Pages

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Done

Another cold day here. I was going to wait until it became a little warmer before I carted all the Christmas d├ęcor from the house to the storage area. I didn't wait. I was up at 0500 hrs., a fresh pot of coffee brewed so between sipping on my coffee, listening to the news, I pulled the ornaments off the tree. Within an hour I had everything gathered up and stashed in the tote, the tree lying on the floor in the dining area waiting to be dragged to the shed.

I'm done for another year.
The remainder of the morning was spent doing a little housework and as soon as the husband rolled out of bed, we did more of nothing.
There is a marathon of the TV series, Breaking Bad. This show neither one of us had ever seen and it was a series that garnered many awards. Not only for it's actors and actresses, but for the story line, it cleaned up at awards time.
We caught the first episode and then stayed sprawled out on the sofas the remainder of the day gorging on more and more of them. This series has been on for 5 years. I don't know where we are right now in the viewing year but we are still watching as I type.
Another series I've watched a few times was The Blacklist. I'm not as enamored of it as I am with this series.

Carrie is crashed out on the sofa. She called and wanted to spend the night. We shot her bow filled with the nerf "arrows", each one of us taking turns hiding beneath a blanket as the shots smacked into the blanket. Carrie would squeal and hide and scream. It was too much fun playing with her.

I'm off to watch more of this show and during commercial break, I'll scoop the child up and take her sleeping self to bed.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day "After"

It's over! Next year I'll have a different plan. The grandchildren have grown into adults. Carrie is the only child remaining that Christmas still means something magical. I'm making a vow to cut way back next Christmas. Gift certificates and a limit on spending will be imposed.
We did have a nice Christmas but I find the best part of it was when everyone gathered here for the Christmas meal. Laughter rang out from room to room, friendly teasing inspired. The meal was fabulous! Both roasts were perfect. Plates were heaped high and carried to the table.

I must admit, I'm glad it's over. I've already started removing the baubles from the tree and hopefully by tomorrow it will be packed away. I never wait until New Year's to do it. There is not a superstitious bone in my body and fear mongering is not my strong suit.

My appointment with the oncologist revealed her plans for me. 5 weeks of radiation and then Xeloda by mouth starting in February. The radiation will start immediately or as soon s they can get me scheduled.

That's my report for today and I'm done here!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tamales and Christmas

Today is the eve of Christmas eve or ..just two more days until Christmas.
The daughter, granddaughter and Kristen went to a pre Christmas lunch. The streets were crowded with shoppers trying to get to the stores and the progress was slow. We met at Olive Garden and over Cokes and Dr. Peppers, sipped while enjoying a leisurely lunch, we laughed and planned the Christmas meal. Kristen and I left in my car to go shopping for some things for Lessie for Christmas. She was the last person on my list, having done most of it weeks ago. April and Lessie left together to go home so Lessie could get ready for work this afternoon.

Kristen made short work of helping me find things that Lessie would like. We were at Target and while there I picked up turkey breasts that were on sale. I bought 5 of them! These will be cooked during the coming year when we have mini Thanksgiving meals.

We are having a beef roast, a chicken stuffed with crawfish and jalepeno peppers, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce and macaroni and cheese and hot rolls and oof course the tamales. Everyone will arrive on Christmas morning for gift exchange and the Christmas dinner.

Continued: Christmas morning:
Right now it's quiet and peaceful.  I have been up since 0500 hrs. doing food prep. The potatoes are peeled, the dirty rice is cooked and the sweet potato puff is out of the oven. I am waiting on a call from the daughter to tell me everyone is awake and ready to open their gifts. I want to be there with my camera to record the event.

It's time for me to get dressed and get the car warmed up. We are experiencing yet another cold spell which is perfect for this Christmas morn.
Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year for everyone!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hair, Here and There

A little note to the wise or in some cases, a little note to help you in 'becoming' wise.

Don't tell a chemo patient "It's only hair. It will grow back."

