Upcoming Tournament: Sept. 8 in Sugar Grove

Rocky’s Dojo and Gym Open Martial Arts Tournament, Sept. 8, 2013, Sugar Grove Community House, Sugar Grove, IL

$35 Registration (walk-in only) for one or more events

$5 adult spectators/$3 for kids under 12

Registration is at 10 a.m. and bow in is at noon. Small tournament with a good group of judges. The Troutmans have been hosting 4 tournaments a year for the past 30-35 years. So, it runs very smoothly. Large facility, ample parking.

Download the flyer at Rocky’s Web site: http://www.rockysdojo.com.

The Official Post-Surgery Post

General anesthesia bothers me on a spiritual level: the missing time, the nothingness that exists prior to waking up. It runs counter to everything I believe about life and death.  And, after the 8th or 10th time going under, the sensation of emerging from nothingness becomes a little more familiar. And it bothers me a little more.

For me, there is this second after waking, when there’s this surge of relief because everything is still here, as I left it. And I cry. These are huge, hiccuping sobs that won’t stop, even when a nurse rushes forward to place an oxygen mask over my face. Apparently, surviving a spiritual crisis looks exactly like someone struggling to breathe.

That’s what usually happens.

* * *

“Stacy,” someone said quietly.

Waking slightly, I began to feel the relief. Thank God, I’m – “AAUUUGH!”

It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach… with cinder blocks. Other than the realization I was alive and awake, I really didn’t understand anything else that was going on. Where I was, why I was there, even the position of my body in space – completely unknown.

I was awake and my stomach hurt but, hey, screaming again might be productive.

“AU—“ There was a rustling sound and two nurses materialized at my sides. Well, I think there were two nurses, my eyes were shut. I think I had managed to pull myself up to a sitting position, because they each had one hand on my back. They also grabbed my arms and pinned my hands so I couldn’t…well, I’m not sure exactly.

“We’re coming with a shot, Stacy. You need to relax. Breathe.”

I panted through gritted teeth.

“No. Slow breaths. In through the nose; out through the mouth.”

What the fucking difference would that make, I wondered. But I followed their directions, taking exaggerated breaths. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried it, but it’s REALLY hard to breathe sarcastically.

“That’s a good girl. There we go. There’s your shot.”

“Gah!” I tried to snarl at them, but it wasn’t very successful. It sounded more like a phlegmy belch.

The pain started to recede. The nurses eased me onto my back.

“Someone really needs to fucking warn a bitch!”

“Girl, you just had abdominal surgery. You didn’t think that shit was going to hurt?”

I really love the nurses in my town. Seriously.

And, in my defense, I did know on an intellectual level that the surgery would hurt. I meant, when they woke me up, she should have said, “Stacy,” pause, “hold on, girl. This is going to suck.”

I started to relax and let my eyes flutter shut. Then, I heard my urologists’ voice, “Hey, there, kiddo. How you feeling?”

I extended my middle finger in his direction and fell asleep.

* * *

My second day at the hospital, I discovered the morphine button lights up when you can have another dose. The nurses explained I could hit the button whenever I wanted, but the machine would only allow me a maximum of 3 doses an hour. Once I discovered the button lit up, the next eight hours were an exercise in peripheral vision and hand-eye coordination.

“Well you must be doing better,” said a nurse reading the machine. “When you first came in, you pushed the button 72 times in an hour. Now, you’re down to three.”

* * *

Recovery is an exercise in delusion. I underestimated EVERYTHING: how long it would take me to get back on my feet, how much energy it would consume, and how little I would accomplish during my “little vacation.” (At work, that’s how we refer to my medical leave – complete with air quotes.)

I’m not sure if it’s because my medical leave didn’t go according to plan or if it’s an anesthesia side effect, but I spent a good part of that six weeks in a fetal position, sobbing quietly. OK, that’s an exaggeration. Most of the time, I couldn’t lie on my side. But I did have a raging case of post-surgery depression. (It’s a thing.)

So, I did what any recovering fat girl would do, I self-medicated. My enabler, aka the husband, kept me well-stocked with ice cream. BFF Teri called this phase, “the five flavors of grief.” (I wish you could have seen her when she said it — all sympathetic expression and nodding sagely.)

I’ve resumed teaching and taking class. I’ve just adding a “run” or two a week…right about a mile sometimes a trifle more or less. And a lot of the time, I walk as much as I run. Prior to the health melt down, was actually running a mile in the morning just as a warm-up for practice. I ran longer on cross training days.

This week, I’ve resumed waking up at 4:30 a.m. again, with the plans to start working out in that time slot next week. So, that’s what’s been going on with me. And, I’ve already decided that if I ever need surgery again, I’m going to line up some guest bloggers.

What have you been up to the past 8 weeks?






Girls N Gis All Female Martial Arts Tournament – Aug. 3, 2013

The Thompson Karate Foundation’s third annual Girls N Gi all female tournament will be held Aug. 3, 2012 at Malcolm X College, 1900 West Van Buren Street in Chicago, IL. Registration is 12:00pm(noon). Black belt meeting is at 12:45pm.

