A Blizzard is coming

If you check out the weather channel, the panhandle of Texas is pretty much in the forefront right now. It seems we are expecting a big snow storm that they have already dubbed storm Goliath. They say from 6pm tonight (Saturday) until noon Monday we will be in blizzard conditions. 30 to 60mph winds. I’ll bet the stores are a madhouse.

Hubby is off today and tomorrow so he doesn’t have to get out until Monday, but by then it might be difficult to drive. I keep thinking of things he needs to do to prepare. Put a cheap bag of kitty litter in the car just in case he gets stuck. Don’t forget your shovel. Do you have a hat? Do you have gloves? He’s a grown adult and before long will think I am nagging. I’m sure I will be watching the weather channel off and on all day.

We had a nice Christmas. My daughter cooked her first family dinner and had us all over. There were 9 of us and it was very nice to all get together. Mom, sister, brother, neice and friend, daughter and friend,hubby and I. We used new wheelchair ramps getting up her steep steps and into the house. It looked like a wheelchair brigade with mom and I both trying them out! But dinner and conversation was awesome. We all don’t see each other that often.

Yesterday and today, I can’t get on facebook. That is how I keep up with long distance friends and other family members. It’s amazing how deprived I feel not being able to access that. I’ll be watching tv and playing yahtzee today I guess. Maybe I’ll watch a movie. I know there is an NCIS marathon on right now so I’ll be fine. I have food, water and diet cokes in the house, so we will be fine.

Nothing much else that is new to report. New PET scan is not until the end of February, so that’s when new health report will be available.

Hope your Christmas was wonderful! Here’s to a great new year! See you next time.

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lonely_seniorThe diagnosis was quick.
The treatment begun and finished.
the hustle and bustle is over.
the emergency relaxed.

now, there is only uncertainty.
I have returned to aloneness.
the time my daughter gave to me, a precious gift.
But I have returned to what used to be.

Everyone resumes ordinariness.
What am I supposed to do with myself now?
The final result is still unknown.
It is presumed healed, but time has to pass.

Emotions and depression threaten me.
How do I cope?
They are foreign to me.
I feel as if I was uprooted and then returned.

The adventure was surreal.
Did it really happen?
Now what do I do?
How do I return to myself?

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Just thinking…

waiting-2This journey has been surreal. Cancer is a hidden thing. You usually don’t even know anything is wrong. Some small abnormality prompts a visit to a doctor and then life as you know it changes forever.

I had an abnormal pap smear. That led to a gynecologist who attempted a biopsy. They found a cervical tumor which blocked the entrance to the uterus. That began a round of new doctor visits, one a gynecological oncologist and the other a radiologist.

The tumor was 7 centimeters in size.The doctors decided it would not benefit me to have surgery and opted for chemo and radiation treatments. Previously, I had been home bound, exercising and trying to gain more strength. When this happened, I was thrust into daily visits to the Harrington Cancer Center. I started 5 weeks of treatments. Once a week I had chemo and every day monday through friday, I received radiation treatments.

This happened so quickly I didn’t really seem to have time to think about anything. I remember not being surprised or distressed by the word “cancer”. I think I already knew in the back of my mind it was a probability. I had had some intermittent spotting for almost a year, but with other medical issues and mobility issues had put that on the back burner.

The treatments seemed easy. For one thing, my chemo was a mild version, just to contribute and enhance the radiation treatments. The side effects all took about 3 weeks to really manifest. I had some nausea and considered myself fortunate I didn’t have vomiting. My radiation was aimed at my pelvis and the cervical tumor, but also radiated parts of the bladder and rectum. I had internal “sunburn” with possible blistering. This caused much discomfort in urinating which was exacerbated by my catheter. I also experienced tremendous changes in my bowel system. The doctor kept asking if I had trouble with diarrhea, but my problem was huge buildup of gas internally and in constipation.

I would be relatively normal during the week, but by the weekends, when I was eager for rest and wanting to enjoy staying home, I would experience the nausea, gas pains and bloating, pain in the pelvic area and would be pretty much a miserable person. Sometimes I felt like I was on the outside watching these events happen to someone else and was unsure how to act.

Later, mood swings came into play. I’m long past menopause so these were unexpected and very disconcerting. All small things, small symptoms, small irritants, but when you add them all up together, they can be debilitating. I was on so many prayer lists and totally covered in prayer, it added to the surreal feeling, or lack of feeling I experienced. I still don’t know how to think about this.

I finished my first 5 weeks of treatments. I then had 5 more “mega” radiation treatments; more concentrated and aimed tightly at the remnants of the tumor which had shrunk by about half. The doctors feel this is all good and that this type of cancer is almost 100% cured by radiation treatments. After the mega treatments were done, I was told to come back in about a month. I felt like I had been released from day-to-day treatments to being on my own again, alone and at home again, not knowing quite what happened to me.

That’s when the side effects got worse, catching up to me, I guess. So the following two weeks were the worst and I was not having treatments and was alone to cope. It caused a lot of emotional turmoil. I am getting better, gotten off of most of the pain medication and nausea medicine. I feel more like my normal once again, but still not quite there. There are residual emotional days. I think about what happened, what’s next, and is this journey really over.

I have to leave the chemo port in place in my chest for 2 years and go every 6 weeks to have it flushed out. I dread leaving the house again. All that happened to me has caught up with me and I just want to hibernate and hide once again. I have to wait 3 months after radiation treatments  to have another PET scan.That scan “lights up” areas in your body that are cancerous or have infections. It will tell if there are any more cancer cells left. So, adding to the surreal journey, is now the wait until February to see if I am finished.

This has been difficult. On one hand, I feel quite lucky. My cancer was stage one and is an easily treatable one. On the other hand, I have so many other medical and mobility issues that caused all of this to be more difficult. My chemo was mild, others have a really difficult time. Am I in total denial, or just totally covered in prayer and God’s Grace? The mood swings and the emotional junk that surfaced from time to time caused almost as much trauma as the physical symptoms I had to cope with. I still am not totally back to my normal, but getting really close.

