Chronic pain vs. chronic pain

Hmmmmm … where do I begin?  I guess at the start.

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked.

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end, then stop.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

My chronic pain of dysmenorrhea.(and then hysterectomy) was initially why I started this blog. Bleh … over and done with thanks to surgical intervention! The chronic pain was dysmenorrwhat … [dis – men – oh – reeeee – uh]. Yes, dysmenorrhea.  Kind of sounds like diarrhea, but it’s not. For many years I suffered with this biatch of a uterus cramper and torturer … pain so bad it traveled down my low back into my legs leaving me more fatigued than the after effects of a man having had an orgasm for the first time in a decade — and not in any good way!

Now I have my special new diagnosis of chronic pain from neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS).

Symptoms of Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:

  • Numbness and tingling in hands and fingers.
  • Neck and shoulder pain.
  • Neck muscle spasm.
  • Headache on affected side or both sides — occipital headache.
  • Worsened symptoms with overhead use of that extremity.
  • Pain or weakness in the shoulder,  arm and/or hands.
  • One arm that tires quickly.
  • Atrophy — shrinking and weakness — of the pad of the thumb, the muscle of the palm that leads to the thumb; this is quite rare.
  • Symptoms may come and go, but they are often made worse when the affected arm is held up. The longer the arms stay up, the worse the symptoms can get.
  • Arm pain at night causing pain-related insomnia.
  • Crankiness with curt answers due to a constant state of pain (that’s my own symptom I added to the list).

NEUROGENIC — Arising from or caused by nerves.

THORACIC OUTLET — Not to be confused with any outlet in your dwelling … if you live in a teepee of course there are no outlets to confuse you  — just this one. The thoracic outlet is a grouping of blood vessels (veins and arteries) and nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet).   (see pic below)

SYNDROME — Something fun and extra in your life that makes you special!  Often something that people can’t tell you have just by looking or talking to you, and will not care about because who wants to talk about you and your pain or syndrome or whatever it is.  BORING!  NEXT!  Actually, syndrome means a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease, a psychological disorder or another abnormal condition … or a group of physical symptoms making you feel like you’re developing a psychological disorder!

ntos

Hope YOU are paying attention because there’s a quiz later!

From the Mayo Clinic … not to be confused with the Mayonnaise Clinic — that’s a different place altogether if such a beast exists!  Mmmm … I do love mayo!

Neurogenic (neurological) thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS):

This form of thoracic outlet syndrome is characterized by compression of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that come from your spinal cord and control muscle movements and sensation in your shoulder, arm and hand [mentally f*ucking with your brain and emotions].

nTOS sounds much more exotic than that icky dysmenorrhea stuff.  People look at me like I’m from Mars (or an escapee from a psych ward) when I say I have neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome … I might as well have said , “I have gooby jooby hooka pawna wawna syndrome and it hurts!”.  Then I have to explain it in easy to understand terms … If they haven’t fallen into a coma by then.

I’ve been a desk jockey for 11 years (yes, I am a desk nurse), and all the typing with mousing has contributed to this horrible posture — the leaning forward of my head with overuse of my arms and hands … repetitive motion disorder … also, consider 8-9 hours a day at a desk sitting plus a total to and from commute to work of an hour of sitting.  Then of course, after the brain gymnasium (AKA work) I come home and sit some more spending time on the couch (the pseudo brain playground to destress from work — I sit and relax from my day of sitting).  I probably total 10-14 hours of sitting daily!  That’s probably why I have a flat @ss!  I ain’t got no glutey in the booty!

My point with this comparison is I’m not sure which is worse: Dysmenorrhea or nTOS.  With dysmenorrhea I was in acute pain for 3-5 days on average every month.  With nTOS the pain isn’t as acute but it’s with me every day, some days worse than others.  At least with dysmenorrhea I got a total reprieve for the majority of the month. nTOS is like herpes … the gift that keeps on giving while chronic like COPD!

My nTOS pain to my right arm woke me up at night (saying, “F*ck you!  I hate you!  Get up and suffer — NOW!”) sometime between 2 am and 4 am and I couldn’t go back to sleep until I got on Trazodone — a medication I didn’t associate with good thoughts because there are some people on Trazodone with severe mental disorders and I don’t want to be in that group — I have enough problems.  But now that my pride has waned, I’m able to swallow this bitter pill; I associate my low-dose Trazodone with restorative sleep that gets me all the way through the night WITHOUT PAIN!  I know longer stereotype people on Trazodone!

Here’s a duh comment for you: sleep is important.

Sleep is like ammunition for your body — you wouldn’t go into war without enough bullets would you?  First of all, I wouldn’t go into war — they wouldn’t take me anyway, and secondly, I would never abandon my cats.  Life without cats is worse than life with nTOS!

sleep infographic

“Losing four hours of sleep is comparable to drinking a six-pack of beer [or a bottle wine — I don’t often drink beer],” says Tom Rath, Author of the New York Times bestselling book, Eat Move Sleep.

“I don’t want to be in a serious meeting with a person who drank six beers or lost four hours of sleep. I don’t want my child’s teacher to be that person. I don’t want my doctor to be that person. Still, we don’t view the two scenarios (beer drinking and not sleeping) as equal. In fact, our culture views a person who needs sleep, as a person with a weakness [my emphasis]. “

Right now to combat my nTos, and yes, this is war folks … I’m doing the following:

  1. Physical Therapy with McKenzie exercises
  2. Taking Trazodone nightly
  3. Taking Lyrica (pregabalin) (I stopped — it gave me elevated scary blood pressure)
  4. Acupuncture  (I stopped — it wasn’t working)
  5. Myofascial release massage therapy 
  6. Topical analgesics (AKA strong smelling camphor & methyl salicylate based ointments)
  7. Trying to find the person who is using me as a voodoo doll!  (this search has been in vain so far)

I have yet to get back into chiropracty  … I’m already busy with all the above.

cat stretches

I’m not sure if nTOS has an end or it’s something I live with for the rest of my life or I have surgery down the line to correct it or I move to Washington or Colorado living off medical marijuana —- NOT!  At least with my severe dysmenorrhea the surgery of hysterectomy was a curative solution.  I don’t need surgery for nTOS and it’s not recommended either … not yet anyway!

nTOS is an expensive hobby to have!  I don’t recommend it in the least (for many reasons — chiefly PAIN!).  On the upside of all this, my husband built me a standing desk for home.  Nothing can be done for my work station at this point with my job.  My supervisor didn’t even believe that sitting was bad for you until just earlier this year.  I’ve know this for at least 9 years.  My supervisor came out and proclaimed how bad sitting was after reading an article … when I told my boss almost a decade ago the look I got was like I was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and simply a malingering hypochondriac … oh, and that I was a special princess now needing special treatment and office equipment. Ugh.

sitting is killing you

Sitting is the new smoking … have you heard?

