Wednesday, May 31, 2006
It might have been “I, said the sparrow” in the nursery rhyme, but it’s about to be ME with a rock in our garden. Those darn birds start chirping at about 4:30 a.m. – heck – they even wake up before the sheep!
Well, I’m “back in the saddle, again” – just finished up payroll – Didn’t even make any “huge” errors – and I’m sure everyone will like the fact that I forgot to have Tam bring me the draw slips – so they get to borrow that $$ for another couple of weeks.
And, NO, I didn’t tire myself out. “I have a plan, she says” – I’ll get up and take my shower, regular time (so I don’t get out of the habit…) work 8-10 then rest until noon – have lunch then work 1-3 and then rest for the balance of the day – then after a week or 10 days – I can build on that – You know I won’t feel better if I’m worrying about my work not getting done. So, there.
Thought I’d share some pictures of the beautiful flowers I have received.
If you look carefully in this picture, you can see the little angel that Jordin brought me in the hospital - It's called "Angel of my Heart" - and she is that.
Well, my eyes are slamming shut, a sure sign that it is time for me to get "out of the saddle" and take a rest before dinner. T.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Do you know how hard that can be when you actually feel 1000% better than you thought you would and there is so much to do and so many people to talk to, and your sisters and your husband are practically beating you down with a stick. Hrmph! Well - it was actually my friend Bonnie who got through the thick skull when she said "That's OK, honey, just go ahead and play. Just know for every day you play, you'll have an extra week of recovery" All Right, All Ready! I'll REST!
Meanwhile - I'd like to express our immense gratitude for everyone's prayers, kind thougts, meals, flowers, visits, and for everything else, - you "guys" are just the best!
The first day was fraught with waiting, and waiting…, and waiting…. When the whole thing was over, there was even waiting in the recovery room. For, when asked by Auntie Em for the third time “What time is it”, the recovery room nurse said “Christina (I mean, ...Auntie Em), did you have a bus to catch?”
When finally reunited with “Uncle Henry” in her plush private room in the towers overlooking the Montlake bridge, “Auntie Em” finally cried when she found out the results of her surgery – that was there was no cancer beyond the lining of the uterus – it had not even spread into the uterine walls! That meant no further treatment – radiation or anything – Auntie Em was genuinely relieved. The Wicked Witch of the West was dead!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Jordin here again, sorry to be so late in posting this update. I visited with Tina and John in the hospital this afternoon and she’s doing great! Despite being swathed in a hospital gown whose design featured a flower that I doubt has ever grown on the earth’s surface she had healthy color in her cheeks and gave me the brightest smile. When I asked her what she wanted me to include in this entry she said “You can tell them I’m able to belch and pass gas quite comfortably.” Obviously, the surgery (and that crazy hospital gown) haven’t hampered her sense of humor in the least bit. If all goes well, and it most likely will, she will be released Thursday morning. In the mean time though, she’ll have to rough it in her hospital room which features cable TV, VCR, private bathroom, and a breathtaking view of the well manicured hospital grounds and the rather pretty Montlake drawbridge.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Hello everyone, this is Jordin filling in for Tina while she’s in the hospital. Although there was an hour delay in her surgery causing her to still be in recovery at this time, the doctor was extremely positive about the procedure. From what they can tell the cancer had not progressed past the uterine walls. In fact, things looked so good that the surgeon didn’t see a need to do a check on her lymph-nodes which is a great sign. John too is doing well, he sounded jovial if a little tired on the phone and was off to grab a bite to eat with
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Blech! And to top it all off, the power went off at about 8:00 - billions of last minute loose ends - clean off the kitchen table - vacuum - etc. - and John's jeans for the week in the dryer - wet! Obviously, it's back on now - I finally got the computer to boot up so I could email our church newsletter to the printer so it will be ready for next weekend. I was sweating it there for a little bit.
We're leaving early in the a.m. so we can get John checked into his motel BEFORE my surgery so he won't have to worry about what time he gets back there. Our minister, Nan, is going to sit with him during my surgery. If I know her, they'll have all of next year's services planned out by the time I'm out! (John is our Choir Director, if you don't know)
I have to take a shower tonight with some radical anti-bacterial soap and then again tomorrow a.m. so, I guess I'd better get to it. I packed my suitcase by candle light- hope I remembered everything. (that's why they made VISA cards, right?)
