Monday, April 30, 2012

Ovarian Cyst Surgery and Recovery Process

Hi Y'all!  So I'm back, not fully recovered kind of back but semi recovered back ;)  

It has been one week since my surgery and I just wanted to share this whole process with all my fellow women readers to help you know how to deal with something like this happening to you or even how to react if this is happening to a loved one or friend of yours.  

Surgery in general is scary (especially if it is your first procedure) and I hope that by reading this it might help take some of the fear of the unknown away.  

Also, I want to give a HUGE thank you for all the love, support and prayers!!!  It turned out to be a BENIGN ovarian cyst and tumor :)  

aka my huge ovarian cyst

Day 1 
(pre-op, the day before the surgery)

No shaving this day.  No eating or drinking after 6pm. Take off all finger and toe nail polish.
When I went into my appointment my OBGYN made me sign a waiver making big decisions about if I wanted to save the ovary or not and all the other "if they found this then they will take that" scenarios.  I recommend bringing your husband or loved one with you to this to help make the right choices together. Then I had a lot of blood work done, a full physical exam and a surgery prep talk with a nurse.  I have gotten a lot less afraid of blood work lately, I quickly discovered that the idea of it was more scary than the actual drawing of it.

After my pre-op appointment, I went home to pack for the big day.  I brought slippers, a moomoo (long nightgown), Burt's Bees tinted chapstick (it will make you look like you have some kind of color and keep you lips from being so dry), a small and regular sized pillow for the car ride home.  As I was putting everything in my bag my husband gave me one last thing to put in it, a diamond studded cross necklace that he bought for me to wear after the surgery, since you can't wear anything during it, including make up, lotion, deodorant or jewelry.  

I kissed him and then drank this awful drink they make you take to "clear your system."  Don't panic if it takes a few hours to work (try to take this earlier in the day as opposed to later at night or you will still be going in the morning).  And I skipped that dang enema - NO WAY was I going to do that, my doctor said so long as I only had a liquid based soup before 6pm and drank the whole bottle of that nasty lemon flavored stuff, then I could skip it ;)

Day 2

I honestly don't remember much of this day, besides the fact that I was scared to death in the pre-operating waiting room by myself to the point that I started crying and the nurse let my husband come in and be with me while they gave me the iv and asked about 900 questions 900 times.  The waiting was definitely the hardest part, the surgery itself was the easiest part for me.  You are there and you have to do it, so you just kind of suck it up and face it.  Plus, they start giving you all the pain meds early and the nurses are all really sweet.  I even had an epidural and couldn't feel a thing because I chose to have the pain meds before hand (I highly recommend doing that if you have the option!)  The iv is uncomfortable but not nearly as painful as I thought it would be.  Then they do the anesthesia and next thing you know you are waking up and the procedure is all over.  

My surgeon was the first person to see me and immediately showed me the photo I requested of this monster growing inside me and then he told me the procedure went beautifully, they were able to save my ovary and reconstruct it and also took out my appendix (which is actually very small, like the size of a lime, I didn't know that) to prevent any future infection.  All three doctors were very proud of their work, they said because I was so skinny they were able to use disposable stitches instead of the staples, thank you God, and they were able to keep it all below my belly button :)

I don't remember how I got to my room but when I woke up I had lots of beautiful flowers sent from friends and family, which was much appreciated and a great thing to do for a friend in this situation (I have other ideas listed later, too).  Oh and I baked white chocolate hazelnut cookies and brought them for all the nurses (I guess that's the little chef in me!)  They will treat you extra special if you bring them goodies ;)

The rest of the day I was pain FREE and had a morphine pump that I could push anytime I started to feel pain, everyone told me to stay ahead of the pain, so I just pushed it every 12 minutes or so which the nurse recommended.  You will be very tired.

Day 3
(1st full day of recovery in the hospital)

This day is a little painful and a lot uncomfortable.  Morphin pump got taken away and I was switched to pain meds through my iv which my vein was super sensitive to and that wrist swelled up quite a bit.  You will NOT want visitors, at least I didn't.  I was way too out of it and vulnerable for anyone other than my husband, mother and father to be there.  The less people the better, you won't have the energy to speak to or entertain anyone and you won't feel like being asked any questions or hearing multiple opinions.  

This day your catheter is taken away and they make you get up and walk to go to the bathroom.  You will see yourself in the mirror on the way and your face will be very white and puffy, see photo below (which actually is deceiving, I didn't look anything near that good, lol!)

Then they want you to walk around the hospital later that afternoon, which Prescott and I did a couple of times.  The more you walk in moderation, of course, the better and more speedy your recovery.  USE YOUR GIRDLE!!!  It makes you feel so much more secure.

PS the hospital food sucks!

