Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When God Says “Go!” You’d Better Be Ready

I have rarely seen a medical process move this quickly. It has me dizzy trying to keep up with everything - forms (some online, some not), phone calls back and forth, consults, tests, tests and more tests.

The triple-exam route (manual exam, mammogram, ultrasound) was Monday. They called me Tuesday to be sure I was all right. This morning, Wednesday, their Nurse Navigator (a coordinator of events) called at 10 and had me on the phone for half an hour. 

She asked which surgery group I chose from their list and while we were on the phone, she processed the referral. She told me to call the MRI folks on Friday and the surgeon on Monday. She told me to get a blood test before the MRI exam. She said if they couldn’t schedule the MRI within 10 days, to call her right away. She marked it all to be expedited, even though some tests had not come back yet.

Less than 2 hours later, the surgeon’s office called me. I wasn’t supposed to call them until Monday. They scheduled me for a consult on Monday, way way across town. I mentioned I should have the MRI first so they could review the results and they said that in this case, they’d already seen enough for what they needed but to schedule it anyhow and cancel, if not needed.  They told me to go online tomorrow or Friday and complete the forms there to save time on Monday.

I called and scheduled a ride to and from the consult.

Meanwhile, the breast care center, where I had the triple-round of tests, called too. They sent in the order for blood work. We agreed I’d do it this weekend, quickly. So, very early Saturday morning I’ll be at the lab for the draw.

I was beginning to lose track of how many phone calls I’d had and how many I’d made by then.

This has been moving fast since I first discovered the lump around 10/15. Within 3 days, one doctor told me to see my primary care guy, who got me in within a week (unheard of) and he told me to get the mammogram, etc. and that happened within two weeks of his visit.

Father in heaven, I am thrilled to see how quickly this is all moving along. I know from experience from almost two decades ago, that cancer is quick and bad. You’ve really got your crew moving on this and I am very grateful. Please forgive my momentary lapses of focus, the times when I tell myself that this is absolutely too fast and I just can’t get it together. I know you are there for me and will help me stay focused and stable along the way. I’ll just try to rest in your capable, almighty hands and go along for the ride. I trust in you.

Update on the Octopus Cat Toys $10 Each

I finished the 5 on order for my neighbor - have 2 others to do. 

I’ve decided on $10 each for the price. I insist on cotton worsted rather than acrylic, for yarn. I also use pompoms instead of fiberfill (too easy for cats to pull it loose) or styrofoam (shreds too easily). 

The photo is of the ones I just finished. I have other variegated colors at home but when someone wants a specific color, I must drive 10 miles to get that yarn...

I do so enjoy making these and they do come out cute...

Uh Oh - Things Are Revving Up a Bit

This morning, the Nurse Navigator called and did the referrals on the phone. 

I must call the MRI folks on Friday for an appointment for that within 10 days from then, and then the surgeon on Monday for an appointment for after the MRI. 

I must squeeze in a blood test round between now and the MRI. 

I must do the newsletter, the charity crafters, and try to do food prep before my food spoils. I must defrost that freezer, for sure, on Saturday, to make it easier after surgeries. 

On Dec 5, I see the plastic surgeon for an appointment for the thing on my shoulder blade on my back, and the next day, toenail clipping because I cannot clip the curved one any longer on my own. 

SO, the main thing is for me to just try to stay calm and rational. 

I really, really thought that I'd have a peaceful Christmas for the first time in five years. Still, it is what it is. It will work out - it always does.

Gently Active Morning Planned

I plan a gently busy morning and a relaxed afternoon and a relaxed Thanksgiving.

This morning, I must stuff 3 cat toy octopi and sew them closed so I can deliver all 5 to my neighbor tomorrow. I’ll do those and because I am forced to sit while I do that, I’ll watch Kelly and Ryan and Price Is Right.

While I am doing those, I will have the dryer going on no-heat-fluff to freshen a dozen or more (might be up to 2 dozen - have to count these) of the tees a neighbor gave me for our homeless donations. They are clean but have a slight musty closet smell and even the homeless, and especially the homeless, can use something with a fresh smell once in a while. I’ll toss in a dryer sheet for a lift. Then I’ll bag and tag those and they can go out with the 8 bags and 2 boxes that one of our team is picking up tomorrow. She and her hubby will deliver them in a day or so to the gal who will take them to the priest who personally distributes them directly to the homeless.

Anyhow, I hope to clear off any areas I need for the defrosting on the weekend so that I have no excuses to delay that. If I’m going to be out of commission, here and there, a day or a week, from any strenuous activity, I want the freezer freshly defrosted and full of stuff I can just grab and nuke. I’ll be fitting in food projects off and on where time and energy permits, over the coming days, weeks, months.

