Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good News!

Yesterday I went to my Oncologist at the Cancer Center for my post-op appointment. I had not seen him since early December when I had my last chemo treatment. It's strange how "attached" you become to your cancer Dr. You don't realize that this guy becomes your "lifeline" in your fight for your life, and you want his opinion on everything that is going on. So I was looking forward to his comments on the surgery and the pathology reports that had come back. I didn't know if the findings were good, expected, not good, terrible, wonderful, or what. . . .????

Wouldn't you know, I was LATE for my appointment! I'm a person who is NEVER late for anything. I can't remember ever showing up late. In fact, I'm usually the first person to arrive anywhere. But I got my time wrong somehow. I'm just glad that he was still there.

As usual, all my fears and doubts were wasted time! He was thrilled with the pathology report. He told me that the tumor had shrunk to 1 cm in size. When I mentioned that the original size was about 4 cm, he asked me where I got that from? He then informed me that the original size of the tumor was about 10 cm, as it had taken over the whole breast area, and that the chemo had done an amazing job at shrinking it down to a mear 1 cm in size. He told me that the cancer findings in the 5 out of 15 lymph nodes was what he sort of expected and this did not change any of his feelings as to the outcome of everything. In fact, he said it was "great. . . better than great!"

He then told me that I would have a few more weeks to heal up better and then start radiation. And. . . . he feels I do NOT need any more chemo along with that. That was the best news I've heard in 6 months!!!!! For a Dr. who seems to be a straight shooter, doesn't candy coat anything, and tells it like it is, I felt that this was a great visit with great news. I know there are a lot of patients who ask for a different Dr. because he isn't the kind that just makes you feel good and he doesn't give false hopes, etc. But for me, that's what I want. . . just tell me up front what's happening and what is down the road. So. . . . as of today, it looks like a great answer to everyone's prayers!!!!

Being that my trusty old port hasn't been used in a while, I had to have that "flushed out!" NOT my most happy moment of the day. After the last time when they had to punch me 6 times to get that needle in, I was NOT looking forward to this. But, to make my day even better, the nurse got it in on the first try, no pain, no fuss, and I was out of there in minutes.

My next appointment is in a few weeks and tht is when the radiation stuff will be set up. Also, he wants to do another scan at that time, too.

I came home feeling like a whole lot of "stuff" is now behind me. I felt that the load had been lightened considerably, believe me. I'll be seeing the surgeon at the end of the week and hopefully, the other garden hose (drain) will be taken out then. I'll also be talking to him about my arm, as it doesn't seem to be working too well. Can't lift it at all. I can lift from the elbow down --- like pick up my cup of coffee and drink, or type, or write with a pen, etc. It's the shoulder movement that just isn't there. I need to know if this is typical after a mastectomy or if it is from the nerve he had to cut during surgery. My cancer Dr. seemed to know nothing about this, and when I asked about it, he made no comments as he shuffled through my chart looking for something about this. So I'll have to go over that with the surgeon.

I'll be glad when the stitches come out, too. But they are still nasty looking with some redness and still sore. I'm getting very impatient with all that. I don't see much different from day to day, but it does seem to be feeling better. Getting in and out of bed is a little easier, as it getting up and down out of chairs, off the toilet, etc. So something is getting better in there. I'll be so glad when I can sleep on my side again. Never thought I could spend a whole night flat on my back!!!!!

For today???? I'll be catching up on some much needed cleaning, laundry, etc. Also, I have some angels to ship out and more to make! It's soooo good to be doing "normal" things again!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Getting Better Every Day!

It seems like ages since my surgery! And I'm getting impatient with this whole thing. Even though I'm feeling better every day, I'm VERY impatient with the fact that I still can't bend over to pick up things, etc. And wouldn't you know, Buster seems to know this and has decided to work on my last nerve by pooping on the floor!!!! What's this all about!!!?????? He was so easy to train as a puppy and NEVER did his business inside! Bottom line is, I can't bend down there to pick it up. Patsy and I make a great cartoon scenerio as we work together --- her on two canes, me stiff like the tin man --- trying to clean up after this horrible dog! It didn't help that he stole my raw chicken wings off the counter, too! It was NOT one of his better days!

