Surgery

All posts tagged Surgery

Twister is now 25 years old. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Published May 16, 2021 by Malia

I’m really surprised at how fast Tom seems to be recovering. I don’t know if it’s because in the past every family member I helped care for post-surgery/coma weren’t as young and healthy as Tom, or if it’s because the robotic surgery is a little less traumatic than traditional surgery. Maybe it’s a combo of both.

On Thursday, after the surgery was complete, I met with Tom’s doctor who informed me that everything went as expected. Immediately after, I went back to the waiting area and I made the mistake of sitting down for a moment to collect my thoughts.

And then I tried to stand up.

All of a sudden, the sheer idea of standing up was so completely overwhelming, my body refused to cooperate. It was like a physical wall of exhaustion slammed into my body. I ended up sitting there, texting family, “I think I live in this chair now.”

Finally, after almost an hour, I got so nauseous because of dropped blood sugar, that I forced myself up and down to the cafe for what ended up being a really delicious bowl of udon noodles with chicken.

Yesterday, Saturday, Tom rested and played video games, while I worked on cards for some orders that came in over the last few days. Mid-afternoon, I got so tired I crashed in bed for a few hours.

Last night, I watched This is a Robbery on Netflix. It’s a documentary series about the big art heist in Boston back in the 90’s. It was interesting, but the music was unnecessarily creepy. I was quite glad Tom was home, since I watched most of it after nightfall.

Not much on tap for us today. I’m waiting for Amazon to drop off the new blade for my Cricut so I can finish the orders I was working on yesterday. I keep threatening him that I’m going to put Twister on because he doesn’t love it like I do, and his only escape is napping ūüėÖ

Today I am waiting…and waiting some more…

Published May 13, 2021 by Malia

Surgery is over.

Tom is still in recovery, but they’ll be moving him soon. I’m so anxious to see him.

We didn’t have to check in until 8 a.m. so we were able to get up at a normal time. Groot was not thrilled her people were getting up and she moved and went back to sleep in the funniest position:

At least, I thought it was funny how she left her butt hanging out.

Before we left, I got this magical gem of a picture:

I call this the “Paint me like one of your French girls” pose.

Here we are at check-in:

And here we are right before they took him away to relieve him of his kidney and tumor:

And I didn’t realize my mask was on upside down until way later ūü§¶ūüŹĽ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹūü§¶ūüŹĽ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹūü§¶ūüŹĽ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

The Buffett Cancer Center has this beautiful garden area, and that’s where I hung out until they came to tell me his surgery was finishing up. It’s a beautiful day (although there’s a chilly wind), and here’s where I got to hang:

Being able to be outside in such a beautiful garden was such a gift. It really helped my anxiety.

That’s about all from this neck of the woods. Thank you all for the prayers and good vibes.

Can I just have a pile of dogs to cuddle with?

Published May 12, 2021 by Malia

12:57 pm

I’m killing time right now, waiting for Groot to be done at the vet. Her vet is located all the way across town, and I don’t really have the gas money to drive all the way back home and then all the way back. I had asked for them to be done by noon, but noon came and went and she’s still not done.

Tom’s pre-surgery Covid and influenza tests came back negative, so the surgery is a go. I asked him how he was feeling about it, and he responded, “Fine. Looking forward to the long rest.” To be fair, he works his butt off, so at least a week off his feet with nothing required of him will be a good thing.

3:12 pm

We’re home now. According to the vet, Groot is in pretty good condition considering she’s going to be 15 in July. The vet she saw today isn’t the one she normally sees. I got a bit frustrated when she wouldn’t listen to me about the reason I won’t put Groot under anesthesia. Groot has a heart murmur, and that combined with her age makes me unwilling to put her under for a dental cleaning. The vet she normally sees is very understanding of this. However, today’s vet started listing off all the things I would need to do to get Groot a dental. Things like taking Groot to a pet cardiologist so they could check her out and do imaging. Finally, frustrated and with the beginnings of a migraine I made it clear that wasn’t an option right now, especially with me being out of a job and Tom’s kidney fun. Even then, I could tell she thought I was just making stuff up to keep from providing the best care for my baby. I used to be a vet tech at a different branch of the same vet corporation. I know when a vet isn’t listening and is judging a pet owner. Would I love to be able to provide Groot with everything? Yes, of course. She is my baby. But I also am her mama and I’m doing the very best I can for her. She gets good food, lots of attention and affection, and I will do whatever I can for her.

