The Operation

OK. It’s been almost three weeks since the procedure, so I guess I’d better do some experience relating before I forget the details, or even that it happened. We old people forget a lot.

Arrived at the hospital bright and early as requested. A pleasant young nurse did the checking in, recording all my vitals, making note of all my conditions (macular degeneration, bulging disc in my neck, recurring lymphedema, etc), being all cheerful (because her shift was about over).

I was shown to what would be my room for the next 28 hours, a comfy little private room with the requisite flat screen TV and patient-operated bed. I changed into the stylish gown, slippers and head covering, slipped into bed, and, after suffering an IV needle insertion into the back of my hand, found myself being wheeled into the staging area near the operating rooms.

The gas passing team came in to hook up a bag of the good stuff into my IV, and reaffirm my medical history as I’d related to the earlier pleasant young nurse. I remembered something that I’d forgotten to mention to her: my acid reflux. I never think about it when it’s not bothering me, but when the anesthesiologist mentioned they’d be putting a tube down my throat, I thought back to my first lipotripsy. When it was over, my doctor told me I should have mentioned my reflux, because there was a problem when they started to put a tube down my throat. I mentioned this to my present gas guy, who made a note of it.

A few more folks wandered in and out, “I’ll be assisting the doctor”, “I’ll be with you in the recovery room,” etc., until the pre-ani made me nod off.

The next thing I was aware of was coming to in the recovery room. I was still a little groggy when the doctor stopped by. He informed me that, instead of the simple little discectomy I was expecting, he performed a discectomy on L4-L5, a discectomy on L3-L4, a laminectomy on L4-L5, a laminectomy on L3-L4, and inserted a spacer so hopefully there will be no reoccurrence of my problem. I said, “‘Kay.” He said I was allowed two activities: laying down and walking. Maybe short car rides if necessary.

I became aware of a little discomfort in the groinal area. The nurse attending me said they’d inserted a catheter into my bladder to aid in drainage. I remember asking how long it was going to stay in, because I found it to be very uncomfortable. She told me it might be an hour, it  might be a few hours, it might stay in all night. I said, “‘Kay. It’s just uncomfortable.”  A short time later she reappeared, saying “Good news! The catheter can come out now.” With that, she pushed down on about where my bladder is as she removed the catheter.

Given the choice again, I might consider leaving it in. For the next several days, I felt like like urinating constantly. When I was ensconced in my bed, I was handed a plastic urinal, which I had to maneuver into position between my legs whenever I felt the need, and I pretty much always felt the need, since they were pumping fluids into my body via the IV on a consistent basis. I was not allowed out of bed for a few hours, so I was ringing for the nurse pretty often to empty my jug.

Later in the afternoon, I was given my first taste of food in almost 15 hours, the Clear Plate: apple juice, broth, lime Jello, and tea. Yay.

I spent a literal sleepless night, with only two incidents worth mentioning:

I have already mentioned my constant urge to urinate, and the plastic jug I was using as a receptacle. At one point during the night, I felt the urge come upon me very strongly. I grabbed the jug, which had a goodly amount of previous urges splashing about. I positioned it quickly and opened the lid; but in my haste I held it at an awkward angle, and ended up dumping a cup or two of urine on myself. I’m sure the nursing staff has seen much worse, but it was embarrassing nonetheless.

The second incident was less embarrassing, but more frustrating. The apple juice gave me heartburn. Lots of it. I summoned the nurse and told her the apple juice had kick started my acid reflux, and could I get a Tums or something. She left and returned momentarily with bad news: during my initial check-in, I didn’t mention my reflux to the pleasant young nurse who took my medical info, therefore my approved meds did not include an antacid of any sort. And they couldn’t give me any until they checked with the doctor, whenever they could get in touch with him the next morning.

Hence the sleepless night: the constant urge to urinate coupled with my raging heartburn was not relaxing enough for me to get any shuteye.

When morning had finally broken, my appetite would only allow me some tea and half a piece of toast. By this time, the doctor had responded with an antacid appropriate to my particular condition, and I was told I could leave any time after breakfast.

I called my ride, changed out of my stylish gown into my sweats, and, after receiving some last minute do’s-and-don’t’s, headed back out into the world.

Coming next: Convalescence.

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Place Holder

image2099610929.jpgNo, friends, I did not expire on the operating table. I have literally been flat on my back for almost two weeks now. OK, maybe not literally; I can actually get up and walk around with some small expenditure of energy. However, sitting in a chair, or even straight enough to hold a netbook on my lap, is still a no-no (at least until Tuesday, when I have my two-week follow-up with my doc), and creating long posts one finger at a time on my iKeyboard is not an option.

I shall submit a full account of my experience once I’m able to sit at my desktop long enough to complete a post.

Until then, back to my usual view.

The Time Has Come

Got the phone call I’ve been waiting on this morning.

The hospital called to say that I should be there at 6:30 A.M. tomorrow (June 8). Nothing to eat or drink after midnight. No aspirin, Alleve, etc. Leave all valuables at home, but bring my ID and insurance card. I can take my blood pressure med and whatever I take for my acid reflux, but with a minimum of water to wash it down.

I can bring a book, and a change of clothes if I desire, since I’ll be staying at least one night, but they can provide me with anything else I need: a fashionable hospital gown, toothbrush, shampoo, TV, etc.  Yes, I can bring my iPod if I want, but they’re not responsible if anything should happen to it.

I think that about covers it.

Wish me luck!

British Dining Equiette

Whilst searching for some new yummies, I came across this blog by apple.strudel at allrecipes.com. May be British, but I think it’s universal.

