Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year! Augurissimi!

Ale and I wish you all a Happy New Year! May all your dreams and wishes for the New Year come true.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad

Happy Holidays to all from Ale and I. May all your dreams and wishes come true!! Hugs and Kisses to all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dazed and Confused

Ale asked me to post here since I haven't in so long and I wondered what I could write about. It's not that there isn't anything to write about. There definitely is, but where to start....

I'll start by saying that I was in the hospital for 5 weeks. It all started with my speech. It was slurred and I couldn't get my thoughts across. No one could figure out why. Then I started having black-outs and they finally put me in ths hospital, but it took a few ER visits to finally get someone to admit me. My memory is still not 100%. I can remember things that happened 10 years ago but forget about something that happened yesterday. There are things in my apartment that I don't remember buying. They say it was all brought on by stress. I guess I can accept that because I have had a really stressful year. It's amazing what stress can do to the body. I hope to never experience that amount of stress again.

I am really lucky that I have such a good support system. Ale stood by me in spirit since we had virtually had no contact the whole time I was in the hospital. Ale emailed with some of my friends that live here in PDX that would visit me. We communicated through them. It was really hard for me, for us. We missed each other so much. I am such a lucky woman to have a man that cares so much about me. Even luckier to have friends that came together via email to support me.

Now my Mom is here taking good care of me. I have so much to be thankful for. Ale might come here in January and I am looking so forward to that. I still have to blog about our trips we took while he was here in August. Stay tuned for those posts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Back!

It's been a while but I am back and getting healthier ith every pasing day. I want to thank you all for your prayers and support. I'm going to be starting school in the next few weeks, so i will probably not be bloggong as much, but definitely more than I have lately.

I am feeling great and have a lot to share with everyone. First I want to let you all know how supportive Ale has ben through all of this. He is my heart and I will always love him for that.

I won't write much this time because I am a bit tired, but I will write more in the next few days.

Thanks again for all your well wishes, hugs, and prayers. They mean the world!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Liz is getting better

thanks to God she should come back home the next week, so i hope she will be able to write a post soon. Thanks to all for the support

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

LIz in hospital

Liz asked me a lot of times to write something here, in her space on the web. she loves her blog and the new friends met here. i didn't do it before because i felt there was an intimacy with Liz and her friends and looked to me to be out of place in your discussion. i am writing now because i read in the comment that some of you miss Liz and want to know what is happened. i am not happy to write for this reason, more i am really sad. Liz is in hospital, she start to feel bad in the middle of october. is difficult to say how she is now for me. i am in italy, far, the medicals can't explain to me the situation, i am not a relatives. i talked with her sister that went to Portland but she couldn't explain well the situation. the surgery she made is the reason, it caused an hormonal dysfunction that made Liz unable to talk and also to write well, and other bad things. that is the reason of Liz's absence. I miss she a lot and i am so worry for is health. i thought that also some of you was missing Liz. I hope she could come to write here soon and i am praying for this, but is not easy for now. i think she would be happy to know that her friends blogger was informed, like you know she tried to share here her thought but also her troubles. i am praying God for Liz, it's the only things i can do now. maybe you could help me in this

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Naked Oregonians

Oregon is probably, if not the most Liberal state in the union. Just jump on any Oregon highway and you will see liberal stickers plastered on car after car. IMPEACH, KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD, WTF stickers. It's great! I love it! Oregon is the tree-hugging, granola-munching, no-bra-wearing (the same women who don't shave their pits) haven of the Pacific Northwest. Myself excluded!! OK, so I hug trees, eat granola and wear Keens. However, there are somethings I wouldn't do....

In the news a few days ago, Steven J. Howatt of Happy Valley, OR was featured in the news because his neighbors weren't appreciating the fact that he enjoyed gardening in his birthday suit. When questioned about his actions, he said it's a religious experience for him. He feels closer to God, Allah, Jehovah or whoever he prays to, while gardening in the nude. He's a self-proclaimed Naturalist (ahem, there are lots of those here.) I'd like to see this guy plow snow in the dead of a North Dakotan winter sans Fruit of the Looms. Let's see him get some sub-zero religion! I mean, I could reference vegetables to body parts...but let's not even go there.

The city is considering passing an ordinance which would outlaw nudity visible from public places. The irony in this is that it may not be illegal to garden in the buff in Oregon. Oregon law does not prohibit nudity on private property unless the exposure is sexual. There have been no complaints against Howatt. His neighbors did kindly ask him to put on his britches, but he politely declined.

Here is the lastest including an interview with Howatt himself. Would you want to see this guy naked?? Ew!

While researching this, I came across more naked Oregonians. Apparently clothes are going out of style in Oregon. Somebody better put in a phone call to Paris and Milan.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

iTune Tuesdays

I thought I would start something new. This is what's playing on my iPod now. Ale downloaded it for me and I love it! The song is "Solo Tre Minuti" by Negramaro. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

St. V's Hospital Has Become My Second Home

In the last week I have been to the ER twice. Yep, twice. Initially it was nausea and stomach pain, then I started projectile vomiting, and everything tastes acidic. Yeah, it was pretty bad. I thought I would have some relief after vomiting, but instead I got progressively worse, so I decided to drive myself to the ER. Perhaps not the smartest idea, but it was late and I didn't want to bother anybody. So as I arrived at St. V's, I heard this really loud noise. As luck would have it, a LifeFlight Helicopter was landing on the helipad. Great. I knew I was in for a long night. The ER was really crowded. I was triaged, given a pager like the ones they give you at the Cheesecake Factory, and told to sit down and wait my turn. Now, I've worked in the ER dept before and I know that most times when a patient presents with nausea, vomiting and stomach pain, they usually take you back right away. Not me...bastards. I'll show them...

