So, one of the things I forgot about growing up in a small town is that you spend a lot of time making up your own entertainment, like floating a local river with inflated tractor tire tubes and a cooler in the summer, or sledding on an old car hood pulled behind a truck in the winter.

A couple of weekends ago, Jacob, Cliff and I decided to go bowling on a Friday night.  Bowling wasn't enough entertainment, we had to liven it up some more.

After we agreed to bowl at our own risk...

We created a new challenge.  You had to walk like a chicken when you bowled.  I don't know why, but it's the funniest thing I'd ever seen in a bowling alley.

Here's Jacob:

And here's Cliff:

Luckily, when Cliff thought he was recording me, he actually wasn't, so I didn't get caught on film, which is really good since I completely lost my balance at the end, fell backwards, and did a sad version of a crab walk for a minute before getting up.  All in all, it may have been even more entertaining for the groups on the other lanes than it was for us.

And then this week they announced the bowling alley would be closing...  Which makes two bowling alleys that I've possibly had a part in closing down, but that's a story for another time.  


I think my favorite part of moving back to my small hometown is all the time we get to spend with my baby brother.
For example, last night at 9:30pm he said, "I need to go home.  I just stopped by to say 'hi.'"  He had shown up at noon.  And he still didn't end up leaving until midnight.  And this happens two to three times per week.  Our house turns into something that resembles more of a college dorm--I make a big pot of chili, cut up some summer sausage and cheese, basketball is on, we watch a movie later, they play a racing game on the Wii, we turn up the music, and before you know it my stomach hurts from laughing, there are dirty dishes everywhere, and the house looks like it's been ransacked.  And I love it.
Every Saturday morning we have a standing date to go to brunch and then run errands together.
Jacob is seven years younger than me...exactly...we were born on the same day.  I was not happy about it at the time, but now I love that we share the day.
I remember waking up on my seventh birthday and my mom was in labor.  My dad was timing contractions while trying to get me ready for school.  I was overly confused as to why dad was letting me "wear anything" I wanted, why mom was still in bed, and why dad was yelling out minutes between contractions.  Mom and I had worked hard the night before on my cookie monster cupcakes for my school party.  Afternoon came around and my cupcakes still hadn't shown up.  Finally, my dad arrived at the classroom door and pulled me out of class. He told me that I had a new baby brother.  I wanted to know where the cupcakes were.  He went on to tell me that he came out with his ear "bent over like a puppy dog."  I still wanted to know where the cupcakes were.  When I went back into class I didn't dare tell anyone about my new brother.  I thought he had a real beagle's big, floppy ear and I was so embarrassed.  Eventually, my dad came back with the cupcakes and I was satisfied.
I posted before from my high school daybook, and here's another entry, written by Jacob when he was about ten.
Jennifer + Jacob = mischief
Jacob, Jennifer. Twins, exactly 7 years apart.
It's always been fun to have my sister to share my birthday.
What We Have In Common
First of all are [sic] birthday that we will always have in common.  Second we both love Trevor and our family very much.  We both love fish even though mine are dead.  Presently she has a goldfish that my cousin feed [sic] and dumped the whole jar in, but he's still livin'.
I had two zebras and a small black shark.  But the zebra died and the other one died because he missed the other one.  The black shark got sucked up to the filter for a while.  Boy we didn't know if we had a dirty tank or what.  Her goldfish is still alive and "justa livin' well."
We both love music.  Boy that Alan Jackson is great.  He is the most talented musition [sic] ever.  Except me and Jenn.  But if him and George Strait, Lee Ann Ryans [sic] and Chumbawamba get together (in the 25 centery! [sic]) we will die.  (Those are our faverit [sic] artist.)  What about school.  Neither of us care if we have it.  If we do we make...
...a big deal out of it, but we don't care.  Look on the bright side, you get more days in the summer and you still have to go to equal those days.  The most important thing is we both love each other.  And we'll always always have that in common.  I hope.
Jacob Grotewiel

And that just sums it all up.

Sorry I've been MIA for the last few weeks.  Here's part of the reason why...

Turns out, packing for vacation can be really exciting while packing for a hospital stay...not so much.  I mean, maybe if you're going to give birth and you get to pack several teeny-tiny, sweet little outfits, that might be fun, but otherwise, still not so much.

So, now comes the reason that I was packing for a hospital stay.  If you're a guy--you may want to STOP READING HERE.  If the words "period" or "uterus" or anything remotely female bother you, don't go on.  Just catch the next post which will be much less medical.  Seriously, you'll be sorry if you keep reading.

