January 17, 2016

Texts from Dad

I'm keeping these here so I have a record for myself, and (unfortunately) anyone else who wants one. My extended family got very involved in this because my dad alienated himself from so many people over the years, and they've been trying to get us all back together.

Over 5 years ago my dad started seeing this new woman. Things moved pretty quickly between them and she was living with him after 6 months, while he was still legal guardian to my underage sister and our other sister was living there, too. His new girlfriend's sparkling personality aside, we were concerned she was taking advantage of him (he had a house, a successful business, and was financially comfortable, while she owned very little and wasn't making much money - when she moved in she lived rent free, which is something his daughters weren't allowed to do). Our dad had a track record of falling for women who used him and he has never been the one to see a relationship for what it was, much less break one off.

In one instance, his girlfriend made a list of rules for my sister to follow if she was going to be living in "their" house. The rules were absurd, and one was medically irresponsible, so I agreed to be there for that conversation. I had a pretty good relationship with my dad. We had what I thought was a great talk, where a lot of issues were brought to light and my sisters and I walked away from it feeling much better. Now that we were able to talk openly about the rules and some other lingering issues, things were looking up. However, a few days later my dad called me to ask me to never do that again. He said by being there I was both robbing my sister of the ability to speak for herself and disrespecting him and his girlfriend. I told him I couldn't agree to that – if either of my sisters asked for my help or presence when confronting him or his girlfriend, I would do it. I suspect that his girlfriend had a private conversation with him after we left, because he seemed perfectly happy with my presence and what I said at the time. Only later did he change his mind and claim to have felt disrespected.

The next time I was in my hometown I asked him to have lunch with me so we could talk about things. I told him about my concerns about his girlfriend and suggested he could do better. He reaffirmed his love for his girlfriend, told me how the life he had had when he was married was never what he had wanted, kids were never what he wanted, and essentially that he had the chance to live the life he felt he always deserved. I was given the option of getting on board or not.

A couple months later I turned 25. I spent it with my best friends on vacation, my sisters called to wish me happy birthday, my mom, a few relatives, and I got lots of texts and messages from friends that day. When I woke up the next morning I realized my dad was the only one who missed it (and it's not like he forgot, my mom and I share the same birthday, that date is engrained into his head). I was pretty crushed. 

Several other birthdays came and went without so much as a text from him, and multiple holidays, too. A few times he would group text us to say "merry christmas, love dad and [girlfriend]". And it was fine, after a while. I accepted that this was the way he wanted it and watched my dad alienate his own siblings, close friends, and other family members. Turns out I wasn't the only one who brought up concerns about his girlfriend, because many were because he felt forced to choose between her and his family. 

Could I have done more? Absolutely. I could have promised my dad I would respect his authority and not support my sister if she asked. I could have apologized for even hinting that his girlfriend was not the most wonderful partner he thinks she is. I could have sent him happy father's day wishes anyway. But those things were never going to happen. I would never choose my father's ridiculous need for approval over my sister asking for support. I would never sit by while I thought my dad was being taken advantage of and say nothing. And I'm just not the type of person who is going to force another person to have me in their life.

I've been hearing a lot from other relatives who have still been trying to make amends lately. Apparently he married his girlfriend. He also had a medical scare, which may be ongoing. My dad has chosen to not share these parts of his life with any of his daughters. But something made him reach out to our mom (I'm guessing it was the increased contact from his siblings after his medical scare). To be honest, I was hoping he wouldn't do this, and after the following texts from him I wish he hadn't. To be cut out of someone's life because you said your piece and meant it is one thing, but to be cut out because someone has delusions about what actually happened is another.
















The gist of our conversation was he doesn't want to acknowledge (or doesn't remember) any of the things he said to me, but by not reaching out anyway this is my fault. He's only interested in starting over if it means he doesn't have to take responsibility. The only apology in here was sorry for being wrong about me not wanting him in my life. And the shitty thing? I don't want a relationship. It would be shallow and fake and I couldn't trust him and I don't think I could be civil to his new wife. So what's the point? And I still don't know why he suddenly wants to start over. I only responded because all of the relatives who have cared about me for the last five years will be disappointed if I completely ignored this. 

