Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014: The Year in Review

This is mostly for my personal use in the future, because I can barely remember what happened last week without checking my calendar, and one day I might wonder, "What year did I actually, in fact, lose my mind?" and I can skim through my blogs and hopefully find it. The date, not my mind. That's long gone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Anxiety Adventures #12: Back to Square One?

It's been almost a year since I started taking 17.5 mg of Venlafaxine (Effexor) for my anxiety, and at first it was great-- it seemed to really help a lot. Then it didn't anymore. About 6 months in, I talked to my doc and she suggested increasing the dosage to 37.5 mg, so I went with that. 6 more months have passed and guess what? Yep. Tolerance, so it's not working anymore. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adult Tonsillectomy: My Day by Day Recovery Journal

Some of these entries were, admittedly, written while I was on pain meds, so if I sound less lucid or articulate than normal, that's why. :)

Day 0.5- Pre-Op Jitters
from http://joejackphotography.com/
I haven't written anything in a long time. I have a few excuses, but the truth is that summer vacation has made me lazy and unmotivated. I have accomplished a few things, though. Things like watching all of "Bates Motel" and "Fargo" and reading a handful of books; staying up late and sleeping in and cooking on the barbecue. You know, summer stuff.

And I've had my first bout of insomnia (which is really fun; you should try it) and late-night anxiety due to a low-simmering terror over my impending tonsillectomy. 

Which is why I'm writing now. I figured I would start a post about my surgery and document my experience for anyone else planning or preparing to have this surgery done-- especially as an adult. If you're not interested, that's cool. We can still be friends. 

Day 0.5: Pre-Op Procedures:
The hospital called yesterday to let me know they would be calling today with my surgery time. Which just served to make me anxious. She also mentioned no food/drink after midnight (standard procedure) and then she said something that has given me pause: "wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes that can be easily taken off and put on."

from gownies.com
Last night, I realized this means that I will be forced to remove all of my clothes (ALL of them, people!) and put on a hospital gown (Why do they call it a gown? It's a thin piece of fabric, people, not a prom dress.) before my surgery, during which I will be completely sedated and naked, remember, and completely unaware of what's what. Then I will wake up, still nude, and have to have my husband help me get dressed!! Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm modest to a fault. I don't like any extra skin showing, I don't like to attract attention to my body, I don't even wear shorts in public anymore, people! I think I'm now more nervous about the public nudity (under a gown, I know, but STILL) than the surgery. So, thanks, LDS Hospital, for helping out there. 

My husband Kriss said it's so that when I flatline on the table the doctor can revive me. He thinks he's funny.

As I said, I've been experiencing some pre-operation insomnia and anxiety, so that's been fun. I'm looking forward to sleeping for a couple of days while taking heavy-duty painkillers. Though, I'm NOT looking forward to the liquid diet. I love food. I really love eating food. I'm going to be very lonely for food...

Today, I'll be doing a few errands to get ready. I'll be buying more pebble ice from the grocery store (the butcher has it, who knew?), as well as lots of soft, baby-like foods. I'll also be writing down how to make a good strawberry smoothie. And I'll be cleaning the family room and bathroom that will be used post-op to recover. 

I also need to buy freezer bags and/or a refillable ice pack, so I'm prepared for all the cold treatment I'll require. I've read that it's good to ice the throat and ears the first couple of days to reduce pain and swelling. Goody. 

Here we go.

EDITED: I forgot to mention that my doctor is a specialist in the newer Coblation method, which uses a radio frequency and saline solution at room temperature rather than a scalpel or the more popular electro-cauterize at 400 degrees method. Supposedly the recovery (especially the first 3 days) is MUCH better with Coblation, as there is a lot less tissue damage, etc. Just keep that in mind as I whine and fuss. It could be worse.

Surgery and Recovery: Day 1
I am finally lucid enough to type up a short update. I had my surgery today around Noon, and now it's 6:30. Odd how long anesthesia hangs around... I still feel dizzy (mostly because I just used the bathroom and sat back down) and a little loopy, so please excuse any grammatical or spelling or punctuation errors in this post. I'm not 100% focused.

I got to the hospital at 10:30 and signed in and waited...

Then I got weighed and such by a nurse, who took us to a room and told me to put on hospital issue pajama bottoms, remove everything from the waist up (she said it's so they can attach a heart monitor-- I guess Kriss wasn't too far off in his joke) and put on the standard so-called "gown". 

Then we waited some more...

Soon another nurse came in and caused me a ridiculous amount of pain putting an IV into my hand. I didn't know getting an IV could hurt that much! IV's I've had in the past didn't, so maybe I was just hyper sensitive today. I didn't cry, though, and the pain settled into being tolerable discomfort after a bit.
The only selfie you'll see of me pre-surgery. The IV of Pain.

Then we waited longer... like a half hour.

Finally, a tech came and had me sit on a different rolly bed, and took me on a tour of the hospital. I swear, we went down every hallway there. Then, he left me in a hallway. With the bed cage sides up, in case I decided to make a run for it. I think I sat there for about 20 minutes. Fortunately, all the employees at this hospital are very nice and many stopped to ask me if I was warm enough and would I like another blanket. Still, I was bored. 

