Friday, November 25, 2016

I sure know how to pack it in, don't I?  I said to Charlie yesterday I felt like I had packed in 10 years of living into a short three years.  My first post after surgery post, one year out,  cancertwo years out and then another surgery,  discovery of gall stones, botched emergency ERCP, long hospitalizations, gallbladder removal, and a long slow summer or letting my body recover and rest.  This also meant gaining some weight.  I had lost so much weight last winter because I was living on oatmeal and bananas.  It was all my body could tolerate.  Gaining wait has been the thing I feared the most for a long time.  But, having faced down so many challenges over the last two years alone- 20 lbs in the bigger picture just can't be that big of a deal.  Today, the day after Thanksgiving- I am grateful for perspective. I am thankful that I have three years of blog posts that have provided me space and time to process and reflect and I am thankful for the vehicle it has provided for keeping friends and family updated on my very, very Ponderous journey.

As a result of successfully meeting the challenge of the abyss, the hero is transformed. The transformation is the moment of death and rebirth. Often the transformation takes the form of a revelation, a discovery or insight about oneself or one's culture. This revelation involves a change in consciousness, a change in the way the hero(ine) views life

I am indeed, transformed. Inside and out.

Here is the breakdown: 
Highest weight: 396
Current Weight: 245 (-151 lbs)
Clothing: XL, 14W, 16/1x, 18 because every brand is different that size doesn't really mean anything.
Med change: 2 BP meds (-2)
Health: Not pre-diabetic, no more sciatica, most PCOS symptoms have resolved. 
I can eat more now.  But I still can't eat like I did pre surgery.  This was breakfast today (on a salad plate): 
Mini quiche (egg, cheddar, onion, garlic- yes in a crust, yes cooked in real fat) and
greek yogurt with taco sauce- my favorite condiment! 
More than the 1 oz that I was able to eat post op three years ago.  I added back in carbonated beverages about a year ago.  It makes me happy.  I still don't eat broccoli.  :-)

Big picture- I can't complain.  I'm here.  I have some incredible friends, my sleeve sisters, who have shared the ups and down, and I am thankful for their support. Charlie has embodied In sickness and health.  I could not make it with out him.  Countless friends and my family, near and far.  Thank you.  Three years down...a lifetime to go!

Friday, June 17, 2016

My Dad: The Storyteller

My dad is a storyteller. 

He spins a yarn better than most and it's no surprise I became an English and Theatre teacher.  Life is all about telling stories. 

I am the first and only girl born to my parents. While they had been together for a while, by the time I came along, my dad was two weeks shy of 26. As first born, and planned, I suspect he thought, like all new parents that he knew what he was getting into but in reality raising children is a mammoth effort that never ends. 

As a little kid I knew my dad was sillier than most other dads.  He has an incredible imagination that fueled countless stories that took many shapes. He also read to me. He read from the chapter books of his childhood what now would be considered by many as too advanced for a 5 year old. My imagination flourished under my father's tutelage and in retrospect my drive as a writer comes from this influential practice.

Dad also made up stories. There was a serial: Ariel and the Bear, the story of a little girl and her friend Bear and their adventures. Most of the time they were bedtime stories.  However, one summer, I think it was my first summer at sleep-away Girl Scout Camp, my dad wrote out many of the stories and printed them out on the green and white striped paper (it was 1986) and sent one a day to me at camp. Mail call was a joyous time and I reveled in the letters from my dad and the stories of Ariel and Bear made me less homesick.

There were other instances over the years when stories were told. In 3rd grade he volunteered to come into my class and do storytelling with us. I remember being embarrassed, an already awkward year for me at school, and sitting in the front, legs crossed and tying his shoe laces together as a form of rebellion.

The summers we were able to go on a family vacation we often traveled to a rustic little cabin that sat on the water in the San Juans, just outside of Friday Harbor. There was no TV. We learned to play hearts and there were countless hours of card games around the old wooden table in the corner next to the wood burning stove. After cards, bedtime came. My brother and I slept in the living room on foam pads, alternating between the floor and the wood plank couch. This is where we were exposed to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery novels. Dad would read aloud, doing all the voices and sometimes changing the story. I remember laughing until my stomach hurt some nights. Nights to be cherished indeed, that only live in memory now.

