Sunday, November 28, 2010

Keeta's Baby!

As per my last post, I have a Bengal kitty named Keeta. Keeta had a baby (yes, just one) on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at her breeder's house. So cute!! I got to bring Keeta and her 4 day old baby boy home yesterday (Saturday) where she will nurse him for about 8 weeks. I have to say I was a little worried about the drive home because Keeta is notoriously a maniac in the car. She rolls around in her cat carrier meowing and clawing at it. She flips her cushion around and makes a mess of the carrier. So naturally I was worried if I put both Keeta and her baby in it, she might trample him in her crazed state. I spoke to her breeder, Teresa, on the phone and we devised a plan. We knew that putting them in separate carriers would mean a loud and frantic drive home for me. You DO NOT want to separate a mama from her newborn baby! So we thought that we could put them both her ottoman/cat bed. This is a heavy piece of furniture that looks like a rattan ottoman, but it is completely lined inside in brown padded fur. The lid fits snug on top, or you can flip it over and it rests on the ottoman showing another padded fur lined sitting area with feather toys. There is a hole for the cat to get in and out.

I arrived in Issaquah and was headed up Tiger Mountain toward Teresa's when I saw her white Samoyed dog (Vladimir) running along the road... with a family of four and another big dog! I stopped my car and rolled down the window to yell Vlad's name. Of course he stopped and looked at me so I knew it was him. The family said "do you know this dog"? Yep. I tried to get Vlad to follow my car by repeatedly calling his name while I drove. But no, he didn't stay with me too long, clearly having too much fun with his new friends. He was wet and muddy so I really didn't want to put him in my car, but I didn't want to leave him with the walking family... especially since they had just told me that Vlad comes over EVERY DAY and even knows how to unlatch the screen door on their porch and LET HIMSELF IN?! So I finally had to pull over and get my emergency blanket out of the trunk to spread on the back car seat. Vlad jumped in and sat nicely in the backseat the rest of the way to his house. However, as soon as he jumped out, I folded up the blanket and no sooner could I get the door closed, he jumped back in! Oh Vlad! Now my backseat is full of muddy paw prints and white hair.

OK, on to getting the cats! Teresa cut some cardboard to put over the hole in the ottoman so Keeta wouldn't be tempted to get out. We hoped that her motherly instincts would kick in and she would sit in her dark box and nurture her baby instead of freaking out on the drive. We put the lid on and carried it to the car's front passenger seat. So far no crying or commotion... good! I made my way down Tiger Mountain and wasn't even off Teresa's road when she started crying and thumping around in the box. Then she got out. She basically chewed or clawed at the cardboard until she could slide through it. I know this because she had brown tufts of fur on her head and mouth. She was all over the car meowing at the top of her lungs so I pulled into a grocery parking lot in Issaquah. I lifted the lid to show her that her baby was in there and tried to coax her back into the box. When she hopped back in, I closed the lid. Within seconds she had head butted the heavy lid open enough to slither out again. I didn't think she had the strength to do that?! Again, I lifted the lid to put her back in. She jumped in, picked up the baby in her mouth and carried him out! She put the kitten on the floor mat by my feet, wrapped herself around him and immediately comforted her baby, licked him and let him nurse. They seemed comfortable so I decided to try and drive like that. (Yes, I know, not safe!) We made it to the freeway like that, but then she started trying to get under my seat (which pushed on the seat adjuster lever and I flew backwards. (Yes, while driving... again not safe!) She had managed to get her kitten all the way under my seat by the time I frantically pulled over on the side of I-90. Without getting out of the car (for fear Keeta would leap out) I managed to move the HEAVY ottoman into the back seat, and put her regular pet carrier in the front seat. I grabbed Keeta and shoved her into the pet carrier and locked her in. Then I had to open the car door to retrieve the kitten from under the seat. I put him back in the cat bed that was now in the back seat. Keeta freaked out the whole rest of the way home. She meowed, cried, screamed, scratched, clawed, rolled over and over. But hey, I had to get them home safely so it had to happen that way. It was the longest, most stressful drive in my life! And now my back seat is even more of a mess with cat hair, faux fur, and rattan fibers. Oy!

Once home, I picked up the baby boy in my hand and carried Keeta's cat carrier from the car to house. Once inside, I immediately let Keeta out of the carrier and then let her follow me downstairs to the spare bedroom where I had a nice cat bed waiting for her. It's a large moving box, with a large pet bed on top of a folded towel with a heating pad inside. I cut a nice sized hole in it so Keeta can get in and out, but baby can't. I put baby in the bed. Keeta immediately jumped in, grabbed baby by the neck and hopped back out again. She took baby into hallway, stopped, looked around, and must have realized it was an okay spot after all! She returned to the cat bed, put baby in, got in herself and settled down. Whew!

In the next hour Keeta was in and out of the box. She sat at her water dish and drank non stop for about 5 minutes! She ate some food, used her litter box, and nursed her baby a couple of times. In between all that she has been re-exploring her house and getting re-acquainted with me. She even let me hold her in my arms for about 5 minutes. That is a record breaking hold time! She didn't even leave skid (scratch) marks on my chest when she finally wanted down. Maybe motherhood has mellowed her....