Eventually, my surgeon came by and reassured me, mentioned that I would have a very sore throat (duh).Shortly after he disappeared, the young, pretty, lady anesthesiologist arrived and explained what she would be doing, then she gave me something to relax me and wheeled me into the operating room. 

Looking up at the ceiling's collection of UFOs, I felt like I was on a TV show or something. At one point, before I slipped into blackness, I realized they had STRAPPED ME DOWN. My legs were under a strap and the nurse sweetly asked me to lay my arms down by my sides one at a time, and she proceeded to gently wrap something around them. Luckily, I didn't have a chance (or the inclination) to panic, because believe me, I WOULD HAVE. I'm not okay with being strapped down while conscious. 
* * *
The next thing I knew I was awake and very anxious and crying. Yep. I'm a crier, including during my coming-out-of-anesthesia experience. I then felt embarrassed that I was crying. The nurse with me was very kind and understanding, and she gave me something for my anxiety (I don't know what), and then my throat hurt, so she brought me some ice which was like HEAVEN. You know how you can't eat or drink after midnight then night before surgery? It been like 14 or more hours since I had a decent drink of water and I was so thirsty! And pepple ice? The best thing ever. (Which my dear friend Nancy and I called "deer poo ice" because... you figure it out.)

Once I stopped crying and dozing, and I was good and iced up, I got to go to a recovery room where my husband joined me. Talking to him about how I felt made me tear up again, so I concentrated on eating all the pebble ice in the hospital instead.

And then we checked out and came home. 

My throat hurts, but not horrifically. I'd say about a level 2 (out of 10) constantly and a 5 when I swallow. It feels like a bad case of Strep or a horrible cold today. 


But I'm hoping that it will be manageable. I have an ice pack from the hospital that my hubby keeps refilling for me-- I'm keeping it tied around my chin against my throat (I look like I have mumps) and I'm drinking loads of ice-filled water and it seems to be helping keep the pain to a minimum.

I set a timer and I'll be taking my meds every 4 hours like clockwork; I'm chewing gum now that I'm done eating (oh my gosh, watermelon is the tastiest thing I think I've ever had-- thank you to the neighbor who brought my family dinner, because watermelon turned out to be SO much yummier than applesauce!!); and I will be icing, icing, icing for at least the next two days as well. It does hurt when I talk too much, so I'm doing a lot of gesturing to get people to come closer so I can whisper to them. This is very odd. I need a bell or something to get their attention in the first place...

The verdict? So far so good.

Oh, and my doctor told my husband that taking out the evil traitor tonsils was a good move. He said they were riddled with pockets filled with bacteria and that I will absolutely benefit from having taken them out. I like to have my decisions validated-- especially in something like this where you might not ever know...

And as soon as I was home and settled in the recliner, my daughter's sweet kitty came to find me and snuggle on my lap for a while. Made my day. 
Holly, my lap kitty.
Day 2

I spent last night in my husband's recliner and woke up about every hour to use the bathroom, as well as whenever my iPad alarm went off to keep me on my schedule for pain meds. I don't want to get behind on them, because they seem to be doing the job, so although I'm super tired today, it's worth it.

I've also been icing my neck a lot, and I think that (in addition to drinking loads of icy water) has helped prevent severe swelling in my throat. 
from EmaCartoon.com

So far, so good. I'm anticipating that tomorrow will be the worst, if the internet is correct-- everyone says day 3 was the most horrible. At the risk of jinxing myself, I haven't really had any pain above a level 3. I'm shocked by this, and very grateful. My throat feels about like I have Strep. Which is ironic, since that's kind of what started this whole thing... 

I am feeling super loopy and tired, though. I'm sure the combination of not sleeping for more than an hour at a time and the pain meds and the less-than-adequate caloric intake are all contributing to the feeling of light-headedness. Since I'm not in severe pain, though, I don't mind. I'm just resting and letting my kids take care of me (Kriss had to work today, but will be off for the next 3.) 

I've been able to eat okay today-- I had half of a very soft hamburger bun in the night with my meds (it took me like 20 minutes to eat it!) and today I've had oatmeal and watermelon and popsicles and an orange ice cream bar. It's tricky finding things I can eat that won't tear up my throat that are filling and taste good. Soft foods are so boring!

And that's today's update... not much to say. 

Days 3 & 4
Day 3-
Rumor has it that day 3 is the usually the worst day when recovering from a tonsillectomy. So, in anticipation of this, I was prepared for severe pain and misery. Imagine my shock when I woke up this morning without any pain in my throat! My uvula is swollen, which is very... ODD, and I have some soreness still in the back of my throat, but it's mild and tolerable.

The day is almost over now, and I haven't had above a level 1 pain in my throat all day. I am very weak and tired, due to the continued combination of waking up every few hours for meds all night long and the meds themselves making me loopy, but I'm looking forward to tapering back the meds beginning tomorrow if I am still in the low-pain area. 

I feel very blessed to not be totally miserable today. Whatever the reason is, I'm happy for it. I have spent the day being visited by family members bearing treats and flowers, and resting a lot. I have similar plans for the next two days, as well. 

