Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

O, Star Wars, I need an Armenian bracelet! FAIL!

so i'm watching this Star Wars themed episode of deal or no deal. and carrie fisher is there to support the contestant. and the cigarette-ravaged man voice and plastic surgery and delusional pink lipstick is making it really weird to watch her as she totally cougars it up, rubbing on the contestant's husband and man-friend. very creeptacular. per usual on deal or no deal, they gave this awesome sob story about how the contestant was a vietnam war refugee child and how princess leia, also a war refugee, gave her the strength to go on and be strong because she was such a strong gun-wielding woman (probably like her own lethal commie-general grandma, frankly. i'm imagining that scene in the joy luck club where the woman hears her mom's story and discovers her own hidden strength...only in this vietnamese version the girl see leia in Star Wars pick up the gun and suddenly decides to join her badass gun-wielding female forbears...you know how they said the female generals were crueler than the males in vietnam...you don't? i lost you, didnt i? i digress. back to deal or no deal). so the girl is all crying because she is *so* moved by carriefisher/ leia and the star wars theme and how inspirational it was to her. yeah, really she should have been crying cuz she left with nothing. nada.

in other news. I am such an effing hippy. i drive a prius. and i'm buying fair trade gifts. i decided that when i need to buy gifts that i will try to be socially conscious, and i really have like a hundred to buy in the next few months --could more of you have milestone birthdays, babies, and marriages in the next 6 months? no really, i might be able to get a deal from a village in BFE Bali on papooses and jewelry. so here's a run down of websites i've found--please add your faves if you know good ones:

Global Exchange ;
10,000 Villages ;
No Sweat Apparel

this all started because i got very concerned for the little girl i support in kenya after reading an article in O magazine about Umoja village, this all-female village where women refuge when their rights are violated and they are forced to be 4th wife to some nastacular 60 year old in exchange for some cows and/or are severely beaten and/or forced to undergo **circumcision!!**. and some of these girls are incredibly young. 9 years old. 12 years old. and they get raped on their way to school if the walk is too long. and my sharon is like 10. anyway, the village makes money by creating jewelry. and O magazine found them and they of course had only had a pair of plastic scissors and their bravery and supernatural joy to make said jewelry with, but O got a grant for some shiny tools and had them make bracelets that they now sell on macys.com. and i'm like oh my gosh, first, i have to write world vision and hope sharon doesnt get totally violated. and second, i should buy a bracelet and then maybe the umoja village will take sharon and protect her. and why am i buying anything that doesnt benefit the oppressed?!, i mean damn if these little junior high girl scouts can boycott girl scout cookies to save orangutans, and i freakin hate orangutans and monkeys and gorillas, then i can at least check out my socially conscious options. that said, i have to buy tickets for my grandmother to see phantom of the opera for her 75th birthday and there is really nothing i can do to make that more enviro or socially friendly.

am i being braggy about my charitableness? if so, let me brag a little more and tell you how i got a card from my other little girl, Astghik, in armenia and she's so effing cute and she was writing because she was soooo excited about the birthday party i sponsored for her (back in january--guess the despot wouldnt let the card out the country, eh?--we have the same birthday...that's actually how i choose my little war-torn and/or screwed-by-the-soviets-and-then-by-our-own-oppressive-regime charity cases.) and she wants to know why i chose her. anyway i got all misty eyed because she is getting excellent grades in math and languages (i always choose girls who like math--i want to build an international army of rocket scientists) and she's happy and wants to see pictures of my family, and the card had a little sunshine and was two sided in armenian. i am already formulating a response. i will definitely tell her that her love for math was a deciding factor. and her curly hair. i will likely not tell her that another deciding factor was that I had just done a final paper on former soviet republics and that armenia was one of the most screwed, and that it's outrageous that anyone questions the genocide perpetrated by the turks. that would not return the heart hug, i'm thinking.

armenian writing, by the way, is very cool looking.

supposedly that says: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood(or sisterhood).
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) (that is not what astghik wrote...just in case you wondered. she just turned 9.)

nonsequitur to end: thanks to jon for finding an awesome site to make me/you laugh and laugh and laugh: http://failblog.wordpress.com/ it's a blog with pictures of things that FAIL. and it does not fail at being hilarious. much like my personal favorite for time wastage: www.despair.com.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Soyrizo hello.

