Monthly Archives: June 2014

Maleficent: It’s All About the Story (possible spoilers)

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Today, I took the girls to see Maleficent. I was not particularly looking forward to it. I am not much into kid movies unless there is a lot of adult-friendly humor and I especially don’t love the whole Princess/Castle/Fairy Tale themed thang. I also never really appreciated the acting talents of Angelina Jolie very much. So, I was going for the popcorn and to make them happy for 90-some minutes.

Well slap my ass and call me Judy…I actually liked the damn thing. It certainly could have used more humor. The acting was kind of forced and over the top (though I suppose the genre calls for it). And there was nothing that really made it wonderful or spectacular. But I absolutely adored the story and messaging.

There are few things more annoying than the whole ‘damsel in distress, a man must save her’ story line. Boring and gross. And while the original fairy tale is written this way, the movie is not. It still had enough of the old version to spark memories of reading those books as a child – the 3 silly pixies were always my favorite even though I had forgotten all about them until today. But it was really a completely fresh narrative.

Without giving too much away – I have to say, I truly appreciated the spin on the kiss element. From the time we are little girls, we are read stories about a man coming to the rescue. In movies, the love of a man is the greatest goal a gal can hold. In the original Sleeping Beauty, Aurora needed to be kissed by a man in order to awaken from her spell coma.

Well, this movie said ‘fuck that’. This movie told us that true love comes in many forms and that the love from a mother, friend, godmother, etc can be just as valid and meaningful as the love from a man. Princesses don’t need a Prince to save them, goddamnit, and I am so glad Hollywood is finally catching on.

Another concept I applaud in this film is the fact that there is good and bad in us all. Some have more villain than hero and vice versa. But we are all flawed and complex and multi-dimensional – again, some more than others. A fairy tale in which the bad guy is the also the good guy – how authentic is that.

Love, forgiveness, anger, fear, jealousy…what a wonderful character, Maleficent. How I envy any actor playing that role. And Jolie wasn’t so bad after all. But it really all came down to the story. Fantastic re-write.

Cafeteria Consciousness – Part One (Patch)

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I am not a health food nazi by any means. If you had been at my table for Thanksgiving, you would have proof of that. I allow my children to have treats, snacks and desserts. But I do read labels, make healthy meals and use conscious decision making when choosing what my kids eat from day to day.

Not long ago, a new Wellness Policy was implemented into Unified. This policy utilizes guidelines regarding food available to students during the school hours.  Immediately, I noticed the steaming anger from parents and teachers because of these new rules.

Parents were livid that their kid could no longer bring in cupcakes for their birthday. Of course, rules do not apply to what children bring from home for themselves. Parents can still pack a lunch bag full of candy if they choose, and that is really not too far from what some parents do. I know of one parent who brings McDonald’s to his child everyday for lunch. The rules do not infringe on those parental choices. But still, people were enraged.

Even with these regulations in place, they are not always enforced. I have seen plenty of homemade sugary treats brought in for birthdays and holidays. Honestly, I doubt much has actually changed at all.

When I look at our school lunch menus, I really cannot see the healthy changes our systems have claimed to have made. Pizza dippers, nachos, chicken nuggets, hot dogs; none of these items scream “nutritious” to me. The ingredient list is nothing short of scary.

There are school districts around the nation that are, indeed, striving for a healthier student body:

  • Sublette Elementary in Kansas schedules their recess prior to lunch hours. Children are then less apt to hurry through their lunch – tossing the healthier food and eating only the treats. This also aids in better digestion and burns more calories.
  • In Wilsonville, Alabama, farmers bring fresh, locally grown produce to the schools. And the district also holds informational groups for parents. These groups focus on healthy eating, recipes and physical activates.
  • Springwoods Elementary in Virginia has put into effect an innovative idea called the ‘95210 Program’. The basics for this program are: 9 hours of sleep, 5 servings of fruits and veggies, no more than 2 hours of screen time (TV or computer), at least 1 hour of exercise and 0 sugar drinks – all per day.

Do I think it is okay for parents to make special treats for Halloween or Christmas parties? Sure! It’s all about moderation. But I personally do not want my kid being fed sugar and lard just a couple hours before dinner on a daily or even weekly basis. I get that you want your kid to have a cool treat for their birthday. But you have to remember that there may be 30+ kids in a class and they ALL have birthdays.

I think Unified’s Wellness Policy comes with the best of intentions. But much like Obamacare – there clearly was too much compromise and tip-toeing. And really, none of it matters at all when the rules are flat out ignored.

