Friday, May 20, 2016

A little ingenuity

They say "necessity is the mother of invention" and I believe it's true. I couldn't help but think of this saying as I began packing for our upcoming trip to the beach. Beaches mean swimming and swimming means you need a bathing suit and what am I going to do? Number one, I don't have a bathing suit because I don't like to wear them in public and number two, I don't know how you swim with prostheses....The more I thought about it, the more concerned I became and the more I realized I had to come up with a solution. I'm sure they sell prosthetic breast forms made specifically for swimming but I don't have any of those and I'm sure they're very expensive. I bet I can come up with something, I thought to myself and then I got an idea.

My daughter and I were out shopping. We were perusing the aisles of T.J.Maxx for items we needed for our trip. As we went down the women's clothing aisle, we passed one of those U shaped neck pillows. Someone had apparently laid it down in the wrong place because it didn't belong with the women's pajamas. I picked it up and looked at it. The fabric was covered in red hearts and it was a cute print. I held it in my hands and marveled at how light weight it was. I wondered what it was made of so I looked closely at the tag. The tag said it contained microbeads. What are microbeads? I didn't really know, so I looked it up. The internet said they are tiny particles made from Styrofoam. Styrofoam floats! AHA!!! I bought that little U shaped pillow and took it home. I had a plan.

When I got home, I pulled the neck pillow out of my bag. I went into my sewing room and got a pair of scissors and walked back to my kitchen table. Opening up the neck pillow at one end, I was immediately sorry I did it. Millions of teeny, tiny little Styrofoam beads poofed up into the air. They were suddenly all over my kitchen! Thankfully, I was able to pinch the neck of the pillow closed and contain the rest of the beads before they escaped.

I took one of my breast forms out of my bra and got a piece of paper. I traced around the form and took my "pattern" into my sewing room where I cut out two pieces of fabric. I sewed the pieces together leaving a small opening at one end for stuffing. When I'd sewn both breast forms, I brought them into the kitchen for filling. I took a small measuring cup and scooped a cup full of microbeads from the neck pillow. They clung to the sides of the measuring cup and some spilled out onto the floor. It was very difficult to get the microbeads into the new breast form but I was diligent and patient. After getting a "pleasing" amount of beads into the form, I handed it to my husband and asked him to feel how light it was. He held it in his hands and said it felt like air. I filled up the other breast form and went back into my sewing room to sew up the openings. When I'd completed the sewing, I took my new microbead boobs and slipped them into my bra. They were extremely light and I barely knew I had anything on at all! I was very pleased with the result and wondered how these lightweight breast forms would do in a bathing suit and in water.

The breast forms are packed in my suitcase and ready to go. In a few days, we'll be on our way and the new microbead boobs will get their first test run. I'm hoping they'll stay in the suit and not become little floating buoys. I'd hate to have to yell at a little kid, "Hey! Give me back my boob!" I'm sure the child would be mortified and the parents would probably think I was a kook. So we shall see how these feathery light forms hold up. I'll give you a report when I get back but until then, remember..."necessity is the mother of invention." If you have a problem, think about it and I'm sure you can come up with a solution that works for you, too!

