The 4th (and hopefully final) surgery in 10 months

This month has been hard. Really hard. If using some sort of technologically advance time hop, I would’ve most definitely opted not to remember this month. Thankfully it’s coming to an end and I pray that in July, my health will start to turn the corner and I can start to once again enjoy   the things I love, which is pretty much life in general.

I opted not log into Facebook for the past week and a half (totally out of character for me) and have been overall fairly quiet, mainly because I don’t know what to say while sorting through the range of emotions I’ve been dealing with. Some are a sigh of relief. It’s over, right?  All of the things that have been giving me health issues since I’ve had Myles 4 years ago have been removed. But then the realization of having four surgeries in 10 months sets in. I feel like I’ve missed so much of my life. I’ve missed a lot of Myles growing up as others care for him. I miss picking him up and cuddling him; not worrying whether or not I have my bandage on or if he’s going to unintentionally hurt me. I regret that I can’t spend time with my family without it being them caring for me. I know it’s not my fault, but I miss the times where it wasn’t about me.

Regardless, I’ve gone back and forth about how much I wanted to share with you. I’ve shared a LOT of details about the last surgeries and after some thought, will stay true to being honest.

Remember this used to be a fashion blog? Maybe one day it will be just that again. It’s one of my hopes as I continue on my long road to full recovery. I also hope that by sharing my story, I’m able to help someone else who may be going through a similar situation. I’ve received a lot of emails and personal notes from people I’ve never met after my last post earlier this month. If anything can give me joy right now, it’s helping others that may not have the blog or will to write out what they’ve been going through. It’s hard. But as someone who writes for a living in some way or another, it gives me a little sense of normalcy in a time where my world was flipped upside down when I least expected it.

The last post I shared earlier this month was about the ovarian torsion I had while vacationing in Belize on June 2nd. While that was a pretty traumatizing situation in itself, I came home, saw my doctor here in the U.S. and was plesantly reassured that I appeared to be right on track. The incision looked good and hopefully my visits to the OBGYN office would be less frequent. While the good news should have been settling to most, something in the back of my mind kept me from completely having faith that everything was over with. As the week following the surgery went by and my husband prepared for his business trip to China, I started to experience the same pain that landed me in a hospital in Belize City to have emergency surgery. To this day, that incision still isn’t completely healed.

But I kept reminding myself that it could be nerve pain or phantom cramps (I’ve had those too over the past year). All four of the OB-GYN doctors I see also reassured me that the likeliness of getting another ovarian torsion is like winning the lottery. It’s just not likely to happen. But then of course, we’re talking about me here. My reproductive organs always seem to want to make the record books and without a doubt, have succeeded numerous times.

On a side note, I looked up the odds of someone having two ovarian torsions that result in the removal of an ovary. The staggering result: Close to one in 900,000 women. I seriously need to consider playing the lottery. Like, now.

Business went on as expected the second week in June. In between doses of narcotic pain medication, I spent my days making phone calls to our insurance company, my employer, the airline company (so we could get reimbursed for having to change our flight home) and figuring out what to do with the hospital bills from Belize. The time it took me to get through all of this seemed to take much longer than when I had my last two surgeries and hospital stays in between. Sometimes getting off of the narcotics to just be coherent enough to speak to someone on the phone seemed unbearable. In addition, the troubling thoughts that this wasn’t the end of my hospital visits and surgeries never seemed to fade. I felt anxious and had this sinking feeling of worry, but kept reassuring myself and those around me I’m getting better everyday. When in fact, I wasn’t.

My husband prepared for his business trip to China that weekend and I kept informing him that I had plenty of help and not to worry. And I did have plenty of help. Still not being able to drive, I relied on friends and family a lot. For visits, to help give Myles a bath because I still can’t lift anything, company, a trip to the pharmacy.. it’s those little things that often get overlooked, but can be so challenging while recovering.

A few after my husband landed safely halfway around the world, the pain in my side worsened. I spent my days in a Percocet stupor hoping for the best. But when the Percocet brought absolutely no relief, I knew something was wrong.  I work the morning show for a news station here in Cincinnati and luckily  have friends who are getting up for work at 2 a.m. Graciously, one of my morning show friends offered to stay with Myles until my parents could come relieve her as I decided it was best to head over to the emergency room.

My blood pressure skyrocketed and my heart sank as I entered the ER. The first nurse I saw looked at me with a saddened expression, “Megan! Again? No! I can’t believe you’re back. It breaks my heart”.  I’ve unfortunately become a familiar face at Christ Hospital.

The standard procedure took place; inserting the IV, injecting morphine (which didn’t offer any relief).  I had been throwing up from the pain the entire day before so they gave me some anti-nausea medication. A bunch of tests were preformed which resulted in the finding of  large hemorrhaging cysts on my last little piece of my reproductive system. Again. However, I was assured it probably would take care of itself. Here’s pretty much what you’d find if you looked up info online. In summary, it’s extremely rare to need surgery or have a torsion because of hemorrhaging cysts.

I was sent home with more Percocet after three injections of morphine and one injection of dilaudid, an even stronger version of morphine. It was the first I’ve ever heard of it, but was desperate for relief so I’d take anything at that point.

