Friday, December 30, 2011

My Tortuga Backpack - Love it!

Originally submitted at Tortuga Backpacks

The Tortuga Travel Backpack 45 is a secure, carry-on bag designed exclusively for travelers, by travelers. Backpackers, international travelers, vagabonds, and study abroad students will find it perfectly suited to their needs. Carry everything you need for a one week vacation to Rome or a year-lon...

Perfect bag for a couple weeks in Europe
By Meggerroo from Washington, DC on 12/30/2011
5out of 5
Pros: Good Padding, Easy to Pack, Durable
Best Uses: Airline Travel, Backpacking, Extended Travel
Describe Yourself: Casual Adventurer
What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist
Was this a gift?: No
I used this bag for a recent 4 week trip through Europe. I was hopping on and off planes, trains, and automobiles and this bag worked great in all situations. I was able to stow the backpack straps away and check the bag on airplanes, which was awesome! It also fits on all overhead compartments on the trains and planes.

I had absolutely no issues with the bag the entire trip!

In addition, the bag really does hold a lot of stuff. As I picked up additional items on my trip, I was able to smoosh my things around and get the bag zipped up every time, no problem!
My tortuga bag in Venice:
Tags: Picture of Product

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ciao Venezia

All of a sudden there’s water on both sides of the train.  Tiny islands here and there in the open water.  I’m only a few minutes from the last stop on the train, Venice!

I step out from the train station with an instant view of the Grand Canal with a beautiful arching bridge and Venetian architecture in every direction.  I inhale the fresh, crisp waterfront air as I slowly step down the sweeping steps of the train station.

My hostel was just over the bridge in front of the station and to the left on the Grand Canal.  Of course, like all routes in Venice, you have to walk a twisted route to get there.  The Grand Canal does not have a sidewalk along its sides the whole way…. only on sections, so you have to walk away and zig zag back to the canal sometimes… But it’s kind of charming for that reason.

I found my hostel and was super excited when I saw the view from my dorm room, overlooking the Grand Canal!  I had the perfect view of a three way canal intersection that was constantly bustling with boat traffic.  Directly across at the canal corner was a church, with a statue of the Virgin facing towards the water, for the boat traffic to admire. 

View from my room
Unfortunately, not far from my window was a water bus stop and water bus-boats make a lot of noise when they switch gears into reverse when docking.  The bus starts running at 5 AM every morning and the rumble of the boat engines would shake my bed at times.  But again, it’s part of the charm!

My view of canal intersection
I stowed my stuff away and headed out to explore and find food and coffee.  When I first started walking, I realized as I made one turn and then another, that I could easily get lost in this maze of ancient alley-ways.  The only landmarks are graffiti, architectural features, bridges, and flower boxes. 

I begin to wish I had sidewalk chalk so I could draw arrows for myself to get back home.  All I need are some bread crumbs!  I try to make my route simple, but nothings simple in Venice.
I discover a fairly large square with a church and a couple cafes.  It’s bustling with children playing and adults chatting over coffee and cigarettes.  There are dogs running freely playing with each other.  It strikes me that Venice is a pedestrian only city, so the dogs and children are safe to play as they please.  How pleasant to not have to worry about cars?!

Churchyard square - Venetian gathering place
I grab a seat at a cafĂ© and enjoy my sandwich and cappuccino.  At the shop across from my table, a small dog stands in the doorway watching the world go by while its owner sits inside reading her newspaper.  Life feels simple and relaxed here.  I wished at that moment more than ever that I could speak Italian so I could get an even richer Venetian experience. 

After dinner, I decided I needed to try the Venetian spritz drink I’d wanted to try ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain get blitz in Venice on the Travel Channel.  I take a turn down an alley and see a crowd of smokers outside a bar… BINGO!

The bar has free potato chips set out as the appertivo.  I get an explanation from the bartender in mostly English about the two different spritzes I can have.  Sweet or Bitter, Aperol or Campari.  I go for the Aperol spritz first.  It’s red and spritzy, garnished with an olive and a slice of orange.  Yum!

Me and my bitter spritz
Next, I try the bitter spritz made with Campari.  Well the bitter spritz tastes awful!  Maybe if you like liquorice you would like it.  I held my nose and tried to gulp it down. Ugh! 

