January 26, 2012
I didn’t update about the microphlebectomy and vascular surgery. It has been 6 weeks since my surgery. I’ve run the gamut of recovery and still have not reached the finish line. The pain and post-surgery slowness have gone away. I no longer get crackling electric shocks up my leg if I try to walk quickly and have to “heel strike” abruptly. Most of the initial bruising has diminished, but the edema remains. I can’t do a lot of things in yoga, because the swelling just under my knee prevents comfortable kneeling (kinda necessary in a lot of postures). My foot, at the base of my toes, is still quite puffy and tender which precludes a number of pairs of (really cute) shoes from being worn comfortably – especially when my teaching assignment right now involves 6 hours of continuous contact time and being on my feet.
My “extra special” present for having my surgery was/is a 2cm x 0.7cm raised “egg” (cyst) at the base of my shin. This, too, precludes the wearing of certain shoes AND is *at least* as ugly as the vericosities were and not as easily hide-able by long hems! I had it aspirated about 4 weeks ago, only for it to return within about 4 to 6 hours! I’ve just put up with it since then, and in my “follow-up” today we found that it is about 50 – 60% solidified and can no longer be aspirated at all. So now we wait. Most of the radiating pain from the cyst has abated and now it is just ugly, annoying and uncomfortable.
The bonus of today’s visit with the doctor was sclerotherapy! I didn’t know this was going to happen (nor did I really expect/want it). In this stage of the therapy, a mildly caustic detergent solution is injected into the discolored or spider veins left after the endovenous laser treatment and microphlebectomy. The detergent displaces the blood in the tiny, superficial veins and irritates them so that they collapse and remain colorless. It all seems rather much, and there were few of these to deal with, but it means another week in the compression stocking and a bit more limping.
Woot! Aren’t we having fun!!??
December 19, 2011
If you are weak of stomach, you may not want to read this saga. It will be ongoing – with new additions periodically.
On December 15th, I underwent a procedure called “Endovenous Laser Treatment with Microphlebectomy”. What the HELL does that mean? “Endovenous” = inside a vein; “micro-” =small; “phlebectomy” = removal of vein.
I have had a worsening varicose vein in my left leg for about 20 years. I decided to see a vascular doctor about it recently. I had it “treated” on Thursday.
Procedure – Thursday, December 15th, 2011
The day began at 5:30am (after giving my final exam in my night class the previous evening). I had to shower before the procedure because I would not get another shower until Friday evening. I also had to apply Lidocaine cream to the entire area that was going to be worked on. (I’ve had poor success with these lido-creams in the past and was not too confident for this time either!) The lido-cream had to be Saran wrapped in place (no kidding!) and I got dressed. A light breakfast, no coffee and WHEE off we went.
We arrived early. The facility was not yet open. I twitched. At 8am we got registered and by 8:30 I was in my treatment room. They gave me disposable shorts to wear, unwrapped my leg and washed down the entire area. To my surprise, the lido-cream REALLY worked. My left inner thigh and anterior/medial calf were completely numb! It felt like they had been iced, but not cold, just that thick-numb-kinda-like-a-piece-of-meat feeling. Once we had gone through all the releases and possible problems I was given a glass of water and Xanax (anti-anxiety medication) to relax. The nurse suggested I take two, I opted for one – not really knowing what Xanax would do, and not really wanting to be totally out of it.
The doctor came in and traced out the veins on my skin with a Sharpie marker. One of the nurses also came in with an iPod and asked what type of music I wanted to listen to during the procedure. She offered elevator music, jazz, 80′s and all kinds of specific artists. I told her that she could put on anything that did not distract the doctor from his primary focus – my leg. She spun through the list for a bit, picked something and put the iPod in the docking station.
(HERE’S WHERE IT IS GOING TO START GETTING ICKY – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED) The first part of the procedure was the endovenous treatment. In my case, what this meant was that a fiber-optic with a laser was inserted into my Greater Saphenous vein starting just below my inner ankle bone (medial malleolus) and “gently” snaked up, inside the vein, to about the middle of my thigh. (This reminded me a bit of the old RotoRooter commercials – but that may have had something to do with the Xanax.) At about this time, I realized that the music that the nurse had picked was… JOURNEY. LOL. I hadn’t really noticed it (thank you Xanax) and when I did, I found that quite humorous. With the laser in place, the fiber got slowly pulled back out with the laser firing every n-seconds to damage the inside (endothelium) of the vein. This damage will cause clotting and, combined with compression, will collapse the vein.
WHEW it is nearly over, right? Oh no, grasshopper – the best is yet to come!