The emergency room doctors decided to sent me home and hoped that the hemorrhaging cysts would rupture and that’d be the end of it. As I struggled to walk out of the doors of the ER with my mom holding on to me, I remember thinking and saying, “They shouldn’t be sending me home like this. Something is really wrong. I just know it”. She was more leaning towards the side of the doctors in that the pain is temporary and it will all subside within the next few days.

That Thursday, June 18, I finally was able to get some sleep after being up for over 30-something hours. I was home by myself, but had friends calling and checking on me every few hours. I don’t remember, but was told I answered and said I’m good and hung up. Time went by and the pain started to come in waves but stronger each time it struck. My mom and dad kept Myles overnight and our friend Matt stayed with me in case I needed to be taken back to the hospital. Sure enough, it got to the point where I was packing my bags and heading back to the ER. I was shaking from the pain that the narcotics should have dulled.

The visit to the ER was very similar to the night before, including a similar greeting by name from another nurse who’s cared for me over the past months. My level of pain was right about where it was before I was laid on the operating table in Belize just weeks prior. Talk about terrible flashbacks. When the tech was performing the ultrasound that night, she had to have someone come hold me down because I was uncontrollably shaking from the pain.

An hour or so went by and I finally was greeted by the ER doctor and a resident from OBGYN. They both looked at each other and let out a sigh before informing me I’d need to have another surgery later that day. One of the hemorrhaging cysts they discovered the night before had nearly doubled in size to around 10 cm. I even had added bonuses: New hemorrhaging cysts had formed in that short time I was at home sleeping! My chances for an ovarian torsion were favorable, but as I was told by so many different OBGYN doctors, it’s like winning the lottery. You just can’t possibly have another one — it’s simply unheard of.

However, I was weak and they could tell. I had a fever, probably associated with pain because infection was ruled out through blood work. I hadn’t been sleeping and couldn’t really eat. My first incision hadn’t even healed yet and the color in my face was diminishing. Having another surgery wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, but I had that feeling for weeks that something wasn’t right, so I almost felt relief. Even if it meant going under the knife later that day.

After I was admitted and was prepped for surgery, my anxiety was worsening. The doctor didn’t really know what was going to happen. They might have had to cut right over the last incision or it could have been five small incisions and completed lapriscopically. Thankfully, the procedure was completed lapricopically but the news that blew my mind the most post-surgery: I had an ovarian torsion and the ovary had to be removed.

For whatever reason, this surgery hit me the hardest. While I knew I wasn’t able to ever have a child again, I held on to the that little remaining and pathetic ovary hoping if I ever REALLY wanted a biological child and had a lot of money, an egg could be extracted and a surrogate could carry a child for me. I wasn’t ready for that by any means, but it was an option. Like a safety net.

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Hall-walking the day after surgery. June 20, 2015

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It was short-lived, but I had an appetite in the hospital which was the highlight of my week, err, perhaps month.

I also was dreading the recovery. Before this, I had 17 days of recovery behind me. 17 days of pain while sleeping, standing up with the sensation that my insides were going to fall out, easily getting worn out but simply doing the smallest tasks all while being on a ridiculous amount of drugs, all that had to be taken at certain times with certain things. My other fear is that my friends and family who’ve  been my cheerleaders three times already were needed again. While this might seem like the new ‘normal Megan’ to them, this surgery is when I needed the ‘cheers’ and support the most. Let me remind you that my husband was in China through this entire 4th surgery experience, so I relied on my parents and one friend to help with Myles, and had others come spend the night to help me get in and out of bed, who made sure I ate and took my medication on time. However, the outpour of support was very comforting, even on Facebook as hundreds of people left me sweet messages and well wishes.

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As this month comes to an end, I wish I could say something other then, “It’s okay. I’m sure I’ll be better soon.” as the generic response I give to those who’ve been so kind to reach out to say they’re sorry to hear what’s happened. As positive as I try to be with new found perspective I’ve gained  from each surgery changes and strenghens for the better, I’m not there yet.  I’ll be real honest here and probably giving you too much information, but I just got out of diapers because the catheter created bladder spasms that lasted for almost a week. I’ve lost weight and still can barley eat without it coming back up. I can only write, sort bills or do anything with confidence when not on narcotic pain medication. I still have some time before I can drive again and sleep almost as much as my cat (she’s the only one who truly enjoys my recovery time).  I now have to wear an estrogen patch indefinitely but it doesn’t magically work overnight.  One minute I’m doing okay and the next minute I’m crying because I had a dream my friend yelled at me over buying tomatoes. True story. That was yesterday actually.

My intentions aren’t to have anyone feel bad for me, as things could always be worse. I have a incredibly handsome and loving son, a husband with patience and a heart of gold and parents who have been here to help in anyway they can. My friends are right up there with family and my support system is strong. I’m thankful to have them. Writing is like therapy for me. By sharing my story, I hope to shed light on something so many woman go through (perhaps not two ovarian torsions in one month, because remember, I’m one in a million – literally); that women can find comfort in knowing there’s someone sharing their story of emotion, fear, exhaustion, sadness, faith, strength and relief all at once. That’s a lot of mixed emotions.

