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.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Now the Drama - Crap, I am a Man

Life in the Stroller Lane
Yesterday was about the fun, today, I write about the drama at our house.

Do you remember the I am Not a Man post in May? I guess I fibbed. That whole hernia problem never did go away. I actually thought the problem was getting better. Our big, wild trip to Alaska was virtually pain-free. However, looking back that I probably just willed and medicated the pain away.

The week after we returned, the pain was back and with a vengeance. And has been ever since. A couple of weeks ago I went to our family doctor. Since I am a lady and doctors think the Pill will fix anything with women, he had me give that a try (endometriosis was an outside possibility). When Jaley was in to see him for her two-year check up, I told him I was feeling worse not better. He said, like it or not, it was time to see the surgeon.

Even without my my family doctor's opinion, there were a few other signs that it was time.
  1. Recently, when I bought Ibuprofen I was disappointed that they didn't sell them in bottles larger than 500 pills.
  2. When ever I drive by someone out for a jog, I hurt just watching them.
  3. I recently told the girls that mommies don't roughhouse (now you definitely know something is wrong).
  4. And the big one, Scott told me that if I didn't make an appointment, he was going to do it for me.
So, I scheduled an appointment for last week. After waiting for two hours in the office, they said the doctor was stuck in surgery (probably out golfing) and I could reschedule or see the nurse practitioner. What do you think I chose? I didn't want to wait again, so I saw the NP. She read my chart and said the doctor had simply written if I came back for another visit, it was time for surgery. So much for tests, examinations, or asking questions. They gave me two choice, Aug. 13 or Sept. 24.

So next Wednesday it is time to take a peek inside. The guess is a hernia, which the doc is going to fix. But just in case that isn't the culprit, he is going to take a peek at everything else (gallbladder, ovaries, etc.). Since they can do the surgery laparoscopically, recovery should be pretty quick.

The tricky part is with a hernia repair they don't want me to lift anything over 15 lbs for a month. I asked half the office how I was supposed to do that with a 26 lb, two-year old. They shrugged their shoulders and asked me if I wanted to have the surgery a second time? Point taken.

Gratefully, my mom is flying in to help out with the kids for a couple of weeks. A mom's work is never done (even when your kids are grown). Thanks Mommy. And gratefully, our daycare said they have space for Jaley to go full-time for the next month.

So that is the drama around here. This week has been a crazy rush of scheduling, planning and figuring. Everyone I have told has been so kind with offers of prayers and support. I even hit up my friend Angela's husband (he is an anesthesiologist) for advice in the OR. Thank you to everyone.

Now, I am off to sit on the couch, since they made me stop taking my good medicines until after surgery.

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

Fun Stuff Around Here

Life In the Stroller Lane
As usual there is drama at the Harrell house, but in the words of Scarlett O'Hara, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." Today, I will tell you about some of the fun stuff happening around here. Tomorrow I will give you a post on the drama.

Your thoughts may be like Rhett Butler, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," but I don't care. I am going to post it.

Last week, Sarah went to Mimi and Poppa's place in the mountains. In the entire four days, she only had a 4 minute bout of homesickness (my Sarah missing lasted all week). She had so much fun playing with Mimi and Poppa, plus she got to go to a day camp a couple of days. Away from home and going to camp, she is definitely a big girl these days.

Although I missed Sarah, it was hang with only Jaley last week. I had more one-on-one time last week than it seems I have had with her in the past year. And funny enough she didn't have nearly as many tantrums (hmmm, I wonder why?)

For the weekend, we drove to the mountains to collect Sarah. We also planned to go camping one night. We packed it all: tents, sleeping bags, firewood, s'mores fixings, trail mix, hiking boots, etc. The car was filled to the top. However, once we got there I didn't feel good and it rained. We didn't wait for the third strike and bailed on actually camping. However, to keep the spirit, we set up the tent on the porch and made s'mores on the grill. Scott slept outside with Sarah and I enjoyed a luxurious king size bed all to myself. Now that sounds like my kind of camping.

While this week week doesn't have too much to report on the fun side, there are always highlights in the day. Jaley got up with the sun on Tuesday morning. She climbed out of her crib put on her sunglasses and her Dora Purse. Then, she walked in our room and screamed "Hi Mommy. Me have good nap. Let's go." With that type of wake up call, you really can't have a bad day.

In honor of the Beijing Olympics, we are ordering take-out Chinese and watching the opening ceremonies. That's life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.