The traces of the veins on my leg were to show the doctor the tortuous path of the vessel within the skin so that he could make small incisions near the vein, pull small sections of the vein out through the incision and cut it, and then make another incision about 1 or 2 inches away and PULL pieces of vein out of my skin. Did it just get really warm in here?? That is the microphlebectomy portion of the procedure. There was lots more lidocaine injected into my skin around the areas of vein that were going to be “pulled”. It was quite odd, come to think of it, because I was awake and talking with the doctor and could feel (and hear) pulling, puncturing, moving of my skin but could feel nothing. The “meat-y” feeling of the skin was all I could feel. It was attached to me, but not really part of me. Only on one occasion was there a big, shooting pain – and that was when he touched a nerve that was running next to the vein. BOY HOWDY was I awake then! It felt like he was pulling miles of vein out of my leg, but after the procedure the nurse showed me the pieces (yes, I am that type) and it was less than 8 inches! Finally after about 2 hours, we were done and the nurses washed me up, SteriStripped my “punctures” (no stitches), put gauze over EVERYTHING (a lot of extra lidocaine solution had been pumped in around my veins, and would be leaking out over the next few hours) and got me into my ever-so-lovely compression stocking (+30mmHg if you are interested).
The Xanax was fading, but still enough to make me a bit dizzy when I stood up to get dressed. I was advised on my medications and sent off with Jack for a 20 minute walk. All walking for the next two weeks is supposed to be slow and careful. No cardio, nothing bordering on exercise, just enough to keep the blood flowing through the deep vein so as to minimize the possibility of clotting in the deep vein.
After our walk, Jack took me to my favorite comfort food place for lunch. It is the ONLY place we ever go where I will order lasagna at a restaurant! It is my absolute favorite and always makes me feel happy. Full belly, drugs wearing off, a little walk and then NAP TIME. The rest of Thursday was somewhat of a blur. Walks around the block. Sitting with my leg elevated. Napping. The pain was not bad, more sore than pain. The gauze under the compression stocking were NOT pretty, and I had a whole other day to live with that before I could take off the stocking, the gauze and have a shower!
December 4, 2011
I don’t know if anyone is still reading this, but I’m going to post anyway. It has been a long time. We are not in Cairo anymore (for a long time), but life still continues.
So…today was the first day of snowshoeing for the season. We attempted to go last Sunday, but the attempt had to be aborted for horrific rain – not worth writing about. Today was glorious and sunny, even in Seattle, so after a late-ish start we headed out I-90 for the Pass and some snow. I recently purchased “Snowshoe Routes: Washington” (2ed.) from the Mountaineers. I am both excited and a little disappointed about the book. It gives some good information about places to go snowshoeing, however the presentation leaves a bit to be desired, in my humble opinion. First is the map – there is a map of the state at the front of the book with 100 small numbered dots indicating the approximate position of each trail. This is insufficient. The trails are “clumped” in regional clusters that should each be their own focus map with a bit more detail. Second is the “details” list for each trail – it lists the difficulty, length, elevation gain, etc. all of which is very pertinent for assessing the trail, however the directions (exit off the highway, Sno-Park etc.) are typically 2 or 3 paragraphs into the description. This does not make for easy assessment of destination. Third, and last (regarding the book) is that the directions to the trail-head or along the trail are not easy if you are not an orienteer. Example: “Start the hike by heading north along the narrow access road (Forest Road 144) on the eastern side of Mardee Lake.” I can guess which way is north and which dirt road they mean, but it could be described more clearly.
We set out for hike #58 – “Twin Lakes” only to realize that, although the small, trail map showed it as Keechelus Sno-Park, it was ACTUALLY Hyak Sno-Park, which is a groomed trail facility (we only have the non-groomed pass at present). The map shows Keechelus Sno-Park, but the directions say Hyak. I didn’t notice that until we were mostly there. Luckily, on the same exit was the Gold Creek Sno-Park, which is a non-groomed area. I quickly scanned the listing for “Lower Gold Creek Basin” (hike #53) and decided that we would do that instead of risking a ticket for going to Hyak without a groomed area pass. It turned out to be a good thing, as there was a ranger ticketing cars at Gold Creek that had no Sno-Park passes displayed!
Our adventure – exit 54 off I-90 (Hyak exit), go left under the highway and park just on the other side of the highway along the small road. The weather was clear and crisp. The snow was packed down and grainy with a stiff crust on top – not the greatest, but fine for a first adventure out for the season. We walked a little way up the Fire Service road, crossed a small bridge and then put on the snowshoes to start up the hill. The climb was steady but not too steep. We passed, and were passed by, families, couples, athletic individuals and people out for a stroll. There were lots of dogs and sleds on the trail. About where we were ready to turn around (not at the END or anything) we came upon a “field training” of the volunteer, backcountry ski patrol. They seemed to be having a great time looking for avalanche beacons and practicing backcountry first-aid. (Luckily, we did not require their professional assistance for anything!) As always, the descent was much easier and faster than the climb. We covered between 2.5 and 2.75miles and had a really good time. We’re both going to have to get into better shape for the snow before the Romp to Stomp in February!