I’m so exhausted and I have so much to do. Yesterday, I had a whole schedule of things to complete, and then I got trapped in ADHD hyperfixation. I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the clock and realized that 9 hours had passed and I thought it had only been 1. A bit frustrating, but at least I did get some cards made.

I’m going to try to get some actual work done around the house (before this migraine goes full blown) and I have my favorite sports show on. Chopped is a sports show, right?

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

Published April 30, 2021 by Malia

This has been a day.

A few weeks back, Tom went in for a physical, and during the visit, the doctor decided she wanted him to get an abdominal ultrasound. Last Friday, he went in for one, and when he got home he told me that he needed to go back in a few hours to get a CT scan done. There was a dark spot that had shown up on his kidney, and the doctor wanted additional imaging done.

Later last Friday, after the CT scan, he was notified that he needed to see a urologist. When they performed the scan, they used contrast and found that the spot on his kidney was receiving blood.

This started one of the longest weeks of my life. I found myself hoping that whatever it was would turn put to be nothing. Just a weird artifact. The worst part, though, was simply not knowing what we were dealing with and what the next step would be.

One small thing, before I go further. When Tom explained to me what was on the scan, he said it was a “dark spot.” This did not translate in my brain the way I think he thought it did. Hence my hope that it was just a weird artifact. However, this is actually what showed up. Guess which kidney is the one in question…

If I had seen this last week I probably would’ve been far more worried than I spent this week feeling.

He has a tumor. A giant tumor. The urologist said that cancer can’t be officially diagnosed until they can actually take a look at the tumor and kidney. That said, according to the urologist so far this appears to be consistent with kidney cancer. Because the tumor is so large they are going to use the surgical robot and remove his entire kidney on May 13th.

When I was sitting on the phone, listening to Tom meet with the urologist (I had permission, since due to Covid precautions I was unable to be there in person), it was a very surreal experience. Initially, when I heard we were most likely looking at cancer, part of me wanted to return to bed, crawl under the covers, and cry. But that was only a part of me, and turns out it was a small part.

Mostly, I feel relieved. No, cancer is not what I wanted to be the diagnosis. No, I don’t want Tom to lose a kidney. So, how can I feel relieved?

1. Tom has two kidneys. And while one is basically filled with a tumor, the other is a healthy kidney.

2. According to the urologist, based on the imaging, the tumor is solely contained in that one kidney. Nothing has spread to other organs.

3. As of right now, post surgery Tom isn’t looking at chemo, radiation, or other long term meds. He’ll have regular checkups over the next 5 years, but that’s it.

4. Knowing is better than hanging out in limbo. I’m grateful we know what we’re most likely dealing with, and that we have a plan for the next month.

I don’t know what the next five years hold. And after this week, I’m reminded, yet again, that I don’t even know what the next day/weeks/months hold. So, the best I can do is continue to hold onto my faith and be grateful for every single second I get with Tom.

Drumroll Please…

Published March 24, 2018 by Malia

To quote Professor Hubert Farnsworth, “Good news, everyone!”

I had my fasting blood drawn this morning and after several stabs…

(That’s four, four painful sticks of a needle. I’m a nightmare draw.)

…my blood was drawn. And this afternoon I got the result of my A1C (and of my chem 14, but I wasn’t nearly as anxious about that result).

At the end of December, my A1C was 10.2. That was the A1C that got my surgery cancelled. The A1C that legit scared me.

I’m pleased to report that as of this morning, my A1C is down.

It’s not 9.5.

It’s not 8.5.

Wait for it…

….

It’s 7.8!

You have no idea how excited I was to see that number. Especially since I know I didn’t apply myself nearly as much to the getting healthy process as I should’ve. But, as much as I blame the flu for me falling off the wagon of eating right and logging of food & blood sugar numbers, I’m thinking the flu actually deserves my thanks. See, I spent almost all of February sleeping, and when I ate, it wasn’t tons.

Now, I just have to try even harder to be good.

