Resident Diving: Another bonus!

As if living in a place with perpetual summer isn’t enough, we have “resident diving”. Resident diving is this wonderful option of diving on a Sunday morning with Red Sail, and maybe other dive operators do it, for half the cost of a regular dive. In fact, as a resident, all my boat dives are half price.

I signed up for resident diving last year, but I wasn’t able to take advantage. I finally gave it a try when our daughter was here.

Every week I receive an email from Red Sail with an update on their resident specials, and an invitation to the Sunday resident dive. They always tell me where they expect to be diving. I look forward to the North wall dives. Having done most of my early diving here in the summer and on the north and east side, I didn’t realize that they aren’t always the best choice at certain times of year.  Sometimes it’s just too rough, so the West wall is the place to be. I still have that attachment to some of the North wall dives, though.

This week there is a lion fish cull. If you aren’t familiar with the Caribbean and our lion fish problem, you might wonder why they want to cull the beautiful and striking lion fish. I remember being so excited to see lion fish in the South Pacific.

The lion fish is an invasive species. They eat native fish at an alarming rate and have thrived in the Caribbean.

Personally, I really like the taste of lion fish. I find it is expensive here, though, so don’t always feel inclined to order it when it’s on the menu.

This is one resident dive I’ll be missing, but I’ll be cheering them all on! Catch those lion fish and cook them up!

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/19/top-5-myths-about-lionfish/

 

 

Post op in Paradise; adjusting to the pain

After my first surgery, my doctor told me after about 3 days that I could probably stop taking the acetaminophen/codeine combination. It made me drowsy and one of the complications is  constipation. Besides, the ibuprofen was a strong dose, and it also helped with the swelling.

I thought I would follow the same protocol this time, but again, I underestimated my pain level this second time around. I woke up on day 4 and decided I wouldn’t take any Co-dydramol. By midday I broke down and took my dose.  At bedtime I decided to skip it again. The next morning I was back on it, but I only took one instead of two. Tapering off in this way, I think I had stopped taking it by the end of Day 5.

Meanwhile, I was trying to eat fruit and fibre. Co-dydramol really can make you constipated.

I started feeling more alert, which gave me more incentive to use my brain and planning skills. I went to work on some of  my projects. I could read without falling asleep!

I still experienced a lot of swelling. My foot swelled up when I was sitting. It swelled up if I stood too long. It fell asleep sometimes when I had it elevated. I started feeling cramps in my foot. My back and knees started to tighten up due to the awkward sitting positions and lack of exercise.

For the first two to four days, there was a lot of pain and swelling, but doing nothing at that time is easy. It’s the next 2 weeks that are difficult. Bathing or showering without getting the dressing wet is exhausting. Sitting with the foot up while trying to type something on the computer is very uncomfortable after about 30 minutes. Depending on someone else for your meals is frustrating, and humbling.

I started making the morning coffee after about one week. I wake up before my husband and I need my coffee. I’d given up having an omelette for breakfast, although he does cook eggs. I started eating cereal, or yogurt and scones or croissants, which were a nice treat.

One week post op, I ran out of the prescription ibuprofen, so I started taking my own. It was half the dose, so I noticed a difference in pain control. I also noticed that it was really hard on my stomach. I took the regular, over-the-counter ibuprofen for a day, then I stopped. After that I had to pay more attention to what my foot was telling me; to sit down and elevate it!

At this point, I started noticing the large pile of laundry, the dirty toilets, the dust on the furniture. I don’t have a cleaner, or a helper as they call them here. My husband finds it challenging to do all the cooking, errands and grocery shopping as well as his work. I started trying to do a little each day. The first day, I probably overdid things. The next day, I was sore, swollen and exhausted, so I did very little. I try to do one chore each day now.

Household chores remind me of what it would have been like to have surgery in the winter in Canada. Our house with two staircases wouldn’t have worked. I’d have had to set up in our living room. I wouldn’t be able to start going in and outside so easily on the treacherously slippery sidewalks.

Here, I can relax on the deck for the entire morning, eating breakfast, doing puzzles, reading and surfing the internet. If I’m energetic I can hobble down to the pool and relax on a recliner. It is either blissfully quiet, except for the sound of the sea, or I am entertained by the goings-on of the island.

That is how my recovery has been going. One day, I feel great and think I can do more. The next, I need to rest, which is pretty easy when you can sit outside and enjoy the sound of the waves.  The next day I have a better idea what I can handle. My next big step would be getting the stitches out.

