And the living’s been easy…

I hope your summer is starting off well.

We’ve been on break for over a month now, and I didn’t quite realize just how much I needed this time off. It’s helped me adjust to having the roommates around again. And, I know this next year is going to be extremely taxing with completing my thesis and all of the impending edits and rewrites that are just part of the process — so I’m enjoying the peace and quiet and slowness that I’m being afforded right now.

Here’s some highlights of what’s been going on:

I have been playing quiet a bit of Stardew Valley. I actually even got my roommate hooked on it, too. Which wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t sharing my account for the game. Which is actually not even an issue. I don’t mind sharing my computer or Steam account. The only downside is that it looks like I’ve either left the game open for days or that I’m spending 16 hours a day playing.

On Memorial Day, the roommate and I went to Mounds State Park. We didn’t hit all the trails, but got in a nice little 3 mile hike. We saw the Great Mound maybe 7 times because of how some of the trails intersect. It was a lot of fun, though unfortunately I discovered that allergies are still a thing and we left earlier than planned because it felt like my head was going to implode. Next time I’ll know to take some meds before we go. We’re hoping to hit a few more parks this year, so it should be a lot of fun!

I should hopefully hear back about a job soon. It’s nothing exciting, but pays well and that’s just fine. Being able to get food and not being homeless definitely trumps any kind of snobbery about any job. I’m also starting the interview process for an assistantship position for this fall. It’s with another department, but in the same building which is nice. Regardless, it’s got full tuition and a stipend. If I get this, and keep the job, I’ve decided I’m still taking out loans for the year, but they’re going into a savings fund for when I graduate so I can use them for moving. I don’t want my finances to keep me from starting a PhD program or a job because I can’t get a U-Haul or put a deposit down on an apartment.

I have a couple health things going on — meeting again with a specialist for a follow-up this afternoon — but it’s still nothing compared to living with endometriosis pre-surgery. It’s sounding like the next step might be a pill-cam to check things out. Honestly, I’m not sure we’ll pin point exactly what’s going on… But I think we’re going to be able to control the symptoms. Despite the occasional pain from this, I’ve been feeling really well. It’s been over one year since my surgery, and as tough as a choice that was, I’m grateful for having my life back.

I don’t really have big plans for the rest of the summer. Hiking. Cooking. Adventures with the roommates. Hanging out with the nieces. Streaming. Reading non-academic texts. Quite honestly, I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

How’s your summer starting off?

No Limit Wish List

We all have those items resting in the back of our minds… the things we’d get ourselves if money wasn’t an issue. They don’t have to be big extravagant things, sometimes it’s just that extra little thing you’ve had your eye on but just can’t justify getting.

If I had some extra money, these are likely the top things I’d get for myself.

  1. Chevy Sonic RS Turbo in White. I found this car recently at a local dealer… and it was even within my “realistically if I could get a new-to-me car” budget. But, without a stable job and nothing to put for a down payment, it got away. So now this is at the top of my graduation wish list. Maybe it’ll change as I test drive cars and what’s available… But a turbo hatchback is what I’ve got my eye on — and it’s older brother approved!*
  2. A new blender! My blender has one speed and you have to press the lid down for it to run. I’m ready for an adult blender. One with a food processor attachment.
  3. Air fryer. Yep. Need this. Homemade potato chips? Yes please. Dry rub wings without the oil? Oh hell yes. Now I can feel “healthy” when I eat all the fried junk foods.
  4. Tagine. I’ve never used one, and I’m pretty damn impressed with how expensive they can be… but i’m hoping this will take my attempts at Indian cooking to a new level.
  5. Essential Oil diffuser. Specifically this one. I love it because it looks not only like a giant crystal, but also sort of volcanic, and kind of reminds me a little of a prop from that old Nickelodeon show GUTS. But it’s also $50, which seems like a lot for a diffuser.
  6. New bedding! Apparently mustard-goldenrod yellow is my new color. I want that or a wine-berry with grey combination.
  7. An ikea shopping spree. I’d like a new couch. And bed frame. And coffee table. And console table… (I could also use a wardrobe shopping spree, too.)
  8. A non-carpet-covered cat condo. I want to spoil the cats as well. Of course, if I spent the $100 on this, the cats would completely ignore it. Because cats.

*I may be in my 30s, but yes, my older brother does still get to weigh in on my car purchases. Mainly because he’s the one who does all of my repairs. For free, too, because he loves me.

What’s on your No Limit wish list?