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Washing the toxins away


The sign outside my treatment room
Another day of Lymphedema therapy! I am so tired of going for these appointments. The frustration comes from not only having to drive an hour each way to the Piedmont Hospital Physical Therapy/Rehab Center but also from having to lay on the treatment table for an hour while the therapist does her thing. I feel really weird having a woman rubbing and massaging my body parts! That's probably why I've never gone for a professional massage in my whole 58 years of life. I know massage is supposed to be really good for you and is supposed to be a great way to receive relaxation for overworked muscles but if I had my way, a man would be working on me! Lisa, my CLT (Certified Lymphedema Therapist) is nice. She's kind, caring, and personable. If we didn't have a professional relationship, she'd probably be a good friend of mine but as fate would have it, she'll only be in my life a short time to help me with post breast cancer side effects.
My lovely treatment "bed"
The drive to the rehab center was uneventful this morning, but thankfully there wasn't a lot of traffic like there as on Monday. I enjoyed meandering through the countryside and seeing all the beautiful farm land between my town and the hospital area. There are some beautiful old barns and a lot of pretty wildflowers. My thoughts wandered as I was driving and the time passed fairly quickly. Before I knew it, I had arrived and was parking in the lot next to the rehab center. I signed in and took my seat glancing around the waiting room to see how many people were waiting for treatment. There was an oriental woman with a laptop busy making her to-do list shorter. I overheard her conversations because she wasn't shy about speaking on her cell phone in public. I learned she had termites in her home and was trying to find out what to do to get rid of them. She also was trying to make appointments with appliance repairmen to come to her home. They didn't have appointment times she preferred so she said she'd call them back. Although it was evident she was used to working diligently to get things done, she sounded frantic and scared, poor thing! There was a woman newly diagnosed with Diabetes who'd come in for a class on how to eat properly without sugar, a woman with an evident leg injury, and a woman in severe back pain. I watched as she tried to walk to the restroom and I hurt for her as she hunched over taking one painful step after another. The woman who really touched my heart was one with Lymphedema in both arms (just like me). Her arms were HUGE and I had to thank God mine weren't even close to being as bad as hers. Poor thing! She probably was very self conscious. She'd had to wear a sleeveless shirt because of the girth of her arms. As I continued to people watch, my therapist walked into the room and nodded toward me. She smiled and asked if I was ready. I shook my head and told her yes. She was assisting a young man on a walker and asked me to go ahead to the room and get my hospital gown on, so I did. A few minutes later, she appeared and got to work. 
Me in my hospital gown

As she worked on my arms, we talked. I learned her husband works for Delta as a flight instructor and she'd been an occupational therapist for 28 years but had just begun specializing in Lymphatic massage a few years earlier. She had two children in college, a sister and several brothers. Her parents lived in Daytona Beach, Florida, and her in laws lived in New York. It's amazing how much people enjoy talking about themselves! All you have to do is give them a little encouragement and they'll talk for a long time. I guess that's one of the reasons I've always enjoyed counseling...I love listening to others talk about themselves.

Our hour went by quickly and as the time ended, she made sure I knew how to do the manual lymphatic drainage at home. I assured her I felt comfortable enough to do it on my own and she wished me a good vacation and we said our goodbyes. On the way home, I started to feel extremely tired. I didn't understand why because I hadn't really done anything other than have treatment. After lunch, I looked on the internet trying to find a reason for my sudden exhaustion and was thankful when I found it natural to feel fatigue after lymphatic drainage. This is referred to as a Herx reaction or "detox reaction." As toxins are released from tissues they move to the organs to be eliminated from the body. They can cause discomfort or general feeling of yuckiness. I wish I'd known there are things you can do before treatment to help make it a little easier on your system. These are things I found on the internet that help decrease fatigue after treatment: 

Chart of the Lymphatic System
  • Drinking a lot of water before AND after the lymph drainage session
  • Taking "binders" as prescribed by your physician immediately after the session (e.g. charcoal)
  • Drinking more water
  • Light aerobic activity (e.g. walking or rebounding)
  • Colonic hydrotherapy
  • Drinking even more water 
  • Rest
While some people report feeling amazing after moving toxins out of their bodies, others have more toxins and may feel a little less than amazing while the toxins that were mobilized are vacating. The lymph system will continue to feel the effects for 24-36 hours after treatment. 

