post gallbladder surgery

Last Wednesday I had that stupid gallbladder removed. I was a bit skeptical about having the procedure because my symptoms weren’t terrible and I had a lot more anxiety about the surgery and recovery than I did about the attacks themselves.

Call me crazy, but I’m just not keen on being cut open. It’s a thing.

A few days before the procedure I had a third attack, though, and realized I’d made the right decision. I did not want to end up in a situation where I had to be rushed to the ER and was glad I’d decided to plan this instead. I was far less anxious about it after that.

Going into the operation I felt pretty good, though the intake nurse kept going on and on about how young I am, which was irritating. I’m a couple months shy of 29, I have two kids, a prominent gray streak, a mortgage and now I drive a goddamn minivan. At what point in this scenario do I qualify for adulthood? Gee, since I’m so young I’ll just be stupidly impulsive and quit my job, drop my kids off at the nearest orphanage and start living like a college kid again! Sounds a lot more fun than gallbladder surgery!

Anyway, annoying hospital staff aside, the surgery itself wasn’t bad (at least I don’t think it was, given I was asleep during the actual procedure.) This was my second time waking up from anesthesia since El was born, and I’d forgotten how much that sucks. Like, why are you making me breathe??? That was the most restful sleep I’ve had in years! I don’t care about breathing right now, just let me sleep. I’m sure you can find another organ I don’t need in there somewhere. Hey, look, I still have my appendix–I don’t need that! Put me under again and let me sleep!

Alas, they made me breathe, and by the time I was conscious enough to speak my first word was, “Hurt.” I had referred pain under my right collarbone from the CO2 they’d used to inflate my abdomen (like a human balloon! Freaky) and my belly felt like it had been hit by a truck. A quick dose of painkillers took care of that, and an hour later I was sitting up, dressed and ready to go. They handed me a prescription for Vicodin and ibuprofen, then sent a very woozy me on my way. When they say “outpatient procedure” they aren’t kidding. I went into the hospital at 5:30 a.m., was in surgery by 7:30, and Tim picked me up at 10:30. They should open up a drive thru for this stuff.

The next couple days were a little rough, mostly because I couldn’t do as much as I wanted. They encouraged me to walk and do stairs to help the healing process, but the first day I was loopy from the anesthesia and narcotics, and the second day I was in pain every time I moved. After several weeks of conditioning myself to get up and move on a regular basis, it was hard to just… sit. Light walking and very slow, deliberate movements were the key to not feeling like crap. Thankfully that passed quickly, and by the third day I no longer needed the Vicodin and the fourth day I was back to my normal activity level.

No more excuses for not being able to change diapers. That didn’t last nearly long enough...

Probably the worst part was/is the incision sites. Even now that they’ve mostly healed and the steri-strips have come off, I have this irrational fear they’ll tear open. *shudder* They freak me out, and I’ll be really happy when they’re fully healed.

All in all, I’m glad it’s out. So far I haven’t had any side effects–I can eat pizza without gastrointestinal distress (obviously that was the end goal here–it’s all about the pizza!) My surgeon explained that I had a small stone lodged in the opening to my gallbladder, ready to throw itself into the abyss and cause all sorts of painful trouble, so it’s a good thing we caught this early and there were no other complications.

fat girl with a fitbit

Remember last October when I started up that exercise routine? And was doing really well and enjoying myself? And then I got knocked up and promptly forgot all about it? Yeah.

I knew I’d need some particularly powerful motivation to get back on the wagon this time. I remember from Ellie’s early days how easy it is to sit around with a snoozy, snuggly baby on my chest.

Then I came across Fitbit and was immediately intrigued. I love me some tech-geeky gadgets; even better if they come with statistics and charts and graphs. I debated with myself… it was expensive, at $100 for the fancy tracker, but I could justify that easily enough. A membership to the local rec center costs $400 a year and I wouldn’t use it every day, not to mention the hassle of having to arrange for childcare, finding a convenient time to go, etc. And I do need to lose a significant amount of weight somehow. Although I’ve yet to encounter major issues as a result of my weight, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’m still relatively young and I have a sneaking suspicion my thirties and forties will not be as forgiving on the health front.

So in short, I decided $100 was a small price to pay for the improvement of my health and clicked the “Buy Now” button.

After a month with the Fitbit, I’ve not been disappointed. It’s a huge motivator–the Fitbit is always with me. If I sit on my ass all day, it knows. And I aim to please my future robot overlords, so I’m always looking for excuses to add steps or floors to my daily totals. At first I was totally beat by the end of the day–if you’re not already living an active lifestyle, 10,000 daily steps is a challenge–but now I find I can’t sit still for very long before I have the urge to get up and do something. It’s a refreshing change compared to the no-energy-to-get-out-of-my-chair feeling I had before.

Another part of this personal project involves tracking what I eat. I’ve done this before, usually without much success. I tend to get obsessive with these things, to the point where one failure equals total failure and epic disappointment. Drama queen, me? Never. But I’m finding it’s not as difficult this time. I’m more forgiving, which I think comes from knowing exactly how active I’ve been. And thanks to Fitbit’s goal program, I realized I actually need to eat more than I thought I did… if I eat too little, my body brings my already snail-like metabolism to a screeching halt and causes all sorts of problems. So this is helpful in ensuring I get the nutrition I need so I can keep my metabolism trundling along. The best part is the food tracker that tells me how many calories I’ve “earned” as a result of my activity level on any given day. If I move more, I get to eat more–awesome.

