Beads, beads and more beads

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I’ve been making jewelry and rosaries almost non-stop lately. I’m not sure what got into me. During my cancer treatments and after, I was tired, cranky, lethargic and apathetic. It’s nice to feel like picking through my beads to create something unique once again. The only thing wrong with making a lot of new pieces is that then I need more beads.

Jablonex Fire Polished-au-wI buy a lot of beads. I shop for sales and shop at online auctions, and know I’m finding bargains and wonderful treasures, so it is surprising when they all add up. Online shopping is slightly addictive and it’s a fun way to pass the time, but things can sneak up on you without you noticing. I’m not sure how some of the items sneak their way into my shopping cart. It is almost as if just admiring it adds it to my cart!

Anyway, every time a small package comes in the mail it is like Christmas time again. I love opening the packages and boxes. I love seeing the new beads, the new colors, sizes and shapes. I add them to my stash and know that later I will brainstorm while picking through and touching my beads and come up with something absolutely stunning and unusual. Almost all of what I make are one-of-a-kind items. I will pick a bead from this bag, a few from this one, find a leftover treasure from this one and arrange and rearrange until what appears is a wonderful creation full of sparkle and excitement! i do so love my beads.

001I hand make all of my things. My favorite tool is my rosary pliers that has been a companion for over 25 years. Then there are my flat nose pliers, round nose pliers, my flush cutters and I’m good to go. Add my silver wire, jump rings, bead caps, pieces of chain, toggle clasps and beads and I am ready to envision and create something special.

009Right now, my beads live in a grab bag of smaller bags. Some are new purchases, some are leftovers from previous creations. I will pick up my bag, look through all the smaller packages of various beads and see what comes to my mind. Usually, I will pick colors that will go together. I will grab everything I have in those tentative colors and lay them out in front of me. I sort through the colors and make a decision. Then I will place beads on my bead board in front of me. Which will be the focal point? Which beads will accent? What beads will I add to go with that? Smaller? a different shape for a pop of interest?Then I will add and take out, rearrange and ponder until what I see says ‘that’s it’.

005That’s when the actual construction of the idea happens. If several beads together are to be a ‘set’ or a component of the piece, that’s what I assemble first, using my pliers and wire. If there will be chain or silver links in between beads or inbetween components, I lay them out also. When all the components are done, and everything is laid out, there is still time for me to decide if what I see is what I envisioned in my head. Once I’m satisfied, I use wire or jump rings and links and put it all together.

006Once it is all together as a complete piece, I hold it and feel it and admire it. Then I try it on to see how it ‘hangs’ and make adjustments if necessary. I usually make matching necklace and earrings. Sometimes I will add a matching bracelet. Then each item goes into its own ziplock bag to prevent tangling and each part of the set goes into a larger bag so that I can put it into my ‘for sale’ drawer and be able to find it easily.

036After that, I have to take photos, pick and choose the most flattering and then post them to sell. I started out showing to friends on Facebook until I began to think I was spamming all of my friends. I heard about an online storefront and opened my Etsy store. I opened my store a year ago with 12 rosaries and now have almost 200 items in my store for sale. Another storefront option was offered through Etsy so I opened another storefront recently at my Spreesy store.

My husband rolls his eyes at how expensive my “hobby” can be at times. My creative juices tend to come in large and smaller spurts so it all evens out. When my ‘drawer’ starts getting full, I put some items on sale to make room for my newest creations. My customers always appreciate that! Who doesn’t like a sale?

So, I’m keeping busy, having fun, creating new and beautiful things and life is good. Right now, I am cancer free and getting stronger. I keep up with my therapy exercises each day. I blog, read, play with my beads, watch tv and spend time with my husband of 45 years and my daughter. I keep up with my long distance truck driving son through Facebook messenger. I pray and keep up with what’s going on in the world. I am blessed. Life is good. How are things in your life?

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It’s a Good Life

hqdefault (1)I grew up with a lot of insecurities. I was a chubby child. I couldn’t buy ‘regular’ clothes. I had to wear ‘chubby’ sizes. And I wore glasses when that was not so commonplace. I was pointed at and stared at. I don’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t made fun of. My maiden name was Moffat, so I was called Mo Fat. Or four eyes. I learned early to withdraw into myself. Even after I married, I was not safe. I was stared at in public and once, a man driving by my house hollered out “hubba hubba” and he was not giving me a compliment.

insecI learned to watch others to see how people were supposed to act to be considered normal. I strived to blend into the background. When kids at school would pass by in the hall I automatically shrank to the wall to get out-of-the-way. I didn’t want to do anything to draw any more attention to myself than necessary. I learned to be very guarded and found it difficult to trust. I always felt like I was ‘on the outside looking in’. I never felt ‘normal’.

