Nothing is easy………

Aright, I know that it takes time to recover from surgery and that you need to take it easy blah, blah, blah. But, out here in Port Orchard it is trying to be spring and I have vowed to get my garden whipped into shape this year. The thing is I seem to be having a spot of trouble with my left arm. Do you remember I had that axillary cording business after the mastectomy? Well something similar seems to be happening again. I don’t know if when I had this last surgery the surgeon somehow pulled something tight again. I don’t have the cording that shows like guitar strings down my arm but I am experiencing pain when I stretch out my arm. Still, I am not going back to physical therapy as I think I can just work it out myself.After two years of hospitals I now avoid going as much as possible, you understand.The rest of me seems to be healing ok, those long scars are looking much better now.

Back to spring in the garden. I decided to hire myself a little muscle. Yes well, I can’t call Dave exactly muscle-bound (He;s more on the small wiry side) but he is helping me for a couple of hours a week to do some of the more strenuous tasks that need doing.After fifteen years of marriage, I think I know my husband is never going to come around to loving days spent at one with the dirt, so I took matters into my own hands and advertised in the local paper. We have now successfully redone the compost bins (with the help of Peter after all) and I am full of good intentions to keep then in tip-top shape and that compost turned and used. I mean I have the chickens and they freely give of their eggs and their….poop! So I need compost bins. I now have three for compost and one for leaf mold. Something my brother (the real gardener in the family) swears by. If you don’t know about it click on the link above, this is what we sould be doing with our leaves insead of blowing them all over the place.IMG_3373I also managed to plant a few brussels and red cabbages in the newly weeded raised bed. Oh, this is going to be a great year for the veggies. Gosh mabe I’ll start a gardening blog!IMG_3375

It’s just a little nip and tuck?…..

Well no, actually it is not. I have been in what would we call this?…..Oh yes agony! That’s probably a bit too strong, but I have been really hurting since I have been home. Oh, well this just serves me right for being so glib about my last and final surgery. “It’s nothing” I said ” just going in to get rid of those chicken wings under my armpits that used to be part of my boobs” I joked. Well the joke was on me this time because, as you will see from the photo, this was hardly a minor nip and tuck. The thing is, those are not the bits that hurt, no, that would be where I had some fat (aparently it takes a quite bit) lipo’d from my tummy to fill in my divot and even out the look of my little lumps. Right, take it from me liposuction hurts….a lot, and the bruises! well I’m not even going to show you those for fear it would put you all off your dinners. So, here I am, wearing something akin to a Kevlar girdle and bra,(I really am sure this thing could stop a bullet) looking as if I’ve taken a few punches from someone who knows a thing or two about boxing and feeling really miserable. I am sure to be back from this pity party for one soon but right now I think I feel a bit sorry for myself.IMG_3354

Home already……

On entering the waiting area for surgery intake patients, I was struck by how jovial everyone seemed. Some people bring whole families with them and yesterday was no exception. A big happy Hawaiian band of smiley faces, a good omen I thought. They whipped me right in on time and maybe it’s because I’m getting to be an old hand at this but it all seemed to go very smoothly. I was done with surgery by two in the afternoon and on my way home by four thirty…..nothing to it. I even pulled the medical priority boarding for the ferry ride home which was great, we just had to show the special paper from the hospital and then pulled in front of everyone else and drove straight on,in rush hour which was fantastic as I was pretty uncomfortable in my outfit. This time they sent me home in a full on wraparound velcro girdle and another massive velcro compression bra, phew! you can hardly breath. Anyway, I am doing fine although I am covered in bruises and have about a hundred stitches in me and am swimming in a percocet fog. So, if none of this makes sense you will know why. Just thought I should let you all know I am home, recovering and happy.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho ……