I may have over-done it talking today, since I had visitors, so I might have to ice my neck again tonight, if it feels extra uncomfortable, but if not, I stopped using the ice packs last night and I hope I won't need them anymore. I'm still drinking icy water constantly, which is like icing it from the inside. 

Day 4:
Today hasn't been too bad, uncomfortable; not especially painful, but as the day has progressed, it has gotten slightly worse. I think this is because I cut my prescription pain meds to the smaller dosage today. I'm still taking my ibuprofen, and I'm not miserable, but there is some notable discomfort. My uvula is still swollen (ick) and my body still feels weak and sick, so I'm just resting and taking it easy. 

I'm still feeling grateful that my pain hasn't been unbearable. I haven't been in agony at all since the surgery, and I haven't really suffered. I consider myself very lucky!

Days 5, 6 & 7
Day 5- Pain again. I woke up this morning in quite a lot of pain in my throat and all over the back of my mouth (I'm not sure what they stuck and jabbed around my mouth with, but it's left behind some soreness!) My uvula is still swollen, and it hurts when I talk, yawn, or swallow. Fun times. I'm back on full meds and ice packs all the time.

I was hoping that since the pain yesterday had lessened, that it was a sign of healing happening, but I guess the normal routine is to feel better for a day or two and then to have more days of pain and misery.

Truthfully, though, I haven't had as much pain as I expected, so I'm trying not to complain. But I'm not a very patient patient. I don't want to feel better then worse then better then worse before being 100% better. 

I will manage, though. 

Day 6- OUCH! I have had a lot more pain today than any day since my surgery. I'm annoyed by the need to take the full dose of pain medication, because it makes me so tired and dizzy and light-headed. I don't like having to spend day after day after day just resting and sitting here. Normally, I would look forward to time spent relaxing and resting, but this is boring and frustrating. Not to mention that I'm in a lot of pain.

Day 7- Lots of pain again today-- on and off. I'm taking the max doses of both my prescription and ibuprofen, and that seems to help. I had to take my daughter to the doctor today-- she's got Strep Throat (good timing, eh?) so I had to function a little bit, and it was probably good for me to get out of the house for a minute. The pain levels today ranged from a 1 to a 4 or 5. It was pretty painful this morning. Tomorrow marks one week since surgery, so I hope it also marks the beginning of the downhill slide into healing.  

Days 8, 9 & 10

Day 8: Shoot me now. I have been in such horrible pain today and I'm running low on meds, so I'm taking just one pill at a time instead of 2, and it hurts. So so so hurts. Tonight, while doing the salt water rinse, I spit out some phlegm and there was blood. So I switched to cold water and gargled and spit a few more times, and there was some blood. I also horked out something nasty, which I can only assume was one of my scabs. I won't describe it. It was really disgusting.

Since there was some blood (even just a small amount) I decided to stop taking ibuprofen for a while until I was sure it wasn't going to continue bleeding. 

And I paid for it. Such horrible, sharp pain in my throat. And one of my ears has begun to ache, just a little. I can barely feel it, though. I'm back to icing my neck as much as possible and mostly just sipping ice water. I hardly ate anything today at all.

Day 9: More of the same. My throat is killing me, my ear is a little bothered, and I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever be done with this ordeal. Having pain day after day after day, and not sleeping in my bed, and waking up in the night to take pain meds, and SITTING AROUND all day every day for over a week is rather depressing. I feel discouraged and frustrated and angry and mostly miserable. 

I haven't had any more bleeding today, so I'm going to add ibuprofen back in tonight. Also, I called and was given a partial refill on my pain meds, which should get me through the last few days of agony.

Lord help me, I hope it works.

Something else unpleasant, but common following surgery: I did experience some constipation-- I didn't have a "movement" for a whole week, so I started taking a stool softener the evening of day 7. Yesterday evening and into today, things seem to be slowly returning to normal in that area... 

Day 10: Still very painful. So very painful. Miserable. My dear friend Nancy sent me some beautiful flowers that arrived today and helped cheer me up, though. I'm so tired of being in pain and sitting and sleeping in this stupid recliner. I'm so tired of not doing anything. I did get up and clean one room and wash one load of laundry, but then I needed to sit/lay back down and rest. Nice. I feel like a feeble old lady! So frustrating.

Day 11

Ugh. Still hurts a lot. Still feeling tired and lazy and bored and annoyed. I feel like there is something jammed in my throat that I can't clear-- I'm not trying too hard, it's very sore back there and still scabby, so I don't want to hurt the tender area by coughing hard or anything, but it's like an itch I can't scratch. 

If I accidentally miss a dose, even if I'm only 1/2 hour late, I can feel it. Bad. Especially since there's no way I can not talk. I have a family-- I have to talk. 

So, although I feel better overall, my throat still hurts. Especially when I wake up for my meds. And I'm still sleeping in the stupid recliner. Probably will be for another couple of nights. 

But I'll get better.