It's been a whole day and I can happily report that Keeta is mellow and calm, and taking good care of her baby. She spends most of the day and night in the box with her kitten. But she does find some time to come upstairs and hang with me on the couch. She nestles up to me and is more cuddly and affectionate than ever. I am enjoying her very much!
You can see Keeta and her baby on Teresa's website: Check it out!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My cat Keeta

Yes, I have a cat. And yes, I am writing about her. I am "that" person! ;-) If anyone knows me, they know I have a pure bred Bengal kitty that I got from my friend Teresa's cattery ( I got my cat as part of a "partnership" program that she started when deciding to become a Bengal cat breeder. My kitty, Keeta, was the first cat partner in her breeding program. The partnership is basically this: I give the cat a good home, feed her, love her, and make her mine. Then when she goes into heat, I send her back to the breeder and she gets to hang with her kitty boyfriend for a few days, get knocked up, and then come home to me. When she is ready to pop two months later, she goes back to the breeder for delivery, and Teresa has 3-6 new babies to raise in her cattery. Sounds easy, right?

Well, my particular baby doesn't like to make things easy! She has hard heat cycles (9) where she coos her little mating call like a bird, meows loudly and constantly... and she sprays. Ugh. Most female cats don't spray but mine does. She is trying to attract a male. It's a mess. So I had to put up with it 4 times before she was a year old. Finally after she turned one, we bred her. Now she has been bred multiple times (5) over the last year. The little stinker just did not want to get pregnant! The interesting thing is that her body would think she was pregnant, and so she wouldn't go back into heat until almost her due date. So we were never sure if she was pregnant or not... until she started cooing again. She finally got pregnant for the first time in September and this time I saw the tell tale signs of pregnancy: the red swollen nipples. She gradually started looking bigger in the abdomen area too. However, not as big as some of Teresa's other pregnant cats. So we were not sure how many babies she would have. Keeta delivered on a snowy Tuesday night (11/23/2010) just before midnight. How many cute little babies did she have? (1) baby! Oh Keeta, you are not making this easy...

Regardless, he's a keeper! Mama Keeta and baby kitten are both doing well. Today, I got to bring them both back home to my house. In the next post, I will tell you about that drive! CRAZY!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Northgate: Condo for Sale

Hey all,
If you or someone you know is looking to buy a GREAT place in a GREAT area for a GREAT price, have them check this link! This is a newly foreclosed condo in my building. (If the link doesn't seem to work, just look for the address on that website: 1942 N. Northgate Way, Seattle.)

This building was completely remodeled in 2008 so it's like new! There is a shared pool and plenty of parking. Lot's of quick access to I-5, bus routes, shopping, etc. Every unit is 2-story, 2-bedroom, 2 1/2 baths, and 1000+ square feet. Sell price is $149,900! At todays low mortgage rates, you'll be spending less than your rent now! Did I mention that you'd have GREAT neighbors??

Please pass this on to anyone you think would be interested.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homeownership: bathroom dry rot

Well, I have been a home owner for a year and a half now. Some of the things I've been dealing with as a new home owner have been fairly reasonable. Joining the HOA Board was definitely a good way to learn about my building, meet the neighbors and have a direct impact into what goes on with our dues, expenses, etc. Getting elected President of the HOA was a surprise! I am not sure how qualified I am for this role being a new home owner... but the rest of the group thought I would be good because (get this) I am organized, I respond to emails, and I have opinions. Good lord, that's all it takes?! I should learn to keep my big mouth shut!

Like I said I am learning a lot. I have been learning a lot about the operations, landscaping, and HOA insurance. Unfortunately I am also learning a lot about dues, collections, liens and foreclosures. This economy has taken a toll on some of our owners and I am dealing with the monetary and legal ramifications of that. Ugh!

On top of that, I realized I had some water damage in my main bathroom. Over the last couple months I have been noticing water on the floor in the hallway, on the outside wall of my bathtub. A small amount of water was appearing on the floor, under the molding so I thought that maybe the grout was cracking or leaking. Under some advice from my plumber, I didn't use the shower for several weeks (hoping that would dry out the interior of the wall). Then I purchased some caulk and went to town sealing up whatever grout lines or crevices that I could find. I thought I did a pretty good job! But over the months, the problem got worse. I started to see mold on the wall, and discoloration of the molding and wall. The wall felt wet to the touch. Worst of all, I started to see tiny bugs coming out of the wall! Gross!

I decided to call a plumbing company that I have worked with before. I described the issues and they sent out their plumber/contractor to check it out. He arrived on site and based on the visible damage, he also thought it was a bad tile job which was causing the water damage. This assessment was based on the fact that the last owner/remodel had set the tile directly on the sheet rock without any type of waterproof board in between. If water was leaking thru the grout, it would immediately soak the sheet rock and basically melt it. This was evidenced by the slight bowing of the wall near the faucet handle. The contractor thought that possibly all 4 walls were compromised, but without actually opening up the wall, couldn't be sure. Yes, my tub is actually surrounded by 4 walls with one wall being a shorter wall (allows for entry). This was the wall in question. In the end he gave me a quote for "worst-case scenario" which would mean the tear out of all the tile, cut thru the walls to remove any water damaged sheet rock, dry-rot, etc. Then rebuild the walls, re-tile, re-paint.

Worst-case scenario quote = $5800. Yikes! Well, I know I probably should have gotten some bids before starting the project, but I felt comfortable with the plumbing company that I had used in the past, and the contractor seemed very knowledgeable about what needed to happen. So I went ahead and told him to get started with opening up the walls. In doing this, we would be able to see instantly where the leaking was actually coming from. That would determine the extend of damage and we could move on from there.