I know we should be focusing on living and hair shouldn't be that big a deal considering what we are facing BUT it's OUR hair and it IS important. We can't sit and think about dying all the time though it is a big part of our living right now, but having to do it PLUS having to deal with NO hair makes me want to snap someone's head off when they say "It's only hair...." 
And about that mastectomy and getting new perky boobies. Let's go there for a minute shall we?

I didn't choose to get rid of the ones I had to get "perky ones'. Getting perky ones this way is very painful. It's not about just getting implants. It's about getting stretchers placed BEHIND the muscles in your chest and  having that muscle stretched in increments week after week until it leaves a pocket big enough to place a saline and gel implant which will have to be changed out every 10 years. The nerves that have been severed and are trying to regenerate are painful. The burning sensation sets your teeth on edge. This is being said from someone that has done better then most of the mastectomy patients. I haven't gone the tissue expander route so though I've bypassed that painful part of this procedure, the pain and discomfort from the surgery is enough. I wasn't a candidate for this type of reconstruction because of the radiation I will have to have. The reconstruction option for me will be to have abdomen skin grafted to my chest. This is a 12 hr. surgery with too many risks for me to even entertain having this done. Infection is one of the big risks and happens to many. Usually these patients have 3 surgeries to get the end result. I'm not up for that.
My hair is growing back. I have a soft 1/4" of hair. I have been off chemo since the last of October and I hope my oncologist will not prescribe more of the same chemo that took my hair. I know I will be taking more of the chemo that targets the colon cancer but that had it's own side effects but losing hair wasn't one of them.

Clinical update: The burning sensations have lessened. The chest tightness is also relaxing. The incision sites which can almost be described now as scars, are healing. No drainage noted. No redness or odor. Edges well approximated.
Numbness remains to the breast line.

I wear a soft camisole beneath my clothes. I am comfortable with pulling shirts on over my head now.

On a lighter note and after this post, I need to lighten up a bit...the temperatures are into the seventies and it's a beautiful day! I dropped Carrie off at school and didn't come home. I did some shopping. I still have a few more gifts to purchase and some groceries for the Christmas meal  but I have  time. Carrie visited a few days ago and I found her beneath the tree shaking packages. She recognized the new packages that she hadn't wrapped and correctly surmised they were for her. She mentioned something about opening one of her gifts early. I quickly put a stop to that. "Carrie," I said, "that one gift you open early is usually on Christmas eve..not two weeks BEFORE Christmas!"

Carrie makes Christmas what it is supposed to be. The excitement she feels has long passed most adults when it comes to Christmas. Even Ted and Lessie are approaching that age where the magic is gone, replaced by the stress of jobs and shopping.

Ah, you are only a child once and it passes much to quickly. If only they realized that when they were children.

I will publish this. It won't be posted to Facebook.
I'm done here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Moving Along, A Saturday Morning in December

Toe test done. It's actually warm outside. It's warmer out there then it is in here but the humidity is lower inside. A light rain is in progress which accounts for the air moistness.

I have been awake since 0500 hrs. The news reports are spilling out of the television while I cruise my
Facebook, check out my email and sip on a cup of hot coffee. That's my usual routine. Isn't that how everyone wakes up these days? I am now past the point of remembering what my days were like without the internet. I have been online so long that my days revolve around it.


I check my mail, do research and pay my bills and monitor my bank account. I spend less then 10.00 a year on stamps, my photos are digital and stored on a separate hard drive and family updates are gathered from the same source.

Could you have imagined this at the time we were children? I used to love to listen in to my grandparents reminisce about their childhoods, thinking all the time "OH MAN! are they old or WHAT?" I couldn't imagine living the life of mounting a horse to get somewhere. Though we did raise most of what we ate, there were friends of ours that lived in town and had no gardens. I knew there was a more leisurely lifestyle. Eventually we became "townies" and the gardens were a thing of the past. I would never have imagined cell phones; always in touch. Had we been told as a child about the future with those phones and the internet, we would have turned away from that news, shaking our heads at the cracked pot notions delivered.