I guess that’s why there are so many menopause memes out there. Here’s my favorite:

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Anyway, I promised myself I’m going to start getting up and making myself start doing things I enjoy. Who says you can’t make jewelry in bed? Hopefully the next blog post will be of freshly made jewelry or perhaps a painting I’ve been wanting to complete.

Throughout this month I’ve also been reminding myself to allow my faith to be stronger than my fear. Things WILL get better and once again, my perspective and value for the little things in life will have changed for the better.

A trip to Belize complete with an Ovarian Torsion

The title says it all and let me tell you, it was just as pleasant as it sounds.

I feel like this once ‘fashion blog’ turned into a medical update blog instead, but until I can get myself together again, I’ve accepted that it’s just the way things are going to be. When I’m not sick, I’m working and when I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family and savoring those moments that mean more to me now than ever. Or, let’s be honest, I’m napping.

Things have been a little rocky since my last surgery. I’ve had everything from ‘phantom cramps’ to emergency room visits for palpitations. My most recent emergency room visit was last Tuesday, May 26,  for severe abdominal pain. I was worried about not being able to go on this trip to Belize with John and our friend from Austin. After all, we had to postpone the initial trip we booked to Belize last September as I was in the hospital from the hysterectomy. I really didn’t want to have to reschedule it for a third time.

I was in the ER that the pain was caused by ovarian cysts on my little remaining ovary, but not to worry as they are harmless but can sometimes be painful as they push on nerves. I was assured by doctors that many woman have them and don’t even know it, so it’s not a big deal. They might hurt a little when they rupture, but that’s the extent of things. So cool, I could still travel to Belize and even if I did feel a little pain, it would be one of the cysts rupturing, no big deal.

Friday we took off early in the morning and made it to Belize City by lunch time and traveled the four hours to the village of Placencia in which we were staying in.

For a majority of the trip, I felt good. Sometimes I’d have twinges of pain, but nothing even worthy of mentioning to anyone. Fast forward to Monday night —  a  group of us went to dinner on the beach. It was gorgeous out and we enjoyed good conversation over a few drinks. I felt bloated but I figured it was because I went snorkeling the day before and maybe it irritated my insides. Apparently, it doesn’t take much. I wasn’t in any real pain, so I didn’t think too much into it.

Then things took a turn for the worst on Tuesday morning. Around 4 a.m., I woke up to severe pain on my left side again. I figured it must be that cyst rupturing so I’ll just deal with it, walk around and hope it goes away so I can enjoy breakfast and the rest of the day. The sun rises there about 5 a.m., so I walked about 1/2 mile to the beach and felt the pain becoming stronger. Again, I figured I’d tough it out and maybe worst case scenario, I’d eat a ‘light’ breakfast and take it easy that day. We had planned on going for a hike in the jungle and tubing down a river.

Fast forward a few hours and things are starting to intensify. I couldn’t stop vomiting. I was covered in sweat and had a hard time walking, sitting or standing due to pain, so I just paced around my friend’s store that had A/C. Things got fuzzy after that, but know I was escorted to the village clinic where the doctor looked at me, gave me some additional pain pills and told me to go straight to a hospital. I could have either gone to the hospital in Honduras or the one in Belize City. Our friend who is native to Belize suggested we take one of the small planes over to the hospital in Belize City and she’d call and let them know I was coming.

Again, I don’t remember much. I know I was literally convulsing from the pain —  that was after four narcotic pain pills and a muscle relaxer. I remembered to try and use the same breathing techniques used when I was in labor when having Myles. 56 hours of labor made me feel like an expert but never thought I’d have to do that again. This felt like labor, but worse.

I get to the hospital, apparently open my eyes for the first time in hours and make a mad dash to the emergency room. They had a room ready for me and hooked up an IV right away. I was extremely dehydrated, still vomiting and shaking uncontrollably. The morphine was supposed to be my saving grace and when that didn’t do anything for the pain, it sunk in that something is terribly wrong.

An ultrasound was performed not long after my arrival and the doctor came in shortly after reading it to let me know I needed to have emergency surgery. I had an ovarian torsion, high blood pressure, a rapid heart beat and an elevated white blood cell count. Poor John, his face just turned white. I do remember that much. I didn’t care what they did to me at that point as long as they could take the pain away.

An ovarian torsion refers to the rotation of the ovary and portion of the fallopian tube. It is a gynaecologcial emergency and requires urgent surgical intervention to prevent ovarian necrosis. In my situation, I was far beyond that stage. It was already enlarged 5x it’s normal size and had died– completely black. As scary as this is to write out, it was a matter of life or death.

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I ended up with an incision right over my c-section scar from 2011; about 8 inches long. Luckily I had a wonderful doctor here in Belize who did a great job and saved my life. Now I’m just trying to recover so I can get  back to the States. It’s rough being in another country with just your husband, who’s beside himself once again. We’re just eager to get home.

If you really want to see what an ovarian torsion looks like, here’s a picture my doctor snapped during surgery. WARNING: It’s not for the faint or squeamish and yes, it’s a photo of my insides. [Click here to view]

A random side note:  I apologize to all my close friends who I sent graphic photos to without warning via Facebook Messenger. It was the morphine, I swear!

So how did this happen?

