Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm Doing Much Better, Thank You

Medically speaking, 2011 hasn't been a lot of fun for Rose.  That's not to say that it hasn't all turned out fabulous.  As of today, I've lost 112 pounds and other than a lovely scar and almost NO memories from Scotland, I can't complain about the appendectomy either.

Wednesday, October 25th, was the official 6 month anniversary for my gastric surgery.  Post-op, I was given a prescription for Prilosec to reduce the production of acid in the stomach and thereby reduce the risk of ulcers.  I was told to take it for six months.... October 25th was six months... ergo, when the prescription ran out on Saturday the 29th, I took the last pill and said adios to the Prilosec!

Sunday, I made chili and had some for dinner.  Monday, I had chili for lunch.  Not mine, but some Buffalo Wing Chili which was super spicy.  For dinner, I don't recall what I had, but for Tuesday breakfast, I had the rest of the Buffalo Wing Chili that Deborah graciously let me make off with.  Lunch was... I don't know, but for dinner, Mom made spanish rice which, while not as spicy as I would have made it, did have a tomato base.  I had leftovers for breakfast and lunch on Wednesday.  For dinner, Mom made spaghetti.  Again, not overly spicy, but tomato-y. 

Thursday morning, I awoke at my usual 5:30 am.  I didn't want to get up.  In fact I laid there for a couple of minutes weighing the pros/cons of calling in for a mental health day and decided that it would only make going in on Friday almost impossible, thereby requiring two mental health days and I didn't think I needed that.  I got up.  The muscle in my upper left arm ached, like I'd had a shot in it.  I thought maybe I'd slept wrong on it.  I ambled into the kitchen to make my protein shake, I noticed that it was pouring outside and quietly said a prayer of thanks because obviously God knew that I didn't want to go out for a walk and provided accordingly.  I also noticed that my tum wasn't feeling all that great, but...  I took my shake to my room, sat at my computer and started to farm while slurping it down.

About 20 minutes into the shake, and I hadn't drunk but about 1/3 of the 16oz shake, I started having pains and it hurt to breathe.  I got up to try to "walk it off", but that didn't work and I realized that I needed help.  I hobbled into Mom's room and woke her up from a complete sleep (slacker), told her she needed to take me to the ER and I walked to my bathroom to put on my sweatpants... a total of 40 feet?  During that incredibly long trip, I started hearing the blood rush in my head and all sound started coming from far away thru a tunnel.  I knew I was going to pass out.  Thank God that I got my sweatpants and was able to collapse onto my bed.  I didn't pass out.  Mom got the elevator, I got in, knowing that it's the world's slowest elevator, and when I started feeling woozy, slid to the floor, so I ended up crawling to the car.

Mom drove my car to the ER.  Now, anyone who really knows me knows that NO ONE drives my car unless I'm dead or dying, so that alone should speak volumes.

At the ER, my insurance paid for an EKG, blood tests, a chest x-ray, and a CT scan (my fourth one this year - I should be due a free one soon, I think).  The end result was that although I was having pain when I breathe and couldn't breathe deeply, they had ruled out anything life-threatening and were sending me home.  WTF!?  I should rest and follow up with my doctor.  Sigh.

On the way home, I called my doctor who, as I already knew but hoped I was wrong about, doesn't work on Thursdays.  After arguing with the telephone nurse that this wasn't acid reflux because I've HAD acid reflux, I was told I could either see my doctor, the best in the world, at 9:30 on Friday morning or come in and see Dr. Conway at 11:45 (a couple of hours away).  I decided to wait for my doctor.

Mom got me home and up the elevator without incident or gravity taking over.  I slipped off the sweatpants and, having wore my Snoopy nightshirt to the ER, I was ready to crawl back in bed.  The tech had told me to drink lots of fluids in order to flush the CT scan dye from my system, so I asked Mom to get me some juice.  She wanted to get me water, but I wanted juice, so I whined and she brought me juice.  In retrospect, I would argue that although this whining is/was not a mature thing, it was beneficial as it brought us to an answer sooner rather than later... so don't judge!

