Thursday, March 4, 2021

So I did a thing

So I did a thing today. I don't know why I did it, but I did. 

For years, I've been struggling to find the right prostheses. Either they've been too heavy, too uncomfortable, or too something. None of them have felt right and believe me, I have quite the collection thanks to annual insurance benefits and lots of out of pocket dollars! (Fake boobs are very expensive - normally between $400-$600 each and I have to have two!)

I don't like to have unnecessary things in my house and this morning, as I was Spring cleaning, I noticed all the unused prostheses. I have boxes of them on a shelf in my closet and drawers full of them in my dresser. What a shame, I thought, to have all those silicone boobs and not use them on a regular basis. It seemed like such a waste. 

But silicone prostheses disintegrate over time so they always have to be replaced and the breast surgeon warned me, right after bilateral mastectomies, that if I didn't replace the weight of my breasts, my spine would suffer as my body curved forward in a protective measure. So I bought the boobs every year when the insurance company notified me it was time. And my collection grew, and grew, and grew. 

It's been 7 years now and I have 7 sets of silicone boobs as well as some lighter weight poly micro bead ones and some homemade poly fiberfill ones but there have been problems with all of them, mostly with the weight. They're either too heavy or too light and then, there's the size issue. I have them from a giant B cup down to a double A. 

And that's why I have gone flat most days, especially when home. When I go out, however, I try to wear prostheses so I look feminine. During the winter, I don't worry so much. My puffy down coat and scarf camouflage my breastlessness but in the summer, you can't hide. 

Today, I got to thinking - what if I could make a camisole with built in boobs - one that was comfortable and light weight? Would I wear something like that on a daily basis? I thought I probably would so I pulled out 2 camisoles, my sewing machine, thread, scissors, and a big bag of microbeads and got busy. I was going to figure out how to make this work. 

I'd seen an advertisement a few years back from a fellow breast cancer survivor who had struggled with the same dilemma and had formed her own product and home based company but I wasn't willing to pay $150 for one product when I could make my own for a few dollars. 

Taking the two camisoles, I cut the top front from one of them and placed it over the front of the other. Pinning the cut pattern in place, I began to sew. Within a few minutes, I'd stitched around the bodice of the complete camisole and had adhered the pattern in place leaving an opening for slipping in the microbead prostheses I'd make next. 

Microbeads are nasty little suckers! They stick to everything and they're so tiny the static electricity makes them next to impossible to work with, but I did it! I got 2 breast forms made, filled, and inserted into my makeshift camisole. 

Holding the project up, I looked it over - front and back. It looked great and it had been so simple to make. 

Next came the chest test. Slipping it over my head and pulling the camisole into place, I was surprised at how lightweight and comfortable it was. Maybe I was on to something!!! 

I put my shirt on over the top of the camisole and buttoned it up. Turning side to side, I liked the profile my new boobs gave and there was no back pain from the weight of heavy silicone. 

What a relief to finally have something I could wear on a daily basis. I was so proud of myself. 

Rounding up all the silicone boobs, I loaded a box to donate to survivors who don't have the financial ability to purchase prostheses. My hope is that those boobs will find good homes and meet the needs of women who've battled cancer. 

Now that I've freed up tons of space, I feel so much lighter - emotionally and physically :)

So I did a thing, a useful thing and I'm so glad I did.



Monday, March 1, 2021

New month, new beginning


Today's the first day of a new month and I must say, I'm thankful. It felt so good to bid adieu to January and February. Neither of those months had been kind to me. 

I'm still sick. It's going on three weeks now and this junk just won't let go. I am so ready to be over it! Now that the round of antibiotics and prednisone are complete, I'm hoping and praying I don't take a turn for the worst. I'm continuing to doctor myself at home - taking lots of vitamins, Elderberry, and Tylenol. I'm also trying to get in some good fruits and veggies each day to pump up my immune system, but I can tell my body is weak and out of whack. Perhaps a good week long fast would do the trick...

It's another overcast day and it feels oppressive. Days like these make me feel sad and depressed. And since I know that, I try to counter with the weapon of joy. It's not easy to overcome depression with happiness but when you study the Word, there are so many verses about joy, it's hard not to be happy. 

Psalm 5:11 "But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You." What a powerful verse! Let all who take refuge in YOU be glad. Yes, that's exactly what I have to remember - because I am hidden with Christ, I have His protection and love guarding over me - that's a good reason for rejoicing. 

My word for the year was SAVOR and as I've focused on tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, He's interposed the word JOY. So I guess I'm supposed to not only taste and see that He is good, I'm also to rejoice in Him. They do seem to fit well together, don't they? 

In this crazy, mixed up world it's a challenge to seek joy but I think that's exactly what God wants us to do. When we focus on all the mess, we miss the message. He's still on the throne and He's still in control. That should give us hope, peace, and joy. 

