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Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

The past, present, and future. The value is in all three.

I am a wordy person. I didn't say worldly, I said wordy. I write what I know, and what I know is my past, and the house of mirrors that distorts my perception of that. My present, and the daily burden of keeping myself in the moment. As for the future, I only know that, I will do what I can, to have a future.

This Blog is a personal quest. I write about myself, and the people I love. I take pictures of the beauty I see in my daily life. I try to stay fresh, and positive. Today, though, I am going to tell you a true story about my me. I hope I do not come off as pathetic, but, whatever!

This is my cancer story. Yes, I have a cancer story. No tissue needed, I promise. I am here, writing this, so you know the ending, already.  In 1999 I went to the emergency room, with some infection. I didn't spend time going to doctors. I only waited, until I was suffering, to go. Strep throat, UTIs, that kind of thing. So I drove myself to get whatever it was, checked out. I met a young DR. there, who was doing his internship. I got the prescription I needed to clear up the infection, and was on my way. The DR. asked me to come in for a physical examination at the clinic where he did his thing. I agreed, I have no idea why.

I made the appointment. I went to the Doctor. I hated doing things like that. I was a healthy, young, vibrant, mother, who worked long hours, and sucked it up. During the physical, the Doctor put his hands on my neck, and checked my glands. Then he noticed the lump in my throat. I thought everyone had one. I really did. Men have an Adam's apple, and I thought that women just had a little one. WRONG! After the through going over, he referred me to an Endocrinologist. What a hassle I thought. The doctor thought I may have a problem with my thyroid, and it needed to be looked at. Okay, no worries. I went.

The new DR. had me come in, examined me, and set me up for a needle biopsy. Hmmm. no biggie, I could do this. I went to the biopsy. They had me lay on a table, and told me not to swallow, as they stuck a huge needle in my throat, not once, but six times. Never tell someone not to swallow, it is all that they can think about. It hurt, but I got through it.

A few days later, the results were in. I had cancer of the thyroid. The Dr. told me that if I were going to have cancer, I was lucky to have this kind. It was totally curable. A walk in the park, so to speak. All I can say is it is no walk in the park to hear that news. Damned him and his bedside manner. He was an ass!!! Lucky, indeed. I had two young boys, and had just seen my grandmother die of lymphoma.

I was scheduled for surgery. I used a surgeon that I knew from a previous surgery on my neck. I had a chronically infected saliva gland, which had turned into a pain in the wallet. I had infections, and was being treated several times a year. I trusted this Dr. and I chose to have him do my surgery. When I went to see him the first time for the saliva gland, he told me it was a "no brainer". He was professional, but he didn't act like a God. He was trustworthy. I knew he was the one. The endocrinologist didn't like my choice of surgeons. I did, though.

I scheduled the surgery. I went to the hospital, and did what I needed to do. I was not brave, I was on automatic pilot. After the surgery, which took many more hours than expected, the surgeon came out, and talked to my Husband, and my Mother. He was surprised that it was so extensive. He took out the thyroid gland, and some lymph nodes. In the process he damaged my parathyroid gland, but he had no choice. He told my family that the cancer was extensive, but the surgery was a success. After I healed I would have to undergo radiation, but I would be okay.

The Endocrinologist came in while I was waking up, after surgery, to tell me I indeed had cancer. I told him I knew that. He came in later, thinking I was still too groggy to understand, and told me again. I told him I had heard him the first time. Why would I have had surgery, if it weren't necessary?

Here is something that they don't tell you. The thyroid gland regulates all metabolism. Being without the gland makes you feel like death. I know how it feels to have no energy. None, not enough to walk up a flight of stairs, not to walk down a hallway, not to want to live. For a few weeks after the surgery, I recovered, then came the  worst part.

About six weeks after the surgery, I was given radioactive iodine treatment. Here is the tough thing, they take you off thyroid hormone therapy for several days, even weeks before that. You are cold, swollen, tired, bloated, beyond imagination. I sat with wool blankets, and shivered. I couldn't even walk upstairs to use the bathroom without help. I would stop in the middle of my stairway, and cry. I wished for this to all end. I wished to die. The day finally came for the treatment. I struggled to get to the hospital. My husband was with me. I sat in the waiting room, and the endocrinologist came out and said that the radioactive iodine did not arrive. I would have to reschedule. I broke down, right there. I really didn't think I would live the few days, it would take to get it there. Honestly, I didn't want to live, anymore. I was physically out of steam. Of course I did live, and I have had radioactive iodine treatments several more times in the last twelve years. They still suck!

