New Pics Posted…..Moving Day, Surgery, Pittsburgh Food Expo, Penguins Game

Posted pics finally if you want to look at them:

Moving day for my daughter Stacey and her friend Denise
http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=…mp;id=559709463

My Surgery (don’t worry, no gross ones!)
http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=…mp;id=559709463

Pittsburgh Good Eats Food Expo
http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=…mp;id=559709463

Penguins vs Maple Leafs game we went to
http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=…mp;id=559709463
http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=…mp;id=559709463

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Customer Service Reflections

Customer service has been in the forefront of my mind lately, mainly because customers keep putting it there, so I thought I would share some thoughts. I know, you probably are thinking this is going to be a negative post but it’s not, it is very positive.

I am being told over and over again about how great my customer service is and people thank me all the time for “going out of my way” for them. Maybe it is because I am just a small business, one person operation type thing. Maybe it is because for years I worked in doctor’s offices and no matter how I felt, most of the time the patients felt worse and I knew that so I went out of my way to treat them nice. Maybe it is because I treat others like I would like to be treated. Maybe it is because I have had such rotten customer service from various businesses over the years. Maybe it is because I don’t know any better. Maybe it is because I am just trying to do what it is right. Maybe it is because all I am doing is helping someone else.

Or maybe it is all of the above?

Recently a gentleman emailed me and said he doesn’t like to pay online, he likes to send money orders. No problem I told him. I have several customers like that. He was surprised. The more we emailed I found out he was disabled and unable to get out much and he made beaded banners as gifts for people. Long story short, because he placed a fairly good sized pattern order, I cut him a little break on the patterns and postage. Then he placed a good size beaded banner rods and end caps order and I threw in a free spool of thread. He was again surprised. I told him I knew he was going to be a good customer and I knew he had troubles and what I was doing wasn’t much really, but just wanted to help him out a little. He emailed to me:

“Thank you. You have been so patient and I appreciate that you will go out of your way in what you do especially for people who are at a disadvantage of being disabled who can’t get out much.”

I really didn’t do that much but it meant a lot to him.

I recently had another customer who was from Canada. No matter what I tried doing, the shipping was so much compared to shipping within the U.S. She knew I made a couple trips to the Post Office trying to figure out the best way and then also checked about shipping UPS for her. I couldn’t see her having to pay so much for shipping and in the end I saved her a total of $2 on her order of rods and beads. She wrote:

“It’s been a pleasure…I look forward to doing more business with you. You are the first that has ever gone out of their way to find the cheapest rate for me and for that I am grateful…..Thanks again!”

Again, not much extra work from my end and nothing more than what I would want someone to do for me, but it meant a lot to her.

The best part with both of these people is that I have gained customers who will be ordering quite a bit more (they have both told me this) as well as email buddies (I email with both of them on a regular basis now).

These aren’t the only customers that have commented on my customer service nor are they the only ones that have become friends as well as customers. I have a gal in Massachusetts who found me on a craft site I first sold on and she and I have become good friends. She as well as a few other customers are disabled or senior citizens and their checks come once a month. I understand that and have worked with several of them concerning their orders and payments. Why not? I am going to be there some day and I hope businesses afford me the same courtesy.

I had another lady that found my website because she was unhappy with the service she was receiving from another site. After a couple orders from me for beads and patterns she wrote:

“About a year ago I sent a check to ***** to join the pattern club, I included a copy of the order from the site. I never heard from them and emailed to see if they received my check, I NEVER heard back from them. I emailed them 3 times, they never had the courtesy to write back. I was going to send another check if they would tear up the first one if they ever did receive it. That is very bad business ethics! I really appreciate your friendliness and excellent business know how!!”

Again, this customer and I email often now. All of these customers were anxious for updates regarding my recent surgery and I also inquire about their lives and how things are going. And from a business aspect, the great thing is that they keep ordering from me. These customers are just a few examples of many in the short time I have been in business and I guess that is why Beaded Banners by Bonnie keeps growing.

I just don’t understand why companies don’t want to give good customer service because it is obvious that just doing what is right with your customers comes back to you in many good ways.

I will end this with some of my recent Ebay feedback which shows again that providing good customer service whether it be answering questions, shipping promptly, good quality products, or going out of your way to help a customer is the best way to do business!

 

 Reduced: 99% of original size [ 641 x 786 ] – Click to view full image

Beaded Banners by Bonnie Updates

Beaded Banners by Bonnie……and more……

 

Just wanted to give some updates on Beaded Banners by Bonnie and what I have available and what is new. 

