Things That Make Us Laugh

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Hard to believe I’m sitting here writing this and that in just three days it will have been two weeks since my surgery.

Since then, life has moved quickly. After my surgery, I was surprised by how good I felt the next day. I had expected to go home and sleep for several days. I had planned some Netflix to watch from bed and bought new pajamas. However, I found I was not tired and was able to spend most of my time sitting in one or the other of my two favorite chairs—one in the tv room, the other outside. The neighbor lady walked by and saw me sitting on the front porch. She was amazed that it had only been one day since my surgery. She told me the lady up the street didn’t leave her house for six months when she went through it.

I returned to my surgeon’s office the following Friday (7/14) to have my drains removed. Unfortunately, neither were ready. These drains, in case you’ve never had/seen one, are a little flexible jug about the size of my fist. (I do have a small fist, for what it’s worth.) It’s attached to a thin tube that extends out from beneath my bandages. I hung the duo from a lanyard with the tubes coming up through my shirt’s neckline. They are not necessarily a beautifying clothing accessory, though I considered hanging beads or gluing rhinestones to them. They are the kind of thing that I am highly aware of as I’m always concerned that. . .

a) they will get snagged on something and pull out of my body

b) they will get snagged on something and spill all over my clothing

c) will gross someone out if they see them hanging there. I wear oversized, button up shirts to try to hide/protect them.

(I later learned some people wear a fanny pack under their shirt to hold them. . . oh, now you tell me!)

Finally, on Tuesday (7/18) I was able to have one drain removed and they changed my bandages. The incisions don’t look too bad. We laughed because the surgeon was able to save my heart tattoo. It bears Tim’s name and I had been worried he would cut it in half or worse. I told him "all or nothing." I didn’t want a half tattoo. Haha.

I had bought a new, specialized bra for this situation. I discovered with all the bandaging, I wouldn’t be able to put that on just yet. I dug in my drawers and found an old tube top from the 80s. (Perfect.) Hubby and I laughed because the two young interns who helped remove my bandages commented that the tube top looked really comfortable. (It was.) We decided they had never seen a tube top before. (Is that no longer a thing?)

At the same time, I asked the doctor about my left leg which had been showing some edema, particularly at night. He sent me right over to check for blood clots—Yikes!—but none were found. (Yay!) I believe every inch of my body has been tested for something, at this point.

Sometime between surgery day and this week, all my eye lashes fell out. It cracked me up because I didn’t put on any make up a couple of days after surgery and, a few days later, when I went to put on my "better than sex" mascara, I realized there was nothing there to put it on! We had a good laugh about that. Just goes to show that even though I’m five weeks since my last chemo treatment, I am still having side effects from it. I don’t see the oncologist again until 8/1, but will have a lot of questions for him.

In the meantime, a few weeks ago, Tim’s stimulator, which keeps his back pain at bay, quit working. Along with all my doctor visits, he’s had his share trying to figure out when they could go in with the fix. They called us on Wednesday to see if he could come on Thursday for the first procedure. (It will be several weeks before the new implant can be permanently placed). Today we are a pair, him not being able to bend, me not able to lift. Somehow between the two of us, we are getting around and laughing about the irony of it all.

Today, the UPS man delivered a box containing “medical supplies.” He said, “Did someone get injured?” Tim and I both laughed so hard. There just isn’t a short answer for all that has been going on with us. What was in the box? Medical tape adhesive remover. We both have tape marks on our body and nothing takes that off. Along the way, a nurse had given me a small packet with magic liquid that took the stubborn adhesive right off. I saved the packet and found I could order the product online. Now we can be stick-um free!

Hopefully, from here on out, things will continue to get better. Healing up from all this is taking way longer than I’d like. At least, we are finding things to laugh about as we go along.

Surgery Update

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Today I had my surgery and came through fine. The doctor was pleased. I'm writing this from my hospital bed, where I'm slated to be overnight. They are treating me real well. Couldn't ask for better. Not in much pain, but also have good pain meds.

Will write more later but want you all to know how much I appreciate your support.


July 10

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

I spoke with my surgeon and will have surgery on July 10. (I'll probably be in overnight.) Someone asked me if I was alright with it.