The emotional junk has caused me to withdraw again and I have been reluctant to share much about my journey. I felt like a wimp when I had to cope with my symptoms realizing many had worse, but I wouldn’t want to go through any of it again. That is a small fear in the back of my mind…that the cancer might not be gone and I would have to do this again. I’m not sure I can. You can do a lot in ignorance, but once you have experienced the treatment that makes you feel worse than you have ever felt in your life, it is not something you  want to repeat.

I’ll keep you posted. It will probably be February after the PET scan when I will know more of what is to happen. See you then.


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Our mini adventure with the electricity today

no electricity poster (entry sign) blackOur electricity went out about an hour ago. I’m sitting in the semi-dark. During the day, I use tv for distraction and background and am blogging or checking Facebook or my online etsy store. Sometimes I will use my Wii to play some games. Right now…I am doing nothing. It is certainly very quiet.

The back door is ajar so I can see outside, but am a little at a loss for what to do. My solitaire games are online also. I did manage to find notepad on my computer so I could at least type this out since I have battery power. Odd sensation being so dependant on electricity, but in our day and age, who has kerosene lamps? Can you imagine cooking without electricity? The last time I did that was camping out as a child at a girl scout camp. Fun to try, but not to live.

imagesI hear hubby snoring in the bedroom, so he has something to do to kill some time. LOL.
I can actually hear some traffic noises and perhaps some noises of bees and insects from outside. Those are usually drowned out by tv and fans. My mind is a little blank now, though. It is as if in this forced quiet it is quiet also. That might be something new, not sure. It is a really odd sensation, this one of mind blankness. I am not really thinking of much of anything. Guess that is good. No flotsam stewing around violently or churning emotional garbage. It is very nice. I have felt that in my new journey through chemo and radiation, I have miraculously been at peace. In our hustle and bustle, it is sometimes hard to tell because of the constant noise in our lives. It is nice to sit here in the quiet and realize I really am quite at peace. Total Grace and I am very appreciative of this gift.

Computer guy is texting me asking how the computer is doing since I had to have it cleaned and repaired. It is awesome. Runs real smooth and no garbage pop up ads or boxes to block my work on the page. It is wonderful. And all of my bookmarks are still here. Awesome. I figured I would have to start over with everything which is sometimes a bit of a pain. It is like new again. Just hope I can keep it that way.

I am playing Yahtzee on my Nook and typing this in between watching the clock. It has now been one hour and 50 minutes. I am counting down to the 2 1/2 hour mark now and hoping the electricity comes back on. LOL. At the 3 hour mark, I called again to check. Now, they feel it might be 3 more hours until we have electricity. I am glad we are experiencing a bit of fall weather now or it would be a bit uncomfortable during this wait.

I was finally able to find notepad on my computer and pin it to the taskbar. That is how I am writing this. When windows 8 first came out, I hated it and never figured out how to find anything on my computer. It was all hidden. Not at all user-friendly. Since I just had to pay a repairman to clean my computer I am afraid now to download anything, especially windows 10.

2011-12-06_15-04-44_807I heard noise out front. Guys may be working on the transformer. Yes…voila…we now are back in the 21st century! We have internet again! And tv! Lol! This minor little adventure is now officially over. Well it was a tease! We had electricity for about 15 minutes and then it went out again. About 5 minutes later, it came on again. Hope they are done now. Later…

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Week 3 behind me

pink-ribbon_3054334bI have finished 3 weeks of radiation and 3 chemo treatments. I see now, that things get progressively a little worse after each finished week as my body adjusts to what is being done to it. I am still losing weight and that is exciting since that is on purpose. I have been watching my calories for a little over a year to help out my mobility issues and the extra getting-out-of-the-house and the in-and-out of my wheelchair and on and off of the radiation table is all contributing to that. I have now lost 61 lbs. Woo hoo!

I keep meeting or hearing about others in cancer treatments. For the 1st time I am part of what seems like a suportive community of people all coping with similar things. I have been feeling very blessed my treatments should only last for 5 weeks. I met someone whose husband had finished 48 weeks of treatments and was beginning a new round of treatments. I saw a post on Facebook just this morning about a woman whose husband had stage 4 brain cancer and was beginning radiation treatments tomorrow. His main worry was his claustrophobia. There are more of us out there than you can imagine. It is a new experience in itself.

wig wig2 wig3 wig4 wig5 wig6 wig7 wig8

I tried on wigs last week and came home with a ‘real’ one and ‘one for fun’. The fun one was purple. We had a fun time that day trying on all the different styles and colors. I look good in purple and pink and my natural color and gray, but look really bad in green. And the Dolly wig is not for everyone. LOL. I kept #2.

Nervous-BreakdownI haod a bit of a breakdown this morning. The little things are what wears you down. I have been blessed with good health my whole life so coping with sickness and side effects is proving to be something I am not very good at. My side effects seem to have manifested in nausea and constipation and extreme gas pains that get trapped in my system. I also have extreme pain in urinating which is exacerbated by my catheter. I told my daughter that on Tuesdays, I get chemo, liquify my insides, and the rest of the week I am baking my pelvis with radiation including my intestines and they are not happy campers.

I have nausea drugs that are great. I found gas X and the doctor says there is nothing really any better he can give me and that helps some. But the back and forth from my body’s normal causes its own problems. The extreme pain and helplessness to alleviate it is what is most difficult. Feeling incapacitated and only wanting to lie down to try to feel better is not the way to get through the day with anticipation. And then, there are unexpected mood swings and crying spurts that come out of nowhere to cope with.

imagesOnce in awhile we hear of people who grow tired of their treatments and choose to stop them and we don’t understand. Now, I am beginning to see how that might happen. All the little things start dragging you down and wearing you out. It must take a special strength to do this month after month. Yes, it is difficult, but hasn’t been that bad so far. I have not dreaded leaving the house to do this, but I can see where it could happen. Once that happens it would be very difficult to continue.

We all hear about cancer but unless we know someone very close to us, we really have no idea. Each person’s treatment and drug is different in strenth, potency and poisonous side effects. We can empathize but can’t truly understand unless we have lived in that situation or cared for someone coping with it.

images (1)An interesting side effect is what is called chemo brain. It is a very real side effect of chemotherapy drugs. Your brain sometimes can not form normal thought, or forgets thought, and you might feel you are losing your mind with senility. I laughed when I heard of it because I have been experiencing this since I turned 50. I am not diminishing this in any way, just recounting my version of it. I call it senior brain or ‘brain farts’.

my-food-tastes-funny-its-poisonedAnother side effect is that my taste has changed. Some foods just don’t taste ‘right’. You can be salivating for something you love and get a huge let down when you taste it. It is just off. Eggs and my diet cokes are two things I have noticed up front. I said, “this tastes funny” and family just looks at me and says, “no, it’s just you…this tastes great!” Oh well. That can only help the diet too, so it’s a plus!

