Wordless Wednesday

Places to Go Page Updated!

Hey all! This is a little announcement to let you know that I've finally added a bunch of reviews to my Places to Go page.

I even have a few non-Victoria places for you to check out.





Open Q&A - Gallbladder Stuff

I've had a few questions about gallbladder stuff - from what surgery in Oz is like to how big are the incisions to what the heck does the gallbladder even do - so I figured I'd throw open a Q&A thread to answer any questions.

Feel free to ask anything - even stuff you might think TMI but want to know. Nothing out of bounds as long as it relates to the subject.


Wordless Wednesday



I am one of those people who, when faced with a problem, will Google her heart out for information. Before my gallbladder surgery, I was looking for all sorts of alternatives.

The alternatives failed, but I am damn glad I at least gave them a go.

Now I am looking around for general info from people about living life after having your gallbladder removed. My diet was pretty low-fat before all this anyway, so I’m not worried about that side. I’m more curious about the long term.

If anything – anything – makes me angry in all my research before and after, it’s people.

Seriously, what the hell do you think you are doing eating the exact things that set you off before your surgery afterward?!

Getting your gallbladder removed is not some free pass to be a complete ass to your body. Eating crappy stuff is very likely what got you on the operating table in the first place!

Ugh! It’s disgusting! I read about people who, not even a week out of surgery, are eating Philly cheese steaks and greasy pepperoni pizzas.

(BTW, dairy, meat, and anything spicy are all no-nos before and after surgery if you have gallbladder problems.)

I’m not sure what it is that makes me so angry. Maybe it’s the obvious abuse of the body? Or maybe I’m just pissed off because I was working so hard to be healthy when this happened to me where other people have no regard for their bodies or what got them there in the first place.

Either way, it pisses me off.

Wake up! If your gallbladder going off wasn’t enough of a wakeup call for you, then what is it going to take? What’s going to be sacrificed next?


I Know I Should Be Resting...

...but I don't want anyone thinking I have abandoned my blogs. :)

All my good intentions about getting back into the swing of things after my early Sunday morning emergency room visit didn't quite go as planned. I checked in (previous post) and felt pretty good Monday. But, it was only one day and I didn't get all I wanted done. By Monday night my side was aching something fierce, but I decided to ignore it and put it up to soreness from Sunday's incident.

About 2am Tuesday morning, I was back in the emergency room - almost exactly 48 hours after the previous visit. They got me into a bed straight away and had me knock back a few painkillers so I could talk to them without squealing and squirming. It didn't take them long to let me know that I wouldn't be going home the following afternoon like before - they were going to take out my gallbladder.

I was bound and determined not to have surgery, after I had a long, soul-searching conversation with my husband. Any natural treatment would get my looksee before I considered surgery.

To give them a heap of credit, the surgeon was very understanding of how I felt regarding the surgery and went to the head of surgery to check out my options.

As it turned out, surgery was the only way for me. According to the head surgeon - who came to see me personally a number of times - my stones were simply too big to pass and would likely only get bigger. The infection/inflammation was the final sign (for them) that it was time to take my gallbladder out.

My surgery didn't happen until Thursday night, and I was pumped full of antibiotics and fluids in the mean time. It wasn't a great time, but I slept a lot. Plus, I had three roommates - Lee, Steve and Terry - who were great for conversation (and not so great for putting the toilet seat back down - haha).

Going into surgery was a teary-eyed event, but my husband got to be by my side right up until they wheeled me into theatre. I wasn't awake for more than five minutes after I left his company.

When I opened my eyes (and kept them open) his smiling face was the first thing I saw. When I saw him, I knew everything would be okay. I was quite out of it, but I managed to tell him repeatedly that I loved him - even though I was slurring a bit and trying to speak loud enough to be heard through the oxygen mask.

