Image

He loved us with his whole ❤️

Today, on Easter Sunday, I’m finally able to gather my thoughts to blog about unexpectedly losing our beloved Beignet on Wednesday. What we thought was a simple trip to the vet to get some medicine because he was clearly not feeling well, turned into us saying our last goodbyes to our sweet, mischievous kitty.

Beignet cozied up on the couch.

It came on so quickly. While she was getting ready for school, my daughter noticed Beignet could only take a few steps and would sit down. I picked him up and noticed he was very light…he had lost a lot of weight. Every time I put him down, he would immediately lay down. My son expressed his concerns about Beignet’s lethargic behavior. My husband got an appointment scheduled for later in the morning.

Beignet and Cannoli wanting to get into the office, but I threw them out and closed the door cause they had been fighting.

We went from worrying about if we could afford whatever treatment he might need to learning not only he had a knot in his stomach, he had an advanced illness which we didn’t know about. The doctor wasn’t sure if he would survive the surgeries, let alone the recovery and treatment that would follow. We decided to put him down so he wouldn’t be in any more pain.

Beignet inspecting the windows in the new house

Beignet was the type of cat that was always into something. We were calling his name constantly. It’s so quiet now. Beignet was the dominant cat in relation to his brother, Cannoli. We got them both when they were about 4 weeks old and this year makes 6 years since they became a part of our family. They definitely had different personalities. Beignet desperately wanted your attention ALL THE TIME. Cannoli was more subtle in his approach.

Beignet enjoying the window on a rainy day.

I used to joke with my husband that I needed him to show me the type of love Beignet showed me. Beignet would sleep on my shoes, keep my office chair warm with his body, try to sip my bath water, usher me around the house, give me tail hugs, and gaze into my eyes. He was also a pain because he would chew on things he shouldn’t like some of my plants, any type of string, and plastic things.

He would never poop in the litter box. He would poop around it, but never in it. We tried every cat litter around. At one time, we had four litter boxes around the house. Then, I gave up eventually. We would be sure to keep bathroom doors closed because something about a hard surface floor made him want to poop on it. The kids have been greeted by a turd a time or two in their bathroom. That’ll teach them for keeping the door open.

Beignet asleep on my office chair again.

I cried so much and so hard while saying goodbye. In fact, we all did and the tears still come and go. My mourning was no different than losing a person I loved. He was our fur baby, a member of our family for almost six years. We raised him from four weeks old. We all loved him so much and thought we would have at least ten more years with him. We know Beignet loved us with his whole heart. Beignet knew we were his and I got to thank him for loving us the way he did.

Oh Beignet

Image

Did somebody say SALAD and CHA-LUNGE in the same sentence?

March was a busy month. I returned to work after 5 weeks of recovery from my hysterectomy in January. 2022 definitely seems to be another year of firsts for me. Never have I EVER thought someone would think of a CHA-LUNGE that involved salads! REALLY? If you’ve been following me, then you know that eating healthy is my ultimate form of self-care and this blog is all about self-care. I decided to eat about 90% vegan/plant-based from July 2021-Janauary 2022 in an effort to prepare my body for menopause and to just generally eat more plants and clean. I’ve slowly been incorporating more fish and meats because I like them, but it’s still mostly (70/30) a plant-based lifestyle for me.

Back to the salads. My favorite people at Simple Green Smoothies had the audacity to come up with a 10-Day Salad Challenge and it was absolutely FREE. Spring is in full swing here in Texas and I’m more than happy to get ready for lighter eating. I signed up for this CHA-LUNGE on the spot. I received the recipes, including the shopping lists in an email. Initially, I had planned to just use what ingredients I had and modify the recipes as needed. Experienced home cooks like me know that recipes serve as guides. I was mostly ready, but then something happened….My niece visited from Chicago on Day 1 of the CHA-LUNGE. She blessed us for 6 days straight and we blessed her mostly every day with the Austin, Texas food faves.

That didn’t stop me though because I made 6 of the salads and am still going. Of course, I captured every salad in my own personal photos. I also attached the actual recipes/pictures from the CHA-LUNGE. And the salads are out of sequence because I made them when I could. I hope this post gets your mouth watering. LET’S GO!