So on this first day of the month of March, I hope you'll be a joy seeker. If you take time to look, you can't miss it. It's all around us. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always and again, I say rejoice." Philippians 4:4 The Hebrew word for rejoice is gil. It means to be glad, be joyful, to spin around. And that makes me think about my childhood. 

One Easter, when I was about 5 or 6, I got a new dress with a crinoline skirt. It was so pretty and flouncy, after putting it on I began to twirl around the room. Spinning around and around, in my little black patent leather shoes and my white lace topped bobby socks, I felt special. I couldn't help but smile! I was so filled with joy! It was rare to get a fancy, store bought dresses back then. Mama made all of my clothes, but that Easter, I had a complete ensemble including white cotton gloves and straw hat. I'll admit, I probably looked like a silly, little girl twirling round and round but I didn't care! I was happy and wanted everyone to know it. 

I think that's kind of how God wants us to be - unabashedly joyful! Maybe that's why Paul says "rejoice." RE-JOICE...DO IT AGAIN! And again, and again...TWIRL!!!! Yes!!! Thanks, Lord. I've got it now. " Rejoice in the Lord always, and again...I say rejoice."




Friday, February 19, 2021

Sick, sick, and tired of being sick!

Get ready to hear me b---- and moan because I'm going to do it. 

A few weeks ago, while attempting to get out of the tub, I missed raising my leg high enough to get over the side of the tub and twisted my knee in the wrong direction. Barely able to walk, I knew something was really wrong so I went to see an orthopedic doctor and he did xrays and an MRI finding I'd torn my lateral meniscus, had two weirdly named cysts in my knee, and a severe case of arthritis. So...he put me in an off loading knee brace in an attempt to allow my knee to repair itself over the next 6 weeks and, he said, if that doesn't happen, I'll need arthroscopic surgery and if that doesn't work, then a total knee replacement which I definitely don't want to do. 

The knee brace has been helping but is very uncomfortable. When I take it off late in the day (when I have had all I can stands and I can't stands no more - insert Popeye voice over here), I immediately feel pain and realize it's probably inevitable that some kind of surgery is in my future.


 On top of all that, I got some kind of crud and I mean CRUD! I've never had anything like this before. It's a cross between flu, bronchitis, pnuemonia, a really bad sinus infection, and fibromyalgia all rolled into one. No, I don't think it's Covid, although it could be. I haven't been tested so I don't know for sure, but I'm hoping it isn't. I've been doing homeopathic remedies for the past 9 days and yesterday had the slightest feeling that I needed to go in to see the doc because I wasn't getting any better. 

I called the doc expecting to be worked in but that wasn't the case. The receptionist said they weren't seeing anyone with upper respiratory illnesses right now but she'd patch me through to the nurse. While on hold, I fumed. Why wouldn't the primary care doc see me when I was sick??? Oh yeah...COVID, duh!

The nurse was kind. She asked my symptoms and I told her I'd been experiencing pain in my lower back just over my lungs, headaches, fatigue, inability to smell, nasal congestion, sore throat, and mild fever. (Sounds like Covid, right?) So she talked to the doc and they called out some meds - a Z pack and prednisone - typical upper respiratory regimen. Before we hung up, she said, if you don't start feeling better after a few days on these, you need to go to the hospital. Gee thanks...

I'm a pretty tough cookie when it comes to pain. I've been through an awful lot in my life, but whatever this is has knocked me for a loop. I sure hope the meds help. I am so over this junk but I will say, in the famous words of a wise old woman I knew, it could have been worse. I could have ended up in the hospital on a ventilator or other life saving equipment so I'm thankful that's not the case. 

Okay. My b---- fest is over. 

On a side note, and a little positivity here, I have lost 5 pounds - probably because I haven't had an appetite and haven't been able to smell anything. You always have to look for that silver lining right?

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Sowing fruit

Several weeks ago, my youngest daughter had told me about the Insta Cart service. She'd used it before and found it convenient so I thought I'd give it a try.

 I placed an order with Publix. Ordering was quick and easy. I was pleased and made a mental note to use them again. So today, when I'd been crazy busy and the day was half over, I realized I needed to go to the grocery store. We had no fresh produce in the house and anyone who knows me knows I love fresh fruit and veggies so I had to do something about that. 

Whipping out my phone, I pulled up the Insta Cart app and perused the various vendors. I didn't need a full grocery order, so I opted for Aldi. Although we'd only shopped there once or twice in the past, I wondered how their produce would be and decided to give them a try. 

After placing my order, I received a text stating my shopper's name was Dana. I shot her a quick message and thanked her for being willing to help me with my shopping today. She responded back quickly with the typical Chick Fil A type response, "My pleasure." I smiled and got back to work. 

