Monday, June 25, 2012
LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT - VOCAL CHORD SURGERY
May 30, 2012 4:30am. Woke up, got dressed quickly - the Quiet One was driving me to the hospital for vocal chord surgery. Dr. Ivey would remove a polyp from the right side of my vocal chords. This little polyp has created big problems for me, my singing, my livelihood, AND my finances...so it had to go. We were almost at Columbia Presbyterian when I realized...Holy crap, I forgot my insurance card. We were already 20 minutes into the 30 minute drive. I waited for the Quiet One to reprimand me, to say, 'Really, Judy? Come on...' But I really should call the Quite One - the Patient One - the Noble One. His response to me was, "Do you really need to go back?" I nod yes. "Okay, let's go back." He wasn't upset in the least. The Quiet One dropped me off. He couldn't stay because he had just begun his new job and was required to work. I was happy for him with his new job, sad for me because he is my rock for everything. "Goodbye sweetheart, you're going to be fine! Finally you can put this behind you...I love you & I'll see you later." At the hospital, I filled out all the paperwork. I said a huge prayer. No, I prayed probably four times. And I even posted things on facebook via my cell phone just to keep myself occupied. I began to feel slightly nervous. When my name was called, I walked right in. I was given the prestigious hospital gown, and the nurse asked all the necessary questions. And then they put in an IV (intravenous line through the veins). I HATE them, they hurt, period. The anesthesiologist introduced herself to me, and asked if there was anything else she needed to know. "Yes, absolutely...please make sure I don't feel a thing...please bring me back to conscsiousness and know that in the past anesthesia makes me VERY nauseous. Whew. Now I feel it. Yep, there are the butterflies. Now I'm nervous. Dr. Ivey, my surgeon & laryngologist, came over to see how I was feeling. She has been an AMAZING doctor from day one! She not only has given me fantastic treatment, but she's also been honest & is the only doctor I've ever had who gave me her email address and cell number...she's awesome! "Judy, I just want you to know that in order to do the surgery, we will be putting a breathing tube in your throat, so you may be very sore afterward, but you'll be fine." I understood...that idea was a little scary, but the vocal chords move when you breathe, so I would assume they had to paralyze that so they could work. 7:15am "Judy, they're ready for you." The nurse gave me the option of being wheeled in to the operating room, or to walk. I chose to walk. It made me feel healthy; made me feel empowered, made me feel strong & independent. Hey, whatever it took to feel comfortable before the surgery. The room was BRIGHT!...almost as if I was walking into the light. The room was also slightly cold and all the equipment was incredibly high tech. The surgery was set for 7:30am, so I knew it would be any minute now. The anesthesiologist said, "Okay, Judy, I'm going to give you a sedative to relax you...and then shortly after that, I will put in the medicine so you can sleep..." I looked around and saw about 4 people in the room. Dr. Ivey was in her operating apparel, and she asked, "Anything you want to say before we start? Any questions?" I looked at these strangers whom I was trusting with my life...I had this sensation that this problem was finally being corrected & I suddenly felt terrified AND grateful. So I said the two words that mattered the most, "Thank you!" And I noticed Dr. Ivey was holding my hand and smiling. Wow. What doctor does that? Her holding my hand helped so much. So I breathed in deeply and with absolute trust, I closed my eyes.... Time? What time is it? I woke up with an expected sore throat. I was in a recovery room. It was quiet. Anesthesia is incredible!! It rids your body of a sense of time, place & feeling. I don't recall if I woke up on my own, or if someone woke me...but I have a feeling it was the latter. I didn't mind the sore throat at all - I expected that, but it was the nausea. I HATE being nauseous. I'd rather be in pain than be nauseous. A nurse approached me, she took my vitals and asked how I was feeling. Since I was not allowed to speak, thanks to my iPhone, I texted my sentences into the Notes app, and this would be my form of communication for almost a week. When she read my response, she got the doctor who immediately gave me anti-nausea meds. Thank God. I felt tire, but not as bad as I thought I'd feel. Another nurse came over and once she heard someone tell her my name, she immediately recognized me. She didn't tell me, but I could tell