Friday, February 29, 2008

Netflix and the politics of it

Netflix is a DVD rental service over here. You choose your movies online, and they get delivered in the mail. Netflix has been fabulous - we watch so many more movies now, and the website gives recommendations based on what you've liked (you rate movies you'v watched), and movies similar to ones you've looked at.

Whenever we went to a movie store, we would forget what we wanted to see, or wouldn't want to spend the money on a movie that only looked kinda interesting, a TV series because it'd cost a fortune to watch the whole series, or an old movie that we just hadn't seen in ages.

So now our movie queue is about 120 long and includes seasons of shows we like or didn't get to see such as Desperate Housewives and Taken, old favourites like Goonies, Gremlins and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, even older classics like Gone with the Wind, silly ones like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Spaceballs and Waynes World, documentaries that look interesting, and then of course recent releases. The other thing we really like is that if something is out at the movies but we don't think we'll get time to see it, or if it looks interesting, but not something we feel the need to seeon the big screen, we put it straight into the queue, so when it's released on DVD we can watch it.

We've had a lot of fun finding movies to put in the queue! It also means politics of what is watched. For example - I was just put through Romper Stomper which is wayyyyy too violent for my tastes, so I got to bump up the Nanny Diaries (a cute looking rom-com). When we were watching Desperate Housewives and Taken after my surgery, we alternated between one of mine, and one of Andrews to keep it fair :-)

The quality of the service is so much better than the Blockbuster equivalent we trialled in Australia which constantly lost DVDs, sent us broken DVDs, or were such bad quality they were unplayable on our older DVD player. Australia better have something better set up by the time we get home!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cautiously optimistic...

We haven't had a hospital visit this week, and at this rate, we shouldn't need to. I won't get too excited until the week is out though!

The wound is getting shorter, more narrow, and more shallow. It should be a couple more days before we can stop packing it. The top part is healing a little more slowly, so is the deepest part now (still looks fine), but the rest looks great.

We'll be keeping those fingers crossed!

Friday, February 22, 2008

No news is good news!

If I don't blog for a few days now, my fans get worried :-)

Everything has been fine this week. I went back in to get the wound checked out, and they were happy, but a little worried there was a suture irritating me. The next day, low and behold a long stitch started coming out right where they said I had one irritating me. The next day it fell out. They were talking surgical removal if it didn't come out on its own - so all is good!

Uni starts in a little over a week, and am doing 2 subjects, so getting a head start on that. Otherwise, life is pretty quiet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just another update

We're dealing with stuffing the thumb sized hole in my chest with gauze surprisingly well. I dread gauze changing time, and it stings a fair bit, but we haven't thrown up, passed out, thrown a hissy fit about having to do it or anything like that. I don't even take Percocet to get me into a nice drug induced haze anymore.

It hurts a little, and stings on and off during the day, but the overall pain I was having is so much better now. I have no idea if infection, or abscesses cause muscular pain, but it all pretty much went back to normal a day or so after it was drained and I started on antibiotics.

All I can say to anyone else going through a similar thing is to trust your instincts. I knew on Monday that something was wrong - the incision was sightly more red, slightly more raised, a little itchy, there was fluid under the incision which was causing the scar to widen a bit, and I was just feeling off. I should have pushed harder with the docs, but I was too exhausted and emotional from having a night in ER and no sleep.

I have no idea how much of a difference it would have made if it had have been drained on Monday. Given how fast it seemed to go from looking ok to bursting, I assume it was all pretty gross underneath anyway, but it would have been a few less days of pain, and I wouldn't have had to have woken up with pus everywhere...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Huh. It CAN get worse...

So the infection was in the form of an abscess which got really swollen and painful overnight and burst at some point this morning. I discovered at about 6am that my shoulder was wet and realised what had happened.

I cleaned it up and saw I had a pretty big hole left where it burst. A lot of gooey stuff came out, and it was good to get some relief from the pressure build up.

