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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From one extreme to the other

Within two days of each other I experienced such extreme opposite emotions that even as I sit here typing, I don't know if I should still be laughing out loud, or if I should still be so annoyed. Emotions....they're are interesting, no wonder there have been so many studies done.

Anyway, shall we start with Tuesday? Dion and I spent the day at Mayo. I had some extra testing done and any time I have that, Dion comes with me (everything came back fine, I just have a biopsy next week of my endometrial lining...fun for all). Ok, so we swing by my new dentist in Rochester, whom I love. I have not had very many positive experiences with dentists, and I have to admit I was on guard the first few times I met with Dr Wadkins. He has, in fact, made such an impression on me that I am trying really really hard to floss on a regular basis. I hate flossing. Anyway, I stopped in to fork over some money, we ended up staying a little bit and chatting with the doctor and his staff. The first hour of parking is free, so we had plenty of time to get up to the car, and down the ramp to the gate. Now, I have to explain that this is no ordinary ramp. You don't drive straight, take a hard right, drive straight again to get down. Oh no. What fun would THAT be? In this ramp, they put a corkscrew down ramp.....around and around and around....you can see all the marks from cars hitting the sides. Not just one here and there, but the whole blasted way down. I think it's kind of fun, even though sometimes I go a little too fast and come close to hitting the sides like many before me. We get to the bottom, pull up to the attendant and I put my window down. And I wait. Hmmm....looks like he might be reading something since his head is tilted down in a way that is common when a person reads. Or apparently, also when they sleep. I will admit for one split second I thought maybe he collected his ticket to "The Big Unknown", but then I saw him breathe. I looked over at Dion, who said, "What does one do in this situation" I laughed out loud, and for a moment felt bad because I thought IT WOULD WAKE HIM! Well, duh. So, do you poke the guy, do you cough a little, maybe throw a balled up piece of paper? I chose option one. I poked his belly with my finger and he jumped. I felt like I was in a Pillsbury Dough Boy commercial. I half expected the guy to smile all big and say "Hee hee." He didn't. But he did say, "Oh. Was I snoring?" I told him no, because well, he wasn't. I was trying very very hard to not laugh out loud, but I could not contain my smile. You should know that I paused for a moment just now, and realized again, I was smiling. So, that was my happy experience. Now we will change gears a little. Come. Join me on the dark side.

Today I went to Walmart to pick up a few things for work. I had a little bit of time before I had to get the girls so I thought, "Great, I can run in, find what I need, get into the express check out, and get to daycare in time to get the girls. I had 15 minutes. I was a mere blur as I sashayed through the isles, getting what I needed, spending as little time as possible picking out essentials such as a new pen (I love new pens. I don't know why). I was proud of myself, not only because of my speed, but I only talked to myself a few times. I think that's hereditary. Anyway, I see the line I want from a good twenty feet away. The magical sign above says "Limit 10 items please". It said please. Walmart was asking in a polite manor for only those of us with 10 or fewer items to pass through that lane. Sure. No problem. I fell into the "less than" category. I was safe. Now, I did notice that there were two people in front of me. I checked out the first person. She had a handful of items. She was following the rules, which is more than I could say for the woman directly in front of me. I was looking in her cart and watched in horror as she kept piling stuff on the conveyor belt. More and more and more. Now, I am as flexible as the next person, I could handle 13 or 14 items, but we were not talking an extra item or two. We were talking about 16 extra items. 16! I don't think I have stressed that enough. That is 160% MORE than the Walmart allowance for that lane! I did the shift from one foot to another, the pretend to look over all the useless crap they sell at the check out (ok, I did buy some breath freshener, but I was at a loss at what to do. I plead insanity since she was driving me crazy!), I checked my watch, and just felt the anger boiling. There was also an emotion of "Yuck" in there when I noticed that this lady who was probably in her late 60's early 70's was buying thongs. And I don't mean flip flops. Deep breath, deep breath. Ok, I was calming down, until the checkout girl was done and the sinner took out two gift cards and her check book. Checkbook! Everyone knows that you are supposed to write in all that you can in your check BEFORE they finish scanning your stuff, except this lady. So we did the whole "Ok, use this card, now this one, and how much do I owe now?" routine. Over and over I counted my 6 items...I had 6...I followed the rules! I watched as more and more people behind me left their spot in line because of the Cheater in front of me. I waited for the look. You know The Look, the one that says "Sorry, I know I have way more than 10 items, whoopsie." Not one look. I surely wouldn't get an "I'm sorry" if I didn't even get a look. Let me shed some light on this situation. By the time I had checked out and was heading for the door, this lady had just finished putting her stuff back into her purse. And yes, I am sitting here shaking my head (and my feet since Tater feels the need to attack them) just thinking about that woman.

