Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pink Ribbons - The Port-a-Cath Surgery

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Wed.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.  At the end of the post, you will find the links of the previous posts from the most recent first and going back.  These are not current events.  This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer.

August 12, 2010

I don't know whose bright idea it was to schedule a doctor visit with the radiologist the morning after surgery. I'm okay just really sore and not wanting to move. The port is in that hollow between your collar bone and shoulder in my left side. I told the nurse it felt like a bad sprain. But before I got home I decided it felt like a bullet hole! My arm has limits in what it will do without making that muscle seize up. They gave me Vicodin for pain. I just don't like it. I don't know why it has such a high street value.  It has never helped my pain.  It does make me sleepy though.

Mr. Rosey stopped to get it at the pharmacy and she quotes him a total of $153 and he started sputtering "the copay for vicodin is $10!"

She told him, they had 12 medications for me to pick up. Apparently Doctors had been faxing in scripts for chemo care, diabetes plus pain meds. The pharmacy tech got rather snarky when he told her he was there to pick up the vicodin.  It was the drug I immediately needed.

She questioned him why we bothered having the other meds called in! ergh. He in turn got impatient and rather heatedly said...."Look lady! My wife has breast cancer and she just got home from a surgery. She NEEDS the pain med now. The others can wait until the weekend when I can get back in with the rest of the money for the other meds."

She apologized but Mr. Rosey doesn't know that he won't speak to the pharmacist anyway. He is already feeling like he's operating in crisis mode. He had a really bad morning at work. They probably don't mean to but they really guilt-ed him about leaving for my surgery.

The Port Surgery -  First I don't know why they schedule a person for afternoon surgery and keep them NPO from midnight before! I was dehydrated when they were trying to get blood. *squeezing my eyes shut in a wince* My faithful pumper wouldn't pump. So the nurse called for a phlebotomist that looked like she was still in Jr high. I didn't want to be insulting but when I saw her I knew she'd have trouble. I am a hard stick. I was dehydrated  She was 13 if a day...:) After a bit of digging and twisting she finally quit the spot. She did finally get blood from a tiny vein in the hand....soooo comfortable in the hand you know. It took 10 minutes to fill a tube it was such a tiny vein.

Then my surgeon's associate came in. Dr. Etters - (MY surgeon is away at a conference getting more education. That's always good.) Since he was out of town, his associate Dr. Laks did the surgery. They sent in Doogie Howser! --------------------------->

He was delightful but I had a hard time believing he had graduated high school much less medical school. I was reassured by his whiskers. That was my vantage point...lying on a gurney under that joke of a gown.  I could see the bottom of his chin where he had real man whiskers, not just boy fuzz.

Why do the snaps of a hospital gown NEVER work? 
Seriously how many THOUSANDS of dollars
 are they going to charge for this surgery? 
Yet I was given a gown that had one working snap
 at each shoulder. One near the elbow which did nothing
 to hold it up and the other side about half way down. 

They did provide blessed warm blankets, so regardless I was laying on my back looking at Doogie's chin.  I showed him where I didn't want the under a bra strap. I had written all over my chest where my bra lines were..where the seat belt lines where. I had a hay day with markers.  Kind of like a kindergartner with the permission to write all over with markers?

He was amused by my artwork and said he would try to keep the port away from my lines. But warned the port often chose where it sat. He wound up backing it up to the line over the L girlie. But I didn't tell him I made the marks using my widest strap bra. So when I put my normal bras on....the straps sit well away from the port.

So Mr. Anesthesiologist comes in. Not so young but looked mid 30's. Still young but not "Doogie" young. He looked fresh off the farm. He was in scrubs, but his appearance screamed BUMPKIN!  I'm referring to the OZARK "look out the revenuer is acomin' backwoods bumpkin".   I'm related to a WHOLE bunch of them. 

He walked up, introduced himself.  But he asked the question that I have come to detest.

 "How are you Mrs. Rosey?" 

Now how am I supposed to answer that? No one really wants to hear the truth. Well, I'm scared and really mad. This is scary stuff and you ask me how am feeling?

I told him I was dehydrated and not a good stick on a good day so he gave me one of those "I'm the doctor" smirks. But he poked my elbow veins and missed.  Then he went to the inside of the wrist. Yowza! It kept stopping and they would call him back. He finally taped it to my arm and tied my hand and arm down to a board.  Then he took a black marker and wrote across the tapes - Do NOT disturb!

The surgery was only about 20 minutes so I didn't have to be put totally under anesthesia. They used Versed and Propofol...the Micheal Jackson drug. Seriously. I was chatting with the nurse who was scrubbing and draping me....and then I was waking up while riding down a hallway.   I didn't have any of weird anesthesia feeling. It was pop!  I'm awake and talking. "Where are we going? To recovery? Did they cancel the surgery? No...its over?"   Seriously and I laid back and said, "Dude...if this is what feeling drunk is like, I wanna go home and try it!" They cracked up! I was feeling no pain.

I was turned over to a nurse in Recovery.  I asked her how long I had to stay there cuz frankly I was ready to go. "Well you have to drink something and keep it down.  Then you have to walk without fainting." I did all those things so she helped me dress.  Then they gave me a Vicodin and an ice pack and sent me on my way.