I had two types of cancer, papillary and follicular. I was young, and they do not stage cancer in people under forty. Yippy! The tumor was big, it had spread, and I survived. I learned to treat Doctors as human beings. I do not take their crap, and I shop for one that is trustworthy, and forthright. I have to confess that my life was changed. I was given the gift of cancer, and I believe that I am a better person for it. I live each day with a new view. I see, appreciate, and try my best, to be my best.

My husband, on the other hand, became completely unhinged, during this crisis. He leaned on Vodka, and went over the edge. He is better, now, but he too was given the gift, of addiction. He chose to live, just as I did. Our marriage survived. Our children, who were teens, and going through their own stuff at the time, may have been changed. I know they were.

I live in the present, but I see the value of past experiences. I get depressed, and have been taken to the edge, a few times, since then. I know that I am strong. I know that I have value. I just know.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cold smiles are chilly delights

Somehow, I forgot about snowmen. It has been so long since I have seen one, I thought it was a lost art. This morning on my drive to work, I turned the corner in my neighborhood, and bam, there she was, in all her glory. Her smile made my day brighter. I couldn't wait to get home to share her with all of you...Oh the memories!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Katie the whole story

I posted a video of Katie the other day. She is my little chihuahua. She was a rescue, and her story is worth telling. She was brought to this country by immigrant farm workers, here in Wisconsin illegally. She was a puppy, still, when they were deported. A friend of mine, who is Spanish speaking, and who befriended the owners of the dog, took Katie, and her brother in, and tried to find them homes.

She asked me if I knew of anyone who would like a little chihuahua, and I thought about my son, Nate. He lived in an apartment, alone, and needed a friend. I thought having a little dog would be good for him. He would have to take her for walks, and get out of the house. He would have something to focus on, besides himself. He is mentally ill, and isolates.

I asked Nate if he would be interested, and he decided to give pet ownership a try. I took her home, a few days later, and gradually introduced her to Nate. I made sure that he paid the pet deposit at his apartment, and got dog supplies for her. We were told that she was spayed. We were told that her shots were up to date. We were told that the paperwork would be given to us.

Nate and Katie became fast friends. Katie was walked more than any little dog has ever been walked. She was never left alone. She was loved. If there was one problem, it was that Katie preferred me, over Nate. She attached to me, as Chihuahua's sometimes do.

If Nate went away for the weekend, Katie came to stay with us. If we all went on a shopping trip, or something, Katie stayed with our Cat, Iggy. She has not been alone, ever!!!

Then a couple years into their life together, Nate's mental health became worse. He stopped walking Katie. He stopped taking care of himself. He got sick, really sick. My first blog, mentions how sick. To sum it up, Katie witnessed my son attempt suicide, not once, but several times. He slit his own throat with a huge knife. I would go to check on Nate everyday, and somehow, by some miracle, Nate did not die. Katie, saw it all. She knew she was once again, not safe.

Katie, then, came to live with me. She will always be "Nate's dog" but she will never again live with him. I will make sure that she is safe, and secure. She deserves stability.

Nate has been in the care of institutions, for the last two years, now. We still have high hopes that he will be independent again, one day. He does, too. He hopes to continue on to College, to study music.

Katie is sleeping, now, at my feet. She is calm, and may be the cause of my sore shoulder. She sleeps in the small of my back, and I do not turn, as I do not want to disturb the dog. She has had a tough little life.

Here is another fact about Katie. She never barks, never. I didn't even know if she could for the first few years. Chihuahua's are known to be "yippy". Not her, she is the most polite, special little dog, I have ever known. Oh, and went we first got her, she was trained, but did not know English. I thought that was funny, and it still makes me smile.

This, too shall pass. Autobiographical drama.

