Blueberry Muffins: First Try!

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I’m slowly getting back into my groove. This is the first baking I’ve done in a while, excluding the boxed cake I mentioned a while back.

I’d never actually made blueberry muffins from scratch before. This recipe was quick and easy. I liked that. The muffin tops were flat because I’d tried a commenter’s suggestion to add sugar to the top mid-bake. Um, no. Don’t bother. I much rather would have tall muffins instead of the little bit of extra sugar. Live and learn.

Otherwise, the muffins are moist and chewy, and are now half-gone. So, it was a success. Next time, I’m thinking of trying a different recipe to see how they compare.

Enjoy!🙂

Stuff and Nonsense

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It’s Week 17 since the surgery, and a few weeks out from the surprise stay. I’ve been trying to think of inspirational and/or funny posts, but the truth is, I’m not always all that inspired or funny.

Things are going fine in the grand scheme of things. I’ve been able to eat things I really shouldn’t be eating. I’ve been drinking soda again since about a month after the surgery. I’m not proud of this, but there are far worse habits out there. My plan is to get back on the water train, but I will finish what’s already around first.

I’ve been able to do a little somethin’-somethin’ with my beauty regimen. I no longer have to stick to unscented, un-anything types of products. So, since the incision healed, I’ve been using a lavender body wash/shampoo combo, which has been appropriate for the chill mood I’ve been trying to work.

Truth be told, I’ve been getting some flack for not getting my act together faster, and it’s affected my mood. Some people get motivated by that sort of criticism. I don’t. Especially when I was just starting to get back on my feet and feel good again. This isn’t a rant blog, but this has been a part of my life since I wrote last, and if you want the facts, I feel like I must include it. I’m sure everyone has their own versions of this on the road to surgery recovery- that well-meaning friend or relative who thinks you can leap large buildings in a single bound, while you would just be happy to walk to one.

I kayaked with Girlfriend, which confused everyone but her. I should say: “She helped me into the boat, pushed me off, then pulled me back in when I was finished”, but that takes too long. She also found delightful little spots for us to take breaks and sat there and played floaty with her boat so I’d stop and rest. So, um, technically, I kayaked, but mostly I took pictures of nature and put my feet and hands in the water.

I actually did walk around with a sports bra and shorts while we were at the cabin. She’d gotten me these scar patch things that I used to protect my scars from the sun. But, while we were out boating, I felt a little too shy and a little too worried about exposing them like that. It just felt better to have a bathing suit on over them.

The scar itself is still huge, long, and purple. I don’t think I have average feelings about it, compared to what I see elsewhere. Mostly, I feel proud that I survived. I never had the courage to get a tattoo, and this is kind of like one. Though, at the same time, I also hope it fades. It will take at least a year before I will know for sure. I am lucky that Girlfriend is not squeamish- she has seen the scar since I started taking pictures of it, and heard me talking about it since Day 1. So, I don’t feel like I have to hide it from her, which is very nice. I can’t imagine what those feelings must be like, on top of actually experiencing surgery.

…Just a little of this and that.

“Shake, clean, work it like a washing machine!”

I feel like cleaning. Whether it’s a result of hormone fluctuation or simply feeling better, I don’t know, but I’m happy it’s here. When you become/are ill for long periods of time, there are things that fall by the wayside. My normal state of order, both inside and outside, fell apart. If you can’t move, you most certainly cannot do much of anything, never mind cleaning.

I cleaned before having surgery. But, even then, I was still feeling pretty awful. So while I’d made sure I was coming back to clean sheets and eating surfaces, anything beyond that was not happening. I put away my perfectionism not by choice, but because I had to.

So, I’m finding all sorts of reminders of just how bad it was: a brochure from last Xmas, bits of paper with reminders on them, things I’d set aside in the midst of the craziness. Naturally, to do this right, I am setting myself up for a big job, and I just hope I am up to the challenge. I am sore, and I am in pain, but I know where I went wrong, and I stopped as soon as I felt pain. I will take things more slowly as I continue, but I am thrilled to both want to, and be able to. You don’t know how much you miss simple tasks of everyday living until they are taken away from you. I might not be perfect, but I feel good, and that’s something to be thankful for.

