Lentil Cookies v2

My son-2Even though TECHNICALLY I’m defined as an “empty nester” because my son is on his own, married, and no longer resides at Casa de Enchanted Seashells, I don’t believe he’s ever further away than my heart.

I woke up on Saturday to read this email from my Angel Boy, which is the reason why I baked cookies early this morning and sent a package off to him while they were still warm:

angelboyemail

Not ALL is perpetually enchanted in the life of Princess Rosebud; It’s still difficult to think about or talk about my son’s recent emergency life-saving surgery  — I can’t even GO there to that place of “what if” — BUT the worst diid NOT occur and he’s making a full recovery.

Briefly, here’s what happened.

He had an obstruction due to a congenital defect we never knew he had, Meckel’s diverticulum. During his surgery, 24 inches of small intestines were removed because they were necrotic, along with 8 inches of ascending colon, his appendix, and lots of other small valves and little parts.

It all came about with no warning. Crazy, right?

Here’s that “if” again. IF my DIL had not fought the ER and been his best assertive advocate to insist they take a more proactive approach to diagnosis his pain (she just would NOT GIVE UP) and IF we had not had such an amazing surgical team led by Dr. Todd Stafford  –  well, let’s just say that we are all very grateful that he had such a dedicated team of doctors. Nuff said.

He lost about twenty pounds during his ordeal, and at six feet and 160 pounds on a GOOD day, that much weight loss made this normally fit and healthy young man look emaciated.

During his post-surgical recovery, his diet was limited to low fiber and low residue foods; a lot of Cream of Wheat, mashed potatoes, and chicken noodle soup. No vegetables, no fruit, nothing that would interfere with the healing of multiple incisions and re-joining of internal organs.

I’m happy to report that three months after the surgery, he’s defied the odds and is back to eating pretty much everything he wants, with only minor digestive upsets.

He went back to work, teaching a summer course at Yale, and I’ve been sending him healthy cookies and high protein bars on a weekly basis —  and as requested, he’ll receive the lentil cookies on Wednesday, and that should keep him supplied until he’s here next week for a short visit. Yay!

You can be sure that I’ll be cooking and baking nonstop. I’m so HAPPY to have my Angel Boy here, surfing with tugboat man and best of all, close enough to touch and hug and play Scrabble and Bananagrams.

Every minute of every day, I’m grateful to be one of the luckiest moms in the world.

To read all about Angel Boy’s surgery, click on the following links: 

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A while back, I posted Alton Brown’s Lentil Cookie recipe that I discovered on Food Network’s website.

This time, I experimented and created a version that’s a bit more intensely nutritious.

LENTIL COOKIESAngel Boy’s Lentil Cookies

They are quite dense, full of protein and energy,  and would make a great snack for hiking.

  •  2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup smooth unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup brown sugar (If you use honey/agave, adjust the flour to accommodate the additional liquid)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg (or not if vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
  • 1 cup dried fruit, I used a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, apricots.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, oil, vanilla, yogurt, brown sugar. Whisk briefly to incorporate. Add peanut butter and lentil puree and mix thoroughly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, protein powder, ground flaxseed, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.  Add the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or a hand mixer to combine. use hands to mix. Stir in dried fruit. If it seems a little dry, add yogurt. Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, depending on your oven’s personality.

Lentil Puree:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool.


 

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Endurance and Survival

Life lessons from the garden.

We dug up a stand of cactus a few weeks ago, intending to immediately replant them in a different location, but life happened in the form of my son’s emergency surgery and my torn retina  —  and the cactus patiently waits for its journey to a new home.

Surviving and thriving.

cactusflower2

Anticipating its release from a hostile environment.

Blossoming in spite of life in a barren, derelict wheelbarrow.

Hopeful.

wheelbarrow

 

What Does a Cosmo, the Trauma Unit, and Mother’s Day Have In Common?

For this #MothersDay, I’m honored to welcome a special guest poster on Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife…my very own daughter-in-law, or as we fondly refer to her, DIL. I know you’ll love this post as much as I do. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
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What Does a Cosmo, the Trauma Unit, and Mother’s Day Have In Common?

As we sit 20,000 feet up in seats 1C, 1D, & 1E, our little team can almost exhale as we head home from Boston to San Diego.