So off we went back to the doctor to get it looked at and apparently it needed opening up to allow it to drain and heal. That involved numbing the area with lidocaine (holy dooley those needles HURT), and using a scalpel to cut along the incision line to open the area where the abscess was, pack it with gauze and cover it up again. Andrew held my hand the entire time, and watched the whole thing. Poor bloke is a little traumatised from watching people inflict pain on me.

So I now have a large oval shaped hole in my chest about 2cm long, 1.5cm wide, and maybe 1cm deep. Twice a day, in the shower, I have to remove the gauze, let soapy water wash over the hole to clean it out, then wet fresh gauze with saline solution, and repack the hole, then cover it with dry gauze.

We got to do this fun sounding task tonight for the first time. Getting the gauze out was a little painful - it stung where I'm guessing it was a little stuck in the deepest bits. The water running over it was ok, and Andrew repacked it for me, which was a little stingy, but not knowing what to expect was probably the worst part of it. Andrew's hands were a little shaky afterwards. It wasn't too painful, and as soon as it was done, we had a relieved giggle about it.

I don't think when Andrew said "for better or for worse", he quite bargained for this!! He has been amazing though, and I know I am incredibly lucky to have someone like him by my side.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Grumble grumble grumble

Yep. The infection is back. Now I'm on a longer course of antibiotics. And the scar is separating from the fluid build up under it so looks so much worse than 2 weeks ago.

At least I should start feeling a lot better real soon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another trip to the emergency room

It wasn't an "emergency", it's just the only place that will see you at 1am!

I've been in pain the last few days, and Sunday night it was horrible. I was in agony when I was getting ready for bed, so took 4 Ibuprofen and 2 Percocet (ie. lots of painkillers) and my sleeping tablets, and managed to sleep for about 1 1/2 when I woke up again in excruciating pain. Probably about the worst pain I can remember feeling. My incision area was hurting as was my shoulders and back.

I didn't want to have to go back to hospital because it's yucky there (Stanford is nice, but not high on my list of places I like to go) and I didn't want poor Andrew having to hang around especially when he had work the next day. It was too much pain to bear though, and given that the painkillers did absolutely nothing, I didn't really have a choice.

So in we went, and had a battery of tests done. At about 5am they said they were going to admit me to the "Clinical Diagnosis Area" which is where they monitor ER patients while they decide if they need to admit you to an actual ward. So Andrew went home to get some sleep, and I waited for my cardiologist to come see me and get the rest of the tests back.

We were most worried it was staph again as I was in a lot of pain, my incision looked a bit worse, and I was feeling pretty off. All my blood tests showed no sign of infection though, and the x-rays and CT scan were clear. They gave me IV painkillers which worked almost immediately, but unfortunately made me very nauseous and had me throwing up 4 separate times over the next 6 hours. And the painkilling effects only lasted about an hour or so which was annoying.

So the diagnosis is that it's just muscular. For some reason my muscles are having a very late reaction to everything that's happened and punishing me. I now have 2 more prescriptions - anti-nausea drugs and Valium which is amongst other things a muscle relaxant which will also knock me out completely at night time.

So each day I now take, 4 Metoprolol (beta blocker to keep my heart rate/blood pressure low), 12 Ibuprofen (for pain), 1 baby Aspirin (blood thinner just in case), 2 Ambien CR (sleeping tablet), Valium as needed (muscle relaxant), 2 Percocet (painkiller) as needed which isn't often, and a vitamin. I think that's it. :)

I'm still getting pain around the incision, and pain in my shoulder, but it's definitely not as bad as Sunday. I also feel a million times better knowing it's not staph. The cardiologist is actually wondering if it WAS actually staph last time given that I had no fever. Staph is on your skin, so it could have just picked up that. The wound cleared up within 48 hours of taking the antibiotics after weeping for close to 2 weeks, so who knows. This is what I get for being so smug about my initial recovery after surgery!