The only bad news? I’ve lost no weight. Zero. So, I’m sure that’s not going to thrill my doctor, but she should be happy about that 2.4 point (really hoping my mental math is right) drop of my A1C, right? Hopefully, this’ll keep me from having to go on insulin. Plus, since I’m below 8.0 my ob-gyn is going to be willing to consider doing my surgery again!!!!

You take the good, you take the bad…

Published January 2, 2018 by Malia

When we driving home from my in-laws on Christmas Eve I had this thought enter my brain, “Next year, there might be three of us.”¬† And for the next 48 hours I was in a pretty happy, pretty hopeful place.

No, I’m not pregnant.¬† I didn’t think I was.¬† But, there was this smidgen (and boy ,do I mean smidgen) of a chance, that in the next year I might be.

So here’s the deal, last Wednesday, I was supposed to have a surgery.¬† My doctor was going to shrink my stupid giant ovaries down to normal size by cutting wedges out of them.¬† There was no guarantee, but there was this chance that it’d undo a lot of my PCOS mess.¬† There was a chance that I’d actually be able to make some progress on the weight loss front.¬† There was even a chance that it’d make me a little less insulin resistant.¬† There was a chance it’d make the mystery pain go away, and that it would lessen my mood swings.¬† And…there was this chance that I could get pregnant and stay pregnant.¬† I was so excited.¬† I was weirdly calm.¬† I think I was so desperate for just one of those many things to be a little bit better that it outweighed the anxiety and fear I was also experiencing.

And then I went to my pre-op last Tuesday…

Picture it…9 a.m. the day after Christmas.¬† I got to my appointment, and things promptly went downhill.¬† My first warning sign came when I was going through my paperwork, verifying that they had my info correct, and noticed that they had down the doctor from my work’s employee health clinic down as my primary doctor (she’s nice and I have seen her in the last year, but she’s not my primary doctor, or even my ob-gyn).¬† I pointed this out, and the receptionist told me that she wasn’t able to change that, and that someone in the surgery center would need to fix it on the day of my surgery.¬† I remember feeling confused as to why she’d asked me to check to make sure everything was correct if she couldn’t actually change any of it.

I then got taken into the exam room.¬† Both the nurse and the anesthesiologist were either really annoyed they had to work the day after Christmas, or were super hungover, or both.¬† I just know that they were both in bad moods, and every time I tried to be even a little funny I got death glares from both parties.¬† First, the anesthesiologist was upset with me because of my diabetes and my difficulty keeping my blood sugars down.¬† Then, she was annoyed that I’m overweight.¬† To make it a trifecta, I frustrated her because I snore so I must have sleep apnea and I really need to be getting that treated.¬† I should probably be undergoing a sleep study (at least, according to her).¬† If I hadn’t been stressed and anxious before, I was at that point.¬† A great way to feel the day before surgery.¬† More than once the anesthesiologist informed me that I was¬†ONLY having an elective procedure and I really wasn’t in any condition to have any elective procedure.¬† I kept thinking, “I’m not here for bigger boobs.¬† You know those things that you’re really frustrated and annoyed with me about?¬† This is a procedure that could actually make those things better.”

They drew my blood.¬† The anesthesiologist gave me many print outs (all about the health problems that she had concerns about), gave me another lecture about how I really shouldn’t be having an elective procedure, and I went home, my calm now tinged with a small amount of dread.

That evening, I was about to go flush out my system (yeah, that’s as nasty as it sounds), and I got a phone call.¬† From my doctor.¬† And it started with her saying, “I’m so sorry, I was so sad when I heard about tomorrow.¬† I was really looking forward to seeing you.”¬† (I should mention here that my doctor is a beautiful, kind, sweet woman who genuinely gives a crap and actually listens to me and I kind of love her.)

To which I replied, “What about tomorrow?”¬† Dread amount was no longer in the small category.

“Didn’t the hospital call you?¬† They said they called you.”

“No, they didn’t call me.”

Turns out that blood draw (the one that a week later I still have a bruise from), sent a result back that the anesthesiologist didn’t like.¬† And just like that, my surgery was cancelled.¬† The hospital called my doctor¬† while she was performing someone else’s surgery, and left her a message regarding the cancellation.¬† They gave me no chance to redo the tests, or to fight to stay on the schedule.