Thursday, my sister and I headed back to the surgeon's office for a check on the stitches and drains. My surgeon was away, so his trusty sidekick did the job! I was so glad to get rid of one of the drains anyways. Wish it was both. Being that I didn't know if this job would hurt or not (internet description said "relatively painless", whatever that means!), I braced myself, tightly closed my eyes, stiffened up, and . . . . out came this 4 foot long garden hose of a drain! No wonder my ribs hurt with all that in there!!!!

I was sure the stitches were looking terrible, pulled apart and nasty red. But whenever I think something is trouble, the Dr. always seem to say it's doing wonderful! Red is good! Gray or Black is trouble. Mine is red, so I was good to go!

We asked about the pathology report and he rummaged through my book thick chart to find it. I was disappointed to find out that 5 out of the 15 lymph nodes did show cancer cells. The rest of what he said I didn't understand and will ask my cancer Dr. on Monday to explain it all to me. I hope this doesn't mean another round of that horrible chemo. But. . . . whatever it takes, I guess.

I'm not doing too well with lifting my arm at the shoulder. It just won't go. I don't know if it's too early to expect much or if the severed nerve is to blame for this. More questions for Monday as I will also be seeing the surgeon again.

I'm just so thankful that this phase of the "cure" is behind me! I've been dreading the surgery since June. And I don't make a good patient at all. Even an itch that I can't reach to scratch makes me crabby. I'm tired of laying around all day, too. I tried doing some stitching yesterday, but found that I had to prop up my arm with pillows, etc., in order to get it going. Once I was good to go, I had to pee. Another major ordeal just to get out of the recliner, to the bathroom, down on the toilet, and the worst. . . . back UP again! It's much easier to just stay in the UP position and get lots of things done while I'm up there. I've been told that when you get crabby, impatient, etc., that you are on the way to being well, so I guess I'm just about there!

In the midst of all this, though, I'm just so thankful for so many things! Especially for my wonderful sister who understands it all. The journey through all this is still so fresh and recent in her own mind and she understands the fears, the questions, the Dr.s who beat around the bush, etc. She went through a whole lot more than I did, believe me! We laughed so hard the other day as I tried to get in the car --- stiff, couldn't bend, couldn't get my leg up into the car, etc. She picked up my leg and threw it in for me! It was soooo good to have lunch out after the Dr. visit. It felt so . . . . normal!

Today was Angel Food pick up day. I had ordered and paid for it weeks ago, so it seemed "free" to me! Everything looked so fresh and good and I just can't wait to dive into it all. First on my list for tonight will be the cheese stuffed manicotti. I'll make a meat sauce to go with it and a small salad.

I left out my whole roasting chicken for tomorrow's dinner. It's a biggie, believe me. So that should do for several meals. I'm thinking of digging out my rotisserie to cook it on. Haven't done that in quite a while and sounds so wonderful!

Thank you, all of you, who have been checking in on me, praying for me, and sending me so many kind notes! YOu don't know how much I appreciate each and every one of you and thank the Lord every day that you have come into my life! Your prayers mean everything thing to me and I feel so strengthened because of you! It's been so great to go to each of your blogs, read about your daily lives ----- and I wonder how in the world you remember me and my problems in the midst of what goes on in YOUR lives. I guess that is what is so wonderful about friends! There's always room in the heart of a friend, isn't there????

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quilt of Holes

A dear friend sent this to me today and it was such a wonderful thing to read. So I thought I would pass it on to you!

Quilt of Holes

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tap estries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painf ully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, 'Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

God determines who walks into your's up t o you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.

.....When there is nothing left but God that is when you find out that God is all you need.

Take 60 seconds and give this a shot! All you do is simply say the following small prayer for the person who sent you this.

