life at a glimpse...

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Gym

I recently signed up at a gym.  A co-worker works out there and told me about it.  It sounded like the perfect fit – as in cheap, and close to where I live and work.  And, if I signed up by a certain time – I would save about $40.00 due to a special $1.00 sign up deal.  Said co-worker had me meet her one day and showed me around the place.  It had fancy sinks in the bathroom (which was way more of a selling point than it should have been) and lots of work-out machines.  The basic monthly cost was a measly $10.OO.  However, for $20.00 you could get the fancy package which included not only the use of the fancy sinks, but any classes you might want to take (such as Death Rip 800, Dance Hysteria or Flab-Be-Gone-Calorie-Destroyer), as well as the dark room of happiness…A mini-theatre filled with a screen and about twenty tread mill and elliptical machines.  Minus the popcorn.  This room alone was worth the extra $10.00, as it would be a cave where I could work out and not have anyone see me to judge my jiggling thunder thighs.  I was totally sold.
So, two days after I signed up - the people at the shiny counter were just as shiny, and of course looked pretty and good in spandex - I get a call from Jake.  “Hey there!  It’s Jake!!!  From Fitness Evolution!  How do you like the gym so far????!!!!!!”  What the hell?  Are you on crank?  It’s been mere hours since I signed the contract binding me to your company until the unlikely event of my death.  I almost feel bad for not having a decent excuse for the 48 hours which I have obviously been watching Netflix and drinking cheap wine instead of toning my atrophied muscles.  I tell Jake!!! that I haven’t had a chance to make it in yet (see last sentence), but looked forward to doing so.  Jake!!! then asked if I knew that with the fancy package I signed up for, I was entitled to one free hour with a trainer.  I told him that I did not in fact know this, but that this sounded good.  “Great!!!” said Jake!!!.  “So, is this something you’d be interested in?”  Me trying to wrap my startled peri-menopausal brain around such an energetic phone conversation, of course said, “Yes!”  How could I not add an exclamation point to that one word response in replying to Jake!!! (?).  I somehow ended up with an appointment with Jake!!! 48 hours into the future; I was actually kind of excited about this; The words “personal trainer” and “Deborah” had never actually shared a sentence before, and they made me feel extra fancy.
As Tuesday awaited me, I felt a mix of excitement, pride and apprehension.  I mostly just wondered what Jake!!! looked like, and what I should wear to optimize my athletic appearance.  The “Day of the Gym” had finally arrived.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I made sure to park as far away from the entrance as possible – because I was too embarrassed to park my old vehicle, which sounded like a thug’s street ride due to a partially missing muffler – near the slicker, work-out-people cars which seem to find parking spaces near the front entrance.  And when I say “work out people,” I mean anyone who makes over the poverty level (as I do) and can afford a car from this century as well as a fancy $20.00 gym membership.  I walked in with my work-out looking-ish work-out pants and a black tank top.  My work out pants only had two small holes – one below my right knee, and the other in my nether-regions where most likely nobody would see, and a pull or two from where my cats had kneaded my thighs while they sat on the couch as I watched Netflix and drank cheap wine.  I asked for Jake!!!.  Jake came to the counter and introduced himself.  He was as peppy in person as he sounded over the phone, with maybe a few more exclamation points.  He looked like a cross between Arnold Schwartzenegger and Bambi.  I found out that he was 19 and had done more with his life than I had done in my 43 years – except give birth.  Which I’m sure he would have done if he’d been born with a vagina.
After Jake!!! interviewed me more thoroughly than Oprah would have (which included figuring out my body-fat index (I now know that I will have to live off Grapenuts and sunflower seeds for a few weeks to get myself within the range I should be in), he took me on a tour of the gym.  He also worked my ass off.  “O.K.!”  “So what we’re going to do first, is to have you warm up with about 10 minutes of cardio.”  He then put me on an elliptical machine, explaining the basics of which things I could adjust, and sent me on my way with the understanding that he’d come back for me in a few minutes.  I was totally determined to make it look like I could handle more than a “0” incline, and that I could get my heart rate above 25 B.P.M.’s.  When he came back, he said, “Great!” and proceeded to take me on a full circuit of work out machinery - a.k.a. a modern day torture-device gauntlet.  But this is what I had signed up for, and so I was going to suck it up.  That said, I did not expect my “free one-hour-trial-with-a-personal-trainer” to actually involve the training part of the whole deal.  After a 45 second plank pose, stairs, medicine-ball-up–the-wall-while-coordinating-squats, spider-man-like pulley device thingy, lunges, plunges and other embarrassing poses, I was now allowed to go sit down and discuss more paper work with Jake!!!.  I knew my face was a shade of magenta usually only seen on saris or some variety of dahlias, and so I hoped that my future soul-mate hadn’t seen me as I slinked towards one of their shiny counters.  After Jake!!! went over several pages of paperwork and more questions involving what a well-rounded diet and fitness program looked like, he opened his binder to pages which had lots of dollar signs on them.  I was confused.  What had happened to my “Greatest Loser”-esque inspirational diagrams and pie charts?  I was being asked if the “Forget About Feeding Your 17 yr.Old” package was a good fit for me.  ‘Didn’t I think that what I’d just gone over for the last 15 minutes sounded like a beneficial way for me to improve my life?’  I told Jake!!! that I had a pile of medical bills the size of the Obama Care Bill.  He then offered me the less expensive packages, which basically trickled down to, ‘You are a loser because you signed up at our cheap gym and can’t afford a personal trainer even though we just gave you a free hour with a personal trainer because you paid the extra $10 a month for the fancy package’ plan.  I then lied and told him that I might be able to do the “Pathetic Package” once I paid off some of my bills.  I knew I was full of shit, but was too embarrassed to just tell him to go screw himself and his flashy, toned-jaw-line smile.