Now when the grandchildren listen to us talk about our childhood, I'm sure they are thinking "Man! Are they old or WHAT?"

My own daughter at one time asked me if we had cars when I was a child. Now at her age, I'm sure she is getting some of those questions from her own children. "NO internet Mama? Man! are you OLD or WHAT?"

I remain in awe of all the technology. We have went from vinyl, to 8 tracks to cassettes, to iPods. From libraries, to book stores to E Books. From renting movies to having them downloaded or viewed via Hulu or Netflix. What a ride this has been and I know there is more coming.

I also am aware of how UNAWARE I am of all the new technology out there. I stumble on to inventions I had no idea were available. The medical field and their surgery techniques with robotics; procedures and medicines, all have moved forward in the 5 yrs. I have  been out of the mix.

I'm amazed, impressed and excited about all this. I'm also scared and nervous about a country that relies so much on computers to manage our lives. Along with all the conveniences comes the bad stuff. The hackers that invade and destroy our identities, our bank accounts and our computers. It comes with the territory; those that have to take advantage of any system.

I'm watching the weather reports on all the snow coming in to the north east and I'm grateful we have only humidity and a light rain to deal with.
Another cup of coffee and I should be ready for my Saturday. I'm done here and gone!

  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday and Post 4 weeks

It has now been 4 weeks since surgery. The bilateral mastectomy incisions are healing and the swelling has decreased. The tight band feeling across the chest has also started to fade. I am able to now move my arms without having nerve pain stab through the axillary area. The burning sensation remains to the right arm but it is not as intense or as often. The mornings remain sensation free but the afternoon and evenings, the stinging and burning will return. 
We are still under a cold spell here. The temperatures swing into the thirties at night with a daily high in the fifties. Tomorrow will bring some 70 degree temperatures but only for that one day and then the storm creeping across the USA will bring  more cold weather. I'm not complaining as our roads are still dry and snow free. 

My car needed cleaned. After the rainy days we have had, I would normally have hand washed it but the temperatures have stubbornly stayed too low for me to relish getting out a bucket and brush to clean it. I drove it through a car wash today and sat in it while the huge brushes whisked off the dirt and grime of the past month. I inspected the wash when I got home and of course it was not up to the standards of a hand wash job. It will have to do until the weather gets better and I can take a brush and clean the spoked rims and other portions of the car that were missed.

I've finished most of my Christmas shopping. The stove oven has been repaired and I've promised the husband I won't use the "self cleaning" option on it again. It always burns out something each time I've used it.
Nothing much to report from here. Relaxing and lazying around consumes much of the days right now. The husband's job is slow and he doesn't expect it to pick up until after the first of the year. We are cruising!
  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Chilly Morning and Icicles of the Foil type

I'm sipping on a cup of hot brew, wearing flannel pajamas, wrapped in a pink fuzzy robe and covered up with my soft brown plaid blanket. I can hear the furnace revving up, the warm air drifting down from the vents in the ceiling. YES! Winter is here this week.

The street I live on has a few houses with outdoor lights and decorations gracing their lawns. We are one of those. It's not that the spirit is stronger with those few houses but it relates to the fact that those houses got their lights up before this cold front wrapped it's frigid arms around us. It's too cold for the natives to be decorating the outdoors.

I may brave the weather and make another trip to the little storage house to get the garland that should be hung around the front door. My tree is standing and loaded with the crocheted angels that I am very partial to. While working at a nursing home, a little lady was making them and selling them for a dollar a piece. I bought a bunch and only wish that I had more of them. They are starched stiff and adorn my tree each year.

Icicles; the kind that go on Christmas trees. Remember those? As children we weren't as particular as the adults we have become. I can remember our family saving the icicles from the year before and putting them back on the tree for the next Christmas. We had to be frugal.