Today started out unusual. I have been nursing a very sore shoulder, and woke up in pain. It was 4:30 AM. I had to take some Aleve . It seems to help, but sleeping was out of the question. I decided to make soup.

Sometimes the act of peeling, slicing, chopping, and inventing, transports me. Cheesy Potato sounded good, and I had all of the ingredients on hand. I hefted out the gigantic Crockpot that we were given, years ago. It is for family cooking, and now there are just the two of us, but cooking in bulk becomes habit. I set out all the vegetables on the counter, and took out the large cutting board. The house was silent, but the tears streamed down my cheeks as I peeled and chopped a large onion. Next came the celery, then the carrots. Carrots rolled under everything, and I am sure I will be finding them for the next few days. I peeled the potatoes and diced them. I had ham in the freezer, so that was included, too. I added the spices, and set it to cook. I covered the pot, and noticed that my shoulder was a bit less painful. I went back to bed.

When I awoke, a few hours later, the house smelled divine. I stirred the soup, and let it cook for a few more hours. I went about my morning routine. I drank coffee, ate some breakfast, returned some phone calls. All appeared to be in order.

After I got ready for work, I added the cream, the cheese, and some sea salt. It melted and turned a creamy consistency. I made a rue to thicken the soup, using some butter, and flour. I stirred it into the pot, and waited. It looked just as I hoped it would. I put a spoon in it, tasted it, and smiled. I then asked my husband to transfer it to a container after it cooled, so we could have it for dinner.

I worked, and got home around 11pm, this evening. Soup did not sound good to me, so I had enchiladas, which were left over from Sunday's feast. I am waiting for the pain to pass, so I can once again attempt to sleep.

This is not the actual drama I intended to write about. That is still too fresh, and stings my soul. Like the soup, it will have to come together with time. My son, Nate, is doing poorly. All I was told was that he is "safe". Being an adult, the privacy laws restrict people from disclosing information. I will have to put it out of my mind, and into God's hands, for now. Nate is severely mentally ill. No medications seem to right him. He is a talented, gentle soul. He is safe, they said he was safe........

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The view

As I examine, consider, take in, regard, behold, I see that all is as it should be. I am only an observer, here. I can not drive a tractor, or clean a barn, or milk a cow, or plow a field. I see the beauty, not the work. I am behind the barbed wire fence. I can ponder. I will always be on the outside, and that is why I see the beauty, and not the burden.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Color in the dark

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Time to Reflect

I walk through the cemetery in the summer for exercise. In the winter it is seldom plowed. I find solace there, time to reflect, and quiet.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Authenticity takes courage. I strive to make everyday count. I honestly believe that in order to be okay with myself, to be authentic, I must do something worthwhile, everyday.

It is said, that a picture, is worth a thousand words. I post photographs. I enjoy taking walks, snapping photographs, and sending them out into the World. I do not communicate with these photos. I communicate in other ways. I pour my heart out in front of this computer screen, and hope that I am judged sane at the end of the day.

This afternoon the sky went from cloudy gray to blue with bright clouds. I know that it means the cold is once again coming. Soon it will be too cold to walk. The snow and ice will crunch underfoot, and to be caught outside for any length, could be deadly. There is something alluring in the light reflecting off the ice crystals. I am compelled to go outside and listen to the wind, the absence of nature. The birds have all flown south. All but the crows who can survive in the harshest of climates. I see deer and rabbit tracks in the yard, only evidence, silent evidence.

I try to follow my own path, and use the gifts I have been given. I know that this is a process, and that I am a work in progress. In the essence of something magical, I have been seen, heard, and understood. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt " When you cease to make a contribution you begin to die."  I intend to live, and be courageous.

A heart shaped rock, painted, and sent to me, by my Sister.

There is something special in the way I communicate with my sister. We were not raised together, and yet we have some of the same traits. We search for stones. I think it must be ingrained in our DNA. We have our Father in common, but have different Mothers. My sister is older than I, and knew nothing of me until her 18th birthday. I always knew of her, though. I longed for a sister, and at the age of 14 I was united with her. I am grateful to have her. She has assured me that if we would have been raised together, we would not be this close. She has a strong personality, and being older, would have distanced herself from me. It all worked to our advantage this way, I suppose.