Thursday, June 22, 2023

When you can't walk well, write!


Since surgery, I've been having a lot of trouble walking. My knee is so swollen and sore! It hasn't even been a week since the arthroscopic surgery, so I should give myself grace, but resting is so hard to do! I'm a person who always needs and wants to be doing something. 

Today, I decided I'd do what I could. Usually the mornings are when I have the most energy, so I tidied the bed, pulled out the laundry from the dryer and put another load on to wash. Then, I hobbled out to the freezer to get some burgers out for tonight's dinner. As I did each thing, I could feel my knee balk. Though I was using the walker for balance, I'd often find myself putting full weight on my injured knee. I wasn't supposed to be doing that yet. The doc had said only 50% weight bearing right now. I had to remind myself to be careful. I definitely didn't want to re-injure that leg or undo what the doctor had just done. 

Next, I pushed my way into the kitchen, prepared items for dinner and put them on to bake. It was more difficult that I'd thought trying to hold a baking pan filled with food and slide it into the oven, especially when I didn't realize the Pampered Chef stoneware was still in there! That stuff is heavy!

I managed to get the stoneware out and the other food in but as I tried to do it, I managed to burn my fingers on the stoneware. As fast as I could, I hobbled over to the sink to use the lavender/aloe burn spray. My fingers felt better after using it. 

Setting the timer on the oven, I made my way to the office and fired up the computer. There was a story brewing and I had to get it started. 

On our last trip to Florida, I'd come up with the idea for a short story as we traveled through the small town of Sopchoppy. I'd mentioned it to my youngest daughter and she'd laughed. I told her I wasn't kidding. I was going to write a story and soon, she'd get to read it. 

The other night when I had a bad case of insomnia and had crawled out of bed at 1:44 a.m. the story was forming in my mind. I went into the guest bedroom and pulled up the voice memo recorder on my phone. In the dark, I lay there and recorded my thoughts. I didn't want to forget any of them. As they swirled, I continued to talk. 

The next morning, I opened the app and listened to what I'd recorded. My voice was sultry and deep - lack of sleep, for sure, but also because of having had my thyroid gland removed in 2005. Since that surgery, my voice had taken on a sultry, sexy tone. I thought it frustratingly funny. Frustrating because my voice had gone down a few octaves and my husband could rarely hear when I was speaking to him. Funny, because whenever I get a head cold, it sounds like I should be running an 900 number for phone sex. 

The story was fun to listen to and gave me enough info to get started. 

Since I couldn't do much else today, I had fun building my characters and lining up the setting. I sent the first few pages to my youngest to read. She just sent me an email telling me it was really good. I was happy to hear she enjoyed it. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't write. 

Since I was a young child, I've written. At first, I doodled, but when I learned the alphabet, I wrote nonstop on any and everything. I haven't stopped since then! 

I love that God gifted me with the ability to share my thoughts. Words have such power. 

Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." 

We have to be extremely careful with our words. You can't call them back once they're spoken. 

Writers must choose their words carefully to convey their thoughts well. I try to do that. 

Writing is cathartic for me. Since I can't do much else right now because of my healing knee, I'm spending time wielding words wisely. 

I hope you have a creative outlet. It makes life a lot easier especially in these evil days. If you don't, why not look for something you enjoy? There are so many things to try. I'm sure you'll find your niche but you have to start looking!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Perceptions and Reflections on my cancer diagnosis

On this day, 9 years ago, my life changed forever. I can remember so well the day I discovered the lump and how it made me feel. I was going about my normal daily routine and suddenly, everything changed. In a split second, I was overcome with fear. I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. It felt like my world was spinning out of control like all balance had shifted.

I went through the motions visiting one -ologist after another. Tests were run and surgeries were done. Things seemed to move at lightning speed and didn’t slow down until I’d completed radiation treatments. That’s when I had time to think. I thought about the past and the present, about all the things I’d done but also all the things I still wanted to do. I reconsidered hopes and dreams. I compiled a bucket list. 