An hour later, the pager went off and I thought, thank God. Finally. Well, I'm not that lucky. It was actually just to see the Admitting person who would type my insurance card information into the computer. Heaven forbid you can't pay. As she was typing in my information (wait, didn't they already have all of that since I had just had surgery there a few weeks ago???) I covered my mouth and she quickly handed me a blue bag o' barf and sure enough, I spewed whatever was left in my stomach and then some. Ms. Admitter paged the nurse and said, "The patient in front of me just had a huge emesis episode." Not two seconds later the nurse was putting me on a gurney, getting an IV started. See, I showed them. I think this male nurse was new because he tried sticking me like 4 different times with the IV needle and couldn't find a good vein. So now my left hand and arm are a really pretty shade of green and purple. I look like a freakin' heroine addict.

Once the IV was in and they gave me some anti-nausea meds intravenously, I started to feel some relief. They took like 5 vials of blood, a pee pee test, and fortunately, earlier that morning I had had a Cat Scan. Just a follow-up from my surgery. I cried during that Cat Scan because I was like WTF?? Why am I getting sick again? What's wrong with me?? And to top it all off there was an Italian song playing in the background. I just lost it. Every test was inconclusive. Even the Cat Scan. They couldn't find anything wrong with me. I was released and told to go see an Internist.

My appointment with the Internist would be on Friday. Wednesday I began to feel sick again and Thursday I puked, a lot. I called the Dr.'s office and they couldn't squeeze me in, so back to the ER I went. It was pretty much the same situation. I had to wait and I vomited while I waited, but this time they didn't care. Anyhow, when I was finally taken back I was given an IV, this time by a very nice nurse who knew what she was doing. The Dr. ordered X-Rays, a couple of blood tests, a Gastro-intestinal cocktail, yeah but this was not a yummy cocktail, (can you hear the sound of cash registers going? Cha-ching..I sure did) and again, nothing. Finally, the next day I went to the Dr.'s and I was told that my Dr. had to go home for an emergency and wouldn't be back. Well, as you can imagine, after all I have been through, I lost my damn mind. I didn't make a scene, but I was extremely persistent in that I needed to be seen like now. So the receptionist lady called upstairs and asked if someone was available to see me and get this....she kept mentioning that I had Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, so I could definitely be seen. There is something really wrong when you can only be seen when you have the "right" kind of insurance. It really makes me angry. Anyhow, there was one Dr. who had an opening and saw me. Nice guy and he decided that I had Giardiasis. WTF??????? Another unwanted guest has taken up residence in my uninviting body. I want to live in a Purell bubble.

He was hesitant to put me on antibiotics without doing the proper lab tests, but I gave him the "give me the antibiotics and no one gets hurt" look and he caved. He told me I can't have any dairy products, no meat, or tomatoes. The only things I can have are bananas, applesauce, Jell-O, noodles, steamed veggies, bread and rice. I've become a vegan under duress and it all has the same taste. I still have to go through the testing for it, but I'll spare you the details of that because it's really gross. I think I might vomit while doing them. Seriously. So now I'm on antibiotics and anti nausea medicine. But the antibiotics make me nauseous. No, I'm not pregos. Crap. I can't win.

Monday, September 24, 2007

La Dolce Vita.....Says Who??

In my spare time I like to read blogs from all over the world. It seems lately that blogs originating in Italy are posting about the same things. Whether it's dissatisfaction with prenatal care, strikes, depressing beauty contests, bad organization, or political angst, it all points to one thing. Life in Italy isn't as "dolce" as we like to dream it is. Maybe it's become "Hollywoodized" by movies like "Under the Tuscan Sun". Not only have I read all these rants and raves, I've heard them first hand by Ale, the Italian and collaborator of this blog.

It seems Italy's political system is a disorganized mess. After everything I've read and heard, I wouldn't be shocked if there were some kind of revolution being planned. Healthcare, albeit free (well, who are we kidding here, nothing is ever free...taxes!) or rather socialized, is not the best. I mean, who tells a pregnant woman who wasn't overweight to begin with, to lose weight while pregnant???? runs rampant in Italy. If you don't have friends or family in high places, then you are just out-of-luck. Or, if your family doesn't have 30,000 Euros to get you into medical school, then you are just not going to get anywhere. You might get a job, but you'll either get paid peanuts or nothing at all. People complain, but nothing changes. Professionals are choosing to leave Italy to find better opportunities. Crime is getting worse because the polizia does nothing to the illegals and they continue to commit crime because they are well aware that they will get away with it.