As I got older, it was clear that my father and I had that father-daughter thing. It's just how it was. In the summer, my dad and I would walk sometimes down to Guido's Pizza, a neighborhood institution, for iced beverage of some sort, then sit on the benches out front on the busy neighborhood street and make up stories about the passers-by.  I am sure I was in high school at this point, awkward, lonely. These moments with my dad, just us, were important and cherished even though they were silly at times and simply about getting to share the same time and space.

When I graduated from the University of Arizona, my dad flew down to Tucson to make the drive back with me, just a few days before Christmas (as a mid year graduate) and snow was expected in the Siskiyous so it was a fast drive up the West Coast.  Dad made me do the driving through Los Angeles, which I will always hold against him, but we also got to try In-N-Out (it's got nothing on Dick's!).  Like most great car trips the food is what you remember.  We got to share a couple great dinners along the way.  As I began to get sick on day two, my body finally giving up after the push to graduate, pack up two and a half years of living in Tucson and prepare to move back to Seattle, Dad took on the driving duties and got us home, ahead of the snow storm.

As I got older, so did Dad. My awareness of his humanity became more clear to me as I grew into adulthood. He was fallible. He was emotional. He had weaknesses. He was, in fact, human and not a super hero. The complexity of who he was and is continues to be revealed to me. I have seen his vulnerability and his bravery, I have seen his unwavering love for my Mom before all others.  She is his person. 

Dad's solo trip to NYC!
When I moved across the country 11 years ago things changed.  About a year in, I met Charlie.  In many ways he is a lot like my dad, something not lost of me.  I'm ok with being the cliche. A relationship between father and daughter changes when she gets married. Not in a bad way, just a shift.Our telling of stories came on the phone or if we were lucky enough to be in the same city, while on adventures together. Thankfully, my family doesn't hate NY and have come to visit a lot, and even vacationed with us on the North Fork one summer. 
Grandpa and Rose
There have been times when it's been difficult to be so far away from my parents, especially my dad. He was my anchor and his insight and advice has always been invaluable.  I suspect it was difficult for him to be so far away through all my sickness over the last two years.  The instinct to parent never fading. 
Yesterday, I called on my way home from the subway station to share some exciting news with my dad.  The 10 minute walk being the best window for catching up and quick check in.  It's always nice to hear his voice and how he shares his excitement with me.   We will continue to tell stories, to laugh and to get older.  I'm sure the clown nose will be in many of the pictures too.  This Father's Day I want to thank my dad for giving me the gift of story.  Love you, Dad.
"Hey, my lipstick matches your nose!"

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Just Don't Sneeze!

Food prep!
I have so much sympathy for women who have cesareans.  I just keep telling myself that the incision could be much bigger.... This handy video explains what a gallbladder does.

Last Wednesday I went to finally have my gallbladder removed. My surgeon was running late and it proved to be a more complicated surgery because of the scar tissue from my vertical sleeve gastrectomy two years ago and ultimately took two and a half hours instead of the predicted 1-2. In post-op, I received a nerve block that was short lived- the hope being that it would have relieved some of the pain I was experiencing.  This far exceeded the pain I had experienced with any of my previous surgeries. Thankful once again for IV morphine, it's what got me through the first 24 hours.

All ready!  Surgery Number....6

The deliverer of relief...when the time comes. 

I was released Friday morning and Charlie took me home.  Since then it has been a slow but incrementally-better-each-day kind of recovery. Sleeping has been the worst part.  Nothing is comfortable.  Nothing.  So I am approaching being overly tired.  I am going to be trying some tylanolPM tonight and see how that goes.  Fingers crossed.

The second best nurse!

Coloring distracts from discomfort.
One of my biggest fears post-op had to do with food.  There are MANY people who have MANY issues.  Knock on wood, issues have been minimal. Many thanks to Lucia and Christina for their insight and advice on food.  My advantage has been that I have already been to eating boot camp- weight loss surgery did that for me.  Protein first, fruit and veg, then carbs, then some fat.  I have slowly been reintroducing foods back into my diet.  So far so good.  Nothing crazy. Oatmeal, eggs, applesauce, bananas, yogurt.  I made this yummy banana bread (GF) that sat well- if you have not tried quinoa flour, I highly recommend it.   

So the plan is to go back to work on Monday.  I hope that I get some good sleep the next few nights and grow stronger each day.  

I have officially added this bobble to my daily wear as the laundry list of things someone needs to be alerted to grows longer.  I am a survivor.  I am strong.  I like MANY have a crazy story.  That is what life is: a story.  I look forward to the climax of my story, that I know has yet to come.  

