Sunday, September 14, 2014

Recovery and Happy Birthday to Me!

Disclaimer: Post surgery belly pictures are below!  And they're not at the bottom of the post like last time! 

Friday I hit the 3 weeks post surgery mark.  Friday also happened to be my birthday!  So yay for both of those things!  I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday, which was my first time to see the doctor since surgery.  He looked at my stomach, felt around, and said everything looks good.  He checked my pathology again and said pathology definitely shows I have Crohn's, and he said the pathologist was concerned about something else but Dr. Rogers said he wasn't concerned it.  So I've tried to push away the thought of maybe he didn't get all the bad out.  He's a great surgeon and knows what he's doing!  He cleared me to drive (yay!) and cleared me to go back to work, he said just to take things very easy and slow.  I still can't exercise or pick up Sara Kate for 2 more weeks but I know those weeks will fly by.  Sweet little angel face asked me if my boo boo's on my tummy were better so I can pick her up.  She'll be so excited when I finally can pick her up!
Like I said, he said everything looks good.  He assured me that 'the bulge' that is at my big incision site will go down, it'll just take about 6 months (wow!).  My skin around my incisions has been very dry and he said to get some cocoa butter or Mederma, which would help with the scarring.  I still have stitches in and he said they'll dissolve.  And now for my belly pictures...4 days, 1 week, and 1.5 weeks post surgery are on my last blog.  I would say things are looking much better.

September 5 - 2 weeks post surgery
September 9 - 2.5 weeks post surgery
 September 12 - 3 weeks post surgery
In other news from my doctors appointment, Dr. Rogers started me on a medicine called Asacol, which is an anti-inflammatory drug used to keep Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis under control.  To be honest, I've been really concerned about getting on medicine for Crohn's.  They big ones seem super scary with crazy possible side effects (like some very rare cancer, umm, no thank you!!) but in my research of Asacol it seems pretty mild.  I can handle that.  I'll have an appointment to see my GI doctor in a month so hopefully we can just rock on roll with something like this and avoid the scary stuff.  Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for my insurance to pick it up because it's not a preferred drug.  The doctor has to contact the insurance company and tell them why I need it.  It's super expensive so I really hope that gets worked out in the next couple of days, before I run out of these samples!!
As for my recovery, I'm feeling quite a bit better.  I can move around better, can sleep better, can lay on my right side normally, and can gently lay towards my left side.  I can do more things around the house, play with Sara Kate a little more, etc., but I know not to push it.  I'm still sore, it feels like really sore muscles all through my torso now, but it's so much better than it was.  Since I got the ok from the doctor, I am going back to work tomorrow.  I don't know if I'll make it a full day, as I know it'll be exhausting, but I feel like that's one more thing I need to do to 'get back to normal.'  So I'll give it a shot!
Speaking of 'normal,' Sara Kate wanted to go to the playground last week so we slowly walked to the playground, event though she knew I couldn't play with her or carry her or slide with her.  I'm looking forward to getting back to doing stuff like that with her!
Since the doctor cleared me to drive on Thursday, I was able to get out of the house for my birthday on my own!  How thrilling, haha!  I needed to get an oil change in my car and I went and wasted a good bit of time walking around Target.  It was glorious, ha!!  I got home and was folding laundry when Chris and Sara Kate got home.  They surprised me some BEAUTIFUL flowers for my birthday.  12 roses and 5 calla lilies, which are my favorite flower.  So lovely on my kitchen table.
Chris' mom and dad kept Sara Kate so we could go to dinner Friday night.  
We went to my favorite local restaurant, Noodles, and I had my favorite local dish, Jalapeno Lime Chicken, which is amazing.  Unfortunately my new 18-inch less colon didn't think so!  It was delicious, but I know now jalapeno spice is something my stomach can't handle.  We got home, got Sara Kate in bed, and waited up for my parents to get here.

It was a fun weekend with my mom and dad here.  Mom and I went shopping yesterday and I got some new pretties to wear to work since I still can't wear jeans, which makes it very difficult to dress!  I tried to put on a pair of jeans Friday night and nope, NOT ready for that!  And I'm pretty sure gym shorts, pajama pants, and sweat pants probably would be frowned upon at the office, ha!  So I got some fun things to wear with leggings and I used some other birthday money to buy a super fun pair of shoes!  I'm so excited about these!  I love leopard print! :-)
We went to dinner Saturday night, drank some wine and watched some football last night after Sara Kate went to bed, and went to church this morning before mom and dad had to head south.  I always love having my parents in town and Sara Kate loves her Ghee and Poppa.
This girl.  LOVE her!!
Overall, I think I'm doing pretty well in my recovery and I had a great birthday weekend.  Once again, I'm very thankful to my family for their love and support, my friends who continue to check on me and bring us yummy dinners, and anyone else who has prayed for me and our family during this time.  Bring on year 34!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Left Colectomy - My Surgery

Disclaimer: Post surgery belly pictures are below!

