Pre-Surgery To-Do List

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        I’m sure everyone that has chronic medical problems that continuously land them in the hospital or in surgeries has their own routines for what they do in the days prior to scheduled visits/surgeries.  So I thought I’d share my routine with ya’ll since I am t-minus 40 hours to surgery as I write this.

  1. Clean the house thoroughly. Leaving a boy and three dogs unaccompanied in a home for a few days without prior cleaning is gutsy at best.  Prior knowledge that I will return to the leaning tower of pizza boxes, dirty dishes and laundry has trained me to clean and organize everything as best that I can to offset this masculine tragedy.
  2. Sleep a lot…even though I will be getting a lot of medically induced sleep in the immediate days prior to surgery, I tend to get stressed the few days before (totally normal I’d like to think) so getting restful sleep and relaxing has become important to me and my body tends to thank me on the flip side.
  3. Build a recovery couch-fort for propped up sleeping so my incisions don’t try to kill me every time I move and get up. My current fort this time included actually rearranging the entire living room, purchasing a super dope 70’s recliner fluffy herman miller eames chair and ottoman, and making sure my recovery couch-fort has ample spots for my dogs to snuggle up in.
  4. Packing my bag. This requires much care and slight deviation from my rules while in the hospital.  As someone who is ALWAYS put on NPO and prone to (as I have previously confessed) to sneaking off to the vending machine or ordering ghost-guest trays to munch on, this time I am packing my own snacks.  This includes sugar free life savers, sugar free gummy bears and a reduced fat pringles can.  Hopefully this will satisfy rogue cravings incase the NPO monster visits me post-surgery in a more healthy manner.  Also in my bag is my bathrobe that serves double purpose of a blanket since hospital blankets suck and its always ice bath cold in my rooms.  Fresh and fun socks, my plush liver shaped pillow, ear buds, phone charger, phone, pen and notepad.  In case you’re wondering why not an ipad – shockingly enough I personally don’t own one and I’m totally ok with that. 
  5. Exchange cars with my dad so he can thoughtfully take mine in to get serviced and an oil change while I’m in hospital -jail
  6. Make sure all comfy clothing I might want to wear when I get back from the hospital is clean since I’ll be bed/couch ridden about a week after I get back.
  7. Double check all tv shows I’ll miss are DVRed for the week.
  8. Make sure my kindle is updated with any/all books I may want to read while I am there.
  9. Update my “Dilaudid Play List” on my phone music wise – yes, I really have a play list titled “Dilaudid” to listen to while I am medicated to help with the calming/enduring pain process.
  10. And FINALLY make a list of all medications I am low on to take with me so the hospital pharmacy can go ahead and refill them during my stay and deliver them to my room the day I am discharged to save time.

And that’s all I can think of for my pre-surgery routine lol….should be an easy procedure by itself.  The only issues that my team is concerned about is site infection and/or catching something while at the hospital itself since it’s cold/flu/pneumonia season.  I’m sure I’ll be just fine though 🙂

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Holidays, oh crap…hi…

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Sorry I have not posted a blog since before my (x) ….the trip to the Red River cabin, then Thanksgiving, then 2 weeks in the hospital, a week to wrap up the semester, then Christmas break with a bird named Charli and her Sean (which made the entire world seem right).  Which leaves us to now….it isn’t that I haven’t been mentally writing in my head this whole time, because I have.

After Red River, one of my medicines in particular ran out.  I, like an idiot, thought that I did not need it.  It was frivolous.  It didn’t help my liver in a direct biologic way and I was so happy on my vacation.  It was Celexa, the highest dose normally used for someone my weight/height/health issues.  I was an idiot.  See, contrary to what sadly I still have in my head as stigma regarding mental health – the facts are the facts.  So lets just do a quick once over on the facts regarding me and mental health.  (Oh, and taking myself off of it was severe enough to put me in the hospital…just fyi…take these meds seriously please if you are on one)

  • First time I was taken to a therapist was when I was 8 years old – even had a sit down with Anne Smith when grade 4 started to make sure “we didn’t have a year like the last one”. I love Anne Smith, if I had a grandmother figure growing up other than my fathers mother it would be her.  SBS would be behooved to clone her and have her as their headmistress forever…and lord help me, I’ll always remember my first response when facing her accused of cheating on an exam was, “i just wanted to see how wrong her answers were”….seriously, that came out of my mouth to Anne freaking Smith. #misplacedguts #mymomsreaction
  • Since then, I have been to a therapist on and off my whole life, always leaving them high and dry when they start asking the “tough” questions
  • Amount of time I spent in therapy after my mother’s suicide….3 weeks. I’ll let that set in.  3 weeks.  Then I decided I didn’t need it anymore, again with the hard questions – I bailed.
  • Did I drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol daily, sun up to sun down, to make the sadness in my head go away and to just be able to function at a normal level in public just making basic conversation? Oh yep.
  • Do I still struggle A LOT with social anxiety even to the point of being able of small talk to strangers or acquaintances in person? Yes. I am able to be witty and almost normal when it comes to texting or typing….in person, it’s an entire different sea of crap I cannot deal with normally unless I’m shit faced drunk or very comfortable with you.
  • Do most transplant teams that particularly transplant a liver to someone at the brink in ICU demand that you see a transplant psychiatrist (that you actually speak to like a therapist for an hour weekly) because the experience in and of itself, despite the shit that got you there in the first place, is down right on par with PTSD?  Yep.  I spent the first six months home falling asleep reliving the experience of being taken into ICU every night until I fell asleep.

