Saturday, April 20, 2024

Updates of All Kinds

Hello from my Tortured Poets Department listening party! I'm still untangling the songs from one another to determine my favorites, but so far, I just like listening to all 31(!) on repeat while I go about my day.
Recovery update: I feel 100%. I know that I'm not really, because when I do things like take a slow 2.5 mile walk (my watch is so confused; I'm getting messages like: "your pace has changed" "who are you? blink twice if you need help") and make one trip outside the house I then sleep like a rock for 11 straight hours that night, but I really do feel good. My biggest struggle is remembering that I had major surgery only 7-9 days ago and I'm still not supposed to lift heavy things or push myself too hard (like by using this time at home to reorganize every closet, which I'm totally doing anyway, but you know, carefully, and making James do any lifting).

Cora ended up sick all of last week, so my snuggle in at home and watch grown-up garbage TV time was severely curtailed, but I did learn more than I ever wanted to know about the ruthless world of wild cats through all of her documentaries. They are so sad you guys. Cora told me I'm too sensitive for the real world. This is 100% true and probably explains my fictional reading preferences. I finally made her watch Incredibles 1 and 2 with me, plus the two newee Jumanjis, and she was like, ok this was fun, but can we get back to educational viewing now?
Luckily she went back to school on Friday so I could watch all of season 1 of Hollywood Houselift with Jeff Lewis from my couch as my recovery plan intended. I love a house show and the clients and results are fun. I'm obsessed with Ashley Simpson-Ross and Evan Ross's new bedroom in season 1. Moose even subbed in for Milo's nursing duties and reluctantly watched an episode with me. As you can tell, he was really excited about it.
I'm also caught up on the new season of Top Chef (love! it's in Wisconsin and Kristin is doing a great job as host; my mom came over for the day on Monday and we watched every episode out so far and then craved pretzels and cheese afterward), Loot Season 2 (also LOVE; hate that they're making me wait a week between episodes; don't they know my real life is looming and this is my narrow opportunity for binging?), Ghosts (so fun; finished every season), and a re-watch of Seasons 1-4 of the West Wing because it's my comfort show and I slept through 90% of the watch party in my early days of recovery.

I also organized and edited my photos from August-present and uploaded them into Shutterfly so I can start on the next year's photobook at my convenience. And ordered a few large prints for some new frames in the house. We had an appointment with a local AV company and they'll be here next week to install speakers, wifi access points, and a new TV upstairs. We've met with a landscaper twice to go through our plan for the front yard: new drainage/irrigation system, a parking spot for Landon that doesn't require me to call him everytime I pull up to yell "move your car so I can get in the garage!", a sidewalk, some raised planters, and plants we cannot kill. These are the two final projects for the house and I'm excited to get them going. We were supposed to do the front yard project last year, but I spent that budget item on Taylor Swift tickets (#noregrets), and now I'm glad we waited because having a third driver (and knowing a fourth isn't far behind) has really changed our needs for the front of the house and this new plan is going to be so functional and great.

Speaking of functional and great, I've decided to finish organizing our master closet- the front part is perfect but the back is just plastic bins and the two feet I gave James for all his clothes. He's recently re-discovered that he likes looking nice when he goes out into the world, so I'm re-working the closet to allow for the non-workout-wear I'm hoping he'll buy. Two dressers and two shoe racks have now been purchased and are in-route to our house. He doesn't yet know the new closet plan involves assembling two IKEA dressers, but I'm sure he'll be so excited when he finds out.

On Wednesday I took advantage of my reclusive recovery life and got a photofacial with medium depth chemical peel. As I've written before, I LOVE an IPL/photofacial. I think they are by far the most effective way to improve skin: the procedure is short, there's little downtime, it's non-invasive, and my skin truly glows for a good year after. I had been missing the place I used to go in Fort Worth and was delighted to get a recommendation for a woman in Dallas. She was aggressive but incredibly knowledgeable and clinical. She recommended adding the chemical peel, which I've never done, and it was definitely an intense experience. I'm currently in my shedding stage (like a snake, I told my confused children who wondered why my face was falling off) and I'm excited to see results in a few more days.

Today I'm off to the salon to get a haircut (I scheduled this appointment at my last appointment, like a real grown-up who is now getting her hair cut more than once a year) and my first ever hair dye! We're experimenting with covering my grays that appeared out of nowhere and have multiplied since. I will never keep up with a true hair dye routine and don't really want to; I love the color of my hair and get compliments from strangers all the time, but I'd like to start figuring out a good way to basically keep the color I have. I think today involves a glaze? Or icing? It was something dessert-adjacent. We shall see.

I've also pretty much gotten back to work. Still from home, but I pulled down my out of office message yesterday because it felt more annoying than helpful. I'm very glad for my complete abdication of my email inbox for week 1 after my surgery- I've looked back at text messages I sent that week and I have NO memory of receiving or responding to them, so I'm thankful I had temporarily deleted my work email app from my phone completely. Last week I eased my way in to my inbox. I'm on a new matter I'm genuinely excited about that may have me heading to Houston next week, but it's by choice. And I'm taking the cushy Vonlane bus instead of a plane to be more gentle with myself.