I had no idea what the future held but knew I was going to do the best I could to live each day to the fullest. At first, it was a struggle. I wasn’t feeling great. My energy was zapped and I was struggling with a lot of body image issues. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all of those things were normal for someone who’d just experienced a major trauma like breast cancer. 

There was no instruction manual. I read all I could. I watched YouTube videos and read online blogs. Everyone’s story was different in many ways but much the same in others.
I felt like I’d been thrown into a sea of pink and had to learn to either swim or sink. So I let my will to survive take over. I knew the water was deep and dark. I didn’t want to sink, so I began to tread water. In that vast sea, the struggle lessened as I moved my legs slowly back and forth. I was staying afloat. It felt good. 

Days passed, and my broken body began to heal inside and out. I tried to stay active as much as possible. It was a challenge learning to listen to my body. When I was tired I slowed down or stopped.
I learned to process my emotions and gave myself permission to feel. I learned it was okay to cry, laugh, scream, or be angry. Sometimes feeling one emotion at a time, and often feeling several at once.
9 years. 

Back then, everything was so scary and new. Now, I don’t think about cancer as much. There are annual reminders, like National Cancer Survivors Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month that always sneak up on me, but I usually make it through unscathed. 

Annually, I celebrate my cancerversary on July 9 – the day the cancer was removed from my body, but I also remember June 5 each year, the day the cancer was diagnosed. Both of those days will forever haunt me. 

The scars have faded some but I can still see them. When I run my fingers over my chest, I feel the smooth, raised area where my skin was sliced open. 

My arms still swell, especially in the summer, from secondary lymphedema, a condition caused by the cancer and removal of lymph nodes in both arms. 

All in all, as I reflect on my situation, I can say I’m blessed. Cancer is a great teacher. I’ve learned more valuable life lessons over the past 9 years than I have in my 65 years of life. And since that’s the case, I can honestly say I’m thankful. I’m thankful I was deemed strong enough to handle the trial of breast cancer. I’m thankful I have weathered this extremely unexpected, very difficult storm with dignity and grace. So many of my friends and family have not fared as well. 

Today, I look in the mirror and see a breastless woman but I also see a brave, determined, resilient person who will forever be treading water. I don’t waste energy struggling against the tide, I’ve learned to relax and go with the flow. 

Right now, I’m cancer free. I hope to continue to be able to say that for many more years to come, no, I want to be able to claim it until the day I die, but who knows? I’m a realist. Cancer could come back again. I have a friend who fought breast cancer and thought she was cancer free for 22 years before that ugly monster reared its ugly head again and took her life. If something like that happens to me, I imagine I’ll be angry at first, but then I’ll accept it and do the best I can. That’s all any of us can do when cancer finds us. 

Taking one day at a time, one moment at a time is the only way to make it in the world of pink.


Monday, June 19, 2023

These old knees ain't what they used to be!

 When I was a kid, I remember singing a silly song entitled, "The Old Gray Mare, She Ain't What She Used to Be." It was a song that always made me giggle. Well, today, I feel like that old gray mare. I am definitely not what I used to be. These 65 year old knees are wearing out. 

Wrapped up and resting
For the past 2 years, I've dealt with pain and swelling in my left knee. I've had 4 steroid shots and have been through a series of braces. While those things bought me some time, they didn't fix the problem and it continued to get worse. Finally, last month, I was back in the orthopedic doc's office begging for help. I could barely walk and knew if I didn't do something soon, I was going to need a complete knee replacement. I didn't want that!

Since I loved hiking and being outdoors, it was urgent I do something. I wanted to stay mobile as long as possible. Talking with the doc, we came up with a plan. After XRAYS and MRIs, the verdict was a lateral meniscus tear and severe arthritis. I knew the arthritis was part of aging, but when did I do damage to that knee? I couldn't pinpoint it. I'd had several falls over the last few years, including a really hard one on my right knee while in Israel, but this was my left. Did I perhaps damage it then too and not realize it? Who knew. 

