I have to confess I am having a tough time mentally getting back into my normal routine after vacation and surgery downtime. To be honest I am not sure I want to go back to my old routine. But I do think these writing challenges are good for me. I need to keep practicing if I am ever going to improve and learn and grow. I love the story of the baby loon that inspired this week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch. I rather wish I was sitting on a cabin porch by a lake right now!
Here is this week’s entry.
FOR ONE DAY
Kate lies in bed listening to the quiet. The boys are off on a fishing trip. Laundry and groceries flit across her mind. And then, what if for one day she did only what she wanted to do? She breathes deep, does she dare?
In the shower she contemplates and discards options. Then the answer arrives.
She throws her journal, sketchbook and pencils in her backpack. She stops at the cute corner café she always wanted to try and requests a box lunch: “Surprise me,” she says. She heads toward the river, hiking until she finds solitude. Tranquility. Herself.
I’m back and in pretty good shape. Mostly I have been tired but not in any pain following my hysterectomy. Where to start? At the beginning is always best.
My spouse dropped me off at 5:30a. I had studied the map and knew where to go, down the hallway to the right. I walked into the lobby of the Women’s Center and whoa, it was HUGE. I panicked a bit and asked the security guard the way to the women’s surgical center: down the hallway on the right, just as I thought, I just couldn’t see it.
And then I turned into the hallway and Holy Stephen King it was my nightmare come true. A mile long, crazy wide and completely deserted. I started taking slow, deliberate steps on rubbery legs and there was the sign for the surgical center and I turned in, to find a nice normal sized waiting room with people in it! Whew.
I had to wait a bit to check in (two people ahead of me) and then I went to the prep room and got changed and pee’d in a cup and had blood drawn and got my IV set up. My Doctor popped in and then the anesthesiologist. Everything moved pretty quickly.
The anesthesiologist told me his three goals: 1) keep me asleep, 2) keep me unaware and 3) keep me pain free. I added 4) keep me alive (seems that should have been first but apparently it is a given in a hospital). He said something about 10 or 15 seconds and then I would be out. He wasn’t kidding. I was wheeled into the OR, got a glimpse of one wall, didn’t see a single person and the next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery.
I have to confess I still feel a bit creeped out about all kinds of things happening to me and having no awareness what so ever. I know that was the goal, but still. I won’t make another Stephen King reference, but yeah, that is what I was thinking.
In recovery I was asked if I felt nauseous, a little, and poof it was gone. I felt cold and was covered with another warm blanket. And I had to pee. I was told this was normal and I remembered I had a catheter in. Took a few minutes but I was finally able to relax and “let go”. I didn’t feel groggy or any pain, rather relaxed really. I had to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a room to be ready and then “transport” (a person to push my bed) to arrive.
And off I went to the women’s unit. I felt really lucky to be kept in the smaller women’s unit, maybe 10 or 12 rooms? And very quiet, separate from the main hospital.
Three and half hours later I was up and walking around. I had an IV with low dose pain meds (Percocet I think) and a button I could push if I needed more. I never did. No pain at all, just a bit of cramping (I’ve had way worse menstrual cramps) and once I started walking around that went away.
The funniest moment was after my first walk the nurse explained how to order dinner. At this point I am back in bed and I am looking at the remote that calls the nurse and operates the tv and light as she explains the number to dial. Um, no numbers on this thing. As she is leaving the room I say “how do I order dinner again?” She looks at me, obviously a bit concerned as I have been pretty lucid up to this point. “You dial…” and then realizes I can’t see the phone which is behind the bed on the far side of the door, an area I hadn’t seen yet. We both laughed with relief, happy nothing had gone awry with my brain.
I had dinner (cucumber slices, fruit cup and chicken salad with a brownie I ate later), played UNO with my spouse and son and then walked around some more. I felt pretty good and they unhooked the IV with the pain meds because my poor kidney’s were working overtime with all the extra fluid. And I didn’t have to put the oxygen back on. I had taken it off to eat and then “forgot” to put it back on. But without the pain meds I didn’t need it.
Visitors left and I watched “The Birdman of Alcatraz” which was just starting on TCM. The biggest side effect I had was a crazy dry mouth. I had been drinking water all afternoon but it wasn’t helping. I had my husband bring me some mints and decaf tea and by the end of the movie my mouth felt much better.
I tried to sleep for two hours but it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t in pain or cramping but felt stiff and uncomfortable. The catheter was bothering me a bit too. I got up and walked around, told the night shift I was conducting a surprise inspection, making sure they hadn’t snuck off to the gym. After 30 minutes I felt a little better and of course I was pretty tired. I talked to the nurse and she said she could remove the catheter. Better. Then at 12:45a a guy showed up to draw blood. What? At 1:30a the med tech came in take my vitals. Seriously? If I had been asleep I would have not been happy.
After that I did fall asleep and woke up at 5:00a. I used the bathroom and then had an ultrasound of my bladder to make sure I was “voiding properly”. I was. My doctor stopped by at 7:30a impressed with how well I was doing. She had been checking my chart from home and couldn’t believe I was sitting up playing cards the evening before. Those nurses documented everything! And by 9:00a I was ready to go, breakfasted, showered, passed “pee protocol” and signed discharge paperwork.
Since I have been home I haven’t had any pain, cramping or bleeding. I did have a terrible stiff neck the first day but a heating pad helped. The only thing is how tired I have been. I have had an afternoon nap and slept through the night everyday since I have been home. I did note that both my pre and post op blood work showed I was anemic so I wonder if that is a contributing factor?
I had my doubts about having a hysterectomy but it was the right choice. In addition to the polyp and fibroids evidence of endometriosis and adhesions were found.