But all in all, things are very good. The humans are good and the pets are perfect. I leave you with this convo I had with a good friend (who I originally met through this blog! 15-ish years ago?) on Monday:
Don't worry little organs, I plan for the rest of you to stay put.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Putting all the T in the TMI

Reporting in post-surgery, down one uterus and a cervix, up a few more holes in my abdomen, and post-good IV drugs and a million hours of sleep.

It's Day 3. My pain is very low and managed with the extra-strength ibuprofen. My middle is a little swollen and generally just feels weird/off. I've taken two short walks, one yesterday and one today, and slept for 2-3 hours after each. I've taken two showers, one yesterday and one today, and slept for at least an hour after those too. Sleeping is kind of my thing right now. Sleeping, healing, and not tracking the few email conversations I read enough to trust myself to respond to any of them.
This hysterectomy was a long damn time coming. In a world without health insurance approvals and doctors who like to start with the non-most-invasive option possible I would have done this about 8 years ago when I reconciled myself to the fact that Cora was our last baby. I'm going into the whole story here because I think women's stories are important and not talked about or studied nearly enough, but this is your warning if the title wasn't enough.

My periods got worse after each pregnancy. After Landon, an IUD kept them in check. After Claire it was an IUD + continuous birth control. After Cora it was an IUD + stronger continuous birth control. I'd been on some form of birth control since I was 18 and never had an issue, so using two kinds at once to keep periods away didn't bother me as long as it worked. And it did work and it didn't bother me for a pretty long time.

And then, about 2.5 years ago I started getting yeast infections. I'd get them treated and a few days later they'd come back. Then my skin, which in the last few years has become highly reactive, decided to develop a contact allergy to yeast, which means the cycle of yeast infection + contact dermatitis + yeast infection was unending and deeply, deeply awful. My pelvic floor decided to get involved and became WAY overactive, basically trying to shut down anything that might try to ever touch me. Sex, which is my very favorite thing, became painful and nearly impossible. I developed vulvar eczema in reaction to the creams and medicines, so basically my entire pelvic area was flipping the fuck out.

I saw my gynecologist many times, a dermatologist, a vulvar dermatologist, and a pelvic floor physical therapist (amazing; that therapy should be covered for all women, I can't believe I hadn't been to one before). After 2 years of trying to figure out why everything that had been working fine for fifteen years suddenly went haywire and the vulvar dermatologist (who I loved and was amazing, but is the only one in Dallas and it took nearly a year to get in to her) suggested it could be a long term reaction to hormonal birth control.

I went off it and the skin conditions improved tremendously but the periods were out of control and I simply refuse to have that level of monthly carnage in my life. So we did an ablation. We combined it with removing both of my fallopian tubes because once they've scraped and burned out your uterine lining you absolutely cannot get pregnant. So I did that in November. It was an outpatient procedure, I took off a couple days of work, didn't really tell anyone, and all was fine.

Except the periods didn't change. AT ALL. Turns out, in rare cases (OF COURSE), an ablation will "fail" due to adenomyosis, where the uterine lining has at some point decided to grow into the muscular wall of the uterus, and so I finally just got to take the whole thing out. The doctor was able to do it laparoscopically and my ovaries remain with me, so I don't have to worry about HRT or early menopause. I no longer have a cervix, so I no longer have to do pap smears or worry about cervical cancer. I can't get uterine cancer any more either and my risk of ovarian cancer goes way down, so that's nice.

My poor abdomen has three new incisions and hopefully been cut into for the last time. My insides feel swollen and a little confused. I'm home for the rest of April, exclusively resting for this week, and then likely increasingly working from home over the next few. It's amazing what surgery takes out of you. My pain is well managed and I feel pretty good, but I sleep a lot and it is clear it's the only thing my body really wants to do. I'm not supposed to lift anything over 3 pounds, and I can't do cardio for at least 6 weeks or have sex for 12, but I'm just glad to be at the end of what has been a very long journey involving way too many tests and scrapes and stirrups.

And now, back to sleep.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Total Eclipse of the Heart

You guys. My week of travel was great and terrible and so fucking long.
(Picture from Landon on Easter morning, giving up on ever finding his Easter basket. Also me, last week.)

I flew to DC Monday morning. Flight was fine. I was on calls up until boarding, answered emails through the flight, and had a Zoom as I was in the Uber. I did get to have dinner with a good friend and client in DC. The friend label meant I could exercise the friend-exception to my "no drinking mid-week or at work events" rule, but only with one glass (a lovely rose) because I had a few more hours of work to do at the hotel. It was a lovely little respite though. Meeting up with friends, clients, and other contacts on work travel helps personalize the travel, which can sometimes be lonely.

Sadly, Monday was the last day I got to utilize the walkability of any city I was in (though I did walk 2+ miles to the dinner, which always makes me very happy) as it poured rain for much of Tuesday.