No wonder I felt so wiped out when I got home! Who knows how many toxins had been released into my body after the lymphatic massage therapy. I called my oldest daughter, (a great self taught naturopath) and asked her what she recommended. She told me to rest and drink lots of water with lemon. She said the lemon would help eliminate the toxins from my body. So, instead of curling up on the floor like I want to and just laying there like a wet noodle for the rest of the day, I'm drinking massive amounts of water with lemon, jogging back and forth to the bathroom, and doing my best to give myself permission to not worry about cleaning house or other tasks today. Instead, I'm focusing on me and my health. Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do and let everything else fall apart...and that's okay...really, it is! Tomorrow will be a better day and I will feel more clear headed and strong. The toxins will have been eliminated and I can start all over again. Hallelujah, no more trips to the rehab center (for now anyway) and maybe, just maybe my insurance company will approve the recirculating compression pump for my arms and I can do the treatments in the comfort of my own home. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed...til tomorrow, gotta run to the potty...see ya!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Look Good Feel Better


For the past 22 months, I’d wanted to attend one of the Look Good Feel Better seminars offered for women who’ve been diagnosed with cancer; but every time a class came to a city near me, I never signed up. I don’t know why I didn’t feel comfortable enough to call and register, but I didn’t. I knew, if I went, I’d be around other breast cancer patients and survivors, but I was still hesitant. For some reason, I just couldn’t do it.

At the beginning of May, I received a bi-monthly calendar of events from my local cancer wellness center. I always look forward to receiving the calendar because there are usually interesting classes available so I flipped it open to see what was on the schedule. There were several art therapy classes, writing classes, a one hour drumming class, and several more. The one that caught my eye was the Look Good Feel Better class. I noticed the dates and realized the next one was only a week away and it was going to be held at the hospital around the corner from me. I read the little paragraph description about the class. It said the program would teach beauty techniques to women who were currently undergoing cancer treatment and help them learn to combat appearance related side effects. I realized, as I continued reading, that I really needed that class. I’d been so tired lately. The last time I looked in the mirror, I noticed dark circles under my eyes. This was evidence of many sleepless nights related to my inability to get comfortable. Although I was hesitant, I picked up the phone and made myself call to sign up for the class. Registration was fairly simple. A woman from the American Cancer Society (partners in the Look Good Feel Better program) asked me questions about my diagnosis and treatment then took some demographic information. She asked what color I would consider my complexion and asked me to use one of the words – light, medium, dark, or very dark. I told her I would consider my skin tone to be light. She jotted down the information and gave me instructions on how to find the class.

Before class began
The following week, on the morning of the class, it was pouring down rain. Great…just what I needed, a reason not to go. I rolled over in bed and closed my eyes. I lay there a few minutes enjoying the sound of the thunder outside and then realized I needed to keep my commitment. As much as I hated to do it, I made myself get out of bed, shower and get dressed. Since they were going to be teaching me how to apply makeup properly, I assumed I was to go to the class without my makeup on. That was going to be a real challenge because I never go anywhere without some makeup on. I ate a quick breakfast, grabbed my purse, and headed out the door.

When I reached the hospital, I went inside and followed the directions I was given by the American Cancer Society volunteer. The staff at the hospital had no idea where the Look Good Feel Better course was going to be held and didn’t even have it on their schedule. I almost turned around and went back home but decided I was going to stick this thing out. I found another member of the hospital personnel and inquired about the class. The gentleman I had asked had no clue where to send me but asked me to wait a few minutes while he did some research. Finally, after about 15 minutes, I was told to go to the building next door and to take the elevator down to the bottom floor. The class was going to be held in the Radiation/Oncology clinic. 

 I was the first person to enter the classroom and was greeted by a friendly young woman and a portly man. I was asked to take a seat at a long conference table and fill out a registration form. As I was filling out my form, a few other women came in. They’d all had trouble locating the class, too. Only five women arrived for the class. I was glad to know it was going to be a small group and began to feel a little more comfortable. I looked around at the other women who’d come for the training. Two of the women were bald and two were wearing wigs. I was the only one with a full set of short hair. We were all in various stages of treatment. Two of the ladies were currently undergoing chemotherapy, one had just begun radiation, one had just completed radiation and then there was me…I had completed treatment for breast cancer and was now undergoing therapy for Lymphedema, a side effect from my surgery and having had lymph nodes removed. After everyone had been seated, the class began.