My version of Strawberry Mixed Greens: Two plates because one was for my niece. I omitted the green apple because I didn’t have one and used a herb salad blend. Fun and scrumptious.
The Sweet and Crunchy Salad: My version did not have pepitas and I used the herb mix again. The dressing on this one was my FAVE!
Bright Berry Salad: This was REFRESHING! I hadn’t eaten grapefruit in years due to my medications, but I thought what the heck, I’m going to commit to this CHA-LUNGE. I’m so glad I did. I missed grapefruit.
Vegan Potato Salad: This version surprised me! I omitted the black olives because I didn’t have any. I probably would not have added them anyway. I served with a side of homemade fried shrimp.
Healthy Pasta Salad: This was the leftovers I served with half a leftover fish wrap. I used leftover garbanzo beans, red pepper, cucumber, and carrots from the Sweet and Crunchy salad recipe. I’m not wasting any food around here. I subbed green olives for black and red onions for green onions and vegan parm for feta. I completed forgot to add the herbs! It was still DELICIOUS and quick to assemble. I made it on my lunch break.
Kale Caesar: Made with no kale in sight. I had romaine lettuce that I didn’t want to go back plus traditional caesar salads are made with romaine, right? I had some produce I didn’t want to waste, so the only thing I followed in this recipe is the dressing ingredients and the addition of garbanzo beans. It was yummy!
Image

To all the badass women leaders

My previous boss gave me this book as an early Christmas gift in 2019 and I devoured it. It’s filled with so many valuable nuggets in a light, digestable style of writing. I knew at one time I was a BADASS, but something happened months into COVID causing me to doubt myself. A large part of it had to do with burn out from chronic stress and life demands. BUT in the last 11 months or so, I’ve been finding myself again and I’m back to believing I’m a BADASS. Sometimes the obstacles of life can make you doubt yourself and your path. However, I’m here to tell you to keep going. Struggles, obstacles, challenges, disappointments, disasters, and defeats come with the human experience. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It will turn around.

If you’re not in a struggle now, you’re coming out of one or are headed that way in the future. But don’t fret! Struggles strengthen your muscles (i.e., character, spiritual, resilience, emotional, mental, financial, intellectual, integrity, professional, parenting, friendship, etc.), depending on what lessons you’re meant to learn. I can’t say I enjoy my life’s struggles yet, but I’ve learned so many lessons from them and from the strong women in my life.

In this post, I will share some of the BADASS women leaders who’ve impacted my life the most. I’m fortunate to work in an environment with a diverse group of exceptional women leaders. Several of them are African American. The strongest traits I see in them are articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things, encouraging others, providing constructive feedback, taking the time to learn, adjusting, and bravely making hard decisions on a daily basis. I’ve had examples of strong, badass women leaders my whole life.

My mom, Solange, immigrated to the United States from Haiti and she was a package of strength and vulnerability. I was perplexed by this combination for a long time. She raised 4 children on a meager salary as a single mother for years (before she married my stepfather when I was 16). I don’t know how she did it when I learned her salary amount. I made more money than her in my first full time job.

Solange was strict and had high standards. She instilled her work ethic into each of her children. My work ethic is why I’m in a leadership position. My work ethic is why I push myself so hard as an overachiever. Overachieving comes with some drawbacks as you’ve seen me blog about previously. I’m in a constant battle of doing and being okay with not doing. Therapy is helping me to unpack this.

The other BADASS woman leader I grew up with in my own home is my older sister, Gina. Growing up, she was the one everybody (or at least I did) called “bossy”. Naturally, most people have a problem with the “bossy” ones because they don’t want to be told what to do. However, she was practical and had an organized sense about her.

As it turns out, people who are bossy make great leaders and she’s been in leadership roles at various jobs starting at an early age. I’ve always admired Gina’s ability to speak with confidence and articulate what she meant. Gina is direct and honest. I’m grateful she’s one of my resources for feedback in managing certain matters at work.

Then, there was my older cousin who is so smart. I’m purposely not typing her name. There’s a lot of pressure in Haitian culture to do as your parents plan for you. From my perspective, as the middle child, my cousin learned to be a great neutralizer and negotiator in the family. Gina has these traits considering she is also the middle child. Middle children are known to be great negotiators.

My observation is my cousin maintains relationships with everyone, even if those individuals who don’t get along with each other. She’s the common denominator. They all get along with her. I’ve also watched her achieve her goals and meet high standards she set for herself and standards her parents set for her.