 

PONY BEADS:

 

I posted some pony beads on Ebay and on my website a while ago just to see how they would sell.  It was slow at first but now I am selling them pretty consistently.  Because of that I have started ordering in extra bags of beads when I place orders for ones I need and am building up a nice stock of beads so they are available for customers.  The beads can be found here:

 

http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More_BEADED-BANNER-PONY-BEADS_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ341201011QQftidZ2QQtZkm

 

There are many, many colors of beads I can order so please feel free to contact me if you need certain colors.  I don’t always get the extra bags posted right away and I can place an order for ones that you need and have them within just a couple days usually.  I am also working on charts with colors and prices and sizes of beads that will soon be posted on my website.  I can order opaque, transparent, matte, and glitter in many various colors.

 

THREAD:

 

I also began posting thread in my Ebay store and customers have also started showing interest in the thread.  This thread is available in many colors and lasts long because it has 125 yards on a spool.  The beaded banner thread is available here:

 

http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More_BEADED-BANNER-SUPPLIES_Beaded-Banner-Thread_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ239319011QQftidZ2QQtZkm

 

BEADED BANNER RODS & END CAPS:

 

I continue to sell a lot of the very hard to find beaded banner rods and end caps.  Here is the information regarding the rods and end caps:

 

RODS & END CAP SETS:


All Rods come with caps on both ends. Rods are a minimum of 13 inches long and can be up to 14 inches in length and are approximately 1/8 inch in diameter. The rods fit through the 6x9mm pony beads. They do not fit through the mini pony beads (see below). The end caps are removable so that you can cut the rod to a shorter length, however they do not fall off easily and will stay on a completed banner.   Rods are available here:

 

http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More_BEADED-BANNER-SUPPLIES_Beaded-Banner-Rods-with-Caps_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ18696327QQftidZ2QQtZkm

SPECIAL ORDER RODS:
If you need rods cut to a certain length I can do that for you. The price will be the same. Just order the number of rods that you want and then EMAIL ME immediately at fyremonksgal@msn.com what size you want them cut to. They can be cut in any combination (for instance 5 at 7 inches and 5 at 11 inches OR 3 at one size, 3 at another, and 4 at another). Just be specific in your email. DO NOT PUT YOUR MESSAGE IN PAYPAL…..for some reason we do not always get those messages.

SMALLER RODS:
I have some rods that are thinner than the usual ones and will fit in the mini pony beads. They will have a little bit different looking end cap on it because the ones pictured will not stay on them. Again, if you want the thinner rods, place your order and immediately email me at fyremonksgal@msn.com and tell me you want the smaller ones. DO NOT PUT YOUR MESSAGE IN PAYPAL or you will get the larger diameter rods because I may not get the message.

END CAPS:
The inside diameter of the end caps are 1/8″.

End caps are available here:

http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More_BEADED-BANNER-SUPPLIES_End-Caps-for-Beaded-Banner-Rod_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ21174292QQftidZ2QQtZkm

BEADED BANNER PATTERNS & KITS:

I started posting kits on Ebay.  Some of the kits are from patterns I have designed and sometimes I have an extra kit that I purchased that I will post.  Regarding the patterns I have designed, I will make up kits for any of those so if you see a banner or pattern that I designed and you want a complete kit of that pattern, just ask.

I still haven’t posted the patterns I have designed on Ebay but they are available by contacting me at fyremonksgal@msn.com.  If you go to my website at www.bannersbybonnie.com you can sell most of the patterns I designed in the first slideshow.  If you see something you want, just email me for prices.  The prices are anywhere from $3 to $8 with most of them being $4 and $5.  The $3 ones are small ones with the more expensive ones being the larger ones that need personalization of names or dates.  Those prices are for me printing them out and then shipping is extra.  I can email them in a pdf file instead of printing and mailing them to you, BUT they will NOT be true to size in most cases.  In other words, if you build your banners over the pattern like I do they will not work and you will need for me to print them out and mail them.  However, if you work with the pattern to the side of the banner and size of the pattern isn’t important, then I can email the patterns as a pdf file for you to print out and the cost per pattern is less and obviously there is no shipping. 

I have posted some patterns on Ebay that I did not design.  They are extra copies I have of patterns that I bought either in assortments or duplicate kits.  If I have bought a kit for the second time I don’t need a second (or third) pattern, so I post the extra pattern on Ebay because I only need one copy myself.  In addition, I have purchased pattern assortments a few times from Herschners I think. The first time I did it I got two different assortments and they were all different patterns.  The second time I did I ordered three assortments but it was three exact same sets of patterns plus a couple were in the that first order I got!  So that is why I have the extra copyrighted patterns to post on Ebay.  Please do not ask me to make copies of patterns and sell them to you.  If I have an extra that I purchased it will be posted.  If I don’t have an extra I won’t make a copy of it to sell you.  I don’t want people doing that with my patterns and I won’t do that with someone else’s patterns.  Thanks for your understanding!

Here are where the patterns are posted:

http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More_BEADED-BANNER-PATTERNS_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ18276725QQftidZ2QQtZkm

Here are where the kits are posted:

http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More_BEADED-BANNER-KITS_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ18276811QQftidZ2QQtZkm

I am working on some ideas for my own website and a shopping cart on there so that you can buy direct from my website.  Stay tuned for more news on that in the future!

