Pregnancy Recap: The First Trimester

I know, I know, I’ve been painfully slow at posting pregnancy updates since making the big announcement. Frankly, life just happens. Right after announcing our news to the world we headed up to Canada to visit my family for two glorious weeks. Upon arriving back home, I was inundated with appointments (which is one of the joys of pregnancy). Then our little Katie-dog needed to have surgery. No worries, she’s fine, but she required quite a bit of post-op TLC.

Currently, I’m 18 weeks pregnant. To be exact, as I write this I’m 18 weeks + 5 days pregnant. BUT – I like to start at the very beginning. I’ll get to more current updates at a later point in time. Today I’m going to focus on everything first trimester. Thankfully I wrote some notes to help myself remember, and it wasn’t that long ago so my memory is still pretty fresh.

Finding Out: The Positive Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy Test

Many of our close friends were surprised when they found out we were expecting. “I didn’t know you were trying!” was the phrase I heard on more than one occasion. Well, it’s true, we didn’t go shouting “hey, we’re trying to have a kid!” from the rooftop. Other than just being kind of private about these things, one of the main reasons we didn’t tell anyone was because we never really started “trying.” We just stopped “not trying.” These days it feels like every other couple suffers from infertility. It’s probably not that many, but it’s fairly common. Common enough that we almost expected to struggle to get pregnant, even though we didn’t really have much reason to suspect we might have trouble. Turns out we’re lucky, I guess.

I’m probably pretty normal in the fact that I was convinced I would get pregnant immediately, even though we were simply “not trying.” That was just not the case. After about two months of this, Dave was tired of me throwing money away on pregnancy tests. So when I asked him to pick me up a new box of tests, he rolled his eyes, told me just to wait another day or two, because surely I would get my period and we would have confirmation that I was indeed still not pregnant. I asked him to grab it anyway, and told him I would hold off and we could have them sitting around for the next month or two. I really did intend to wait at least one more day to see if good ole Aunt Flo showed up, but I’m impatient. Very impatient. I couldn’t even wait until morning, you know, when the concentration of hCG is supposed to be the highest in your urine, making it more likely that a pregnancy test that should be positive actually shows up as positive. We were enjoying an early summer night on the lanai when I stole off, grabbed a test, and headed to the bathroom. That second pink line showed up IMMEDIATELY. There was no turning up the lights, getting out a magnifying glass, or anything like that. It was very obvious from the very start. I don’t even know how to describe my emotions. I thought I would be excited, and I was excited, but immediately after thinking “yay!” came the “ohhhhh my goodness, what have we done?” Assuming everything goes ok, and you want it to go ok, there’s no going back. I’m growing a kid for the next 9 months whether I like it or not, and that kid has to come out of me. Yes, one of my first thoughts was “I’m not ready for childbirth.” Thankfully you get time to wrap your head around that one, and now I can safely say that while I don’t yet feel “ready” I’m confident that I will be as ready as I can be when the moment comes.

Of course I immediately went back out on to the lanai, sat down on the end of Dave’s lounge chair, and showed him the positive test. Dave stared at it for a few seconds, didn’t say a word, then went back (I kid you not) to checking his Twitter feed. He’ll kill me for putting that on the blog. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. I totally understood the shock and fear, but a little shared excitement would have been nice. I could probably write an entire post on how each of us has responded to this new development in our lives. Maybe I will one of these days. Let’s just say I’m hoping for a better reaction the next time around!

Early Pregnancy (Weeks 0 – 8)

I explained in our announcement post about how my dating was all off early in the pregnancy, so I’m not going to explain it again. If you missed it, you can read about it here. The long story short is that I thought I was about 5 weeks pregnant when I found out and instead I was….just past 3 weeks. During those first few weeks I only had a couple of pregnancy symptoms: my boobs hurt (a lot) and I started craving everything tomato. Fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, and especially tomato juice. Some people figure out they’re pregnant when the morning sickness hits, but I was blissfully free of morning sickness until about week 8. I was naive and started to think that I wouldn’t get any morning sickness, and was pretty excited about that idea….and then the morning sickness hit and it stunk. More on that in a bit.

