Pearls of Wisdom

The Path Towards Transformation


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Partly Cloudy with a Chance…

Day: 253 Living with chronic pain is a difficult thing. It causes depression. Big heavy clouds weigh down on you and paralyze motion. Rotator cuff surgery right after breast cancer surgery is not advised but for me with the two tears, it was necessary. I’m working to get off of the heavy pain medicine they had me on, as well as other meds, and it’s not easy. Anxiety, restlessness in your body, spine, legs, and depression are some of the visitors. You become hyper-aware of your body and all it feels.

My tumors were both estrogen and progesterone positive. My own hormones were feeding my illness. Taking the Tamoxifen to bring on menopause comes with all the symptoms of ‘the change.’ I was told because of my age (on the young side for breast cancer) and the type, if I don’t take the medicine, my chances of a reoccurrence of cancer in my breast or elsewhere in my body goes up from 10% to 20%: one in five. Ouch. So, I guess I just bite the bullet and take the medicine. One in eight women will get breast cancer. I was one of those eight. The thought of one in five is not pleasant. These are some rainy days.

I lived in Seattle for five years. When I tell people that I didn’t think it was so rainy, they don’t believe me. It seemed no different than living in Pennsylvania. Well, I looked up the facts and the rainiest cities are:
City     Inches             Millimeters

New Orleans, Louisiana 62.7 1592
Miami, Florida 61.9 1572
Birmingham, Alabama 53.7 1364
Memphis, Tennessee 53.7 1363
Jacksonville, Florida 52.4 1331
Orlando, Florida 50.7 1289
New York, New York 49.9 1268
Houston, Texas 49.8 1264
Atlanta, Georgia 49.7 1263
Nashville, Tennessee 47.3 1200
Providence, Rhode Island 47.2 1198
Virginia Beach, Virginia 46.5 1182
Tampa, Florida 46.3 1176
Raleigh, North Carolina 46.0 1169
Hartford, Connecticut 45.9 1165

Seattle isn’t even on the list. And, if you look at the number of rainy days there are five cities that are ahead of Seattle:

City     Days

Rochester, New York 167
Buffalo, New York 167
Portland, Oregon 164
Cleveland, Ohio 155
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 151
Seattle, Washington 149
Columbus, Ohio 139
Cincinnati, Ohio 137
Miami, Florida 135
Detroit, Michigan 135

I have always said that I prefer partly cloudy days because you can see the contrast of the blue with the clouds. Many of these rainy days were really just partly cloudy. It’s a manner of perspective. It’s been mostly cloudy but occasionally the clouds part. I look forward to more partly cloudy and sunny days ahead. They are coming. Sometimes I can feel it in my bones.

Seattle Twilight


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“Just keep healing… healing… healing..”

Day 218:   “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”  or “life is relentless”…  These are the words you hear during the waiting.  I’m waiting for the healing.  There’s only so much that you can do.  I had my 6th month mammogram and tests to see if they got all the cancer from my breasts.   YES!!!  Success.  They have.  Something to celebrate.  So why don’t I feel like celebrating…

…perhaps it is because of the wreck that all these health issues have created of my life….  and the waiting still to work through.   It’s another 4.5 years before I can declare that, “I’m cured!”  The medicine I have to take makes me nauseated, weight gain, hot and cold sweats, lethargy.  I want to stop taking them but know I must continue to bear through it so that every last cancer cell in my body is starved to death.   The breast cancer was the tip of the iceberg.  Now the real world comes.  This work requires me to change: my mind, my perception, my health habits, my work and relationships.   I’m very grateful that I’m no longer working on the healing alone.   Having loved ones beside you makes a HUGE difference.  I love you all my dear sweet friends and family.

Now, time to get the energy to pull together the taxes. (a task I dread)  How to make tax prep fun?  Hmmm….

icy


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Always the waiting

Day 195: Update… On the last day of this month, it will be exactly one month since my shoulder surgery.  It turned out to be MUCH worse than expected. Rotator cuff recovery is supposed to be one of the most painful and difficult. The surgeon was surprised to find two tears, one was about 85% shred, the other 15%. They had to place two plastic anchors, clean the area, decompress it, and repair the tears.  I woke to discover they had to intubate me, as indicated by the sore throat.  Still today it is painful and difficult to type with my left hand. The hardest part is that there is little you can do but wait to heal.  I have therapy twice a week now and my arm feels like it is stuck to my side.  There were eight puncture sites from the arthroscopic procedure and some lovely photos of my shoulder.   Here’s a few, one showing the lovely knot the surgeon tied to anchor my shoulder together.  Apparently, I have a high pain threshold he said.    Much gratitude to my wonderful friend Dan who picked me up at the hospital to bring me home.  You’re in my heart, always. Back to the waiting…

