Category Archives: Losing my voice

T-1 Day

Tomorrow is the Big Op!

My sister came down yesterday from NC, to help out with stuff at the ranch while I’m gone (and to ferry kids around, etc., while my other sister is at the hospital with me).

My instructions for tonight, per the pre-op package: shower, put on clean jammies, wait two hours, then wipe myself down with the chlorhexadine wipes. Go to bed on clean sheets. In the morning, by 0545, I have to pour the 50g carb-loading drink down the tube. There’s also another wipedown with the chlorhexadine wipes. Then into clean clothes and at the checkin by 0745, with the OR time at 0945. It’s like flying anywhere, except with a ton more rules about how clean you have to be.

I understand the need for it these days, but it still amuses me.

I have been recording myself saying various things, so I’ll have that in my own voice versus whatever comes out of my face after the Big Op.

People keep asking me if I’m ready for this. I don’t think anyone is really ready for this. But I am prepared.

Things have been getting done left and right here as we moved toward crunch time. Early this morning, I put the second coat of primer/sealant on the medium hive bodies I built yesterday, and got the first coat of exterior paint on them.  I cleaned out the chicken coop, moved it and the poultry fence to another area, got the girls (and Sir) into the new area, mowed down the pieces they didn’t clear all the way where they were, then went over the area they were in with the cultivator, and spread some cover crop seed. Then one of my sisters, her son, and I set up the grow bags for the sweet potato slips. I’m pouring dinner down the tube, and when I finish this, I will pop into my bee suit and go tot he beeyard to refill whoever needs feed. Later, I’ll put the second coat of exterior paint on the hive bodies and build some more frames so I’ll have enough frames to fill those (40 frames total; I built 20 yesterday).

So, yet another productive day at the ranch. Tomorrow, I’ll get to rest, albeit under general anesthesia. I have my laptop packed, so as soon as possible, I’ll be leeching off the hospital internet connection so I can work and play.

It’s going to be quite the ride, peeps, so buckle up. And be well.

Transitioning back to food

AKA: weaning from tube feeding

While my upcoming, next rather life-changing surgery of a total laryngectomy does have its downside, one of the upsides (beyond not drowning in my own bodily fluids or getting another round of pneumonia) will, hopefully, be the ability to eat by mouth again. This depends on learning to swallow again, courtesy of my reconstructed neck.

Honestly assessing myself here, I feel it is much more likely that I will be able to eat than it is I will be able to speak in any intelligible manner – that is, it will be even worse than my speech is now, because I simply do not have the infrastructure in my mouth for it. I’ve made peace with this even though it’s a bummer. There are all kinds of ways to communicate now, and written has always been my favorite way anyhow.

But now I am neck deep (so to speak) in researching moving off tube feeding and back to normal eating. As I suspected, it’s going to be transitional – after all, my body is not used to real food after years on a tube. The biggest problem that I foresee is water: as I don’t have a lot of spit, eating anything is going to require what will probably be a fairly high volume of water intake with it. There’s a reason doctors tell people on diets to drink a glass of water in the arena of half an hour before they eat. Water fills you. For a normal person, this is fine. For me, it may lead to fewer calorie intake, which in turn can cause me to lose weight I really need to stay on me. We’ll see how that works out.

I don’t know if I can express enough how excited I am by the prospect of eating for real after my throat heals enough for me to relearn swallowing. I used to be a foodie, and I wouldn’t really mind being one again – pretty much anything can be diced up or minced into a piece I could swallow whole with some water, as I won’t have any teeth to chew with. Hell, babies do it all the time, and I’m sure I could as well, at least when or until I’m able to prey my jaws open and get some dentures back in there (preferably with some kind of adhesive that will keep the bottom plate in, even though there’s no good ridgeline on that side thanks to the original, life-changing surgery 14 years ago).

I’m  a little nervous about the whole stoma thing. Will I really be able to go back to all the physically-demanding stuff I do now? This is the biggest question in my head at the moment, and I’ve been hunting around the web for people relating their experiences from the physical side of the equation, post-surgery. The hard part is this: beyond all this cancer and cancer-related bullshit (fuck you, cancer), I’m perfectly healthy, and quite active. It’s a worry for me that I think I can quash just by getting it understood in my head that this is just One More Thing. I overcame the rest, and I can get through this, too.