Rewind ten days.

What would you do at 4:00 a.m. when you’re terrified in the Emergency Room. Your husband is in agony. The surgeons’ don’t know what’s up and the pain meds aren’t working?

You call family.

Nobody wants to make that call. I knew that waking up MIL in the middle of the night to tell her that her Angel Boy was in the Emergency Room hooked up to morphine 3000 miles away would put the ice-cold, fear-of-God in her.

I took a deep breath and dialed. When she did not pick up I knew the panic she would feel when I called again right after.

No one wants to see their DIL’s number twice in a row in the middle of the night.

When I got through I told her calmly what was happening. I could hear the panic in her voice but she responded exactly as a mother should. She said that she was on her way. Not just hopping in the car or on the bus. She was booking tickets to fly across the country without a moment’s thought. I knew that I had opened them to that sick pain and fear I was feeling – but it had made me feel better. I knew whatever was coming I did not have to face it alone. And that’s what good mothers do. They take on your pain, so you can feel better.

From then on, I counted the hours until they arrived. Literally. I did not leave AB’s side until they got there and I knew another loved one could watch over him.

It had been fifteen hours in the hospital without even a cuppa. I had screamed, cried, fought, and begged every RN, CRN, resident, consultant, physician, surgeon, radiologist, you name it. But now I knew I had some people on my team.

Team AB.

The next ten days after the surgery went by on auto-pilot. I’m convinced Team AB drove the whole floor nuts. We were on their ass 24/7 – from wash clothes, to walks, to IV, to test, results, more CTs — we did not stop for a moment to breathe.

But me and MIL were on the same team, working together, side by side, to make sure our AB got better.

It’s true when they say you have to laugh or you’ll cry. Too true! In amongst all of the drama and fear we belly laughed. I mean really laughed. Even when Jason’s roommate “One Tooth Tommy’s” girlfriend overdosed him on her street Xanex. Or or when I got some sympathy gas in the canteen in front of a table of young cute residents.

The day AB was getting discharged, I woke up and I looked over in our hotel room to see MIL sleeping and next to her an empty glass of wine, vodka tonic, and the remains of my Cosmo. What can I say? It had been one of those weeks.

And now as we head home to San Diego, it could not be more perfect that tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

Because it’s definitely time to celebrate MIL.

When an emergency hits – it comes out of nowhere and the whole world stops.

Everything is stripped back and you see people for who they really are.

Raw.

What we saw this week was the purest and selfless love of a mother.

AB, you are lucky to have such a mom.

And I am lucky to have a friend, a partner in crime, and the best MIL you could wish for!

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Full Circle From Hell to Happiness

So…we’re all sitting at Gate 36 at Boston Logan Airport, waiting for our flight to San Diego, the final leg of our massive journey to bring home Angel Boy. YAY!!!

We can literally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel like I gave birth to him all over again.

It all started with the call at 3am that propelled the labor pains to GET TO HIM at any and all cost.

‘Cos you never know, right? What if we had been flying and it was too late? What if we had landed, turned on our cells, and learned the worst had occurred while we were desperately working to make it to the hospital before his emergency surgery? The what ifs were killing us. What if the surgeon couldn’t fix him? What if he had a rupture? What if he suffered a massive infection that couldn’t be controlled? It was touch and go for a while, but he pulled through  — we ALL pulled through…

Lucky for him AND for us, none of those fears came true, and that’s why we’re here at the airport, anxious to see my tugboat man and get back to my normal routine of going to the gym, cleaning the house, baking, and of course, SHOPPING!!

On a serious note…

This whole experience got me thinking…always a dangerous thing, right?

I believe that it’s critically important, if you’re ever hospitalized, to have a family member (or two) act in the capacity of an advocate —  with the docs, the nursing staff, and the insurance company.

It’s next to impossible for the patient to communicate on his own behalf or even function at all –when he’s in pain and suffering — before surgery, especially emergency surgery, and after surgery when he’s basically comatose and drugged up, during the entire stay and up to the exit strategy.

RNs have about eight patients at a time; because of that, we handled most of my son’s personal care.

DIL and I stayed with him 24/7, taking turns sleeping in the recliner next to his bed.