The traits I admire in women leaders don’t come easily – articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things despite the audience, constantly learning and adjusting, negotiating, managing personalities successfully, offering constructive feedback, bravely making and standing by hard decisions, and managing work and family life simultaneously. Women of color particularly have it hard when you factor living in a world where there is racism, in addition to sexism, ageism, and all the other isms. Being able to lead through the sociological muddiness impresses me even more.

The title of the book is fun, but I will add I personally tend to be humble despite the wisdom I’ve gained from my experiences. So basically, in real life, I don’t go around telling people I’m a BADASS. I got the humility trait from Solange and I can’t help myself. I do think it’s healthy to reflect on things you like about yourself and your accomplishments. This gives you CONFIDENCE and the courage to keep striving.

As a start to another week, I hope you remember you are a BADASS because you made it to see another day. Keep working on whatever it is your working towards. And why not let the other BADASSES in your life know how much they mean to you.

Image

Before I head back to work…

Hello world. In my almost 5 weeks of recovery from surgery at the end of January, I’ve been healing wonderfully. I’m proud of myself for taking time for the rest my body desperately needed. Rest does not come easy for many people and that needs to change. And technically, I’m still healing, but I’ve made some great progress. I can honestly say this surgery (hysterectomy) was one of the best things I’ve done for my body! Remember, I was suffering from heavy bleeding, fatigue, and anemia. The only complication from the surgery is the stuttering (mentioned in 4 Week Post Surgery Update), but it’s occurring less often. I’ve been monitoring it.

So far, the only menopausal symptoms I’ve noticed are some occasional mild night sweats. At 48 years old, I view menopause as another passage of life. The most significant passages in my life (from my experience not my mom’s 😊) were my teenage years, becoming an adult, working towards my education and career, getting married, and having children. I see menopause in a positive light. (Look at me sounding like I’ve got this all figured out! Ha!) In some regards, it is scary to charter into this unknown territory, especially at a relatively young age, but I hope to THRIVE during this phase.

Once I got through the initial 2 weeks post-surgery (the most critical time), I took advantage of the down time and did some much needed self-reflection. I mentioned in my post How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery that I developed a plan for how I will manage menopause. My plan includes living a healthy lifestyle through eating mostly plant-based foods (not dieting), exercising, meditating, practicing deep breathing, getting ample sleep, and reducing stress. I could have started with reducing stress because I believe it’s had the most negative affect on my mind and body. I’ve struggled with stress for years and I’m determined to manage it much better.

A true sign of progress is last week my gynecologist approved me to return to work on March 2. And because I’ve enjoyed the less stressed, more centered person I’ve been for the past 5 weeks, I want to maintain this state of homeostasis (as my therapist calls it). My job and work environment are the greatest sources of stress in my life and I am determined to not let it erode my progress. Therefore, I wrote a SELF-CARE work plan to manage my work days moving forward. I also worked with my therapist on a plan for how I transition back to work. For example, I spent only 30 minutes Sunday, 30 minutes on Monday, and 1 hour on Tuesday catching up on the nearly 1,000 new emails in my in-box. In the past, I probably would have spent 2-3 hours per day, over several days reviewing emails until I had read them all. My therapist practically scoffed when I suggested 2 hours. The objective is not to get sucked back in and wear myself out. Not to mention, it’s not realistic.

I also created a template in a Word document for my direct reports to provide their updates and asked them to complete it by Monday, so I can know what transpired and what I need to prioritize. This was a much better approach. I will be catching up for a couple of weeks, but at least I won’t go into my first day completely blind. This process may not work for everyone. Some people working in certain establishments may not need to do this sort of preparation, but considering the fast paced environment I work in, I feel more in control when I return to work armed with information.

I used to despise the saying, “work smarter not harder” because in my current work environment, the expectation is that you work hard. In fact, working smart and hard go hand in hand. After all, I work for state government and resources have always been scarce in my area. However, I’m changing my perspective on this. Working smart means using all the resouces at my disposal and setting boundaries.

The main light lesson from this post is to be PROACTIVE. You do have control of your health. You can change (add, omit, modify) things that are within your control. Seek the help you need. Create processes that work for you. Do the things to ensure the best quality of life outcome for you. That’s it.

I’m ready for work today. Thankfully, my commute is a walk into my home office. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Happy Hump day!

Beignet keeping my office chair warm for me.

