Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I am up at this God-forsaken hour of the night/morning (about 2 am CST) because I am just not falling asleep. So I carefully slid out of bed and hooked up the laptop, ready to share my thoughts. And guessing that many of you are not wanting to read them, based on the last several posts.

If I didn't know any better, I would think that I am on some kind of "happy" pills. I do feel pretty good (health-wise, which might mean that my body is fixin' to betray me again), and that may be because my hemoglobin count is up a bit. Based on the fact that both chemo and bleeding lowered my red cell count, I was advised to eat certain foods (none that I really like) plus take iron pills. Iron supplements have the charming side effect of constipation. Hmmm... didn't I go thru THAT stuff when I had to take painkillers following surgery? So not anxious to gobble iron. However, L had some of them, and the dose said 300% + on the bottle. I used a pill splitter to halve them and have been taking one half-pill daily or every other day. Plus we put some steaks on the grill tonight and that probably amped up my iron a bit, too.

Pretty much have made up my mind to get most of my hair cut off today (it is already Wednesday) or tomorrow. I am tired of having big gobfuls (trust me, this is NOT an exaggeration) falling out everywhere - jackets, on my gloves, on countertops, etc. And I am guessing that I will cry. And freeze. And feel even less feminine.

Enjoying a cup of gingerbread tea, which I recently purchased. Celestial Seasoning puts this out (a "seasonal" tea), and it is pretty tasty.

I have received several nice cards, some holiday, some not, with words of encouragement from folks in the rv park in the Tampa area. Some are NOT all that close to me or to L, and yet they took the time to write some nice things. I was very touched by each one.

Well, dang it -- I wish sleep would come! Had a wonderfully, deep and long sleep Monday night. And then tonight... after laying there for quite a period of time, no ZZZ's seemed to be in the cards for me.

But anyway... hope you are encouraged that I finally posted a bit of a brighter blog tonight. Next Wednesday is chemo #2. Wondering if I will have the same side effects or if new ones will be added. Not fun to look forward to. But hoping that the end result is that my life is saved.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Down, down days

Damn. I wish this was a an upbeat post. It is so, so difficult to be "up" when your hair is falling out by the handsful. This is NOT an exaggeration. I have been told that I will be bald by the time chemo # 2 starts (Jan. 4th), and the body is trying hard to make that schedule.

I KNOW that I am not the first woman to go thru this. That does not mean that I have to embrace it. Hair is so important to a woman, as it is the image she presents to the world. It means her femininity. I have always tried to make sure my hair is attractive and clean, but I don't over-fuss with it (no hairspray, for example).

I have a friend in Texas who has been very supportive of me. She herself went through breast cancer over 4 years ago, and was successfully treated with chemo from May through September. She did not experience radiation. She said she lost her hair - head, eyebrows and eyelashes. I forgot to ask her about body hair. I am losing that, too. So now I will get to experience looking like an ageing porn star. Just what every woman in my age bracket wants.

Another side effect, chipping away at my femininity. I don't know if I will ever feel "sexy", attractive or feminine again. This saddens me greatly. So it hasn't been a great day (again).

I recently purchased a wig, knowing that this was going to come. And brought it to a very understanding, empathetic hairdresser. She was so nice, so supportive. She said that when it comes time to trim my few remaining hairs (my words, not hers), she will do it in any setting where I would feel comfortable, including a private room at the salon.

And one of the nurses who does my INR (blood "thinner" tests) at the local clinic was so supportive, also, today. Her husband went thru some very harrowing chemo and bone marrow transplant (his own marrow) years ago. So she has been very close to a loved one who has experienced some of this. Yes, a different gender, but she KNOWS that this is a bitch to experience.

By the way, we had a good Christmas Eve. Spent several hours in the afternoon with my sister, her s.o., and her son, daughter-in-law, two grandkids, her daughter, our mother and of course, L. After this gathering, we drove to L's daughter's place and spent the rest of the evening with his family. We ended the evening at a 10 pm church service. A very long day for me, but the two gatherings were very nice, very loving.

You will all have to bear with me. My emotions are very close to the surface and I am told that my lowered hemoglobin can be responsible for depression as well as me not being able to tolerate the cold.

Thanks to those who continue to struggle thru this with me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Non-eventful week?

Warning: this is not an upbeat post.

Dear God, I know that you cannot give me what I most desire for Christmas, my health. So I am aiming for a little easier-attainable goal.

Could you please give me a week or so, WITHOUT complications?