Helping with application
The instructor handed each of us a magenta colored bag with the words, Look Good Feel Better, inscribed in white across the front of the bag. We were instructed to check the label and make sure our complexion color was correct. I looked at my tag and sure enough, the word LIGHT was on my tag. Next we were told to open our bags. As we looked inside, we were amazed at some of the big name brand cosmetics inside. I began pulling out my items and found ESTEE LAUDER, REVLON, IT COSMETICS, DIOR, and many others. There was a complete set of makeup (foundation, powder, eye shadows, eye liner, moisturizers, eye liner, lipstick, and concealer) along with makeup brushes and sponge applicators. When everyone in the class had their products lined up in front of them at the conference table, the instructor asked anyone wearing makeup to remove it with the makeup removal cloths provided. I was able to skip that step since I wasn’t wearing make up at all.

The five attendees
We watched and listened as the instructor gave helpful hints and tips for applying makeup. Step by step each of the class members applied one product after the other until we were transformed. The instructors took time with each one of us to make sure we understood the proper application methods. With all of the makeup applied, we each looked around the room at each other and grinned. Instead of 5 worn and weathered women, we were now beautiful and glowing. Even though we were all dealing with some level of pain or discomfort, we actually did look good and feel better than we had when we’d entered the room.

My makeup goodies
After the makeup session, the instructors gave information on how to properly apply and wear a wig. They talked about the differences between human hair wigs and synthetic wigs as well as the care for each. Head coverings were next on the schedule and we watched as the male instructor demonstrated how to twist and fold scarves to make unique and fun head covers. We all laughed hysterically when he put one on his own head and pranced around the room.

Randy, our instructor
Always apply with upward strokes
The ladies chatted for a few minutes and then gathered our makeup items carefully placing them back into our magenta colored bags. The class was dismissed but right before everyone got ready to leave, I asked if one of the instructors would mind taking a group photo of the class for me. For some reason, no sooner than I’d asked the questions, tears began to flow. The instructor waited a few minutes and asked if I was okay. I don’t know where that overflow of emotion had come from…I guess I’d just realized I was finally starting to feel normal again. All of the ladies lined up for the photo and we gave our best smiles. When I took my cellphone from the instructor to look at the photo, I smiled. All of the ladies gathered round as I shared the picture with them. “Don’t we all look so good?” I said. Each one smiled and agreed the class had been a success. We all looked great and felt so much better. I’m so thankful I made myself go to the class. I don’t know what I’d been afraid of all those months prior.

My new makeup
One makeup kit is given to each woman attending the Look Good Feel Better class. If a woman is ever diagnosed with recurrence or receives a new diagnosis, she can reapply to attend another session and receive another kit. The reason, according to our class instructor, for this rule is because of the products donated by large makeup companies. They want to ensure they have enough kits for every woman who needs one to be able to receive it.


What a great program! You can learn more about it or register here: Look Better Feel Good classes. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Boobs or no boobs, that is the question

If there was a stronger word than hate, I'd be using that word right now. Well, maybe there is...how about detest, abhor, or loathe? No, hate says it best. I hate, hate, hate going to the doctor, but today I had an appointment with my primary care physician so I had to go. Boo! So, I got up early and got a shower. I don't know why I made such an early morning appointment...note to self, don't do that again!

After my shower, I got on the scale. I wanted to see how much I weighed before I actually had to get on the scale at the doctor's office. First, I weighed without clothes and then I weighed with clothes. I was surprised to find a 2 pound difference with my clothes on. Next, I had to decide which shoes to wear. I wanted to wear some lightweight ones. I had two pair from which to choose...Crocs and leather sandals. Before putting them on, I weighed the shoes...yes, I know, a little obsessive but hey, we do whatever we can to keep the numbers on the scale as low as possible, don't we? The Crocs were the winner at just under a pound. I got back on the scale. Hmmm... with my shoes and clothes on I was up almost 3 pounds! Now, the real dilemma - should I wear my boobs or shouldn't I? I wasn't trying to be overly sensitive about my weight, but I knew my lightest weight prostheses weighed over 2 pounds. If I chose to wear my C cups, I'd be adding more than 4 pounds to my current weight. Decisions, decisions...what to do?

