Sunday, July 31, 2005

I'm home

I got home at about 3pm Friday. I've just been too wiped to wrap my head around posting. Sorry for the delay.

Dr. Sudan and his team were able to do the whole thing laparoscopically (thank God), so I have 5 little incisions instead of a big one. They have staples on them that will probably be coming out during my visit tomorrow.

I'm on liquids only for the next few weeks, and am supposed to somehow manage to get 60 grams of protein and 64 oz of fluids (half of which should be plain water) throughout the day. It's just not possible. I'm still trying, though. My brain power is not all it could be due to lack of protein, I'm sure.

While I was in the hospital, I developed 2 new problems. My left thigh is alternately annoyingly numb and upsettingly on fire. I apparently compressed a nerve from my positioning either during surgery or after, or both. Also, I screwed up a ligament (or tendon, I can't remember) in my right rotator cuff from pulling myself up to get out of bed, bearing all my weight on my arms instead of my achy abdomen. Now that injury is exacerbated by the weight of my arm if it goes unsupported. I have physical therapy exercises that I'm doing, and I try to keep my arm supported on a pillow or over my head whenever possible.

This morning, one of my cats gingerly walked on me to be petted. It was gentle and didn't hurt, so I allowed it. Then she was startled by my husband's movement, and jumped off me like a springboard. It was very unpleasant.

My mom's in town for the next few days. We're headed out to visit with my mother in law. This should be interesting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

T minus five

I leave in 5 minutes for the hospital. I spent 2/3 of yesterday suffering from the bowel prep, and I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks (at least) suffering from the result.

I'm alternately questioning and confident of my choice to do this, but I think I made the right decision...

...or did I?

Friday, July 22, 2005

My post to rec.arts.bodyart

From: "Jess Bragg"
Newsgroups: rec.arts.bodyart
Subject: Here we go...
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 11:10:59 -0700

You know that feeling you get when you're just about to be pierced or tattooed, when the artist is prepping the materials and you suddenly realize that this is going to really hurt? Well, maybe it's because the magnitude of this procedure is so much greater than that of a tattoo or piercing, but I'm feeling it already, 3 days before my surgery.

I'm suddenly realizing that I'm going to be in a great deal of pain for several days, and at least some pain for weeks afterward. I'm realizing that my life is going to change dramatically. I'm realizing that I can plan and plan and still I have no clue exactly how things are going to go.

Stuff like this also makes you think about the small percentage of people who die while under general anesthesia. It's a small percentage, but it's still a lot of people, when you think about it. Keith's death was another log on that particular fire.

Keith's death. I try not to be superstitious, but sometimes stuff crops up that makes you say "Woah." Today, I was proofing a page from a new catalogue, and all the prefixes for the prices on the page were "KA". It gave me some serious willies. I told my coworker about it and she said that maybe it meant that Keith would be looking out for me, but that didn't ring true. My immediate thought was that because of the fact that I have been associating Keith's death with thoughts of my own mortality, that it was an bad omen about my chances or survival. I know it's corny and dumb, but it's what initially occurred to me. Still, being the rational person I am, there's no way in hell I'm postponing this for a superstitious twinge.

Anyway, to bring it back to topic a bit, I'm going to have an interesting set of scars from this. If the surgeon finds it necessary to switch from laparoscopic to open for this procedure (which is likely because of the fact that stuff is probably all shifted around from my splenectomy) then I will have a new scar perpendicular to my old scar. I'll have a great big cross on my tummy. Hmmm, maybe when it's all
healed, I'll get it tattooed so it looks like ribbons on a package, with a big bow on my breast. Then I'll get my nipple repierced and hang a card from it. Tacky? Yeah, I guess so. Nevermind.

Well, if anyone wants to pray, chant, or send healing thoughts, I will be having my surgery on Monday 7/25 at approximately 7:45 AM Central Time(GMT -06:00), and I will probably be on the table for upwards of 6 hours. Such spiritual help is certainly appreciated. No atheists in a foxhole, ya know.

If you're interested in the details about the procedure I'm having, check out


Thursday, July 21, 2005

All systems go

I saw the anesthesiologist and the surgeon today. I'm cleared for surgery despite my still somewhat swollen tonsils. The swelling has gone down enough that they are satisfied that it will not present a problem.

I've been all shaky and filled with nervous energy all day. This is actually going to happen. I am going to allow people to open me up and handle the delicate meat inside my skin. I'm going to let them cut parts of me up and remove some pieces. I'm doing this voluntarily. I must be insane.