Father, God bless all my family and friends in whatever it is that you know they may need this day! And may their life be full of your peace, prosperity and power as he/she seeks to have a closer relationship with you. Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things I Can't Live Without!!!

Here I am, 60 years old, and never really sick in my life, no operations or hospital stays, etc. Nor have I ever really been around people who have been really sickly for long periods of time. . . . until the past few years. First, it was my sister as she went through appendix cancer with all the chemo, radiation, operations, a broken leg, etc. Then, it was my friend with uterine cancer. Now, my turn!

Each experience teaches you a little bit more. But it isn't until YOU yourself are going through it for real that you realize there are LOTS of things no one told you!
So. . . . print this out, and put it in your "In case I have an Operation" file.

#1. Don't bother worrying about the things you think are important. They are not, in comparison to the other stuff that happens afterwards. There is always pain meds, so pain isn't a biggie. That can be controlled. No one told me about the throwing up, etc. So make sure you have a bucket close by. That was the first thing I learned!

#2. No one told me about constipation. I went 6 days without going. I thought I was ok because there was no pain, etc. But let me tell you. . . . . on second thought, it was all unspeakable! Suffice it to say it felt like I finally gave birth to a baby hippo with pain beyond anything I've ever known. My sister up North seemed to find this the most hilarious thing as I sobbed on the phone with her, only because she went through it, too, and knew exactly what was happening. Forget stitches, forget operations, forget chemo, forget everything that you ever thought was bad in your life ---- this topped everything!

#3. Be prepared to sign your life away to whoever breaks for you as you beg and grovel and moan to to get to go to the pharmacy for the cure. I know have a signed contract with my brother in law and owe him my life. Good guy that he is, he brought me the Milk of Magnesia, the Fleet, etc. I can just see him shopping that aisle and checking out, wondering what the cashier was thinking. . . .????!!!!!!!

#4. Find a place in your home to store these things so they are on hand when it's YOUR turn for an operation, etc. They say that the anesthesia, pain meds, etc., are what cause the constipation. Better to have it at home, ready for use, rather than have to sign away your life later on when you, yourself, can't get out!

#5. You will need a grabber! This thing has been a lifesaver for me, as I soon found out that I can only bend to where my hands might touch my knees. That's as far as I go. This handy-dandy grabber is 26" long, and when you sqeeze the handles at the top, the two "grabbers" on the bottom close on whatever you need to pick up and there you have it. Since I am left handed, and the operation was on the left side, I seem to be dropping everything on the floor lately -- like the toilet paper, pain pills, water bottle, towels, soap in the shower --- it's amazing!!!! And here I am, six feet tall, looking waaaaaaaay down there at whatever it is I dropped, knowing it will probably be there for life. The biggest problem is when I drop the grabber!!!!! So. . . . . you need two of these gadgits. One for the emergency to pick up the grabber you just dropped!

This grabber has come in handy, too, when doing laundry. I pulled my wash basket with it, put my wash in the washer with it, pulled stuff out of the washer and put it in the drier with it, etc. Believe me, when you can't bend and feel like the tin man, you find all kinds of uses for this thingy!

I'm sure as I go along, there will be more important things I'll need to warn you about. But for right now, these are two of the most important.

Oh yes! I forgot! Don't talk to people who laugh a lot. Otherwise, you will end up having to be restitched!!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Good Doctor's Visit!

I was so humbled by all of you who visited last night and left such sweet comments!!!! Thank you for your prayers.

I did make it to the surgeon's office for the check up. The incision is kind of infected and red, so he put me on antibiotics for that. My sister and I told him about the discharge-puking-scenario, and he just couldn't believe it and told me to write the administrator of the hospital and tell them. From his reaction and how he talked to his nurse there, it seems that this is not the first time stuff has happened with his patients. Then, when he saw the dressing around the drain tubes, he asked if I had changed that. I said no!!! I told him that the nurse had very emphatically told me and my sister to NEVER touch that bandage or the tape there. Again, he sighed, and said it would be growing green hair before long if it had not been changed. He was so gentle as he sat on the exam table with me and cut it all away, cleaned it, and rebandaged it all up.