Joining in — The Happy List

Kate recently posted her Happy List based on inspiration from a podcast she was listening to. It’s a simple thing, really… a “go-to list of things that make you (me) happy,” as Kate succinctly put it.

I actually started making a list like this earlier this year — and a few years ago I was writing one positive thing from each day in my journal. In living with depression, it can be hard to remember the small things that bring you joy. After a while, those small things add up. When you shift your focus to those positive things, no matter how big or small, they can make it easier to get through the dark times.

Kate made a list of 50 things, so that’s what I’m going to try for as well!*

  1. My cats: cuddling with them and how they always know when I need them, even if I don’t
  2. My nieces and nephew, especially how the twins light up and run full force to greet me
  3. Getting lost in a fictional world
  4. That sweet spot of spring weather where it’s warm, but not too hot, and the shade is cool enough you can wear a sweater if you want, but you don’t need it
  5. Adventures with the cohort, especially involving food and drink
  6. Twisted Twig’s Air Element room spray! It’s frankincense, vanilla, and sage and is my absolute favorite
  7. Cuddling on the couch
  8. Alexa responding when I tell her “thank you”
  9. Academic challenges and rushes
  10. Nerding out with my professors
  11. Late night conversations, that even though you’re tired you’re just not ready to end yet
  12. Warm brioche
  13. Other people’s dogs (I love getting visits from Boomer!)
  14. When you season a dish perfectly
  15. Seeing my home filled with pieces I’ve inherited from family
  16. Curling up in bed on a lazy morning
  17. Netflix binges
  18. Spending time with my siblings
  19. Anthropology – I’ve found my home!
  20. Long walks on trails
  21. When the music just matches that moment in your life perfectly
  22. Hot showers
  23. Trying new restaurants
  24. Champagne Toast candles from Bath & Bodyworks
  25. Car “shopping” with my brother
  26. Cats on instagram
  27. When I remember to hygge
  28. The ability to drink caffeine again without feeling like I’m dying (hello, Dr Pepper) 
  29. Back massages
  30. Almost all things lime or watermelon

*Ok. So I made it to 30 rather than 50. That just means 31-50 (or beyond) will be in another post. Giving me plenty of time to think of, remember, or discover things to add to my list!

What makes it on to your Happy List?

Catching up before summer!

Yes, this is one of those “wow a lot of things have happened!” posts.

I’m currently lounging on the couch in my freshly tidied apartment, waiting for one of my roommates to move back in. The past few summers, as some of you may remember, I’ve had roommates to help with the cost. I’ve lived with both of these women before — the very first summer I had roommates, actually — so I’m not expecting much difficulties. One of them, though, will be more than just a summer roommate. C, who’s lived with me the past two summers in a row, is moving in full-time. Our other roommate is here until her lease starts for her studio around the corner. As much as I’ve loved living alone and hermiting with the cats, it’ll be nice having C around as I finish out the last year of grad school.

I had originally hoped to have graduated yesterday… however, this is one of those “things happen for a reason” things… I switched my thesis topic at the beginning of the school year, and have been working on refining my focus and finishing my proposal. All of that has been completed — as all three members of my thesis committee and the graduate school have approved my research proposal! I’ve also secured one of my field sites, and will be beginning my research as soon as I finish IRB training (aka the office that allows you to work with human subjects).

Rather than graduating, yesterday, though, I spent the morning at a local farmer’s market selling my jewelry! I had a lot of really good response and have really enjoyed seeing what started as a small creative outlet to help me through my depression blossom into an actual small (ok, micro) business. I was really nervous not only about being a new vendor at this market, but just as a small vendor with my one tiny table and limited inventory. But the market went really well and was definitely a (profitable) success. I’ll be back every other week for most of the summer, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Mostly I’m going to be focusing on the market and my shop website/instagram. I’m going to close up the etsy for now. On my site, I can have more control and there’s no fees. And I still take paypal, so that makes things easier.

This past semester I focused on myself and my school work. I had a super successful academic conference presenting the introduction to my thesis work. I’m actually joining the executive board of the organizing society, too! While there’s been some bumps in this semester, I got some amazing feedback from one of my mentors who’s given me so much encouragement regarding my future in academia. There were some tough times with losing my grandma, and getting into a car accident that same weekend while taking her dog to her foster home… but I pulled through. I’ve had great support from my family, my professors, and my cohort (whom I’ve had so much fun hanging out with this semester!)…

I’m excited about this summer. I’ve got another research project that’s starting. Between that and another project I worked on in the fall, I should have two, maybe three, publications before I graduate! I’ve got trips to the UP of Michigan planned with friends. … And… in a few hours I’ll hopefully be confirming my date (!!!) for tonight!