 

Everything is Different the Second Time Around…

Let me be super-duper mega clear: Being in the hospital is not the same as being in prison. But, when you’re upset and feeling poorly and can’t leave until they say you can, there is comfort in a theme song from a television show.

 

This time was different. This time, I didn’t expect it. I’d come back from having a minor procedure, and already had started to feel unwell. But, I pushed, because it seemed sensible at the time that procedure= pain= stop whining, you wimp.

But, it wasn’t that…

I’d developed some sort of random problem that very few people get, but is one of the possibilities you sign on for. It took me a few days to realize it though. By that time, I barely could move. It wasn’t pretty. It doesn’t make for good blogging. But, there it is.

This time is not so much a story about triumph, as it is about survival.

When you are in extreme pain, and you can’t even get out of bed, let alone do things, do you find a way to get yourself treatment that’s an hour away? Or do you lay there, waiting for it to get worse?

The ER is in a nationally-recognized “bad neighborhood”, but that’s where your Dr. works. You probably should see that Dr. because this is probably related to the other day. You can’t get pushed through quickly, in spite of this, and end up waiting in the ER for hours, while random people are ranting to themselves in a kind of frightening way, and you didn’t eat breakfast, but there are candy machines, but there is a sign saying not to eat until a Dr. sees you, but you have no idea when that will be.

Finally, a few hours into it, you end up in a wheelchair and wait some more.

Eventually, you end up in a gurney in a hallway for the remainder of the night. Then, blissfully, a kind nurse gets you into a room for a few hours so you can get some sleep. It is the next day. You are eventually transferred to a shared room with a woman and her husband. You walk by them, trying to hold your gown closed whenever you have to pee. There is food trash all over their side, and you are still not allowed to eat. They watch terrible TV all the time. But, you feel so crappy, and you know you just have to deal with it.

But, how do I tell this story… when I wasn’t able to even do this much for so many years? Because this sort of thing is a very fraught issue in the States and I know how very, very fortunate and lucky, and you could even say, blessed, I am to even have this. How dare I say that it was hard for me?

I cried, I chewed my lips, I moped, and sometimes I smiled. But it wasn’t the same.

 

 

Be it ever so humble…

I am back from the unexpected hospital visit. I have things to say- many of them, but I am currently too wiped out to do so. So please enjoy this picture of a “hobbit house” instead.🙂

Warrior Princess/Laundress/Cook

I’ve been trying to re-acclimate as best I can. I’m not fully cleared yet, but at least, I can do a few things now.

Laundry: happened this week mostly unassisted. It’s comical at this stage- it is taking me at least 5x as long, but whatever, it’s good exercise. I cannot carry the basket. I also cannot carry anything that weighs more than a milk jug. This means I’m doing it in relatively small armfuls, and I’m only doing about a load a day at this point. Small steps…

Vanity: All along, I’ve told both myself and others that I really didn’t care too much about what it looked like afterwards, I really just wanted to be healthy. Well, I lied. It turns out I care. I’m cleared for Neosporin, so I’m using that. But, no, a bikini isn’t happening this season for both health and vanity reasons. (Scars sunburn easily- I didn’t know that. It’s too soon to expose it like that, if I’m striving for optimum healing).

Weight/Body Shape:  I don’t know what made me think that my body shape would change. I guess it was the fact that I had extra stuff in there that wasn’t supposed to be there. I also thought I’d lose a substantial amount of weight. I did. Then, I went right back to my original weight once I was able to eat properly.

Walking/Movement: Not great/not awful. I mostly look normal until I start pushing too hard. Then, it’s off to the nearest chair.

Pain: My pain was not so bad this week. I’m mostly off of the pain pills now, but every once in a while, I need them. It’s mostly the abdomen that’s sore, although sneezing and yawning will bring out pain elsewhere, too.

I should probably state the obvious here, just for those reading this and wondering how their surgery will go: Please remember, everyone is different. My doctor basically thinks I’m a Warrior Princess for handling as much pain as I have been. Moral of the story: what is low-level pain to me could be agony to you.

