Thursday, June 21, 2012


When is my surgery?
Check in is at 6:00. Surgery begins at 7:30 and should last 2-3 hours.

What do I do to prepare?
No food or water after midnight the day before. No metal (earrings, rings, hair bands) worn the day of.

What about medications before surgery?
No aspirin-type medications (Advil, Aleve, Aspirin, Excedrin, etc.). If you need pain relief, Tylenol can be taken - but not after midnight. Continue taking your anti-depressants.

What about medications after surgery?
Prescriptions for any pain meds deemed necessary will be giving to your family member after surgery. They can get them filled there at the hospital for you to take home with you. Continue taking your anti-depressants.

Will there be any follow-up appointments after surgery?
One week after surgery will be a Wound Check appointment, to assess the progress of your incision. Six weeks after surgery you will come in for more X-rays to determine how well you are healing.

Will I have to wear a neck brace?
A brace will be given to you after surgery; most likely a soft one (more comfortable) but that depends on how the surgery went. You should wear it as often as possible to minimize movement, but can take it off to allow the wound to air out.

How much time off can I expect?
Absolute bare minimum will be one week. Doctor would prefer two weeks, but if you’re doing well and your wound checks out good, he may give you permission to go back to work early – probably half days at first.

Can I drive after surgery?
If you must, but it would be better not to. Keep your neck brace on – and know that it restricts movement so drive accordingly.

How do I take care of myself afterwards?
Keep the wound dry (special bandages will be given for use in the shower). Don’t lift over 10 pounds (thankfully my girls are just under that). As soon as possible, start walking around the neighborhood – but take it easy; don’t over-do it. Minimize movement as much as possible. Get off the pain meds as soon as you can.

What if I start to bleed?
Butterfly bandages will be placed on the incision right after surgery: there will be blood dried onto them – but don’t panic! If the blood you see is dark red, it’s old. Do panic if you see bright red – that’s new blood, and you should go directly to your doctor to have it taken care of.

I heard that I won’t be able to talk afterwards?
The doctor will have to move aside your esophagus and voice box in order to gain access to your spinal column, so you can expect “some discomfort” after surgery. This can last up to two weeks! Ice packs can be applied to help reduce any swelling, which will help ease your sore throat. Eat soft foods.

I’m very nervous!
Dr. Kralick is the best Neurosurgeon there is – you’re in very good hands.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Like This Backpack

While sitting at the trailhead in my car this weekend, waiting for my friend to show up so we could go hiking, I transferred all my “stuff” from my old backpack to my new one.

My new backpack was the one I’d bought specifically for my Amazon trip: it’s small, made of recycled material (shredded milk jugs!), and fits me a lot better than my old one.

In the process of switching things over, I made a very exiting discovery: $200.00!

Apparently, I had tucked the money in there during my trip and then forgot about it. I do that: I spread my money around in various places when traveling so that if something gets stolen I will still have money. It’s also quite common for me to forget about it, too.

It certainly made for a great surprise!

My Weekend Was Great!

Saturday, I met my friend Tina at the McHugh Creek Trail parking lot where we left her car and took mine back down the road to the Potter’s Ridge parking lot. Then we set off on foot back to her car, 4 miles along the coast up on the cliffs.

It was a beautiful day: clear blue skies and just enough wind to keep the mosquitoes away. There was a lot of activity on the trail, both human and animal. We didn’t see any actual bears but did see a lot of bear scat, some of which were quite fresh. Some of our fellow hikers told us about a Black Bear sow and her cubs hanging out along the trail, but thankfully she was gone by the time we passed by that section.

Neither Tina nor I are in that great of shape, but we had fun regardless. We ambled our way down (up?) the trail, chatting and catching up on all the news the whole way. I took tons of pictures, of course – and even managed to get some really good shots in.

When I eventually got home again, I headed off to the used car lot downtown and – get this – BOUGHT MYSELF A NEW CAR! Well, new to me at least. It is a used vehicle, but it only has 1,675 miles on it – so it’s only barely used.

It’s a 2012 Toyota Yaris LE, and is the exact car I’ve been looking for. I got a great price on it, too. I’m very happy with it.

Sunday morning, I headed over to Rob’s house for some sourdough pancakes! His son Trey is up for the summer, so I got to give him a ride in my new car. He was suitably impressed, especially when I showed him the single front windshield wiper = that’s just way too cool.