Then, he asked about my shoulder. I thought he meant the part of me that is connected to my upper arm, and I told him that didn't go up and down too well. He shook his head as if he were not concerned about that, and he poked me in the shoulder blade in the back and said, "How about this? Can you move that? Does it hurt or anything???" I began rotating it and moving it up and down and said that it didn't hurt at all. He turned and smiled at my sister and did a big thumbs up and said, "GREAT!" So maybe the arm/shoulder thing won't be as big of a problem as he thought it might be.

I'm glad I got to see him yesterday, as I feel better about the infection being treated, etc. I just pray it goes away and doesn't cause problems.

This was the first time Buster has ever been left alone in the house. I expected to come home to broken windows, ripped up carpet, etc., etc. But it had to come sometime that he would have to be here by himself. I was shocked to walk into the house and find him being such a good little boy, feeling all sorry for himself. So another hurdle is crossed. He's gotten so many "good boy bones" lately that he thinks he's just died and gone to doggie heaven! Anything to keep him quiet and off of me right now!

Here's to hoping today will be better than yesterday!

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's Over!!!!

I can't believe I didn't post anything just before surgery to let you all know exactly when, etc!!!!! I guess my thoughts were just flying from one direction to another. I'm just glad it's all over. Thank you, Lea, and Juri, my sister, for taking up the slack and at least reporting that I'm still alive and kicking!

I panicked when no one called me Tuesday night to tell me what time I was supposed to be there Wednesday morning. They specifically told me that someone would call with the surgery schedule at about 4:30 on Tuesday. By 6:30, no one had called, everything was shut down at the hospital, etc., etc. Finally, sometime after 7:00, Claudia, with a VERY New York accent, called and told me to be there no later than 6:00 am. And you know, of course, I laid in bed waiting for that alarm to go off, as I had to shower with the anti bacterial soap first.

So off we went --- my trusty sister and my brother in law driver took me to door D and in we went. Why is it NOTHING is ever normal for us???? We end up with raised eye brows and supressed giggles all the time. This tiny, little gal with the softest voice ever finally began calling out some names, including mine. Juri hugged me good-by as she was not allowed to come. And off we went down the hall.

Meanwhile, my sister is wondering if that is where they wait for the duration. She went to the window and asked the lady this question. And she got scolded with, "The lady TOLD you she would come back for family later!!!!" Juri said, no she didn't! The lady said, Yes, she did!!!!! Soon, another person asked this same lady the same question, with the same responses!

I was taken to a little room and told to strip and put on a hospital gown. A blood pressure cuff was put on me, and wouldn't you know, my blood pressure was sky high. The nurse kept taking it, but it just stayed up there. My biggest worry for weeks was the bathroom issue, so with every urge, I hopped out of the bed and ran for the bathroom. Of course, being me, I didn't read the sign on the door and walked in on a poor old man. There were no locks on the door!

Soon, my sister arrived and we stared at each other for a while. We were out of things to talk about. Then, it was my turn to go. We said goodby again, and I was wheeled to the pre-op room. This group of nurses, etc., were a VERY happy group. They took my BP again, and it was still high. The nurse said she was going to give me some "La La Land Juice" and did I want to go to Hawaii or the Carribian. I said Hawaii! My Surgeon came in, began writing with a magic marker on my arm, and then had an argument with the nurse who said she couldn't read his initials he had just scribbled on me. So he redid them again. By this time, it all looked like a cultish tatoo. Soon, I was wheeled into the operating room. Another tiny, little old lady said, "Hello, I'm Molly, and I'll be withouth throughout this whole thing!." She began to push on my neck, but in a few seconds, I was gone off to Hawaii, I guess, because that was the last I remembered. . . . until. . . .

The recovery room!!!! Someone was yelling my name. I woke up screaming in pain. Someone behind me asked how bad the pain was on a scale of 1 to 10. I yelled 20!!!!!
In a few seconds, I was out again, then woke up painless in my room.