by her body language: the eyes suddenly gush open & there's an excitement in their arms, lol. She was as kind as could be. And she read my lips pretty well. She was kind enough to call my friend, Brenda, who was scheduled to pick me up. She wheeled me downstairs and told me it was a pleasure to "talk" to me. And I was in Brenda's car & on my way home. 11:00am... Brenda wanted to walk me upstairs. "No, I'm fine, Chica." (Chica, to me, is what I call my closest friends). I turned the key, and was thankful the bathroom is so close to the entrance. And I ran to the sink & threw up. Darn. I hate hate hate hate hate throwing up! I took off my clothes & changed into my favorite t-shirt & sweats, and took a nap. When I woke up, I heated up soup...and then I learned quickly, that I really couldn't chew a damned thing. Oh, no...I couldn't tell what it was. When I walked over to the bathroom again. In the mirror I made a discovery: I stuck out my tongue and was horrified to see it point to the right!!! It was so swollen & puffy, but it curved so badly to the right. Dr. Ivey didn't mention that!!! So, as I ate the soup, i could chew, but I couldn't swallow...ugh, sucks! And what was even worse than that was the fact that for the next two weeks - everything I ate tasted sour! The first few chews of any food tasted genuine...and just before I would swallow, it would taste SO bitter, so acrid. When I emailed the doctor, she said, sometimes the tongue is compressed so much, the nerves atrophy and lots of things happen - change of taste can be one of the side effects. Well perhaps this side effect will be effective in being some kind of weight loss aid. Now is the hard part - the recovery - the silence for a week - the feeling of isolation from socializing...but it's done. Thank you, God, I'm alive. The polyp was removed - And one week later, this is what I saw: Vocal chords slightly swollen but NO POLYP! First photo is before. You can see the red bump that's made my life miserable. The photo underneath is one week after surgery! Hooray!
Posted by Judy Torres at 2:46 PM 2 comments:
Labels: Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Ivey, iPhone, Quiet One
Thursday, June 14, 2012
CAYMAN ISLANDS, FAVORITE DAY 2 & HOME
I wanted to leave the details of Day 2, May 1st, at the Cayman Islands last, because I do believe it was my FAVORITE day. Although each & every day had something unique & special to talk about, Day 2 was my most memorable.
This is what was listed on our itinerary:
Morning at Leisure
1pm-5pm FatFish Jet Ski Adventure - bring unexpensive sunglasses...wear shorts that can get wet, etc...
The Quiet One & I discussed what we were expecting. We thought it was a long time to jet ski but then again, it would be fun. We were picked up by our tour guide. His name unfortunately escapes me, so for the blog's sake, we shall call him Aqua Man! He stopped to pick up a few other couples who were joining us, and then right in the middle of the gas station was a rooster. I made the Quiet One get out & take a photo...little did I realize they are free to roam on the islands...and for me, it made it kind of cool.
When we arrived to our destinations, we were given snorkel gear. Snorkel gear? Aqua Man explained we were going to jet ski, snorkel & a few other things. Oh, okay. Quiet One & I looked at each other & smiled. Cool. There was a jet ski for each person. Now, I had only jet skied once in my life...and it was in a lake in Florida. No waves. Sweet & calm. I did love it, but my gut told me not to drive it. So I sat behind the Quiet One, trusting him with my life.
"Okay, everybody, we are going to make a right here, and when I give the signal (his arm straight up & down), we're going to open her up!" Open her up?? Open who up? What up? Why? He continued, "Now there are no laws here on speed limit & these babies can go up to 55 mph. From here we're going to Starfish Point, then Stingray City, snorkeling among the coral reefs & lunch..." My ears stopped hearing him after I heard 55 mph. Now I'm all for adventure, but not really when it comes to water, because of the lack of my swimming skills. Mental note; must take swimming lessons real soon. So, there I was, sitting behind the Quiet One & he had the widest smile I've ever seen on him. Apparently, he's an experienced jet skier & while that reassured me, it made me a bit apprehensive because, while the Quiet One is quiet, he LOVES speed! So all of us couples drove around to the right & waited for Aqua Man to arrive and give us the cue. I was calm. Happy. And the Quiet One turned to me & asked, "You ready, baby?" "Yep." Aqua man came around the bend, standing on the jet ski like some daredevil...then he gave the signal. Holy @$#!!!
