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Sunday, September 1, 2019

My First Real Surgery

Technically, I've had minor surgeries before; both Lasik and a colonoscopy. But - I have never been under general anesthesia. I am perfectly confident in my surgeon, but I am terrified of going under. It's kind of funny actually, since I work with a surgeon. I've seen hundreds of his patients go under anesthesia and come out perfectly fine - and those surgeries are scary and intensive. What I'm doing is a gallbladder removal [cholecystectomy].

If you know me at all or follow this blog, you're probably aware that I've had gallstones (link to my blog about it here) since my first attack in February of 2006. This pretty well describes my whole feeling about the stones and why I've waited this long to get it taken care of. I actually didn't mention how it could possibly exasperate my IBS-D, but honestly, those attacks are pretty rare these days as well because my diet is much better than it used to be.

My deciding factor to get the surgery was three-fold:

1. I qualified for 80% FA through Multicare even after my insurance paid. Without this assistance I never would have gone through with it.

2. I had 2 attacks in the span of 2 months (after going 6+ months between attacks) and both required TWO Vicodin to get under control. That was certainly not normal and concerned me a great deal. Especially now that narcotics are on such a tight leash, I'd be lucky to ever get a refill again after my current supply runs out (which I've had for 3+ years now)

3. My mom said "what if you get a life-threatening attack while in Canada?" Touche. The last thing I need is gallstone pancreatitis when I'm away from home.

Like I mentioned already, I'm perfectly confident in my surgeon. Cholecystectomies are one of the easiest surgeries to do, and Dr. Burns does roughly 5 a week. I've got no comorbidities that would make the surgery more difficult. But I have no idea how I would react under general anesthesia. No one does when it's their first time. I keep being told that everything will be fine (allergic reactions to anesthesia are, in fact, very rare) but hello - I'm allergic to an allergy medication, remember? (Allegra). I gets the hives and a swollen upper lip, which the company confirms is a "severe reaction". So yeah, I'm a bit freaked out over this. So much so that I've filled out a Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney just in a case.

And of course, I will chronicle my surgery from start to finish in case anybody is curious!

Oh, also (look away now if you don't want to be grossed out), I will have Dr. Burns take a picture of my gallbladder once its out! Here is an example pic:

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Day 3: Whistler

Day 1
Day 2
Day 2.5

Whistler & the Ironman
A few weeks before the trip, I discovered that Whistler was hosting the Ironman triathlon on the day we were to be there. Because I couldn't really change my plans, we were just going to have to deal with it. They were closing the main highway partway through the day, and using parking lots and re-routing traffic etc, it was a frustrating mess to have to deal with, but deal with we did. First thing I did was grab a shot glass from one of the many shops at Whistler Village; a cute walkable area with restaurants and hiking/skiing stores. Then I had to convince Patrick to ride up the gondola to Whistler. And then I had to convince him again to ride the other gondola (Peak2Peak) to Blackcomb mountain. He breathed through it and did just fine. So proud of him.

Once we got over to Blackcomb, we did the Alpine trail; a short and sweet hike that offered incredible views of the mountain range. After the hike, we ate at the restaurant on the peak - in which the only way to it was the gondola ride. Patrick finally got his Poutine - with shredded pork. It was actually a lot better than I imagined.

After lunch, we rode the Peak2Peak back over to Whistler, because we had one more stop to make: The Cloudraker Skybridge. Yet another suspension bridge perched on one of the tallest peaks around. It wasn't even the bridge that he was concerned about at this point, but the way we had to get up to it: not by gondola, but by chairlift. He almost backed out, but I helped him through it. Riding the chairlift was actually my favorite part. It was so calm and serene. He appreciated my support, and I appreciated his courage. 


The skybridge was awesome. It was a perfectly beautiful day; I always seem to have such good luck for weather on my vacations. The hike back to the lodge from the chairlift was the worst of it; it was pretty steep but we made it. It was only about 3pm at this point; the original plan was to do the vodka tasting at Bearfoot Bistro, but they didn't even open until 5:30, so I figured we might as well get our spa on first.