Of course, I got another sweet spritz to fix the flavor in my mouth.  Yum again!  Cutest thing about this bar was the spittoon on the floor by the bar for people to spit their olive pits into.  It’s genius.  I held onto my first olive pit for a minute until I saw someone else spit their pit into the brass spittoon.  How convenient? 

After my spritzes, I decided I had accomplished enough for my first night in Venice, so I wandered back to my hostel the long way… but I found it.  Walking the streets of Venice at night is a beautiful and peaceful experience.  Even getting lost in Venice is a pleasure!
Venice at night

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Milan, Not Just a Fashion Runway

When I arrived in Milan, I had no idea what to expect.  I kept seeing fashion runways in my head. Turns out, there’s more to the city than fashion.

               I only stayed in Milan one night, with plans to take the train to Venice first thing the next day.  I was really excited to see Venice!

               My hotel told me to take the metro to the Duomo.  The duomo is the cathedral and it was beautiful.  The cathedral faces a big square where there’s lot of people and pigeons.  It was a Saturday, so it was super crowded.  Then as you walk away from the square there are several pedestrian only roads with lots of shopping and coffee shops. 

               The coffee shops in Milan are beautiful, with an array of perfectly designed pastries and bustling espresso counters.  Luckily, I walked into one where a waiter spoke English.  The waiter was the head waiter and he was wearing a very fancy suit for just serving coffee and cookies, but hey it’s Milan!  He brought hot chocolate syrup with my cappuccino.  It tasted amazing!

               I wandered through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is an immense ancient indoor mall basically.  It’s a street covered with a lovely arching glass ceiling.  I walked past Gucci and Louis Vutton and went on my way to the Sforzesco Castle.

               This castle is very large and looks like it’s been through some battles.  You can walk freely from courtyard to courtyard and you realize how big the compound is.  I can imagine a large army bustling about the courtyards in the past, but of course I have no idea what the real history is.

               At the back of the castle, I came upon a beautiful view of the Parco Sempione.  This park is very green with walkways going every which way.  At the far end of the park I could see the Arco Della Pace, a beautiful archway with the statue of a man in a chariot with four horses on top.  It was a beautiful view from the back of the castle, but I was hitting my maximum of walking for my feet. 

               I headed back to the hotel to rest and refresh.  I was hitting a wall, because I had taken the red eye from JFK to Milan and I hadn’t really gone to sleep yet.  I took a nap and got up in time to go out for a late dinner and drinks.

               I asked the hotel where to go and I ended up in the Navigli District.  It’s a cute strip of restaurants and bars with apperativos along a canal.  I found a crowded bar with loads of apperativos on the bar.  I bellied up to the bar and took in the atmosphere.

               The bartenders were amazing, shaking and dancing as they made every cocktail.  I stared for I don’t know how long as they made beautiful cocktails, with all fresh squeezed juices as their mixers.  After finishing my beer, I asked for a fancy cocktail.  The bartender laughed and asked what kind of liquor I like.  I said Vodka, but he said he was going to make me a gin cocktail.  He said by the time I finished my drink I’d be a gin fan.  I laughed and agreed to give it a shot.

               He mashed up some mint, squeezed some fresh citrus and I missed a couple ingredients, but next thing I knew I had a big cognac glass with a very tasty gin drink in it.  After I finished the drink, I told him that gin is good when he makes it for me.  Next, I asked for a red drink, so he made me something kind of pink and served it in a champagne flute.  It was frothy and it had a beautiful twist of lemon peel on top.  I savored it to the last drop.  

               Overall, I enjoyed my day in Milan a lot more than I expected.  I was very impressed with the cathedral and the nightlife I found.  But Venice was calling to me!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bucket List

1. Hike up to Machu Picchu on the Inca trail.
2. Galapagos Islands
3. Antarctica
4. Hike to the base camp of Mt Everest, Nepal.
5. Backpack along the coast of Ireland.
6. Stay in one of those huts on the water in Bora Bora.
7. Take the Orient Express and get off in a small town in the middle of Russia.