During the past year, sitting has become the new smoking. “Past studies have found,” declares a 2014 article in The New York Times, “The more hours that people spend sitting, the more likely they are to develop diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, and potentially to die prematurely — even if they exercise regularly.”

What’s the science behind this alarming claim?

The animated TED-ED video (below) begins to paint the picture.

I’ve moved on to one intermittent chronic pain condition to a new constant chronic pain condition.  In comparison, dysmenorrhea was better if I had to choose one sucky disorder over another!

This is probably the end of this blog as I’m planning on starting a new blog related to my chronic nTOS pain and subjects related to this issue.  Oh joy, hold onto your pants because I know you can’t wait!  Cats will continue to be part of the new blog … stay tuned!  MeOW!

I will let you know my new blog site once I get it started … sorry to leave all of you who have hung in for hysterectomy information (go read some old posts … like all of them) … and for those of you here for the cats — you’ll still get cat stuff in the upcoming blog!  Yay!  Cat stuff!❤

cat stay tuned


 

 

 

Why I have not posted lately

No one has asked, but somehow I feel better putting this answer out into the blogosphere.

I have not written any posts since June because my right arm hurts A LOT and typing aggravates the pain.  I have gone through some testing and have neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (NTOS) — pretty fancy schmancy sounding isn’t?  If you want to know what it is click on the hyperlink because I’m not taking any more time to type this out.

I’m so fancy with my new diagnosis and all … kind of like Iggy Azalea … or not:

Fancy

LYRICS TO FANCY because if you’re like me, you really don’t know what she’s saying and this video has explicit words I would have never caught (like I really give a f*ck) … but could only read (find) through the lyrics.  I especially like the chorus.

I’m so fancy
You already know
I’m in the fast lane, from L.A to Tokyo
I’m so fancy
Can’t you taste this gold?
Remember my name, about to blow

~ Iggy Azalea

Hmmm … isn’t it interesting when some songs are sung they are so much better than when you read their lyrics?  Honestly, these words look idiotic to me as I read them, but her honey voice make them come alive!


I have written many posts in my head.  They have not made it to my blog.  I am sad about this because:

  1. YOU don’t get to enjoy my reading (and count my grammatical errors)
  2. Writing is my therapy

Strangely enough people are still visiting this site … I guess it’s all my glorious free information.  And perhaps the cats.  It’s always the cats.

cats in hats

My husband says I’m the one on the right and he’s the one on the left … I disagree.  He’s the one always talking and yammering on as I sit and listen.

I’m still alive.  I’m not dead.  I love responding to anyone who is brave enough to pose comments and questions for me.   As for my arm and my NTOS I start physical therapy next week.  My speculation as to how I got NTOS is from my desk jockey job of almost 11 years … type … type … type … type … oy vey!  If you haven’t discovered it yet SITTING IS BAD FOR YOU!  And it’s not likely I’ll ever change jobs so I’m stuck with this sh*t.

Hey things could be worse … things can always be worse.

things can get worse cartoon

Boy, aren’t they in for a big surprise!

PS: My hand and arm hurt.  I’ve written too much already.

PPS: My 2 year hysterectomy anniversary came and went without event.  Sorry no post on that day.

PPPS: My “Frankentoe” (scroll down in that post and you’ll see the toe I’m referring to) is healed!  Maybe when I get off my lazy tuches I’ll post an updated photo.  Maybe.  Or YOU can simply use your imagination as to what a healthy great toe looks like.  Remember imagination before everyone spoon fed you images?


 

Heterogenous (post) Hysterectomy Happenings.

Yep, you read it, I said it.

HETEROGENOUS  (post) HYSTERECTOMY HAPPENINGS …

I have so much to say and it’s all discombobulated.  Furthermore I don’t care … and neither should you!  The problem is WHERE to begin.

Let’s start with my anniversary dinner and wine promises.  To sum it up our anniversary was amazing.  This is my favorite holiday.  Some people like Christmas, others Thanksgiving, some Valentine’s … others Flag day (that was flag not fag).  Actually, there is no Fag Day, but there is NCOD (National Coming Out Day) — just so you know.

We went to one of my favorite restaurants.  I wasn’t very creative; there are A LOT of restaurants from which to chose in my eat-out city but I chose our old stand by.

I chose the place because:

  • Healthy food choices
  • Excellent wine list
  • Close to home
  • Great Phenomenal kiss-my-@ss service
  • Free dessert with mention of any special occasion
  • It’s my go-to place with the hubby
  • It’s dimly lit (how romantic!)

I won’t recommend others to come here because if they go and tell me it was “meh” it will break my heart … possibly altering the friendship forever.  I’m not joking.

Here’s what we drunked & eated:

  • Grilled artichokes (appetizer) with aioli from the mother of goddess
  • One blue cheese olive (4 olives) stuffed martini each
  • Beet, walnut, goat cheese salad (and it wasn’t too goaty!)
  • Italian wine (1.5 glasses each!)
  • Striped bass topped with spicy shrimp & sautéed spinach with Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Filet mignon (medium rare) & a crab cake with kale pepita salad
  • Petits Pots de Crème à l’Orange (on the house Baby!)  (see photo below)

Anniversary 8

I cannot even begin to explain how much I love this restaurant.