On my first, independent visit to the gym, I was asked to take a photo for my picture i.d..  Having been sick for the last two weeks, I poo-poo-ed that idea, and blamed it mostly on my hair and that I looked like one of the “Before” pictures on an anti-aging ad.  I then headed directly to the dark room of happiness.  As my eyes adjusted, I was finally able to discern which machines were the ellipticals, and which were the treadmills.  I could choose from either a single elliptical at the very back of the room, or one from the front row, or the ‘create-slipped disks-at-your-C3-C4-vertebrae-because-of-the-angle-which-you’d-have-to-hold-your-neck-in-order-to- watch-the-ridiculously-loud-movie-on-the-big-screen.’ I chose the machine in the back.  I stepped onto it.  No blinking lights.  What the hell?  Maybe this one was out of commission.  So of course I go to one of the ones in the front row of neck injury.  Step on.  Nothing.  Push the “Go” button which I can hardly make out even though I have bat-like vision (oh, damn, bats don’t have vision…and I use that analogy all the time.).  Nothing.  Pretty pony tail girl – the only other human stupid enough to be in this room– is moving along gracefully on her fully functioning treadmill, and has headphones in which are obviously keeping her from losing her hearing due to the excessively loud surround-sound mini-theatre movie.  I hate her.  I crawl, chagrinned, to the front desk and ask for help, explaining that I can’t get any of their expensive machines to work; I think that they probably have a short somewhere and are too cheap to fix it because they only charge $20 for their fancy packages and only the people with fancy cars can afford personal trainers, which would bring in more revenue for the company.  Pretty, well-toned employee, who probably has his eye-balls stuck in roll-back position because he’s so sick of dealing with machine-challenged morons like myself, follows me to one of the many elliptical I’ve tried to make work.  It takes him about three nano-seconds to make the flashing lights come on, and explains that ‘you just have to get it going for a few (nano-seconds) in order for it to turn itself on.  Really???  I look back at pony-tail girl to see if she’s noticed this whole unfolding, but I think she is too mesmerized by her ability to get her machine to work and run her half marathon to some Nirvana album, to notice me and my patheticness.
My goal is to cardio my way through ten minutes of the movie.  The movie has Nicole Kidman in it, and is obviously scary because it is set in a dark mansion and she makes lots of horrified, anxious facial expressions.  When one of the doors in the room she’s in slams shut, it is so loud that I am not only doomed to have premature hearing loss, but to lose the perfect rhythm of which I’ve gotten myself in for the last minute.  I am finally able to adjust to a level 3 setting, which I had to Helen Keller my way for several seconds on the keypad before figuring out how to adjust said setting.  I look over my left shoulder and realize I am about five feet from the surround sound speaker.  Crap.  I decide to try my luck at the elliptical at the very back of the theatre.  I get it working. No speaker five feet from my left ear.  Much better.  I continue the rest of my work out at a slightly less jarring sound level.  It is now time to venture out into the light, as not only do my thighs feel gelatinous, but I have completed the cardio part of my work out according to the recommendation that Jake!!! gave me during my free, one hour work out session with him.  I am totally trying to psyche myself up.  Part of me wants to run out the large glass front doors to my old car, and the other half knows that I need to get my ass in shape, and use the $20 fancy-package membership gym that I signed up for.
It’s a large space.  There is a lot of metal.  To my far left I see the medicine ball that Jake!!! had me use, lying on the floor, but I can’t remember quite what to do with it so I nix it.  I look at the stairs but realize that I just worked the crap out of my quads, so that wouldn’t be a good fit.  What else did Jake!!! show me?  I can’t use the Spidey contraption because you have to have a trainer with you.  I can do the plank pose.  I think how weird I must look doing the plank pose without a trainer timing me or a Yoga instructor sending me good vibes…at this point I don’t give a crap;  I’ll be low to the ground, and hardly visible to the rest of the gym population.  I then scour the room for anything familiar.  I see the machines with the bar thingys hanging from them.  Excellent.  I remember those from the days (and I literally mean days) that I used them as part of my work out regiment when I went to WWU.  However, when I arrive at said machine, I’m not sure I actually remember how to use it correctly.  I try not to look too moronic as I read the directions which are barely visible on the back part of the machine.  There are four steps – one involves adjusting the knee-resistance pad (I totally don’t remember this part.).  I finally figure out which direction I’m supposed to sit, how to adjust the seat, and how far to pull the bar down.  I also, after several attempts, figure out that I can pull 50lbs.  I am not sure if this is totally wimpy, but by this time I don’t care – I am just relieved that I have figured out how to use the machinery.  Twenty reps.  I will do twenty reps, and I will try to do this without looking like I am in child birth.