The next few days are going to go very slowly.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I needed this

A big thanks to my husband(who sent me this) and whence he got it.)

Upside down

Guess what! I'm getting sick again!

My tonsils never did get un-swollen from my last illness, and now a sinus infection is brewing. I spoke with one of my surgeon's nurses today, and she said that if it's not cleared up by the end of the week, they will cancel my surgery. I have an appointment with my primary care doc today after work to see if we can do anything about this ASAP.

If my surgery is cancelled, the world explodes. I already have my car payment deferral in the works based on my current surgery date, my mom already have plane tickets to come out and take care of me the first week in August, my workplace is all prepped to have a replacement for me starting next week, my autologous blood is already drawn, and I have no idea how I'm going to be able to cope with even more waiting and spazzing time. How am I supposed to heal when I am so stressed? What the hell am I going to do if my tonsils have to come out? That will mean a bunch of recovery time for that before I can have the gastric surgery.

The Powers That Be are looking at me and saying, "I don't think there's enough upheaval in her life. Let's fuck with it a bit more." Please knock it the hell off, TPTB! I'm full up!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I'm spazzing

Someone I've known for the last 7ish years died on Monday. Keith Alexander died in a bicycling accident. He wasn't wearing a helmet. If he'd been wearing one, he would probably still be alive. I'm so pissed at him for robbing us of many more years of knowing him.

I only vaguely remember my first interaction with Keith. I came into #bodyart, I think - I'm pretty sure I met him on irc before I posted to rec.arts.bodyart... He hazed me, like the regulars would do to any newbie... and I must have said something quick and clever. I made him laugh, and won his approval. I never had any problems fitting in with the group after that. Such was the power of Keith Alexander's approval. #bodyart and rec.arts.bodyart regulars were some elitist pricks, myself included... but Keith liked me. I'm honored to have been one of the people Keith liked.

Keith Alexander was an amazing person. Someone said today that he would become the best at something and then tell it to fuck off and start at the bottom with something else. It's true. He really was the master of reinvention. From music, to piercing, to cycling, to whatever else he set his mind to... he always quickly became damned good at whatever he was doing. More about him can be read at

The bodyart community is still reeling from the news of his death. So many people knew him. I bet there will still be people for weeks or months who are only just finding out about it and feeling the way the rest of us are feeling today.

...and that brings me to the heart of why I'm spazzing. My surgery is coming up in 12 days. There are risks when you have general anesthesia. I could die, and how long would it take before the news made it to people I've known online for years? I know that far, far fewer people would care about the news of my death than care about the news of Keith's death... but I'm being forced to face my mortality and it's making me spaz out.

Another reason why I'm spazzing is that my husband found out that his employer will be sending him out of town the first week in August, which is the week after my surgery. That, plus financial issues that crop up out of nowhere, plus getting sick a week ago, plus a million other variables all bouncing around at once... I'm coming to realize just how little control I have over this whole surgery business. It's scary to find out that events are out of your hands. I'm not good at it. I fret. I spaz.

So I'm fretting and spazzing, and anxious to get this all over with. The worst part is that because my tonsils and lymph nodes are still swollen, I may not even be cleared for surgery when all is said and done, and they may make me reschedule. Wonderful... even more time for new variables to crop up, and to fret and spaz.

Monday, July 11, 2005


We all remember:

Picture pages, picture pages,
time to get your picture pages,
time to get your crayons and your pencils!

But do you remember:

The story box, the story box,
there are no locks on the story box.


Hot fudge holy moly!
What's goin' on?


We wanna have you as a member of the Patchwork Family!
There' plenty to do as a member of the Patchwork Family!
We're looking for sisters, and brothers, and all sorts of others,
like nieces, nephews, uncles, cousins,
we need members by the dozens!
All kinds of people in the Patchwork Family!
We're gonna be happy as can be,
because it's certified and stated
that everyone's related in the Patchwork Family!

I've been accused of making that one up. I didn't. I swear.

Checking in

Ear: still screwed up. It's getting very gradually better, but if it were progressing any more slowly, it would be going backwards.

Bathroom ceiling: leak fixed, hole plastered, maintenance dude coming in today to texture that area to match the rest of the ceiling. While he was fixing the ceiling, he broke our showerhead. Either it broke completely and he glued it back together, or he knocked it accidentally and caused a hairline fracture. It came off in Michael's hand when he was adjusting it the next day. It was one of those $40 jobbies that has 3 settings and a detachable head (for undercarriage cleaning, of course). He replaced it the next day, but he replaced it with the $2 showerhead that came standard with the apartment when we moved in. I'm rather annoyed about that. I'm gonna pitch a bitch about it later.