I've been wanting to sit down for a week and write this but the words are escaping me.  August 22 I had surgery to remove a foot and a half of my colon...left colectomy is what it's called.  I had my pre-op appointment at the hospital on Wednesday, August 20, and I had an appointment with Dr. Rogers (my surgeon) right after that.  Since I hadn't really gotten to talk to him since June, we had  a list of questions and my anxiety was sky high because I just didn't know anything.  The doctor sat with us for about an hour and answered everything we asked him.  That's when we found out he would be removing about a foot and a half, he wasn't going to explore anything more, the surgery would last about 3 hours, and my recovery time would be about 3 weeks.  Looking at the diagram below, basically the plan was to remove the straight stretch on my left side (right side of the image), and he was to connect the parts together.
I felt much relief after my appointment but still had quite a bit of anxiety.  Thursday I had to leave work early in order to 'prep' for surgery.  Thankfully I didn't have to do a full cleanse, just a partial cleanse.  The drink was some nasty over the counter crap we bought at Target for a whopping 97 cents!  Seriously, I don't know why they can't make these beverages taste better...or make them taste like nothing at all!!  They're all just plain awful.
Thursday night was short, as we had to be at the hospital at 5:00 am to check in.  My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 am, first on the docket.  
I was back in a bed, in a gown, and I was hooked up to an IV in no time.  And all of a sudden it was time for me to go.  Peace out colon!
They wheeled me to another area where I had to wait for the anesthesiologist and wait for the doctor to come by.  The anesthesiologist gave me something to relax me as they wheeled me to the operating room.  That stuff knocked me out and it wasn't even supposed to!  I remember being wheeled to the operating room, I remember getting situated on the table, and that's it!  After that, I remember being wheeled around to recovery then to a room where I had to get myself into the bed in my room.  Yes, I had to get myself into my bed!  OH MY GOSH, I remember it hurting!!  Then I was out again.  I woke up at some point with dry heaves, due to coming out of anesthesia...once again, OH MY GOSH it hurt!!!  I remember telling my mom and Chris that I didn't want Sara Kate to come to the hospital that day because I didn't want her to see me like that.  And I don't remember much else.  I can't remember what time I finally woke completely up .  But my dear husband took some lovely pictures of me though during the day...so glad we have these LOVELY memories.  Haha! :-)
As for the surgery from the doctor's stand point, he told Chris and my parents that everything went as he expected it too.  He removed 18 inches of my colon and the surgery lasted a little over 3 hours.  The only thing that was different than his original plan was he added an extra port for the robot up near my ribcage, and he said that would be a very sore spot.

The night was uncomfortable and Chris stayed at the hospital with me.  My mom brought Sara Kate up after gymnastics Saturday morning and she wanted nothing to do with me.  My dad had to pick her up and make her come give me a hug.  It made me sad but I knew I expected her to be stand-offish.  Once my catheter was removed that morning I moved from the bed to sitting up in the chair.  It was uncomfortable but I propped up on a pillow and it was manageable.
I had a room full of guests by the afternoon; my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece and nephew came to town, as well as my in-laws came by.  I think it was good for Sara Kate for her to have her cousins there.  There was a plethora of iPads there between us all for the kids to play on and I had a double room so there was plenty of room for them to 'run' around.  My mom stayed with me Saturday night and Chris and my dad went home with Sara Kate.  Sunday morning I moved from the bed to the chair and we waited for a visit from the doctor on call.  He came by around lunch time and we got great news that he was discharging me!  I was out of there shortly after that and was home by 1:00 that day.  Yes, they brought me the biggest wheel chair EVER!  We laughed, except I couldn't laugh because it hurt.  But it was amusing.
Sunday afternoon and evening I sat propped in a chair and I slept propped up in bed, although I couldn't get into or out of bed by myself.  My mom left Monday afternoon and Chris came home from school early.  My mother-in-law stayed all day on Tuesday, and we had some sweet church friends that stayed with me the rest of the week during the days.  By Wednesday morning I was carefully able to get out of bed by myself.  I spent the week propped in a chair and carefully walking around.  I have felt the best in the morning and I kind of go down hill from there pain and general discomfort wise.  Friday, one week after my surgery, I got out of the house for the first time.  I went with Chris to pick up Sara Kate from school and we took her for ice cream for having a great day at school (after an awful day on Thursday).
Being 'down' on a holiday weekend was kind of a bummer.  Saturday I spent the day watching football but I kind of broke down Saturday night because I was so uncomfortable and sore and honestly, my spirits were just down.  That's the first time I've broken down during this entire experience.  Sunday morning I managed to make it to church and that helped, and yesterday we went out and got some lunch which was nice.
Sara Kate has been doing ok.  She's been acting out some and she's kept her distance from me, but she's getting a little closer and a little better every day.  She sat beside me this weekend to watch the iPad and play with a sticker book and color, which was great, until she elbowed me in the stomach trying to reposition herself.  I just have to remind her to watch her elbows when she's sitting near me. :-)