Please look for Part Two later this week for the continuation of this commentary. 

Hysterectomy Adventures: Blood, Guts and Aliens

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I last left off floating away to Medicinal Maui as I was about to go under for my lady parts surgery…

I am warning you…this post WILL be descriptive and gross and grody and icky. If you are squeamish or wish to only think of me as an intact, gorgeous sex symbol (because that is SO happening, right??…teehee) – then you may want to skip this read.

Here are some photos/illustrations/video of  Davinci Robotic Hysterectomies…

 

 

 

There are a couple of reasons I am showing you these sexy images.

1. Since embarking on this glorious journey, I have read so many comments, stories and questions online by the hundreds of women who have this and similar surgeries every day. I am astonished by the lack of knowledge and information women have about their own female anatomy and what happens during these procedures.

There are women who have undergone hysterectomies who have no idea whether or not they still have a cervix or fallopian tubes. They have no clue what is in there and what has been taken out. And because of this, they end up with complications they could have possibly avoided. If a woman knows that the ‘no sex rule’ may just keep her intestines from falling out of her vagina – she may be more willing to follow said rule. And her husband may not be as pushy to break the rule as well.

I understand that knowledge can be scary, people. I know this more than anyone. But you must KNOW. YOUR. SHIT!! Be an informed patient because no one will care more than you. You will always be your own best advocate. Got it?

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to watch videos before your procedure. I didn’t. I couldn’t. But I learned A LOT and I knew what questions to ask and what possibilities I could anticipate – for the most part. There are always elements of surprise and moments of What the Fuck…but be as prepared as you can be.

 

2. When a person has a procedure deemed “minimally invasive” (a term that now cracks me up) and when scars are small and barely visible – people tend to forget that they had major friggin surgery! What, may I ask, is minimally invasive about having organs cut from the inside of my body, blood vessels cauterized, internal incisions closed with hundreds of stitches and body parts being yanked from my vagina? If a man had to go through this – you can bet it wouldn’t be considered so easy and la-dee-da.

This surgery can take an entire year from which to heal. Some, longer. Even if the patient feels back to normal within a few weeks – the insides are still healing and readjusting. Hormones can be fluctuating. Complications are possible for quite some time post-op. And surgical effects can be felt for a very long time. So even if the woman looks like her old self – that doesn’t mean she did not go through a major event. Know this.

 

As I said above, there are definitely elements of surprise. While the majority of these procedures go as planned and as smooth as can be – there are often unforeseen situations that arise.

I knew I had fibroids for quite sometime. They were visible via ultrasound. It was also expected that I had adenomyosis. And I had ovarian cysts off and on for many years. Typically, none of these are life threatening. But there is also no way to know for sure what is what unless and until they get in there to look around and/or biopsy.

There are many women who had no idea they were covered with adhesions or endometriosis. And, sadly, there are also a number of women who thought they just had fibroids but ended up having cancer. Imaging and symptoms can never really give a definitive diagnosis.

Thank God, Buddha, Mother Nature, Ronald McDonald and everyone in between I did not have cancer. But there was a nice little surprise waiting for my cute, young surgeon. Like I said, I knew I had uterine fibroids. One on the inside lining and one on the outer surface. Neither were very large. Additionally, and not expected, there was also a large mass that was the same size as my uterus and cervix combined. This was behind my uterus (and may have been the cause for some of the lower back pain I had been feeling) and attached to the round ligament which is a fairly rare occurrence – Round Ligament Leiomyoma.

This mass was completely covered in blood vessels and really gave my surgeon and staff a run for their money as there was significant bleeding (typically there isn’t much bleeding with robotic hysterectomies) and they had to do a lot of work getting that out while minimizing blood loss. They were also careful to remove it whole and intact because no morcellation was to be used during my procedure.

Morcellation is a process where during laproscopic, robotic and vaginal hysterectomies, the contents being removed are cut into pieces so they are more easily removable. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this practice and the FDA has issued a warning because it has been proven that women who have had cancers spread due to the cells being relocated to surrounding areas. As I said, until it is sent to pathology, it cannot be certain that a fibroid does not contain cancerous cells. If a cancerous mass is morcellated inside of the body, this can spread the cancer and risk the life of the patient considerably.

Anyway, my surgery took quite a bit longer than expected because of this alien thingy we never knew existed as it never showed up on any ultrasound. After surgery I saw pictures of this thing and let me tell ya, I am glad it is gone. Gross, gross, gross.

