The Surgery – Part 2

10:47 pm by

Part 2: The Early Hours

So we’re up, and I’m getting ready. Enjoying my last hours on both feet. Not enjoying cottonmouth or sleepy head or bad dream hangover. One final pic of the Cutsie Tootsies, and we’re off.

Cutsie Tootsies!

I thought Nurse Rached told me to be there at 6.15a. Doors to the surgery center don’t open until 6.30am. WHAT? Is she out to get me or something? Nope, I think I was just groggy. She said an hour before the surgery, which is scheduled for 7.15am. We couldn’t go out for coffee (I might’ve gone on some sort of coffee rampage if I had to be around anyone sipping the beloved brew – or any liquid – right about then), so we sat in the car: Mr Lici playing PSP while I did my NYT crossword puzzle. We’d had the “Advanced Directive” talk the night before, no need to revisit that depressing convo. My no-caffeine, no-liquid, bad-sleep headache had reduced me to monosyllabic answers to any question, anyway.

Finally, the doors opened. We signed in, sat for 10 minutes looking around the beautiful office (complete with coffee pot and two water stations – AGH, will this torture never end?) and chatting. I read Chip MacGregor’s hilarious “12 Deep Thoughts From My Mailbox” out loud to Mr Lici (I’d’ve cried with laughter if I had any moisture left in my body). BTW, he really is a nice guy, and deeply funny. I thought I detected a very quiet giggle from the receptionist’s desk.

Finally, they called me in. I had to don to requisite hospital johnny (Janey?), which had the requisite confusing ties but was also quite warm and without the requisite breeze in the back. NICE. Plus I got super cute socks! (You’ll see them later, in the post-op). I heart socks. OK, here’s a sneak peek:

So cute, so warm & my favorite color!

My nurse was the exact opposite of Nurse Rached. She was amazing, so professional and soothing and comfortable. Nurse Jenni (hereby designated as Best Nurse Ever) got me situated, then she rolled down my left leg super-cute sock and looked at me. “Which leg is being operated on?”

I suppressed the urge to bolt. AGH! It is Nurse Rached in a nice nurse disguise! After this, I made it a point to enunciate exactly which leg I was talking about whenever asked.

Still being somewhat in command of a clear mind, I said the right leg. She rolled down my sock and wrote NO on my left leg. (You know why, right?)

Nurse Jenni then hooked wrapped a weird pump around my left leg that stimulated blood vessel movement to prevent clots. It wasn’t uncomfortable – that part was yet to come.

Finally, they let Mr Lici in to see me. Turns out I had to take out my contacts “just in case.” I’m pretty sure I turned a slight shade of green, but she assured me I wasn’t going under unless the anesthesiologist decided I needed to. (AGH!) I informed her of my terrible veinage issue (i.e., no one can ever find them and I end up leaving blood draws looking like Pinhead attacked my arms); turns out, the new veinage preference is the back of the hand, where I’ve always my IVs (oh, and ouch). Fortunately, her needle was itty bitty and didn’t hurt nearly as much as the butcher-shop phlebotomist from J’s birth.

Sounds like I’m ripping on nurses here. Hold onto your own purple socks – I’ll tell you all about the fab nurses.

Before I took out my contacts, I noticed Pastor Greg was in the room with Mr Lici. He got up early just to come and pray with me before the surgery! I heart Pastor Greg! (His wife, Marilyn, is one of my most favorite people in the world, too; don’t go getting any ideas – I am not that kind of secretary.)

The Fabulous Dr G comes in and we chat while he goes over my records, and signs my right leg. “Rockstar,” he says. I make a mental note to add him to my Christmas list and maybe buy him a car with my million dollar check – oh, wait, wrong place and time here… the “starter drip” on my IV has kicked in.

Nurse Betty comes in to go over my pre-op. Same questions as usual – by now I’ve got the pre-op answers down to a science. Tynosynovectomy with possible partial plate repair, right leg, no meds this morning, no food or drink since 9pm, sign the consent, yes, I’m comfortable. Nurse Betty, in addition to being amazingly professional, is also adorable. It must be Nurse Ratched’s day off. The anesthesiologist comes in and we talk drugs. (haha.) PS: Note to guys: when you’re talking to people in a prone position, take care of the nose hair grooming, ‘kay? Dr N was really nice, though, and did a great job at keeping the pain and sedation at a manageable level. That may have been the IV thinking…

Mr Lici takes a pic of me just as the “starter drip” turns into a woo-hoo drip, then staff kicks Mr Lici & Greg out (Mr Lici gives me a goodbye kiss and does a great job of hiding any fear. Go, Mr Lici!).