So. Lovely internet friends: what are you looking forward to this summer?

Five Months Later…

Today officially marks five months since my hysterectomy.

It’s been a little weird reflecting back on it. On one hand, it’s kind of amazing how different my life is from before the surgery, how much better I feel. But then again, there’s also this sameness. Occasionally I forget that I was ever so sick. It kind of makes me laugh that I can actually forget just how much my endo wrecked and controlled my life. “Healthy” was not something I could easily fathom. But here I am. Healthy.

Mostly, at least.

I keep forgetting that it’s only been five months. A little thing called fatigue likes to sneak up on me and remind me, though. The past couple weeks I’ve had some on and off crampy pain. It freaked me out a little, mild as it was — what if my endo was coming back? While I haven’t seen a specialist yet, I’m pretty sure a lot of this is just my body reminding me that we’re not quite healed yet and I need to (big shocker here) slow down.

Feeling so good, I thought I was ready to jump back into too many things. I spent most of Fall Break walking — 7.5 miles just on the last day. All those doctors and the women who’d had hysterectomies telling me it’d take 6-8 months just to feel normal again, and up to a year before the fatigue fully goes away… I didn’t listen. As great as I feel, my body is still recovery inside. I’m not really surprised, though, that I pushed too hard. If I was doing too much two weeks after surgery, of course I’d still be doing a bit too much five months later. (What can I say, this disease had taken about a decade from me.)

Outside of the fatigue, the hardest thing that I’ve still been struggling with are the lingering emotions regarding the implications of having a hysterectomy. I don’t regret the decision. It had gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure how I could live with this disease for 25-30 more years… To live with that much pain, struggling just to get through a day, unable to hold a job, and at my worst level of feeling unworthy of love. I wasn’t suicidal, I just didn’t want to be in pain any more. But at the same time I was planning this surgery with my doctors and my family… one of my younger sisters had just had her first child with her husband. Here was this person — my own blood — who’d married her college boyfriend, who was starting a family… Someone who had gotten everything I thought I wanted. And here I was, in pain every day, no job or school, extremely single, getting ready to remove the option of ever getting pregnant.

I had told myself for a couple years that I was ok with this. It’s sort of a testament to where I was emotionally and mentally, that I had just sort of settled in to this idea that I’d just be single forever. I had started becoming ok with the idea of adopting and being a single mom. Between the disease and emotional abuse from my past, I couldn’t fathom anyone wanting to be with someone so broken. But I wanted a family, so I would just do it myself. My biggest fear, though? That maybe, maybe, there would be someone who would see the real me and be like “yes! I choose her!” but because I had the hysterectomy wouldn’t give me a chance. … And everyone says, oh but this won’t really matter when it comes down to it… When people hear “hysterectomy” they assume everything is completely gone and biological kids are no longer an option. Which, for a total hysterectomy, that’s true. I still have my ovaries. I can have biological kids, I just can’t carry or give birth to them. It does make the whole having kids thing a little more complicated, with needing to plan for a surrogate, but it was important to me to keep my ovaries for that reason. I’m ok with adopting, but I didn’t necessarily want to force that on a partner as the only option.

This idea that I’m not whole, that I’m broken and unworthy, took root years ago. It wasn’t until a few years ago I really, and truly, began accepting and loving myself as I was — even if I felt that person was broken. I was ok with me. And I wasn’t going to let those feelings hold me back from a full life. These past five months I’ve gotten to feel like myself again, my true self. Despite the fears, the fatigue, the worries, my past… Despite all of that, I feel like I’ve been in a really good place. My body is finally starting to match my soul. And though they both might have scars, there’s a wholeness in that which is indescribable.

I just want to run, full speed with arms wide open. Metaphorically, for now, of course.

Back at it.

We are two weeks into this new academic year, and let me tell you, it has been a little bit of a whirlwind.

Coming back after taking a semester off provided a lot of challenges. We discovered issues in my financial aid (being over-awarded a couple years ago in my post-bacc work and only now having that be brought up). Having a lot of input regarding my course schedule from my professors. Getting a new advisor, who happens to be our new department chair. And the simple fact that it has only been three — three — months since I had major surgery. (Hi. I’m kind of exhausted.)

Oh. And yeah. The big one: we changed my entire thesis focus on the second day of the semester.