Since you've already read the background, I'm sure you can guess that, yes, the juice caused more pain.  We called the doctor's office back and got that 11:45 appt with Dr. Conway.  An interesting man, he was my father's general doctor... yeah.  Anyway, after listening to all of my back story about surgeries, health conditions, current meds (including the fact that I'd stopped taking the Prilosec almost a week before, he gave me some Mylanta to see if it helped.  I can't say that it HELPED!!, but it did make me feel somewhat better.  We decided that the stopping of the Prilosec, combined with the almost full meals of spicy acidic food for a week, had caused some damaged.  I needed to resume the Prilosec to get back to the acid reduction, take Mylanta to help heal the damage, and resume my Carafate (this pink liquidy stuff I had to have an hour before meals and at bedtime for the first two months post-op - it creates a protective liner on the stomach wall to prevent further damage and help aid healing.)

As I'm typing this, it is Sunday evening.  I've been taking the medicine, eating only bland foods, and resting/sleeping a lot.  Oh, I forgot to mention the Lortab the doctor gave me for the pain!  :)  I'm not 100% back to the Rosemary version of normal, but I do feel much better.  I will admit that this afternoon, after Mom left to go somewhere, I got me a glass of juice and, even though I watered it down, it make my tum hurt, so I'm drinking water.  It still hurts to take deep breaths, to yawn (damn, why is it even typing that word makes me do it?), etc., but I do think we're on the road to recovery.  If not, I'll call and go see MY doctor!!  The bestest doctor in the whole-wide-world!... but obviously not on a Thursday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don't Hate the Playa

At the law firm where I work, for the past several years, five, I believe, we've had a chili cook-off with the proceeds going toward the money spent on the families we "adopt" for the holidays.  It's generally quite a hit with lots of people bringing in many different varieties of chili and lots more coming in to eat/vote.  And I'm thinking that each year there's been a whiff of ballot-stuffing and hanging chads.  This year was no different.

In 2009, I made a damn good pot of chili and I think I should have won.  I was robbed.  Let me point out that the most important key to winning is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION... of your crock pot, that is.  In 2009, I got there late that day, I don't recall why, and by the time I got there all of the prime spots were taken and my lowly little crock pot was stuffed in the far corner with another crock pot filled with grey chili - it was grey in color and in flavor.  It was gross - and the attorney who brought it in knew it and boldly said that he just put anything that was in his refrigerator into it.  So consequently, anyone who went over to that table, saw the grey stuff and immediately turned away without giving my lovely chili any consideration. 

In 2010, I wasn't able to do anything about my miffedness over being robbed because I was in Washington DC attending the Stewart/Colbert Rally for Insanity.  But I knew my day would come.

This year, the theme was "Little Schop of Horrors."  Don't write in and tell me I misspelled the name, I didn't make a mistake.  One of the managing partners is named Schopmeyer and Greg, the attorney/creative mind behind the chili cook-off thought it was a great idea and that we could superimpose Schop's picture over the plant in photos/decorations.  (see below)

The rules of the cook off are simple, there are three categories: traditional, spicy, and non-traditional.  The votes are $1 each with no limit as to how many you can purchase.  The top vote-getters in each category win the medal for best in category.  The top vote getter of the category winners wins the travelling trophy and bragging rights.  This year, for the first time, Greg also got an adorable smaller trophy that the grand champion got to keep - it was adorable.  I wanted it.

My friend Ashley and I discussed it to death and came to the following conclusions:  no entrants in the spicy or non-traditional categories have ever won the grand prize.  We both wanted to win - her because she wanted the travelling trophy for the next year and me because I wanted the cute little keeper.  Therefore, we both needed to make traditional chili.  But our running against each other might result in a splitting of the vote and allow a dark horse to come from behind and snipe it from us.  So first we discussed my not entering any chili.  But I really wanted to make chili. 

