Saturday, October 30, 2010

Anesthesia Brain

Aside from Gigi my dog, Hector here has been my constant companion
since my return from the hospital!

There has been a huge mistake!  When they took out the bones and junk in my back, they also removed a large portion of my brain!  I mean I can't hardly think straight for the life of me-ha!  Yesterday, I was trying to help the kids get their lunches together as they all had various fun days including field trips, swimming parties and of course Halloween parties.  I stood in the middle of the kitchen, with this blank stare on my face when they all three gave me their sandwich orders (which I have done millions of times in my life by now, I should be able to do it in my sleep), and just thought "Huh?"

But, it did clear me up on one thing, the reason I am having a hard time getting back to work here on the blog.  It is not because I am in a lot of pain, or need a lot of healing time.  It's actually because I can't think of a darn thing worth saying right now, and dang if that isn't odd for me!  So today as I was typing this I of course figured I'd better do a bit of research on the subject and found a few interesting pieces.  It is interesting to note that people with brain dysfunction may have a harder time recovering from anesthesia than those without.  I'm assuming epilepsy would qualify me for that group.

The point of all of this is not to make excuses or to feel sorry for myself by any means, as a matter of fact, I'm really glad I finally figured it out because now I have something to work with.  And I do believe that this might happen with everyone to a certain extent, so why not do a few brain exercises and have a little fun "waking up" your brain after dealing with anesthesia?

Actually, it's quite interesting that Mom has left me all of her Woman's World magazines and the other night I started the crossword; I think the first one I have ever done in my life!  It was as if my brain knew it needed a bit of challenging; and this is not the first time this has happened.  Before my surgery I had a wild craving for hamburgers...and I mean I could have eaten them at every meal.  I was doing some of my pre-surgical reading and it said to bone up on iron, hmmmm.  I also Have had a mad craving for chocolate milk, not only do I need the calories right now, but I can only imagine how my body is eating up that calcium.  

Yesterday when I was getting gas I started craving a sandwich from the store and almost ended up with Tuna; YUCK!!!!  On the way home that is when I realized I must really need some tuna fish if I had almost purchased one from a gas station!  Okay, body, fish oil coming up.  So, it is the same with the anesthesia brain thing.  I will challenge my daughter to a few games, continue on my reading (book reviews to come, when I can pull them together-ha!) and crosswords, and oh yeah the biggest brain buster of all...THE BALLOT.

Please don't forget to vote this weekend if you have a mail-in like we do.  If not, go ahead and make your cheat sheet so you are all ready for your big day on Tuesday and don't hold up the lines!  This is an important one, people, get out there and vote!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Murphy's Law

You know Murphy's Law is involved when your poor husband has been working his butt off to gather enough firewood for a few months; gets quite a bit split and stacked, and your chimney blows off with the first big snow storm!  I think my loyal readers know what my wood stove means to me.  I mean I even had this thing burnin' in the early morning all summer long!

So the other night when I was about ready to go to bed, and add a bunch of wood to the fire, I heard a huge crash...luckily I looked outside to see pieces of our metal chimney laying all over the darn driveway!  Believe you me, I did not add any wood, I freaked out and sat there and watched the fire that was left until there were hardly any embers left.  Knowing that at any moment our house was going to catch fire.  Sometimes I am such a FREAK!!!!

Needless to say, I was without my beloved fire for a few days...the coldest (and snowiest) few days so far this season...thank you Capt. Murphy.  But thanks to my dear husband and some new chimney tubing, I'm up and running this morning...Thank God!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The nuts and bolts of Thoracic back surgery (at least mine)

Well, as you The Rebels know, I have been having back issues for years now.  But if you are new to the story, let me give you a quick rundown of the story.  Almost three years ago now, I started having hip pain, yes hip pain.  I am a very active rancher, hiker, kid chaser, etc., so I let it go for a while, then the doctors let it go for a while, until finally late last year it was diagnosed as a herniated/ruptured thoracic disc.

I have said it before, and I'll probably say it again, this is very unusual.  Your thoracic (middle) region of your spine is the least mobile part of your body, so it very rarely gets injured.  Leave it to me to come up with a stumper!  So the first doctors assume it will resolve itself like herniated discs normally do, and since it is so near the spinal cord do not want to mess with it; I agree.