So, during the four hour surgery…doc took out my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and the alien. Ovaries were left intact and the cysts were deemed benign. I have tons of cauterizations and stitches inside. I had five outer incisions – one inside my belly button, two to the right and two to the left (which were all about one inch long and closed with dissoluble stitches).

Before I knew it, I was being wheeled to my room. I had been in recovery for a while, but I don’t remember a thing. God I hope I didn’t say a bunch of stupid shit. But I am pretty sure I probably did. Hell, I do when I am lucid!

One more interesting tidbit some people do not know…during laproscopic/robotic abdominal surgeries, the surgeon fills your belly with carbon dioxide to make room for all of the instruments and for better visuals. One of the biggest complaints following this procedure are the gas pains that can travel throughout the body post-op. I have heard this can be far more painful than the surgicalpain itself. Thankfully, my doc is super great at getting rid of as much of the gas as possible before closing and I did not experience this very much at all. If you do have this problem, peppermint tea, moist heating pads and walking as much as possible will help greatly.

Okay. That is enough nastiness for today. Stay tuned for more gynecological and medical adventures coming soon when Heather talks about her way-too-fucking-long recovery, exciting complications and narcotic pleasantries.

Racine County Halts Progress Yet Again (via Purple Rayne)

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Last Friday, a federal court struck down a ban on same sex marriage which has kept marriage equality from existing since 2006. The ban was deemed unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. 
While we have been watching our neighbor states progressing and crawling out from the bigoted rocks from which they slept – the red members of our own state have been fighting to keep us in the past. And even as Wisconsin tries to pull itself out of that hole of ignorance and hate – Racine County steps on its fingers and continues to pout. 

Over 40 counties in Wisconsin have been issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples since the ruling on Friday. Couples have lined up at courthouses throughout the state with loved ones, flowers and a piece of joy for which they have always hoped. 

But not in Racine. Nope. In the land of Vos, Ryan, Ladwig and Christensen (sounds like a law firm from hell) – people are not treated equally and everything will be done to halt progress. Our county clerk, Wendy Christensen, is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She is stating that she is confused about how to fill out the forms. Why…who is the groom? Who will be the wife? It is like something you hear from old uncle Cletus through his missing teeth while he plays the banjo. How to fill out the forms? Are you fucking kidding me??? How about ask your other clerk buddies all over the state who figured it out pretty damn quickly. 

See the rest HERE

It’s Time to Play Douchebag Whack-a-Mole (via Purple Rayne)

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I almost didn’t want to waste space on this wackadoodle…but we all deserve a laugh, right??

So this dude from West Allis is suing Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele, and others in an attempt to stop Milwaukee from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. When I first heard the news, I could feel my blood pressure rise and my forehead get all wrinkly. I thought for sure this was the work of a slightly stronger group of brain cells to deter all counties from doing the right thing. I figured this must be a tactic to scare county clerks out of issuing licenses – because who wants the trouble of a lawsuit. Well, what a comic relief to see who is truly behind this nonsense.

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While Bob may not be a significant threat to marriage equality, our current Attorney General definitely is – not to mention a complete pain in the ass. He is just not giving up on his train (wait…we don’t like trains here, I forgot) of hate and oppression. This fucker will stop at nothing to impede in the progress of our state and the happiness of those who live outside of his personal beliefs. 

This morning, Van Hollen has stated that county clerks who have been issuing licenses could be prosecuted. PROSECUTED. Well, I guess my worry of deterrence tactics wasn’t so off after all. This guy is hell bent on winning a game he shouldn’t even be playing. Why such hateful people are put into such powerful positions is beyond me. I cannot fathom what makes people like this tick. To be so bothered by the love and happiness of others – there HAS to be some psychiatric disorder going on here. 

 

See  the rest HERE

Poop and Maui: It’s Time for Surgery

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What you don’t want to hear the morning of the day you need to do a bowel cleanse?

“Don’t flush the toilets! The sewer is backed up!!”

You have GOT to be fucking kidding me.

Every couple of years we have this issue because there are tree roots that block our pipes. Bad timing, Plumbing Gods! Bad flippin’ timing. Thank goodness my husband was able to rooter, router, roater or whatever the hell out of that drain and it was fixed that night. Whew.

