Monthly Archives: January 2015


PSA: Don’t blame it on Popeye’s !!

So, the blog is going to go dark for a bit. You’ve probably noticed I was a little light on posts lately – well, yesterday the ole gallbladder needed to come out. I’d had an attack about 2 weeks prior, but didn’t realize at the time that the 12 hours of excruciating abdominal pain followed by relief-inducing vomiting was a gallbladder attack. Silly me, I thought it was a GI virus. I teleworked the next day, taking a quick nap mid-afternoon, but just shook it off. I felt a bit off in the days following, but didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward to this past Sunday, when an innocent lunch of leftover Popeye’s led to 6 hours of debilitating abdominal pain, again followed by a relief-inducing vomit. As I lay on the couch, pre-vomitus, crying, my husband is saying “You are going to the doctor tomorrow” and I’m agreeing, blubbering “Yes! Yes! I’m going to the doctor tomorrow!”

And off I went. There seemed to be some urgency, as I had an ultrasound on Tuesday (it would have been Monday except I had had coffee before my doctor appt), a surgical consult on Wednesday, and then surgery scheduled for Thursday. Each appointment ended with strict instructions to avoid any fat in my diet and if the pain returned, I was to head straight to the ER. So basically I’m a walking time bomb. I stuck to the diet instructions – relying on uber low-fat chicken soup, crackers, jello, and plain pasta. I called it the white diet. My appetite was a bit off – not surprising as I feared that the next bite might set off the pain again. Although I suspected since Monday that the gallbladder was coming out, I wanted it to be in a planned fashion, not some chaotic ER emergency.

The surgery actually went very well. Checked into the hospital around 1p, back to pre-op at 2p, promptly into the OR at 3p, rolled back to recovery around 4p, out of hospital by 6p. There were a few humorous moments I’d like to share:

  • When I was instructed to change into hospital gown and socks, I was so excited to see my socks were green – that way I won’t get them mixed up with Keith’s collection!
  • Before rolling to the OR, Tim, the nurse anesthetist, gave me a bit of a sedative in my IV. It kicked in immediately, making me pretty loopy. As they are rolling me to the OR, I exclaim, “Since pot isn’t legal in Virginia, this is probably as high as I’m going to get!” They laughed. I’m pretty sure I was their last patient of the day.
  • In the OR, as they are getting me ready, one of the nurses tells me she’s going to adjust my socks and leg wraps. I tell her I shaved for her, since I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to bend over again. As before – laughs all around. Do you think I missed my chance for stand-up?
  • Upon waking up in the OR, the first thing I wanted to know was whether it was laproscopic, as planned, or if they had to open me up. I was thrilled to hear it was laproscopic. Then I announced I thought I had peed all over the bed. They assured me it was no problem. I was too high to be embarrassed. Maybe they shouldn’t have pumped 2 liters of liquids into an unconscious, intubated, peri-menopausal woman.
  • Back in recovery, I was instructed that I had to sit up and see about getting dressed. I was pre-occupied with exactly where the incisions were, and insisted the nurse show me. Keith told me later she seemed a little uncomfortable with the whole thing. I think I had a valid concern – I needed to know if I could get a bra on (we decided no) and whether the pants were going to have to be rolled down yoga-style or not (not). There had been an extended discussion about the bra thing in the house, before leaving, and Keith had already called it – no bra.
  • When I changed T-shirts this morning, I discovered one of those sticky things with a snap on it on my shoulder — they missed one!

So I’m home with an arsenal of pain medications and a variety of bland foods for the next couple of days. I’ve been advised by both my surgeon and others lacking a gallbladder to take it easy on introducing real food again. My digestive system has been traumatized and permanently altered, so that seems a wise approach.

Many thanks to my husband Keith, who is doing a fantastic job of taking care of me. Also thanks go to the staff at Inova Medical Group (Annandale), starting with Dr. Seetha Durbhakula (“Dr. D”), who immediately recognized this was likely an acute gallbladder situation, and the nurses who were diligent about the scheduling and referrals. I really liked my surgeon, Dr. Virginia Madey of Virginia Surgery Associates. Her hospital staff’s cheerful demeanor (they laughed at ALL my jokes) and practiced manner went a long way towards calming my anxiety.

So I’m going to end this PSA by saying, if you have excruciating abdominal pain that lasts for more than 2 hours, whether or not it’s accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, please follow up with your doctor. An upset gallbladder is not something to fool around with — and if it needs to come out, it needs to come out.


And Winter Is Here

And so begins my lament … I hate winter.

Yes, hate is a strong word. But I am so over winter. I’m tired of the freezing pipes battle. I’m tired of the freezing furnace sump pump battle. I’m tired of throwing treats out the back door because otherwise the dog won’t go out to do his business. I’m tired of being cold, all the time. The high point of my morning commute? When the seat heater kicks in. The one bright spot until April I guess.

Winter has me hankering for lamb. So on Sunday, with a little sunshine and temps above freezing, I wandered up to the Lebanese Butcher to get a leg of lamb. There’s a very friendly, well-spoken young butcher who takes great care in deboning this near-primal cut for me. While he’s working over my leg, I usually wander around the market and fill my basket with interesting exotic (to me) condiments. This time, I found a carton of Guava nectar out of Egypt. The ingredient list was guava pulp (35%), sugar, citric acid, and water. That’s it. No HFCS. No artificial colorings. No preservatives. So I grabbed a box. Given that this is a Halal market and appears to be run by observant Muslims, I didn’t mention I was going to use it in cocktails :)

So with my veg-heavy lamb stew started (lamb, Penzey’s Lamb Seasoning, onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, cubed acorn squash, chickpeas, homemade lamb stock), I set my mind to a little beverage experimentation. I tried a little of the nectar on its own — not as sweet as I expected. Slightly citrusy … slightly floral … very delicate. I mixed a little with gin and orange liqueur — but that wasn’t working. The gin was too herbal and I put in way too much liqueur. So I tried it with rum and reduced the liqueur — definitely on the right track. Understand — I’m doing this with teaspoons and squirts just to see if the flavors meld! So what we end up with is a guava-rum spritzy-punchy thing that really refreshes and kinda sneaks up on you!

SAMSUNGI Hate Winter Guava Rum Spritzer
Serves 1

1/4 cup Guava nectar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 tablespoon blood orange liqueur
3 tablespoons white rum
Ginger ale

Put the juices, liqueur, and rum in a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds until the cocktail shaker is icy. Strain over ice into an old-fashioned glass. Top with ginger ale and stir gently. Consume immediately.