Anyways – so that was going on and some background.  I’m going to be completely transparent and share something I wrote on my Blog file on my laptop as an example of how dark my mind got without having this normalizing medication.  As a disclaimer, all medications do not do this, and every case is different.  However.  When they are needed, they are needed.  There is ZERO shame in that.  People should not fear seeking help because of what their employer or future employer might say or discriminate.

This issue, i repeat, cannot be championed enough.

If I had a wish this year for 2017 – it would be for people to just be more open about mental health and struggles they have.  It’s not so they get more “likes” or “retweets” or to be the “open” person in their social media group.  You see on TV and online celebrities talking about being open about mental health and that is wonderful.  Fabulous.  I applaud them.  Then I see, when I open a popular online news source I read each morning and buried under all the chatter is a story about a 12 year old using FB live to broadcast her suicide.  If you look through her feed you can see her obvious struggle.  What that girl (again WTF SHE WAS 12…yes 12), and me, and most of us that struggle with these issues need are real life friends that relate, that aren’t scared to bring it up.  (This is happening to loved children so much younger than I could ever begin to understand)  I would personally love it if someone asked me for once how my struggle with anxiety and depression are going now that I’m no longer an alcoholic but just someone struggling to live without any vice to numb my brain to it instead of, “Hey leah how are you today?”  I see no need for it to be any different, those two questions.  How my day is and how I am doing is directly tied to the other – the phrasing just spares the other person the stigma or awkwardness of asking directly and giving them a “whew…”/easy out when I just say, “Oh I’m good, how are you?”  Yea, no offense, I am who I am and my existence doesn’t preclude your comfort.  #getoveryourself – People are sad, horrifically sad, confused, sleepy, amused, God help them hilariously happy, and pensive.  That is humanity.  That is love.  That is madness in it’s sanest form.

My blog entry on my word doc without my medication…after one of the happiest times of my life…this emerged because that is how mental health really is.

11.28.15

Taking control away from a lifetime control freak makes for a sad control freak

Taking a page out of Jenny’s book.  One of the things I admire about Jenny Lawson is how utterly transparent her blogs are.  If she’s battling depression – she’ll let you know.  If she is being silly with her daughter in the park – she’ll also let you know.  I love it.

I’m fairly decent at expressing myself on here I’d like to think.  In person, it’s a whole different story.  Before everything health wise –  I battled social anxiety bad.  Still do.  Especially now without “liquid courage” when I try to speak to strangers for extended periods of time I just end up spouting nonsense at a freakishly fast pace.  Kind of like a nervous, sweaty auctioneer. 

The last two weeks have been an emotional upheaval for me.  I had my on year check up on my liver, learning that my liver already has signs of NAFLD, creeping up on portal hypertension, osteoporosis, and kidneys at about 35-40%.  Most of those are due to my medications that keep me alive daily but slowly eat away at my body. 

Anyways, but I went on vacation to celebrate my one year anniversary of extra life.  (which in and of itself sounds kind of dumb because every day should be like that for everyone)  Spent thanksgiving with family and achieved a few work/school related accolades as well.  But I can’t seem to shake the dark cloud that has settled on me.  So many trivial thing are going wrong that I have zero control over. 

I have nothing to say.

The holidays are always so strange to me.  Everything in the last two years has changed too fast.  In a way, Christmas and Thanksgiving in the hospital last year was comforting because I knew exactly what to expect.  Wake up, keep recovering, go to sleep.  Easy peasy.  Year before that none of us really knew what to do since Mom has just passed.  Dad went up to Washington to be with Howard and his family and I stayed here.  This year, so far thanksgiving was just strange.  It honestly just felt like any other meal.  Maybe I was too exhausted from the trip to enjoy it…who knows.  I’ve tried to start decorating for Christmas for the last few days, but it seems lacking.  Example.  I literally just have a bare Christmas tree in the living room now.  No ornaments because I have no clue where the ornament box is.  And I could probably stop there regarding the decorating and be just fine, which is TOTALLY unlike me. 

Maybe it’ll all kick in when I’m rested.  Or maybe not, who knows.  Maybe we all could use a Christmas without all the decorations and distractions. 

11.29.16

This time of year is turning out to be excruciatingly hard for me, which is pretty surprising since all year I had been looking forward to this time of year and how happy and excited I would be.  Now, there is nothing.  I just stare into space with dark thoughts swirling in my head.  A thin veil of consciousness providing the only protection from the evil that pokes at me without cease.  So many thoughts.  Too many thoughts.  A stream of conscious madness ushering in what?  A new day?  A new demise?  All I long for is quiet solitude.  Space to be left alone from everything so I can catch my breath.  It seems like the only place left I feel safe is writing.  I see the words on the screen and therefore must be thinking of something and my hands must be typing.  This feeling reminds me of hiding from bullies when I was young.  I remember two assailants in particular were so bent on making fun of me and harassing me to my face that I sought refuge in a girls bathroom and locked the stall door thinking I was safe only to find moments later they had followed me into the bathroom and were now hanging over the stall side walls refusing to leave.  I was trapped.  I had to endure it until it ended and I had no control.