...And they're off. I was happy, smiling. Everyone once in a while I screamed like a girl & I yelped here & there too. And once the jet ski reaches a certain speed, it begins to jump. Simultaneously, I liked it and I didn't...but I'm on it now, no turning back. Some boat came by...and all I know is SPLAT...I was in the water. It happened all so fast, I don't recall even being in the air. I know I flew, but the time between the jet ski and the water was immediate. I was in the water. Don't know how deep. I just noticed how immediately quiet it is down there. I opened my eyes. Don't know why. And to my left, I saw the color red. it was almost like a smoke of red. I was impressed how clear it was underwater - I had no goggles on. But I could see so clearly. This was the conversation I had with myself:
Self: "Are you alright?"
Me: "Um, what? Am I really in the water?"
Self: "Yes. Now, don't panic. Remember all those tv shows you watched? You already know that panicking will not work. All people who panic, drown or die...so don't panic."
Me: "Okay. I won't panic. I'll wait. Eventually someone will find me...but, Oh, my God, I'm still under water...shouldn't I be up right now?"
Self: "Shhh, relax..."
Me: "Shut up!!! Oh, my God, why aren't I at the top? Where is the top???"
And I slowly felt the sheer panic rise within me...and just before I lost all sense of sensiblities, I got sucked to the top as if God were vacuuming. And then I could have laughed at myself. Duh...I forgot I had a life jacket on. And there I was floating - all alone. I was relexed now...as long as I could breathe, I was okay, even though no one was in sight. And then, like a knight on a white horse, the Quiet one rode the water to me.
"Hon, you ok? All I know is I felt you holding me, and then you weren't. I'm sorry. You ok?"
All I oculd do was nod, before I realized I was just a tad traumatized...feeling helpless was not fun at all. And while some may argue, 'Judy, you had a life jacket - nothing to have worried about...', the truth is I completely forgot about it, so while I was under the water, it was pretty freaking scary. Just me, the water, the silence & God. Didn't here Him but I sure hoped He was with me.
Aqua Man was practically right behind him. Reality hit. And just like that, I felt launched back into my high school days. I became "fat girl" again. I felt out of place, compared to the rest of our group. And the proof was that the other couples wer at least a 1/2 mile away from us. I could tell that the Quiet One wanted to go faster...when I previously told him, if he wanted to go faster, he could. His response to me was 'No, mami, we're together, we stay together.' And instead of being joyful with his response, for the first time I wondered if I held him back...back from having fun, back from going faster. Ugh - I hate when I'm so hard on myself.
Aqua Man asked, "You alright? No worries, it happens all the time. Now you gotta get back on the jet ski." I recalled the time I'd gone to the Bahamas & there was a small crowd that had gathered near the water - they were laughing at a girl, who was jet skiing alone, who'd fallen off & struggled for quite some time to get back on. I recall feeling very sorry for her, and while some laughed, I wondered why no one dove in to help. Well, now I was that girl, except I had help from not one, but two strong men. "Okay, Judy, with one hand you're gonna place it in the middle & push it down. With your weight you're going to bring your knee up onto the platform & then push your other knee." Sounds easy. NOT! First of all, may I just say I carry some cushioning with me, and as a woman I don't have much upper body strength.