Opening up the first wall was indeed tell-tale. He opened the wall where most of the visible damage seemed to be coming from (the short wall) that has the plumbing for the faucet. It was definitely a shoddy job, the copper pipes were not soldered together - they were glued together on the outside with some sort of clear epoxy. There pipes were glistening wet and clearly showing leakage. There was even an old rag that had been wrapped around the pipes there, which was rotted from the mold fell apart into pieces. You can see the BLACK sheetrock behind the pipes inside the wall opening. Sheetrock is supposed to be white! The shower tiles are affixed to this sheetrock so naturally it all had to come down and out.

The next hole in that same wall showed that the tiles around the bathtub were not properly sealed. The bathtub was also not level therefore gravity was pulling water drops from the edge of the tub into the grout, instead of into the tub. This was adding to the already moldy wet sheet rock in that wall.

The third cut was into the wall closest to the drain. It was here that my contractor found even more misery. The drain pipe had been cemented into the flooring with some sort of ready mix cement. The trap drain was also in this wall therefore limiting access to cleaning the trap. My contractor thought he would need to bring in a jack hammer to break up the cement, but as the cash register sounds in my brain were ching-chinging, I asked him to hold on. I asked him if that cemented drain was a problem NOW, or could it be a separate project later on. After doing a water pressure test, he agreed that it wasn't leaking so was not a current issue, but definitely would be an issue later on. The fact that the trap was buried in a wall with no access was also not up to code. I convinced him to leave those issues for now, and asked him to put a panel or cabinet door on that wall during re-build. Then I could easily monitor the drain pipe for leakage, have access to it in the future when it needed fixing, and have access to the trap.

The fourth cut into a third wall was to view the shower head and it's plumbing. Knowing that the plumbing around the faucet was so shoddy, he could only imagine that same plumbing led all the way up to the shower head. Sure enough the same plumbing fixes were used here as well. Small, daily leakage led to moldy wet sheet rock. Yikes!

The fix: my contractor removed all the wet sheet rock and dry-rot from the walls. He cut out any wet studs and replaced them with new cedar studs (bugs hate cedar so should double as a insect repellent for years to come). He replaced all the copper with a new fangled Swedish pvc tubing and refreshed the plumbing. He replaced the sheet rock and mudded the walls for tile and paint. He matched the paint perfectly (2 different colors)! He replaced the door and the moldings and he re-tiled the shower and grouted it. Now he just needs to come back to put a waterproof seal on the grout and do all the finishing touches. Should be done on Tuesday!! I will post the AFTER pictures when it's all done. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week of Sports

Whew, the last week was a whirlwind. Lot's to do and see in Seattle. We have an abundance of fanfare in this town and I guess this was my week to enjoy them all! I started it off with a Mariner's game in Safeco Stadium. My company usually sponsors a suite for our best customers about once a year - always a good time!

Then I grabbed a friend and headed across the Cascade Mountains to see some of the Ellensburg Rodeo in my home town!

Next I participated in a charity Golf Tournament at Newcastle Golf Course, benefiting Muscular Dystrophy. Again, ACS was a sponsor.

Then hit the Seattle Sounders FC match - courtesy of my friends sweet (suite) tickets!

Finally I watched the Husky game from the seats I won in a charity auction benefiting cancer research.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Melanoma... it's not really a beauty mark...

In the last couple of months I have noticed a crazy freckle on my lip that seems to have grown to enormous size! Of course, when things like that happen gradually over time, you tend to overlook the obvious. I mean, I was seeing it in pictures and wondering how/when it got big like that - but I wasn't paying that much attention to it. Friends who hadn't seen me in a while would comment on it. So I finally took a look back at some pictures from the last year and made some notes on the changes. The first photo to the left is from last September 2009. This is me on the plane to Greece! You can see one brown freckle on the right side. However, it's the faint brown spot on the LEFT that has grown!

Last summer, no freckle. By late September I could see the start of a brown dot on my lower lip. Over the months, the dot grew bigger and darker. The photo to the right shows the freckle in January 2010.

Here is the freckle in May 2010.
I had a suspicion that this was cause for concern, but I put it off because I felt like I had been dealing with too many other medical issues at the time. When my good friend Sheila told me to "go get that thing checked out" I had to comply. If you know Sheila, and what she's had to deal with (breast cancer) you don't say NO to her! ;-)

Finally in Aug 2010, I made an appointment with my dermatologist (Kelly Stevens at Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center ). I went in to see her last Friday, armed with some digital proof of the growth. She took one look at me and my photos and said that it looked like melanoma. She also brought in another surgeon for a second opinion. Yes, they both agreed that a biopsy was needed that day.

The biopsy was easy. They simply stuck a needle in my lip and gave me some numbing meds. Once I couldn't feel anything, they did a 2mm punch biopsy on the area. The tool looked like one of the small leather working tools I used to play with in my Dad's old leather shop in Bellingham! After the tissue was removed, Dr. Stevens sewed my lip together with a stitch and gave me some ointment to put on it for the next week.
I went to work with a bloody, fat lip that day. I couldn't eat or drink without drooling on myself! Not pretty! However, I had a weekend full of events with friends so I just had to suck it up and check my vanity at the door.

RESULTS: I received my biopsy results today and it’s good news! The pathology report shows no melanoma or skin cancer cells. Apparently it is just a sun spot or freckle that got huge. Whew! I go back to the dermatologist to get the stitches out on Friday. Then I have to wait for the lip to be completely healed (4-6 weeks) and they will treat it with liquid nitrogen to freeze off the brown mark. The freezing will blister and scab and should take about 7-10 days to heal. Again, not pretty for a while, but worth it in the end.