Michael’s Craft Store was having a super sale on paper (5 for a dollar, regularly 79 cents a piece) so of course I had to stop in on my way home. $13.00 later, I walked out to my car with a bag full of some really cool sheets to make envelopes with.

When I got home, Mother was waiting for me – early, of course, but I didn’t mind. We went to the museum together and walked thru their Pole to Pole exhibit. I hadn’t seen the new Smithsonian Alaska Exhibit before, either, and was very impressed. I think they did a really good job with that one.

Once we’d seen as much as we wanted to we stopped in at the cafĂ© there and had a cup of soup and a pita bread appetizer, then headed on over to Rob’s house for a visit. Mother hadn’t seen his house all fixed up so he wanted to show her all that he’d done on it.

By that time I was ready for a serious nap, much to the delight of my two girls.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Floating the Kenai River

For my birthday this year I got to go on a float trip down the Kenai River!

Rob has a new-to-him boat that he wanted to get wet before his kids arrive for the summer, just to make sure everything was good to go. So we hooked the trailer up to his truck and headed off down the road last Sunday.

We pulled in at Cooper Landing to put the boat in the water and get all our gear in order, then drove the truck & empty trailer down the road to the Russian River Confluence where we planned to end our trip. From there, we hitched a ride in a random pick-up truck back to our boat.

Mind you, we’ve got Daisy with us too! The truck we ended up hitching a ride from was one of those smaller ones. Picture Rob crammed into the back camper, literally underneath a mountain bike and some camping gear while I’m up front with Daisy “sitting” on my lap not 3” away from a complete stranger (those who know me well can imagine just how uncomfortable I was in that situation).

It was actually kind of funny…

We made it back to the boat safe and sound, and started on our way on the river. The Kenai was quite swollen with a lot of water, so the rapids were quite a bit more fun than normal.

Daisy was so cute; she has her own PFD (Personal Flotation Device) even, that provides a convenient suitcase-like handle on her back. This comes in VERY handy when she forgets where she is and leaps to chase after the birds that fly by. At one point, she barked at something on shore only to have it echo back at her: she got scared and had to run to daddy for protection! When we got to the rapids, she got scared again when she saw them coming – and again had to run to daddy for protection.

The fish haven’t quite hit the river yet, but we could tell it wouldn’t be long. The eagles were beginning to line up along shore, just waiting for lunch to be delivered.

And ducks! Who knew there were ducks in a river? For some reason, I just assumed they would only be in a lake…

The float took us about 3 hours; not very long, actually – but it was a good one.

“I’m In Minor Freak Out Mode”

That’s a quote from my brother when he found out he and his wife are pregnant with twins - but I think it applies to my life at the moment, as well.

First, there’s the surgery. Well, surgeries to be exact. My neck will be operated on in a couple weeks followed by up to 2 months in a brace. Once that is over, I get to go back under the knife to fix my shoulder. God knows how long that recovery process will take.

There goes all that summer hiking I was planning.

One side effect of the neck/shoulder problems I’m having is that I can barely drive my car anymore: it is a manual stick shift, and it’s my right side that hurts. So I am looking in to buying a new car, this time getting an automatic. This means a lot of shopping around, as well as some creative banking to ensure that I can afford it. To that end, I am getting a Home Equity Line of Credit which involves an awful lot of paperwork and planning. At the same time, I am switching insurance companies to get a cheaper monthly bill. And of course, I am selling my Nissan.

I can’t seem to find the exact car I want here in town, so now I am looking at buying one outside and having it shipped up – which of course means shopping around to find the perfect deal that justifies all this bother as well as finding a shipping company to get the car up here in once piece.

And now, to top it all of with a big fat cherry = my cat is sick again!

She has been struggling with kidney failure for the past year or so, but had been doing really well – or so I thought. Just the other day, she took a turn for the worse. I rushed her to the vet’s office as soon as they could squeeze me in – and 5 hours later brought her back home $500 poorer.

Thankfully, she’s doing okay now. She’s happy to be back home again, and has a new collection of medications to help her live out the rest of her life comfortably and pain-free.

Speaking of living pain-free, everybody I’ve spoken to who has had the same surgery I’m going to have has told me that it’s well worth it. I should notice a difference right away; once I recover from the knife, that is.