Don't get me wrong, I love Italy. It's absolutely beautiful. I love the culture, the art, the food...etc, but it's just not all it's cracked up to be. I feel so bad when Ale tells me about how he could wait years, even decades and still never advance in his career because he isn't "well connected". What is happening to this country that is so rich in history and art?? How can a country function when they would rather hire the guy who is so and so's cousin, rather than the guy who is actually qualified for the job??

Lately people have been asking me why I don't go to Italy to live with Ale. Well, the answer is simple. What would I do there?? I'm still learning how to speak the language. Ale has a Master's degree in his field and can only get 6 month to 1 year contracts for work. One of which was not renewed for this fall. There are temp agencies here in the U.S. that can do better than that. Ale is frustrated with all the walls he keeps coming up against and it hurts me to see him that way. I would much rather he come here and work to his full capacity. I want to see him get the recognition he deserves. Until things change, I'm staying put and Ale will come here as soon as he possibly can. Maybe in the future, or perhaps for retirement. I don't know, but even with all the political problems we have here in the U.S., it's still going to be a better situation for the both of us.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Can You Feel the Love??

I thought I would post a video taken when Ale and I took a drive down the Oregon coast. I especially like this one because it makes me laugh. If you don't understand Italian, then you won't get it. We have a particular way of joking with each other. Hahaha!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

16 de Septiembre "El Grito"

El Grito or "The Cry," was originally delivered in 1810 by Mexican national hero Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a parish priest in the village of Dolores. With "El Grito," Hidalgo openly declared his support for independence and rallied the local indigenous population to rise up against Spain.

There are conflicting reports of exactly when Hidalgo delivered the cry, whether on the evening of September 15, 1810, or the morning of September 16. El Grito is traditionaly read by the Mexican president in Mexico City at 11:00pm on September 15, while Mexico observes its Independence Day on September 16.

Friday night there was a reception at the Portland City Hall for Mexicans in the Media and the Latino Chamber to start the weekends festivities. My BFF J is owner of Latino Perspective magazine. She mentioned something about free food and an open bar. Que?? Free food and drink??? I am SO there!! Various Mexican restaurants were respresented there. I had a little bit of the food and it was all really good. Chicken mole, beans, Salsa Verde with Chicken, rice, carnitas....yum! I stood in line to wait for the fresh tortillas that were being made, but by the time I got close to the front of the line, I had finished everything on my little plate so I got out of the line and settled for hearing they were good.

I used to have a dress like the little girl in the first picture. My Mom put me in Folklorico Mexicano dancing classes from the time I was a little girl, until I didn't think it was cool anymore. I was the typical teenager, so I had to rebel. The truth is that I perfomed dances from every region of Mexico and we even traveled to different cities for my performances. There are pics of my dancing days at my Mom's house, but I don't know if they will ever make it to this blog..maybe, we'll see!

We met some other friends there and J took the hubby and kids. I took plenty of pics. No food shots though, that would be too cruel.
The Mariachis were great!! Ironically, they started singing a song that reminds me of my Dad almost immediately after we got there. They made their way around the crowd and ended up having a Mariachi Jam Session of sorts. Some of the restaurant employees let loose after everyone was fed. It was really fun to watch!

Here's a little dancer and J, A and me, the 3rd wheel.....

After a few free Margaritas, the pics started to get a little silly....

Hahahaha! Good thing I haven't told J about my blog yet...she's liable to kill me for this one!! All in all it was a fun night. Good friends, good music, good food and drinks.....what more could one ask for? Actually, there was one person missing that would have made this evening absolutely perfect....I miss you chiquito!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Oncologist Revisited (Not For the Faint of Heart)

When I called to make my appointment, on September 1st, the scheduler girl told me that Dr. McC didn't have any appointments available for 3 weeks, I told her that I had just had surgery with Dr. McC and it was discovered that my Shrek was malignant and I was told by my OB/GYN to make an appointment with her for the following week. She told me that she would have to speak to Dr. McC and call me back. She called me back the following Tuesday, after the Labor Day weekend. Friday Sept 4th at Noon would be my appointment.

I woke up that morning feeling anxious and wishing Ale was here with me. I just wanted to get it over with. As I was getting ready, I remembered that Ale had brought me a Bialetti for 3 people. He used it almost everyday he was here. I remember him saying, "I can't see my face if I don't have my cafe'..." So, just to feel a little closer to him, I made myself some espresso. Problem is..I drank enough for 3 people! Oops.....

Dr. McC was running around the office juggling about 3 patients at once. I remember thinking, does this woman eat?? I sat restless in the lobby. Fidgetting, shifting in the chair. My hands were shaking. I was beginning to think I might have a panic attack. Then I remembered, "Um, you had a triple shot of espresso! Of course your fidgetty!!" Finally, the nurse called my name and off I went. She put me in an exam room and asked me some questions. When she took my blood pressure it was insanely high! 144/99 Normally it's around 110/65 I told her that not only was I nervous, I had also drank a triple espresso. She smiled and said, "I'm not worried. We get high readings like that in this office all the time, so don't feel bad." Dr.McC came in shortly after and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was feeling fine physically, but emotionally I was completely drained. She understood, of course. She examined my incisions and found that one was a little irritated, so she gave me some sample packets of Neosporin and some bandages to put on it. She told me that the lab was faxing over the final report but that she already suspected what would be in the final.