Any day now...
Day 12
On Friday and Saturday (days 9 and 10), due to an increase of pain, I don't think I ate at all, just lots of ice water. Sunday looked like it would be the same, too painful for even eggs and if I have to eat pudding or jello one more time I will die in protest. 
At some point, though, as I stared forlornly into the pantry, I noticed a Box of muffin mix. I mentioned to Kriss that I thought I could eat a nice, soft muffin. Shortly after, I smelled them baking. That is a good husband. He even slathered two with butter and brought them to me while they were warm. Soft enough to swallow with minimal pain, and SO delicious... Blueberries are good for me, too, so BONUS! 

Had a nightmare, woke up at 1:00 am Monday morning, grateful for my pain meds alarm, tasted blood, so I grabbed the flashlight and had a look. I noticed blood in the healing area, (just a tiny bit) and got all worried and worked up so I had to do some reading to make sure I was still healing normally. Now I'm wide awake and not sure what to do about it. I'm beginning to feel like this ordeal will NEVER end...

On the left side, just a tiny, bright red spot -- not oozing or anything. On the right, a dark red spot (small, but bigger than the other side), with a small line trailing down. I can't see well enough to tell how long the streak is. At first, I worried that it is oozing, but after gargling ice water, sucking ice cubes, and sipping ice water for about 30 minutes, the spot-line is still there, but I'm not spitting any blood now, nor did it visibly change. I suspect it's a small clot, and it just has a tail. It's darker than fresh, bright blood. Fingers crossed. I REALLY don't want to take a trip to the ER. Ever.

In my reading it looks like some bleeding is common when the scabs come off, and it looks like they are almost completely gone tonight. 

For days I've peeked back there and seen much white nasty coating, but now it's mostly a tender red color. My uvula is slightly smaller, but still swollen. Which is a ridiculous experience. Currently, because of the sipping, probably, my pain is pretty low. I kind of dread going back to sleep, though, because I don't like waking up and taking that first conscious swallow to gauge how horrible the day will be.

I realize I'm in the home stretch; this is the last worst part. Once the scabs are gone, if there are no complications, I'm home free. Right? I'm really looking forward to that glorious moment when I wake up for meds and DON'T NEED THEM. 

I'm so done with this experience.

In the meantime, I've found some shows on Netflix that I've missed out on, not having cable. "Dog Whisperer" made me realize how amazing some people are, namely Cesar Milan. I doubt I will ever be like he is with dogs. Whatshisname who helps people on "My Cat From Hell" has simultaneously made me feel like it's okay to obsessively love my kitties, while also making me feel bad about the old girl cat who lives in the yard and garage since she refuses her litter box. But I have some ideas to try to improve her life now. If I ever get better. And I started watching the Duggar family on what used to be 17 Kids and Counting. Wow. They are amazing, and their kids are remarkable! 

We've also watched every '80s comedy on Netflix that was suitable to show my kids (So, Beethoven, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, etc.) and the classic Cheaper By the Dozen and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And loads of other movies. I've watched hours of YouTube videos and slept a lot. And I've even done a little reading, though not as kick as I would have thought-- mostly because Percocet is brain-fuzzing.

Time to go back to sleep. Hopefully no more nightmares and in the morning hopefully I will wake to a miracle of swallowing normally...

Let's play "What's Making Me Super Dizzy Today?  Is it- 
A- The fact that I probably only slept about 4 hours total last night and that was broken up into smaller chunks of time
B- I stopped taking prescription meds this morning and I'm sticking to that good old Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen rotation. 
C- I had to get up and drive people around today and then get up a bunch more times to help my daughter excavate her room to find items to take to camp tomorrow, even though I should still be on "bed rest".
D- Loss of sanity from all this "resting"
E- All of the above


This morning I stopped the prescription meds because I realized the pain wasn't any worse just on IB and AC, and that's a good step in the right direction, but I don't care. It doesn't make me feel any better.

I look around and my house is a mess, there's no food in the fridge and my poor hubby has to come home and figure out dinner AGAIN and I'm beginning to have panic attacks about money and the lack thereof and then the van won't start?? I'm losing my mind. 

I suppose it's interesting that I'm feeling depressed enough that everything is starting to look bleak and hopeless. Maybe tomorrow will be the day that I wake up with no pain and I will feel like a miracle has happened.

But when will I get my strength back? I'm so weak and exhausted.

I keep reading personal accounts online that say you aren't back to "normal" until 3 weeks post-op. Super. In the meantime, what isn't being done? What have I neglected or forgotten? 

OHMYGOSH. In this moment, I just realized why I'm probably feeling dizzy and weepy and sick. I forgot to take my anxiety meds this morning!!! GAH! It's 6:30 p.m.!!! CRAP. It's one of those meds that you can't miss a dose without feeling bad effects. I think I missed yesterday's dose, too!


Day 13

Dare I say "I think we've turned a corner?" Yes. I dare.

Although I don't feel anywhere near 100%, I feel much better than I have since this ordeal began. For one thing, my brain has stabilized, thankyouantianxietymeds, and for another, even though my throat still hurts, it's gone from mind-numbing, all-consuming torturous pain to a rather notable discomfort.

That's big.

So big, that I almost got out of bed and started doing lots of stuff today. 

Then I remembered reading stories of people who did just that on the first day they started feeling better and then paid for it by having their knees buckle under them while at the grocery store, or by having a much worse day the next. So I'm doing a few things, but mostly I'm still going to take it easy, so I can truly, fully recover. 

