like a hole in the head

I came to my site this morning to find an old recipe. Reading through the post I needed, I was struck with how much I have changed in the last year: I’m more serious, less funny. I don’t write anymore. My brain exists in a cloud of medications that have made me a different person. I need them to survive, but it’s not a lively existence whatsoever.

I’d give anything to go back to the old Jenny. Starting Monday morning (January 27th), I just might have that chance.

Taken by Katie Blanch Photography -

Let me take a step back. A few months ago, by sheer chance and a bit of good luck, a doctor spied something on my CT that no one had before: a hole. Not a hole in my head (though Monday I’ll have one of those, too!), but a tiny, microscopic hole in my superior semicircular ear canal. It’s called Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome, and it’s incredibly rare.

The watered-down version is this: you have three semicircular ear canals that are filled with fluid. They communicate with the brain as your head moves to keep you balanced. The canals are made of bone which encase the fluid. When a hole forms, naturally your balance–and your hearing–can get all sorts of wacky. In my case, the hole is right next to my brain, so with no bone there, only a thin membrane runs between the canal and the brain. This could very well explain my extreme sound sensitivity, balance issues, pain, vertigo, and dizziness.

Taken by Katie Blanch Photography -

I met with the most fantastic surgeon here in Seattle and scheduled the procedure. Unfortunately, they can’t patch the canal by entering through the ear, so it is a cranial operation–they will cut out a small piece of my skull in order to access the canal they need to patch. Since it’s close to brain surgery, it comes with many inherent risks. Believe me, I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this one! After the operation is over I’ll spend 2 days in the ICU, followed by 3-5 more days in a regular room. When I’m discharged they’ll send me home with a walker so I don’t stumble around the house like a drunken sailor (but if I do I’ll be sure to take hilarious video for y’all).


Now it comes back to the old question: am I hopeful? Unequivocally, yes. I have the best doctor, the best family and friends, and the best husband to help me through this. I believe that I will get back to my old self after all said and done. I’m thinking positive, and won’t let myself think otherwise.

Hopefully this year you’ll see a lot more of me. Hopefully I can get back to cooking, and photography, and writing, just as life was before I got whacked over the head with this illness. I want to laugh again, and cry from joy and not pain. I want to take care of my kids all day long and not get tired; not curl up in a ball of pain on the couch. I want to go out to restaurants, and parties, and play dates. I want to get my life back. And the next time you hear from me, I’ll be funny and sarcastic and cooking something weird. I’ll be Jenny again.

Taken by Katie Blanch Photography -



All photos in this post © 2013-2014 Katie Blanch Photography


good friday or gallbladder friday?

Hi y’all. It’s me again.

I know. I’m like that annoying voice in your head. You just can’t shut me up.

Today is a non food-related post, much to your dismay. I’m coming at you live this morning from a hospital waiting room, and writing about food as I planned to do today may make me lose my lunch. Or my breakfast.

Husband went in for gallbladder surgery and a liver biopsy this morning. He was in unbelievable pain that landed him in the ER a few weeks ago, and since then some tests have shown that that pesky little organ isn’t functioning and is making him sick. The bladder of gall must go.

I know it’s a routine procedure. I know that the surgeon performs a million of these a year. And I know that he’s going to be fine.

But there’s that part of me—you women know what I’m talking about—that fears the worst. Maybe something will go wrong. Maybe the anesthesiologist will make a mistake. I watch entirely too much Grey’s Anatomy and Mercy. I read too many tabloids. And what I have learned from said media is that a “routine” surgery can end with the patient getting paddled while Ronnie Miller yells, “he’s coding!”

So instead of the pictures of my fancy-pantsy birthday dinner, I present to you some pictures of our gorgeous Little Bear. Because they’re cute. And because I need to look at that face right now and forget about today.

I realize that I’m being melodramatic. There are much bigger problems in the world and my husband going under the knife is a teeny, tiny blip of routine medicine in the grand scheme of things. But I don’t think that my stomach will stop doing flip flops until my love is in the recovery room and I can hold his hand and kiss his scruffy face.

But my nerves don’t only come from too much coffee, too little breakfast, and too much primetime television. I was once bitten by surgery, so I’m twice shy about it now.

Several years ago my mom went in for a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer. We were waiting in a room just like this one when the surgeon came out to tell us that it had not gone as planned. Her cancer was everywhere. It would require more surgeries. And chemo. And she might not survive it all. I will never forget that moment when the news hit. It was an atomic bomb. The floor turned to quicksand and my feet to jelly and I melted into my chair.

Mom is fine today. She is a survivor of stage 4 uterine cancer, and the strongest person I know. She is watching my Little Bear toddle around her living room as we speak. She has moved on, as we all have, but my gut has never quite recovered from that moment. This is why hospitals make me nervous. This is why I cry when I picture the surgeon cutting into my husband. I was threatened with losing my mom, and the mere thought of losing my husband leaves me short of breath.

If you wonder how my better half feels about this surgery, by the way, he is ecstatic about it. Seriously. Just this morning he performed an “I’m getting my galbladder out” dance and was singing the Top 40 Hit “Adios Gallbladder” in the shower. He’s been joking about planting his gallbladder under our plum tree for weeks. As if I needed another reason to marry this man, his nothing-gets-me-down attitude never ceases to amaze and delight me.

So right now, taking a cue from my sunny, smiling husband, I’m going to get a latte and watch trashy tv in the waiting room. I’m going to act like nothing bad will happen to him ever and that today is just another day.

I’ll update this post later this afternoon when Husband is at home and in bed, resting like a good little patient. Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.


UPDATE: Whew. All went well with surgery. We’re at home, Husband is drugged up and all is peachy.