I learned that woman can be very judgemental. They judge on what you wear, how you fix your hair, and how you put on makeup. Home became my safe place, my sanctuary. And no one outside was really welcome there. I didn’t want to be judged on my furniture, the size of my house or whether it was clean enough. I was judged “out there” so home was my place of relaxation and safety. I could be me.

Growing up like this meant I didn’t have many friends. It was too hard to trust enough to let someone get close. As I got older, my sisters were my closest friends. To this day, I have a handful of friends who love me and care for me and pray for me, but I still find it difficult to let people in too close or trust with everything. I keep them at a distance. That means I lived without socializing with friends. And people judge wives on how your house is decorated or kept, so that meant I was never comfortable having company over. On the few times that I did, I would tell them, ‘don’t open that door, it’s a catch-all room’. Being ‘on display’ was never fun, but always a source of stress.

522718622_1388884304The drawback to living like that, is you end up at the end of your life with ‘work friends’ and ‘work acquaintances’. Work friends you usually confide in and share parts of your life with, share about family and frustrations and become fairly close. Many people can socialize with their work friends, but I never felt quite comfortable doing that. My home was separate and so was my home life. I grew up and lived being comfortable in my  own company.

I can talk and share in writing or on Facebook and it is non threatening. I can offer comfort and compassion and prayers. Is that just the way it is these days? For some people, the ones like me, I suppose it is. But now that I am homebound and retired, I recognize I may not have anyone to remember me except my children. The older we get the more we lose our friends and acquaintances. I decorated wedding cakes for many couples for almost 30 years. Will any of those people even think of me? I worked in the background. Will what I did matter to anyone? What else do I have that stands out? What else have I accomplished? I used to sing in the choir at church. I was a cantor.

images (1)I make rosaries. I make jewelry. I have children. I have grandchildren who don’t really know me because they grew up far away. I have grown closer to my son in the past few years because of texting and phone calls. Long distance truck driving and living several states away fostered that. But it has developed into something precious and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. My daughter and I share a lot of interests. Her being forced into becoming a part-time caregiver generated a close friendship/relationship that continues to be something to cherish.

I look at my children and marvel. How did they grow into such impressive and responsible adults? They had a crazy and often depressed mother who was sometimes withdrawn from life. I made a lot of mistakes. I was not the poster mom of any year. How did they manage to turn out so well?

Despite these thoughts, I am content. I have my needs met and have my husband who has loved me for over 46 years. I am convinced he is a saint in disguise to have lived with me all these years and constantly pray my thanks for him. I have my 2 children and a sister and a brother. My mother is still alive and well at 90. I have beaten cervical cancer. I am a child of God and have the privilege of praying when I want. I am thankful.

The morale of this ramble? No matter where we came from, it helped to make us who we are today. And what we do with who and what we are is up to us. Take a little time to see outside of yourself. Experience laughter. Watch clouds. Listen to music. Enjoy the simple pleasures that make life worth living. And give thanks for all that you have. It’s a good life.

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I need more Beads!

hobbies2With anything I do, whether it is a hobby or just something to occupy my time, I tend to go in spurts. I’ll watch a tv series marathon on Netflix for 2 weeks and then be sick of tv. I used to read for a few months and then not want to pick up a book again for a year.  I have several favorite games I play every day on my wii. I take turns on them. Animal Crossing and Order Up are my favorites right now. I used to crochet afghans, but if I couldn’t finish one in a moderate amount of time I would get bored. It must have something to do with my attention span. It has decreased the older I have gotten.

Right now I am going crazy making my jewelry and rosaries again. My creative juices are on overload. The only problem is I’m running out of beads. That just means I’ll have to figure out a way to tell hubby I want to go bead shopping!

012I began showing my rosaries on Facebook. Then I discovered etsy, a FREE storefront to sell handcrafted or vintage items. I started posting pictures to twitter and Facebook every time I made something new for my etsy store. It was great fun.

I branched out to Spreesy. It is  a storefront for my etsy products, but you can also join spreesy just to promote items from other people. If someone buys something you promoted you earn a commission. And so, FREE shop where you can sell your own things or promote other cool items and earn on the back side. You can’t lose!