I had my first chemo Dec. 13th. And I felt pretty good about the whole thing, considering: that I experienced male-symptom heart attack symptoms about 20 minutes after the introduction of the first chemo drug. Yes. It felt like ye olde Mack Truck sitting on my sternum (breast bone). My partner flagged down a nurse, telling her that "we need HELP here". The young gal apparently thought he was kidding or overreacting? Then my gluteus max muscles knotted and constricted, very painfully (I don't cry easily folks), enough to bring me to tears. L went looking for "my" nurse, and she practically ran to the side of my chair. (Didja know they give you chemo in a recliner-style chair?) And stopped the chemo. And asked very pointed questions about the level of pain, location of pain, etc.

She started me on a heavier-dose of Benadryl-style drug(s), which made me sound as though I was auditioning for an understudy role for Foster Brooks (an old-time comedian, who sounded like someone genuinely inebriated). And then she resumed the chemo, but at a much slower drip-rate. Plus still had to administer the second drug. So the expected 5 hours was about 6.5 hrs. Sigh.

But I felt pretty good, and we even went to dinner following this incident. Even had a beer, just like "real" people are known to do.

Returned to Duluth on the 14th, still doing pretty well.

Yeah, dumb me. Expected this would last. On the 16th, I started bleeding. Spent Friday night on the futon, which L had draped with a plastic tarp and then an old towel over that. When I was still bleeding Sat. morning, we went to the emergency room. After tests (don't want to go into details), I was admitted to the hospital, where I spent a restless night on one of those little crib-sized beds. The only good thing I can say about that evening is that L picked up a pizza that we shared. Food of the gods...

Finally begged and pleaded for a release Sunday morning. The wonderful female gyn who had hospital duty Saturday/Sunday said she wanted to see me today (this afternoon). I was glad that she was on duty, for I am switching to her (from the male doc that I never really "warmed up" to). One good thing that came out of this.

Dropped a couple of more pounds (hospital food SUCKS) by Sunday morning, so I am on a "junk food" diet until my weight stabilizes. Any excuse to eat ice cream, chocolate, steak, mmm....

And so it goes...

Oh, folks: please stop telling me that attitude is everything, that I am strong, that I will get thru this, that "it's only hair". When YOU are yourself experiencing this, then I give you leave to make these statements. So far, all a "positive" attitude has gotten me, is another "downturn". So (pardon my language) piss on that positive attitude shit. It is hard enough to be upbeat about where my life has headed. So please, PLEASE back off.

Christmas Eve in two days, and I hope I will be around for yet another one next year. Should we put that on a "board" and everyone can take chances? Not a positive week, can you tell?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Round 1 of chemo

So here's the update. We drove to the Mpls. area Monday night, to be there for the 10 am chemo appointment on Tuesday. We stayed at the Hope Lodge, a facility sponsored by and staffed by the American Cancer Society. Most of us are familiar with the Ronald McDonald houses, for families with children. But Hope Lodge is for adults only. This particular one has 40 rooms on two upper level floors, and the ground floor is for shared dining rooms and kitchen areas. You may bring food and refrigerate it there during your stay, and you may avail yourself of stoves and cooking pots and so on. Very nice, very clean, and completely free of charge to the patient and caregiver. This location was originally funded by the Richard Schulze family (he heads up Best Buy), with matching contributions from others throughout the community. His wife died from mesothelioma. As we so often find out, money cannot buy a cure, nor even (in some cases) a timely diagnosis.

The Lodge is on the shuttle run that goes to several of the hospitals and clinics, so that also cut down on expenses (parking ramp). By the time they had the IV in me (thankfully, I did not require a port), it was about 10:30. The first drug was an anti-nausea one (should help for a few days, I am told), and also some light-weight Benadryl-type drug. Then the fist chemo drug, Taxil (Taxol?). About 20 minutes after that started, I had a classic male-symptom of a heart attack. Felt like a large truck had parked in the middle of my sternum. Lloyd flagged down a nurse (not the nurse who was assigned to monitor me) and said that we needed help NOW. Apparently this nurse did not think it was urgent. Then I had additional side effects, severe, SEVERE cramps in my gluteus max (both sides, and I am talking pain on the level of 8 out of 10). Now I am crying. Lloyd finally tracked down "my" nurse, who practically ran to my side. She immediately stopped the chemo and asked very specific questions about what else hurt, degree of pain, etc. She ramped up the Benadryl (making me pretty fumble-mouthed and sleepy), then resumed chemo drug #1 at a much slower rate. Thankfully, the second chemo drug, Carbo, did not have any apparent side effects. But that one will take my hair away. The infusion was slated for about 5 hrs, but due to the stoppage and then re-starting @ a slower rate, it was about 7.5 hrs.

So now I have one session finished. We "celebrated" by going to Susie's Psycho Bar and Grill, up in Northeast Mpls. I had seen this place several years ago on the Food Channel's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It was okay. I was just glad to have an appetite. Had a beer and felt like a "real" person.