So, this catches you up on my little journey. I’ve finished 3 weeks and will begin week 4 tomorrow. If you think of me, toss off a prayer. I would appreciate it. See ya next time…


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Life has shifted once again

morningBecause of or despite my mobility issues, I already had a routine established. I can get out of bed without help, visit the bathroom, fix my breakfast, gather water and lunch type snacks and then settle into my ‘spot’ in the living room to spend the day. I blog, read blogs, watch tv, play Yahtzee or solitaire or Big Farm, make jewelry or make rosaries. I usually have a nap during the day and do my daily leg exercises etc. Hubby gets home from work in the late afternoon and fixes supper and I spend the evening with my daughter/part-time caregiver.

tomotherapy1Now that I am visiting the Cancer Center on a daily basis, my schedule has changed. I go for radiation treatments Monday through Friday. I have chemo every Tuesday. Now that I am forced to be out, I have visited the bead section of Hobby Lobby, had lunch at the Tri-State Fair and worn myself out.

CHEMOAdded to that is the normal for everyone adjustment to how your body is affected by the radiation and the treatments. The first week, 3 days after chemo is when I started experiencing discomfort, nausea, some bowel irritation etc. and didn’t know if it was treatment related or my normal once-in-awhile time to drink/eat probiotics. I had extreme nausea for almost 3 days until I went back the next week and got more drugs.

After the second week of treatments, I once again spent the weekend with nausea and extreme gurgling and gas pains roiling around until it exploded in a bit of excitement for me. But the extreme gas pains was the worst and very painful. Spent 2 days like that and got better with diarrhea meds and anti nausea meds.

I am seeing that it is the little problems that can wear you down. It isn’t even that you are now living with the Big C. That seems so foreign and so abstract, it doesn’t seem real and doesn’t seem to touch me yet, except I get radiation 5 days a week and chemo once a week. It is an odd situation.

fatigue-clipart-vector-of-a-cartoon-exhausted-wind-up-businesswoman-coloring-page-outline-by-ron-leishman-13635Besides that, there are sometimes unexpected mood swings, all typical in a woman’s normal existance, except I am many years past menopause so it was a surprise. Then there is fatigue, but I am getting out every day now when before I didn’t, so is it treatment-related yet? or just exertion? Hard to differentiate.

I only have 3 or 4 more weeks of treatment unless things change, so I guess we will see what happens and how things progress. So far, it is exciting not to be throwing up. If I can stay out of the bathroom as well, it will be all good. Till next time…

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Bless them Lord…

PrayingHands-7.jpg~c200Dear Lord,

Please help all the wonderful people and caregivers I have met these past 2 weeks at BSA day surgery and Don & Sybil Harrington Cancer Center and the Radiology dept w/Dr. Arsenault. Please bless and strengthen them all. They have such patience, kindness and loving spirits and share it freely and willingly with all who come into their departments.

jesus-hugPlease bless my long-time friend and her husband I see every week in the chemo lab. He is getting aggressive treatment for pancreatic cancer. His treatment has been going on for a couple of months and he has a couple more. It is starting to wear on his physical body, his tolerance and his emotional tolerance. All of us going through various stages of this fight totally understand the emotional toll all of this takes on our body, and that it the best and most important part of the fight against this. Help to build him up with Grace, peace, strength and courage and the ability to take it one small step at a time and give an extra portion to his wife who comes and sits with him. Also bless their children, grandchildren and family.

428a1e6f5312ea3eb05faf9cbdd6fb7bPlease cover with Your Grace and healing power the new woman I met yesterday. She is brand new, and looks emotionally overwhelmed. Help her and her 3 daughters to cope with it all. She is blessed with their support. Build them up, Lord.

white dove flying on clear blue sky

white dove flying on clear blue sky

Bless the woman I met today. What a wonderful spirit, full of positive energy and determination to keep on keeping on and to spread encouragement and cheer while she’s at it. She is about 45 and has been coming to the chemo lab since last December. She wants to be a volunteer when she finishes her treatment. She has much to give. She has gone through the sickness and losing her hair and come out on the other side with a cute pixie curly hairdo and is just precious. The kind of person that makes you smile immediately. Give her your healing spirit.

Help me remember to smile every chance I get when I go. A smile is such an easy encouragement and empathy to give away. Each person has a different battle. Mine seems small in comparison. Give each one the strength and grace they need and a special love and dependence on You, oh Lord. I don’t know what I would do without you! Thank you so much for being in my life.

blessthemAnd bless my daughter!! She is tolerant, loving, understanding and rarely gets upset with me or my occasional mood swings. She works 2 part-time night jobs as well as takes me to treatment 5 days a week which makes her sleep deprived. Cover her with a special Grace and strength to get her through this time. Our growing friendship is a true gift.

Bless my son. He has been my prayer buddy for many years. When I feel I am incapable of asking for something he is strong in prayer and when he is overwhelmed I seem to be able to stand with him. It has been a blessed relationship we both cherish. Continue to strengthen our faith and love of You, oh Lord.

Thank you for my husband. He may not always know what to say or how to say it, but he has always been supportive of me and loves me and been faithful for 45 years. I have always considered him a special gift from You, Lord. Keep him safe, healthy and strong. And bless my sister who was a rock when she took me to day surgery and stayed with me all day when daughter was out-of-town.

Bless my dear Sisters in Spirit, the Charismatic Sisters of Prayer Town. They have upheld my family and been my friend and support since I met them in 1991. A wonderful and special gift all these many years. Thank you for them and continue to bless them.

Give peace to my mother so she won’t worry. She holds the world record for ‘stewing’ and so far I have been able to give her positive and uplifting reports. It is difficult living so far away. At 90 she is stronger than I am and please keep her that way for us all.