My main issue early in the pregnancy was wanting to scream the news out to the world, but also the fear of doing so before getting past the riskiest part of the pregnancy. Dave and I initially decided to wait until Father’s Day to tell our parents. That idea lasted less than a day. Again, I was a tad too impatient. I spilled the beans to my mom the next afternoon, and she said she couldn’t keep the secret so I had to tell my dad, and then we decided I should tell my grandparents….so yeah, the cat didn’t stay in the bag for my family for very long at all. My parents (and by my parents I mainly mean my dad) was so excited that he told pretty much everyone he knew the second he saw them. After Dave’s lackluster reaction it was nice to have some other people excited. It ended up taking a while for the news to sink in for Dave and he didn’t want to tell anyone until he felt excited, so….yeah. I tried to convince him that everyone else would be excited and it would help make him feel better, and I think my logic was good but he didn’t listen to me. So we ended up waiting a couple weeks to tell his parents in person on Father’s Day. Week 7 was when we started spilling the beans to extended family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) and a couple of very close friends.

I think the most shocking part of the early pregnancy was my lack of contact with any healthcare provider. My old OBGYN had moved, so I decided to switch practices to one closer to our house that is located at the hospital where I want to deliver. Of course I called the morning after finding out I was pregnant and was told that they would book me for an ultrasound at 8 weeks, an appointment with my new nurse practitioner at 10 weeks, and I would get to meet my new OBGYN at my 12 week appointment. Ummmmm…..what!? Don’t you want to confirm that these tests I bought at the grocery store are telling the truth, that I’m actually pregnant? Nope. Don’t you want to tell me to stop drinking, and start taking a prenatal vitamin (I mean, I am, but don’t you want to officially tell me)?!? Nope. Apparently, this is pretty standard practice, unless you’ve had fertility issues in which case you get a lot more TLC. If this was my second pregnancy I probably would be ok with this approach, but for my first I kind of wanted someone to hold my hand, tell me what the heck was about to happen with my body, and walk me through all my (million) questions at some point prior to the 10 week mark.

The End of the First Trimester (Weeks 8 – 13)

Depending on your source, the first trimester ends at either 12 weeks or 13 weeks. No one ever gave me a clear answer on that one, so I considered it finished at 12 weeks because I was so ready to say I was in the second trimester…but for the way things worked out I’m grouping week 13 in with this update.

Morning sickness (aka all day every day nausea) hit me right at the 8 week mark. I know I was lucky that it didn’t hit sooner for me, but it felt like it lasted forever. My OBGYN told me that I would probably start feeling better by week 12, but unfortunately it continued straight through to the end of week 13 (and when you’re talking about unrelenting nausea, two weeks feels like an eternity). What helped? At first I was eating crackers in the morning, but it didn’t take long to figure out that two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast first thing after waking up was the best thing to help stave off the worst of the early morning nausea. Crackers and sucking on hard candy (especially lemon-flavored ones) got me through the rest of the day. I couldn’t bear to look in the fridge, and cooking dinner was a definite no-go. I thought it would be tough to give up my morning coffee, but even the thought of it made me gag so it wasn’t hard to give up at all. My craving for tomato juice went out the window and was replaced by a desire to eat almost nothing but carbs. Potatoes, pasta, and popcorn were about all I wanted to eat. I also didn’t lose my love of cheese, and wanted to top all three of those items with cheddar or mozzarella. I also craved everything I couldn’t have….Caesar salads (couldn’t have the raw egg in the dressing), margaritas (hey, it was the middle of summer!), and feta cheese. Of course I figured out ways of cheating around most of my cravings. I found pasteurized feta cheese, which is ok to eat, and threw it on top of Greek salads (made with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden!). Dave got me some non-alcoholic margarita mix and blended it with ice for an oh-so-tasty treat, albeit not quite as satisfying as the kind with tequila. Finally I’ve had to settle of Caesar salad’s with dressing from a bottle, and therefore without the raw eggs. No, it’s not nearly as good as the homemade kind, but it works to satisfy the craving.

This later part of the first trimester was definitely when I began to feel pregnant. In addition to the morning sickness, I started to get bloated, and it just wasn’t fun. I think the hardest part is knowing that you look like you have more of a burrito belly than a baby belly, and yet your clothes, especially your pants, just don’t fit the same anymore. No one tells you that you turn to maternity clothes before your baby belly appears simply because your bloat is making you feel like a hippopotamus. The “crazy pregnancy hormones” kind of kicked in around week 10 or 11 but still haven’t made me too nutty. So far it’s just been things like “I know I should laugh but I just want to cry” situations, and I end up doing both. I know it weird, but whatever.