Well this is a crazy long post so I’ll end here. Pictures are from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Hoping to do a Photo Friday post, we’ll see.
For Christmas I got Gretchen Ruben’s book “Better Than Before”. I was hoping it would help me with two habits: writing and eating (actually more like not eating).
I started strong with the writing and floundered with the eating. Six months later I am floundering with the writing and doing well with the eating. Kind of a surprise I must confess.
Today we will talk about my eating habits. Being a woman, ahem, of a certain age my weight was on the rise. Over the last few years I have read all about various eating schemes and how your body handles fat, sugar, carbohydrates, whole foods etc. One thing I read that has really stuck in my head is how we all think it is normal to gain weight as we age. But that is a relatively recent phenomenon. It used to be that as your metabolism slowed your appetite adjusted. But we have wrecked our regulating mechanism with vast quantities of sugar and processed foods.
I had fallen into the habit of eating all the time. A cookie here, a piece of dark chocolate there, a handful of almonds while cooking dinner. My meals were fairly healthy for the most part but my snacking was out of control. I knew snacking was what I was doing wrong, I just didn’t know how to stop it.
I sat down and had a think about my eating and decided my solution had to meet two criteria: it had to be easy and it had to make sense to me. From Ruben’s book I learned that I am a questioner. Things have to be logical for me. (And I thought I was an obliger until I took the test in the back, so take the test!)
Ruben went low carb (in the book at least) like magic. She read a book and poof she started eating low carb with no effort. (Am I the only one who read that and wanted to shove her face first into a donut?) I tried low carb but it didn’t make sense to me that apples and carrots were “bad” foods. And the minute I deny myself something I immediately start to crave it.
In the course of reading about low carb I stumbled on to Intermittent Fasting. Hmm. 1. It was easy enough. You just don’t eat for x number of hours each day. Doesn’t cost anything, you don’t have to track anything or look up values of foods. No issues with eating out and wondering what is legal for whatever your current scheme is. 2. It makes sense. You give your body a break from digesting foods and allow it access to your fat stores. Way back when people fasted all the time because they couldn’t find food. And fasting periods (and feasting periods) are something all the major religions have in common. Interesting.
I decided to give it a try. I started with 12 and 12 and worked my way up to 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feasting. Turns out it wasn’t hard at all. The first few weeks I focused on the fasting hours. Whenever I ate last in the day I would wait sixteen hours until I ate again. I remained flexible with the times but eventually settled into last eating between 5:00p and 6:00p, sometimes earlier. I think eating earlier helps reduce the night sweats.
About a month into it I had lost 3 or 4 pounds. (I didn’t think to weigh myself that first day!) For me the most important part was how I felt. Literally with no effort my eating habits settled down. I am no longer craving or thinking about food all the time.
I typically eat two meals and somedays a snack or treat. But if I feel hungry I eat three meals. I eat whatever I want. I thought for sure I would binge on junk food but an odd thing happened, for the most part the urge for junk food has dissipated. I eat salads and apples with peanut butter and grilled salmon. Yes, I still eat a cookie or a brownie, but no more than one a day and they are homemade (individually wrapped and stowed in the freezer in the garage). And after I eat it I don’t desire more, I am satisfied.
I don’t wake up starving and often eat in a smaller window, many days I eat at 10:00a and 3:00p. But I don’t force it, I just let it happen naturally.
I am a little bummed I haven’t lost more weight but I am patient. I am now on week seven and have no problems sticking to a 6 hour eating window. Cravings are gone and really the best part is no longer thinking about food so much. I don’t snack anymore. I take it day by day and ask myself what I want to eat when I am hungry and then eat it. I am more mindful and focused when I eat and then I don’t think about food again until I am truly hungry.
The moral of the story is not that Intermittent Fasting works, but that it works for me. Each individual needs to keep trying different things until they find what works for them. So keep trying and good luck.
I’ll be taking a blogging break most of July. An unplugged vacation and then my surgery are on the agenda. Hope you enjoy this slice of summer!
This week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was to write a story that involved paint.
This is what I wrote first:
I know it is hormones and heat causing my apathy but it is still scary. Scary to sit and not be able to think of a single thing one wants to do. Scary not knowing when one is going to get one’s self back again.
Frustrating to desperately need sleep, going to bed knowing you aren’t going to get it. Frustrating knowing for a fact that one is going to be awakened at least three times with bursts of heat.
Satisfying to look at the blank page of the sketchbook and add a slash of color. Mindlessly? Or Mindfully?
This is not fiction. This is therapy. So often I find myself using the writing prompt to express my current mental state. This isn’t a bad thing but not my goal. So I tried a second time.
She felt like Myrna Loy in “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House” as she recited paint colors to the contractor.
“I am still figuring out my office”, she confessed. It felt terribly important to get the color exactly right in the room she would spend the most time in.
Since she couldn’t even narrow down a color family she was going by name now. She wanted something literary like ‘Writer’s Retreat’ or ‘Chapter and Verse’.
She flipped through the paint chips and read ‘All Your Dreams’. The palest of pinks, more of a rosy cream. Her future in paint.
I thought this was better but still has too much me in it. I’ll continue to work on that when I get back. I will miss the next two or three weeks as I will be on vacation and then having surgery.
P.S. I don’t know if those are real paint color names, I made them up. If I had more words I would have had the kitchen painted ‘Buttercup Yellow’, the hall bath ‘Tidal Blue’ and the master “Glacier Gray’. Turns out I like making up paint names. And I have a spot to use that skill in my novel!!
In the meantime enjoy your summer and have a safe and Happy 4th of July!