Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Morning Thoughts

Random observations on a Tuesday morning:

*It really IS a long drive between Fort Myers, Florida and Kansas City...TOO long. I hope to never repeat that.

*I still have to say that Tennessee is by far one of the prettiest states in the country...and Florida? Not so much. Florida DOES get my vote for the craziest drivers, though...and Georgia has the worst road construction projects that never seem to get finished and that go on for miles and miles and miles. Gah.

*What did we do on long road trips before GPS? And before those highway road signs that tell you what services are offered at the next exit? Both of those things sure make life easier....

*Prednisone is some scary stuff, as I've found out the last ten days. I am off of it now, but whew...the side effects are chilling. If I had done my research, I would have known what to expect - but coming out of a surgery fog, I was out of it....all I can say is, NEVER again on the Prednisone.

*Imagine my surprise when I walked into my house Sunday night and discovered that I still had Christmas decorations everywhere....

*Besides the Christmas decor, there were piles of laundry, dust bunnies, mail to be opened, bills to pay, and organizing to be done...I guess I really AM needed here at home, and the evidence was plain to see....

*My furry children have not left my side since my return...at first, it was cute...now it's just annoying to constantly trip over a cat or a dog when I try to take a step. I guess they're just needing reassurance that I'm not going to disappear again....

*This week, I have lots of "make-up" appointments - dentist, dermatologist, hair dresser, etc - for both me and the kids. It's a good feeling to start feeling like I'm in control again.

*Today will reach 85 degrees...the high on Thursday won't be out of the 40's...welcome back to Kansas City, Drama Queen.



Thursday, April 25, 2013


I'm going home.


Now...why do I have the strange feeling that my family is frantically scrambling to clean the house as fast as humanly possible?

Which is rather amusing...because after not being home since early February...frankly, the last thing I could care about is how clean the house is....

All I want...are hugs.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Sahara Is the Place For Me!

Today, I found out the most ideal place in the world for me to live...it's full of warmth and sunshine, and not too many people.


According to the experts, I should ideally be living in the Sahara Desert....

I got tested for allergies this morning, and I pretty much came out highly allergic to every type of mold invented...as well as being allergic to every single type of tree that God planted.

Hmmm...mold? Trees?

Not exactly good news for someone who lives in wet & soggy Florida, as well as tree-ridden Kansas City.

The good news, though, was that I didn't test positive - AT ALL - to dust.

This was highly shocking to the allergist, who stated that most "normal" people test at least slightly positive to dust; she said it's highly unusual to score the way I did.

Well. That would explain it. "Normal" and "Drama Queen" are not two words that are usually put together...and this is just further validation. Thank you.

I looked at the allergist and said, very seriously, "So...you're saying I can let the dust accumulate forever in my house from now on - and I'm good to go? That's going to save me a bunch of time on my housekeeping."

#Long Live the Dust Bunnies!!!

So...I got to thinking of my ideal environment of where to live...the Sahara Desert would be mold free...as well as tree-free...and the sand and dust wouldn't bother me a bit! #Winning!!!

Although it would get a tad bit hot, I imagine. And my luck - I'm probably allergic to cactus trees (that was one I didn't get tested for - imagine that?!)

There was some other good news, as well - I am NOT allergic to any of my furry children. I didn't get tested to see if I was allergic to the non-furry children (do they allow that?!), but anyway - my pets will be pleased to know they're safe. For now.

Having a gazillion needles stuck in my arms a week after surgery was not the most pleasant way to spend my morning; I think it set me back a day or so in my recovery, actually, but I'm hanging in there. My sense of smell is still completely kaput...as I discovered when I used fingernail polish remover today, and the bottle smelled just like water. (And I had the STRONG stuff - so I KNOW it shouldn't be smelling just like water, trust me!) That was very discombobulating - to not even pick up a whiff of nail polish remover.

Deciding that good things follow people who hope for the best, I went ahead and booked my airline ticket for this Saturday...I'm going home to Kansas City. Having spent a total of a week in KC since Christmas has been too darn hard on my psyche and my soul, and I'm done. I'm done with traveling for awhile...I'm done with hot, sticky Florida for awhile...and trees, mold, or whatever I will be facing in Kansas City, I don't care - I'm going HOME.

Just leave the dust bunnies for me. They're not a problem.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Sinus Surgery - The Scoop

Five days out from my recent sinus surgery...or officially, "functional endoscopic sinus surgery with navigation."

(Don't I sound all "Grey's Anatomy"??!!)