Can you recommend some more travel bucket list items?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Plan

Just found out this morning as my dad and I were leaving for the airport that my Mom had no idea where I was going. So I thought it might be appropriate to list it out. Mom, please see below, LOL:

Milan 1 night
Venice 2 nights
Rome 2 nights
Monte Carlo 1 night
Montpellier 1 night
Madrid 10+ days

And then I'm never coming back! Ciao!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fun in Ocean City, Maryland

The mid-Atlantic beaches may not have crystal blue water like the Caribbean with palm trees, but when I think of going to the beach, this is where my mind goes.  I've grown up with these beaches.  On occasion I have been to prettier beaches, warmer beaches, with fancier hotels and restaurants.  But Ocean City, Maryland is what I'm really familiar to.

For those of you who turn your nose up at Ocean City, I'd like to share what I think is fun about the place.  Maybe there are too many rowdy teenagers on the boardwalk at times, but Ocean City is a big place, with lots to do!

Enjoy the view from an ocean front balcony!  Share a couple drinks with friends and soak up the sun.  If you don't mind the sand, then go set up camp on the beach instead.  There's something about sitting at the seaside, watching the waves.  

Go fishing on the bay with friends.  It's pretty inexpensive to go out on a head boat on the bay or ocean, you just have to wake up early!  However, it's never too early for beer.  Whether you catch a fish, a stingray, or nothing but seaweed, the boat ride is a blast all on it's own.  

Wasn't allowed to keep this one...

Seeking some faster paced thrills?  Check out the rides on the boardwalk.  They have a mutli-loop roller coaster and a bunch of other rides that swirl you around and get you dizzy.  Day time has shorter lines, but at night you get to see all the lights.  Both times of day you can get a good view from some of the rides.  


Drop into one of the corny hotel bars and dance the electric slide!  If you don't feel like waiting in line at Seacrets, there's nothing wrong with checking out one of these bars.  They usually have live music or a DJ.

But if you don't mind waiting in line, Seacrets is a good time!  Grab a seat at one of the many beach bars or bay side tables to watch the sunset.  You can also take your drinks out to their tables or floats in the water.  This place is fun no matter what time of day.  They have multiple stages and different music in the different areas.  I would say the crowd is younger at night, but in general everyone loves Seacrets!

Stuck in the Mud!

See no evil, Speak no evil, Hear no evil... But Claire was evilly splashing us!  LOL

    Have you ever wanted to try the army crawl through the mud?  Neither did I, but when presented with the opportunity I tried it anyways.  I must have been crazy.

    Recently, a group of ladies and I took a road trip to ACE Adventure Resort in West Virginia.  This place is awesome because it has so many activities.  We've been there before to do white water rafting on the New River.  They also have a super fun activity lake with all these floating toys, like trampolines and water slides and a zip line that drags you into the water.  When you're tired of climbing on all the inflatable slides and see-saws, sit back and relax on the little beach.   We decided to take a stab at the mud course...

    We woke up Saturday and ate a big breakfast in preparation for the mud obstacle course.  I put on a T Shirt from middle school, my mud colored hiking shorts and an old pair of reeboks.  

    At the beginning of the mud course, the ACE guide splits everyone into two teams.  My group stayed together and we got the mom from a family on the other team.  The other team had a bunch of small athletic kids... never the less we thought we could beat them... Yeah Right! 

Playing in the mud afterwords
   First thing we had to do in the race, was fill a tube with water that had a bunch of holes in it.  I volunteered to be the one that jumps down into the pond to scoop water in a bucket and hand it up to my team.  As I'm watching my team plug the holes with sticks and slowly pour the water in, I realized that the bucket looked like it could hold more water than the tube.  So I filled it all the way up and yelled at my team to dump the entire thing in all at once.  It worked!  

    Next stop we had to slide down a black tube into cold muddy water.  As soon as I hit the water, the temperature shocked me.  So cold! Keep going! OMG...  Then we did the army crawl under beams covered in mesh... My helmet fell over my eyes and I couldn't pop my head up to see where I was going without hitting my head, so I just kept crawling, not knowing when it would end.  My knees were getting caught on pebbles and rocks in the mud, but I was too tired to lift them up and use my feet.  I still have scars from the rocks on this part...