Every server we have each time is top f-cking notch!  I told myself I was going to have only one drink — a glass of wine to be exact but … it was our anniversary and this restaurant makes killer martinis to die for and wine that cannot not be experienced.  I caved and couldn’t resist!  I was only going to have one glass of wine, but our server pushed us to split another glass (he didn’t have to push very hard) … twist my arm baby.  It had to happen.  So, instead of one to two drinks, I had 2.5 special beverages over almost three hours time.  Yes, we were there for quite a while and I wasn’t driving home — the man who weighs more and makes more alcohol dyhydrogenase was!

Let’s just say when you don’t drink for quite some time, you become a lightweight again.  I felt the buzz … a little too much, but no regrets.  Especially worth THE WINE!

Centoneze Frappato anyone?

[Frappto’s] a grape variety that yields beautifully fresh, floral, lighter-style reds, even in the warm climate of Sicily. This is a truly seductive, floral example.

Centonze Frappato 2013 Sicily, Italy

13% alcohol. Succulent, supple, floral nose of red cherries and rose petals. On the palate this shows supple, sweet fruit with red cherries and plums. It’s quite light-bodied, but generously flavored, with a slightly grainy structure. Fresh, supple, pretty and delicious. 91/100.

Kitties and wine

Per Madeline Puckette, wine geekess extraordinaire: 

Ever notice the lack of consideration that dieting has for your wine habit?

How are you supposed to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle if it completely removes a wine lover’s reason to live? Not to worry, there has been overwhelming evidence pointing to wine as a healthy form of booze when consumed in moderation. Here’s how you can stay healthy and still enjoy wine.

The following 7 tips may help you enjoy a healthy diet that includes wine.

Know wine’s calories   [yeah, right]
Earn your glass   [sure]
Don’t drink before you eat   [why?]
Do drink dry red wine   [usually, of course]
Don’t drink too late   [OK, OK … I know, but what’s the definition of “too late?”]
Do spend more on wine   [at least a minimum of $10]
Drink wine away from home   [or at home if you don’t want to risk a DWI]

How did I stack up with her 7 tips?

  • I didn’t give one rat’s @ss about the calories.  Seriously.  I wanted Italian wine which reviewed well and that alone was my criteria.  Life’s too short to count calories.  Plus I’m not so hot at math … and neither are cats.
  • Earn your glass.  Hell yeah!  I’ve been married 8 years and it feels more like 20!  I probably earned at least a case of wine that night, but I know my limits (sometimes).
  • I drank while I ate … I ate the artichokes with the martini.
  • I then drank RED wine with dinner.
  • Too late?  Nope, we had reservations at 6 pm like old people!
  • We spent enough on the wine.  Plenty …  but not breaking the bank kind of thing … that’s silly.  And no, no, no, no, no 2 buck upchuck for me.  Gross.
  • Yes, we drank away from home — it’s called eating out.

In total, I scored 6 out of 7 on Madeline’s list — that’s about 86% on the money; who said me and a calculator can’t do math!  (or maths for all you UK people reading this!)

cat math math cat

Math Cat says, “This math stuffs gets harder and harder, but the most difficult part is writing because I don’t have opposable thumbs.”

I celebrated like a queen!  We had a great time!  The next day I gained some weight, but told myself JUNE is a new month to start over with weight loss, eating healthy and getting fit … and then … MY STUPID TOENAIL.😦

My Franken Toe

UGLY toe

Oh my … this is so ugly.  Go wash your brain now — preferably with a glass of Côtes du Rhône.

Believe it or not, this great toe looked worse one month ago!  This is the improved “healing” version.  I sound like a wimp, but whatevs folks … this mother-f-cking toe hurts!  Everything I do, my toe says, “Hey, feel me!  I hurt!  Ow!  I need attention.  Me!  Me!  Me!” I’m now limited with my physical activity related to this thing.

Wondering how I got this beauty?  I lifted a terra cotta pot at my dad’s house that was disintegrating while taking it to the trash and it fell into multiple, heavy shards directly onto my great toe — that’s not so great now.  F-cking A.  F-cking O.  It hurt so much.  It bled more than my heaviest period, I cried for two hours straight and iced it it down with holding pressure.  I had to ask my dad for the medication he had from 2014 from his knee surgery just to control the pain.  He complied and I felt a wee bit better.

I’m sorry for such an ugly picture when I know I should be posting a picture of a beautiful cat.  Here’s my lovely cat so you can clear your mind of that ugly toe.

Handsome Mr. T!

Handsome Teo

This is one of my REAL LIFE cats!  Can you believe how gorgeous he is?!  My friend Tunie calls this a “money shot”!  Ha!  He’s one bad@ss furbear!


Sooooooooo … my point is … I drank wine because I wanted to celebrate.  I can’t work out like I want (need) to because my toe has messed up everything (for a while) and my cats keep my happy and distracted.  I’m human.  I will continue to be healthy after my hysterectomy.  I promise.  I’m still eating healthy, but physical exercise is a challenge.  It’s amazing how much one toe can effect your life!

I look forward to going back to swimming, but the sign says:

No swimming

This says NOTHING about swimming with your cat.  Next time I go to the gym, I’ll bring my cats!  And that chick’s open wound on her arm is 10 times grosser than my toe.  Bleh!  How did she get that wound on her arm?  What a weird place.  F-ck splashing “unnecessarily” — I’ll splash as much as I want; I’m not 5 years old for Pete’s sake!  Swimming in your bling … hah, hah, hah!  Really people — yeah, I’ll break out my pearl necklace and diamond earrings.  Oh, maybe this is all about ocean swimming and attracting (or avoiding) sharks … cute info graphic anyway regardless of the body of water.  Do RED bathing suits really attract sharks?

Things don’t always turn out as expected … apparently the Italians have a saying for this:

Italian saying things dont always turn out as expected

I’m simply going to go with this.  I had fun.  I indulged a wee bit too much.  Two steps forward one-and-a-half steps back … but hey, life happens.  I’ll be back with more success.  Please, please I beg of you to wish some good juju healing for my stupid toe!

Juju cartoon

… to my toe please.  And thank you in advance.


 

Surgical Misadventures

da Vinci Robotic Surgery

The da Vinci surgical robot helps doctors perform complex, minimally invasive surgeries like hysterectomies and prostate operations. But some patients suffer serious complications that require additional procedures, some of which can be fatal.