So women (seriously guys, stop reading), here's the background--four years ago I complained to my OB/GYN that my periods were changing--heavier and more cramping.  I had an ultrasound, she saw a fibroid in my uterus, I had a sonogram (you might remember an old post about the pain associated with that...) and the fibroid was about the size of an egg.  Her solution was to put me on Seasonique birth control so that I only had four periods a year.  That would have been great, except instead of four periods a year, I was having like a month long period.  But it wasn't constant.  So, I may be in front of a class at school and just lose a huge blood clot.  Or I may be working out at the gym and start bleeding.  Or I may be walking two miles across the city of Chicago in 100 degree weather, all the while losing blood.  (All real situations.)  Tampons were a problem because of the pain and heaviness of the bleeding.  Wearing a pad 24/7 was no fun at all.  Twice I even ended up in the emergency room.  Eventually, I became anemic.  Still, my doctor wouldn't do anything.  I was begging her to take me off the Seasonique.  She insisted that wasn't the problem.  She kept telling me to hurry up and get pregnant so I could have a hysterectomy.  Obviously, she had no idea the chaos my life was in at that time!  And even when I told her, she still wanted me to get pregnant.  I was almost at the point of taking a medication to cause menopause and just have everything yanked out.  Adoption would be fine in the future.  But I came to my senses and just stopped the Seasonique myself.  And the intermittent bleeding actually stopped.  I didn't use birth control for over a year and things were mostly normal.  I  had a period every month.  It was heavy and I lost large clots and I had awful, horrible cramps, but at least I was no longer bleeding an average of four days a week.  I mean, I still wasn't confident enough to wear anything white on my lower half, but at least I didn't feel like I was wearing a diaper all the time.  I also switched doctors and the new OB/GYN prescribed a different birth control to take three months straight so I would be back to having a period only four times per year.  That worked fine.  Still four heavy, painful periods though.  I moved away from Kansas City and went back to my old doctor.  She did another ultrasound and was shocked.  The fibroid had grown to the size of a grapefruit!  She sent me immediately to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.  He did an ultrasound and about fell over.  We discussed options and decided it needed to be removed.  Not only was it filling my entire uterus, pushing on my bladder and bowels, causing the period troubles, and recently starting to cause pain in between periods, there was no way I was going to get pregnant if I tried.  Since I'm in a better place in my life now, and pregnancy is in sight for the future, it seemed like surgery was the best choice, albeit a scary one.

We completed pre-op appointments and pre-op instructions, and scheduled the surgery for March 13.  We had to be at the hospital at 5:30am, which meant we got up at 3:30 that morning to make the hour long drive there.  I got checked in, got into a gown (ugh!), put on those sexy compression stockings, had a nausea patch stuck behind my ear, talked with the surgeon, and they started the IV.   I kind of remember kissing Cliff goodbye, and I was out.  Next thing I knew, I heard someone screaming, "Randall, get back in your bed!"  I opened my eyes a little and I was in the ICU.  I was in and out of consciousness, opening my eyes a few times there whenever I heard the nurses trying to get "Randall" back in his bed.  I prayed that either Randall or I would get out of there soon so the yelling would stop.  Luckily, it was me that got to go first.  The next thing I remember is them making me move myself onto my private room bed.  I. Was. Sore.  Little by little, I made it into the new bed.  Cliff told me the surgeon was extremely happy with the results.  He had removed the fibroid easily, the stitches were beautiful, and everything went great.  He showed Cliff a picture of the fibroid and my stitched up uterus, which I will post later, if anyone might be interested. He also told Cliff that the fibroid was starting to die, which is why I was having new pain in between periods.  I remember Cliff's dad showing up and bringing beautiful flowers and the cutest, sweetest card.  Later, my parents arrived with more flowers.  Then Cliff's aunt, uncle and brother showed up with even more flowers.  I was out of it most of the day, pushing my morphine button and being fed ice chips.  I was extremely nauseous and slept most of the time.  My throat was sore from the tubes, which had pretty much taken away my voice.  Cliff says I would try to talk, but would fall asleep mid-sentence.  I had a catheter, and that evening they made me sit up and dangle my legs off the bed.  It sucked.  Bad.  At 9:30pm, my surgeon showed back up to check in with us.  He pulled a chair up to the bed and went over the results with us again.  He showed us the pictures again.  He was very satisfied.  I slept at most ten minutes at a time through the night, and poor, sweet Cliff, trying to get some shut-eye on the couch next to me, was awakened every ten minutes or so as well, when someone would come in to check something.  I heard him toss and turn all night.