Chris has been great, taking care of me, taking care of Sara Kate, taking care of things around the house.  I'm very thankful for him.  I'm also very thankful for our sweet friends who are keeping us fed, bringing us yummy meals.  Everything has been amazing.

As far as my recovery, I'm a week and a half post surgery and I'm making it, feeling a little better everyday and moving around better everyday.  My back is killing me and my main incision site is really sore and I have what I'm calling 'the bulge' at that spot.  I don't know if it's from the stitches or what, but it is so sore to the touch and is an actual bulge just above my incision site.  Total, I have 6 holes, where they had cameras and ports, and the big incision where he removed everything.  I have taken pictures every few days and I've debating putting them on here, but I decided that I will because this is my blog journaling my experience.  And maybe someone on the internet will see this and it'll help them. 
Tuesday, August 26...4 days post surgery...
I ended up blistering where the bandages were, that's what those red spots down near the low incisions are.
 Friday, August 29...7 days post surgery...
The blistered spots look really red and were very sore, and I was starting to bruise.
Tuesday, September 2...11 days post surgery...
Blister spots look much better and are very itchy and I'm still bruising.
 
So that's where we stand.  My post-op appointment is September 11, almost 3 weeks after surgery.  Hopefully everything continues to progress the way it should and I'll be back to normal in no time.  After this recovery is done with, I'll still see Dr. Rogers every so often and in a month or so I'll be referred Dr. Paschall (who did my first colonoscopy back in June when I ended up in the hospital), and he will be my GI doctor and I'll work with him to manage my Crohn's.  Thank you for your prayers during this process and I ask for your continued prayers as my healing continues!

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of Pre-K!!

Today was Sara Kate's first day of Pre-K.
 I can't believe my baby's in Pre-K!  This is the last step before kindergarten!!
 It seems like just yesterday she was going to her first day of school ever.
And now she's on her last 'first day' at her school at this stage of her little life.
I was looking at her take home packet today and was super impressed by their goals for the year...recognition of numbers 1-100, counting by 1s, 5s, 10s, and 25s, planet recognition, state recognition, telling time, basic reading, addition and subtraction...just to name a few.  Also, ironically her teacher is from El Dorado, my hometown!  But I don't know her.  Small world!
"Mommy, does this say 1st Day of Pre-K?"
 She's getting SO big, and I love her so much!!
Oh, and when she grows up she says she wants to be Queen Elsa.  And when I asked her what she wants to do for a job when she grows up she said she wants to cook in the kitchen.  Ha!! :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Little Swimmer