Alright, it’s time to fix up that little back bedroom,commonly refered to here as the A.S.S (after surgery sanctuary) ready for my return from the Swedish country club and spa, oh ok, but hospital doesn’t sound like nearly as much fun. I have an early check-in, in the morning, so hopefully that will mean that I will be over the anaesthetic and able to come home the same day. I am supposed to be in for about a three-hour opp. This sort of surprised me as I thought this little nip and tuck to my Barbie boobs was going to be a snap. Ha, when is anything a snap? But, on the positive side this should be my last and final trip to the OR in a long long time. My surgeon Dr V has just returned from a conference in Hawaii, so I feel certain she will be rested and ready to go. I have taken a full week off work to recover and I hope this will be enough. I am going to be stuck in bed for a while and am sure I will feel the need to write a blog post or two, so, bye for now and I’ll see you on the other side of what I hope will be an easy surgery.

Almost time to wrap it up……………….

IMG_3342

I feel as if I am finally coming to the end of this long journey. I have one last surgery to go, scheduled on February 26th. This is related to my breast reconstruction, a little bit of nipping and tucking, if you will and a very strange sort of divot that has appeared that also needs some attention. After that…..I”M DONE!  Done with it all and forever (one can only hope) Tied into that is my coming to terms with finishing this blog. Another lady whose cancer blog I follow, recently said, that now she is not undergoing any active treatment, blogging about every day life just seems, well, a bit self-indulgent and I agree. Sharing my life over the past, almost two years has helped me cope in ways I would never have imagined. I knew when it was time to write a post about some of the less savory issues of dealing with cancer, I reached to find that funny spot because I knew you wouldn’t want to read fear in my voice and once I had found it, it became even more amusing and less scary to me because,it is so true that laughter is the very best medicine. For me, writing about it was my way of staying calm. “Keep calm and carry on” as we Brits say. More than that though, I felt I needed to tell people, at first just my friends, then my clients, then the world. I had had not one but two separate cancers and look…….I’m coping, I’m working, I’m still living my life. It is not as bad as you might think.

When I was first diagnosed, I searched for someone out there in the cyber world who had been through my cancer too and lived to tell a positive tale. I didn’t find them. All I found were people with horrible tales to tell. So I thought “Right, I’ll do it” and I believe I have.Staying positive has never been a problem for me but I could not have done it if it were not for you. Those little messages of encouragement over the past two years have been such an invaluable part of my stamina, courage and recovery. You can NEVER know how much. Thank you all for every word, every card and every single dollar. I feel I could write a whole book on the kindness and generosity of my friends. Having cancer sucks, dealing with health insurance companies sucks, constantly worrying about going bankrupt sucks and will continue to suck for all the years it will take me to pay them off, but I am able to face it all so much easier because I know I have the love and support of so many people, all pulling for me.I felt and still feel I have this little fan club and I am not going to let any you down. One of my clients has a sister who is a Mother Superior at a convent on the east coast. She informed me that my name had been added to their prayer list back in 2011 and that every day since, 300 nuns have been praying for my recovery. Can you imagine that? One of the many things that have just blown me away. I have had over 13,000 hits on this blog since it’s inception and at last count people from sixty-eight different countries have clicked on to read about my life. It is all a bit mind-boggling. Especially when I think about some of the content….ehem!

I also just had my six month colon scan (all clear) and I will post agin, just to let you know how this last surgery goes and who knows maybe someday I’ll start another blog.For now though I’m getting ready to close the book on this chapter of my life. I am a better person for having cancer, it has been a vehicle to enrich my life…….who’d have thunk that!

New year, new tribulations…..

New year’s eve found us sitting outside around a big fire with friends. We were drinking a concoction of brandy and rum referred to as a Dickensian punch. It was delicious and delightful to watch being prepared with yet more fire, please click on the above link and make some for yourselves, perfect for the freezing December night. On our way home we pulled over by the water’s edge and set off a sky lantern (more fire)  As we stood with arms around each other and craned our necks to watch it float to the heavens I wished to be healthy, stay healthy, oh and a brilliant year for painting sales for Peter too please.sky lanternIf you have never seen or used a sky lantern they are truly beautiful and I can only imagine how magical it would be to see hundreds of them set aloft at once as they do at festivals in Thailand and China. One word of caution, always make sure you are in a wide open space. We once almost set one of our fir trees on fire, because it caught in the branches……Um, not our finest hour, but it was funny to watch my husband try to extinguish it very ineffectually with a hose pipe and not enough water pressure.