My new advisor was concerned with my schedule, and a lot of professors had opinions on which courses I should be taking and what was deemed a good use of my time. I respect their opinions tremendously, but I was starting to get overwhelmed. It seemed like everyone wanted me to drop one of the classes I really wanted to take. At the time, this course had nothing to do with my thesis topic, so I can see exactly where they were coming from. But I was stubborn. A month or so earlier I was having to justify the importance of my internship, and here I was defending a methods course for pretty much the same reason: to prepare me for a job, not a PhD. So after talking with my advisor, she pointed out that it seems pretty obvious that museum and museum related things are my passion — so why was that not my thesis focus?

Our department had essentially got rid of our museum program, so I was always just told we don’t do museum studies here. And we still technically don’t. But I had to make a choice: food studies or museums. When I finally was honest with myself, the answer was easy. It was my love of museums that brought me to this field, and as fun as a PhD sounds, I was always looking at museum jobs first.

We’re still working on the specifics of my research focus, but it’s coming together. It’s been this huge relief. As my mentor puts it, I’ve got a new old thesis now.

It’s good to be back on campus, even despite any frustrations because honestly they’re small and inconsequential. I’m excited about getting started on my new thesis work. I’m loving my internship. It’s great being back with my professors, and my new advisor is just a good fit for me. The faculty, department staff, and even the campus administration have all just been so supportive and helpful in my return. I’m ready to get this done. I’m not going to let anyone or anything derail me from this.

Kind of crazy to believe that at this point next year I should have that fancy piece of paper in my hands and be headed towards a new career.

Currently…

Feeling: Super tired and a little sick. Ate something that didn’t agree or some sort of weird summer stomach bug hit me… But other than that… I’ve hit 2-months post-hysterectomy. And in that regard? I. feel. amazing. No endo pain for 2 months? What’s that? I’d love it if the fatigue would go away for good. It’s a holdover from the surgery. But it’ll still another 4 months, at least, until my body is completely recovered from all of this. Between the surgery and just years and years of endo, there’s been a lot of trauma in my body. I just have to be patient with it while I heal.

Watching: On Netflix – Father Brown. On Hulu – Miranda. And of course, to no one’s surprise, I’m still spending most of my day on Twitch with friends. One friend streams about 10 hours a day on most weekdays, so I’m there a lot. Then I’ve got my Canadian friends who stream intermittently. My west coast dear friend, who keeps me up late at night so I can hangout with her. And then just a handful of other awesome people and friends that I try to catch whenever I can. There have definitely been times where I’ve had 4-5 different streams open at one. (Thank you, multi-twitch sites, for existing.)

Playing: I’ve been trying to save Breath of the Wild for streams, but I’m still going pretty decently at it. Also doing a lot of Stardew Valley now. I’m in my second year, have 4 chickens, 4 cows… and I’ve named them all for Twitch friends. We’re also doing some Golf With Friends in the evenings every so often. It’s a lot of yelling and chaos and I love every minute.

Listening To: Ok, so ignore the title… but the “In need of a hug” station on Google Play Music. Was kind of feeling meh one night, and gave it a go (remembering that I’d listened to it a long time ago and seemed to like it then)… and yeah, I just really like the artists they have on there. I do end up getting a lot of repetition on this playlist, but for now I’m ok with that.

Reading: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. Thanks to Kate, I signed up for Book of the Month Club… and so far I’m loving my picks. This one is broken up into small journal entries, so it really fits into my life right now. (And yes, that is a referral link so we both get goodies when you sign up.)

Working on: papers that should have been done a while ago. It’s been kind of hard getting myself to sit and work on them. I think half the issue is I’ve been stuck in my apartment since February… so this is not a place of focus or productivity. Now that my car’s working again (which also was down since February), I can head out and maybe get some work done elsewhere… However, my budget is a little borked because of my fall roommate changing her move in date twice now. (I get things come up, I don’t fault her for that… but now I have 2 months where I was expecting to split rent that I’ve had to pay for by myself.)

Thinking about: all the things I want to do with my stream!* Pre-my roommate changing her move-in date again, I bought an elgato game capture and a second monitor for my laptop. I love having the extra screen space. It’s definitely helping for a lot of things. However, now I want yet another monitor, another camera, a nice mic, new headphones, a better desk chair, and of course, a dedicated streaming/gaming PC. (Honestly, the PC would be top priority, but holy crap those things cost even more than my Mac did!)

Craving: motivation. I need to get some stuff done. But yeah. No can focus.