BTW, if you are just joining in, make sure to read the archives - the blog spot will only keep a weeks worth on at a time on the screen.
OH, I forgot - we bought a new lamb today - her name is Gwendolyn and we used to own her grandma - what goes around comes around. I'll see if I can't get a picture of her on here when I get home - she is black & white spotted - kind of like a little dalmation :-)
Saturday, May 20, 2006
We have a potluck at church tomorrow - (this is a picture of the memorial garden that John has landscaped there)
This is one group of people who really know how to cook - and there are "signture dishes" that you always hope that one person or another will bring - But tomorrow, as everyone feasts on Reah's salad with mandarin oranges and sugared almonds - or those yummy scalloped potatoes that someone always brings - I'll be drinking green tea "Vitamin Water" and eating my Sugar Free Jello. (Clear liquids only) Yum!
Friday, May 19, 2006
Well, this is it, - I have my marching orders from the UW Medical Center - I'm to be there at 11:15 a.m on Monday (22nd) - the surgery will probably start about 2 hours later. Dr. Gray said it would take anywhere from 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours depending on any problems with scar tissue from a surgery that I had about 30 years ago. We'll just hope that Dr. did a good job.
We are happy about the late check in time- that means that we can stay home on Sunday night (but not before we run down to our friend Donna's in Skagit county and look at her sweet spotted ewe lamb - I think John is smitten...)
I don't know if any of you have had surgery lately, but they have you do this 24 hour bowel cleansing thing - no solid foods - only CLEAR liquids (nope, no margaritas, either) for 24 hours before the surgery and you have to drink this stuff that gives you diarrhea - I think I'm glad we can do that in the privacy of our own home.
Now for some much better news - I forgot to tell you about the ANGEL CLOUDS yesterday! All the way down to Seattle, the clear blue sky was filled with big white feathery clouds looking like angel wings - I told my friend MaryEllen, who has a "Good News newsletter" about angels & miracles (& cats, of course), http://www.angelscribe.com/ , that it was like the angels were trying to tell me that everything is going to be OK. I'll take that to the bank any day.
The weekend is going to be packed: finishing up loose ends at work, cleaning house, finishing up my church's newsletter and, hopefully, planting my dahlias. I don't know if I'll get any more time to write. Wish me luck, OK?
All prayers and good thoughts greatfully accepted. Remember that Jordin will be updating for me on Monday - hopefully with good news.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Dr. Heidi Gray, a gynecological oncologist, is my surgeon. Man, I think I could be old enough to be her mom...but she is really great - and so is her staff.
I think I have talked about uterine cancer several times so far, but this website
has some pretty good information and some good pictures - mine is considered endometrial and slow growing, and as long as it has not penetrated the uterine wall over 50% - I'll have just the surgery, no radiation - there wasn't any talk of chemo at this time at all. Let's hope that is the case and that all those little lymph nodes are okey-dokey.
I'M DONATING MY UTERUS TO SCIENCE. The SCCA has apparently partnered up with a tissue bank that provides tissue for research and teaching. Seemed like a good idea - they do not know what causes uterine cancer - so if I can help another woman out - works for me.
We also made hotel reservations for Sunday night and for the rest of the week for John. Hopefully he won't have to stay the entire time. I've been trying to convince him to go down to the Bonsai Garden at Weyerhauser to take a break from being in the hospital with me. We'll see what he decides to do.
Our one big disappointment today came at the end of the day - we had planned to have dinner with the "daughter of our hearts" , Jordin & her husband Tom. (Jordin will be updating my blog for me while I am in the hospital - thank you Jordin) but traffic and late appointments kept us from getting over to meet them in Bellevue. We were both very disappointed - but she will come to see us next week.
Seemed like there was just a lot to say today - hope I haven't bored you to tears - I'll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of our place * this is the entrance to our driveway and what I get to see each time I come home.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I'd rather be...sitting on the porch, waiting for the lillies to bloom;
I'd rather be...swimming;
I'd rather be...watching a Mariners game (now you KNOW I'd rather be doing something else);
I'd rather be...working on my church newsletter;
I'd rather be...going to Seattle to go to the Zoo or the Aquarium or the EMP;
I'd rather be...healthy;
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
This is my nephew Chris and his son Parker - two of the reasons I want to be around for the next thirty years or so.
