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Published: November 12th 2016
A month post-surgery on an excursion with friends. One more for my cartoon-head trash can series!
OK - it's been almost two months since my surgery and several friends have nudged me to get this blog published, so it's finally time. I must confess that a big reason I haven't completed this entry sooner is that during my weeks of recuperation in bed I became a Netflix addict and I'm still binge-watching several series! Seven seasons on Gilmore Girls - light romance that made me think a lot of my sister and her then adolescent daughter watching this show together. Interesting how many references there were to 'Hillary for President' and the show was filmed 15 years ago!
In the week leading up to my operation after I posted on facebook I received literally hundreds of good wishes. I felt so enveloped by love and caring thoughts. Several of my Ecuadorian friends send prayers for G-d to guide the hand of the surgeon. I believe in the power of prayer and all went very well, so the many blessings I received clearly worked!
On the day of the surgery my dear friend Michelle dropped me at the clinic at 6:30 am and I was relaxing in my upstairs room by 7:00
CiCi & Bonez on the farm
While I was up in Quito for my surgery, Delery & Vic kept CiCi on their farm. She and Bonez had a ball!!
-- big windows on two sides with stunning views of early morning light glinting off Cotopaxi volcano (completely conical - Ecuador's Mt. Fuji!). As the nurses shaved my "suprapubic" area, I had an unobstructed view of the statue of the Virgen del Panecillo on the "bread roll" hill in Quito's historical old town. I didn't feel nervous as I was wheeled down to the operating theatre. On the way in I glimpsed my surgeon laughing in the "green room" with other docs and I felt even more relaxed.
Before he injected my spine with the epidural the anesthesiologist gave me a reassuring hug, as did my surgeon. I've known Dr Edison for almost a decade and he's been following my progress since the mass was detected almost 2 years ago. We decided together that now it was time for 'claudia' to be removed, and I felt completely comfortable with him performing the operation. Having said that, as my legs went numb and they draped me with sheets, my eyes teared up as I imagined the scalpel cutting into my skin so I asked for a sedative to help me calm down a bit.
Hi everybody! I'm so glad my mommy's home!
next thing I remember is the surgeon asking if I wanted to see the tumor he'd just removed, a fist-sized hunk of slimy red meat, like wads of liver stuck together. I'll never forget that disgusting sight. When he came to visit me later that evening the doc informed me that the growth encapsulating my left ovary had also invaded my uterus so he'd had to cut into it, like splitting open a papaya he explained to me. He likened my surgery to a mini-cesarean, however he managed to save both the uterus and the ovary so I still have all my original parts! I am grateful for my excellent insurance - I've been with Salud S.A. for 10 yrs and my monthly premium has risen from $80-$120 in that time. My co-pay for visits, lab tests, imaging has always been minimal....and my total out-of-pocket cost for this operation was $100.31 (including surgeon fees, anesthesia, nursing care, overnight in the clinic, all meds administered) NO complaints here!
Returning to my room, the nurses worked together to gently roll me onto my bed..."No soy Barbie!" I quipped! – Nurses and interns were in and out all afternoon to
Cuddling her Sylvester the Cat - she didn't seem much bothered that they'd shaven off all her fur
add antibiotic and analgesic to my IV drip. I wasn't allowed to even roll over, so I had to ask them to do everything for me -- open the window, close the curtain, move my phone within reach... never have I felt so totally helpless! They told me not to chat too long since talking could fill my gut with gases. Jeez! They finally let me drink some chamomile tea around 4:00 pm (soo thirsty!) and served me chicken broth a few hours later. My doctor stopped in to check on me just before I drifted off to sleep. He confirmed that everything had gone exceedingly well! He said that he'd gotten in and out in about 40 minutes, which was great since surgeries over an hour are much more prone to infection.
I slept surprisingly well, and it wasn't until they came in the morning to cleanse the wound that I realized that I'd been wearing a diaper all night, and had a catheter inside me! They removed both and marveled at the fact that there'd been no bleeding at all. Within a few hours of when I awoke I was able to get up by
De-facing her bear
CiCi loves to remove the nose and pull out all the stuffing. She won't let me throw them away afterwards, so we have dozens of flat un-stuffed animals around!
myself and make it to the bathroom. I even managed a shower. All were amazed at how well I was feeling and how quickly. The doc came in to discharge me, but I relaxed and watched TV for a couple of hours until Michelle could come and pick me up after her Pilates class. There are several stretches of unpaved road on the way to Michelle's and I was in agony with each bump and shuffle.