About half an hour later, I got a message from Dana. She had made all my selections and was on her way. Within twenty minutes, she'd be at my house. 

Walking into my studio, I selected a painting I thought Dana might enjoy. I wrote a little note and slipped both the painting and the note in a large ziploc bag. I put the gift on top of the ice chest I'd placed outside the front door hoping Dana would see it as she opened the chest to slip our milk inside. 

When my personal shopper had pulled out of the driveway, I began the task of bringing the groceries inside. Dana had left all the bags neatly in a row out front on our porch. It was evident she'd taken good care of our food. 

 After I'd brought all the bags inside, I began the task of opening them and putting away the contents. I was surprised to find beautiful selections of fruit. There were no bruised or damaged items. I was pleased. 

Opening a box of strawberries, I picked up a ripe piece of fruit and held it in my hand. It was a gorgeous red, luscious berry, odd for this time of year - strawberries aren't in season here until May, but I knew the fruit was from another state, more than likely California. 

Next, I unpacked apples, bananas, mandarin oranges, kiwi, and all the lovely veggies. My counters were covered in an array of color and that's when part of a verse of Scripture hit me : "...you are to bear much fruit." The Bible says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, all of which are evidence of the nature of Christ in us. Had I born fruit today? 

To bear spiritual fruit is evidence that we love and honor Christ. When we do this, we bring Him glory. I thought back over my day. I'd passed out a little love and kindness as I gifted Dana with a piece of art and as I'd thanked her for her service in a text message, but other than that, I hadn't shared lasting fruit with her. But maybe, just maybe, that tiny bit of love and kindness had sown a little seed of hope where she needed it most. 

The fruit we bear is to feed others, to bring the gift of life in Christ to spiritually starved humanity. To bear much fruit means to take what we have been given and use it to reach the lost. As we ‘seed’ ourselves into the world around us, the Spirit quickens and empowers us. Real faith must manifest in works, but the works are not the fruit. We may bear much fruit through kingdom work, but it is the fruit that glorifies God, not the works. When we bear much fruit, our fruit is the visible evidence of our discipleship. The fruit we bear indicates the nature and depth of our relationship with Christ. 

Dana probably didn't think much about selecting my fruit today. She was just doing a job that brought in a paycheck, but hopefully, as she left my house today, she was touched by a tiny little act the Holy Spirit prompted me to do. 

As I share this today, please don't think I'm patting myself on the back for a job well done - that is not my intention. I'm merely sharing it to give you a practical example of how easy it is to bear fruit in these hectic days. 

I pray God was glorified and that Dana, if she doesn't know the Father, will wonder why a complete stranger gave her a beautiful oil painting today and, I hope she'll be blessed by the verse of Scripture written on the back of it, that she might hunger to know Him, that she would "taste and see that the Lord is good." 

 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:8) ©Bonnie Annis Everyday Devotions

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

We take a lot for granted

 

The Don Joy Off Loading Knee Brace

Yesterday, I went to the orthopedic surgeon for the results of my recent MRI. 

I was hesitant to hear what he had to say and speculated the worst - knee replacement surgery, but thankfully, that's not in the cards just yet. 

He did say I have a lateral meniscus tear, two subchondral pseudocysts, and severe arthritis. After giving me that news, he left the room, a nurse entered and drew up a syringe with Cortisone. I watched as she carefully laid out the bandages, a numbing spray, the long needled syringe, and some antiseptic wipes. As she left the room, I turned to my husband and grimaced. 

I'd had a cortisone injection in my ankle joint last year. It was extremely painful. I wasn't looking forward to another injection but knew it was coming. 

About five minutes later, the doctor came back into the room and had me sit on the exam table, pants rolled up, as he lifted the needle. "Just imagine yourself sitting on a dock dangling your feet over the edge of the water..." And then he jabbed me! Oh, gravy!!! The numbing spray helped some but there was intense pressure and pain. 

A couple of minutes later, he was done and ordering the nurse to take me over to the physical therapy department to be fitted with an off loading knee brace. He said we'd see how I did over the next 6 weeks and if I wasn't much better when I came back, he'd do arthroscopic surgery to remove the damaged tissue and hopefully keep me from having to have a total replacement. 

The off loading knee brace is a weird looking structure - a thick flexible plastic webbing with several large velcro straps. It's supposed to take the pressure off of the "bad" side of my knee and transfer it to the "good" side. 

As I walked/hobbled out of the doctor's office, I realized how much I take for granted. Being unable to bend my knee caused me to remember the days of immobility I suffered after a bad accident in 1991. During that time, I was confined to a wheelchair and couldn't walk for over 3 years. 