I will write for you here the description of Shrek (an appropriate name as you will read in it's description). Please bare in mind that this is NOT an embryo. This is simply a germ cell gone awry. The pathology report reads as follows:


All slides contain portions of an immature teratoma with numerous tissue types including skin, cartilage, respiratory epithelium, lymphocytes, bone, focal retina, teeth, nueral tissue, the latter was present in multiple slides. All but four foci of the neural tissue are immature glial tissue consistent with Grade 1 (cancer cells). Four foci of immature neuroectoderm resembling a notochord-type tissue are present, with two of the foci less than 1 high power field and two greater than 1 but less than 2 high power fields.

Disgusting, I know. To think that this little monster was growing inside of me well, I really can't describe what I felt. It goes on to say that hair was not identified grossly (which is quite common in dermoid cysts, but my Shrek was not hairy, phew...) Dr. McC. said that the cancer was in it's beginning stages. Grade 1. She said she is quite confident that the cancer was contained in the cyst. She went on to tell me that at one point when they were removing Shrek, there was a slight leak but they were very fast to irrigate and suction it all out. So, based on the pathology results and her expert opinion, I am cancer free!!!! However, (isn't there always a however) she wants to follow me for the next year or so, seeing me perhaps every 3 months with a CatScan thrown in there every couple of months for good measure. I can't explain to you the relief I felt, but I also couldn't help but ask, are you sure you got it all??? She said that this would be the reason for the follow-up visits with her. She would hate to put me back on the operating table, if there was really no need, and she said that we should wait a bit to do a CatScan so that it shows everything clearly. 2 weeks to be exact. She also told me that they took pictures of Shrek because it was quite different than your average Dermoid Cyst and she asked me if I had a chance to see them. No!! Had I known I would have definitely taken a look. I'm curious by nature and want to see it. She's going to get the pics so I can have a look. The Residents and Interns were happy to see such a thing...ew!

I walked out of that office having a new appreciation for life. I am never going to take even one second for granted. After several deep breaths, I cried tears of joy. I wasn't going to have to tell my Mom anything and I was going to have another chance to follow my dreams. Ale and I would have a chance to really be together and I have one good ovary left, which means, I still have a chance to be a Mommy. I'm a cancer survivor. God is good, He really is.

Monday, September 10, 2007

In Hindsight Instinct is Everything Part 2

I woke up in the recovery room feeling really groggy and like someone was sitting on top of me. I remember feeling thirsty and the nurse asking me if I wanted some ice chips. She asked me how I was doing and I told her it felt like someone was sitting on me. She smiled and said, "Yes, you will feel that way for a couple of hours." I must have fallen back to sleep because when I opened my eyes again, Dr. K was there. She told me that they were able to remove Shrek laprascopically and that Shrek was benign. I asked if my ovaries were intact and she said that they had to take the one that Shrek had pretty much swallowed whole. They tried to carve it out, but it was no use. Shrek devoured my little ovary. She reminded me that I all I need is one good functioning ovary to conceive. While I am happy to have one, I couldn't help but feel a little bad about losing one of my girls. I distinctly remember thinking of Lance Armstrong. How he must have felt.

Once I was a little more conscious, they wheeled me back to my little short stay room and there was my knight in shining armour waiting for me. A lot of what happened for the next few hours is a bit foggy. I slept a lot. I do know that I was given some prescriptions for pain medication and I didn't bring my insurance card with me, so Ale went back home to get the cards for me. Then he went to the pharmacy and paid for my prescriptions. I replay the things he did for me in my mind and I appreciate him so much more everytime. The nurse brought me some crackers and told me to eat them and drink some water. They wanted to make sure I could keep food down and that I could go to the restroom on my own before letting me go home.

It must have been 3 pm when I finally got to go home. My post-op orders were to eat things that are easy to digest, such as Jell-o and apple sauce and to get up and walk the length of my apartment every couple of hours. I asked Ale to stop at Fred Meyer to buy the things I needed. While he was in the store, I decided I would call BJ (from the job) to let her know that my surgery was a success and I would only need 2 weeks at most to recover. She told me that they decided to hire someone else. Wow, I was pretty bummed because she said that they were going to get a temp. Oh well, things don't always work the way we want them to. So it was back to square one for my job search. Ale was in Freddie's for a long time, but I figured the poor guy had no idea what he was looking for so I waited patiently. Dr. Feelgood really gave me some strong stuff. I honestly started to feel really good while I waited in the car. I mean, I didn't feel much pain. In fact, the next morning I woke up at 4am in so much pain and I felt an incision that I didn't even realize I had the day before. The strange thing is, a lot of my pain was in my arm and shoulder. Weird. I think they must have had my arm stretched out on one of those little boards because the nurse had asked me if I had any issues with my arms before my surgery. I told her I have a recurring shoulder injury on my left side from tennis. The pain was on the right. I had no choice but to take the pain meds they gave me. I really don't like to, but I was in so much pain I was almost in tears.

Over the next couple of days Ale cooked for me and helped me get up to walk around. He asked me (Italianism #1) how I could possibly eat that toxic waste called Jell-o. I told him Jell-o was something that my Mom would give me as a kid when my stomache was upset and I liked it. I remember him saying something like his nonna would have a heart attack if she ever saw him eating something like that. My knight in shining armour is the food police, seriously! There are so many Italian rules for eating. What to pair with what, etc.....At that point, it wasn't the first thing on my mind, but I know he only tells me those things because he cares about my health.

