Day After Surgery- 8/21/2020

Friday seemed like a whirlwind really quick day. After waking up off and on all night, the nurses came in around 6:00am to remove the catheter and IV fluids. We went for a two lap walk and then I sat in a chair for 15 minutes before the pain became way to unbearable. By 7am both the OT and PT had stopped in to set up a return time. I had a delicious fruit cup and hard boiled egg for breakfast before the OT lady watched me put on socks and brush my teeth. The Physical Therapist said every report he has gotten was that I was good to discharge. So by around noon my parents were waiting out the front door and I was being discharged with 8 new medications.

I fully expected my ADHD self to go crazy sitting in the hospital room alone but it was so nice. No TV or music on, just peace and quiet.

This day just seemed fast but I just remember the whirlwind, all the blood work, all the visitors and being so excited I could slowly reposition my self in bed. Surgery day I felt like one of my residents being repositioned. I couldn’t even push myself up with my hand arms.

My horrible, glad to be out of the hospital and with mom and dad selfie.

Every bump on the ride home was scary…. Downtown Seattle to Covington seems like such a long distance. But it felt amazing being out in the fresh air. We stopped by two pharmacies to pick up meds and I walked around with my lovely bandage. No shame in a big zipper down the back of your head, right? And not to mention the braids were horrible!

I got home, tried to eat but was still sore from the breathing tube. I laid in bed and rested for a while doing anything to stay comfortable. I really do not remember much about day 2.

And the world fell apart…

I have been mentally trying to destress and be anxiety free for surgery on Thursday. It seems like the world is pushing against me right now. Telling me I should be taking care of others before myself. Telling me to postpone surgery for another date. But then I am also being pushed to care for myself. The guilt is unreal. Today I came across this shirt from Etsy. It made me laugh… because it is so true. Multiple times a day I run into walls thinking I am in the middle of a path. Just one symptom of many… that could be solved with one minor brain surgery.

On another hand. My last post I said I would be blogging about feelings and experiences leading up to this moment. I literally forgot what I was going to blog about. Soooo, maybe it will be an afterthought blog.

Happiness Day 8- Just Being Real

I hate holidays. I miss having big family get togethers and having my parents around for holidays. Chicago is just too far away and so expensive to fly to. Today has been a rough day. I found myself crying ALL day… from watching feel good things. I feel mom and dad sick today. I miss them…. So, today it is hard to feel happy.

But, I still feel so blessed. Today I am happy that I cuddled with Maple. Maple is our dwarf bunny at work. He stays inside and brings so much joy to our seniors and their families. He is just so stinking cute that you can’t help but feel happy seeing him.

On days when you find it hard to be happy, what do you do? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Uncle Les


I feel like this year I have experiences so much loss. I lost two people that meant the world to me and who I relied on more than I knew. Two people that loved me unconditionally and I loved the same.

This month Uncle Les passed away. He is not my blood uncle but was kind of like a father figure. I meant him through my sissy Jessica. Jessica and I went to high school together and worked at Arbor Village for 11 years together. I love Jessica! I love my whole crazy “family” so much! It was through her that I was adopted into her family. We would tell our residents that Uncle Les was my dad and that her mother was my stepmother. Everybody believed it because he is American so it just worked and made sense. I truly believe God places people in our lives for a reason and this family was one of them.

Uncle Les’ passing was quick. It was way too soon (in my opinion). The last week of his life I spent everyday at the hospital and would drive straight there on my days off. I got to help him in a time of severe need and be there to love him and support him and our family. The day he passed away I spent the night at the hospital with Momma Schwartz. It was rough. It was very little sleep… very little sleep. I cried seeing the pain and discomfort he was in. It hurt to see him hurt. It hurt to see everybody hurt. It was a tiring and painful experience.

I think about a week before I drove him and Momma Schwartz to a doctor’s appointment. On the way home Uncle Les grabbed my shoulder and with tears in his eyes said thank you. I started crying also and explained that it was I who needed to thank him. I confessed that I have always struggled to feel like I belonged. At no fault to anyone around me, this is 100% my own insecurities. Being around him and my Schwartz/Lucena/Gogue family in his home was somewhere I truly felt like I belonged. He told me it was because I did and it was where I was meant to be if I was not with my blood family. He told me that I am a part of his family and was his daughter and would always have a place in his home and heart. He said he was lucky Jessica brought me into his life but it is truly me that was lucky to be adopted into this family!

This was something Uncle Les was good at. He was good at loving all people and opening up himself to anyone he was around. He talked with everybody he met and flirted with even more.

He reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou. She said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Uncle Les made us all feel loved and welcomed and appreciated and wanted and needed.

As I spoke to the crowd at the memorial service I encouraged them to do something. We never know when it is our time to go. So as I encouraged them, I now encourage you to say you love your family and friends more, take more pictures with your loved ones, worry less, enjoy more, thank people always, and to make more memories.

Loss of loved ones is hard. I am thankful in my testimony  of our Heavenly Father’s plan and to know that death is not the end.

And if we need to find a positive throughout the sadness, because of Uncle Les my “family” keeps growing bigger as I got to meet so many loving members of Marisa’s family that just allowed me to enter their arms.