Developed and marketed by Intuitive Surgical, the da Vinci Surgical System gained approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. California-based manufacturer Intuitive created the multi-armed robot to assist surgeons with more precise, minimally invasive surgery through small incisions that don’t require doctors to open the abdomen.

from DrugWatch.com

One of my readers commented asking if I’d ever heard about “Unplug the Robot”?  I replied I hadn’t.  She wrote about how the da Vinci robot she had for her hysterectomy ruined her life and other women’s lives as well.

Some of these stories are terribly tragic.

Flowers dark sky

The consequence is that little is known of the real disadvantages of the equipment [the da Vinci robot], and the injuries and deaths it may cause, even as robotic surgery is widely marketed to consumers.  ~ Dr. Diana Zuckerman.

from New Concerns on Robotic Surgeries (2013)

Personally, I haven’t heard a single terrible story of any patient I have known or treated regarding the da Vinci method which is not to say there aren’t tragedies happening left and right of which I’m not aware of.  The da Vinci robot can be used for many other surgeries and not simply hysterectomy.  While I don’t work directly with da Vinci or its company Intuitive Surgical, my blog is not about promoting the use of da Vinci itself, but rather to chronicle my experience with hysterectomy … I would have created this blog regardless of the method (and outcome) I had.

In the beginning, I was planning on having my hysterectomy the laparoscopically assisted vaginal method (no robot involved) believing there was less scarring and was easier for the surgeon.  My case was actually booked that way for a few days until I had an in-depth discussion with my GYN surgeon while also reading quite a bit about the da Vinci method.

The da Vinci is not, strictly speaking, a robot. It is a surgical tool and interface for that tool. Robots perform a pre-programmed sequence of steps that may or may not be conditional on input (think the IRobot vacuum). The surgery performed with it is only as good as the surgeon. A poor surgeon or poorly trained surgeon will not use it optimally. ~ random commenter

More here: Mishaps & deaths Caused by sSurgical Robots Going Underreported to FDA (2013)

I had a lot of trust in my surgeon … and still do.  He’s been a physician for a very long time … in fact, he graduated high school the year I was born!  He has received many accolades on his performance and patient satisfaction throughout his years of practice.  I can tell by many things about his personality that his “job” of being an Ob/Gyn was a career and calling.  Luckily, my hysterectomy performed with the da Vinci robot laparoscopically assisted went off without a hitch.

FEAR Eleanor Roosevelt quote

Sometimes when surgeries don’t go as expected there are numerous reasons for these problems like:

  • The baseline of the patient’s basic health.  If you start out with a patient who has lung or heart problems there are simply greater risks involved in healing and effects of anesthesia and recovery from surgery.
  • Age can also play a role in a patient’s recovery — in general, the young and the elderly are at higher risks because the young have smaller bodies (typically) and aren’t fully developed like an adult, and the elderly can often have less lung reserve capacity, decreased ability to heal as quickly, less physical mobility and flexibility to name just a few challenges with this group.
  • The patient’s psychological baseline and readiness for surgery is a huge component in successful recovery.  Sometimes surgeries are emergencies and the patient cannot take the time to adequately prepare emotionally for surgery.  Some people struggle with anxiety and depression among other mental health and chemical imbalance disorders that can sometimes place them at a disadvantage with healthy coping mechanisms in terms of recovery.
  • The experience of the surgeon really is one of the key components to successful surgeries, but not all patients are the exact same in anatomy and health status, so that the surgeon has to draw on experience making the best decision at the time when a surgery goes awry.  There is a lot to be said for training and the number of that type of surgery he/she has performed.
  • Patients bodies are many times similar in general, but can often be unique.  If a patient is a person of size (POS), there are going to be much greater challenges to performing many surgeries and the anesthesia risk increases as well (think short neck and/or sleep apnea).  When a POS has extra body tissue it is not often muscle, but rather fat and adipose tissue simply doesn’t heal as well as non-fatty tissue because it lacks the vasculature to deliver nutrients via the blood to assist in the healing process.  Special surgical (and scanning) tables are often required for patients weighing over 350 lbs. (~ 160 kG).  It is more difficult to physically reach into a patient that has a greater visceral depth while specialized equipment is needed to keep the area open for the surgeon to have an adequate working field.
  • Another factor in having a successful outcome for a surgery is the team in the operating room, the recovery room and even the area where the patient will recuperate — AKA the nursing floor.  The more experienced the team, the more outcomes they have seen and worked with.  A newer nurse may know something is amiss after surgery, but an experienced nurse may know what that problem is more quickly related to having more time-in-grade experience.  Whether the nurse is newly graduated or has dozens of years of experience is immaterial if he/she lacks care.  Care and attention should be the primary components of caring for all patients.
  • Malfunctioning or lack of the proper surgical equipment can lead to disastrous results.  However, in my experience, hospitals in the U.S. go through rigorous preparations to ensure their operating rooms are up-to-date with proper equipment working and available prior to the surgery.  There are many regulatory agencies that mandate this such as OSHA and JCAHO.  Surgeons will leave hospitals and work elsewhere if the equipment they want and need is either not available or not functioning to their standards.

I cannot speak to the individual cases of da Vinci Hysterectomies gone awry because there can be several and differing reasons why these operations ended up as either surgical misadventures and/or maladies for the female patients involved.  One has to be careful when making assumptions that a particular surgery is “all good” or “all bad”.  The cliched saying is that medicine is both an art and a science.

medicine-is-a-science-of-uncertainty-and-an-art-of-probability-403x403-nk2xbp

I recommend anyone contemplating a non-emergent surgery to get a second (or third) opinion and do as much possible research on the surgeon including his/her experience with any robotic equipment, the hospital where the surgery will be performed along with the technique of surgery recommended — and this advice is not merely for the laparoscopically assisted da Vinci hysterectomy, but ALL other major surgeries as well!  Another recommendation I’d like to make is to explore ALL other options — especially non-surgical weighing the pros and cons, risks and advantages of each.  Surgery doesn’t always have to be the answer.