Waking up fully was a bit rude the next morning because it was only then that I learned I had a tube coming out of my stomach. I hadn't moved much before that (thank goodness) so I had no idea. I managed to get to the loo carrying the attached bag and without looking at the tube in me (I couldn't bear to), but it was a very painful process. I pestered them about getting the tube taken out, and a very gentle nurse was finally given the go-ahead later that morning.

Though the surgeon had told me before surgery that it wouldn't be likely I would get out before Saturday morning, I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to leave Friday night at the latest. Even after discovering the stomach tube, I didn't change my mind.

My determination seemed to do the trick, though, because I was able to be discharged Friday afternoon. I was barely walking and incredibly sore, but I made it.

With the help of my amazing, supportive husband, of course.

It's now Sunday and I'm feeling pretty good. My appetite isn't great, but I eat little bit anyway to help with the healing. I'm still very store, but I can get out of bed by myself and do most things by myself now. Staying awake is easier, though I still take one or two naps a day.

I overdid it a smidge yesterday and have sore legs for it today, but I insist on getting exercise while I'm healing. Very gentle exercise, but still.

The space where my gallbladder used to be still feels a bit strange. I'm getting used to it now, but after spending so many weeks being hyper-aware of it, its absence is weird.

I could go into all the things this whole experience taught me - there are more things than you might think - but I'll leave that for another time. I'm still sorting things out for myself.

And it might be time for another nap...


Checking In - The Gallstones

I completed my three days of apple-filled goodness last Thursday and drank the juice/oil concoction to get things going that night. Ugh. Drinking that much olive oil? Even with the grapefruit juice to temper it, it was horrid. I felt horrid. I kept a bucket with me at all times - though it wasn't hard seeing as getting out of bed wasn't something I wanted to do often. I managed to sleep well enough, though.

I was feeling downright miserable on Friday and wasn't able to do a lot of work, which is why I didn't post. I still wanted to see how long it took for me to feel better and to see if I passed any stones that day.

I did feel pretty good by Friday night and even gave soup a go. By Saturday, I felt back to my regular self and the husband and I were eagerly talking about scheduling an x-ray to confirm I'd passed the stones. I was a bit achy in my side by the time I went to bed, but I shoved it off, thinking my gallbladder was still sore after passing stones.

About two a.m. Sunday morning, I woke with the usual screaming pain in my left side and got up to make some flax seed tea to relieve the pain. Something in me kept saying something was wrong. The pain flared up in no time and spread all along the bottom of my rib cage. Where

Shaking as if addicted, I took two of my prescription painkillers and swallowed them down with tea. My stomach responded by cramping and I cried. I could barely focus as, "I can't handle this much pain" ran through my head. If a regular attack is akin to being stabbed, this was...swords through me all along my ribcage while simultaneously being squeezed.

It didn't take long for us to rush to the ER.

After a few shots of morphine, I was finally down to a tolerable pain level. It's a testament to the pain levels that I allowed that much. I hate any sort of medication, but this was just too much.

After a rest and IV fluids to hydrate me, they got me in for another ultrasound. Not only were my stones still there, but the walls of my gallbladder had thickened likely due to infection.

The doctor said that the bile duct wasn't dilated, indicating that I hadn't passed any stones. All three stones are still happily residing in my gallbladder. Perhaps they even saw more on the scan. I didn't ask.

The husband and I asked heaps of questions about what happened and the possible causes. There is no reason to blame the attack on doing the apple treatment. According to the doctor, infection can happen at pretty much any point if a stone shifts and blocks something.

So, an attack that is worse than a regular attack (regular attacks being the ones said to be worse than childbirth) that can happen at any time - even if I'm watching what I eat.

You can see why I left the hospital feeling a bit cranky.

Things have calmed down now, but I'm still a little edgy. I have had a low grade fever most of today, which indicates it is infected and fighting against the antibiotics. I'm keeping an eye on it and hoping it doesn't go into full blown fever. Every twinge leaves me a bit teary-eyed over the prospect of having another attack at the magnitude of Sunday's attack.