If you recall in a blog I wrote earlier in the summer, Sara Kate was scared of the pool (around the middle of June).  She didn't want to get off the steps.  Then a couple weeks after that she got brave and was swimming all over the pool with floaties.  By July 4th weekend she was going off the diving board like a champ (with floaties) and wasn't scared at all.  I was thrilled with her progress.  I knew she needed swim lessons, and she started them second week of July.  Last year she did them at the Fayetteville city pool, but this year we decided to go with semi-private lessons at the Fayetteville Athletic Club.  It was Monday-Thursday for 30 minutes each day and it was $80.  And I can honestly say it was the best $80 I spent all summer!  In fact week 1 went so well, I signed her up for a second week of lessons and my mom was kind enough to foot the bill for week 2.  And again, I think it was the best $80 spent!!
The first week was spent mostly with the instructor working on getting Sara Kate to use her arms.  The little boy with her in class had taken a couple of weeks of lessons and he was more advanced than her.  I think it was great for Sara Kate to be able to see what he could do.  They would swim from the lane rope to the side, back and forth, back and forth, with their teacher working hard on getting Sara Kate to use her arms.  My mom made me realize why she wasn't using her arm...she said it was because Sara Kate never had to use her arms when she would wear floaties.  Made perfect sense.
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One big thing she learned in week 1 was how to tread water.  I am SO glad she learned this skill, and she picked it up very quickly.
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Another thing they worked on was back floating, but Sara Kate was having NONE of that.  She was afraid and didn't want for her teacher to let go of her.
That weekend we went to a friends pool to work on her new skills.  She still wasn't doing very well at using her arms, but she was able to swim her way across the pool, which I was very impressed by.
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Week 2 started out with a BANG!!  All of a sudden Sara Kate learned she can swim with her face in the water!!  And she started using her arms!  I was SO proud of her!  Once again, she was paired with a little boy who was slightly more advanced than her.  I don't know if that was part of her deciding to swim with her face in the water or what, but semi-private lessons were amazing for that reason!
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After that, everything seemed to click.  She also decided that she was just fine floating on her back by herself!!  In fact, she loved floating on her back.
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After day 1 of week 2, they moved out of the lap pool and into the big open pool.  This gave the kids more of an opportunity to really swim, and I think it made a huge difference for Sara Kate.  She was using her arms, putting her face in the water to swim, and she even figured out how to come up for a breath and put her face back in the water to continue swimming.
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 By the end of the second week, she had made SO much progress.  A couple weeks later we went swimming again at a friends pool and she swam the length of the pool by herself.  I can't say it enough, I am just SO proud of her progress this summer.
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Since my surgery is Friday, we went swimming for the last time yesterday.  I love watching her splash around having so much fun.  I'm such a water person, I love swimming with her.  There's no rest and relaxation time at the pool when you have a little one with no flotation device, but it's ok.  I do not want her to be afraid of the water, and I want her to love it as much as I do.  I think we're on the right track!  I'm also SO thankful to our friends who let us crash their pools all summer.  THANK YOU Morton's and Brawners!! :-)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kitchen Makeover

There's been a lack of blogging (alot lately) but more so recently because Chris and I have been engrossed in quite the project here at home!  Let me start this by saying our house was built in 1998 and we bought it at the height of the housing boom in 2006, about 9 months after we got married.  It was supposed to be our '5-year-starter-home' that has turned into our '8.5-years-later-and-we're-still-here-home,' thanks to the housing bubble busting!  Our house was fine when it was just us but it's a little tighter with a kid and all her stuff!  We've done lots of updates to our house over the years, but one project we've never tackled or even discussed is the kitchen.  It's open, which is great, but it's small with not much counter space, not to mention I hate the counter tops.  Back in July I got a wild hare, started looking online, and then I mentioned to Chris a couple of 'easy' ways we could update...including painting the kitchen cabinets, painting the walls, and possibly getting new counter tops.  Well, we looked into new counter tops and decided it's out of the budget, but surprisingly enough, he was completely on board with painting the cabinets!!  Here's the before.
 
Once we decided to do the project we did it right away because there wasn't much time left in Chris' summer break.  We did read lots of blogs about painting cabinets and Chris watched lots of videos on YouTube before we got started (we started on July 28, which was a Monday).
We started taking things out of the cabinets and drawers on Monday and Tuesday night.  We carefully piled things in the guest room, and yep, it ended up looking like the kitchen threw up in the spare bedroom!
Tuesday night after we finished cleaning out, we taped.  Chris took the cabinet doors off on Wednesday afternoon and cleaned everything really good with a de-greaser, and he primed the cabinets in the kitchen Wednesday night.
Thursday afternoon he primed the cabinet doors, which were set up in the garage.
 