My sisters showed up only 30 minutes before I had to leave for the surgery. They all came in wearing head scarves that they planned to leave with me. Mom kept wearing  hers. It was nice to see my mom. I think she wanted to come for this surgery because she doesn't think she will make the big one this winter. :(  She came into pre-op to sit with me.  It seemed like she wanted to stay close to me.  I hate that I'm putting her through this while she's dying of liver failure.

For some reason I had this visceral gut type response to seeing them all wearing chemo scarves or hats.  Not sure what that was about on my part.  I know they weren't making fun and they were being supportive.  So I don't know why it was such a kick in the shorts for me.

I made a mistake in judgement.  The surgery was short and I guess momma wanted to spend more time with me.  She asked if she could take me to dinner.  Mr. Rosey had to get on home to start HIS infusion.  So we all piled into her van and went to Olive Garden.  While I was sitting there... anesthesia started wearing off and the entire left side of my body started humming in pain.  I just wanted to go home and they were having a good time with dinner.  sigh.

By the time I got home, I was wiped out and just wanted to cry from the exhaustion and pain.  Mom and the sisters sat around chatting,  while the nurses made themselves scarce.  A new nurse - who looks all of 22 years old will be taking over Mr. Rosey's care.  What is going on with all these doctors and nurses looking like they should be earning their scouting badges?  I felt like I had to sit up while the new nurse was here when more than anything I just wanted to go to bed.  Oh well.  I survived it.

We learned my insurance does not cover a shower chair. Do you believe they called it a luxury item? WOW!!  I would challenge them to have chemo and/or radiation and then call the chair a luxury.

I have loved the texts from all you WOW friends. KJ gets all weepy at some of them. He's just like... most of these people have no clue whether you really have cancer. He says, "You could be scamming the whole lot of them." he he he....  That's right.  I have been setting this up for the last 10 years.

Sunday - our weekend nurse came in bringing a shower chair.  An NICE shower chair with a soap holder and a place to hang a towel.  I had asked if I gave her the cash, if she would pick me up a shower seat from her pharmacy?  Well she just walked in with this nice seat and said it was her "contribution" to my care.  How sweet is that?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Running Into Chaos Part 4 - The power of Three

Part 4

I received a newsletter from the local church of the denomination I attended as a child.  We had visited this church earlier upon our arrival in the community.  We did not like the pastor then, but according to this newsletter they had a new pastor.  It was a new pastor with a young family.

My son was now 5 years old, and I had not been taking him to church for a couple years.  Not regularly for sure.  I had dedicated him to the Lord and I had fallen down on that promise.  So I decided that Sunday night, I would go check out this new pastor.

Sunday night arrived and I left our son with his father at home while I went to scope out this new minister.  The music was good and the sermon was okay.  The minister looked promising, the experience certainly warranted another visit.

After the service, the minister greeted me and introduced me to his wife.  She was shorter than me, a little overweight like me, but her smile was bright.  I chatted with her, explained that I actually lived just a mile around the corner.  If she needed anything I gave her my address, she was new the community and I could help her get to know where she lived.  I even branched out as far as to suggest that we might get together. Her eyes lit up as she said, "We could do a Bible study together!"  "Orrrr go shopping," I quickly interjected.   I did not fool them at all.  She later told me that she and the pastor began to pray "heaven down on my head".

The job that I went to school for no longer gave me any satisfaction.  I was restless, anxious and generally miserable.  I had been a professional homemaker for 10 years and then after the gift of a child, I would begin to work OUT of the home?  What was I thinking?  About that time, we also figured out by the time we calculated the car expenses, the food, the child care expenses, the extra insurance, I was only earning a whopping  $30 a month.  My baby would stand at the front door, crying and waving as I drove away.  My heart was ripping into shreds.

I hated working my shift.  I was always tired.  I was only getting 6 hours of sleep or so.  It seemed I was continually sleeping because I had to work that night, or sleeping because I just got off work.  I was hating it.  During this time frame, I still thought of Tammy and wondered about her death.  I felt like I was falling apart.  My husband and I started talking about me quitting my job at the hospital and providing in home infant care so I could spend that summer with our son.  His last summer before starting kindergarten.  I was making preparations to leave the hospital.  I handed in my resignation.

It was in those last days, that I came home exhausted from work.  I spent most of the day awake so I could sleep that night.  We had a good afternoon and evening.  We settled in for a good night's sleep.

At some point in the night, I began to dream.  I was standing in a line in front of huge throne like chair.  I was just a few behind, when I saw Tammy standing before the throne.  A white robbed figure was flipping through a book and shook his head.  Strong arms grabbed Tammy and began to drag her away. As they dragged her away, she pointed at me screaming..."You knew.  You knew all about this but you never told me!"  I looked at her in horror and saw I was now next in line before the white robed person.  I looked from Tammy to the book and back at Tammy as her screams echoed off the walls.  I began to shake as I looked at that book.   I had the same fate coming, when I was told to come forward, as the book was flipped open.  Tears fell from my eyes because I knew I had screwed up royally.  I knew that I had scratched my own name out of that book, I was no better than Tammy.

I jerked awake.  I had tears on my face, my heart was going "abangabanga bang!"  I was shaking and sweating and sick to my stomach.  I quietly got up and went to the living room.  I would do some needlework, and try to get that dream out of my head.  After a time my eyes drooped and I climbed into bed and clung to my husband.