But I can't just start over. If this were anyone but my parent no one would be asking me to give it another shot. I know what my part is in this, and unless his demands have changed I stand by what I said and what I did. I hope my relationships with my aunts, uncles, and cousins isn't damaged, and I'll still be there to support my sisters if they decide to reach out.

November 27, 2015

Getting Spayed: Six Week Update

It's been six weeks since my laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy. It's a ton easier (and admittedly more fun) to say I got fixed. Now, except for two tiny little incisions that are still healing, you wouldn't be able to tell I had surgery.

As a reminder, here's what I looked like the day after surgery:



I covered the big events of the first month after surgery in my previous post, and really there wasn't much to talk about. Like most people who have surgery, there was bloating and a small amount of pain, which was managed with extra strength ibuprofen for about a week. But I was working from home and visiting friends the very next day, back in the office on three days later, and eating and drinking normally that week, though not as much as I usually do. 

I haven't shared this with a lot of people yet. Part of me really wants to, because I'd love to shout this from the rooftops. But part of me understands how sensitive people can be to things they aren't familiar with and, as it was put to me, being so sure you don't want kids that you'll change your body is such a foreign concept. However, those I have told have been almost uniformly supportive. My close friends and family members who do want kids have been the most supportive, saying they're happy for me and reminding me I'll be a great aunt. 

One thing I am very, very happy to be doing again is running. I had taken a few months off due to an injury, combined with an extra hot summer, so adding the surgery was just one more reason to not exercise. Now everything has fallen back into place and running feels so good again. I've even started doing some weights. Since I'll never be pregnant I'll also never have to work as hard to stay fit and in shape. It's amazing how quickly the body readjusts to exercise; even taking almost three months off any form of exercise except walking the dog, after only a few short runs I feel my muscles returning and my jeans are a little looser. It's lovely.

The final thing I'm still waiting on is that sweet, uncomplicated, risk-free sex. Six weeks was the time I had to take off from both sex and tampons, and it was something I didn't think would be so hard (that's what she said) to stop, especially when you're still going to bed every night next to this person you think is really sexy.

However, it's Thanksgiving. Which means traveling and staying with family (his) and a further moratorium on sexytimes. I would say I'd give an update on what this risk-free sex is like once we get back, but I'm not. So here's a photo of what my scars look like today, because that's basically the same thing, right?



And here are the two photos, six weeks apart:


Feel free to leave a comment if a salpingectomy is something you're considering, or share your stories from your own spaying!

October 17, 2015

Getting My Laparoscopic Bilateral Salpingectomy

Today was surgery day! After about a year of consultations and trying to find the right doctor and not one who would do it begrudgingly, a couple years of giving surgery serious thought, and close to ten years knowing I don't want kids (and more importantly, never want to be pregnant), I am finally sterile.



Pre-op selfie

I stopped taking birth control about 10 months ago because I couldn't start another year on it. What used to work really well turned on me in my mid-twenties and I started getting side effects: mood swings, dryness, irritability, low libido. When I stopped I felt much better, but every time was a risk. And boy did we risk it... I honestly started wondering if one of us was naturally sterile. Part of my consultations was to decide which procedure to go with, and after a long time I settled on a laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy: full removal of both fallopian tubes. I cannot wait for my 6 weeks to be up for 100% worry-free and baby-free sexy times!

Why a laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy? 
  1. My fallopian tubes are completely removed. There is no chance I can get pregnant!
  2. There is no chance this can be reversed. I imagine this being particularly helpful for anyone who tries to tell me I can get it reversed if I change my mind.
  3. There's nothing inside me (and never will be, hey-o!). Other sterilizations like tubal ligation and essure leave things behind. A tubal is traditionally done with filshie clips, while essure is a tiny coil that is pushed through each fallopian tube and in about three months is covered in scar tissue. Essure was really appealing to me at first, but I liked the immediacy of the salpingectomy and the fact that there isn't anything left.
  4. There are early studies that show that some ovarian cancers originate in the fallopian tubes. With them gone, my chance of cancer is reduced!
  5. My hormones were not messed with at all. I'll still ovulate, still have a period, still go through menopause, and still get all those glorious hormones that make me a woman. (Yay?)
  6. No chance of an ectopic pregnancy! I'm really excited that this can physically not happen, as it's super dangerous. No fallopian tubes=no ectopic pregnancy! In fact, women who do have an ectopic pregnancy have a salpingectomy. 
  7. If I do end up getting pregnant, my doctor said she'd write a case study on me. :)
Consultation:

I met with a couple different doctors about being sterilized before finding the right one. I knew Planned Parenthood would perform the surgery, but since I'm a big girl with insurance I figured I should try the doctors in my network first. I found an office that primarily performed essure and made an appointment, but was wary of that doctor for several reasons (including his reluctance to do it, and his reluctance to consider a tubal). If I was going to be going under the knife or having any sort of permanent procedure performed, I wanted someone to be 100% on my side.

The doctor I settled on I found through the childfree subreddit, which has a list of doctors willing to perform these procedures on people who don't have kids. I liked everything about this doctor, especially that she seemed fully supportive, possibly even excited for me. 

She did a pap since I was due anyway and we set up a day for the surgery about 6 weeks away.

Surgery Day:

Check-in was at 8:15am. At the front desk I showed my ID and got a wrist band (so fancy) and was whisked away almost immediately for a urine sample for a preggo test. No one told me the result but I'm guessing it came up not preggo, since they didn't tell me they threw in an abortion.



In a curtained waiting area I was given a gown, hair net, and adorable purple socks with grippy paw prints that they let me keep! I'm pretty excited about those, and will always remember my surgery when I wear them. There were also these weird compression sleeves for my calves, apparently to encourage blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots. The Boyfriend came to meet with me once I was changed and to take my pre-op photo.



During the next hour my doctor, the attending, the anesthesiologist, and a couple of the nurses came in to say hi or introduce themselves. I kind of already have a girl crush on my doctor, but I really liked the anesthesiologist, too. They asked me several times to state my name, birth date, and procedure and my doctor verified a couple of times that this is 100% what I want and that I know this is 100% irreversible. Yes and yes! 

Finally, closer to 10am, I was taken to the surgery room. It was so intimidating! I've never seen a surgery room before and it was both exactly like what they show in movies and the exact opposite. First of all, it was huge and felt domed. It was full of incredibly white light and lots of it, and so many machines and tubes all over the place. The entire crew was already in there, in scrubs and hair nets and shoe covers and face masks. The nurse asked me one last time to state my name and procedure to the surgeons, so I said, "I'm Lindsay, and I'm getting my tubes removed!" I figured they weren't backing out then.

The nurse helped me onto the table, loosened my gown, and got me comfortable. The nurse wrapped me in a warm blanket – the anesthesiologist told me this is because keeping bodies warm before and throughout surgery leads to a better recovery. The anesthesiologist then started the IV in my wrist. He warned me that the drug causes pain at the injection site. I could feel it working almost immediately – I was fuzzy and knew I'd be out within seconds. But I asked him why the medicine hurt, and he definitely started to answer, buuut I was already asleep.

Some time later I woke up in a recovery room with a nurse by my side. She talked me awake(ish), asked me how I was, and helped me sit up a little bit. I was really out of it but responsive and felt fine, though I know I had a whole bunch of drugs in me still. She offered me water or apple juice, and I said both. That was some good apple juice. The Boyfriend was brought back to see me and take my post-op photo.



Someone took out the IV and wrapped it so I look like I survived a suicide attempt. The nurse helped me get dressed and complimented my choice in comfy clothes. She said I wouldn't believe how some women want to walk out in heels after surgery! I picked my superman shirt on purpose: not only did it make me feel a little stronger and braver, but it's super comfortable and loose. Then she told me about my dressings and wheelchaired me out!

The Boyfriend dropped me off at home and went to the pharmacy and grocery store (and had to deal with madness from a home football game). The first thing I did was pee and OW. Catheter. What a bitch.

I had soup ready for me for lunch and also tried to eat some crackers. But that was a bad choice... my throat was sore from the breathing tube. The cat jumped directly on my stomach while I was napping, not cool, and then threw up a massive hairball (on the rug I just washed), and I had to clean it up. Cats are the best. I spent the rest of the day napping, Netflixing, watching the Chargers almost win, and took the dog on a very slow walk with The Boyfriend.