January 2nd and back to a busy day at work. The day was going well although, I did have a few more trips to the bathroom than usual but thought nothing of it. It is now my lot in life to be a more frequent visitor. It would have been about 5.15 when, on walking to catch my ferry home, I suddenly had that “OMG, I need a bathroom, immediately” thought. I swung into a coffee shop only to find the ladies occupied “Really?” I darted back onto the street and into a restaurant, where I asked if I might use their facilities. I damn near collided with a waiter and a tray full of drinks in my hurry to get there in time. “Phew, made it” Back on the street and hurrying now 5.22, ferry departs at 5.35 I had not gone more than two blocks when my nightmare came true….Yep, I crapped my pants on first avenue, with just three blocks to go. Oh, the humiliation, oh, the thought of all those happy new year hugs from my ferry friends, oh, how I did not want to miss this ferryand have to wait almost two hours till the next. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a cloak of invisibility. Spurred into action by the clock,5.26, I darted (minced, would be a better word) into the bar just before the ferry terminal. They have a very nice, large restroom…..with a sink. I did the best I could and on exiting ran slap bang into a friend, here came the hug “Oh please don’t breath to deeply” I think. I smile big and move away as fast as I can “Must dash or I’ll miss the boat” 5.34 Board ferry, eyes forward, walk past friends, wave a greeting and lock myself into the handicapped stall that also has a sink.Washed unmetionables, stuffed them in a plastic bag and emerged with smiles and hugs for all.

Happy new year everyone, may your dreams come true this year and your bathrooms be ever near.

Christmas

IMG_3246I hope you all had a lovely Christmas yesterday, sorry, I had really good intentions of writing last week, but time just slipped away, as it does. My very good friend and cohort Traci was having  serious surgery to remove a benign tumor (we called him Burt for years)  from her liver. She is doing well now and amazingly went home from the hospital yesterday although still in considerable pain. At least you are not being woken every hour at home, to be probed and poked and I hope she can now get some rest.

I had an appointment with my gynecologist a couple of weeks ago to review the  “Amazing shrinking vagina”  I had stopped using the estrogen cream months ago, on the advise of the breast surgeon, but wanted to see if I could go back on it again now that I have no breast tissue to worry about, to help with softening of that scar tissue caused by the pelvic radiation. The answer was yes ..hooray! Perhaps this next year may see the old tunnel of love back in action so to speak. I also went to see a genetic counselor who asked me loads of questions about my relatives and how they died and if they were Icelandic or Ashkenazi jews ????? yes, that’s what I thought. The link should explain. Anyway, I got a lot of information about mismatch repair proteins and a lot of other stuff I really didn’t understand. I was to have a test done on the original sample of my colon tumor done at the time of that first colonoscopy. Kind of weird to think that bits of me are in labs just waiting for an opportunity to be tested again, I wonder how long they keep those things? The long and short of all this boiled down to something called Lynch Syndrome. If I had tested positive, which, I am happy to report I did not, I would now be making plans to get a complete hystorectomy…Phew!

Lastly, about THE CAKEIMG_3266She looked a bit lumpy bumpy when I took her out of the tin but smelled deliciousIMG_3268I covered her with marzipan on Sunday that I purchased from marzipan confectioners in Spokane Wa.Shipped to my door lovely and freshIMG_3272Just had to add the royal icing and a bit of holly and ribbon on Monday afternoon and VOILA!IMG_3290As you can see, we polished off a fair chunk yesterday and sent friends home with extra helpings otherwise I am sure I would be having a piece for breakfast as it was quite heavenly and worth the time, trouble and wait. Damn, now I have to make one every year!