The Rain Today Made Me Grateful

…that I am no longer delivering The Bag.  (That’s another event that happened during the too-long hiatus I took from writing on here.)  After about five weeks, I just reached my limit.  One of my friends told me later he was taking bets on how long I’d last.

The labor and the walking was not the reason why.  The last straw was when Steph and I sat down with a calculator and figured out that I was earning less than server’s minimum for the whole endeavor.  This takes into account the time we spend collating The Bag, putting it in their plastic containers, and then going out and delivering it.  I did it in the rain and in the heat, and I’m thankful I quit before the snow and ice came.  I’m sure the deliveries would’ve gone faster if I drove, instead of having to deliver The Bag in relays with my two-wheel grocery cart.  The wages were too low to miss, so I can’t say I feel the loss of the extra income.

Steph’s children’s music theory class performed in a recital in our living room this afternoon, and all the kids did quite well.  Oddly enough, many of the selections were Christmas songs, both sacred and secular.  (Carols refer to religious Christmas music: "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is a carol; "Frosty the Snowman" and "Silver Bells" are not.)  Parents (and grandparents) came, and stayed for refreshments afterwards.

Steph had another voice student post-recital, so I stayed upstairs in my study for a little while.  (Yet another change for the better–I moved my office out of the basement.  Steph was gracious enough to forfeit the craft room to me, since I got tired of working while I was downwind from the litter box.)  I was on Facebook for some of the time, then I drank some water and wrote in my diary.  After I put down my pen, I ventured out into the dusk and the cold rain to Giant Eagle to buy milk.  (I wanted to fill a prescription, too, but I forgot the pharmacy closes early on Sunday.)

Tomorrow is my last full week of work before the surgery.  The surgery is in 10 days, and I very briefly considered going to work that morning, and then walking over to Grant Hospital and meeting Steph there at my 12:20 check-in time.  I have an appointment with my general practitioner Thursday, a pre-operation examination.

Grant Hospital leaves nothing to chance.  Between my 12:20 check-in time and the 2:30 time for my surgery, I’m sure I’ll be filling out reams of paperwork.  A day or two before the CT scan where my gallstones were discovered, a woman from Grant Hospital called me to verify my living will and my do-not-resuscitate orders.  How dangerous can a CT scan be?  But, I’m sure they’ll ask me again about the living will–yes, it’s still in effect, and I’m still an organ donor.

They’ll have me thoroughly petrified by the time they’re ready to put me under!

While the Blog Was on Hiatus…

Started to stream Brandywine Radio for music.  Ended up listening to a high school basketball game between Archbishop Prendergast and Cardinal O’Hara.  Switched to Windows Media Player!

When I finished yesterday’s blog, I left my readers (all three of them) on edge with a promise to bring everyone up to speed on changes in my family’s life during the time I neglected to write in here.

As I type, Steph and her band are rehearsing in the living room.  Complete with a bass player, a pianist, a drummer, and guitarist, they’re hoping to perform at major festivals this spring and summer–Italian Festival, Comfest, Via Colori, etc.  Steph sets a good table for these rehearsals.  Tonight it was chili.  I had a single helping, but wanted more.  (I’m taking much smaller portions these days to avoid upset stomach later.)

Steph has many new voice and piano students, of all ages.  She and Pat finally put their heads together and developed a Website,, and once it was off and running, the phone and emails began rolling in.  One of her voice students, Lea Keiffer, gave a very powerful and stellar recital in our living room the Sunday before last.

Susie left Dominion Middle School just before the Christmas holiday.  She stayed in long enough to perform as the Duchess in the school play, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but then she returned to homeschooling.  The chaotic and unchallenging curriculum, the bureaucratic incompetence, the arbitrary enforcement of non-issue rules (such as dress codes), all added up to a decision that Columbus Public School could serve no functioning in educating someone as intelligent as Susie.  So she is being semi-homeschooled.

Susie now attends the Buckeye Online School for Success, which is totally free of charge.  She takes her classes online.  The school kept UPS busy in our neighborhood for 2-3 days.  They mailed her textbooks, a computer, a scanner, and a printer, all of it free of charge.  And they reimburse us the cost of our Internet service.  So Susie is usually awake by 7 a.m., and she’s at the computer working on math, English, or geography by the time I’m heading out the door to work.

