Three Months

It’s crazy how fast time has been going by – my last post here was in December 2016?! Perhaps that means my day-to-day was too busy to take time out of my day to write. I’m not one to write in the evenings – that’s “zone out and relax” time for me. 😀

What’s different now? Well, this week is my first week of a three month sabbatical from work! Automattic, the company I work for, has the option to take a three month sabbatical after you’ve been at the company for five years. Since my five year anniversary was at the end of February, I decided to wait until the weather was nicer so I’ll be out May through July.

The most common question I get when people find out about my sabbatical is “any big trips planned?”

I know a lot of my colleagues took some amazing, multi-week trips while on their sabbaticals, but that wasn’t something I wanted to do with my time. Additionally, with Pixel being 18 years old now, it’s more difficult for us to both be away from home for any length of time. Between her twice-daily thyroid medicine and the fact that she gets crazy stressed out when we’re gone for more than a day or two, we’re not going to put her through that just for a trip.

Seriously, how can you not give her everything in the world to make her happy? 😍

But what I really wanted to do is work on projects around the house – stuff that I don’t want to spend nights and weekends doing.

The last time I took any substantial time off do to home improvement projects was back in 2012 when I took three weeks off when we first moved into that particular house to unpack and paint 70% of the rooms in the house. Satisfying stuff.

So what’s on deck for my next three months? A rough list:

  • Major tree and shrub removal
  • Replacing the last two sets of windows on the house
  • Constructing a garden shed
  • Painting: kitchen, master bedroom, Tim’s studio, guest bedroom, and possibly my office
  • Having my mom stay with me for a week
  • Landscaping
  • Electrical work: fixing some issues with switches, installing new lights, new outlets, etc.
  • Designing Tim’s studio space
  • Dialing in my nutrition/exercise plan
  • A few day/overnight trips?

All in all, not a bad list.

Monday we had the tree and shrub removal done. We had a giant cedar tree in the front of the house along with a big spruce on the side of the garage that were long overdue for removal. We also had a birch in the front yard that was encroaching on the roof of our house that they trimmed back. But the biggest project for them was our silver maple in the back yard. They took down two huge branches (one was a foot in diameter) and trimmed back anything that was overhanging the roof. It was wild watching them at work – they use a series of ropes and wear climbing harnesses to scale up in the tree with their saws and chainsaws to take stuff down. Very glad I paid someone else to do it.

After seeing the amazing results (I really should have taken before and after shots) we bought an electric chainsaw (the Ryobi 40v one) mainly to cut up the big branches I had them leave behind for firewood – they had a wood chipper and took care of the smaller stuff. We also have been obliterating the smaller overgrown and half-dead cedar and rhododendron shrubs I hated from around the house. Looks SO much better now. 😀

The shed was on low my list, but after finding a killer deal for one at Costco, that plan got advanced a bit and I’ll probably get that done this month.

My mom coming to visit for a week is because my sister needs a break. Since my dad died almost two years ago, my sister and her husband have been living with my mom out at the family farm. My sister is the one that would have eventually gotten the farmhouse anyway, so being there now gives my mom a bit of security too. But with anything, one needs a break so I’m happy to do that for her. Plus it’ll be fun to have Mom around when I don’t have to work. 🙂

The whole nutrition/exercise thing is more of a “build a habit” goal. I already exercise regularly by going to CrossFit and using the rower we bought around Christmas, but I need to get my cooking game back on point. I love cooking, I just need to get my meal planning back on track. I’m going to meal plan and make sure I have all the stuff I need on hand to make dinner without it being a big production, otherwise I’ll just say “fuck it” and order takeout or pizza. Since I’ll have all the time in the world and can grocery shop and prep ingredients, I can get into that routine then once I go back to work in August, it’ll be muscle memory at that point.

Hopefully.

All in all, I’m going to enjoy the house we work so hard for and enjoy the time off to rest and recharge.

Also, expect me to write more than once every 18 months. 😀

December Goals

Last year, I did the Runner’s World Run Streak, where I ran one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I missed one day because I was sick, but I made up for that day with a two mile run later that week.

This year, running isn’t a possibility because of my recent surgery and I was sad that I was going to have to miss out on participating. 😦

Also, it was easier, weather-wise, to run outside every day because we were in Oregon and the weather never really got below freezing the entire time. Now that I’m back in Minnesota, it’s a different story. We have been lucky in the fact that it’s December 1st and we still haven’t had snow that’s stuck around, but that definitely won’t last.