A letter to my daughter: thank you, I think

Dear Daughter,

As I child I was very sensitive and I found that quite painful. I was told I might need to develop a rhinoceros hide to survive in the world  I slowly developed my hide, but my suit of armour was more of a shell.

If I hadn’t had the shell, I would not have survived high school, university, and my internship. Even though I said F.U. and I transferred to a different program I really did survive internship, because I made my shell even harder and more impermeable. My shell got me through.

I remember my younger self as a slightly self-centered person who didn’t let people in. Sometimes that came across as anger. No one could see under my shell, my armour, except my very closest friends. I sometimes took it off when I was alone in my safe place where I could cry myself to sleep. I didn’t even take it off the first time I fell in love. I mean I was really in love but I couldn’t let him know that, could I? Obviously that relationship didn’t last. No one was allowed in.  I wanted to be a nice person and a good person, but not soft and emotional.

I’m not sure who I was kidding. I couldn’t read “Love you Forever” without getting all teary-eyed. Movies still made me cry. I just didn’t let people get too close. I let your dad in. I let him see who I really was, although it took years.

My darling daughter, you changed all that. The minute I learned I was pregnant, my shell grew to protect both of us. I had only really let your dad in before that, and some very close friends.  When you were born, I was totally vulnerable all over again. I didn’t even realize it was happening, but my shell was becoming porous.

You are such an open, loving and giving person. You live and love with passion. You demanded my love and complete devotion from the moment I laid eyes on you. Quickly, my shell began to dissolve. I tried and succeeded to keep it around us for a few years.

Your brother came along and finished the job. I couldn’t protect all of us from hurt. I could protect us in so many ways and take care of all of us, but our hearts were open and vulnerable.

I am no longer protected by armour. I am completely vulnerable to the world. I  think it’s from living in a hot place.(I jest.) My heart is easily won. I care about everyone around me. I worry about everyone, including people I’ve only recently met. I feel protective towards anyone who would dare to embrace the world with your passion. I meet people who have a shell like I had, and I want to pass along my strength. Their shells need to dissolve in their own time, but I understand.

I thank you for helping me to open up again and let people see my love and hope and vulnerability. I rarely feel anger. I feel despair and I feel hope.I feel caring and compassion. I feel what others feel and it is scary. I feel sadness and happiness. I feel love, and it sometimes hurts, but mostly it feels good. Most importantly, I feel okay about letting people see how I feel, and if it really is anger, it’s aimed at injustice, stupidity and insular thinking.

I miss you! Thank you for letting me in.

Love Mama

Recovering in Paradise: showering with Tortuga and keeping my feet up

With two different prescriptions for pain medication filled, I fully expected another easy recovery from this second bunion surgery, at least from a physical point of view. I was surprised then, to find that the pain and swelling the first day were significant.

First of all, I had to take the medication with food. That meant waiting for my husband to make breakfast, as I was supposed to do absolutely nothing. I was also experiencing a headache, probably from caffeine withdrawal, having had my last cup of coffee at 6 am the previous day.

Usually I wake up and make the coffee in the morning, then either I eat cereal or I make an egg dish. That way I have some coffee in me before I start cooking. I’m grateful that my husband made breakfast for me, at least for the first few days, but that first day my head was exploding by the time I got coffee. I’d waited for breakfast to take my pills, so they still hadn’t started working. When my doctor called later for an update, my pain was down to a 3 or 4 on a scale from 1 to 10, but I estimated it at a 5 or 6 when I first woke up.

I was relaxed enough and comfortable enough by the time the meds started to work. I updated my Facebook, Snap chatted with my kids and read. I started doing Sudoku and crosswords again. The first two days post-op I was instructed to do nothing, to keep my foot elevated above my hip, and to only get up to go to the bathroom.

After my doctor called, I peaked under my elastic bandage and realized that my gauze dressing was soaked through with blood. It was dry to the touch, so must have bled the night before. I emailed him and he replied that I should come in the next day, which was only a day early, for the wound check.

The printed instructions from the doctor said I could take a shower the next day, as long as I protected my foot with a plastic bag. We find that Tortuga Rum Company bags are very sturdy and make a good cover, and my husband had made a serious effort to collect several in the time leading up to the surgery.  The taping is the tricky part. If you aren’t careful of the folds in the top of the bag, there could be an unseen opening for the water to seep in. For that reason we double bagged my foot and my husband taped it up so tightly I thought he was making a tourniquet.