The Thursday after my surgery, I was up and walking around when my cell phone rang. It was Dr. K with the Shrek pathology report. She told me that not only was Shrek a dermoid cyst, but it was also an immature teratoma, in other words, a cancerous tumor. She advised me to make an appointment with Dr. McC as soon as possible to see what she thinks we should do. She was regretful for having to tell me over the phone but she wanted me to know as soon as possible. I seriously felt my heart sink to the very pit of my ruebenesque belly. I felt my whole world crashing down on me. As soon as I hung up I started crying. Ale held me and told me it was all going to be ok. I think I cried more for my Mom than for me. I didn't tell my Mom about any of this. I figured it was going to be simple but with Ale going back to Italy in a week and the possibilty of me having to have surgery again, I would have to tell her because I would need her to come up to Portland to help me post-surgery. Everything seemed to be happening all at once. Ale was leaving soon, I lost the job I had worked so hard to get, I just found out I had was all just too much. So now maybe you can understand why I appreciate Ale so much. He was here for me through all of this. He made my days happier, when they might have otherwise been grim. I knew I had to be strong because I was going to have to face the music all by myself because my appointment with the Oncologist would be 2 days after Ale left.

Dr. K told me that they sent Shrek up to Washington for a second opinion from a Dr. that is an expert on these things. So my appointment with Dr. McC is going to be based on he results of that second opinion.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

In Hindsight, Instinct is Everything Part 1

I have a confession to make. Are you ready? OK.... Shortly after I found out I was going to have surgery, I was offered a job, a good one, no....a great one! The wage was decent, the benefits excellent AND it's a union job. Union jobs are hard to come by these days, especially in my field. I was so happy! I figured, I'll postpone my surgery for a month or two, then just drop my mini-bomb on them and say, "Um, I need surgery." It would be fully covered and that would be that. When I told the Italian about my little devious scheme, he told me I must have some long lost relatives from Naples. I must be a Napolitana. Ha!

I decided I would sleep on it because I'm really not the sneaky type. It's just that it took me 2 solid months to get this job. I didn't want to lose it because of Shrek. Ironically, I couldn't sleep that night. I couldn't do it. That would be completely dishonest and these people were really nice to me. Plus, I began to think about the fact that there could be a pre-existing condition clause on the medical insurance, etc etc and if they ever found out, although it's a union job, I could get fired. Not to mention the fact that Shrek was labeled a dermoid cyst, but was it really?? Could it be cancerous and potentially spreading?? My gut told me, get this thing out and fast. So that was it, I called the job the next morning, told them I needed to have surgery and that it would take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to recover, because at that point, we didn't know if they would need to cut me completely open. In fact, that was decided for me when I was laid out on an operating room table on some serious anesthesia. BJ, the woman who offered me the job, was pretty understanding although she made it pretty clear that they needed someone to start like now. She said they would get a temp in there and try to wait for me, but she made no promises. Understandable.

Surgery day was on August 27th. The Italian had me at the hospital at 5:30 am sharp. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 am. When they took me back to the short stay, they had me put on the little drafty gown and cute little socks. I had to take the "You say you're not pregnant but..." pee-pee test and then they put these really cool contraptions on my calves to prevent me from getting deep vein thrombosis during surgery. They took more blood and my nurse put the IV in my arm. Can I just tell you, that freakin' hurt!! I still have quite the colorful bruise from it. I have a latex allergy so there were signs everywhere, "Latex free environment", even on my gurney. In between the visits from 1,001 Dr.'s, Residents, Interns, Phlebotomists and Nurses, (Shrek was going to make it's big debut and was already considered a star!) the Italian would caress my hair and cheek and kiss my hand. He was so sweet and supportive, and it didn't go unnoticed!! More on that later..... Then I got a visit from the Anesthesiologist. I can't for the life of me remember his name, but for all intents and purposes, we'll call him Dr. Feelgood. He was a cool looking dude. He looked so California, which is cool since I am a Californian. He had a tan like George Hamilton. I hope it was a Mystic Tan..hello, skin cancer!

So my time came. The nurse came in and asked us if we gave each other the obligatory deluging of kisses. We more than willingly obliged and off I went. As they wheeled me past the big doors and into the surgery hallway I had to smile. There were street signs on the walls that said, "Rodeo Drive", "Beverly Hills". How did they know I'm a shopaholic and a "fashion victim", according to the Italian?? Dr. K came in and reiterated the whole procedure to me and she held my hand, aw, so sweet! Dr. Feelgood came in and hooked-me up, literally. Apparently one of my medical team of Dr's wrote about the Italian in my chart because he was the subject of conversation before I knocked out. They asked me what the Italian and I had been up to and I told them we had stayed in Cannon Beach for 4 days, Seattle for 2, Vancouver for 1 and Victoria for 2. We hiked the Gorge and went to a lot of Portland events. Dr. Feelgood told me there is a little coffee shop owned by an Italian in Cannon Beach and they make a mean espresso. We'll have to check it out next time. Next thing I know, I'm feeling floaty. I said " I'm dizzy" and Dr. Feelgood said, "Yep". My eye lids felt like they weighed 100 lbs each. Two blinks and I was out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Arrivederci Amore Mio

I had been dreading this day since Ale's arrival. We did have a month and a little less than a week together, but it's never enough. I think I started crying a couple of days before today. I'm a real sap, it's terrible, I know.