I gave it my all. I would not be Fat Girl anymore. First time, nothing...Second time, good effort but no results. Third time, I managed to somehow get my left let up onto the jet ski, fully extended as if I was doing a split. Impressive, yes, but the Quiet One laughed a little and said, "How in the world are you going to get your other leg up?" I laughed too...it was a funny sight. Thank God, I'm not on that reality show yet, you would have all been cracking up. But after the fourth time, I was tired...and don't know how but I suddenly realized both of my knees were bleeding. Was that the "red" I saw in the water?? I didn't want to give up. I was keeping the rest of the group waiting for me. But I was TIRED now. And just as I began to shake my head in defeat, the Quiet One turned backwards on the jet ski, and asserted to me like a drill sergeant: "Judy, look at me. Right here. You WILL do this. You CAN do this, understand?" He held his hands out to me. "Grab my hands." I took hold of his strong hands & began to pull me up - he should have fallen off, but he didn't. And next thing I know Aqua Man had a hand on my butt. Hey, whatever you have to do to get my ass back on this thing, is fine with me. Victory. I'm back on. I was still traumatized, but relieved, but I also felt like, "Mommy? I need my mommy...I just want to go home." But I didn't want to ruin anything, and I told myself to suck it up & be a woman....a braver one, anyway.
We were off again...I decided to stay in the moment & not think about the fear that lingered that I might fall off again. So I looked around. Wow. Nothing but ocean. There was no land to be seen. Don't even know where we were & I wondered how these tour guides know the ocean by heart like that. But it was pretty...and I realized I may never do this again. And I held on to my Quiet One, who checked with me periodically to see if I was alright. We stopped at Starfish Point. The water was shallow *thank you, Lord!). We finally walked in the water, and Aqua Man immediately began to show us gorgeous, huge coral-colored starfish. He explained that they cannot be out of the water, but for a few seconds. He said hold it & put it back in the water so they don't die. We took pictures of them, with them...it was very cool. In the water, starfish feel soft. Out of the water, their outer skin hardens...I was intrigued.
We were back on the jet skis - this time it wasn't difficult to mount them because we were in shallow water. After a few minutes, we stopped in another area. Aqua Man told us to shut off the engines, while he tied each of them together. He pulled out a bag of something - ooh, it was squid. Why does he have squid? "Welcome to Stingray City, everyone!" Hm, initially I thought to myself I had no desire to see stingray. What for? "The rays will come right up to you." And then one, two three rays swooped by my legs. They were so soft, graceful actually. "Do not worry...they are docile & pretty friendly AND they want to be fed. Anyone want to feed them?" Ooh, ooh me - pick me, I thought. I became an instant fan of stingrays. I raised my hand.
"Okay, you're going to make a fist, thumbside up, but keep your thumb inside the rest of your fingers so it is not exposed. Hold the squid gently & they will come get it once they smell it." I was so excited. I LOVE animals...I love feeling a connection with them. I wanted this moment so bad, because I knew that I was blessed to even be in this position. Many people will go their entire lives without a chance like this...and when I'm an old lady, I want lots of cool stories to tell the kiddies, lol. So as grossed out as I was to have to hold a squid, I took it gladly in exchange to feed one. And there it was approaching, quietly, slowly, almost like it was flying. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas. And then it happened.
I had no idea that instead of "biting" they suction their food. It happened so fast it felt like a vacuum. And with my complete surprise, I opened my fist...too early apparently and my right index finger was sucked up with the squid. Now. You tell me. We feed dogs, birds, cats, etc...and they clearly use their mouth & bite onto the food - they don't SUCK it into their mouths. If your finger got sucked into something, isn't it second nature to instantly pull it out?? And that is exactly what I did. I withdrew my finger so quickly, I felt an instant...a sudden...oh, I don't know I never felt it before. All I know is that I looked at my finger as I felt a bit of pain. And it was bleeding. There were 3 distinct slices on my finger & the middle one was a bit deep. When I later googled "stingray teeth", I saw that they are not really teeth but they look like tiny accordian things. Wow...LOL....I can't believe it. Cool!!! Cool!! "Look, sweetheart! Look what the stingray did to me. It bit me." And then I hear Aqua Man add to his speech, "Okay guys, the stingray eat with suction - so if your hand gets sucked into the mouth just wait, don't pull it out." Okay. Now I know. Sure. But I was so excited to have "battle scars" from a stingray, I didn't give a darn. I felt like it was a kiss - a momento...and although the Quiet One laughed at my sillyness & goofy reaction, no one could steal my joy. Oh, I forgot to add that one of the girls in the group, was not very sociable. She was very pretty, perfect body, and she drove the jet ski like she'd been driving it since the day she was born. I wasn't hating, but I did feel like "Is ANYTHING wrong with thic chick?" And then I heard screaming, the type you hear in a horror movie. The girl was FREAKED out by the stingrays...and well, I am sorry, I couldn't help but smile internally - she's not that perfect. Was I a mean girl to think that?