The last time I was at the doctor's office, he chided me on my weight. I hadn't gained anything since my last visit but he was encouraging me to try to lose weight. His reasoning was "Excess fat produces excess Estrogen in your body and the excess Estrogen feeds cancer cells." And since my specific type of cancer was fed by both Estrogen and Progesterone, I didn't want to take any chances on my body producing excess Estrogen. Since he'd given me that information, I'd become a little more concerned with watching the numbers on the scale and I'd started restricting my diet. Although I'm not currently presenting any evidence of disease; I haven't been declared cancer free. But for the next few years, all of my medical team will be watching me closely.

I put my scale back in the closet. I'd made a decision. I chose not to wear my prostheses to my appointment. Not only would I weigh less, I would be much cooler. The silicone breast forms warm up quite rapidly against my skin and make me feel uncomfortable. I don't like going sans breasts because I'm very self conscious about my appearance. But doing so would be far easier than trying to explain my dilemma to the medical assistant. I could just imagine her rolling her eyes as she held the clipboard and looked at the scale as I cleared my throat and said, "By the way, you are going to deduct 4 pounds for the weight of my prostheses aren't you?"

Why do we let our weight define us anyway? Is there really a perfect weight? Medical doctors have specific guidelines we're supposed to fall into based on our gender and height, but how many people actually fall into those ranges? In America, where food is plentiful and TVs constantly barrage us with commercials of tempting morsels, aren't we all a little overweight? If not, why do so many people slip off their shoes when it's time to get on the scale at the doctor's office? I rest my case.

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What a day it's been! I just got home and I'm bushed. Today was my first day back to Lymphedema therapy in a little over a year. It's amazing how much things can change in a year. When I walked into their office everything looked so different. They'd remodeled so much I wasn't sure I was even in the right place and felt like I was having a senior moment! After filling out paperwork to update my file, I was taken back to the treatment area. My old therapist, Allison, had been replaced by a woman named Lisa. Lisa seemed competent and a little brusque at first, but she warmed up after we talked a little.

Cold Laser Therapy Machine
It was freezing in the therapy room as Lisa asked me to remove my blouse and let her see my scars. She didn't say anything but I could tell what she was thinking. After looking with pity at my chest for a few minutes, she asked me to lie down on the exam table. She turned to put on some soft music and dimmed the lights (I know, it's kind of freaky but they just want you to relax.) I asked Lisa if many of her patients fall asleep while they're having treatment and she said most of them do. I don't know how any of them could get comfortable enough to sleep, it was like a freezer in that room! I was shivering as Lisa donned her rubber gloves and brought the bottle of lotion over near me. She pulled up a rolling stool and warmed the lotion in her hands before applying it to my upper arms. After the lotion was in place, she began to gently massage my upper arms and chest area. As she worked on my right chest area, she was pressing a little too firmly and I had to tell her to stop. I was surprised at how tender I was in certain areas because most of the nerve endings in my chest wall are complete numb. She apologized and worked with lighter pressure working at my upper arms and along my ribcage. She asked if I'd ever had cold laser therapy and I told her no. I'd never even heard of it. She explained it's fairly new but is supposed to help break up scar tissue and penetrate deeply into the lymphatic system. She said I wouldn't feel a thing as she began the treatment and I didn't. I wondered how something you couldn't feel could do anything worthwhile but she assured me it would. Lisa continued to work on me for about 45 minutes and when she was done, I felt more relaxed and had less swelling in my upper arms. I was thankful! We went over my schedule for the next several visits and I left to go by the Orthotics and Prosthetics company, C. H. Martin. It was time for me to have my annual remeasuring and fitting for lymphedema compression sleeves.