We did so much during his visit. I still need to blog about all of it, but today, only for today, I need to cry all the tears I'm gonna cry. Ale asked me not to cry because I have to think about my health and stay strong, but I just can't fight the tears. I told him I needed just one day, then tomorrow I will go on with life. He helped me so much while he was here. He took such good care of me after my surgery. He cooked for me, cleaned and did everything possible to make me as comfortable as I could be. No man has ever done that for me. So, I think it's understandable that my heart is broken right now. He's only been gone for a few hours and I miss him so much already. I'm sad, but deep down inside, I am also happy. I am loved by the most wonderful man in the world and there is no better feeling than that.

Ambra told me in an email that it must be serious if he would come all the way to Oregon and spend over a month with me. At first, I didn't know what to believe. We Americans tend to take that sort of thing for granted. I was confused by a lot of things he said and about how he has never taken a woman home to meet his parents. Now I know that Ambra was right. He told me himself. He told me that he wants to come back, as soon as possible. He's emailing his CV as much as possible and there are some leads, but we just have to wait and see.

There are so many of you other bloggers out there that have carried-on long distance relationships and are now together. How did you do it? How did you survive the in-between time?? Maybe I'm just being a big baby right now. It's my day to grieve. I'm allowed. Tomorrow's a different day. I was planning to go to Milan for Christmas, but my medical bills are mounting and it's going to take me a while to pay them off. Especially since I am not out of the woods yet and still have more office visits and possibly another surgery to go. Add to that my student loans....I'm gonna be eating Top Ramen for a while...except maybe on September 13.

I miss his beautiful smile. His eagerness to learn American English. Italianisms (which I will discuss further in another post). His intelligence, his generosity and many things. Too many to list here.

I will end this post with a song that has been playing over and over in my mind since this morning. I grew up listening to Spanish music. My parents are immigrants from Mexico and my Mom always had music on. She encouraged me to sing and dance and I haven't stopped since. I remember this song in particular because it always made me feel so sentimental. It describes perfectly how I am feeling right now. It's called "Si No Te Hubieras Ido" or "If You Hadn't Gone" by Marco Antonio Solis. It was featured in the Alfonso Cuaron movie Y Tu Mama Tambien. Translation to follow:

Te extraño mas que nunca y no sé que hacer
I miss you more than ever and I don't know what to do
Despierto y te recuerdo al amanecer
I get up and remember you when I awake
Me espera otro dia por vivir sin ti
Another day awaits me to live without you
El espejo no miente me veo tan diferente
The mirror doesn't lie, I look so different
Me haces falta tu
I miss you

La gente pasa y pasa siempre tan igual
People go by and go by always the same
El ritmo de la vida me parece mal
The rythm of life seems off to me
Era tan diferente cuando estabas tu
It was so different when you were here
Si que era diferente cuando estabas tu
Yes, it was so different when you were here

No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
There is nothing more difficult than living without you
Sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
Suffering the wait of seeing you arrive
El frio de mi cuerpo pregunta por ti
The cold of my body asks for you
Y no sé dónde estas
And I don't know where you are
Si no te hubieras ido seria tan feliz
If you hadn't gone, I'd be so happy

No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
There is nothing more difficult than living without you
Sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
Suffering the wait of seeing you arrive
El frio de mi cuerpo pregunta por ti
The cold of my body asks for you
Y no sé dónde estas
And I don't know where you are
Si no te hubieras ido seria tan feliz
If you hadn't gone, I'd be so happy

La gente pasa y pasa siempre tan igual
People go by and go by always the same
El ritmo de la vida me parece mal
The rythm of life seems off to me
Era tan diferente cuando estabas tu
It was so different when you were here
Si que era diferente cuando estabas tu
Yes, it was so different when you were here

No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
There is nothing more difficult than living without you
Sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
Suffering the wait of seeing you arrive
El frio de mi cuerpo pregunta por ti
The cold of my body asks for you
Y no sé dónde estas
And I don't know where you are
Si no te hubieras ido seria tan feliz
If you hadn't gone, I'd be so happy

No hay nada mas dificil que vivir sin ti
There is nothing more difficult than living without you
Sufriendo en la espera de verte llegar
Suffering the wait of seeing you arrive

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Oncologist

So I think I need to really fast forward this story because it is still unfolding as I write this. It's far from over, unfortunately.

Thank goodness the Italian is here to attend this appointment with me. It's a little nerve racking to see an Oncologist, even for precautionary measures. Dr. McC was pretty cool. Dressed really casually in a nice flowing Hawaiian style top, a little on the hippy side, she presented herself with a big smile. Let me back peddle a bit, previous to Dr. McC walking in, her Physician's Assistant came in with a stoic look and asked me 20 questions. Not one sign of emotion. Like, almost not even human, seriously. Then in a really even keeled voice she said, "It's highly unlikely your cyst is cancerous. It's been there for quite some time and you are showing no signs or symptoms of cancer." Coolness! But still not a crack of emotion. If she was a man, she could get a job as a guard to her Royal Highness the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Back to Dr. McC, she came in and literally drew me a map of the female anatomy, the reproductive area of course, and explained to us how it would all go down in detail. How everything functions and how these things form, etc. but in layman's terms so that we could really understand. She said that even though it was quite large, it could still be taken out laprascopically, as opposed to cutting me open. They would attempt it first anyhow.

