Friday, February 26, 2010

Global Warming is God's Fault

The Devil asks, "First an ice age. After that, global warming. Then another ice age. And now more global warming... Would you mind telling me what you're doing with that poor planet?" And God answers, "Pasteurizing it."

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Lesson Learned: Don't Push Yourself When Recovering from Surgery (Duh)

With respect to my recent surgery, I thought I was recovering nicely. So well, in fact, that this weekend I did quite a bit of walking around with my friends. Come Saturday night / Sunday morning, I barely slept because pain in my side kept waking me up. Last night I slept with the help of 2 Percocet. :(

I was supposed to go back to work today. But because I was dumb and pushed myself too much too fast when I thought I was feeling okay, I'm going to have to wait a little while longer. So I'm taking it easy again today — lots of lying and sitting around is on the menu.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weddings Are Just Special Dinner Parties, No?

I spent some time at Barnes & Noble yesterday, looking at wedding-planning books. I've concluded that I must be a bad female, because I just don't get a lot of what goes into the "traditional" expensive wedding and all its assorted related parties.

bridesmaids, maid of honor
What does a bridesmaid do? What does the maid of honor do that's distinct from that?
groomsmen, best man
Ditto the bridesmaids question, but for the guys. And what if all but one of the single guys are also my close friends?
rehearsal dinner
If you go through the whole thing as practice run, doesn't that make the wedding itself feel like "hey, we've done this before"?
bachelor and bachelorette parties
We're supposed to celebrate our soon-to-be-gone life as singles, "one last hurrah" before we're no longer single. But... what if we've been living together for 4 years now — I haven't been single in a long time, as far as I'm concerned. And pretty much all our friends our mutual, and male. I would feel pretty left out if Forrest went out partying with all my friends but I wasn't invited, especially since I have like one close female friend so I couldn't even do "my own" party.
escort card tree
...the hell? Never even heard of such a thing until today.
wedding favors, invitations
I have to agree with a lot of websites on this one: Who actually keeps these things? Maybe the mothers and grandparents of the bride and groom. But I'd be surprised if my friends, cousins, etc are really going to hang on to a wedding favor or invitation for any reason but guilt over throwing it away.
bridal shower
What goes on at such things? And why are there no "groom showers"? Men so need more showers than women do. ;)

The more I look at books and web pages about wedding planning, the more it seems like the reception is just a big dinner party shindig. With pretty dresses and candles. But still, basically a dinner party. If our wedding party is only 25-30 people, I don't really get how this is so much more of a big deal to plan compared to, say Christmas dinner. I am wrong?

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Engagement Rings

So I don't like the traditional diamond solitaire engagement ring. I never have. On a practical level, the stone gets caught on things ("Oh noes, my favorite sweater!") and likes to twist off-center, and I hate my rings off-center. Just one of those things. On an emotional level, having a big rock on my finger would feel gaudy — it doesn't fit my aesthetic tastes, nor do I feel any need to flaunt dollar signs on my finger, y'know?

Forrest and I went to Green Lake Jewelery Works (which is apparently some big-name custom shop, not just our little local shop, go figure) to talk with the jewelers there about how much custom rings would cost. Since we're holding off the wedding date itself primarily for financial reasons, we wanted to ask about designs that would allow us a simple engagement ring now that could then be combined* into a more expensive custom wedding ring later.

We came up with a design that we really like: a subtle two-tone band, with engravings across the ring, like combining these two rings (plus tiny inset gems on mine). This design even allows for wearing plain bands that later become the final ring.

Unfortunately, the plain bands weren't going to be in our immediate price range (although the final price the custom wedding rings is okay, I think). We decided that, if we can't get the engagement-ring-that-becomes-the-wedding-ring thing working for us right now, we might as well keep the engagement rings super simple and inexpensive. After all, we're only wearing the engagement rings for a small amount of time; it makes more sense (to us) to splurge on the the custom wedding rings instead, since those are the rings we'll be wearing for the rest of our lives. (Omg! I'm getting married!! Sometimes it just hits me, like this thing is real, y'know? Hehe...)