Sweet dog follows me around

My belly button was plugged up with cotton and a very good tape all the way around it. The two incisions on either side were covered in some sort of body glue, and I was told to keep all three dry overnight. I feel pretty huge right now.


Post-Surgery
Day 1:
Slept on my back all night. It wasn't uncomfortable, but the dog loves is most adorable in the morning (when he's at peak cuddly) so I had to keep him off my belly. I wasn't in pain, just bloated. My big morning disappointment was no poo. My whole day is off if I don't have my morning poo. :(

I worked from home (in our new home office) and made soup. I threw in all the fiber I could think of, and it was actually really good. I took a 600mg ibuprofen just because, even though I wasn't really in pain, but then I was eating just because, even though I wasn't really hungry. Surgery is weird. 



The cat tried to jump in my lap while I was at my desk, and I pushed her and she hit her head. Poor lady cat. 

I experienced a little bit of shock over having had surgery yesterday. I think I should feel worse. Bending is uncomfortable, but that's all. I also have the realization that I am sterile. This is something I wanted for a long time but sort of never thought I'd do. When I was a kid I wished there was a pill to get you pregnant so you wouldn't have to have sex with your husband (because gross). Now I've taken out parts of my body so I can have sex without getting pregnant. Super weird. I wonder if this is the part where some women start to regret it.

I pooped! The soup worked! Tip for pooping after surgery: elevate your feet. This is a good tip for any pooping where you don't want to strain too much. Put your feet on a roll of toilet paper and sit up straight. Seriously, just try it. I might do this every time from now on. Even princes and unicorns agree this is good for your sphincter. 

I showered! And took off my belly button bandage – there's a staple* there! It looks really weird. I'm glad I have a belly button ring to hide it a bit, though it's not like people see my belly button very often.

The surgery center called but I missed it walking the dog. They were just checking in, reminding me to call if I need anything. My doctor also called for the same reasons, which was nice.

The Boyfriend and I went to a restaurant for a friend's birthday and I had like 2 ounces of beer before giving it to The Boyfriend. I wore my skinny jeans because they are the most stretchy around the belly, but after 2 hours I was done. It might have been the pizza, might have been not being able to fart, but I had to unbutton my jeans in the car on the way home (and then immediately stunk the place up). The Boyfriend remarked that this is as close to being pregnant as I'll ever feel. I'm grateful for that, and that my giant bloaty belly will soon go down, and that The Boyfriend doesn't even bat an eyelash at my gassiness (both post-surgery and normally).

At home we shared a slice of pumpkin cheesecake (it was treat yo' self day) in comfy pants. Glorious, glorious comfy pants.

*I learn on Day 8 that it's not a staple, it's sutures. Makes more sense, though I swear it feels like a staple.


 BLOAT.

The only belly photos I'll ever take.

Day 2:
Feeling a lot more normal today, but I'm really tired. Probably just didn't get enough sleep, but I look exhausted. My dark circles are out in force today and it's a struggle to keep my eyelids open. It doesn't help that I'm working from home again and it's horribly hot and muggy. I'm pretty sure my minor bloody nose is from surgery, not the heat.

I'm fascinated by my cuts. There's a staple* in my belly button and some weird body glue on the incisions on my sides. They look so weird, and I just look at them sometimes.

I get wine with my lady friend and tell her about the surgery. She had known I was talking about it but was still shocked and had a bunch of questions. I like that she lets me talk about this sort of thing, not everyone is into seeing cuts and hearing stories like that. We then talk about how some of the people in our lives are baby crazy and we don't understand why. Gonna hang on to her.

*Still not a staple.


 Quality photos are not taken with a phone in front of a mirror.

How am I bigger?!? Oh yeah, wine.

Day 3:
Back to work! I wore a skirt because fuck pants. I took the rest of my soup for lunch, though I was still eating far less than I usually do. 

Dinner was pho because The Boyfriend is lovely and puts up with my need for all the pho when I'm feeling even a little bad. It's bad, the lady who owns the place knows my phone order.

While I'm not in pain, I definitely like relying on the heavy duty ibuprofen. I get this pain like I've had a tampon in too long and it sort of resonates through that whole area. Surprisingly almost no spotting, though.