Looking forward to: getting my office set up on campus. Also working on events with some Twitch friends. Little over a week ago a friend and I hosted a Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds tournament. It was a little stressful at times, but it was so much fun. Now we’re looking at doing more events and I’m excited to where that’s going.

Making me happy: boys. lol. I mean, it’s more than that. But I just have to giggle that not really giving any time or all that much thought or interest in a particular person for like 3-5 years**, I now have two crushes. One of them knows. We talked recently and discussed how much we enjoy flirting with each other, but yeah, I really don’t think anything is actually going to come of any of this. There’s just a lot of other factors involved, and yeah, as much as any of that could be fun… realistically we’ll probably just stay friends who flirt a lot. Frankly it’s been a nice distraction from every thing else. As for the other one? Not sure if he knows. I’ve just sort of been letting that one happen slowly. If an occasion comes up where it would feel ok to just say “hey, I like you,” then maybe I will. But for now, I’m ok with him just being an attractive friend. They’re both great guys.

And quite honestly, as much as the crushes amuse me… It’s my Twitch Fam that’s really been making me happy. After 20SB died out — and ok, yeah, I withdrew before it actually closed — I’d been kind of sad about not having my community. I tried other blogger groups and stuff, but nothing really clicked as much as I wanted. But my twitch group? Those are my people. My core group is small, but I’m ok with that. They are people I care about, and people who care about me. A few of us have been talking about doing some trips together. There’s talks of hockey games, airsoft weekends, and even Vegas.

How’s summer going for everyone so far?

*I made Twitch Affiliate a few weeks ago. I would really love to find a way to increase the amount of streams I do, but I’m a little nervous about that with school coming up. I just need to figure out my schedule and try to stick with that.
**For real though, yeah.. it’s been a real long time before I’ve actually gotten excited about a guy. And to suddenly be excited about two different guys? Yeah… thanks universe. But yay for having decent AND attractive guys in my life?

Recovery Updates: Or, how I ended up in emergency surgery last week…

Guys. … I suck at recovery.

I thought I was doing all right. I thought I had slowed down, cut back on doing everything and stopped bending as much… I got a big shot of reality and NOPE last week, however.

We’re not exactly sure what happened. I was watching netflix, stood up, and (ok maybe it starts getting TMI), but it felt like I peed myself. So I went to the bathroom, maybe I just wasn’t listening to my bladder and it was fuller than I thought. However… that wasn’t the case. (If pee wasn’t TMI for you before, this next part might be. And I get that, and I’m 100% ok if you’d rather just check out the TMI;DR insta version or even just this video of kittens.)

It was blood.

This wasn’t just typical healing up spotting like to be expected. It was nonstop, with clots. I called my mom, explained that I needed to go to the ER, then went to find new clothes to wear. I had almost filled an entire pad in that time, so decided to spend the rest of the time waiting for my mom on the toilet. It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t necessarily comfortable either. And I’m pretty sure I was in shock a little, because I was way calmer than I probably should have been.

The ER was busy — as, sadly, our local ER tends to be when you actually need it. As we sat and waited, we overheard that people had been waiting hours. I was actively bleeding, worse when I was standing, and already starting to feel a little light headed at times. Thankfully (for me), I jumped the line and got in somewhat quickly given how busy they were. I kind of felt bad for everyone else waiting — like the pregnant lady who had a small metal splinter in her foot. Anyway. I got in, a nurse checked in on me, then a medical assistant. The room was badly laid out and didn’t have a stirrup bed, so my exam was painful and awkward. More so given the still constant bleeding and clotting.

My doctor was out, so they had to call in the on-call OBGYN specialist from his office. She got me on a stirrup bed and confirmed what the MA thought — I had ripped/popped a suture from my hysterectomy. They removed several golf ball sized clots. It was a mess and just gross. There were two options: try to stitch me up right there in the room, or send me to emergency surgery. Because of the amount of blood — my new doctor called it a “waterfall” of blood — stitching up in the room was not an option. (Which, so grateful because that did not sound appealing at all.)

From the time I started bleeding until I got into the OR, it had been about 4 hours. Four hours of actively bleeding and going through 3-4 or more pads an hour (though we eventually gave up changing them). The surgery was about maybe 2 hours. At least from when I went in until I woke up in recovery. While I woke up easier this time, but was in a lot of pain. However, like last time, I had to pee like crazy. But this time they had taken out my catheter. No matter how I tried, I could not pee. Finally in my observation room, my nurse set me up enough that I could. But I was still calling her every 10-20 minutes. So we ditched the bedpans and I have never been that happy to see or use a real toilet. After that and losing the packing, I was actually feeling pretty good given everything that had just happened.

