Sunday, November 6, 2011

I've moved. Again.

I decided I needed to simplify and streamline my personal blogging. Please take note of the new blog address: http://michelle-dot-el.blogspot.com/

(I've pulled all the posts from this blog into my new blog.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tackling a Tonsillectomy

Well, I did it. It's over. I'm so relieved, but also still a bit ragged from it all. There were so many blessings that came along the way, but also some challenges that sort of caught me by surprise. I'll probably write more later, but today, I'm writing some practical tips for tackling a tonsillectomy for a friend who is soon to go through this. This one's for you, Brit.

- First of all, the anticipation is in many ways the worst part. Yes, this is a hard surgery, especially for adults, but it's also a rather predictable one. The process that your body will go through to heal is common and repeated. I did a ton of reading and the patterns I heard about played out for me. And so, as the scripture says, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." Or at least not fear as much.

- I will say right off the bat that I asked for priesthood blessings, and was completely shameless about asking for prayers. And I think that is why I went into surgery at peace. I also knew it was the right thing to do. That peace I exhibited surprised both me and my husband, but if that can happen to me, the queen of anxiety and worry, that can testify to you of the power of prayers and priesthood blessings and preparation.

- The recovery process is not like other surgeries where it's linear, getting better each day. The first few days are, relatively speaking, not the worst part. The worst pain hits around day 5 and can last for several days. If you know and remember that, it will make a huge difference mentally and emotionally.

- As such, I would highly recommend making sure you have help lined up for a full two weeks, somehow, if possible. I hired someone, a newlywed friend who didn't have a job, to come in. She did my dishes and picked kiddos up from school and helped with laundry and let me cry on her shoulder. I also had her read scriptures to me. That time listening and discussing my faith really helped me keep a better focus through it all. And she was just THERE so hubby could work and I could know that I was not going to be alone. I also knew myself well enough to know that having different people coming in and out would add to significant stress for me. I personally needed that consistency. Sadly, our plan to watch movies all day was eclipsed by the fact that I slept every late morning/afternoon.

- But happily, our plan to record all the crazy things I said on drugs never played out. I was scared spitless about taking narcotics; I've had a horrible experience with Lortab and was sure my experience with Percocet would be even worse (all of my sisters and mom get sick with these kinds of drugs). But I took anti-nausea meds faithfully throughout the time I took the meds, and they seriously made a HUGE difference during those hard days. I will say that I experienced the side effect of some pretty intense emotional downs, and that was something for which I wasn't prepared. There was one morning where I could. not. stop. crying. Again, knowing that this could happen is half the battle. Just factor in the weirdness of being on drugs as part of the process, and that can help. Figure out what amount you need for relief, and then stay up on that. It will help keep the pain at least bearable.

Other options to talk about that I had on hand to use are topical lidocaine suckers and/or a rinse/mouthwash. I didn't really use these, but I have heard others have. I bought Cloroseptic (didn't use that either). My doc uses Mobic (one a day is what I took) along with the narcotics. I think that helped during the worst days, and I used it alone as I weaned off the narcotics (my goal was to be done with the narcotics by the two-week mark, and I think I stopped taking them around day 12...by that point I was only taking them every 12 hours or so. I wasn't afraid to use them, but I also was anxious to get off of them.)

- One of the most important tips I can give you is to DRINK AND EAT (I'd say prioritize in that order) NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT HURTS. If you have seen Harry Potter, the scene from #6 in the cave was the mental picture I created for the woman I hired to help. "No matter what I say, Harry, you make me drink." That was her charge, and that was my challenge every day, every couple of hours. I bought cases of water that sat in my room, and had pretty much every known type of liquid nutrition known to man. I drank a lot of vitamin water, not so much Gatorade, a lot of regular water, some juices (don't do acidic ones! OUCH!), and some dairy (more later on...it can produce mucus that isn't comfy at first -- you'll figure that out).

Follow your doc's orders about what to eat or drink (some say no dairy at first, and some say only soft foods, etc.) But force yourself to do both. (Mine said it didn't really matter, although my own ENT who also does surgery takes a very conservative, soft-foods only approach, which was my choice...I pushed that for almost three weeks because I'm paranoid like that). Keep hydrated at all costs. And for me, consistently eating food not only meant that I never took meds on an empty stomach, but it kept strength up, AND helped me emotionally and mentally to not let the pain take over my life. My surgeon said without question that those who eat and drink heal faster. The pain also gets more out of control if you get dehydrated. I didn't lose weight for the first week and a half. It's been the last couple of weeks that I've struggled to maintain because I'm doing more but still haven't been eating normally, or enough. Food takes time to get reacquainted with. ;)

