Monday, November 7, 2011


Forgot to blog yesterday. Actually it was a very busy Sunday. Spent most of the day at church. We had a Direct Service Fair after both morning sevices, some of the non-profits we are partnered with were there to sign people up for opportunities to give back.

After that, Matt and I cleaned up after communion, took down the All Saints Day banners, put up the regular banners, and took apart the candle set up we had done for All Saints Day. It was really cool to give people the opportunity to light candles for their deceased loved ones. And during that ritual, I was able to hold it together, but once it was over, I was in tears. Being intensely emotional and empathetic is really difficult sometimes.

We then had a very late lunch with friends and headed back to church for evening service.

Was completely exhausted by the time we got home.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Herb Garden

Today, the Girl Scout troop had an outing to the Orange County Great Park for a gardening workshop. Our girls got to make a 3 herb potted garden (sage, thyme, and chives). We stayed afterward for a cooking with herbs demonstration. I was pretty impressed with the quality of the presentations, especially since the whole program was free. The girls enjoyed themselves and I think we all learned some new things.

I noticed, on the way to the workshop, that the San Bernardino Mountains have a gorgeous blanket of fresh snow on them. Will need to make a snow pilgrimmage soon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Got Nothin'

I am feeling very down and depressed today. And K is fighting off a repiratory bug. Thus endeth today's blog post.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Contemplating Sisyphus

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus, as punishment for his trickery, is sentenced to roll a giant stone up a hill and just as he got it to the top, it would roll back down again and he would have to start over again.

Matt's new job was a nightmare, and they actually laid him off yesterday. So now he is back at the bottom of the hill with the big rock. He is relieved. I am freaking.  He has already arranged an interview for today, so maybe he will be re-employed quickly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Just arrrgh. I am not loving life today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaBloWriMo 2011

And thus I will undertake the Blog version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I am not all that creative when it comes to writing fiction, so I have not even entertained the idea of writing a novel.

I find it so much easier to write about real life. Gritty, rough, emotional, terrifying, wonderful, and full of beauty. Life has had more of the gritty/rough texture lately. Matt lost his job at a very large mult-national bank back in early September. He quickly was re-employed at the beginning of October, however, the job is terribly stressful and much lower paying than his previous job. He is very unhappy, and it affects us all. I worry about him, about his health, about his emotional state, and about his ability to handle the stress. Yes, things could be worse. There are always worse things in the world. But it would be complete denial to say that all is perfectly wonderful right now.

K started 5th Grade this year, and so far it has been kind of rough. She works so hard on her homework and then fails to turn it all in. I feel like we are both banging our heads against the wall, repeatedly. I do not know what else I can do. I know she wants to do well, but her brain chemistry (ADHD) puts up so many roadblocks. I am thinking it may be time to entertain the notion of medication, and I really need to think long and hard about it, what options there are, and how it will impact K and the rest of the family. But with our medical insurance up in the air, I am thinking now may not be the most optimal time to begin this process. UGH.

Right after K started school, I was waking up in the mornings with my left ankle hurting and stiff. The pain and stiffness would go away, so I thought it was arthritis. Until it swelled up one day, and I could not bear any weight on it. So I grabbed the crutches and got my rear end to the Urgent Care, and as it turns out, I stress fractured my ankle. I wish I could remember how I did it, because everyone loves an epic injury story. The fact is, I probably mildly sprained it just doing day-to-day life, and then continued to walk on it, until it broke. I was on crutches for a couple of weeks, and now am on a "walking boot". Let me tell you, that walking boot cost more than any three pairs of my shoes. OY! And it is sooooooo fashion forward.

There are consequences to this walking boot thing, I have to wear my hiking boot on my right foot to come close to how high the walking boot is on my left, and I am still off by about 1/2 inch, so my back is constantly tweaked, and the boot is heavy so my legs (especially my hips) are achy and sore all the time. Yes I am whining. I hate that I am whining, but I have to get it out.

I know life gets better, because life has been better. There is an ebb and flow to everything. I just hate being in the ebb part.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When the Walls Come Tumbling Down

My husband's job with a large financial institution was eliminated last Thusday. To say that I am panicking is an undrrstatement. We have a good community to lean on for moral support, which I am exceedingly grateful for.