My health coach posted a very fitting article on her blog today that reminded me of an experience I had last week. The directors I work with went out to dinner to one of my absolutely favorite restaurants, The Cactus. On day 27 I was plagued the whole day with the biggest temptation I have had thus far. At this point I knew I could survive eating right for another 30 days if I allowed myself to order my favorite dish and snacked on chips and salsa. I could just start over and be able to enjoy my Chicken Fried Chicken. That morning I woke up and looked at the menu and found an alternative… but still thought about cheating. At lunch I looked at the menu again, and settled on a different alternative…. but still thought about cheating. The drive down I argued with myself… the walk to the restaurant I argued more. As I sat at the table I argued a little more until the waiter came up and asked what I would like to drink. This was the point I decided I made a commitment to myself and others and I needed to stick by it.

Instead of chips and salsa, I had sliced vegetables with guacamole and salsa.

Instead of chicken fried chicken I had this mess of grilled chicken, vegetables and a portobello mushroom. I am sure the waiter thought I was annoying as I asked him the ingredients in everything but I knew he understood because when I ordered my water in the beginning, he told me about how carefully he was trying to eat and how he was also not allowed dairy or sugar.

You know what really made it easy? Being able to text my health coach. Having that extra support makes a big difference. And I knew I was not alone because she was in Las Vegas saying “No!” to a buffet of desserts.

To see Emese’s vacation eating article, click below.

Now for some delicious meals I have had lately:

I went to MANY stores to find ground chorizo that was compliant. Before I did, I found chorizo sausages from Whole Foods. This dish was beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips sautéed in a little olive oil with lots of garlic. It was a great balance of sweet and spicy.

Tonight I retried to make coconut chicken. I chopped up one chicken breast, tossed it with coconut flour, chili powder, ground ginger, and sea salt, dipped it in a beaten egg, and rolled it in unsweetened coconut (a smaller grated coconut than I tried a couple weeks ago). Fried in a little olive oil until cooked… it really hit the spot. I put it on top of a cauliflower stir fry (cauliflower rice, red onions, green peppers, grated carrots, pineapple, garlic, coconut aminos, and sesame oil).

Now to come full circle. My Chicken Fried Chicken from Cactus is a breaded Chicken on top of mashed potatoes and a chorizo gravy. Using this coconut chicken recipe and changing up the spices to give it more of a Spanish flair, I can see making my own Chicken Fried Chicken Whole 30 compliant.

Moral of the story: Patience makes way for rewards later.

I can not wait to taste the reward of my own Chicken Fried Chicken…. that will probably taste better but also BE better for me.

“You can drive in Switzerland, girl!”

My brakes close to failed as I was driving down a busy hill today. The car finally stopped 3 feet in front of a construction sign and a huge back up of cars. This was by far one of the scariest moments of my life as it could have easily ended horribly bad. But I have learned that through fear sometimes thinking up a funny memory helps to calm those nerves.

I had a resident years ago who we called “Cowboy”. I had driven a bus of residents to the Black Diamond Bakery for dinner. The whole drive he talked to me about all the times I drove him during the war. (Not sure what he thought my age was!) As we left the bakery he said, “I knew you could drive in the United States, but I had no idea you could drive in Switzerland too!”

This memory quickly entered my mind today as I felt like I was in a hopeless situation. Many times as I have been stuck in traffic or driven in stormy, scary weather, I would tell myself,

“You can drive in Switzerland, girl! You’ve got this!” And the nerves always disappear.

P.S. I am also so thankful my sister was on her way to meet me so I didn’t have to wait around for a car that won’t be ready until Monday. I love her more than she will ever know!

Break Time Musings

Some days are by far way better than others.

I have an appointment next Monday, BRIGHT AND EARLY, on my day off to get my oil changed.

This morning while driving to work the oil light came on. I pulled off to Fred Meyers to get oil, just to top it off until the appointment… and dumped it in (as well as the washer fluid which has been empty for a month now).

I went to screw on the cap and it fell





abyss of the front end.

I tried shaking the car to see if it would come lose…. No such luck.

I googled to see what to do and there suggestion was DUCT tape and a shop rag, BACK INTO FRED MEYERS I GO. I clorox wiped everything clean so the duct tape would hold and drove half a mile away to the auto part store.

You know, just my luck my car can’t be simple. It has 3… yes THREE options for the engine oil cap…. Why does there need to be three options? We took them out and tried them on the engine and one of them fit better than the rest… (Why was there females working in the shop who were clueless?)

I drove down the hill, through Renton Landing, onto Lake Washington BLVD and CLUNK! GRIND! SHAKE! That doesn’t sound or smell right. I knew either something really bad was wrong or the cap was somewhere it shouldn’t be.

I waited 30 minutes for AAA to come and tell me I didn’t need to be towed because he found the cap… all mangled and burned and stinky….


We went on for 5 minutes on if that was really the best choice to drive off or of I should still head to the mechanic… he said his only concern was they sold me the wrong engine oil cap…. UGH!!!! The mechanic agreed I would probably be okay but still extended my appointment on Monday to include some checks.

This is such a long story for a short thought: “Can I just catch a break? Please? What have I done to deserve such bad karma lately?” Good news? I didn’t break my Whole30 challenge through this pain. Even better, a coworker asked me today while we were serving pizza if things even still looked or smelled good. I answered of course, the desire is just not there to eat it. When I set my mind to something I am pretty unbreakable.