020That’s what has kept me busy lately. Nothing much new going on. Just thought I’d check in with a short update and show you some of my new things while I was at it.

You can visit me at JewelryEtc RosariesByEsther or check out new fashion items and shoes in my Spreesy store.

See you next time. God Bless!

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The fear of Mortality

downloadWe all have an understanding of our own mortality at least once in our lives. Many times it happens after the death of a parent or loved one. All of a sudden, we recognize that there are no givens in life except that we all die, and sometimes it comes sooner than expected.

I was diagnosed with a cervical tumor and had chemo and 25 radiation treatments. The side effects take a while to start manifesting and continue for a couple of months after the treatments are finished. I have had my final PET scan and am cancer free. Thank you Jesus.

But, from time to time, I still have side effects or familiar  symptoms I have coped with for the past 6 months. During the treatments, I also began having emotional mood swings that still crop up from time to time. Just the word CANCER affects everyone even without them realizing it.

My journey began with a quick diagnoses and treatments began in a whirlwind that ended months later. I barely had time to ingest the information and learn to cope before the treatments were done and I was waiting for final results 3 months later.

I began noticing more and more people coping with cancer in themselves or in their family. More and more people began asking for prayers for loved ones with cancer. And then, a friend and coworker of almost 30 years lost her husband of 40+ years to pancreatic cancer. That hit too close to home.

522718622_1388884304I felt I didn’t deserve to feel what I was feeling. There were many people with cancers worse than mine, quicker growing cancers, with higher mortality rates, and more toxic treatments than what I received. I felt I couldn’t feel the pain or the nausea or even the discomfort without feeling guilty. I felt I didn’t deserve to feel the depression. There were so many people coping with much worse. I felt a little distanced from myself and the fact that I had cancer and that people do actually die from it.

It took the PET scan and reports from both my gynecological oncologist and my radiation doctor for me to believe and accept the fact I was cancer free and could take a deep breath and go on. But now, every time I get an unusual feeling, like light-headedness, or a pain inside, or a touch of bladder/pelvic/colon upset, my mind immediately wonders if something is wrong. Is this random thing, or a residual symptom of my treatments? Is the cancer growing again? Or is this just a minor irritation?

I have lived a blessed life. I have been healthy and rarely experienced illness and so the whirlwind journey of cancer and the treatments left me in a disorienting daze. I feel the emotional repercussions are just now trying to catch up to me. They may linger for a long time. It will be something new to learn to live with. In the long run, a small price to pay.

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This Isn’t Funny Anymore: Why I’m Voting Against Donald Trump — Thomas McKenzie