So the doc planned surgery for the following week. He would perform an arthrosocopic lateral Meniscectomy, Chondroplasty, and debridement of the patellofemoral compartment and medial compartments. Now that's a mouthful! In essence, he was going to make 2 holes in my knee, stick a camera in one hole and cutting instruments in the other. Next he would remove the torn ligament, scrape out damaged tissue and try to remove as much arthritis as possible. Sounded like a quick and easy procedure...

Icing
Well, the day of surgery, I was pretty calm thanks to all the prayers going up from my friends and family members. The anesthesiologist was able to find a vein in my hand on the first try, which was amazing because that never happens for me. After being rolled into the surgical suite, I was moved onto a gurney and within a few seconds, it was lights out for me. 

I woke up in recovery to some pretty rough pain but the nurse was instantly there with ginger ale and pain meds. After an hour, I was able to go home with instructions to keep my leg elevated and iced. I was also given an arsenal of pain meds. 

Things went pretty smoothly until the anesthesia wore off and the pain set in. I wasn't expecting it to be so bad, especially since I'd been through a horrendous automobile accident in 1991 where both bones below the knee in my right leg were crushed. But I was younger then. 

I had a fitful night but managed to make it through. I wasn't looking forward to the

day as physical therapy had already been scheduled and I'd be making my way there in a couple of hours. Thankfully, one of my girls had volunteered to come chauffeur me to the appointment. 

My therapist was a young, oriental woman but boy, she was tough as nails. She worked me hard and I was exhausted by the time our hour session was over. As I was leaving, she said she'd see me twice next week and we'd continue for about 8-10 weeks! What???!!! I wasn't expecting that! Getting old sucks!

My therapist
So, I'm doing my best to look at the positives, which is a little hard right now. One day soon, I'll be able to walk without pain. At least I'm not confined to a wheelchair like I was back in 1991 for a year and a half and then I was on crutches for another year. Now I'm shuffle along on my trusty walker. 

I'm thankful for gel ice packs, pain meds, a sweet husband who picks up the slack, and kids who do what they can when they can. I am tired and I'm doing my best. 


God continues to prompt me to rest and I find it interesting that I'm currently reading a book on that very subject. I don't know why I have such a hard time resting, but I do. I feel so worthless and unproductive when I'm not doing something. 

Surgical sites and doctor's initials

The Bible says God rested on the 7th day. He didn't rest because He was tired, He'd just completed His work. If He deems rest important, I guess I'd better learn that lesson sooner rather than later, otherwise, I may have to keep going through physical maladies until I understand. I definitely don't want any more object lessons, not for a very, very long time. 

The book I'm reading
I was able to remove the bandages long enough to take a shower yesterday. I was scared to death I'd fall in the shower, so I had my walker half in and half out so I could hang on. I'd had to put waterproof bandages over the surgical sites before showering to protect from water, but that wasn't a big deal. After drying off, I had to remove those bandages, put new ones on and rewrap everything. By the time I was through, I was exhausted and ready to ice my knee again. 

Today, I'm going to take it easy until time for therapy. I hope I can do it. There's so much I want to be doing, but my knee is hurting so they'll have to wait. 

If you have good knees, love them! Take good care of them! Knees are so important. I plan to pamper mine after healing from this surgery. Otherwise, knee replacements are in my future and I am not wanting to go through that, especially since this surgery has been so painful.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Turn down the noise

 

Noise. It's everywhere, all the time it seems. And lately, it's been really getting on my nerves. 

From the time I get up in the morning, until the time I go to bed, there's a constant barrage of noise. My cell phone is pinging with notifications or ringing with calls. My appliances are dinging signaling the completion of wash cycles or reminding me to take something out of the microwave. And when my husband gets home, the TV is blaring. My senses are on overload. 