Hey friends, this is a good reminder for all of us to check our bodies and note any changes. Freckles, sun spots, and moles can be indicators of something more. Be sure to scan your own body frequently after a shower. Notice your own markings and keep mental notes. If you start to see changes in color, shape and texture of these markings, you might want to see a dermatolgist.

From the Mayo Clinic website: Characteristics of unusual moles/spots that may indicate melanomas or other skin cancers follow the A-B-C-D-E guide developed by the American Academy of Dermatology:

■A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
■B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.
■C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.
■D is for diameter. Look for new growth in a mole larger than about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters).
■E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Long Beach WA

Just got back from another great weekend in Long Beach (WA)! This is an annual trip for me and my friends. Some of them have been doing it 10+ years. I think this is my 6th trip to Long Beach with this group. It's funny to note that when we first started going, most everyone was single and had no kids. Back then we stayed in a crappy little motel that let us rent out all their cabins, have dogs, and have full reign of the place. As the years go by and we get older, we have moved upward as far as comfort and amenities. It's been a gradual change but a necessary one - especially for the couples with kids! We actually drove by the old "Boulevard Motel" last year and found that it had been condemned. This year, the whole place has been leveled - just a grassy knoll with one last pile of rubble. Ah, the memories there! ;-)

The place we stay now is really nice. While it's got it's own more private beach area, it's is actually a couple miles out of town. So we have to drive into "town" to see the main part of Long Beach. This year, it seemed the Kite Festival was a little lacking compared to last. Maybe it was because the weather report said "highs of 54" that some stayed home? Or maybe it was the lack of a better wind that kept some kite-ers from showing up? Either way, the sky was not littered with as many colorful kites as before. We had expected a cold weekend, but were pleasantly surprised with our luck. We actually had sun, and it got pretty hot, so we were happy! We did wander around town a little bit to see some shops. Long Beach is full of souvenir shops, kite shops and candy shops! They have world famous ice cream there - and the shop just keeps getting bigger and bigger every time we go in! In one such specialty chocolate shop, we actually found chocolate covered bacon! Of course we had to try a piece. It was interesting - but surprisingly good. The bacon was thick and chewy, and the combination with the chocolate made for a chocolate, smokey, salty treat! We also sampled a chocolate covered Ritz cracker with peanut butter layers. Yum!

Long Beach weekend is a fun time: road trip, dive-bar hopping, kareoke, dancing, drinking, group breakfast, beach-sun-fun, kids playing in water, fly some kites, group dinners, play dominoes, card games, shopping, site seeing, lunch, go-karts.... whew!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thank you!

I am heading back to work tomorrow after having two full weeks off. The surgery went well and the recovery was better than expected. I haven't taken a pain med in over a week so I am feeling pretty good! Thank you so much to everyone who helped me through it! From the people who came to the hospital, to the friends who brought me meals, and the peeps who sent flowers and cards, emails and texts. Your support means so much to me. I love you all! (pictured: my uterus! HA!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Post Surgery Report

Well, I survived! My hysterectomy surgery was Friday, check in time at 12:30PM. My surgeon's prior surgery that day went longer than expected so I was 2 hours late getting into the Operating Room. Which meant a lot of sitting around and waiting. When they finally took me to the pre-op room to prepare me for surgery, I was kind of tired already so it was easy to nap on the gurney while I waited. The pre-surgery team got me ready by giving me a gown and some socks, taking my vitals and inserting my IV tube. We talked about anesthesia and what to expect there. Since this was my first surgery, I had no idea what my reactions to anesthesia would be so they thought they would give me some anti-nausea medicine in the IV when I started to come around. When I finally got wheeled into the OR it must have been about 4:30 PM. They moved me from the gurney to the operating table, and I got positioned on the table. Next they put an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth and they told me to breathe it in deeply. It was at this point that the anesthesia starts coming thru the IV. I remember breathing deeply and looking at the big while light above me. Then nothing..... OUT COLD!

When I woke up I was being wheeled into the recovery room. The clock on the wall said 9:10PM. Whoa - that was a long surgery! I got transferred into the hospital bed and they hooked me up to the IV machine. They gave me my options for pain meds and of course they offered vicodin. I told them that the vicodin doesn't seem to work for me, the last time I had it just made me wide awake and still feeling pain. The nurse said "well let's try it and if that doesn't work we can switch it up. Fine. I was still out of it so I couldn't really argue. I had my first visitor at 10PM. I remember her being there, but I also remember not being able to keep my eyes open. Weird. My mom was by my side until I made her go home around 11PM. I told her I would be fine and she needed to get some sleep too.
Around midnight I was still unable to sleep. The vicodin definitely wasn't working. I was wide awake and now getting hungry, since I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours. I asked for something stronger - and some apple juice. The nurse brought me apple juice, apple sauce and vanilla pudding. I ate it all! Next they added Morphine to my IV. That started feeling better and I thought I was going to sleep finally. By 2AM, I woke up again. This time it was because my bladder was so uncomfortable. I had a ton of pressure to pee, but I was on a catheter, so wasn't sure why. I called for the nurse, but she was unavailable so the tech on duty came in. This guy was a character! An older, gruff & grumbly man with more aches and pains than me! He checked the IV and saw that it was working, but he did notice that the tube was taped to my leg wrong, so it could be preventing flow. Sure enough, as soon as he fixed it, I think I filled 2 bags. Ahh!