Wednesday, on our way out of town, we stopped at a Macy's store (none are up in Duluth), so that I could buy some lingerie. Also picked up some caps that I'll probably want to have for the next year or longer. Apparently, even after everything has halted (chemo and radiation), it takes forever to get ANY hair back.

The nurse told me that Friday will probably be my worst day for nausea. So I hope that means that I will NOT be nauseated the entire time that I am having treatment. Oh, and then there's the diarrhea that comes with chemo, too. Should be some fun holiday gatherings, as I'll have to make sure that I know where every bathroom is located. "Where's Jess???" Guess they will always know where to look, first.

Bought a wig that was amazingly close to my hair color, and I'll have a local hairdresser trim it closer to my own length. I will probably buy one or two other "partial" wigs, which show around the edges of caps and hats. And a soft cap to protect my head, which I am told will be VERY sensitive. In a week or two, L will clip my hair off. I am sure there will be tears associated that.

Knowing 2 people that have gone through treatments, who are willing to share their experiences with me and answer questions, is so SO helpful. I hope that I can also be supportive to someone in the future.

That's it, folks. Lots of emotions that I cannot even begin to share. Thanks for caring enough to read from time to time.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Went to find any support blogs, those kind written by women who have "been there, done that". It's the same method that helped me find other women who had lost their spouses when they were NOT elderly. In the long run, it was very helpful to me following Greg's death.

So, I found one website, which split off the testimonials by cancer types. Helpful, you would think. However, some of what I read (by those whose experiences were several years back) was truly frightening. And so I will have a LOT more questions, specifically in the area of radiation. One woman was horribly blackened during these treatments (it was painful, to the point of tears, for her to urinate and defecate). She did not have chemo, btw. So not sure how to interpret that one. More than one of those mentioned digestive (bowel) problems that did NOT resolve itself fully after treatment. More scary stuff. The woman who had only the radiation, was scarred so badly that she can no longer have sex. Whoa, let's address THIS issue NOW. I am sexually active and I want to continue that.

The worse statistic was when I went looking for prognosis. Should never have done that. More than one site quoted only a 47% chance of survival at the 5-yr mark, for those with my stage 3C cancer. So tell me again - WHY should I go thru all of this misery? More questions... more sadness.

Peace to all at this holiday season. A lighted Christmas tree brings a little bit of sparkle to my life... thanks, sweetie, for cutting a real tree. The first one I've had the pleasure of enjoying for years and years.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Too tough to handle

Well, my life has taken its usual turn into the toilet.

I start chemo next Tuesday, 3 sessions, 21 days apart. Then 21 days after the 3rd session, 5 weeks of radiation, every weekday, weekends off. (cause to celebrate, yes?). Then resume chemo, 3 more sessions. That effectively screws me for the next 6 + months.

Bald and freezing in this frostbitten part of the country. Lowered white cell count (hello, infections), lowered red cell count (hello, fatigue and anemia), disappearance of all body hair. As if the very treatments are not enough, I will spare you (for now) the other probable side effects.

Had to order a wig and pay extra for the expedited shipping. Otherwise, it will not be here soon enough to insulate my bald head. And a cap to just wear around the house and to sleep in. Homes are pretty cool during the winters up here, and if I am too cold, I awaken and shiver. Already bought myself an electric throw (smaller than an electric blanket - just need enough to cover ME). And I regularly sleep with sox on (don't like to be cold AT ALL).

I am angry -- so SO angry. I wish God would find another Job. This particular one wants so badly to resign from the position that she did NOT sign up for. I thought I cried a lot when my husband died. That is nothing, compared to the tears I am shedding so frequently now.

I know that I will be the subject of gossip, although people who DO talk about these kinds of things, just do not see it that way. I have a few CLOSE friends that I do and will talk with. But those phone calls about "how are you doing?" just do not fly. If you can't be supportive and genuinely mean it, don't bother. Don't tell me what has worked for you (unless you have gone thru these treatments). A very nice acquaintance recently contacted me via e-mail. She went thru chemo for breast cancer several years ago and has already mentioned some good things to me.

The septic-system guy told her that someone undergoing chemo can "kill" a septic system. Huh. Poison for me, poison for someone's septic system when I visit 'em. If it was warm outside, I would volunteer to pee outside. But it isn't, so I won't.

Every time I brush my hair, or wash or comb it, or dig it out of the collar of my winter jacket, I remind myself that I won't be doing this much longer. And I am sad. Hair is so much of what a woman perceives herself to be. Those who remark that "it's only hair" (said by those who have NOT had this wonderful experience) - you can take a flying (fill in the blank). This is not comforting to tell anyone, and especially not to tell a woman. I will spend the next 6 + months feeling and looking absolutely crummy. Trying to eat when there is no appetite, trying to sleep when I am absolutely exhausted yet too miserable to nap, trying to keep warm when my body weight is still not that great, trying to avoid infections (yeah, no one ever coughs or sneezes in this wintry area), trying to get things done when the energy level is down.