I have been thinking about a new blog topic for a little while now, I wanted something that was food related but did not actually include any food dishes. It also had to reflect my personality and of course my British heritage.

The British are known for being quite formal, serious and possibly a bit stuffy. We have many traditions and like things to be just so… One thing we are most known for I guess is our dining etiquette. From such an early age we are trained on the correct way to eat, and I thought it would be fun to share a few of these things with you…
In Britain today, people are still believe it or not judged by their table manners, especially when attending a formal function or eating out.
We have an old popular saying in Britain “Manners maketh man”.

Basic Manners -Eating
Things you should not do…
• Never chew with your mouth open.
• Never mash or mix food on your plate.
• Do not blow on hot or cold food.
• Never talk with your mouth full.
• Do not sip from a teaspoon.
• Never put too much food into your mouth at one time.
• Never use your fingers to push food on to your folk or spoon.
• Do not eat off your knife

Things you should do…
• If you are attending a dinner party, wait until your host/hostess starts eating or indicates that you yourself should begin to eat.
• Chew and swallow all the food in your mouth, before adding more or taking a drink.
• Always tilt the soup bowl away from you and spoon in the same direction.
• Bread rolls should be broken with your fingers not a knife.
• A knife and fork should be used for chicken and pizza unless you are attending a BBQ or finger buffet.

Napkins, Crockery and Cutlery.
Things you should not do…
• Never use a napkin as a handkerchief.
• Never wipe off cutlery or glassware with your napkin. If the dishes are not clean ask the waiter for a replacement quietly.
• Do not tuck your napkin in to the collar of your shirt.
• Do not scrape your plate.
• Never cut up more than three bites of food at one time.

Things you should do…
• Your napkin should always be placed on your lap. In some restaurants the waiter will do this task for you. Keep your napkin there until you are ready to leave the table.
• When you leave the table place your napkin in loose folds at the left side of your plate, not on top of the plate.
• Always hold the fork in your left hand and the knife in your right.
• Never push your plate away or stack dishes when you have finished eating.

Passing dishes and food
Things you should not do…
• Never reach across the table, if something is not accessible to you, ask for it to be passed.
Things you should do…
• Always pass jugs, gravy boats etc with the handle towards the recipient.
• You must always pass to the right.

Posture and Behavior
Things you should not do…
• Never rock back in your chair.
• Never lean on your elbows, keep your posture erect.
• Elbows should never be placed on the table until all food courses have been cleared away.
• Never apply make up or comb your hair at the table.

Things you should do…
• When dining at someone’s home, always take a small gift for the hostess.
• At a restaurant or formal function never hang your coat on the back of a chair.
• When the need arises to use the bathroom excuse yourself and leave the table quietly.

Accidents will happen…

• If you spill anything on someone else, do not try to mop up the spill. Offer them your napkin and let them do it for themselves. It’s always polite to offer to cover any laundering or cleaning costs.
• If you break anything, bring it to the waiter’s attention. If it is a private home speak quietly to the host and offer to replace the item.
• If you get food lodged between your teeth do not use fingernails, napkins or toothpicks at the table, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.
• If you should burp, cover your mouth with your napkin, after the event say a quiet “Pardon me” to no one in particular. Do not make a big deal about the issue.

I hope my blog has given you a little taste of the British dining etiquette that is still in much use today. How do you think our eating manners are compared to the rest of the World? I still find it extremely difficult to comprehend how some people can conduct themselves in a restaurant. Maybe some of you will think me far too formal, too prim and proper but I was brought up to believe that good manners cost nothing…

Amen, apple.strudel!

The Coolest Soup

If you’ve never treated yourself to a bowl of gazpacho on a hot day, then you just don’t know how to cool down. This chilled vegetable soup is as refreshing as a cool breeze or a dip in the pool, with the added benefit of being yummy.

I was first introduced to gazpacho 30 or so years ago, and immediately fell in foodlust with it. However, being as handy in the kitchen as I am in a medical laboratory, for several years I was reliant on a Campbell’s Soup canned variety. That flavor was eventually discontinued, and I was left gazpacholess.

You see, all the recipes I could find for the homemade stuff called for peeling and deseeding tomatoes, and that’s not something I’m particularly adept at. I’ve tried peeling them, and have always been left with a mushy, gooey mess. And getting those itty bitty seeds out? Fugeddabboudit! There’s probably some obscenely simple procedure, but I haven’t found it yet.

What I did find recently, though, was this recipe at MediterrAsian.com, which substitutes tomato juice for actual tomatoes. After Googling how to remove seeds from cucumbers, I decided to give it a shot.

Man, oh, man! Beautiful, beautiful soup!

Listen, try this recipe and see if it’s not your favorite hot weather snack. It as easy as pie, but more refreshing and healthier. This makes enough for two good-sized bowls, so adjust accordingly.

1 clove garlic-chopped
½ small red onion-chopped
½ red pepper (capsicum)-deseeded and chopped
½ green pepper (capsicum)-deseeded and chopped
1 cup peeled, deseeded and chopped cucumber
3 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


PLACE all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. CHILL in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Variations:If you like a spicy kick, add a few drops of Tabasco sauce. You could use ripe and flavorful fresh tomatoes instead of tomato juice, but you need to skin and deseed them first (which is why we prefer to use good-quality tomato juice).

Tip:The flavors of gazpacho develop over time, so allow the soup to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, and up to a day ahead.

Instead of Tabasco sauce, I threw in some Pickapeppa Sauce, which added a unique flavor.

Enjoy it!