So there you have it. Both entertaining in their own way I guess. I can't wait to see what happen tomorrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


really, what can a person say to this?

best friends, for the moment

Hear no evil, speak no evil....

Claire and her "favorite kitty"

What a goof!

Monday, September 19, 2005

A little story

How does one celebrate getting their life back? How can you even start to thank those who gave it back to you? I guess exactly how we did it, by saying "Thank you."

September 16th 2004 has gone down into the books as one of our longest days. After spending the prior 11 days wondering how Dion would raise the girls alone, wondering what would be nice for a funeral, desperately searching for my life insurance policy, calling some friends and asking them to help Dion out any way they could when I was gone, talking to my best friend knowing that she meant every word that she said when she said she would tell my girls all about me and they'd know me through her. It is almost surreal. We were off to Mayo to get a second opinion, and we had decided that maybe they could treat me with different drugs than my then current doctor was going to do. That's how we mentally prepared for that trip to Rochester.

To say that there was a lot of waiting is an understatement. It seemed like no matter where we went we had to wait and wait and wait, but I remember thinking to myself, "If it means that I could have a different outcome, I will wait and wait and wait." I will never forgot my first visit with my oncologist. I remember thinking that he was pretty young and he had a sparkle in his eye. And I loved that at one point when he was on the computer he was sitting on his legs. There he was, an oncologist, typing at the computer looking like a little kid. I liked him from the moment I met him. Then he said something that made me doubt him. He looked right at us and said, "I just don't think it's cancer. I've seen all of your scans and read your files and I am not convinced that it is cancer." Dion and I looked at each other. What do you say at this moment? We were told that I would have to do more chemo and if that worked I had 3-5 years. If chemo didn't work, I had 6 months to a year to live. How could he sit there and say that he didn't think it was cancer when that is all that we knew? He advised us to meet with the Thorasic surgeon and go from there.

We did. We sat in that office until about 7 PM that night. He told us the only way to be sure that it was not cancer was to do a medialstynal biopsy. I asked when he could do that, and he said tomorrow, I said, "Do it." Basically it was a biopsy of the chest nodes that my previous oncologist said had cancer in them. A simple incision at the base of the neck, sore, yes, but nothing I couldn't handle.

We called family and told them that we were staying another night in Rochester to have this test done, and what my oncologist had said. You could feel the prayers that night. We went to St Mary's bright and early and ended up waiting until I think after 5 PM before I even went into the O.R. It's amazing how patient a person can be when it means life or death. I remember the tube being pulled out of my throat, and then I remember being told it was negative. No cancer. I remember crying, and then falling back asleep. Dion had the job of calling family and some friends to tell them the news. I can't being to imagine how he felt doing that job. That was September 17th, 2004.

Now here we are a year later. I thought a lot of my new oncologist on Saturday. I thought about how I have been given another chance, how he was right on the mark when he said that he didn't believe it was cancer. It was in fact, an inflammatory disease called Sarcoidosis. Within 3 months my lungs and chest nodes had returned to normal, along with my tumor markers.

Life can be a pretty wild ride. You have to hold on tight so you don't fall off or hurt yourself in the process. I am still hanging on, and no matter what is thrown my way, I will just keep tightening that grip.

Happy 1st 2nd Chance Anniversary to me.

Friday, September 16, 2005

And now for some fun

This entry really I guess is for me and my lack of memory. I want to record somewhere the funny things that Claire and Nadia say so some day they can look and say to themselves, "Man I was weird". I do find myself having to turn away and laugh at some of the things that have been coming out of Claire's mouth lately. So I will share....most of these are from Claire since Nadia only knows a dozen or so words.

Key Key = kitty. Nadia says it now, and Claire used to say it.
door-a-sar= dinosaur. Claire used to chant that and stomp through the house
beets= feet
elmo=Nemo
bish=fish
kuh-kuh= blankie (it was an odd sound that Claire made when she wanted her blankie)
crap=crab
scarey monkey= a little sling shot toy monkey at daycare that scared Claire
sprackles= spinkles on cookies or icecream or what have you
Shawn= my brother John
icky boog= any bug
moo-kick= music
dancing= the movie Annie


Ok, I am at a brain freeze, but I will add more when I think of them. Although lately Claire has been saying stuff like "Mommy, come on" (as in, "you fool") and "Just go downstairs and get it Mommy, ok?" These are the times that I have to turn my head so she can't see me laughing. I tell her she's sassy and she says, "I'm not sassy, I'm Claire." The other day she was scolding Nadia and telling her to stand in the corner, so I called her to me and said, "I am the mommy" and before I could say anything else, she claimed, "I am Claire." And boy is she ever!