At C.H. Martin, I was amazed that they'd changed their office too. One year makes a huge difference when it comes to change and I couldn't get over everything that has transpired since I was last here. For me, life has seemed to stand still but for everyone else, change and growth has occurred. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard the receptionist verifying my benefits. She talked so loudly and I was glad there were no other patients in the room who might overhear my personal information. She needed to be trained to respect the privacy of others, especially since she works in a medical office. I sat and waited about thirty minutes and finally was called back for my appointment.

Lymphediva compression sleeve
Sara, the fitter, was pleasantly surprised to see me. I was shocked she remembered me, but enjoyed talking and catching up with her for a little bit before we got down to business. Sara pulled my file and took measurements of both arms from wrist to shoulder. As she jotted notes in my file, she asked if I'd already picked out the patterns for the sleeves I wanted. I told her I had looked at some on the Lymphedivas website but I liked the grips better on the Juzo sleeves. The only thing I didn't like was Lymphedivas had so many more pretty patterns and Juzo had just started adding patterns to their line. If I wanted to get the best sleeves, I'd get Juzo. If I wanted the prettiest sleeves, I'd get Lymphedivas. I opted for the Juzo sleeves just because they stay up better on my arms and I don't have to constantly fight with the sleeves rolling down on me. Sara gave me a catalog so I could see the new patterns in Juzo and make my selections. Our insurance had changed since the last time I was in and I could only get 4 pair of sleeves now instead of 8. Each sleeve costs $90 so even at only 4 pair, that's a big chunk of change. I finished up with Sara about 3:30 p.m. and was ready to get some lunch and get home.

On the way home, I prayed for my appeal for the recirculating compression pump to be approved by our insurance company. If they will approve it, I can have treatments at home instead of having to drive 2 hours every other day to the treatment center and it would help so much. I guess I'll just have to keep praying and waiting. My oncologist and my breast surgeon have submitted paperwork to substantiate the claim for the pump. Now it's just a waiting game. It seems so unfair that insurance companies get to dictate what is and what is not medically necessary for their insured. I know I'm not the only one who has to deal with this type of problem but what a racket! We pay our premiums and expect to get what we pay for....the best care at the lowest cost. Since Obamacare went into effect, it's caused so many insurance companies to rethink what they will and won't pay. For someone with long term health issues this creates big problems but I guess we don't have much say in our healthcare any longer now do we? I'm thankful for the Lymphedema therapy and for the compression sleeves that help combat my daily swelling. It's amazing how Lymphedema seems to bother me much more than having my breasts removed.

I'm on a quest now to find women's blouses with looser arms so I can still look stylish but also have clothing that fits without looking sloppy. There aren't many specialty shops that cater to people suffering from Lymphedema. I may just have to start making my own tops soon. And that's all I have to report today. Life is good albeit challenging learning how to manage fatigue, insomnia, and swollen arms. I'm just so happy to still be alive!

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My aches and pains have aches and pains

Woe is me! Have you ever wanted to say that? Well, I've always heard it said by a cartoon character in distress or on an old black and white movie...not many people use the word woe in today's language but I couldn't find a more fitting word to describe how I've been feeling and that tiny little word did a pretty good job. This morning, even before I got out of bed, I was hurting. Every muscle, every joint, every bone in my body was hurting. I felt really, really old and I just wanted to cry. I have been having more and more days like this lately and it's beginning to worry me. I've read about a lot of breast cancer patients/survivors who've developed Fibromyalgia after surgery or treatment and I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps that's what's wrong with me. I hate to say it, but I hope it's Fibromyalgia and not a recurrence of cancer...