The next four days I stayed mostly in bed at Michelle's house, still in quite a bit of discomfort each time I had to get up to go to the bathroom. I took Ibuprofen for pain, but nothing more. I was in contact with my big brother, Lee, who'd had colon surgery the week before and he commented that it felt like his organs were shifting around to find new placement. I could relate, I felt the same sensation every time I rolled over or got up from a sitting or lying down position. While trying to lie low, Michelle fixed me yummy, nutritious meals and I watched the mini-series 'Stranger Things'. Only one problem, there were a number of scary
Six weeks after the "close shave" CiCi's fur is finally starting to grow back. Who knows, I may shave her again in a few months!
parts & abrupt surprises which made me startle or jump causing a knife-like pain in my gut!
I had loaded my truck with donations in the days leading up to the surgery and now my friend Jean was on hand to drive me back down to Baños. I wasn't sure how I'd feel on the three hour ride home; holding a pillow against my gut I felt almost no discomfort on the whole trip! Jean stayed upstairs in my room and I had wisely moved my toiletries and necessities to the downstairs bedroom and bathroom. Over the next two weeks I tried to limit myself to one trip upstairs per day! Alas, Jean had a nasty cold so I ended up taking care of her as much as she took care of me. I felt well enough to do some basic cooking and friends brought over soup and chili and mac'n'cheese! I few days after I got home we hosted a pot-luck luncheon -- lots of great leftovers!
Even more than internal pain what I was experiencing was extreme discomfort. I carry most of my weight in my belly and since the doc had
Dogs at Work
Looking out over the edge of the upstairs terrace, these guys made sure there were no invaders in the yard!
to cut the muscle the weight of it hanging down was horribly uncomfortable. I found an old back brace (like an extra-wide ace bandage) and used that as a belt while wearing my tightest leggings and yoga pants. The shaven area was starting to grow out and the nubs rubbed against the elastic belt, so I was not a happy camper for a week or so. At the luncheon, Carol & Kirk asked me if there was anywhere in Baños to rent a vehicle -- they had friends from the states staying at an Air B'n'B house on the Ecuadorian Coast and they wanted to take a trip down with their dogs. Since I was not permitted to drive for another week, they rented my truck. Renting a vehicle is quite expensive in Ecuador, so I charged them half of what they would have paid Budget and their rental payment bought me new tires!
A few days after I got home I was semi-napping one afternoon when I felt a little doggie nose nudge me. "Whose pup are you?" I asked the short-haired cutie at my bedside. CiCi's fur had been shaven so short that I didn't
Worried & Scared
CiCi looked after Bonez during the fireworks boom booms. Bonezy does NOT like loud noises! Later their beds were moved in beside my bed!
even recognize her! She'd been on Delery & Vic's farm with her buddy Bonez and I guess she got filthy dirty and full of burrs & pricklies so Del took her to the vet to be groomed. Del's Spanish is still quite basic and I guess she didn't understand what the vet tech was asking, and she just said Yes. Such a close shave that CiCi's freckly pink skin was showing AND her toenails were polished pink! Fortunately Del took the pink bows off her ears before bringing her home but there were telltale bald spots in the fur where they'd been glued on! For the first few weeks I was home I hired my cleaning gal's 12 yr old son to walk her 2-3 times a day. The kids in the neighborhood didn't recognize her at first either! "Who knew," said my friend Julie - "two cute dogs in one!"
Del & Vic had to go to the states soon after and their dog-sitter had to go out of town so Kirk was the fall-back...but Bonez was terrified of his cats and he was worn out keeping Bonez from running off, so I offered
Look closely - you can count dozens of avocados. This year's crop was amazing -- so creamy & delish!
to take him up to my house. October is Fiestas de Baños and each neighborhood tries to outdo the others with decorations and fireworks. Poor Bonezy gets stressed out with all the boom booms. I didn't have his 'thundervest' so I used my back brace to swaddle him and pulled his bed into my room. CiCi isn't bothered by the noise, but she was so worried about her buddy Bonez!