Why keep blogging about it, you may ask? Because - I know that pre-surgery - I myself was scouring the internet and blogs, hoping to get as much information as I could...on what to expect pre, post, and during surgery. I found some good information out there, and thought that I would share my own experiences - up until this point - in order to help or assist someone who may be considering this surgery for themselves or for a family member.

First, a quick background: I broke my nose when I was twelve, and consequently, have had chronic sinus problems my entire life. Every year I would suffer through a sinus infection - or two - and I would go through the motions of antibiotics, rinses, sprays, etc. However, the last few years, the infections seem to get more and more frequent - and didn't seem to respond to the medications. The last two years or so, it had gotten to the point where they were affecting my lifestyle, as I can't tell you how many trips I've had to cancel because my ears weren't able to withstand the cabin pressure on airplanes.

This year, I reached the breaking point, and when an ENT here in Fort Myers said that my sinuses were pretty much permanently blocked, and surgery was needed, I didn't hesitate.

"Let's do it," I said, emphatically...

Medically, not much was done pre-surgery. I had to go in for a CAT scan, but other than that...life was normal.

The morning of, I arrived at the surgicenter with Hubby in tow, and after my vitals were all checked, the IV was hooked up, etc, I was wheeled into the OR for the 90-minute procedure.

I do NOT wake up well after general anesthetic. My first recollection is hearing an annoying voice (the nurse?) calling my name, demanding that I open my eyes...and I was NOT happy about this. Waking up meant dealing with the pain - of which there was a LOT - most noticeably in my throat. Indeed, my throat felt as if I'd been swallowing pieces of broken glass for the past 90 minutes - a consequence of the tracheal tube during the surgery. This sore throat would last for the better of 48 hours, with not much relief.

Thrashing about on the bed, moaning, "NOOOOOO!!! Throat!!!! Throat!!! HURT!!! HURT!!!" - I'm sure I was a nurse's delight in the recovery room. Not. She hustled on one side to get me dressed, while Hubby hustled on the other, and WHOOSH - they had me out that surgicenter door and into our car in no time. Not empty-handed, though...as I have THREE prescriptions to get me by: Cefadroxil (an antiobiotic), Vicodin (for pain and wild dreams), and Prednisone (for who knows what??)

My first afternoon, I pretty much laid on the sofa - head elevated - and stared up at the ceiling. Hubby was an excellent nursemaid, forcing down the pills when it was time (as the Prednisone tastes AWFUL!!!), and insuring that I was as comfortable as one can be after just having surgery. I had the television on for background noise, and as this was the week of the terrible Boston Marathon bombings, I was getting inundated with horrible images and news reports to the point that, eventually, I flipped it over to a re-run of "Happy Days." Thank God for TVLand - because although the show was cheesy, it was nice to have something mindless. Yesterday, I managed to watch the classic 'candy' episode of "I Love Lucy" - which had me laughing out loud. Amazing what forced recovery from a surgery will do to your television viewing habits.

I didn't have packing up my nose - thank goodness - although I did come home with a little bandaid/cotton gauze for my nose to catch drainage...of which I've had none. Zero. Zilch. This has made it much more comfortable to sleep at night, as well as to breathe. Actually, other than the first night, I've slept pretty good...still keeping my head somewhat elevated, and making sure I take a Tylenol right before I head to bed. Waking up has been rough - as I wake up about six hours later, and my pain is back with a vengeance.

Really, I've had just a few side effects, some of which are more scary than others:

1. Pain
Duh. I just had surgery. I should have expected the pain, but I didn't expect it to still be around four days later. My face feels like I've ran 90 mph into a brick wall....I quit taking the Vicodin Friday night, as I HATED the way it made me feel, and I've been living on one Tylenol capsule every 3 hours. I could try to take Ibuprofen, but my stomach has been a bit queasy as it is, and I don't want to make it worse. The pain radiates from my ears to my nose to my forehead to my cheeks...pretty much my entire facial area...and it SUCKS. It's like the worst sinus infection - EVER.

2. Dizziness
I thought this would subside after laying off the Vicodin...and it did, a bit. However, when I stand up, the room spins and I have to be careful to not hit the deck. Especially because I have hard tiled floors here in Florida, and that would be a very hard landing. Ouch.

3. No sense of smell or taste
Okay...this is where I am FREAKING out. I've read this should be temporary - and I pray to God it is.... My eyesight is poor; my hearing is average; but my sense of smell? Has always been AWESOME. Seriously - I could smell things the average person couldn't smell, and I've loved, loved, LOVED delighting in aromatics over the years. Perfume is an addiction of mine, as well as burning scented candles in my home - and I CAN'T SMELL THEM. Nada. Nothing. I applied perfume on Saturday and I couldn't tell you what I'd just sprayed. Husband cooks dinner and I can't tell what he's cooked until I look at it. GAH.