 We hung them carefully for the first few minutes then as the novelty worn off, I can remember pitching them at the tree. Yesterday I bought some icicles. I haven't put them on a tree in years.  As an adult, I carefully draped them over each branch, watching as the lights picked up the foil and the whole tree glowed brighter. I now have a trail of those icicles littering the rug and the hardwood floor. I stoop to pick them up and toss them at the tree, remembering the times we tracked them across the room on those child Christmases. Ah, yes. Icicles. How did I make it without them all these years.

Soon I will put on some warm clothes and start the car to let it warm up before I leave to collect Carrie for her ride to school. At least we don't have nasty slippery roads to contend with. The rain has moved on through and by Saturday it should be in the mid seventies..but only for ONE DAY and then another blast from the north. What a strange winter we are having.
Clinical report: The major improvement I have noticed is I can now raise my arms above my head, move them across my chest and wear pullover t shirts. The nerve/burning sensation beneath my right upper arm gets worse as the day wears on. I'm taking a couple of Tylenol throughout the day.
The incision sites are healing with a minimal amount of swelling now.
I'm done here and I'm off to get some warm clothes on. Time is rushing along.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No..Nope...Maybe?

The temperatures we are experiencing right now are unseasonably cold. Usually February delivers us into temperatures that drive us to find socks and real shoes with not only soles on them but tops too.
I watched the weather forecasts for last night but still I slinked to the door this morning, reached for the door knob while trying to peak through a portion of door  that has areas of clear glass. Opening the door a mere crack, I was swamped by the cold air that rushed in to wrap itself around my pajama clad body. I should have worn my robe.

Not only was it cold, but It was a very wet cold. The rain drizzled down and at 37 degrees, we were but 5 degrees too warm for snow. Occasionally throughout the day, I positioned myself in front of a window expecting to see the rain turn to snow. Just a light skiff would have been wonderful. This wish was not for me but for Carrie. The last time it snowed here was 5 years ago and she was only 3 years old. She doesn't remember. I have entertained the thought of taking her north during the holiday break from school so she can experience some snow. I don't relish driving in it again.

We did spend a little time this afternoon wrapping some Christmas gifts. Carrie enjoys this and her skills have improved through the years. The Christmas tree is up and decorated. I always grumble about doing this but once it is lit I enjoy it's lights and baubles. The crocheted white angels and snowflakes appear each year traditionally to establish their place in the grandchildren's memories. They expect to see certain things on this tree and the one at their mother's house.
Each year Carrie repaints a wooden decoration that hangs above my kitchen sink. It's a snowman with a picture of her in the opening of it's head. Carrie changes the paint colors on it every Christmas and it hangs there another year in it's new colors. Another tradition we hold onto each year.
I still have more shopping to do but it's not overwhelming and I'm not pressed to get it done. I like to save a little bit of shopping which gives me an excuse to join the Christmas crowds and get into the mood of the season. I'll spend a few hours in the mall, a place I might visit twice a year.

Right now, it's time to get some bath water ready for Carrie. She hasn't decided if she is spending the night here but since I have an overhead heater in my bathroom, she will get a bath before heading home.
I'm done here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday

The incision sites are healing though not a pretty site, I'm getting less burn in the right arm. I say that now but it's early in the day and usually it doesn't start bothering me until the late afternoon. I don't spend the entire night in my bed. Usually around 0300 hrs. I wake up and move to the living room sofa so I can turn on the television without disturbing the husband. 0500 hrs. arrives and I'm awake again and ready for a cup of coffee.

I'm doing all my normal daily chores. I can get a t shirt over my head now without too much discomfort.  Time and stitches, a combination that works every time.

I peeked out the door and did the toe test. The cold met with the humidity we have been experiencing for the past week and the view was heavy with fog. It was so hot here yesterday, I thought we would have to turn on the a/c.
That storm roaring across the nation and leaving everyone encased in ice is pushing cold air into the deep south.
This week will be sock weather for us. I'm so thankful I no longer live in the frozen north. I drove those icy, snowy roads for years and years without incident other then a lot of fright from viewing some of the accidents witnessed during those storms. ENOUGH! I totally enjoy the fact that I now live in an area that is snow and ice free.