Aside from me jokingly calling myself a medical enigma, I read that patients who have undergone previous pelvic surgeries, especially tubal ligation, tend to have adhesions to surrounding tissue predisposing the ovary to twist around it resulting in torsion. [source] After having two surgeries last year with the first being an ablation and tubal ligation before the big surgery, I could see this as a reason. Diseases such as ovarian cysts or fibromas, and trauma to either the ovaries or the tubes will also cause ovarian torsion. I’ve encountered all of that as well, so I guess I was doomed without warning. 

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Right now I’m just trying to sustain from taking pain medication so they’ll discharge me. I’m lucky to have borrowed my husband’s shorts because I can jack them up so they’re over my incision.  It’s my third night in the hospital and we’re both eager to get back to Cincinnati. I can only handle so many walks to the front of the building, counting lizards and excessive poking and prodding.

Anyone reading this have a similar situation? Do you do weird things like send grotesque photos to the ones you love dearly under the influence of pain meds?

Find me on Twitter: @meganfenno

5 weeks later: My 2nd birth experience, but this time it wasn’t a baby.

If you know of my past and that whole ‘giving birth to a child‘ ordeal 3 1/2 years ago, it’s no surprise I’ve had my fair share of, let’s just call them lady issues.

No person should ever have to go through 56 hours of labor. Ever. While the doctors at the time said there may be a slight risk something could arise, such as an adverse effect to the blood transfusions or other minor issues, my chances slimmed as the years went by and once my sons fifth birthday rolled around, I’d be out of the woods. No such luck.

I’m not one to want to lay around. I’m highly motivated to make a difference in the world through my work; whether it be with my jewelry business or career in media. So I continued to truck along, despite not feeling well. I even took on a full time position that was offered to me at Hubbard Radio in June of 2011,  just four short months after Myles was born. Still not really feeling like myself, I managed to make it through until I started to feel more like myself in 2012. I dropped the last twenty-five pounds early in the year and felt like things were back to were they were supposed to be.

Fast forward to this June 2014 and I accepted a similar job at a local ABC affiliate news station. While there have always been days that weren’t so great after having my son, I continued to distract myself with work. I’m blessed to say I’m passionate about what I do.

I’ve always had this fear of something going wrong in the back of my mind over the last three years, but kept a positive mindset in hopes that my fears were irrational.

But I was in pain. A lot of pain.  I was always constantly fatigued but chocked it up to my work schedule, motherly duties and  taking on too many projects. You know, all the things most women are guilty of.

Finally I had enough and went to the doctor I trusted. The one I switched to shortly after having my son. Without going into details, within a week I was scheduled for surgery, meaning I could never have children again. Honestly, it wasn’t the end of the world. I was more desperate to feel better.

Here was my Facebook blurb + surgery post:

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Surgery went well from what I thought. I was sore. The air from the laproscopic procedure seemed to be the most persistent annoyance, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The surgery was on a Tuesday and I went back to work the following Monday in yoga pants appearing to be about five months pregnant. We even went as far as naming my ‘air baby’ at the office.

A few weeks went by and as I was supposed to feeling better, I only felt the same. Sometimes, worse. I went back in-between my post-op appointment to make sure everything was okay, but they assured me all was normal. The next week I went in I heard a different story. I had an internal infection and went on several different types of antibiotics. Surely, we all thought that was the issue and life would be great again a few days.

It wasn’t. I was so fatigued I could sleep anywhere. I’d take my lunch breaks and sleep in my car. At that point, I just had a feeling things were about to turn for the worse. I was missing more time at work than actually working. Even worse, despite the surgery, I was still in the exact same amount of pain.

Friday, September 5th was the day I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to a meeting at work, scheduled yet another doctor appointment for that afternoon and was told when I was at the office, it’d probably be a good idea to head over to the emergency room due to blood loss. My white cell count was high and was also becoming anemic.  From there I was admitted into the hospital so they could keep a close eye on me overnight, with the possibility of an emergency surgery if the medication I was given didn’t stop the bleeding.

Fast-forward and the following week and I was heading to another hospital for a complete hysterectomy. My surgery was on September 16th. Most people fear this sort of invasive, major abdominal surgery but I was relieved. By this point, I was already on medical leave from work over a week (bless the people I work with for being so understanding).

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The surgery took around three hours, which of course I remember nothing of. Waking up from the aneshetia was a little difficult and I don’t remember too much that evening aside from nurses coming in every hour to either check my vital signs, take blood or untangle me from the mess of IV wires and assist me to the bathroom.

It’s now been exactly five weeks since surgery and the diagnosis was moderate Adenomyosis.

Prior to the surgery, I never researched any sort of side effects of the surgery because I didn’t have a choice. There was no point in scaring myself over other women’s side effects. Just as pregnancies and birth differ from woman to woman, so do hysterectomies.

The first week post-op, my main problem was the fear of my insides falling out. Seriously!Standing up was horrifying.  I also needed assistance walking and taking a shower. I was bruised, sore and stayed in bed most of the week.

My body went from feeling 30 to feeling 70 overnight and it still continues to be a struggle. My hair started to fall out as a side effect of the surgery and I’ll occasionally have a fever followed by chills, which I hear can last up to three months post-op.

Writing this out was probably just as hard as when I wrote out my birth experience. In the end and looking back, I’ll be glad I did. Maybe this can serve as some sort of inspiration to those of you out there that are going through the same thing. Or perhaps, just inspire you to cherish good health.