Absolutely the BEST part this period was the appointments. Our original 8 week ultrasound ended up actually being at 6 weeks + 5 days, so the baby was still pretty much a blob. That, combined with the fact that the ultrasound tech was just really quick with everything made it kind of a lackluster experience. We were SO excited to see it, and then to find out I was measuring 9 days behind and not being able to see much of anything…it was just a huge letdown. We got to hear or see the flicker of the heartbeat on a portable ultrasound at the 10 and 12 week appointments, and those are always thrilling moments. That said, none of it compared to our 12 week ultrasound, which to this day has been the absolute highlight of the pregnancy. We had a different tech, who was much more willing to slow things down and point things out to us – in part because the kid would not get into a position where the tech could get all the necessary measurements. It was the first time we really got a good look at a form that actually resembles a little tiny human being, and it was beyond amazing. I got a huge kick (no pun intended) out of watching it move its little arms and legs around everywhere.

Ultrasound

That’s a HUGE update so I’ll leave things there for now – stay tuned for the next update – Weeks 14 – 18!

Until later,
Ashlen

The Next Chapter…

Dave and I have been keeping a little secret for the past two-and-a-half months, but last night we decided it was time to spill the beans to the world. Well, the Facebook world at least. There are some big changes coming to the Mathew household…in the form of a tiny human. That’s right, there’s a baby on the way! It goes without saying that I’m thrilled and excited for this next chapter in our lives.

Since we started spreading the news among the family, we’ve been getting a lot of the same questions. So today, I’m going to try and answer most of the things everyone wants to know after hearing the big news!

When are you due? February 18th, 2017. Side note: the “original” due date was February 9th, 2017 but it got pushed back NINE DAYS (eek!) after the first ultrasound.

So how many weeks / months along are you? At the time of this post, I am 13 weeks + 4 days. My weeks switch on Saturdays, if that helps anyone count. That also means I’m just past month #3, but please stop asking me in months because as any woman who has been pregnant will tell you….these things are never measured in months, always weeks! 

Pregnancy TestWhen did you find out? / How long have you known? We found out in the first week of June. At the time, we thought I was 5 weeks along….but it turns out I was only between 3 and 4 weeks along.


Ok, I’m going to stop and explain the “dating issue” that will keep coming up throughout this discussion. For anyone who isn’t familiar with how pregnancies are dated….they start from the first day of the last menstrual period. That means that the first two weeks are kind of “freebies” because you haven’t even ovulated or conceived yet. The medical world likes to use 28 days, or 4 weeks, as the perfect example of a menstrual cycle, with ovulation occurring smack dab in the middle at day 14 (two weeks). Look at any textbook, and that’s how a menstrual cycle is described. Talk to real women, and the vast majority will tell you that they do not have perfectly consistent 28 day cycles. Some might be longer, some might be shorter, it might vary in length for some women….it’s all different. So when pregnancies are originally dated (like, when you call your doctor’s office after figuring out you’re pregnant), they assume you have a perfect 28 day cycle to calculate how far along you are in the pregnancy. There are several problems with this, the main one being that many women (apparently myself included) don’t ovulate on day 14. For example, someone with a 30 day cycle should ovulate somewhere around day 16 rather than day 14. For this exact reason my OBGYN’s office schedules everyone for a dating ultrasound at the 8 week mark to check and make sure the dates are all correct. We went in for my ultrasound on what should have been exactly my 8 week mark and found out the pregnancy was dating at…..6 weeks + 5 days. Honestly, it was kind of a blow. Given the length of my cycles I was expecting to be maybe 2 days behind, which wouldn’t have been a big deal, but NINE days was huge, especially at that stage in the pregnancy. That’s nine extra days of waiting to get out of the period where your miscarriage risk is high. It meant that the embryo was actually closer in size to a sweet pea than a raspberry. It meant we had to “re-live” the end of week 6 and all of week 7, because we thought we had already passed those milestones. We were told that I probably just ovulated late, but it still made us worry because being 9 days behind was some seriously late ovulation. Additionally, when I got pregnant I was still on medication for my sleep disorder. It’s a medication that hasn’t been studied much in pregnancy so there isn’t a lot of data, but there have been two case reports of women who had taken the medication during their pregnancy and experienced intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). There’s no way to tell if the medication caused the IUGR, but it’s a possibility and of course we worried that was the issue. Because of that early exposure to the medication, my OBGYN set me up for a more detailed 20 week anatomy scan with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, and when their office contacted me to set up the appointment they also offered me a first trimester screening which would also include an ultrasound. I wasn’t super concerned about everything they test for in that screening, but I jumped on the opportunity to get another ultrasound to make sure everything was growing okay. We just had that appointment last week, at 12 weeks + 5 days (based on the dating from the first ultrasound), and the tech measured it around 13 weeks….which was perfectly on track with that first ultrasound measurement. So it looks like I just have a tendency to ovulate quite a bit later in my cycle than the average woman, and we’re not nearly as concerned about IUGR anymore! Phew!