Ok, I've got to get back to work, which has been "suffering" a little with my brain being taken up by other things. Having tomorrow's trip to Seattle canceled will give me a little more space.
Monday, May 15, 2006
People are being incredible supportive - a friend who has recovered from lymphoma, a friend of a friend who had the same surgery three weeks ago. My next door neighbor who survived the chemo, but it has screwed up her platelets. Strong women-role models. But, damn, I'm starting to hate the waiting.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I am trying to listen to More Music and Less News. But one thing that didn't escape my notice was the Senate Bill 1955 which would have allowed private insurers to circumvent the individual state mandates that insurance companies pay for mammograms, colonoscopies, clinical trial participation and some other screenings and treatments - The American Cancer Society launched a huge informational campaign and made it easy for people to send an e-postcard to their senators. In just two weeks, over 167,000 emails and 8600 phone calls went out to members of the senate. (in an earlier post, I mentioned that it was the weasels in the insurance companies who were behind this, but, hoping not to offend my Republican friends and relatives, I think they had more than a little bit of help from the weasels in the Republican party.) If you look at how they voted (www.acscan.org) and scroll down to the middle of the page there is a link to a voting chart. It is pretty clearly "red" and "blue". Kudos to Senators Cantwell & Murray for voting NO!
And, clearly there are some laws that need to be re-written to make it so large employers (universities, companies like Exxon, etc) cannot shop outside state lines for cheaper policies that exclude the mandated coverage from some states - but tying this issue to a bill that made it look like it was pro small business is just crap.
OK, now that I am all worked up, let me recommend a great web site:
We Send You Our Blessings . It is a great little "movie" entitled "May You Be Blessed - One Million Blessings in One Hundred Days", created by a woman named Kate Nowak, who has a web site called LiveMoreAbundantly.com. Her web site explores the link between Quantum Physics and how it relates to the universe - pretty interesting stuff - she has some good articles on her web site, too - (although it looks like she hasn't updated it in about a month) - the movie is nice and medative and has a well worth while message.
"May you be blessed with all things good.
May your joys, like the stars at night,
be too numerous to count.
May your victories be more abundant
than all the grains of sand
on all the beaches
on all the oceans
in all the world."
©2006 by Kate Nowak. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Kate Nowak for her inspiring words. I'm off, like the king in his counting house, to count up our monies from our plant sale. Good night!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Since I had my surgery date, today I told more of my coworkers about my "condition".. You see, I'm the one who does payroll, so they kind of like it that I am generally a very healthy person - In 13 years, I have only missed one or two days due to actually being SICK, so it is kind of a shock to them. I'm really focusing on that I will be feeling well enough to work at home, on my computer a week and 1/2 after my surgery. Focus, focus, focus.
This is the beautiful waterfall that John built with our pond in the front yard. If I have to be at home convalescing, I hope it is nice enough for me to sit on the front porch and listen to the music of the water as it runs down the rocks into the pond.
My crazy cat Sinda likes to stand on the top tier of the waterfall up to her knees in water and drink out of the top pond.
"We cannot tell
the precise moment
As in filling a vessel
drop by drop,
there is at last a drop
which makes it
So in a series
there is at last one
the heart run over." James Boswell
My heart is truly running over - I have such wonderful friends -
And I have a plant sale to work at in the morning, so Good night. T.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Here's the skinny - I have three pre-op appointments, all in Seattle - first one - a med appointment on Wed. 17th at 10:45 in the a.m. and the other two - the meeting with my surgeon, Dr. Gray, Thursday at 2:30 and an appointment with the anesthesiologist, Thursday at 4:00. My surgery is scheduled for Monday, May 22. They didn't seem to have set the time for the surgery yet - it apparently hinged on the anesthesiologist. So there you have it.
It seems real now.
I have "lived" with cancer most of my life. My mother had cervical cancer when I was about 5 or 6. I remember going with mom and dad on the trips to Wenatchee for her radiation treatments. My dad would take the movie camera along to take pictures of the wildflowers along the Columbia River. They gave such heavy doses of radiation at that time, I know that the radiation was the cause of a lot of the health problems that she had later in life.
She lived to be 58 and died of complications of liver cancer. We held her memorial service on Valentines Day 1978.