Last week's episode of The Office almost made me cry. but i don't think it's just because my ovaries were manipulated like silly putty and then put back together. i think it was genuinely sweet. so anyway, the episode is called The Chairmodel and you can watch it on hulu.com which, if you have not discovered it, is totally awesome. full episodes of tons of shows and excellent video quality. i've been watching 30 Rock which is absolutely hilarious.

so tonight my mom is coming to steal me for a night and she is making soyrizo. have i ever waxed poetic about soyrizo? it is like CHOrizo only made with tofu. and it tastes EXACTLY THE SAME. do you know what this means? all the wonderful deliciousness of chorizo but with none of the uber super scariness of actual what-parts-of-the-pig-did-they-use-what-was-that-hard-thing--oh-now-i-am-going-to-vomit sausage chorizo. if you inserted soyrizo into green eggs and ham i would sing about it: i would eat it in a boat or in a house or on a goat, i would eat it in a plane or on a lake or in the rain, ad nauseum.

yesterday Tom and Beth came over with a gift of Sam Woo chinese food and game playing. Tom says "so do we get to see the scar?!" I was like "well, you did bring me chinese food...so i'm willing to show you if that's the trade off." upon realizing where the scar is, he declined and Beth laughed and laughed. it'd be like asking a new mom after her c-section to see the scar. not a pre-dinner activity or an anytime activity really. though i did sort of freely show it to my better girlfriends because you know, it's like a battle wound.

speaking of chinese things, did i tell you i had the weirdest taiwan deja vu the other day? my aunt and uncle were in from pennsylvania and we were discussing potential afternoon activities and somehow the new bubble tea stand at the ghetto fabulous parkway plaza came up. and my aunt decided that this would be a really fun cultural experience. so we actually met up there later in the afternoon and all 6 of us got bubble tea --classic black milk tea bubble tea. so we were cruising the mall and we ended up at the Body Shop where my aunt legitimately looked for night cream and i covertly anti-aged--does one really need three different types of eye creams on at once? probably not. anyway--drinking bubble tea and covertly anti-aging at the body shop are two totally classic taiwan activities! i had a little moment of missing taiwan pengyous. of course the asian salespeople are way more on you than the americans. the americans are like "try it, go for it!" the asians are like "i am suspicious of you, gaijin". and they should be.i am trying to rip them off.

so something coming up a lot these days is the topic of the marriage proposal that loads of christians in california have been trying to force onto the ballot to say that marriage is between a man and a woman. and i actually ended up talking with my parents, who support it, about why i don't. and here are a few reasons why i don't: britney spears. are you really telling me that britney spears' two marriages, one of 55 hours, and one of 2 years are holy just because they were gender appropriate? no. are they both holier than a longterm comitted gay relationship? what i think these christians are really saying is that marriage should be holy. but half of marriages between straight people end in divorce, so i think the institution of marriage has been sullied more than enough. but if renewing the holiness of the term marriage is the rub, then go further, petition that the term marriage can only be used for people who get wed in churches and have made a statement of faith (oh, but what faith, you might ask...). that way all the heathens can have civil unions, gay or straight. but that isnt going to happen. so why are some christians wasting all this time when we could be rallying over some far more unifying cause like poverty reduction or healthcare or human rights and instead are alienating a whole group of people. do you think alienating people from the term marriage will drive them to the Lord? i doubt it. anyway, those are a few very basic opinions on it and why i won't sign it. also, i mean, the secular law and holiness and holiness and gayness are also interesting debates, but for another time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bleeding Love

men,look away. i am about to objectify one of your xy compatriots. okay, so we're watching the padre game and trevor hoffman is dangerously close to allowing the go-ahead run, and me and grams and gramps are chating away while an outfielder makes an acrobatic catch and suddenly they focus on the outfielder and grams and i stop conversing and, in unison, say "whoa, he's CUTE!" that would be Justin Huber. terrible last name, totally made up for in catch-you-offguard hotness. googled him. AUSTRALIAN baseball player for the padres. hello. accent? dear God.