[Side story: We were walking back to the car to head to the spa when suddenly, out of nowhere, Patrick loses his footing. I thought he might catch himself but he didn't - he ended up falling forward, landing on his left palm, rolling over his right shoulder, and hoping back up like nothing had even happened. I'll give a 5 for a clumsy start but definitely a 10 for that recovery. It was pretty epic. He scrapped his knee and definitely bruised the bone of his thumb, but other than that he was no worse for wear.]

Scandinave Spa
stock photo, since I couldn't have my phone
I heard about this place through Evening Magazine. What made this spa special was not just the free-range access to all the pools and amenities (steam room, sauna, firepits, hammocks, etc), but the fact that no technology was allowed and there was no talking. (Patrick and I did end up having to whisper occasionally, but I never thought I would appreciate silence so much). The Spa was nestled in the woods roughly 15 minutes north of Whistler Village. This was my very first spa experience. The way they suggested we use the facility was a 10-15 minute hot soak (steam, sauna, or hot bath), a 10 second dip in the cold pool (brrr!! 55 degrees!!) and finish with 10-15 minutes of relaxation. Rinse and repeat as many times as we wanted. I wanted to try every single thing they had. My favorite one was the sauna. I love dry heat, and the smell of the wood was almost intoxicating. The only downside was the Triathlon - even though we were high above the Village, the end of the race was below us, and we constantly heard the cheers of the crowd way below. We stayed there for over 2 hours. It was really nice.

Bearfoot Bistro
Hunger finally got the best of us and we headed back down to the Village for our vodka tasting. By this point it was after 7pm and the main race was over (they had until 12am to finish) so roads were done being blocked, at least. I had planned on having dinner at the Bistro but once I saw what was inside, we backpedaled quickly. It was super fancy. Like white tablecloth fancy. We were definitely not prepared for this. So, I just asked the front desk to do the vodka tasting and we would eat elsewhere. 
So again, I heard about this activity (lol - "activity") on Evening Magazine. Here is the description on their website:

Warm up in the Ketel One Ice Room:

Come into the cold and experience an exhilarating flight of sub-zero vodka. We provide the parka. Just bring your sense of adventure.
At -32C (-25F) the Ketel One Ice Room is the world’s coldest vodka tasting room – and the only permanent sub-zero vodka room in Canada. With more than 50 vodkas from across the globe, and examples distilled from everything from rye, wheat and soya to hemp seeds, this unique Bearfoot Bistro experience is not to be missed.
Wrapped in our Arctic Expedition parkas, you’ll feel comfortable and cozy as our vodka expert explains how the intricacies of distillation and filtration affect the flavour profile of the finished product.
Taste four vodkas of your choice, and discover how the extreme environment enhances the flavour while minimizing the alcohol burn. 

Patrick was unaware of my plan and was wearing shorts that day. It was a good thing he's apparently got werewolf blood because his legs never even got cold. Our first tasting was a neutral Ketel One, either regular or Citron. Patrick and I switched off on all of them so we got to try 8 flavors in total. We tried one that smelled (but did not taste) like banana bread, one that was made from rice (I liked it, it was kind of sweet) one that was brown and had flavors reminiscent of fruitcake, an a couple more that I can't remember.  I ended up with 4-1/2 full shots of vodka on an empty stomach and I was pretty well buzzed and feeling rather good. I wanted to keep my buzz going so we quickly found a restaurant to eat dinner at so that I could order a drink.

After dinner it was back to our ugh hotel, which was still incredibly stuffy and hot. We had one more day of exploration left before our drive back home!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Avocados are Evil

I love avocados. A contradictory statement, I know. But they are evil. Because they hurt me.

You see, I have built an intolerance to avocados.

[All the millenials gasp in unison]

I know, right? Avocados have become the thing. Like, they're easy to eat and prepare, have healthy monounsaturated fats, and contain a slew of vitamins and minerals. I was eating them every single day. My chicken salad recipe, which I batch-made a week at a time, contained 1 Costco avocado in lieu of mayonnaise.
It worked great for like, a year. But all of a sudden, about 4 weeks ago, I started getting sick every day after lunch. I was getting stomach pains and bloating; it was very unpleasant. And it would last for roughly 4 hours. Unsure what could be causing it at the time, I started eliminating some things, thinking that maybe I got a bad batch of something. My salad mix was kind of old so I bought a new bag. That wasn't it. I tried eating the canned Costco chicken by itself and that was fine. So, deciding that it was most likely the avocado, I did the stupidest thing ever:

I decided to eat half an avocado with my dinner.