When we got back to the truck to come home, I realized that we had NOT done the hike we thought we had done! We set out for #58 (Twin Lakes), changed to #53 (Lower Gold Creek Basin) but actually DID the lower part of #52 (Kendall Peak Lakes) which was marked as much harder than either of our “choices”! LOL – so I bought a guide and I STILL can’t find the right trail. No worries – we had a great time anyway.
February 20, 2011
for a good cause.
On February 12th 2011, for reasons I can’t fully recall, I participated in a fund-raising event at Stevens Pass. When I say, “I can’t fully recall”, what I really mean is that I do not know what possessed me to register for this event. I remember *when* I learned about the event and decided that it would be fun to do. That would be when gozi and I went to the Mountaineers Demo Days event in January. Tubbs, Atlas, MSR and a few others were giving FREE demos of different makes and models of snowshoes at the Mountaineers campus at Snoqualmie Pass. We went up to try out different shoes, and “Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer” had a tent with flyers and information. I *still* am unclear as to WHY I decided to register, but… I did.
Less than a month later, I was registered and raising money for the event.
In the end, I raised $745 (My “goal” was $500 – which I *thought* was pretty optimistic!) and kicked my own butt for the 5k course. For a brief look into the event, check THIS out. I was AMAZED at how FAR 5k was on snowshoes, but I have to admit, I’m already planning on doing it again next year!
February 14, 2011
A lot has been happening with friends in Egypt. Mubarak is gone, the military is in command, the cabinet has been dissolved, people are still hungry and poor. This is the beginning of a long needed change, however it is not going to be easy. Egypt has set a precedent for the region – what happens in the next few months will truly determine the path for Egypt and the Middle East.
February 21, 2010
I *must* be growing up – I’m experiencing insomnia! For (nearly) the first time in my life, I wakened around 1am, tossed and turned until I finally decided to just get up at 3am. Here it is 8am, I’m STILL at my computer, and STILL wide awake.
The up-side is that I’ve managed to get a LOT of school work done, so that means that I can get lots of house work done later today.
HMMMMMMM, maybe I’ll learn to nap too!
January 31, 2010
Well – we continue to be very busy. Our house now has… da da DUM … ALL NEW WINDOWS. Holy crap are windows expensive! However, I’ve gotta say, they look great! Our old windows were aluminum double panes that had popped their seals, and were COMPLETELY fogged between the panes. The new ones are CLEAR! What a concept. And we got wood lining and casings for all the windows, so we now have finished looking windows with frames and sills. It is AMAZING what a difference it makes!
We have also managed to get 2 armoires – one for gozi‘s closet and one for a linen closet. The house is beginning to look like we actually LIVE in it, as opposed to simply squatting amongst the boxes.
Life also rolls along. We’ve been busy. Work (as always) takes up way too much of both of our time. However, along with work we’ve managed a few fun things. Last weekend we went to a (very) short concert at the Triple Door by Phoenix. I have to admit – I’d never heard of the band before, but we are KEXP members, and it was a special event for the members – so we went. It was really good. It was unfortunate that the show was only about 4 or 5 songs long – but the band was running off to a sound check for their evening concert at the SoDo Showbox in Seattle. After the concert and some sustenance, we went to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) for the Michelangelo:Public and Private and Calder exhibits. Both were excellent – I’m really glad that we didn’t miss them.
This weekend has been a little less cultural. Yesterday was a great class for me on pruning fruit trees. Yes, I’m trying to learn to take care of gozi‘s plum tree! Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to HIRE someone to come and try to fix nearly 10 years of “letting nature take its course”. AFTER THAT, I’ll try taking over to maintain the tree. I learned a LOT in a quick 2 hour class. I’m quite excited about the whole thing. I’m also looking at a few other classes about gardening etc. just to try to maintain my sanity and make the property look good!
The culmination of this weekend…
Yup – we are the proud season ticket holders for the Rat City RollerGirls! Goin’ to the Derby this afternoon! Too much culture is not good for one – a little red-neck strikes a good balance. At least that is what I’m telling myself.
And so the saga goes – still missing Cairo (in some ways), still trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing here (although my student evals from last quarter were pretty good – only REALLY pissed off one student), and wondering what I want to be when I grow up.
January 14, 2010
One of the things that I commented on LONGLONGLONG ago in the blog was that, in Cairo, and in association with the University, we had incredible opportunities to see music and lectures and theatre.
Life has been so crazy since coming home. This seems counter-intuitive. We CAME HOME. It should be easy and familiar. And yet many of the cultural and social interactions – beyond Happy Hour or Third Tuesday – have been elusive since coming back. I don’t know if they were any easier in Cairo, but we certainly partook of them FAR more frequently than in Seattle.