I felt pretty lucky to have been given such a good team, Dr. K and Dr. McC to take Shrek out of me. I got a good feeling from both of these physicians. The Italian sort of sat there in astonishment because Dr.'s in Italy don't explain such things in detail. There is no one hour consultation. He told Dr. McC, "This is incredeeble, really. I work before in a Cancer Center in Milano and I know Dr.'s in Italy don't explain such things and draw such things. I like this."

So she took me into the exam room, and basically confirmed what Dr. K had already told me she suspected Shrek to be. She said she would call Dr. K to coordinate their schedules and let me know what date I would be having surgery.

Friday, August 31, 2007

L'Arrivo Dell'Italiano

Amidst my medical chaos, arrived my angel. Ale was set to arrive on July 28th, but it wasn't without a hitch. The morning of his expected arrival, I get a phone call. It was Ale and he sounded pretty upset. He said, "Baby, I don't have the ticket." And I said, "What do you mean??" "The (insert explative) travel agent have mess up my reservation. She make it for the August 28 instead of July 28. I'm try to fix it, but I don't know, baby" Oh crap. I never heard him so angry. Long story short, a really nice person at the airport (unusual in Rome, not sure about Milano) was able to change his reservation. He got here on June 29th, one day later. He had to stay over night in Chicago. As long as he got here, that's all that mattered.

I was so excited to see him when I picked him up at the airport. He looked so cute standing there at the baggage claim. He had a long trip so I decided his first meal in Portland should be at a place unique to Oregon (and Washington). So I took him to McMenamin's Kennedy School. McMenamin's is a pub, or are pubs, I should say, all over Oregon and I believe there is one in Washington. They brew their own beer and also make their own wine. I ordered the Ale sampler for him so he could try the different brews and he ordered a burger, of course. He started to eat it with a knife and fork when I stopped him dead in his tracks. "Aspetta amore, you have to pick it up with your hands" When he picked it up, he said "Mamma Mia, I can fit this in my mouth???" Haha! Yep, you can do it!
He was just what I needed and I planned a lot of things for us. This was going to be the best summer ever!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Medical Term for Shrek

I made an appointment with the OB/GYN ASAP. They wanted to give me an appointment for a month and a half out, but I was pretty emotional and I said um, no way. I need an appointment now. I explained what I had going on, so the scheduler put me on hold and spoke to the powers that be and squeezed me in on the following week.

That week was torture. I wanted to call Ale but he was celebrating his Mama's birthday and I didn't want to spoil it. I couldn't tell my Mom, no way. She has her own health problems. Plus, my sister is pregnant and having a terrible time of it. I didn't want to tell anybody until I knew exactly what I was dealing with. Jeannet knew of course, she was the one that really pushed me to go to Urgent Care.

The day finally arrived and I was in good spirits. I try as much as possible to be optimistic. I really believe it helps the outcome. The nurse came out and got me, weighed me and all that obligatory stuff. Asked me my and my family's medical history. Then Dr. K came in and I got a good feeling right from the start. She explained to me in detail what the CAT Scan revealed and what my Shrek's official title is. It's called a Dermoid cyst and it's a nasty little bugger!! Well, it's not so little. At this point it had grown to 14 cm by 11 cm. Huge for a cyst. Dr. K said it's been there for a long time which I was surprised by because I had had my last pap in May.

I had seen this kind of thing on those medical shows on the Discovery Health channel. Never did I imagine it would happen to me, but according to Dr. K, it's quite common among women of child bearing age. So ladies, if your feeling unusually bloated, don't hesitate, go get it checked out ASAP. Back to Shrek, it's one of those yucky cysts that grows hair, teeth, sebum, and bones. Ew! Someone that isn't a medical professional, such as myself, could believe it's fetus gone awry. I mean, it does originate on the ovary, does it not??

Dr. K told me that since it had grown to epic proportions, it needed to be removed surgically. There was no other way around it. Crap. I explained to her that Ale, the Italian, was coming in a few days from Milano, and I really wanted to have some time with him before having my surgery. She agreed that we could wait a few weeks, 3 at most, but no more than that. We'd be risking it growing more or even bursting. The biggest concern was that it could also be cancerous AND she said that she was 99.5% positive I was going to lose an ovary. Maybe even both. That was really hard for me to hear because I don't have kids yet, and I want to be a Mom more than anything!

She reassured me by saying that she highly doubted it was cancerous just because I didn't show any signs and symptoms of cancer. I had just played tennis for 2 1/2 hours a few days before!! Just to be safe, she sent me to the lab to have a CA-125 test, which is a blood test to determine whether there is cancer in the ovaries and made me an appointment with an Oncologist. Not a Doctor I really wanted to see.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nastro Azzurro

The Italian came home from Piazza Italia and told me to log on to You Tube to check out this commercial. It's an Italian beer commercial filmed in Las Vegas.