One last thing I wanted to mention is that I accept payments by Paypal or money order, so please do not feel that you have to use Paypal if you are not comfortable with that.  I am also working on a way for my customers to pay by credit card without using Paypal.  I personally use Paypal all the time for many things, but I know there are people that prefer to pay a different way and I am working on alternatives.

Happy Beading!

Bonnie Matthews

Beaded Banners by Bonnie

Email:  fyremonksgal@msn.com

My Website:  www.bannersbybonnie.com

My Ebay Store:  http://stores.ebay.com/Beaded-Banners-by-Bonnie-and-More?refid=store

Just some stuff….

Well the bad news is the back pain I was having was NOT from my gallbladder after all.  I had been having back pain in my shoulder area for quite some time which I attributed to working on beaded banners, sitting on the couch all evening, watching TV, and concentrating on the banners and not stretching, etc.  But then when I was reading up about gallbladder problems I read in every article that most of the time there is back pain in that area from gallbladder problems.  I had never mentioned the pain to any of my doctors because I just assumed it was from my poor posture while beading.  I mentioned it to the surgeon at the appointment before my surgery and he said he was confident it WAS from my gallbladder and it would disappear.  Well it DID disappear for about 3 weeks after my surgery, but apparently only because I wasn’t working on banners!  LOL  I started working on banners last week and it appeared again.  Oh well.  That’s okay because the nausea is totally all gone and that was the extremely bothersome thing I experienced from gallbladder disease for over 2 years.  Now I just have to concentrate on my posture!

 

Okay so the leaves are falling everywhere and they are beautiful and the ground is covered with all these leaves, right?  And down the street from us in a yard that is not only filled with huge trees but that also borders the park we live in (we are the caretakers in a 160-acre municipal park for those of you who don’t know that), there was someone raking leaves.  Are they nuts?  Isn’t that useless this time of the year?  I mean won’t they all just blow away over the winter and the ones that don’t can be ground up using a mulching lawnmower in the spring?  Waste of time to me, but what do I know?

 

Anyone out there watch Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe?  We do……….and the shows seem to be getting grosser and grosser!  Last week there was one episode where he was helping out in a poop plant……….and they just kept showing poop and more poop and other “things” that people put down their toilets.  I was about gagging watching it and I couldn’t even smell what he was having to smell, although a few times I almost thought I could!  So then in another episode he was on a sheep farm learning how to shear sheep and then also how to do other things to them, such as cutting their tails off (I think that was a sign that they did the next thing to them!) and then castrating them and they ummmm………..used their teeth to do it!  Mike Rowe actually did it!  I really hope the guy gets paid REALLY good to do that show!  YIKES!

 

So while watching these shows lately, I am having trouble with gross things, even things like body parts and all the stuff that I used to love to watch and not bother me at all like autopsies (I have actually assisted at a few of those) and surgeries and bad accidents, etc.  Is it possible that the part that made it so those things didn’t bother me was in my gallbladder and now it’s gone and things gross me out?  I hope not!  LOL

 

So speaking of my gallbladder removal, I am eating just about everything again and am no longer following a low fat diet.  Not bad for only 4 weeks after my surgery, huh?  The doctor and a dietician friend said 5-6 weeks or even 3-4 months for my body to adjust.  I read horror stories online from people who had their gallbladders removed 10-15 years ago and still couldn’t eat a lot of stuff.  But nope, I am eating just about everything and occasionally things go through me within maybe an hour or two, but usually just once, not 3-4 times like the week after surgery.  Needless to say I am thrilled!

 

Sad Pittsburgh sports weekend.  Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins both lost and both had it within their reach.  Oh well.  Can’t win all the time. Oh………..we finally got a Direct TV HD DVR.  We have a DVR in our room with the regular TV but we record things and never watch them because all we want to do is watch our big screen HD TV anymore!  So since two of  the Penguins games this week are on late (10:00 is late when we have to get up early the next day for work) and knowing that if we record it on the other TV we won’t want to watch it because it won’t be in HD, we broke down and got the HD DVR.  There have been other shows we have wanted to record so this will be a really good thing to have. 

 

The Steelers posted an apology by Santonio Holmes for his behavior last week so maybe I was wrong and they AREN’T going to get rid of him after all.  Hmmmm…….

 

Let’s see, what else is going on?  Busy with selling on Ebay and needing to post more on Ebay and designing banners and such but I am going to put all that stuff in a separate post about Beaded Banners by Bonnie.

 

I guess that’s about it for now.  Catch ya later in my next blog!

Update on my life, my business, my kids, my missing gallbladder, etc…..

I haven’t blogged in a while so thought I should catch up!  Actually a lot has happened since I blogged yet….nothing exciting really……..but between trying to go back to work and trying to keep up with orders and still not feeling 100%, I didn’t have time to blog.  So here goes………..LOL!

