Monday, December 31, 2007


These thoughts come to me not because another year is turning but rather as a coincidence of timing. I have just finished an excellent book, "Eat, Pray, Love". It is a woman's journey to find herself and is very entertaining and informative without being preachy. It so resembles my life which is what started me thinking again. And then I saw Oprah's Christmas Africa special last night which made me sob (as it did Oprah) and made me question even the spiritual quest for unity and grace which should be the right of all living beings but which so few have found in our world.

Oprah's statement that now she knows why she didn't marry and have kids because all of those were her kids really struck home with me. And I so wanted to go to Africa and devote my life to helping the AIDS orphans. But then again, I did so love the luxury and relaxation of Cabo this week also. And the warmth and noisiness of my extended family and the peace and solitude of suffering through my cold alone with the dogs, the luxury of laying in bed reading and the afternoon spent working in the garden with my friend and gardener, Michael as we discussed the paths of enlightenment and world journeys (actual).

So how am I to reconcile all of these different parts of myself? There is the side that wants to clear out my house right now and rid myself of all of the "things" that clutter it and really have no meaning to our hearts and souls. If I could be with those children in Africa who have just received their first gifts ever and so cherish the doll or ball and clothes they received, I would happily give them anything they wanted out of my house. I feel paralyzed sometimes because I don't just want to throw these things away but would rather give them to someone who truly has nothing - not to Goodwill or Salvation Army who will put them in their stores with some ridiculous price tag and spend a portion of that money on "Administration". I have had this feeling every time I have gone to Jamaica and seen the little children who can't go to school because they have no shoes.

There is so much that we have and don't really need. Myself included. And it is not a judgement. I still want. I want my house finished and nice and beautiful. I think the real reason is that I imagine when this is done there will be no more clutter. It will be beautiful and pleasant when I walk in and clean. How that all happens from remodeling, I am not sure.

And then there are the dogs. I love my dogs but did I really need two? Not that I am going to give them away now. They are part of my family, part of my life. They have given so much to me particularly over the last few years but still I feel as if sometimes they are a luxury, too. A thankful that they are a luxury I can afford.

All of this musing is too much for my mind right now. Too much thinking. It is a beautiful day with just about 1 1/2 hours sunlight left and I am going to go paint.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A little elving holiday entertainment

Hey, I just made a total elf of myself. Check it out by clicking the link below.
This elfin' greeting brought to you by OfficeMax®.

Why is it that it is the little things that hurt so much?

On Tuesday, the 14th of Dec, I went for what was supposed to be my last surgery. I was getting my "other headlight" so that I would no longer be a "one headlight gal". I hopped off to my plastic surgeon's office for what was supposed to be the simplest part of my journey through breast cancer.

On arriving at the office, I expected to be escorted by Ravi, her ever so efficient and kind nurse, into the regular office where I would take a semi-reclined position in the chair/bed while Dr. W. did her wonderful work. Instead, I was led into a mini-operating chamber with a bed, light, sink and little rolling tray for utensils. I was asked to undress from the waist up and lay down on the bed. A little metal pad was stuck to my leg (wish I had shaved before coming!) to ground me when the electric tools (?!?!) were used. What was I in for?

The Dr. came in and began adjusting things - metal tray, tools, foot pedal (?) - oh, and yes, we only need one foot pedal, which is the right one? I lay REALLY wondering what I had gotten myself into.

The Dr. asked me to sit up and then began drawing with purple ink on my "right front bumper". Did I want my headlight today? Was there anything else bothering me. I told her that I had constant discomfort on the right side which seemed a little bulgy and I constantly rubbed when moving my arm. Hopefully, a little lipo will help that out, she said.

After receiving all of my purple diagramming, I laid back down on the bed. So far, so good. Next, the lidocaine. She said that the needle would sting a littlle. Well, I am the baby who cannot stand the dentist's office and finds getting the anesthetic the worst thing in the world. Give me surgeries, IVs in my poor depleted, scarred arm, chemo (well maybe not!) but don't stick me with that needle and give me lidocaine! OUch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch. The needle looked like something between the size of a shot glass and a beer bong and was full of fluid. She was injecting me with a saline/lidocaine solution to "numb" the area. Couldn't they numb the area before numbing it? OUch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.....I repeat.

The needle went into the first place and I felt a burning, sticking, excruciating pain in my arm pit. I told the doctor and she had the nurse check to see if the padding under my shoulder was sticking me. Only later did I realize it was the injection. She moved all around the breast with her needle injecting and injecting and injecting. I was in burning, pinching, sticking, stretching pain. Please stop I prayed but kept my teeth clinch so that she could work. It was the worst thing I have gone through so far (except maybe chemo).

