all of my blog topics have revolved around me and my personal drama. I promise that I will get back to chatting about the girls next time (since those are the stories you usually come to read).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hi Ho Hi Ho, It's Off to the OR I Go

Yes, that is right. One surgery wasn't dramatic enough, so I decided to do the whole thing again. Tomorrow (Wednesday) it is time to revisit the OR. Unlike last time, I have full confidence this will solve my problem.

But, I have jumped ahead of myself, let me fill you in on the past week. As I mentioned, the source of all of this drama and the source of my pain is a large cyst on my right ovary. I will fill you in on all of the information, but I want to start with what is most important.

In doctor speak my cyst is "unremarkable." In the rest of life I want to be remarkable, but nothing is better than a medical test that reads "unremarkable." My cyst is large, but it doesn't look dangerous. There is absolutely no indication of cancer or anything worrisome. For this, I am truly blessed.

It may be unremarkable, but in my mind this cyst is like a rebel coup, it has just moved in and taken over. An ultrasound found the cyst back in May, but it has probably been causing my issues since late 2007. A normal ovary is about the size of a small walnut, mine is almost 3 times the normal size. This cyst obviously hurts, but it is also pushing on everything else. Much like a woman who is 8 months pregnant, I have to pee all the time. Plus it is bothering my stomach, making me queasy most of the time. While the doctors will happily give me all the "good" pain medicines, I am a wimp with any type of narcotics. I just throw them up. So I have just plugged along with Advil (and Toradol on bad days).

Until, Dr. Enochs' stunt, the Advil and Toradol regime was almost good enough. That all changed with the exploratory surgery on 8/13. Dr. Enochs didn't actually fix anything, but he did poke around and take pictures. I recovered from the surgery itself, but my cyst apparently didn't like being disturbed. It said, "Gigi, if you thought I was bothering you before, let me show you what I can really do." In the past two weeks, all of my symptoms jumped into high gear.

On Friday, I had the MRI to find out more about the cyst. The MRI itself was fine. They slid me in the tube and let me listen to some music on headphones. With the exception of the machine's loud clanging , it was really a very relaxing 30 minutes. Unfortunately, one of the medicines they gave me did make me feel horrible later on, but the actual MRI went great.

By Saturday and Sunday, my grin and bear it season was over. Scott took point with the girls and I lounged. I lounged on the couch, in bed, in the backyard, and basically anywhere I could. I moved around as little as possible. One quick trip to the grocery store, left me needing a nap.

By Sunday evening, I was done - D-O-N-E - done. I called my GYN. She said to go to the ER to get checked out. I left Scott with the girls and arrived to a standing room only ER. Five hours later, I finally left the waiting room. A friend from business school who happened to be in town came over and stayed with the girls (thanks Brian). Scott joined me at 11PM. They ran a few tests gave me a shot of narcotics and sent me home at 3AM. I threw up the medicine as soon as I got home. So it was a 9 hour visit that left me exactly the same, except more tired and more nauseas.

However, a trip to the ER definitely got everyone's attention. Like magic all of my test results (Friday's MRI, blood work, another ultrasound) which were supposed to take 5-7 days to process were ready and printed by 8AM Monday morning.

Yesterday, I went to both my primary care doctor (who is one of the best doctors I have ever come across) and my GYN. They both agreed - get rid of the cyst. The surgery was scheduled ASAP - and Wednesday 8/27 at 1:15 is the time. Technically, I am having a laparoscopic unilateral right-side salpingo-oophorectomy. In English, they are going to use small incisions to remove the cyst as well as my right ovary and fallopian tube (the second two are casualties of the cyst).

While, I am a little sad to say good-bye to my right ovary, it isn't a big deal. My left ovary will just step up and take over the duties of her missing partner. Theoretically, there shouldn't even be an impact to my fertility. Nana and Mimi don't get your hopes up. Scott and I do not plan to test the outcome - we are happy as a family of four.

I still hold that Dr. Enochs (the first surgeon) is an idiot. I am still pissed that I had an entire surgery for absolutely no reason. I even have three doctors who have voiced the same opinion. As my primary care doctor (did I mention how great he is) said, "why the hell didn't Enochs take care of this on the 12th."

Pissed or not, I can't change the past. I am now focused on the present. And the present means surgery tomorrow and a quick recovery (probably just a week or two). After that I am looking forward to boring, normal, regular life. After 11 months of chronic (and often debilitating) pain, nothing could be finer than chasing after Sarah and Jaley on the playground pain-free.

Once again, all of our friends and family have joined in to help. Scott has been a gem taking point on the girls even after long days in the office. My mom is flying back into town tonight and taking over the house. Jan and Mike offered to drive here from TN to help out. My neighbor, Kim, brought over dinner last night. I already know that more meals are on their way. Even Sarah and Jaley have been trying (and even succeeding) to be on their best behavior. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such loving people. I said it before, but it is worth saying again. I am truly blessed. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm Not a Man - I'm a Woman - With Woman Problems

What did I learn from last week's surgery? While doctors are experts on the human body, I am an expert on my body. You know how the pain from stubbing your toe is different from the pain of a throbbing headache. Well the pain in my abdominal is "woman pain." It is my PMS pain, it is my I'm in pre-term labor pain, it is my it's that time of the month pain. Of course the pain I have now is worse and more frequent, but is in the spot where I always have "woman pain."