I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.¬† The sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe something was finally going to get fixed in my body, was gone, at least for now.¬† I cried all that night.¬† I cried the better part of surgery day.¬† And then, I think my body just ran out of tears.¬† It’s now been a week, and I’m still hanging in there.¬† I’m disappointed that I have to shelve the surgery for now.¬† However, it’s not like it’ll never happen, and even if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.¬† I have an amazing husband, adorable pets, precious nephews and a niece, and a collection of graphic novels that should keep me entertained for the next two years (possibly more, it’s amazing how cheap you can get them on Ebay.¬† The boy need not know how much I’m adding to our already large collection…).

And for now, I’m going to refuse to give up hoping that someday, in the future, I’m going to be a better, healthier me.

Did You Actually Go To Medical School?

Published August 16, 2014 by Malia

When I was in elementary school, I remember classmates circulating a story about a man who had gone in for surgery, and when he woke up he was missing a leg. ¬†Depending on the person telling the story, he either lost both legs, or an arm and a leg, or both legs and both arms. ¬†I’m pretty sure that at some point, in some telling of the tale, he woke up as the Headless Horseman (and was probably missing all his limbs as well). ¬†I learned two things from this, A. Kid’s imaginations are kind of a gruesome playground, and, B. Don’t have surgery, because the doctor will mix you up with another patient and you¬†WILL¬†die (sans all limbs).

When I was in vet tech school, I remember sitting in surgical procedures class, and having a teacher tell us that it was super important to count all your gauze pads-and anything else that came into contact with the patient-before the patient got stitched up, because you didn’t want Fluffy coming back in for having a sponge left inside her accidentally (and having a severe infection from the foreign body).

You always hear stories like this, and I think on some level I didn’t quite believe them until a few years ago when my grampa was staying at a rehab center after surgery. ¬†Two days before he was due to be released, the nurse gave him another patient’s meds. ¬†Turned out that the other patient was taking high levels of morphine. ¬†I’ve always hoped no one got my grampa’s meds, because he was taking large quantities of Coumadin (a blood thinner, for those who aren’t familiar with it). ¬†Grampa ended up back in the hospital for a few days, and his release date got pushed back another week.

All of these things were enough to make me a little nervous about healthcare, but it wasn’t until I started working at the lab that I truly got scared of healthcare.

Now, let me just point out that there are absolutely amazing and fantastic nurses and doctors out there. ¬†My goal here is not to bash, or cast out a net and say, “All healthcare professionals are this way.” ¬†There are people who truly know what they’re doing and do an excellent job at it. ¬†However, in the last year and a half, I’ve started to wonder how many of them there actually are.

I really love my job. ¬†The work is interesting, and I’ve learned far more in the last year and a half than I ever learned in school. ¬†I work in a medical reference lab. ¬†We’re responsible for running tests that doctor’s offices and hospitals can’t run in-house. ¬†I don’t personally perform any of the testing (I’d need a medical lab tech degree for that, and all I have is my vet tech degree and training as a phlebotomist), but I work in the processing department. ¬†Instead of a long drawn out explanation, just think of it as a combination of quality assurance and client care. ¬†I seem to spend a fair amount of time on the phone with clients, and for every call that is smooth and easy to work through, there seem to be about twenty that make you wish you were having a root canal instead.

For example, recently,¬†I had to call a stat result to a doctor. ¬†Not only did this doctor have zero people skills, but when I told him what I was calling about, what the test was, and what the result of the test was along with the normal reference ranges, he said, “I don’t understand what that means.” ¬†It was all I could do not to reply, “You ordered this test! ¬†This is your patient! ¬†What do you mean you don’t understand?!” ¬†Fortunately, it wasn’t a very unusual test, and after about five minutes I was able to explain it well enough to him that he seemed to have grasped whatever it was he didn’t understand. ¬†I hung up the phone and just sat there feeling pity for his patients.

The thing is, those kinds of calls are not out of the norm. ¬†A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers had to call a nurse because a specimen was received that had to be protected from light and frozen within 30 minutes of collection. ¬†The specimen arrived frozen, but unprotected from light. ¬†The nurse didn’t understand the problem, because she had gotten the specimen in the freezer in the 30 minutes. ¬†My co-worker then had to explain that the specimen also needed to either be wrapped in tin foil (not only does it protect the specimen from light, but it protects it from aliens as well), or put into an amber colored tube.