Since getting home, most of my pain has been muscle and joint pain. Felt like I got hit by a bus. I also had (and still have) a sore throat from having to have a breathing tube again. Since this surgery was unplanned, it meant no prep — I had food in my system from lunch… They had to apply a little pressure to my throat to keep me from essentially getting food in my lungs. It’s one of the last things I remember before the anesthesia knocked me out.

I wish I could say everything has been going peachy since then. I came home very “no bending, no doing thing” … and then just days later I’m back doing things like before I ripped my stitches. Rather than trying to decide on something else to eat, I still reach for the pan in dishwasher I’m not supposed to be reaching for. Rather than just letting things wait, I reorganized the linen closet to make room for all the stuff from the bathroom that no longer has a place thanks to getting a newer (and bigger) water heater in the bathroom closet. “It’s just plastic shopping bags,” I told myself. But it was a whole trash bag full of shopping bags and that’s a lot of bending. The hardest thing is the cats. The roommates were never perfect about remembering to check their bowls, or understanding the nuances of my cats not liking crumbs and thus thinking a bowl is empty even when it doesn’t appear to be. Maybe I could let the other things go, but it’s hard making my cats wait until I could ask for help getting them fed.

It’s sort of this combination of pride and distrust. I can’t bring myself to just ask someone else to keep doing all this stuff for me day in and day out. This feeling of things out of place has such a hold on me that I can’t just let things wait until I’m healed or even ask if someone else can take care of it… And I want to trust that my roommate (I’ve only got one now), would help me with anything I ask… But… She’s busy and has her own things going on, too… And maybe I’m just out of sorts with anxiety, but after a while the joking sighs or “fine/whatever/I guess I’ll help”-s… well.. I start worrying that maybe she is tired of helping. I don’t want to be a burden. But I also know I just should — can’t — be doing stuff like this. If I keep this up, I’m going to end up hurting myself or ripping my stitches again.

I just wish the risk of that was enough to get myself out of my own head and just stop for the next few weeks. No matter how much I tell myself to stop doing things… it’s like I can’t. But I’m going to have to… somehow… I’ve got to let myself heal.

How are birthdays supposed to go again?

Do I blog birthdays? How is this all supposed to go again? Does this mean I’m getting old?

Tuesday was my birthday, and to celebrate turning 33… I did pretty much nothing.

Ok, that’s not 100% true, but still. This was pretty much one of the most low-key (ie, kind of boring) birthdays I’ve had in recent memory. So, yeah, the “not good luck” with birthdays thing is one thing… This wasn’t that. We just didn’t really plan anything this year. I got texts or calls from all of my parents, and all but one of my siblings. I spent the day on Twitch watching video games, watched the Nintendo E3 spotlight, and then ended the night ordering a pizza. I got the typical facebook messages, and a few gaming friends sent some games. Went to bed and that was it.

The Saturday before, though, my dad, stepmom, brother & his girlfriend, three nieces, and three of my four sisters took me out to eat. (And if you’re counting, including myself, that’s 11 people.) Nothing fancy, and we didn’t even bug the waitstaff to get me a free dessert at the cost of mildly embarrassing singing. Afterward we all came back to my apartment, to my roommates’ surprise. My dad and brother fixed my vaccuum. The twins (3 1/2 years old) bombarded my roommates. And my cats hid the entire time.

And that’s been it in regards to any “celebrating.” My gram sent over a cake — a cherry & pineapple cake with walnuts and coconut (tasted good, but… not my thing). Both of my roommates forgot until sometime late in the evening — prompted mainly because I was getting a lot of texts and phone calls. “Wow, you’re popular tonight.” “Yeah, I wonder why…” 

My mom and I will still go out to eat, maybe tonight or tomorrow. And that’ll basically conclude any attempts at “birthday-ing.” The last two years, I’ve gone out to my favorite Chinese place for dumplings. First with my family, then the next year with friends from school. Not sure if I’ll get dumplings this year — though, boy do I love them! But if it’s just going to be my mom and I? I might go for steak maybe. Or maybe the good Thai place. Regardless, I want to stop by the local bakery and get myself either a massive cupcake or a maple bacon donut.

Because no matter how low-key a birthday is… you need some sort of pastry to celebrate for it to be official.