As far as taste? Nothing. Nada. Everything is mush in my mouth. Hubby bought some chocolate candy the day after surgery, hoping to eliminate the bad taste of the Prednisone (which, is weird....WHY, oh WHY, can I taste THAT???!!), but I can't taste the chocolate. At all. Friday night, Hubby made a blue-cheese hamburger, thinking the pungent blue cheese would break through the barriers of "nothingness" that I'm experiencing - and it didn't. Couldn't taste it - or smell it - even while waving it literally right under my nose.

For a foodie, this is the worst form of torture right now.

This is playing mind games with me like you wouldn't believe...even more than the mind games that Vicodin can bring on. I am praying, praying and praying this is just temporary - as I desperately put a spice up against my nose, trying to get just a whiff of SOMETHING - ANYTHING - so that my sense of normalcy is back.

I had read of this side effect, but didn't take it serious...or at least, didn't think of how it would affect me, and that's my mistake.

Before the surgery, the nurse had told Hubby that he'd be my slave for the first 24 hours after surgery...and thinking that I would bounce back quickly, he was a wonderful nurse, but then flew back to Kansas City Saturday, leaving me here in Florida...alone. Yikes. Alone.


Now, I've REALLY got to pull it together. I'm writing down my medicines when I take them, so I don't forget and accidentally overdose or underdose. I'm forcing myself to cook food - and eat it - even though my appetite is kaput. I'm making myself rest and sleep when I need to, and I'm not worrying about dishes or laundry that is in sad need of care.

I have some allergy testing scheduled for tomorrow, which will hopefully figure out what precipitates a sinus infection to begin with...and my post-surgery doctor visit is Thursday. I'm hoping and praying that I get the green light to fly back to Kansas City by Saturday of next week, to rejoin my family and friends....

...and just maybe, delight in some good old Kansas City barbecue. And I'll be able to TASTE it by then.



Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Swallowed the Bacon

There's never been a time - in all of my 50 years - that I haven't had a dog in my life. And we all know that dogs - at some point in their lives - have to take a pill...or two. And most are resistant to this. So, dog owners are very, very creative - hiding the nasty pill in a big piece of bologna or bacon or cheese, and the silly dog happily gulps down the pill, not ever being the wiser that he just got tricked into taking the nasty pill....

...or was he?

Wednesday was the day of my sinus surgery, and while checking in at the surgicenter, I had casually mentioned to the anesthesiologist my fear of "going under" - which is a common fear, I would think. The anesthesiologist immediately took on the guise of a psychoanalyst, peppering me with questions as to why I wouldn't like "going under" - and doing what he could to alleviate my fears. In the meantime, nurses are all around me, wrapping bracelets around my wrists, administering the IV's, the blood pressure cuff, etc...lots of stuff happening at a very fast pace in that pre-op room.

As the IV was being administered, I asked the anesthesiologist if he'd put something in it already - and he quickly replied, "What? Me? No...not yet. Just saline for now. I won't give you anything until we're in the operating room."

I took him at his word until my brain began feeling a bit loopy, and I narrowed my eyes suspiciously and asked again, "Are you SURE you didn't put something in this already???"

"Now, why would I do that? I need you awake until we get to the OR," he patiently replied.

A minute later, they were wheeling me into the operating room, where they then instructed me to slide from the one bed to the surgery bed. Shouldn't be a problem, right?

Well...I remember beginning my slide over...and that's it.

The next thing I know, I was waking up in the recovery room and the surgery was over.

To this day, I'm not sure if I ever made it completely over to the other bed before passing out...for all I know, they had to do the surgery with me passed out between two beds.

Serves them right if that's what happened.

Afterwards, I felt like the dog...being tricked into taking the dreaded medicine.

Anyway...surgery is over. Recovery has begun. It will be slow...it has been painful...and there are consequences that I hope are temporary (such as completely losing my sense of smell and taste).

At this point, I would happily gulp down a pill-infested piece of bacon - if I could only taste it.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top Chef: The Cruise




Those three words pretty much describe the incredible long weekend that Hubby and I just experienced...as we cruised in the Caribbean with some famous chefs and TV personalities from "Top Chef."

I'll soon be writing a full-length review of the cruise (which will be posted on CruiseCritic.com, where all of my previous reviews have been posted)...but in the meantime, I thought I'd hit a few highlights....

Hubby and I...on formal night...

