More Cowbell

I have been driving Ryan’s car to work every morning and I listen to all of his presets except the sports radio stations that take up a whopping 8 of 24 spots!  I’m sure that isn’t surprising to anyone that knows Ryan.  The rest are basically classic rock and jam band stations.  Anyway, it makes me feel like that is the time when Ryan can “talk” to me.

Ryan and I met in 2000 and when you know someone for 16 years, marry them, have some kids, move back and forth across the country a couple of times and go through some fairly traumatic events together, you learn things about one another that no other relationship will ever rival.  I miss Ryan a lot so I constantly look for signs from him and a lot of that comes through music.  I was listening to Elvis’s, Always On My Mind the other day and I thought, “Oh wouldn’t that be something if on my way to work, I heard that song.”  I switched over to Elvis Radio and guess what?  Nope, it wasn’t Always On My Mind it was C.C. Rider which is much more Ryan.  This was the only Elvis song he would sing.  Ever.  This is what I mean by him “talking” to me.

Last night, I was double checking with Kamryn regarding her Halloween costume.  She had said she wanted to be the Grim Reaper and in light of recent events, I thought it may be a little too…oh what’s the word?  Not good.  She has always been a lover of the macabre when it comes to Halloween and she had made this decision before Ryan passed, but I was just hoping she would change her mind.  She is still set on being Father Time so I began my Pinterest search for costume making ideas and each pin I came across was saved with a cringe and a sigh.


Today I got in the car and what song was playing?  (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.  OK, Ryan, I get it.  It made me smile and chuckle a little.  I know some are reading this and saying, “Amy, that’s just a coincidence.” and I would agree.  It is. A coincidence is defined by a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time and I would say this was quite striking.  What I’m saying is, you can call it what you will and I’ll get from it what I need.  I need it to be Ryan telling me to “Calm the fuck down, it’s not a big deal.”

The song also brought up another memory that made me laugh and it wasn’t the memorable Will Ferrell SNL skit.  Ryan ran a half marathon in Des Moines in 2007 and included in the swag bag was a cowbell for the fans to clang as the runners ran by or for your 1 year old to become obsessed with and refuse to put down.  Kamryn loved that cowbell.  One night, shortly after the race, Ryan asked me to please hide it from her because it was constant, clanging cowbell in our house.  I turned to him and said, “It’s from your race.”  Meaning, it’s your fault we have it so you hide it!  He gave me a very puzzled look and replied, “What do you mean?  We’re both white!”  I laughed for a good hour after that and it still makes me giggle.

Happy 40th Birthday, Ryan

Ahhhhhh….FUCK!  I was watching the Today Show this morning and Matt Lauer said he considered swearing a lazy form of communication because the speaker isn’t attempting to find a more creative way to express themselves.  Well, Matt, sometimes there isn’t a more creative word.  Sometimes the mother of all swear words expresses my sentiment exactly how it needs to be expressed.

One month and 2 days ago was the worst day of my life.  Ryan, my husband of 13 years, passed away and today would have been his 40th birthday.  The man who gave me (albeit with a little of my help) two of the most wonderful children.  We had our rough patches. Every marriage does, but we knew how to be parents and we were good at it together and apart.  Ryan was an amazing dad.  There isn’t a better way to put it.  He loved his children more than anything.

Ryan and I weren’t living together when he passed.  It’s shocking how fast any differences we had, vanished when I received that horrible phone call on August 18th.  All I could think of was how my children lost their father, I lost my best friend and the one person who truly knew me better than anyone else.

I keep thinking of cleaning out his condo and the one, unopened bag of Goldfish crackers I found.  Yes, he had other food, but it was that sole bag of crackers that continues to break my heart in two.  Not more than a week before Ryan passed away, Rory was at his house, swimming.  Ryan texted me that Rory was ready to come home because he didn’t “have good enough snacks”.  That was the last time Rory had been there and Ryan had gone out to get those Goldfish for the next time that he came over.  I brought those crackers home and I listened from the living room as the kids ate them in the kitchen.  Not knowing their dad had bought those for them.  I cried silent tears as they happily munched their snack.

I was anxious about today.  I had no idea how it was going to effect me.  The fact that Ryan died a month before his 40th birthday isn’t lost on me.  I am 2 months older than Ryan and every year between July 29th and September 20th, there were a lot of jabs about me being his “Old Lady”.  And now he’s permanently stickin’ it to me! (That’s a George Costanza reference for those keeping track.)