After leaving the gym, I feel pretty pleased with myself.  I will text my friend and let her know that I bought the fancy package and worked out…though I did not purchase any private sessions with Jake!!! the personal trainer.  Once at home, I heat and iced my shoulders which are starting to feel like Nicole Kidman looked in the movie when she found the piano opened after she’d just closed it just a few minutes before.  The pain from working out makes me feel proud and buff, and I look forward to going to the gym again.
Day two of scheduled gym time:  This time I have thought ahead and brought my work out clothes to work.  I decide that my tight, grey yoga pants will probably not look too slutty or like I’m looking for my future husband or a one night stand, if I wear a long tank top with them; I have modeled this outfit several times in front of two mirrors in my hallway before coming to this justified conclusion.  I realize that I can scrunch the tank top up around my middle region to hide my muffin top.  After getting dressed, I remember to go to Fred Meyer to buy myself a lock for the locker room.  I am giving myself major kudos by this point, and have already began planning my work out regiment; I will once again avoid any attempts of the shiny people at the front desk to take my picture. I will then head directly to the bat cave of happiness for my private and effective cardio work out - where I will now know how to start my elliptical, which will then be followed by the three things I know how to do out in the gauntlet of intimidation, ending with more cardio. 
When I get inside the theatre room, I am happy that the noise level is not that of an ACDC concert this time, and that I have gotten “my” machine and I am able to start it without the aid of a pretty, well-toned employee.  I use my bat vision-not-really-bat-vision to locate the GO button and set the machine to my now standard “3” resistance level.  I will do a full 10 minutes.  There are several pony-hair girls in the mini-theatre this time.  Since I have chosen “my” elliptical (the one in the back), I have the perfect vantage point of everyone in front of me.  I begin comparing myself to them.  How long have they been on their machines?  Damn them – they are on those treadmill thingys.  They are moving at a rate of speed which my car goes in 2nd gear.  I hate them.  They are also, I realize, on machines which not only move 10x faster than mine, but they are not holding onto anything.  I ponder myself on one, and know that I would be an instant candidate for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”  I really do hate them.  I can see that one girl in front of me had been on her machine for three minutes less than me, and had burned 20 calories more.  I especially hate her.  I hope she falls off.  Damn all inventors of machines that have timers and calorie counters displayed in bright neon lights.  Every time I look down from the completely crappy movie that I am forcing myself to watch, I am amazed at the time-sucking vortex which is apparently created in an exercise environment.  I am determined to do at least seven minutes of cardio to round out my work out.  At about minute three, I am already having to psyche myself into getting another minute in.  If it weren’t for my competitive nature, I don’t think I would have stayed on another sixty seconds.  However, I had a couple of things running through my mind:  1) I bet ponytail girls would go way longer than seven minutes. And, 2) I wonder how many calories are in a glass of wine, and if I’ve burned enough calories in the three minutes I’d been on the elliptical to counteract the effects of a glass of wine.  I of course would need to double that number because one glass of wine would not be enough for me tonight.  So, I try to focus on the crappy movie.  It has a talking cat, three witches and three obnoxious kids in it.  I find myself rooting for the witches to get the kids, which is really disturbing since I work with children.  I keep looking down at the neon numbers.  I have now passed another mind-numbing minute.  I realize that I’m a total over-achiever for setting a seven minute goal.  I will be lucky if I reach five minutes, which I have decided is my new goal.  I look down approximately every twenty seven seconds, and judge myself and silently curse the movie and ponytail girls.  When I finally make it to the five minute mark, I slow down as fast as possible. I do not need the aid of the “Cool Down” button because at that point I am practically jumping off the elliptical pedal things.
I will now go home and immediately call one of my best friends, Stephanie.  Not only will she congratulate me on working out, but will know how many calories are in a glass of wine; she works out and drinks a lot of wine.  Unfortunately, after talking to her, I conclude that I will probably drink as many calories as I burned off during my entire work out at the gym.  Although this is slightly discouraging, I can justify it to some degree knowing that I had also created some lean muscle, which Jake!!! said helps burn more calories.  This makes me like Jake!!! a bit more, and further motivates me to go to the gym on a regular basis.  I’m pretty sure that I will always hate the ponytail girls in the bat cave, but have hope that I will one day be able to master the medicine-ball-up–the-wall-while-coordinating-squats.

