routine

I am big on routine. Perhaps that is where our four-footed child Tasha gets her insistence on routine.

I have made it a point to be disciplined in my exercise routine. For a very long time I walked three days a week listening to lectures from The Great Courses and I did yard work one day a week. When I needed to improve my strength in advance of my surgery I shifted to weight work three days a week along with a cardio and strength class one day a week. I tried to throw in yard work as well. It made all the difference in my surgery and recovery.

Right now I need to back off on all of that. My body needs time to heal and I need to scale back on the exercise. That’s OK. It will be nice to get back to my walks and Great Courses lectures down the line a ways.


pain management

My spiritual director spent many years as a nurse before becoming an Episcopal priest. She provided that fact during our very first session and that reality does at times affect how she interacts with her directees.

That was the case during our last session before my surgery. She stepped out of her spiritual director role and into her nurse role long enough to tell me to make sure that I was getting the pain medication I needed.

That advice did not work as well as it could have while I was in the hospital. I don’t know whether it was Kaiser policy or my surgeon’s directions, but I only received pain medication when I specially asked for it. That meant I probably missed a few doses I could have used.

I took that advice very seriously when I got home however. I made sure that I took my pill regularly, every four hours. That made a huge difference to me and my comfort level.

Sometimes we have the inclination to tough it out. That’s not always the best approach. We frequently need to give ourselves the care and comfort that we need.


it’s about the preparation

I knew for many months that I would need surgery. It was just a question of when. My surgeon told me very early on that I would do much better if I were in better physical shape.

As it became clear that the surgery would be sooner rather than later, I asked my surgeon about the kind of exercise I should be getting. Strength training, he said. I had been doing walking so I made the shift. I took the process seriously and added wight and reps to keep challenging myself.

I had also asked my surgeon about the length of my hospital stay. I said that for a youngster it could be short, maybe three days, but with my sixty-five-year-old body that was not possible. He was highly unwilling to commit, but he seemed to suggest that five days might be a minimum and that it could be eleven or so days.

As it turned out I spend three nights in the hospital and went home on day four. I took the need for preparation seriously and it paid off.

A lesson to remember.


post-surgery reflections

I am back sooner than I expected, but then I have a lot on my mind, as you might imagine.

This blog entry might contain TMI for some.

As I reported to my friends on Facebook, the surgery was scheduled for three-and-a-half hours, but was completed in less than two-and-a-half. I was moved from the gurney to the operating table, and the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room, feeling relatively comfortable. At the outset there was no pain unless I moved.

As I was coming up on the date for surgery I kept asking myself if I really needed to go through with it. The answer I gave myself was that anything that was causing me to lose weight and creating an elevated white blood cell count needed to be dealt with. I learned after the surgery that the object removed was the size of a golf ball, and that several other small objects needed to be removed as well. So I guess the surgery really was was necessary.

The hospital routine was an interesting one. I had my nurse on duty and I got a new nurse every twelve hours. There was usually a handoff to acquaint me with the new nurse and the new nurse with my situation. Then a lot of other people came and went. Technicians or nursing students to take my vitals. Phlebotomists to take blood. The head of nursing to get my evaluation of my treatment, and my case manager to get information about my personal circumstances. And, of course, my surgeon or the resident to see how I was doing.

It was an interesting experience and I was pleased with the quality of care I received. I was also very happy to get home.


blog break

It’s time for a short blog hiatus. I am having surgery on Wednesday for an object on my intestinal tract that should not be there and needs to be removed. I expect to be back blogging in a couple of weeks, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, along with your prayers and good thoughts, of course.

laptopThat may well be all you care to know, and that makes perfect sense. If you choose to keep reading, however, I can fill you in with a little more background, but I will endeavor to avoid the slippery slope of TMI.

It’s been quite a journey, going back nearly a year. After my annual physical last year my primary care physician ordered a blood cell count, presumably because I told the medical student who saw me before he came into the exam room that I had lost weight for no apparent reason. My white count came back high, which resulted in an ultrasound and a referral to urology as the issue appeared to be kidney-related. A CT scan followed, with the urologist saying, “You don’t need me” and referring me to gastroenterology. Those folks told me that I had a GIST, a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. The medical team ordered two different endoscopic procedures to confirm that it was only that. The gastrointestinal surgeon partnered with the oncologist (head of oncology at Kaiser Riverside, by the way!) who prescribed a medication to shrink the GIST. No effect, the second CT scan revealed. Bad news: larger rather than smaller is harder to remove. Good news: the medication not shrinking it means it’s probably not cancerous.

So here we are. Think of me (as the song from Phantom of the Opera says), and my intent is to be back with you soon. I have cleared out my queue of backlogged blog entries and will be starting fresh when I return. Once restarted, this blog may take a slightly different approach or focus but I do plan to keep blogging. Writing is central to who I am, and I have much to write about.

Stay tuned.


grilled chicken kebabs with pineapple salsa

I was looking for something different for a Saturday dinner and for something that I could grill on our new stove-top grill pan. I found this recipe for grilled chicken kebabs with pineapple salsa in my database, which originally appeared in Shape magazine in September 2010.

pineapple chicken kebabsThe marinade called for pineapple, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper pureed in a blender. The salsa consisted of diced pineapple, tomato, spinach, garlic, cilantro, and salt. I omitted the cilantro and salt in the salsa. I cooked the chicken on the grill pan along with pineapple pieces, forgoing the skewers. I also cooked rice as a side, which turned out to be completely unnecessary.

It made for a very tasty Saturday evening dinner.


Sacred Music Friday: O Lord, You are My God and King

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln Singers, Pete Eklund, conductor at the First Plymouth Church in Lincoln Nebraska. Some great, soaring music!