I go through the summer cleaning fire pits, and running my ranch thinking I am being a pansy since this stupid back thing is still bothering me.  I finally get bad enough to go back to the damn doctor, taking my husband in hopes that the doctor will finally tell him how very tough his wife actually is, and do you know what happened?  That doctor told me that my back was perfectly fine, he even bet my husband a nickel that the MRI would show that my disc was back to normal size and that this was all just a "little flare-up".

Well, he was very, very wrong.  Actually, my disc herniation was worse, my spinal cord was pushed so far out of the way, that it actually changed the way they were able to do the surgery on me!  So, in that instance it was good, I guess.  Normally, thoracic surgeries are done through the chest to avoid damage to the all important spinal cord, blessedly, as you can see from the pic they went in through the back on me.

The following is an excerpt from WebMD about the type of surgery that they did on me: 

Discectomy (also called open discectomy) is the surgical removal of herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Before the disc material is removed, a small piece of bone (the lamina) from the affected vertebra may be removed. This is called a laminotomy or laminectomy and allows the surgeon to better see and access the area of disc herniation.

The only problem was that they were hoping to do only the discecotomy with very little laminectomy, and it turned out to be the other way around.  They had to take quite a bit of bone, and some of the disc had calcified, so they left it, but it sounded like he thought it was a great success, so I am quite thankful for that.  I often wonder if they would really tell you that a surgery like this was not a great success, but that is just me being a total cynic, because I do already feel differently than when there was all that pressure on my spinal cord.

So, now it is just a matter of waiting and resting and letting the swelling go down.  And hoping and praying that my spinal cord goes back into its proper position when all the dust settles, so to speak!  I get my staples (actually, now that a few more days have gone by, I think I might only have stitches!) removed at two weeks, with a doctor follow-up at four weeks; that's about all I know for now! (This must have been on Wed., now it is Sunday and my daughter is one year older, boo hoo!  Her 11th birthday was yesterday.)

Well, as you all have probably guessed, this has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while so I will give you some more to chew on before I publish.  I kept trying to figure out why I was being so slow in hitting the publish button when I realized the scar is ugly.  Well, of course it's ugly, I've been through some nasty stuff...even the skin that just had to be bandaged for two days is crying out for my friend Tiffany's cream.  I can't wait until I get the all clear to use it!

But what has really been bothering me I guess is that the Dr. told me that I have degenerative disc disease and that is what caused this problem, not my car accident when I was a teen.  First and foremost, it is not another disease I have to deal with like my epilepsy.  It just means that I have a really crappy spine I guess and I'm just going to have to be careful.  But can you imagine how sick I am of having to be careful of stuff?

So, with that, and the fact that I almost just cried, I would like to leave you all with some things that I know have gotten a lot better since my surgery.  And you know what is really funny?  These are things that the doctors kept telling me couldn't be related to my spinal injury, I think their story is a little different now that they got in there and saw the damage though.  Anywho, back to my improvements...I no longer have a "fog" around my vision, the heaviness and weird stuff going on in my arms is practically gone, my headaches are finito; okay 95%.  So far so good with the bladder issues, but that was with activity, so I am reserving judgment on that til I get back on my feet a little better; this will be the biggy and the one the doctors will tell if they call it a success or not.

The main point I have to keep reminding myself of, and a call from my Aunt who is a nurse was a great reminder, is that it will take six weeks minimum for all of the swelling to go down and that cord to go back into place.  I will learn more in the meantime about degenerative disc disease (notice I won't even capitalize it!), which I really have got to come up with a better name for, and then I'll be ready to hit it head on like I always do.  I've always taken good care of my spine with my Yoga and stuff, now I will just have to be even more vigilant!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back surgery sucks...

(thanks clipart, beautiful!)

Helloooo!  I'm back!  Well, I can't guarantee that I am back on a daily basis because my computer is too damn heavy, actually everything is too damn heavy, but at least I am here to check in-hooray!  I was really wishing that I had done an update before Sunday, because I was really great.  Sunday and yesterday, not so much, downright crappy I would even venture to say, but that is to be expected because the steroids and meds they give you during surgery wear off anywhere from day 3-5 and that is when it hit me.