A Mass Called Shrek...

Teary-eyed, I got in my car and drove myself to the Urgent Care clinic. I told the Doctor what I had found in my belly and he took it from there. He felt around my lower abdomen and confirmed my suspicions. There was definitely something in there. He had me take a pregnancy test, which I knew would come back negative. He decided then to send me across the way for a CAT scan. Wow, now my head was spinning AND I have out of state insurance, which means I pay 30%. The fear and dollar signs were mounting, fast.

I had to drink the most disgusting Vanilla flavored crap ever. I don't know how I was able to keep it down, but I did. The nurse took me back, I put on the gown and laid down on the little board that would move me in and out of the machine. Breathe in, breathe out...wax on, wax off...Then the nurse had me wait to make sure they came out ok. After a few minutes, she came back looking pale as a ghost. She told me they needed to take a couple more. OK....what the heck's going on??!! When they finished taking pics of my insides, she sent me back over to Urgent Care.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity. When the nurse finally took me back, she had this look of sorrow on her face. The doctor made his way into the exam room I was in and I'm not exaggerating when I say that the look on his face made me want to burst out into tears. He looked like he had just lost his wife! These were the words he said to me:

"The Radiologist told me that there is quite a large mass in your pelvis. It's huge and it involves both of your ovaries. It's not life threatening, but you should definitely go see and OB/Gyn ASAP."

I felt my heart fall to my stomach and the tears well-up in my eyes. Exactly what is this mass???? Is it cancerous?? How much is all this going to cost me?? Why now?? Ale is set to arrive in a couple of weeks.....Porca miseria! I decided I wasn't going to feel sorry for myself. I decided I needed to be strong, it didn't have me, I have it..etc.... So, I named my overgrown mass Shrek.

What's That I Feel?

I played tennis on a Saturday morning in early July with Alan, Pete and Rich. It had been about a month since I had played. The last time being my final lesson with Ollie back in Fargo. It felt good to be back on the court, especially knowing that I could still keep up with the guys. We played for about 2 and a half hours before finally calling it quits. We were all famished and decided to go to Piazza Italia (more on this place later!) for lunch.

After lunch, I went home, showered and got ready for the beerfest out at McMenamin's on Cornelius Pass road with my new tennis buddies. I had a blast. I met a lot of really cool people and it felt good to have a social life again. I have to admit, I'm not much of a beer consumer so I settled for McMenamin's own red wine. Not bad, not bad at all. I had the whole bottle to myself, since everyone else was tasting the many beers being sold. I've become somewhat of a legend because I finished my bottle of wine before the guys could get through one beer. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but the wine was good and I was having a great time.

The next morning when I woke up, I felt something in my lower abdomen. Now, I had been feeling bloated every morning for the last two weeks, which was unusual, but this was different. I began to palpate my lower belly and I felt a lump, not hard but a lump no less. It felt liquidy, like a waterbed feels, ya know? At first I thought perhaps it was a gas bubble (silly, I know but not unusual for me...haha!) or maybe the bottle of wine I consumed the night before had some how lodged itself in my intestines (even more ridiculous, I know) but I honestly didn't know what to make of it. All I know is some uninvited guest had set up camp in my pelvic region. Great. Now what? I decided to ignore it for a couple of days in hopes that it would pass. Unfortunately, I'm not that lucky.

I decided to call some good friends of mine who happen to be Physicians and get their professional opinion. It was enough to get me over to the Urgent Care Clinic. Mamma Mia. What was happening inside of me??

Better Late Than Never...

I arrived in Portland back on June 6th, more or less. My Mom and I drove out from North Dakota. It was a really beautiful drive, although I knew I would really miss all my friends back in ND dearly, this was what I had to do. Having my Mom with me helped me so much. No matter how old I am, I will always need the comfort of my mother.

I had lived in Portland back in '99 and it had been calling me back ever since. When we drove into Northwest Portland, I really felt like I had finally gone home. My life has changed so much in the last year and this blog will take you through those changes and through my new life's adventures. I'm going to be writing posts about this summer, although the Fall is almost here. I had such a fun summer, I have to write about it!

When I arrived, I stayed at Jeannet and her families house out in Scappoose, until I could get settled on my own. Jeannet is one of my closest friends. We have been friends since 1st grade and she has always been there when I needed her the most. I am so thankful for good friends! I don't know what I would have done without them!

I knew I wanted to be in the thick of things in Portland, so I narrowed my search to Northwest Portland. Thank goodness for Craigslist! I found the perfect apartment, in the perfect neighborhood, for the perfect price! Once I got all that taken care of, the furniture shopping began...what fun! I LOVE to shop! A new start in a new city with all new assets! Oh Happy Day!

My next task was to get enrolled in school. I decided I wanted to enroll in an accelerated program, so as to earn more money ASAP. Once my course is done (approximately a year from October), I will enroll at Portland State or the University of Portland, or...well, I have quite a few to choose from, so in about 6 months, I'll have to sit down and figure out which is best suited for my needs. My enrollment was successful and I was able to get a grant for my tuition!

Things are really looking up for me in PDX!