I can’t do the run streak this year, but what I CAN do is have a walk streak for the month of December. I’m going to walk a minimum of one mile every day this month. I was inspired by my friend Jeremy’s 30-day goal posts on his site. But, instead of 30 days I’m going to make my goal follow the calendar month to make keeping track easier.

This poses a few challenges:

Needing a place to do this when the weather eventually turns to actual MN winter.
Done! I have a membership at the YMCA and they have an indoor track which will make the indoor walking much nicer than walking on a treadmill.

Holidays.
Last year, since I was able to do everything outdoors (even in the 40-ish degree rain/drizzle), holidays didn’t matter. I just laced up my shoes and went outside. This year, it’ll be different as I’m pretty darn sure the YMCA will be closed on Christmas Day. I guess I’m going to get all my warmest gear out to tromp a mile through my neighborhood that day. ❄

Motivation.
I’m having a tough time with motivation because I’m not in the best head space right now. Still struggling with grief from my Dad’s passing and the shorter days/colder weather is making me want to burrito myself in a fleece blanket and never leave the house. Working remotely: the struggle is real.

However, when I put my mind on doing something, I’m going to do it come hell or high water. Then, hopefully, this month of activity will allow me to start going back to CrossFit. I miss the hard workouts, but I also have to realize it could take 6-12 months before I’m fully healed from the hysterectomy and able to push myself as much as I used to. I’m so impatient!

What goals have you made for yourself this month?

One Week.

Well, technically it’s been one week and one day since my surgery, but that doesn’t make as succinct of a post title. So sue me. 😛

A few things that have surprised me about this whole journey:

  • How many women have had this procedure done.
  • How many women don’t talk about having this procedure done.

I say “fuck it” – I’m going to talk about it.

I should note that if you at all get squicked out by talk of surgery, you should just stop reading now. There’s not going to be any pictures or anything related with my surgery in the post – but sometimes people even get squicked out by descriptions so just call this your fair warning.

I’m serious. I’m going to talk about all sorts of stuff – so just close this window and don’t come crying to me if you get squicked out. 😎

Now then!

Surgery went well. I had what is known as a “total abdominal hysterectomy”: meaning my fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus were all removed. My ovaries were the wild-card; my doctors didn’t know if I’d be able to keep them until they were doing surgery. Thankfully, I was able to keep them!

I should say I got to keep ~1.75 of my ovaries – one of the fibroids I had was growing into one of my ovaries and they had to cut a bit of it out to get the fibroid off of it. However, it shouldn’t affect its functionality, so I should be good hormone-wise.

What was removed ended up weighing almost two pounds!! Good lord. A normal uterus weighs approximately 50g and two pounds roughly converts to 900g. No wonder I was having so many problems!

My doctor said that one of the multiple (I think they stopped counting after six) fibroids was the “size of a baby’s head”. Fuck. No wonder I had to have an abdominal incision to get it out! I have a photo of what was removed – don’t worry, it’s not getting posted online – and it doesn’t look anything like a female reproductive system. 😨

(If you’re a good friend and you’re local, I’m happy to show you the photo. But be forewarned: it’s gross. My husband has not and will not even look at it.)

My doctor also said that I most likely had been suffering from this (and the symptoms of it) for at minimum two years. One indicator of that was another fibroid had grown into and got stuck in my pelvic bones and they had a heck of a time getting it out!

Looping back to the day of surgery, I’m pretty thankful that my anesthesiologist’s team had me out before we got to the operating room. I think if had seen the equipment and all the machines there I would have had a bit of a freak out. Thus, the last thing I remember was kissing my husband and getting wheeled out of my pre-op room, then the next thing I remember was waking up and groggily asking the nurse there when my surgery was going to start. She laughed and said it was all done and I was in recovery.

I will say being on the receiving end of surgery is much less nerve-wracking then being the person waiting in the waiting room having been through a few surgeries with my parents this year.

My incision ended up being the horizontal or “bikini cut” type. Thank goodness! My swimsuit modeling career can continue!

I’ll just pause so you can fully get that laugh out. 😂

Me? A bikini model? That IS hilarious, Bill!

Me? A bikini model? That IS hilarious, Bill!

I didn’t have any staples/stitches on the outside but surgical “super glue” – pretty cool stuff. I have dissolvable stitches internally, and those should dissolve over the next month or so as I heal.

