Adventures in Losing Your Gallbladder

I tend to update this thing when I have interesting things to say. Lately, there hasn’t been many interesting things happening. We lost the apartment, and I’m back on track saving my pennies in order to move to Los Angeles. Woo.

My attractive hospital outfit and IV'd hand.

However, this past weekend something remotely interesting and intensely painful happened to me. So I thought I’d share it with you all, since I have no filter for TMI apparently. Also because I’m repeating the story a lot to friends and family and it’s just easier to direct them to this URL.

Friday night I had a random stomach issue–this happens to me a lot, and I always assumed I was just allergic to dairy or gluten or something and just didn’t have the motivation to figure it out. Usually I just take a pepto bismol and put on a heating pad and the feeling passes fairly quickly. I texted my friends I had plans with and assured them that though I’d be late, I’d still be able to meet up for drinks. After the pain got so bad that I vomited, I decided I probably wasn’t going anywhere that night. But I fell asleep, and the next day the pain was still there but very dull.

I assumed that my allergies, which had been making me cough uncontrollably for the two weeks prior, had just pulled a muscle in my abdomen and that’s the pain I was feeling. I was also fine on Sunday.

Monday I woke up at 2am with even worse pain than I had on Friday. I ran to the bathroom three times to throw up, even after my stomach was empty. I called my doctor’s office and they said to get me to the ER.

I got to the ER at 6am, and was not seen until 10am. In between vomiting and screaming in pain I took time to appreciate the attractiveness of the hospital intern who administered my morphine and took my blood samples. He was a cutie. I was in no situation to flirt, with my face wedged firmly into a barf bag, but he was nice to look at. I told him it was cool he was a student and getting such hands-on experience with his future career–seriously that’s cool, right?

Once I finally saw the doctor, he sent me to get an ultrasound. I was hoping they’d show me the picture and describe what they were seeing, or print it out so I could take it home and upload it to Facebook and make everyone think I was pregnant as a fun post-medical-emergency-prank, but I was in too much pain to really push the matter. When I got back to my room the doctor told me that not only was my gallbladder chock full of stones–one of which was blocking the bile distribution and thus making me vomit–it was inflamed. So the whole thing had to come out.

This was helpful. My pain went from a 9 pre-surgery to a 5 post-surgery. It's at like a 3 or 4 now.

I didn’t get into surgery until midnight that night. That means I couldn’t eat or drink all day, and I kept fantasizing about apple juice. All I wanted more than anything in the world was a sip of apple juice. But sadly, I was denied. No liquids or foods before surgery. Ugh. Apparently it was a very busy Monday for the hospital. I asked if I could keep the gallstones so that I could make jewelry and put them on Etsy–as my dream is to someday be featured on Regretsy. The anesthesiologist got a chuckle out of that one. He actually tried to save my organ for me so I could take it home but the nurse put the kibosh on that one. Also gallstones are not sturdy enough for jewelry making and are the consistency of cookie crumbs.

Are you hungry yet?

The doctors assured me I’ll be bikini-ready in no time, since the scars will be hardly visible. They actually pulled the gallbladder out through my bellybutton. Sadly this means my stupid human trick of pulling my bellybutton inside out probably won’t work anymore, but it’s a small price to pay for not having a huge scar across my middle. I am grateful for that.

Anyway, the surgery went well, I didn’t get nervous until I was actually on the table and they started to prepare to put me under. When I woke up was the scariest thing, because I began to freak the hell out. I thought I couldn’t breathe. They showed me the screen that showed I was breathing perfectly fine, but since I still had the tube down my throat I thought I was suffocating and would not be calmed. “Ashley, you can cough, if you can cough it means you’re breathing”–this also did not help. They sedated me again, since I was unconsolable. When I woke up from THAT I could breathe just fine and I started crying because I was embarrassed that I’d freaked out so badly.

Later that night when I attempted to use the bathroom for the first time–NOTHING works after you get surgery apparently, it was the most frustrating thing–the nurse brought me apple juice. It was fantastic. Breakfast was chicken broth and it was the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten.

Chicken broth, grape juice, crackers, and Hawaiian Ice, breakfast of champions.

I was sent home at 7pm last night. I am on painkillers, and stuck in bed for the most part. I’m still in a moderate amount of pain, but nothing compared to what my gallbladder was doing to me on Monday. I’m out of work for the rest of the week, but should be back by next week. My plan for the next few days is to sleep a lot, try to walk around as much as I can, and slowly get back to eating real food.

You have no idea how much I’m craving french fries right now.