LOL - "aids in digestion" Yeah.
Oh man. That was the most avocado I'd had in one sitting since I started having this issue. My stomach rebelled within 20 minutes. I was getting horrible stomach pains. I decided to forcefully throw up. Pain still wouldn't stop. I got nauseated within a couple of hours and actually threw up. I took a zofran to help with the nausea, but the pain continued into the night. I could feel it traveling
through my system like a bad disease. Only by 1am was I starting to feel normal again.

Yeah, it was definitely the avocado.

I googled it (of course) and it's actually a thing, believe it or not. Weird, right? The strange thing is that what the websites offer as an explanation doesn't really fit my situation. It is generally caused by one of two things:

1. You have an intolerance to FODMAPs. FODMAPs are defined as:
FODMAP stands for "fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols" (1). These are short-chain carbs that are resistant to digestion. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they reach the far end of your intestine where most of your gut bacteria reside.Your gut bacteria then use these carbs for fuel, producing hydrogen gas and causing digestive symptoms in sensitive individuals. 
Here is a list of some common foods and ingredients that are high in FODMAPs:
  • Fruits: Apples, applesauce, apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries, canned fruit, dates, figs, pears, peaches, watermelon
  • Sweeteners: Fructose, honey, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol
  • Dairy products: Milk (from cows, goats and sheep), ice cream, most yogurts, sour cream, soft and fresh cheeses (cottage, ricotta, etc) and whey protein supplements
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, fennel, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, shallots
  • Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
  • Wheat: Bread, pasta, most breakfast cereals, tortillas, waffles, pancakes, crackers, biscuits
  • Other grains: Barley and rye
  • Beverages: Beer, fortified wines, soft drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, milk, soy milk, fruit juices
Notice that avocados aren't on that list. But apparently they are high in sorbitol, which is on the list. But I've eaten just about everything on this list and been perfectly fine. In fact, I love me some fake sugars. So I'm not sure this is the reason for my reaction. The other option is this:

2. "Latex Fruit Syndrome" (yeah, that's a thing). Apparently 30-50% of people who are allergic to latex also have a hypersensitivity to certain plant-based foods, including bananas, kiwis, bell peppers, and—you guessed it—avocados.

Again, this does not apply to me (although it does say only 30-50%). I can eat all of those without worry and I do not have an allergy to latex. 

It's not just whole avocados my stomach seems to have issue with, but also avocado mayonnaise, which I had been using in my breakfast (egg salad) as well. And that's probably why I always felt kind of "ugh" after breakfast too. So, I had to give my tub of it to Patrick, along with the rest of my avocados.

I had a funeral service for my loss.

This is my first "dietary restriction". It's going to take me a while to get used to it because it's not like I was born with an allergy to peanuts that I've learned to avoid over the course of my young life. It's just so weird to even have to think about it. Avocados are in a lot of things!

What about you? Do you have any food intolerances? Are you sensitive to FODMAPs? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Day 2.5: Porteau Cove

Day 1
Day 2

Porteau Cove
Because I wanted LTX to be its own post, I need to add one stop we made on the way to our hotel in Squamish called Porteau Cove. In my research it looked like a pretty place to see on the map so I wanted to take a look. The original plan was to stop there on Monday on our way home, but the sun was beginning to set on the way up and I thought it a perfect opportunity to catch some extra beauty.
I wanted to share some pictures of the area for you all.