There are horror stories about robotic surgeries gone awry found in the pages of thousands of lawsuits. But experts interviewed by Healthline lay the blame for these negative outcomes at the surgeons’ feet, not at the robot’s. Whenever a new technique enters the operating room, some doctors make mistakes with it. They are, after all, only human.

‘When [laparoscopic surgery] was introduced, there was a spike in patient complications. That was because, in general, the surgical field was getting trained; there were errors, there were mistakes. Now fast-forward, this is just kind of par for course when it comes to introducing a disruptor. You’re going to run into these issues,’ said the ECRI Institute’s Schabowsky.

The key is for patients to minimize their chances of being one of the mistakes by ensuring their surgeons have ample experience with any device they plan to use in the OR. That information can be hard to get, the experts agreed — only cardiac surgeons currently make such records available to the public.

But consumers aren’t doing their part, either. ~ Cameron Scott 

from HealthLine (Feb 2015)

There are women out there who have researched their surgery, were in good health, trusted their surgeon and still had complications from their hysterectomy … my heart goes out to all of these women!  It’s possible I could have been one of them and this blog would be written with a completely different perspective.  Fortunately most elective surgeries do turn out well with most people being greatly satisfied they chose to have the surgery to include the robotic method.  It’s an extremely unfortunate circumstance of life all surgeries cannot go 100% well without any problems … living life and having surgeries involve risk.  Merely being alive is risky … but it beats the alternative.

Nothing is perfect etc


P.S.  You can read more about da Vinci surgery on my previous post:

WHAT IS da VINCI TOTAL HYSTERECTOMY?

10 Pounds Off!

Wow!  You’re back again … no wait, I’m back again with an update on the weight loss post-hysterectomy.  I promised myself I would write my next post when ten pounds were shed.

Here goes!

May 1st marks my journey into eating healthy  — NOT going on a diet — and getting more physically fit in attempting to lose weight and get more physically fit.  I don’t believe in diets because they make no sense.  I’m never been on a diet in my life.  I’m not bragging, simply stating facts.  I’ve always wondered why people go on diets.  Does this mean they will do the diet for however long, lose the weight they want and then return to old eating habits?  This doesn’t make any sense.

I am back to eating healthy (healthily?) which has been easy as pie (nice cliche analogy, no?) … AS LONG AS I AVOID ALCOHOL!  Avoiding alcohol has been easy too.  I made a plan with my change to eating healthier I would cut out alcohol (it’s mostly wine when I’m talking about alcohol) except for one day a month where I will have one to two drinks on that designated day.

Flowers Anniversary 8

ANNIVERSARY FLOWERS

My actual anniversary was the 24th and I broke down drinking one glass of white wine … it was already opened for a shrimp dish I made so of course, someone has to drink the opened wine! My husband and I had one glass each on our actual anniversary day.  We have dinner reservations at one of my favorite restaurants where I plan to have a glass of red wine.  I didn’t consider the dinner I made at home as celebrating our anniversary — I only count eating out.

So, not too bad, huh?  Two glasses of wine this month.  I’m thinking I can skip June and call it even … there are no special days in June for me.



 

Three of my girlfriends I’m going to hang out with soon don’t drink for the following reasons:

  • Andi doesn’t drink because she doesn’t like the taste and gets inebriated even after a mere 1/4 glass of wine!  Can you imagine?!
  • Maleah doesn’t drink as of late because she’s doing the Primal/Paleo diet, has digestive and skin issues while also trying to manage her weight.
  • Tunie doesn’t drink because she’s Asian whose genetics often don’t allow alcohol metabolization without ill effects as in her case turning bright red, experiencing nausea, getting severely congested and feeling like she has the flu — perhaps the wine flu to be exact!

I feel pretty lucky I won’t be tempted by these teetotalers.  There won’t be any drink-pushing on either end.  Also, I would never push a person to drink who doesn’t … not my style.  I bring up my friends who don’t drink because I think it’s important not to put yourself in tempting situations when you’re trying to make a lifestyle change, and my friends being who they are make it naturally easy to avoid alcohol!  Cheers to them!  (Oh, is that the right thing to say?)

Teetotaler cat says …

cat teetotaler


I have now developed a bit of fear with the upcoming dining-out anniversary with wine consumption.  I’ve lost ten pounds and while super satisfied about this accomplishment, feel trepidation about drinking!  I’m worried if I have a glass of wine all kinds of cravings will hit the next day and the weight will be right back on.

Teeny tiny wine

For my anniversary dinner out I’m playing with a few scenarios:

  • NO wine or alcohol at all waiting until next month, or the month after. (Ha ha ha! That one’s funny.)
  • Have 1/2 a glass of wine giving the other half to my husband … of course, me the larger half … who says they have to be equal halves?
  • Stick to one solid glass of quality wine.
  • F-ck it … go all out and have 2 glasses!  Although according to Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly women should have no more than 5 oz. (~150 mL) of wine per day and (men no more than 10 oz. or ~300 mL).  I know some of you like GHBM are laughing at the thought of only 1-2 glasses of wine per day!

Madeline Puckette  says:

If you’re trying to stay slim be sure to monitor your serving size. A proper pour of wine is just 5 oz. (not the entire 20 oz. glass!)

The following 7 tips may help you enjoy a healthy diet that includes wine:

* Know wine’s calories
* Earn your glass
* Don’t drink before you eat
* Do drink dry red wine
* Don’t drink too late
* Do spend more on wine
* Drink wine away from home

from WINE FOLLY: Drink Wine & Stay Thin


How much wine should I drink?

The good news is you can drink wine every day just not quite as much as you might be accustomed. Also, it doesn’t seem to matter too much if you prefer red, white or rosé.

Moderate Drinking

Women: 1 glass a day
Men: 2 glasses a day
* A glass of wine is 5 oz. (~150 ml)

If you find that you drink more than this in a single day, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advises that women should have no more than 3 drinks in a single day (a 24 hour period) and men should have no more than 4 drinks per day. They also suggest that consumption all week should be no more than 7 drinks per week for women and no more than 14 for men.

from WINE FOLLY: The Surprising Benefits of Wine All Require Self-Control

cat red wine

This cat, like most cats obviously has NO self-control!   Just look at his irresponsible drinking … he’s going to spill that precious wine!

