September 09, 2015

Going Under the Knife

So, about two months ago, while on a trip to Hawaii, I had this nagging side stitch on my left side.  It was annoying, but not horrible.  When I got back from the trip, I had blood work done and had blood in my urine.  So, I though I had either a urinary tract infection or another kidney stone.  Off to my regular doc I went, but since there was no sign of infection, I was sent for an ultrasound to rule out another kidney stone.  Yes, I had one two years ago.  With none of the regular symptoms.

Two days after the ultrasound, and before getting the report from it, I had another bout of blood in my urine.

I saw the urologist, who told me that she didn't see a stone (although the radiologist's report indicated one).  So she sent me for a CAT scan to definitively rule one out.  The result, no kidney stone, but a whopping gallstone.  Yeah me!

With a recommendation of a GI Doc from my doc's office, I started the process of dealing with gallstones.

The GI doc, while nice, basically told me that I had a gallstone (uh, yeah) and that I needed to see my surgeon.  Of course, the only surgeon I've use were the orthopedic kind.  So he gave me a recommendation of the surgeon who did his gallbladder removal.

I saw the surgeon, who was very nice.  He determined that my gallbladder was inflamed and recommended removal - before it became a problem.

The surgery was scheduled and all I needed to do was have an EKG before hand.  Easy peasy.

Surgery day came and I was at the surgery center by 6:30.  I wasn't nervous - in fact, I slept 6 hours the night before.  All the prep was done - the IV line, the pre surgery meds.  And off I went.  By 10:15 I was awake and alert, drinking ginger ale and nibbling on graham crackers.  And in virtually no pain.  The recovery nurse asked my pain level and then proceeded to tell me that if I needed pain meds, I would have to stay for a half an hour before being discharged. And the plan was to have me out of there by 10:55.  A no brainer, I took the pain meds, though I probably didn't need them and by 11 AM, I was on my way home.

I'm guessing I must have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but I only took two  Acetaminophen that day - at 11:30 that night.  I was a big uncomfortable, probably from the gas they inject into the abdominal cavity during the surgery, but no pain.

The next night I went to Mass.  Again, a bit uncomfortable, but no pain.

My recovery went smoothly.  Five days after the surgery I drove to my parents house so they could see that I wasn't kidding when I said that I was fine.  My dad was amazed at the two small bandages covering the two incisions on my stomach and the third incision that was cleverly concealed by my quite deep "innie" navel.

So now it's almost 6 weeks post surgery and I feel fine.  No problems with food.  And back to my usual mayhem.  Life is good.

Missing Merl

A good friend passed away a little over a week ago. We had never met, but I still considered him a friend.  His name - Merl Reagle - and he authored the best crossword puzzles.  Ever!

I have always loved doing crossword puzzles.  About 15 years ago I discovered Merl Reagle's puzzles in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer.  I was quickly hooked.  His puzzles were smart, clever and his play on words was amazing.  The trick was to figure out the theme and the rest was easy - well, not easy, but easier.

My Sunday morning ritual (as long as I attended mass on Saturday night) kind of went as follows:
   Get up.
   Go downstairs.
   Go outside and retrieve the newspapers.
   Make coffee.
   Get comfortable on sofa.
   Get my lap desk and mechanical pencil
   Find the Living section of The Philadelphia Inquirer
   Read Lisa Scottoline's weekly column "Chick-Wit"
   Pull out Merl's puzzle
   Lose track of time working on the puzzle.

Sometimes I would finish the puzzle in one sitting.  Sometimes it took the whole day working on and off.  Sometimes it took a few days.  Sometimes I couldn't finish it, but more often than not, I would.  Figuring out the theme was so much fun.

So, on Sunday, August 23rd I followed my routine.  And later in the morning I logged on to my computer only to find that Merl had passed away the day before.  And because he only prepared his puzzle weekly, that puzzle I was working on would be his last.  I was devastated.

Merl appeared in the documentary "Wordplay" about the annual crossword puzzle tournament in Stamford organized by Will Shortz.  It was fascinating watching Merl create a puzzle.  And now there will be no more.

So, the past two weekends I opened the Inquirer looking for Merl's puzzle only to feel a twinge of sadness when it isn't there (I have been secretly hoping that the Inquirer would re-run old puzzles).  I've tried to do the NY Times puzzle, but it's way more difficult.  And not nearly as much fun.