* I also got some Halo Top birthday cake ice cream. Which was just ok. Didn’t get a big cake-y taste… also, is it supposed to have sprinkles or something in it? I’ve seen 2.

** Also, with this being a Recovery Birthday, the low-key thing isn’t really a surprise. But yeah. Still kind of boring.

How to Survive a Hysterectomy

Important disclaimer and such: I am in no way a medical professional and none of this should ever replace actual medical information. Pretty sure you all already know that, but just putting it out there.

One week ago today, I was rolled into an operating room and woke up with one less internal organ than I’d been born with. As you know, I’ve been dealing with endometriosis for at least 7 years now… Likely longer given that the average time for diagnosis from onset of symptoms is about a decade. Medications and lifestyle changes weren’t really working, and I was sort of running out of options there. (The next level of medication would likely be Lupron, which induces a false menopause. No thank you.) Oh. And also there’s the little matter that my uterus itself was glued* via adhesions to my intestines. So that’s a fun little complication. Given everything going on, something had to go. #GoodbyeUterus 

I had what is called a LAVH — or where they inflate your belly to a giant beach ball, put a few holes in it*, then still pull your baby cooker out through your lady bits and sew everything up. Except the holes, those get glue. It went successfully. There were “extensive” adhesions between the uterus and colon, and apparently also some adhesions between the uterus and the bladder. I got to keep my ovaries and tubes — which as a still young 30-something, neither my doctor nor I were interested in putting me through menopause yet.

Now that I’m a week out of all of this, I’ve got some thoughts/tips on dealing with a situation such as this…

Pre-Op

» The anxiety really is one of the worst parts. For me, getting as much information as I could helped. As well as completely distracting myself (hello 90 hours of Breath of the Wild!).

» Join Hystersisters. While the forum design reminds me of early 2000s with the glitter emotes and all, it is a very good resource for information. Of course, take it all with a little caution, these aren’t medical professionals, just a massive community of thousands of women who’ve had all types of hysterectomies for any and all reasons. I did not find “my tribe” or make any new BFFs from the site, but have appreciated the support. Just be prepared for some women to come off all “well, I’ve had this and now I’m the expert.” I had someone try to educate me on endometriosis despite the fact that she’s never had it.

» Prep the house. For real. You can’t do much after the surgery… so make sure your family, friends, roommate, whomever is on board with taking care of everything else for you. My roommates knew before they moved in that this surgery was being planned and they’d have to spend a few weeks doing all the house work and taking care of the cats. But on top of that, get your spaces set up for your recovery. For me, that’s my bed. Make sure you have enough room for all your stuff (I even had a tray table on the bed for the first 4 days so stuff was in easy reach) and you have plenty of pillows and blankets.

» If you don’t have someone to cook for you, start freezing meals for your first week or so of recovery. I made a lot of soups and stews — granted, two of them didn’t survive — and it makes it easier for my roommate to just take something and heat it up for me rather than have to cook something for me. Go light on salt and grease, and watch the gassy foods. Veggie noodle soup was my favorite just coming home.

» Write down any questions you have for your doctor. Also take notes during the pre-op visits.

At the hospital/Observation

» You’ll spend most of your time pre-surgery having various nurses and doctors coming in to ask you questions and take vitals and hook you up to things. Be completely honest with all of them. Before you know it, they’ll wheel you into the OR, hook you up to more things, and then tell you “ok so in 20 seconds this is going to kick in” and everything will go completely black.

» You may do or say weird things as you come out of anesthesia and start to wake up.  One of the first things I asked about was if I could pee or if I was cathed and could pee… Then the next time I woke up I asked it if was all lap or not — since there was a chance they may have had to switch to an abdominal surgery. Then mostly I was just looking back and forth trying to wake myself up. I’m sure I looked strange, but they’ve probably seen and dealt with stranger.

» Your overnight bag. Ok. So some women go home the same day, others, like me, go home the next, and still some stay for a few days. It depends on the type of procedure and the intensity of what’s going on inside you that they need to remove. I way overpacked. I brought a laptop, iPad, chargers, notebooks, slippers, extra sports bras & underwear, toiletries, slippers, a flannel overshirt, a book… All I used was my cell phone and my charger. (And my insurance & ID cards.) My room had a tv and frankly, if I wasn’t watching HGTV marathons I was talking with visiting family or sleeping.

» You may puke. Make sure the vomit bag is within reach. Between the anesthesia, empty stomach, pain killers, and sweet beverages… yeah… I couldn’t keep things down for most of that first day out of surgery. I think I was more bummed about this because I couldn’t have the rest of my cherry Italian ice (which is considered clear liquid diet approved).