speaking of sports, could LaDainian Tomlinson's Easy Turf commercial be any cuter--"no water, no maintenance, no woarries" it's even cuter that the kids are clinging to his leg because he and his wife have had trouble conceiving. awww.

anyway, tonight mom and dad decided i was having senior park cabin fever and took me away to seaport village. it was the most amazing san diego night. 68 degrees and clear and lovely. we went to the Upstart Crow, arguably Lauren's and my favorite coffee/book shop. i bought some of their fabulous, quirky little gifts. lots of those snarky ann taintoresque cards. they also have cards that are cutouts of such snobtacular luminaries as james joyce, mark twain, dorothy parker, virginia woolf, etc and their quotes, which you can stick all over the card. very 16+years-of-education-adorable. and i bought charity a coffee quote magnet that i have to remember to actually give her. if anyone has a favorite highbrow figure (author or philosopher) you shoudl tell me and i will try to hook you up with a card or a finger puppet magnet of said person. che guevarra anyone?

i'm still bleeding. i do like naomi's take on this whole ordeal. that in my obituary or whatever they will refer to a short health problem that helped crystallize my thinking and form my future path, rather than my death knell. i sure hope so. completely undiscernable at this point. but i have decided that my new theme song can be that leona lewis song Bleeding Love "i keep bleeding, i keep keep bleeding".
shannonicus, as far as stigmata--i totally feel it. in fact, one of my favorite B movies is the patricia arquette Movie "stigmata" with billy corgan soundtrack. an irreverent woman with a crazy faith? i think i fit the bill.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Just when you thought I would be talking about cinema, discussing the depressing yet piquant symbolism in what Scott calls a modern masterpiece by PTA that will be studied for years, NO! Oh yes, there will be blood, but that blood would be issuing like old faithful, from my body! i will not only talk post op discoveries, though. i have a few awesome books i just read and need to address. and obama's "gaffe" (do you think the whole nation has somehow upped their vocab by a word?).

But for the now, more post laparotomy adventures. okay, so first of all, pathology came back and everything was benign! yay. no cancer for julie. that's the yay. the not so yay is that I have started bleeding like a sieve. but this isnt the blood that makes men uncomfortable, issuing from, as chelsea handler would say, my pikachu. rather, this was issuing from my incision. it started sunday as far as i can tell and i thought it was just healing fluid (i know, am i a druid?). we found it bizarre and called the on-call doc who said we needed to come in the next day. so went to the doc and saw the PA who competently re-dressed my wound and told me i had a clot working its way out. my PA, by the way is gorgeous. she sort of looks like eliot from scrubs just in case you ever found it unthinkable for a doctor to be all blonde and smart and lovely. (digression: i actually have two very beautiful wellesley friends who became doctors as well, so this should not be so hard to believe, but whatever. i just love scrubs.) we somehow thought that after she did her work, the bleeding would stop or go down. no, it got much much worse. another trip to the doctor was required the next day. the beautiful PA was correct about my blood clot (pool morelike), hanging out in my belly. but clots are not always small...sometimes they are like the hoover dam. i guess sometimes they reabsorb, but this one has decided, for reasons that seemed totally unconcerning to my doctor, to want to seep out. and now that it is doing so, it has to drain entirely or i will be a walking infection. you have no idea how disconcerting it is to have maxi pads soaked every 2 hours with my stomach blood. (yeah, they put maxi pads over wounds to soak up "healing fluid" and blood or whatever after surgery, still not talking about the pikachu. rest easy)

anyway, part of my directive is to engage in this very victorian exercise of heating washcloths 4 times a day and putting them on my lower tummy to release the blood more quickly. i bet picasso's lolita wife did this very thing during her female suffering days before she died of unknown causes. i also read the passage in Mark where the hemmorhaging lady touches Jesus' cloak and stops her sievelike bleeding of 12 years. Where is Jesus' cloak when you need it?