I don't remember how old I was when Daddy had the cancerous spot removed from his mouth. Pre-teen, I think. - I don't remember his treatment - maybe that was the summer they shipped me over to the coast to stay with my sister and her family...
In May 1978, at the age of 60, my Dad died of complication from cancer around the lining of his heart and lungs. Only three months after my mom died. 1978 was one bitch of a year. I was 26 years old. My three sisters and I were orphans.
Oh, and yes, my parents had both smoked for about 40+ years...
This picture was taken last month at a family reunion. I'm the one in the red jacket, Merrill in black, Wisten in orange and Nance in the pastels. I love these three women more than anyone in the world. (Well, maybe except for John - but that's different.) My husband is an "only" - he has had a real hard time understanding the sister dynamics - we may snipe at each other, but boy, don't you be going after one of us - the wrath of the goddess will come down on your head! He calls us "The Sisterhood" - I think it's more like the Mud Springs Mafia. Ha, Ha...
I said yesterday that I would tell you about AFLAC - 6 years ago, we had an AFLAC rep come to our office - we had just had an employee hurt badly in an after-work accident and even with our good health insurance, his finances were "severely damaged". Someone suggested that we look into AFLAC supplemental insurance for our employees - you know the kind that pays you so it doesn't hurt to miss work even when you have to miss work?
At the time we had a ram on our farm who had tried several times to take John out at the knees (through the fence) - so I took out the accident policy on both of us, an intensive care policy and with my family history, a cancer care policy.
The accident policy helped to pay our bills when John was injured in a hit and run accident three years ago. I hoped that I'd never need to use the Cancer policy.
When I got my diagnosis, I called our AFLAC rep. She came to my office the next day with a claim form and explained to me the benefits that I would be receiving. My health insurance deductible and out of pocket will total about $4500 - my AFLAC cancer policy will pay me a first occurance benefit of about $4500. (boy they nailed that one on the nose) Plus they will pay mileage to Seattle, a little bit on hotel rooms - and additonal benefits for the surgery and so much for each night in the hospital, and so on. It makes me feel like I can focus on getting well, rather than trying to figure out how we were going to pay for all of it. I feel like I could do one of their commercials...
Speaking of focus - I've had a bit of a problem focusing on the job at hand at work - I think I'll "hit the hay" so I can put in a little more work tomorrow - now that things are more settled.
P.S. - input from my sisters reminded me I had errors on my mom & dad's ages so I have edited this post. Thanks Merrill - T.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
This is my 16 year old kitty, Miss Sinda. She thinks I am her sleeping platform - sometimes I wonder if our pets know that we are sick - she has been sticking to me like glue for the past six months or so...if I sit down, she is at me feet - if I lay down, she's perched on my hip - ouch! No wonder I wake up in the middle of the night - and I thought it was arthritis pain! It is just a 10# cat.
This is where some of you (men-folk mostly) may want to "get off" Toooooooo much information...Try jumping to this blog, it is really cool - http://mightyillusions.blogspot.com I don't mind :-)
Many people have asked me what my symptoms were. Mostly it was spotting, and a reoccuring of periods after a 3 or so year break (let me tell you, that was a pain in the butt! - and expensive - I had to go out and buy all that "stuff" again - holy cow, when did they go from putting 26 tampons in a box to putting only 20? - and the price certainly didn't go down - those things must only cost about 3 cents a piece to make) I have since found out that in 90 percent of cases, there is abnormal uterine bleeding, ranging from insignificant staining to a hemorrhage - which, like I said - my body was whispering to me, I just wasn't listening. Hopefully I can spread the word to enough women, that if the "subject" comes up in casual conversation, you'll tell your friend to get it checked out! Also, remember what I said yesterday about the weight thing - women who are 50# or more overweight (guilty as charged...) are TEN times as likely to get uterine cancer as you skinny ladies. (has to do with fat & estrogen - boring mostly - I'll let you look it up on the internet yourself)
I did find out that "well defined cells" are considered Grade 1 and these patients have the best prognosis for recovery, and generally don't require any chemo or radiation. That will probably only be necessary if they find problems in the lymph nodes in my abdomen or if the depth of the cancer cells in to the lining of the uterine wall is to great.