So I contemplated making a spicy chili.  But honestly, I don't know how to make a "spicy" chili.  My  mom thinks my chili is plenty spicy, but she has a wussy palate.  So then we contemplated Ashley making and entering her traditional chili and making and ME entering her spicy chili (which in retrospect would've worked because she said that the ONLY spicy entrant that we ended up with ...ergo the winner of that category...was no way as spicy as her spicy chili!)  Ah, hindsight. 

Then I set my sight on the non-traditional category.  Shawn, our HR peep, was going to make chocolate chili cupcakes - in another life, Shawn was/will be a famous cupcake maker.  So, being a fan of the Food Network, having read Like Water for Chocolate, and seen the movie "Chocolat" many times over, I knew that chocolate and chili (the spice, not the dish) go well together.  I got on the Google and found several recipes for Chocolate Chili.  I picked the one that had ingredients we were likely to have or be able to find and decided I'd enter the non-traditional category with chocolate chili.  But, having never made it before, thought maybe we should make it before hand to see how it was.  This was a good idea because while it wasn't bad, it wasn't a winner.  And I really ought to get on and find that recipe again, just so I can make a comment to the person who commented on the recipe about how it's such a fab dish and gets raves everywhere she takes it.  LIAR!!

Now it's Saturday (the cook off was on Monday), and I'm back to the start.  I just decided WTF!  I was going to make my chili and what happened, happened. 

Sunday afternoon, I dug out all of my chili ingredients which I had purchased before all of the above waffley angst and started making chili.  Meat, check.  Onion, a big one.  Celery, potatoes and beans, enough but not a lot.  Tomatoes, diced and sauce, check.  Salt, garlic, chili powder, check, check. check.  Hot sauce.  I got to the fridge and look for the bottle that I know mom not too long ago because we ran out back when I was in the baby food stage post-op.  I find the bottle and it has a Big Lots price tag on it and I'm thinking "hmm.. how strange that she went and got that at Big Lots."  But I put it in my chili nonetheless.  As I'm returning the bottle to the fridge, I find the bottle that mom bought at Schnucks a couple of months ago and realize that the Big Lots bottle was the one that was in my fridge for years at one or both of my apartments... therefore, nice and, uh.. well-aged.  If I say so myself, it was very good.  Duncan thought it could use more spice.  Mom said it was spicy enough and had a big glass of milk with hers for dinner.

Monday morning, I reheated it, tasted it, added more salt (as the potatoes must've soaked it all up) and chili power, and poured it into my lucky crockpot.  Ok, our only crockpot.  I've been working a lot of OT at work lately on a big project, so I got there shortly after 7am and put my crockpot in a good spot.  (Remember, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!)  I then emailed Boss #1 Steve, Boss #2 Carrie, and Jake (one of the attorney who has a special place in his heart for my biscuits and gravy) that if, when they go in to eat at lunchtime, they recognize my adorable little white crockpot with purple grapes and green leaves on it and feel sentimental toward it because of all the good biscuit and gravy memories and it compels them to vote for it's contents, to go with the feeling.  (No one said that campaigning was against the rules!)

Long story short, when all the votes were tallied, my chili had won not only the non-traditional category, but the big trophy too boot!  (see picture).

As usual, there were rumblings about ballot-stuffing.  I say that no one prevented them from spending all the money that they would normally donate toward the holiday family in December in October on chili voting.  Plus, my chili got 95 votes.  I know that I did not 1) spend $95 dollars; or B) even put all of my votes into my pot - I shared some with Ashley and I put some in Deborah's Buffalo Wing Chili (I got the recipe, BTW) which was terrific and won it's category.  Therefore, other people must've voted for my chili! 

I did offer Ashley possession of the big trophy, but she declined.  Next year, she will win.  I'm sure.  :)