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Spaghetti and (giant) Meatballs

So, this is Sam’s take on spaghetti and (giant) meatballs. I really don’t know what spices he put in them, but they did taste really good. Next time I should be right beside him when he makes these, or whatever he concocts for that matter. Since he doesn’t really measure any ingredient when he cooks, I have no idea how to duplicate it. So it follows that whenever somebody asks for a recipe, we could only give out the ingredients and not the exact measurements. In this case, there is one thing I know for sure, the cheese filling is actually a mini Babybel! He asked if we had any kind of cheese, and when I told him we just had the Babybel minis, he sliced up some and placed one small portion in each meatball. Talk about being resourceful in the kitchen.

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Love and Marriage

My husband, the caregiver

I have always been used to my mom taking care of me after surgery, well for most of my surgeries, that is. After three of my surgeries while I was in medical school, she had to stay with me for 2 weeks or so to take care of me postoperatively. I was in LA for last year’s surgery, so it was my Auntie Becky and family who took care of me. This time, there’s only me and Sam, and friends, to whom I’ll always be grateful. To those who have brought us meals and flowers, and offered encouraging words and prayers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dealing with post-surgery recuperation is never fun. There’s the pain, of course, then the post-anesthesia effects (which includes the horrible consequence of extremely difficult bowel movement), inability to use that specific part that just underwent surgery, the inability to move around and do things, sleepless nights owing to difficulty finding the least painful position, nausea, vomiting, not being able to bathe normally on your own, oh the list is endless. For that, Sam had to skip work for two days after my surgery to stay home with me.

At first, I was worried that Sam wouldn’t be able to fully take on the caregiving role. But this past week just proved me wrong.

During the day of my surgery, he decided not to skip work because he wanted to distract himself from worrying too much about the surgery. But when I wasn’t out of the operating room on time because the procedure took longer than the doctors expected due to the extent of damage in my shoulder, he told me he couldn’t help but worry. When the nurse finally called after 3 hours to inform him that I was already in the PACU and instructed him to buy my meds, he went out and came back with 2 grocery bags full of food and drink. He wasn’t sure what to feed me once I woke up, so he bought all of my comfort food- macaroni and cheese, Reese’s peanut butter cups, orange juice, and chocolate jello. The first 2 nights, I had to sleep in a rocking chair, and then on the couch. It was too painful and uncomfortable to sleep flat on the bed. He slept on the floor, beside me. Of course, sleep is an overstatement. Eventually, he told me he had not been sleeping because he would get up every hour or so to make sure I didn’t turn on my left side, or take the bandage off in my sleep. He cooked for me, fed me, did the dishes and the laundry, gave me sponge baths, helped me get into my clothes- he practically did everything for me. On my third post-op day, he went back to work. Although I had to wait for him to get home before I could do anything major, I didn’t have much difficulty because he had already cooked and left me some food before leaving.

Sam did everything for me this week, and never complained. Last night he told me his body had been aching, probably brought about by sleeping on the floor of the living room. And that was the only complaint I heard from him all week. I did tell him he could go to sleep on the bed and that I would be fine on the couch. But when I woke up this morning, he was asleep, thank goodness, but still on the floor.

When I think of how much patience and hard work it takes for him to work and provide for me and then to come home, take care of a debilitated me and do the chores the way I do them, in that excruciatingly ceremonious way, I think of how exhausting it must be for him. And yet here he is, taking care of me, hanging on to that last ounce of patience he has. Shame on me for worrying and doubting his capacity to take care of me. He may not be as thorough as a nurse or as smooth and gentle as my mom, but I know he’s doing the best he can, in his own rough and tough way. And that’s enough for me to say that he’s the best caregiver right now I could ever have. Thank you, my love.

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One hour prior to surgery
Life

How to cope with physical pain

Tomorrow I will be having my fifth surgery. The surgeon will be repairing my left shoulder, which, 2 weeks ago, dislocated (on its own) while I was asleep. Don’t make any conclusions yet, Sam didn’t have anything to do with it, he was at work. It’s been dislocating on and off for 7 years now. The first time it happened was while I was dribbling the ball back to home court in a basketball championship game in medical school. But this has got to be the worst episode. I woke up with sudden severe and shooting pain on my left shoulder, recognized right away that the ball was out of the socket, manipulated the joint on my own and reduced it effectively, after 3 failed and painful attempts. I know, it’s gruesome. I couldn’t feel my hands at one point. I was sobbing on my own, called Sam, and finally asked our friends to drive me to the Emergency Room at 1 am to get an X-ray done. So on top of my Rheumatoid arthritis flares and my endometriotic pelvic pains, I get to endure shooting pain coming from my left shoulder. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself this time. Believe me, I don’t laugh alone because my husband usually laughs at me first. So, because of all this physical pain that’s come my way, I’ve cooked up something that could, hopefully, help you deal with whatever physical pain you are in right now. The title should’ve then been “How to cope with physical pain the way I do.”

  1. Know that everything comes to pass. It will eventually come to an end. Look forward to that freedom from pain. It’s like looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel. Aside from the prayers that I cry out to God when I am in pain, I usually say, “This will end,” over and over again. And when it does end, learn to appreciate those pain-free days more and whisper a prayer of gratitude.
  2. Know that pain is your nervous system’s response to damage or injury to any body part. It’s like an alarm system. It tells us that something is wrong. And it leads us to take care of our body even more to avoid having to feel that same way again. Take heed and listen to your body. If it means having to change your diet and lifestyle, then by all means do. Not everything works though. Sometimes, some things make the pain even worse than when you even started doing, eating, or drinking it.
  3. Remember that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. When you are able to endure pain, you are stronger than most people in the world. My husband always tells me that I’m stronger than him, well, in terms of enduring pain, that is. But of course he’s my husband.
  4. Thank God for the pain. Remember when the Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to give thanks in every circumstance? Well, that includes being in a painful situation. It reminds us that God is our ultimate Healer. It reminds us that His strength is sufficient. It allows us to look forward to that time and place where… “God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4)
  5. Know that you are not alone. There are people around the world who are dealing or who have dealt with the same amount of pain that you are dealing with, some even worse. An epic example of this (one my husband always reminded me of) would be Job. ““And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.” (Job 30:16-17) Oh my, I could imagine what he went through. Yet he still praised God.

Believe me, dealing with physical pain has never been easy. And yes, for some people, it makes suicide a very viable option and an easy way out. But that would be a selfish thing to do. Really, if there is one thing that has kept me up all this time in spite of the amount of pain I have to go through everyday, it is knowing that God is still sovereign. And even for this kind of life He has afforded me, I know that He does have a purpose in mind. I may not understand it now, but He will let me know eventually, in His own time. And besides, this physical body is just temporary after all. Sometimes even I would forget that; I would wallow in my self pity, and just plunge into nothingness. And guess who always pulls me out and reminds me that God does listen to my cries? Sam, of course. I hope and pray that you wouldn’t have to go through what I’m going through. And if you do or if you already have, please let me know how you’ve coped with your pain. There is always comfort in sharing.

The Alaska Night Sky *photo taken by sam*