Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Dusky Evening Memory

courtesy exuberantcolor.blogspot.com

Challenging myself to tell a simple story, I recalled a classic moment early in my son's life.  Every mother finds herself doing something she thought she would never have to deal with.  We often crack ourselves when we consider things we never thought we'd have to say.

Consider the idyllic rural country side, rolling green grasses.  There's the old farmhouse with the strawberry patch out to it's side. Out in the front of the old house there's a big maple to offer it's shade.  Beneath the spreading branches there's blankets and folding chairs.  My sisters and I were sprawled across the quilts, chatting with mom and watching my 16 month old son playing in the grass with his favorite truck of the day.

We were laughing and poking at each other, keeping an eye on the toddler as he played around the house.  He was having great fun climbing up the old steps and then back down, turning around to cackle at us and then back up the steps.  It was a moment of perfect peace as we soaked the last lingering rays of the sunset.

Dusk had fallen over the fields, so we picked up the blankets, collected the boy child and headed toward the back door.  No one uses front doors in the country.  We had reached the back porch when my sister stopped and pointed to my son.

"What is he chewing on?"  Becky asked pointing to him.

I looked closer at my son's face and saw indeed he was chewing with much enthusiasm as slobbery brown juices dripped off his chin.   Becky scooped him up and wrestled with him as he tried to keep his treasures in his mouth.  After a moment she got a finger into his cheeks and swiped out his mouth.

She began to squeal, gag and shake her hands, yelling for us to "Help him, Help him!"  She continued to squeal and dance around yard.  The panic spurred us up off our chairs and we ran to the now frightened toddler.  As he wailed, my mom swept his mouth clear and held the contents up to show me.


Yes, he had a mouth full of half chewed June bugs.  My sister had been doing her classic "bug" dance.  Mom and I fell over with the big kind of belly laugh that leaves tears streaming down your face and you hug yourself because the ache in your sides.  That dusky evening on the farm is a sweet memory of a grandma, a mom, a sister and a son that to this day brings a smile and a chuckle to my heart.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pink Ribbons ~ Nipple confusion

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Thursday.  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.   This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer.

These are not current events, events are from Sept. 2010

I have decided I'm not going to bother with reconstructed nipples.  They are not the same, no sensation...just an ornament to finish off the look.  I've been 38 years trying to keep them under control and hidden in my clothes.  I don't plan to deal with that again.  But I'm aware that many women NEED to finish the reconstruction to be comfortable with their appearance.

Hey Rosey....


It's interesting how a lot of cancers show up during pregnancy or nursing. But it would be a hard time to deal with cancer treatment and an infant! I hope she has a lot of support and I will be praying for Cheryl. Its interesting how different doctors treat this. I was confused by your statement she will be leaving with a reconstructed breast but they were taking the whole breast. I was naive here too. If they take the whole breast she will leave with tissue expanders in place. Unless shes doing a belly or back flap surgery. That is very painful and she will need a lot of help with children when she gets home. whew !

Paula - Yes, they're taking skin from her tummy area (she doesn't have stretch marks, but has 4 kids!  <insert jealous face here> )  She'll then have a little tummy tuck.   (I told her she was going be smokin hot by the time they got through)  She's a skinny little thing to begin with.  The doctor did say she would be IN THE BED for at least 3 weeks.  Her mother lives 2 houses down and will keep the baby for her.  She's already weaned him and he did really well.

To be clear...she was in some sort of surgery having the milk duct drained when the doctor realized it was not the milk duct.  Her first doctor was an A#$&& and was very cruel to her and her mother.  They left and got a second opinion, which saved her other breast, which the first doctor was going to remove.  He wasn't going to give her a nipple, said she didn't "need" it.  eek   I know Rosie said something about probably not getting one, but Cheryl is only 38 years old and wants her body to look nice after all of this.  (She is very concerned about how she'll look afterwards)  It should be a choice the patient makes, not the doctor!  Ya know?

This second doctor is going to reconstruct the breast to match the other one and give her a tattooed nipple.  She said in the photos that she saw it looks very real and you can't tell.  She'll have the no nipple surgery first, then go back later for the tattoo?  Or maybe to add the nipple?  I'm pretty sure he said he had to "make" it, then add it later.