Work: still proofing. Still enjoying it. Break over.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Lend me your ear

It's like day 8 or 9 of my ear being all screwed up. I lost one of the teeny vinyl o-rings from a piece of jewelry I wear in the conch of that ear, so I put 2 and 2 together and decided that there must be a teeny vinyl foreign body in my ear causing the discomfort. I tried shaking my head around in the hopes of dislodging it, but nothing happened. I called my doctor's office and said that I was starting to think that the o-ring fell in there, and they referred me to an ear/nose/throat doctor. I saw him this afternoon.

The man was a caricature. He had the world's worst toupee and a lazy eye. He was tall and skeletal looking. He talked to me as if I were 3 years old and scared of visiting the doctor. I wanted to tell him to stop rambling and get to the point so I could get back to work. He spent 8000 words explaining that my ear is trying to heal and to leave it the hell alone. He took a framed color diagram of an ear, and used his fountain pen to draw on the glass to emphasize that there are dark spots on my ear drum. He said that if he showed a picture of my ear to an expert in [insert geographic location - he specified about 6 of them] that the expert would ask how it looked 3 days later, because that's about how long it will take to heal.

He said that there were popped blisters on my ear drum, from the infection of a week ago. There's no fluid there now, but my ear will continue to feel weird until the blisters heal completely. He put some cortisone cream on my ear drum, and expended another thousand or two words on telling me that I didn't need to have any additional antibiotics or anything.

So basically, I'm out another $20 co-pay, had to endure a doctor telling me in 30 minutes what he could tell me in one, and I have to stay at work an extra hour to make up the time. The up-side is that I don't have to waste any more creativity on imagining what's in my ear.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


My left ear is still all stuffed up. It's driving me absolutely insane.

Whenever I have a tickle in my ear, or any aural discomfort, I can't help but think of the movie Brokedown Palace. The character in question is in a Thai prison, and a bug crawls into her ear. Since I am severely phobic about bugs, this is very disturbing thinking and exacerbates the discomfort quite a bit. It's even worse because I found 2 centipedes in my bedroom right at the head of my bed a couple of weeks ago. My husband dutifully dispatched them, and allowed me to do a thorough check of the whole room, all the bedding, and my CPAP machine (can you imagine how much it would have sucked [blown?] if one had been lurking in my CPAP tubing? Crikey! It gives me the shakes just considering it!) before we turned out the light, but now I keep thinking back to those crawly bastards.

My rational mind knows that there is not a colony of centipedes living in my ear. Dr. Parker would have seen them when he looked in my ears last Thursday, and I'd have considerably more discomfort. However, maybe it's just possible that the centipedes are burrowing into the part of my brain that houses the rational mind. Maybe it's incredibly rational, but the pressure of the egg sacs makes me think it's irrational!

Feh. Fine. I know better. But this clogged ear is still driving me buggy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Spleenless in Seattle

Well, not in Seattle. But I am spleenless. My lack of spleen is due to the staging surgery that was done when I was 15, to determine the extent of my cancer. So now, 15 years later, my immune system can't do shit for shit.

This simple little head cold that my in-laws had when they invited us over a couple of weekends ago has turned into the bastard flu for me. It is a very mean illness. This illness has kicked my ass, knocked me down, and taken my wallet. It stole my car and drove it through Westroads mall, stopping at Godiva to spend $400 of my money on white chocolate, which is my very least favorite kind! This illness broke into my next-door neighbor's house and ran up his phone bill with calls to Guatemala, then took a dump on his living room rug. This illness kicked a puppy. This illness ate the last pop tart and put the empty box back in the cupboard so we would think we had more pop tarts when we don't. This illness is going to leave a tack on your chair, so please check it before you sit down next time.

My left ear is all stuffed up, still. I keep waiting for a liter of water to spill out and my hearing to return completely, like after you get out of a pool and hop on one foot. It hasn't happened yet, and people at work keep looking at me strangely.

I'm on day 4 of the holiest-fuckest of holy-fuck antibiotics. I have one more day of Zithromax, and then it keeps on working for 5 more days on its own. That's just freaky.

If I am not symptom-free by the 13th, they won't take my autologous blood. C'mon body. Kick the bastard flu out on its ass. I'm sick of its shenanigans.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Ticked off

I added the above ticker to track the days until surgery. Afterwards, I will make another ticker to track my weight loss.

Update on illness: My lungs are filled with goop and my throat hurts, but I think I may be kicking this without the antibiotics. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.