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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Just a brief update, since I'm exhausted.

The good news: My sister's surgery went extremely well, and the reconstruction did also. In fact, she was out of the operating room sooner than expected. Of course, she had a LOT of pain that first day and night. However, she did much better yesterday and today...she went home!

Both doctors said they found NO cancerous cells in her lymph nodes, and that is also GREAT news. At this point, it looks as if she won't have to have any further treatment, such as chemo or radiation. I hope it stays this way too!

I spent all of the first day there, came home that night, went back yesterday and then home late last night. I plan to drive to her home (50 miles) tomorrow, and possibly spend the night, stay most of Monday and then drive back home. She does need some assistance in getting out of bed, etc. but is doing remarkably well.

All this is going extremely, extremely well...and I hope it continues on this path.

More when I have rested enough to be coherent!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Just trying to stay busy, busy, busy until the day of my sister's surgery: this Thursday. I did some touch-up painting today, which took most of the afternoon. Tomorrow I have some extensive house-cleaning to do, just in case we have to spend a lot of time at the hospital and/or away from home.

I have spent some time also (occasionally) researching info about mammograms. Here's a link that is interesting:

Mammograms proven no help in preventing death from breast cancer

I don't know whether I believe the article, but I DO have doubt that a mammogram is more helpful than harmful. I ALWAYS felt this way, even though my GYN nearly went ballistic every time I REFUSED to have one over the years. Though some "experts" say you only receive the amount of radiation from a mammogram that you would traveling in a jet from one coast of the U.S. to the other, it IS DIRECT radiation upon your breast.

The thing that strikes me as odd: so many women who are having "regular" mammograms are also "getting early stage cancer." But what IF these discovered masses are in fact there in ALL women, but NEVER become cancerous or grow? Could mammogram radiation CAUSE these pre-cancerous cells to activate, and start growing? Just something I've been pondering.

Here's another interesting article on that topic:

Mammograms don't raise cancer survival: study

I'll try to update tomorrow sometimes...if possible. That's it for now.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

We had a spring shower late this afternoon, and everything looked SO beautiful around this place, I just had to take some pictures! The highway in front of our house/pasture was steamy, especially along the bridge over a nearby creek.

Kitten is officially ONE YEAR OLD now, so I took some pictures of her too. She is a truly FAT cat now, but still as playful as a kitten! And she seems to be very healthy, still LOVES to eat.

Not much else to report tonight, except that we're all coping. My sister has made the final decisions regarding her surgery next Thursday. Tomorrow she has some tests done, and then it's just the "waiting" until the day for surgery. We talk EVERY day on the phone, and she has become more and more confident in the surgeon and plastic surgeon she's chosen (not the original surgeon who could NOT be trusted!).

And that's it for now.

Isn't she lovely, isn't she FAT?! :-) Posted by Hello

Happy Birthday to Kitten, One Year Old Posted by Hello

Deck at rear of house Posted by Hello

Another view of house Posted by Hello

Our house in spring Posted by Hello

New garden  Posted by Hello

After rain: steamy highway beside our pasture Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It has taken me quite some time to think about all that has transpired with my sister, regarding her diagnosis of breast cancer. We've talked a lot on the phone, we (DH and I) visited last weekend, and all of our family seem to be slowly adjusting. Still, at times it seems like a nightmare, unreal, and difficult to believe.

As the eldest sibling, I always assumed that my sisters would outlive me. And I hope that will still happen, but given the serious nature of cancer, I've had to at least "think" about that not being the case. However, I try to stay optimistic and hopeful that once the initial surgery (bi-lateral masectomy) is over, my sister will be cancer-free. The surgeon has said she will not need chemo or radiation -- unless they find something unexpected during the surgery. She will probably have reconstruction at the same time, if all goes well.

I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about breast cancer, masectomy, reconstruction, etc. I also never trusted mammograms, refused to have one (and never have, never will UNLESS I find a lump first) and have some definite concerns about the direct radiation on the breast during that procedure. Now it turns out my sister had regular mammograms, and for FIVE years none showed the lump in her breast to be suspicious enough that the surgeon would do a biopsy! So much for mammograms.

Ladies, here's a tip: If you find a lump in your breast and after a mammogram, the doctor says it's a "cyst" and it doesn't go away within several months, then you need to DEMAND a biopsy. Otherwise what happened to my sister may happen to you.

At my age, and with my frequent depressions, if I found a lump I might not go for ANY treatment. And if I did, I would not consider reconstruction, since I believe that must add to the pain and take a longer recuperation.

But my sister has a son that just entered college last Fall (he is planning on a career in architecture) and she has a lot of reasons to want to live. I think I could possibly accept a cancer diagnosis better than she has, but then again, it is always a shock. My sister has a lot of anger, due to the surgeon/Gyn continuing to tell her the lump was "nothing." I don't blame her, I'd be angry about that too.

She is scheduled for surgery on April 28th, so DH and I will be there with my brother-in-law. I am not sure how long it will take, nor how lengthy her hospital stay may be. And when she goes home, I do expect to stay with her some while she recovers. Maybe DH can take care of my cats, so I won't have to get a pet sitter.