I looked up the symptoms of Fibromyalgia online and here's what it listed:

Fatigue - yep, I've definitely got that and lots of it
Muscle aches, either widespread or limited to a specific region of the body (back of the neck, chest, shoulders and lower back) - yep, got that
Joint stiffness and pain - definitely yes
Headaches - occasionally
Memory problems - yes, having more and more of those lately too
Brain fog - yep, feeling fuzzy headed all the time
Concentration problems - ummm, yes, I thought I just mentioned that a few minutes ago
Anxiety - sometimes yes
Depression - yep, having issues with that, too
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness - there are days when I definitely do but I try to rise about it. 

So according to what I've read and the symptoms I've been experiencing, I would be willing to bet I've got Fibromyalgia. And if what I'm feeling in my body is Fibromyalgia, I don't like it one stinkin' bit. 

The best way for me to describe whatever this is would be to ask you if you've ever had a bad case of the flu before and if you have, magnify the way your body ached and hurt by about 1,000 and you'll know how I feel. And to add a little sugar on top, throw in nightly insomnia and you get a great recipe for total suckage. (Sorry, I don't even know if that's a word but it was a very descriptive word that just popped into my brain from a storage bank somewhere and it seemed to work well for me here.) 

Waking up in tears because you're hurting so badly is not the way to start the morning and having to pop two Advil Ligui-gels before your feet even hit the floor isn't good either. But you do what you have to do to make it work and what really, really sucks is tossing and turning all night long trying to find a way to be comfortable with your big swollen arms and the mountain of pillows surrounding you and then, when you finally do fall asleep you wake about an hour later to intense pain...now that's total suckage! (Sorry, I'm kind of liking that word and I'm sure I probably heard it from one of my grandkids or off of some Austin Powers movie or something...)

Poor Pitiful Pearl
So woe is me! Woe! Yeah...woe is me. I'm feeling like poor pitiful Pearl. (She was a doll minted in 1963 and had the most homely, pitiful face.) I've decided I need to talk to my oncologist about these symptoms because they seem to be intensifying. I don't want to, but feel like I have to just in case. I'm sure he'll want to do more tests and I don't want to have to go through that but I do need relief and need it fast. 

I don't know anyone who has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia but I've heard there are medications that help with it. I don't want another medication! I'm on too many as it is. The internet lists a lot of natural supplements and herbs to help so I'll check those out until I can get in to see the doctor again. 

If you know someone who's been through breast cancer treatment or is currently going through treatment, please be sensitive to their descriptions of their aches and pains. We don't enjoy having to complain, really we don't...but sometimes when you're in a lot of pain, that's all you can do. Fibromyalgia pain isn't easily diagnosed. There are no specific tests to definitively point doctors to a sure diagnosis. So how do they figure out if their patients have Fibromyaglia? They go through a series of experiments and tests to rule out other things first and then, if there's no other reason for the aches and pains, they give a generalized diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. So Fibromyalgia is kind of the "catch all" diagnosis for all those aches and pains that seem to appear for no reason. A lot of people don't even consider Fibromyalgia a real disease and some doctors probably look at their patients as if they're hypochondriacs. But pain is real and we can feel it and we need a solution! I'm sorry to sound like I'm gripping and complaining, I don't want to be doing that. I'm just trying to share exactly how I'm feeling so you'll understand. Breast cancer is the gift that just keeps on giving... Lymphedema, Fibromyalgia...woe is me, woe is me. (And of course, not all breast cancer patients/survivors will experience these things but a lot of us do and it sucks...)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Well, shut my mouth!

This weekend was crazy busy, but in a good way. We had company come to visit on Friday and they stayed overnight. While it's always good to see extended family, it's challenging for me to be a good hostess...not because I don't want to, but because I just don't have the energy. I did my best and hopefully they felt welcomed and loved.