At the moment, I'm just going with the 'ignore it and it will go away' philosophy (except for checking my temp every so often). I'm debating another go with the apples, but it left me feeling so miserable last time that I'd sometimes rather they just yank the thing out. But I'm going to wait a while longer before I go making any decisions. At least until I'm less tired and this fever has broken.

So... That's me. What are you up to?

The Adult Literacy League Needs Authors and Readers


I am teaming up with my dear friend Sandy for an awesome cause: Adult Literacy.

Why are Sandy and I asking for your help. Sandy been charged with collecting as many author-signed books as she can for the silent auction put on my A.L.L. (and I've been charged with spreading the word). Any books are welcome...young adult, children's books, adult books, cookbooks.

If anyone reading this post has an author-signed book, or knows of someone who has access to author-signed books, a donation would be so greatly appreciated for this worthy cause. The Adult Literacy League, Sandy and I would be forever in your debt.

If you can help, please contact me here or Sandy at

You can also read her post by clicking here.


Brief Break

Well, I had to go to emergency early this morning (yay, 2am) and am now back home with a lot of antibiotics and pain relievers for my inflamed gallbladder. Woo.

I'm taking tomorrow off...


Wordless Wednesday

I am by no means a photographer and never will be. I do love taking pictures, but photography isn't my life's passion. I accept that. However, The Bloke got me an awesome digital camera for Christmas. I figure Wordless Wednesdays are the perfect reasons to keep me going out there, taking pictures and developing some skills.



Café Review: Gourmet Junction

This is going to be my first review without pictures. Read on to find out why…

When you walk into a small(ish) community shopping centre, appearances can be deceiving. A small, ordinary looking café might have the best coffee this side of Melbourne. But then again, it might not.

Gourmet Junction is a small take-away place that serves traditional fare: coffee, chai, milkshakes, wraps, sandwiches, treats, dim sims, etc. It’s one of the dozen or so smaller shops in the centre and is smack dab across from Coles and between a bakery and a Chinese takeaway place.

Not exactly the most atmospheric .

The coffee is, well, sub-par. My husband won’t even have a cup of it just so I can take a picture, which is why I don’t have a coffee picture. Between that and me having my gallbladder out so I’m off the chai, we’re just plain out of pictures.

Speaking of the chai, it’s lovely. You can get vanilla or spice (I always go vanilla), and it’s always delicious. If you have a mug of it (sitting down, not take away), then you will get a small sesame biscuit which is perfect for submerging in your chai before eating.

If you’re a person who likes soy milk instead of dairy, however, this is a place to avoid. The soy milk they use is, according to my taste buds, horrible. It ruins the chai, and I would hate to taste what it would do to a coffee.

The only reason I’m giving this place a rating above menu is because I don’t mind sitting and watching the world go by. The endless stream of traffic going in and out of the supermarket across the way usually provides an interesting amount of entertainment. But that is really the space’s only redeeming feature – you’re still sitting in the middle of a small shopping centre dominated by big companies.

I can’t give this place much of a recommendation for anything other than the occasional chai you might want to pick up. Unlike the name, the food, drinks, atmosphere and everything else is standard. You’re not missing much if you pass this place.


Shop 13
Ringwood Square, New Street
Ringwood, VIC



Café Review: Center Stage

Ah, Center Stage. A café my husband and I have been enjoying for a long time before I even thought of writing café reviews…

My husband takes the credit for discovering this cozy little café while I was busy getting allergy testing done. Having texted me a few too many times about their delicious tiramisu (one of my favourite desserts ever), I demanded he take me back to try it myself.

And though it’s quite a drive for us to get there, we have been back plenty of times.

As you may have guessed, Center Stage is a lovely little café on Nepean highway (think main drag of Chelsea) with a distinct theatre feel. From the classic, often jazzy music played in the background to the little touches of details in the decoration, you sit down feeling like you are instantly closer to the stage life.