And it began again.  The whole thing.  The line.  The throne.  The book.  Tammy.  The screaming, the accusation and the realization that I was about to receive the same fate.  I awoke in the same condition, sweaty, crying, shaking and sick to my stomach.  I got up this time and decided to do housework.  I scrubbed the kitchen, I vacuumed the carpet.  I got a toothbrush and scrubbed the faucets.  I pulled the fridge and swept out from behind it.  The weirdness of having the same dream a second time perplexed me.  I wasn't going back to sleep until I was too tired to dream.  I thought about 5 am that I had reached the point exhaustion.  48 hours with about 2 hours of sleep is not easy to put off.  This time I stretched out on the couch, thinking perhaps a change would help.

I slept.  But suddenly breaking into the void of my sleep there I was again.  I was in the line.  There was the throne.  I saw the book, I heard Tammy screaming and saw her pointing at me crying "You knew!  You knew about this but you never told me!"  Then it was my turn and they were beckoning me to come forward.  The book opened and the pages flipped...this time I heard a voice sadly say, "Tina's name isn't in here anymore.  She scratched it out."    I saw those robbed figures coming for me and I began to scream.

My scream woke me up!  I laid on the couch, again with the abangabangabang!  The sweating, the crying, the shaking and I wanted to hurl.  Three times I had the same dream.  I knew it was not a coincidence.  I knew it was a message given directly to me.  The number Three is very important in the Bible....the Trinity, the cock that crowed three times, the Three crosses.  I had a choice and I had to make it now.  The chances and you are out.  Three means God is saying "Yo!  Pay attention, this is important!"

I slipped off the couch and onto my knees and I begged God to forgive me for my stubbornness   I still didn't trust him, but I was willing to try.  God  met me there in my living room and peace entered my heart.  I fell asleep, exhausted on the couch again.  I did not awaken up until a little person was breathing on me and building legos into my nose.

On Sunday, I took my husband and son to church and introduced them to the new pastor and his wife.  They would become our best friends there.

I do not know what would have happened to me if I had not responded to that night, what I consider a Supernatural experience of dreaming the same dream three times.  But I certainly have a sense that night was a spiritual battle of eternal magnitude.  The other choice would bring only despair and heartbreak.  God and I would struggle for years (I mean YEARS) over the inept teachings of my childhood church, my upbringing, abuse, and my fear of Him.  I chose not to address all those issues in this series.   I still stumble from time to time, and I don't really know what God has in store for me next, I can say this with confidence, 

I ran into the chaos.  God created order where there had been none. 
 I am at peace with the silence of the chaos that had been within me.

God and I still struggled...

Friday, October 26, 2012

**Estrogen Content** And Sarah Laughed

Our Bible study group has been looking at the lives of Abraham and Sarah.  They had quite some life didn't they?

Over the last few days I've been kicking around my head the concept of Sarah laughing when the Lord said, she would conceive in a year's time. 

 She laughed.

We talked about the fact that at her age, she was in menopause so the concept of conceiving...was inconceivable to her.  Among the people she knew, NO one her age had a baby.  So when the Lord will have a baby, well we would yuk it up as well.

This morning, I got out of the shower and went through the routine of greasing all of this glorious woman flesh.  I must do this because MENOPAUSE has dried me out.  All the flaking and shedding... I leave dna at the scene of every location.  As I go through this routine, I grumbled about the changes that menopause caused.

In case you don't know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000.  It was estrogen fed.  So after chemo, I was given injections to shut my ovaries down...because yes, Aunt Flo was tougher than chemo.  She hung in there for the whole ride.  After the mastectomies and the radiation, I was to have a complete hysterectomy.  I was allowed to wait until I had recovered physically and mentally from the treatment.  So I was given Lupron injections for 8 months before having the surgery.  I complained to the doctor about some very *ahem* intimate pain I was having.  She answered, 

"Oh, that's most likely caused by the vaginal walls thinning.  It happens after menopause."

After the pre-surgical exam, she informed me that my "walls" were extremely thin and fragile.  I had a very quick reduction in only 8 months.  I realize this is TMI, but I also know that a lot of us enter menopause not really understanding the process.  There just isn't a lot of conversation going on about what to expect in menopause.  Jokes yes, but not true conversation and information.  

Hot flashes get all the lime light, but there are other very inconvenient aspects to menopause that don't get a lot of press time.  Like sometimes you have to be careful how you sit down...because those thin vaginal walls will stretch and hurt.  The elasticity is gone.  The lubrication process is gone.  Your sexy hormones...gone.  

It's hard to want to have sex when you can't get hot and bothered anymore.  Really.  It's the saddest and most difficult part of menopause.  Seriously.  Give me back the power hot flashes if that means I get my sexual nature back. (Keep in mind that I'm also undergoing an oral chemo to further decrease estrogen production so it's a double whammy for me.)

I miss the ability to "get rowdy."

Okay now that you are all green and shuddering, lets go back to Sarah.  The Bible tells us this in Genesis 18:11 & 12

 Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years. Sarah had passed the age of childbearingSo she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?

