This is our last morning in Altea. To the left is Denise from Canada, who had surgery on the day I was discharged from the hospital. She’s obviously doing fabulously!This is me 7 days post-op and on our balcony of our room in Altea.
Here are John and I on the evening of the 17th in Madrid – at the Flamenco show that we took in that evening. That was such a fun night!

This is the morning of the 21st – the morning after we arrived home. I asked John to take pictures of me for the blog… he did and then he said, “But you should take the sweater off – it camoflages too much.” To which I said, “DUH! Why do you think I wear one?! Well, except for the fact that I’m always cold!”

BTW, I’d lost 10 pounds at this point in time. Below are the pictures without the :ahem: camoflage!

I’ll take more pictures on Monday since that will be three weeks from surgery.

Showers are good!

Every post-op should have their first post-op shower in a shower like this:

Sigh… this could be habit forming!

We had a great day today. We found Denise and her sister Darcy at breakfast this morning. Denise had her sleeve surgery with Dr. Baltasar on Wednesday. They’ve actually been here a the hotel since Friday but we hadn’t been able to find them yet. Amazingly enough, they are just a couple of rooms down from us!

After breakfast John and I, RJ and MJ, and Ann drove to Benidorm (6 km down the road) to the open air market. We had a fun time watching people. I wish I could access Ann’s pictures – she got a shot of a lady trying on a bra over her clothes at one of the booths – it was a riot!

After the open air market we went to lunch at Tony Roma’s in Benidorm. The girls enjoyed soup and the guys ribs – while the girls tried really hard not to drool visably at their yummy food. After lunch we walked the block to the beach.

This is a pretty classic snapshot of Ann, MJ, and I – laughing. We’ve done a LOT of laughing this trip. A LOT. LOL!

I am having one little wierd thing going on. I’ve got one spot on my abdomen that *really* hurts. Kinda feels like someone has punched me in a quarter sized spot repeatedly. It’s definitely external – Dr. Baltasar and I talked some time ago about potential side effects or complications that could come about because of my mesh with a lap surgery. One of them is that some gas can get trapped in the mesh. I’m wondering if that’s what’s happened. I just emailed Dr. B and will likely hear from him in the morning about his thoughts on this. In the meantime, I’m trying to take it easy – and no laugh so much.

The sunset tonight was stunning – just had to share:

We’re heading to Madrid on the noon train tomorrow. I’m not sure how we’ll handle the change in weather – leaving the 70’s for the 50’s. Tough, huh? I guess we’ll just have to buck up!

Thanks for all of the good thoughts, precious prayers, and emails of support!

5 Days Post-Op – Again!

When you’re 5 days post-op when you’re a “virgin” DS every day is amazing – a little scary, maybe – but new and exciting. I’ve got to admit, it’s a little more old hat this time out for me. Maybe that’s because I’ve gone through this with so many patients now… nineteen that I’ve actually been a support person for. I think that’s everyone… Then the others that were in Alcoy while we were there that we all adopted into our group… Then the others that I’ve had the privilege of talking with – whether in person or via phone, or email, or text, etc. as they’ve gone through the process.

So yeah, I had to stop just a moment ago and try and figure out how many days post-op I am! Surgery was Monday, today is Saturday – that’s five days. Wow – they’ve kind of flown. And I feel really good. In fact….


I will admit to the fact that Dr. B decided to pull my drains this morning since I was in Alcoy briefly *might* play into that a bit! 🙂 LOL!

(This is in Altea – ancient olive trees in front of one of the churches in town.)

Yesterday we just kind of hung out around the hotel and some in town. Very similar to the day prior. (Below is a view of John on the Promenade in Altea on Thursday.)

Friday mid-day we had a conversation with Theresa, the wife of the general manager of the hotel here. MJ mentioned she wished we could cook some soup for we post-ops and Theresa promised to ask her husband if the chef couldn’t prepare something specifically for us! As it turne out, MJ wrote down one of her recipies (she’s a fabulous cook), it was given to the cook, and we were informed to report to the Miramar Restaurant at 9pm that evening to taste test! Cool!

Here’s the Mediterranean at sunset.

Ann had not been feeling so hot since late afternoon, so went to rest after our outing Friday mid-day. We checked her vitals, etc. and everything was as it should be. However, her general sense of unwell continued and grew. We went to dinner – had the MOST AMAZING soup ever – and were having a fine time, when Ann suddenly felt very ill. I quickly phoned Dr. Baltasar and at his direction we quickly gathered a few things and John and I took Ann back to the hospital in Alcoy.

Long story short, her blood pressure is improving dramatically – and her body simply doesn’t know how to handle that after many years of severe elevated blood pressure. Her medication was adjusted, and after a series of diagnostics she was deemed fine and dandy.

As you can see, she looks fabulous by this morning! This is she and Reuben, one of the nurses at the hospital.

We’re back in Altea now, enjoying the much warmer and sunnier weather here. We’re planning on heading out to lunch shortly (starts around 2pm). Tonight we will go to old Altea to visit art shops, do some general shopping, and enjoy a lovely dinner out.