Day 4
(I get discharged in the PM)

More pain again this day, but not from the incision, from the gas and air that get trapped in your body from the surgery.  My left shoulder had sharp pains in it from trapped air.  I got put on a soft food diet this day.  EAT NON GASEOUS FOODS!  I have remained on a non-gaseous food diet this whole time to keep away the terrible gas pain.  Here is a great list of items to avoid: 

Walked more around the hospital this day, did more of my breathing exercises to prevent pneumonia and was able to be discharged that evening :)

Day 5 and on

I have been walking 2-3 times a day in small increments, sitting in a rocking chair full of pillows (that was very comfortable) and trying to lay sitting up with pillows all around me.  Also, I got a small bumpy rash from my girdle, so I put it on the outside of my gown instead of directly on my skin.  

This is when you will start to be okay with visitors in small increments.  Great gifts are books, nightgowns, popsicles and magazines (some of my favorites are below)

Again I want to give a special thank you to God (first and foremost), my amazingly supportive husband, my loving mother and my optimistic dad.  Of course all of my incredible friends, neighbors and family...
Crystal, Darby, Robin, Amber, Clavel, Jodi, Kathy, Marshall, Kyle, Margaret Anne, Maggie, Anna, Genevieve, Christina, Abby, Bob and Lonnee, Nina, Ashleigh, Sarah, Kate, Casey, Sam, Erika, Constanza, Martha, Stefanie, Jezanah, Tina, Leah, Sangita, Sini, Grandkay, Nana, Grandma, Theresa and Barbara Lee

Monday, April 23, 2012

Island Stir Fry with a Teriyaki Peanut Sauce

Well, tomorrow is the big day... SURGERY TIME!!!  I am excited to finally get this thing out of me and will probably be MIA for next week, sorry!  But as soon as I feel up to it, I will be sure to update y'all on the whole process.  I really have a good feeling about everything and am keeping a positive outlook.  Maybe it is just my rekindled faith that has comforted me so much, but I truly feel that God has bigger plans for me and that this is just a struggle placed in Prescott and my life to help us grow stronger and to make us more appreciative.  

So, needless to say, I probably won't be cooking for a while, but this is one recipe that Prescott wanted me to show him how to make so that he could cook it for me while I was recovering... I am sooo sooo blessed to have him and my mom here during this whole procedure.  Therefore, this recipe is relatively quick and easy to make :)

Hope y'all enjoy it and I can't wait to get back to a normal, healthy, cyst-free and tumor-free life full of healthy recipes, fun house projects and relaxing vacations to share with you!

What you need:
all natural chicken breast meat (diced into chunks)
sugar snap peas
chopped broccoli heads
red pepper (cut into strips) 
diced pineapple (into same size as chicken)
2 tablespoons of peanut butter (all natural, no stir)
1/2 a bottle of your favorite teriyaki sauce (I like TJ's Island Soyaki!)
chopped peanuts or cashews

cook the chicken in a little canola oil

par boil your broccoli (1-2 min), we through in some carrots and cauli, too, but it is just as yummy without

throw the drained broccoli, red pepper strips, sugar snap peas and diced pineapple into the pan with the chicken. saute.

pour your sauce and peanut butter into the pan and continue to cook on high until veggies are tender but still crisp.

put your cooked white or brown rice in your individual bowls

top the rice with your stir fry and chopped peanuts

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The VB House Tour!

One of my girlfriend's from high school did a house tour recently on her Blog "The Little Family" and inspired me to do one too :)  I have to admit after working so hard during Half Baked Co.'s busy season, it feels nice to relax in a nice comfy home that Prescott and I have truly made our own.  We have done a lot of DIY projects including painting, changing out lighting fixtures, adding new stainless steel appliances and basically furnishing it from the ground up.  

While it is super nice to have a home like this, over the past few weeks it has become very clear to me that the most important part of a home is those that are in it.  That is what I cherish more than all the pretty little decorated details (although I do love those too!).  Hope y'all enjoy the VB House Tour and as always, I still have a to-do list a mile long of more projects that need to be done (like painting the rest of our white walls, adding crown molding, upgrading some counter surfaces and a few other things!), but for now I am working on patience and just enjoying my time with all my amazing family and friends.

Sorry if that sounds super cheesy and sappy :D

My Sanctuary!

Our Memory Wall

Fun Little Nook

The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Loft - needs paint!!!

Our Lovely Guest Room

Our Master Retreat

Our Front Porch

View from our Master Balcony!

The Front of Our House (before we bought it)

The Back of our House

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup in the Crock Pot!