Now, after my little intimate discussion with you, let's look at what Sarah said..."
I have become shriveled up".  Yes my sisters.  In all my previous readings of this passage, I just pictured Sarah as a heavily wrinkled, dry skinned old woman.  But this morning, it was a light bulb shining over my head.  Oh my.  Sarah had a dry hoo ha too!  She and Abraham may have 
well been past the ability to "get rowdy" themselves.  I mean it's not like she can run to Walmart for a bottle of Astroglide!  What's a woman to do in the centuries BC?  Maybe check out that scroll "101 Uses for Goat Fat"?  Sarah might have hooted because it had been some years since she and ole Abe had partaken of the horizontal fellowship.  I'm hoping the Lord gave her a little hormonal assistance in accomplishing this endeavor.

Can't you just imagine Abraham?  Poor Sarah.  Talk about a man's dream excuse for horizontal fellowship..."Honey, the LORD said it, so we must."

We know that the Lord said "this time next year, you will have a son".  To have a son, you must gestate for 40 weeks, give or take 2 weeks.  So Abraham was chasing her around the tents for quite a few months before she conceived.  Abraham was 100 years old when his son was born!  

Yes Sarah, I would have laughed as well.  I would have been rolling on the floor, holding my stomach and hooting over the idea of me and my 99 year old husband just TRYING to have a baby, much less actually succeeding.  I have to cut this woman some slack, Lord.  Knowing what I now know about menopause...I'd have laughed until tears streamed down my face.

**Recent news - 96 year old man becomes father for the 22 time with his 60 year old wife.  The article is rather snarky but here's a link...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society offers a service where women can purchase hats, wigs, scarves, and mastectomy products at a much less cost that available elsewhere.   Go to for the entire catalog and more information.  I ordered many hats from them.  Theirs have a higher crown so the sides sit lower, helping you hide your chemo side effects.  They also carry other devices to help you feel more comfortable...halos, head bands, scalp covers...

Don't be afraid to contact your local chapter of the ACS.  They offer services,  REAL services to those going through cancer treatment.  Their fund raising is not just about paying salaries and keeping offices open.  They offer free wigs and a free styling of your wig.  The Look Good, Feel Better program, where a licensed cosmetologist teaches you how to apply makeup and create the illusion of eyelashes and eyebrows. In the LGFB program you will receive a makeup kit filled with full size products (not sample sizes).  This was particularly helpful in my group as there were several older women who had never worn more than a little lipstick.  The kit allowed them to continue improving their "cancer face" without having to purchase a dozen different products. 

They have volunteers who drive patients to appointments, and offer a gas assistance program.  I believe they also have a copay assistance program for those who qualify.  In addition, they lobby Washington concerning issues important to those battling cancer.  Of course, they fund research and education.  But most important was the support and services they made available to me.  They do not focus only on breast cancer, but extend their assistance to everyone regardless of where cancer is found.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pink Ribbons - The Chemo Test

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Wed.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.  At the end of the post, you will find the links of the previous posts from the most recent first and going back.  These are not current events.  This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer. 

Marcia picked me up and went with me to my "chemo class".


The nurse was joking but I thought she was serious!  I have spent the last 3 days studying my chemo drugs and the side effects and when to call the doctor and.....THERE WAS NO TEST!  It is an outrage!  

I kept waiting for the test and finally I asked.  They laughed.  Then later they realized I was serious and had believed the nurse about the test.  I told them they should be ashamed.  If you can't believe your chemo nurses, then when are you SUPPOSED to believe them?  

They hung their heads and said they were sorry for misleading me.  But they were snickering.  I don't think they were very sorry.!

I had asked Marcia to go with me because I knew sometimes when you are facing big medical issues you don't always catch everything that is said.  I wanted an extra pair of ears.  KJ couldn't come...well he COULD have but I told him, not to because I wanted him with me for the port surgery.

I will be taking a chemo cocktail called CT...It’s Cytoxin and Taxotere.  We talked about their common side effects and the kind of drugs the doctors will give me.  The chemo nurse said that chemo feels a lot like early pregnancy....really, really tired and really, really nauseous.  Goody.

She talked about different programs for people undergoing cancer treatment...Several programs offered by the American Cancer Society.  It's interesting and disheartening that Susan G Komen offers nothing to people with cancer.  I guess they just talk about self exams, collect lots of money and sell pink ribbons.  

I asked if there was any classes the nurse just shook her head.  She made appointments for me with the American Cancer Society for the Look Good, Feel Better program.  They will also evaluate my “needs” and see how they can address them.  ACS is really cool, and so I’m glad Mr. Rosey has had a deduction from his pay sent to them through the United Way Combined Federal Campaign.  He started that after daddy died of colon cancer.

Marcia and I were going to go out for lunch but there was some crisis in the parsonage, so she had to get back home.

In a moment of complete and utter bravery on my part, I walked across the street and knocked on the landlady's door.  When she answered I explained that I just learned I had breast cancer.  I asked her to extend some grace with our lawn mowing because normally I do it.  Now with KJ's condition and my chemo, it might get a little long.  Well! She would not hear about it.  She told me they would take over the lawn care and that I should just concentrate on coping with the chemo.  I'm grateful beyond words.