That first day I kept the shower very short, being unable to put any weight on my bad foot.  I was still in good shape then, so it wasn’t too exhausting to stand on one foot and try to keep the other one as much out of the shower as possible.

We visited the doctor and he cleaned up the wound. He noted a lot of bruising and said the bleeding was good. It shouldn’t be trapped in the wound. He poked and tweaked at my stitches, which was a little bit painful, but more of an irritant to my foot. Once the foot was all wrapped up again, he got me a wheelchair to get to the front door and instructed me to keep the foot elevated.

Wow! I had a shower and a visit to the doctor in one day! What with going up and down the stairs to get in and out of the apartment, I was tired at the end of the day. Maybe I wasn’t in such good shape after all!

Once we got home, I played some computer games and emailed family to let them know how things were going. After dinner I had an early night. I planned to continue my  focus on rest and healing. My next couple of days my goal would be to taper off the pain medications.

 

 

Surgery in Grand Cayman; my experience

I can’t really compare my experience here with surgery in Canada, as I was only a child when I had a tonsillectomy. I wasn’t present for my father’s surgeries, so I only have my own experience in Cayman to talk about.  I’m sure it’s a mix of British and American style procedures. My surgery was in a private, for-profit hospital, but the team was completely British or Caribbean.

I thought I would describe in greater detail what it’s like to have surgery here, at least from my point of view.

After ten days of having no ibuprofen or aspirin type medications, and 3 days of no alcohol, I checked into the hospital. I’d had breakfast at 6 am as my surgery wasn’t scheduled until 2 pm. I’d had nothing to eat or drink since 6. I arrived at the hospital at 10:45 where they took me to my room. For my first surgery I had a room to myself. This time I had a roommate, also waiting for surgery.

I was given a hospital robe to wear; yes the glamourous kind with the open back. It makes it very easy to go to the bathroom, but awkward for getting in and out of bed and up and down off stretchers without baring one’s butt.

I was also given some disposable foot covers and hat. I put on the hat and one foot cover, leaving one foot uncovered for the bathing that was to come. I was started on an intravenous drip to keep me hydrated. I would have nothing else to eat or drink before evening.

Unfortunately, even though I wasn’t drinking anything, I had to walk my IV pole to the bathroom with me at least 3 times, all the while trying to keep my robe from opening wide at the back.

The nurse came in to wash my foot very carefully for 3 minutes. Those were her instructions. She then put the disposable slipper on that foot. Not long before my surgery she came in to put the antibiotic dose through the IV. In the meantime, my surgeon popped in to say hello, give me post op instructions and make sure I had my post op shoe from last time. That saved us $45!

Not long after my antibiotic dose, someone from the anesthesiology team came in to wheel me to the operating room. There I met my OR nurse, an older lady who was very kind and very thorough. She checked and double checked my file to ensure everything was ready and I was ready, etc.

One thing I noticed at my first surgery was that everyone in the OR was male. I have seen many more male nurses here than I ever worked with when I was a dietitian in a hospital. I don’t know if that’s happening everywhere, but I like the balance. This time, the first nurse I met was female and the member of the anesthesiology team who did my pre op interview was female. The anesthetist was a man, as is my podiatrist.

Once in the OR, I felt something happening to almost every part of my body. I was getting a clip on my finger and a blood pressure cuff on my right arm, while the anesthetist was putting something into my IV that made my left hand feel temporarily frozen. My surgeon was preparing my foot and I was also getting little snaps put on me in various places, I assume to connect to sensors to keep track of my heart rate and breathing. I was given an oxygen mask to hold over my nose and mouth, and I took deep breaths while I listened to the sound of my own heartbeat in the room. Occasionally, the blood pressure cuff would inflate. They started the anesthetic and I was feeling very calm and very drowsy.

I woke up in the recovery room with someone removing a tube from my very sore throat.  I had those little nodes in my nostrils connected to a tube leading from an oxygen supply. My foot hurt more than the first time. I was very sleepy. They wanted me to wake up, and I did, very slowly. I was taken back to my room. My roommate had returned while I was gone, but the curtain between us was closed.

The nurses must have had a shift change on the ward, as they had last time. I had a new nurse. I had been given something for pain in the recovery room, so my next dose would be at 8 pm. They brought me a meal of soup and crackers and ice water. Oh, I was thirsty! The soup wasn’t exactly clear, but it was ok. The crackers were dry and flavourless, so I broke them up and put them into the soup. That made both soup and crackers more palatable.