I worked out of our DC office, hosted a women's initiative lunch, had a 4 hour video call, and then raced off to the SEC alumni happy hour that ASECA always hosts after the PLI SEC Speaks program. As always, it was really wonderful to see friends, new and old, and lots of former colleagues.
I was supposed to attend the dinner, but talked to so many people during the happy hour that I skipped the dinner to grab a meal with a different good friend and attendee and then went straight to the airport to fly to NYC. That flight took off at 10 pm, landed at 11 pm, and I was at my midtown hotel at 11:30. Sleep was elusive, so I worked for a bit, prepping for the presentation I had the next morning.

Wednesday woke up RAINY. My hotel was only 3 blocks from our office, which is just ridiculous to cab, so I broke out my trench coat, travel umbrella, and sneakers, and lightly jogged through the sidewalks with my suitcase to the office. Prepped a little more, headed to the NY SEC office for my presentation, getting absolutely SOAKED (still carrying my suitcase) with two false drop-offs at wrong addresses along the way, and put myself back together in a bathroom.
The weather was getting increasingly worse. My 7 pm flight was delayed. It took 90 minutes to crawl to LaGuardia airport where my flight was delayed more. Ran into a fellow Dallas partner in the airport and shared a glass of wine (at this point, I no longer cared about any of my mid-week health rules; also, she's a friend). Found out my flight was canceled. Got rebooked on a different flight, that was promptly delayed. Then delayed more. And every direct flight from NY to Dallas the next day was now booked (and overbooked). Also, my watch was being mean to me.
At 12:30 a.m. my flight was reset for 1:27 a.m. and I was damn grateful for it. I will also note that I have never sent so many emails as I did between 1-3 a.m. There's really someting to trying to do work when everyone else you know is fast asleep...
I landed at 3 a.m. and got home just before 4. I had video calls starting at 8 and I looked so pale, even for me, but I was HOME and I could attend Landon's high school swim banquet and I was so happy.
Also shocked, genuinely shocked, that pictures continue to reveal that he is MULTIPLE inches taller than me.

On Friday morning I headed BACK to the airport, this time with James, so we could head to Savannah for one of my associate's weddings. It was our first trip to Savannah, maybe our 4th trip ever alone together, and also maybe the 4th wedding we've ever gotten to attend together. And it was SO FUN.
Sure, it might have been nice to be home and my suitcase was very tired, but the weather was perfection and our historic B&B was gorgeous and luxe (thank you credit card points).
Also, Savannah has very liberal open container laws. Mimosas to go for the win!
Our B&B host told us that Savannah is for "eating, drinking, and walking" and she would help us with the first two. And with incredible breakfasts at 9 a.m., wine and apps at 5 pm, and cookies and port at 8 pm, she definitely did. Also the walls in the parlor are hand-painted and this is now a dream of mine for my study.
We ate great food, stopped for biscuits every 90 minutes, and I wore two of my Dirty Dillards dresses including my very favorite one for a dinner date Friday night!
I also shopped for fun things, like an awesome romper and these adorable shoes. I also picked up a pair for my mom.
The wedding was beautiful and I loved getting to dance with my favorite forever date.
We flew home Sunday, took my dad out for an early birthday dinner and a big thank you to both parents for watching the kids. My mom wore her new shoes, and so did I, and my romper!
Then on Monday we had the TOTAL ECLIPSE!
Of course my astronomy-loving-dad and former-science-teacher-mom stayed the extra night to witness this miracle. I worked from home and then at 12 pm, we had our glasses ready and were grabbing salads to go.
I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting magic. I've seen a couple partial eclipses and thought they were kind of neat, but also nothing I'd travel for.
But this. This was really extraordinary. The sun got smaller and smaller and then totality hit and the world went dark like someone had flipped off the lights. The winds died down. The birds went silent. It was extraordinary. We could hear the kids yelling in excitement over from the elementary school where Cora was observing the eclipse with her classmates.

The world is so big and I am so small and the universe is so amazing and I will never, ever forget it. I feel so lucky I got to sit on lounge chairs in my backyard with my parents and my James and watch this incredible event. (picture below from a friend with a fancy camera)
Claire texted from her event at the Cotton Bowl exclaiming "that was amazing! so gorgeous!" and even Landon who had been skeptical about the whole thing texted, "that was actually pretty cool." And Cora wrote in her scientific conclusion that "This was the most special day of my life. I will always remember when I saw the total solar eclipse." And same.

Today I went into the office for the first time in April (how has this month already been so long? I guess the 6 cities in 6 days thing?). I gave a virtual presentation on the new SEC Climate Disclosure Rules, sent about a million emails, and wrapped up as many things as possible because tomorrow I'm actually out again for the rest of April.

I have a hysterectomy at 7:15 a.m. and frankly, I could not be looking forward to it more. This should decisively end 2+ years of medical issues, doctors appointments (so. many. appointments.), and general distress. I will be in the hospital tomorrow and possibly Thursday, not working the rest of the week completely, and then lightly working from home until May l. So, it's already been quite a month, but let's bring on the scalpel. I'm ready.