- I filled my freezer with pureed foods...fruits, juices with yogurt and cottage cheese, soups, pureed oatmeal. I wish I'd done more savory foods...too many sweets got old really fast. I wish I'd done more good hot cereals for variety and substance. For the first few days, I did a lot of broth with Ritz crackers dissolved in it, but that got old. Gatorade with yogurt was an interesting creation that I liked for a few days. But I didn't really want more popcicles and ice cream; I wanted real foods. (I am still craving protein, still trying to catch up on what I felt my body missed...it took me a while to feel brave enough to eat, even though my doc said I could eat whatever.) If your doc is ok with it, and you can tolerate it, protein drinks are a good option -- lots of calories and protein in only a few swallows. I used the plus version for an extra 100 calories. But again, I got sick of the sweet stuff. So think about that..think about what foods you can puree that you can have on hand or have someone make for you. (Later in the process when I felt a little more brave I made a potato soup with a bag of shredded hash browns boiled to serious softness in chicken broth (enough water to cover potatoes and then with bouillon cubes to match the amount , then mixed a can of evaporated milk and shredded cheddar cheese until smooth and bubbly.) You'll want to let any hot foods cool. I'm still feeling a little tender with really hot or really cold foods.

- Other tricks I used -- vaporizer (don't know if it made a difference, but I wanted to do all I could to keep my throat moist while I slept), gum (keeps saliva going and is something for my mouth to do), sleeping a lot (even though you'll want to be careful about not sleeping for too long at one chunk...want to keep up on meds). I also gave myself a LOT of time to eat. It usually took me 1-1/2 hours from start to finish to eat my meals. But the more you can focus on just your basics - drink, eat, sleep, the more your body can do its job.

- Get yourself some prune juice. This can help counteract the effects of the meds. I mixed mine with my daily pureed oatmeal, and even once blended it with pureed cottage cheese. (I'm not sure if you want to call that creative or desperate.)

- I don't know if this is normal (and sorry if this is too graphic, but I wish someone had told me they had experienced this), but I had serious green post nasal stuff that worried me. I was given antibiotics, but I honestly think it may have simply been my body's reaction to the surgery, a sort of natural lubrication response. It got lighter and better as I healed. And I never showed symptoms of a sinus infection, so that's what I'm guessing. But it was that kind of unknown stuff ("Is this normal?") that was hard for me. Don't hesitate to call your doc's office and ask questions. My nurse and I became really good friends. :)

- I tried to be careful not to bend over. I also slept with my head slightly elevated. But I am not sure whether those are things that make a difference or not. I just tried to be cautious and to do things that to me logically meant keeping any unnecessary extra blood flow to my mouth. I hear ice packs can help, but I never used them. The meds helped me through and my mental preparation for the bad days made a difference, I think.

- Please don't beat yourself up if you get discouraged through this. Plan on having and asking for not only the physical help and support, but also emotional help and support. Call me if you need to, and let yourself need what you need for weeks. It's a big deal, and people around you might need help remembering that it's going to take some time for normal to come back. For sure plan on two weeks, but then another two weeks to slowly ease back into life. I'm four weeks out and still tired, but feeling a little more like my whatever-my-normal-was-before normal.

You are strong and mighty, dear Brit. You will do great. And as my friend said, ultimately, it's in God's hands. Lean on Him lots during this. Look for the little blessings each day. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. But be sure to give yourself the space to say, "Baby, this is hard. I need to hunker down, and I need help. And I need time to heal."

I hope this helps. If you have questions, please ask! Or if I remember more, I'll share.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pre-Op Prep

Yes. Surgery. It's in my future. On my anniversary, actually. ("Honey, how would you feel about having a date with me at the hospital?") He's such a good hubby; so grateful he's willing to help, as unromantic as this will be.

I'm having my tonsils removed. I know, I know, it's an awful surgery for adults. Let's instead be hopeful. At least maybe I won't get strep any more. And maybe it will actually help me feel better?

I've had five strep diagnoses this year. Two of them may have been sort of false positives, but still, that's a lot of strep for someone who has never had it. I've also had chronic tonsillitis, as I recently found out. So they are coming out.

And I'm actually a little excited. The last two months have been AW.FUL. So, like my ENT said, if there is even a 50% possibility that doing this could help me feel better, it might just be worth it.

Right?

RIGHT?

Good answer.

And so, I'm stocking up on every form of liquid nourishment I can think of, and gratefully using my new BlendTec (birthday gift from the parents and from a year of 'no gifts from hubby to save up for it) to create different pureed foods. And I'm dreading being out of commission for two weeks, but I'm anxious to just get this over with.

I've discovered, however, that a lot of the eating experience is in the texture of foods.