The End

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cake Conundrum

The Cake Conundrum – by Deborah Miller-Lutz

I can say with utmost confidence, that you, as I, have experienced days or relationships or impulse buys which are preempted with the thought, “This is NOT going to end well, but I’ll give it a try any way.”
‘Twas the case with the cake (from here out to be referred to as T.C.F.H. – or – The Cake From Hell) that was made for Russell Roosma’s birthday…

8:45 p.m. Thurs. evening prior to Russ’ birthday: Anna calls, Deb ignores first call because she’s in the middle of a show and she has a semi-conscious cat on her lap.
8:46 p.m. Thurs. evening prior to Russ’ birthday: A very persistent Anna calls back and I (insert older sister, Deborah) bolt from the couch – this must be important – I mean, who double calls at this time of night if it’s not at least semi-important, right?
Call goes something like this:

D: Hi – What’s going on?
A: (Slightly weepy/frustrated sounding) So, it’s like Russ’ birthday tomorrow and I’m trying to make his cake and I have to work tomorrow in Seattle so I have to sleep and the recipe said that I could triple it and then pour it in to four containers and – Oh, I mean, do you have a 9” pan I could borrow?”
D: Umm, let me check. (Shuffle…Shuffle…). Yeah. Not so much.
A: (Sigh that can be heard in Mt. Vernon) Dang it! I’ve already asked two neighbors and been to Fred Meyer’s and you don’t have one…
D: Can you use a sheet cake, like, thing?
A: No. This has to feed 20 people and the recipe is for 9” rounds. I already made one cake, and then poured the rest of the batter into this other round…And I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out…What do you think I should do?

O.K. – So here’s where I should have had my clairvoyant powers workin’ and answered, “Sister – Get as far away from that cake as you can, and run like you’re on fire!” But I didn’t, so this is what happened…

9:30 a.m. The next day: I get up - ready to take on the challenge laid before me. And I’m not trying to sound like a martyr here – I took this on of my own accord, and happily. Getting ready, I didn’t put much effort into my appearance, and left a little while later for Freddie’s to get more baking chocolate.
10:45 ish Think to self: Should I check the Craigslist house I might want to rent, before heading up the hill to Anna and Russ’? Well, I really have to use the bathroom, but I’ll swing by real quick and their place is only a couple of minutes away.
10:50 ish Can’t drive fast enough to get up hill to A. and R.’s place…a new sense of urgency has hit my bowels.
O.K., back to the cake. Call our mom to find out 'Does she have a 9” cake pan?' Then, my mom – unbeknownst to herself – informed me that not only did she have a 9” pan, but had willingly agreed to being sucked into a dark chocolate vortex.