As for a weight limit of five pounds, well, that is downright laughable.  I don't think there is anything on this ranch that weighs five pounds.  I do have one cat that is under that weight, but as soon as I sit down with a blanket I am covered with cats anyway, so I'm covered on that point.  Did you know that a gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs?  And yes, even my laptop weighs quite a bit more than 5 lbs., as a matter of fact it will even be heavier than the ten pound limit I will hopefully get to jump up to at my four week mark.  Do I hear a woot woot?!?

So, I have to share a couple of funny stories with you all.  This surgery really had Tom and I in a dither, I mean we were both scared to death about this one.  Tom was worried that I was going to come out paralyzed and I was afraid of dying.  We both know that over the years my vibes are something that we really should listen to, so it was hard for us to figure out if I was having just fear or some kind of vibe about doing this surgery.  So anyway, we both had pretty much gotten past our fears and surgery day was finally here, no more dreading it!

As you know the patient is not allowed to have anything of value, no purse or jewelry, nothing.  So Tom is in charge of everything, which he somewhat has been anyway since I have been so spacey.  Well, anyway, we have to check in at Security with both our ID's, no problem.  Then Tom checks me in at the computer and heads to the restroom...meanwhile they call my name and I head over to Admissions and tell them that my husband has all my cards; which he immediately starts digging for when he gets back from the restroom.  After accusing me, who had no pockets or anything, of having them, a nice lady behind the counter brings them to us!  He had left my drivers license and my Kaiser card at the main computer of the hospital!  I teased him that next time he should just leave them the debit card too!

Off we head to surgery, and there they take my beloved husband away.  And I don't mean for just a couple of minutes.  I mean for the entire pre-op time; oh and the post-op time too.  It really sucked, I must say.  I know it is an older hospital, and very crowded, and they are trying to keep germs down, and blah blah.  But I wanted my damn husband!  He got to come in for just a few minutes to say goodbye and then he had to wait to see me until I got to my room, boo hoo!

So have I mentioned that we are not city folk, let alone hospital folk?  Needless to say, I got zilcho sleep, mostly due to the noise, and thanks to my very low blood pressure (which I explained again and again is perfectly normal for me, but they still insisted on flushing me with those fluids so I could make those painful trips to the RR) they had long since taken me off the good drugs and I was back to plain old oral pain meds.  Which of course I was due for at just the time everyone got all ready for me to go..."sweet mother there must be a God in Heaven to get me into that truck and over those bumpy city streets while that stupid oral pain medication takes affect!!!!!" was all I could think, honestly.

Well, there must have been, because I made it home in one piece.  As for Tom, I'm not so sure.  He told me that as he was carrying all that "shit" (his words, not mine, because it was partially a spectacular bouquet of flowers from my family that is now my center piece), he was in the very middle of the intersection when the checkbook fell out of his back pocket.  It of course was full of all of the cards that all of the therapists had just given him that morning and they all flew everywhere!  So, my totally together, never loses anything biker husband had to set down his beautiful flowers and my briefcase and bag of clothes to retrieve his stuff while traffic piled up, oh I wish I had been there!

It was wonderful having Tom off last week, but the time flew by way too quickly.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it back from the bus stop yesterday morning, and saw my very first Bald Eagle in this area.  It was so cool, it stayed in the valley and just swooped from one tree to another doing a little fishing in between, the whole time I shuffled my way made the trip much easier, I was home before I even realized it!

Speaking of wonderful...the messages and notes and meals we have gotten are fantastic!  We have the most wonderful family, friends and neighbors a family could ask for, that is for sure.  We are eating like Kings and Queens!

So that is about all for now, maybe tomorrow I'll get into the nuts and bolt of what they found in my back...quite interesting for sure.  Oh and I'm going to have the family take a picture of my battle wound so I hope no one is offended by that kind of thing, because I'm pretty proud of it!  Tom calls me Frankenstein when he sees it, how loving of him-ha!