anyway the doc says that i am now to be a "lady of leisure" for the next few weeks. no bending, pulling, lifting--we're talking no laundry, dishes, picking up books off teh floor, etc. and it is driving me a little crazy. as happens often, apparently, i thought i had healed enough in 10 days to take like a 30 minute walk, or go shopping, or whatever. apparently when they said i shoudl walk they meant around the house. and after 10 days maybe walk around the block. but they said walk. and my idea of walking is like 5 miles around lake murray, i thought i was even slacking only doing 40 minutes a day on the greenbelt. the 2 hours of slow walking we did while shopping yesterday at the navy commissary and exchange was like shockingly out of line, apparently. i am now back to doing nothing but bleeding.

okay, health update completed. let's discuss books. i am reading a phenomenal book called Where the Girls Are, provided by the lovely Charity. It is an absolutely hysterical but scathing look at female messages and images in the mass media from the 40s onward. if i were the head of education in america i would make every high schooler read it (God knows it would have been better (more applicable and entertaining) than half the crap we read--Far from the madding crowd, I am talking to you. and carson mccullers.) it has seriously given me insight into my grandmother and mother. and myself, of course. and made me laugh painfully. exposed are the schizophrenic messages sent out in magazines and tv (i.e. the WWII era: support your man; your man is at war so go build an aircraft carrier, you can do anything, Rosie!; your man is back home, get back in the house. working mothers are neglectful and horrible...but do secretly work to make money so you can help the economy by buying things to make all your housework easier, and don't expect to get paid as much as men for it. and smile, overworked basketcase, smile.)

also fabulous reading was Ender's Game. read it in a day. incredibly fun sci fi adventure. excellent for a total mental getaway. will be even more entertaining if you believe that we have never harvested the true potential of child labor in wartime. and if you secretly think video games are real and that you are in fact saving the world when you play them. because you are.

so bitter people cling to guns and religion, barack obama? that is one of the best political quotes in a long time. i can only hope this is his howard dean moment. yeeehooo! crumble crumble. i don't hate barack obama. i just don't trust him. he is like an aaron sorkin movie, you know, inspirational but totally unreal and ineffective. slate did a comparison of his record and hillary's record. he gets less legislation passed. period. i'm sort of amazed so many people have fallen for his shtick. *sigh* i did enjoy the campaign pics of hillary at a local bar in indiana doing shots or crown royal and drinking a pint. bwahahaha. i wonder if roger clinton had anything to do with that appearance.

still bleeding. argh!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

female problems

So I guess I forgot to tell you the tale of two ovaries. well, now they are two half ovaries, or together make one whole ovary. summary: they saved the ovaries, YAY! my crazy doctor ensures me that this is enough to create the hormones i need (if i start growing a beard i will be sooo pissed) and enough for me to get pregnant if i should so choose. but it seems to me like it must somehow limit me, like shouldn't i now only have half the childbearing years left that i had before i went in? he is a suspicious man. he also says that the fact that these things freakishly developed in no way indicates that i will get more cysts in the future or that i will have other "female" problems. i asked him if there was anything i could eat or not eat to prevent them from growing. no, he says. i don't know, see, i read this thing about picasso's lolita-esque russian wife who was in and out of hospitals becuase of her "female problems" and then she died from them. You read about this in Victorian biographies and such. like once they start they never stop. I also read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and her husband like knew when he started having heart problems that that was what he would die from. He just knew. (fabulous book by the way--totally made me, Miss HalfHormones, cry and cry because it's not sentimental, just real and heartbreaking)

anyway, ignorance should be bliss. now that one of our former colleagues, who i feel i can say with full confidence we NEVER ever thought would find love, (but are super happy she did) has married her very own mountain man, i feel inspired that if i hang out at my local "walmart store" i could probably find a toothless wonder to call my own. and if i find him in the next 5 years maybe we could spawn a mountainkind.