Ok, back to the Q + A:

How have you been feeling? Honestly…..not fantastic. Morning sickness hit me around week 7, in the form of unrelenting all-day nausea. I guess you could say I’ve been lucky not to vomit, but there have been some very close calls. I’ve told myself over and over that pregnancy is a blessing, that the reward at the end of this is worth this period of feeling horrible, and often that makes me feel better, but there were a few moments when I flat-out HATED being pregnant. Other than morning sickness, I’ve also been hit with some overwhelming fatigue. It’s normal to be tired in the first trimester, but I’m getting the double-whammy of having to go off my medication for my sleep disorder, which means I’ve returned to zombie-like state. My new neurologist prescribed me….sleep. I was considering going back to work shortly before I got pregnant, but that’s off the table now that I need a nap almost every day, at least 10 (preferably 12) hours of sleep each night, and generally feel like my head is full of fuzz.

One of my favorite gender-neutral finds so far!
One of my favorite gender-neutral finds so far!

Are you going to find out the gender? Ugh. I wish I had an answer to this question. Originally I had no desire to find out the gender in advance and I wanted the surprise at the time of delivery. Dave hadn’t even considered not finding out, and his preference is to find out in advance. I will admit that it is becoming more and more tempting to find out because gender neutral stuff can be tough to find and isn’t even carried by some stores…and the gender neutral nursery stuff is so GRAY. Blech. I was expecting to be able to find a bunch of green stuff, but apparently green is so last year (at least according to the retailers). I’ve been trying to get Dave to make a good argument for why we should find out the gender in advance, but so far all he’s come up with is “I don’t want to be disappointed in the delivery room if it’s a girl.” If you think that’s the worst logic ever, I agree with you. Obviously Dave is team blue. I can’t decide what I want, so I’m going to be happy either way, but right now I’m feeling like it’s a girl. But hey, who knows, right? But back to the question at hand….we’re still up in the air if we’ll find out or not. I had a blood test last week that will be checking the fetal DNA for genetic disorders and will also be able to tell us the gender, and we should get the results later this week or sometime next week. We’ll have to make a decision if we want to know the gender results at that point in time, but even if we opt to not find out then change our mind later, the results will still be in the doctor’s computer system. 


I wrote a few “bump date” posts for the past few weeks, so I’m planning on posting those “en masse” in the next day or two. After that I’ll do my best to post weekly pregnancy updates on Saturdays, but I’m not promising that they’ll get posed on time each week because we’ll be on the road several times before we even hit the 20 week mark. In fact, I can almost guarantee that the upcoming 14-week post will not be going up late! 

Until later,
Ashlen

Halloween Reflections

It’s the day after Halloween and I’m still basking in happiness from last night. I’ve been looking forward to our first Halloween in our house for a long time. Halloween in a third floor apartment = no kids. Halloween in a neighborhood FULL of kids = more trick-or-treaters than I could count. I would have to estimate that we had somewhere between 60 to 75 kids at our door last night. 