Anyway, just wanted to clear all that up.  I'll be sure to post a prayer request for the day of her surgery, she asked me to have as many people praying as possible.

To be clear, it's a common misconception that women who have belly flaps (tummy tucks) will be "smokin hot" by the end of their surgical reconstruction.  You are taking muscle, fat and skin from the tummy region, tunneling it up to the breast area.  The doctors shape it, stitch and close everything up.  The tummy is often left misshapen and kind of funny looking.  But it should be flatter than before.  Not all doctors are conscientious bout where the belly button winds up.  It occasionally gets pulled off center and to the side.  It's really not an issue under your clothes but the few people I know with this problem REALLY hate it.
Most people do have a good result, but issues come up.  Research your plastic surgeon to find out if his patients recommend and trust his work.  It's important.  You will be looking at it continuously.  This IS the reason many women do reconstruct nipples...until the nipple is done and tatooed, it  doesn't really look like a breast.  Yes, the mound is there.  Yes, it fills out the darts on your blouses (which is why I want reconstruction) but they do NOT look normal.  Adding the nipple does give the illusion of normalcy.

Or opting for no reconstruction, just 3D tatooing...

No nipple reconstruction...3D tatooing only  :)  Fooled ya didn't it?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Personal Observation

I know I'm a little weird and sometimes the strangest things enter my mind.

I have tried to increase my intake of water through the day.  Invariably this results in a full bladder with urgent need to get to the bathroom.  In the middle of the night, I have noticed repetitive dreams that I need to find a bathroom and hurry about it.  But regardless of how many bathrooms I find (or don't find) my dream self is thwarted by the ever increasing hysteria to find a bathroom and empty the bladder.

Then I wake up to find I have a very full bladder and I gimp to the bathroom to take care of the business.

Last night, I awoke.  I felt the obvious need to go to the bathroom so I got up and headed to the bathroom.  In the midst of relieving my tension I had the thought..."Wait!  What if I'm dreaming I got up and walked to the bathroom but I'm really still asleep in the bed!?!  Does that mean I'm actually wetting the bed?"  And the weird thing is I stay there a moment contemplating whether my trip to the bathroom is really happening or if it is another dream.

I know.  That's all for now.

Fireworks 2011 Just because I like it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Truth About Solitaire

My Father used to tell us a truth about solitaire.

He claimed if you were ever lost anywhere....just sit down and start to play solitaire.

Someone will show up to tell you where to go next.

In this case, my niece Amy is getting help from her buddy Tigger.

He is apparently quite skilled at showing her which move to make next.  ;)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mother's Day

Thirty four years of marriage.

It's was probably only 6 months after we married that we decided to stop using preventative measures against pregnancy.  Not anxious to have a child at the point, but we were willing to.

Three years later, despite our most ardent efforts *grinning* we were still childless and we were becoming anxious.  I concluded...something was wrong.

I spent hours at the library, (this was before the internet took off) for sure.  I read and pored over books.  I taught myself how to read fertility signs.  I learned how to chart them and dutifully took my basal body temp every morning with an aching bladder, impatiently waiting for the 2 minutes to be up.

I learned I did not have fertile times.  I did not ovulate.

It would be a couple more years before finding a doctor who was willing to help us conceive.  We were active duty military at the time, and for the first few years I got the same attitude from military doctors.  They were callous and disinterestd in propogating more "military brats."

It was at 6 years that we were stationed in Mayport Fl where military spouses (me) had to use civilian medical, paid by CHAMPUS.  There a doctor diagnosed...polycystic ovarian syndrome.  I was correct.  I was not ovulating.  But he held out hope...fertility meds that were inducing ovulation in women like me.

So I started.  Month after month of blistering hot flashes, wild mood swings, scheduled sex and periods.  Lots and lots of periods.  I suffered the humiliaton of exams and giving the doctor my temp and sex charts...embarrassment of having someone comment on how often you are having sex.