So, I only need to finish the cat toy order, fluff and tag the tees, and a little pre-straightening for the weekend. With the rest of the day, I’ll do whatever catches my eye or any easy food prep that will take something off my to-do lists. But I’ve promised myself it is all sweet and easy.

Friday, even though our clubhouse is closed, I might still do the 2 hours over there for the charity crafting in case someone stops by. It’s relaxing and it’s close. Years ago, I’d have walked over there. Maybe, come spring, I might give it a whirl on foot once more.

This weekend, I begin the December newsletter so I can get it out for proofing on Monday morning, proofing changes Tuesday, printing Wednesday, stapling Thursday, and rolling my half on Friday for delivery on the weekend.

I suspect I will be constantly moving on medical issues, between consults, tests, and surgeries, all during December, on one cancer or another...I am happy to have crochet orders and projects in mind to keep me nice and sane, and away we goooooo, as Jackie Gleason would say...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Make Me a Beacon, Not a Rain Cloud

With the upcoming medical issues, it is important for me to keep my attitude on track. I do not want to slide from a cup half full person to a cup half empty one.

I had looked toward this coming Christmas season as one of less stress than previous years. Roof is fixed. Pipes are replaced. Bills are reasonably well under control. Car is behaving.

Up pops two forms of cancer. One on my back, on my shoulder blade. The other, my left breast.

But the good thing is all those other things are gone. I cannot imagine what it would be like to deal with the upcoming tests, consults, surgery and even more, if I were also dealing without running water, or a leaky roof, a troubled car, or all the late fees I incurred almost every month on the bills.

So, there are many reasons to rejoice this Thanksgiving.

I am, however, concerned about others. I have one friend whose partner is having major medical issues and whose son is in casts from his wrists up to his elbows. Terrible way to spend the holiday. Another friend lost his beloved wife, his fur baby cat, and his mom, all in one month, last month. Still another...well, you see where I am going.

Heavenly Father, make me a beacon, not a rain cloud. Help me to see how you always light my path. Hear my plea, my prayers, for my friends and loved ones, that they, too, might see a ray of sunshine on their own path. Please have mercy on them, each and every one.

Bra Burning, Crafts, Food, and Freezer Defrost

After the breast biopsy yesterday and being required to wear the bra all day and sleep in my bra all night, at 9 a.m., I am flinging it to the wind. Or, at least, to the laundry hamper - no need to burn it.

Today I must finish 2 more cat toy octopi for a small order that must be done by Thanksgiving morning. I have 3 finished; she needs 5. 

Then I begin some button-face angels and another cat toy, and also a few coasters for another order. By the end of the month, those will be done, just in case others come in.

And I should begin to get some food prepped again - weather is quite cool at night so overnight crock pot meals sound good.

HIGH PRIORITY this weekend or sooner: DEFROST THE FREEZER!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Reminders of My Faith All Around Me

I had to run out early this morning, dropping yarn at one gal’s porch and some very meager, but I hope, helpful, groceries at another. Along the way, in the dawning all around me at 6 a.m., I was reminded yet again that there are reminders of my faith all around me.

This morning, the light was hitting all of the surrounding mountains. Las Vegas is in a valley. Mountain ranges seem to encircle us. When the light hits a certain way, at a certain time of day, it is incredibly beautiful. Over and over, the words from America The Beautiful sang in my head: “For purple mountain majesties.” They were a glorious soft mauve-like soothing tone. They were majestic and royal. And thrills ran through me. Even as I am typing this, I have shivers of goosebumps.

It is a sight I see often in this area I now call home. I hope and pray I won’t be called to leave here but always in my mind, I will have these memories, this sight.

Reminders of the creator who created it all. That’s where the faith kicks in. I realize he created the sky itself, with the sun and the moon and the clouds and the angles of the rays upon those mountains. He created the mountains themselves, in all their majesty, their height, their strong protective beauty.

Father in Heaven, thank you!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trying to Fit To-Do’s in Sensibly Over Coming Month or So

Normal daily events and to-do’s are tricky to weave into the upcoming medical events and procedures. I’m not even as concerned about the pain as I am about trying to fit things in. I must look at everything I’d need to buy/get in the house over the next month and pick the heaviest things and get them in this weekend. From Monday morning’s needle biopsy forward, I will have various lift/carry limits and various wound care needs.

We never consider the weight of a bag of litter or a grocery bag with both a large bottle of mouthwash, a can of coffee, and veggies and fruit. Produce, folks, is heavy, but I’ve never needed to worry about that angle of daily life.

Anyhow, I’m squeezing in 2 food pantries today and a farmer’s market on Saturday because there’s no way I can fit them in after Monday morning - it will be close to mid-December before I am eligible for them again and even then, depending on which surgeries I’ve had around that time, I might not be able to carry them into the house.