Monday, October 11, 2010

See you soon with a little bit of Metaphysical Monday mixed in...

So I have waited so long to do this post, that now it got awkward, and it certainly shouldn't be.  I have to have back surgery.  Tomorrow.  I have written and re-written this post about a thousand times, honest, you should see my drafts folder right now, it's a mess!  But for some strange reason, this has been the hardest post I have ever written in my life.

The timing with my Kundalini training is uncanny.  Well, if you are like me, you don't believe in coincidences so I'm pretty sure this all came into my life at this time for a reason.  So, it has been a weird week for me, I must say.  I'm not sure that I would typically advise a person to be learning anything new spiritually when you are dealing with something so monumental health wise; but on the other hand, when have I done anything in a typical fashion?  Although it has been quiet here on the blog front, I have been doing some writing, that someday I will have the nerve to share...And as I said, I really don't feel as if I had much choice in this matter, this all has been handed to me (a person can only be hit over the head with so many signs...), my job is just to take it in and deal with it how I see fit.

But for now it is safer to stick to the facts.  Tomorrow at 2:30 I'm scheduled (I keep saying it that way like I'm going to get some sort of Presidential Pardon or something-ha!) for a rather rare back surgery.  The good news is that my body has already done the tricky part, and has moved my spinal cord out of the way!  See, normally with a Thoracic injury they would have to go in through my chest to avoid injuring the spinal cord, but since my disc is so badly herniated and has already moved the cord out of the way for them, they can go in through my back at the opposite angle and repair it that way-hoorah!!!

Tom asked the surgeon how many people he's crippled and he put up a hand signal for zero, but then we later laughed and wondered if he really meant the last three fingers he was holding up, since he didn't really answer us-ha!  It's amazing how paranoid you get when they're working on your spinal cord/column. But I do feel we are in great hands, and I'm expected to be out of the hospital by Wednesday, again, but this time in all caps-HOORAH!!!!!

Anwho, thank you all, neighbors and friends and family, for all your kind wishes; I even got a call from our retired neighbors who were leaving town.  They were on speaker phone, which sounded like quite a feat for them, and they both were wishing me good luck.  Although I could hear the concern in their voice (the gentleman was against the surgery all along, old school German-ha!), they said they can't wait to see me dancing around the neighborhood again.  I had to bust out laughing even though it hurts to laugh!

So, I will teach Tom a thing or two about The Royal Ranch Facebook page and have him or my oldest keep it a little bit updated.  And until next time, know that I love and appreciate you all very much, and this is one of the best jobs ever!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Too Cute...

I absolutely loved this video and had to share it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ode to the Porcupine Gods

Dear Royal Rebels,

Please excuse the absence of Judy Jeute as she has been sitting around pouting.

Thank You,

Judy Jeute

No, I'm mostly kidding, but I have been having quite a pity party.  See, a very difficult part of being an animal "sanctuary" is that animals tend to find us, and that is not always a good thing; because sometimes they are coming here to die.  And it really breaks my heart. 

Take Monday morning for example, I dropped my daughter off at the bus stop and headed off to do my chores.  Rosie made it to the hay stack first, as usual, and I heard a hissing and then saw her jump back, and then lunge forward!  I knew to call her (good thing she's such a well trained dog!), and ran to see what it was that she was so interested in:

(Please excuse the mess, obviously I wasn't prepared to take a picture!)

This is what I saw.  A full grown, full blown, pissed off (well, kinda), porcupine!  Now, if this rings a bell, you're not crazy, this recently happened with a fox too.  Blessedly, we were able to chase the fox off, this guy... no such luck.

After taking the dogs home, grabbing the camera, and making sure that a porcupine is an herbivore and not there for food (like my chickens), and this is important to determine normal behavior or not, I headed back up to try and assess the situation and get this somewhat dangerous critter off of my ranch.

Now when I say dangerous, I mean dangerous in how my animals will react to him, and also if he was sick.  And don't forget that I'm not moving too quick myself, so thank goodness my renter was home to rattle his cage first thing in the morning!