My husband texted our family to let them know things had gone well. I got some nice texts back from them full of love and good wishes.

Before I could eat, my nurse came back to take me for an x-ray of my new foot. That went fairly quickly. I’ll need another x-ray in a few weeks.

I was still sleepy, CNN was on the tv, my husband was sleepy, and we were both dozing off. My roommate was told she could go home. She just got dressed and walked out. I wonder what kind of surgery she had!

I finally got another dose of painkillers and another dose of IV antibiotics. As soon as the antibiotics had run through, I was allowed to get dressed. I’d kept it simple with a dress, but I still had some difficult moments trying to keep my weight off my foot while I went to the bathroom and changed into my clothes. I discovered those snaps all over me. I was tempted to keep them and take a picture. I felt sort of cyborg-ish! They came off easily, though, much more easily than the adhesive tape holding my IV line in place in my hand!

The nurse helped my get my things all into my bag and helped me into the wheelchair while my husband brought the car to the front door of the hospital. I got into the back seat so I could put my foot up on the seat, buckled up and away we went.

It was pouring rain when we got home, so my husband had to get a bag for me to put over my foot. I have to keep the dressing dry! I hobbled up the stairs and into the house in the pouring rain.

I had instructions to keep my foot elevated above my hip and no weight-bearing. That was a little difficult going up the stairs to our condo. Later on, my foot swelled up so much I thought it would burst, even though I immediately sat down and raised it onto a pillow.

I had meds to take before bed which helped with both the pain and swelling.

I will describe in future posts what it’s like to recover from bunion surgery, but I’d love to hear if other hospital surgery experiences are similar. I found the first surgery to be a little easier on me, although the surgeon said the second one was easier for him. The staff was busier this time and I didn’t have a private room. I also had more experienced staff on the ward last time, but I have no complaints about the care I received.

 

 

 

 

 

Science, human decency and politics; one of these is not like the other.

With a lot of time on my hands lately, I’ve been on Facebook a lot more. This subjects me to a lot of unwanted information. I have friends of every political stripe. I have friends from various walks of life, and from a few different countries, too.

I get posts from “Occupy Democrats” and from “Justin Trudeau Not” and from Unite Conservatives. I see articles posted by friends who are the smartest people I know. One thing I’ve tried not to read, but can’t always help, is the comments. I lose my faith in the human race when I read the comments.

Since when did being compassionate and caring become a “liberal” value?  Why is science being treated like a liberal conspiracy? When did smart and educated people become the”left wing elite”? I started life as a conservative in Canada, which isn’t even close to being as right wing as the Republicans in the US, and I admit I’ve become more open minded as I get older. Why can’t I be in favour of pipelines and immigration? I am first and foremost a member of the human race and I believe we are all in this together. No man or woman is an island. No country, whether island or not, can stand alone.

Speaking of islands, I can’t begin to understand politics on this island, so I just follow the news and try to keep up with what is going on. I know less than ten people here with the right to vote, so we don’t discuss local politics a lot. Still, there is a lot of that anonymous comment syndrome here, too.

I am so tired of all the bickering and the stupid tweets coming from people who should behave with more dignity and compassion. I’m tired of the trolls and the blanket statements by the followers of one faction or another. I’m tired of the ignorance.

I’m not American and I’m tired of the American news. I turn on the Canadian news and I get American news. I have exactly four American friends on Facebook, yet my news feed is flooded with American news and debates and outright insults towards one party or another.

I’m most dismayed by the complete disregard of some groups towards science and fact. I saw a t-shirt I want. It said: Science, It’s not a left wing conspiracy. Seriously, one would think so these days.

My solution should be to avoid Facebook and any social media, but my options are limited these days. I’d love to go sit on the beach while my husband goes for a walk, but I don’t want to risk sand in my dressing. I’d love to go for a walk, but I wouldn’t make it very far. I’d love to swim, but I still have stitches. I’m stuck here with my feet up, reading mindless insults. (I know, don’t read the comments!)

I’ve taken to doing puzzles offline. Yes, that means on paper; crosswords, sudoku, any word puzzles. I’ve got hundreds of books on my e-reader. I just finished one that was pretty silly. A lot of the free books I download are pretty silly, but you know, that beats internet comments.

The obvious solution is to re-read some of the great novels I brought with me, or to take on another learning challenge, like a new language. Now that I’m off the serious meds I might give that a try.