In the fall, we “missed” an opportunity to go to a fancy multi-course, Tom Douglas food event with beer pairing. We just never got around to getting the tickets. And then it was too late. We justified our frustration and disappointment by saying that the tickets were TOO expensivo. Then, after the fact, we consoled ourselves because we heard that it really wasn’t that good. Saved by the critiques of others!
Friends have recently been discussing the joy of going to see the Seattle Symphony. It is relatively inexpensive, not that many people go, Benaroya Hall is beautiful, and the symphony is actually pretty good! All of this sounds really promising, but……………..it still doesn’t happen.
Somehow the planning becomes too onerous, the tickets too expensive, our time too short.
Well, recently we decided, “What the hell…” and got tickets to a Seattle Arts and Lectures event. A community dinner on Monday and a lecture on Tuesday. The dinner was catered by, none other than, Tom Douglas at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. The event and lecture were by Jane and Michael Stern – of “Road Food” fame.
The dinner was… yup… road-type food. Chicken fried steak finger sandwiches on buttermilk biscuits with onion gravy, deep fried pickles, pickled okra and a BBQ’d pig with 3 kinds of sauce. There were not all that many people at the dinner – it was kinda pricey – but we REALLY enjoyed it. AND, with all our recent whinging about being tired of being viewed as “fascinating”, we were in a social situation where we knew NOBODY and pretty much everyone had a story to tell. It was fun to be anonymous for a while.
The lecture was an ex-temporaneous, hilarious, rambling discussion by Jane and Michael Stern about their food travels throughout the United States. They covered myriad subjects, decades, vehicles and misinterpretations (“Jewish tea”). We laughed until we hurt.
The odd thing, for me, was the familiarity of many of the situations, stories and faux pas’ that they described. In the last 3 years, we have had many of the same – only in another country. It gives me pause, and makes me think that, perhaps, our stories are worth telling – but alas, we’ve no writer between us. The blog will have to do.
This event has spurred me to start looking at other lectures, events and generally fun things that are NOT our daily (or worse yet, work related) lives. We don’t need to move half way around the globe to find great culture, we just need to open our eyes.
January 12, 2010
Yessir, that is me!
I am now the proud owner of a BRAND NEW (not even new-to-me) LEATHER chair for the living room!!!
I had a chair that I loved before Cairo. It was called a “chair-and-a-half” and was big enough for me to snooze comfortably in. I also had the hassock that went with it, so there was ample room to spread out. AFAIK, our friends who bought it are still getting great, comfy use out of it. But so far, I had not found a suitable (in comfort) replacement.
Since arriving Stateside, gozi and I had settled for the quick and easy Ikea solution
Cheap, mostly comfy and easily obtainable. However not a “hanging out reading for hours” sort of chair. We’ve been looking on Craigs list, at used furniture stores etc for the right chair for each of us. A few weeks ago, gozi found a leather wingback recliner at a consignment shop. Nice looking, leather and a good price. Only down side: babyshitbrown. He is very happy with it.
Today I brokedown and spent more than I wanted to (I am VERY cheap since returning to the States!) and got the chair that I (not-so-secretly) knew I wanted.
Mine is dark, espresso brown and really comfy.
Gotta go now, already falling asleep in my awesome, leather chair.
I’m so grown up now! HEEHEE
January 10, 2010
For those who have been to Cairo, the traffic is… utterly indescribable.
(**Previous picture of Cairo traffic deleted at the request of its owner** Above left: from http://www.stanford.edu/group/ccr/blog/2009/10/traffic_in_cairo.html; above right: from http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/1999/444/eg13.htm)
Between the pedestrians, the blackandwhite taxis, the other drivers, myriad delivery scooters, the police “directing traffic” (often while sleeping), the occasional donkey carts and bread boys (who carry pallets of bread on their heads while riding bicycles) and complete lack of or, at least, lack of attention to anything that resembles “rules of the road” it makes Cairo a very interesting place.
It is not unusual to see 4 or 5 cars abreast on a (nominally) 3 lane road. Some of them may be driving in reverse, to get back to the exit or side street that they missed. And even MORE interesting is how NORMAL all of this seems after having been there for a while.
Seattle’s “traffic” is laughable after Cairo. And, more to the point, it is difficult to understand or navigate. People stay in lanes. People stop for pedestrians. Jay walking is a ticketable offense. No-one uses reverse on the highway. Sidewalks are not for parking, and pedestrians in the street confuse Seattlites. One would think that these rules would make it easier – but, in my view, they prevent actual forward progress from happening.
When I see Seattle “traffic” I see this:
whereas when I see Cairo traffic, I see this:
We are modified by experience, and you can never TRULY go home. I think my views of traffic may reflect this.
Kullu zahma. Ana mabsoota, awy!