So, being the mountain loving people that we are, we did everything we could to make sure that this was not a typical porcupine.  We talked it through (I know it sounds funny, but in a situation like this it is important not to panic), and then tried to chase him off and then even got a shovel and literally was able to physically move him around with it; problem was all he wanted to do was go into the llama pen.  And they were waiting to attack him with their front legs, and that would have been a huge disaster for me!  

This fella was terribly injured and so the only humane thing to do was to put him down.  Again, the Porcupine Gods were smiling on me, and I did not have to do it myself, although I was prepared to.  I have spoken with my vet since then and he agrees, which makes me feel so much better in my heart, but mostly I feel better about rabies.  It appears that porcupines are not prone to rabies like other rodent species and he agrees that it probably got hit on our new speedway of a road and came up here to die.  How sad.

But I will place some of his beautiful quills on my altar, and who else do you know that would be bummed out over a porcupine for two days?  So, I guess he chose just the right place to come maybe.  I honor the Porcupine God... and did I mention there is never a dull moment here at The Royal Ranch?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

You Rebels might have guessed by now that I'm not a huge Hillary Clinton fan, but the whole "it takes a village" thing really has some merit.  My men are hunting this weekend, and the group that they are with are men that I am happy to say are men that are having impacts on my boys' lives in such a positive and influential manner.  Let alone the quality girl time that Bella and I are having.

So let's back up a minute here.  Some folks would argue that they don't believe in hunting, or that we are somehow being sexist in the acts that we have chosen to do with our kids, and that is fine.  Choose your own things to do with your kids, just do it, and involve other people that you respect.  Break your kids down into smaller groups, or even better yet, one on one, and have them interact with you and another group of adults, like a hunting party, just for example.  The point is for the child to see how all types of adults deal with all types of situations, while still in the protective environment of family.

Back to my men...last year my 14 year old came home talking about how he and Greg had gone out in the field at 4am and he had driven Greg's car at 40mph across the fields!  Now how many parents do you know would let their kid do that?  We wouldn't.  We would all be too wrapped up in insurance, and what not.  And as for my neighbor Dan, well, he is the hardest working man I have ever met besides my husband and father...I can't think of a better example to set for my teenage sons right now.  Another guy that they went with is a Chef (and also camp cook), something that I think Nathan may be interested in doing, that is if the cop thing doesn't pan out.  I could go on and on with the list of life experiences my boys get in just a few short days.

Us girls have been holding our own too, don't worry.  We got to go out to dinner on Friday the Angry Llama, no less!  For those of you that are local, that is a kinda new diner in Conifer, and you really should try it if you haven't.  Good food at great prices, with an even cuter name, can't be beat!  Yesterday I took the girls roller skating, and I realized that I got to play the role of the "village".  

When Isabellas friends Mom dropped her off, she was so grateful because she had a paper to write, a house to clean, a wedding to plan for her oldest daughter, etc.  And with me taking this daughter, I emptied her house!  On top of the fun skating, we had the hour drive down the hill (and back) to contemplate life and it's problems.  Like the bully girl on the bus, and how they will both deal with her this year in a loving and tolerant manner, and how it is better to keep your "enemies" as friends and so on.  We also talked about why people bully, something that is really hitting home with me lately and you will probably be reading more of in coming days, just a heads up.

So today's Royalty is all of the people who put effort into helping raise my fantastic children.  You know who you are.  You are their educators, neighbors, friends and family.  We all have a little piece of these wondrous kids, some of you have given them small jobs to help teach them responsibility, and some of you have actually taught them from a textbook, but know that the gratitude comes from the very depths of my heart!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Some dreams are really worth waiting for

I became an Aunt again yesterday, in a rather unusual fashion.  My German Exchange Sister, Irina, and her husband Matthias have finally realized their dream of becoming parents and arrived home yesterday with their son Viktor Andreas.  Although they are an ocean away, I feel the joy as if they were right next door.

Now, this has been a long road for Irina and Matthias.  A road that I wish I could say has been full of mountains and valleys, but no, this road, has been just plain bumpy and rough...but they stuck to it and have a beautiful son to show for their effort!  So today, on this Royal Rebel is all about my new German nephew Viktor Andreas Obert!!!