Update 20

Twenty!!!!!!!!!!!! Twenty updates, once a week - that is five months! Five months seems like a really long time on one hand and then it seems like this has all been a blur and time has no meaning.

A surprising observation on the Bald-headed Beatrice photo - a number of you wrote to tell me that you feared to see that photo because of what it represented and were relieved to see I looked fairly normal - just bald. One friend who shall remain nameless, said she was not giving me any sympathy when I looked that good! Got a big kick out of that one! I hadn't really given any thought as to why I sent it out, just that I felt I needed to do that. So, I guess the reason was to lessen one more of the great fears that people have about this dread disease. I'm glad that is so because losing my hair is still one of the most hated things that happened to me during this whole thing. I have always been very vain about my hair so sending out a photo with none at all was a little hard for me to do. I had some people write that it made them uncomfortable by my showing Bald-headed Beatrice and I think that is because up till then they could pretend I was okay and had stuffed the nastiness about the cancer away because I do look okay in the photos with hair. With no hair, it is hard to pretend I am okay and the reality is harsh.

December 20 - I am reflecting on what I enjoy now. The cat laying on me sound asleep and cuddling as she sleeps, the sun coming in through the window in the late afternoon casting long shadows, sleeping without an alarm, feeling better every day, lunch with friends, fresh fruit and veggies, quiet times with Harold, spending time with Jennifer just hanging out, talking with Jaime on the phone, poking about in the garden……… I enjoyed these things before but not with such intensity. Having a life threatening disease can really open your eyes to what is important and makes even the smallest things have great significance. I have really gotten to know my family better and appreciate them more through this whole journey and my friends, too. Amazing since you think you really know these people! This is a very positive side to all that has happened.

Started off great guns this morning with tummy exercises and a walk. Got about 1/3 of the way into the walk and realized I would have to cut it short this morning. Feet were dragging by the time I got back home. Didn't feel bad, just felt like I had been walking about ten miles! Then by (guess what time?) one o'clock I really needed a nap and then slept for 4 hours! Now, I have decided to actually name these naps. I used to take a power nap once in awhile - fifteen minutes to a half an hour - that is a nap. These things are called Maintenance Naps! Like I said before, it is like when you run a computer scan to repair damage to programs that are not functioning properly, my computer requires that all unnecessary programs be shut down while it performs these tasks and my body seems to be following that program, too.

December 21 - Big day! Off to see "ICE" at the Gaylord Palms Resort here in Orlando. It was fantastic! If any of you have been to the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, the Gaylord Palms was built on that concept. The hotel is built around a huge atrium so you go inside the hotel and then outside to the marketplace where all the shops and restaurants, these are entire separate buildings, are located in an outdoor setting, some of which then had outdoor settings of their own. As my friend Bibbi from Sweden would say after viewing such a setting at the New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas one year - "So you are really inside, outside, inside, outside?"