My next appointment with the oncologist is December 26th. I missed my appointment on Dec. 2nd. I thought it was for the 4th and when I appeared on that date, I was informed of my mistake. I requested the receptionist check with the doctor about being off chemo this long and I'm now waiting to hear from her on what the doctor said. She (the doctor) I'm assuming, is alright with this delay or the receptionist would not have scheduled that appointment.

I dread starting back. I have hair which will be lost when the chemo is resumed. I know it's "only hair" unless it's YOUR hair. I know it's "only breasts" unless it's YOUR breasts and then it makes a difference.

April wants to make a gumbo this weekend. I'll be at her house supervising. I offered to make it but she is adamant about learning to do it herself.

I'm going to shut down here and finish putting the baubles on the Christmas tree. Carrie didn't get to stop by last night to help. She likes to wrap gifts so we will get to that this weekend.
I'm done here! 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

How bout that Auburn!!

I stayed away from football this Saturday except for the 'Bama/ Auburn game. I must say..it was worth watching especially that last ONE second!  You heard me right..the last one second determined the winner of that game which was tied up and going into overtime except for that ONE second. 'Bama kicked it for a field goal from about 56 yds out..missed the goal and the ball was caught by Auburn player beneath the goal post and ran back 109 yds. to score a touchdown at Auburn's goal post! The announcer for that game was screaming as that player passed the 50, then the 30 and on and on and the announcer's voice was following him expecting that player to get tackled. As he neared the end zone the announcer went wild along with the crowd. Touchdown Auburn and Bama lost their first game of this season. Nick Sabin was so upset he didn't cross the field to shake hands with the Auburn coach. The Auburn fans flooded the field. This was a historic game and I'm happy that I watched it!

The Saints play Monday night football against Seattle so I think I will go shopping today. I've showered and dressed and this will be the first time I'm out of the house in the last 6 days. The temperatures are supposed to hit into the 70 degree range today. It's time to unhibernate (I know that's not a real word).
Carrie found her iPod. She just texted me using it. It was lost in the chair. The recliner ate it and it has been missing for weeks now. I'm always lecturing her on NOT laying it down when she isn't using it but to take it to the night stand in the bedroom and plug it into the charger there. When she doesn't listen and loses it, she shies away from letting me know she doesn't know where it is. She doesn't like lectures.
I have my Christmas list and though it is short, I want to pick up a few things today. Carrie will visit this afternoon and we will dig out some Christmas lights and the decorations for inside and start putting out some things. I don't do a lot of this because it means I will have a lot to put away as soon as the season is past.

Clinical report: The right arm has full range of motion; the stinging and burning continue. When the sleeves of what I'm wearing rubs against it, the nerves become agitated and the burning sensation starts. There is still one level of movement that will cause shooting pain which is as improvement over a week ago when more then one level of movement was affected.
The incision on the right side has steri strips in place with a small amount of drainage. I was going to use peroxide to clean it but after researching, I forfeited that idea. Peroxide interacts with an enzyme in the skin which causes the bubbling and turns the peroxide into water. The problem lies with..though it is an oxidizing agent, it not only kills the bad skin cells but also the good ones at the site which might cause more scarring. I took a shower and used the spray attachment to flush out the incision site really well. I'll keep an eye on it to make sure  infection doesn't appear.
 Emotionally: I don't mind giving up what is gone IF it takes care of the problem. The problem IS, did carving up my body really fix me? I'm sure time will tell but meanwhile, I gaze at the skin that some describe as  "bat wings" that are not a part of my arms but a part of the axillary area. Small baseball size protrusions fill the "armpit" or axillary area. This is common with most mastectomy patients and is very disturbing to most of us also.
I hear people complain about lines and wrinkles, hair color and body shape and I want to tell them, it could be so much worse. I know it could be worse for me too so I persevere. I can still be up and about, shopping, cleaning house and spending time with the family. I'm still independent and for that I'm thankful!

I'm done and gone!