I realize that there is a process for handling the emotions. I hate how I feel and would really like to find some peace.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Long Weekend at Camp

Our Girl Scout troop (through the cookie money and some parental cash) earned a trip to our council's Girl Scout camp. The camp ran from Thursday night through Sunday morning. It was pretty amazing.

We all met up and began our drive in the mid-afternoon on Thursday, because with traffic it can take up to four hours to drive the ~100 miles to camp. We got within 25 miles of camp when the highway we needed to travel was closed in both directions due to a terrible car accident. When I say highway, I mean single lane each way podunk country highway. We got directions for a detour that in retrospect, we probably would have been better off avoiding and just waiting until they opened the road again. This detour took us around an hour and I estimate covered about an additional 40 miles. And until I got past halfway through the detour, Nigel (I named our GPS) kept telling me to make a u-turn every few minutes. There were also brush fires in the area, and our detour looked like it was heading right to the fire, until it veered off at the end. Nothing like the fear of getting lost added to the fear of being burned to a crisp. We finally got back to the original highway and made it to camp on time for evening program.

Friday morning we woke up and had breakfast, then headed to our first morning program area...Lake Play!!! They brought out kayaks and windsurf boards (without the sail) and the girls (and adults) could swim, kayak, or paddle the boards out onto the lake. I got my kayaking in for the year, since I was in the hospital for our troop's annual kayak event. From there we went on a hike to a rock formation that was used by the indigenous people of the area as a lookout and where the women ground their grain and acorns for food. There was a rock formation that people could scramble up without any equipment. Then it was time for lunch, which was served outdoors. After lunch we went to the stables for horseback riding and a bead craft. K rode a horse named Ponzo, who, according to K, really just wanted to graze the whole trail ride. I rode a horse named Omaha. Omaha was a dark chocolate brown horse with a black mane, and was a very gentle and patient animal. I had much difficulty mounting the horse and I had to get on the ramp, because I just do not have a lot of strength in my knees and hips. We went to the pool and swam after horseback riding, then ate dinner. Before dinner, our troop was assigned to be the color guard for the evening flag ceremony. K got to be the "caller", while our girls and some girls from another troop were the color guard and the 'singing bridge'. I am proud of our girls' respect and poise. Our troop opted out of evening program (choice between night swimming in lower camp - our cabins were in upper camp, and watching a movie in the dining hall). The girls played games in one cabin, while we adults hung out in the other cabin just chatting and laughing. There were two tarantulas in our camp that evening, and I got a couple of close up photos (that I will upload later). I have never seen a tarantula in nature before, only in cages. Later that evening, one of our girls had a moth fly into her ear (ewww) and would not come out, so I took her and another girl (for moral support) up to the health center where one of the camp staff (I am assuming she is an RN or LVN) was finally able to remove it. The moth was placed into a "lost tooth" box to be taken home to show her family. The same girl lost TWO baby teeth while we were at camp. Best camp story ever!

Saturday morning after breakfast we were scheduled for 'troop time/nature'. We opted in to the tour of the museum and papermaking craft, instead of staying up at the cabins. After that we were in the pool. They delivered our lunch to the pool for us to assemble. After that we were driven up to upper camp (because the hike to the rock climbing station would have taken up most of our time). The hike from upper camp to the rocks was robust (to put it mildly). I really should have stayed back and really almost did not make it all the way up there. Again, I did not try to climb (none of the adults did), but I truly bit off more than I could chew. From there we were rushed down to archery (back in lower camp - we were transported again) because we were over an hour late for that station. The girls each shot 2 quivers with 5 arrows each, then we needed to rush back up for dinner. After dinner we all headed back down to lower camp (!!!) for the campfire and skits. Our troop did the "Invisible Bench" skit. It was fun to watch all the skits and see the creativity.

This morning we had to pack up and leave (sad face). There was an optional pre-breakfast hike that our girls opted out of, so we took that time to have our girls pack their bags and roll up their sleeping bags. We had breakfast (our troop was assigned to be the "hoppers" for breakfast, as was another troop - the other troop showed up AFTER our troop had gotten the dining room all set up *grr*). After breakfast we had a closing ceremony, then a short "dance party" in the dining hall. Back to the cabins to load up, sweep out and clean BIFFs and go. The ride back was much easier without the detour.