I thank you for all of my friends and distant family who have offered understanding and support. Bless them all Lord. We all love you Lord. Thank you Jesus. Amen.


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How to cope with the big “C”

CancerIt is everywhere. We all hear about it almost every day. All of us have been touched by the death of someone close or someone we know. And despite that, we assume it won’t touch us or our family. It is always unexpected.

My mother had a mastectomy to get rid of breast cancer. She also had a small piece of her colon removed to get rid of colon cancer. She was lucky. She never had to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. She is still going strong at 90. It never seemed quite real to me and the severity of it all never touched me because she lives several states away and I wasn’t there to see how it affected her. A lot of it we heard after the fact. We covered her in prayer and shared prayer requests with everyone we knew and she recovered. So, it never left a strong impression with me.

My biopsy found a cervical tumor. They recommend surgery when the tumor is 4 centimeters or less. If it is larger, it is possible that it has spread to nearby tissues and surgery wouldn’t get it all, so radiation is used instead. It is a common thing, and radiation treatments can cure this type of cancer with no problems. My tumor is 8 centimeters in size, about the size of a tennis ball. And so I will begin 5 or 6 weeks of 5 days a week radiation treatments in about 2 weeks.

But, there is more. The tumor has almost totally destroyed the cervix. It sits in the opening to the uterus and prevented the doctor from examining the uterus. When he touched it to try to move it aside to get a biopsy of uterine tissue as well, it bled a lot. He was too afraid of the bleeding to attempt the procedure in his office. My next step of treatment will be to have day surgery in the hospital to put in a port which will be used for chemotherapy. While he has me there for that procedure, he will, while I am under anesthesia, attempt to get a biopsy of the uterine tissue to make sure I don’t also have endometrial cancer as well. He will also look at the bladder and rectum to make sure it hasn’t spread beyond the uterus. I had a PET scan this week. The scan makes him think the cancer hasn’t spread outside the uterus, but the endometrium ‘lit’ up on the scan which indicates there is something abnormal going on there. The radiation treatments will begin before I get results from this other biopsy. So, despite what we find with the second biopsy, we will be working on getting rid of the cervical cancer.

I have an incredible amount of support in family and friends with a lot of prayer being offered in my behalf. That, added to my own daily prayer has kept me from ‘stewing’ or worrying. Some days I fleetingly wonder if I am in denial, but it truly doesn’t feel that way. I choose to believe I am surrounded by incredible Grace and am thankful for that and holding on to that with all that I am.

The scary part of all of this has been the worry about my mobility issues hindering or prohibiting me from leaving the house for all that I need to do. So far, that has been easier than expected as well. Getting out of the house and in and out of the car, and transfers back and forth to wheelchair have been easier. I figured out a new way to do my transfers about a month or so ago, and it has made a tremendous difference in my ability to get up by myself without hurting myself or crippling me. It is still emotionally difficult sometimes to cope with new places, new situations and not knowing ahead of time if my mobility issues will be a problem, but physically, this all has been easier than expected.

The other difficult part of this whole situation is the mood swings. That tells me that subconsciously, I am probably worrying some. I have found that my mood can change from morning to afternoon. They bring back old memories of PMS and menopause. The other day I was on the phone trying to deal with a frustrating situation and not getting any help or resolution from the other party. During the round and round conversation, I started getting so upset I started crying and had trouble talking to the person. That just made me so angry at myself that it became worse. My daughter had to ‘take over for me’ to finish the conversation and try to resolve the problem. I find that I can be calm and unconcerned and level tempered one day and feeling angry for no reason the next. I think I will assume that since all of my new problems are related to my uterus, that the mood swings are hormonal in origin. That makes perfect sense.

I am taking this one day at a time. I have had a lot of practice this past year and a half learning to live like that. I have had to cope with worrying when I couldn’t get up or out of bed by myself. I worried some days if my knees would support my weight when they buckled under me when trying to transfer. I lived with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to walk the few steps I have to walk into my bathroom because the doorway is too narrow for a walker or my chair. I have learned to use new handicap bars and lean on counter tops and sinks. In the beginning of this journey, I fell 3 separate times which meant a call to 911 so the firemen could come and pick me up off of the floor. I worried I wouldn’t be able to get up from the toilet (that needs to be taller) because I would hate for the firemen to have to pick me up from a fall with my undies around my ankles.

I have had physical therapy and have regained a lot and gained a lot of upper body strength in the process. I have lost about 60 lbs. I figured out new ways to help myself move and transfer and stand which has probably prepared me for this new adventure. But this daily focus on small things and small goals and small victories has taught me that the smaller picture is also important. There is no need to worry about possibilities we know nothing about yet.

So as this journey of mine takes this turn in the road and embarks on the new path, I will focus on one step at a time and try to rest in God’s Grace and trust in all the people praying for me.


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Doctor report

It’s been almost a month since my last post. A lot has happened. I don’t share a lot about my mobility struggles and difficulties leaving the house to go to the doctor, but thought you could use a small update.

I have had an abnormal pap smear and was then sent to a gynecologist. They wanted to do a biopsy and they were unable to get past the cervix. There was some abnormality to the feel and I was told there were too many ‘red flags’ and to expect cancer. I was then sent to a gynecological oncologist (gynecologist who is a cancer specialist).

He attempted the biopsy and found a cervical tumor which prevented him from taking a biopsy of the endometrium. When results came back, it confirmed I had cervical cancer. Next step is a PET scan next week. That will tell us what stage the cancer is, exactly how big it is and if it is contained in the uterus or has spread to outlying tissues. After that, a day surgery to put in a port to be used for chemo or radiation treatments, an exam to find out if the bladder or rectum is involved. Surgery might be indicated, but if it has spread and the surgery won’t take care of the problem, the doctor will opt for just radiation.

So, yes, I have cervical cancer, but next is to find out how far along it is and what the next step in treating it is. I have lots of prayer support and am strangely calm. I am choosing to believe I am blanketed in Grace and will wait to see what happens.

For those of you who are praying people, I wouldn’t mind you adding me to your list. I’ll keep you in formed.