"Give me a thumbs & a smile if you're ready!" I guess I'm ready...

The conversations between me and the nurses has deteriorated into “After that, will I mumble-mumble fall mumble fish tank mumble…” as the IV drip kicks into high gear. I hear something about saline and antibiotic and “IV sedation is better than gas, you’ll come out of this very quickly with a check for ONE MILLION KRONA….” I knew I shouldn’t have finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest last night!

They wheel me into the OR, I’m transferred to an operating gurney, and wrap my right leg in an operating tourniquet. (Something a bloodless operating field. Think about that for a while.) “Just relax,” Dr N says and then it’s…

fade to black...

Stay tuned for Part 3, where the patient:

  • Becomes a Fan of Twilight
  • Finally gets a sip of water
  • Realizes a skirt would, indeed, have been a great clothing option
  • Gets a ride in a wheeled La-Z-Boy
  • Still isn’t patient
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The Surgery – Part 1

7:00 pm by

Note: Sorry for taking so long updating. I was lucid but loopy (oh, yes, friends, that is possible) all day yesterday!

Tuesday (pre-op day) was crazy busy. Housecleaning, bill-paying, catching up on work, answering emails, pre-making meals (well, menus, anyway), squaring everything away. Need proof of the craziness of Tuesday? I had a list!

Here’s my to-do list:

HAHAHA!Hahaha! OK, once I found the lost list, it looked more like this:

The  most awesome Dr G had told me at last week’s pre-op appointment that I couldn’t eat or drink anything (including water) for 8 hours prior to the surgery – contrary to what I was I told during the pre-op phone consult with the surgery center the day before, where I’d been told I couldn’t eat or drink for 12 hours. Yes, folks, 12 hours. If you’ve ever had to fast before a blood test or hospital procedure, you know how bad even 6 hours without water can be. It’s like your body goes, “WHA? I can’t have water? I will protest by giving you a perpetual case of cottonmouth the instant you know you can’t have water! That’ll show you!”

Haha from Consumerist.com

This nurse, by the way, was the same one who’d told me, during the same phone call, that I couldn’t wear my contact lenses to the operation. I was all, “Whatchoo talking about, Willis? I know someone might’ve told you I watch the surgeries on TLC, but I can assure that I will not peek while Dr G slices into my tootsies!” She said, “Ha-ha (no, really, she said “Ha-ha,” in that ‘I’m laughing but not’ kind of way perfected by the Nurse Racheds of the world). Actually we’ll be taping your eyes shut as a precautionary measure.” WHAAAA? Dr G reassured me that I would not be going completely under, I’d have IV sedation, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame. Dr G is the deliverer of very good news.

At around 7pm, the anesthesiologist called with even more very good news: I was not to eat or drink after midnight. WOOT! I celebrated by drinking a half-gallon of water, chased with a one-liter of H2O goodness. I’m not very bright sometimes.

Since the surgery was scheduled for first thing in the morning, Mr Lici made me go to bed at 9pm. (Mr Lici sez: “Yes, you are getting up at 5am. You always forget something and make us late.” What he meant was, “<evil cackle>You are getting up at 4.45am! Boo-haha!”) Whereupon I promptly guzzled another half-liter of my new favorite beverage while reading a really good book.

And since I always have bad dreams right before a big day, and my dreams are Technicolor (seriously, they’re like movies, and I can remember everything. This can be fun if the dream is about, say, Italy. The dreams following, say, a viewing of that movie where the couple set up a camera in the bedroom to capture the ghost at night – not so much). Cue tonight’s triple feature:

Dream 1: The boys are spending the night w/the Megs family because we have to get up so early. M is a notorious early riser, and also a notorious early alarm clock. He lays in his sleeping bag, where they’ve camped out in the living room, and sighs… and sighs… and sighs – until Megs comes down and clocks him with a pillow. (Not that he doesn’t deserve a pillow thunk for waking the entire house before dawn, but Megs would never do that.) In the dream, Megs calls us at 4.30am with the news that she has to take M to the ER with severe stomach pain. I jump out of bed, only to find that The Toe That Would Not Heal (henceforth known as “The Toe”) had become The Toe That Fell Off (henceforth never to be mentioned again). Screams over the closing credits as I nearly fall out of bed on for my first trip to Bruiseland via the hope chest blocking the path to restroom.