 

Regarding my recovery from my 9/29 gallbladder removal, I am getting there.  In fact this afternoon I have my follow up with the surgeon.  Poor hubby has to take off work to take me because I have no clue how to get to Shadyside!  I’ve been there twice…..once to visit someone and the other time the morning my of my surgery when it was 5:30 a.m. and I wasn’t thinking about WHERE we were going but WHAT was going to be happening to me!  So yeah, poor hubby has to take off work early to take me.

 

I am anxious to hear what the doc has to say about my pain.  In the area where my gallbladder used to be still hurts some.  I really think it is because they had to cut so many adhesions away and it takes longer to heal inside than outside, but I want to hear that from the surgeon and not just assume that is the case.  Food-wise I am eating most things.  I still have to stay away from really fatty things or I have problems, but it has only been 3 weeks since my surgery and already “things” have adjusted and I am able to eat almost anything.  For that I am truly grateful!  I still want bacon and a greasy cheeseburger from McDonalds, but that might happen this week because we went to the Penguins game on Saturday night and because of that we won a free Big Mac because of one of the power play goals!  Just gotta make sure a bathroom is close by when I eat it, that’s all.  Okay, enough of that………TMI!  LOL  My energy level is still down, but the surgeon told me I would be tired for 4-5 weeks due to surgery and the general anesthesia.  I’m inpatient though and want to feel better NOW.  I worked 2 or 3 hours a day starting a week after my surgery and then 6 hours a day last week.  This week I am planning on a full 8 after today.  I would rather be part time because of all my orders and requests for pattern designs, but don’t think that will happen because I hear my boss doesn’t want me to do that, even though I don’t have much to do at work.

 

My business is going well.  I have been selling quite a bit on Ebay………not TONS, but consistent.  I am still selling quite a few beaded banner rods and end caps, but as far as I know there is only one other place beaders can purchase those.  I started posting pony beads online and they have been taking off so I am building up my stock and have many more to post.  I still need to post my own pattern designs on Ebay but I have had people that have been finding me through www.bannersbybonnie.com  and emailing me and ordering through me so that works for now.  I also posted some other non-craft things on Ebay (both new and used) and those have been selling.  I have boxes of stuff to post and more crafts and my mom’s crafts and my mother-in-law’s crafts and well I need time!  I so wish that first week after surgery when I was home 24/7 I had felt like being on the laptop 24/7 like I had planned!  Oh well, like they say, the best laid plans of mice and men………!!!!

 

So one of my favorite shows is Extreme Home Makeover.  I love it and have NEVER once watched it without getting teary eyed……….and I don’t cry very easily!  They are in town this week.  GO FIGURE!  If I had not just had surgery and had to miss so much work, trust me I would be there volunteering at least one shift!  I am hoping that we can drive by at least once, just to say I was there.  I am VERY tempted to take Friday afternoon off so I can yell “BUSDRIVER, MOVE THAT BUS” and watch the family when they come home!  But at least the news is keeping us updated regularly and that helps…………a little.

 

The election……….ARGH.  I hate it…………I hate all the commercials……….I hate all the signs everywhere littering the scenery.  And I have no clue who to vote for because, well no one is a very good candidate in my humble opinion.  I heard a good one on the radio the other day and if you are from Pittsburgh you will truly understand this.  They said forget the election………..just be a STEELERS FAN!  HAHAHAHA

 

Our kids……….let’s see.  My daughter Stacey and her friend Denise have settled in quite well here in the Pittsburgh area after moving here from Tennessee mid-September.  We haven’t been over since they got all settled, mainly because of my surgery.  Last time I was there things were starting to look good and from what Stacey says they are all settled in.  Stacey loves her job as a paralegal at Edgar Snyder’s office.  She says everyone is really nice and she and her boss get along good.  She takes the bus from right outside her apartment to about 4 blocks from her building.  When the weather gets bad she can drive a short distance to a park and ride and then take the T (subway/trolley thing) in and get off at the basement of her building.  We can’t email like we used to, but she generally text messages with me on the bus on the way to and from work so that is good.  Thank goodness for 21st century technology, huh?  LOL  Denise transferred to a Sears here in the area and is happy there.  She has a little drive to work but not too bad………I think they said 6 miles.  We don’t see them often because they are probably about 45 minutes away and across the river(s) but it’s nice to know they are close by.  Stacey has made a couple trips to Erie for geneology stuff and to help my Mom with cleaning and Denise has been working some long hours and weekends, so that’s one reason……..but again, my surgery has prevented seeing them, too.  We have some places we want to show them and things we want to do together and that will happen soon.  Denise isn’t liking the cold weather too much I don’t think since she spent a good portion of her life in the south, but at least Pittsburgh doesn’t get as much snow as Erie does!  I told her to not go by all the winter horror stories she has heard from Stacey because Pittsburgh is so much more mild in the winters than Erie was and that’s all that Stacey knows is Erie winters!  LOL

 

My son Craig and his wife Mary took their vacation in California to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.  I can’t believe it was a year ago today they got married!  CONGRATULATIONS CRAIG AND MARY!  I have heard a couple things about their trip but can’t wait to see pictures.  They were going to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego and have visited the Walk of Fame and Beverly Hills as well as many other places.   I am so happy they were able to get away and see California and they are having a good time.