Anyway. We've been wearing these plain silver bands on our right hands since 2007, when we were long-distance for the year that I had moved to Seattle but Forrest still had a couple quarters of college left to finish. Forrest suggested that we just use those rings as the engagement rings, then "upgrade" to the custom wedding rings when we get married. Sounds like a brilliant idea to me! The only problem is that, while Forrest's ring fits on his left-hand ring finger, mine was too big. So I went back to Something Silver (where we originally got the rings) and bought myself a size 4 silver ring to wear on the correct finger.

So now I'm properly engaged and ring-ified! It's really pretty awesome. :)

* I don't like the tradition of wearing both the engagement and wedding rings after the wedding. I want just one ring on my finger, and ideally I'd like the engagement ring to become the wedding ring. Alas, that's not happening, but it's not really a big deal.

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Wedding Cheesecake

Forrest and I just had the following IM conversation:

Me: some book suggests wedding cheesecake
Forrest: ooooooooooooh
Forrest: i looooooove you
Me: but that would clearly be a bad idea
Me: because I'd find you hiding in the kitchen even before the ceremony, bloated from eating allllll the cheesecake, and you'll just burp instead of saying "I do," and that's not so romantic ;)

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Engaged!

Forrest and I have been dating for four and a half years now. We've discussed marriage off and on for the past two or three of those years, but we never made anything official.

The surgery helped clarify some things for us, like how the things we disagree on are so petty in the face of the big things that matter to us. When I really needed Forrest, he was right there for me, taking care of me, making sure I was okay, worrying for me, and sometimes just holding my hand to comfort me. He has just the right amount of seriousness and playfulness, emotion and strength. I was so grateful that I didn't have to go through that long night of my gallstone attack alone, nor have to make the decision to do emergency surgery alone and scared.

In so many ways, we're on the same wavelength. We talked a lot after the surgery, especially today when we had some time to ourselves. (My mom has been staying with us this week to help take care of me. She's been awesomely helpful, but it has also meant less private time for us to discuss what we're going through.)

We've definitely talked about marriage and long-term life goals before — quite a lot, in fact — so this isn't some rash decision rushed into just because of the surgery. But the surgery, for me, did stir up some strong emotions and opened up the conversation again between us. So when we were talking more tonight (at the bookstore, where else?), it just seemed right to ask Forrest if he would marry me. He said yes.

:) :D :) Omg!! ;)

We have no date set — we want to pay of credit cards and rebuild our emergency fund first. But we've been together for more than four years now; I don't think either of us is going anywhere. And that, really, is why it seems right that we're getting married: it's what we've practically been doing anyway. We want each other in our lives in the future, indefinitely. So let's make it official already! :)

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gallbladder, Bother Me No More!

My gallbladder obviously reads my blog and took offense at Tuesday's post. So much so that it decided to attack me, unprovoked, on a nearly empty stomach, from 9:30 PM Tuesday until 4 PM yesterday — at which point we cut the damn thing out of me! So I'm at the hospital, recovering from my cholecystectomy that the surgeon says went very smoothly. (Well, for me. Not so much the gallbladder. Muahaha!)

I'll report more later, but for now I wanted to let y'all know that I seem to be doing just fine. Thank you everyone for your well-wishes!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surgeon, Take 2

English:

I met with a second surgeon today. I liked him much better; I'm very glad I didn't just go with the first guy I talked to. So, dear gallbladder, start packing: you're being evicted next Friday!

Spanish:

Encontré a un segundo cirujano hoy. Me caía más bien que el otro; me alegro que no elegí el primer hombre con el que hablé. Pues, vesícula biliar querida, vete a freír espárragos: ¡ya te desahuciaré el viernes que vienes!

Notes:

vete a freír espárragos
go fry asparagus
Isn't that an awesome turn of phrase? Sure, it means something closer to "go jump in the lake" or "go fly a kite," as opposed to "start packing" or "get lost" like I originally meant... but it sounds so cool!
desahuciar
to evict; to declare terminally ill
How's that for a perfect double meaning? You hear that, gallbladder??

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New Apartment

Forrest and I are moving. More precisely, we're downsizing from our rental house to a simple 1-bedroom apartment. Our goal — which we met exactly — was to cut our rent in half. Having an extra $800 each month will be nice, both for paying off debt acquired while I was unemployed for several months, and later on for saving.