We went early to the show so there were not a lot of people there yet. A long corridor told the story of how the show got there and facts like there were two million pounds of sculpted ice inside! Showed some of the drawings used to create the sculptures. Fascinating! Before entering the show we were all given long parkas to wear since the temperature inside was a constant nine degrees! I got an extra large so it would fit over my long coat I had on. Well, they weren't kidding - I looked like Nanook of the North in that thing! I am short and when I put the hood on, I looked like a walking coat! Harold helped with buttoning me up and with the hood but when he pulled on the hood I felt Sassy Simone move! I could barely see out of the opening so he pulled the hood back more - there she went again! Jennifer looked at me and started to laugh because my "hairline" now began not far above my eyebrows! Looked a bit like a Neanderthal! Stuffed Simone back under the hood and figured I would worry about her later! In we went and it was COLD! The sculptures were magnificent! They were huge! Whole scenes had been created all out of crystal ice, white frosted ice and colored ice. There were ice slides - Jen and I went down one - Harold preferred to just watch. Now, I have a bit of arthritis and it was cold in there and you had to sit down to slide and also then get back up and in the Nanook coat to boot - when I got to the bottom of the slide I thought -"Oh-oh! How the *#$#* am I going to get back up!" I could just see me flailing about on the slippery ice! Luckily, they had a nice man there to help you up - still flailed a bit but not nearly as bad as I thought! They had ice bridges with huge bears throwing snowballs on one side and penguins skating on the other side. Amazing! There was an angel with outspread wings that stood about fifteen feet tall and a complete nativity set, all larger than life out of the crystal ice. Just stopped you dead in your tracks with the sheer beauty of it all. At the end, Harold was feeling a bit like an icicle so he left and Jen and I went back to the beginning to see it all one more time. We were cold but it was worth it! When we got outside, Jen and I headed for a corner where I could adjust Sassy Simone as the hood came off. Definitely a two person operation. Of course, we got a fit of the giggles as we were trying to be discreet! Luckily, Sassy Simone is a messy hairstyle! Off to lunch then at the Cracker Barrel, found a Demdaco Angel of Hope ornament by the same artist that created my Angel of Courage figure that sits on my computer, so just had to have it as that is the stage I will be in for the rest of my life. Left there and stopped for coffee at Starbuck's near our house. Now I am really tired! Got home and plopped my tired butt in the recliner for about five hours! Only slept for about ten minutes but felt like all my bones were turning to Jello! Worth it though, had a great day!

December 22 - A miracle! Up all day! A bit wobbly feeling in the morning but that went away as the day wore on.

December 23 - Ran errands then went to my friend Patte's house for "tea." I knew it was just the two of us but when I went in to the dining room there were places set for six. I said, "I thought it was just the two of us?" She said, "It is." I asked, "Well then, who are all these place settings for?" She said, "Read the place cards." Oh my - one was for Brenda Braveheart, one for Lop-sided Louise, Hard Rock Hannah and Happy Holly! Patte said the table looked a bit empty with just two settings so she set it for some of the rest of my personas! How fun that was. We had different varieties of tea, fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, little sandwiches and tea cakes - quite a spread! She even sent me home with homemade soup for Harold! Stopped at the grocery store on my way home, unpacked groceries and was done for the day! Of course, even if I was not recuperating I think I would have been tired after all that!

December 24 - Christmas Eve. Lounged about most of the day, took a nap in the afternoon, then went to Jen's for dinner. She has begun the tradition of having Christmas Eve dinner at her house and I love it because we used to have hot dogs or something at my house because I was still busy finishing up stuff for Christmas Day! Nurse Martha joined us. Everything was beautiful and the food (lasagna, salad, rolls and flan for dessert) was wonderful. Even had a bit of wine! Jen is going to a new church and I went with her to the ten o'clock service. Harold went on home as he has a dreadful cold. Poor man, he has been sleeping in his recliner the past two nights so I don't get sick! So far, so good! The church service was wonderful and there was lots of singing by all of us and they had wonderful musicians and singers on the stage. One woman sounded like Barbra Striesand and another like Celine Dion! Was I impressed!!!!!!!!! The whole service was really great - it was an actual visual production including painted angels projected on the walls, so I was in heaven (no pun intended!) and was sorry when the service ended. That was a first! Nice day, no feeling sorry for myself, boobs only hurt a little so I was a happy camper.