The new Office episode was fabulous. The show Step It Up and Dance is craptacular. no dance, all drama. So You Think You Can Dance is so much better. and kid friendly for the most part.

apaprently blogger still thinks I am in India because it keeps telling me that I could blog in my "native Indic script." depending on the location of the cradle of humanity, i *suppose* that could be true...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Laparotomy part II

morning alert: MY STOMACH IS DEFORMED. and I am actually not referring to the shark-biteesque 10 inch scar across my "bikini" (they call it that, i am just using *their* technical term) I am referring to my stomach profile which, no matter how big or small has always sort of sloped from my waist into a little hill and leisurelyily( not a word) rounded down using length rather than width. now it is like...a little shelf. a thick, rounded shelf. it JUTS out from my waist and pelvis. it is like a cartoon, which julia has always accused me of being anyway. oh the humanity! ok, people in sudan, brothel kids in india. i'm fine. shelf-stomach is fine. deep breath.

so yeah. farting. recovery from a laparotomy is all about farting, okay, "passing gas". your entire diet, mode of pill and fluid intake (IV vs. Oral), and discharge depend on you passing gas. it's like a little chain reaction that isnt activated until gas is passed. and they don't tell you why, but i will. it is because, when you have traumatic surgery on your abdomen, your bowels sort of paralyze and peristalsis stops and passing gas is the first sign that things are moving. and if they give you food when things arent moving, it could just pile up and you could barf or have complications. and no, burping doesn't count as passing gas. example: they would like to take my IV out and give me the "stronger" pain medication, but...have i farted yet? no? oh,sorry. here's your clear liquid diet. i became very fond of chicken and beef broth and *certain* flavors of jello--no they are not all equal. why did i get orange like 80 times? it is the bastard child of lemon yellow and cherry red, both superior flavors. finally when my candy striper came around and asked if i needed anything i said "yes, i NEED red jello" and she diligently gave me some. but you can't force the fart. especially because your abdominal muscles are dead. so what could you even use?

i had a kickass room. i cannot tell you how i pity anyone who has to share a room while recovering. i however had my own little room in the pediatrics ward with 2 big windows that let in lots of light and occasionally delighted viewers with a picture of my ass where the gown didnt cover, as i hobbled to the bathroom. i also had Get Well tv which has lots of channels and lots of first rate on-demand movies. not that i could stay awake long enough for a whole movie. i fell asleep in the middle of just scrolling through the list the first time. had a little bathroom, a little sink area where i could painfully bathe myself, a completely nonsequitur goethe quote about piety, a window seat i could not bear to sit on, and lots of gorgeous flowers provided my friends. i'll have pics soon.

speaking of which, my friends have been awesome. i've been feeling very loved. charity and karina have come over and lounged with me and given me wacky news of the day and played games and just been all-around there for me in every way. jennifer came twice and brought me some blueberry pomegranate juice that i am now totally addicted to. and many others of you have sent very sweet cards and flowers all of which make me feel very loved. my family also stepped up, my mom/dad and gma/gpa were there multiple times a day. my aunt barb and mark came every day too and were totally cool with me passing out midsentence.

I am now in the capable care of my grandmother and grandfather who have red jello and comfort food like cream of rice and who have made me mustard greens (though let's just say they weren't as *gentle* on my recovering digestive system as other things I have eaten) I have a little room o'healing. they also don't wake me up every two hours in the night to take my vitals or check my scar or inject me with anti-clotting crap. still, I have come into a few interesting challenges now that I am in more familiar surroundings:

You forget that you cant sleep on your stomach after abdominal surgery. It seems pretty obvious, but i keep automatically trying to flip onto my belly/side with knee out as i have done for decades and then am hit with excruciating pain. and the thing is that i have incredibly vivid dreams/nightmares when i sleep on my back. and in the hospital you are in this molded bed and so hopped up on meds that you drift off immediately and know you cant flip over because your whole body is like grooved into the bed. not so at home.

you cant lift things. they tell you this, but you don't get it until you try it.

well, i've gotta go take my walk and my nap.

laparotomy surgery part I

Let’s talk surgery.