I’m glad that I walked this evening from work, 4.1 miles per Google Maps.  I’ll have to be taking it easy for the first week or so after the surgery.  It’s a laporoscopic procedure, so I’ll heal a lot more rapidly, and there won’t be as much of a scar, but that does not mean I can come home from the hospital and run a triathalon.  Reading between the lines, it sounds like I’d be wise to stick close to a bathroom for a day or two.

It sounds like the gallbladder is an organ your body won’t miss.  It’s not 100% useless, like the appendix and the tonsils, but the liver should quickly learn to live without it.  That’s why I have to take it easy, activity- and food-wise, the first few days after surgery, as my liver adjusts to having to secrete bile directly into the duodenum, without the gallbladder there to serve as a reservoir.

On my Google home page, I’ve set up a timer that’s counting backwards until the surgery.  It reminds me of those "countdown clocks" that NBC News would have on the screen during moon launches.

Galling Motivation to Resume Blog

When I logged onto the LiveJournal site, the notation that I last posted here 14 weeks ago jumped out at me like a stern rebuke.  I won’t clutter cyberspace with promises that I will write in here faithfully from now on.  "One day at a time" is a maxim that applies to blogs and diary-writing as much as it does to 12-Step groups.

So, what motivates me to sit down at the laptop and type out an entry in this oh-so-neglected blog?

Your intrepid, yet delinquent, diarist will be going under the knife in less than two weeks.

Steph and I were so happy that we managed to sail through 2009 with no hospitalizations and no surgery, so I guess we got too cocky.

In the fall, I began experiencing chronic lower abdominal pain and discomfort.  It wasn’t going on 24/7, and the pain wasn’t enough to seriously disrupt my life–except it’s put my long-distance walking on hold.  (I hope to rectify that tomorrow by walking home from work tomorrow–all 4.25 miles–unless it’s pouring rain.)

My doctor finally ordered a CT scan, after poking, prodding, and prescribing, and then throwing up his hands and saying, "Not finding anything."  So, after work, I headed to Grant Hospital (where Susie was born 12 years ago) and had the worst dinner of my life: Two cups of barium.  I came damn close to doing a perfect imitation of Linda Blair in The Exorcist after I swallowed the barium.

A week later, my doctor’s nurse called me at work.  According to the CT scan, I have gallstones.  She referred me to a surgeon at Grant, and Steph and I met with him yesterday.

I have a gallstone that is close to blocking a common bile duct.  It’s not posing any immediate danger, but it could in the near future.  I don’t want to wait for that other shoe to drop, so I said, "Go ahead and schedule me."  I met with his nurse, and I will be undergoing a complete cholecystectomy on the third of February.  (That’s a removal of the gallbladder.)  The body can adjust quite easily to not having a gallbladder.  The liver adjusts its bile production so that it goes straight to the duodenum.  And with no gallbladder, no gallstones!

Since I have narcolepsy, the surgeon wants to keep me in the hospital overnight to observe me as I come out of the anesthesia.  Plus, they’ll keep me in the recovery room for at least four hours (the usual time is one hour).  Then, I plan to take about a week off from work to mend.  (The nurse encouraged me to get up and move around as soon as I can.  The worst thing is to stay bedbound afterward, but you shouldn’t go out and run a triathalon immediately either.)

This isn’t the type of medical situation where we’re in crisis, or where things are constantly in worrisome flux, so I’ll be going to work until the day before surgery.  As opposed to Steph’s heart surgery in ’08, this is a relatively minor and simple procedure.

It’ll be my fourth major surgery.  At the age of five, I had a tonsillectomy.  At 10, I had plastic surgery on my upper lip to remove a birthmark.  (Not many friends of mine know this–I’ve had facial hair almost continuously since I was old enough to grow it, partially to hide what remains of the scar.)  When Susie was four months old, I had a vasectomy.  So I am not fearful of surgery.  I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m not dreading it either.

I’m not dreading it, with one exception.  I’m forbidden to take aspirin or ibuprofen or any blood-thinning medication for a week prior to the operation, so if I get a bad headache, I just have to ride it out.

There’s a lot to update you about concerning my family and household, but I’ll save that for a (near) future entry.  It gives me material to keep this blog current for the time being.