 Dog <3 comment-3--="">

Surgery + soup = giant

Day 4:
Office again, and Friday! Skirt again, but it rained so I was that person wearing a skirt and flip flops in the rain. It was muggy and warm so I wasn't the only one not dressed for the weather, but inside the office was freezing. All I want is for this heat to be over so I can wear jeans and shoes and sweatshirts, and when it's sort of cool I'm stuck in a stupid skirt.

I go to a happy hour after work and don't finish my beer. I don't need bloaty beer on top of my bloaty self.  

At home we order Thai foods, because it's Friday. I'm feeling rather back to normal, outside of the bloat, but not 100% yet.



Shhhh... they're on the bed together.

Day 5:
More skirt. I'm pretty sick of skirts and want to wear jeans again but I volunteered at a workshop for a women's hackathon and didn't want to commit to pants just in case. I'm super in love with these culottes I have for housewear (see Day 2 and 3 photos). They're so comfy and stretchy.

I realized the reason my appetite hasn't been as big all week is because there's still gas that's probably pressing against my stomach and making me seem full all the time. I'm starting to get hunger pangs again, but I've been relying on when I need to take a pill for my meals. I like feeling hungry. On the other hand, I've been eating so well all week that my poops have been fantastic. It's been a great experiment!



Day 6:
The Boyfriend and I went to Pour It Black, a dark beer festival at Stone Brewery. Stouts and porters are my fave and I've been wanting to go to this for a couple years. We arrived a little late (because drinking a whole bunch of really strong beer at 10am just really isn't my thing) and didn't make it through all 15 of our tasters (3oz each x 15 = 45 ounces of beer, or almost 4 full beers). But we had a really good time, got some great food, ran into a friend, and I got pretty drunk. I took an ibuprofen in the afternoon and that held me all day.


In the evening we went to some friends' for the night football game and I got some work done. For dinner I had my first post-op burrito (potato, egg and cheese!), though I saved half for breakfast. Soon I will have my full burrito.

Day 7:
It's been a full week! A week ago I was having surgery. Kind of weird to think about. 

Other than that, regular day, back at work, nothing too exciting. Still only taking 1 ibuprofen, and this one I didn't need until after lunch.


I was able to take closeups of the incisions, with the glue still on. The first two are the incisions over where my fallopian tubes were, and the last is my belly button. I found out during my post-op appointment that at least one of my fallopian tubes were larger than average, and had to be re-routed through my belly button, which explains why my belly button incision felt worse than the others.




Day 8: 
I WORE PANTS. Holy shit did that feel good. I haven't missed jeans so much in my life. 

Still only taking one ibuprofen (and at like 2pm, too), but today I feel like I did a lot of sit-ups. It's like that weird good pain you get, only it's not good because it's surgery, only it is good because it's surgery. I don't know. It wasn't bad. Now I'm wondering when I can start working out again. After an ankle sprain a couple months ago I've been out of commission for way too long. Feeling the flab.

I called the doctor's office and learned that it's stitches in my belly button, not a staple like I thought. They should dissolve on their own, or might come out. I dunno, feels a lot harder than thread... But I have orders to not pull them out. 

I can also take the glue off my side incisions. Maybe tomorrow.



Day 9:
I peeled off the body glue after showering. I'm healing! They're going to be almost invisible! I'm so excited! 

I wonder if anyone else that gets surgery like this is as fascinated with the human body as I am. It just fixes itself. I was cut open and soon you won't be able to tell at all. Amazing. The surgeons did such a good job making the incisions as small as possible so they'd heal, for which I'm very grateful. 

Except now my belly button is itchy. But it's itchy on the inside and scratching doesn't do anything. The nurse said I could take Benadryl if the itchy is too much but that would just put me to sleep. Fortunately it's not so bad and working gets my mind off it. Really looking forward to this being done.



Shitty cell phone pictures are shitty.

I also didn't take an ibuprofen today. :)

Day 10:
Honestly, there's not much to talk about. I wanted to update this to 10 days (then my six week update) but things are pretty much normal. I'm feeling a lot less bloated and almost like I could begin light jogging again. But then whenever I move too quickly I'm very aware of my belly.



Overall, this was a lot easier and less painful than I was anticipating. Pretty surprising, but I'm happy about it, obviously. Check my update for more, and I'll do one about dealing with insurance once that's settled.