So I think I will order some of Merl's puzzle books (I purchased a few several years ago and finished them all) so I can continue my Sunday routine.  But it won't be the same know Merl will not be around to create new ones.

Rest in peace Merl.  Thanks for hours of fun.  And many new words learned.

June 14, 2015

Disney Theme Parks - Compare and Contast

I'm not a Disney fanatic.  I know some Disney fanatics, but I am definitely not one.  My life is quite complete with out Mickey, Minnie or any one of the assorted princess in it.  My son was not a Disney fanatic, though he did love Disney movies.

For the record, I have been to Disney World 6 times.  Two of these trips were great.  The rest were great because of the company, but not because of the park.

My first trip to Disney World was in 1977.  The park had been open for about 6 years the first time I visited.  It was with my parents, after my oldest brother's wedding in Atlanta. I had fun, riding rides, hanging out with the grown ups.  Back then, you purchased a book of tickets and each ticket was good for certain rides.  The lines were not bad - we visited in mid-April, after the Easter rush.

In 1995, my parents treated our whole family to a trip in late October.  It meant pulling 5 kids out of school, backpacks full of school books and work, but, again, it was fun. Short lines meant that we could ride rides over and over again.  I think we rode Splash Mountain 5 times in an hour - we were all soaked.  By then, the ticket system was gone and in it's place was a general park admission that included all the rides you could ride.  After three days of Disney, I was finished.  So we spent two days at Universal Studios.

Fast forward to 2007 and my third trip.  It was hubby and I and three friends in October.  The price of the tickets had gone up and the lines were certainly longer.  There were three parks to visit, beer to be consumed in Great Britain in Epcot, rides and my husband having to take business calls back at the condo.

In 2011 and again in 2013, we visited with our good friends Fly Boy, Nurse Nancy and Junior Birdman.  Ticket prices were getting outrageous and the lines were horrible.  On one trip, we spent three hours in line for Soarin', only to find out that the ride had malfunctioned earlier in the day and everyone in line had been given a Fast Pass. Those of us in line did not find this out until we were almost at the front of the line.  A whole day in Epcot and we rode Soarin' once and Test Track once. It was, in my opinion, a waste of a day.  Thank goodness, the company was the best and some Hot Passes to Daytona saved the trip.

In November of last year, we made what was, in my opinion, my last trip to Disney World.  Who would have thought that the park could be so crowded only two weeks before Thanksgiving.  And school age children weren't the worst of it - the number of children in strollers was unbelievable.  Stroller parking at any given ride was worse than any mall just before Christmas.  And rude patrons…ugh!

So last week, we were in California for a "business" trip - a reward trip provided by an insurance company.  We stayed a few extra days and, at my request, we went to Disneyland.  What a refreshing experience!0 hour

I wasn't sure what to expect with a smaller park - more crowded???  But much to my surprise, it was busy, but not awful.  The longest line was only about 60 minutes and that was an overestimate - I timed The Matterhorn ride - the entrance said that it was a 60 minute wait, so I hit the stopwatch feature on my phone and, low and behold, I was at the front of the line in 28 and a half minutes - clearly less than half the estimated wait time.  You can actually get Fast Passes at the park, something we could not get on our last two trips to Florida (now that you can get Fast Passes on line, there are almost none available at the park).

Our favorite was the Radiator Springs Racers - similar to Test Track but based on the movie Cars.  We tried to hit the things that they didn't have in Florida.  The two park pass, while a bit pricey at $150 per person, was worth it for a trip that may not be repeated.  We saw and did more in 10 hours than we could have in two days in Florida.

All in all, Disneyland in California is the clear winner for me in the Disney parks competition.  I would definitely go back. As far as Disney World, I think I would go if we are one day blessed with grandchildren, though I think I'd much rather waste time on a plane than time in a line.

January 13, 2015

2015 - Week 2

Last week I mentioned that I thought I was starting with a cold.  I was right.  A week of dealing with a sore throat that morphed into a head cold and I thought I might escape the dreaded chest cold.  Nope.  Not this time.  Got up yesterday morning with a nasty cough.  This time I jumped on it and saw the Nurse Practitioner who, because of my immunity deficiency that makes me more vulnerable to upper respiratory infections, prescribed an antibiotic.  And none of that sissy stuff - the hard core one that works.   An immunity issue and the fact that I am allergic to many antibiotics - not a great combination.  Yeah me.