Hotel Squamish
I'm going to end this short blog entry with our check in at Hotel Squamish. It was probably the worst hotel I've ever been in - and I've slept in some fairly crappy places - but their price matched and I knew what I was getting into with those places. We stepped into our room that night and discovered the hellhole that was no A/C and no usable window for airflow. Although it was 80+ degrees in the daytime, it still dipped into the mid-50's at night. But it never even got close to that all night thanks to the tiny window. At least we had 2 fans. I sat the pedestal fan on top of the mini-fridge/microwave combo and it reached the part of the window that could open. The bed was a queen but the headboard attached to the wall was for some kind of monster king bed. And the bedside table was a good 2 feet away on my side. The pillows were hard and fat, making my neck hurt while I tried to sleep. The bathroom door didn't close all the way because it was warped. And we had to spend 2 nights here. Ugh. Apparently, right down the street, The Chieftan was getting renovated and being renamed CRASH, and we got a tour. We will be staying there next time for sure.

I'm going to end the post here. Stay tuned for Day 3!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Sportsball Game


Yeah, so I was just scrolling through Facebook one afternoon and saw an ad for "Star Trek Night" at T-Mobile Park in Seattle: Mariners vs Padres. I thought to myself - this can not be a coincidence. Patrick loves his Padres since he was born and raised in San Diego; and it's Star Trek Night - with a free hat?? I had to buy tickets.

A little background in case you didn't know already. To me, all sports is sportsball. I used to casually watch football until my ex-husband killed that desire back when I was married. But I had a special dislike of baseball in my heart because it has no time limit and therefore can runnith over on TV - cutting off new episodes of Deep Space Nine with no chance of repeats. THE NERVE.

I'll be honest, when I learned that Patrick was a sports person I hesitated because of my prior experience with Justin. Football kind of consumed him and caused me a lot of anger, annoyance, and frustration. He would often hold small parties with his friends, make a huge mess, yell and scream at the TV and I had no where to escape. We got complaints of the noise level. Sometimes if I asked questions I could get condescending remarks. He would get drunk and unruly. He started to watch football games other than the Seahawks because he wanted to know which team would win and then play against them. Nothing would take precedence over the game. A game wouldn't take 3 hours - sometimes it would take 5 or more because he would pause it and argue with his friends. I hated it so much, and it caused such a sour taste in my mouth that even after we divorced I couldn't watch football anymore.

So when I told Patrick about the Padres game and offered to buy tickets, I was really putting myself out there. I was only interested because I got a free Star Trek hat and because I wanted to make Patrick happy. I had never in my life watched a baseball game in full. I had never gone to one in person or even visited T-Mobile Park. I knew maybe 3% of how baseball was even played. But for the first time in my life, I was willing to do something I knew I would truly dislike for the sake of my boyfriend's happiness. And in all fairness, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, baseball is slow and kind of boring, but even I clapped and cheered when the Mariners got a home run, and we had alcohol and good food ta-boot.

Plus, I got to spend Quality Time™ with Patrick doing something that he absolutely loved. And that's all that really matters.

That and the free hat. XD

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Day 2: LTX 2019!

Read about Day 1 here

Okay, so let me set the stage a little bit here. LMG (Linus Media Group) has 3 Youtube channels, Linus Tech Tips, Techquickie, and Techlinked. They employ about 30 people and as a company they're pretty big. They have almost 9 million subscribers on LTT alone. So once their base of fans grew, they decided to start yearly meetups. The first 2 LTX's were pretty janky, but this year they were going to go all out. They even had other tech-related youtube celebrities show up (surprise!) last year so this year they had a Creator's area set up so that they wouldn't be bombarded with fans the entire time they were there.

They had a lot of things to do, including things like VR RC car driving, VR escape room, a blind cable management race (in which I was there when Linus was participating - and he won, of course!), a case toss, and a cool
set up with super old computer technology. They had a large BYOC (bring your own computer) area for overnight gameplay, and even a free-play area with PCs already set up. But considering they sold all 3000 available tickets for Saturday, the lines were kind of ridiculous. In fact, the line to get in was cray. Patrick and I decided to wait it out and go eat lunch at Fatburger and come back when the line was gone.