We got back onto the jet skis & Aqua Man took us to another location where we were to snorkel. Wow. What a day! Snorkeling too? I had snorkeled before so I was calm about it. And in an instant, the dark, bulky, black & gray clouds leered over us. It was the only time while on the island I witnessed them. But they were there, stalking our little snorkel adventure. We got our fins and equipment on and Boom! It began to pour! It was an avalanche of rain. The rain was pounding us so hard, it literally hurt. And the waves began to shake & dance in fear...and before I could catch my breath from the sudden change of weather, I had already swallowed water. The waves hit me. "Judy, just put your head in the water, it's calmer there," the Quiet One called out to me. I had no choice. I put my head in the water, and I swore I heard the soundtrack from the Little Mermaid. "Under the Sea...under the Sea..." The sight was impressive! So many beautiful fish...gorgeous hues of yellows, violets, turquoises...and the coral was increidbile. Aqua Man dived deep down & pointed to a small cave...and as we looked closer, we realized it was a Lion Fish...the fish are beautiful...but if you touch the tips of their fins, they are very poisonous...When I finally brought my head back up the storm had passed.
We walked onto Rum Point, where we had lunch. The menus were attached to coconuts & I finally indulged in a MudSlide. I felt I deserved it. We spoke with Aqua Man, who was only 26, but he knew the island better than anyone. After an hour or so, Aqua Man instructed us to get back on the jet skis. I asked him, "So, where to now?" He replied, "We go back to where we started." "How long will that take?" "About 20 minutes." I could have cried, but I put on my warrior of water face & said, "Let's do this." The Quiet One promised me I would be okay....and he actually drove faster this time. I told myself to surrender to it. If I was going to fall off, so be it. And as we jumped through the water, I heard the Quiet One yell, "Yea baby!!!" He was enjoying himself, something I don't always see him do...and I was satisfied. When we returned to the hotel, I was genuinely tired and I was genuinely fulfilled. Now, THAT is what I call an adventure. If I were to recommend anything to you regarding the Cayman Islands, I would definitely tell you to make this part of your activities while you are here. So well worth it. And if I had to go home that day, alhtough only my second day, I would have returned with a satisfied smile on my face!
Day 7, Sunday, May 6th
And speaking of returning home, it was time to go back to reality. We were packed very early the next morning. And we dined for the last time at our little Eats Cafe. The Quiet One & I joked about how much weight we'd probably gained...we felt it was worth it...at least until we once again stepped onto a scale. We were picked up by our driver, Carole, who I tipped & thanked & hugged. She told us if we ever returned to look her up...and I will! At the airport, I HAD to buy some sort of jewelry to mark this trip. Each time I take a trip, I always buy myself something unique to remember it by. I found a silver necklace, with a stingray charm made of a stone only found in the Dominican Republic...Oh, yes, and I stopped by the Tortuga store to purchase rum cakes for all my friends & family.