On Saturday, we had more family come over for a cookout and that made for another long, but good, day. We always enjoy having my daughter, Laura, and her family come over to spend time with us. It's such fun to watch my granddaughter play and enjoy experimenting with various art mediums. She knows her Gigi will let her do just about anything and she's learned where all of my art supplies are located. This time she got to try her hand at using pastels. It was so fun to see her learn it's okay if your hands get messy and that art is fun!

Sunday, we decided to drive up to spend the day with my youngest daughter. The weather was a challenge and we ran into some big thunderstorms but it was good to spend time with her. I picked up a stomach bug from someone I'd been around over the weekend and wasn't feeling the best but managed to grin and bear it. (Having low white cell counts makes me susceptible to infection and germs.) I guess I should have limited my time around so many people but I'm trying to live my life as normally as possible and sometimes I forget my immune system is compromised.

On the way home from the visit with my youngest daughter, the bottom fell out. There were ominous dark clouds overhead and the rain was heavy and hard. We needed to stop and get gas because we were just about on empty. While hubby was filling up the car, I was checking text messages and looking at emails. It didn't take long and we were back on the road. The rain continued to pour and it began to hail. At some point, hubby glanced into the rear view mirror and noticed he'd forgotten to close the door to the gas compartment. (He does this frequently so I didn't think anything about it.) He pulled into a church parking lot and quickly dashed out into the pouring rain to close the little gas door. I felt badly for him for having to get all wet but then again, it was his fault he'd forgotten to close the door.... When he got back into the car, he said he'd forgotten to put the gas cap back on too. Suddenly, it clicked. I'd heard a noise about ten minutes prior that sounded like something rolling off the top of the car. I'd thought nothing of it because of the heavy rain. Apparently, he'd put the cap on the roof of the car while he was gassing up and had forgotten to put it back on before driving off. Now, instead of me laughing it off and making light of the situation, I was upset. I was afraid, since he'd left the gas compartment door open and the cap off the gas tank that we'd gotten rain water in our gas tank and I just knew it was going to lead to a costly repair bill. So, guess what I did...I started fussing at him for leaving the door open and the cap off. (Yes, he does it often, but I shouldn't have fussed. I should have kept my mouth closed and remembered that old Southern adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.") He asked me if I'd look up an Autozone car parts store on Google maps and direct him to the nearest location. As we drove toward the auto parts store, I continued to chide him for his mistake. He didn't say a word. I knew he felt badly for forgetting but we all make mistakes, right? So why did I feel the need to keep on him? We arrived at the Autozone and he rain through the rain into the store. In just a few minutes, he was coming out with the new gas cap and quickly put it in place. When he climbed back into the car, I asked how much the gas cap had cost. "It was only $12," he said. But, I thought to myself, it was $12 we shouldn't have had to spend. We got back on the road and the rain began to ease up. The rest of the way home, we didn't talk much. I wished I'd kept my mouth closed and not made a big deal out of the forgotten gas cap and open gas door but I couldn't take back my hasty words.

Something has to change. Today I'm starting day one of the Love Dare challenge. (The Love Dare was first introduced in the movie,  "Fireproof," in 2008.  In that movie, the lead actor, Kirk Cameron, finds his marriage falling apart. He and his wife fuss and fight all the time. Kirk's character becomes addicted to internet porn and his marriage continues to explode driving he and his wife further and further apart. One day, Kirk's father steps in and presents the Love Dare challenge to his son in an effort to dissuade him from filing for divorce. Though hesitant to accept the challenge, he does and his marriage is saved.) I'm accepting the challenge in hopes of seeing some major changes in my marriage. After almost 23 years of living with the same person, it's easy to begin to take them for granted. I never want that to happen and I surely don't want to speak hasty, hurtful words to my husband again especially over something silly. The first dare in the book is to forego speaking negative words to your spouse and to learn to be patient. In the introduction, the book says "Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure." I wish I'd read that yesterday....

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The Homeschool Lesson

I’ll never forget my eight-grade year of high school. It was such a pivotal year for me. I’d just become a teenager and had entered the wo...