 

Doug’s son Travis is working at an insulation place and busy with his friends and his new (used but new to him) vehicle.  We don’t see him much, but he is happy so that’s all that matters!

After not doing much for a few weeks it was nice to get out Saturday.  We went to the Pittsburgh Good Eats Food Expo.  It was incredible!  We didn’t stay as long as we would have liked because I didn’t want to get too tired because of our plans that night, but talk about FOOD!  The admission price was $15 per person and we had $3 off coupons so we spent $12 to get in.  Not only did we have more samples of great food to eat while we were there, we took home lots of samples and tons of coupons!  If we had eaten ALL the samples offered while we were there, it would have been enough for two meals!  I was a little nervous eating some of the things because I hadn’t tried those items since my surgery, but I figured might as well and I really didn’t have too much trouble because of it.  Had to run to the bathroom once after we got home but that’s it.

 

We went home and rested for a few hours and then headed to Mellon Arena to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins BEAT the Toronto Maple Leafs!  It was awesome.  We spent a little more and parked right by the Arena so I wouldn’t have to walk as much.  We won the tickets on Ebay in the last few minutes of an auction Friday afternoon and the seats were tremendous and the best thing is we basically got both for about the price of one ticket!  I will be posting pictures in the next couple days hopefully.  (I am behind on posting pictures as well as behind on blogging!)  I was tired when it was over but I spent all day yesterday at home on the couch working on paperwork and organizing more for my business while watching the Pittsburgh Steelers BEAT the Cincinnati Bengals and other football games all day.

 

So I think all my paperwork is finally organized enough that I can keep posting away on Ebay and start updating my site. I  have a lot of banner patterns I need to design for customers and I think I may be feeling good enough that I can be creative again so need to start on that this week.  So the plans this week are designing and posting.  I have some beaded banner orders but the customers are out of town for a couple weeks so those can wait a little, except for one smaller one I need to get done.

 

Okay so this is what happens when I don’t blog for a while………..I have to write a book!  LOL  No one probably reads these anyway so what am I worried about?  HAHAHAHA

 

Have a good one.  I’m off to see the surgeon soon!

So Why Did I Have to Have My Gallbladder Removed in the First Place?

I just realized that I never posted the whole history on what I went to for 2 years prior to having my gallbladder out.  I read blogs from other people asking about what problems other people have had and also what surgery was like…….and I can forward them to my blog but it doesn’t tell the WHY, other than than that I had nausea pretty bad for a while.  This is taken from an email I sent someone who asked me a few weeks ago what my whole gallbladder history was.  By the way, I am STILL struggling with why it took 2 years of CLASSIC gallbladder symptoms and no one (family doctor, ER doctor, gastroenterologist, and gynecologist) ever figured it out and it was only when I basically INSISTED that it was my gallbladder that the right test was ordered and here I am 10 days after gallbladder surgery with NO NO NO nausea!  Well here goes……..this is the two years of doctors and tests and a bunch of guessing that I went through that brought me to today.  If you read the blogs AFTER this then you will be brought back to the last 10 days and what surgery and psot surgery has been like………..for those of you who are curious.
********************************************************************************************
Okay, here is my story……….for what it’s worth!  I am 51.  I have always had some heartburn issues………well not always I guess, but throughout my life off and on.  As close as I can remember, about 2 years ago I started with more than just indigestion but nausea along with it.  It probably started out a couple times a week but then more frequent and I told my family doctor about it after a while and he referred me to a gastroenterologist.  This all started happening prior to the Spring of 2007 and then finally in Spring of 2007 the doctor finally asked why I kept having nausea and why he had to keep prescribing phenergan for it.  The way it happened is I had some Vicodin from having a tooth pulled and when I take Vicodin I have to take Phenergan (a narcotic for vomiting) because it makes me sick.  The dentist gave me some Vicodin and thus Phenergan for a toothache/root canal a while before this and so then when I started having some nausea I would try Pepto tabs but when they didn’t work I would then take Phenergan.  I ran out of the Phen from the dentist so started to ask my family doc for some.  Fifteen or so would last me a few months but then I would have to ask him for more and the requests would be more frequent.  He finally started asking me more about what was going on and then in Spring of 2007 when it was getting to the point that it was really interfering with my life happening several times a week he started pursuing it.  He referred me to the gastro guy and I think I set up that appointment for June.  In the meantime, I asked family doc if he thought it could be my gallbladder and he said yes it could be so he scheduled a gallbladder sonogram in April of 2007 which was negative for stones (which is all a sonogram will show apparently).  Gastro doctor wanted to do an endoscopy on me (putting the tube down my throat and looking at things) and also since I had turned 50 he would do a colonoscopy at the same time.  Since it was almost vacation time I decided to wait to schedule it and got back from vacation and well you know how it goes, I didn’t schedule it. 
 