December 25 - Christmas Day - Slept late, Jen came over and we opened gifts. Stuck a standing rib roast in the oven at ten o'clock as my part of Christmas dinner at Nurse Martha's house. Quieter Christmas then usual here, we have all had quite enough excitement in our lives over the past months! A lot of thought went into our gifts this year. All of us have nothing we really need, if we really want something chances are we have already gotten it during the year. Sent some small, fun things to the grandchildren along with a check for Jaime & Co. Jaime loves to hang out in Half Price Books and is thrilled when she has mad money to spend on whatever she wants. Thad is putting together a home theater. Chloe and Caleb wanted walkie-talkies so they purchased the ones they wanted and we contributed to the fund! That works so much better, especially with them so far away. For Harold, I gave him an appointment I had arranged with the clock store to repair his beloved grandfather clock he bought while we were in Italy. He got gift cards to Home Depot and Harbour Freight, his two favorite stores from the girls. Don't you know, he cannot wait until tomorrow to get to those stores! For Jen we gave her a full day of pampering beginning with breakfast at Panera Bread, then on the a huge mall that is about an hour away, then lunch at her choice of restaurant and some mad money to spend shopping! She loved it! Harold gave me an Angel of Hope statue to match my Angel of Courage, mad money to spend on my day shopping with Jen and…………tickets for two to Cirque de Soleil and dinner at Downtown Disney! Jen and I will go as he said he doesn't really want to see "men in padded tights" (his words) and Jen and I do, along with the show of course! He will be sorry he didn't go - I have only heard great things from others who have seen the performance. Jen gave me another piece to my Fontanini Nativity - "Chloe" a harpist and singer and with the same name as my granddaughter! Jen also gave me a priceless gift - a donation from her to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation along with a matching donation from CNA Insurance, the company for which she works. We all got really teary eyed over that one! We quite like the idea of giving "activities" or "interests" instead of material things. Got a wonderful buckwheat filled neck pillow to ease my ache and pains (I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back - just old age there!) from Jaime & Co along with a beautiful, sheer, storage bag (will use for my "unmentionables" when I travel). Got a separate package from the grandchildren that had a card written out by Chloe (6) for her and Caleb (3) with a photo frame for Gramma and a Texas coffee mug for Paw-Paw. So sweeeeeet!

I have saved the most unusual gift for last………Jen's gift to Harold and me. You must remember that this is from a woman who doesn't like to think her parents even think about "you know what!" She kept hesitating about giving it to us and then finally said, "Hurray and open it before I change my mind." She gave it to Harold to open and I saw the look on his face when he pulled of the wrapping paper and thought, "What in the world…………!" He has a huge grin on his face and he hands the box to me. Never in a million years would you guess what this could be! Red sequined pasties with long red tassels!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jen bought them in Spencer's Gifts at the mall and said all the sales guys were smiling at her (I'll bet) and she wanted to tell them they were for her mom (like they would have believed that even though it was true!) She said she couldn't wait to get out of there but simply could not resist getting them for me/us! Both Harold and Dr. J have teased me that I could have a new career if I could figure out how to make tassels move in different directions after I found I could flex my chest muscles! Maybe I should wear them to my doctor's appointment on Monday! Remember what I said about being a Las Vegas showgirl? I do love sparkle and I do love red! I just happen to have red sequin earrings, a tube top, matching belt and evening bag, all in red sequins, from years ago when I was thinner! Wore them with black velvet blazer and long skirt to the Annual Christmas Chief's Ball in Italy I did! We all just about died laughing at my new tasseled pasties! Took them down to Nurse Martha's to show them off! On top on my clothing, mind you, not QUITE ready for a "real" viewing! Harold even demonstrated at one point - now that was hilarious! Before this year, Jen would never have done such a thing and we would have thought it very weird had she done so, but ……………the past six months have been about nothing but my boobs so it did seem appropriate this year and it WAS funny!

Dinner was great, just us, Nurse Martha, her daughter Heather, son-in-law Bruce and her grandson Darcy. We all contributed to the dinner and it was all wonderful. Came home with a full tummy and miracle of miracles - I am still awake! I feel perfectly normal today.

Poor Jaime though, please say a little prayer for her, she is having a time with the tonsillectomy. She had a bout of nausea on Saturday night and with her throat being so sore from the operation she was in a lot of pain when she threw up for six hours! That settled down and then last night she was in the emergency room because she was spitting up blood! Apparently when the scab from the tonsillectomy sloughs off, sometimes (rarely they said) a blood vessel bursts. Thad had her gargle ice water all the way to the ER and they basically told her if it happened again she would have to go to a different ER (farther away of course) that had a ENT doctor on duty. She asked for the worst case scenario and he said "You could bleed to death." Well, that was encouraging! Feel so very badly for her. I finally feel good and now she is hurting. Its okay when you feel bad but not your children, even if they are grown up adults with children of their own. Under normal circumstances I would have been there, helping, so I feel at loose ends knowing she is in pain and could use her "Mama!"