At moms, she and I gathered the needed pans. Well, we first looked at the recipe to make sure we were grabbing the right pans. The recipe was not your usual ration recipe; it was meant to be tripled. So, mom says, OK – if it calls for 2 x 9” pans plus x 2 - couldn’t we just use 2x12” pans? What??? It is was too early for math, and let alone conversion geometry. Hey, just point me in the direction of the kitchen and let’s start making the danged cake already!

First point of digression, apparently I had gotten the wrong kind of chocolate; non-sweetened cocoa is NOT, I repeat, NOT the same as unsweetened cooking chocolate. I don’t know! I mean, they were right by each other in the baking section! So, mom now has to go to the little store out in Sudden Valley to get the correct type of chocolate.
When she gets back, she explains that the only cooking chocolate that they had was an exotic and organic type which is way over-priced. In other words, it’s a major rip off. I mean, really – unless this chocolate is coming from a two acre cocoa field near the lost Aztec cities, hand ground and packaged by beautiful, goddess-like virgin descendants of said Aztecs, it’s really not worth it. But what are you going to do?
So, mom and I get down to business. Flour, check. Eggs, check. Over-priced cocoa, check. Etc. Key ingredient: Egg whites folded gently into batter. And then the un-doing of the hard work: Mom accidentally over-beat the egg whites which made them slightly watery. We thought we’d try to fold them in, anyways. Um, not happening. I am sure I heard Julia Childs turn over in her grave.
This was the perfect example of the snowball effect, because guess who needed more exotic, over-priced cooking chocolate now that Batter A was ruined…Uh huh. Not kidding.
6:00 p.m. So, the end of this tragedy goes something like this: Cake is made - cooked to perfection, frosted to perfection. We are just as proud of ourselves as ever. It’s now ½ hour before we are supposed to be downtown for the party. I still look like a cross between one of Martha Stuart’s minions and a homeless person. Mom’s going to be responsible for getting T.C.F.H. to the party, I am going to run and get ready and meet her there.
6:30 p.m. Arrive at party. Greet everyone. Answer Anna’s question – where is the cake? Don’t worry it’s on its way, mom has it. Phew.
6:40 p.m. Mom arrives with our “masterpiece.” Anna turns pale and has look of shock and awe on her face. “What,” she asks, “is that?” “Why, it’s the cake, of course!” We answer. “What happened to there being multiple cakes (I think there were supposed to be three) like I asked???””
Mom and I just break down into delirious laughter. Howling laughter. Our cake is almost a miniature of the Eiffel Tower it’s so tall and distinct. We thought we’d done a darn good job balancing it all!
Once Anna got over the shock and disappointment of it all, we sang to Russ and attempted to cut the cake. Which was like trying to cut a three-layer cake: pretty much impossible…(But, truly, pretty funny).
In the end we all had cake, and mom and I had laughed so hard all day that our bellies hurt. And that, my friends, is the story of the Cake Conundrum.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In Stitches

I'm not so clever as to know the origins of the saying, "in stiches." I know that this refers to laughing heartily. I also know that if you have recently had surgery (requiring stitches) and someone makes you laugh, that you will be both - laughing and in stitches.

Once, when my brother David had his appendix out, and my brother Joel and I visited him in the hospital, we did everything we could to make him laugh - because there was something terribly funny about watching him try not to laugh in order to not burst his new stitches. We were awful. I know this now. I still find it funny.

Since having my own surgery - requiring who knows how many stitches - I have not found laughing such a miserable fate; I rather embrace it. That said, in the first several days after surgery I found things such as sneezing and puking pretty undesirable past-times.

Two days ago, much recovered I find myself, and still in stitches.

My head, at the surgery site, still hurts. It is quite tender. It feels as if there is a handful of tiny hair nymphs which have set to pulling the hair at the crown of my head in all manor, and all time, of day. I assume that this is the tightening of the sutures as they heal. I also assume that there are really not nymphs atop my head, but it's a fun visual, none-the-less.