Image

4 Week Post Surgery Update

I can hardly believe it’s already been four weeks since the surgery.  To think, around three years ago, I totally rejected the option of having surgery and two of my doctors agreed. However, as my symptoms progressively got worse, the hysterectomy turned out to be the best option. For just about all of 2021, I spent lots of time imagining what the experience would be like, and even put some things in my life on hold to plan for the procedure and attend to my health. Well, I tackled my fears head on for the prospect of experiencing a better quality of life. If you haven’t been following my progress, you can catch up on the background by reading my posts Fight and How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery. In this post, I will share some of my recovery progress. My disclaimer is as a squeamish person myself, I feel obligated to caution readers I will be sharing information which might make you squeamish, or which may be considered TMI (too much information).  And for the first time, I will share an unexpectedly odd complication from the surgery.

You can do a basic Google search on “hysterectomy” to learn about what the procedure entails as there is ample information on the internet. It is a major surgery. My surgery was the least invasive procedure called a laparoscopic hysterectomy (performed with the assistance of a robotic device and through my abdomen) and was completed in 3 hours. My uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix were all removed. I was under anesthesia. I stayed in the hospital for one night. I was released with a catheter, so I had to go to the doctor’s office the next day to determine if my bladder would cooperate without the catheter. I was able to get the catheter removed at the doctor’s office. The first week was rough. For the first two weeks, I was primarily on bed rest, meaning I layed in bed all day, sleeping a lot, except for going to the rest room. I’ve been progressively getting better with each day.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, my pain from the surgery has been zero for at least two weeks. This doesn’t mean I don’t feel the dull aches from the four incisions on my abdomen because I do sometimes, especially depending on my activities in a day. I stopped taking the narcotic pain medication (it wasn’t very helpful anyway) about two weeks ago. I do take over the counter Motrin (Ibuprophren) on occasion, but if I do, it’s only once in a day. I’ve been exercising for a little over 2 weeks now. I went from walking 19,860 steps the week after surgery to walking 61,239 steps last week. I’m at full mobility without assistance in that I can finally lay down in bed to sleep, I can bend over, pick up items off the floor, put on my shoes, prepare meals, walk in the neighborhood, and do some light cleaning.

My energy levels have been increasing, which has been wonderful. However, I need to pace myself because I do get tired when I do too much. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t share sometimes the increasing energy goes to my head. Last week, I decided to do some minor cleaning out of my pantry, and as I attempted to reach for an item on the top shelf, I fell off an old stool that broke (while I was standing on it). The jar in my hand hit me in the head as I tripped against the kitchen island and grazed my abdomen. OUCH!!! I avoided falling on the floor though, but not without pain. I took some Motrin and got in the bed the rest of that day and the next day. Bryan was sure to tell my gynecologist about it at my appointment the next day.

Some things I haven’t started doing yet are driving, lifting weights (or any other items) heavier than five pounds, and working. I saw my gynecologist last week and she said I’m healing well. I did share with her since the surgery I’ve developed a speech stutter which is really odd. I’ve not had a problem with stuttering EVER IN MY LIFE. I’m obviously not a doctor, but I attribute it to the anesthesia because it does affect the brain and I had difficulty “waking up” from the anesthesia. I’m somewhat self-conscious about stuttering, but thankfully I’ve mostly only been talking to my family. It doesn’t occur all the time and even seems to be occurring less often compared to the first week of recovery. Bryan was sure to tell the gynecologist how bad it has been. Since the full recovery is eight weeks, my gynecologist plans to discuss an action plan at that time if the stuttering continues.

I’ve made so much progress in just four weeks, but I’m reminded I’m still in recovery and need to take it easy. I’m not at 100% yet and that’s not where I’m meant to be at this time. The main light lessons I’ve learned from this experience are “my health is my number one priority”, to have “patience”, and to know things will get better “in due time”. 

Image

LOVE Yourself

As most people focus on romantic love on this Valentine’s Day, I’m sending a gentle reminder to everyone who reads my post to also focus on demonstrating love to yourself every single day. Valentine’s Day is cute and sweet, and my husband, Bryan, and I take it in stride. It is a commercialized holiday and just from stopping at a few grocery stores earlier in desperate search (slight exaggeration) of a special type of Asian dipping sauce, we could see the stores were all decked out with flowers, balloons, candies, and gifts.

We know every day counts for showing love to each other and our family. It doesn’t take a holiday to remind us. We did celebrate a little this year with Bryan giving our daughter some treats, buying me some flowers, and making us some delicious margueritas. I made a lovely dinner of pasta and salmon. However, I do think we all need some reminding to love on ourselves because we can often be our own worst critics. And it’s really difficult to love others without loving yourself first. It may not even be possible to fully love others if you don’t fully love yourself first.