Last night, I slept in my bed instead of in the recliner. It took me a while to get settled and when I woke up at 4 a.m. for ibuprofen, my ears both ached a little, but now they feel fine. My pain in my throat level is probably only at a 1 or 2, and I'm still constantly sipping ice water to keep it there. I still have scabby areas and I'm not ready to eat those onion rings I've been craving, but soon. Soon soon soon.

I've been the recipient of such incredible love and generosity and kindness since my surgery, and I'm so very grateful to everyone who has brought in food and popsicles and sent or brought flowers an came to visit and especially for all the prayers on my behalf. I'm so glad I can finally see the light at the end of this ridiculously long tunnel. 
Source: http://www.altenergystocks.com/archives/bigstock-Light-At-The-End-Of-Tunnel-3470269.jpg

 Day 14

I slept in my bed again last night, but I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and after taking some ibuprofen, I couldn't go back to sleep. I laid there for an hour, finally gave up and went downstairs to the recliner. I didn't fall back asleep, though, so I spent some time on the internet and then I got up when the sun came up (the kitties were meowing to be let in) and did a few light tasks, such as paying a bill and sorting papers on my desk. I finally felt tired again around 8:00, so I slept for a couple more hours then. 

My throat hurts pretty badly again this morning. I really feel like this is never-ending! In spite of turning a corner yesterday, I'm still in pain and SO SICK OF BEING IN PAIN.

I'm a baby, I know. 

But seriously... can I be done now???

I do feel well enough to wash laundry (my husband will be so glad!) and a couple of other things. My kids have been really, incredibly good about doing all the cleaning and even some of the cooking these last two weeks. This is a blessing in disguise, because I've wanted them to share cooking duties for a long time and now they have proven to themselves that they CAN. 

Blech. I need to eat something. Wish me luck...

Same day... later:
I took a long, hot shower, made myself a piece of toast (I keep reading that toast is good for the last bit of healing? Helps the scabs slough off? Hope so...) and a strawberry smoothie. Yummy and I feel SO MUCH BETTER.

Still a little pain, but less now that I'm up and moving a little. Maybe I'll go out into the sun for a minute. Although, it's Utah summer, so it's in the mid 90's today, so maybe not... I'm not heat-tolerant. :)
Day 15

I feel like I've been on a 2 week vacation to Hell. But today, I'm almost home. 
I woke up at 5:30 this morning in quite surprisingly severe pain on one side, took some ibuprofen and grabbed an ice pack, and within 15 minutes of sipping ice water, I was much better. The rest of the day has had only minimal discomfort.
Guys, I ate pizza last night. And today? I had half a nasty hamburger from Burger King. I hate Burger King. I'm still fantasizing about Crown Burger's onion rings...

I have a TON more energy today than I have since the beginning, and although I could use a nap, I've gotten quite a bit done today. My daughter is at Young Women's camp and while she's gone we are hoping to paint her room for her. She was promised a bedroom makeover for her birthday and it's time to finish up that promise. I'm hoping to surprise her when she comes home on Saturday. Fingers crossed! Today I cleaned the room and vacuumed it and moved the furniture out of the way (it was a disaster, it really has taken me ALL DAY to clean it. With a short 2 hour-ish break in which I was supposed to be napping but instead I watched "Pretty in Pink" on Netflix. Ah, the '80's.

So, happy happy happy day. The left side of my throat still hurts a little; I'm still taking OTC pain meds as needed, but they are needed less and less. And I'm still sipping ice water almost constantly, but it isn't painful anymore.

I will be home soon.

Praise the Lord.

This may or may not be my final entry about this ordeal. If you're getting ready to go through it, I wish you luck and I would tell you to hang in there. It WILL get better. Eventually.

I wrote this while I was up early one morning, sipping ice water: 5 Things That are More Fun Than a Tonsillectomy 

5 Things That Are More Fun than a Tonsillectomy

I've lived about half of my life, and I've had a bunch of unpleasant experiences. These are things I would rather do again before I would ever have another tonsillectomy. (Thank goodness you can only go through it once!)
  1. That time in high school when I kicked a vending machine (that stole my money!) and my big toe nail turned black, died, and fell off. It was very painful and took months to heal. I learned my lesson about kicking things in anger while wearing sandals...
  2. Food poisoning. While extremely unpleasant, at least it only lasts about a day.
  3. Root Canal- I've only done this once, and it was awful. I couldn't let them put the wedge thing in my teeth to help me hold my mouth open because it gags me, so I had to just hold my jaw stretched open for the full hour and a half. Fun times. Still better than my tonsillectomy.
  4. Wisdom Teeth Extraction. I like to do things the hard way, so I also waited to have my wisdom teeth out until I was an adult. I was about 30 when I finally got them out, primarily because one of them was growing sideways into a molar and had caused a huge, gaping hole to form in the molar. (Hence #3...) Following the extraction of all 4 teeth, my face swelled up and was all bruised looking and I couldn't eat or talk for a week, and then not normally for another two. After everything else had healed, I had a TON of pain where one of my stitches poked into my cheek and made canker sores. When even that was finally healed, I had a funny numb feeling in the lower front jaw area on one side. Still today it isn't normal in that area. It isn't numb, but it isn't 100% normal, either. 
  5. Childbirth. Times 4. I've had 4 babies, three of whom I had some pain meds with, but one (my biggest baby, who got stuck a little on his way out) I decided to try "natural" childbirth and had no drugs with. It was agony. But even that was better than a tonsillectomy. Plus, I got to take home a sweet baby afterwards, so... bonus!
I'm on about day 21 after my surgery, and I'm still having some discomfort in my throat. My uvula is still swollen and I keep feeling like I need to spit out phlegm (TMI, I know), but spitting doesn't help. I can only assume this is scar tissue or the last, lingering scabs coming off. It's been an awful, horrible, terrible journey. One I'm glad I will never have to take again.