Every month I flushed my hope away with a heavy heart.  Year Six, I skipped Mother's Day at church.  I couldn't face the celebrations with empty arms.

In the fall of 1986, I had a positive pregnancy test and how we rejoiced.  But weeks later, we grieved that loss.  My heart was broke and I determined that God did not want me to have the desire of my heart.  He did not want me to be happy.  I did not trust him.

That Spring of 1987, both of us skipped Mother's Day celebrations and went on a day trip.  Anything to keep from hearing the happy voices around us.  That year, I flew home to spend a month for a sister's wedding.  I was home with my father for Father's Day, numbing the pain of not successfully giving my husband a ticket to the day.

Unknown to us, this would be a turning point.  I had determined...I was stopping.  No more charts.  No more temps.   I didn't have the heart for it right now.  I was just going to love my husband and be done with this torture and repeated failure.

I got pregnant.

It wasn't an easy pregnancy...threatened miscarriage, hypertension, pre-eclampsia and diabetes all threatened the life I carried.  I lived in fear that I would wake up one day and it would be over again.  I spent 7 months on bedrest, living on my left side to give my child the best blood flow.

Then one morning in Feb 1988, it happened.

 I had my Mother's Day

Friday, May 10, 2013

Massacre at Crest Ave

It was in the still wee hours that I heard my husband call out, "Hon, we have an ant invasion going on in here."

I think I snorted something and shifted deeper into my pillow.  An ant invasion is not enough to bring me up out of the sheets.  Maybe if they were crawling on me....that gives me the willies.  But knowing they were somewhere in the house...well as long as they aren't in my bed, I'm okay.  If he had said MICE!  I would have scurried up screaming.  You can't trust mice to stay where they are.

I got up about 3 hours after he left for work.  I got my coffee, started dressing and went to the bathroom to wash up.

Along one wall, I saw the "ant invasion" he spoke of.  Nasty.  I swear it was hundreds of ants.  Ants going nuts, crawling in weird circles on the wall. It maybe have been funny if I wasn't so busy shuddering at the sight.

Others were in crazy lines leading from the floor to... my medicine cabinet?

I opened the door to seee what drew them into a medicine cabinet.

They were swarming over an empty bottle of my "big guns" cough syrup.  The kind with hydrocodone and high powered anti-histamines...that would explain the crazy ant circles on the wall.  They were gorked out of their pinhead brains.  There was just enough syrup around the bottom of the cap for them to feast upon.

So I retrieved my heavy hitting ant poison.  I love this stuff.  It's gross for a while as ants find it and gorge on it.  They carry it back to the nest and share it with everyone else.  Usually within 3 days, my yearly ant invasion is over.  They are no more.

I went back a couple hours later and shuddered again.  I shook as the momentary willies crept over me.  They had found the poison and the nastiness was growing.  I kind of feel bad.  I mean we've heard the children's stories about the ant and the grasshopper.  I wouldn't bother them if they had stayed OUTSIDE.  Unknown to the industrious little critters they were gorging to their death.

Ack.  I get the willies just looking at it.

They are still gorging.  If you think about it for a minute, you can draw your own allegory here about mankind gorging on sin, gorging to our own death.  I threw that in for free because I really just posted this to report the awesomeness of this ant poison.  And if you use it the way they show it on the box?  You get a sticky mess spilling out on your floors, windows or counters.  Put the label side down and do yourself that smal favor.

Meanwhile I continue feeding the ants to death.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rink Ribbons ~ Walmart Says NO to Pink Hair!



Linderlou - I think I'll stick with wearing my pink bracelet on Rosey's behalf. But if that's what you and your DD want to do, go for it.  
abreakfromlife - you should!  it's not like you'll have many other chances to experience a hair-do like that in life!  

Sounds like outrageous fun too! I have considered buying pink hair spray and spraying my scalp for my last chemo tx. Until K pointed out no one would know unless I exposed my head. Well it's to cold to consider that even if I was brave enough.

I guess I could do it to my wig! I'm getting wig catalogues that have cool wigs like that already done...pink or red weaves.  (I DID spray my wig pink for my Oct. 1 chemo and nearly caused a pink riot in the chemo clinic!)