I lack patience for people who don't think

I started with the title saying, "Untitled...that's the best I could do", then I had the above title with a different word meaning the same as "people who don't think", but I thought maybe that was a little too harsh, so here we are, stuck with the above title. I knew I wanted to blog today, now that the girls are napping, but I wasn't sure of what I wanted to blog about. I'm still not sure. I did know that I wanted to touch on the topic of people in general, which brought me to the subject of things that have chapped my hide. What an odd expression. I suppose it comes from the phrase "rubbed me the wrong way". Or not. Either way, I have found that as I have gotten older, my tolerance for what some people do has gotten lower. What do people do, you ask? Ahhh...I was waiting for you to ask that question. Come. Sit with me. Let's chat....

Why oh why are elevator manners so so hard? Do you really think that plowing through people trying to get off of an elevator so you can get on is ok? Then it kills me because they say every time, "Excuse me" after they have trampled every person they could to get on. It's not like a carnival ride where you want to get a good spot, or the bus when sitting in the back was cool. It's an elevator. It goes up and it goes down. It does make neat beeping noises, but you can hear that from every spot in the elevator car. So, if you are one of those people who plow through to get on....stop it. We don't like it. It's rude. And some day you might get shoved back (refer to my posting titled "Fight! Fight! Fight!).

Lying. Ok, now don't yell at me and say "Everybody lies sometime! Even you!" And yes, I have told the occasional white lie or lying by omission, I will not deny that. I can say that I am not a habitual liar, and when I do say white lies, it more often than not is to spare someone hurt feelings. For example, Santa Claus. I know some day I will be confronted by my kids saying that I lied because there isn't a Santa Claus. You know what I mean. And if you say that you don't lie, you fib, that is a lie in itself. A fib is a lie too. So now that we have that straight, we can continue. I am referring to lies that catch up to people. The lesson one who lies should learn is that it's hard to remember all of your lies and who you told what to. Hmmm...did you say one thing to me, and something different to another person? And oh my...what if that person and I compare notes? What kills me is that there are people out there who maybe you help out with something, or maybe you support them in decisions they make, and KABOOM! Wait, wait, I have to pull the knife out of my back right now. Grand. Isn't that just a shot to the gut? I also don't like liars who play games and try and play people off of each other. It's mean and really shows what type of a person they are. I don't like liars.

With all that has happened in our country and our personal worlds, it amazes me that there is still such insensitivity out there. I am guilty of it too, some days seem so rushed that I don't stop and think all of the time, but I am talking about the cold hearted insensitive people. And doesn't it seem like nothing bad ever happens to them or their family? Maybe that is why they are insensitive. They don't know what it is like to have their world come crashing in on them. I always say though that God has a sense of humor....

I also don't like it when people belittle my situation. Please don't assume that because I look like my old self that things are all back how they were. I was told recently "Now you can get back to normal." Normal. If when you say normal, are you referring to my constant thought of the chance that I might not see my girls grow up? Or is it thinking that now I can ignore that anything ever happened? Or maybe normal is thinking that every little headache, muscle cramp, lump, bump, cough, or hangnail is the cancer returning. Is that normal? It is my new normal. I have found that the more I fight it, the more they fight back. "But you feel good, right?" To which I say "Yes, but there's always the chance..." to which they respond, "But you feel good, right?" again and again. I finally said, "Yes, I feel good." and left it at that. But I will point out that I felt fine at the time the tumors were growing in my body. My oncologist now says that they follow symptoms. How do I learn to trust my body again when it failed me miserably last time? I had heart issues before, and had to wear an event monitor. Turns out that it was stress causing me issues, and the more events I had the more stressed I got. Now that it has been said it is from stress, I get little bumps in my heart rhythm, but nothing like before. I have been having headaches for the past 2 weeks. How do I determine if it is stress or something else? Hell's bells, I don't know.

I suppose we could all go on about things that bother us, and I know Dion would say that I should write about things people have done that I like. Which kills me because he has a tendency to be a little negative at times. Anyway, I have lately seen the system being used and people not even batting an eyelash over doing it. I know I end up paying one way or another for it, and it makes me mad. Being two faced is a hard act to stay on top of, which face are you today? That's what I want to ask some people. Ok, Nadia's crying, gotta fly....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I have Graduated

Strike up the band, I now get to go to the doctor for a check every three months instead of every two months. Whoop! Whoop! I had a good visit with my doctor, even though Dion and I were running very low on sleep. Claire had decided at 2 AM that day that she was "up and ready to go downstairs!" Fast forward to 4 AM when we went back to bed for about an hour and a half when we had to get up again to get ready to go to Mayo (we had to leave by 6:30 AM). Anyway, at one point during the visit, my doctor just looked at me and said, "Boy, you just look very tired." The understatement of the year.