As a step towards demonstrating some self-love and self-compassion for myself, several months ago, I created a list of how I will be more compassionate with myself. I keep this list in the notes in my phone and refer to it whenever I need to. Maybe you’ll get some ideas on what you might want to focus on for yourself. You get double points for writing it down.

I will show some compassion for myself by:
*Prioritizing sleep and rest when I’m tired
*Not pushing myself so hard, especially when I’m tired. *Don’t delay eating and going to the restroom when I need to
*Replacing my internal dialigue with more positive, gentle, & calming statements
*Ending circumstances/relationships that don’t align with my values and/or cause me distress
*Reminding myself I’m doing the best I can
*Stop judging myself harshly
*Appreciating who I am, my body, and my accomplishments
*Replacing time thinking about how much I have to do with thinking about things I’ve accomplished
*Slowing down
*Sitting down and breathing
*Stop comparing myself to others
*Meditating daily…sometimes several times a day

This is just a sample list and I add to it as I get more ideas. I receive enough judgment, pressure, high expectations, and comparison from others for reasons of which I can’t control. I’m tired of being hard on myself too. Adhering to this list is something within my control. I choose to demonstrate love to myself because I’m pretty amazing when I think about it. I hope you choose the same for yourself because you’re pretty amazing too when you think about it.

Image

Feeding a healthy obsession

We all have our obsessions and something I learned about my husband, Bryan, over the last couple of months is he LOVES egg rolls. I typed “love” when I jokingly think it’s bordering on obsession. It tickles me every time we, or he, makes a trip to the HEB Plus supermarket, he feels compelled to go to the sushi counter to pick up a pack of egg rolls. In fact, whatever supermarket we go to, he’s checking out to see if there are egg rolls. If we’re eating out, he will order egg rolls at any Asian or non-Asian establishment that sells them.

We may not be able to financially afford this emerging obsession, so over the holidays, I decided to purchase the ingredients to make them myself. After all, it’s more cost effective to cook at home and it will also be healthier depending on the ingredients you choose. Cooking allows me to be creative and since I’m a seasoned home cook, I let my taste buds help me visualize in my head what ingredients I wanted to incorporate. I didn’t use any particular recipe, but I did follow the instructions on the wrapper package for folding the egg rolls. Spoiler ALERT: They were delicious!

I put my mandolin to use and shredded cabbage and carrots. I actually cut myself pretty badly by not using the other gadget that came with the mandolin. Lesson learned. With the cabbage and carrots, I sautéed onion, minced garlic and ginger, edamame, and lots of spices.
I set up my station on the island. It took me a few tries to fold the egg rolls just right.
Whoila! Egg rolls ready for frying in a shallow pot of grapeseed oil.
Vegan wrappers for my vegetable filling was a PLUS!!!

Our love for egg rolls started when we were growing up in Chicago, Illinois where there are many authentic Chinese restaurants around town. In fact, there is an actual China Town in Chicago and the food is amazing. There are also more authentic Chinese restaurants in Houston, Texas. The Asian restaurants in Austin, Texas aren’t necessarily Chinese, which makes a huge difference.

There is an authentic Chinese restaurant in Midlothian, Illinois Bryan introduced me to while we were dating over twenty years ago. We’ve eaten there many times before we moved to Austin, Texas. The owner visits China several times a year and would tell us about it. Upon a visit to his restaurant after we had already moved to Texas, we described to him the difference in the foods. He told us the reason for the difference is because Chinese people aren’t operating the restaurants. There are people from other areas of the world, with different cultures and influences, operating Asian restaurants, which is why it’s more lumped together as “Asian” cuisine.

I’ve made egg rolls several times over the holiday break and since the new year because they’re delicious and easy to make. With each time, I’ve been perfecting the recipe. This post has got my mouth watering and stomach growling to the point I’m comptemplating making another batch for dinner tonight. I like to STAY READY so I have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t think it will take much for me to talk Bryan into shredding the vegetables on the mandolin. That’s the hardest part.