In a few weeks, hopefully I will begin to feel some positive effects from having had the surgery-- including sleeping better and hopefully my body will start feeling less fatigued all the flipping time and I can get back to living life like I was meant to.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10 Tips For Surviving Adult Tonsillectomy

I recently chronicled my experience having my tonsils out at age 41. Here's a handy guide for the rest of you. If you are an adult planning your own or your child's tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, these are the best tips I found and used:
Source: http://jessreyn90.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/sore-throat-acid-reflux.jpg

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Bad Good News

I've been neglecting my blogs for a month. It's been a month full of emotional roller coaster stuff and busy end-of-school stuff. But I'm still here. :)

Yesterday, I finally dragged myself to an ENT (I was SO anxious beforehand, I don't know why I'm such a chicken!!) and I was surprised by how well it went. 

First of all, I told him that I had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue 8 or 9 years ago (though I suspect I've had it since my third son was born in 1999... so it's his fault, right?) and that I had this Strep Titer thing showing up in my blood back then and when I recently went back for more tests, it is still there and the numbers don't go down, even if I take antibiotics, etc. but that I haven't had strep in years, etc. I was afraid he would tell me I'm nuts and that he couldn't help me with that.

Instead, he said exactly what I've been thinking: that if my immune system is constantly chasing some strep thing around, that could cause CFS.

He also asked me if I wake up a lot at night, which I do, and he said that since my tonsils are chronically enlarged, that they will cause me not to get enough air at night-- not quite like Sleep Apnea, because I am able to breathe normally, but my brain won't let me sleep as deeply as I should because of the airway obstruction. Wow. Makes sense that I'm always exhausted!

So he said since I have two valid and pressing reasons to do it, I should just go for it and get my tonsils out. 

I've felt prompted to go do this for a long time now and I've been so afraid that I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Now I'm really regretting that. Now I have to have it done at my age (I'm 41, which is very old for this kind of procedure... but I like to do things the hard way- I had my wisdom teeth out when I was about 31) and I've heard the painful recovery lasts 10-14 days and will make me wish I was dead. 

I don't like pain.

I'm not going to enjoy this. I will probably turn from Sleepy into Grumpy...

However, I've found some good tips online about using ice packs or heating pads to help with swelling and ear pain, staying on schedule with pain meds, even setting an alarm during the night so the pain doesn't have a chance to overwhelm me, making sure to drink something at least every 15 minutes (even at night?), etc.

I've also read horror stories. I won't lie to you-- I'm terrified.

I will probably go into hibernation for a month after the procedure (on July 2). If you miss me, bring me a smoothie or a milkshake... oooh, or a wild cherry shaved ice... I could live with a Slurpee or popsicles, too. Hey, on the upside, I might lose weight during this process. 

So wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three Cool Things: 05/15/14

Guess what!? I have three very cool things to share with you! I know you're so excited, so sit back and enjoy.

First up is the Water Gardens movie theaters.
from ksl.com
Water Gardens have four locations: three in Utah and one in Hawaii and they boast a few unique characteristics. First, they are closed on Sundays (which we Mormons appreciate-- maybe some other Christians do, too?) Second, they only show G, PG and PG-13 movies. No Rs. (Parents appreciate this, I think...) And third, the movies only cost $3.50 per ticket, and snacks are all under $5. Most items are $1, $2 or $3.

Granted, the films shown are not first run movies, they are in transition between first run theaters and dollar houses, but these are still nice screens, comfortable seats and at these prices, we can actually afford for the whole family to go to the movies and get snacks. 

Second, in thinking about Summer Vacation Planning- use Tripadvisor and mapquest
from todaymade.com

If you are planning a vacation, make sure to check out reviews from other travelers for hotels and venues on Trip Advisor. Although they aren't always 100% accurate, it's good to have an idea about what you might be getting in to before you arrive. In addition to reviews, there are forums where people share tips and favorite places to visit and restaurants that are great for any event. It's a great resource. I use Trip Advisor along with Mapquest to plot the traveling, gas station stops and print maps before we go. Planning a vacation, even just a short weekend away, is a lot of fun, so get to it!

