Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Open Letter Regarding the ACA

Good afternoon.

I'm adding my story to the millions in this country who have been helped by the Affordable Care Act. I'm a 34-year-old woman living in Washington State. All of the jobs that I have worked in my adult life did not offer health care, so for most of those years I went without. It was impossibly expensive to get insurance that was both affordable and actually useful. It's only since Obamacare that I've been able to get the health care that I need. It's not a perfect system, but it's a much-needed step in the right direction.

In the fall of 2016, I was diagnosed with a large (20 x 18 x 11 cm) endometrioid tumor in my abdomen, and I ended up needing aggressive surgery to remove the tumor and all of my reproductive organs. The biopsy confirmed that I had ovarian cancer, and I was fortunate that we'd found it in time before it metastasized. But I was only fortunate because I had regular contact with medical professionals.

I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I had an active lifestyle up until the tumor made it impossible to work. Cancer still got me. It's not hyperbole to say that the ACA saved my life. And for me, my journey is just beginning. I have a long road to full recovery from this surgery. I’m dealing with menopause without the option for estrogen replacement. I know that I'm now at higher risk for things like colon cancer and breast cancer, and this is coming at me at a younger age than I had ever expected. I need to have regular health care to continue my life, and the ACA makes that possible.

Many, many people are in these situations. For-profit ideology doesn't work in health care. People like me are doomed in that system, and it shouldn't be that way. I urge you and everyone who represents the people in government to do everything you can to save the ACA.

Thank you,
Jami Gramore

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I Just Had a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingo Oophorectomy

...along with the removal of a massive tumor in my gut. More specifically, I had endometrioid adenocarcinoma of the ovary, arising in endometriosis. Wow, that's a mouthful.

Breathe. Just breathe.

Pretty unbelievable, isn't it? I'm still in shock. I just had cancer (and let's make darn sure it stays in the past tense), and now all my reproductive organs are gone. It's hard to even type that. Makes it more real, somehow.

It wasn't that long ago that I went into my PCP's office talking about the digestive issues I was having, along with the distention in my abdomen. I thought it was just that -- gaining some weight in my belly, and having stronger-than-normal gut problems. I've long suspected I had some amount of endometriosis, but my brain didn't immediately jump to giant cancerous tumor. One day in November the bloating and gut pain was so bad that I couldn't go to work and took myself to the ER. Even then, they sent me home with advice about how to deal with gas and constipation. Only after my PCP ordered an ultrasound and a CT scan did we realize that this was a large tumor, and surgery was needed ASAP. I met with the gynecological oncology surgeon, and he rightly suspected endometriosis and possibly some stage of ovarian cancer. Given the likelihood of this condition coming back, we decided it was best to remove all of my reproductive organs along with the tumor.

So now I'm in recovery from major surgery. My gut is really sore, and it's a challenge to do anything that uses my abdominal muscles (which is pretty much everything). I'm really constipated, which isn't helped by the narcotics I've been taking. Passing gas and having a bowel movement on Thursday was my big accomplishment for the week, and the final checklist item that discharged me from the hospital. However, I'm constipated again, despite all the laxatives and stool softeners, so it seems like this will be an ongoing challenge. I'm hoping to be off the narcotics as soon as possible.

Other than that, I'm supposed to walk as much as I can, and rest, and repeat, trying to slowly increase the amount of walking I do each day. Obviously, I'm not supposed to lift anything, so that's frustrating, but my wife and housemate will be here to help. This is going to be a long ride.

Breathe. Be present.

I'm happy to be alive. And all I can do right this moment is focus on my recovery.

Follow-up Edit:

I have pictures of the biopsied tumor, and a closeup of the ovary. I'll warn you, it's hard to look at...but it's necessary. Why is it necessary? Because health disasters can happen to anyone, and if it weren't for the medical professionals I was seeing, this could have been a very different story. I was only able to receive that care because I had health insurance. Yes, I'm going to mention the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, if you will) here. The ACA is not perfect, but it's a major step in the right direction. These are pictures of my cells, that turned against me. Affordable, nay, universal health care is a necessity.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Symphony of Science, for Caera

Recently I've been watching the original Carl Sagan Cosmos with my sweetie. I love sharing this with her, and I especially like the discussions we have afterward.

Here's some of my favorite Symphony of Science videos, featuring quotes by Sagan and other greats:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wily Wednesdays - Crochet Devil Horns

Hi there, remember me? It's been ages since I've posted something here! As you can imagine, I've been all consumed with my mad hot romance with horticulture, which hasn't left much time for crafting and blogging. But I have a few rare free moments tonight, so let me bring out a new and silly craft to share.

More horns!

I promised my friend Chris -- a whole year ago -- that I'd make him a crochet horned helm. I don't know why, but devil horns seemed to suit him. It arrived just in time for Halloween.

Of course I have to try them out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wily Wednesdays - Duct Tape Sheath

I wanted to get serious about this pruning stuff, so I bought myself a nice pair of ergonomic Bahco hand pruners -- pretty top of the line in the field and highly recommended. The only problem is, I couldn't find a suitable sheath that matched its unique shape. There are plenty of generic sheaths out there, and specific brands have their own leather holsters, notably this one from Felco...but screw that. I have Bahco pruners and I want the proper shape. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to do some leather working, right?

Well, I had my first pruning field trip today, and not enough time or supplies for leather working, so I ended up taking Randy's silly suggestion and fashioned a holster out of duct tape. You know, a quick, temporary solution -- wrap it around sticky side up, then wrap it again sticky side down. But it's me, so I made it a little more complicated...

It's a perfect, snug fit, so you can hold them upside-down without the pruners falling out. And, uh, good grief this is dorky. I'm not a duct tape freak, but I kind of love it. Eventually I'll grow up and make myself a more professional looking sheath out of leather.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wily Wednesdays - Mixed Media Tree

Polymer clay. Paint. Wood. Go!

Here's my Yule gift for Kai. I wanted to try some new techniques with this piece, so it was a nice excuse for experimentation. I went for a filigree style with the sun, moon, and leaves, and then I tried braiding the tree with long strands of polymer clay. I have discovered that braiding clay is hard, but it has so much potential for some cool Celtic designs.