To sum up how I feel: Ow.

Okay, so I get there and do the whole pre-op which you know involves them putting in the IV (this would be literally a recurring pain as I am “a hard stick") and then putting on white nylons which are apparently for increasing circulation and which kept rolling down and cutting off the circulation in my legs. Would it reveal how cranky I was through this whole process if I told you that I was immediately annoyed at the nurse whose SOLE task it was to put on said nylons when she couldn’t figure out the belting process that would secure said nylons and keep them from rolling? She needs to rethink her life.

So anyway, get in to where the doctor talks to me before the procedure and he says that he believed at my final check-up (like small children believe in santa) that my cysts have ruptured and probably dissolved and he can go through my belly and remove some tissue and voila, done. i’m sitting there wondering what the hell I’ve been feeling protruding from my stomach the last 4 months and which have not changed in my mind, if this is the case. maybe i should have been less comic about my condition, maybe i should have made the sort of bloating sometimes painful pressure i felt for 4 months more evident, like saying after all interactions "i may have looked fine while we were just talking but i coudl feel my cysts pressing on my bowels and bladder". Anyway, this "belief" explains why he says he will be trying laparoscopy before laparotomy. Fine. Yeah well I wake up and it’s like “Julie, I did a pre-op check and felt that there was something large there and couldn’t go in laproscopally…and thank goodness I didn’t because those were two of the largest cysts I’ve ever seen.” which you know, is what the MRI, CAT scan and 4 ultrasounds had all said before, but who am i and who is multimillion dollar technology for that matter? I love my doctor but where he came up with that is a total mystery. maybe it was in a dream. They saved most of my ovaries, which I am sort of happy about especially since right before going in for surgery I saw some baby coming out of a c-section and it was all adorable.

Okay, so then comes post surgery. I mostly ache. I have to cough sometimes and it feels like shards of glass running through my stomach. I am completely hopped up on anaesthesia and pain meds, cant stay awake for a whole sentence. Laughing makes me almost cry, it’s like a bad lyric.

Then begins the tale of the incompetent nurses. I was put into the pediatric ward (the only patient at the time) which is the overflow for OB/GYN. They get slough off nurses from other wards to watch me. Nurses who don’t know what a laparotomy feels like. Nurses who ask me why I am wincing when they make me stand up. I don’t know, maybe because every one of my abdominal muscles has been cut and sewn back together and is being strained by this action, asshole? Nurses from physical therapy who “believe you will be off your IV by the time I end my shift” (the fact that I cant stay awake long enough to drink enough to offset the IV or that I haven’t passed gas (the main event of recovery really) seeming to be nothing to her in 8 hours) i appreciate that much confidence in ones own self efficacy, really.
things that do not imbue confidence in the patient: when the nurse you have had for the last 8 hours and the incoming nurse you will have for the next 8 hours poke and prod the machine next to you turning it on and off and asking how to find the patient history and how to make it stop beeping...like...that. and that machine holds your IV fluid and pain medication and indicates errors that occur in dispersing those items.

Argh, I’m falling asleep as I write this, so I cant even finish. Anyway. I’m in pain, every time I move my body,pain. And guess what? My body has started menstruating! Yes! I thought it was surgery blood. Oh no. the surgery made my body think it needed to menstruate. My body needs to stop thinking, I say. My body decided to make mini-mes. It is officially not responsible with its abilities.

when i wake up i will write more about the perils of sugery (no solid food until you pass gas!) and very good things like all the wonderful friends and family who came to visit and sent flowers and all that.