We landed at JFK just 3 hours later. We went through customs, picked up the car & drove back home. Although I was sad to leave, I was glad to be home too. As I unpacked I heard something fall...it made a clanking sound...and it slipped under my bed. When I picked it up there it was. As silver & pretty as could be - it was that silver spoon I wanted to take home, but was refused by the waitress at Eats Cafe. Ha, ha, ha, ha!! Where did this come from? I looked at the Quiet One. He had a smug-I-have-no-idea look on his face. I know he did it. And while I don't condone stealing - I thought it was romantic that my boyfriend found a way to make sure I had my silly spoon. And no every morning when I have my cafe con leche, I use that spoon & every morning I am reminded of the perfect trip I took...the spring of 2012 at the Cayman Islands....ah, yes, life is good!!
Posted by Judy Torres at 6:58 PM 3 comments:
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
CAYMAN ISLANDS - Days 3-6
Posted by Judy Torres at 7:08 PM 4 comments:
Labels: Batabano, Blue Cilantro, Calypso Grill, Cayman Safari, Chef Shetty, Glass Bottom Boat Tour, Southern Cross Club, Turtle Farm
Monday, June 11, 2012
WELCOME TO CAYMAN ISLANDS! Day 1
There's been so much going on in my life, I never got the chance to tell you about our trip to Cayman Islands...Here's a little run down! So, we're back from the GLORIOUS Cayman Islands!! The BEST trip of my life - and I've had some pretty good ones! I've got a deep tan that the cast of Jersey Shore would be absolutely jealous of!! I've got memories to last me a lifetime, I met the kindest people, saw the sweetesst sunsets, the most flavorful cuisine & I really felt like I experienced a true adventure! Now, I've been to the Bahamas before, about 4 times, and I did truly enjoy it. But after being at the Cayman Islands - with the clearest, calmest, bluest waters yoyu will ever see - I can honestly say that I willl definitely be coming back!! Let me give you a rundown if I can... Monday, April 30th: Woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3:30am! The Quiet One and I drove to JFK where we checked in with Cayman Airways. Check in was swift. I felt like I could press the Staples button that says, "that was easy." Checked our bags in, made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. We were excited like children the morning of Christmas. It was only the second time that the Quiet One had been on a plane, so needless to say, hew was experirencing some mild anxiety. But we were up in the air, and I was served a meal & tried rum punch for the first time. Oh, yea, baby...now we're rolling! We landed just 3 hours later, non-stop, and were immediately picked up by Carole, our driver, who took us to the Westin Casaurina Resort. Instantly I realized we really were out of the country. It was 87 degrees! Thank you! I was feeling a little dyslexic: The steering wheels were on the right, and all the cars were driving on the left of the roads. Their yield signs read "Give Way"...We arrived at the hotel and just took it all in. It was so beautiful - the palm trees, the colors, the blue water...it really was paradise, just like you see on tv. When we reached our room, we were given a welcome package along with our itinerary. I felt like a true star! I read it and showed the Quiet One and we instantly realized how MUCH there is to do here! 5:45pm: We boarded the Spirit of Calypso! It was my first time on a catamaran. It was a Sunset Sail. We sailed the ocean with other couples. There was music, cool breeze, and the open Caribbean Sea. I spoke with a couple who had been to Cayman Islands 13 times! Yep, it's that good! The Quiet One & I sat together holding hands. And he looked at me and said, "We're here, sweetheart! Welcome to the Cayman Islands!" The Captain dropped us off on another part of the island where we did some fine dining at Hemingway's. And there it was the first time I tried conch fritters and for dessert, sticky toffee pudding! Oh! Oh! Yes! Yes! I found a new dessert that I fell in love with! It was so good, I moaned with every bite, lol...it's silly, but true! I didn't think mosquitoes lived in Cayman Island, but I was awarded 18 bites to be reminded. (yes, the mosquitoes have ALWAYS loved my blood) So if you do go there, please remember your repellent. Apparently mosquitoes aren't around all year round - only when I was there, lol. We were off to bed early - we were a bit tired and had a BIG day for Tuesday! Goodnight, Buenas noches, bon nuit, buona note!
Posted by Judy Torres at 11:27 AM 1 comment:
Labels: Cayman Airways, Cayman Islands, Hemingway's, Red Sail Sports
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