When this first started, I went to my gynecologist. She took care of one thing, but it didn't solve the problem. I went back to see her again. At that time, an ultrasound even showed the ovarian cyst I mentioned in my last post. However, the cyst is on the right ovary and my pain is on the left.

So for the past three months, we have been on this hernia, no hernia cycle. With that cycle complete, I am back to where I started. I know my body and this is an ovarian problem.

Yesterday, I went to see the gynecologist. I went prepared with a long speech. I had studies about referred pain (did you know that with abdominal pain - 35% of the time patients "feel" it in the wrong spot?). I had a personal history of this problem (back with a ruptured ovarian cyst at 16). I had a family history (my mom had cysts her whole life and a hysterectomy before age 40). I even had a family history of referred pain.

I had my speech prepared. My doctor took one look at the pictures of my ovary (from the surgery) and said - "honey, that's your problem. Your pain may be referred to the wrong side, but that ovary is what's your problem." I didn't even need a speech. She agreed with me before I said a word.

With that diagnosis, I get to have SURGERY AGAIN. I need to get an MRI first and then we will schedule it. Probably in the next two weeks.

Unlike the surgery with Dr. Enochs, I feel much more confident that this is truly my problem. However, once bitten twice shy. Once my MRI is done and I get a copy of my surgical records, I plan to double check the diagnosis with another doctor. Hopefully, the two will concur, the surgery will happen, and my pain will be gone.

No matter what happens next, I will keep you posted.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Road to Recovery - NOT

Have you ever taken a daisy and pulled off the petals? He loves me. He loves me not. That is about how I feel on this whole hernia thing. I have a hernia. I have a hernia not. I have a hernia. And now with surgery complete, the definitive answer is I have a hernia not - AND never did.

I will state it simply. Dr. Paul Enochs of Cary Surgical Specialists is an idiot.

Last Wednesday's surgery was technically a diagnostic abdominal laparoscopy and possible inguinal hernia repair. In English, Dr. Enoch was supposed to make small incisions and use a camera look inside. Based on what he found, he would repair the hernia or fix whatever else was wrong.

Here is what actually happened. Dr. Enochs did make small incisions and did use a camera to look inside. There was no hernia. He took pictures and closed me up. He completely ignored the bulging ovarian cyst that was in the same area and didn't fix that problem. Instead, he came out of surgery and said that he gave me a shot of cortisone, cauterized the area, and didn't 't fix anything. He said it was a referred pain situation (meaning the location where I feel the pain is different from it's source) and I would have to find another doctor.

Dr. Enochs skipped the entire part of the surgery that was "fix whatever else was wrong." He didn't even bother to get a gynecological consult on the cyst. He just ignored not. It is important to point out that I was originally referred to him from my gynecologist because I was complaining of ovarian pain.

So I went home to recover. My mother suffers from horrible nausea after anesthesia and I feared the same. My fears were definitely warranted, but anti-nausea medicine in the hospital is a wonderful thing. I definitely didn't feel good, but I was well enough to go home.

However, the stupid Dr. Enochs sent me with a prescription for pain medicine he already knew made me nauseous. I tried the hydrocodone/acetaminophen combo pill back in May. It made me horribly sick and we switched to another medicine. The jerk sent me home with a prescription for the same medicine. However, he wrote it down under the brand name, Lortab (so I didn't know it was the same stuff). I quizzed the nurse about it medication. She assured me is wasn't hydrocodone. She assured me I wouldn't be nauseous. She's was wrong.

Scott filled the prescription and I took the pills. I felt horrible. I didn't look closely at the bottle until the next morning. I found out I was taking hydrocodone. I was furious!!! I immediately switch to simple Advil and I immediately felt better. I was sore, but at least I could pick my head off the pillow.

By Friday, I was feeling much better. By Saturday, I was back to myself. And since, I didn't have a hernia repaired, I didn't have any restrictions on lifting. That meant I could pick up Jaley - a very good thing. Unfortunately, back to myself also meant that I had the exact same pain as before the surgery.

So I headed into the weekend in the exact same place as before the surgery. I was in pain, no plan to fix it. I am so tired of taking Advil. I am so tired of hurting. I just want this fixed. I am angry with Dr. Enochs. However, I am so happy that he didn't find anything really bad. I am also so happy for laparoscopy. I was recovered from the surgery in a few days. In the past, it would have been weeks to recover. Although my problem isn't solved, we know a couple of more things that it isn't. Sometimes in medicine diagnosing a problem is a process of elimination. We are a little bit closer.

This saga continues, but I will take a break from writing for now.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive. Your kind words for me and mean words for Dr. Enochs are wonderful. Thanks to Stephanie and Sarah for dinner. It fed us all weekend. A special thanks to my mom and Scott. They cared for me and the girls. But even more importantly, they have listened to me ruminate on this issue incessantly.

That is life in the stroller lane.