Fighting Cancer is Easier with the Support of Friends, the American Cancer Society, 
Skilled doctors and nurses!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pink Ribbons...But the World Still Goes On

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Wed.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.  At the end of the post, you will find the links of the previous posts from the most recent first and going back.  These are not current events.  This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer. 

Hi Guys, I got a bunch of cards in the mail today. That was cool.  I got a funny card from my sister.  It made me laugh and that felt good.

We also got news in the mail that has made me sick to my stomach.  You know my husband gets an infusion every month to counter act the effects of the neurological disease he has.  The insurance company sent a notice that they will no longer cover his treatments as they aren't helping!  

Uh yeah does help. * sarcastic*  

It's not a cure, it's a treatment. It allows him to keep working. So on top of my own struggles I have to call his neurologist tomorrow to find out what is going on. I need to find out how we can appeal this. He won't be able to work without use of his right arm. However he HAS to continue working until this cancer treatment is finished. I can hardly breathe this makes me so sick.

I've had to sit back and realize that my life seemed to stop with the diagnosis - CANCER.  But the rest of the world is still going on, still making stupid decisions and still impacting my life.  It's really hard to focus on dealing with normal, daily stuff, PLUS cancer and PLUS the critical issues that come up.  AUGH!  Make it go away!

It almost feels like a death.  I get the diagnosis and everything stopped for my husband and myself.  We narrowed our focus to concentrate on getting the answers about my cancer and starting treatments.  Every so often we get interrupted...someone's having a baby.  Someone's got a new job.  Someone bought a house.  It's like everyone else is going on with their lives but mine is stuck here in Cancertown.  

 Sally:  is the insurance company his DOCTOR?????????   How do they know it's not helping????????????????  praying for you  

Carla:  Rosey, I'm behind on my reading but wanted to tell you that I love you and am praying for you.

Shelley: I can't believe this insurance company can do that, and I hate that it causes extra stress for you guys who have to take care of it! I will pray that the neurologist’s office can take care of it quickly and painlessly. I'm sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else. I noticed in another post you talked about being tired from the emotional toll of it all, I am paraphrasing, can't remember exactly, but anyway, I can certainly see how that would be true. I will be praying for God to give you extra strength and for these things to be taken care of and stop stressing you out. Prayers for your hubbie too, lots of them! For his body, for his treatments to continue, for his work, for his emotions, for his stress, everything, and for the Spirit to intercede and pray for all the things I can't even think of to pray.  Love you guys!

Rosey:  Thanks guys. Your fiery red mad faces gave me a laugh. Cell phones don't give you emoticon choices. So I forget you have them. It's a surprise when I see one.

The family issue over releasing my medical issue will die down.  I'm not sure they understand, but I believe they will respect my wishes.  It's private to me and I think the general public only wants to hear about cancer in general terms.  I'M still trying to come to terms with it myself.  I didn't need to open up facebook and find the details on my wall...when I wasn't ready to put them there myself.  

You guys are being so good to me. Letting me say whatever I need to say. You aren't running from it or giving me platitudes. Many of you are praying for me but you aren't just praying and running. You offer input and encouragement. I'm getting so much more support than I expected from all of you who are hundreds of miles away. Jason and Marcia have been taking me to my numerous appointments. But there's a lot of silence from other friends. They say let me know if there's something I can do. Which usually means "oh please dear god, don't bother me." I've learned already the ones who really want to help will ask...what can I do to help you?   That's a question I can answer.

Still waiting for return calls from the neurologist, it usually takes them a while.

Having Cancer is hard when you still have
 to deal with the rest of the world

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tis the Season for "Fall" Nuts

I do not know if some of you have caught this bit of information.

I am married to certifiable nut.

Over the years he has been known to pester me so I won't miss my sisters.

He pestered our son, so he wouldn't miss out on the "sibling" experience.  That was an intense lesson - having TWO boys being brats.

Sometimes I want to WRING his neck.

But oh, our marriage has been full of as much laughter as we can squeeze in.  We have a similar snarky humor and our one liners to each other can lay us O. U. T.  Rolling on the ground, holding your sides, peeing your pants (although he insists that men never do that), laughing until tears roll down your face.  We've had our share of trial and conflict, but love and laughter have been our constant companion.

This is World Series time and the rest of the world must grind to a halt and take the back seat.  I too am a fan but I won't say that I "breathe" baseball.  He. does.  Again this year, we determined in early August the team didn't have it in them this year, yet here we find ourselves in a play off yet again.  He's holding his breath, waiting for a consecutive year in the Series.

I got a lot of stink eye and indignation when I dared to watch some video online that did not pertain to baseball.  I found some headphones and he got over it.

I did not know I was marrying a sports freak at that ceremony in the front of the church.  My acceptance of sports were not part of the vows, and I'm not sure he even revealed to me the depth of his love for baseball.  We were married in July, so in just a few short months - the 1979 Series was upon us.  That's when I discovered that everything stops so he can watch the games.  It didn't even matter who is playing.  He parked in front of the TV set cheering on one side or the other.  If our STL Cardinals are playing then well of course, that is who we will follow.  And of course the rest of the world must grind to a halt until the series is over.  That's just the way it IS.

That year the the baseball season ended and I thought so had the fanaticism.  

I was wrong.  

Now it was NFL Football, then College Basketball and on to Pro Basketball (although he admits that pro basketball is his least favorite).