October 1, 2015

Turning On The Light

"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." Albus Dumbledore
Last year was not an easy year. It was weird though, a lot of really good things happened last year, but I still ended up feeling… not happy. There was a distinct turn in the second half which I can see looking back, but it wasn't obvious at the time. After a while, I was worn.

The year started off great, and I did a lot of really great things: I travelled a bunch, had my first speaking gig at a conference, moving in with The Boyfriend, and read almost a book a month for the whole year. But it definitely came with some trials, including sharing our brand new home with a friend in need for a lot longer than we thought, the speaking gig turning into a bucket of stress, and shitty things happening at work leading to working all the time. In one month, I was preparing for the conference, studying for a work-related exam, and looking for a new place to live since our landladies were planning to move back into their condo. I basically stopped running, stopped cooking, and was anxious and sad for weeks straight. It did wonders for my relationship.

I went into 2015 swearing this would be a much better year. Some friends came up with #makingithappen as a motto, and I latched on. This year would be different. And other than some major hurdles immediately after the new year, so far it's been better: I got a way better job, travelled, I'm still reading (though not as much), still running (though not now because I sprained my ankle like an idiot), returned to yoga, and we got a bunny!

But it's still not great. I've been feeling mediocre when I want to be great. Reading all of Harry Potter was a wonderful experience as an adult, as it inspired me to be a little different. The last time I felt accepted and among like-minded people was as a caravan driver at the Wild Animal Park; again, it's been too long since I haven't felt weird and I needed that reminder that people like me exist. I just have to find them.

So, as I look forward to a new decade, I'm looking for my light so I can turn it on and find the happiness I know exists.

September 19, 2015

Mediocre

The Boyfriend just bought Mad Max: Fury Road because 1. he was never not buying it 2. it was pretty epic. There's a moment where (some spoilers ahead) one of the war boys tells the big bad boss man he's going to get the boss man's runaway wives back and be a hero, and likely die in the process because, strangely, that's the goal. War boy leaps off boss man's car onto the getaway war tanker the wives are in, but slips and it isn't as glorious as it was supposed to be. Boss man laughs loudly at his failure and shouts in his most evil boss man voice, "mediocre!" The look on the poor war boy's face as they drive away is crushing. 

The Boyfriend has been taking every opportunity to call out things for being "mediocre!" since re-watching it. And he laughs to himself. It's pretty cute. 


Not because of the movie or anything, but I've been feeling very mediocre. For quite a while, actually. There's so much emphasis on greatness and excellence both in my job and in the community I participate in, but instead of feeling empowered all I can see are my flaws and how I don't stack up to my coworkers and colleagues and people I respect. Even many of my friends are doing something they're passionate about, or, at the very least, are providing an important service to society. They're more successful by pretty much every metric I can think of, and the kicker is a lot of them are younger. When I try I feel like I let others down far more often than I help them, and everyone's far too nice to point anything out. 

The thing is, I know all this. It isn't just being mopey or having low self esteem (though clearly that's at play, too). I'm not successful because I'm not passionate. I'm not following my dream, and I'm doing something I think I'm pretty good at for a company I respect, but I'm not raking in the dough or the praise. My motivation is praise and feeling like I'm helping someone but I'm not seeing that that's what I'm doing. In fact, my first real trial at my job was a total failure, and I tried so hard to make it succeed. And here comes fucking hindsight, showing me all the things I should have done differently.

I've been trying to think of how I can get involved doing what it is I want to be doing, whether that's volunteering, going to education route, or finding an in somewhere and being the low man on the totem pole for a few years. The problem is the thing I'm passionate about is something so many other people are passionate about that I'm not an asset. I'm mediocre at best. I know I have the potential to do great things and I really want to realize that potential, but convincing someone to take a chance on a 30-year old woman who just loves animals is so goddamn cliche it's hard to see how I'd stick out from all the other 20 and 30 year old women who just love animals. 

I was trying to wrap this up with a takeaway but I don't have one. I have other work to do today in an attempt to be better at my job. Netflix has a culture that only allows excellence; good or adequate gets you fired because they have the best of the best applying. While they're answering emails and solving problems around the clock I'm getting Thai food takeout with The Boyfriend and playing with the bun. I'm happy at home, but I somehow feel guilty for it.