My sister came in, said all went well, and I think I went back to sleep. Next thing I knew, a tray full of different liquids was in front of me. Broth, sherbet, orange juice, tea, etc., etc. I was thirsty, so managed some of that. A little later, they came with pain pills. I took those, and went back to sleep. When I woke up, I was dizzy and HOT! Off came the blankets. Then cold. On with the blankets!

It was all down hill after that. The pain pills did NOT agree with me, and I was getting sick to my stomach as Thursday came on. Trouble is, I had already seen my surgeon and told him I was fine and wanted to go home, and he signed the discharge papers. And this crazy nurse kept wanting me to eat. Have you ever been sick as a dog and someone stick rubber chicken and spinach souffle under your nose????? NOT a good thing! And I'm not a good thrower upper! Lots of noise, moaning, groaning, etc. You would think an elephant was dying in the room!

Finally, I had had enough, struggled to get my clothing on, and a very irritated nurse got a guy with a wheel chair to wheel me out. What a picture! There I was with my puke bucket as he wheeled me down to the car. But I just wanted home, my own bed, and let me die in peace without the smell of chicken and spinach in my nose!

I did much better at home!

The only thing that was a little of a disappointment was the findings of the surgeon. Under my arm, he found a mass that he said was "most assuredly" cancerous, but it had entangled itself around the nerve to the shoulder and he had to cut the nerve to get it out. So I guess I will have trouble with the shoulder the rest of my life. I am thankful he found it and got it out, though.

So I have been home since Thursday afternoon. First few days were difficult, as I felt dizzy, sore, and struggled with things like. . . how to get up and down off the toilet, how to get in and out of bed, how to reach for stuff when you are strapped up in an ace bandage, etc.

Today is the best so far. In fact, it's noon, and I haven't had a pain pill since about 4:00 am. I've done some laundry, washed myself up, emptied drains, walked outside with Buster, and tried to do some normal stuff. I'm just glad each day seems to be a little better than the one before.

The surgeon wanted to see me in a week after the surgery, but today was the only day he was seeing patients in the office, so I'm going to somehow try to get there. I'd rather be checked out early and know everything looks ok than wait and have something go wrong. My trusty sister is going with me again! Ya just gotta love her, don't ya???!!!!!

Thanks to all of you for all your prayers! I think I was thinking of all of you just before I conked out for surgery. I had such a thankful heart for all of you! Who would have known a year ago when I started blogging that all of this was in store for me. . . . and that all of YOU would be there to support and pray for me???? God is so Good!!!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fried Rice Anyone???

I don't know why, but I had this terrible urge for fried rice lately. I used to make it all the time years ago, but haven't done it in ages. Don't know why -- just never thought about it, I guess. I had a lot of "this and that" in the fridge, so decided I'd throw it all together to make my own. That's what's great about fried rice -- you can use all those little bits of left over veggies and meat that really aren't enough to serve as is. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be making it A LOT, I guarantee it! You just can't go wrong!

4 cups cooked rice (I cooked mine in chicken broth)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoon butter or margarine (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green and/or red pepper (optional)
4 cups rice, prepared and cooled
1/2 cup shredded carrots (optional)
1/2 cup shredded lettus (optional)
1 cup cooked chicken (optional)
soy sauce
1 cup cooked peas (optional)


1 Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet or wok.
2 Scramble eggs in butter, breaking up the cooked eggs into small pieces.
3 Set aside.
4 Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet or wok.
5 Saute onions and/or green peppers in butter for 3 minutes.
6 Combine eggs, onions, rice, and meat, carrots, etc.
7 Stir in soy sauce until color of rice is uniform.
8 Stir in peas.
9 Toss and turn until everything is heated well.

It Won't Rain Always!!!!

I have found so many bloggers who have either walked the path of breast cancer or are now walking it with me! This meant so much to me, and I want to pass it on to anyone who may be going through hard times right now.

Be sure to turn off my music at the bottom of this page first!