By 4:30AM, my tech dude, who now has nicknamed me "trouble" came in to take vitals. After that, I swear someone was waking me up every hour for something... blood draw, IV check, remove IV, remove catheter, get up and walk down the hall, etc. By 7AM I could order breakfast from a menu. I was sooo hungry I ordered a little bit of everything! I ordered pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage links, blue berry muffin, pears, banana, apple juice and a diet 7UP. By the time breakfast came, it was 8AM and I was pretty uncomfortable. I asked for some pain meds and hoped they would bring it soon. As a result I could barely eat any of my breakfast. Bummer!

My surgeon came to check on me and he recapped what had happened. He said it was a tough surgery as my uterus was the size of a large honey dew melon and hard to get around it with his laparoscopic tools. He said there were a few times he thought he was going to have to cut me open and he wished he had been more persistent with me in getting me on that drug to help shrink the uterus. But I am glad I didn't take them! And he was able to do the whole surgery without cutting me open. Yeah! He showed me some pictures of my uterus and ovaries. Weird. The pictures looked just like the ones I had seen on the Internet! Luckily the ovaries and tubes looked good so they didn't need to come out. My bladder and appendix also looked good. So there were no surprises! He asked me if I had any questions and I had only one: where were the pain meds?! He said he would go check with the Dr-on-call and give him a push.

Around noon, I had another walk up and down the hall and had attempted to go to the bathroom on my own. A couple of friends came to visit and they brought me flowers! So nice! The Dr-on-call brought me my prescriptions... the paper ones. I said thank you, I will get these filled when I leave here..... uh, but could I please get something NOW? Like right now? Come on! So I finally got a oxy-codone right at the time they said I could be discharged. My mom arrived and my 2 friends helped get me, my flowers and stuff to the car.

My mom drove me to her house and got me settled into her guest room. Then she headed to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions. She came back shortly and said that the pharmacy didn't recognize the doctors name so they couldn't fill the prescriptions until they could confirm with my Dr's office on Monday. What?? Noooo! So I asked her to call the surgery center and explain that I just left there and that the Dr-on-call should still be there. He was still there and was able to fax in new prescriptions to the pharmacy. My mom headed down there again, only to find that the pharmacy was closed and wouldn't open again until 11AM on Sunday. Crap! So I spent my first 24 hours without pain meds and no sleep! Irritating. When I got the oxy-codone on Sunday afternoon it was like heaven! The pain in my abdomen disappeared and I finally fell asleep.
I have been home that last couple days and feeling better and better every day. I haven't had a pain pill since Friday so I think I am healing nicely. I got my pathology report yesterday and it confirmed that the tumors and tissue they removed were all benign (no cancerous cells)! Yay!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On the Wagon

Last Wednesday my surgeon's nurse called me and left me a message. She said they got my blood work back and my white blood cell count was low. She said the doc faxed over a couple prescriptions for anti-biotics that I needed to pick up and start right away. I tried to call back and ask more questions. What does a low white blood cell count mean? Why do I need to take anti-biotics? Do I have an infection? Since I was leaving a message after hours, I figured I wouldn't get a call back that evening. So I went to the pharmacy and picked up my meds. One of them was called Ciprofloxacin. An anti-biotic used to treat Anthrax and other chemical warfare. WTF?? The other anti-biotic is called Metronidazol. The first thing I read about this one is that it is known to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Come on! What infection do I have that warrants this? The pharmacist asked me if I had ever taken these drugs before and I said no. I didn't even know what they were for? I explained to her that I was scheduled for surgery next Friday. That seemed to make sense to her, so she explained that it sounded like they were just trying to bump up my white blood cell count in order to help my body fight off potential infection related to my upcoming surgery. OK, whew, that makes more sense. No problem, I will start them tonight. Then the pharmacist tells me I can't drink alcohol with these anti-biotics. She said I would get violently ill if mixed with alcohol, even mouthwash! Uh, problem! Don't they know I was planning on whooping it up all weekend before my surgery?! I had a date with the Mariners on Thursday night. My company sponsored a suite for our customers including all the food and alcohol you could consume. Tickets with the girls to Zane Lamprey's "Drinking Made Easy" Comedy Tour on Friday. The crowd at this thing was determined to be drunk, even the comics/crew on stage were pounding the beers during their sets! BBQ and house party on Saturday. Tailgating and Sounders game on Sunday. Again, a kick-ass suite courtesy of my friends tickets and the Delille Cellars crew. And now I had to do all these things without drinking. Great, thanks Doc! But hey, it's only a week, right?! ;-) So after a long weekend as designated driver, I gotta say, it wasn't that big of a deal. Luckily I can have just as much fun without drinking AND I get up earlier the next morning. HA! I just came back from a concert at the Zoo (Carbon Leaf) and even though it would have been nice to share some wine with my friends, or actually have a beer when standing in the beer garden, it was a beautiful evening! Good weather, good music and good friends!

Two days until surgery. I should get my check in time tomorrow. Will keep you all posted!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fibroids - Part 2

Here is an update to my earlier post about the fibroids/hysterectomy.

I have finally decided to move forward with the hysterectomy. I’ve spent some time researching the process on line and also looking into the costs and stuff. My insurance website has a calculator for predicting out-of-pocket expenses on normal procedures. When I looked up hysterectomies it told me my out of pocket would be over $13,000! Luckily my gyno had given me the procedure code for the hysterectomy so I was able to call my insurance company and ask them the real price. I did confirm with my insurance that the surgery is covered 80% after my deductibles. I have already met my deductible with all the Dr visits I’ve had so far this year. So my out of pocket will be about $1500 in the end. Much better than $13,000!! So I figured it’s time to get it scheduled.