Because I’ve been looking so forward to Halloween, I really wanted to decorate outside. There’s not much point decorating inside, because we don’t have kids around who would really enjoy it, so I decided to put all my efforts outside for our trick-or-treaters. I knew Dave would come close to killing me if I bought everything I wanted this year, so I started my collection and I’m planning on increasing it by a piece or two each year. I started off with a cemetery kit from target. It included two styrofoam tombstones with plastic stakes that go into the ground, a skeleton head and two arms, a small bag of fake cobwebs (which was more than enough for our front yard), and four freakishly realistic-looking plastic spiders, and a few pieces of fake fencing. I’ll have to replenish my cobweb supply next year, but otherwise everything is re-usable from year to year. Unfortunately, there were two problems with the kit. The first was that the fencing pieces were not going to go into the ground. GraveyardWe have really hard clay in central Indiana, so it might not be a problem if you live somewhere with sandier earth, but the ground was bending the plastic ends of the fence. It was a no-go. Second, we’ve had some decently strong winds throughout October and the larger of the two tombstones ripped off the stakes and blew into our neighbor’s yard. We retrieved the tombstone, but it will need some repair if it’s going to be used again. That said, the smaller tombstone with the skeleton looking like it’s coming out of the ground was fantastic. Tip: don’t do what Dave did and put the arms right up by the head….no one crawls out of the ground with their elbows next to their ears. Be anatomically correct and put our arms down a bit farther! Dave suggested that he could make me some sturdier tombstones that are made out of wood, so hopefully we can have several of those next year for a full-out graveyard. Oh, I also bought a skeleton dachshund from Target for Dave because he has a thing for weiner dogs….he kind of loved it, and it’s creepy enough to go into my display. Skeleton DogNext, I bought a few things from Grandin Road. I had never ordered anything from them before, but I will definitely be a repeat customer. If you’re looking for festive home decor, Grandin Road will have what you’re looking for, and the quality of everything I’ve bought so far has been excellent. My purchases this year included: one zombie, one zombie cat, and a set of three bats. The zombie and zombie cat were both pretty heavy so there was no way they were blowing away and they didn’t need to be staked into anything. Like the skeleton, the zombie looked like it was coming out of the ground. So I put him right by our walkway so it looked like he was coming to grab a little trick-or-treater. We put the cat right on our front porch, and we hung the bats up on the front porch as well. Both the cat and zombie took batteries that we put in yesterday afternoon. The cat’s eyes just glowed red, but the zombie must have had a motion sensor or something and when he went off his eyes were red and he made some creepy moaning and groaning sounds. I’m not a huge fan of Halloween decorations that make sound, but this one was a) subtle (no stupidly insane shrieking) and b) fairly realistic. I’ll have to see what Grandin Road has to offer next year, but I know I’ll be tempted to get another zombie. That said, I really want to get some skeletons that look like they’re crawling up the side of our house. In years to come I’m also going to want some ghosts, mummies, giant spiders…..out get the picture! Continue reading Halloween Reflections

What I’ve Learned from Two Years of Marriage

Wedding Laughter

Today we are officially celebrating two years of marriage. Unofficially we celebrated yesterday because, well, today is a Monday. That means Dave is working today and heading out for Monday Night Football this evening. Yes, I’m “letting” my husband go spend the evening with a bunch of dudes watching football on our anniversary. Does that make me the coolest wife ever? Really we kind of spent the weekend celebrating our anniversary in a low-key way. We spent it at home, together. That might sound like any other weekend, but when you look ahead at our schedule for the next few months, weekends like those are going to be few and far between. We’re both introverts, and we need that quiet recharge time. We worked on stuff together and relaxed in front of the fireplace together. Last night we headed out to Kona Grill for a sushi dinner, then went to Orange Leaf on the way home for some frozen yogurt. It was relaxing and even though it doesn’t sound to fancy or splashy, it was perfect.  Continue reading What I’ve Learned from Two Years of Marriage

Summer Recap

Given that I dropped off the face of the planet and stopped blogging for a few months after my surgery, I missed blogging about a lot of big summer events. I’ve been debating on how to chronicle everything and catch y’all up, and I think the easiest way is to do a big ole recap post. Let’s get to it…

June

Abby’s Bridal Shower & Bachelorette

Ashlen, Niki, Abby & Katie

Abby is Dave’s cousin. They grew up in the same small town, went to the same school, etc. etc. Given that Dave is an only child, Abby and her sister Katie are the closest thing Dave has to siblings. They were in our wedding and they and their mom hosted my bridal shower. So when Abby got engaged, I knew I wanted to help out with her bridal shower. I helped host it with Dave’s mom at Wolcott House – the same place where my shower was held. It’s kind of a tradition for locals to hold sowers there and it’s easy to see why – there’s space to set up several tables, a kitchen to prepare food, space to play awesome bridal games….so pretty much everything you might need for a shower and no one has to deep clean their house and rearrange half their furniture. Continue reading Summer Recap