Anyway, so it's still a bit of an ongoing saga, but we're having gorgeous weather (21 degrees and blue skies and we're still in winter!), our friends here have been as awesome as usual (thanks again Shona, Bri and Lisa!!) and cheered me right back up, and I'm smiling again.

I have a massage booked tomorrow so hopefully that will be able to help with the muscular pain.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Walking this week

I've managed a few good walks this week. I had my big walk on Tuesday (I think it was actually 4 miles, not 5 - I can't read a map!), Wednesday I walked to the light rail station to go to downtown Mountain View for lunch with friends, then walked the 35 minutes home after. My lower back was starting to get sore, and I was feeling pretty tired. Thursday I went with Briana and another friend Lisa and their babies to Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose where we spent a couple of hours walking around.

By Friday my lower back was REALLY aching, and my legs were very tired, so my only exercise was down to the corner shop and back (15 minutes).

I've been feeling tired again, and part of my incision has gotten a bit more red and swollen over the last few days, and a bit sore and itchy (just under where it was weeping), so I'm a little worried the infection is either coming back, or never completely went. It's not weeping - it's all healed over, so it's hard to tell what's happening under there. Hopefully it'll go away, otherwise it'll mean another trip to Stanford :-)

I'm feeling fine otherwise, and it's been great to get out and get some exercise. I found a local swimming pool that looks really good, and while it IS a 50m, it's only open as "long course" during certain times in summer, otherwise it's split in half. They have good squad times, so I hope to go there to kick around, and do some water running, then when I am off restrictions, join a squad to build some strength back up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Walked nearly 5 miles (8km) today

I didn't plan to... I went back to Stanford yesterday for my check up and Michael, the nurse practitioner, said I should walk, walk, walk until I'm tired, nap, then walk some more.

So Briana (my neighbour) and I went for a walk down to the polling booth so she could vote in the Primaries. She'd been told she had to vote at the Fire Station over the road. So we'd walked down to the 7-Eleven first, then to the post box, then to the Fire Station. At the Fire Station, they said she had to vote at the Chinese Church which was about a mile (1.6km) away. It was a lovely day so we figured we'd walk there. We got there, and they said that we were in the wrong place! We found our apartment block on a map, and she told us Briana had to vote at the Fire Station!!!

We told her we'd just been there, she wasn't on the roll, and they told us to go to the church. So she gave us a number to call, and they told Bri, she was actually supposed to be at a school back in the direction we came from, plus another mile. Stupid electoral representatives!

I was feeling fine, and Clara (Briana's baby) was doing ok, so we figured we'd just get it over and done with! So in total, it was about 5 miles. I'm feeling fine now, so we'll just see how I feel tomorrow!

Monday, February 04, 2008

And the results are in.....

And the disgustingly gross weeping was due tooooo..... STAPH! I'd hate to say I told them so, but I did say I thought it was getting infected when they thought it looked fine still :-)

I'm glad I know my body well enough to know when something is wrong, and I was able to get antibiotics before the infection really even took hold.

Now that everything is getting back to normal and I'm starting to get more sleep, I can start getting back into the walking again and look at slowly building endurance. 2 more weeks and my sternum should be fully healed and I can drive again. Yay!

Friday, February 01, 2008

My favourite kitty photos

Just a change from surgery talk. These are my favourite photos of the kitties.

Stumpy is very photogenic, and I love this photo for the colours, her expression and how it shows off her pretty eyes. She's such a character - drives us bonkers, but she's also incredibly loving in her own way.

Lily is the shy, elegant, fraidy cat who desperately wants to be a lap cat if only she was brave enough. I love this photo of her in her favourite spot in the window, in a relaxed state.

Smudge is so hard to capture given that she's jet black, and has squinty little eyes. She ends up one big black blob in photos. I particularly like this photo of her because it captures the essence of Smudge - content, goofy, and not an ounce of grace - just pure happy Smudginess!