from apptweak.com

Third: Speaking of vacations (how's that for a segue?), when we recently took our kids to Disneyland, we saw a lot of people in lines playing this app game where they would hold their phone up to their forehead and the other people in their group would give them clues to what word appeared on the screen. It looked like fun, so when we got home and I remembered, I got it on my iPad. Basically, we play it like Catch Phrase, trying to get each other to guess a word without saying any part of the word. We don't do the hold-it-on-your-forehead way, though, because for some reason the iPad has a hard time scoring correctly. You are supposed to tip the screen one direction for wrong answers and one direction for correct ones, but the iPad doesn't like to tally correctly. We still enjoy this game, though, even just for the fun of giving clues and guessing words. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Anxiety and Chronic Fatigue Adventures #11: Mysteries

After experiencing some initial success taking Venlafaxine, I have reverted back to some of my old symptoms (especially fatigue) without relief. I let it go on for 3 weeks, until I have finally relented and called the doc to see if she will increase my dose to the more normally scripted 150 mg. to see if that is any better. I suspect that my initial excitement was a little bit actual success and a lot positive energy and hope. The fatigue, especially has crashed back in, re-affirming that something more is going on. Only it may not be related to my anxiety.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Notes on Being Mormon: The Adversary

The definition of an adversary is: "One's opponent in a contest, conflict or dispute. Synonyms: opponent, rival, enemy, antagonist, combatant, challenger, contender, competitor, opposer."

Often in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we refer to Satan as "the adversary", and tonight I have a few new thoughts about him. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Parenting Ideas: Bubble Bursting

Many years ago, I learned that I didn't need to be the one to "burst" my kids's "bubble" of hope and dreams for their futures, even if I saw them as unrealistic. 

My oldest son wanted to play in the NBA, when he was young-- say from age 5-14. We weren't as positive as we probably should have been. I think we said, "Oh! That would be fun, but it's really hard. Not many people get there. You can do it, but it's not going to be easy." I know... ouch. Life then taught him, beginning with Junior Jazz, then church ball and workouts with the high school teams, that basketball was not his path. He's not very tall, and although he's got great shooting skills, his anxiety and temper got in the way of him becoming a really great player. Which is okay. Luckily, he has been blessed with other interests and opportunities and he doesn't feel remorse over having to set aside his NBA dreams. 

from wallstcheatsheet.com
However, I feel like I shouldn't have begun teaching him what the world and life were about to teach him. Even if he's not good enough, I don't want to be the parent that says, "Oh, honey, that will never happen. You should give up that dream right now and focus on Waste Management." I should probably have said, "Wow! Good for you! I can't wait to see what you do!" And left it at that. The world was all ready and waiting to pop that dream bubble. I certainly didn't need to deflate it first.

My second son wants to be a computer programmer, my third son wants to work in filmmaking and my daughter wants to be an author. Having mentally told myself not to be the bubble deflater again, I haven't said anything about how difficult any of these jobs might be to attain. I have been positive and encouraging, and allowed them to pursue their interests. If they stink at what they want to do, future bosses, critics and co-workers will certainly tell them so. 
from preschooler.thebump.com

Maybe just getting out of the way is the best way parents can support their kids? If it doesn't work out, it isn't because we put doubt in their minds, but if it does, we will be able to smile and pat ourselves on the back for supporting their dreams all along.

I want my kids to be able to stand on the podium of achievement one day and say that their mom stood by them the whole way, that I always knew they could do it. And I want that to be the truth.

from the-flack.com

It's a tricky balancing act, though, like most things parents do. How do you encourage your kids without making the mistake of treating them as though they are a perfect cupcake of talent and can do no wrong? (This is one of my favorite articles on this topic.) 

I believe it's by giving them room to explore their interests, while calling them down for behaviors that are out of line. Expect great things, but also give them opportunities to work. 

Kids will understand that there will always be someone smarter, prettier, funnier, faster, taller, and better at _________ than them. However, I hope they are also learning that if they are diligent and righteous and dedicated, willing to work hard and start where they are (at the bottom, usually), they can achieve their dreams. Because they can. I really believe that.

And if I'm wrong, I will still be here, ready to stand by them during their next adventure.

So what do you think? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Anxiety Adventures #10: Dreams

One of the potential side effects of Venlafaxine (which I'm still taking) is vivid dreams. They weren't kidding. I'm just hoping that one day I'll dream something I can use as the basis of the Great American Novel.

Without medication, I have odd or especially memorable dreams a handful of times each month. Sometimes I remember them, but usually they fade pretty quickly after I get up. Often, after a particularly exciting or emotional dream, when I go to bed the next night my mind seems to have a muscle memory of it or something. I will lay my head on the pillow and I can feel the dream from the night before, even if I don't remember the details. I'm weird, I know.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Adult Acne Solution

Years ago, I discovered this easy, affordable solution to my adult acne, and I've never looked back. My skin is very clear and I'm completely happy with the results. Recently, thought, I've made a couple of slight changes, so I'm updating this as of April 2014. 

Adult acne sucks-- just when you thought you had escaped the horrors of adolescence, pop! Wrong-o. It's embarrassing, frustrating, and just as difficult to solve as it was when you were a teen. This easy regimen works, though. 