Last week I called my gynecologists office to see about getting a surgery date for the abdominal hysterectomy. I ended up speaking to her nurse and I was able to ask her a couple more questions about recovery time and such. Then she started telling me about another surgeon she works for who is an expert at minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic or “robotic” surgery). She recommended I speak with him in case he could do it laparoscopic-ally for me. So while I thought that was weird to be referred away from the nice lady gyno I had talked to, I ended up making an appointment with him for a second opinion. I figured if I can get a laparoscopic removal the incisions would be tiny and less scarring, less scar tissue, and faster recovery time – over the abdominal surgery which is a lot like a c-section. I met with him on Friday and he checked me out. He was really nice and wanted to talk to me about my “options” for having children. He said there were procedures I could consider if I still wanted a chance to have my own children. But just like the other gyno, the reality of me having children right now is slim to none, not just because of the fibroids, or my age, but because I am not in a relationship or trying to be a single mom right now. His options are the same as what I have heard before: Basically, try and remove the fibroids which "could" give me a 1-3 year window with which to have a child. Removal is a similar surgery to a hysterectomy, and it would remove large fibroids that are visible. However, I could have many other fibroids in there that could start growing too. Typically the ultrasound doesn't show the fibroids that are less than 1-2cm and my Dr has past history that shows when a woman has 5 showing on the ultrasound, there could be as many as 10-20 more that are too small to measure on the ultrasound. So even if the large fibroids are removed and the window is potentially opened up for a couple years, there will be more fibroids growing and causing the same problems for me. This would result in needing to have the hysterectomy anyway. The other problem is my age and eggs. He said that without "help" a woman over 40 is not going to be very successful conceiving a healthy child. It can be done - but that is a whole other process with infertility treatments, invitro, etc. So conceiving a child would be half the battle, the other half would be whether a child could grow inside a damaged (scar tissue) uterus with more fibroids growing and feeding off the blood (nutrients) that are meant for baby. The chances of miscarriage are high. I have come to the realization that I want kids and family, but I don't necessarily need to birth a child of my own. I will be ok with adoption or welcoming other children that come into my life.

This is always a difficult conversation for me to have so of course there were some tears. But the end result is that, I need to have the hysterectomy, especially after the disgusting period I just recently had (am still having!). What he wants to do is try and shrink my uterus as much as possible before the surgery. He does this with multiple shots of Depot Lupron. This drug temporarily stops the hormone production of estrogen which causes the fibroids to shrink. As the fibroids shrink, so does my uterus. A normal uterus is 70-80 ccs. He says mine is 700 cc’s making it 10 times larger than normal. Ugh! So the only way to safely remove my big ole uterus is to try and shrink it first and then he goes in laparoscopic ally to chop it up into pieces, the pieces will come out thru my vagina. Talk about TMI, huh?! Oh, and the “BEST” part is… this drug will put me into menopause so I should expect hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, loss of sexual desire and all the other lovely side effects of menopause. But hey, he is the expert right? He should know the best route. So I agreed and actually got on his surgery calendar. First off, I need to immediately go off birth control. Then come in for a biopsy. He needs to make sure that I am NOT pre-cancerous anywhere. He gave me a prescription for some meds that I need to shove up my vagina before the biopsy. This is supposed to help soften my cervix area – but said it will lead to major cramping. Lovely!

Then after the biopsy results indicate that I am not pre-cancerous, we can move forward with the shots of Depot Lupron. The first shot will induce a period again (even though I am just ending my current one). But the 2nd shot should eliminate any further periods. He would like me to get one shot a month for 4 months. That would put my surgery into Nov/Dec and that is our really busy time of the year. I asked him if there was any way we could get it done before summer ends (as summer is predictably slow for us) so it would give me more time to recover. So he is fast tracking the process for me. We are hoping to get 3 shots in between next week and Aug 24th – which is my surgery date. I will go in a week before surgery and he will check me out to make sure I’ve had enough shrinkage to allow the surgery to happen. This surgery would take approx 4 hours and he would probably go thru 3 or 4 cutting tools! He recommends that I take 2 solid weeks off work for recovery. I should be on pain meds for 3 days after but I could be ok to drive on the 4th day. But he wants me to not work and to walk instead. He has a whole walking therapy that he wants me to do in my time off. This helps the body recover more quickly?

I went home and cried some more. Like I’ve told you I am highly emotional! My high school friends, Jill and Ken (and Kristen) were actually at my house already because they were staying the night with me and we were going to Brenna’s wedding. (Yes, my high school friend Stephanie’s oldest daughter got married! She is 22 now. She just graduated pre-med from WSU and is headed to LA for medical school this fall.) Jill was very comforting as she has been dealing for years with endometriosis, cysts and even had a fibroid too. She never did get a hysterectomy, as she has been able to manager her pain and discomfort with a progesterone cream that she uses daily. Never the less, it was good to talk to her. I quickly changed and freshened up and we were off to the wedding. It was a really nice time. The wedding was held in Robinswood Park near Bellevue Community College. It’s a beautiful park and it has a main house on it that the gals got ready in. Luckily the rains held off and it was a nice outdoor ceremony.

Back to the hysterectomy, I have been doing some research on the "shot" that he wants to give me. Depot Lupron seems like a nasty drug and the side effects are much worse than I thought. Yes, the Dr told me I would basically go into menopause and have hot flashes and night sweats, but he didn't really say anything about the other side effects that I've been reading about. Migraines, depression, weight gain, acne and suicidal tendencies are just some of the fabulous prizes behind door number 1?! Some women have experienced long lasting side effects even after going off the shot: thyroid issues, weight issues, sweat gland issues. Some women report that 4-5 months of the shot didn't even shrink their fibroids at all? And the shot is apparently really expensive so I need to do some research on that. It doesn't seem like it's worth it all - just to avoid a big scar and longer healing time?