Last weekend my nephew Michael marched in a homecoming parade dressed as a pink fire fighter. He was harassed for being pink (mike is very buff now) until he told them that it was in honor of his aunt Rosey. sniff


I thought I'd hate doing this cancer stuff during October. I friend told me she felt like she couldn't get away from being slapped in the face with reminders. But its giving me an ooo rah spirit! I love hearing pink stories or other things like this. I think my friend was just weird. People I talk to at the cancer center all love it too.

So streak your pink!

Yeah you know Walmart...that place with the really high class general employee base? Lmbo 
(Walmart said no???)    

Monday, May 6, 2013

Yet I Still Believe

I feel like a fraud.

I get to hang out with other bloggers/writer's and women of faith.  They let me hang out with them despite the fact I'm nowhere near the plain they write upon.  One friend today wrote of planting pansies as her goodbye to winter and somehow tied it all up in a tidy spiritual bow.

I can't do that.

I'm not criticizing my friends, I struggle with envying them.  I wish I could think and understand everything I encounter.  I don't.  I suspect that is because my Father and I have years long experience of arm wrestling together.

Raised in faith that taught you to "perform" for God's favor, I still battle and struggle with my faith.  Other bloggers talk about how they LOVE God, and I wrinkle my brow trying to understand.  I feel like a swimmer caught in a riptide...trying to figure a way out of the turmoil

I know that God loves me...want me to quote scripture for you?  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.  Romans 5:8,9

I have the "book learning", I know that God loves me and I finally accepted that truth.  But my truth is that I stand in amazement at His grace, mercy and love for me.  I weep in worship as I consider the effort He expended to knock it into my head that He LOVED me because he created me.  My "performance or holiness" has nothing to do with why He loves me.

But loving him?  Is that the fear of the Lord, awe of his power, or amazement at his grace?  Is that love?  I struggle with this part.  When friends gush on about how good God has been to them.  I understand them in some way.  I mean compared to what I deserve?  God has been good to me.  His grace extends to me regardless of my bad choices, willful disobedience and down right defiance.  Is this how they what they mean "their love for God"?  Should I feel all warm and fuzzy at the concept of loving God, much as I do when loving my husband or my children?  I don't.  I usually weep in gratitude that He did not forsake me and kept trying to reach me.  But I'm not sure this is what everyone else is talking about.

I now try to live in the footsteps of Christ (and fall so short) simply because I found it to be a better life.  I find joy.  I am not trying to repay God for his grace to me, but rather live in gratitude for it.

The fact is that my life has been one stupid, traumatic event after another.  Things that keep knocking me down, leaving me bewildered and confused wondering 'What is going on now?"  And yes, I have asked "Why me?"  When the doctor's told me on the cold exam table, "This is cancer."  My response was an immediate prayer to God, "Come onnnnnnn, haven't I gone through enough?"

Even as I write now, recovered from that cancer experience, I am existing in another state of crisis that shakes my foundation.  My most intense need is that of security, of knowing there's a roof over my head and food on my table.  This crisis shakes that foundation and I'm struggling to hang on to my faith despite it.

I struggle.  I doubt and I question.  What I have discovered is that God is big enough and GREAT enough to handle my fears and insecurities.  I don't have answers.  I don't fold laundry and feel illuminated with some great spiritual truth to share and encourage others.  I'm not struck with Biblical blessing as I carry out the trash.

I feel like a fraud to be part of group of Christian women who write of God's blessings in our lives.  They have incredible stories and experiences they share and it's so inspiring.  Perhaps my purpose is not to provide the spiritual truths, as they do such a good job.

Perhaps, my testimony is that raw hurts have shaped my life.  Yet I still believe.  In fact, some of this pain I have carries with it the reassurance that God loves me.  When I feel sorry for myself and start to complain that every lousy thing that could happen....has happened.  I am struck dumb with the blessings in my life.  It is pointed out to me that not EVERY lousy thing has happened.  I have been blessed with a faithful, loving husband at my side.  I have children who are responsible adults, who honor and love me.  These things are more than some others get to enjoy.   And SHOULD be fears be realized and we one day find ourselves homeless, is it not true that I have said for 34 years...."as long as we are together, it's all good."