Oh, interestingly enough, most post-ops don’t start vitamins until thy are a month post-op. Dr. B and I have discussed it and we’ve decided that I will restart my vitamins now. I’m starting with calcium (I’m using UpCal-D travel packets) and Vitamins A, D, E, K, and magnesium. So far, it’s going well.

We’re in Altea

My surgery went well. But as Dr. Baltasar explained to John, it was “very laborious” for the surgeons. Because off my three prior abdominal surgeries (not to mention the sheet of titanium mesh across my abdomen from my 5 years prior hernia repair) my gut was one big mass of adhesions. Yet another reason to push for a LapDS if you’re someone trying to make the decision between lap or open surgery. It took them about an hour and a half to get through enough adhesions to reach the stomach. They took off quite a bit of the fullness on the lower part of the stomach, and took some off of the top part as well. The clock on surgery time was getting long enough and the adhesions so severe that it was decided to not mess with the common channel – it wasn’t even possible to measure the length. I tolerated surgery well, however coming out of anesthesia was another story. I’ve earned the disinction of having one of the worst re-entries on record. The anesthesiologist finally administered a dose of calcium, of all things, and everything went to rights. Interestngly enough, my calcium levels were fine going into surgery, but not as fine as my body needed, apparently. While I was in the hospital on an IV they continued to administer additional calcium every 4 hours.

The first night was long, of course – they always are. My biggest complaints being my ankle was unsupported by the cast and so it was cranky. After that a bit of remaining lap gas in the shoulders. That first night I was able to get up, walk to the toilet, go potty, change to sitting in a chair – which was more comfortable than the bed, and make general advancements.

Tuesday was the standard course for recovery… Learning to ambulate independently. Having the blue dye leak test (blech). Working on spirometry to strengthen lung function. Doing lots of rinse and spit. Then “big” leak test and subsequent removal of NG tube (hooray)! Starting liquids. Walking more and more.

By Wednesday morning I felt pretty sure I’d be ready to leave the hospital by the afternoon. When Dr. Baltasar came by for his morning rounds we discussed the possibility and he said if I was ready by the time he came for mid-day rounds then we’d see. So I got showered and dressed. John got us packed up. We conferenced with Ann, MJ and RJ (her husband), and decided that if I was sprung that we would, indeed proceed on to Altea where we had reservations.

So I got released. We got the cars loaded (like how liberally I use the term “we” – yeah, I watched) and got in and headed for Altea. It’s about a 50 minute drive. We’re staying at a lovely place called Melia Villa Gadea – I stayed here in May with some other patients. It’s the kind of place where they go out of their way to serve – they’re so kind and gracious. It seemed like the right place to stay for this trip.

So here it is Thursday morning. I’m doing very well. I’m sipping my water, fruit juice, consomme, and blue dye (every morning until I am drin free), and working on my spirometer. The weather here is GORGEOUS. I’ll have to take some pictures and upload them. The Mediterranean is showing off today, that’s for sure!

Off we go to breakfast!

Photos from Spain

One of my favorite things to do while I’m in Spain is visit the open air markets. Most towns have one twice each week. Every town I’ve visited in Spain (and I’ve been to quite a few) has what they call a “Central Market” – it’s kind of like an indoors farmer’s market. The majority of shoppers rely on the Central Market for their day to day shopping needs. Yes, there are supermarkets and yes folks do shop there. But when you talk to the Spanish people, they prefer the freshness and quality available at the open air markets. I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly!

This picture is from the open air market at Castalla – a wonderful little town with – appropriately – a castle at the top of the hill.

I gotta admit – I’ve never in my life come across a crate of living, moving snails at the market! This was a bit of a surprise! I really wanted to take the picture of the little old man who had gathered these to sell, but he was not willing to have his photo taken. He was proud to have me take a photo of his snails, however!

This is the open air market at Altea – a beautiful little town on the Mediterranean – in fact, this market is just two blocks from the beach!

The flowers were locally grown for the most part – and the fragrance as you entered the row of stalls past these flowers was heavenly!


These tomatoes look at first glance as if they’re underripe. In fact, they aren’t. They are used to make what my friends and I dubbed, “tomato mush” – a wonderful relish with finely diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and olive oil. I suspect there’s a splash of vinegar of some sort in there, too. It’s *fabulous* on freshly baked bread!

Oh to bring some of these back for my own garden!

As you can see – lots of variety, and seemingly everything coming into season at the same time!

I can hadly wait for my green onions to be ready for harvesting!

I live in strawberry country, here in beautiful Washinton County, Oregon – and I’m partial that ours are phenomenally good. I was shocked – even with the Euro so strong against the US Dollar, the strawberries were cheap compared to ours!

I love getting to meet the farmer who grows the produce at the stands!


In Spain, they pickle pretty much everything they can get their hands on. This is actually a pretty small offering compared to some of the stands that you can find in the Central Markets of some towns. I love the teeny tiny little pickles – they’re hot! And I love the pickled baby corn.

I’m so glad to be home, but so looking forward to my garden kicking into high gear!