I realized the cold truth.  I had married a sports nut.  To him there are two and football.  Summer starts on Pitchers and Catchers Day and ends with the final score of the World Series.  The temps outside are's what's on TV that determines our seasons.

I realized I had a choice.  I was either going to be a baseball, football & basketball widow. I whine about how he pays Sooooo much attention to sports or... I could learn to enjoy the sports and sit by his side yelling just as loud and obnoxiously as him.  I chose to enjoy sports with him.  

I have even been known an opposing team just to rile him, which makes for more interesting contests.  Never against the STL Cardinals though.

So again I sit enjoying America's past time and the company of my husband.  While he is quite the fan, he is NOT one to sit bare chested with his body painted red, tattooed with the STL Cardinal emblem (mercy I hope that doesn't give him any ideas).  I don't have a Cardinal room, although he has filled a shelf with plenty of Cardinal clutter.  He's entitled as I have my own share of clutter.

But don't expect him to clearly focus until the games are over.  You will have a brief window before the Football fever sets in.  It's more intense because I am an Arizona Cardinal fan living with a STL Rams fan.  But we have fun.

Oh and recall at the beginning of this I stated I was married to a certifiable nut?  This week he texted most of the people in his contacts list.  He stated he had lost their cell phone number and to text it back to him.  Yes.  He's that man.  

Seriously though 90% of the people were helpful enough to text back the cellphone number from the cellphone that he texted the request.

He almost got me.  At the last minute I stopped and said...waaaait a minute.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pink Ribbons - Drama...

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Wed.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.  At the end of the post, you will find the links of the previous posts from the most recent first and going back.  These are not current events.  This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer. 

August 2010

This is a difficult time.  My mom and sister are coming up Thurs. I hoped to schedule the port surgery then. But it's not that day, they will help me box up all this stuff of mom's that I agreed to sell in a garage sale. That's not happening.  I asked my sister to limit who she invited.  I feel that some of my family has been telling me how I had to "do" cancer. Praising God for it and singing...and ignoring my real feelings. I don't believe like that.  I think God understands this is scary stuff and I'm struggling.  He understood his SON in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He allowed Christ to ask if he really had to do this. So why do other Christians seem to portray that in the face of scary stuff, we have to pull the stiff upper lip and praise God.  That if we can't, then we are failing as Christians.

I know everyone is just coping the way they need to deal with it. I have three sisters remember?  One sister's doctor told her he wanted to put her on tamoxifen to prevent ca. and she is refusing. She said God will protect her. Which made me feel like  ?What the heck?? what am I??..ground liver? Because He DIDN’T protect me from cancer, I’m not as spiritual as she is?  She doesn't mean it like that.  But you know what?  When you are told you have a life threatening condition, your emotions are wired.  You are sensitive and you struggle to cope.  And things that people don't think SHOULD upset us, well it does.  I have dozens of people telling me I need to write and journal on this and frankly I don't want to.  Right now, I don't want to spend any time writing about cancer!

Even as I peck this out I get a text message from one sister that they want to come Thurs. augh. So the whole crew is coming.  I'm trying to be gracious, but this is so overwhelming that I'm having to be a little selfish.  I don't WANT everyone here.  I wanted my mom!

Well I will update tomorrow when I have a clue about surgery and such.

:   I'm glad your family is coming to help, I'm sure your mom wants to be here for you too.  And keep away the people who drain you.

Margie: Praising God there is no hot spot anywhere else via PET scan. Thank you Lord!!!  Continued prayers!

Rosey: I am upset.  I got on facebook and find that a family member posted all about me.  They asked for prayer because I finally posted I had cancer.  That was fine.  But then the details of what kind of cancer, my surgeries and medical plan as well were announced..

I told KJ I might have posted that information myself later. But I had not yet made the decision!   I thought it was mine to make.  I hate this.  My husband has coworkers advising him on what I should and shouldn't do.  I have friends telling me to be positive and eat blueberries.  I'm a little sensitive because it feels like everyone is just talking about my breasts. Do I have no right to privacy or to control the release of information about my own medical condition?  Note to my friends...when a family member or friend tells you they have something going on, never release MORE information than they give first.  Even if they have released a prayer request or posted and tweeted it, ask before you share it.  If nothing else, I'm just still reeling from all this and trying to cope with this myself.  Having all these people comment to me is like "in my face" personal and the boundaries seem blurred.  Kind of like how so many people think its okay to touch someone's belly when they are pregnant.

Paula: No pressure, but you do have to write a book.  :) Just kidding.

I loved the butt cheek boogie story. Oh my.

I am so impressed with all the things you are doing to get ready for this. I don't even know if these things would occur to me. I think it will make everything go so much easier.

I'm sorry about the drama with your family.  :)  I am sorry that people are imposing their views on dealing with cancer on you. People do that with miscarriage and other grief as well, and it is never helpful.

Shelley: You continue to do what works best for you and your family, you are doing so great. You are an inspiration.  My friend made me a pink bracelet and I'm wearing it every day. It reminds me to pray. I even have specific prayers for certain beads...healing, peace, strength, wisdom for doctors, KJ and James...etc... so if you have a certain thing you want daily prayer for, let me know, and I will make a bead stand for that so I remember.

I love you and I'm proud of you.  