First off, the food. OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod. The food. Every night, the dinner menu would feature three different chefs - and of course, not wanting to miss a thing, Hubby and I ordered EVERYTHING. And it was incredible...delicious...mouth-watering...and to die for. I sampled items I've never heard of - nor will likely ever hear again - and it stretched my palate in ways unimaginable. The offerings truly lived up to the anticipation of cruising with some of America's best chefs....

Second, the chefs themselves...they were SO friendly, and SO approachable, and SO appreciative of the fans. They took pictures, they autographed cookbooks, they partied right along beside us during the events...and it was too much freakin' fun. World-Famous French Chef Hubert Keller put on an amazing show one night, spinning records as a DJ...and the look of pure joy on his face was incredible. A lot of people can say they've eaten Hubert Keller's amazing food...but how many can say they've danced to his tunes??!!

Getting ready to embark on a trip of a lifetime!

Third, the other cruisers...we met so many people onboard, whether at dinner, at the Martini bar, or in port...and being that we ALL had at least one thing in common - our shared love of food and "Top Chef" - it gave us something to talk about and argue about (in a friendly way, of course!) and rave about. Certainly the most homogenous group of travelers I've ever explored with, and again, it was too much fun.

And finally - the BIGGEST highlight for me was getting checked out by the "Italian Stallion" himself, the famous Fabio. If you don't know who Fabio is, I'll be brief and say that he is the darling of the show - with his charm, good looks, and genuine passion for cooking - as well as the ladies. While walking one night to dinner, I passed Fabio, who was walking in the opposite direction.

Chef Fabio Viviani...yummy...

Fabio's eyes swept down my dress...then back up my dress...and he then looked me in the eye, gave me a slow smile, and a nod. Outwardly, I was calm and cool and collected, giving him a smile and a nod in return...while inside I was screaming, "OH MY GOD, FABIO JUST CHECKED ME OUT!!!!"

This will forever now be known as my "Fabio" dress....!

After a few steps, I turned around to see if Hubby (who had been behind me) had just seen what transpired, and before I said a word, Hubby said, "I saw that...he just totally checked you out."

Hey...I'm 50 years old...the days of me getting "checked out" are few and far between anymore. Pretty much non-existant, unless you count getting my books checked out at the library...which is HARDLY the same thing. Hee.

So...all in all...a WONDERFUL experience.

Be looking for my upcoming review...but I don't when I'll be starting it, as I go "under the knife" tomorrow for my sinus surgery. Which I'm actually looking forward to, in a weird way, as it means I'm just THAT much closer to FINALLY getting to go home to Kansas City, after a VERY long absence.



If you want to read a review of our European cruise last summer, click HERE.

A review of our Mother/Daughter review last summer in the Caribbean, click HERE.

And finally, for a review of the World's Largest Cruise Ship, in which I cruised solo, click HERE.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pack Your Knives - I Mean, Clothes - and Go! (on a cruise)

It's no secret that Hubby and I are all about the food...

Whether it's experimenting in the kitchen ourselves, or choosing restaurants for their cutting edge menus, or devouring every food-related show on television, we both definitely love our gastronomical delights.

One of our most favorite shows over the last seven years has been "Top Chef" - a cooking competition show on Bravo Network that pits a different group of aspiring chefs each season in various challenges. It's always been our "must-see" TV on Wednesday nights, and besides giving us some "food for thought" in the kitchen, it's led to some interesting debates between us as we argue on whether the "right" chef had been sent home packing each week. We always like what the judges say when they send a poor chef home: "Chef...pack your knives and go" (PYKAG) - although we know that's the kiss of DEATH when a poor chef hears those words.

The newest season of Top Chef began airing last September, and one night, a commercial hit the screen - advertising a chartered "Top Chef" cruise. Wait, what? A cruise? That alone got my attention, but when it was shown that the cruise would feature fan-favorite chefs over the years from the reality series? Well. It sounded perfect.

The only problem to this is that we had enjoyed not one, but TWO cruises last summer...and I knew Hubby would never be "onboard" with the thought of another cruise. Imagine my shock one night, while watching the commercial, Hubby looks over at me and says, "You DO have us booked on that cruise, right??"

Um, no. But two seconds later, we were booked. You don't have to nudge me twice.

So. The cruise begins tomorrow. It's FINALLY here.

To say I'm bouncing with excitement is an understatement - as I'm practically GIDDY.

We're packed; we're ready to go. In another hour, we'll hop in the car and drive over to Miami, where we'll spend the night and get ready to embark tomorrow on a culinary cruise like no other.

There will be pictures. There will be a review. There will be new adventures - new friends - and new culinary creations to sample. There will be opportunities galore for me to creep/stalk on my favorite chefs over the years - getting photos, autographs, and cooking tips from.