A Birthday and an Anniversary

As of today, we’re officially living with a teenager. However, our teenager is also a senior citizen. That’s because today we are celebrating our beloved Katie-dog turning THIRTEEN! As the title post mentions, we’re also celebrating an anniversary – the anniversary of having Katie in my life and our family for five wonderful years. I didn’t adopt her on October 1st, but a few days later (I would have to look at the adoption records to remember the exact date…) but I figure they’re close enough to celebrate them together. 

Katie-dog.

Continue reading A Birthday and an Anniversary

How to Make an Autumn Garland

How to Make an Autumn Garland

Growing up in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving in mid-October….about two weeks before Halloween. So when we celebrated Thanksgiving, the house decor was for Thanksgiving / Halloween / autumn. Here in the U.S. it’s a bit different since Thanksgiving is celebrated a month after Halloween. You can take the Halloween decor down and put up Thanksgiving decor. Of course after all that you switch it out for Christmas decor, making the last three months of the year the most intensive period of decorating changes. 

Since we used to live in a tiny apartment, we really don’t have a lot of decorations. We do have a decent amount of Christmas stuff, but almost nothing for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Now that we’ve moved into a big house, I figured I would primarily focus on Christmas decor for the first couple of years, and just slowly build up things for the other holidays. That all changed when we talked to Dave’s family and were assigned to host….Thanksgiving. 

This is going to be my first time hosting any major holiday, and I find it ironic that it’s a holiday I didn’t even celebrate growing up as a kid. In fact, when I was working in Kansas I volunteered to cover Thanksgiving Day because I had nothing to do on that day, other than watch some college basketball. Thankfully (no pun intended) the traditions surrounding Canadian Thanksgiving aren’t that different from American Thanksgiving, at least in terms of the food. (Obviously the Canadians don’t really get into the pilgrims and all that jazz, it’s really more a celebration of the harvest). 

Since we’ll have almost about a dozen people in the house, I figured I should probably make the place look somewhat festive. Step one….decorate the fireplace mantle.  Continue reading How to Make an Autumn Garland

The Day of Surgery

Now that I’m back on the blog, I might as well head back to the day y’all last heard from me….the day I had surgery. In case you’ve forgotten what was going on, you can read this post as a refresher. I went in for a left sacroiliac joint arthrodesis (fusion). Basically, I had three titanium rods hammered into me to connect the lower part of my spine to my hip because the joint wasn’t stable and kept causing me a lot of pain. 

Surgery

Pre-Op

I had to be at the hospital at 6am on the morning of my surgery. My mom had just arrived the day before, so she and Dave were with me on the drive downtown. Once we arrived, Dave came with me into the hospital and my mom went back to the house to take care of the dogs (she brought her two – Abby and Mischa – down from Canada with her, and of course we have Katie). We had to wait a bit to register, but the registration process itself was a breeze because I had done the pre-registration questionnaires over the phone the week before. Then we were lead up to the surgical waiting room, where Dave was given a pager and a special number he could use to identify me on a screen in the waiting room that would tell him where I was in the process of things. 

We had to sit in the waiting room together for a little bit, and that was torturous. Of course I was kind of nervous about the surgery to start with, but they also had fresh coffee brewing for the friends and families of the patients. Do you know how hard it is for a caffeine addict to ignore the aroma of fresh brewed coffee at 6:30am when you can’t have any!? Let’s just say that it was horrible for me. Thankfully it wasn’t long before me took me back to the pre-op prep area. Dave was actually allowed to accompany me, which was nice. I got to give a urine sample, rub myself down with disinfectant wipes, put on a gown, have my temperature and blood pressure taken….all that kind of stuff. During this time I also got the first glimpse of my friend Colleen, who was working as the pre-op pharmacist. It’s so nice to have a friendly face around (other than out family) when you’re heading into surgery. While the nurses were bustling about the neurosurgical resident came by with a med student in tow to mark the leg they were supposed to be operating on with a sharpie. Then my neurosurgeon, Dr. Rodgers, came by before heading into the OR to make sure I didn’t have any last minute questions. Finally….my anesthesiologist came by. As a pharmacist, my primary concerns were all drug-related, so he was the poor guy who got peppered with a million questions and concerns from me. As soon as I started talking it became very apparent that I wasn’t some Joe-schmoe patient, so it didn’t take long for the anesthesiologist to figure out I was a pharmacist and start talking to me like a real person and not some kind of imbecile (which is how I feel when health care providers start talking to me like they do to every other normal patient….not that I blame them, I talk to patients in the exact same way). So once the anesthesiologist and I got talking on the same level, I quickly got the assurances I needed. Then it was time for me to get on the gurney. Colleen stopped by for a quick “see you later” and I said goodbye to Dave, and the anesthesiologist wheeled me away.  Continue reading The Day of Surgery