So we got in at about 11:30, and decided to stand in the merch line. I've been wanting to buy merch for a while but didn't want to pay shipping so I decided to wait until LTX. So I had to make sure I got my stuff before they sold out. As we were waiting, I saw Linus in the Creator's area across the way taking pics and signing stuff. I looked over at the schedule sign and he was only going to be there until 1pm (!) so I decided to stand in line while Patrick waited in the merch line. As I crept closer, I realized that we were running out of time. I wasn't going to make it by 1pm, I just wasn't. I crept closer at about the same rate as Patrick, so even if I did make it he wouldn't be here to see it. Finally,
Linus came up to a volunteer and asked about the line. I couldn't hear the conversation but I saw him gesture and say to cut the line, which is what all of us had been saying this whole time. It was cut about 5 people behind me. That was close!!! I felt so bad for those people, though. I had been in this line for 1-1/2 hours almost.
It was my turn next, and suddenly I saw Patrick standing off to the side. I gestured him to come over so that he could take pics. Just in the nick of time!! I was so nervous. I gave Linus the LTX19 low-ball glass that I Kim made on her Cricut machine, and asked him to sign mine.

Alex, Colton, Anthony, James
Yvonne, Brandon, Jon
Riley, Luke

He was so nice; I think he expected me to ask questions or have a conversation (He had been doing so with everyone, which is why the line was taking forever) but I wanted to keep it short and sweet. I had nothing to ask - it was just cool to meet him and see him in person.

So Patrick and I actually didn't do a whole lot, mainly due to the lines. There was a delidding (CPU) class and a Beginner PC building class going on, but we checked out the old computers and I mainly just walked around in search of LMG staff to sign my glass. We watched a couple of the stage programs, and finished off with the Live WAN show. It was hosted by Linus and Luke, and Linus asked if he'd managed to walk around, and Luke basically said "I went to visit a friend at the BYOC area and have been stuck there ever since". Yeaahhh, he signed my "AMD outside - so many cores!" shirt too ;D

WAN show started late - of course - which basically meant that I was late getting back to my car - which meant that I ended up with a parking ticket! Super lame. We decided to hang out and eat at Tim Horton's for dinner because I just didn't feel like going to an actual restaurant and waiting for food. We were both pretty exhausted and we still had to drive up to Squamish and check in at our hotel.

What a day, though. So many good memories. I'm going to have to buy a shadowbox for my glass in order to keep it safe!

Onward and upward to Day 3 - Whistler!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Day 1: Vancouver, B.C.

It all started with an obsession of Linus Tech Tips. After discovering his youtube channel and learning so much tech-related stuff, I thought it would be fun to plan a trip to Vancouver, BC, where they are based, for the LTX (Linus Tech eXpo) 2019. They promised it would be bigger and better than ever (having only been running for 2 years prior to this one.) I was going to attempt to do this trip alone, and planned hotel stays and things to do, including traveling up to Whistler for a day. And then Patrick came into my life. Although he's not a techie like I am, he enjoys watching Linus on youtube and I invited him to come with me on this trip. That was only 3 months ago, believe it or not!

The Drive
It was going to take roughly 3.5 hours to get to Vancouver, depending on Northbound traffic and customs, so I wanted to start early. We left my place at 5am Friday, July 26th, for the trek north. I had never crossed the border as an adult so I was super nervous, but everything turned out fine. Our first stop of the day was trying to find an ATM machine to exchange currency/find a Tim Horton's to have breakfast. We were already getting frustrated. The first place we checked turned out to be a 7-Eleven with a Tim Horton's express and a broken ATM. Next stop was an actual Tim Horton's but no ATM machine. At least we got breakfast. On the plus side, our debit cards worked fine; it would charge us CAD but our bank amount was in USD, so it ended up being less. So our next stop was actually going to be Wal-Mart. Patrick needed some flip-flops for a future activity and I wanted to find this hair Gelee called Girls with Curls. Apparently it's not sold in the US and it's Bianca Renee's favorite curly girl gel.
Wal-Mart 1 was completely out of stock. That was fine. We managed to get money out of an ATM to use for the remainder of our trip.

[Side note: In order to change my vehicle to Kph, I also had to change from Fahrenheit to Celsius. I kept complaining that I didn't know how hot it was outside. And Patrick joked about Canadian time being in Kila-hours and Milli-minutes. I love this man.]

