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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That 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.
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.
The 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.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln Singers, Pete Eklund, conductor at the First Plymouth Church in Lincoln Nebraska. Some great, soaring music!
Our grocery shopping options around here are limited. We have Sprouts for our deli meats and specialty items. Stater Bros. is our go-to store, where they have a full-service meat department and quality produce. Then there is WinCo with its warehouse environment and low prices where you bag your own groceries. (As far as we’re concerned, Walmart does not exist, even though we have two full-sized stores and one Neighborhood Market in the valley.)
There are a number of Staters stores in the San Jacinto valley, but the one near us is the newest and the nicest. It’s only three years old, but even so they just did a mini-remodel, adding faux-wood floors. It makes for a very pleasant shopping environment and is a much more enjoyable shopping experience than the other Staters stores in the valley. Not that they’re bad, it’s just that ours is a lot nicer.
When I compare prices, however, WinCo is much cheaper. So we’ve been adjusting our routine. We go to Staters for produce and fresh meat. We tackle WinCo for the grocery aisles, as well as the refrigerated section and frozen foods.
It takes a little more time, but the cost savings make it worthwhile.
Terry recently said that she wanted to have Manhattan clam chowder, so I pulled up this recipe from my database, which originally appeared in the Cooking Light issue of May 1999.
It’s really quite straightforward, calling for garlic, a chopped and peeled baking potato, oregano, black pepper, diced tomatoes, and clam juice along with the clams. Terry added cumin and chili powder and a couple of slices of microwaved bacon.
I took care of the garlic bread. It made for a really nice dinner on a cold evening.
It’s interesting how one’s tastes in reading (and other things) change over time.
When I was in my twenties and thirties one of my favorite books was Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. I can’t tell you how many times I read it. It was a favorite of many of my generation. But when I tried to get interested in books that Robbins wrote in later decades I simply couldn’t become engaged. If fact, when I downloaded a Kindle sample of Another Roadside Attraction a couple of years ago I discovered that I just wasn’t into it.
On the other hand, back in the 1980’s I tried to get going with Gore Vidal’s then-new book Creation. It is a novel narrated by a fictional grandson of Zoroaster, and is presented as a rebuttal to the Histories of Herodotus from a Persian perspective. I remember having a hardcover copy and trying to read it on my first honeymoon. Yes, I know you’re supposed to have other things on your mind on a honeymoon, but it was a Hawaii cruise, it was raining, and my first wife would take afternoon naps. So I was out there on an enclosed deck reading Vidal. I just couldn’t get excited about it.
Recently, however, I had been reading some nonfiction and I wanted a change. I downloaded the Kindle sample of Creation and found the book quite book quite interesting. It turns out that this is an expanded version published in 2002. It seems that an overzealous editor underestimated the interest of the average Vidal reader (or perhaps the average fiction reader) in the details of life and ritual in the ancient world, and cut a good deal of what he considered to be minutia. That’s all restored in the 2002 edition.
I’m currently reading and enjoying the book and not getting bogged down in anything that looks like minutia. (Fun fact (at least I assume it’s a fact): A eunuch who is castrated after achieving sexual maturity can still have an erection. Therefore the ladies of the harem, many of whom probably did not have a great deal of fondness for their husbands (who had most likely been chosen for them), and in fact most likely rarely even saw them, were perfectly happy to have the attention of the better-looking eunuchs, who were, after all, there to look after them. And besides, sexual faithfulness was not the issue. What was really at stake was that any children born to the wife were actually the king’s offspring. But I digress.)
So yes, our tastes do change over the decades.