My friend (who lives in Texas' Hill Country) told me that Robin Roberts (an ABC news person) merrily went about her "usual" life while dealing with breast cancer. And this friend told me that she discovered that Ms. Roberts was able to do this because she could afford a drug that costs $6,000 dollars and which really beefs up ones energy level. My friend was not that fortunate. Finally, towards the end of her treatment and with her blood counts very, VERY low, she had this drug and realized how nice it would have been, if she could have afforded it all along. There is no justice, no mercy, no equality, where cancer is concerned.

I have some photos of myself with hair. I had them taken, so that I can go into the hairdresser with my wig (delivery next week) and have it trimmed into a reasonable resemblance of my "old" look. When my head is shaved (probably the week after next), I hope to be able to be brave enough to have photos taken and to post them, too. But no promises.

Well, I have probably written a depressing blog that most will not want to read. But it IS my blog, and for me it is a public journal. My life goes on, but I am no so sure that I want it to. Too tough... I will break soon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Feeling much better!

At last... an upbeat-sounding post. Betcha thought I was never going to write one again, but you were wro-o-o-n-n-g...

Feeling so, so SO much better. And what a relief. I don't think I ever copped to the fact of just HOW much weight I had (thankfully, only temporarily) gained. But is was 14 pounds, readers! A lotta fluid to pack onto my 5'3" frame. I went into this at 111 pounds and emerged at 125. So you can see just why NOTHING fit me. And this extra weight was from my lower rib cage level into my mid-thighs. Not pretty. I had to quickly pick up some medium-sized sweats, 2 pairs, just to get me through. And even then, they were extremely uncomfortable, because they have tie-string tops, and if they are not cinched up a wee bit, you might be exposing your underlovelies to the general public. And my poor gut was so, SO sore, that even having clothing touching it, was not a pleasant experience.

And that giving up on the painkillers? Not such a good idea. The pain was so bad that it made me nauseous, which brought its own set of unpleasant side effects, like NO appetite. And I knew that I needed to eat, in order to help my body heal. So I went back on the painkillers, sparingly, even slicing some of 'em in half. And that was an improvement, as my appetite returned. Unfortunately, so did that ol' evil side effect, so I resorted to some over-the-counter stuff to relieve that. Ugh. Those things are in and of themselves, evil personified. Caused awful cramps and made me afraid to be too far away from a restroom.

Before I forget, I would like to give credit to a wonderful nurse, J, at the Hermantown clinic, where I have my INR tests performed. (That's a test to ensure that the blood-clotting factor is at an acceptable range, for one who has an artificial heart valve.) She was the one who suggested that the PAIN might be causing my awful nausea, and I do believe she hit the nail on the head. She told me this on Nov. 21st (Monday), and she also gave me the GREAT news on that day, that my INR tests showed that I could discontinue the lovenox shots in my gut, my poor, puffy, super-sensitive gut. A wonderful day, that Monday was!

My abdomen was ultra-sensitive to touch, and I think this might be attributed to some internal healing trying to occur. The skin's surface felt like it would, if I had had a severe burn - like raw, exposed nerve endings. I guess, with everything that was removed plus all the rest that was biopsied and moved, there must be a lot that needs healing. I am happy to report that the feeling is closer to normal, and that says a LOT for me.

Now I still have some awful, awful purple bruising along my right side and heavily down that same thigh. And the left thigh was never quite that purple, although it did have some gravitational bruising down the back of that thigh. Plus the cocyx area (tailbone area) has a large purple bruise which did not show until days and days after surgery. All of this bruising is, no doubt, caused by the blood "thinners" that I have to take. And even though I had to reduce that drug before the surgery, it was still necessary to have some of that in my system, so that I did not have a stroke nor throw a blood clot to my heart or lungs. Modern medicine - ain't it grand?

So I am upright, taking nourishment and going forward. Still have NOT heard any results on the post-operative lab tests, and I guess they will let me know what those say this coming Monday, when I go for my post-surgical follow-up. I can only hope and pray that these results say that everything is okay. But one day at a time, as they say.

A special thanks to my high school friend, P, who gifted me with some EXCELLENT chocolates while I was still in hospital. When my appetite returned, I finally felt like tasting them. They are WONDERFUL, especially the spicy ones!! Love, LOVE, LOVE them! Thanks a bunch.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Home now...

Briefly (because I am not up to par and energy's lagging)...