Dream 2: I am lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and blissfully getting all of the answers wrong in my NYT crossword puzzle. (1 Down: this can be a jar. Fred. 76 across: German mister. Fred.) Mr Lici came in and calmly handed me an envelope. I, assuming it was the Advanced Directive papers I’d (of course) forgotten on the table, opened it to find out he wanted a divorce. Cue more screams over the closing credits, then we move straight to…

Image courtesy of New Line Cinemas

Dream 3: I’m in the same bed, still hooked up to the IV and doing another NYT crossword. (24 across: another word for blog. Ego. 10 down: Greek eggs. Ego.) A doctor comes in and hands me an envelope. WHAT? Now my anesthesiologist is divorcing me? He tells me what I’ve a champ I’ve been during the surgery (WHAT? I had the surgery already?) and ask me to open the envelope, which contains a check for ONE MILLION DOLLARS. I look up and suddenly realize that the doctor who’s telling me they had to amputate The Toe is DR EVIL. Mr Lici comes in, ready to pounce with his laser-beam sharks, when –

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

It’s time for all good dreamers to wake up and dream of coffee they can’t have!

Read part two, wherein the patient:

  • Says goodbye to cutsie tootsies
  • Nearly ransacks a Starbucks
  • Meets the best nurses ever
  • Isn’t patient
  • Gets a tattoo

XO,

~A

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Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

5:50 pm by

Oh, goodness. I woke up to a sore throat and pounding headache. It’s going to be 86 degrees (that’s hot here in the Williamette Valley) – being sick in the summer heat is not a recipe for angeliciousness.

Then I went into the garage to get out some chicken for supper – only to find the outside freezer defrosting. A boy didn’t close the door all the way and it sat ajar overnight. AAAGGGHHH. This has happened before, and we had to lock the freezer. We stopped locking it about a year ago (such a pain), but it looks we’ll have to start doing it again. Unlocking and re-locking the freezer helps remind them to make sure the door is shut.

Fortunately, most stuff was OK, but I wasn’t taking chances with the beef roast. Since it’s going to be hot today and I don’t want to be hovering over the stove at the peak of the afternoon heat, I decided to make a family favorite: slow cooker french dip sandwiches. I’m posting the first half right now, just in case you’re in the mood to stick something in the slow cooker.

Angelicious Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
Perfect for a hot summer day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 eye of round (or other lean) roast, about 3 lbs.
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 T each salt and pepper (I used a roasted garlic pepper mix this time), mixed in a small bowl
  • 2 c beef broth
  • 1 onion, chopped or 1/4 c dried minced onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T dried or 2 T fresh minced parsley
  • 1 T mixed pickling spices
  • 1/2 tsp each marjoram, savory, oregano and pepper

For later:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Sandwich rolls
  • Cheese slices (Havarti and Swiss work well with this recipe)
  • Lettuce & tomato

Before you begin:

I say this all the time, but it’s worth repeating: prep is everything. You’re going to be working with raw meat, so make sure to do your prep work before you touch it! Set aside the bowl with one T each salt and pepper, and have the garlic slices ready in a small bowl.

All set. Notice the red mat.

Mix onion, bay leaf, parsley and remaining herbs & spices in another prep bowl and set aside.

Garlicky Goodness, IKEA prep bowl. I heart IKEA.

Spray the inside of your crockpot and also a large skillet (if using a seasoned cast-iron, you do not need to spray). Sprinkle about 2 T of the herb & spice mixture on the bottom of the crockpot.

Let’s get busy:

Place roast on a cutting mat (you are using a special cutting mat that is only for raw meat, right?) and trim away any fat. With a small, sharp knife, make several deep slits in the roast. Stuff these slits with garlic slices. Repeat around the entirety of the roast.

Little pockets of garlic goodness

Remember that red mat? It cost something like $2.99 at IKEA and is only used for raw meat prep (that’s why it’s red! When my other cutting boards wear out, I’m getting a green one for veggies and a new wooden one for bread. :) ). Anyway, it’s important to keep raw meat away from other foods – don’t use the same mat you cut meat on to cut salad veggies – even if it’s been washed. If you have no choice – say, you live in a tent and have no room for a second cutting mat, which is really the only scenario I can think of for not buying a flat, $2 cutting board! – be sure to use a plastic cutting board (wood absorbs bacteria and is very difficult to disinfect) and put it in the dishwasher immediately after use (the dishwasher is the only way to disinfect a cutting board. Well, you could do the bleach/hot water thing, but hey, the dishwasher’s already full!).