I am very tired and yet unable to sleep.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So Excited

I am so excited for the Girl Scout troop that I co-lead. Apparently there is a family visiting from out of the country that has two Girl Guides (Brownie and Junior level) that wants to meet with a troop, and our troop was asked to host them at our next meeting. OMGOMGOMGOMG! I LOVE this!

The plans for our next meeting are to meet at A's house (leader's house) and walk to Northwood Community Park to the War Memorial. This visit will complete the last requirement for the "United We Stand" badge. Then we will have a picnic dinner at the park. I think this is a wonderful meeting to have visitors from outside the US join us. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, overly patriotic. However, I think our girls can learn from girls from another country, and they can learn from our girls. The sharing of ideas and experiences is always a good thing.

It also makes me happy that our troop is the one that was asked to host. I know it is partly because our troop is one of the very few troops that is active year-round. Most troops go on a summer hiatus. Not us!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Now THAT'S a First!

We decided to go to our city's fireworks tonight. Parking is a pain, leaving is usually a pain, but we went anyway. About 3 minutes into the show, apparently a tree got set afire, and the show continued for about another 5 minutes before it was stopped permanently. At least 5 firetrucks, a few paramedics and the entire police force was dispatched to go all Barney Fife all over the place.

I hope no one was hurt, but it really was kind of funny in an overly ironic sort of way.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


This coming Thursday it will be 24 years since I had my final radiation treatment. Twenty four years is probably about twenty years longer than I expected to be walking this beautiful Earth. Thinking back on that time in my life, I am struck by the paradox of how rapidly yet how slowly the events unfolded. It was too fast for my mind and emotions to process, yet dealing with all the side effects made it seem like it was taking forever.

I recently cut my long hair off because I was sick of the bad dye job in my hair, and was also sick of having to put it up to keep it off my neck. Quite frankly, long hair is a heat magnet, I live in a hot climate, I am menopausal and a walking hot flash, and I already am in possession of the world's most active perspiration glands without the long hair. So off it came. I had forgotten about the two different textures that my hair has. The hair that did not fall out during my radiation is thick, coarse and mostly straight with very slight wave. The hair in the area where I lost my hair is very curly (when it is short), finer in texture and also thick. Which makes styling my now short hair kind of an adventure. Hair gel is a gift from the universe, as it helps my two opposing hair types look like they actually belong on the same head. I also did not realize just how gray my hair has become, now that all of the dead dye job has been eliminated. I like my salt and pepper hair. I like it a lot!

By this time, 24 years ago, all I could eat was mashed potatoes and gravy, washed down with cans of Ensure. If you ever need to do liquid nutrition, I suggest avoiding the strawberry flavor of Ensure. It tastes like chemical ass. I am actually very surprised I can look a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy in the face, for as much as I was eating them back then. Some people, while going through chemo and/or radiation develop an aversion to whatever it is that they were able to keep down. That certainly is not true in my case. I still love mashed potatoes and gravy.

I also remember being told, before the last series of radiation treatments that I would probably be infertile, since my ovaries would be in the field of radiation. I am still laughing about that. I am also so very grateful that the doctors were 200% wrong about that (100% each for my two wonderful children).

I am often reminded of that time by the changes my body and mind has undergone. The scars on my neck from the original biopsy (not nearly as bad as they could have been because my Otolaryngologist had training in Plastic Surgery), my long abdominal scar (from stem to sternum), the 10 India Ink dots tattooed on my abdomen and back (to aid in lining up the lead blocks), and my very macabre sense of humor. Thank God for laughter, which got me through until I could really allow myself to cry. I know the grieving process after such traumatic events can be lifelong (because one can only take it in small doses at a time, and it is really hard to get your mind around when your body is utterly failing you like that). But the overwhelming theme in my life, especially after the cancer, is gratitude. Really striving to be and live gratitude for my life, my family, and my circumstances. Not always very successful. But practice gets me closer to perfection, especially with gratitude. I don't hate my scars anymore. I don't necessarily like them, but I have accepted them as part of me, and even sometimes as badges of honor for the battles I have fought. Every day I live is a gift from that hard won war.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Weird Stuff

This has been kind of an eventful week. On Monday, we officially wrapped up the 2011 Girl Scout Cookie sale. Made the final bank deposit and wrote the check to council. We are done. Woohoo. K sold a total of 506 boxes of cookies and the troop total was 3276. We netted about $2,200 in profits. Very awesome.