One thing that Ryan wouldn’t have wanted is for me, the kids, his family, or his friends to wallow around and mourn him.  I know this because when his dad died in October of 2009, we talked a lot about what we would want when we passed.  In some ways, I am most grateful for those conversations because I know what he wanted and I know how he felt about death and dying.  We joked a lot that I would be the first to go because of the whole kidney failure thing.  It’s funny how you can joke about that stuff when you’re in your 30’s. I think I felt more invincible in my 30’s than I did as a teenager.  I don’t feel that way anymore.

So on this 20th day of September, I am thankful for me and Ryan’s friends far and wide for the texts, the cards, the cakes, the balloon, the flowers, the messages, the hugs and the friendship.  I’m thankful for his family for being my connection to Ryan and for holding on to more memories to share with our children.  I am thankful for my family for always considering Ryan part of our family even before “he put a ring on it”.  I’m thankful for Ryan’s lifelong friends for continuing to send me text messages and sharing their memories with me.  But I’m most thankful for Kamryn and Rory.  Those kids are our greatest accomplishment and the pain I feel that Ryan won’t walk our beautiful daughter down the aisle on her wedding day or see Rory’s face when he becomes a father himself is unimaginable.

I like to imagine that Ryan is looking down on us from the star that Rory and I picked out.  That he smiles when I laugh, he shakes his head when Rory is doing something Rory-like and he’s showing his proud dad face when Kamryn brings home that perfect report card.  Our love for you will never end and we will always feel your love from above.



5 Days Out

The time has arrived for some updates.  This week has been much easier than I ever imagined.  While I can’t say that it was completely pain free – far from it, but it was not nearly as bad as I was preparing for.  I may have a bit higher pain tolerance than someone who has never had an operation.  I had 4 very invasive stomach surgeries in the last 7 years where my stomach muscles were cut each and every time.  That is where the pain is – at least in my experience.

In this procedure, my stomach muscles weren’t cut, but sewed tighter together.  That caused some pain, but not like when they are cut.  The actual incision area is completely numb.  Actually, I’m numb from my newly placed belly button down to my hip joints.  I was told that may stay that way which doesn’t really matter too much to me – I don’t think I have had much feeling in my lower abdomen since 2006.

Yesterday I went in for my follow up appointment and to have the two Jackson-Pratt drains removed.  I was dreading the removal not because I was afraid it was going to hurt, but having things pulled out of your body just isn’t a whole helluva a lot of fun.  Also, I had a pretty good idea that the tube for the drains were about a foot long and threaded up through my abdomen.  *Insert gag here*

I was pretty nauseous yesterday from the pain medication and the antibiotics I was taking so by the time I got to my appointment, I was dreading the drain removal even more.  I was terrified that I was going to throw up and tear open my incision in the process.  No, not afraid of puking all over my doctor’s office – that’s why they have the tile floors. 

My doctor removed my girdle, aka the sausage casing, and that was the most liberating feeling I have felt in the last 5 days.  I got a good look at what was going on underneath there and I have to say, I’m very happy – even with all the swelling.  There wasn’t any bruising that I could see and the incision is so thin, I can’t even imagine what it will look like in a year.  She replaced all of my little band-aids from the liposuction incisions, cleaned the dried blood from my belly button and replaced the tape covering the tummy tuck incision.  Once that was complete, it was time to remove the two drains.  The tubes were stitched into two small incisions right below my tummy tuck incision.  I was instructed to take a deep breath and let it out – she would pull the tube out on the exhale.  I took a deep breath, covered my face with my hands and let out a loud exhale.  I was afraid of hearing the removal as well as feeling it.  One down, one to go.  Deep breath in….and…whoooooooooooooooosh.  Second drain out!  Not bad at all.  She covered the two holes with some antibacterial ointment and a bandage and then squeezed me back into another girdle.

Dr. S told me to expect some drainage from the tube sites, which I do have.  Once I got home, I was beat.  It was the most I had moved in 4 days and I was exhausted.  After a few hours, I started to feel a bit feverish.  I am no stranger to infection – I have had countless overnight stays in the hospital due to infection where I needed IV antibiotics that they ended up needing to put an IV in my foot because my veins in my hands and arms were shot.  I know that a fever is the first sign and I was not pleased.  I called my doctor to let her know and she assured me that she didn’t see any infection, but thought the fever was probably due to me doing so much and not being used to it.  Well, as it turns out, she may have been right.  After a couple of hours, the fever was gone. 