OK, sermon over. :) I just want you to be safe.

Rub outside of roast with salt and pepper (or whatever rub you use; I tried a new roasted garlic mix, then added a bunch of pepper. Next time, I’ll go back to my traditional rub). Wash hands well with hot, soapy water, then turn heat under skillet to medium-high.

Rubbed & ready

When hot, transfer the roast to the skillet. Brown, turning to each side after a few moments. This seals the flavor. Be sure to get the ends, too!

You may need to stand the roast on its end to brown the ends.

Transfer roast to the sprayed crockpot. Pour a small amount of beef broth in the still-hot skillet and scrape with spatula to remove the browned bits. Pour this mixture over the browned roast in the crockpot.

Naughty Bits

Pour remaining beef broth and red wine vinegar around (not over, you’ll wash away the rub) the roast in the crock. Sprinkle with remaining herb and spice mixture.

Ready for cooking

Cover and set crock for 6-8 hours on low, 4-6 on high. OH, and don’t wash the skillet! You’ll use it again, with any remaining naughty bits, later.

Ready to serve:

Slice mushrooms thinly. In skillet you used earlier, swirl about 1 T extra-virgin olive oil and place on medium-high heat. When pan is ready, add mushrooms and saute for about 3-5 minutes, or until softened.

Slice cheese into fourths; slice tomatoes and prepare lettuce leaves. Split sandwich rolls and place one slice lettuce and two small slices of tomato on each one.

BUNS!

Remove roast from crock and place on (clean) mat. While roast is cooling (don’t cut a hot roast, you just get a bunch of chunks instead of nice, neat slices), strain broth/spices from crock into a sieve. Pour strained juices into small bowls for dipping.

Cooling time!

When roast is cooled (about 10-20 minutes), cut into 1″ slices. Place one slice of roast on each split roll, then top with one slice of cheese. I used a combo of Havarti & Cheddar. Top with a large spoonful of sauteed mushrooms.

Sandwiches, ready to eat!

When it’s not super-hot, I toast these in the oven; it was hot, so I didn’t.

Serve with homemade potato wedges, bowls of au jus and salad. Watch your picky eaters eat the entire lot & beg for more.

Hungry man!

Enjoy!


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Happy Birthday, US of A! Ciabatta Bites

10:31 pm by

What are you doing for 4 July? We’re having ribs with friends, then fireworks. Happy birthday, US of A!

(BTW, this is a very patriotic and internationally happy appetizer: red tomatoes, white Havarti cheese, bleu cheese olives, peppered dry salami on ciabatta bread. Has been tested for quality control by @Michael Diehl & passed with (heh) flying colors.)

Ciabatta Bites

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Honey-Dew List

7:12 pm by

My honey likes lists (“If you don’t write it down, I won’t remember!”), so I was pleased to find this adorable and free printable Honey Dew list from To Be Charmed. Elizabeth, a graphic designer & mom of two, has a bunch of other cute printables there, too!

I printed three sheets (3 Honey Dew weeks to a sheet), so I have a total of nine lists all stapled together – this should last ’til the end of summer. I haven’t given them to Mr Lici yet, as I got a few phone calls & reminders that involve his truly.  Here’s a (badly scanned) sample of my HoneyDew:

Check it out at http://www.to-be-charmed.com/freegoodies/HoneyDo_3up.pdf and be sure to visit Elizabeth’s To Be Charmed site!

(Are you amused that I put “kiss your bday wife” for next Friday? Guys always forget bdays. :)

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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

5:54 pm by

Happy Saturday!

We returned last night from our family reunion in Yosemite with sore bums from so much driving and amazed eyes from so much looking. Yosemite National Park, if you’ve never been there, is one of the most spectacular sights in these humble United States. Getting to hang out with my family-in-love (Mike’s huge family of aunts, uncles & cousins) was like icing on the cake!

One of the best things about vacations – besides just getting away from it all – is returning home. I love crawling into my huge, comfy bed, taking a hot bath with my favorite bath salt, petting my sweet kitty. And cooking – I so missed cooking! I did one dish at the campground – a chili verde recipe for my mom-in-love – so my cooking mojo was starving for attention. Wading through 296 emails last night, I came across this lovely dish & decided to surprise my family (& get back into the groove) with Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. I’m still in my sweet Nick & Nora PJs as I type this… ah, home. Sorry for the lack of pictures – I was a bit busy!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

an Angelicious breakfast treat – with inspiration from The Big Red Kitchen

This is truly a one-bowl recipe, but it has several steps. Follow the steps the first time, and see what works for you.