I called the nurse and talked to her about this. She said she hasn’t seen these other bad side effects in their patients. Of course. But I feel very determined about NOT taking the shot and not putting my body thru menopause. If that means I have to have an abdominal hysterectomy then so be it. I mean, it seems like I’d go thru 3 months of emotional and physical hell – just to have a lesser scar and 2 weeks less healing time. To be honest, it seems like trying to shrink my uterus is only helping the surgeon have an easier time in surgery – it’s not really doing anything for me. So that is how I feel. The nurse said I should keep my Wed appoint for the biopsy and I could bring up all my concerns with Dr. Rothblatt then. So I did.

I am not going to lie... Medically, yesterday was the worst experience of my life so far. Thank god Staci went with me and was able to drive me. My appointment was at 2PM. I had gotten a prescription for a drug that I was supposed to take four hours before the biopsy. The drug was called Misoprostol and it comes in a tablet form. Yet, you shove them up your vagina with your finger? Weird. An hour after shoving the meds up my vagina, I had the worst cramps of my life. By the time Staci got here I had thrown up, had diarrhea, and had soaked all my clothes and hair in sweat. I was miserable and there was no way I could have gotten to the clinic by myself. Once there, I was told my surgeon was held up in an emergency surgery so I had to wait. I basically laid down on a window seat in the fetal position. After half hour, they gave me an exam room to wait in. I tossed and turned on that exam table trying to get comfortable. I had to run to the restroom every ten minutes because I needed to pee – but couldn’t. It was EXACTLY like the time in Ellensburg when I apparently passed a kidney stone! The nurse came in and asked if I wanted to try and get the tablets out of my vagina to ease the pain. I tried to go in the bathroom and stick my finger up there but the tablets had dissolved (duh!) and all I could get was some crumbly residue. So the nurse gave me a pain killer shot in the butt - which didn't help. I had chills and was sweating. I had a blanket over me and a puke bag at my side. I was a mess. Finally my Doc came in after 2 hours. He apologized but had been called into an emergency surgery that couldn’t be helped. He said he would give me a few minutes to undress and come back in. I said “stop – don’t go anywhere!” I totally undressed right in front of him and said “Get to it”! I didn’t want to wait any longer. I told him I checked my pride at the door already. I didn’t care about formalities any longer. You should have seen me. My hair was like a mad woman, I was moaning and groaning, and barking orders. Staci wished she had a camera! She had never seen me in such a state. He opened me up and immediately used a numbing agent on my cervix and uterus. This didn’t stop the pain. Then he washed out the remaining medicine tablet residue before he started the biopsy. The end result is that he couldn't even get a biopsy because my fibroids are so big they were in the way. Argh!??

He said he wasn’t going to make me go thru this again. He thinks he got enough of the “area” cells to see if there are any malignancies or cancer cells. He said “well now you know what labor pains feel like!” Nice. I told him that I was definitely NOT going to use the Lupron drug. I asked him to be honest with me and if he didn’t think he could do the laparoscopic surgery without shrinking my uterus, I was fine with an abdominal surgery. He said he could do it. He agreed that he would try it laparoscopic-ally and if worst case scenario happened, he could cut me open and do the abdominal. He set me up with some vicodin and I was able to go home. Even the vicodin didn’t help. I think my body repels pain meds. It’s not fair!! The cramping meds finally wore down and I was feeling better by 7PM. I went to bed at 11 and still had some cramps though – 12 hours later!! Today, I need to call his office and get on his surgery schedule for a new date. I want to do this as soon as possible and since I don’t need to wait until August 24th now, I am hoping to get it done in July.

I now know what the Misoprostol drug is commonly used for. It is to induce labor, or induce abortion. AND “other” gynecological uses like to soften the cervix to allow for “interuterine devices”. That would probably be the long-ass speculum and q-tips to scrape? Uh, if I would have known about the all day cramps and pain, I would have told him to just stick the speculum up there drug free, take your biopsy, and if I complain you can punch me in the gut several times. THAT would have been less painful than the 12 hours of contractractions I went thru!

Whew! That about sums up the last week. I am still waiting for a call back from my surgeon's scheduler. When she calls me I will have a better date for the surgery. I don't need to wait until August now, so hopefully I can get in July.

Thank you Staci for going with me and getting me thru the day. I wouldn't have made it without you! Thank you Jodi for coming by to check on me, and bring me food and sweets! I appreciate you both so much!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Miki's Flowers

I am so proud of my friend Miki! She is a local Seattle florist and she has had her business ( since 1994. Miki has become a huge name in the wedding arena and just got her flowers pictured on the FRONT PAGE of Seattle Metropolitan Bride and Groom magazine! They also featured another one of her bouquets inside the magazine as well. Now this isn't the first time her floral arrangements have been in Seattle Metropolitan Bride, but I believe this is her first cover. Way to go! Look for the July issue in stores.
You can see more of her "toasts" here:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fremont Fair 2010

Saturday was the Annual Solstice Parade in Fremont. It's been a long standing tradition amongst my group of friends to pre-party, watch the parade, and hit the beer gardens. This year was no different! We started the action at our friend KG's pad at 10AM. Normally the weather gods tend to shine on us favorably every year but this year was a little misty. This little derailment meant a change of scenery from the roof top deck to inside the condo... but no worries, everyone fit and we had a blast! At noon, we loaded up some "roadies" and headed down the block to the parade route. We usually congregate on the corner of 34th and Albion which is typically the end of the parade. This means the naked bikers take the time to circle around and let the photographers get a couple more shots before they call it a day. Enjoy the pictures!