Been working on trying to organize, purge, clean things around the house.  I started by tackling several bookshelves that are in the basement.  They had become a dumping ground for not only books, but anything else that made it to the basement with out a home.  Some major organizing of books, weeding through junk and actually putting some things away and that corner is looking better - not perfect yet, but much better.  I'm thinking that this will be a year long project in which success will be measured in inches and not yards.

Trees still need to be put away although they are devoid of decoration.  While I am looking forward to getting the house put back together, there is that little part of me that will miss them.  Oh well, only 10 more months and they will return.

January 07, 2015

2015 - A New Year

So last week we ushered in 2015.  A new year, a chance to wipe the slate clean, start over, make changes.  So what do I have planned for 2015?

Well, I've been trying to make some healthy changes in my life.  Been eating better in an attempt to get my blood sugar under control.  It's been a battle and some days are definitely better than others.  Let's just say, it's a work in progress.

In that same vein, I had fully planned on hitting the pool at the Y this week. Not happening.  I awoke yesterday with a scratchy, sore throat, swollen glands and feeling crappy.  Last year I found out that the reason for my severe upper respiratory infections is an immune deficiency so I take no chances on putting myself at risk by trying to limit my time in communal environments when I have a cold.  So, the locker room, the pool and the gym at the Y are out for at least this week.

At home, I am working on cleaning out closets, drawers and the basement.  It's time to purge all the things I haven't used in a while.  I've started collecting things to have a yard sale in the spring.  In the past, I've donated things, but the ones that benefit most are the executive of the non-profits, I think I'll try to sell things and donate money to a charity that will use the money to help others.

2014 was the year that we finally changed parishes.  I'm settling in more at our new parish, getting to meet some new people and I am once again reading at mass.  This was one thing that I really missed.  There are many opportunities for spiritual growth at our new parish and I hope to take advantage of them this year.

I have several projects that I hope to work on this year - to start sewing again and make some window treatments.  There are about 5 or 6 craft projects that I have wanted to work on and just can't seem to make the time.  If I can work on just a few I'd be happy.

I'm making no specific resolutions for the new year, only trying to work on the changes that I have recently made.  I think I'll start by picking one thing each day to accomplish and start there.  We'll see…..

Until later.

September 08, 2014

Can Can

Saw this on Face Book The Fifteen Can Challenge and I thought it was a worthwhile idea.  So I shared it on Face Book and Now I'm sharing it here.  Note, I think it started a few weeks ago since, including this week, there are only 13 weeks until the first week in December.

If you don't subscribe to Face Book, here are the details from the event invite:

Christmas Time for most is a time of great joy and celebration. For some, for many reasons, it's a time of sadness and going without.
This year we can change this for some.
Please join our 15 can challenge - it's simple and easy to do.
1. Every week when you do your groceries, purchase one extra item. It could be a can or something non perishable. eg soup, baked beans etc
2. Collect one item each week for the next fifteen weeks.
3. Drop them off to the charity of your choice, first week in December to various places in your neighborhood.
4.Invite as many of your friends as you can - remember together we can change someone's life
Many communities will benefit.
All Food Pantry's and Charities, will greatly appreciate any and all donations. It is your gift to give, we are simply attempting to source charities in great NEED.

What a wonderful idea to help those in need.  And spreading it out over a few weeks makes it easy on the budget too.

August 05, 2014

Starting Over Again

Six years ago I wrote a post about the merger of my parish with another parish in town.  I was so very unhappy with the outcome of the merger and the promise of equality, which, of course, never happened.  I threatened to leave after a year if nothing changed.  At the time, it felt a bit like an empty threat because I thought things would change.  So, about a month ago, after waiting to see if the pastor would be transferred (he wasn't) or if things would change (they didn't) it was time to take action.  We finally changed parishes.

The past year, we have been attending another parish about a 20 minute drive from our house.  Our first trip there was the first weekend that a new pastor was there.  For the first time in a long while (except for going to churches when we were away) I felt like I had been to Mass.  People participated in the mass, the homily was interesting and the people in church were friendly.  After a year of test driving it, we pulled the trigger and signed up.

It has been the right decision for us. We miss seeing our friends from our old parish at Mass.  But we can always make plans to see them.  We see more and more people from our old parish at our new parish.  And most of all, we are happy.