Whenever I start having coping issues, I am reminded that things could always be worse and in fact, I’m quite lucky that both surgeries went smoothly. My dads friend has ALS, meaning everyday was going to be the best day of his life as the disease would progress each day. It’s a harsh yet simple reminder to cherish every moment you have. Yes,  even the moments when you’re blogging about hysterectomies.

I’m happy to say I’ve completed a full week back to work at the news station and am slowly working on adding things back into my routine, such as blogging.

New in the City: Nicole Marie Studio

WCPO.com Community Team version 2.0 Photo credit: Kareem Elgazzar | WCPO

I’m absolutely in love with this photo that was taken for work. Not only does it capture my personality, but has my favorite city in the background and a bonus, it was a great hair day!

When I posted this picture on Facebook a few weeks ago, I again, received so many comments about my hair wanting to know who colors it from where do I get it cut, etc.  So of course, I’d like to take the opportunity to brag about one of my dear friends who recently opened up her own place, Nicole Marie Studio on the west side of Cincinnati.

Nicole_Marie_Studio_Cincinnati_OhioYou may remember I wrote about Nicole last year when she was working for Tangles. When she mentioned the possibility of starting her own business, I no doubt, knew she’d have much success. Having an entrepreneurial spirit paired with a bubbly personality, Nicole Marie Studio just recently launched in June.

As a fellow small business owner myself, I take pride in being able to share the things I love locally; from the realtor we used to sell our house to where I get my hair styled. I know how important word of mouth can be for small local businesses and if I like something, it’s definitely worth sharing!

What I like most about Nicole is her honesty. I’m busy and am sure you are as well. I always ask Nicole for color that will brighten my natural hair color, but will also remain low maintenance and manageable. Nicole suggested I go a tad darker than my natural color using “shades”, which isn’t permanent color. It’s not only is less damaging to your hair but also will subtly fade over the course of time. Meaning, I never have roots and I can go about eight to ten weeks without getting my hair touched up. Talk about saving time and money!

Speaking of cost, that’s the other reason why I recommend Nicole. She does quality work for a very reasonable price. A women’s haircut is $20. Men’s and children’s cuts are only $10. Partial highlights start at $40. Brow waxes are $7.50. You get the idea.

Here’s the info you need to know:

Nicole_Mare_Studio_Salon_Concepts_Cincinnati_OhioIn addition, Nicole also has a Facebook page where you can see more photos of her work, hours of operation and how to book online.

There is also a Grand Opening Party on Saturday, September 20th with drinks, appetizers, giveaways and prizes!  Grab your free tickets here: http://bit.ly/1ouzmrq

Moving Journey Part 3: Staging the House – Tips, Tricks & Photos

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I’ll be upfront. We sold our home in five days for asking price. However, it wasn’t without a hefty amount of work and planning. Our date for moving was finally set and the last thing we wanted to happen was to pay both a mortgage and rent. From there, we worked backwards based on how long we thought it’d take the house to sell to the average amount of time it took to close. We also had a really great Realtor, which can make a huge difference. He was upfront about the pricing of our home and even went over our “house projects” list to ensure we were staging the home correctly while not going overboard.

This process literally seemed like it would never end. Once I finally crossed the last thing I wanted to sell off my list, we knew it was time to finish up any remaining “house projects” before putting the for sale sign in the front yard.

painting-kitchen-for-home-sellWe started repainting the kitchen on Thanksgiving night.

The time from when we decided to move to our actual move date was about six months. My husband and I sat down and made a master list of everything that needed to be done around Thanksgiving from the biggest of projects to the smallest — like tightening a screw. We had the list separated by floors: upstairs, main floor and the basement.

While I continued to work on selling our unwanted stuff online and going through my “touch everything” decluttering journey, my husband would try to knock out a project a night. It helped that we were doing all of this during the worst winter in the history of Cincinnati. The temptation of doing something aside from house work never was an issue.

Some of the projects were legitimate repairs while others were more for staging purposes. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for walls. Brighter light bulbs replaced the dim lights we had in some of our rooms.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but can tell you what I’ve learned through chatting with experienced home buyers & sellers, researching online and meeting with our Realtor:

I’ve been told over and over the brighter your home, the better. Evaluate your situation and find ways you can let more light in. Take down any dark curtains or make sure they’re pulled back. Clean your windows both inside and out. If you have dark lampshades, switch them out for lighter ones. Cut any bushes that may keep natural light from entering your home.

Rid the dust bunnies. More light = more visibility. Make sure that all the floors are clean, there aren’t dust balls under the furniture and that all surfaces are wiped clean. I even cleaned the blinds; you’d be surprised how much dust they can collect.

Pick the right Realtor. I can’t say enough good things about the Realtor we used. He was eager to help us. I liked that he was social media savvy. He was honest from the beginning and gave us realistic numbers. We luckily worked with him as he represented the sellers for this very same house when we purchased it back in 2009. We knew he had an excellent reputation; but looking at his track record only verified he was the right Realtor for us.