And so the journey continues…

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Random Memories of my Dad

memory of my dadMy dad died in August 1989 right before my 40th birthday. It was a great shock. He was a very strong-willed man. He had a dry sense of humor that came out sometimes and a temper. He had lost a lucrative job when he was around 40. He was a trouble-shooter in his company and was sent to various locations to straighten out their messes. Once he began standing up for slightly shady practices against their clients by the owners, he was let go. Finding white-collar work after 40 was difficult. I think his inner anger was frustration at what had happened and at his inability to be the major breadwinner.

I have odd disjointed memories of him. I totally admired him but was slightly intimidated by him. He was very intelligent with an above average IQ and he could remember every book he ever read with an almost photographic memory. I remember when we were kids we would ask him to tell us about a subject for school. He would define it and tell us the history behind it. We knew we could depend on him to tell us anything until he caught on to us kids and began telling us to ‘look it up in the dictionary or encyclopedia’.

I remember him taking us on family vacations. They might be only overnight or weekend trips to places not too far away, but we went somewhere for many years. We would buy snacks for the car and it was a grand adventure. I remember walking around the top of Mount Capulin in New Mexico holding his hand. The wind was blowing and I was a little scared but he held on to me and protected me.

I remember a time when he was  unemployed. I remember him mopping the kitchen floor to help out Mom, and I remember him baking strawberry or cherry rhubarb pies. They were a favorite of his but I didn’t like them much.

After I was married, I remember typing up his resumes. He was forced to take jobs at service stations pumping gas and later worked for the City in the maintenance department. It was a great trial for him. Many of his coworkers didn’t even have a high school education and he couldn’t relate to them very well. The fact that he had been reduced to this type of work was difficult for him, but he put on a smiling countenance.

I have a childhood memory of sitting around the kitchen table eating supper. I would ask for him to pass the butter and when I reached out my hand, he would spread a dab of butter on the top of my hand. We would all giggle in surprise and appreciation of his clever sense of humor.

I remember him being very self-contained. He was content to stay at home, watch tv or read for entertainment. He was strongly political. He had served in the Army in the Korean War. He listened to religious programs on the radio and I remember him talking to them or ranting at the radio. He listened to Tennessee Ernie Ford and had some of his records. I remember him sitting at night and reading the Bible. When we were older, he began taking us to church. Later in his life, he gave to many social and religious charities always thinking there were others in the world more needy.

I remember the first time I saw him in a pair of tennis shoes. I was so accustomed to him wearing a suit and dress shoes when searching for better work, that to see him ‘ordinary’ was a little shocking to me. He thought my surprise was funny.

He loved us very much, but was never able to express it openly to us. I only remember seeing my parents embrace and share a kiss one time. I remember a time he got so angry he put his fist into a wall which left a dent, but he never believed in touching any of us or our mother. He loved his family but his anger took its toll on our younger brother. My brother was 10 when I got married, so I was not around much. I think Dad was worried about what would happen to Brother when he was gone. He despaired of him ‘making something of himself’ and was verbally abusive to him.

When my mother wanted ‘more’ in their relationship and later divorced him, I think he was surprised. He didn’t know just because he was content, she might have more needs.

His death left a big hole in my life. He was the first family member I lost. As the oldest sibling, I had to be the strong one and make the arrangements and the phone calls. Even after death, he gave of himself. I found out he had signed papers to give his eyes and a lot of his skin to help others.

It’s odd that he popped into my head today and these disjointed memories surfaced. The main memory was of a strong, humorous man I was slightly intimidated by. I admired his intelligence and his strength of will. I feel he helped to give me a recognition that faith in God was important. He gave me the love of reading. My handwriting is very much like his. And he unknowingly taught me to fear conflict or strife in the home. I think I learned to never want anger because it was strong and scary and could be something uncontrollable. It taught me a stoicism and a refusal to rise to express anger with others.

It has been 26 years since his death and now I realize, it must be close to the anniversary of his death today. I know it was in August and perhaps that is why he came to mind today. He gave me many things which helped shape me as the person I am today. My body type came from him. My Scottish, German ancestry came from him. I remember his smile and his dry sense of humor. Most important, he will always hold a special place in my memories. After all…he was my dad.

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Just Waiting

monkey-557586_1280I hesitate to share really deep and personal things sometimes. I feel either they are so personal it is not something to pass around to just anyone. Or no one would be remotely interested, or…they are one of those TMI things…you want to know, but when you start telling it, the person puts up a hand and says OMG…too much information! LOL

My days now fall in the later category. I’ll give a little quick background for new readers to catch up. I am handicapped and home bound. I can get up and down and transfer from chair to bed, from chair to bathroom etc. on my own but with effort. My knees have bone spurs in them that prevent me from straightening out my legs. When I stand, it is at a bent over crouch so my center of gravity and all my weight fall on those really low bent knees. And, I need both knees replaced. The last time I went to the surgeon to investigate knee surgery, the doctor looked at my x-rays and said, ‘you have really bad knees! You have REALLY bad knees! …uh…you have REALLY bad knees!’ It was a little amusing since I REALLY already knew that.

The result of that visit was to learn I needed to lose weight before they would even consider doing surgery on my knees. My lymphedema also causes some reluctance in the surgeon since knee surgery sometimes damages some of the lymph node clusters in the legs near the knees. I already have a compromised lymphatic system which causes the swelling in the lower extremities so it is almost ‘damned if I do and damned if I don’t’. But I have been trying to lose weight with surgery as a future goal. So far I have lost 50 lbs. since August 2014. The lymphedema impedes my losses sometimes, but slow and steady counts for much.

That brings us up to now. I have had an abnormal pap smear and have some bleeding a couple of times a month. The abnormal cells in the pap smear, the bleeding, and a thickness of the endometrial layer is all of concern and raises red flags to the doctor. I tried to get a biopsy in the office but the gynecologist was unable to reach the spot. There was some abnormalities in the ‘feel’ of things also, so next visit is to a gynecological oncologist. What you say? That just means a cancer doctor who specializes in gynecology. He will try to get the biopsy done, perhaps under anesthesia and we will see what comes next. If there is cancer, it will be cervical or endometrial and the treatments are different. One would mean a hysterectomy. The other went over my head so I will wait to find out. A friend of Daughter also found on the internet that cervical cysts can cause irregular bleeding and swelling etc. so she is hoping for that as the lesser of evils. I am strangely calm, being uplifted by many, many prayers but thought you would appreciate a report. It will be a couple of weeks before I know anything new. Until then…the journey continues…One Foot In FrontCMYK

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Are you Artsy-Fartsy?