What I really want is to experience the sound of silence. 

Remember that old Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sounds of Silence"? I loved that song. "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again..." Yeh. 

It seems the only time I get complete and utter silence is when I'm in bed with ear plugs in (because my husband snores). And that silence I don't really get to enjoy to the fullest because I usually fall asleep. When I wake in the morning, the first sound I heard is the sound of birds chirping outside my window, but that's a sound I do enjoy so I won't complain about that one. 

Sometimes it's important to turn down the noise and sit in silence. When we do, we can hear the voice of God. 

I think that's one reason it's important to have a designated quiet area in my home. It's a place where I can separate myself from noise and distraction. It's nice to sit in that small room and read my Bible. As I focus on God's Word, He speaks very quietly to my heart. I enjoy those quiet times with Him and they're becoming more and more precious to me. 

Noise is stressful. Have you ever noticed how much louder commercials on TV are than the regular programs? They do it on purpose so you can still hear them even if you walk into another room. 

If you're like me and find yourself experiencing sensory overload, why not try turning off your phone, removing yourself to a quiet place, and allowing yourself the privilege of spending time with God? 

I've found He always redeems the time we spend with Him. 

Mark 6:31 says, "Jesus said to them, `Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.'" Jesus knew the value of breaking away from the daily demands of the people and noise. If He found it beneficial, don't you think we should too? 

 


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Season of Rest

Have you ever felt God calling you into a season of rest? For the past several days, I've felt Him speaking to my spirit over and over again reminding me of the importance of resting.


For some time He's tried to teach me this lesson. I haven't learned it well. As a typical type A personality, I'm always going and doing. And after my cancer diagnosis, I really kicked it into high gear, feeling like I'd been given a second chance at life so I'd better not blow it. I wanted to make the most of every second of every day.

From the time I woke up in the morning until the end of the day, I was busy. I'd bounce from one project to the next, feeling like I was doing a great job at not wasting any of the time God had "reallocated" me. I was doing my best to live up to Erma Bombeck's famous quotation: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'."

But soon, I began to feel overwhelmed and burdened. Yes, I was working hard doing things to be productive but there was something lacking.

When chronic insomnia began, I realized being unable to shut off my mind meant it was overstimulated. That's when I felt God nudging me to slow down.

So I tried. I tried limiting my projects. I tried sitting down to read for short periods during the day. I tried turning off notifications on my phone by using the do not disturb feature. I tried and tried and tried, but I wasn't resting.

My sweet husband did his best to encourage me to sit down and watch things on TV with him but I felt it was wasting time, so when I did sit to "watch" with him, I was also doing other things like small sewing projects or reading a book, or writing cards. I couldn't focus on one thing. I began to think I had ADHD.

"What was wrong with me?" I wondered. Something has to give.

So I prayed. I asked God to help me understand the importance of resting.

I looked up one Scripture after another on rest and found that every verse had one thing in common- going to Jesus. He wanted me to come to Him and allow Him to give me rest.

This morning, after doing my morning chores, I felt that still, small voice calling me - today you need to rest. And I wasn't feeling led to just rest physically, but mentally as well.

"Okay, Lord. I will try," I said. And then, I heard, "Don't try, do!" (in Yodaspeak because that's the way my brain works!)

I got a cup of cappuccino, grabbed my Bible, and headed out to the patio. While out there, wouldn't you know that God took me right to Jeremiah 31:25-

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." Wow. That hit square between the eyes!

I prayed and asked God to help me learn to rest. And would you believe, I haven't done much of anything today? And I haven't felt guilty about it at all. That's huge for me.

The Bible says, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." If you are willing to admit it, I bet you fall into that category of being weary especially with all that's going on in the world right now. If not, that's wonderful, but more than likely there's something that's weighing you down or stressing you out.

Giving our burdens to God isn't always easy, but He wants us to let Him handle them. I'm preaching to the choir right now, but I hope you'll hear me, too.