Yes, I’m Alive

Keep Calm Because I'm Back

My mother recently pointed out that I abruptly stopped blogging right after I posted that I was heading in for surgery, and that may leave some people wondering if I just died on the table. Given that I pretty much went silent on social media as well, she kind of had a point. So, I’m here to assure you that I survived surgery and am, in fact, alive and well.

I didn’t mean to just stop blogging. It wasn’t something I planned at all. In fact, I figured that I would have tons of time to write while I was recovering and that I would be blogging more than ever. Obviously, that didn’t happen. At first it was just because I was in pain, on a somewhat insane schedule of medications, and had absolutely nothing going on in my life – which inevitably leads to some writers block. Once I got out of the habit of writing every morning, it just became tough to get back into the habit. I’ve missed it at times, and I kept piling up post ideas in my head, but I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and write. Part of it is that I’ve been a bit too busy enjoying my new pain-free life. Let me tell you, it’s pretty liberating. But more on that tomorrow….

I don’t know if I’ll go back to posting quite as frequently as I was before. As I said, I can do a lot more now and I don’t want to feel chained to my laptop when I can be up doing stuff. Like gardening – my new favorite hobby (more on that later too). BUT….I am planning on posting somewhat regularly, perhaps just not quite as frequently as I was before my big break. It’s all going to depend on how much I have to say and how much time I feel like putting into it….and right now I don’t know what that looks like. What I do know is that I have a lot of stuff to catch everyone up on, starting tomorrow. 

To sum this post up in a nutshell…….I’M BAAAAAACK!!!

Until tomorrow, Ashlen

Surgery

Surgery

This post is scheduled to go live the same minute that I’m scheduled to be wheeled into OR #4 at Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis. I’ve mentioned this surgery before on the blog – it seems like just yesterday that I was writing about my emotions before going to the appointment with the physiatrist and not knowing for sure if I would be referred to a surgeon. Obviously I was referred to the surgeon (rather quickly, in fact) and was scheduled for the operation today. 

I’m having a left sacroiliac joint arthrodesis. I know that sounds big and complicated, but it’s not. The sacroiliac joint is where your spine (sacrum) connects to your pelvis (ilium). It’s held together with really strong ligaments so it doesn’t move around a whole lot. In fact, it’s barely supposed to move around at all, unless you’re giving birth. About 10 years ago I managed to damage those ligaments. Think of it kind of like a sprained ankle but in your hip / back. Because the area doesn’t get a ton of blood flow, the body can’t do a great job of healing and tightening those ligaments back up on its own. So my sacroiliac joint shimmies around a bit whenever I do just about anything, which then aggravates the nerves in the area, causes things to get inflamed and muscles to spasm, and then I get to feel a lot of pain. It’s not a whole lot of fun, and I really don’t recommend it. Unfortunately, sacroiliac join dysfunction isn’t the easiest thing to diagnose, which is why it took me so long to get here….to surgery. I’ve tried pretty much every non-surgical option in the book, and apparently I’m the perfect candidate for the surgery….unless you’re my insurance company, who apparently disagrees with about 5 different doctors and doesn’t think I need this surgery at all. Their recommendation? Do nothing. Just live in pain. The good news? When I get super fat from sitting around doing nothing because I’m in so much pain, I can get them to cover gastric bypass surgery. But the surgery that will allow me to lead a healthy active life and not get to the point where I need gastric bypass? No dice. Go figureContinue reading Surgery