This Isn’t Funny Anymore: Why I’m Voting Against Donald TrumpMy name is Thomas McKenzie. I’m an Anglican priest, and the pastor of a congregation. I speak here on my own behalf, and not on behalf of my denomination or congregation. I speak as a Christian, husband, father, and American. I’m writing this before Super Tuesday, before anyone is the nominee of either party.I do not believe that pastors and churches should endorse political candidates or political parties. I don’t allow “voter guides” or any other kind of party-politics at our church. I don’t even tell people who I’m voting for in elections. I love the fact that people of every political persuasion go to our church, and that my friendships are trans-political. I don’t get into party-politics for three key reasons. First, Jesus is Lord. The passing of power from one politician to another does not change that. So why be anxious about such things? Second, no political party or politician has ever fully represented my Christian beliefs. Most don’t even come close. Third, politics divide Christians. If I were to support a particular candidate, it could harm my relationship with Christians who think otherwise (I know this from experience). And, my support wouldn’t make any difference to the result of a national or state-wide election, so why do it?I do believe in talking about issues. When I do, I try to do so through the lens of the Gospel, focusing on God’s mercy and grace, while highlighting personal responsibility. So, if (for instance) I talk about abortion, I’m assuring forgiveness and mercy to those who have had one, but also encouraging people not to have one. I focus on adoption, and care of unwanted children as well as mothers-in-crisis. And, if necessary, I’ll talk a little about the government.All that to say, there is an issue I have decided I need to say something about. And that issue is Donald Trump. I oppose his election as President, and believe that any other candidate now running, from either party, would make a better President. I believe his election would be dangerous to our country, and to the Church. I do not believe that Donald Trump has the best interest of our country in mind. Rather, I believe he has shown concern only for himself and his personal advancement. His focus on himself as a “winner” and others as “losers,” his obsession with polls, his demagoguery (“I could kill someone and people would still support me”), and more lead me to this conclusion.Donald Trump is endlessly entertaining. If this election were a reality show, I’d watch every episode. But it’s not. This is too important. This isn’t funny anymore.I believe that Donald Trump holds and proclaims racist, sexist, and violent attitudes that are in direct opposition to the Christian message, and to the good of our nation. Things he has said about women and minorities (in specific and in general), his mockery of a disabled man, his foul language directed at opponents, his declared desire to punch people in the face, his call for America to commit war crimes (by killing the families of terrorists), and more—all of these lead me to this conclusion. I believe that Donald Trump is taking the Name of the Lord in vain. He is misusing the Faith by claiming to be “a great Christian” while his actions—not seeking forgiveness from God, mocking the Sacrament, barely pretending to know the Bible, supporting abortion, divorcing twice, cynical pandering to evangelicals, ownership of a strip club, his hatred for Muslims and others—belie this claim. I believe that Donald Trump has lowered the level of political discourse to that of a school yard. He acts like a bully. I believe that if he succeeds, this level of vitriol and obscenity will become the “new normal,” if it hasn’t already. I also happen to disagree with Donald Trump on some actual issues, but that isn’t the point. I disagree with all the candidates on certain issues. My opposition to him is not about his political party or his political beliefs; this is about his character.That character matters to the Church and to the world. Presidents have limited power in domestic issues; they have to deal with the congress and the courts. But their power is far greater in foreign affairs, particularly in the use of the military.If Donald Trump is nearly as aggressive as he claims he will be, I believe he will use military force in ungodly ways. He could make America into a true villain on the world stage, which will only raise up countless new terrorists and destabilize an unstable world. He will have the power to separate us from our allies and strengthen our foes. All of this he could do in the name of Christ, a Name he pulls out whenever it suits him. I have no reason to believe he will show anything like godly restraint. He will be the face of America, and the face of Christianity, to billions of people around the world. Can you imagine Donald Trump in charge of our nuclear arsenal? On Super Tuesday, I will be voting agains

Source: This Isn’t Funny Anymore: Why I’m Voting Against Donald Trump — Thomas McKenzie

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Have you heard of Spreesy?

logoHave you heard of spreesy? I sell rosaries and jewelry in my etsy store. 011I saw the opportunity to use a spreesy storefront to advertise my things. You can also earn commissions if you advertise other products. You can sign up for free. Each person who advertises with spreesy sets the commission at 5% up to 15% of the purchase price. You can learn more about earning here.

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I received a neat online storefront to showcase my jewelry and rosaries. I love the way it shows my jewelry with a large picture and includes pricing and an online shopping cart. And behind the scenes, I can promote other products to earn a little bit of commission. It’s a win/win situation.

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You can sell your own things or just earn a little pocket money by promoting other products. Check it out.

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Saw the radiologist today

cancer-free-zoneIt’s been 3 months since I finished my chemo and my radiation treatment. I had my PET scan 2 days ago. Today I saw the radiologist to discuss the results. It appears that I am a textbook case. The radiation reduced the tumor by half and then totally eradicated it with the 2nd treatments. I seem to be cancer free. The emotional up and down roller coaster I have lived on made me a little distanced. I was resigned for whatever I heard so could not even get excited. This was a difficult journey so it will take some time to absorb it all and regain my “normal”. Just checking in…

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Good and bad technicians

When I began my cancer journey…my trips to new doctors who sent me to new doctors who sent me for mri’s, cat scans, and PET scans…I was afraid. I was afraid they would not understand I have mobility issues and  would  expect me to do something that would be impossible for me to do. It was very stressful always being fearful of the next doctors visit to a new place or a new treatment.

Through it all, everyone I came in contact with was understanding, helpful, patient and eextremely kind. They listened and worked with me to accomplish whatever it was I had to do even if it was something as simple as getting onto an exam table when I can’t stand up straight and arrived in a wheelchair. I have had months of wonderful and kind people who have been nothing but understanding and patient.

Until today…today…I met that one technician I always dreaded. The one who interrupted me and wouldn’t listen and then threw up her hands and left the room assuming I was being resistant when I was trying to explain one shoulder wouldn’t move a certain way and she was hurting me. After she left I totally lost it and fell apart. Probably partly due to fear of the results of this PET scan. All in all, a most unpleasant experience. I am glad it did not happen sooner. I wouldn’t have been able to get through all the chemo and radiation treatments if someone like her had been involved.