Cooking: I baked a box cake. It kicked my booty. I haven’t cooked a meal yet, but I might try this week.

Eating: I’ve really been very lucky all long, but the coffee I made this morning has been refluxing all day. All in all, I really can’t complain, though.

I guess, in summation, things are looking up, it’s just the invisible stuff that has been getting me. You don’t really know how much makes you tired until the day you overdo it.

 

Alternative Lifestyle

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I can’t even imagine how my life is going to change without me needing gigantic purses.

I am a purse-wearing person. Even if I wasn’t, I really had no choice but to be. It would’ve been either that, or me carrying around a rather large tote bag or something.

When it came time for a real purse, rather than one to play with, I had no choice but to go giant. So, part of my personal style had always been to have a large purse. I admired the 5″x7″ ish styles, with their sleek design and crossbody straps, but I could never manage to fit all of my products, the associated cramp pills, allergy medicine, and whatever else a girl might find handy into them. It just did not work. And now…

I spent today temporarily putting away my “carpet bags”, and pulled out a few smaller options. Occasionally, I would be gifted these adorable little bags, which I had limited use for. Sometimes, I could re-purpose them to hold needed items within my purses. Now that I can see at least the hope of a light beyond the tunnel, I have them out as my reward. Once things calm down, I am looking forward to having a cute purse to hold less stuff. I can’t even imagine what it will be like not to have ~10lbs of weight burdening my shoulders. The freedom is both practical and metaphoric.

 

Finding my groove again

That thing where you wake up energized and wanting to workout, but then realize you should probably try for making the bed first.

I’m on Week 7 post-surgery, for anyone who’s counting. This means I can’t actually “workout” per se, but I can do a few things around the house now. This is good, because stuff is accumulating.

I started with wiping off the craft table that’s been doubling as an eating surface. At the moment, I have snacks squished in between the arts and crafts. As far as actual crafting goes, I’ve really been taking it in bite-sized sittings. Any more than that, and I tire out.

I did make the bed solo, and I’m out of breath… so, there’s that.

I made a couple of things on the indoor grill- a hot dog and a grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s a start. The grill and its plates are still a little heavier than I’d like.

I keep thinking about yoga, which I guess is a good thing. I am trying to stretch my arms and legs without bothering my abdomen too much. So, ok, that’s not technically yoga, but it’s something. Actual yoga won’t be ok for a while, and even then, I still have to be nice to my stomach.

I would like to bike ride eventually. Think Kermit rather than Lance. Even to just sit upright and twiddle around would be great. I don’t know how my endurance will change, or if it even will, but I’d like to try.

Kayak season is here. I still have to check with the Dr. to see when it would be ok to try, but because it can get strenuous, I have to play it safe. This is so tough because kayaking is my ultimate summer activity. I usually take pictures while I’m out, so at least that can happen, as long as I don’t overdo the walking.

Medically, I still have another procedure. Whether or not this is a big deal will be figured out on the spot. I’m hoping everything’s fine. It has me a little spooked. I’ve been feeling pretty good, but it will mean being sore all over again… but I will hopefully be healthy, which is so much more important.

🙂

My Gallbladder was an Installation Artist

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Not only did it make countless little spherical “stones” out of raw materials of cholesterol and/or bile (still learning more about what happened, so pardon my lack of knowledge); it also decided that wasn’t enough. It carved some paths to other organs, as well as changing their color and texture via scarring and disease.

Oh gallbladder, I want to call you names, but I know what it’s like to work with what’s there, and I recognize that part of myself in who you were. It’s just… your art would’ve killed me, eventually.

I’m sure you got a laugh the times you turned me yellow. In fact, I did too. Remember when I called us a banana in pyjamas? I didn’t like the itching as much, but I guess from your vantage point, you probably saw it as performance art. Maybe you marveled at the way I would continue to push myself through your exhibitions- trying desperately to hold on to what remained of my life.

…and then, you won. I just couldn’t “life” anymore. Not well enough to fake it anyway. And so, we got some pictures taken, and some tests done, and then procedures. Now you’re gone, and I’m left cleaning up your studio…