Self Defense eliminations begin at 1 p.m.Other divisions will immediately follow.

Black belt judges are asked to wear proper martial arts uniforms with belt belt. Black Belt Judges who arrive after 1:30pm must pay spectator fee ($10 at the door).

Tournament fee is $25 for  all events-single competitor. At the Door (August 3, 2013) $50 for the first division and $10 each additional division, team $100 and spectators $10. If you register online, there are some minor fees associated with EventBrite.

Note: As of today, the prices on EventBrite are exactly as I listed.  But, the EventBrite website states “after June 30th, the price of the tournament is $35 for 1 division and $10 each additional division.” Please keep this in mind when registering.

Register online at http://2013girlsngis.eventbrite.com/. You can email event organizers from there.

Or you can also check out the foundation’s Web site at http://thompsonkarate.org/.






Rather than bury the lead, I’ll just make this a straight announcement: I’m having my right kidney removed today.

Several weeks ago, at The Urologist’s urging, I went to the University of Chicago to get a second opinion about the condition of my kidney and whether it was worth saving. Although none of us involved were really surprised with the opinion of the City Doctor, we were kind of taken aback by how…certain he was.  We (OK, John) battled Chicago traffic for a little over an hour to get there. The doctor shook our hands, sat down and said, “take it out.”

John and I sat there for a couple seconds in stunned silence.

“So, you can’t massage it or something to get it working again?” I asked tentatively. The Urologist had kind of raised my hopes that this big university hospital would have some special knowledge not available to the average suburban physician.

“Nope, take it out. You can have it done here or with your normal urologist. Whatever you feel comfortable with. I’m not trying to drum up business, but I can do it if you want,” he said. “Well not me. Someone else in our department. We’re all specialized now.”

“All-righty then,” I said, taking his business card.  And we left.

You’re probably thinking, “surely she’s left out a lot of stuff for some kind of humorous affect.” We spent 10 minutes with the UofC doctor. And, if I read the paperwork right, my copay was $300. Awesome.

* * *

“It’s called hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy,” The Urologist said. He was making another of his pictures as he talked. “There will be two small incisions, like the ones from your gall bladder surgery. Where did the surgeon put the incisions?”

The Urologist's picture of what my scar should look like.

Another of The Urologist’s pictures. This one shows where my scar will be and the acronym HALN (hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy).

I lifted my shirt. “Here. Here. And the other is in my belly button.”

“He did a good job.”

“I know, right? I’m requesting him for all my nonessential organ removal.”

“So, I’ll be making two small holes like those and the third is just big enough for my hand.”

He explained there would be another urologist present besides him. There would be two trays of tools available. The backups were there in case he had to “open me up.”

He went on to say of the three doctors at the practice, only one of them had run into problems that necessitated changing from laparoscopic surgery to open surgery mid-procedure. The Urologist also had the good grace to “knock on wood” after each proclamation. It made me feel better.

“To be honest, in my head, I’ve already had the surgery and I’m rocking the scar.” I didn’t tell him that my subconscious mind has given me the larger scar that comes from open surgery. Some things are best left unsaid.

“So, what are your concerns?” he asked.

“I’m scared it will happen again. What if I get another kidney stone?”

“I tell this to all my nephrectomy patients: if you have any back pain, come to the emergency room immediately. You only have one kidney and you have to be extra careful now.”

“Careful how?”

“Well,  no taekwondo or MMA fighting for one thing,” he said smiling. Then, seeing the look of horror on my face, “What?”

“I’m in competitive Karate .”

“Oh, Jes- What are the odds.” He closed his eyes for a minute. I frantically asked him if point sparring was OK. “I don’t even know what that is,” he said.

What it comes down to is I have one kidney. If anything happens to the other side, it means dialysis and my name is added to waiting list for an organ donation. My job is to keep off that list.

So, it looks like I’m done sparring — at least competitively. Sensei and I are looking at additional padding that could let me take part of class activities, which are more controlled.

In the wide, world of things, giving up sparring isn’t a huge deal. There’s people who endure much worse. But, I needed the past couple weeks to mourn.


Dragon Fire Diamond Competition Scheduled for June 23 (Aurora, IL)

Dragon Fire Diamond Competition Scheduled for June 23 (Aurora, IL)

The 2013 Dragon Fire Diamond Competition will be held June 23, 2013, at the Prisco Center Fox Valley Park District, 150 West Illinois Ave. in Aurora, IL. This is an AKA and PKC rated AA event. According to Rob Taylor of Browns Dragonfire  this is the first time the AKA and PKC and co-sanctioned an event.

If you register by June 15, the registration fee is $49 for the first three events and $5 for each additional event. Registration after the 15th, is $49 for the first event and $5 for each additional event. Online registration and a printable PDF registration form is available at the Browns Dragonfire Web site. (Stick around for a minute to check out their new Web design.)