Rosey:   That's cool Shelley about the beads. I wish I could cancel the whole day with my family. But I know mom wants to see me before I start chemo. sigh.  I personally believe that mom wants to be here because she is not certain she will be able to come to the big surgery.   It stinks that a person can't just fight their cancer. They have to deal with the family expectations and needs as well.

Fighting Cancer is harder 
when you feel you have to fight your family.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Running Into Chaos Part 3 - The Hounds

I completed nursing school with honors and secured a job in my dream position, the reason I went to nursing school - Maternal/fetal medicine.  I was an OB labor & Delivery, OR scrub and Newborn nursery nurse.  Our life was reduced to running to and from jobs, child care, messy home, fast food meals and very little family life.  But we loved our son, we had a home and we were living the "American" dream.  Yee haw.

But inside I was a mess. It was that Christian upbringing.  I was fully aware that I was playing with my own eternity. I knew that I was in willful defiance of His will, and I believed should I die in that state, my eternity was not going to be heavenly.  That scared me.  It scared me a lot.  I became obsessed with my health and wouldn't you know, my blood pressure went up, my cholesterol wasn't great.  I was starting to notice signs of diabetes, and I started having flashing blinkers in my vision.  The doctor put me through all the work up for a brain tumor.

That Mother's Day, I held my son and cried, wondering if it was our last one together.  Would he remember me as a 3 year old?  I did not dare ask God for deliverance.  His answer was going to be "no."  The tests were negative for tumors.  I was having "optical migraines" and it was easily treated by drugs.  I was smug as I told God, "See?  I did this without you."

However it's important to note that my personality did not change.  I did not pick up cursing.  I didn't start drinking, I didn't run around on my husband, I did not party all night.  I didn't do any of those things that the pastor of my childhood church warned us would happen to those who turn away.  Basically to those who did not know better, they would not know anything had changed.

My husband also fell away during this time.  His was not a decision, it was just a "life got in the way" period of time.  But even though he was not faithfully attending church, his heart was still tender toward God.  He did not have the anger in him that I did.  He still loved his contemporary Christian music and bought new cd's as they came out.  He would put Petra, Whiteheart or Dallas Holm and urge me to come listen to the songs.  I did not WANT to listen to songs about God's goodness or faithfulness.  In fact, I would react to anger at his suggestions and he would look confused.  He did not have a clue of how far I had pulled from God.

I enjoyed my job as an OB nurse.  I dripped tears, and sniffed each time a new life was born.  I worked to stabilize them and return them to the arms of the doting, anxious patient.  Although I did not want God in MY life, I did acknowledge his goodness with each healthy delivery.  Even when we had mommas in high risk, I would pray for that momma and that babe, believing that God COULD spare them if he WOULD.  Nothing is more difficult than placing the body of infant into the arms of the grieving parents.

At the time I was hired, another new graduate nurse joined the unit at the same time.  We learned side by side, and although Tammy had lived a rougher life than I had.  She was divorced but had custody of a young son.  She had a boyfriend and a job.  She thought her life was great.  She talked of buying a house.  As new Ob nurses we worked the same shift and often our teams intersected.  We were not best friends, but nothing bonds you together like crash learning OR instruments and C-section protocol together.

For three years we all worked together.  Because of my PERSONALITY, many assumed that I was the "good Christian woman".  The fact that I did not use crude language, party with them, or share in their hysteria over dirty jokes, they decided I was one of "those" Christians.  The fact was that I was just a homebody who was in love with my husband, didn't like alcohol and couldn't bring myself to curse publicly.  My priority was there at home.  But everywhere I turned it seemed that God was there.

It was April 1st that turned my world upside down.  I arrived for my shift as usual, and changed into my scrubs.  I noted a definite subdued atmosphere in the locker room.  I walked into the nurse's lounge and quickly noted the same quietness there.  I walked up to an RN and checked into my assignment for the night.  We talked briefly about who was in labor, which doctors were "on".   Then my coworker looked at me and said, "You heard about Tammy didn't you?"  Thinking this was an April fool's joke I played along.  "Nope, what's up with Tammy."  The woman looked at me like I had a third eye when she answered, "Tammy's dead.  She hung herself."  I rejected the news.  I told her that was a sick joke, even if was April Fool's.  But she went on to tell me it was not a joke.  Tammy was dead.  She did not show up to pick her son up from the ex-husband, so concerned he broke into the house and found her dead.

I had a hard time with this news.  Tammy had been talking about buying a house, and she was fighting her husband's suit for full custody.  I had a hard time believing she just killed herself, knowing her son would go to the man she was fighting.  But it did not matter.  Tammy was gone.

I could not wrap my brain around this idea.  Here I was terrified of dying, and she leapt into death's embrace.  I couldn't process this and the entire unit was disrupted.  I remember, working in the newborn nursery and so distracted by Tammy's death, I inadvertently stuck an infant's Vit. K injection into my own forefinger. Three years without a med accident, but the night Tammy died - I stuck myself.

I had some problems with the memorial service that the hospital chaplain held for Tammy.  These crude coworkers with their potty mouths, sat crying and talking about Jesus like they knew him personally.  Then in the midst of my judgmental ravings, I was reminded I was no better.  Despite the outward conduct they exhibited, I knew that my inner defiance against God put me in the same category as they were.