That said, the following info is from www.womenscancercenter.com
"Screening for uterine cancer is not as satisfactory as screening for cancer of the cervix because of the inaccessibility of the uterine cavity. Pap smears detect only a small percentage of endometrial cancers. There have been studies of other screening methods that can be performed in the doctor's office, with several showing the benefit of using endometrial biopsies to screen high-risk women who have no symptoms. This procedure is associated with some discomfort, (discomfort, my ass - your eyes practically bug out of your head - but it only hurts for a few minutes) however, and may not be cost-effective in the absence of risk factors. A uterine sonogram (ultrasound) maybe suggestive of uterine cancer if the lining of the uterus cavity demonstrates increased thickness. Routine annual screening for women without symptoms is not recommended."
So, don't think that you need to go without a pap smear (it catches other stuff), but don't go running out and think that you need a biopsy until they have done an ultrasound (which I also had done in March of this year - ) By the way, I had an "irregular" pap smear a couple of years ago, (I was spotting that day) but when they did another pap smear two months later - no problem found (I was also not spotting at that time) Hmmm.
Tomorrow is the day that they are going over my files at the Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle. They said they'd call on Friday to let me know when my appointments are. I'll keep you posted.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you about AFLAC. It is going to save my bacon (at least keep us out of the poor house) It is pretty sad when, after being told you have uterine cancer, your first thought is not "How will I get through this, will I recover?", BUT, "Oh, shit, how much is THIS going to cost!"
This sassy fellow is Mr. Neelix - and the bain of Sinda's existance....
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I feel blessed that the company I work for values me and will put up with this "monkeyin' around" - thank god for being able to get into my work computer from home!
Dr. O. gave me the phone number for the Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle. It is one of the top places in the US for cancer care. She wants me to go to Seattle because of my weight - yes, I am, politely put, "heavy set" - One of the known risk factors for uterine cancer - another is my age - over 50 (I'm 54) and then there's the high blood pressure (which comes first, the chicken or the egg?) - but I have never had any HRT and haven't had any other cancers. Whew -
I called Seattle - they had just gotten my files (the very nice young woman was like - "Well, you're on top of things") She took some preliminary info - phone numbers, etc. They will look at my files on Thursday and call me on Friday. More waiting time!
I'm mad as hell at the news today that the insurance companies are trying to weasel out of having to pay for mammograms! Mammograms don't prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. For example, mammograms have been shown to lower the chance of dying from breast cancer by 35% in women over the age of 50; studies suggest for women between 40 and 50 they may lower the chance of dying from breast cancer by 25–35%.* (from breastcancer.org website) Why are the profits of the insurance companies worth more than those 35% of women? I may have to start getting political about this.
But, it's late and it's time to go crawl into bed beside my dear husband who is being so very supportive. Tomorrow I'll tell you more about "how I got to this place in my health".
Monday, May 08, 2006
when the day dawns quietly
over the roof of the sky.
Life was wonderful
But did winter make me happy?
No, I always worried
about hides for boot-soles
and for boots,
and if there'd be enough
for all of us.
Yes, I worried constantly.
Life was wonderful
But did summer make me happy?
No, I always worried
about reindeer skins and rugs for the platform.
Yes, I worried constantly
Life was wonderful
when you stood at your fishing-hole
0n the ice.
But was I happy waiting at my fishing hole?
No, I always worried
for my little hook,
in case it never got a bite.
Yes, I worried constantly.
Life was wonderful
when you danced in the feasting house
But did this make me any happier?
No, I always worried
I'd forget my song.
Yes, I worried constantly.
Life was wonderful
And I still feel joy
each time the day-break
whitens the dark sky
each time the sun
climbs over the roof of the sky.
Eskimo song from "Earth Prayers, Cycles of Life"
So, the good doctor that I saw last Monday (I've only seen her once, by the way, I've heard her practice is closed but she was good enough to take me as a referral from my nurse practitioner) is still on vacation. She gets back tomorrow. I am getting anxious to discover the "rest of the story" The progesterone still hasn't stopped my spotting. Guess I won't have to worry about that too much longer anyhow.
OK GIRLS, WHO'S HAD A PAP SMEAR IN THE PAST YEAR? HOLD UP YOUR HANDS NOW. If you can't hold up your hand, you'd better put it on a telephone and be calling your OB/GYN (or call me - I can refer you the to best Nurse Practitioner)
Here's the deal - listen to your body - mine has been whispering to me for the past couple of years I guess. It finally had to start yelling before I'd listen. I hope I didn't wait too long....