Ah, well. Bring it on.

If you have any pureed nutrition ideas, bring them on!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beauty Redefined Billboard Campaign

One person -- or in this case, two people (twin sisters) -- can make a difference! I know I'm not alone in being disgusted at all the billboards and other materials (magazines, TV ads, etc. etc. etc.) that objectify women's bodies and communicate the message that worth = looks/weight/size etc.

Lindsay and Lexie Kite, Ph.D. students in Communications, have decided to take action to help give women different messages. This week, twelve billboards are going up along the I-15 corridor in Northern Utah that will be a contrast to the bikini beer ads, the plastic surgery ads, and others that line the freeway.

One of the things I love about what the Kites are doing is that they are teaching media literacy. Too often, people just absorb the messages from the media without looking at them critically, analyzing the dynamics, and challenging falsehoods with which we are bombarded. Once I talked with them, I started realizing how completely saturated our world is with these messages. I also feel more determined to help my children understand the truth about who they are, and how different that truth is from what they hear and see in the culture around them.

To learn more about the Beauty Redefined campaign, see beautyredefined.net

You can also read an interview I did with the Kite sisters.

And here is a recent news story about the Beauty Redefined billboard campaign.

 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My many selves are giving Google+ a +1

I have known for a while that I am a nerd, but this whole Google+ experience has sort of confirmed that for me. I love being part of a test run of this software. Bugs? Bring 'em on! Feedback is the name of the game, and I am a feedback fan. I love watching a business seek it and respond to and implement it. The Google+ people send videos to report on progress, post posts seeking specific input, and share glimpses of what is coming down the pipe (or is it pike? -- could someone settle that for me once and for all?) And I love learning from smart, true tech people...and let me assure you, there are a lot of such people engaging on Google+. Fun. Sometimes I still regret not getting the computer science degree I had originally declared.

My social and networking self is loving circles. LOV.ING. This is a different model from Facebook or LinkedIn -- no glaring "Only add this person if you know this person!!!" kind of message. Don't get me wrong; I think there is definitely a place for such caution, but I've been surprised at how much I enjoy the more open community-building that is happening on Google+. Other people can do my networking for me. I think that part will surprise some people, and, on the down side, it does make it hard to know who is a real possible contact you want to have, and who is just spamming accounts for connection. I still prefer leaning on someone else's recommendations before adding them to my circles.

As a business person, I think this kind of market competition and strategy implementation is a blast to watch. I can't wait to see what Facebook does in response (hint: it will have to be better than one-to-one video capability via Skype). I am anxious to see how Google+ will fit in strategically with  other Google features. I'm chomping at the bit to see how businesses and other organizations will be able to use Google+ (as of now, only individuals are allowed to use Google+).

The strategy, too, of building the anticipation through limited invites and the pretty-public-now field trial has fascinated me. To have this much attention and this many participants before launch is, in my view, brilliant. I also thought this article had some interesting points about how Google+ will be able to be used by professionals in ways other social media tools have not: Google+ Aims for the Professional

And my SEO enthusiast self is really wondering how this could impact the world of search engine dynamics. I've already seen some people report significant differences in their site traffic because of Google+. I'm sure some of that is coming from the novelty of the tool, but I will not be the least bit surprised if that impact also has a shelf life.

Just a few months ago, I couldn't imagine anything pulling people away from the investment they had made on Facebook. If anything will pull people away, Google+ is it. What a surprise? I guess we should have seen it coming.

And who knows what the future will hold?

Fun.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The body on the brain

I always find it interesting when different people end up posting about similar topics. I just posted something on having an eternal perspective about my body (hard to do sometimes with chronic illness and as I age), and then I found this post at Segullah called "Your Body is Special."

And then there was this post on Deep Beauty at Women in the Scriptures. (LOVE!)

Which then reminds me about the interview I had with the Beauty Redefined twins a few months back. (I'm so excited for their new billboards!) (This post is worth a glance, too -- the "Day of Beauty" video is amazing, and, of course, so is Stephanie Nielson (NieNie).)

And, hm, look at what was open in my browser tabs. I actually had it open for another reason, but "The Reflection in the Water" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is a perfect talk for this topic.

Add to that another post that just came to mind that was published just over a week ago at Mormon Mommy Blogs: "Dressing Like Barbie." If you read my Mormon Women post, you'll see that it was yet another post by Mona at MMB that got me thinking about Elder Bateman's quote, which is why I wrote that piece.

Obviously, a lot of people have the issue of what I call the doctrine of the body on their minds right now. (And that isn't even all the posts that are out there!) Clearly it's something we need to hear repeatedly.

Any other posts you want to add to the list? What are your thoughts on how to have a healthy relationship with your body?