The night before surgery I had to drink 20 oz of Magnesium Citrate for some spring cleanin’. They need to make sure your bowels are clean so that there is less chance of complication. I mixed this stuff with ginger ale to help get it down, but it was pretty nasty. I felt nauseated much of the day. However, it was also helping keep me calm. Magnesium has a very calming and sleep inducing effect – so I did sleep pretty well that night – very surprisingly and thankfully.

My mother came early that morning as she was going to wait with Charlie at the hospital during my surgery. Cassidy was sent to school and as soon as she left, the water works started. I couldn’t help but to think, “What if I never see her again??” That truly may have been the most difficult part.

My surgery was not until 1:30 so I didn’t need to be there until 11:30. It sucked that I had so much time to wait and worry but it was good to not be rushed.

I curled my hair – knowing there wouldn’t be much stylin’ going on for quite some time after. I couldn’t wear make-up and was pretty certain I would horrify those who had to look at my unmasked face. I packed my bag (nightgown, gas x, daily vitamins, phone charger, brush, etc..), shaved my legs and kissed my kitties about 800 times. And then we were off.

We were in the waiting room for at least 30 minutes. My emotions were whacked. I would go from calm to funny to bawling (which, according to my mother, made my face look really ugly. Thanks, ma. Really.). She gave me a hard time about crying. She isn’t one to show emotion and I am the opposite. Charlie told her to leave me alone and let me cry. But they both snickered at me. Turds.

At one point there was a new lil baby a couple of feet away and I broke down. I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that I was losing my reproductive organs. And I am not quite certain I have yet to really process that. I do know that it makes me sad when I see babies. But it did before this as well. Charlie had a vasectomy about a year ago and we certainly weren’t planning on having any more children. But I always wished we had. I simply started too late.

Finally we were invited back to a private room. I changed into a lovely gown that had tubes attached for blowing warm air. How awesome is that?! I really need one for home. They put on my compression stockings and these boots that inflate and deflate over and over – these protect against clots by keeping the blood flowing throughout the legs. All of it was actually quite comfortable.

We watched TV in between talking to various nurses, lab techs, CNAs, doctors and administrative workers. They asked many questions over and over. They took blood, gave me IVs and best of all – distracted me. They were all so friendly and compassionate. My fear was evident but my humor was still well intact. Conversations and joking around with the staff really helped a lot.

One of the people who came to ask questions was an Nurse Anesthetist. He was a young man and quite cute. I would have sworn he was about 12. Great. Not only is my surgeon young and good looking but now there was going to be yet another young cutie who had to see my flabby belly, gross uterus and saggy tits. He was so sweet and kind though.

At one point my room filled with many different people. My surgeon/gyno came in and told me not to escape through the emergency exit right outside of my curtain. The anesthesiologist and his RN came in to ask questions and give me meds for nausea and relaxation. I love Versed. A lot. I want that for home too.

It was suddenly clear that this shit was going down and going down soon. How was it 1:30 already??? Wait!!! I want to think about this a little longer!!! Nope, sorry sister.

Versed typically knocks people out or keeps them so high in the clouds they don’t remember much after or have much of a care of what’s happening. As much as I love that drug, it doesn’t do that for me. I was completely aware and remember every second. Yea, I was a little goofy. But I was still nervous and scared.

I kissed my husband and mom and said my goodbyes as they wheeled me to the operating room. My gurney was surrounded by at least 6-8 people.

“Did everyone have lunch?” I asked loudly, “Did you all get a good night’s sleep?”

Laughing, “Yes, we all feel great.”

“You know, a lot of people start to feel slumped by this time of day. You can take a break first if you want.”

Answering, “We’re fine. Promise.”

We got to the room and it was huge and bright and cold. And then I saw the robot!! It looked nothing like CP30. It looked like some huge mechanical spider. Everyone was doing their individual job. One of the nurses introduced everyone in the room. She then leaned over to my ear and said she had this surgery and was very happy with the results. She said I would not regret it. Even if it were a lie, I didn’t care. It was thoughtful and helped me.

They then began trying to put an oxygen mask on me. “This is just oxygen.” But I would interrupt because I didn’t believe them. I knew once that mask was on, I was a going to be far, far away.

“Wait!! I have something profound to say!!” Okay, clearly the versed was indeed kicking in.

They waited for my profound words.

“Wait!! I know I have something to say!!”

This went on for a moment.

Then I saw those 12-year-old brown eyes belonging to that cute Nurse Anesthetist upside and above my face and in a sweet voice I hear him say, “Think about Maui….”

And I was out.

 

(coming soon…waking up, recovery, pre-op worries and more…)