After finishing, she let me lie there for a while so that my body could "absorb the anesthetic". I thought it was so that my back muscles could unwind and relax back down after clinching against the needle strikes.

Next came the work. Lipo was first. I saw the familiar needle with hose attached go into my upper right side of my breast - just like on TV. She started moving the needle back and forth as she sucked the fat out. Oh, the pain. Why do people do this voluntarily for glamour? I told her that it hurt - ALOT! She apologized and said that sometimes the anesthetic can't quite penetrate as far as it could and told me that it would soon be over. I gritted my teeth and swore off lipo forever.

Next came the nipple. It was fascinating watching what I could. I was flat on my back and couldn't see much. I could see her scalpel moving back and forth, slicing the surface of what had been my tummy and was now the front of my right breast. It looked like she was cutting out a star. Next came the sutures. I don't know how many she put in - maybe 20 or more. I commented, wow, that is a lot of stitches - more than I expected. She said yes there were a lot of micro stitches involved in creating a new nipple.

Finally, about an hour and a half later, it was all finished. She got a little plastic cup, just the size of my nipple and taped it over the nipple. I was not to allow any pressure until the nipple was healed - a couple of or three weeks I guess. The nipple cap makes a nice bump in my bra and through my blouse making it look like I have one big, very erect nipple on my breast - Is it cold out here or are you wearing a breast cap?

There is still one more office visit to come before this is all finalized. I get tattoed to match my other side. The colors have to be mixed and the Dr says that is what takes the longest. It is tough to match the skin tone of the areola. I will be getting my tattoo in Jan and then, finally, be done except for the millions of Dr. visitis (okay, I exaggerate but there are a lot) that I go through every year. They will start in Jan/Feb with the radiation oncologist, mammography, ultrasound, MRI, breast surgeon, medical oncologist and continue through the year with more visits to the same and also GP, gynecologist, dermatologist (yes, every year after having breast cancer). But, no more pain I hope!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tis the Season

Tis the Season for many things and one of them is to blog - oh that would be any season wouldn't it. Oh well, it is like a party, any excuse will do.

It seems that some of my readers have defected to Facebook and, try as I would, I could not find them once I had signed in, registered, etc. Ah well. I am still here and happy to add my little comments as regularly as possible.

The smell of roses permeated the household after last weekend's final football games. Thank you USC for at least beating cross town rival UCLA and making it to the Rose Bowl. Not quite the big one where another 2 loss team (how does that work) is headed but it is still a place near and dear to our hearts and we are happy to be there on New Year's Day.

The rest of life is just about as good as can be. Thanksgiving brought lots of good food, company and family and much needed weekend relaxation although the ever present yardwork, housework, study cleaning, ATW, FDS, PAAS dog walking still continued. I took some time and got caught up on the TV shows which had piled up on my TIVO allowing me to have a delayed reaction to the Hollywood writers strike. Dancing with the Stars kept me entertained and I was happy to see Helio win although Mel B. would have been a good candidate as well. Marie entertained and I enjoyed watching her (think that the Doll routine was actually much more difficult than the judges made it out to be) but she was not tip top like Mel B. and Helio.

The new HD TV viewing is still not the experience it should be. Comcast has come out and changed all of the lines and the TIVO was changed for a new one but there is still that (very) annoying dropping of the sound several times during a TV show that causes one to miss key parts of the dialogue and, after paying so much money for the TV, system, etc. why am I getting worse sound quality than on my standard def TV? Anyone out there with a clue of what the problem is, please let me know so that I can get it fixed. I am all out of ideas.

Work continues although I will be off this project on Dec. 14th. Hoping to be on the next soon so that I can collect my Holiday Pay over Christmas and New Years.

Painting also continues and we are at the completion of a project which should be on exhibit soon. Here is a sneak preview
and a little bit more

It has been a fun project and I am sorry to see it come to an end. However, there is a wonderful snow picture that Lorraine sent to me that is calling my name. Hmmmm...........
The car has finally been fixed after six weeks in the shop last summer and another week last week. It is nice to not have the wind noise anymore and to listen to the radio at a normal level.

And, to leave you, a few pictures from my summer holiday which I have promised and never delivered.

The View from my friend's place:

Columbine - Colorado state flower:
Sydney, my hiking companion while Lorraine was working:
Thelma and Louise? Those Badlands do get windy!