Yes, I am back home. Surgery went well (as far as I know). Recovery was another story. My body apparently was enamored with the anesthesia and didn't want to emerge from that little slumber. And even then, once the intubation tube was removed, I slipped below the normal blood pressure range. I was flooded with additional fluid to help my heart have some volume to pump and thus keep my bp up. I was in recovery longer than I was in surgery, over 4 hours. My sis and her guy R were finally allowed in to see me and tell me that I was virtually unrecognizable. My face was very puffy, including my eyes, and they had to assume that I was who the staff claimed I was. I think that was about 9:30 pm. They wheeled me down the hall to surgery about 2:20.

Sis tells me that the staff kept them very well informed. And the surgeon chatted with them about 20 minutes, as I was being prepped after surgery to head for recovery.

The release time was probably less than 24 hrs following surgery, and we stopped at the hospital pharmacy for meds and then homeward bound.

I stayed at my sis's (actually at her guy's place, where she resides) until late this morning, when I asked them to bring me back to my place. So here I am. Low energy, low appetite.

Have pulled myself off the prescription painkillers, as I am suffering the extreme constipation that is a known side effect. Ugh. Not fun. But the pain is NOT taken care of by the acetaminophen (tylenol) arthritis strength. I may give in and take a narcotic to allow myself a better night, sleep wise.

I am very, VERY bruised and swollen and tender. Swollen beyond my expectations. My "loose" pajama bottoms are NOT loose. Hoping this resolves itself fairly quickly. I will have to go out in public in pj bottoms, something that I am NOT looking forward to. I want my body back!

Okay. Energy's waning, so that's it for now. Hope to catch y'all up in a few days.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lunches and coffee and injections...

Life moves onward...

So I had that little song-and-dance on Thursday to instruct me on injecting the lovenox (pronounced LOW-ven-ox) into myself. This is the "bridge" drug which will give me a different drug to "thin" my blood, hopefully preventing blood clots without causing additional bleeding, both during and after surgery. And as of Thursday night, I discontinued the pills (warfarin) and this morning gave myself my first injection. Not as bad as I thought it might be, but already have a round purple spot from shot #1. That was on my right side, and tonight's (I just completed it) on the left side. The injections must be at least 2 inches from my belly button. It doesn't make me dizzy to do this, but it does smart a bit. I was told to get a "sharps" container to put the discarded syringes in, so I did this. But the darned syringe wouldn't fit through the drop-in spot! The plunger is bigger than the drop-in slot allows. ...the syringe has a shield that drops over the needle after you finish with it, which protects the needle portion. I have been deploying this shield and, for now, just gathering the discarded syringes. I think I will drop off the discarded syringes (what I will have accumulated up til then) at the clinic Monday morning.

Have been trying to figure out if I can snap a photo of me giving myself the injection, but since I need TWO hands to do this (one to pinch up a bit of fatty tissue and the other to stick the needle into the tissue and hold and push the plunger in), you are safe. I don't have a third hand to work the camera. Maybe I can convince my sister to snap one after the surgery!

Had a wonderful lunch yesterday (Friday) with S, a friend from my high school years. A wonderful, warm and supportive friend. She is (and has been for years) a nurse and sometimes gives me explanations on questions I have about procedures. I always feel better after spending time with her. We were apart for years, doing our own things and (in her case) raising a family. Now we live about 30 minutes apart and find we still like spending time together.

ANNNNDDD... I had a "coffee date" on Friday afternoon. Very nice guy and we chatted for about an hour-and-a-half or so. I thought it went pretty well. He lost his wife nearly 2 years ago. We talked about a few people that we (or others) have encountered on these dating services. Old photos (a guy with a BIG belly that was not in his photos), a woman who immediately tried to dictate (telling the man that he should get rid of his motorcycle because SHE thought they were too dangerous), a woman with a live-in boyfriend when she had claimed to be "single", and so on. Nothing dramatic, but some have amusing stories that flesh them out. And those tidbits make you want to be cautious. If I had dated L before he put the "big rush" on me, I probably would never have been in a relationship with him. Seeing someone "on stage" for a few times does help to bring out traits that you may or may not be able to accept.

Tomorrow I have a lunch date with another guy! In his profile, he seemed to have a very good sense of humor, and I like that in a man. The old saying says, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you will meet your prince." So here I go again...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mini update

Finally "caught a break" yesterday. I had been dreaded the financial impact of the cost of a drug that I must self-administer before my surgery.