Anyway, my next visit will consist of a chest x-ray, a bone density test, and thanks to Dion, a cholesterol test. They had run some sort of nutrition blood work and Dion asked if marshmallows showed up in them. My onc said "You too? My wife is the same way." So I had to share my secret of putting marshmallows and butter in a bowl and microwaving them, then adding rice krispies....warm krispie treats RIGHT THEN AND THERE! Apparently my zest for the treats showed, and he said "Maybe we will run a cholesterol test too." Dang it.

So that's that. Today is supposed to be about 90 degrees. How crazy! Once we finish the playset that we have built for the girls I will add those pictures. We have a few more things to do though, so I will wait until we can say tah dah. And it will be a hearty tah dah.

Monday, September 05, 2005

One Day at a Time

From the One Day at a Time TV show......

This is it. (This is it.)
This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball.
This is it. (This is it.)
Straight ahead and rest assured you can't be sure at all.

So while you're here enjoy the view.
Keep on doing what you do
So hold on tight we'll muddle through
One day at a time, (One day at a time.)

So up on your feet. (Up on your feet)
Somewhere there's music playing.
Don't you worry none we'll just take it like it comes.
One day at a time, (One day at a time.) (4X)

So when I was doing radiation, I found that the two hours in the car, Monday through Friday for 5 weeks, were eased by listening to music. I have this CD that has 70's and 80's TV theme songs on it, which by the way I LOVE, and I listened to that a few times. Although I didn't watch One Day at a Time all that often, years later that silly theme song has brought me comfort. That and the American Hero theme song, but that's another story for another day.

Why is this coming up, you ask? Simple. Tomorrow is another 2 month check for me. Same old same old, blood draw, meet with the doctor, treatment, yadda yadda yadda. I know I must drive my poor doctor crazy because I know I ask the same question over and over, just in different ways. Recurrence, the cancer coming back, if it comes back do I lose my new boobs, how do you know if it's there, blah blah blah. And he patiently answers me every time with "We have to go by what symptoms you have." Ok, that satisfies me, for that month. Then I start to think, well hell, symptoms?!? I look back a year and a half ago and the only symptom I had was a lump, if that's even thought of as a symptom, and I am the one who found it. Hells bells.

I try to keep a positive attitude for every visit, but there's a part of me that fears if I let my guard down like I did for the first biopsy, something will happen. I vowed never to go to another doctor appointment blind like that again. My quote is "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best", and so I do that. I think I have said if before, but I think it is too important to not repeat. Cancer does not go away when you are done with treatments. Yes, I do have hair (what to do with all the curls?!?), I do have new boobs, I look healthy, but that damn cancer lingers there, and rears it's ugly head every so often. Like this weekend....

It has been a while since we have gone to a wedding. Maybe two years or so. We went to a wedding this weekend, and everything was perfect. The weather was great, the bride and groom were beautiful, the pastor's sermon was truly amazing. You could feel the love and support in the church. But here was the hard part for me. The bride's mom had died of breast cancer years and years ago. I could not help but sit there thinking "I hope that I see my girls get married." Her dad has since remarried, but her mom's presence was there. So much so that in asking who gives the bride to be married, the answer was all of them. How neat. How compassionate. How moving. How important.

Dion and I went to the State Fair today (We dropped $75 and all we have to show for it is a big Nemo stuffed animal). We used the Park and Ride system, which worked out quite nice. On the bus was a pregnant woman, and even though I have had 3 pregnancies, I couldn't help but stare at her big belly. I guessed she was about 7 months along. I watched as she rested her hands under her belly, watched as her husband looked at her and smiled, watched as she shifted in the seat trying to find a comfortable position. Dion looked at me and said, "The last time we went to the fair, you were pregnant." That was true. I was about 3 months pregnant then. I also had cancer and didn't even know it. Talk about putting a shadow over everything...."Oh, that's before I had cancer, oh, that happened when I had cancer, hey remember that? That was before cancer had invaded our lives." That seems to be the way I classify everything now a days. Pre, during, or post cancer. I even look through pictures and think in my head, "Before cancer". Will that ever go away? Who knows? Back to the pregnant girl. Part of me was sad looking at her, knowing that it would not be wise for me to get pregnant again. I don't even think my stomach could handle the weight of any more massive babies because of the reconstructive surgery. I look at Nadia, and think to myself, Nadia is the age Claire was when she was born. Weird.

I have been thinking about the meanings of our children's names. First we had Casey, our miscarried child, whose name means Brave. Next came Claire, whose name means Brite. And last is our little Nadia, whose name means Hope. I knew that I wanted each of my children to have names with special meaning. I never knew how much they would effect me, and never have names caused me to think as much as these three little ones have.

So, I am off to Mayo tomorrow with lots of thoughts and fears going through my mind. I just might have to pull out that CD and listen to it, for old times sake. One day at a time......

There's something about Nadia that they don't know.....(theme song from "There's Something About Mary"...you know the scene.

our little Harley girl

Claire blowing milk bubbles

Nadia likes her food