Thursday I was still pretty out of it.  They came in early and removed the catheter, which I had been really nervous about but ended up being a breeze.  However, that meant I had to start getting up.  Oh, it hurt.  It hurt bad.  Every time I got up to use the bathroom, I would force myself to walk the halls though.  Everyone seemed extra concerned about blood clots in the legs--I was still wearing the compression hose, had those air compression things Velcro-ed around my legs, and was getting daily shots in the stomach.  Cliff's stepmom came to visit that day and I barely remember 30 seconds of talking to her before I was out.  Getting up not only hurt, but was a complete hassle.  Cliff would have to unhook the air compression leg things, wheel my IV around the bed, put socks on my feet, help me stand up, and then the whole bathroom process would just take a lot of time.  My mom came back that evening and helped me take a shower.  (No matter how old I get, I seem to still feel best if I have my mom around when I don't feel well.)  Bless her for washing my whole body for me and being so patient.  Just to add to the difficulties, as the doctor had wanted, I had started a period and was dealing with that, too.   Although we thought we would go home this day, I hadn't met the requirement to be released--I had to pass gas.  That's right, before I could leave, they needed me to pass gas so they knew my bowels were back in order.  I hadn't done that yet, so knowing we would be spending the night again, Cliff jumped in the shower.  Everything hurt so bad when my  mom and I were doubled over in laughter after my nurse walked in on a completely naked Cliff in the bathroom.  Again, little sleep that night, not to mention I got a fever, which meant even more interruptions through the night.

Friday, I was a little better.  I stopped pushing the morphine button, mainly just on principle.  Nurses were commenting on Cliff and me setting records for walking laps around the 5th floor tower.  I finally turned on the tv and could carry on a conversation.  But, I still couldn't pass gas.  Eventually, I came to tears.  Cliff was consoling, but I couldn't stop crying.  My mom was consoling, but still I cried.  And then, about 10:30pm, it finally happened.  We immediately told the nurse in the hopes that we could still go home that night, but she said I had to be passing gas regularly, eating solid foods (at that point I had only had ice chips, a couple spoons of chicken broth, and some jello) and tolerating oral pain meds.  So, we tried to sleep, which was nearly impossible.

Saturday morning, we begged and begged to leave.  My goal had been to "go home" and Cliff had found a marker and added "by 2:00pm CST on 3/16/13."  I made a case with the nurse that I hadn't used the morphine in two days and promised to eat two pieces of toast, even though I didn't want to.  The doctor showed up about 12:30 and understood how happy we were when he said the fibroid was benign and I was discharged.  As my tech wheeled me out, she said, "You have a very good husband.  He stayed with you the whole time."  Although I told her that I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world, I think Cliff would have paid for her to come home with us and keep saying that.  At 2:08pm, we were pulling out of the parking lot and headed home.  My parents and brother (who had been house and animal sitting) where waiting when we arrived.  My mom fed us, we both got a shower, and then settled on the couch.  I was so sore from laying on my back for four days, but it still hurt to turn on my side.  By leaning on the back of the couch, I was able to turn a little and get some relief.  Cliff still didn't falter on his duties, and although I insisted he get some good rest in bed, he stayed on the couch all night. 

Sunday, I was emotional.  Cliff went to get my pain meds filled, but I never used them.  I was crying because I was so grateful to him for being so supportive and just non-stop "there" through everything.  I was crying because we left the hospital with a big box full of flowers and cards and memories of visitors.  I was crying because visitors were still coming by the house.  I was crying because more plants and flowers were arriving.  I was crying because we had an endless supply of homemade meals delivered by people we love dearly.  And then I was crying because we missed our weekend.  I was crying because Cliff had spent the last five days glued to my side and I had been too out of it to even entertain him a tiny bit.  I was crying because my birthday was the next day and I wasn't going to be able to celebrate.  I was crying because I was still in pain.  I was crying because I was still slow moving and it still hurt to cough and laugh.  And I was crying because I knew I was going to have to go through this again with any babies we might have because I would have to have C-sections.  I was pretty much permanently attached to Cliff's shoulder for most of the day, until my parents and brother and Cliff's parents and youngest brother showed up.  With food.  And cake.  And lots of laughter.  It was such a good time.  A little party came right to our house and it was perfect.  I opened gifts and cards and didn't care that my incision hurt from laughing.  I also was able to support myself on my side that night and so we were able to sleep in bed, which was much, much better.

Each day this week things seem to improve.  We've finally gotten two full nights of sleep.  Each day I have less pain.  I finally feel mostly normal.  I'm still wearing a binder (like a girdle) to support my stomach muscles, which I still can't really move.  I have bruises from the stomach shots.  I still have some numbness.  And for some reason my stomach and back have broken out into a rash.  (Maybe from the night my mom showered me and I thought the binder went around my chest.  I kept telling her to make it tighter.  Then the doctor came in on Saturday and said it should be down around my thighs and lower abdomen, covering the incision.)  Today I actually went to school and led my group, although I still can't drive.  But, you guessed it, dear Cliff chauffeured me there and back without complaint.  It did wear me...okay, both of us...out and by the time we got home, we napped for four hours.  We got adventurous and went to my parents' house for dinner tonight.  And I finally got a chance to catch up on facebook, email, and now blogging.

Friday we go back for a follow-up, so I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, anyone that's had a C-section and has any advice on recovery or calming words so I'm not freaking out about that over the next year or so, speak up!