Thank you everyone for your love and support these past few days. I really appreciated all the calls, texts, emails, and Facebook comments. It’s nice to know I have so many people who care 🙂

I got a smoothie on the way home from the hospital. It was delicious.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here’s my Facebook status, it about sums up how I feel:

“I don’t think I’ve ever actually HATED Valentine’s Day. I’ve been lonely and sad, or disappointed, or a tad cynical at the utter fabrication of a corporate holiday, but I’ve never been like “ARGH! THIS DAY SUCKS!!” Usually I’m knee-deep in construction paper and glitter, making ten times the amount of cards I’ll ever get in return. I guess under all the red and pink and promises of chocolate, it’s just a little reminder to tell the people you care about that you’re thinking of them. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Whether you’re in love, longing for love, or wondering if it even exists at all, you deserve a hug today. And chocolate, lots of it. (HALF PRICE CANDY DAY TOMORROW OH GAWD AM I EXCITED!!)”

Yep. Sadly I didn’t have the time to make handmade cards this year, due to the play I’m in (Treasure Island) taking up ALL of my free time. I’m Anne Bonny, the famous lady pirate. I’m also Job O’Brien, a smaller role but I get to die a bloody death. It’s pretty neat. See picture below for me as Anne:

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But I tried to send out virtual messages the best I could.

Really wish I could celebrate at my favorite sushi restaurant tonight… alas, it is not to be.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Go hug those you love. Get excited to buy all sorts of delicious candy for half price tomorrow, and 75% off by the weekend, if there’s any good stuff left.

Oh and if you’re not busy the next two weekends… come see this show!

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Things I Require In an Apartment

So I’ve now looked at a total of three apartments in The Great Apartment Search. Though I found a seemingly PERFECT one that both my potential roommate and I are in love with—it’s just too expensive to be worth it right now.

We’re mostly looking at apartment complexes, a thing I’d never considered before. They are highly attractive to us because most important things are included in the rent–such as heat, hot water, and in some cases even internet and cable! Plus on-site fun things like a pool or fitness center or various sporting areas.

When I was living in Boston my list of important apartment features was awfully short. It included: Under $700 per person in rent, Close to a T stop, Somewhere I won’t get stabbed.

Visiting these places has made me mentally prepare a list of what is important to me in an apartment search in Middle-of-Nowhere-College-Town-Massachusetts. A bit longer than my Boston list, it is as follows:

-Cheap. I’m a poor post-grad with large monthly student loan repayments. This is a given.

-Cats allowed. If I’m going to become a crazy cat lady someday I better get started.

-Living room required. You may find this silly, but I recently viewed an apartment sans-living room. I actually looped the apartment twice just to make sure I didn’t miss it. A living room is necessary because I get nothing done in my room and I fear I will become a cat-lady-esque lump (covered in cats, of course) if it was the only space in the house I could occupy… unless watching hours of youtube clips is considered productive. In that case I’ll be a very productive cat lady indeed.

-Halfway between work and where I live now, at LEAST. This 45 minute drive is KILLING me and I cannot for the life of me find a suitable morning radio show now that my favorite morning duo has been let go. Oh, and gas is a factor I guess too.

-All inclusive is a BIG plus. Not just from a cost perspective, but from an organizational standpoint. I am a bit scatterbrained when left to my own devices—I still don’t know how I manage to pay nine different bills each month in my loans alone, let alone my phone and car payments as well. One big bill for my living space and all it includes is IDEAL.

-Pool. Fitness center. Preferably in one of those apartment complexes near Umass where all the grad students live… where I can hang out in my swimsuit or form-fitting exercise clothes and pretend I can swim/know what I’m doing in a fitness setting while flipping my hair flirtatiously… do you see where I’m going with this?… Granted, I’m picturing the men’s crew team all living in a town house and spending their free time in the pool when I know the reality is it will probably be overrun with screaming children from the family half of the complex the managers keep telling me exists (trying to convince me these places are not JUST overrun with rowdy college undergrads)…

-One of the following: Tennis court, volleyball court, basketball court, hiking trails. For the reasons listed above, but also because hey. Maybe I want to learn tennis someday.

I like to cook things. So a functional kitchen would be nice. Also a dishwasher, because I am lazy.

-No landlord on site, so that I can have friends over and occasionally pretend I’m still a rowdy college student—but then again I’d also not like to be surrounded by rowdy college students because I’d like to be rowdy on my own terms and sleep when the spirit moves me. Ideally, we would be sandwiched between one to two other apartments of similarly-minded 20-something-aged women and, as menstrual cycles can align given enough time together in close quarters, so will our partying/non-partying tendencies.

-Parking. Toto, we’re not in Boston anymore. In middle-of-nowhere-Massachusetts, you need your wheels.