    Next we did over and under on logs laying across the cold muddy water... Under was the worst cause your just trying to avoid getting that water near your mouth at the same time you're trying to move as fast as you can.  At the end of the over/under section there is a narrow slippery log that we need to cross, one at a time.  Only after you cross, can you go into the water and give a hand to your other team mates to get across.  I totally needed help the first time on this.  But later when we went back to take pictures, I did the log all by myself!  Total confidence booster..

    I hated the next obstacle... You have to climb up a slippery 4 foot slide, just to slide back down a slide on the other side into the mud.  It was really hard to run up or pull yourself over... Just too slippery and nothing to hang on to.  So of course, as a team we pushed each other over... resulting in face first dives into the mud on the other side.  Fabulous!  

Annie walking up the wall.. Piece of cake!
    I didn't even try the next obstacle.  You had to jump into a deep pit of muddy water and then climb up a wooden wall with a rope.  Upper arm strength is not me.  The one person in our group to rock the wall, was Annie who goes to climbing walls all the time.  It's tough climbing out of the water up the wall though, cause your feet are wet and it gets slippery.  Another girl in our group slipped while climbing the wall, face planted on the wall and then let go of the rope and slide down into the water.  She was not happy after that!

    Next we jumped through another large pit of mud and then had to cross a creek on a log, with all of us holding hands.  That was harder than doing it on your own and you could only go as fast as your slowest person.  But we made it on the first try, so that was good.  At this point, the kids on the other team are already done with the course.

Me and the first slide into the mud
  After crossing the creek we had to jump into the pond and pull all of us on to a float.  Once we were all on it, we had to dive back into the pond and swim all the way back to the starting line.  It was a long swim, and it turned into a slow back stroke while we all chatted and enjoyed the view of the forest.  

   Once we were all done, we walked back through to take more pictures and play around for a little bit.  We all felt a little bit more comfortable getting dirty at this point and I had a little sense of accomplishment.  After taking plenty of photos, we raced back to our cabin to fight over the showers.  Most of us threw away our shoes completely.  I tried to save the white socks I used, but they still have a orangish hue to this day.  

Going backwards down the slide due to technical difficulties.

   Overall, ACE has a bunch of fun things to do.  I know we'll keep going back and trying new things.  The white water rafting is amazing!  Make time for activity lake.  In general, I always have fun in West Virginia!


Friday, November 11, 2011

A Road Less Traveled: Southern Honduras

Southern Honduras is on the Pacific coast and doesn’t draw a fraction of the crowd of the Caribbean coast, but that just makes it more appealing!  Twinkle your toes on a quiet sandy beach, just you and the Pacific! 

To get to the towns in Southern Honduras, it’s just four or more hours on a bus.  If you’ve been to Central America you’ve seen these buses before.  Old American school buses decked out with colorful airbrushed names.  They are truly a lovely site!  On occasion you’ll sit next to a lady with a live chicken or various other cargos, but that adds to the ambiance. 

San Lorenzo
Catch a bus from Teguc to San Lorenzo and don’t pay more than 45 Lemps!  To find the bus stops in Honduras, you’ll have to catch a cab and ask, you’ll need your Spanish for this.  There aren’t signs for bus stops; the cabbies just know where different buses chill till they feel like leaving. 

San Lorenzo - Rumor was the sailboat belonged to an
Auzzie sailing around the world.

San Lorenzo has a handful of waterfront discotecas and cute little restaurants.  Pull up a bench on the palm leaf covered deck of one of the restaurants and order yourself a fresh grilled fish or lobster.  Be prepared to peel back the skin and eat around the bones.  Yum!  As you walk around San Lorenzo you will notice an assortment of sea statues, including shrimps and seahorses. 
View of Amapala from Coyolito

My favorite beaches in Southern Honduras are on an island called Amapala.  I think this used to be a volcanic island because the sand is very dark on the beaches, but it’s beautiful!  Catch the bus to Coyolito and then barter with someone that has a boat to catch a ride to San Pablo, the little port town on Amapala.  It’s a short ride, but it gives you a beautiful view of the coast and some other islands, so get your camera out.  I advise keeping your camera inside a zip lock bag, because this ride can be bumpy! 