Little background: I have an artificial heart valve, due to scar tissue on one of my heart valves from rheumatic fever and subsequent strep infections. My valve was not doing its job, so it was replaced in 1992. I must take daily doses of coumadin/warfarin, which keeps my blood a little "thinner" than most, so that the body will not respond to this artificial device by forming protective blood clots, in an attempt to "heal" around the valve. I always thought my valve would be an eventual health problem, but this time it is playing a significant challenge in my pre-op instead. I must give myself shots in my gut, twice a day, for 3 days prior to surgery (next Monday is day #1 of this "fun"), plus an unknown number of days after surgery. This drug will "bridge" me to a lower blood-thinning level, one that should protect my heart from blood clots. My poor gut will be sore post-surgery, and I have to stick needles in that post-surgical gut. I can hardly wait.

To top all of this off, the drug is VERY expensive, folks. I had been dreading the portion that I would have to pay for this drug, as my insurer seems to call everything a "deductible". This drug, 20 doses, runs over $1000. I do not have that much extra cash -- and truly, how many DO? Yesterday I stopped at Sam's Club and the pharmacist informed me that I would be paying only $20. Finally, a bit of a break.

Tomorrow, I will have a chest x-ray just before the nurse instructs me on how to do self-sticking. Oh, joy.

Apparently I have the "worst" option of artificial heart valves: the mitral valve can be harder to monitor (for blood thinning) and if the clotting factor is too low, I can throw a blood clot too easily (a stroke); but if the clotting is too high (or thin), I can have internal bleeding which is not a good thing. I had 11 units of blood due to internal bleeding post-surgery, when this valve was put in, 19 years ago.

So, my friends, I hope I have very few complications during or after this surgery. Ideally, I would prefer that the cancer is contained, and that the bleeding or clotting is controlled as much as is possible. I will try to update you following surgery, but that will probably not be for several days.

MORE GOOD NEWS: My surgery date has been moved up! I received a phone call about 30 minutes ago from M, who is the surgical scheduler at the U. Because the surgeon has SUCH a heavy schedule on the 17th (her last patient has a 7 pm surgery time!), one of those patients was offered an alternate, earlier date of the 15th. And bless M, she phoned ME first and gave me this option. I phoned my sis (who along with her guy R) who will be bringing me to Minneapolis for this surgery. Had to leave her a message (they were shopping) and was just starting to key in a text to her, when she returned my phone call and gave me the go-ahead for the earlier date. Can you imagine? TWO pieces of good news. Can I hope for more??!!

Thanks for putting up with my whining! I think I have two "faithful" readers -- or at least two who occasionally post comments. All comments welcome, and thanks to those who "lurk" but do not comment.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A date with ??

I have now been "scheduled" for my surgery. It's for the Thursday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 17th. Naturally, I have a late-in-the-day slot, which I am sure means that I will be logging not ONE, but TWO nights in the hospital. I do not tolerate hospitals and their routines well, with the insistence of the staff on popping in to do "vitals" just minutes after you have managed to squeak out a moment of sleep, in spite of the constant noise just outside your door.

The surgery will be at the U of M (Minnesota), where there is a good-sized staff that specializes in gynecological oncology.

And I want to be anywhere, ANYWHERE but here, anywhere FUN and worry-free. Instead, I can now add cancer to my list of pre-existing conditions. Too young for Medicare/Medicaid, I can only hope that my insurance will cover a fair amount of the expense. I have already heard that "you can't put a price on health" (try telling that to a health insurer and to my fixed income); that "you are strong, you'll get through this" (heard that when my husband died, too -- folks, you need a new catch-phrase). I cry too easily now, but always when I am alone. I was able to plow on, after Greg died. But this... this is just TOO MUCH for me.

'Bye for now. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Me and the big C

Well, folks, this is becoming very REAL to me. I have been scheduled for a "consult" at the U of MN in the Women's Health Center. Today, a phone call informed me that this will be a 2 to 4 hour appointment. Sobering thought, all that time for who-knows-what.

I wish I had someone's hand to hold through all of this. A none-judgmental warm and caring person. I feel so alone, so lonely. I have been a major support of my late husband through all of his many health issues, and then for my (former) guy-friend through several of his health treatments and issues. And my thanks is: a major, MAJOR health crisis that I will have to go through all by myself. Yes, I have family, my sister and my mother. But it's not the kind of support who can be by my side, to give me a shoulder to cry or sob on, to help me work out my fears. But this is not to be...

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shine a little light...

Oh, how much more optimistic I feel today. And ONE person is responsible for this.

Yesterday (Thursday) and even Wednesday evening, I tossed out a wide net, making phone calls to several family/friends in the healthcare industry, specifically one physicians' assistant and two nurses, all based in the Twin Cities area. My statement to all, after stating my diagnosis, was to ask them if they had any contacts in the gyn/oncology practices in that region.

And the replies basically confirmed what the gyn doc up here had mentioned, in his lovely mid-dinner over-the-phone diagnosis. The best place is at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus.