» Use that call button. When I could finally have real food, the orderly put it too far away on my table, and so I stupidly reach and pulled for it to be closer. Bad idea.

» The packing (or as my doctor called it, “the 9-foot tampon”) is the worst. The catheter isn’t fun either, but it helps not having to get up all the time to pee. (And yes, you’ll have to pee all the time. You just won’t really notice because of the catheter. I ask my nurse about this, and she looks over and goes “you’re peeing right now.”)

» You’re supposed to be able to pass gas, pee, and walk on your own before they send you home. I made one bathroom trip and the nurse currently on duty started my discharge papers. My dad made a comment that I looked nervous about all this. YEP. I wasn’t sure I was actually ready yet.

Recovery at Home

» FYI: you use your ab muscles for everything. Everything. They just cut into them, so everything is going to hurt now. Try your best to find a comfy spot and stay there.

» That first poop is going to hurt a lot. Some women compare it to child birth. Not even joking. It’ll probably be a day or three before your first BM, so start some stool softeners. TMI? Well, you just had uterus ripped out of you so… Oh. And yeah. Be prepared to just fart a lot. Gas-X will be your friend. Don’t hold them in.

» Ask for help. I did too much the first few days and regret it. Mentally you’ll feel ready to do everything. Heck, you’ll likely be a little bored, too. But don’t. Let someone else. If people offer to help, let them. Especially when it comes to food. It was a little weird having to depend on my 20-something year old roommates to do everything… but we got over it.

» USE YOUR SPIROMETER. It’s this annoying little breathing exercise thing, but it’s super important for helping with all that trapped gas as well as making sure you don’t get pneumonia. If the hospital didn’t give you one, just be sure to take long, deep breaths.

» Have nightgowns/sleep shirts you like. I slept in my jersey cotton dress for the first two days after surgery. Then finally switched to a stretched out tshirt. Finally my mom bought me a Batman night shirt.

» If you don’t get extra mesh underwear from the hospital (or buy some online), be sure to have larger than your normal sized underwear at home. Make sure the band doesn’t rub on your incisions. Also, apparently you can hand-wash the mesh ones they give you, so maybe don’t just throw them away like I did.

» No matter how much you may want to: do not mess with the surgical glue. I picked off a couple drops that were nowhere near an incision — even the nurses laughed at how messy they were with some of it — but that was it. It’s supposed to dissolve eventually. No scrubbing in the shower either — which is maybe the harder thing to remember.

» If you’re not used to sleeping on your back… Sorry. I’m a side and stomach sleeper. This has not been easy for me. Thankfully I’m too drugged up to care.

» Take and track your pain meds. I’m using an app called Medisafe. It’s not perfect (why I’m not linking them), but it is helping. I want it to be where I just set it to “every X hours” so once I take a pill it’ll let me know when it’s ok to take the next, but I have to set up specific times. Which works ok as long as you’re thinking straight when you set them up.

» Call your doctor’s office if you need to. It’s best they know what’s going on if you have a concern and also they’ll know what to do. Even on weekends, there’s a doctor on call.

» REST. It’s really hard to not do stuff. But your job is to heal. It’s not to worry about the litter box, the trash, the dishes, or the vacuum that someone accidentally broke. REST.

People will think you’re getting so much better before you really are. Which is especially true if you’re like me and don’t always show your physical pain emotionally. One of the roommates commented on day 2 or 3 of my recovery, “Oh, you look like you’re feeling really well!” I laughed. Nope. This hurts. Some of the hyster-sites suggest even when you start to feel a little better, keep dressing like you aren’t — because apparently once you look OK, everyone will treat you like you’re OK.

Most importantly: you don’t have to share any details of this procedure that you don’t want to. Of course, be honest with your doctors and nurses, but you choose to whom and with what information you want to give out. And if you don’t want them to talk about your stuff with others, tell them. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about having a hysterectomy (or any surgery), but it’s your body and your choice.

Overall, the recovery is going well. Yes, I still hurt and get sharp bouts of pain… but overall it’s been well. Especially now that I’m letting myself just rest. Only one incident where one of the cats walked across my incisions, but other than that they, too, have been troopers.

One week down, five more to go.

*My first laparoscopy notes used the words “densely adhered.”
*I was told 3 holes, like my first laparoscopic surgery.. but woke up with 5. The adhesions were a little more intensive than they had first thought.