This was a good example of how a personal problem affected someones work ethic and I was the recipient. Just felt like venting a little.

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Making Rosaries again

008I am feeling well again. It took a couple of months to get over most of the side effects of my radiation treatments and to feel like myself again. During that time, I didn’t feel like making any jewelry or rosaries, so it had been awhile. It’s funny how once you get out of the habit of doing something, it can take awhile to get back into it.

I started making rosaries again. I had forgotten how much I enjoy picking out beads, unusual shapes or colors and designs and then making something beautiful. I tried a new supply place and went a little crazy. So, if you like browsing, check out my Shop. I make jewelry and rosaries.

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The next update on my health will be next week. I have my PET scan on monday and see doctors on wednesday and thursday to discuss results and options. Hopefully, the PET scan will show the cancer/tumor is gone now. I’ll let you know! Keep me in your prayers…

 

 

 

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Today is a Good Day

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Today is a good day. It’s alway nice to be able to say that. In the past year and a half, I have learned to live with mobility issues, or lack thereof, loss of some of my independence and cancer. Living day to day, taking each days challenges and learning to trust in my strengths and abilities and learning my limits has become a way of life.

I am 66 years old. I was a wedding cake decorator for the past almost 30 years. I was thinking about retirement, but wasn’t old enough to draw social security yet, so hadn’t made that decision. I have bone spurs in my knees which prevent me from straightening my legs. I also need two knee replacements which makes standing or walking difficult. Picture standing at a bent over crouch holding on to a walker for dear life. I also have lymphedema and might mention that from time to time.

Over time I graduated from a cane to a walker and now to a wheelchair if I need to leave the house. I used an office chair on wheels to enable me to work full time and have another one at home to get from room to room. One weekend off, I got up as usual and when I tried to get up from my chair to transfer to my favorite love seat, I was unable to get up. Whatever ‘umph’ or muscles we use to stand up were not working. I freaked and decided to call 911 and go in for a checkup.

There were no discernable reasons for my sudden immobility, or inability to pull myself up by myself. I had xrays, because I had been having trouble with my right shoulder. I had a vaginal ultrasound done while I was at it, because I had had some intermittent spotting for a few months. I thought I would check out everything at once.

The ER doctor was quite helpful. He said I had dislocated my shoulder and it might go “in and out”. It continues to cause me discomfort and soreness. He said I had some thickening of the membranes? in my uterus but to put that at the bottom of the worry list. He just looked at me and said since I was overweight, had bad knees, couldn’t walk, couldn’t get up unaided, and lived with lymphedema, I should check myself into a nursing home and consider myself lucky. He had no other solution or help to give me. ‘Oh and you can leave now.’

I went home with a catheter since I couldn’t get up by myself and the lymphedema had caused me to get up during the night about 6-8 times to go to the bathroom. Since I now couldn’t get up by myself that seemed the sensible option. I signed up for home health care.

That was the best thing that ever happened to me! I received some occupational therapy and physical therapy in my home. I learned exercises I could do while sitting that have increased my strength and now I can get out of bed by myself, get into the bathroom unaided and get in my chair and take myself to my love seat for my day. Regaining a lot of my independence is more precious than you can possible imagine.

After about 6 months of working to regain my strength I finally decided to go to a woman’s doctor and get a pap smear done. It came back abnormal which began a round of new doctors and many exams and physical adventures. The result did not come as a big shock to me. I must have thought at the back of my mind I might have cancer but the inability to get up and to get into a wheelchair and to actually leave the house delayed my search for answers. I then began a whirlwind ride to treat a cervical tumor. 5 sets of chemo, and 25 radiation treatments later, I had to live with having had my pelvic area fried. Radiation affects many other areas and I developed some bladder and bowel side effects that added to my adventures. Living with more pain became common place. I realized that there were other people with more severe cancers or harder-to-treat cancers and decided they were to be applauded for their fortitude and strengths in enduring the treatments. Through it all, the Harrington Cancer Center and everyone I came in contact with, were understanding, kind, encouraging and wonderful.

Now, the 3 month waiting period after radiation treatments to have a PET scan is almost up. I will soon find out if the cancer has been eradicated as they assume. If you are a praying person I appreciate all prayers. If not…wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Take care…

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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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Disbelief

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.

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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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