Lynn Canyon Park
Google research originally sent me to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which admittedly looked really cool, however it would cost a pretty penny to go to, so I looked for other options. Turns out, Lynn Canyon was free and also had a
suspension bridge. Can I just point out that I am SO INCREDIBLY GLAD that Patrick joined me on this trip and was driving? Because Jesus Wept, Vancouver is BAD. Traffic was a complete nightmare and people were walking everywhere and ugh. I would have been so anxious and stressed - it's worse than Seattle!

Anyway, so it took us 30 minutes to get there, and parking was atrocious as well. It was over 80 degrees outside and we had no idea that this park had not only trails and a bridge, but a freaking awesome swimming hole with seriously inviting water. Patrick wanted to jump in - clothes and all.

I am also very proud of my sweetie for crossing the bridge; he's got a fear of heights and he had no idea what was in store for the rest of our trip.

Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours

The next stop on my list was Stanley Park. This place is massive - larger than Central Park - so I had decided that the best way to explore it would be not by foot, but by carriage. Again, the traffic getting there was a nightmare, and the roads are a bit weird; so still super glad I wasn't driving. We paid to park and found the tour. Although it was relaxing, I found it a tad boring. Plus, Patrick and I were running on fumes - especially him because he got way less sleep last night than I had. It being 85+ degrees out didn't help either. We walked through the garden on the way back to our car and were glad that it was time to head to the hotel. 

YWCA Hotel
After our trip to Stanley Park, it was time to check into our hotel. Okay, this place was pretty sweet. It's a mix between a hotel and a hostel - so you get a private room, but the bathroom is shared on each floor. There were 12 floors and some had laundry or a kitchen, and some were just rooms (like ours). It saved me a ton staying here because Vancouver, in summer, is not cheap. We're talking $200-$400 a night. This place was $120 (plus $20 to park in their garage). The YWCA was right in the heart of downtown and only a mile walk to the Vancouver Lookout and the Convention Center, where LTX was being held. The room itself was modern and nice. It still had A/C, a sink and a mini-fridge, and unfortunately two twin beds instead of a queen, but you make do with what you get! I highly recommend this place if you need to stay in Vancouver proper.

view from the hotel

Dark Table
I had discovered this place in my google searches and made a reservation for 5:45pm. So this place is pretty cool. Basically, there are a few of these restaurants in the world, and you eat in complete darkness. The waiters are all blind. You order before you go in, and they lead you to your table. We opted for the Dinner/Dessert combo. I ordered the mushroom risotto, and Patrick had the lamb rigatoni. The desserts were to be a surprise. It wasn't too difficult to eat and drink in the dark. You know where your mouth is, and you kind of remember where you placed your water. I do feel as

though the pleasure of eating your food can be heightened if you take away your sense of sight. I also think that people felt as if they needed to talk louder because they couldn't see. It was disturbingly loud in that place. I would have been much happier with some sound dampened walls or something.
That risotto though - wow. It was amazingly delicious. I was excited for dessert. It was reminding me of a blind taste test where you had to guess what you're eating. It ended up being way too easy, though. I got a cheesecake, and Patrick got a chocolate ganache cake. We switched. He loves cheesecake. All in all, a really cool experience.

Vancouver Lookout
The last stop of my list for the day was the Vancouver Lookout. They have a tall, spaceship-like tower just like Seattle's own Space Needle. It was getting close to sunset, and I was suddenly excited at the prospect of going up there to watch the sunset because I had missed out last week on Patrick's trip to Seattle with his family. We parked back at the hotel and walked to it. Although the views were very nice, it didn't seem as impressive as the Space Needle because Vancouver is riddled with high rises. They have 3 high rise skylines, even. The view of the sunset was marred with buildings blocking the bay, which was certainly unfortunate. I still managed to get some decent sunset pictures, but I was having more fun doing tilt-sift and city nightscapes. Those turned out really well considering I didn't have my tripod on me. 

I so love the tilt-shift effect!

Vancouver [east] Convention Center, where LTX was held

So that was all we managed to get done that day. It turned out very well and I'm glad I hadn't overbooked us. On to LTX tomorrow!