“Don’t go too crazy with home repairs”, says the one who had a 3-page “house project” to do list. Really though, most of the things on our list were minor. Massive makeovers might not be the best decision because you’re not going to get your money or time back to make it worthwhile. The largest projects on our list included building a new desk, only because the other one was no safe to use. We also had to rebuild and replace the pergola in our backyard. Not my choice, but over the years it rotted and was falling down. Again, safety was our biggest concern.

woodland-themed-toddler-room-facebookkids-bedroom-unpersonalizedThe difference of taking down things that make a place feel like home:  Before and After

Take down the personal stuff. This was the absolute hardest thing for me to do. I hated taking down all of our family photos, the collage walls of frames that were strategically placed and all of the fun colors I used to accent the home. I had to say goodbye to my hot pink and black chalkboard wall in my office, the pops of bright aqua paint that separated the area from our living room to the kitchen and anything else that really made our house…well, feel like ours. The less personalized the house – the better. It helps potential buyers imagine how they’d decorate or live in the house.

kitchen-decor-for-staging-a-home living-room-staging-to-sell-a-home-2basement-bathroom-staging-house-for-sale-post basement-remodel Bathroom-staging-house-for-sale-postBe show ready. You literally never know when you may get a call asking if someone can see your house in the next hour. It happens and isn’t one of those things you’d want to turn down. It could be the new potential home owner! While this wasn’t convenient, remember there really isn’t a convenient thing about selling a house. It’s just part of it.

Keep a catch-all bin by the door. It was challenging to keep the house in tip-top shape, especially with a 3-year old. So for those times when we had to show the house with a short notice, we threw all of our extra “stuff” in a big plastic storage bin and put it in the trunk of the car. Mail, shoes, packing tape, dog toys, kid toys…it all went in.

tips-for-staging-a-homecurb-appeal-and-selling-a-homeShow your curb some love. It’s one of the golden rules of selling your home. Make sure your the curb appeal is the best it can be. Sweep of the porch, pull weeds, add a decorative wreath to the door. Plant flowers. All of the things I listed are inexpensive, but can make a huge difference to a potential buyers first impression.

If you’re selling your home in the winter or while plants are still dormant, show pictures of the place in the summer. The landscaping always looks better in the summer. Plus, it gives potential buyers an idea of what’s planted.

Here’s a good example:

backyard-in-winterbackyard-in-summerThese pictures were taken in the same area six months apart. 

 Whew, was that a long post or what? There is so much that goes into successfully selling a home. We knew we wanted to do it right the first time and prayed everything would go smoothly so we didn’t have to pay rent plus a mortgage.

rakesh-ram-real-estate-coldwell-banker-west-shell-cincinnati-ohio

Photos are courtesy of our wonderful Realtor, Rakesh Ram. I also wanted to share his information in case you live in the Cincinnati area. I always like to recommend people and companies that I think are truly worth mentioning and Rakesh is no doubt someone I’d want to refer. He also has a website, here.

How to Successfully Sell your Unwanted Stuff Online

Moving Journey Part 2: Selling Away

Just to recap, last week I wrote about how I literally touched everything in my home to make sure I wasn’t bringing anything I didn’t want with me when we moved – as we lost hundreds of square feet and really, why pay to move something you don’t want? I’ve made that mistake too many times in the past.

I mentioned how I kept five bins when going through each room & closet:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Goes Elsewhere, Etc.
  • Trash & Shred

tips-for-selling-anything-onlineLet me share more in depth about how I sold nearly everything online. The pictured stuff above and below is only about half of the furniture and items we’ve sold over the past six months.

sell-your-unsused-items-and-stuff-online-for-cashBefore you even start listing online, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s important to get a good clear photo of the item you’re trying to sell. Every photo shown above was taken with my iPhone using the square setting. That helped to crop out anything that could potentially be distracting in the background.
  • Try taking your photos during the day using natural light. Using natural lighting can make a big difference and will accurately show the colors — better than if you were to take photos at night with a flash.
  • Take measurements of what you’re selling and feature any highlights that buyers may not know. For example, if you only show the front of a standing tower fan, the buyer might not know that the fan has a remote and multiple speeds.
  • Be upfront and list the condition the item is in. Are there scratches? Is a piece missing?
  • Lastly, if the item is sold in stores, sometimes it’s nice to share a link of where you purchased what you’re trying to sell so buyers can see a detailed product description and more photos. Giving the buyer as much information up front as possible helps everyone out.
  • Stay reasonable with your pricing. You can always start higher, but be willing to negotiate just as you would at a yard sale.
  • If you have multiples of the same thing, such as a lot of children’s shoes in one specific size or a bunch of onsies, think about grouping those items together. It takes less time and if someone is interested in one of the items, the probability that they’re interested in all the items is likely. You could also give an option to buy the items individually, but give a discount if all are purchased together.

The next step is deciding what site you’re going to use to list your items.  I used 3 different sites depending on what it was I was selling: Facebook, Craigslist & Amazon.

Selling on Facebook:

This is definitely my favorite resource to sell online because you can find buyers who live within the same neighborhood. You can also join groups that exclusively sell certain items, such as furniture or pet supplies. Having a full name and photo associated with the buyer is also a huge bonus!

If you live in Cincinnati, there are at least a dozen different groups you could join:

If you’re not in the Cincinnati area, just search for “Buy, Sell & Trade” groups or “Online Yard Sale” groups in your area. There are similar groups in almost every city, big or small.