December 26 - I am a free person! It is a month after my last treatment so I no longer have restrictions of any kind!!!! Yea! Yippee! Hurray! Of course, the doctor expects me to still use common sense but just knowing that at least the chemo related stuff is over makes me so happy! Also, no nap needed since Wednesday! I know that is only two days but that is the longest yet I have gone without a Maintenance Nap! Things are definitely looking up!

Will be interesting to see how we all handle Christmas next year. Will we keep our feelings from this year or go back to what was the "norm" before? Don't know, but I am hoping to keep a lot of the things we did from this year as this was really a great Christmas. Liked spending more time with family and friends instead of being in a shopping and decorating frenzy. Liked going places together as a family. Wish Jaime & Co. lived closer so we could all be together but we are thankful we have Jen close by. Feel closer this year to family, friends and God. Nice feelings. No craziness worrying if I got "just the right gift" for someone.

What's in store for me next year besides finishing up with reconstruction and follow-up doctor visits? I don't know but I am looking forward to 2004 and a very fulfilling life!

Had a little excitement this afternoon. We went to Home Depot to get some new cabinets for above my new washer and dryer that were not Christmas presents and were backing out of the parking space and all of a sudden Harold slams on the brakes and throws the truck into drive, squeals the tires and then "Crash!" Another guy in a car was also backing up and he apparantly never saw us so just kept on backing up. He obviously didn't look in his rearview mirror as we were much larger and higher than he was! No damage to us but his taillight was broken and he had a dent. Called the police but no one got a ticket, the officer said it was Christmas, no one got hurt and no one was mad so "Have a nice day!" Whew!

Off to Wings tonight - it is Friday after all! Of course, we had to tell a couple of the waitresses there about Jen's generous gift of the red sequined tassels. Some of her friends were there having dinner so we told them, too! Everyone teased her unmercifully but she took it all with good humor.

Poor Jaime is still having a time with her tonsillectomy. Still having the bleeding bouts but the doctors say that should lessen as the area heals. Told her that she should be feeling quite well in another 4-5 days! That would be a total of two whole weeks of having your throat hurt! I only felt really bad for four days at the most with chemo! They live in Dallas, Texas, we live in Florida and I can't go to help, Thad's parents live in North Carolina and his mom had a hip replacement when I had my mastectomy surgery and his dad just found out he has prostate cancer (how ironic after I just posted my friend's message, but…..they have been watching his PSA count for years, he had a full body bone scan and it does not look like it has spread so they just have to decide on what they want to take during surgery and his prognosis should be just fine. Another great story for early detection!) so they cannot come to help either. Luckily, they have great friends who have helped with meals and the kids.

I have gotten into the habit of including a photo each week but have run out of hair (or non-hair) personas. A friend asked if I would show photos of my family, since I talk about them all the time and I thought, what a great idea! So here goes…………first up is my darling Harold. This is one of my favorite photos of him as it shows his wonderful, caring personality so well. He really should have been a Vet. He loves animals of all sorts, humans too! Look closely, that is our former cat, Kitkat, on his chest and on his shoulder is a pigeon named Bird that he rescued from a construction site and hand fed and even taught how to fly! D.O.G is down by his feet but you can't see her in this photo. All these different animals in harmony with one another and with him.

Hope you enjoy the photo!

Happy New Year!


Margot a.k.a. Leaky Lop-sided Louise, Hard Rock Hannah, Happy Holly and Not So Tired Tina. Did you notice that Weepy Wanda seems to be taking a well deserved rest? Hope she stays there! Brenda Braveheart returned home after taking tea with Patte and me!

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