As to other news here: DH used the tractor to disk up a small plot for my vegetables I'd grown from seeds. I have tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, broccli, lettuce and spinach planted now. I started all of those from seeds, and hope they survive. We set those out yesterday afternoon, and I watered them again late this afternoon. I also have several tomatoe plants, lettuce, and a variety of herbs in five gallon buckets, which I plan to keep in the sunny mud-room. IF these do well, I may try growing them year-round out there in pots, so we can have fresh lettuce and tomatoes for salads in the winter months.

My back problem finally got better, though I have to be very careful lifting things, as well as not standing/sitting too long. I am using the air-bike again daily, back to the 30-45 minutes of aerobic riding. I simply have to have aerobic exercise to sleep well.

One night recently the former owner's grown son stopped by to visit and look at the improvements we've done on this house. He and his wife were impressed, but they also told us something disturbing: the past four men who either owned or lived here had heart attacks. Now that is a very weird coincidence, considering DH had a heart attack too. Certainly, it IS interesting and another fact I'll include in the time capsule -- which I'm still working on.

I need to make time to write for the blog/journal, because it helps me cope. I will try to make more regular entries in the next few weeks, though it will be difficult.

Tomorrow I'm going to town, visit the library, do some shopping.

At any rate, that's the latest events here for now.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Just a brief update to state that there's more bad news from here: my younger sister has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. There is NO history of breast cancer (or cancer for that matter) in our family -- but you know my latest rantings on genetic history.

It was a serious shock to us all, as she is only age 50, three years younger than myself. She'd always had cysts in her breast from time to time, but the GYN she sees had led her to believe that the one there for a YEAR was not cancer. Unfortunately after another lump AND calcification were found, she was sent to consult with a surgeon and the biopsy was done.

I feel like I'm in the "Twilight Zone" again, and cannot find my way out.

More when I'm over the shock and can write coherently.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Yesterday I finally received a call from my doctor's office, and learned the results of the MRI. Astonished, I could hardly believe that the ONLY problem in my back was "arthritis" in my lower left spinal area (where I'd been hurting). IF this is pain from arthritis alone, I'm in for a long, hard lifetime of suffering. I just cannot believe that is the ONLY thing wrong, although I doubt that a strained muscle would show on an MRI.

I was assured by the nurse that there were no dislocated discs. Which temporarily made me feel better, but then...I began to realize that the excruciating pain I have been having might be here to stay, if not all the time, at least off and on. The hurt has lessened, particularly when we turned our "memory foam" mattress over and started sleeping on the hard underside surface. Still, if I turn a certain way, bend the wrong way, I have a sharp, piercing pain shoot along my waist and down my left hip. Then it aches for an hour or so.

I've been taking prescription anti-inflammatory medication, and it DOES help a great deal. Yet it is the very same medication that is in a mild OTC form and which lately has been linked to heart attacks. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

I was depressed most of yesterday afternoon, worrying that I'll have to suffer with this the rest of my life -- and that will be difficult to endure. I think I may get the MRI results from the doctor, and see a chriopractor, or orthopedic specialist. If nothing else, maybe I can find some relief with their treatment.

Of course, my paternal grandmother had arthritis too, and lived to be 92. However, I sure have found fresh respect for her suffering. She always complained with the pain, had terrible knee trouble, but most people just dismiss arthritis as "part of aging."

I did a lot of research on arthritis online today, and found out what I already knew: there's not much that can be done for it. Oh sure, you read of "new" treatments, and just today I read that some researchers in Australia have found the enzyme responsible for eroding cartilege in arthritis sufferers (in mice, that is). Whether they can isolate and treat this in humans remains to be seen. I don't have high hopes!

The doctor was more alarmed by my bone density results, that I have bone loss, and called in a perscription for something similar to Fosamax. I haven't picked it up yet, but I'll probably try it. It's taken once a week only, yet seems to irritate the stomach -- and I already have acid reflux. Also I'm supposed to take 500 mg of calcium THREE times a day too.

I know that aging is to be expected, and that the aches/pains come along with the territory. I must have a low threshold for pain though, because I find that I HATE physical suffering; I had too much of that in my early 20s, and I certainly would NOT be here today had it not been treated and stopped.

Since the news of Terri Schiavo and her death today, I suppose we all wonder if we'd want to be kept alive in such a brain-dead state. I would NOT, and DH and I long ago made out Living Wills, had them notorized. When DH was having the heart attack, one of the questions they asked me is if he had a Living Will. Neither of us would want to be kept alive by such drastic measures, we discussed it early in our marriage. I think everyone should have a Living Will, then there will not be the media circus, parental interference, religious zealots, political posturing, etc that went on with that poor woman!

One other lesson from that situation: If you plan to commit suicide, you'd better do your homework/research and make SURE you know exactly HOW to do it right. Otherwise you might end up in a similar brain-dead state, being kept alive for years.


It's now morning, and we're having another rainy day. No storms yet, just a steady drizzle. The bright, vibrant green everywhere is dazzling; spring is definitely here to stay!

I have to get some prescriptions filled today, but other than that, I will be able to stay indoors. I also want to finish painting the new door we put between the living room and hallway, so we can shut off that room.

My back was killing me when I woke up this morning, but when I took the anti-inflammatory pill, it got better. I guess I just don't have the "Christian" attitude that physical suffering is good. I have noticed, of course, that a lot of "Christians" and others who think physical suffering should just be endured in silence haven't actually SUFFERED much themselves. It's a whole other ballgame when it is YOU doing the suffering.

And that's it for now.