Monday, July 30, 2012

Encouraging Words

Ask, and ye shall receive.  In one of my posts a week and a bit ago, I asked for some encouraging words.

A couple of days later, I received a case of Peeps from one of my friends from AT&T.  (Not just a box or two - a case - as in 24 boxes.  I could be high on sugar for the next year...)  As his accompanying note said, "What thought could be more up?"  I must admit, I smiled all that day - and have a box of them sitting on my desk at work.  Just looking at them renews the smile.

I also heard from a couple of friends who offered to help me clean my house when next it needs it, since I still won't be able to push a mop or vacuum cleaner.  (I was wrong about being limited to 15 pounds of lifting - the new limit is actually 5 pounds.  AND, the ban on lifting extends to Labor Day.  At least I'm still allowed to exercise by walking!  **grumble, grumble**)  Another friend treated me to lunch.

Yet another AT&T friend told me my name still pops up in meetings a year after my retirement - 'the Janice logic' - apparently a few of the programs I left behind are complex enough that no one wants to touch them.  That made me laugh.  (and here I thought they wouldn't miss me at all after I'd left...)

The visit from my daughter and grand-baby helped.  It's hard to stay too down when there's a baby in the house.  Especially when someone else is doing the get-up-early-with-the-baby part.  She had a great time emptying all the drawers she could reach and pushing the furniture around.  (The baby, not Kate.)  Then, as a touch of great adventure, we let her play with the metal mixing bowls.  That was a BIG hit; who needs toys?  (OK, we did.  The pushing the furniture around part was a little hard on the floors, so I asked a friend of mine, whose kids are just a bit older than Lexi, if we could borrow a push toy for a week.  She was happy to loan us a small cart - and it was well-used the week it was here.)

All of this helped.  (At least, it helped until I went back to work last Thursday, and found myself so behind that I had to work through the weekend just to begin to get my feet beneath me.  I didn't want to do it, but figured asking them to push the start date of the school year back a few days so I could get my work done wouldn't fly too well...  Now, I'm exhausted - not dangerously so, yet, but I'll be glad once school starts, and I can cut back to normal working hours.)

How do people ever get through something like this alone?  They have my prayers and my sympathy, because I know, without you all, I'd be a melting mess.  Thank you.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Sculpture Garden
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

I had my one week post-op visit with the surgeon today.

I am healing well, and he is still pleased with his handiwork.  But.  There always seems to be a 'but' associated with these doctor visits.

Apparently he had to add quite a bit of tissue and do some quilting in layers of stitches on the added tissue to make a correctly-sized pocket for the implant.  This tissue and his sewing will be delicate for a while, so, contrary to what I was first told, that my activities would be restricted for just a week or two, I am to put no stress on my chest muscles for the next six weeks.

Too much stress will break the pocket, which means I'd need to go back in for further surgery.  It's quite some incentive to behave.  But, still!

This means:
  • no lifting anything over 15-20 pounds
  • no putting my arms up over my head to stretch or stretching them back
  • no sit-ups or weight lifting or katas or .....
  • no housecleaning (Kate will help me clean before she leaves next week - I guess I can just ignore the dirt for the month after that...)
Pretty much all I can do for exercise is to walk - and somehow, when the temps are hovering around 100 degrees every day - with the lows around 80, and that before 6AM, walking doesn't have the appeal it sometimes does.


Here I'd been working so hard to get the exercise habit back; the one I'd broken for the first time in years after my initial surgery in February.  Just in the past few weeks, I'd found the energy to start to get my stomach muscles back into some sort of shape, and had begun to work in a little weight-lifting and some katas.  I'll start again in a few months, but in the meantime, I'm clearly going to have to find an outlet besides exercise to help me deal with the frustrations and challenges of daily life.

Someone sent me a story earlier this week, purportedly about St. Teresa of Avila:  While fording a river, swollen with spring rains, Teresa was dumped from her horse and soaked through thoroughly. Shaking her fist at the sky, she said, 'THIS is how you treat your friends?  No wonder you have so few of them!'

I can relate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Trust Thing Again

Geneseo Methodist Church
Buckingham, Iowa
I'm not good at the trust thing.
I'm not.

And I think that's a good part of the problem with my bout with the blues this past week.  I haven't even been trying to trust that I'm on the right path; that I am where God wants or needs me to be.

Instead, I've just been grousing and grumping along for several days.  Even I am sick of my company.  I don't like surgery and its groggy aftermath.  I don't like having my activities restricted. I'm tired of drugs.  I don't like much of anything except Haagen Dazs Almond Ice Cream Bars.

It's time to change all that.  (Except for the part about the ice cream bars.) 

I can't see why I've been set to travel this path at this time.

I'm not on the path I'd be traveling on, if I had my druthers.
This path I am on has some ugly bumps on the way, and it doesn't make sense to me.

All this is true - and it's also true that it's time to trust I'm on this path for a reason.

So, God.  Help me to trust.  Let me see you haven't dumped me in the gutter; kicked me to the curb; left me out in the cold (so to speak).  Show me You are still there, guiding my footsteps, leading me to the places I need to be. 