10982979_10204780302578676_513219635_o


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gratitude

Day 168:  Tomorrow is surgery.  I can’t sleep.  I need to but…  I’m told that the recovery is particularly rough and painful. I will need physical therapy and assistance, no showers for 4 days – ugh.  But, this is the only way to repair my shoulder and get rid of the constant burning pain that shoots down my arm.  Now that the cancer is ‘under control’, the window opened to repair my arm.  I have to be there at 9:30 am; surgery 11:30.  My daughter is taking me and my good friend Dan will be bringing me home.  I’m so grateful to him and my family for helping me.  Thank you, my friend! Thank you.   I will have a nerve block so hopefully that will last until I can get settled.

It will take 6 weeks to recover. But, I’ml all set up with the things I need. And as usual, I made a goal.  The goal for recovery is to be strong enough for a weekend backpacking trip with family and friends to the Chiracahua National Wildlife area. I’m the lead for this meetup event and it’s mostly planned already.  It will be so much fun.  To be in the backcountry and see all those beautiful pines, pinons, and pillars, I’m thrilled. Cancer taught me that your eternity is now, follow your bliss.  I am.  My weekends will be dedicated to build up strength to return to work and for this trip on the last weekend in March… Next up then to a place… I’m off.  I’ve always wanted to see Havasupai Falls and in June Dan, I, and other friends will be hiking, camping and a photo excursion.

Many goals set to achieve fitness and see places I’ve always wanted to visit.  That is the focus to get me through tomorrow.  Here are some photos.  There’s no time but the present.

Chiricahua National Monument

Havasupai Falls


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Next steps

Day 167: Today is my one month followup with the Medical Oncologist.  Will have to tell him of the little scare with lumps and we need to find out about food and medicine contraindications.  I need to make certain that nothing I’m eating – like grapefruit – is lessening the effects of my Tamoxifen.  Also, let him know about the surgery on Wednesday.  My final procedure. That’s my goal.  And then healing and back to work. It will be wonderful to get rid of this constant pain.  After a time, it makes you irritable. I’m all prepared for surgery with the things that I’ll need post-op and have plenty to occupy my mind. Seems like there’s always some ‘next steps’ toward that ‘cancer-free’, cured declaration.

steps


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Celebrate

Day 162: Good news. Good news coming from many directions. Turns out I have three lumps, all of them are non-cancerous. Two should fade away. I’m sooooo relieved. I hadn’t slept the last two nights… but I came home after visiting with my friends Vanessa and Greg …and took the BEST nap ever; one with complete comfort. My surgeon is so wonderful. She’s like my second ‘mom.’ I’m going to celebrate with my son tonight with a fire in the fire pit and a glass of wine.

The good news continues. My dad regained MUCH of his hearing today that he thought he had lost and my brother’s medical group membership application went through. Today is a day of health. And the cherry on top is that some work that my associates are I had been working on is getting some recognition. Let the celebration continue.

firepit


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Bumps in the road

Day 161:  My world is getting “simpler”, as my mom says.  It’s a much kinder word than “smaller” or “empty” which is what I was feeling yesterday.  My youngest son, my step-son is not talking to me. He probably doesn’t want to feel like he’s betraying his dad by continuing a relationship.  Sad really. My youngest natural son is off to college in Hawaii.  Good for him.  He’s doing it on his own and determined.  He’s stepping into his life now.  That’s what I’ve been encouraging and hoping.  It’s a wonderful thing.  All of my other children are on their own.  It would be an empty nest if it wasn’t for that fact that I’m temporarily living in my second son’s nest during my recovery.  Things are very quiet.

That’s why yesterday, I had to get in the car and drive… as far as I could… see something new and drive back.  The emptiness and the fact that I found two small lumps in my right breast yesterday morning.  (That’s the good side)   Silly, how I thought if I could drive fast enough and far enough in the open desert, I’d be able to drive away from that discovery.

My daughter returned home from her trip to Albuquerque yesterday morning.  I went to her house on my way home.  She confirmed it.  She too can feel the lumps.  We called the surgeon.  I have an appointment on Wednesday – tomorrow.  Haven’t really slept.  Worried.  But we’re trying to be optimistic that it’s nothing…   These are the times that you really miss your partner’s hugs.

Bumpy Rural Road