Before you begin….

If you have pastry bags, now’s the time to get them out. If you don’t, you can use plastic sandwich bags (the kind that seal) – you will need  two. Open the bags and spread the top part around a drinking glass, making a kind of “bowl” out of the bag. You will be pouring your filling & icing into these bags.

Make the filling and icing first – you’ll need them almost immediately after you make the pancake batter (and that’s how you get one bowl!)

The original recipe called for a pancake mix; I’m enclosing my family’s favorite pancake recipe because I rarely use mixes. If, however, you use mixes, I heartily recommend Trader Joe’s multigrain baking mix – so good and so good for you!

I used my regular griddle for this, but since the cinnamon filling caramelizes so easily, I might use a cast-iron skillet next time.

Ingredients

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) very soft butter
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash kosher salt

In large bowl, use mixer to whip butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and beat until very smooth. Watch for lumps here – brown sugar tends to get little “sugar rocks,”  break them up with a fork if you see any. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the filling into one of the bags (scrape the sides as clean as possible). Your bowl should look pretty clean, with maybe a streak or two of mix on the sides – don’t worry about it. :) You do, however, want to rinse the beaters and spatula before the next step.

Icing

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 T milk

In same bowl, use mixer to combine all ingredients until smooth. Use spatula to scrape icing into the other bag; again, clean the sides as best you can with the spatula.

Angelicious Pancakes

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour (I use Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 1/2 c milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T butter, melted or 6 T canola oil
  • 1 T vanilla

Preheat your griddle or skillet, spraying lightly with cooking spray. (If using a skillet, a pat of butter works better than spray.)

In the same bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, eggs (I like to beat the eggs first, makes it easier to blend), and melted butter or canola oil. Beat with mixer until batter is smooth and not lumpy.

We were out of milk (because who leaves milk in the fridge for a week while on vacation? Except I did forget to dump the bowl of tuna salad before we left, and uh, GROSS) so I made up a quart of powdered milk. Always keep powdered milk on hand – you never when you might need it, and no one can taste the difference when cooking.

Get your filling and icing ready by snipping a scant 1/4″ to 1/2″ from the corner of your bags (or screw in a round tip if using a pastry bag).

Scoop batter using a 1/4 c dry measuring cup and pour onto griddle – I do about 3 at a time on the griddle, but would do at a time in a skillet. Let cook for about 15 seconds, then grab the cinnamon filling bag. Beginning at the outside of the pancake, make a swirl of cinnamon filling around to the inside of the pancake – like a cinnamon roll! Do this to the other pancake(s) and let cook for 15-30 more seconds, or until edges of the pancakes are dry. Flip over and let cook for 15-30 more seconds.

tip: while you’re waiting for the pancakes to cook, start filling your sink with hot, soapy water. Trust me on this one.

When pancakes are ready, carefully scoop up using a spatula and plate them – don’t stack! You’ll need a large serving platter or several plates. To me, this one of those “eat as you cook” type of dishes, unless you’re planning to serve a bunch – if so, plate them on a large baking sheet and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven.

While the pancakes are still warm, grab your icing bag and perform another snip on the corner. Swirl icing over each pancake – I used a straight up-and-down, a nice contrast to the swirl of the cinnamon filling, but you can do swirls, a cross-hatch pattern – whatever suits your fancy. Remember that the larger your bag opening, the more icing you’ll use and, since these are very sweet already, you don’t want too much icing.

Repeat the process with all pancakes. If you’re doing the oven plating, you can wait until all the pancakes are finished before applying the icing – as long as the pancakes are still warm.

I served with turkey bacon; next time, I’ll add some fruit (sliced strawberries or melon chunks would work great for this dish). Sit back and watch your diners marvel at your genius.

Cleanup:

Cleanup for this recipe is a little messy, due to the caramelizing. Caramelized sugar hardens quite quickly, so be sure to scrape your griddle/pan clean while it’s still warm, then rinse the spatula. As soon as they’ve finished raving about your cooking, have your diners put their dishes immediately into the hot, soapy water so the sugar doesn’t get hard and stick to the plates and silverware.

PS: Did I mention Yosemite is amazing? My photog husband took this picture of J & me in front of Half Dome. Check out his Flickr site for even more amazing pictures (and please be sure to comment – I know his pictures are awesome, and he loves to hear from others!)

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