I must do as much laundry as I can this weekend and I must pack between 5 and 7 huge bags of handmade items for charity crafting distribution for the local homeless. I have no clue when these will be picked up but I will have weight limits after some upcoming procedures from Monday forward. I’ll just spend Sunday packing and documenting and labeling them all and lugging them out onto the back of the driveway and hope I can get them from there to the car when I’m advised of the pickup date/time.

Also this weekend, I need to buy a few reams of paper for the newsletter to hold me until January, again, because it is heavy. And I need to think about my normally casual attitude toward my 3-gallon-jugs of water which I refill during the month.

Mostly, I’m afraid I’ll forget something and regret forgetting it. I’m trying to relax and let my faith guide me...it’s the only way I’ll manage to get it all done simply and easily and I know that can be done - all in good time...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It is Breast Cancer, But Please Don’t Be Alarmed

Ok. This morning they did the regular "breast exam" by physical touch, followed by a mammogram with a zillion positions, followed by an ultrasound. We rather expected the lump on the left breast to be a simple calcification but it apparently IS cancer.

Do not be alarmed for me, my friends. This is a good thing simply because it was caught so very early. I only discovered the lump around 10/15 - within a few days, I happened to be at the dermatologist for a basal cell cancer on my back shoulder (that's still in the works) and he checked it superficially and thought it was calcification and strongly suggested I check with my primary care guy. My PC squeezed me in on a fast appointment the following week and he, too, felt it was just calcification but he, too, strongly suggested the mammogram.

Bottom line - it is quite small, it is toward the surface which means I found it so much sooner than if it had been deep inside, hidden, so treatment will be fairly minimal. 

Monday I go for a needle biopsy, just to verify that it is cancer so they can get the insurance to approve the next move. About a week after the biopsy, I see the surgeon who will decide whether we should do a cut and/or radiation. Another good thing is that it is the left side which is not my dominant side so it will not affect my driving or crocheting or stapling newsletters or even newsletter delivery. 

Looks like this winter will be round after round of inconvenient doctor visits - Dec. 5 is when I see the surgeon to schedule the excision of the basal cell cancer on my shoulder blade area - but again, these are not the worst of things

All in all, this could have been SO much worse - so I am rejoicing over how minimal it is compared to what it could have been. It would be nice if you could each keep me in your prayers, though. It won't be horribly painful but there will be mild pain and discomfort...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Octopus Cat Toy Orders - Starting Them This Weekend

Last Christmas season, I played with a “jellyfish cat toy” crochet pattern. I used cotton worsted because I feel cotton is better around pets and babies in case they suck on it. Anyhow, it is really cute. Must post a photo of the one Silkie loves, this week. I made 2 others for a friend with 2 cats.

She wants 5 by Thanksgiving. She’ll ship 4 abroad and 1 is for her sis who saw the ones I made.

I found some great variegated balls of Sugar and Cream on sale at Michael’s early this week, so I’ll start these, and probably finish them, this weekend. We had a time agreeing on the stuffing. I like pom-poms or batting because they are soft and they help the shape. My friend would like styrofoam balls because she felt the cats couldn’t pull those out. But we both agreed the styrofoam could break apart and be ingested later. We compromised on the pom-poms (I buy a bag full of them) or even batting, so long as I toss the catnip in at the end, and then sew the hole completely shut.

I love how these turn out so I can’t wait to do them and then show you all one or two...

Medical Appointment Mania Looms

We’ve all gone through these spells, if not for ourselves, then for a household member. Finally got all my referrals, follow-ups, etc., etc., etc., lined up again.

Next Wednesday is the mammo to verify that lump is only calcification, but to also just have a point of referral for any future issues, on record.

First week of December is a double-header. One morning is the podiatrist. That’s my new quarterly nail cutting since at my silly old age it’s more tricky and less safe for me to do them myself.

And one afternoon is the plastic surgeon. No, I won’t come back looking like my 20-something self, but I hope to come back feeling better about my situation. It’s for the basal cell carcinoma on my back on the shoulder blade. He’ll excise it completely, hopefully, and stitch it. The thing is, I am still doing wound care on the previous excision from about a month ago, morning and night, and it is very difficult because of the placement of the covering I’ve got to twist around in front of a mirror to apply. I will be so relieved when this part is all over.

So, hopefully, I’ll end the year with a few medical issues dealt with and resolved happily. If things are a bit inconvenient and sore along the way, so be it. I’ve been through much worse.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Foodie - Trying to Get Caught Up on Food Prep

I should be getting more produce in another week or so, from one food pantry and one farmer’s market. I really do have to catch up on the stuff that is already in my fridge bins and prep them before they spoil.