I have started to have K walk to school in the morning. I walk with her because it is almost a mile from here to school and we have to cross a street (at a signal light) that has a 55 mph speed limit. So far so good, it is nice to have some time in the morning with K where there is not really any pressure (other than making sure we make it to school on time). I am not walking in the afternoon to get her, because it is already too warm in the afternoon for me to feel comfortable exercising. With gas being ~$4.00 a gallon, any way I can conserve is a good thing.

We had our Girl Scout meeting tonight, and it was K's and my turn to bring dinner. Our troop does dinner meetings, and there is a dinner rotation, each girl has an opportunity to be the "dinner hostess". K and I decided to do "walking tacos" for dinner this evening. Only we served them in bowls rather than the individual Fritos bags. What is a walking taco? I am so glad you asked. It is Fritos, taco meat, lettuce, diced tomatoes (we omitted the tomatoes for tonight), shredded cheese, and sour cream usually served in the Fritos bag with a fork or spoon. Dinner was a big hit, most of the girls came back for seconds!

Earlier today, I noticed that my right hand middle finger knuckle was kind of sore, like I had accidentally bashed it, but I had not hit it at all. No biggie, or so I thought. Later in the day (right before I was getting ready for the Girl Scout meeting, I noticed it had swelled up and turned red and started to look kind of "streaky". Definitely not a bruise at any rate. I decided that I was going to go to Urgent Care after the Girl Scout meeting to get it looked at.

Girl Scout meeting went well. Hustled on over to Urgent Care. Thankfully the wait was not long at all. A bit of background information is needed at this point. I have very low blood pressure, and run a borderline high pulse rate (to compensate for the low blood pressure). At most medical clinics, the Urgent Care we go to is no exception, the first person a patient interacts with is a certified medical assistant, basically has about 6-9 months of school. So they really do not understand the nuances of the low blood pressure/elevated pulse rate thing. No problem. The medical assistant took my pulse, then she took my blood pressure. She kind of grunted/sighed and said that she had to take my blood pressure again. I asked her if it was low and she said it was. I told her that I run low blood pressure and asked her if it was around 90/60. She looked shocked and said yes, that is what it was. She took it again and got about the same reading and she was shaking her head. Yes, I know, people with 90/60 blood pressure usually are dizzy, disoriented, and often faint. But I have had this low blood pressure since I had cancer. It is what it is and I live with it every day. And I know not to stand up too quickly or I WILL pass out. I even freak out a lot of doctors with this blood pressure anomaly. The upside is I can eat all the bacon I want!

Well, long story short, I have a cellulitis on my knuckle. I have been given Keflex to take 4 times a day for 10 days, and instructions to come back if it comes to a head, or if, in a couple of days, it has not gotten smaller and more centralized. I may have to have an x-ray to make sure it has not settled into the bone (ugh, don't even want to think about that). I have a free floating anxiety that it might be MRSA, and I really need to block Web MD from my computer. Hopefully the Keflex will be all I need to kill those nasty bacteria. I want to avoid the IV Vancomycin at all costs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bilateral Epidural --- L4/L5

I suffer from chronic back pain. It is part of my daily existence. Most of the time I cope fairly well with it (as long as I don't try to overdo it), and have occasional flareups that are handled with the occasional muscle relaxer, or if needed a Vicodin. For this pain, I am under the care of a pain management physician, and have signed all sorts of contracts about not doctor shopping, and sticking with one pharmacy. I am cool with that. In fact I am grateful for that. To be quite honest, the Vicodin makes me itchy all over and I really don't enjoy it.