Empty Secluded Playa Grande on Amapala
Upon arrival in the town, you’ll wander through the cute streets and hopefully you’ll find the main square where you can buy ice cream and meet some of the locals.  There are cute little motorcycles converted into cabs that can give you a ride to one of the beaches.  Or you can hitch a ride like I did on the back of a pick-up truck. 

The beaches are beautiful but this island is not very developed so you won’t have too many options on places to eat and such.  We had to walk most of the way back to San Pablo after playing on the beach all day, because there were literally no cars driving by for 30 minutes.  We finally squeezed into the back of a motorcycle cab with 2 small kids already on board.  But as you traverse this island, admire the jungle and the landscape.  It’s beautiful and untouched! 

Lobster shack on Amapala
As a safety note, I would like to advise travelers not to carry purses or use your expensive electronics when in the large cities of Honduras.  Save your digital camera for the southern beaches where it’s not a problem.  While in the capital, I kept my money in my bra and carried nothing else on me.  I took pictures from the safety of a cab on our way to the bus stop, but that was it.  Gringos stand out in this country like a sore thumb, so just be prepared.  Also, drink plenty of water!  Bags of water shouldn’t cost more than 2 lemps.  There’s no such thing as bottled water so just get used to sucking water out of the corner of a plastic bag. 

Dog trying to get out of sun on Playa Grande

But most importantly have fun!  The Honduran people are generally warm and friendly.  Say hello and they will say hello back!  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wine Tour at Linganore Winecellars

    Who doesn't love a good wine tour?  You get to drink and learn about what you're drinking.  And usually wineries are set in beautiful locations, with sweeping views of fields with vines and farms.  

    I recently took a tour of Linganore Winecellars near Mt. Airy, Maryland.  I had a Groupon!  I had been there in the summer for one of their famous festivals before.  This time I was going on Halloween weekend and the weather had taken a freak twist of fate and decided to snow...  Very odd for Maryland on Halloween.

    I realized that snow and autumn leaf colors make a beautiful picture!  You just don't see it very often. 

Linganore Winecellars is located in the Linganore  American Viticultural Area, which means it's a very good place to grow grapes for wine.  So they have estate wines there and none estate wines.  If you haven't had their wine before, they have a variety of regular dry reds and whites, in addition to a popular line of fruity wines.

The tour of the facilities is free to all visitors.  I was told if you take the tour on a weekday, you'll see the magic at work, with workers processing the grapes after harvest.  I recommend a visit to Linganore if you haven't been before.  It looks like they have a lot of outdoor seating for the warm months, but there aren't many seats inside.  For more information, visit their website:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I used to post my travel experiences on Travel Pod, before I started this blog.  I'm finally finishing my entries from visiting Vegas in the Spring on that blog.  In the future all posts will be on this blog.  But for now, check out my visit to the Hoover Dam! 

Be sure to read my story on travelpod, because I had a blast, but for fun I've posted some pictures below:

Pretty Stairs for Parking Garage

Thirsty Lake Mead (notice how low water line is)

Hoover Dam

Big New Bridge

State Line in middle of Hoover Dam

Don't want to fall down there!
Lake Mead Overlook
I heard they had to move the marina because the water level dropped so low!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Appendectomy, Piece of Cake

Please see my previous 2 posts for the beginning of this story.

I woke up with oxygen in my nose and I was shivering.  Shivering uncontrollably!  The nurse tells me to concentrate on breathing the oxygen.  It's just a side effect of the anesthesia wearing off.

In through my nose, out through my mouth, repeat... Still shaking!

She reassures me it will go away soon and that I shouldn't panic.

As the shivering subsides, I realized that I felt like I really did have an accident down south.  I ask the nurse to check so they roll me over and it's dry.  Faked out again!

At this point it's after 5 AM.  I start worrying about my mom being alone and worried for so long.  I concentrated on my breathing and listened to the nurses talk about their kids in college and how one of them was playing football at Villanova.  They said before the surgery that I wouldn't remember anything that happens for a while after the surgery, so I was concentrating really hard to prove them wrong.