Fried won tons and egg rolls. Yum!
Image

For the caregivers in the house

In January 2020, I blogged about being brave and accepting the realities of my life, which at the time was to be the caregiver to my husband, Bryan. MAN, have the tables turned because for the past two weeks and until I’m recovered from my surgery, Bryan has once again been my ROCK, my caregiver. Honestly, the tone of that Post was touching on “Poor me”, but I’m humbled again by Bryan taking care of me in my sickest moments. And I have to add his brain health and memory have improved tremendously since this mysterious (to us) chronic illness landed in our lives roughly five years ago.

We have repeatedly lived out the theme of “in sickness and in health” from our wedding vowels. I’m jokingly losing count of our illnesses/conditions, but between the both of us, here’s a sample: brain surgeries, hydrocephalus, knee surgery, breast cancer, surgeries, and treatment, wisdom teeth removal, hysterectomy, and menopause.

Could I have imagined all we’ve been through thus far while raising our family? No, but we’ve been married for twenty four years and life happens. I’m not bitter or disillusioned either. This is marriage. We love each other and will do whatever we can for the other person. I’m deeply grateful I have a partner who is devoted to me and our children. We will continue to take turns being the caregiver for as many times as we need to for the rest of our lives.

So if you’re a caregiver of any age, to any one, I know what that means. I encourage you to be brave. Stay encouraged. You are the best person to care for your loved one. But take time for yourself. I know this sounds cliche, but it’s so true.

Normal things people don’t think of count towards self-care like breathing, taking a warm shower, cooking (or buying) healthy meals to nourish yourself while you care for others, drinking water, calling/texting a friend, unplugging, listening to inspiring music, researching support groups online, and taking time off work, to name a few.

If you’re a caregiver, you’re not alone. I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself. Please share any tips for me and Bryan as we embark on this journey together.

Image

How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery

Exactly two weeks ago, I was in the hospital in South Austin, recovering from the hysterectomy my gynecologist performed. To be exact, I was in the recovery room with my husband, Bryan, trying to wake up from the anesthesia. I stayed in the hospital overnight because, in fact, I couldn’t wake up and my bladder wasn’t cooperating.

This two weeks has flown by so fast. In a word, I feel GREAT compared to back then. I’ve been focused on recovery so I intentionally chose to use food and rest as the medicine my body needs to heal. This is a disclaimer that I may go into some detail providing updates on my anatomy so please continue to read if you’d like. As I’ve navigated information over the year on the hysterectomy, all it entails, and menopause, it was this kind of information I’m sharing that I longed to read about, but there’s not much of it. I hope this will be helpful for some of you.

Some signs of progress are I no longer have the giant, scary, black bruise on the left side of my waist, my four incisions are healing, I have lots of energy, I’m able to prep meals for myself, I can get in and out of bed effortlessly, and the previous sharp pain in my abdomen is now a dull afterthought. My bladder and bowels are operating smoothly. I can cough, sneeze, and laugh without holding my abdomen in pain. I can bend over and put on my shoes. Bryan was doing this for me. I’m able to do light exercises, including using free weights which I started on Sunday. I’ve gotten four days of exercise in already. Byran and I took a 20 minute walk in our neighborhood today. It’s gloriously sunny with temperatures in the high 60s.

My resting heart rate is back to presurgery levels which is a relief because it’s lower than it was in the days after I had the surgery. My last blood pressure (BP) reading at home was about 116/62. My BP has always been low and doctors have told me over the years it’s excellent, but it’s been lower than my normal. My Fitbit recorded 9 hours and 13 minutes of sleep last night, which is a far cry from my averages in December and early January.

I have not had a single menopausal symptom I can think of aside from no longer having a menstrual cycle. I point this out because I had a complete hysterectomy with my uterus, both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and cervix removed. As Bryan said, “I guess the body needs time to heal when you literally have organs removed”. The little blood I shedded in the days after surgery has disappeared. At this point, my use of panty liners is just a habit.

I mentioned in my blog post Fight I was on a hormone medication for four months in 2021, which was aimed at shrinking my fibroids prior to the surgery. That medication also causes menopausal symptoms and I displayed most of them from July through December 2021, specifically hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, memory problems, weight gain, and mood changes. I haven’t experienced any of the symptoms since the surgery and I hope it stays that way. Even if not, I’ve done some research on menopause and what lifestyle changes I need to prioritize to manage it because hormone replacement therapy is not an option for me due to my breast cancer history. I learned women who no longer produce estrogen are at higher risks for heart and bone problems, and even dementia, so I wrote down a plan for myself.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself was practice a mostly vegan/plant-based diet for over 7 months prior to the surgery. It’s second nature to me now and I’ve gotten into the habit of viewing how food can heal me. I’ve also increased my water consumption. Though I still eat foods like salmon and chicken on occassion, I’m reaping the benefits of eating a variety of foods of all colors, which fuels my body with the nutrients it needs. I’ve learned women in menopause need foods mostly composed of antioxidants and flavinoids. We also need nutrients like Vitamins C, D, E, K, and magnesium. We need iron and calcium. We need supplements like probiotics, evening primrose oil, and collagen. This is not a comprehensive list, but what I prioritize for my particular body.