One of the things that makes Fitbit unique as a fitness gadget is the ability to track not only your daily activity but your sleep patterns as well. In my case, it’s particularly important because we’re often up and down with Gwen at night. I was surprised to find that even on our “bad” nights I’m still usually getting a solid seven hours of sleep. Not bad for having a two-month-old!

The results speak for themselves–I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last month and I feel so much better. I have quite a way to go, but I think I’m going to be able to stick with it this time. The real challenge will come in just under two weeks when I go back to my desk job. I have a feeling it will not be nearly as easy to get my steps and floors in, but I’m already making plans. I’ll cover my current exercise routines and how I plan to stay active in a future blog post.

attack of the stupid gallbladder

Apparently Gwen’s pregnancy did more than just wreak havoc on my bladder, pelvis, stomach and the usual postpartum fare–it brought my stupid gallbladder* out of hiding, and boy is it pissed! Yes, pregnancy and an admittedly rich diet seems to have triggered gallbladder attacks, something I’d never experienced before, something I definitely never wanted to experience for sure. Ow. Thankfully I’ve only had two short episodes in the last week–I hope that means we caught this early.

You’d think having to push a baby out of my vagina and the subsequent sleep deprivation that goes along with having a newborn would have been punishment enough for one maternity leave, but no. Let’s throw a random medical issue into the mix for good fun. And here I was, feeling all smug for having successfully dodged two c-sections.

I’m seeing a surgeon on Friday to go over the ultrasound and (most likely) schedule a cholecystectomy. Of course, I’ve consulted with Dr. Google enough to have some anxiety about the process. Many people say they’ve had easy recoveries but there are enough horror stories out there to make me worry.

(Truth be told, I’m also worried about how this will impact my future ability to eat pizza without gastrointestinal discomfort. Hey, priorities. And I wonder how I got into this mess!)

Tim will also be out of the country (and by that I mean temporarily not on this continent–not just in Canada!) for a week very soon, so I’m already a little (read: a lot) anxious about that. I’m just a giant ball of freak-out these days, really. Thankfully I’ll have help from my parents (love you guys!) and hopefully I can put off the surgery until after Tim gets back so I have his support if the recovery is rough.

Sucky silver lining: I now have something to hold over Gwen’s head when she’s a teenager and driving me batty. With Ellie, I had a 30-something hour labor–easy guilt fodder there. But Gwen’s labor was only 8 hours–not effective for guilt purposes. Instead, I’ll be able to say, “You gave me gallstones–the least you can do is clean your room!”

It's a good thing I'm cute!

It's a good thing I'm cute!

As if to make up for my pain and suffering (cue overly dramatic sigh) Miss Gwen recently decided to sleep through the night, three nights in a row! Seven hours at a stretch! It’s pure sleepytime bliss up in here. I don’t know whether to celebrate or knock on wood to avoid jinxing it, so I’m just going to shut up about that now.

She’s also started smiling! And this is the part where I say it’s hard to believe she’s already a month old, I lament how fast she’s growing up, yadda yadda yadda. *sniffle*

* From here on out, I’m just going to refer to it as “my stupid gallbladder” because that’s exactly what it is. Stupid, stupid gallbladder.

2010 in review

Elspeth's Second BirthdayThe fact that I’m 10 days late with this year in review is appropriate, given how regular I’ve been about blogging lately… which is to say, not regular at all!

One of the things I did start in 2010, albeit a little late, was a regular exercise routine. Since mid-October I’ve exercised every single day in some form or another, and I definitely notice a difference. Without changing my diet drastically, I’ve lost about 10 lbs and I feel so much better about myself. I knew there was a reason I used to do this! I’m sticking to 20 minutes a day of either aerobic stepping with Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution… DDR in particular is a really good workout. That’s one thing I’ll definitely be continuing in the new year.

The other health-related thing I’d like to keep up with: No fast food. I don’t even really like the stuff, but it’s so easy to get into the habit of pulling up to the drive-through when I’m in a rush. Tim and I have made a point of bringing our lunches to work for the last month and it’s greatly helped our budget and health, so this month we’re using the same rule for breakfasts to save even more money.

2010 was a moderately creative year as well. I put all of last year’s doodles in a set and came up with nearly 90 illustrations, which doesn’t even include all the custom design for other clients. Photographically I was also more active in 2010–only 3 shoots total, but that’s a huge improvement over the big fat zero from 2009. And I’m really proud of the work I did produce, so I hope to keep that going this year. And I’m proud of the websites I’ve built for myself this year, even if I haven’t exactly been consistent about updating them!

On a personal note, Tim and I celebrated 10 years together in 2010. We also celebrated Elspeth’s second birthday, and our second year of parenting a toddler–yikes. And we survived our second major home project when we renovated our downstairs bathroom (practically at gunpoint, thanks to water damage and black mold, but still.) I checked an item off my life list when we saw Joshua Radin in concert. We also had our first family vacation and escaped with our sanity mostly intact, which is something.

Phew. I don’t think I realized until now just how busy 2010 was. I have a sneaking suspicion 2011 is going to be just as busy on all fronts. Case in point: There will be potty training.

Bring it on!