-Laundry. I’m not picky–it doesn’t have to be in the apartment itself. In the building would be nice. Considering my Boston apartment charged $4 to wash and $4 to dry, I’m pleased that though most places we’ve seen do indeed charge for use of the machines at least it’s under $2.

-The complexes on the bus line that go to the center of town are attractive, but only if the bus magically runs until after the bars close. If not, it’s of no use to me.

Odds of finding something that includes all of this? Slim to none. The complexes sound great, in theory, which means they potentially are not. Maybe our perfect apartment will magically become affordable or we’ll both spontaneously get raises and all will be well. But until then, we continue our search.

The Art of Losing

Another short I wrote. 

This one is entirely fictional. I was overly excited to lose my baby teeth and the shiny coins that resulted in the tooth fairy’s visit. And I wasn’t born with a full set of teeth, though fun fact: I was born with a full head of hair.

I think this is week but I like my imagery here. I think I need to extend the metaphor and put it in something bigger to make any concrete sense though.

—-

The Art of Losing

I had my baby teeth. I had every one at birth, I hear this is rare. Small,white pearls with tiny edges, just sharp enough—I lost them. They were mine; I knew the roots went deeper than the soft flesh of my gums. They were a part of my skull, circling my brain and keeping me safe.  They left.

When the first twisted loose I screamed—I didn’t care that the tip of the next tooth was already poking through the skin, twice as sharp, ready to take its place and then some. The baby tooth would never come back. I pressed it into the roof of my mouth and screamed at the pain, blood dripping down my chin. It wouldn’t stay. My mother told me to place it under my pillow, everything would be better in the morning. I couldn’t sleep, I kept poking the empty space with my tongue and tasting the soft metallic flavor of my raw gums, hating the bump that grew there and wishing for my tooth, my tooth back. In the morning I threw the quarter across the room and cried. By the time the last one fell I was used to the empty space, but refused to welcome it.

My tonsils were next. I didn’t even know what they were, why they were in my body to begin with. Enflamed, they wanted to leave me. They weren’t pushed as my baby teeth were, they weren’t leaving to make space for something new. The spot in my throat where they did whatever bodily function they were made to do would remain empty forever.  I was supposed to be pacified by ice cream. I wasn’t.

Your appendix is somewhere else now too. There is a dead end in your body, a tube that now leads to nowhere. The purged organ floats carelessly in its jar, freed of its obligations to you. It’s better this way, you know this, or so they tell you. Green-tinted in formaldehyde, it’s admired for what it used to do, not what it is now. It might be forgotten entirely.

We’re all missing pieces. There are roads in us that end abruptly where there used to be something else. Empty spaces that used to have, and now have not. We fit together this way I suppose, our dead ends and missing pieces fill the spaces in each other. When the tooth is pulled, sometimes there isn’t a new one to replace it. False teeth will never be real ones.

My baby teeth were mine. I lost them, but they once clung to my gums as strong as iron. I can try to believe that they never were there to stay, but it never gets easier.

There were other things that were mine too. All as seemingly strong and as painfully temporary as baby teeth.

A Thing I Wrote a While Ago

I wrote this while still in college. I like it, I’m just putting it here so that I don’t lose it. I’m going to post a couple of these, just for fun. Just to save.

Semi-fictional. I wrote it after I had lunch with an ex, where upon getting in my car I wondered why the hell I had lunch with my ex in the first place. I suppose it was that moment we all have after we’ve entirely exhausted all emotions for a person and we realize we really have moved on.

It was a new sensation for me. I used to be one of those girls who waited and cried herself to sleep hoping the person would magically start caring again. It always seemed like it took forever to move on. I wasn’t able to stop caring. I can do that now, not immediately, but after some time the feelings do fade and life stops feeling impossible.

Oh how badly this needs editing, hah.

Anyway. Here ya go.

—-

Amputee

They say that a limb will ache for years after it’s been detached from the body. An amputee will feel the tingle of their toes when their leg ends at the knee. Your shoulder will itch when the bone is not there, and never will be there again.

The heart has phantom limbs too, I think.

I remember how much it hurt:  It was as if the pain extended like an arm from within my rib cage, red and raw, reaching up to my throat and strangling me. My eyes watered. I screamed in a drunken stupor: How can you just stop loving someone? while I tangled myself around the fluffy pink rug in my new apartment, a phone in my hand making calls I shouldn’t have made after two bottles of wine and a very broken heart and a world that was suddenly so impossible.

This night the pain was far away, but I felt like I could still feel it humming. Sitting across from him, discussing our lives and where they were now. You hurt me, once, my brain said quietly as I separated my salad into the things I liked best, in order: avocado, beets, tomato. He even looked different.

And so we made the small talk that people make when they have nothing in common anymore besides a single year together that happened a while ago.