Robert Atkins (nutritionist) — ya know, the Atkins Diet guy says:

Here’s the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on the diet — alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that’s going on, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop the weight loss, it simply postpones it, since the alcohol does not store as glycogen (starch), you immediately go back into ketosis after the alcohol is used up.


While I’ve started to eat healthy I am also slowly incorporating physical exercise into my life.  I’m embarrassed I’m not very physically fit or don’t exercise on any regular basis.  While my friend Maleah and I discuss many nutrition topics and are often on the same page, we have never discussed physical fitness until just recently.

80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet. [my emphasis] Exercise is also important to health and to speed up fat-burning and muscle-building, but most of your results will come from how you eat. ~ Mark Sisson

Maleah introduced me to Mark’s Daily Apple where Mark Sisson not only discusses nutrition, but also writes about ways to incorporate physical fitness into every day life without running!  I knew I could possibly take on Mark’s advice on fitness because he said running  (daily, distance or marathon type) wasn’t necessary, there’s no need to join a gym and you use your own body!  These are things I can do.

Humans did not evolve to be long distance runners. Our bodies didn’t evolve to run marathons. Instead we evolved to walk long distances, lift heavy things and sprint once in a while. ~ Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson's mission motto

While the eating healthy part has been simple for the most part except for the one day I dug into a bag of melted chocolate truffles and ended up with a stomach ache later that night … the physical part has been more difficult because when I start things I tend to overdo them.

One day I spent 30 minutes going up and down uneven stone steps at a local natural reserve, walked on a trail for 30 minutes, had an intensive one-on-one hour and fifteen minute session with a yoga instructor, and then swam for 30 minutes that evening.

THIS WAS A MISTAKE!

While I felt good the entire time doing all of these things, I was hit with complete fatigue and screaming upper abdominal pain from the yoga core exercises the next day!  All this over doing it has put me out of doing anything physical for three days as I recover.  I’m telling you I’m really out of shape and it happened after my hysterectomy where I just let myself go.

I don’t think my plight of physical deconditioning is necessarily due to having had a hysterectomy because I believe it could be any surgery … mine so happened to be a hysterectomy.  Getting into shape isn’t easy — at least not for me.

This is the FIRST time in my life where I’ve incorporated both eating healthy along with physical fitness.

Health mismanaged genes Mark Sisson


My future goals include:

  • Flat stomach — not necessarily a “six-pack” but at least getting rid of the abdominal roll.
  • Be able to walk up 4 flights of stairs without feeling an ache in my thighs.  As it is now, I’m able to walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing but my legs feel like lead … and then hypochondriasis kicks in as I begin to think I have peripheral artery disease (PAD).  I don’t even have risk factors for PAD!
  • Lose 18 more pounds with a goal date of late November — 6 months from now.  This works out to losing 3 pounds per month which I think is quite doable.  Although, I’m concerned if I gain muscle weight I may actually not lose weight and will have to rely on how my body looks and feels instead.

Rather than strive to lose weight, most people would be better off striving to lose only fat and to build or maintain muscle. ~ Mark Sisson

  • Not have my thighs touch.  No, no, no I’m not trying to have that “thigh gap” — I simply don’t like the feeling of my thighs touching.  I often put baby powder on my inner thighs to create less friction.  I used to have this gap (I have the a body type for this gappiness — click on hyperlink above for a great read on “thigh gap”), but as I got into my 40s and stopped being as physical my thighs started to droop (think muscle atrophy) and touch each other. AND no, no, no I don’t think the thigh gap is particularly sexy on women … I simply feel creeped out when mine touch — it’s as though a stranger’s hands are upon me. IF my thighs touched and it was due to muscular mass I would probably be OK with that … but no my thighs are currently droopy, saggy and baggy. That’s it on the soap box for the gap!
  • Get back into Ashtanga yoga. I have begun one-on-one sessions with a yoga trainer and to my surprise she’s been a lifelong athlete! Cat yoga yoga my way She’s adept at running and other forms of physical fitness, not only yoga. When most people hear yoga they probably think the Hatha type yoga.

Ashtanga is a challenging lineage of Hatha Yoga focused on building strength and endurance that naturally leads to a relaxed mental state. This dynamic sequence of postures, known as the Primary Series, combines focus with continuous movement. Ashtanga is practiced in a warm room (78-84 degrees).

Ashtanga, which means ‘eight limbs’ in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. This practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next and the emphasis on daily practice.

Types of Yoga


Currently the exercise I’m doing is:

  • Swimming!  I joined a gym for the pool and lucky me I got a discount through my work!  I’ve used it twice.  So happy.
  • Signed up for one-on-one yoga instruction.  Only had one session so far and she kicked my @ss … I mean my abs!  I feel like I’ve had a hysterectomy again with the abdominal pain I’m experiencing.  My husband, so cliche that he is says, “No pain, no gain.”  I cry B.S. on that … sometimes pain is just pain!  Frickin’ masochistic husband!  Last time he went to yoga with me he was sore for days!
  • Using the bike trainer.  When my husband told me about a bike trainer I thought it was a person who helped you train on your bike.  Wrong!  (see photo below)

    Bike trainer ME

    ME on the bike trainer!

  • Hula hooping!  I dusted off the hula hoop and have used it a couple times so far.
  • WALKING! I have started walking 30 minutes for my lunch break away from my desk-death job and also around some local trails on my off days.

The reasons I started to make lifestyle changes:

  1. I weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life April 2016 and saw it only going up from there if I didn’t do something differently soon.  The weight steadily came on after my hysterectomy (June 2014) and I’ll be damned if I blame that surgery for my weight gain rather than taking personal responsibility for my own health (or lack thereof)!
  2. I looked like a meatball in my photos from my vacation to Turks & Caicos.  I like to eat meatballs but I don’t want to be one.  I’m not trying to be vain because this change is more about health than looks. This added unnecessary weight is not from muscle nor is it good for my health longterm.