To be honest, I haven't been all that okay about having chemo. (I avoided putting toxic chemicals in and on my body for over thirty years.) I haven't been okay about all the side effects. It's zapped my energy, affected my brain and eye sight and been hard on my skin. My fingers and toes still remain numb beyond the third joint, making it hard to write, correctly type, open things, and pick up things. They say this usually goes away.

I am also not okay with having cancer. (I didn't get a vote on it--at least not consciously). Thus, based on the fact that I wanted to eradicate cancer, I agreed to endure some of the other more annoying things. (I want to add that, although there are alternative paths I could have taken, those who know me know I wasn't going to go the "eat wheatgrass" or "drink green smoothies" route.) Being that I had cancer before and that this round was showing itself as fast growing, I couldn't afford to fool around.

What I'm grateful for is a team who seems really good at what they do as well as being admirably compassionate. Even though I sometimes feel like a living science experiment, I am definitely seeing positive results--and that's the most important part.

So mark your calendars for July 10 and send up some extra prayers that day. I may be a little rough around the edges after, but will be on the recovery road thereafter.

Counting the Days

(The following was originally posted on my Carepages blog for family and friends during my treatment.)

Jamie ChemoDoneI’m counting the days right now until Thursday the 15th when I am slated to have my last chemo infusion. Two or three days after that, I will likely hide out in my cave, shuffle my way through the handful of side effects that come with the treatment, and then take a deep breath knowing that my body can truly begin to recover without being attacked by toxic chemicals. I see my surgeon on the 23rd of June, at which time I believe he will schedule and discuss my mastectomy surgery. It appears he will schedule it quickly, based on prior discussions we’ve had.

As I write this, my elder cat, a mere five-pound puffball of fur and fuzz, sits at attention on the stool opposite the front door. Normally, Wizard would use this time of day for her morning nap and, since the blinds are closed, I know she isn’t watching the birds at the feeder. I’ve decided she is praying. I don’t know if cat’s pray, but that’s what it looks like. The sun trickles through the blinds and dapples her body. She sits very still (not her normal M.O.). I am pondering what cats would pray about.

I miss my hair. It’s funny. I don’t have to spend money on lots of hair products, fuss with straggling ends, worry about style. Weather permitting, Tim and I do a lot of porch sitting. We live across from a small lake and beach. I watch the women who come and go from the lake and what they do with their hair. I’m certain when mine grows back I will return to fussing over it as I once did. For now, it’s just one less thing I have to worry about—and that’s okay.

I have yet to go public with any of my situation but have pondered doing so. Up until now, I have wanted to avoid filling my head with everyone’s opinions about how I should heal myself as well as keeping my mind clear of others’ stories and side effects. Strange as it sounds, if I don’t know it can happen, my mind won’t manifest it. Even though I have had a laundry list of reactions from the varying chemo cocktails, I feel I have been lucky in that they have been minor. Every day I see people who are far worse off than me—and not just from cancer. Still, sometimes I like to whine.

I’ve continued to work on the revision of my Transformational Healing book. I’m hoping to release it by September or thereabouts. When that occurs, I’ll need to be more public, thus my considering going public now. The most difficult part has been writing the updated epilogue. How does one profess to be a healer while amidst a healing crisis? (This is actually more common that you might think.) Since the book presents ailments as a means to look more deeply into one's life, my hope is they will embrace the journey with me, rather than feel it discredits my years of work. Once that is done, I can work on the heritage card deck that serves as the next step after the book.

Thanks again to all of you for your prayers, support, understanding, cards, letters, posts, and calls. It has meant the world to me at a time when my world is upside down and backward. I wonder what my new normal will be on the other side of this big adventure and hope I have learned well enough the lessons it has brought. I certainly have made many shifts in actions and in thought. Still. I know life will continue to be a journey with many new twists and turns all along the way. I have always strived to be a little better each day. I know now I also need to appreciate the person that I am who will never be perfect but desires to matter every day.

If I could impart one thing to you all, that would be it. Know that you matter in some way to someone each and every day. You don’t have to be perfect. Just by being you, you are touching someone’s life and are making a difference—even if you don’t realize it at the time. This not only affects the people you come in contact with each day, but also those who are at a distance and connect with you through thought, love, and prayer. I know in my life, each one of you matters a lot. Thank you.

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