To awaken to a ceiling full of stick-bugs, you do not need stitches at all to find yourself in stitches. You need only to look up and feel the full weight of at least twenty or thirty bugs register on that part of you that triggers disbelief and laughter all in the same instance. You need only do this at 8:00 in the morning before you've had your tea, before God is awake, before your son is off to middle school, before you are due at your own place of employment in less than an hour.

Yes, we have stick-bugs. We have let them populate at grandiose proportions. Apparently they can do this whether or not Mr. and Mrs. Stick bug get together or not. Noah and his Ark would only have needed to bring one stick bug on board.

This was not my idea...But you do what you do for those you love - and those I love happen to like stick bugs. Craigslist is like free candy on the counter of some business you solicit. Yes, sometimes you actually pay for things you get on Craigslist. Sometimes you get things for free and pay for them...later.

When you pull over, in the dark, on a Thursday night, to whack away at a deteriorating blackberry bush, you are paying. When you sneak to the end of your street, and make sure your neighbors aren't around so you can swipe some of their coveted ivy - you are paying. When you have to bust out your step ladder at 8:00 in the morning, you are paying. If I had been paid - to date - for all the stick bugs I have plucked off of ceilings, blinds, counters, turtle backs, plants and almost any other surface you can imagine - I'd be well-to-do.

In hindsight, it was my fault for the last large round of stick bugs I had to herd up. I left the lid off the stick bug terrarium...After meeting with some people that we had somehow convinced to come over to our home and take some of our stick bugs from us. For FREE. On, of course, Craigslist. What comes around...

So, I am taking life in stride. I am recovering while my stitches disintegrate. I have lived through the non-mundane and mundane. Dare I suggest that I am inspired by something as humble as an insect? I mean, stick bugs are sturdy. They blend into their environment. They have a surprisingly strong grip (just try to pry one off a wall or ceiling).

So, am I inspired by our bugs? Hell no. But, I have to laugh. I can't believe that I've survived brain surgery, and what I return to are things like tracking down food for a bug that resembles a twig. And sometimes I laugh so hard - that yes, I am, in stitches.

And this is a good thing.

Now, off to bed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Process

12:27 p.m., two weeks later.

Two weeks post-surgery. Two weeks of adjusting to my new body. Two weeks and barely breached the outside world.

I kept it together leading up to the surgery. Maybe a little "too well." It's really not normal not to cry like I don't. It's not really a good thing. It doesn't make me stronger. I always realize this after the fact - not while I'm holding things in and together.

But I'll tell you...Going through brain surgery is scary. I had a moment or two in the hospital, the first day after my surgery when I was slightly more cognate, when I felt really close to death. I had the awareness that if my brain reacted poorly to this surgery, it could swell and I could be forever changed as an individual. And so I lay very still and tried to concentrate on being present, and aware, and normal.

My body is tired. I sleep a lot, once I'm able to fall asleep. I dream very involved and tiring dreams, and attribute this to the strong medication I'm still taking. I feel like I'm in a half-dizzy state pretty much all the time - on or off the medication. I know this because I went without any pain pills until mid-afternoon yesterday (not intentionally), and was walking around out in the world. I do the old-lady shuffle when I do walk, and bending over is not on my list of things to do right now.

I went out in the world yesterday and the day before. Just to do little things. To buy myself a fancy face-powder compact at Macy's. Just because. I got some thank you cards for the great people that took care of me in the ICU and on the 3rd Floor Surgical Ward. I went to the grocery store and putzed around with a mini-cart that I could lean on, while Alex got my prescription filled.

I am not a pain-meds person. But, if I don't take them, my head hurts a lot. Kind of like being in a vice and having a hang-over at the same time. Not that I'd know much about being in vices (I have no memory of the halo that crunched my skull into position during surgery, and left me with several head wounds - three of which required staples)...The hangover thing, well, let's just say I've had my share.

I am tired. I think I will work on making a new purse. I can handle small, creative tasks. I can handle doing some reading at night. I can handle the brain-sucking T.V. Don't worry - I won't give up much of my white matter - I've had to work too hard lately to take care of it.