We took his temp, cleaned him, took him to the bathroom, kept after him every few minutes to use the little tool to keep his lungs healthy, and when he started walking the very next day post-surgery, we walked him further and further every day.

It was back to basics: baby steps. Measuring his urinary volume, charting his temp, checking for gas, helping him to the bathroom  — the simple joy of having his naso-gastric tube removed called for applause and cheers.

Baby steps. Walking further every day. Walking with the IV detached. Ditching the hospital gown and wearing his own clothes.

The first meal after eight days was spectacular. Chicken broth and apple juice constituted a feast. My already thin boy had lost so much weight.  More baby steps.

Even though they check vital signs once an hour, we were there to monitor any changes minute by minute.

When he started to run a temp, we alerted the RN and she alerted his surgeon and because of our “assertiveness”, a ton of blood tests were ordered along with a CT scan to rule out infection or abcess. It turned out that he DID have a blood infection, but not MRSA, the scary one, and it responded well to antibiotics.

The final issues were insurance-related, and we had to literally drive the discharge process and all that red tape in order to leave the hospital in a timely manner.

They’ve just called for our flight; back to sunny SoCal, back to the beach, back to retail therapy. Holla!

It was a hellish ten days, but I really feel like I’ve given birth all over again…to a healthy thirty-three year old baby boy! Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

surf-WEB

 

Time to Exhale: Hospital Update

Hospital-BedThank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you all for your words of encouragement, support, and compassion. It was super appreciated and really helped to cheer me up when things seemed a little touch and go, if you know what I mean.

Staying in a hospital for more than a few days is UNREAL.

You can’t help but be drawn into the complex interpersonal dramas on the floor  —  with staff AND the rest of the patients.

We have been here 24/7. My DIL and I took turns spending the night with my son so that he’d never be alone. We stayed in a hotel that was close to the hospital, a place to take showers and catch a few hours of sleep.

My son recovered from surgery on the trauma floor. Motorcycle crashes, auto accidents, thyroidectomies, as well as those injured performers from the circus. You prob saw it on TV, right? The human chandelier circus performers who fell forty feet in Providence, Rhode Island? They’re here, being treated for some really horrific injuries.

It was a total media frenzy scene that caused the hospital to go CRAZY. News vans were EVERYWHERE — Fox, CNN, all the big names plus local news.

And then there was the doozy of a roomie — you will NOT believe this is for real, but I swear it’s the truth.

A guy we’ve named “One Tooth Tommy” (for obvious reasons) was the victim of a horrific car crash. He was in the passenger seat, but the driver was running from the police — and ran smack into a telephone pole. The driver escaped unharmed, but his passenger ended up with two smashed legs, two smashed hips, a cracked pelvis, broken arm, broken ribs, and a rod in his back.

It became painfully obvious to us that Tommy’s own long standing personal relationship with drugs made it impossible for a normal amount of morphine to have any effect on his pain. He was only twenty-six years old yet he looked not a day younger than forty.

So…in addition to selling drugs from the hospital room, his girlfriend decided to take matters into her own hands and reduce the pain all by herself by giving him Xanax and probably a cocktail of other things — and almost ended him, too.

I walked by his bed and noticed that he appeared comatose, and not that I wasn’t grateful for the cessation of his swearing and screaming for more drugs, but his “self-medication” seemed to have potentially become PERMANENT, if you know what I mean.

I flew out of the room and flagged down his RN. She rushed in, attempted to rouse him and couldn’t, but she tried asking him all kinds of questions; “what’s your name”, “do you know where you are”…basic stuff that we all need to know, I guess. Right?

When her attempts failed, she flagged down a doctor who was able to rouse him and again attempted to ascertain any lucidity and level of compos mentis. He didn’t know his name or where he was, which caused another level of response to the situation.

The doc immediately shut-off all IV pain medication and he slowly started to become more alert; well, as alert at One Tooth Tommy probably ever is…if ya know where I’m going with THAT.

The nurse had a stern “chat” with the girlfriend about how it wasn’t a good idea to take matters into her own hands because it was unsafe for her boyfriend and it could have killed him.

We’re not sure how much she comprehended, as she had also medicated herself quite liberally, and was slurring her words and weaving up and down the hallway.

You would be absolutely correct if you figured that my son was removed from that room faster than the speed of light.