What can you sell on Facebook?

Just about everything.

Facebook groups are great for selling bigger items that you don’t want to ship. If you’re unable to deliver the item to the buyer, make sure you state that the item will need to be picked up when listing it.

Also consider selling small items not worth listing on Craigslist. Because you can find online Facebook groups right in your neighborhood, it might be worth to sell something for as little as $5.00 — if you can be the buyer right up the street. For example, just today I sold some organizational boxes that fit inside a dresser I no longer own. They sold for $8 and I’m dropping them off to the buyer on my way to pick up my son this afternoon. It’s that simple.

I’ve sold everything from craft supplies, filing cabinets, kitchen drawer knobs to sheets. Hey, I mean it’s free and only takes a few minutes…why not?

Selling on Craigslist:

I only used Craigslist when I was selling larger items that I knew I couldn’t move myself. Buyers on Craigslist usually expect to pick up what they purchase, which makes it easier on the seller.

selling-tips-for-craigslist

Here’s an example of some bricks I sold that fell off our deck last year. Instead of hauling them to a dumpster, I listed them on Craigslist, made some money and made one happy buyer.

I applied the same principals mentioned above for Facebook groups for what I listed on Craigslist: Clear photos and a good description.

Related article: How to shop like a Pro on Craigslist

selling-itmes-online-tips-and-tricksSelling on Amazon:

Amazon is great for all types of media. I’ve been using Amazon.com as a place to sell and ‘trade’ my books since I was a student in college as it was a great way to recoup money from some of those $100 college text books. I’ve also sold other types of media like CD’s & DVD’s.

The interface is easy to use, you can print the shipping label right from the website and it gives you the ability to review your price and change it at any given time to adjust with the market trends.

The only downside is that they do take a small commission, but for the ease of selling media I probably couldn’t sell anywhere else, it’s 100% worth it to me!

Related: See my previous post in this series about how I organized the photos of items for sale

#ADayInTheLife Project: Week 52

Week 52/52 photos! I’ve officially made it an entire year taking or using a photo taken around me on that exact date and put it here on the blog to share.

I have a post HERE where I reflect on the #ADayInTheLife Project and whatI have in store for my next personal blogging challenge. This has truly been so much fun and I’ll be so thankful I documented all of our fun memories over the past year.

cincinnati-reds-game-at-great-american-ball-park:: Sunday, May 25th ::

Myles’ FIRST Red’s game with many more to come.

smale-riverfront-park-cincinnati-maze:: Monday, May 26th ::

This cement and grass maze in Smale Park is pretty neat. While following the actual maze isn’t really Myles’ thing, he had a blast just running around.

decorating-our-apartment:: Tuesday, May 27th ::

We’re finally to the point where we can hang pictures, shelves and mirrors on the walls. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can finish this soon so I can share it here on the blog!

toddler-and-ice-cream:: Wednesday, May 28th ::

Ice cream night with my mini-me.

sawyer-point-cincinnati:: Thursday, May 29th ::

Another day, another family walk exploring this beautiful city. Living by all these parks is like a dream come true for all of us.

sawyer-point-cincinnati-by-serpentine-wall:: Friday, May 30th ::

Took a family stroll through Sawyer Point along the Ohio River.

red-legs-5k-10-k-cheering-cincinnati-banks:: Saturday, May 31st ::

Myles cheers on the RedLegs 5k runners this morning who are passing underneath our balcony on this beautiful Saturday morning.

[Read more about my 52 week #ADayInTheLife project here.]

Our Moving Journey Part 1: The Decision & Decluttering

I’ve had so many comment on how I should post more details about our choice to move from a house in the suburbs to a much smaller apartment in the city. [Here’s the original story on our decision I posted in March]

It wasn’t a decision that was made quickly. We really thought about it and weighed out the pro’s and con’s. The process started last November when we were checking out places to live downtown. We decided on Current at the Banks for several reasons: they allow large dogs, it’s kid-friendly, it’s a new establishment and we’re surrounded by parks.

Once the application process for the Banks was complete, we then started the process of getting our house ready to sell. The list of things that needed to be completed before that “For Sale” sign went up was quite a long one.

Topping the list was to get rid of ‘stuff’ and let me tell you, we had A LOT of it mainly because we had plenty of storage room.

I read several different articles and books on getting organized and de-cluttering and to be honest, I’m a fairly organized person…just with too much stuff. That can happen when you actually stay put in a home for longer than several years. Things accumulate — especially after having a baby.

While all these books had great advice, nothing really jumped out at me as the best way to go about downsizing and de-cluttering so I came up with my own method. I’m sure it’s been used before so I’m definitely not trying to claim it as some revolutionary idea. It’s quite simple though:

Touch everything you own.

Seriously, I mean everything. Every paper in the filing cabinet. Every holiday decoration. Every piece of clothing in the house. Every BEAD and I have a lot of those from being a jewelry designer.