Turks & Caicos beach May 2016

This is the beach at Turks & Caicos.  Notice my meatball self is NOT in the photo — I didn’t want to mess up the beautiful beach picture.  The trip was INCREDIFABAMAZIAWESOME!  If you ever get the chance to go to Turks & Caicos go … go without hesitation … go, go, go, go.  In fact go now!  Book your hotel and plane fare this minute.  Definitely bring sunscreen though! Of all the places I’ve traveled in the world the people of Turks & Caicos were the friendliest by far … they also have the best frozen pina coladas I’ve ever had too which I responded with the worst brain freezes of my life.  I rode a REAL bike for the first time in 35 years (THIRTY-FIVE YEARS!) — Did you read that?!  It has been 35 years since I rode a REAL BONA FIDE bike!!!!  (A stationary bike at a gym does not count.)   I snorkeled for the first time ever.  We ate conch ceviche after the boat divers retrieved live conch from the ocean.  I would definitely return without a second thought. AND as far as the Zika virus is concerned, there isn’t much to be worried about … my husband and I got only one bite each and aren’t even sure they were from mosquitos.


I’m on my journey to get heathy … please cheer me on!  I need it because sometimes eating Cheetos and sitting on the couch still seem like the norm!

cat using a hula hoop

This is a cat doing the hula hoop!  See how effortlessly the cat does this?

Whining about no Wine!

I’ve chosen to do it to myself — no more wine!  Wine and any other alcoholic beverage seems to pack on the pounds making me eat like a chow hound!  I have found that alcohol has empty calories (duh, WHO did not know this?!?), makes your blood sugar suddenly spike then your body has to pump out more insulin overcompensating for this high with the residual insulin hanging around causing you to be hungry, then affecting the hypothalamus screwing up a bunch of hormones like cortisol, causing even more weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle!

cat drunk wine

The interaction between alcohol and the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal) axis may be bidirectional— that is, not only does alcohol consumption stimulate cortisol secretion, but elevated cortisol levels may increase drinking by magnifying its rewarding effects.

The Role of the HPA Axis:

Activation of the HPA axis induces glucocorticoid secretion, which in turn affects a wide range of physiological responses, such as changes in blood sugar levels, blood pressure, fat redistribution, muscle breakdown and immune system modulation (Sapolsky 1993). Although these hormonal effects develop much more slowly (i.e., within hours) than those of the sympathetic nervous system, they may persist for several days …

Super good and sciencey source

cat what has been seen cannot be unseen

This ALSO applies to what has been read.  I cannot “unread” this information now (that hyperlinked article above) … I don’t want extra cortisol in my body.  Why didn’t I already know about the effects of alcohol like this as a nurse?

With this information it’s easier for me to think about alcohol negatively.  I never learned about the connection of alcohol and weight gain until just recently.  I thought weight gain with alcohol only occurred with excessive alcohol intake.  My alcohol was in moderation only … but apparently the amount doesn’t matter — it’s merely the consumption of it period.  Alcohol very powerfully stimulates a whole set of hormones triggering what are mostly negative effects under non-stressful circumstances.


I’ve had my hysterectomy and swore I would not be one of those women who gained weight afterwards.

I continue to believe my GYN when he said hysterectomies do not cause women to gain weight.  After my surgery, I changed how I ate and my level of physical activity (think couch potato eating potato chips) after my hysterectomy … maybe I ate and drank to fill the empty void where the vacant baby house once dwelled within me.  Oh bullish*t … that’s just some romantic excuse to consume whatever I wanted!

On the weight gain / loss forefront … I have currently lost 7 lbs. since May 1st (7 lbs. lost  in 9 days).  I have truly not done anything spectacular to accomplish this.

I cut out the following:

  • Alcohol (wine, beer & mixed drinks)
  • Simple sugars and any added sugar
  • Grains or anything that contains grains like rice, bread, tortillas, corn, chips
  • Junk snacks like Cheetos, potato chips, candy bars
  • Desserts like ice cream, cake, pie, jello

Currently I’m label conscious about the amount of sugar in anything I buy like coconut water, veggie juice … really anything with a label.  I’m not consuming many things that have a label.  I am NOT counting calories and through this process have learned that it’s ill-advised to go below 1200 kCal per day being that it’s difficult to get enough nutrition with such a low calorie intake.  To burn one pound of fat 3,500 less calories have to be taken in or one has to exercise enough to burn that amount of calories.

Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So, in general, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).

That’s what the Mayo Clinic says.

But …

‘There’s tremendous variability in how a 3,500 caloric deficit affects different people,’ [my emphasis] says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., senior science adviser at Elements Behavioral Health and author of The Hunger Fix.

Why’s that?

Well, one huge factor determining the results of our dieters is body composition. ‘The more fat a person has to give, the quicker he will lose weight and weight from fat,’ Peeke explains.

Meanwhile, when you get closer to your body weight, your body holds on to fat stores for dear life and sacrifices muscle over fat, she says. The body is perpetually afraid that it will starve; it’s perhaps biology’s least-sexy-ever survival mechanism.

Do You Really Lose a Pound of Fat for Every 3,500 Calories You Burn?

I also realized that diet alone will not be enough to burn off the weight I want — it will also take the dreaded exercise!  I have started to walk much more and take the stairs whenever possible.  While I’m not up to going on walks daily, I have started to bring some exercise into my life besides bringing the fork (or chopsticks because I’m multitalented) up to my mouth.

cat eating Ramen

Mmmm!  Ramen noodles!  Nothing like puffy eyes the next day and a 3 lb. weight gain for a 75¢ meal!

I’ve also started drinking coconut water for the potassium.  There is no way I can humanly stuff myself with that many bananas to get the amount of potassium I need.  I started to get leg cramps when I started eating healthier.  Weird.  I also now take a magnesium supplement at night, a multi-B vitamin about every other day and a vitamin C.  In general, I believe most vitamins are wasted through urination, but because of my lowered calorie intake I’m trying to get the vitamin supplementation in I’m simply not getting through food.

I’ve also begun to add a probiotic daily into my diet.  The probiotics I’m eating are kimchi, kombucha tea (I don’t like this much because it tastes like carbonated vinegar), and yogurt.  I also occasionally take a high quality probiotic capsule or two about every other day.  Probiotic capsules are expensive!  Cha ching!