I moved back upstairs to my bedroom, only to discover that the small round mirrored window beside my bed had attracted a little bird; every morning and evening at 5:45 the birdie peck peck pecks at the window...incessantly! I've finally gotten CiCi trained to let me sleep until 6:30 or so and now this little 'pecker' is waking me even earlier! I cut out paper in the shapes of owls and stuck them to the inside of the window, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. I thought of throwing mud up at the window to dull the reflection - don't really want to throw rocks at the bird but I'm getting desperate! It's been an amazing avocado season and CiCi and I each
Lunch in Pillaro
With good friend Carol enjoying an excursion to eat Pato al Lodo (duck cooked in clay pots underground). Thanks for the foto Ron!
eat about an avocado a day!
The BIB Bazar secondhand shop was closed for a few weeks, for roof repairs and because I was going to be out of commission. I had mentioned to some of the customers that I would be having surgery and my first day back at the shop everybody asked how it had gone, how I was feeling, told me they'd been praying for me. Such a nice community of people has grown up around the Children's Library and now the shop as well. There's a new Yoga teacher in town - Ron leads a class three mornings a week in the theater at the biblioteca (BIB) and a month post-surgery I was ready to start gentle stretching. Feels great to resume my yoga practice after so long. I must make it a habit, something that I'll do on my own even when there's not a class to urge me on. I enjoy swimming in the thermal pools and taking long walks with CiCi -- so good to be exercising regularly - I've got to tighten up that saggy tummy!!
It felt good to be able to drive again --
On the Ruta de las Cascadas, Scarlett gets a rinse off under this mini-waterfall.
I did another airport run up to Quito, drove around an old friend & his new Mexican wife who were visiting Baños, and had a wonderful Sunday excursion to Patate & Pillaro (the agricultural valleys just below Baños) with Carol & Ron. We ate a local specialty, Pato al Lodo - Duck cooked underground in clay pots. I've enjoyed giving Spanish lessons to Ron (he's my teacher and I'm his) and helping a few of the neighborhood kids with English (the teacher at the High School is not very prepared) - It's nice to keep my hand in teaching now and again.
Quito hosted the United Nations Habitat III conference and my dear friend Tamara came down to attend & look for work in her field, Urban Planning. Tamara (aka Mama T) and I met on the coast of Ecuador in 2007 and we adopted sweet Chaco pup together (co-madres who shared his care when one or the other of us had to travel) Tamara spent a couple of weeks at my place preparing for the conference and we enjoyed time together. We took an excursion down to Puyo (on the edge of the Amazon Basin) where
Mama T & Mama J
With old friend Tamara (my former co-madre when Chaco was my pup) - she's back in Ecuador looking for a job!
I got to do the handicraft buying for my friends Art Gallery in Puerto Lopez (Baul de Tesoros - Treasure Chest) and acted as buy for another friend's daughter who has a cool shop up in Bishop, Calif called Nuts'n'Twigs. Fun to spend someone else's money!
After the conference Tamara & I took a trip down to the coast together and stayed in my old cabana -- the folks who bought it have been super generous about letting me stay there whenever I want, even though the new owners weren't there! Mama T & Mama J relived some sweet times together, back in the same place where we'd loved on Chaco this time with CiCi along. Only difference, Chaco loved to run and play in the surf -- CiCi is scared of the waves and kept her distance from the noisy, scary big ocean!
Even though I had my camera along, I didn't take any photos. Hopefully some of the friends we visited on the coast will post some pics on facebook so I can nab them. En route home (just me and CiCi - Tamara continued north up the coast) we spent a night with dear friends in Guayaquil and shot down to Cuenca to pick up more donations. I'm REALLY glad to be home after the last three days in a row driving, 4 hrs, 5 hrs & 6 hrs respectively. Thank heavens for audiobooks!! Thanks for reading....and I know you're all relieved that I didn't publish any pics of my tumor or my scar!!! Hasta la proxima -- catch ya next time!
Tot: 1.612s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 16; qc: 74; dbt: 0.0459s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 3;
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