The next step is to have bins lined up that you can put everything into. I generally stuck with a plan of having five:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Goes Elsewhere, Etc.
  • Trash & Shred

This process took me about six months to complete. It was pretty awful but I’m happy to say that I’ve never felt better since living with less. Here are just several pictures of my office from when I started to the end result. But remember, I used this process on the entire house.

before-decluttering tips-on-decluttering-a-craft-space de-cluttering-tips-for-your-entire-house declutteiring-for-an-organized-office decluttering-tips-jewelry-organization before-and-after-decluttering

Quite the change, right? Remember I had to un-personalize everything as well because we were selling our home so it was a double whammy of de-cluttering and un-personalizing the space.

Let me elaborate on the bins:

The ‘keep’ bin was obviously for things I’d like to keep; but I put it in a bin so once I had everything I wanted to keep in one place, I could neatly organize it all.

The ‘donate’ bin is pretty straight forward as well. If I had something I knew a friend could use, I’d give it to them. If I found a lot of unused books, they went to the Cincinnati Public Library. Clothing went to Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul. Baby accessories that weren’t able to be resold went to a place called Healthy Beginnings, which is for women and children in need or women who are pregnant and need assistance.

The ‘sell’ bin was for items I could most likely sell online. Between Facebook groups (there are TONS), local online yard sales, Amazon and Craigslist, there were very few items that I wasn’t able to sell. When I tell people I even sold my trash can the week before moving, they couldn’t believe it. But it’s true! You’d be surprised as to what you can sell online. Not only do you make a little money, but leave less of a carbon footprint and make someones day!

what-you-can-sell-online

Above are just several of the things I sold online – mostly through Facebook groups and below is how I kept track of everything I sold; which was as simple as having a dedicated folder on my desktop with a file for each item with the pictures, description and price:

tips-for-selling-online

My ‘go elsewhere’ bin was for things that could go along with other items somewhere in the house. For example, I took all my sharpie marker collection from my office and added it to the junk drawer in the kitchen – eliminating any duplicates I had.

Lastly, the ‘trash & shred’ bin speaks for itself. I shredded a lot of paperwork from the filing cabinet and if I had things that there was nothing else I could do with, then it went in the trash.

When we moved we literally lost hundreds of square feet. But I was okay with that because honestly, I knew I didn’t need everything I had. It also helped knowing our floor plan of our new place. A walk-in closet would eliminate the need for armoirs. Not having a laundry room allowed me to sell drying racks and extra laundry bins. However, this method of “touching everything” can be used in any circumstance, regardless of if you just want to get one room organized or an entire house.

What do you think? Am I crazy or do you think this method could work for you? I’d love to read your thoughts!

[More to come soon on the rest of the move – it was quite the process this go around]

Related articles:

#ADayInTheLife Project: Week 51

Eek! Almost to the last week of my #ADayInTheLife Project! Week 51/52 photos. We’re still having a blast exploring everything that’s around our new home!

yawning-cat-cornish-rex:: Sunday, May 18th ::

I’m sorry but kind of not sorry for taking so many pictures of my cat. I mean, she’s a great subject and always doing weird things.

smamle-riverfront-park-family-swings-cincinnati-riverfront:: Monday, May 19th ::

When we swing in the park, even our dog joins in.

Cute-toddlers:: Tuesday, May 20th ::

Myles little buddy E came down to visit us. They’re almost to the day two years apart.

personalized-infographic:: Wednesday, May 21st ::

Calling myself out: I’m a nerd and made an infographic about myself and really enjoyed it.

dog-friendly-jefferson-social:: Thursday, May 22nd ::

My girl Adobe at the bar, Jefferson Social. I love how dog friendly all the establishments are downtown.

pre-reds-game-cincinnati-banks:: Friday, May 23rd ::

Such a gorgeous day here in Cincinnati. I still can’t believe this is home, in the center of all the action!

running-around-smale-riverfront-park-cincinnati:: Saturday, May 24th ::

We don’t walk these steps anymore, we jump them! We just can’t stay away from Smale Park since it’s a half of a block away from home!

[Read more about my 52 week #ADayInTheLife project here.]

#ADayInTheLife Project: Week 50

Week 50/52 photos:
german-shepard-husky-mix:: Sunday, May 11th ::

I was most worried about this one adjusting to urban life but so far she loves it! She was watching the crowd for the Red’s game from our balcony. It even looks like she’s smiling.

mahoganys-at-the-banks-cincinnati:: Monday, May 12th ::

Ventured downstairs to try Mahogany’s. They have delicious soul food.

smale-riverfront-park-cincinnati-banks:: Tuesday, May 13th ::

Action shot in Smale Park!

asha-daniels-from-under-the-gunn:: Wednesday, May 14th ::

Had dinner this talented lady from the fashion reality show “Under the Gunn”, a spin-off of Project Runway. We enjoyed sharing our love for invisible zippers and draping.

simengage-presentation-cincinnati-fact:: Thursday, May 15th::

A realistic fact about multi-tasking..who would have known?! Taken at Simengage Social Media conference.

blue-point-cornish-rex:: Friday, May 16th ::

I’m get the google eyes from my cat a lot and Im not sure if it’s because they’re uncrossed for once or she’s inbreed.

assembling-ikea-furntiure:: Saturday, May 17th ::

Seriously, the story of our life while we assemble furniture for the new place. Piles of screws, nuts, bolts, washers for days!

[Read more about my 52 week #ADayInTheLife project here.]

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