This is my journey so far regarding weight loss after hysterectomy … wish me well.


 

 

My Proactive Thought for Today!

Since my last post MY PARANOID THOUGHT I have been thinking about ovarian cancer and my ever-increasing girth — the weight gain just in my mid-section.  My legs and arms are still thin — a body shape I like to call the “beetle body” — something I swear I’d never have (or want) … NOT to be confused with the 1988 movie Beetlejuice! 

beetle

Beetle body — skinny legs and plump “torso”.

My earrings and socks still fit without problems! Yay me — no obese earlobes!  While I spent a lot of time today thinking about “how fat I am” — a thought I never used to have. I also thought about this whole get-healthier-weight-loss process as a journey.  It took me a while to pack on this weight and now it’s going to take some time to take it off … too bad I can’t just drink it off!

My proactive thought is patience.

Yep, patience with myself and constant reminders of how I got here and how to get off the BMFT — Belly McFat Train!  Today I had a salad and it actually filled me up without the gluttony guilt.  I was “good” for at least one day.  Tomorrow is around the corner though …

How did I get into the stupor of eating and drinking whatever?

HOW did I get here?!  Because this is not me.  I haven’t lived in this place … this state of mind or stomach.  I have been eating and drinking to assuage stress, tension, tune out and eat everything I’ve never tried before.  It’s like an alien took over my body or I woke up one day experimenting on myself by seeing what the experience of gluttony was.  I can see why people like gluttony though!  Just look at Louis C.K.! (YouTube: Louis CK on “getting fat”).

chicken cartoon gluttony

More fun at Savage Chickens!

Yesterday I thought about wine and how somehow I’ve become Bacchus in female form. Where did I get to the point I thought numbing myself out with food and drink was OK? Is this a mid-life crisis? I don’t feel super depressed or worthless or anything … I don’t feel exactly inspired nor energetic either.  I used to go to yoga and do things … and then Netflix took over my brain.  I’m tired of movies now … seriously.  I cancelled my mail subscription, but the hubby still has streaming online because I’m not quite ready to break off completely yet!  (nor is he)

 

Cat Netflix movies?  Too good to be true?

cat-violent-thrillers Fake Netflix

Wait, wait, wait … if these cat flicks are real then I’ve definitely cancelled my subscription prematurely!  Oh folks … these are only faux feline films!  As the good searchologist I am (not to be confused with Scientologist which I am definitely NOT) these are not legit movies … yet.


BACCHUS!

God of the grape harvest, Bacchus is the liberator, whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care. He is the patron deity of agriculture and the theatre.

Bacchus Cat

Bacchus as a cat … a big one.  And yikes, what is that little boy to the right doing?  Peeing?  This is truly odd art even before the cat was added!

This truly explains a lot … I have become possessed by Bacchus!  Too bad I’m not Catholic or I could have an exorcism.  Oh well … I’ll have to figure things out as usual.  One of the reasons AKA blame-excuses I use with my enchantment of wine is due to the awesome blog Wine Folly!  I MUST tell you not to click on that hyperlink because if you have any liking or interest in wine you won’t make it back to read this post … you’ll be sucked into the awesome vortex of how wine is explained in understandable terms, then you will want some wine, then you will drink some wine and some more … then the double vision will start and alas I will have lost you.  So whatever you do DO NOT CHECK OUT WINE FOLLY!  Please don’t for the love of my blog!  Oh f-cm it … I can’t control what you do online!

I have LOTS of excuses why I don’t & won’t get healthy:

  • My right great toenail is split vertically so I have to wait for that to mend.  (There is a story behind this and I’m not going there … don’t worry, nothing kinky or weird.)
  • I’m still healing emotionally from the “friend” who stood me up for yoga — twice!
  • Yoga reminds me of being “rejected”.
  • I simply need to accept my peri-menopausal, post-hysterectomy body as is.
  • I’ve eaten healthy for so long in the past that I need to try the “other side”.
  • I’ll start working out and getting fit when the majority of people around me do.
  • I’ll get physically fit when I’m truly appreciated by people — ha ha ha ha — that’s the funniest one of all!   (and the MOST delusional)
unicorn delusional humor

Not an actual recent photo of me or my cat.  The unicorn, however, is real.

I’m OK without wine with dinner tonight.  No big deal. Somehow I think I’m European or something … but without all the walking and fresh organic eating … merely the French, Italian & Spanish wine drinking — enough to make someone European, isn’t it?

And now I have decided to give up coffee — not that I drink a lot by any means, but I notice the few times I have coffee I get screaming hunger pains several hours later.  Coffee abstinence will be easy and help me move in the right direction of decreasing my cravings of needing wanting to eat almost continuously! I can finally remove the food bag from around my neck!

horse feed bag morral

A horse’s feed bag — called a morral.  Your new vocabulary word!  Use it 5 times today in a sentence. Or better yet strap one on and eat away!

I dream of what I will eat as I drive home thinking if I should stop by this fancy grocery store or the other one or maybe get take-out … again.  My brain has somehow been highjacked by food obsession.  I SWEAR I have been overtaken by the Goddess equivalent of Bacchus.  I’m not implying I’m a Goddess but I’m not implying I’m not … yet!  There is always hope!

It has been however many days since I wrote my last post and I’ve LOST 6 lbs. (2.7 kG for the Euros out there, and 0.42 stones for all the Druids) due to eating healthy, taking the stairs whenever possible, not drinking any alcohol, eating much more fiber, avoiding added sugar and swigging loads of water.  I’ve always heard in the beginning of weight loss it’s usually mostly water weight that’s lost BUT if I’ve been consuming gobs of water, how could this loss only be water weight?

I got on the scale this morning, and woo hoo, the weight-loss train is coming to my house and picking me up!  Choo choo! Train eat humor

I high-fived the hubby and put on some pants where the buttons weren’t about to bust off. (click on the Louis CK YouTube link for more details on ill-fitting pants)

It’s a journey and I’m taking it!

All aboard!

PS: Just how does this post relate to hysterectomy?  Were any of you severely disappointed realizing this post wasn’t a bonafide hysterectomy post?  If so, please complain in the comments section.  Also, any and all cat comments will be appreciated.