All for now,
Hope you are well.
I am fine. I will continue healing. It is a slower process than I'd like, and I hate not being able to
do things around here (having to put the "Control" part of my being on hold), but I just have to allow the process to unfold as it will.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12:54 Wednesday Morning

I am up. Could be the Oxycodone and steroids I'm on - but I thought they were supposed to make me sleepy? Or maybe it's just the Oxycodone that makes you sleepy and the steroids that can hype you up - but either way, I'm up...With the neighbors' cat and some Chamomile tea. The cat actually being as much our cat these days as theirs, as we have had discussions as to such and so it's all in-the-know and over the table and on the books and really quite kosher. His name is "Happy Flower" because he was named by a very sweet six year old. I just call him "Meow Meow" or "Outdoor Kitty" when I'm referring to him (which is becoming less and less a good name for him as he is more and more an indoor kitty at our residence these days).

I could also be awake due to the fact that I must sleep at an annoying degree of angle which if you looked at me from the front would appear to be an obtuse angle. Which brings up the singular item that I would keep from my hospital stay since this past Friday, which would be the button-controlled bed.

Not the thin, slightly crunchy sheets or the "blankets" which come in two varieties: too short, thin and oddly textured - or - warmed, too short, thin and oddly textured. Not the pillows which were obviously designed for people whom have no necks; any half-respecting health-care professional knows that you need good support and comfort in order to cultivate descent sleep. However, since you are surrounded by many of these health-care professionals, even a brain-surgeon to boot - you have to believe that there must be some very logical system to the pillow-to-patient ratio, as well as the ratio of filling-to-pillow cases. I'm sure once the heavy drugs have worn off I will be blessed with these insights, and have a very clear understanding as to why having four uncomfortable pillows in my bed those three nights were actually a benefit to my health, and were not actually donated to the hospital by my insurance company in a ploy to get me the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible. At least here, in the "comfort" of my own home, with approximately the same pillow-to-patient ratio, I can chose different thicknesses and shapes of pillows. I know I'd be perfectly content if I could just hit the "UP" or "DOWN" button on the side of my bed to get that elusive angle just right.

In 39 minutes I have to take two more of the Oxycodones. And, if I am smart, and don't want any nausea, I will take these with a couple of crackers and a lot of water. AND, if I am really, really smart, I will take these two pills with some prunes or a stool softener if I want to poop again before Christmas. Gosh, that'd be a good holiday song......"All I Want For Christmas in My...."

I'm trying to think of the next worst thing about being in the hospital as I've just experienced it. I mean, the food is a given. Sure, they make jokes, and it seems so cliche' - but REALLY people? I will say that the meats that were lain before me were warm. And were probably a grade up from what I feed Outdoor Kitty, but do you really have to put some sauce on it? I mean, how DO you make a sauce that has a negative taste on the taste scale??! I can see flecks of things that look like they might be herbs or something...Enough said. Stick with the broth. At least there's too much salt in it, which means you can taste it which means it's actually registering on the taste-o-meter. has got to be the suction cup circulation feet thingamajiggers*. Picture a shlurp sound somewhere in between Sleestack and a Bart Simpson armpit fart. Now, have that sound incorporated into a living breathing machine-like thing that is now hooked up to the bottom of your feet. Now, picture these *S.C.C.F.T.'s alternately flating and deflating in the above-mentioned manner and sound which I attempted to describe. NOW, try to sleep with these crazy-makers on and you've got one night of my life in the hospital. As soon as I'd start to drift into my morphine and Delotted (sp?) happy-place coma, SHLURPSUCKSHUTTERSUCKPULLPOOOOF! and that was just the right foot. All fricking night long. The next morning I politely asked if I had a choice between those and the leg-warmer circulation thingies, and was told, "Yes." Well, I believe a tear may have stained my cheek.

I understand that I just had my head sawed open and a tumor removed from my meninges and a large vein on my brain, so I'm not even going to complain about the round-the-clock care that I received every few hours - or - every time I had just tip-toed on the edge of REM sleep. I'm pretty sure there's some conspiracy going on which involves one mob or another which has the corner-market on all hospital food and blood-pressure cuffs, and is in direct and shameless cahoots with the drug, S.C.C.F.T's, pillow/bedding and insurance companies. Just a thought.