They finally were ready to wheel me over to the recovery ward.  I asked the nurse what position her son plays in football.  She was enthusiastic to share.  They wheeled me into my new room and introduced me to the RN. She took a couple vitals, blood pressure, temperature, etc.

I ask to see my mom and she let me know that someone had already gone to fetch her.  My poor sleepy mom walked in a few minutes later.  I tried to look awake and happy and alive as much as possible with a big smile, "HI MOM!"

Behind my mom, my younger sister appeared.  Hello to you too!  I was happy to see that my sister had come to the hospital to keep my mom company in the surgery waiting room.  They hung out for 15 minutes, until my mom finally felt comfortable that I would survive, and left to go home.  My sister hung out a little longer and I told her about my Dr. House experiences with the CT scan and all that.  As we were talking my adrenaline from the excitement of waking up from surgery and seeing my family began to wear off and I felt a little sleepy.   My sister headed home and I sipped on some ice water contemplating if I would actually be able to fall asleep.

My nurse had given me a cup of ice and a cup of ice water.  Going into surgery I had been starving, but right now all I wanted was the cool liquid to numb my throat from the pain of having a breath tube in during surgery. I kept adjusting the ice pack they gave me for my stomach and was ecstatic that I wasn't in pain.

Before I tried to fall asleep I needed to use the bathroom.  I looked up at my IV hooked up to my arm and frowned at how much work this was going to be.  I pushed the nurse button and asked to go to the bathroom.  She asked if I wanted to use the commode.  I was like, the what?  And she pointed to the chair with a piss pot in the seat.  NO THANK YOU!  She helped me slowly stand up and followed me to the bathroom with the rolling IV bag.

I went into the bathroom with my IV and said I didn't need any help.  I rolled over to the mirror and tried to look at my incisions.  At first I didn't see them.  Where did they go?!  But I found them and they were small red lines covered in clear glue.  I used the bathroom with relief and rolled myself back to bed.

Since I had arrived in the Recovery Ward my nurse had been offering pain pills if I needed them and had been commenting on how quick I was recovering.  Until this point I didn't want them and didn't need them.  But I did want to get some sleep and the other people in the Recovery Ward were beginning to wake up and make noise.  I asked for one pill and the nurse helped me order some breakfast from room service.  She said if I was able to eat and hold down breakfast and lunch my doctor would release me.  Challenge ON!

I ate all my oatmeal and saved my yogurt for later.  The pain pill kicked in and I passed out.  3 hours later I started to wake up.  It was almost noon.  My sleep had been restful.  I had constantly been interrupted by someone taking blood, or someone giving me a breathing exercise, or taking my temperature.  But with the pain pill, it was all a dream, so I felt rested.  Time for lunch!

I ordered lunch from room service, the options were horrible for a vegetarian.  I ate my yogurt from breakfast and took a stab at the squishy mac n cheese with broccoli on the side.  Over cooked, ugh!

Appendix Diagram on my pillow
At this point I started getting antsy, I rolled out of bed and started pacing up and down the Recovery Ward with my IV bag in tow.  I went back to my little room and rearranged the furniture so I could sit on my visitor chair with my feet propped up on the bed.  My nurse realized that I was ready to go!

She called my doctor and started putting together my release papers.  At this point my dad finally showed up to visit, after going to the wrong hospital...  I made my dad sit on the hospital bed and told him all about my journey.  I showed him my pillow that the surgeon had tried to draw a diagram of where my appendix was and we laughed and hung out until it was time to go.

Finally, the nurse gave me a huge packet of post-op instructions and walked us to the front door of the hospital.  In 16 hours I had walked in with a bad appendix and walked out with the problem solved.

Piece of Cake!

From the ER to the OR

My journey began in my last post called, Spaghetti and Pepto for those who want to catch up.

It's getting late in the ER and so far I've only given a blood and urine sample.  A very painful blood sample if I might add.  The nurse or aide that tried to get a vein couldn't find one.. destroying my left arm.  So a very nice ER doctor came in and got a vein right away on my right arm.

The ER doctor started asking me questions about my symptoms and then she started pressing on my stomach.

Does this hurt?

No... No... No... YESS!

