Sunday, December 11, 2016

Heidi, Meet Hemorrhoid.

I've been scolded before for oversharing, but this post is called for and in short supply as blog entry topics go. It's needed in sympathy to all the poor suckers before me who've lived a similar agony; it's needed because people might feel sheepish to share. Today, I say "to hell with it!" We're going in. Behold, the topic of the hemorrhoid.

Maybe it's because I naturally gave birth to two hefty baby boys long ago, combined with a recent, aggressive workout regimen that quite literally saw me shaking to my core a week ago Friday at the club doing super planks (one minute at full extension in repeat succession, sprinkled with full extension side planks), or maybe, as the surgeon speculated, it was just plain lousy luck.

Last Sunday I woke up with an uncomfortable poke. Meh, nothing Prep H can't handle, right? Wrong. By Tuesday, I had a full-blown external thrombosed hemorrhoid (I couldn't even properly spell hemorrhoid until learning about them fully this week!). Rather than use the resources of the ER and run up a huge bill no thanks to my crappy overpriced insurance, I called Virginia Mason to get a legit appointment. I luck out, but still suffer 24 hours for the appt, hobble into the hospital and find that the lady doctor has called in sick. I beg and the receptionist finds me someone else, hearing my plight. This time a dude. He takes one look, tells me to get dressed and informs me he's referring me to surgery...which will have to wait yet another day. I was really hoping for immediate relief.

The pain is immense and focused. Basically, rather than the run-of-the-mill mushy/puffy version of an external hemmy, I'm dealing with the equivalent of a thumb top-size dense blood clot throbbing nonstop, in the worst possible place. Can't sleep, hurts to move, don't even THINK about laughing or coughing or sneezing, and it was nearly impossible to concentrate (yet I had to attend meetings the whole week and smile and speak)...I just wanted to soak and curl up in the fetal position, but, obligations.

Thursday comes. Surgery doesn't call by noon so I call them. Things don't look good, when suddenly I get a call back and if I'm on the next ferry they can see me for surgery. I get a 20-year-practicing surgeon, an older dude, which makes me really glad. Only when I check in, the senior doc's super Bollywood-like hunky resident strolls into the room with a bright smile on his face to talk about what's next and my only thought is, "great, this guy is going to see my lady and butt parts; he'll be scarred for life." And it gets more comical when he leads me to the procedure room and there are a total of four people ready to laser focus in on my bulls-eye.

Instructed to glove up and pull up my left butt cheek and hold it that way the entire procedure (while lying on my right side), my heart was racing so fast with nervousness and I trembled from trying to stay in that weird position so I wouldn't be sliced apart! All in it was about 15 minutes that included brief but excruciating shots of local anesthetic, getting sliced open for the blood clot removal, then zapping--some vessel cauterization and packing with gauze. At the very start, the doc gave me an -out- to be admitted as an inpatient and go under general anesthesia if I couldn't handle it, but that would mean more wait time. I was just ready to buck up and deal. The team was awesome and I had such relief. Dr. also said that these types of hemmies do self-resolve EVENTUALLY but they are known for being moderately (at best) to severely painful. (Something about grown men tears here!).

The after-care instructions were not exactly relevant. And when I asked about resuming to sex, the lady resident said "no anal sex for 4-6 weeks," to which I retorted, "No, I mean vaginal sex..." and the answer was pretty much whenever things start healing.  No swimming for two weeks OR core exercise. Not fair! So much for my December of intense workouts (well, until Dec. 23, anyway which I'm already signed up for a 10k swim fundraiser. Without practice for two weeks prior, that is going to be interesting!).

There are so many more terrible, chronic things people live with every day for the rest of their lives. Terminal things. Sexually transmitted diseases that never leave. Paralysis. Brain damage. Not necessarily in that order.

Them hems is minor. And so common. I bow down to anyone who deals with these very humbling things more than once in their lives. Or even ONCE in a lifetime. May your pain in the ass be brief and fleeting!

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

We made merry

Shout out to my highly sociable, fit, bright-eyed husband...who willingly comes to holiday parties, never begrudges outings and can sharply dress himself. I bow down! This is from a tiny filmstrip of pix, so it's a tad blown out. You get the idea!

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Friday, December 02, 2016

Farewell, Polychronis

This morning I was greeted by news of two losses: one a young man on the island who was a classmate of the boys and in our ski school group; the other a sweet soul in Greece who was our swim guide in 2014, Polychronis. My heart goes out to both families. This is a tough day.

I was thinking about Poly just yesterday and remembering our chat in August, that he was hoping to see us on the Sfakia swim next year. He is gone now. Much too young. He had a chronic terminal illness that still baffles me; this was an athlete in the prime of his life. I was old enough to be his teen mom! I don't get it.

Poly was an accomplished Greek marathon swimmer in his own right. When we met him, he had a confidence and elegance about him that was almost regal, as in, what the heck are you doing as a swim guide? When all the swimmers were video taped and grouped by speed, he expressed his disappointment that I wasn't in his group, the fastest of the bunch. He called me Phoebe instead of Heidi because of my Lisa Kudrow-ness. I also remember how badly one woman swimmer felt when he evaluated her and called her stroke "aggressive and strained." She was a sourpuss for the rest of the trip and scowled and complained to his boss (to no avail, of course, he was just being honest).

On the boat each day, Poly was a joker and very affable. His English was perfect. Anne and I really adored the guides and begged them to come see us in Seattle and we'd take them to Alpine lakes and pine-lined swimscapes. Poly revealed to Anne that he'd been going through debilitating chemo treatments- this man in his 20s. It changed his body, his skin, his energy. And still, there he was, living life to his fullest and being a prankster and slaying this shit for as long as he could.

When we said goodbye, it was with the full intent of seeing him again. Before heading to the airport in the morning I leaped into his lap, backpack and all, and gave him a great big hug. I know Poly will be there when we swim with TBB next year, in spirit. You'll be in Sfakia no matter what.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

We live and swim in nature

If I posted photos from all the open water swims I did, or took photos of all the swims from my OW groups, I wouldn't have time to go swim!

So, Dilworth Mermaids aka Whulgers, Notorious Alki Swimmers, Hidden Beach crew and Pine Lake Meetup pals of yore...thank you for making such fun aquatic adventures with me!

Next Sept, a group of 10 swimmers from the Seattle area will be traveling to Crete as part of the Big Blue Swim! Many of these are first-timers but it will be Anne and my second TBB swim vacation to Greece. I'll need to get some serious distance in if I'm going to keep up with these awesome athletes. We'll celebrate Christine's 50th birthday halfway around the world.

Meanwhile, back on Vashon, here are scenes from a gray Tuesday, with bald eagle and sea lion encounters to boot. Getting cold out there in the drink.

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