Today was my first shower since Monday morning and it has made a world of difference.  The only real pain I have is in my thighs – it feels like I went on a really hard uphill run. My back is the other source of pain.  I am not a back sleeper and that’s all I have been doing for the last 4 nights and it has caught up to me.  I may attempt to sleep on my side tonight. 

After my shower, I took a couple of pictures.  For the Truebies out there – it looks like I have Hep V because that purple marker won’t come off my skin and I can’t scrub.  The bruises finally surfaced on my thighs today too.  It looks like I got beat and kind of feels like that if I touch them.  I only posted the side view – I’ll do a front view with the next shower – the picture was just a little too revealing for me to put it out there on the interwebs.


I Have No Belly!

I’m a bit late in my post-op post due to my realization that I am not allowed to sit up straight for some time. I must remain in a hunched position while standing and at a 45° angle while laying down. The latter makes it difficult for me to sleep, thus the 1:30am posting from my phone.

Preparation for my surgery started shortly after 6:00am. After a brief search for a suitable vein for my IV, I was covered with warm blankets and a “Bear Huggie” which distributed warm air all over my body. My doctor came in and sectioned off my soon to be gone parts with a purple marker before wheeling me in to the operating room promptly at 7:00. I was given a “margarita” injection and before I even had the chance to enjoy it, it was lights out.

I awoke at around 11:30 and immediately felt pain in my upper abdomen. Not horrible pain, but definite discomfort. A nurse was close by and gave me Percocet as well as fentanyl in my IV. Needless to say, that pretty much took care of that. I snacked on a few saltines and ginger ale and before I knew it, it was time to go home. I had a momentary stint of nausea, but made it home vomit free.

I am wrapped in what can best be described as a black sausage casing with a strategically placed opening. The casing is not to be removed for a few days which means no showers and no hair washing.


My doctor called me around 3:00 and after I told her what I had been up to since arriving home, she informed me I wasn’t taking enough pain medication. Unfortunately, the Percocet is making me extremely nauseous and the best way to prevent that is to eat. I have forced down a bag a pretzels, two pudding cups, two jello cups and 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Kamryn and Rory made me get well cards and Kamryn may have a future at Hallmark.


Overall, the pain isn’t that bad. It’s far less than previous surgeries I have had and I don’t anticipate needing to be on the pain meds for too long. My legs started hurting after I got up for the first time, but even that is fairly manageable. Tomorrow my doctor is making a house call to see how I’m doing and hopefully, I’ll get a glimpse at what’s under my black suit. And hopefully it’s a nice birthday present.

Apologies for the choppy writing – I took a couple pain pills and flowing paragraphs are escaping me.

Hello Old Friend

It has been well over a year since I sat in front of my computer and vigorously typed out a blog post.  I started out with such dedication and then committed to a full year of daily posts only to throw my hands up in the air after 9 1/2 months and now, here I am again. 

I have had a few people ask me why I don’t blog anymore and my response lies somewhere between a shoulder shrug and a lengthy explanation of it starting to consume my life.  I had actually started blogging because in the background of my daily life, there was something occurring that only my close friends and family knew about and one day…one glorious day…all would be revealed.

Well, that day finally came, it was actually quite anti-climatic and not surprisingly, colors aren’t more vibrant, the sun doesn’t shine brighter and I’m not floating on my own bed of happiness.  To make a five year long story short, I settled a medical malpractice lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money.  Am I rich?  Monetarily, no.  Am I happy with the outcome?  Meh…I guess.  I’m just glad it’s over.  Do I have anything else to say about it?  Not really. 

After the birth of Rory, 5 1/2 years ago, I had countless complications that resulted in countless corrective surgeries and leaving countless scars all over my body, but mostly on my stomach.  I vowed that once I could afford it, I would have one final surgery to remove all the scar tissue and unsightly scars that I was left with.  Well, with the settlement of my lawsuit, that day has arrived and much sooner than I originally anticipated.