Don’t be the least bit annoyed that he’s an hour late, I told myself. Don’t flinch when he doesn’t remember a movie you saw together, only vaguely wonder if he’s seeing someone new, laugh about things that are funny, and don’t be nervous. You know each other too well to be nervous, even if it’s been a while. You’re not the crazy girl that made that phone call, you’re not. you’re not. you’re not. Let him see it?

Look how well I’m doing. Look how better I am without you… Am I doing this right?

The arm that used to strangle me began to itch a little, the lightest of fingers brushing across my throat, not because you miss him, I reminded myself. It was almost worse, somehow. It’s because you don’t miss him, I realized.

And somewhere, sometime before I’d eaten all the beets I hear the answer I screamed in my heartbreak months before: How do you just stop loving someone?

How?—You just do. It’s slow, never all at once, but you just do. And you can’t even remember when or how it happened.

The missing limb tingles sometimes, but it’s fuzzy and far away and long, long gone.

Holidays Are Upon Us, and a Happy Festivus to You!

Didn’t think I’d be going through a breakup immediately prior to the holidays, but here we are. My inability to let go of people makes it a bit more difficult than most I think–it was only two months, it shouldn’t have meant much, and though my crying-my-eyes-out phase was confined to a single day it still kind of stings. I suppose it could just be the onset of being alone on the holidays making the world feel that much more lonely.

Need to find something to do on New Years. Copious amounts of champagne (Barefoot Pink Bubbling Moscato is my new guilty pleasure, shuttup) and potentially someone to slobber over when the ball drops sounds like a lovely idea. Need to get on that.

Anyway. New Years Resolutions, here we go:

-Lose 10 lbs before California (hah, that involves going to a gym, doesn’t it? Money’s on this one going down the toilet awfully quick)

-Get the heck to California (savemoneysavemoneysavemoney)

-Blog more–weekly at LEAST–on both this and Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine, and therefore COOK MORE. 2 New Recipes a Week.

-Find motivation, get more things accomplished in a full, timely manner. Eliminate distractions.

-Figure out if I need anxiety meds and/or a therapist. This seems like a rather important thing I’ve been putting off. I should probably get up-to-date with all my doctor-y things ASAP as I only have another one and a half years left on my parents’ health insurance…

-Get rid of the toxic people in my life–the people and “fenemies” that do nothing but bring me down. If you can’t be happy for my accomplishments, if you make up excuses to not see me or care about my life the way I care about yours, if you can vent to the end of the Earth about your daily annoyances but won’t show me the same patience, or if you just make it your daily mission to somehow bring me down, I’m sorry but out you go. No room for false and fairweather friends, it’s time to grow up.*

I’ve found that, because I constantly need to surround myself with people, I often have trouble letting people go. Even when they clearly WANT to go. It’s taking a lot to not call up certain people and try just one. more. time. But I know I’ve tried, and tried too much, and that it’s their turn to try, and if they don’t want to, I suppose that’s on them.

I’ve found that nobody can make you happy but yourself, and next year will be about trying to find my happy. Being comfortable with myself again–in a way I haven’t known since freshman year of college–and letting life take me where it will, without me worrying and trying to plan out every last detail. Life will happen and I’ll be everything I want to be, and it will happen just when it needs to.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Hope they are filled with joy and happiness and just a dash of stress to keep it all interesting.

let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
go

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go
dear

so comes love

~ e. e. cummings 

 

*A couple people in mind, none with all the above traits together (at least I hope). But, knowing me, I’m a fan of second chances and even thirds and fourths, so this one will truly be hard to stick to.

Guess a Skimpy costume was the Least of my Worries…

Just an update that I survived the crazy Halloweekend snow storm that we got out here. In case you weren’t aware, the Northeast was hit hard by a Nor’easter, dropping 12 inches of heavy, wet snow onto the trees. Since the trees hadn’t lost all their leaves yet, the snow stuck to them and weighed them down–snapping most like twigs. In the pitch black we listened while we heard cracking limbs falling and hoped they wouldn’t fall through our roof… definitely scary.

My house is still without power (since Saturday), but we’re making do with our fireplace and camp stove. It’s definitely uncomfortable, but live-able and I’m glad we didn’t get too too much damage. Hopefully the power will be back on shortly, but with millions of homes in the Northeast without power it’s not hugely likely that we’ll get ours back before the suggested Friday deadline. My work is located in one of the places that re-gained power quickly, so I have a place to keep me warm for most of the day at least!

I have some crazy pictures of the damage. Trees were fallen over or broken apart everywhere, and so many power lines down. It was definitely a scary night and I’m glad that my friends and family are all okay! I’ll be posting soon.