AA2109Are you what I call artsy fartsy? You know what I mean. You are always finding new things to make, to create, to paint, to crochet… whatever. I’ve learned over the years that family and friends will only tolerate your creations for so long and then they are done. But I can’t seem to stop!

I was always interested in painting but was never able to take any classes. When Donna Dewberry appeared, I got all excited. I painted tables and lamps and bars of soap and mailboxes. I painted wooden boxes and vases. I even painted  the bellows on my fireplace that you use to blow on your fire. Family brought all kinds of things home from garage sales for me to paint. But, what was I supposed to do with the stuff? Sometimes it is hard to find that group of people who love hand crafted or hand designed one of a kind pieces of art or decorative items.024

I decorated cakes for almost 30 years. But my idea of fun was never to slave over a hot oven and let strangers come over to pick up a cake. That leaves working for someone else for a salary. I loved the creative side of decorating. I loved working with fondant and making bows and frills and pearls. I loved learning new scrollwork or lace decorative methods but it is long hours for not a lot of money. You have to love it to stick with it as long as I did, but you can get tired of anything after too long.

008 (4)I learned to make rosaries. I fell in love with the feel of making something with my own hands. I loved learning how to twist the wire and encompass the beads until I had something beautiful as well as useful for personal prayer. I made mission rosaries to give away to faraway places and got a lot of satisfaction from knowing I was helping to spread prayer all over the world. Arthritis and carpel tunnel in my hands caused me to quit for a while.

I crocheted afghans. I loved buying new skeins of yarns. Such colors. Such textures. My closet was overflowing with bags of yarn. I would start one project and then see something else I wanted to try until I had bags full of started afghans. Even when I finished one, my mother had crocheted for years and beat me to the family at giving out gifts. Arthritis and the attention span of a turtle caused me to move on to something else.

I hand painted some Christmas cards. I sewed. I did embroidery and tried needlepoint. I even tried petit point…omg how tedious. I moved on to reading and became a couch potato and an armchair activist and found Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing and Big Farm. Time passed.

030But the one sure thing about artsy fartsy people is, they always have to be doing something with their hands. Now I am making jewelry. Playing in my beads again. I began with rosaries since I knew how to do that and it was satisfying. I then moved on to earrings. Then necklaces. Then sets. Then I discovered bracelets. Who knew bracelets could be so much fun? I love cuff bracelets. I love bangle bracelets and I love memory wire bracelets. I made ankle bracelets. How cool. And now I am making rings to go with all the other jewelry items I am making. I really love making something out of nothing and seeing a beautiful decorative piece of jewelry come to life.

070So what do I do with all the stuff? A girl can only wear one pair of earrings at a time. And my ideas can make more bracelets than anyone could ever wear. The answer is to try to sell some of it. I don’t intend to get rich. I just want to sell a few things so I can buy more wire and more beads. I have to be able to make more stuff! LOL

I discovered Etsy. It is a worldwide online storefront of many people selling their things. Who knew? But, you can open up a new storefront and sell your creative endeavors. Do you paint? Do you make cards? Do you crochet mittens? Do you make bookmarks? Do you decorate lamps? Whatever you do that others admire, can be sold. When you go to etsy you get 40 FREE listings. That means, one listing for each product you put into your store. I started my etsy store with 12 rosaries and then went crazy. If you think you would like to try this, click here.

Facebook_Revised (1)So to all those artsy fartsy people out there, jump on in…the water’s fine. I’m having fun and selling a few things and getting to be creative in the process. Join me…it doesn’t hurt to try.


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Small Update

still-a-way-to-goI find myself not writing because my world is so small and self involved that I can’t imagine anyone interested in reading about my day. But there are a few of you out there who sometimes ask how I am doing and want to be kept in the loop.

I went to the doctor about a week and a half ago. I always dread going to the doctor. My everyday tasks, transferring from chair to bed, from chair to bathroom, etc. are things I am used to. But transferring to wheelchair and then from wheelchair to a car is difficult. There are less hand holds and the car doors in most cars don’t open wide enough to get my walker into the opening enough to help me. I find myself trying to support my whole weight with one arm held awkwardly in and out of a door window or something while trying to shuffle backwards enough to reach the seat so I can plop down. Doesn’t sound that major, but I end up using a lot of extra energy and muscles that I don’t usually use as well as straining the already weak knees. And then there are the unusual gyrations needed to getting an exam. The result is usually a good week of regaining my strength and recovery afterwards. In the meantime, my ordinary every day tasks become mountains to climb once again. Everything is once again difficult, sometimes needing extra help and I have to fight against getting discouraged from the backward steps I seem to have taken.

Rottenecards_36476476_6ttcfk6sftWhen you are fighting against age and immobility there are always times of one step forward and three steps back. It is something you learn to live with. And you learn to recognize the tiny successes. Today, the knees didn’t buckle when I transferred from bed to walker threatening to drop me to the floor. That is a great thing! Or, today, it only took one try to get up from the love seat and into my chair on the way to bed.

The biggest struggle is to continue to celebrate those very small steps forward and sluff off the bigger steps backwards. As long as there is recognizable forward momentum, it’s all good. But enough of the depressing stuff.

008I’m still making jewelry. I’ve slowed down a bit because my drawer of finished items is getting full. I am making more than I am selling, but I am still selling a few pieces. I learned how to make ankle bracelets and that was fun. I learned how to make memory wire bracelets recently, finding out that is what a beginner with no experience can do easily. It was simple and fun. A good way to use up small quantities of left over beads to make something pretty.

024I enjoy watching the YouTube teaching videos and learned a lot and experimented a lot. I have more earrings than I could wear ever, but I’m learning a lot and improving with every project. I find that ideas come to me from something I saw and in how I could try something a different way. I usually come up with very nice items that make me proud.

I got a surprise visit the other day from two of my favorite Franciscan nuns. I have been friends with the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ since I first met them in 1990 and they are precious to me. It is a wonderful security blanket to know you have a community of praying nuns watching your back. The visit lasted about an hour. I rambled and shared about my past year and had therapy and prayer rolled into an hour-long visit and wrapped up with hugs. It was awesome!