I had gone in for a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon on Wednesday, July 23rd and discussed what I was unhappy with about my body.  I was told I was a perfect candidate for a mini tummy tuck.  I already knew that because off and on over the last 5 years I had perused numerous before and after photos of other women who had similar “situations” with their abdomens.  My doctor asked me when I wanted to have the surgery and I jokingly asked her if she could fit me in that afternoon.  She said it would most likely not be schedule for about 4 weeks.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to work for me and her receptionist said she would see how soon it could be scheduled.  To my surprise, I received a call later that afternoon saying they could fit me in on the 28th as long as I could come in the next day to do my pre-op appointment. 

July 28th, the day before my 38th birthday, I will be going under the knife…hopefully for the very last time.  I will be having a mini tummy tuck and liposuction on my thighs  – I figured since I was already there, why not throw in (or out) a little fat removal?  While I’m not scared to have this done, I am a little nervous and a lot excited. 

So why the blog post?  I want to document the process.  I have told a handful of people and the most common reaction is, “I’m jealous!”  I know everyone that has any kind of procedure done has a different experience, but I’ll share exactly what it was like for me.  It will also save me from having to tell the same story over and over again. It will also serve as a reminder of how painful surgery is in case I get some kind of plastic surgery obsession.  I have heard people say it’s like a tattoo…you can’t get just one. 

The process started yesterday when I went to pick up all of my supplies: my prescriptions that I’ll need after the surgery, a shirt that buttons up in the front (not easy to find), extra pillows, pudding, soup,  jello, Gatorade, ice packs, and hard candy.  Today consists of washing all of my bed linens so they are clean and fresh after I take my 13 step antibacterial shower tonight and another one tomorrow morning.

And finally.  I debated this in my mind a lot before I decided to do it.  What would be the point of me writing about having cosmetic surgery if I didn’t show you the before picture?  I figured a link would be better than inserting a picture.  It’s not something that everyone wants to see.

There you have it.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s, drug induced, post-op post.  It’s sure to be fun filled with maybe some gory pictures!!

A Birthday, A Binky, and Some Balloons

Today is Rory’s 4th birthday.  We have been preparing for this birthday ever since his 3rd birthday.  Last year, I wanted Rory to rid our house of all binkies.  Rory’s craziness outlasted my love of sleep and he was granted access to Binky for sleeping only.  That lasted about a week before Binky was once again a permanent fixture in Rory’s mouth.  He never took it out of the house – he was a closeted binky-sucker.

About a month ago I really started driving it home to Rory that his Binky was not going to be around once he turned 4.  He was once again seemingly excited to rid himself of his Binky, but I had my doubts.  I also knew that if we didn’t really get rid of Binky, I would give in and let him have it as soon as the going got a little tough.  We decided that tying Binky to the end of a bunch of balloons and letting it fly away was the proper way to expose of his plastic oral fixation.

Rory and all of his ladies.

Rory and all of his ladies.

Kamryn really wanted to be the one to let the balloons go because she is a control freak like her mom, but I insisted that Rory be the one to do it.  He needed closure.  So after we all counted to three, he released the balloons and up, DSC05539

up, DSC05541

up,DSC05540 and up it went.  There was not much wind and Binky appeared to be going straight up in the air.  I had already said that if that damn binky ended up back at our house or if the balloons all popped and it fell right at Rory’s feet, we would be taking it home and he would be allowed to have it as long as he wanted.  Of course it did not and Binky is now somewhere east of San Diego.  In hindsight, I wish I would have attached a note for the whoever found it to email me so I knew how far it had gotten, but I may had been too tempted to go pick it up if I knew.  Not knowing is best.

After about 5 minutes, Binky was no longer visible to the naked eye so the kids flew kites, drove remote control cars and we looked on as our children gazed out over our beautiful city on a gorgeous day,DSC05553 on a little boy’s birthday.

DSC05561Happy birthday, to my wonderfully crazy, silly, naughty, hilarious, adorable, and best little boy!!

Pants Not On Fire!

I have been known to boast about my daughter’s seemingly inability to lie to me.  Don’t get me wrong, she does bad things, but she ALWAYS comes clean about it – usually with little to no prodding.  Of course I know this is not the norm and I also know that this will not last.  Rory is proof of that.  That kid lies like a rug.

This weekend I noticed that Kamryn seemed a little stuffed up and was probably coming down with the cold that so many of her classmates and friends have had the last few weeks.  I wasn’t all that surprised to hear her wake up Sunday night, shuffle into the bathroom and gag into the toilet.  I figured she had a nice little sinus drainage down her throat and it was upsetting her stomach.