The I.V.'s and other tubes inserted into you? Do not. I repeat, DO NOT, get me started.
Let's just say that having two I.V.'s in - one in each arm of course - does not make pushing UP and DOWN buttons any easier. Does not give you the dignity to even brush your teeth as well as a toddler. Does not make getting to the toilet where you have to collect any and all cc's of your urine - any easier. Does not make adjusting the four fricking pillows that surround your upper extremities - any easier. 'Nough said.

The number one suckiest part about brain surgery - especially if they have to drill-through-your-skull-kind-of-brain-surgery - is having brain surgery. Hands down. It just really, really, sucks. Let me liken it to this, and then I'll be done:

1) Ever seen those rodeo show play-backs of the poor schmuck that got his head bashed in by a really pissed off bull or bronco? Check.

2) Ever had such a bad hang-over that you actually can't get rid of it for at least two days because you alcohol-poisoned yourself within a half-inch of your life? Check.

3) Ever get off a ride at a fair or theme park and start making your way to the lost and found to recover your center of gravity because it's surely not with you any more? Check.

Now, combine that with just the S.C.C.F.T.'s and you've got yourself a whole heap of motivation to get OUT of the hospital and IN to the comfort of your own home. Add the rest, and well, you're practically ready to moon-walk down the aisles of Fred Meyer in a celebratory dance.

I am home. I survived brain surgery. I survived my stay in the hospital for three nights and some-odd days. I had great care, and lots of love. I come back to you with less hair, but my humor in tact. I come back tired and woozy and in a lot of pain, but I am back...
And I'm happy to be here.

Thanks for your well-wishes, positive thoughts and prayers.


(and Happy Flower)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Post Pre-Op Day Bath

Post pre-op day bath -


1 Tub hot water
5-10 drops lavender essential oil
1 1/2 cups Epsom salts
1 good book
2 candles and a nightlight for lighting
1 small, fancyish glass half-filled with good whiskey
1 bottle good whiskey nearby in case you need a re-fill
with a Xanex chaser or pre-bath Xanex

I feel so much better.
Wasn't doing so hot after meeting with my neurosurgeon today.
Somehow I found it unsettling to hear about the chunk of skull that was
going to be sawed and flipped back in order for said surgeron to have access to my tumor.
That it's going to be a 2 - 4 hour surgery.
I have to spend the night in ICU, and two days in the hospital after.

Meanwhile, I'm rushing around trying to shop for our home and our pets and
Christmas and....

the bath.


Til tomorrow,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tick Tock

One week to go!

Two nights ago I had a good cry. That's probably about it for me. I am not a crier...though I know that's not necessarily a good thing. I'll leave that for my therapist to handle...

Anyhoo. A week. Luckily, a week filled with things other than staring at some ominous count-down calendar or filling out pre-op paperwork.

I've got the Christmas work party on Saturday. Before that, I have two good friends from Seattle I get to hang with. And there's being a mom which includes but is not limited to: the friendly nudges to do homework, the endurance of many an eye-roll aimed in my general direction, snuggles. Then theres the never-ending list of pets that need attention and care. Work. Everyone knows now - which is weird. A couple of days ago one of the girls I've worked with in the Resource Room said to me, "Miss Lutz, my friend (so and so) had a friend who had to have some brain surgeries and after that she talked funny. So, you might talk funny after your surgery, too." Thank you for those words of encouragement. I tried not to laugh, and assured her that my surgery wasn't as serious, and that that wouldn't happen to me. Another boy I work with casually asked 'how my tumor was doing.' Kids are awesome.

Most days I do think I'll be just fine. Those of you who've had anesthesia know that it's kind of scary handing yourself over to people in such a way. You are totally vulnerable. I'm actually glad that I had surgery this past summer for endometriosis, because it prepared me for what going into surgery is like. The only surgery I'd had before that was when I was eleven, so the details are a bit foggy. So the handing over is the hardest part - and the rest - well that's just brain surgery.

Could things go wrong? Could I die? Of course. But you don't think that way. Or you try not to. And the chances are very slim that anything like that would happen. So, I bought myself a Ukulele book yesterday because I haven't been playing my Uke, and I'm forgetting all I learned from the week of lessons I had at Guitar Camp. I think that playing the Uke would be a nice, mellow thing to do while I'm recovering...And so you see, I'm looking ahead. My calendar doesn't stop at the 18th, it continues like everyone elses does, and I need to remind myself of that at times.

Tick tock. Tick tock.