If you struggle to rest, listen...the word rest means to cease striving. CEASE. That means stop right now! Learn to just be and know that it's okay to have a chill day. I'm learning and I'm finding it's pretty enjoyable.

Rest and be refreshed. It's good for your body, mind, and spirit.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Perceptions and Reflections on my cancer diagnosis

On this day, 9 years ago, my life changed forever. I can remember so well the day I discovered the lump and how it made me feel. I was going about my normal daily routine and suddenly, everything changed. In a split second, I was overcome with fear. I didn’t know if I was going to live or die. It felt like my world was spinning out of control like all balance had shifted.

I went through the motions visiting one -ologist after another. Tests were run and surgeries were done. Things seemed to move at lightning speed and didn’t slow down until I’d completed radiation treatments. That’s when I had time to think.

I thought about the past and the present, about all the things I’d done but also all the things I still wanted to do. I reconsidered hopes and dreams. I compiled a bucket list.

I had no idea what the future held but knew I was going to do the best I could to live each day to the fullest.

At first, it was a struggle. I wasn’t feeling great. My energy was zapped and I was struggling with a lot of body image issues. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all of those things were normal for someone who’d just experienced a major trauma like breast cancer.

There was no instruction manual. I read all I could. I watched YouTube videos and read online blogs. Everyone’s story was different in many ways but much the same in others.

I felt like I’d been thrown into a sea of pink and had to learn to either swim or sink. So, I let my will to survive take over. I knew the water was deep and dark. I didn’t want to sink, so I began to tread water. In that vast sea, the struggle lessened as I moved my legs slowly back and forth. I was staying afloat. It felt good.

Days passed, and my broken body began to heal inside and out. I tried to stay active as much as possible. It was a challenge learning to listen to my body. When I was tired, I slowed down or stopped.

I learned to process my emotions and gave myself permission to feel. I learned it was okay to cry, laugh, scream, or be angry. Sometimes feeling one emotion at a time, and often feeling several at once.

9 years.

Back then, everything was so scary and new. Now, I don’t think about cancer as much. There are annual reminders, like National Cancer Survivors Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month that always sneak up on me, but I usually make it through unscathed.


Annually, I celebrate my cancerversary on July 9 – the day the cancer was removed from my body, but I also remember June 5 each year, the day the cancer was diagnosed. Both of those days will forever haunt me.

The scars have faded some but I can still see them. When I run my fingers over my chest, I feel the smooth, raised area where my skin was sliced open.

My arms still swell, especially in the summer, from secondary lymphedema, a condition caused by the cancer and removal of lymph nodes in both arms.

All in all, as I reflect on my situation, I can say I’m blessed. Cancer is a great teacher. I’ve learned more valuable life lessons over the past 9 years than I have in my 65 years of life. And since that’s the case, I can honestly say I’m thankful. I’m thankful I was deemed strong enough to handle the trial of breast cancer. I’m thankful I have weathered this extremely unexpected, very difficult storm with dignity and grace. So many of my friends and family have not fared as well.

Today, I look in the mirror and see a breastless woman but I also see a brave, determined, resilient person who will forever be treading water. I don’t waste energy struggling against the tide, I’ve learned to relax and go with the flow.

Me and my number one fan
Right now, I’m cancer free. I hope to continue to be able to say that for many more years to come, no, I want to be able to claim it until the day I die, but who knows? I’m a realist. Cancer could come back again. I have a friend who fought breast cancer and thought she was cancer free for 22 years before that ugly monster reared its ugly head again and took her life. If something like that happens to me, I imagine I’ll be angry at first, but then I’ll accept it and do the best I can. That’s all any of us can do when cancer finds us.

Taking one day at a time, one moment at a time is the only way to make it in the world of pink.




If it ain't one thing, it's another!

  Trying to smile through the pain I've been AWOL for a while now, so this post will more than likely be longer than most. I don't e...