But... BUT the very BEST phone call came from the wife of my late hubby's cousin C. That's the cousin's initial, but the call was from his wife, initial B. What a WELCOME call. B went thru this very same thing herself 6 years ago, and I did not even know about it. The fact that she herself has the nursing background, plus that she used another large medical practice (not the U) based in the Cities, was a wonderful light in that dark tunnel that the doc's phone call had me in. Night and day, describes my feelings. To echo a cliche, someone who has walked a mile (and THEN some) in my shoes. And to be fair, she said that either the U or this alternate practice would be good choices for me to use.

So, friends and readers, my mood has turned completely around. Pooh on the diagnosis, hooray for those who have experienced this themselves and will SHARE what they went thru. I feel hopeful, not helpless. Thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, B!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Write about what you know best

Well, that's the "theme" of this particular post. I am feeling very down and you, my dear readers (are there any of you out there anymore?) will get to share my journey into the dumps.

Yesterday I received a phone call from my doc giving me the diagnosis that no woman wants to hear: uterine cancer, as showed up in the tissues that were reviewed from my SECOND round of internal biopsies/D & C. He says it is stage 1, which is, I know, the "lightest" version of cancer. Please don't tell me that I am "lucky", because I do not feel lucky at this particular moment in my life.

Furthermore, my relationship which had been on and off and is finally OFF for good, was maybe not the best one. But it did involve someone that would probably have been by my side. And so I do not have a pair of arms to wrap around me, to hug me, hold me, let me cry on him. So, SO lonely, so lonesome.

I have been told that there are women who HAVE someone in their lives that will NOT do the above, and I feel sorry for them. But right now I am too busy selfishly feeling sorry for myself.

And I had just recently been wading into the world of online dating, without much success, I acknowledge. But feeling positive about the possibilities... Anyone have a guy who wants a gal in MY situation? Yes, I thought not.

I have been told to "put on a mask" and smile, so people will think what a strong woman I am. You know, I got REAL tired of that shit after sudden widowhood. Ask how many widows want to go thru life wearing that mask, just so OTHER people will feel good. What does it get YOU (in this case, ME)?

Sorry, but I think I warned you... I need to throw myself this pity party. It has not even been 24 hrs since I got that phone call. Please allow me a chance to grieve once again. I carried forward with my blog after Greg died, and IF I make it thru this, then maybe someone will benefit from my agony. Or else I will have to leave someone my blog password and ask them to post the final update...

On the positive side: my mammogram was good, and my cardiologist gave me a 2-yr return visit date. So above the waist, good. Below, not so good.

Some people tell widows, as well as those in my situation, that "God doesn't give you anymore that you can bear". Well, I am official proof that this is NOT the case. I am breaking right now... splintering, even as I type.

I feel stupid, sitting at the keyboard in tears. And I don't want to cry only in the shower, as I did following Greg's death. I want to be acknowledged, that I have a right to cry, to grieve. And I hope to come back to a positive attitude, as I do NOT want to drag myself down. Oh, and then when YOU get this diagnosis, you can tell me how perky and smiley you are. And I will KNOW that you are either on some mood-altering drugs and/or alcohol.

I have family and friends in the medical profession, and they are confirming what my doc mentioned in passing: that the best treatment in this state for my situation, is at the gyn/oncology dept. @ the U of MN in Minneapolis. I just hope that appointments are available soon. Let's go ahead and do what needs to get done.

So that's it, folks. My sad, pitiful situation. Lucky, that's me, for sure. Updates will probably follow... I am sure I will smile once again... and it will probably be a very PHONY smile. Check out my eyes - if the mouth is smiling and the eyes are not, then it's a definite paste-on smile. Not me, just a mask. And not fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just a brief suggestion...

If you have EVER had self-esteem problems of any kind, you might want to read this woman's blog. She lost her husband about 6 months before Greg died, and I somehow found her blog on-line (of course, where ELSE would I have found it?). She has been very open about sharing her highs AND lows.

Anyway, even if you haven't lost a spouse, but occasionally read my blog, give her current post a try.


Janine's blog

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh, so bad...

I just don't know what happened to me. Lost the "big Mo" or something like that. My apologies to any (are there any?) faithful readers.

Before I go on, let me mention something that has been requested of me. This seems like a worthy cause, so if you are in the region that this covers (appears to be the northeastern part of the U.S), please consider hosting a child or children. I never went to summer camp, but grew up in a small town and had exposure to the outdoors a-plenty. But for an inner-city child, this might be a dream come true. Please note that it appears this takes place in EARLY July, so time is of the essence. Thank you for considering this.

On a positive, slightly personal note... my life is, once more, back to the previous mode, only a bit better. Without trying to sound mysterious, it was a personal thing and I believe that things are going well, looking UP, and I am more optimistic. And then I will drop this subject.