My life has not been a charmed life of blessings that flow from one day to the next.  There has been real pain and real struggles here.  Yet still I believe.  Occasionally doubts creep into my thoughts and I stop them because I choose to believe.  When things happen that I can't explain, when I can't see the way through, I will believe.

Then I can smile, and tie a pretty spiritual bow around my life because THAT is my story.

...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   John 20:29 (NIV)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pink Ribbons ~ Cancer and It's Friends

I think there are as many kinds of friends as cancers.  

How we interact and maintenance that friendship depends on how they react to our news.  Example...I expected support from an acquaintance that had experienced cancer herself.  But I found regardless of what I was told, she had it worse, longer or better.  No support, just competition so I flicked her and others like her.

Some friends were cautious and afraid of me.  I was gentle with them.  I didn't give them a lot of details, but they stayed in touch with the vague "how you feeling?"  For them, the answer is fine and I talked about something non-cancer.  I valued them because frankly at this time in my life...it was NICE to have someone who didn't want to talk cancer every moment.  Their questions were usually tentative but I didn't mind.  I explained things if they wanted to learn.  But it was obvious that knowing someone with cancer was scary for them because it made it real that as women they were at risk.  I actually gave them a lot of grace and patience.

Courtesy of Tracy A.

There's those obnoxious friends who told me...Let me know if I can help...as they scurried away.  I quickly learned really meant "Oh God, don't let her ask me to do anything because I'm already a busy soccer mom"  (or other busy work).  I learned to smile, nod and ignore them.  I was disappointed by them but I did NOT waste any expectations on them.

Others meant well and wanted to help, (kind of like infertility advice) some were bossy and manipulative about what I "need to do".  I avoided them and didn't invest anything.  They weren't comfortable with me unless I followed their instructions on how to survive and beat this disease.  We didn't draw closer, but didn't draw apart either.  I moved them to the outside ring of friendship.

Which brings me to the creepy people....the ones who wanted to know every intimate detail... "can I see your bald head?"  "Did you lose your hoo ha hair too?" and "how does it feel to have your breasts cut off?"  While it's okay when very close friends and immediate family ask these things;  I was uncomfortable with friends stopping me in Walmart or in the church lobby to ask for details.  Some people seemed to get some kind of charge in knowing every gory, gross detail.  I was uncomfortable with them....and very cautious.

Then there were the helpless ones...the ones who whine, "I want to help but I just don't know what to do..."  (watch me roll my eyes).  It doesn't take half a brain to drop off a casserole, special treat, books, come vacuum, drop off groceries  but I was astounded by how many times I heard that.  One was my sister...she complained I wouldn't let her do anything for me.  But everything she suggested, required something from me, going out to dinner, going shopping with her, baby sitting her kid, baking her cakes...  Just bring me some yogurt and banana pops and we're good for Pete's sake.  I had to invest a lot of patience with these people.  They mean well but they are totally clueless.

There are other people who surprised me.  Redeemed as gold so to speak.  One bought me a recliner and paid some medical bills because she was financially blessed.  Others stepped up and just encouraged, prayed, brought food, sent cards...they helped me dress my radiation burns, helped me dress for that matter and offered to drive me to appointments.  They crocheted warm caps for me and brought me pretty pink bottles of nail polish because I was afraid of losing my fingernails to chemo. Others were willing to sit with me during appointments.  They mowed my grass and carried out the trash.  Some of these people acted out of pure compassion.  They wanted to know how I REALLY felt, and listened closely.  They chose their ministry to me based on what my greater needs were.  They empathized with my pain and despair but chose to give me encouragement and mercy.  They were golden.  They are priceless.  They have wormed their way into my heart and can't be pried out.

Cancer is one of those events that reveals the true character of someone and their relationship to you.  By the time you are done with treatment, you have figured out who your real friends are.

Becky Edward and Trish Turner celebrating my last day of radiation with me!