The square footage is definitely much less, but in our current house we're really only using the bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen. That makes up the entirely of the new apartment, so we're not giving up any rooms we really use. Not having "excess" rooms does mean that we'll have to rein in our packrat tendencies... but we both actually think that will be a good thing, even if it's difficult for us.

The location of the new place is actually better in many ways. It's in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, so we'll be significantly closer to our good friend Jerry. It will also be nice to be part of a real neighborhood, rather than just a house on a busy street like we are now. We'll be only a few blocks away from several good cafés, Thai restaurants, a yummy taco truck, and the (itty-bitty) Fremont library. Even the big grocery store is pretty close, which will be nice.

Pictures — hastily taken with an iPhone camera, without opening the blinds so it's looking at its worst ;) — are available on Flickr

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dismissive Surgeon

I had my consultation with a surgeon about my gallstones today. Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the guy. He was very dismissive of my concerns — "Don't bother reading studies, they're all crap, there's practically no risk, none of my patients have ever complained, I hesitate to even mention these risks because I don't want to put them in your head, so let's schedule the surgery!"

I'm mostly convinced that I'm going to have to get my gallbladder removed, based on what I've heard from doctors and what I've read online. But, as far as I can tell, there are some risks involved (particularly the possible long-term side effects such as chronic diarrhea or pain). I could believe that the risks are low and that it's still the best option I have... but I want a doctor who's honest about this stuff, not dismissive.

As Forrest pointed out, he's not just the guy doing the surgery, but also the guy I'll have to work with if I have any post-operation concerns. And I really just don't get the warm fuzzies from this guy.

So I think I'm going to shop around for a different Seattle gallbladder surgeon.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

When Gallstones Attack

Since it's 4 AM and I'm going to be awake for the next hour or two, I might as well update y'all on what's been going on with me.

I'm awake right now because I'm having my third gallstone attack. It's this sharp, crampy pain in my upper right side. If this attack goes anything like the first two, it will get increasingly painful over the next hour, stay like that for a while, then gradually resolve itself. What's happening is the gallstones in my gallbladder got agitated around in there, and are moving in and out of the various tubes in the area, causing pain as they do so.

As long as the gallstones don't get stuck anywhere, my only symptom will be pain. If they do get stuck and block something, then I could develop a fever, nausea, and other fun things that would make this more of an emergency situation. I'm hoping it's just pain for the next few hours. :( I've taken ibuprofen for pain management and am being (hyper)vigilant about any more serious symptoms.

Apparently, gallstones don't dissolve themselves over time, nor is medication very effective at breaking them up. I've read that if you have only a few small stones, lithotripsy can bombard them with strong acoustic pulses to break them up. ("The final power level usually depends on the patient's pain threshold" — oh great...) But that method is often ineffective at preventing gallstone recurrence.

Otherwise, the other primary options are gallbladder removal and the restricted-diet-and-cross-my-fingers approach. I don't particularly like the idea of surgery, even laparoscopic surgery... but then I don't like playing Russian roulette with my health, either. Even religiously following a fat-restricted diet does not guarantee that I'll have no more attacks, it merely decreases the likelihood of their frequency.

Wednesday I have an appointment with a surgeon to discuss options and get his recommendation for my particular case. I'll keep you guys informed.

Update, 7:22 AM: Pain's gotten worse, not better. Still no nausea, fever (subjective judgement; can't find thermometer), or other worrying symptoms. But this pain sucks. I've been writhing on the couch for the past three hours. Doctor instructed me over the phone to take two more ibuprofen and two Tylenol. She said if it didn't get better, it means the bile ducts may not be opening back up... which would mean emergency open surgery, not the "friendly" laparoscopic surgery. Fuck. (Sorry, Mom; but sometimes it's appropriate, eh? ;))

Update, 2:12 PM: The ibuprofen + Tylenol combo helped enough that I fell asleep from 7:30 until 10 AM. It was still hurting then, but in a very manageable, beginning-of-the-end sort of way. I felt maybe 70% better. I moved from the couch back to bed then, and slept until 2 PM. I feel 90% better now; there's still some twinge of discomfort going on, but I'd no longer describe it as "pain."

So it looks like I've escaped the emergency scalpel, but let me tell you, I'll be all ears when I talk to the surgeon tomorrow.

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