So then in the beginning of November I was up ALL night one night with terrible nausea and then increasing heartburn and chills.  Nothing worked……..Pepto, Phenergan, Zantac, crackers, dry bread……..you name it.  I woke hubby up at 5 a.m. and said we better go to the ER because at my age, family history, and those symptoms, it COULD be heart related.  We get to the ER and they agreed it could be heart and said it was smart to come in and they did all the heart stuff including EKG, x-ray, blood work, etc.  Everything came back okay for heart.  Doc comes in and asks how I was feeling and told him still felt sick to my stomach and he said with the meds they gave me (I don’t remember how what it was in the IV) things should have settled down and he was puzzled.  They gave me a GI cocktail (mixture of some GI stuff plus some numbing agent) and although it calmed things down a little, it did not clear things up and they said it should have.  They said I needed to have that endoscopy so I left ER after a few hours, call the gastro office, and they said they could do it 2 days later so I had it done at a same day surgery thing.  He found nothing………..which was a good thing in a way, but it didn’t help my nausea.  He put me on Nexium 40 mg twice a day and I got some relief from that, in fact almost complete relief for a month or so and then bingo, back to some nausea.
 
So sometime after that, maybe late Nov or December, I talked to my family doc and said that I had been reading where ovarian cancer can cause some of the same symptoms of bloating and nausea and he agreed and took blood for the CA125 (ovarian cancer screening) and sent me for a female ultrasound.  CA125 was fine which is a GOOD thing because if that is positive then you definitely have ovarian cancer.  The sono showed a cyst which can be nothing and some vague other stuff, but the findings of what they saw organ wise was inconsistent with what my hysterectomy in 2000 was where they took everything out except one ovary.  After a couple months I got my records from my surgery and finally went back to my family doctor and because of the inconsistencies in what sonogram showed compared to what surgery results showed he sent me to a gynecologist who also was puzzled.   By the way, as a side note, I am kind of getting confused on my timing here but the gist of this whole thing is right…………and during this whole time the nausea is getting more and more frequent.  Anyway, the gynecologist wanted another CA125 because it had been a few months and she sent me to a different place for another female sonogram because they specialize only in women’s stuff and she felt it would be more thorough and complete there.  Well the repeat CA125 was normal and the sonogram was consistent with what should be there and the right side for my surgery.
 
So…………..rule out female stuff as the cause of the nausea as well as stomach or esophagus and no gallstones.  Oh, I forgot to mention that all along each doctor (family, gastro, and gyne) said it COULD be hormonal when I suggested that it almost seemed like it was sometimes because it could happen a couple hours after I ate just out of the blue.  During all this I kept telling all of my family and friends that I truly felt it was my gallbladder because I had all the symptoms everyone else with gallbladder problems that I knew had, but the sono was negative so I guess that wasn’t what was wrong.  But somehow I knew it was……….I told hubby all the time that it was my gallbladder!
 
So………..I am back to square one, nausea is increasing and no one knows what it is.  The gastro doc keeps me on Nexium 40 mg twice a day even though that is a large dose and finally at one (April maybe?) asks me to TRY to go down to just one a day.  I tried but no go………..was better on both.  So at the next visit 2 months later (mid June I guess) you could tell he was puzzled because now the nausea is increasing despite the Nexium but they have no diagnosis so he asks me if I would be willing to try a low dose of an antidepressant which seems to help in chronic pain and chronic anything cases.  I said I would TRY it but I didn’t really relish the fact of being on them.  I tried it for a week………..it was great because I needed so much less sleep yet felt so much more rested………..the nausea decreased………..and my appetite decreased so I was losing a few pounds, just in that one week.  But………….I couldn’t be in the sun or get hot because I got really lightheaded and overheated and red faced and well it just wasn’t going to work for the summer and also going to Myrtle Beach in a few weeks so stopped taking them.
 
I happened to have an appointment with my family doctor a couple weeks later at the end of June and I told him I meant to ask the gastro doctor this but forgot, so I was going to ask him.  I wondered if there was any chance there was something wrong with my gallbladder even though the sonogram was negative.  He said yes, it could be that there are no stones but it isn’t functioning properly.  He told me I could have a HIDA scan where they would inject me with McDonald’s French fries!  He said not actually, but it would simulate that.  I said okay, let’s do it……….because I feel that is my problem.  He said he agrees because just like pursuing the ovary thing, if it all turns up negative then at least we will know that it isn’t my gallbladder. 
 