Well we decided to make use of our crock pot one last time before it hibernates in our cabinets for the rest of the spring/summer!  And boy were we glad that we did.  This chicken tortilla soup was super yummy, healthy and hearty.  Although it does have kinda a lot of ingredients, it was still cheap and easy to make.  Basically, like our fun dump salads, with the crock pot you get to do the same thing... just dump all of your ingredients into the pot and turn it on, it does all the cooking for you :)

What you need

chop up 1 cup of onion and 1 clove of garlic and dump in crockpot

dump in 1 can of reduced sodium chicken broth

dump in 1 tablespoon chili powder and 1 tablespoon dried oregano 

dump in 1 can of black beans (drained)

dump in 1 can of hominy (drained)

dump in 1 small can of chopped green chillies 

dump in 1 can of yellow corn (drained)

dump in 1 large can of crushed tomatoes

shred 2 cups of roasted chicken and dump in

stir and turn on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours

cut whole wheat tortillas into thin short strips

my husband did really good at this step :)

brush with olive oil and bake at 450 turning frequently until golden brown and crispy

ladle your super yummy homemade chicken tortilla soup into your bowl and grate lots of monterey jack cheese on top.  Garnish with your choice of chopped green onions/chives/cilantro, tortilla strips and even light sour cream, diced tomatoes or avocado, if you want.
Buen Provecho!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blood Orange Mojitos

Sometimes, you just need a drink and this little blood orange mojito really knows how to hit the spot :) The mint and lime mixed with the bubbly san pellegrino makes it fresh, invigorating and uplifting.  It is pretty simple to make and only requires 4 ingredients: 
gin (1-2 shots)
mint leaves (6-8 torn in half)
juice of 1 lime (then slice it)
 Blood Orange San Pellegrino (about half a can to fill to the top of your glass)
* Fill glass with ice, mint, lime juice, lime slices, gin and soda. Stir and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dear Friends, Family and Fellow Readers...

Today I won't be posting a dump salad.  Two days ago I received a phone call from my doctor.  I know I had told y'all about my ovarian cyst.  Well, this is going to be a new part of my journey that I am going to be sharing with you in hopes that somehow this will help get some of you amazing women to go to the doctor to make sure you are healthy and prevent anything from growing longer than it should and also to help shed some light on how to deal with these types of shitty situations (that is literally the only word I can come up with to describe it).  Also, I am selfishly hoping to get lots of prayers, too, and not just for me but those around me.  In no way am I asking for pity or attention, this is purely to help inform about this type of ovarian cyst/cancer and to ask for support for my friends and family.

Basically, they found something "concerning" in my last ultrasound.  It is some type of mass, not solid, but something that is odd and inside the cyst besides the other more common debris.  Honestly, they aren't sure what it is or isn't and won't truly know until they open me up and get the tissue tested.   Here are the changes that are occurring since I last informed y'all on this:

- my surgery date has been pushed up from June to April 24th (which is really good news)
- the incision won't be the small horizontal bikini cut but rather a larger vertical cut (dang!)
- the cyst will not be able to be drained now and will be taken out in tact (all 16 cm of it!)
- they probably won't be able to save the left ovary anymore

Now, the biggest change will be what they might find and what else they might have to remove, depending on what the test of the ovarian cyst tissue shows during the surgery.

Best Case Scenario:
The test comes back showing nothing, they sew me right up and whala, DONE!
* this is where y'all's prayers come in... we need to be praying for this scenario

Worst Case Scenario:
The test comes back showing that it is ovarian cancer, then they start testing the other areas around it and judging accordingly they could possibly remove my other ovary, cervix, uterus and/or appendix, depending on where it had spread.
* this would be extremely rare at my age, not unheard of, but very rare.

So, basically that is where we are right now, in waiting land.  I believe this is probably the worst part of the process, the not knowing.  It is important to stay positive at this stage of everything and try our hardest not to think about the what ifs.  The what ifs can drive you crazy and Prescott and I have been trying to deal with this news the best we know how, but I have to admit it is really hard.

I am so lucky to have the best husband in the whole world and amazingly supportive friends and family. I think blogging about this will help me cope with all the information given and hopefully shed some light on what it is like to deal with these types of situations.  No one really talks about these things and I think that talking about them is the only way to help others.  Everyone will be, if they haven't already been, affected by situations like this in their lives or through one of their friends or family member's lives and hopefully my story will be inspirational to others having to deal with this in their lives.

I will periodically update y'all on this process and in the meantime try to post as many healthy recipes and projects along the way :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Frozen Dark Chocolate Covered, Peanut Butter Filled, Banana Bites

This is a really fun, healthy and yummy take on the classic chocolate dipped frozen banana.  What I love about this version is:

a) it has peanut butter - everything is better with peanut butter in my world 
b) they are individual poppable portions - great for snacking 
c) they remind me of tagalongs (my favorite girlscout cookie) except much better for you!  

Make these and you will be making them every week and stocking them in your freezer for those random sweet cravings throughout the day :) 

What you need:
ripe banana(s)
chocolate chips (dark or semi sweet)
all natural, no stir peanut butter

slice your banana or bananas and lay on a wax paper lined baking sheet

spread peanut butter on top of each slice and pop in the freezer for 5-10 minutes

in the meantime melt your chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent burning it

take out your peanut butter covered banana slices and dunk one at a time into the melted chocolate

scoop out with a fork and tap on the side of the container to get off any excess chocolate

slide off with your finger or better a toothpick ;)

repeat with the rest of the banana slices until your sheet tray is full.
pop in the freezer for at least an hour.