I’m still reading and deleting emails. I’m still watching tv. I caught a marathon of Law and Order SVU the other day and got hooked. I don’t know why I never watched that show before. It’s been on forever and has really good writers. I still play Harvest Moon infrequently but a lot of time is wasted on growing my farm in Big Farm. It is a cool online game that can be a little addictive if you are not careful, and sometimes requires you to spend some of your own money to buy gold to use to play the game. If you are very careful, and quite patient, you can get by for a long time without doing that. So, while I’m waiting for crops to grow, I’ll check out my Etsy store and check to see if anyone has taken a peek or bought anything.Facebook_Revised (1) The Etsy store front is very cool. If you have anything you would like to set up in a store front, for a reasonable price, you should give this a try. It costs $.20 for each item you set up in your store. When I started, I only had 12 items for sale. If you like what you see, you can get 40 FREE listings. Take a look here.

The other day I read about someone looking for some of their listed store items on google.com/shopping. I was curious to see if any of my items had made it to the search engine so I went browsing. I was excited to find that on google.com/shopping if you type in ‘finger rosaries‘ in the search box, about 8 of my rosaries were on page 8! Woo hoo! If someone is really into diehard shopping excursions, they might actually find some of my stuff and my shop.

It’s been raining a lot in our area. Whoever designed our house was on drugs or something. The back-end of our backyard is about 12 feet higher than the end in front of our back door. So when it rains, run off water flows down hill and right into our living room door. If it is a slow sprinkle or steady rain, it is usually not a problem. But in downpours or continuous days of rain when the ground becomes saturated, we get flooding. Hubby has dug ditches to use as moats and run offs but lately we have gotten so much rain that isn’t working. He came home from the store one day with a set of ‘sand bags’. They were little pillows you put out and when they get wet they expand and stretch out and absorb the water. That helped for a time. But we’ve gotten wet carpet about 3 times in the past couple of months. It is getting a little old to have to sit in the humidity listening to a myriad of fans blowing all day and all night long.

imagesAnd so, it is one day at a time. Just keeping busy and focusing on the very small ordinary day-to-day tasks and counting myself blessed that I can avoid falling. I’ll see you next time I check in. I’m in good health, but usually wait until I have enough to report before I write. Everyone take care…until next time.

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I’ve been making a lot of jewelry

Fotor061912335As with any hobby, I tend to go all out. I am currently making jewelry. I started with my rosaries and then tried my hand at some earrings. I discovered YouTube and watched some videos and learned some new techniques. That led to making  bracelets and then necklaces. That led to buying more beads. And wire. I am having so much fun! With each new piece I make, I learn more and I improve my skills and the look of my jewelry gets more polished.  Looking back at a couple of my first bracelets, it’s almost embarrassing.

I posted on Facebook. But since I was always a wallflower and not very outgoing, my list of friends is not that large. It doesn’t take very long before your friends and family start rolling their eyes when they see another listing of something you are wanting to sell. Now I don’t want to get rich! I just want to buy more beads! I love the beads! All of the colors! All of the sizes and sparkles and shimmers! I do love the beads!

en_isell_1I opened an Etsy store.  At first, I had about 12 rosaries in my store. I made new things. I added bracelets. I made more things. Then I added earrings. Then I made necklace and earring sets. Then I did something different…I made bracelet and earring sets. My store got bigger.  I was on a roll! I sold a couple of things. I got excited! I bought more beads. I bought more wire. I made new pieces. My store got bigger.

008I have a drawer near my work area I put the finished pieces in. The drawer started getting full. Packages of earrings, packages of charm bracelets, packages of rosaries, and packages of necklaces. Package upon package. All pretty and shiny and colorful. All creative babies sitting there staring at me wanting to find a new home.

I discovered twitter. I tend to be an armchair activist anyway, so it wasn’t difficult for me to start gaining followers and finding more followers. I found a group that supports and encourages hand-made, hand crafted and one of a kind or unique pieces. They tweet pictures of their creations once a week for an hour. Just what I was looking for! Now I had permission to spam all of my followers.

I gained some followers for my etsy store. I have a lots of likes, many favorites and a lot of people who say they like my things. But my drawer is still gaining more than it is losing. I make more pieces. I find I get ideas at odd moments and get excited. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to create something my mind comes up with. I have a lot of fun. I buy more beads. I buy more wire. And my drawer of packaged creations continues to grow.

So today, I decided to write a blog and post some of my pictures. It’s a way to spend time doing something other than making a new piece. I realize it doesn’t take that long to write and post a blog, even with a lot of pictures, but it will take my mind in another direction for a short time. I hope you enjoy the pictures. If you just happen to notice something you like you can always stop by my store for a visit. Or tell someone else about my store. Take care of yourself. I’m doing well and just keeping busy. Until next time…later


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Recovering from an almost binge day

snacksI used to live my life binge eating. I grew up around relatives who liked to have piles of food for each meal and encourage us to ‘eat up’, ‘gotta stay strong’. I came from old German stock. There was the German Scottish old school idea to eat up and clean your plate. In my immediate family, we were six and sometimes I felt like I had to eat quickly before the food was all gone. We never went hungry, so I’m not sure where that idea came from, but I remember eating quickly so I could get seconds before the food was all gone.

At school it was the same. Lunch time was short and I learned to eat quickly so I’d have time to finish. There was also the problem of being bullied and made fun of because I wasn’t thin and I also wore glasses. In the 60’s that was the kiss of death. I was insecure, and afraid of everything and wanted to sink into the background. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and was very withdrawn. I have a very strong memory of junior high (middle school) orchestra. I played the violin. I remember the girl sitting behind me bouncing her violin bow on my butt and laughing when my butt would shake. It’s amazing what you remember from childhood.

Food became my best friend. It was a comforter for me, made me feel better, didn’t judge me, and was always there for me no questions asked. I learned to eat in private and hide the evidence. I ate at night, and in the car when I was alone. We were best friends. My favorite binge foods were chips and chocolate. There were many times when I would eat a 1 lb. bad of m & m’s with a large bag of potato chips or Doritos.