Getting tired of the cooler/colder weather that keeps rearing its ugly head up here in Da Nord Country. Not even reaching 60 degrees today, folks. My friends in Texas would probably like relief from the sweltering or scorching heat they are experiencing, but I doubt that they would like THIS weather.

The lupines are flowering along the dirt road from my guys' house. Mostly seem to be the purple/violet shades, with a handful of white ones. And lilacs are in bloom in the area, too. I always missed lilacs, all the time I lived in Texas. The only time I encountered lilacs during that time, was on a trip to London in May in the mid-90's. First I smelled them, then followed my nose to the source. In a public park - I think it may have been Hyde Park. Isn't that the one that has the Speaker's Corner? But then again, some years have intervened and my memory isn't all THAT trustworthy.

So, once again, apologies to any readers. I will try harder to post, honestly, I will. Hugs to all...

Monday, April 25, 2011

A worthy video!

I know that I have not posted in SO long a time, that folks may have thought they had perhaps missed my obituary. Not so...

A friend was "conversing" on Facebook yesterday, and a friend of hers recommended this video for her. I had immediate need for this subject... and so I googled the speaker and found and watched the video.

Excellent, excellent video - maybe more for women than for men, but we all could probably benefit from viewing Brene Brown's talk.

Heads up! this video is 20 minutes in length!

Brene Brown on vulnerability

My life is (once again) in turmoil. So I will probably not have time for posting much in the upcoming days. I am once again moving on... life throws me curve balls, and here I am without a glove to catch 'em...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Women NEED to read this!

Ladies -- no matter what your age is, you need to read this woman's blog. I know you may think you are too young to be widowed, but the truth is, no one is too young for that unfortunate occurrence.

Pleas, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read her blog. If nothing else, it should make you more compassionate for those who are widowed.

Read -- Through a Widow's Eyes.

That's all I am asking. I was 59 with no kids, my sister 51 with one child (age 17) still at home, and since my unfortunate event, I have been (through various blogs) introduced to others who are a LOT younger with VERY young children.

So consider this a public service announcement. I have become an advocate of widows since it happened to me. I may not be banging gongs on street corners, but in my own quiet way, I am in ALL of the corners of ALL widows (and widowers).

Thanks for reading this blog, and for (I hope) reading Through a Widow's Eyes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sorry, my apologies...

So, so VERY sorry that I have not posted in a long time. I seem to either (1) not have enough time; or (2) be totally uninspired and NOT willing to bore readers with a "nothing" post. However, my several weeks of recent silence is really due to (3) a crummy, awful, energy-robbing "bug" that I have been fighting off and on and on and on, for several weeks. You know -- one of those things that makes you think that tomorrow you will SURELY feel better. I tried holing up at the house, trying to avoid contact with others (to avoid spreading this thing around and to concentrate on taking care of myself). And sometimes, out of desperation, just going on and socializing anyway.

Truthfully, many, many others in this park have been experiencing similar problems and we have been exchanging tips and ideas for fighting it off. I guess the best route is the old tried-and-true: lots of rest, drinking lots of liquids and "dosing" myself with OTC drugs as needed. My best "drug of choice" is a generic version of Benadryl (currently it's a Walmart version) - I chop the caplet in half and then swallow one of these babies every 3 to 4 hours. That makes it possible for me to go for several hours without a facial tissue attached to my nose constantly. (Isn't THAT an attractive mental picture?) Add to that, a cuppa hot tea with honey and the juice from a lemon wedge, which is very soothing to my scratchy throat AND is a source of that "lots of liquids" that I mentioned earlier.

Hmmm... let's see what other fun items I can share with y'all.

My s.o., Mr. L, admits to a weakness for snacks, and altho' he loves to snack, he's asked me to hide them (the snacks) from his ready reach. And in this little place where we live outside of Tampa, that is DEFINITELY a challenge. I thought I had found the perfect solution. And that lead to THIS --

Yes, my "perfect" hiding place was the oven. I thought for sure that I would easily remember to remove the snacks before I pre-heated the oven. Preparing to bake some tilapia for dinner Thursday evening, I set the oven temp and turned on the oven. After several minutes, my (slighty stuffed-up) nose detected an unfamiliar odor, leading my brain to think, "I wonder what that smell is?"

And THEN the light bulb came on, as I realized what it probably was. I madly reached for the oven mitt and opened the oven door. The good news? I retrieved the two containers of mixed nuts (two different blends) before they were melted/welded to the oven rack and also before the containers were destroyed. The bad news? See the photo, with oven mitt and its permanently-attached ring of blue plastic from the lid of the nuts. Geesh... BTW, the tilapia was delicious. Sometimes it just isn't easy, being me...