Tammy's death shook me.  Everywhere I looked, I saw signs of eternity waiting.  I was terrified of dying and ending up on the wrong side of eternity.  I was becoming more and more frantic and running from God.  I felt chased.  I felt hunted.  Someone was after me and I was scared.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pink Ribbons Post - Laughter the Best Medicine

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Wed.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.  At the end of the post, you will find the links of the previous posts from the most recent first and going back.  These are not current events.  This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer. 


Yesterday was odd. I felt like I'd crashed into a wall. I was sick to my stomach and just felt like that iron weights thing. KJ wound up parking me in a chair and finishing the shopping. Pretty certain there won't be chemo this week but bought foods for it anyway. I broke down and bought him cereals, soups and fish sticks. I plan to cook and freeze meal plates this week too.  It was probably just the emotional weight of everything we have had to deal with.  The physical demand to keep coping with stress weighs you down.  Some lady stopped and asked if I was okay.  I was wiped out, but either she was an exceptionally compassionate person or I REALLY looked bad.

I have to take a chemo class and have surgery to put in the portacath. I'm sure it’s an outpatient thing. There was a amusing moment in reading about the portacath. The surgeon Dr. Etters wants me to mark where my bra straps sit and where the car seat crosses. So marking for the bra is easy. While I'm dressing, I just do it. But I was like...ummmm how do I mark where the seat belt goes on the day of surgery? The only option is to sit in the car without a shirt and do it. But I can just see all the gossip from the neighbors. lol  

Meanwhile, Robin said I had to take a test over my chemo before I started.  So I have the handouts about symptoms from Dr. Joe.  I guess I better start studying.

I rested yesterday afternoon and KJ grilled some Tbones. KC Strips were on sale but the store was out. So they subbed tbones. Then we I decided we needed an ice cream to finish the day. KJ tells me "okay I'll take you but you have to go in for it." I popped off..."oh nice. Send in the lady with cancer!" 

We both broke up laughing. It was the first time we laughed about cancer. I still went in.

During the night I was ill first with low blood sugar but then later with a diarrhea that wouldn't stop. I don't know if I was ill with a virus, food reaction or it was because of the metformin. The met does that at first and I had to stop taking it last week after the CT tests. I started it again last night, as well as my new dose of Byetta. So this morning was not fun. I took medicine for the trots but the nausea from the byetta has lingered. I'm snacking on saltines even now. I told KJ that it does concern me if THIS med makes me this nauseous, I'm worried about chemo.

But the nurse assures me they will manage those symptoms.

Fighting cancer is easier with good Laughter medicine

Monday, October 1, 2012

And the Lord said "Hey STUPID!"

When making big decisions I pray, "Lord, make this incredibly clear to the profoundly stupid."

I usually need guidance, preferring big neon signs in the sky that states "Tina...turn here."  Think of it like a cosmic GPS.  

Last weekend, we saw an ad for a "nice modular home". We drove out, and looked at the house. It was a mess. It did not matter how nice the house might look, it had no yard. It was situated in a gravel parking lot. I immediately said no. The house looked horrendous but it wouldn't matter, it was a parking lot. We turned around to leave and saw a group of men working on another home. We saw a "For Rent" sign so we stopped and walked through. The workmen assured us they were repairing the home and it was for rent.

I called the number and told the owner we were interested in THIS home after the work was done. On Monday, we put a deposit on the home. Friday, he told us "it's ready to go." There was niggling doubts that bloomed into harsh reality when we saw what this man considered to be "ready to go."

It had not been cleaned.  There was still a hole in the floor of the guest bathroom.  The walls were furry with grease and dust.  Our stomachs sunk to our toes.  We had just paid the utility deposits and several were now functioning.  It was going to be a HUGE undertaking.  The rent was $200 lower than we currently pay so we decided okay, this is not up to our standard but the payoff is that we will be 5 miles from our church.  We can be active and minister to our church.  But that hole had to be repaired.

The next day, we bought a fridge, we bought professional cleaning supplies and made plans to dive in.  But the niggling doubts about this home and that landlord were not going away.  It was late, around 10 pm when my husband on a lark looked up our landlord on google.  It was with deepening horror that we started reading "testimonials" about how bad this man was as a landlord.  We read one story about a broken AC unit that he refused to repair in a home with a hole in the guest bathroom floor.  My husband and I looked at each other in horror.  We gulped and began to think...this is not good.  A few moments later my husband exclaimed and our world turned upside down.  I won't give gory details, but a search through our state court record revealed this man was not only a bad landlord but he was a dangerous man with an extensive criminal past.  Extensive!   Not an isolated event, but 4 pages of charges, convictions and incarcerations.

It was incredibly and profoundly clear to this person...a flashing neon light yelling "HEY STUPID!  This is not MY plan!"  The only thing the Lord could have done next was to wrap the home in crime tape.

The Lord protected this stupid person who had ignored the doubts because I wanted so bad to live closer to my church family.  A friend blessed me this morning by pointing out that God STOPPED us from this mistake.  It means He has something better in store.  I'm waiting for the next neon sign.

Now to attempt to get all those deposits returned.  Oh yay!

In the meantime, my current landlady is counting her blessings.  She is elated that we aren't moving now.