PS. I took the time to post the link to the website in case you want to get it on the calendar for next year! I am also posting some FAQ's from their website that I thought were interesting to note.
What is the etiquette with body paint?
We won’t deny it. The Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade are partially famous for body-painted bicyclists and revelers who magically appear every year and make this event truly one of a kind.
If you are one of the body painted participants, PLEASE NOTE:
•The Fremont restaurants and bars greatly appreciate if you can carry a towel with you to place on the chair/booth while you dine and drink. They love to have you in their establishments, but please be respectful of their furnishings if you have paint that may rub off.

•Remember that many families do attend the Fair, with small children in tow. While Fair-goers typically wholly embrace the free spirit of the event, when planning your costume/paint scheme, please be considerate of a child’s eye level in conjunction with potential painted body parts that may be exposed. Rude and obscene behavior at the Fremont Fair will not be tolerated and individuals will be asked to leave.
•If you are not on a bike you need to cover it up.

And there you go!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I love Groupons. I love getting a deal. So when a Groupon popped up in my email for Trapeze lessons at Emerald City Trapeze, I was intrigued. I mean... I have a fear of heights, I have a fear of falling, and I can't do a pull up to save my life. So of course I bought a Groupon for Trapeze lessons!?! DOH!

I talked a couple friends into doing it with me and after weeks of synching our calendars, a couple player changes and a time change, we made an appointment for Sunday June 13. (I'm not even going to mention the last minute cancel by SOMEONE who apparently had TOO MUCH FUN the night before and couldn't join us because they came down with the brown bottle flu... yeah you know who you are!)

Cindy and I got to Emerald City Aerialdome in the Sodo area (6th and Lander) and we got signed up. Please note that the paperwork does include proof of health insurance, next of kin emergency contact and a death waiver. We were introduced to our instructors and 5 other "students" all there to "go flying". We started with a couple minutes of upper body stretches to get loose. Then the instructors fitted us with a belt which would later be attached to the safety cables. The instructors gave us a quick rundown of the program on the floor, to show us what they expected we would be doing on the trapeze. This expectation included a drop off a 30 foot high platform, fly thru the air, then kick your legs up to hook your knees on the bar, let go of bar to hang upside down, reach back (as if reaching for a partner "catch"), grab the bar again, drop your legs, pump your legs for more momentum, back flip off the bar and land in the net. "And everyone will do that three times. Now who wants to go first?" Huh, what...? Wait... I am going to need some more time to process this. Can't we do this in small steps?

The first volunteer was a tiny little gal who did the whole sequence with perfection. Another petite thing followed her and again, nailed it. Hmmm, seems easy enough. (Found out later that they were gymnasts/dancers/cheerleaders.... yeah...ok) Finally some other people went and I actually saw the same fear I was feeling. I saw the shaking legs, I saw the hesitation when being told to jump off the platform, I saw the angry concentration in their faces. OK, this is getting "real". I am nervous. My friend Cindy was next. She was a trooper. I could tell she was nervous getting up the ladder and I could see her silently contemplating how to make the transition from the ladder to the platform. But she did it with grace. The cables were attached to her belt and she went into position to grab the bar and make her first jump. I saw a little hesitation on the jump... one foot left the platform, then went right back. There was a little encouraging from the strong instructor and she went flying. She did great! I will admit that I was secretly glad she didn't get her knees on the bar for the upside down maneuver. Honestly I was getting tired of everyone nailing it and knowing I would probably NOT. So it made me feel a little better. (Shh, don't tell her I was thinking that...)

Then it was my turn. I started my ascent up the ladder and immediately realized how shaky it was. Disturbing. The ladder rungs were tiny and I was in bare feet so it was imperative to make sure the ball of my foot was placed perfectly on each rung for maximum support. This probably took more time than expected because the instructor on the platform actually had to look down to see if I was still there. It was about this time that I looked around and realized how high I was, and how it was going to be really scary on that platform. I basically froze up and went into retreat mode. I looked up at the instructor and said "no.... can't....". Then I cautiously made my way back down the ladder. I heard the other instructors telling me "come on, you were almost there", "don't look down", and "you can do it". But my mind was already made up, it wasn't happening. I got onto the ground and immediately started weeping. I was nervous, scared, embarrassed, and disappointed. I couldn't stop crying even when the instructors reassured me that it was ok, it happens, and I could try again whenever I felt ready.

I sat down and let everyone go on their second swing on the trapeze. I watched everyone very carefully this time. I wanted to make sure I saw exactly how they went up the ladder and precisely how they got onto the platform. To me these were the biggest obstacles. I didn't even care about the jump/swing part. I knew that this girl would not be going upside down.... or doing any type of back summer sault dismount. But getting up the ladder, now that was the challenge. After that, I could simply hurl my self straight off the platform and be done with it all.

So, I tried again. I started climbing up the ladder. I got a little higher than the first time. I had a ton of encouragement from the instructors and students. But... I couldn't do it. I had to go back down. This time the frustration tears came more quickly. I went to the bathroom and sobbed a little harder. Why did I think I could do this? What is my problem - why do I have a paralyzing fear of heights? Maybe it's the fact that the last two months have been so emotional? Damn.
Enjoy the pictures of Cindy!