It scares me when things aren’t labeled, or they’re mislabeled. ¬†It scares me when a medical professional doesn’t know that you use a lavender tube to collect a CBC, instead of a serum tube. ¬†It scares me when they don’t know the difference between serum and plasma. ¬†It scares me when they don’t know how to operate a centrifuge. ¬†It scares me when I have to explain something basic to someone who supposedly has more education than I do. ¬†It scares me when people are more interested in discussing their horoscopes, than they are in doing their job correctly. ¬†I don’t care if you’re a Cancer, I care about making sure that the guy with cancer gets prompt and accurate treatment.

I know that mistakes happen.  I know that doctors and nurses are only human.  Sometimes, though, I have to wonder why some of them decided to work in healthcare.  Must be the great hours and the glamorous uniforms.

Embracing My Inner Weirdness

Published April 27, 2013 by Malia

I had an interesting moment this week.  I was standing at work, looking at a cup with an amputated toe in it.

That’s right.

A toe.

From a human.

Now, being a vet tech, I’ve been present for plenty of surgeries. ¬†Working in a medical lab I see blood, and other things (I’ll call them sunshine, butterflies, and daises, to try to keep you all from completely losing your lunch). ¬†However, this was the first time I had ever seen an actual body part that was separate from the body.

Standing there, looking at the toe, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with love for my job.  Seriously.  By far, that toe sighting was the coolest things that happened this week at work.

Now, “normal” people would not find this to be cool. ¬†They wouldn’t think that it was a highlight of their week. ¬†In fact, they would look at me and think, “What a freaky weirdo.” ¬†And, you know what? ¬†They’re probably right.

I’ve reached this point, though, where I’ve pretty much stopped caring what people think about me. ¬†It’s too time consuming. ¬†Besides, I like that I’m a weirdo.

As if loving my gross job, and being obsessed with geeky things doesn’t make me weird enough, I’m turning into the Crazy Puppet Lady. ¬†

My mom started working with puppets before I was born, so I can honestly say I was born into this life.  When I was six, she and dad went to Sunday School Convention in Peoria, and they came home with my first puppet.  She was the ugliest little girl I had ever seen, and I loved her dearly.  I named her Jill, and she was the first puppet I used the first time I stepped behind the stage curtain to perform.  From there on, I spent my entire childhood and teen years puppeteering.  Sometimes we had big teams, and sometimes our teams were just made up of mom, dad, and I.

When I graduated from high school, I thought my days of working with puppets had come to an end.  It was one of those things that had been fun for the time that I had done it, but I just put it down as a part of my childhood.  For a while, it was the end of it.  I had a break for a few years.

Then, in early 2009 our church seriously approached our family about starting up a team. ¬†So, we did, and even though the changes a bit every few months, it’s consistently a fantastic group.

I’ve noticed a change in me, since we started team again back in ’09. ¬†When I left home back in 2003 and went to school, I really didn’t miss team or miss being a puppeteer. ¬†When I moved away in 2011, I missed team and puppeteering almost more than anything else. ¬†It really had become an intricate part of me, and not being able to do it every week was a misery.

When I moved back home last December, I had not job and no clue about what was next for me in life, but I had team and I had my puppets and somehow I knew it was going to be okay.  In fact, the first weekend I was home, my parents helped me make the videos I posted at Christmas:

Now, the girl in the video is Penny, and she’s my girl. ¬†She came into my life back in 2009, and I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with her, and what was worse was that I had no clue how to give her a voice. ¬†It may sound silly, but there’s a lot more to giving a voice. ¬† You have to figure out the personality and create this whole other person. ¬†So, it was exciting ¬†when Penny started finding her voice. ¬†(Side note: Yes, I realize that Penny is a puppet, and this is not a delusional thing. ¬†However, she’s become a part of me. ¬†Hence, I refer to her as a separate individual. ¬†It’s hard to explain without sounding slightly insane, which I’m pretty sure I’m not.) ¬†Last December was the first time that voice really started to make an appearance. ¬†Last weekend, though, that voice got put to the test.