I claim to have joined the Church of Random Kindness and Senseless Beauty some time back.  Help me to get to church one day soon - to look outside myself; to see where my hands can help Yours to make a difference in this world.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Recovering Quickly.

Sculpture Garden -
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
The surgeon was right - I'm recovering much more quickly from this surgery than I did the last.  Surgery was Thursday morning - and by this morning, I already didn't need my pain medication.  (Although I did finally give in and take some muscle relaxants - I was pretty convinced my chest was going to pop if I brushed it against something, and that visual is either pretty awful or pretty funny, depending on my mood of the moment...).

And, he was also right about this set of Barbie boobs being much more comfortable than the last.  I can already feel the difference, and things are still pretty swollen.  On the plus side, I have more cleavage than I ever have before - bring on the cougar tops!  or not.

I saw him again yesterday morning - he was pleased with his work.  I think that's a very good thing.  All is going to plan - I'm healing well, but...

Emotionally, I've had a hard time stabilizing.  I've been on the edge of tears since yesterday morning.  I don't know why.  (A delayed reaction to all that's happened?  possible...  Now that I'm safe, it's safe to begin to feel?) I just want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head and not get up.  I won't actually do it, mostly because I've tried it before and it doesn't work.  Eventually the air gets stuffy and I have to go to the bathroom.

I've spent a lot of time today just piddling about the apartment.  Following the post-op instructions - I don't want to mess things up.  But, that means no exercise, no sweating - my favorite antidotes to the blues.  And no driving, since I'm still on drugs.  Don't mind that last part at all - if I went places, I'd have to be nice to people, and I'm just not sure I can do that at the moment.  The best I can do is to say as little as possible to anyone.  Hard to get them upset with me that way.

Send a few uplifting thoughts my way these next few days, if you would.  I'm sure those will help.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Poudre River, CO
I've discovered that upcoming surgery brings out the nesting instinct in me.

This past week was a blur of I-GOTTA-get-this-dones.  Trying to get all my loose ends tucked in both at home and at work.

The house has to be cleaned.  (I can't expect me to sit around a dirty house and not be able to clean it for two weeks, now can I?)

Everything at work needs to be lined up and ready to keep moving while I'm out.  Thursday was the worst day.  Every time I got started on something I got interrupted, and I didn't have any time to follow up on the glitches I kept running into trying to move the teachers from old laptops to new(er) ones.  By the time I did get a few minutes, it was after five, and I had run out of my learning quota for the day.  I was looking things up, but the pages on the screen were making no sense.  I finally gave up around 7:30 and went home.  Friday was better; I came in early to get a jump on the day.  It helped - within the first hour, I'd figured out solutions to all the previous day's insolvable problems.  Amazing what a good night's sleep will do for ya.

Kate's visit got postponed - instead of coming in before my surgery, she'll be coming in the week after.  Either way works for me - I get to see her and the world's cutest baby.  It'll be a great distraction if I'm still not feeling well when they get here.  And if I am feeling well - it'll still be a great distraction.  I get to feed that baby chocolate - way fun!  (She never gets any at home, and I don't see her often enough for her to actually remember me, so it's my way of bribing myself onto her good side.  So far, it works!)

I had a great time on the 4th, back in my old neighborhood, catching up with friends.  I find I hate it when I run into people who don't know I've been sick.  I'm tired of the story; just want it to be in the past.  Their looks of shock and words of sympathy are appreciated, but I don't like being the bearer of scary tidings.  They are scared for me - which makes it hard for me to ignore the fact I'm scared for myself.  (It's getting better, as a few months have passed, and the beast hasn't come roaring back to bite me, but I have to admit I'll still be looking over my shoulder for the next few years.  The odds are way in my favor, but it's still scary.)

Three more days - I won't make it to the bottom of my to-do list - but it won't be for lack of trying!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Time to Get Off the Road

State Forest State Park, CO
The year referred to in the heading of my blog is about over.  If things had gone according to plan, I'd be getting off the road along about now.  I'd be looking for a place to live, a place to work, and I'd be getting ready to sell the camper van, because I would have gotten the travel bug out of my system.  (OK, maybe I'm dreaming about that last one.  Probably not.)

In some ways, I feel the date marks the beginning of the path of what-might-have-been merging back with the path of what-is.  I am not unhappy with my life as it is.  I like my job and my apartment, and my car is way fun to drive.  (zip, zip!)  These past six months have not been all fun and games, but neither have they been hell.

I met with my surgeon yesterday; the final pre-op meeting before I get my permanent implants on July 12th.  Both he and his nurse were happy for me, thought I would be happy, too.  I felt badly for not being more enthusiastic about the surgery.  I'd like to be, I know I'll be more comfortable.  But...  my numb chest has been bothering me this week - not physically, it's numb - but the knowledge this formerly sensitive erogenous zone has been turned into a permanent dead zone has kept coming back to dampen my spirits.

On the other hand, I am thankful, daily, because as far as we know, the cancer was caught before it spread.  That's worth having a numb chest - the alternative REALLY sucks.

And, my daughter and grandbaby will be coming back down for the surgery.  This time, they'll be here for a few days before the surgery date, which means I'll actually be lucid and able to enjoy more of their company.

Here's to silver linings.