Thank you to everyone for all your love, support and encouragement.  Special shout-out to everyone who left a note on Facebook in the days leading up to my surgery.  It made all the difference. 

Until next time...xo

Monday, February 8, 2016

F*$k-u-ary! My Least Favorite Month!

February is not a great month historically at our house.  Especially the first week. This was the my husband's first marriage ended.  It is the week every major health mishap has happened for us.  4 years ago Charlie and Rose both almost died the same week.  Rose from zinc poisoning - she swallowed a penny and it was eroding in her tiny body killing her.  Charlie from an infection that was almost septic that resulted in an epic surgery to save his arm and many, many weeks of IV antibiotics given at home (#thingsIlearedtodo).  Last year, my cancer confirmation -  you know all about that.

This year, my ongoing gallbladder challenges are currently an adventure in pain management. I ended up back in the ER on Friday.  When two of the prescription painkillers didn't work, I knew it was time to go.  It was a frustrating trip. I felt unheard on some levels, but got help with managing my pain.  I was home by 530 am and picked up new meds by 9:30 (Note to self: ask them to send me home with meds or keep me until pharmacy opens next time. It was a long few hours of pain between hospital meds wearing off and new prescription kicking in.) They make me sleepy and I slept most of Saturday away.  My body needed to rest and rest I did.

Pain is better today.  Low grade ache. It's manageable.  I can feel the discomfort of my gallbladder all the time.  I can feel it when I move.  Infected and needing to go.  I skyped with my therapist today and she mentioned that I look an especially fair shade of pale.   Tomorrow I will see my surgeon and --fingers crossed-- I will schedule the removal of this blasted thing.

So, Fuck-u-ary, let's get you over and done with.  On to MARCH!  MARCH ON!
Image via HERE

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Post 100: 2016!!!

This is blog post 100.  What a two years it has been.

The funny thing about 2015 is that it was full of great highs and lows.  Maybe it is not so funny.


  • Cancer. 
  • Vocal cord paralysis. 
  • Gallstones. 


  • Being cancer free.
  • Bionic vocal cord and finding my voice again
  • Joining the gym, learning to exercise, enjoying it. Feeling strong.
  • Being accepted into the CLASS program (School administration) with New Visions and Hunter College
  • Fantastic trip to LV with Charlie
  • Beginning my memoir this spring
  • Lots of snuggles with new babies
  • Great adventures with new and old friends 
  • Down 178 lbs to date
Clearly the highs outweigh the lows, but often it's the lows that we give so much power to.  If I have learned anything in 2015 is that: it is up to me where I put MY POWER.  Life is short.  Live it well and live it with all your power.  That is what I intend to continue doing.

I set two goals for 2016 one I can control, one well, I can only hope for.

Goal 1: I will have a complete draft of my memoir done by the end of the year.  This is doable. I have so much material at this point, it is simply about getting all the words down on paper. My story is a bit unbelievable when I say it out loud- when I tell people what I have gone through in such a short span of's a good story.  It is time to put it all down.

Goal 2: Health.  Good health. I have scheduled my gallbladder surgery for 1/27.  I hope this is the last surgery for a LONG time.  I don't have much control over this but, I hope.

Here is 2015 in pictures.  Even faced with everything I have been through in the last 12 months and what is on the horizon, I am ready, I am stronger and I know I will continue to have the best cheering section there is out there.  Thanks to everyone for your love and support this last year.  


Valentines Day

CharMer's Take LV

March - Thyroidectomy
Jasmine - Another great success!


Magic Mike Girls Weekend with Ali!

Sharron and Scooter, together again!

My happy place...

Bestie Girls Night!
Mt. Rainier 
Aunt Mer teaching Hamish the way!

Katie and Mer

The Towne/Hayes' in Seattle
Adam!!! (And Toni :-)

I clearly make this face a lot- a POOL on VACATION!

Vacation with Bree and Joy!

Roll on Hudson, Roll on.

My Hero and Cheerleader, Adrian!

Ker-Mer Stare! 
Working it!

Working! (Kind of!)

Date Night! 

New Year, New Room

Ms. M and Ms. T

You know this girl!

Holy cow!  Is that me? (October)

Boal had it right- "change is NOT risk free"!
Vocal cord implant 11/25/15 (also 2 year weight loss surgery anniversary!)
Arrrrggg! Double pirate scar!!
Tes in NYC!
Christmas in NY!
Christmas Eve
Happy New Year!