The theatre feel is carried throughout the café with hardwood floors, travel pictures suck into the frames mirrors, posters that seem to change each time we visit, and even a piano in the middle of one wall in the main part of the café (pictured above).

And the piano isn’t just for looks, either…

Outdoor seating, both out front and out back are available so you can enjoy the beautiful sunny days. And you can’t forget those lovely cool breezes from the beach, which is just a short drive away.

The place never fails to relax me, even when it’s full.

With a menu price range I am very happy with – the most expensive item being a $19.90 steak – and brekkie all day, you can’t go wrong with ordering a meal (and perhaps dessert) here. They have traditional pies, lovely pasta salads and delicious dips to go with your meals. I love the homemade hommus that comes with the kefta (the meal I tend to be unable to resist).

The staff is always cheerful and happy to see you, the two main ladies appearing meant to work with people. If you come in on the right night, you may even be able to see one or both of them performing.

The first time we visited Center Stage, the coffee was a good drop but not anything particularly stunning. However, I am very happy to say that it is improving. As I’m finding with most places, the key is to be specific on how you like it.

This is definitely a café I would be more than happy to spend more time in.


Center Stage
Café / Restaurant
384A Nepean Hwy
Chelsea, VIC

9773 8959

Ginger Beer

Say hello to my most recent best friend.

I'm starting the new year in style: with nausea. I started feeling squidgy (is too a word) on New Year's Eve but pretty much did the 'if I ignore it, it will go away'.

Yesterday, my body would not be ignored, and I scrambled around looking for nausea cures.

This is where the ginger beer comes in.

When I first tried Bundaberg ginger beer, I didn't like it. I'd grown up with Canada Dry ginger ale and found ginger beer's flavour too strong. But, after trying the recommended cool cloth on my neck, ginger and lemon tea (which made things feel worse) and a warm bath, I decided to give it a go again.

Thank Bundaberg for ginger beer. While it doesn't cure the situation, at least now I can work without a bucket at my feet. Most of the time. If I'm brave.

Because of my gallbladder issues, I have been making sure that my skin and eyes aren't turning yellow. They're not. This seems to have nothing to do with my gallbladder, which keeps quiet unless I go too long without having at least a piece of bread.

Even so, I might go into the doc later this week just to make sure. They are supposed to be monitoring me, after all, and I think extreme nausea and migraines might be cause for concern.

Great way to start the new year, isn't it?


New Day, New Year

And even a new planner so I can keep track of blogs, work, important dates, etc.

Aaaah, I love new stationery.

Wow, I feel like I haven't posted in such a long time, but I know it can't have been as long as it feels. As much as I hate to let my blog go and drift for a while, I know I needed the time away from this as well as my other blogs.

The holidays have always been a mixed bag for me, the randomness of life determining how much of positive and negative I will get. By far, this has been one of the strangest holiday seasons I have lived to tell about. Many things I won't tell you about, other things... Well, just the usual holiday stuff, I reckon.

It all comes down to the fact that I've had a lot to deal with, a lot to contemplate, and a lot of small ways I want to change my life for the better with in the coming year. I'm not one for resolutions, but one can't help but think about them at least a little bit this time of year. The concept of a blank slate is almost intoxicating.

Yet, I'll keep my mouth shut and do my thing. Hopefully you will notice the changes in the coming months and like me - and my blogs - all the more for them.

Whether you make resolutions, celebrated Christmas or even recognized this as the new year (Chinese New Year is in February), I wish you the best. Many called this past decade the decade of hell, though many beautiful things also happened. I wish that you accept what has changed in your life and look to the coming year with a smile and at least a smidge of hope.

I truly feel - and no, I don't say this every year - that this year is going to be different in some lovely ways for people. There will be struggle, but by this time next year, I reckon we'll look back and feel good about the year we've had.