Thursday night we started painting, applying the first coat on the cabinets.  The color we chose was 'Antique White,' and we used Valspar Signature latex paint.  We did not do any sanding, as we felt it wasn't necessary based on what our cabinets were like.  So we did save ourselves a step there and it worked out fine.
Each night we couldn't really start working until after Sara Kate went to bed, which was around 8:30.  We knew we had the hard stuff left to do on Friday night and Saturday, and Chris' mom was kind enough to take Sara Kate as soon as we got home Friday.  She kept her Friday night and all day Saturday, which was amazing.  Friday night we put a second coat of paint on the cabinets in the kitchen and headed into the garage to paint the doors. 
We painted the back side of the doors Friday night and luckily they were dry enough Saturday morning for us to flip them over.  The front of the doors was a tedious process because of the beveling.  I used a fancy brush we bought (a Purdy brand brush...I actually used this brush to get around the moulding on the cabinets too) around all the edges and the beveling and Chris came behind me and rolled.  Once the first coat was on the doors we had to wait a while...we wanted to make sure it was good and dry before doing the second coat.  We applied the first coat about 9:00 Saturday morning, went and ran some errands, and applied the second coat around 3:30 that afternoon.
Once we finished the doors we came back inside and touched up anything we felt needed touching up.  Sunday afternoon we carefully peeled off the tape and put the appliances back.  What a difference already!
I don't know if you can tell in the picture above, but we had a lovely fluorescent light that absolutely HAD to be changed while we were updating!!  Chris' dad came over Sunday afternoon and they made a trip to Home Depot while I stayed home with Sara Kate.  The fluorescent light left small holes in the ceiling and they had to so some screwing into the ceiling to set the mount for a new light.
Unfortunately the light fixture Chris bought busted in his hands while he was installing it.  So back to Home Depot we all went.  Sara Kate loved 'driving the car.'
We got a different kind of light fixture, nothing fancy, and it was installed with no problems.  So much better!!
The last thing we had to do was decide on hardware.  Originally we had no knobs or pulls in the kitchen and we definitely wanted to add some.  We looked at Lowe's and Home Depot and couldn't really agree on anything.  Chris went by Target after school Tuesday afternoon and looked at what they had...who knew Target had that kind of stuff!!  He sent me some pictures and we actually agreed a set!  I went to Target that night to look at them, verify that's what I wanted, and buy them.  I had a $100 gift card to Target and they were cheaper than what we saw at Lowe's or Home Depot, a win-win!!  Wednesday morning Chris started installing and by Wednesday night it was all done and put back together.  What a difference painting the cabinets and installing hardware made!  We love how it turned out.
 
The final thing we were going to do was paint the walls.  When we moved into our house almost every room was yellow.  Over the years, we've painted almost every room and the kitchen was one of the last remaining yellow rooms.  Based on the picture I was using as a guide during this whole process, I had my mind set on some variation of a light green (as you can see in the picture above, I had green paint samples leaned up against the wall).  I thought painting the walls green would blend with the green counter tops and make them less noticeable.  Chris was not really on board with this idea and was kind of pushing aside the idea of painting the walls.  I talked to an interior designer friend at church on Sunday, told her what we had done, and told her what I wanted to do for paint.  She's been to our house before, but I showed her some pictures of what the kitchen looked like after painting the cabinets and she immediately said do NOT paint green!  She said paint grey and she even gave me a paint color, Ozark Shadows by Benjamin Moore.  She said grey would do a better job of blending in with the green counter tops and would even mask some of the green.  She showed me a fabric that had grey, green, blue, white, and chocolate brown, and she pointed out how well the colors blended together.  This is the same friend who told us to paint our living room chocolate brown several years ago and we did it without hesitation, and to this day we still love it.  So once again, without hesitation I said ok to the grey!  I didn't think we would do it right away but Sunday afternoon Chris told me to go buy a sample, then changed his mind and said just buy a gallon.  We bought Valspar Signature, latex paint, egg shell finish, in Ozark Shadows.
Originally we were going to tape Sunday night and paint Monday but somehow we ended up doing the whole thing Sunday afternoon and evening.  We did touch ups Monday evening.
 
 
Below is the finished product once the tape was removed.  It's a complete 180 from where the kitchen was 2 weeks ago.
 Once again, here are the BEFORE pictures.
And AFTER
 
We still have to put the blinds back up, window treatments, rugs, and some decorating, but I'm really pleased with the way things turned out.  Sitting in the living room and looking into the kitchen you can't even tell the counter tops are green, they look grey, and in daylight it's less obvious too.  New counter tops aren't completely out of the question and is something we'll address at a later date.  And I am planning to incorporate the fabric Cecily showed me to help pull things together, also.
So that's what we've been up to lately!  It's been quite a project and we have stayed busy over the last couple of weeks, but in the end, we are very glad we made these changes!