We are at T-9 days  now. I’m still cramming in all the stuff I need to get done before I take my little vacation (of a day, maybe two, since I’ll have my laptop there, and will probably be able to work once they kick me to a regular room from the ICU, or maybe even in he ICU, who knows). Today when I got up, I was just tired to the bone, and today wound up mostly being a rest type day. I pulled some weeds out of one of the frames in front garden north, and prepped it for being run over with the cultivator. I have two flats remaining in the barn that absolutely need to be kicked out to the rows. It was my plan this morning to get those done, but I did not, because I simply did not have the energy to do it. Today, though (as it’s 0120 on the 16th as I type this), after the preop stuff at the hospital, I’ll be looking to get those done in the afternoon and wipe it off the list.

I also need to do another split from hive #10 in the beeyard, as I found multiple queen cells when I inspected it on Saturday. One of the new packages (#8 hive) swarmed away on Saturday when they released their queen. I saw them up in a tree, about 15 feet off the ground, and while I probably could have gathered them back in without putting myself in danger, I had neither the energy or patience that day to capture them, and even if I had, I had the feeling they would go again anyway, so I let them go. The bees I’ve received from a couple of places have really pissed me off. First the Buckfast hives, and now one of the new packages, which I think was a Carniolan. I’m hoping the others stay put. It isn’t like there’s anything bad in the yard. I have Italians that are chugging right along, after all. They had boxes and wax-coated frames, and feed, but they really did not want to be in their boxes. I have (finally) a good queen whose genetics I like from a survivor bee from 2018, and I’ve already taken two splits so far off that hive (#10), and those daughter hives are banging. We may just be a place where the Italians are best suited.

Time to get some sleep. One of the things the hospital says in the packet they give you is to make sure you get some good rest. That isn’t always a given for me, so we’ll see how tonight goes. Until next time,peeps: be well.

It puts the lotion on its skin

AKA: four days until the appointment with the plastic surgeon. Since he’ll probably be taking skin from my thighs (as I am not a large person and my forearms are not sufficient), I’ve not been wearing shorts when I’m working outside, even though we’ve already hit 90F once this year. We are averaging about 82F, which is pleasant enough, but still, this is the time of year that calls for shorts!

I got my instructions for my pre-op stuff: on the 16th, I will go in and give them blood yet again, have a chest xray, and EKG, a chat with the anesthesiologist, etc., etc.

And then: the waiting. Or, rather, the busting of my ass to Get Shit Done before N-Day – losing my voice – which is twenty days from now.

It’s going to be an interesting spring.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Losing my voice in 26 days

I’ve started to record myself saying certain things – mainly to my dogs, today, as we were in and out working with some crazy bees and with transplants from the barn to the gardens.

The bee craziness is just plain weird. Both packages installed without issue, but the next day were both showing far more activity than they should have. It looked like some epic battling was going on in both. I know it couldn’t have been robbing, as they had nothing to rob.

I pulled the front feeder off both, put in an entrance reducer  on both, then put the feeder jars on top of the frames in the medium box. To cover the feeder, I put an empty deep box over them and closed them. A couple hours later, there was far less activity at the landing boards. Success!

Except: the next day, the first package (from this point on, noted as #1) and the second package (#2) were still being weird: both of them had bees lined up on the underside of the bottom boards. Because I use screened bottom boards, when they fan to distribute the queen’s pheromones, some of them were actually under the  hive.

What to do? Nothing to do except the (carefully) take apart the hive and clear the bottom of the boards of dead bees and shake the bees into their home (again).

Next day: go out, find #1 bees are clustering themselves from the inner cover, like a bunch of idiots who can’t tell they have food and a place to draw comb and go about their business. Add some deep frames to the deep body that is covering the food bottle.

Next day: mowing the property, and I take a swing by the beeyard, only to find the front of #2 hive covered in bees. Great: #1 has swarmed and landed on #2.

This was not the case, though: turns out, every bee in #2 was hanging on the outside of the box.  Put them all back in, close it up, call it a night.

Today: go back out to make sure they are continuing what they started. Alas, no. The #2 hive is completely empty. I look around the beeyard, and see a dark spot in a tree about 50′ away. There they were, hanging out. I positioned a box with some frames in it where I thought they would land, then pulled the branch toward me and gave it a single hard tug. I’m happy to say I got almost all of them in the first go, including the queen: the workers immediately started fanning like crazy, and some bees that landed outside the box started marching in.

That’s three times to hive this package. It’s supposed to be rainy the next couple of days, so that may keep them home, realizing this is a pretty damn fine place to be: a roof over their head, frames to build on, and food to eat.

Didn’t get any transplants in today, as it started raining while I was getting the girls back into a hive. I’ll have a video of that swarm retrieval up as soon as I can get some time to edit.

I hope those girls are still there tomorrow. It’s a shame to waste that much energy on something if it’s just going to leave or break.

As I type this, it is March 31, 2019. That means it is 26 days until I lose my voice.

Until next time, peeps: be well.