I spent two days in the hospital eating applesauce, jello, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs because that’s all I could stomach. I also spent two days watching HGTV and yelling at the TV because of the idiots on Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and this abomination of a show called My Lottery Dream Home. Now I love me some David Bromstad, but my god do we need to encourage people who were previously poor spend a shit ton of money on a “dream house” that they won’t be able to upkeep with monthly maintenance costs and property taxes? Have we learned nothing from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? GAWD!

Well that got off track a bit. 😆

The first week of recovery featured:

  • Numbness around my incision. This is due to the nerves in my abdomen being, well, severed due to the the incision. Duh.
  • My gastrointestinal system being – let’s just put this delicately – inconsistent. Some days there was no action, other days there was LOTS of action, and most of the time I felt like a gassy antelope. Gas pain + abdominal incision = DO NOT RECOMMEND.
  • Diet consisting primarily of oatmeal, pudding, applesauce, jello, apple juice, cranberry juice, chicken noodle soup, and peppermint tea. I got gutsy and had some coffee and some eggs on toast for breakfast one day and holy shit (LOLZ) did I pay for that one. See the point above for reference.
  • A notepad with references to the two pain medications and a medication to “move things along” as referenced by point two above. One of my pain meds is a controlled narcotic, which makes your gastrointestinal system be all like “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” like it’s Gandalf or some shit.
  • Existing in our spare bedroom watching TV. The bed in our bedroom was way too high for me to be able to get in and out of but thankfully we kept our old platform bed and Tim set it up in our spare bedroom so it’s much easier to get in and out of bed.
  • Coughing or laughing. OW FUCKING OW OMFG. I had to stay away from watching comedies or anything that could possibly make me laugh because holy shit you don’t realize how much your abdomen is involved in either of those things until it happens after abdominal surgery. I’m terrified of a sneeze coming on because you can’t stop that. 😱

This week has found a lot of the numbness starting to wear off right around the time when I need to wean myself off the narcotic painkillers. My appetite is back, but my gastrointestinal system is not back to normal. I wasn’t able to have any carbonated drinks that first week (see point two above again) but I’ve been able to keep ginger ale down with no adverse affects. I had two slices of cheese pizza for dinner last night (go shorty…it’s yer birthday) but I followed it up with some Activia yogurt to help my system digest the dairy/refined carbs. I didn’t feel the greatest, but nothing awful happened either. Thus my pizza days go back on hold for a while as I should avoid dairy (except for the yogurt) and greasy foods for a month or two.

I hate that I can’t do much of anything for at least six weeks. I hate feeling so helpless and I hate that I have to ask my husband for so much stuff. I know he says he’s happy to do it, but it has to be a shock for him as well to have to deal with every little stupid thing I need after being with a pretty damn self-sufficient partner for over ten years.

And yes, I’m an indecisive turd when I’m not feeling well. He’s had to run to the store for my latest demands every day since I’ve been home. Sorry sweetie.

However, even with post-surgery pain/discomfort – I already feel better. I don’t feel John Hurt with the Alien fetus is trying to burst out of my abdomen anymore.

From the series

From the series “Coupling” – one of my all-time favorites.

I’m also down about five pounds from my pre-surgery weight. I suppose not being able to eat pizza or drink wine on a whim helps that I’m sure. I do think that crazy pile of reproductive organs was also giving me some crazy amounts of hormones as well. I’ve been having issues this year with “the girls” getting bigger. Like to the point where I had to buy bigger bras every few months. Now they’re back to a normal size. Could it be related? Who knows – but I do know that I don’t feel like an overstuffed sausage anymore.

I also took time off and would be going back to work next week – but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to by then. Sitting in a chair or standing for long periods of time really bothers me even with an abdominal binder. I have a sit/stand desk but I don’t really have a comfortable office chair. I have one of those ergonomic chairs that is supposed to “engage your core” and since I’m not supposed to be doing jack shit with my core for 6-8 weeks, I don’t know what I’ll do. I certainly can’t stand for eight hours and trying to type while in bed bothers my back/neck. Fuck.😩

(Yes, I wrote all this in bed. But I started the draft yesterday and had to quit after my back/neck started bothering me. 🙁)

Pixel tries to help, but she's an awful caretaker. Sleeping on the job again.

Pixel tries to help, but she’s an awful caretaker. Sleeping on the job again.

I’m so thankful for Automattic and their “take what time you need” stance with regards to time off – especially after this year. I don’t know what I would have done if I worked for another, less-understanding company. Plus I’ve been getting some “get well soon” presents from some pretty amazing co-workers that’s really brightened my day. ♥

Once I’m back on my feet, I’ll be back to animated gifs and nonsense in no time.