She pressed all over my stomach and finally pushed down right over my appendix.  It hurt so bad I sat up in the hospital bed and my eyes bugged out a little bit, but not like that scary lady with the bug eyes in that commercial.  She shook her head and said I was going to need a CT.

In my mind I got excited because I was finally getting to do all those things the patients do on the TV show House.  My first CT and I'm excited... I guess I'm kind of a dork like that.

It wasn't exactly like the one on the show.  The machine was shaped like a big huge plastic donut, with a bed that slides through the hole.  I think this machine was designed to make claustrophobians more comfortable.  The x-ray tech lets me know that whatever he's injected into my arm is going to make me feel very warm in my nether regions like I peed my pants.  But he assured me that I wouldn't actually pee my pants.

Well he was right.  I was lying there alone in the CT room while he's off in the control room and I was trying to hold back my giggles.  It really did feel warm down there... like I had an accident!  My laughter turned into snickers and then I was instructed to hold my breath for the scan.  He wheeled me back to my room in the ER and I shared my fun times with my poor sleepy mom.

At this point, it's past 1 AM.  Way past my mom's bed time.  But I'm very lucky to have a mom that cares enough to make me walk into the hospital in the first place and then keep me company through the whole experience.  I probably would have been a lot more nervous about the whole thing if I had been alone.

Then the surgeon on call walks in.  He's a very friendly smiley guy.  His smile made me relax.  I realized that it's part of his job to make me feel comfortable, so I don't run away screaming from surgery.  I tell my story of the symptoms again and he pushes on my appendix.  Ouch.  He explains the surgery and how he's going to give me a laparoscopy.  Only 3 small incisions: 1 on side of belly, 1 in belly button, 1 on bikini line.

I was getting kind of gitty from staying awake so late at this point.  For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to send a quick email to some close friends, letting them know that I was going into surgery and that if anything went wrong that I loved them.

Around 3 AM or so I get wheeled off to prep for surgery and my mom, poor thing, got escorted to the surgery waiting room.  Last thing I remember is talking to some nurses and my anesthesiologist on the operating table..Wow that's a big's cold in here... Zzzzzz

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spaghetti and Pepto

    So it started out as a normal family dinner. We had spaghetti with yummy marinara. I took an acid pill before I ate to prevent acid reflux.  On my way home, I picked up my room mate at the metro.  While I was waiting for him in the car, my stomach started to hurt.  It started to hurt really bad!  I was sitting in the pick up area, trying to figure out what the cause of the pain could be... gas, indigestion, food poisoning...  Maybe if I just ignore it, it will go away... Maybe I just need to go to the bathroom.

    My room mate got in the car and we stopped by Costco on the way home.  Walking made it feel a little better, but by the time we got to the medicine section, I grabbed a bulk sized bottle of Pepto Bismol and had at it.

    By the time  we got home, the pain was only getting worse.  I got myself a glass of ice water and went up to my room.  I tried to drink some water... it rose back up into my mouth... I couldn't keep my water down?!  I hadn't eaten that much spaghetti, had I?  Nothing was comfortable, I couldn't sit down, fetal position wasn't doing it for me, so I paced around my room... thinking... how do I get rid of this pain?!  What medicine will work?  Pepto is failing me.

    I hear my roommate wish me well as he leaves to go out with friends.  At least I can suffer in peace without disruption now..  hopefully he discovers my body before my cat gets curious and hungry...  I called my mom.  I tried to blame her cooking, but that didn't go over well.  She advised I called the 24 hour nurse line on my health insurance card.  Thank goodness I even have health insurance.  Being self-employed I had considered trying to go without the expense, but luckily everyone yelled at me and convinced me otherwise.

    The nurse on the phone was very helpful.  She walked me through some questions and finally advised that I go to the ER.  She mentioned that if I started to vomit or piss blood, to call back.  Thanks!  So I called my mom and asked her to come pick me up to take me.  In mid-sentence, I hung up on my mom and ran to the toilet, where I proceeded to violently puke my guts out.  I had been feeling seriously nauseous for the past hour, but it didn't feel like I would actually puke.  I'm not sure if it happened because I was nervous or because it was time, but it happened.  It was gross, my dinner in the toilet with globs of Pepto Bismol floating on top... yuck!  I cleaned myself up, packed my purse with essentials: iPod and iPod charger and phone charger.