Last weekend was Creative Ministry Festival. ¬†We go every year and take our team members. ¬†Since Creative Ministry Festival is all about Creative Ministry (Puppetry, Clowning, Illusion, Dowel Rod, etc… ¬†for more info check out http://www.creativemin.com), I took Penny with me. ¬†Last year was the first year I took her, and I had this adorable 1950’s poodle skirt outfit on her. ¬†Well, a week before this year’s ¬†festival, I realized that I couldn’t take her wearing the same outfit this year. ¬†That’s when my Pinterest addiction kicked in (you may remember me¬†referring¬†to this addiction a few weeks ago in reference to a cake tragedy). ¬†I remembered seeing a tutorial on Pinterest about taking a superhero emblem t-shirt and making a matching tutu for it. ¬†The instructions for the tutu didn’t seem to difficult, so mom and I went on a last minute hunt for t-shirts and correctly colored tulle. ¬†We found a Superman t-shirt and a Batman t-shirt. ¬†Then, we found sparkly tulle in red, yellow, and black, and regular tulle in blue.

Thanks to my dad, I didn’t have to spend days cutting out 3 inch strips of tulle. ¬†He has this really cool circular knife and quilting mat that I used to cut the tulle. ¬†What should have taken me days took approximately an hour.

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As you can see, I had a lovely pile of red and blue, and black and yellow. ¬†I then had to turn these piles into tutu skirts. ¬†Since I’m not the world’s greatest at finishing craft projects, this was it’s own challenge. ¬†However, by the day of the festival, I had created two unique tutus:

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Friday night, I took Penny in her Superman outfit:

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And on Saturday, it was time for Batman:

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The cool thing was, because she had these unique outfits, people were more inclined to come talk to me (which is good because I’m not exactly good at socializing with strangers). ¬†Not only did people talk to me, but Penny was able to talk to them. ¬†She had finally found her voice, and started getting pretty comfortable with it.

Then came Sunday.

Since this Sunday (April 28th) is our team’s spring performance, I asked the pastors if Penny could do the announcement. ¬†I was given permission, and immediately freaked out. ¬†It was one thing to talk to strangers, it was something completely different to interact with people I know. ¬†What would they think? ¬†Would I just make an idiot out of myself?

Well, when church started, Penny and I went into the sanctuary (and yes, she was still in her Batman outfit). ¬†Even though I pretended I couldn’t tell, I could sense all the people staring. ¬†It was the first time ¬†that any of our puppet had been seen outside of the stage. ¬†Now, the number one rule about manipulating a puppet in public is that the puppet has to stay alive. ¬†This meant that I couldn’t put my arm down to my side, and Penny had to keep reacting like an actual person would. ¬†We got through the first song without problem, and then came the meet and greet time (basically 3 minutes where people can wander around and say a quick hello to each other). ¬†This is when something completely unexpected took place.

Penny and I were standing with mom, and I saw this little girl and her mom come walking over. ¬†The little girl wanted to meet Penny, and so Penny and she talked. ¬†Then, after she left, her dad brought her older sister over (these girls were about 5 and 7), and Penny talked with her. ¬†Then, after she left, two little boys drug their Grandmas over. ¬†One little boy reached out and started shaking Penny’s hand (thankfully, I had the quick reaction to grab the arm rod so Penny could actually shake hands with him). ¬†What shocked me was watching these kids interact with Penny.

I can’t talk to kids. ¬†I grew up and only child, and I had to exist in an adult’s world from birth. ¬†Yes, I had a childhood, but I don’t think my brain was ever truly a kid. ¬†Sure I liked to play and hang with friends, but I didn’t think like a kid. ¬†This has made interacting with children a huge challenge for me. ¬†I don’t want to talk down to them, but I never know what to say. ¬†However, with Penny, I could talk to kids, and they talked to her. ¬†It was my Grinch moment. ¬†It was the moment my heart grew two sizes. ¬†Each kid made me cry (which is next to impossible. ¬†I almost never cry, unless I’m watching some manipulative movie or commercial). ¬†It was the moment that I knew that I really have become the crazy puppet lady, and I’m completely okay with it.

Oh yeah, the announcement went well. ¬†I think it’s the only time the statement, “You can’t say no to someone in a Batman t-shirt and tutu.” has ever been uttered in a church.