When I asked her what didn’t feel good she said, “Am I going to go to school tomorrow?”  I told her that we would see when she got up in the morning.  After 3 more visits to the porcelain throne, I told her she could just sleep in tomorrow and stay home and rest.

All day Monday Kamryn laid on the couch, watching The Disney Channel and coloring pictures.  We had a brief discussion about why she wasn’t at school after I told her she would not be allowed to play Just Dance.  That didn’t prevent her from jumping up and dancing to commercial jingles, though.

It was clear that she would be going to school on Tuesday.  This morning, she got up on her own, ate some oatmeal, got dressed and then started complaining about being too tired to go to school.  I told her she was going because being too tired is not a reason to stay home – especially when she slept 12 hours last night.  I told her to do some jumping jacks to wake up, instead she laid down on the couch and pretended to fall back asleep.

And the Oscar goes too…..

I got my little actress out the door and in the car without much of a problem and once we were actually at school in the classroom, I knew she was fine.  Every morning I stay in her class for about a half hour reading with Kamryn and her classmates and every time I looked at Kamryn, she was smiling and visiting with her friends.  I told her teacher that she was complaining about being too tired and then I jokingly said, “If she annoys you too much, call me and I’ll come and get her.”  Mrs. M laughed, I laughed, we laughed together.  So imagine my surprise when I got a call at 9:58 from the school saying they had Kamryn in the office with a stomachache.

Kamryn had been sent back to her class to get her backpack by the time I got there so I went down to her classroom to retrieve her.  She was sitting at her table waiting for one of her friends to finish coloring her a get well picture.  When Kamryn saw me in the door, a huge smile spread across her face and as we walked out of her class, she said without an ounce of restraint, “This is the 2nd time I got to leave school early!”

I almost turned her right around and marched her back into the classroom, but I didn’t think it would be fair to Mrs. M to have to deal with Kamryn whining the rest of the afternoon.  I didn’t say anything until we walked out of the school doors.

Once we were in the car I said, “When we get home, I want you to take your shoes off, get your homework out of your backpack and go back to your room and do it.  You will not be watching TV, you will not watch anything on the tablet, you will not have access to my phone.  You are going to lay in bed and rest all day.”

The look of disgust was almost worth having to go pick her up.  I asked her if she really felt sick and she said, “My tummy hurts.”  I told her that was fine and that the rest would do her good.  And then the questions:  If I feel better, can I watch a show?  No.  If I take a long rest can I watch one show?  No.  Can I color?  Maybe.  Can I play with Legos?  Maybe.

So I asked her again, “Do you really feel sick?”  And she told me, “No.”  She then had to listen to my lecture about how school is important and that she needs to be there to learn.  I asked her if she would rather be laying in her bed, staring at the ceiling or at school with her friends.  She said she wanted to be with her friends.

Now, if I thought for one minute there was something going on at school like she was being bullied or having a problem with her teacher, believe me, I would get to the bottom of it, but since I am at that school every single day and watch her interact in that environment, there isn’t even the slightest concern when it comes to that with her.  This was strictly Kamryn wanting to stay home and be lazy.  Unacceptable.

I let her come out of her room to eat lunch and I was showered with praise about how I am the bestest mom in the world and I’m so funny and so pretty.  After lunch I told her to go back and lay down.  Rory had finished his lunch and was looking all over for the tablet.  I got up, walked back to Kamryn’s room where I found her in her closet watching Baby Bratz on Netflix.

I took the tablet away, gave it to Rory and was immediately told I was the meanest mom.  She even took the time to pen her disdain.Kamryn's_noteIf you can’t read her phonetic note, it says:

You are the worstest, selfish, baddest mom ever.  I am never going to love you ever again.  Never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never.

Never going to love you again.

I told her that her note hurt my feelings and made me feel very sad.  She told me I hurt her feelings because I wouldn’t let her watch her shows.  I told her that wasn’t the same thing and that she was just mad because I wouldn’t let her watch the shows and that I didn’t do anything to hurt her.

She stomped off to her room and 15 minutes later, she came out to tell me she was sorry that she hurt my feelings and gave me a hug.  Then she told me she does love me.  See?  Cannot tell a lie.Kamryn&Aggie