I knew my knees had been suffering. The creaks and groans they made when bending or stretching reminded me I was aging, but I didn't expect to suffer such damage just getting out of the bathtub. In one split moment, my knee was damaged. 

So today, as I maneuver through my house with my lovely brace on and a handy, dandy walker in tow, I think I need to be more cognizant of my health. I need to thank God for the parts that are still functioning and forget about the parts I've lost. 

It's really strange when you think about how a broken and scarred body can still function without so many parts - I've not only lost both breasts to cancer, I've lost my thyroid gland, my gallbladder, and my uterus. 

As a child, I remember playing the game "Operation." As I'd work carefully to keep from setting off the buzzer as I removed tiny, white, play bones, I never imagined a body could live without vital organs or parts. 

But I'm still here and I'm proof it is doable. 

I'm hoping I don't end up losing my knees in the near future. I've heard terrible things about knee replacement surgeries. Maybe this brace, the walker, the pain meds, and time will help my wounds heal and maybe, I'll focus on being a little more grateful for the pieces and parts I still have left inside of me. 

Life is so short and I still have much to do. I need functioning knees to help me accomplish those goals. Please pray I get to keep them.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

How did he feel?


 I was reading a cancer forum the other day and one of the participants posed a thought - "I always wondered how the doctor felt just before he told me I had cancer." As I read her words, I was stunned. I'd never given much thought to the doctor's feelings and I certainly hadn't considered his point of view. But as I began to think back to that fateful June day in 2014, I did my best to imagine the scenario. 

He stands outside a solid wooden door fingering the results of her recent biopsy. The news is not good. 

He wipes beads of sweat from his brow as he waits, listening. Inside the room, he hears the crinkle of the exam table paper shift beneath her wait. 

How long has she been waiting? Fifteen minutes, thirty? It must seem like an eternity to her. 

Slowly, he reaches out and takes the doorknob in his hand. As he gently turns it, he pulls slightly allowing the bright light from the room to filter into the hallway. He should have knocked first. In his haste, he'd forgotten so he pulls the door closed and raps three times. 

At the sound, she responds softly, "Come in." 

With determination, he opens the door and smiles as he greets her. "How are you today?" He asks but doesn't want to hear the answer. It's just a formality. 

He watches her eyes as he moves to his stool. She's fixed her gaze on the paper in his hand. She knows, he thinks...she knows. 

Taking a deep breath, he waits as he thinks to himself, I must do this carefully. Although I've done it thousands of times before, it's always difficult. In an instant, her life will change forever. 

Her eyes are so intense - those large brown, soulful eyes of hers bore into my soul. How can I tell her she has cancer? I can't choose to see her in any other way than professionally. The telling is part of my job. I'm just doing my job, he tells himself convincingly. 

 Mrs. Annis, I have bad news...no. I can't start like that. Mrs. Annis, I have your test results here. Let's go over them, shall we? Much better. Professional but not condescending. 

And then he reads. And she begins to weep. 

Oh no, he thinks, here we go again. I hate my job. 


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

4 words

There are four words in Psalm 46 that seem to be a command - “Be still, and know..."

 As I think back to my eighth grade English days and re-read those words, I understand there's an indirect subject there - "You, be still and know." And if I break it down further, I can personalize it - "You, Bonnie, be still and know." Inserting your own name, the 4 words become even more powerful. But that's not the entire passage. Here's what it says in its entirety:

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11 NIV

As I write, the world is still in the throws of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lives have been turned upside down and many have contracted the coronavirus. Thousands have died. And all of us have been impacted in some way.

Responses to the virus have covered a wide spectrum. Some deny the seriousness of the disease. Some see it as merely a government plot to gain more power over ordinary citizens. Others see it as God’s judgement on a people who've turned away from him. Many simply want it to go away so they can get back to normal.

Without question, this virus has disrupted lives across the globe. In a world of constant motion, our typically busy and chaotic lives have become abnormally slowed. And this slowness has created a great opportunity.

When life is so full, it's often hard to find time to fit God into our schedule. Sure, we might satisfy ourselves with a couple of hours on Sunday and maybe some other activity during the week, but do we ever slow down long enough to sit at Jesus’ feet for a while. Do we truly take time to enjoy His presence and get to know Him on a personal level?

COVID-19 has given us time. It's like the ultimate time out from life. We can take time to actually be still. 

Turn off the TV. Put down the book. Move away from the pantry. Stop whatever you have been doing to fill your time. Find a quiet, solitary, and comfortable location. Still the voices that fill the emptiness and meditate on who God is and what He has done for you. It will be hard at first. but if you persist, you will find it well worth your time.

Be still and know - really understand, truly comprehend, that He is God. 

So I did a thing

So I did a thing today. I don't know why I did it, but I did.  For years, I've been struggling to find the right prostheses. Either ...