Three Cool Things: April 2, 2014

I've finally finished binge-watching bad vampire-themed soap operas and it's time to get back to real life. I won't promise this feature will return weekly, which was my original goal, because life is crazy, but I do want to share some cool stuff from time to time, when I find it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Worst Conversation

The other day I had to have a conversation with my 11-year old daughter that I had dreaded. I knew it would happen one day, but I really, really didn't want it to. No, I'm not referring to "the talk"-- we've had that conversation a few times and continue discussing it as new questions come up. I don't really mind those conversations. This is different.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Anxiety Adventures Part 8.5: The Result

I tried taking my vitamins in the mornings with breakfast again and...

drumroll, please...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Anxiety Adventures Part 9: On Being an Introvert

Being An Introvert

This excellent article from the Huffington Post  lists 23 traits of an introvert, and, not surprisingly, every one of them is a trait I possess. I suppose that my introvertedness (introversion?) is exacerbated by my social anxiety. Or maybe vice versa. 

One thing really stands out to me: the need to be alone to "recharge".

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dear Liberal Ladies-

From This is Shangrila

Anxiety Adventures: Part 8: The Experiment

I realized as I lay awake almost the entire night last night that my insomnia could be the result of me switching my vitamins to bedtime. I take a very large dose of Vitamin D, and it's possible that it's making my mind alert or something. I also take a lot of Vitamin C and Calcium and a multi, if you're interested.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Anxiety Adventures Part 7: Update

EDIT: Please note that I wrote this last Wednesday, and it is now a new week. Here's hoping I feel normal this week! :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Android vs. Apple

I hate my phone. Truly, deeply, viciously, I hate my phone. This is my phone, which I paid only $5 for through Tracfone:

The reason I use Tracfone is that I barely use my cell phone, and it's much, MUCH cheaper for me to pay $30 every two months for minutes (that never seem to run out) than to pay hundreds every month.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What I Learned On Vacation

We spent the last week at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. It was a fantastic trip, and I'm sad it's over. I found the vacation very educational, so I thought I would share with you some of the things I learned.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 6: Amazement

I'm about a month into my medication and I have already felt a difference. It sort of dawned on me last Saturday that, although I could have laid down and taken a nap, I just... wasn't that tired. This is like a miracle for me. I have spent nearly every single day for the last 15 years desperately wishing I could take a nap. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: A Long Side Note

I was lying in bed this morning thinking about all the various non-medicinal self-help things I've tried over the years to improve my life and/or relieve physical ailments and such, and I realized I've given a bunch of things a try. (I hadn't recognized my anxiety for what it is when I did most of these, and obviously none of them solved THAT for me, because my anxiety gets worse every year...)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 5: Side Effects

It's been a couple of weeks now on my new anxiety meds, and I've done the step-up to the normal dose for someone my size (my doctor tells me I'm "petite", did I mention that? Yeah. She does. So I guess I must be!! Take that, scale!!) which is 75 or something mg. each day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Three Cool Things 1/20/14

Did you miss a weekly dose of three cool things? I sure didn't. I've been so busy with the holidays and recovering from the holidays and reading books and watching TV and washing laundry and reading other books that I hardly noticed I was neglecting my regular blog posts. I wanted to keep up on them, but somehow it just fell apart. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 4: Attention, Please!

Anxiety is a funny beast, especially when mixed together with my personality, which craves attention and interaction. I am torn between wanting people to pay attention to me and wanting to melt into the back of the room. I hate it when no one comes to sit by me, but sometimes I like to be alone. Often I want to say something important, but I also want to keep my mouth shut so no one will look at me. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 3: The First Week

Well, I've had a full week on 37.5mg of Effexor and I've experienced no major adverse side effects. I have had some mild headaches, but it's hard to tell if they're my normal headaches or due to the meds. I have had some mild nausea when my stomach gets empty, and also a little taste of insomnia the last two nights, though. I'm hopeful it won't last. Because today started the 75mg pills.

Other than that, I have nothing to report. No real positive effects yet, but I understand it can take 4-6 weeks to really feel a difference. 

I got an appointment with a Rheumatologist, but they can't get me in until July(!) which is ridiculous, so it will be a long time before we find out if I have an autoimmune disorder/disease/issue,  I guess. Which is annoying. There doesn't seem to be much I can do about that, though.

So the first week is past and life is about the same as it has been. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 2: Medication

Dear Friends: If your considered opinion is that I am wrong for taking medication to help with my anxiety symptoms, kindly skip this entry. Even well-meaning comments telling me that I'm making the wrong choice are not helpful at this point. My treatment decisions are between me, my doctor, my husband and my God. :)

This is the first time I've ever tried medicating my anxiety, so I think blogging about it to chronicle my experiences might be of value, not only to me, but to others considering medication.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Part 1: Background

I have been considering writing on this blog about my anxiety and my efforts to master it for a while now. However, because mine is social anxiety, I'm terrified of people distancing themselves from me, or confronting and/or lecturing me if I "go public" with this struggle. My primary worry is that there is a heavy-duty stigma attached to medicating anxiety, so I hesitate to talk about what I'm trying, since it involves medication. (THIS is a good article about that- #3 is my biggest thing, I think.)

However, writing helps me cope, helps me sort things out and clean out my brain, so to speak. It's therapeutic for me and I always feel better after I write things out. So here I go.