Since I was going on vacation in a couple weeks, I scheduled it for after vacation.  On July 29th I went for my HIDA scan.  It doesn’t hurt unless you think getting the IV hurts.  This is what happened.  I got there and she put the heparin lock thing in my arm through which they would give me everything else so that I didn’t get poked more than just that once.  I laid on a skinny table and an x-ray like machine was positioned over me, not touching me, but just above my abdomen.  She injected nuclear stuff through the hep lock and I felt nothing except maybe a slight metallic taste in my mouth.  I had to lie perfectly still with my arms above my head for an hour while the machine did its thing.  The worst part of it was boredom.  In fact, I have had MRIs before and they make lots of noise and this one makes NO noise even!  She said it is taking computer pictures of that nuclear dye going through to the gallbladder.  Okay, so the hour is up and since my gallbladder sonogram had been 15 months prior, I had to have another one because they wanted to make sure there were no stones before doing the next part of the test.  So over to ultrasound and get that done again and no stones so back to nuclear. 
 
At this point she puts an IV (bag of saline) into the hep lock.  She put me back on the same machine and it worked for just a few minutes and then she injected through the IV the CCK or whatever it is called…………but basically it is an enzyme that mimics fatty foods.  She told me this time I would be lying there for 15 mins and I may feel some nausea and cramping.  After about 15-20 mins I started getting nauseous.  I hated it because when I get nauseous all I want to do it put my head down or lay down on my side, but here I was on my back and had to lay flat and not move and that sucked.  She said the nausea would go away in a few minutes and it did go away after about 5-7 minutes I would say.  I think the saline IV helped flush the enzyme through my system.  She said “is that the same feeling you get all the time” and I said “yes, exactly”.  Right then and there I knew it WAS my gallbladder!  Of course no results until my doc gets the results.
 
So this was on a Tuesday.  Thursday I get a letter from my doctor and I open it and see “normal” and think GREAT, now what?  But then I read further and that was only the sonogram results………..and that just meant no stones and I knew that.  The next day I get another letter and I slowly open it and then I screamed “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and my husband asks what and I said “IT IS MY GALLBLADDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I KNEW IT!  I KNEW IT!”  He thought I was nuts!   But he understood.  He thinks I am nuts that I am excited about having to have surgery!  But after all this time FINALLY something that can be done to give me relief!  Basically the injection fraction which is how good the gallbladder is getting rid of the bile it is storing from the liver was 13%…………and for my age it is supposed to be 60% to 70%.  In a nutshell, my gallbladder is barely functioning and the bile is staying in there and making me sick.
 
So I went to a surgeon who couldn’t believe I had nausea all that time and finally found out it was my gallbladder.  You should have seen his face when I told him all the tests I had done and that the ONLY reason I had the HIDA scan was because I asked for it!  He said his is CONFIDENT that removing it will make me feel 95% better.  I’ll take that!  The only reason I am waiting until 9/29 to have it done is because we have tickets for games and concerts and also my daughter is visiting here next week looking for job and apartment and then moving here mid September………..so basically that is the first I can fit it into my schedule and since I have been sick for 2 years, what is another 2 months?  
 
Sorry this is so long but it’s kind of a complicated web of a couple years.  Oh, by the way, I figure now that the ER visit last November was a bad gallbladder attack, yet no one figured it out.  That is kind of bugging me, considering the gastro doc was at wits end not sure what to do…………yet if you read about gallbladder symptoms on the internet I am classic gallbladder.  Oh well.  What can I do?  Well for one thing I WILL be an advocate for patients knowing what is wrong and hoping doctors will listen! 

A Week After Gallbladder Removal and Back to Work

WROTE THIS PART ON MONDAY AND DIDN’T POST IT:

So yesterday was worse than Saturday.  Yeah worse.  Let’s put it this way…..at one point Doug asked me if he thought I should be checked by the doctor because I seemed to be getting worse instead of better.  I assured him that if I felt as bad today as I did yesterday I WOULD be making a phone call.  Of course I ate the wrong this for breakfast and it decided to go straight through me……….four times.  That didn’t help.  I basically just laid on the couch all day, sleeping off and on, and just with no energy or just feeling awful.  I never got on the computer…….not that I had been on it much all week, but I didn’t even get on it at all.  In fact, I didn’t hardly feel like emailing from my Blackberry, something I HAD been doing all week because I could lay down on the couch and do that without much effort.  But that’s how awful I felt yesterday.  I watched the Penguins game, but barely could even enjoy it.  I was discouraged…..really discouraged.  All day long I struggled with whether I should continue to take the pain pills or not.  I hate taking them.  But I realized that even though I don’t actually have much pain (because I am being a good girl and not lifting or doing anything I’m not supposed to and basically just resting and trying to heal) I feel SO much better when I take them.  I don’t understand why.  Unlike the pain pills that I take for my headaches that knock me out, these actually seem to give me more energy or something…….I know I feel better, that’s all I can say.  So finally last evening at 6 pm I gave in and took one……….first one since 6 pm Saturday.  Unbelievable.  Within an hour or so I was starting to feel fairly decent again.  I actually felt like talking………..much to Doug’s dismay!  LOL  Just kidding.  He was glad that I was actually starting to feel good again.  I actually felt like getting on the computer for a little bit.  I actually was able to enjoy the Steelers game (especially since they won and Big Ben was incredible the whole game!).  Again, I don’t understand it.  But it works, so since I have a few left I guess I will take advantage of them.  Oh……….late afternoon we went to Giant Eagle.  I needed some Zantac and in case they didn’t have exactly what I sent Doug for I figured it was better to just go and find what I wanted myself……….and again, if I am going to work tomorrow I need to be able to see if I can walk a few steps out in public right?  Well I survived……I went in and got what I needed which is fortunately near the front of the store and then sat on the blood pressure checker thing waiting for Doug.  But man, it took SO much out of me…….I couldn’t believe it!
 