Exercise has also been very important to me for over twenty years. It’s more than a habit…it’s a lifestyle choice I decided to maintain. My fitness level prior to surgery may be a factor in why I’m healing so well. Plus, I just can’t got for long periods without exercising. I enjoy it and it keeps anxiety in check.

I do need to reduce stress in my life. Although it took me having a major life altering surgery to do it, I’m so grateful to have four weeks off work to recover and destress. If my doctor says I need longer, I’ve earned the accumulated time at work to recovery for as long as I need to. Work is at the top of the list of the most stressful areas in my life and I’ve been taking notes on how to better manage when I return.

I felt so great yesterday after a workout and a shower that I took a couple of photos of myself sans makeup. I don’t think I look like I had this major surgery merely two weeks ago. As I told Bryan, I’m not at 100% of myself yet, but I’m getting there. I’m also pacing myself. I’ve experimented by not taking pain medications for a few days, but I needed them yesterday, so I took them. I’m still not able to lie down flat, but I’m working towards it. I got a little winded on our walk this afternoon, but I sat down when I got home. I’ll get back to me soon enough, day by day.

Whatever you’re facing, I hope I’m empowering you to face your fears and take the steps you need to make your life better….whatever that is. In an exercise program I do occassionally on YouTube called BodyGroove, the instructor jokingly says to the effect of , “No one can shake your booty for you…only you can do that”. So do what you’ve got to do cause only you can do it. Speaking of which, I hope to be shaking my booty with some Zumba fitness in a couple of weeks.

Until next time…

.

Image

Day 8: Post Surgery

It’s hard to believe I’m this far along into my recovery. The days are running together. Today felt especially like a long day with the frigid and icey conditions causing surrounding areas in Texas to shut down. We don’t need to brace ourselves for the fiasco that occurred last February, but it will get very cold tonight. I know our friends and family in Illinois and other states are feeling the cold also.

Our iced tree in Buda, Texas 2/3/2022

My new normal is to lay in bed most of the day, take frequent walks to the rest room, and doze off in between binge watching something on the laptop. I did prep my own meals a few times which is definitely a sign I’m feeling better. In fact, in my 48 years of living, I’ve experienced several medical procedures that required some time for me to heal so I know when I’m on the mend. With this hysterectomy, there are several signs I’m doing better. Keep in mind I’m still in pain overall. Some items on the list maybe TMI (too much information) so read at your own risk.

  • I can laugh without my stomach hurting as much. I do brace myself for the laugh by holding my stomach which helps. Last weekend, my husband, Bryan, said things to make me laugh, but I couldn’t take it at all because I was hurting so badly. I turned off a video of a comedian providing commentary because it hurt too much to laugh.
  • I’m awake for longer periods. Since I’m up, I do more things like prepare a meal or smoothie and take walks around the house, but once I do those things, I get back in bed to rest. I do get tired and will take a couple of naps throughout the day.
  • I can get out of the bed completely without help. I discussed this in my previous post and it keeps getting better. I’m able to prop myself up and slide my legs around to get out of bed. It’s not without some strain and pain, but I can do it.
  • My bladder and bowels are fully functioning. My bladder started off as an issue so I was discharged from the hospital with a catheter. It’s been smooth sailing since it was removed the second day post surgery. My bowels became active by the fourth day post surgery and since I eat mostly a plant-based diet, I have a couple of bowels throughout the day like I did prior to surgery.

In the next week, I’m hoping to be able to lay down flat. I think this will help me sleep more deeply throughout the night. For now, I have lots of pillows propping me up. I want to give my core a little more time to get stronger. Also, some time next week, I will start incorporating more structured exercise into my day. I will start off slow, of course, with maybe 10-15 minutes.

It can only get better from here and I’m looking forward to how much better I’ll be in a few weeks. In the mean time, I’m taking it day by day and am grateful for the time I have off work to rest and heal.

Until next time…