Every once in awhile, I have a flare up so bad that I can barely walk, and the spasms twist me up so badly that I cannot even stand up straight. I had one of those flare ups starting in winter of 2009-2010. Went for the requisite MRI, tried several different medication regimens, etc. which led up to having bilateral Facet Joint Cortisone injections into the L4/L5 and L5/S1 joints. Relief from the Facet Joint injections? Not so much.

In the past, probably about 11 years ago, I'd had the epidural injections into the L5/S1 space and they were very successful. I had three done in the space of 6 weeks, and they were so successful I did not need to have them for almost 10 years. Since the facet joint thing did not work, my doctor decided to try the epidural injection. I had the epidural last May and got almost instant relief. It did not hurt, I felt no pressure when it was going in, but did get much comfort from it.

Fast forward to today. Starting about 6 weeks ago, I felt like my back pain was starting its downhill path to being back to where I was a little over a year ago. I had an appointment already scheduled with the Pain Czar so I decided I could wait. Saw him last week and told him I felt like things were starting to get more painful. So we scheduled another epidural. This morning I went in, and ooooooh doggies did it ever hurt this time. The only thing different that I can think of is the fact that I started on Neurontin last week after my appointment. At one point I practically came off the table from the pressure going down my leg. Not nearly as bad as the time I had a bone marrow biopsy, but whoa.

I have been taking it really easy all afternoon (and now evening). Hoping that I feel better tomorrow. Also hoping that because this one was so painful that I will get even better relief from it. Here's hoping...

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Not a banner day in the neighborhood here. Not saying that everything turned out bad today, in fact there were a lot of positives today, but stuff just seems to be weighing heavily on me today.

K, due to illness, has missed 10 days of school since the beginning of January. Unlike a lot of parents, I refuse to send her to school when she is sick, because she would end up getting sicker, and then bring it home and infect me, with my compromised immunity, and I would end up being down for six weeks. This is the reality of being a lymphoma survivor, catch every damned thing that goes around, and be sick much longer than everyone else when I do get sick.

Well today K came home from school, and in her folder was a math test that she had taken today. She had only gotten 4 problems out of 3o done. ADHD strikes again. Apparently the kids at her "table" were talking a lot and she was distracted by that. The whole table set up, while good for group projects, is not really good for taking tests, and doing one's own work. What the heck is wrong with setting the kids up in rows like they did when we were kids?

I signed the test paper and made K complete it this afternoon. That part was really no big deal. The big deal for me right now is K's teacher. It is a well known fact that both 4th grade teachers at K's school are less than desirable. Neither of them would win any awards for communication, and they are both so standoffiish with the parents that one could make the argument that both are stuck-up b-words.

There were two things that were in K's "communication" folder that have me furious. The first one is the assignment handout for the book reports. I read through the packet, and it is unclear whether she has to read two books or four books to do the reports, because she has to do two oral presentations and two written reports, but because the due dates on these reports are each like 3 weeks apart, I am unsure whether it is two or four books. Plus the handout was not spell checked, and basic proofreading was completely neglected. Is our children learning?

The second thing that was in the folder (and this is what I am most livid about), was a "progress report". Progress reports (mid term) are only sent home when there are "issues". Included in the report are what the students current grades for each subject are thus far in the term. So far this term K has all As and Bs. But there was a note on the report about her "falling behind" because of her attendance. I understand that there are things she missed because she was not in class, however, I am also very open to getting her caught up at home, and have stated that to the teacher emphatically earlier this year when she missed due to illness. And quite frankly, as earlier stated, I am not a parent that will send my kids to school when they are sick. And K had strep throat and her absence could NOT be helped. So I signed the damned report and wrote a note stating that if there was something she was not up to speed on, that Mrs. K should send it home so I can catch K up. I know I am being a thorny bitch about it, but I think the progress report, when K is getting all As and Bs is way out of line. Mrs. K is a condescending and pompous ass, in my opinion, and I can hardly wait to be done with her. She should have retired 10 years ago, and I am unimpressed with her attitude that things should run for her convenience and not the students. I really wish I could give her a piece of my mind without fear of negative consequences raining down on K. I can't. And I am getting tired of clamping down on my normally outspoken tongue. So I am blogging about it instead.