Over the years, I have gained and lost a lot of weight. I have gradually learned to not be afraid of food and not to crave food. It is better to get to eat something once in a while than to never eat it and let it prey on your mind. But it took a long time to get to that place.

I have never been a normal weight. There have been periods of time when I have been thinner, but I have never been thin. Because of my mobility issues and the desire to get more healthy and stronger physically, I started a program of keeping a food log and charting what I eat.

loseitIt is working for me. Since August of 2014 I have lost 42 lbs. It has been slow going. I have discovered how much my lymphedema really does affect my body and my weight. But the weight is coming off even if I would like for it to go faster. I have a certain amount of calories allotted to me each day and the number adjusts depending on my weight. I keep track of what I eat with the Lose It online program. When I stay within my allotted amount of calories each day, my chart stays ‘in the green’. If I go over my allotted amount, my chart turns red. I never let my chart go into the red. Our family has become proficient at reading labels, tracking fats, carbs, calories, sodium and measuring with cups and tablespoons.DSC_0860

When my weight seemed to slow down to a crawl, daughter wondered why it was happening. She began researching on the internet. The only problem with that is, there are many opinions on what is and isn’t good for you, and what does and does not help in weight loss. Some things she would try out on herself before recommending it to me.

One thing she read about seemed to make some sense. Your body can become accustomed to the amount of calories it gets over time. If you greatly reduce the amount, your body will think it is being starved and will start hanging onto nutrition and fats to keep functioning, and will slow down the metabolism to help in the process. So, one side of this thinking believes you need to keep tricking your body. That once a week you should have a day of overeating, to reset the levels again of what you take in and need to live.

images (19)To me, that sounds like how I used to diet. I would starve all week, have my weigh in and then pig out and eat anything I wanted for the rest of the day. I would then have to work all week long to make up for the pig out and the losses wouldn’t be consistent or steady. I would fear getting on the scales again the next week to see if I actually did lose anything. It taught me to fear food and fear the scales and fear being out of control.

So for a long time I didn’t want to try daughter’s idea. Daughter tried it a few times and her weight loss seemed to be quicker and progress faster than mine did. Now she can overdo it more often, not worry about it, add some extra gym time to combat the excess and has been steadily losing. Sounds like what ‘normal’ people do without worrying about it doesn’t it?

When she first suggested the ‘day of excess’ I was too afraid to try it. I had been successfully losing despite how slow it sometimes felt. I was eating what I wanted for the most part without craving something I felt I couldn’t have. It became  normal to turn down certain things as being ‘too costly’ too eat. The calories I would have to account for, or the fact that a double cheeseburger and a large tator tots would use up almost an entire days worth of calories taught me to choose smaller amounts or less caloric alternatives. This is working for me, so the idea of having that day of excess made me afraid I would lose control and would go back to eating the way I did in the past.

While I have had my occupational therapist trained in lymphedema wrap therapy come out and wrap my legs, I have discovered that the weather affects certain people and certain diseases. In my case, when the barometric pressure changes, (easier to say when the weather changes), my body swells and hangs on to every bit of fluid it can. Since I wear a catheter I began to notice my daily output sometimes slowed down despite the fact that what I was drinking was usually the same. And when we began paying attention to my legs and the swelling, sometimes during the week my legs would get hugely ‘puffy’ and the therapist would tell me all of her lymphedema patients were the same way on that particular day.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a 5 lb. gain on my weekly weigh in and looking back, remembered that most days my catheter had been less full and my legs had been puffy. So I can recognize when the scale is going to fight against me despite my efforts at ‘staying in the green’. This past week I weighed in and stayed the same, despite having a week of every day leaving a few allotted calories uneaten each day. I hadn’t been paying attention to my legs or output, so was a little bummed out. A day of ‘whatever I wanted’ sounded good to me.

Now, that meant that for breakfast I added two eggs to my oatmeal and bacon and fruit meal. I began looking online at the nutrition counts of various pizza joints and the emotional and physical satisfaction I might receive from eating that compared to what I would have to log etc. My other possible choice was Kentucky Fried Chicken. We ended up getting Popeyes fried chicken, biscuits, some mashed potatoes and green beans. We also had some fresh ears of corn in the fridge we decided to cook to go with it all. Sounds fairly innocuous, right?

Now keep in mind, my daily allowance of calories at this time is 1686 calories. My ear of corn was 77, a half tablespoon of margarine, my half cup of their sauced green beans was 40, half cup of their gravy mashed potatoes was 110, two mild chicken thighs was 560 and one biscuit was 260. Yumm! And then decided I wanted another biscuit, (gasp!) and a wing which added another 260 calories for the biscuit and 210 for the wing. This brought my meal up to a grand total of 1682 calories! You see where this is going right? I had already eaten breakfast that day and a small lunch. So, since I was already over my calories, and had intended to go over and not worry about it, I put this out of my mind somewhat.

I stay up late all the time. I have never been a morning person and am more of a night owl. I usually allow for a midnight snack in my daily allotment, so despite the fact I had already put my chart ‘in the red’ by quite a large amount, I still had my late night snacking to add to my day. This time, emotionally, I seemed on the verge of ‘binge mentality’…of being out of control and wanting to eat north america, so to speak.

So by the time I went to bed Sunday night, I had added 444 calories of snack foods to my day. Subtract the 84 calories I had ‘earned back’ from my exercises during the day, and my daily total was 1024 calories ‘in the red’. I have not had a day like that since I began this Lose It program last August. It was a little disconcerting to realize that I could so easily be on the verge of reverting to former eating habits.

But today is a new day. I woke up, eager to get back on track. I like the way things have progressed. I like my daily log. I like keeping my chart ‘in the green’. I can pick and choose, and rarely want something I can’t have or am not willing to fit into my daily log. I don’t crave or want to eat cookies and sweets and usually don’t keep them in the house to tempt me. And I like spreading my calories out over the day fitting them into meals and snacks.

And so, it is half way through my day, my mind is ‘back to normal’ and I have only eaten 792 of my daily calories, leaving 894 for my supper and midnight snacking. Piece of cake! LOL Back to normal feels much better. I don’t like the feeling of excess, emotionally or physically. I haven’t been that full in a long time and it is not something I want to do very often.

So…the journal in the life of a home bound, handicapped, elderly foodie continues…

See you next time.



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