    I arrived in the ER and the triage nurse smelled like a stale pack of cigarettes... very healthy.  I didn't even want to walk into the ER when we first arrived.  I walked in circles in the freezing parking lot debating the symptoms with my mom.  The pain had almost disappeared after I vomited.  The pressure was released I suppose, so the only pain I felt was when I pressed down on the right side of my stomach.  My mom convinced me to go in so we could at least get confirmation that something or nothing was wrong.  I was nervous that I was overreacting and didn't want to be embarrassed.  The smokey nurse took my blood pressure and temperature and next thing I knew I had my name on a bracelet and a private bed in the ER.

    At this point I realized that maybe something serious was going on.  They wouldn't admit me in the ER if it was just gas, right?     OK, I'm not crazy and not embarrassed, yet..

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Robbed By Crabs

After sleeping through Hurricane Irene, I decided it was perfect timing to hit the beach before the next hurricane. I was lucky where I live in Maryland, we were barely affected. Didn't even lose power! But my heart goes out to Vermont with all the flooding caused by Irene.

After the storm cleared, my dad and I packed up the car and headed to Ocean City, MD. I had been wanting to visit my parent's beach condo for a while, but it had been booked solid for the busy season. So I was excited, but also nervous to assess any damage caused by Irene. Upon arrival we saw that water had seeped through the sliding glass doors on both balconies and gotten the carpet wet. Nothing major, time to party!

My dad invited his friend to come down with his boat. His friend had a daughter working at a bar in Ocean City for the summer also, so plans were set for us all to go out on the boat. I love boats, especially private boats so you can go where ever you want and do whatever.

So next day we dropped the 20 foot motor boat into the water and headed out into the Assawoman Bay to go fishing. The goal was Flounder. I asked the guy in charge of the boat ramp where the best spot to get big Flounder was. He told me to go to Super Fresh, the grocery store up the street. Not too encouraging... but I laughed it off and we shoved off on our 3 hour tour.

We came prepared with 3 cases of beer, inflatable floats, chicken wings, and bait. We cut the engine in the middle of the bay, with not another boat in site most of the time. I think a lot of people had their boats safely tucked away for the hurricane, so traffic was minimal.

We dropped the chicken on crab lines into the water and took our positions all around the boat with our poles. It was a beautful day with perfect blue skies and the temperature was mild for summer. For the most part, little Maryland blue crabs feasted on our fishing pole bait, as well as our crab line bait. Unfortunately, the crabs were all under the legal size. That didn't stop us from taunting them a little before letting them go.

All of a sudden my dad announces he's got something. I look over and his pole is bending at a sharp angle and his line is moving fast through the water. This is no ordinary fish. At first, we couldn't see what it was at all. We yelled for him to reel it in closer. I think he was having trouble simply holding onto his pole, but finally the creature came near the surface.

At first glimpse, it looked like a little shark! But we soon recognized that it was a sting ray. It was quite a big sting ray for the bay, probably two feet across. So we took a couple pictures, but eventually realized there was no way we were going to be able to reel in the ray and get the hook out of his mouth. So we cut the line eventually and watched the poor creature swim off into the abyss. 

After that, my dad proceeded to catch 2 blue fish, both under the legal size, so we quickly released them. I convinced my dad to let me try his pole, since it seemed to be so lucky. I sat around with the pole, sipping on my beer, and felt some nibbles on my line. I assumed they were crabs stealing my bait, since there was never a strong tug, but when I finally pulled up my line, I saw that I had caught a flounder! My flounder was only a third the legal size, but I was very proud to be the one to catch the first and only flounder on our flounder fishing trip.

After the flounder, I retired from fishing, blew up my float, attached my float to the boat with a rope and jumped in. The water was perfect, so I drank a couple beers in my tube and had a blast.

We topped off the perfect Ocean City day with dinner on the bay-side deck at Fager's Island. A couple beers and some good food tided us over while the sun set across the bay. Hard to believe a hurricane had threatened all this only a few days prior.