Bon voyage, peeps - I'll catch up with you all next week...a few pounds heavier, I'm sure, but oh-so-happy.



Friday, April 5, 2013

The Scritcher Striketh

Sadistic? Or indulgent?

You decide.

I have been away from my Kansas City home for almost two months now...my "exile" has been tough, but I've managed to communicate with Hubby and the kids back home using all means of technology available to us - iPhones, Facebook, and emails....As frustrating as my absence has been, my family understand not only why it's happening, but also it's temporary-ness. I know. That's not a word. But you know what I mean. They know this won't last forever - and that soon, after my upcoming surgery, I'll be back in KC.

However...my "furry" children don't understand this. I have four furry children back home - three cats, and a dog. Hubby and I have very clear-cut responsibilities when it comes to the furry children...he is "The Feeder" and I am "The Scritcher." The animals have probably realized that although they are continuing to get their daily Kibble from "The Feeder" - their belly rubs and ear scritches have all but disappeared, with my absence. I can't exactly send them a text or an email explaining why "The Scritcher" has dropped off the face of the Earth - albeit temporary - and that frustrates me.

So, tonight...we did an experiment. While Hubby and I were talking on our iPhones, we activated "Facetime" - which is really just "Skype" for an iPhone. Hubby then put the camera on Cocoa, my little Shih Tzu, so that I could see my fur baby. Well. After not seeing my fur baby for almost two months, you can imagine how NUTSO I went on the phone....I went into full-blown baby-talk mode, which is how I talk to my fur babies (and doesn't everyone??), and of course, this drives Cocoa...CRAZY.

Poor Cocoa. She can hear The Scritcher's voice - but she can't see me. She's frantically looking everywhere in the room, and I can hear her whining, as she's trying to get a visual, and I'm not there....She went NUTS. It was almost laughable, to see her so determined to find me in that room...but it was almost sad. Poor baby.

Was I sadistic? Or was it indulgent?

So...isn't this rather pathetic? On a beautiful Friday night in Florida, I am conversing in baby-talk over a phone with my fur babies, who are a thousand miles away from me...and it's the highlight of my evening.

For what it's worth, we did this with the cats, as well...but really...my cats can ignore me when I'm practically standing on top of them and pulling their whiskers out hair by hair (not that I would ever do that), so ignoring me while I'm blabbering on an iPhone was nothing for them. All they need - or want - is their Kibble.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An Unexpected Gift


I was SO close…

Five more minutes, and I would have been OUT the door…to freedoms unlimited – perhaps the beach, or the pool, happily engrossed with my Kindle and a delicious good book for the day - with the sky my only limit and an umbrella drink my only companion.

But I ruined it all with one – wait…okay, two – innocuous questions.

It began innocently enough – Sunday morning, I met my parents at church, and afterwards, headed over to their condo for a delicious Easter brunch. My folks JUST closed on this condo last week, and to say that it needs some cosmetic updating would be a HUGE understatement. Honestly, it needs a wrecking ball – knock down the walls, gut it, and just start all over…but my parents are determined to do this themselves with the enthusiasm of a 16-year old boy with his first car.

After Easter supper, my Dad wanted to begin installing the new Pergo laminate flooring in the two bedrooms of the condo…as I was grabbing my keys to head back to my OWN house, I asked the first of the two questions:

“So, Dad, have you ever installed laminate flooring before?”


Oh…okay. So, I followed up that first question with this second one, which turned out to be a HUGE mistake on my part:

“So…do you know HOW to install it?”



Okay…I am not a ‘toolsy’ girl, by any means…DIY, to me, means “Dial It Yourself” – looking through the Yellow Pages to find someone who can do it FOR me.

However…I do have to say that my various mission-trip experiences have taught me several things…I’ve learned how to plant bamboo in a jungle, take a patient’s blood pressure, build cinder block walls, hang sheetrock, and paint walls like a professional. I’ve also spent five days installing laminate flooring on a mission trip to Galveston – which doesn’t qualify me as an expert, but it DOES make me more than adequate.

Sighing, I set my keys down and picked up a saw…and hence began a three-day project, working side-by-side with my dad…installing beautiful wooden laminate in the two bedrooms of their condo.

I am sore in places that I didn’t know even EXISTED on my body…I am exhausted…and I am dusty. Very, very dusty…

…but the project is now complete, and I’ve got to say…I will probably look back on these past three days, spent working beside my 71-year old father, as some of the best days of my life.

An unexpected Easter gift that I will cherish forever.



*Image from HERE