So all week when I am discouraged everyone keeps telling me it’s only been 3 or 4 or 5 days since you had major surgery………be patient.  So this morning I finally crawled out of bed around 9-ish and said to myself “Okay, it’s been a week……..as of right now my gallbladder has been gone a week…..a week ago today at this time I was in the recovery room………..it’s been a week……..it’s been that week that everyone keeps talking about”.  Okay……….so I still didn’t feel that great!  Where is my energy?  Why does my belly and ex-gallbladder area still hurt sometimes?  Why do I wonder if I am going to be able to even work tomorrow?  Why do I look at things in the house that need done and know that I still can’t take care of it?  ARGH  Okay so it HAS only been JUST a week.  I know, I know.  It’s just hard because I have so much I want to do and just can’t do it.  All the stuff I had planned to do in this past week never got done.  None of it.  It was simple stuff……..just paperwork and on the laptop…………stuff I could do on the couch.  But I have to keep remembering what my dear friends and family keep telling me…………you have to heal……….it takes a lot of energy to heal………..and every little bit of energy you have it going to that and that’s why there is nothing left to even write and type.  Again, thank goodness for my Blackberry so I could be in touch with people without much effort……just holding a little phone!  It was hard to not have people to talk to all day……..but I didn’t really even feel like talking.  So again, emails were the lifesaver.  Thanks to all of you for keeping in touch and putting up with my frustrations and impatience.
 
So…………how am I now that it is a week and a couple hours?  LOL  Still on the couch.  Still not a lot of energy, however I did try to pull up the covers on the bed finally today and make it look a little better (THAT drove me crazy not being able to do that every day!  LOL).  I put some of my clothes in the washer and Doug will have to put them in the dryer when he gets home because now that they are wet they are heavier than what I should be lifting.  As you can see I am typing……..on the computer………..trying to force myself to sit up and do this to see if I can actually even go to work tomorrow.  I walked out to the car to get something out of the back that I sold on Ebay (still in the totes in there from last trip to Ligonier!).  I’m trying, I really am.  I am going to try and pack up a few orders (yes, 4 MORE orders on Ebay this weekend!) and then try to organize my paperwork and pay some bills online and write out checks.  I figure all this will be a test of what I do at work and can I really sit up long enough to do all this instead of lying down all day like I have been doing.  I figure if I can’t make it 4 hours tomorrow, well then they will get 2 and I will keep trying to work up from there.  Driving will be strange since I haven’t done that in a while!  Granted I need to take some time and lay down and rest, but I need to try.  Then tonight a short trip over to Doug’s parents’ house for dinner for Doug’s birthday.  I hated to do it, but I asked them if they could have us over because I didn’t want it to just be a normal day for Doug but I knew there really wasn’t anything I could do……….and Nancy was very happy to do it.  So a quick trip over there (3 miles is all) and of course they have a nice couch I can relax on! 
TODAY’S UPDATE:
After sitting a couple hours yesterday on computer I was beat.  So I notified work that I was going to try 2 hours Tuesday and Wednesday instead of 4 and then maybe 4 on Thursday and Friday.  We went to Doug’s parents’ for birthday dinner and I was tired after dinner so laid down on the couch.  We didn’t stay real long and headed home so I could rest.
Woke up today with a bad headache.  Great.  First day trying to return to work and a migraine.  Nice.  Good thing I only told them I would make it 2 hours!  So I went in and it was rough.  Sitting and moving around and putting things in drawers and stuff is rougher even than just sitting up on the couch at home on the laptop.  I made it the 2 hours but ouch.  Oh………..and driving hurt, too…………anytime I had to look to pull out of a street or back out of a parking place yeah, it hurt.   So I came home and have done nothing again except pack up a couple more Ebay orders. 
So I will try another 2 hours tomorrow.  Guess having major surgery at 51 years old is a little rougher than I thought it would be!