Today, I finally rinsed and trimmed a pound of strawberries. And I took a deep breath and stood my ground at the counter and diced all 3 lbs of pears; made 2 4-cup tubs; froze 1. I had a 2-lb deli container of jello which I portioned into little 1/2 cup containers to make it easier to grab and eat when the mood strikes.

This evening, I skinned 10 chicken thighs for overnight in crock pot in BBQ sauce. I’ll pack them individually in the morning.

Tomorrow, I really hope to make another batch of yogurt smoothies so I’ll have them for a week of easy access.

There are still those 4 squash to deal with - I love them when they are cooked but I tend to stall on the prep.

And I am still stalling on defrosting that upright freezer, but I hope to do it this month, no later!

Recent Charity Crafting Distribution of Handmade Baby Items

We are happy to announce our group has made and given away (to Baby’s Bounty) the following items for newborn to year-old babies in need:
Baby Hats -66
Baby Jackets - 43
Baby Blankets - 18
Bibs - 11
Baby Booties - 5 pair
Ponchos - 5
Dresses - 3
Baby’s Bounty distributes to about 100 local agencies! We dropped the items off on October 3rd.

We are a very small group and not registered or non-profit. But somehow, we always receive enough yarn and enough members to do some good in our local area. We have two regular members who show up every week. We have one couple who bring their finished projects to us several times a year. We have one member who lives nearby and has her husband drop hers off to us. And we have two others who bring theirs to us via the other Friday morning member.

We are always amazed at what slow and steady can accomplish.

Overdue Thanks to my Heavenly Father

October was a roller coaster ride for sure. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of bumps on life’s highway. But nothing that could not be dealt with. The pace was the thing that almost wore me down. Things kept happening one on top of another - some bad, but many good.

I sat down today to deal with this month’s bills. I have been in what I call “survival mode” for about 5 years now. Almost the whole time, I’ve faced each new month “in the hole” before I even began. Slowly, steadily, things are simmering down. I’ve plodded along, lived frugally, learned a lot about how to thrive on what little I had. I made a game of it.

Along the way, I’ve been blessed, repeatedly. Sometimes it was help with a sudden bill - the vet for when Silkie broke 3 of her canine teeth, car issues, etc. Sometimes it was food that came my way in amazing degrees from food pantries, from folks who were clearing things out, and from other sources.

I worked the Swagbucks website, occasionally building up enough points for $25 gifts cards to use at the stores. I worked coupons and Free Friday Downloads at Smiths.

And I worked at rekindling my free lance writing work, with one sale so far.

Last month, I ended without stress at the end of the month. Looking at my bills today, for this month, unless something unexpected happens, I hope to finish the month without stress once more.

I’m not sure how to deal with the lack of that stress. Oh, there are still other issues - medical (basal cell carcinoma still to be cut and stitched,  mammo for one lump), an old car whose parts are getting harder to replace, an old house, and an old body. But they are in better shape than they were 5 years ago.

What am I saying? That I might not be in the best of all possible situations, but I am certainly not in the worst. Thank God - literally. And thanks to my friends and agencies and opportunities I refuse to overlook.

Heavenly Father, thank you for getting me over all the bumps. Thank for you helping me get all the bills paid, for cluing me to check situations with my car, with my health, before they get out of hand. Thank you for the patience, the stamina, and above all, for the faith. And please bless anyone who helped me in any way, even with a simple prayer - thank you for hearing those simple prayers!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hello, November!

I forgot to mention night before last, the 31st, that I also managed to somehow send in 3 more stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul folks. I keep moving along on these. Hope to repeat my joy again one of these months.

Had to get a little active in the kitchen today. Projects piling up and doing them makes things easier next few days.

Made 2 quarts of milk from the dry powder; ground some walnuts; made carrot/raisin/avocado salad; and made a tub of Jello.

I use that milk for cereal each day. The chopped walnuts went into a peanut butter jar and I’ll add a heaping tablespoon of those along with chopped peanuts to my oatmeal when I have that. The carrot/raisin salad is something I love to nosh on when a craving for something sweet but filling hits me plus it’s healthy. And I use 2 small boxes of sugar free gelatin in 2 different flavors and it fills a 2-lb deli container and also satisfies my sweet tooth in a healthy way.

I still have so much to do. Things moved really fast in October and my plans were constantly being revised but it all went well. Still, I need to get stuff off the back of my driveway this weekend. I’m hoping to do a pretty good job of that Saturday and Sunday - sorting for thrift store pickup, etc.

Tomorrow and Saturday, I really really must do up those squash that are in the bins in the fridge!

I hope and pray that this month I can concentrate a lot on making things for the holidays.

But like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady will get me there.