The room he moved to was shared with an ex-Marine who was a welcome and awesome change — a real gentleman as well as a hero. His reason for being in the hospital? He was stabbed several times in his back and liver because he tried to intervene and break up a fight at a restaurant. A real-life hero.

I’ve got a zillion bizarre stories like this; I should write a screenplay for sure.

But for now, I’m just happy that hell week is drawing to a close and we’ll be going home tomorrow. I can finally breathe. Yay! Pop the bubbly!

 

That Dreaded Call at 3:00 A.M.

free_wallpaper_of_baby_a_cute_baby_holding_a_teddy_bearThey are always our babies, no matter their age, ya know?

Right now, things have calmed down a bit. Fingers crossed, we’ve avoided a crisis of nightmare proportions…

…Monday 3:00 a.m., the incessant ringing of my cell jolts me awake.

I can’t find the damn phone and it stops ringing only to start again.

This time I found it buried under a pile of clean laundry.

When I saw my daughter-in-law’s name on the screen, I almost didn’t want to answer it.

Nothing good comes from a phone call at 3:00 a.m.

Nothing.

And not this time, either.

With a bad connection and dropped words, trying to hear/not wanting to hear, she told me that my son, Angel Boy, was taken to an ER in Rhode Island because of excruciating stomach pains and vomiting.

“What?” That’s all I could say. She had to repeat herself a few times and talk slowly. I wasn’t comprehending.

The pain was worsening and his belly had become distended and was filling with fluid.

The first thing you think of is appendicitis or even a burst appendix, but the tests were inconclusive.

There were other diagnoses floating around but none of the tests pointed to a specific diagnosis: gastritis, diverticulitis, colitis…

The pain was overwhelming and not responsive to morphine.

There seemed to be no other alternative than to admit him and prepare for more invasive testing.

A surgical team was hastily thrown together as exploratory surgery seemed to be the only option.

We’re in California. I’s 3:00 a.m. What do we do?

My tugboat man and I were able to get a direct flight out first thing in the morning and we arrived at the hospital in time to discuss Angel Boy’s medical condition.

Whatever it was, was serious, and needed immediate intervention.

Or. Or I won’t say, but you get the picture. OR is NOT good.

Because his belly was continuing to distend as it filled with fluid and the pain was increasing, there seemed no alternative than a laparascopy with a camera.

The head surgeon speculated about what he might find: a possible bowel obstruction AND something with his appendix.

We gave him the go ahead to fix what he saw, no matter what he found.

We all kissed him goodbye as the first pre-op drugs entered his body and the surgery commenced at 8:00 p.m.

At 10:30 the surgeon came out with a smile.

Apparently, my son had a congenital defect we were never aware of — because up until then it had never caused a problem.

An abnormal sac or pouch that develops at a weak point in the intestines is known as a diverticulum. In some instances, people are born with a diverticulum in their intestines. This condition is called Meckel’s diverticulum.

Meckel’s diverticulum develops between the 5th and 7th weeks of fetal growth.

Because the condition is present at birth, it is classified as a congenital health issue. Although it generally remains silent, life threatening complications may arise.

And they did.

It was a perfect storm of a worst case scenario.

He had a massive bowel obstruction; intestines were strangulated and all knotted up. By the time the surgery started, two feet (24 inches!!!) of intestine had lost blood supply and died, all within a time span of twelve hours. The surgeon removed the necrotic part, did a resection, including eight inches of colon and removal of his appendix.

Without this life-saving surgery, there is no doubt that this Mother’s Day would not have been. It’s anticipated that he’ll have a rapid recovery — he’s already walking around around due in large part to his overall good health and fitness level.

Now, as soon as he’s released and we can fly him back to SoCal, my Mother’s Day will be spent caring for my Angel Boy and nursing him back to health.

His future is as bright as it ever was; this was just a brief course change in a life full of joy and adventure.

My tugboat man and Angel Boy have plans to surf the south swell in SoCal this summer and that’s the best Mother’s Day gift I could ever imagine.

P.S. The surgical team at Rhode Island Hospital were/are AMAZING. We lucked out with a guy who clearly enjoys what he does, who knew his way around this type of surgery, and explained it all to us with intelligence and humor.