Update 40

July 3 – This is the longest it has ever been between journal entries! Last one was June 16! So much has been going on. Granddaughter Chloe just left this afternoon after a whirlwind week of being totally spoiled! She is seven and she just loved it! I fed her fudge in the Jacuzzi this morning as she was having her last bath here before returning to Texas and reality! Am I a Spoil Them Rotten Gramma or what! I am tired but just a good ole’ normal kind of tired.

On June 18th I left to teach in Maryland, had a ball, they were a great group. Came home on the 21st and Chloe arrived on the 26th. I had my last two counseling sessions with the cancer counselor on the 23rd and the 28th. They only go for a period of six weeks. The counselor suggested I continue seeing someone on a regular basis for a while only because she felt I was really beginning to look clearly at a lot of things in my life instead of tucking them away and “just not thinking about them” which has been my modis operendi for most of the unpleasant things that have ever happened in my life. The dratted breast cancer would not stay tucked away, however, and it is hard to let that out and keep the other stuff tucked away. I am totally swamped for the next couple of weeks (must catch up a week’s worth of work, do the coming week’s which involves a couple of magazine article deadlines and preparing for a double booth at a painting convention, my sister Tina arrives from New York on the 13th to help me with the convention on the 16-18 and then she leaves on the 19th) so I will give the new counselor a call and at least go to one session. The one I am going to call is a breast cancer survivor herself so she would certainly have a good understanding of how I feel! I told “K” that I am not sure I wouldn’t just rather get on with things instead of delving deeper at this point. Told her I am not sure I want to know the “real me”, maybe I wouldn’t like her very much!!!!!!!!!!!!

I read something in a magazine this morning that another artist wrote about herself and I cut it out and pasted it where I could see it all the time. She said she had decided to not do so many things that required deadlines and got back to painting and drawing which was why she decided to become a professional artist in the first place and that she felt it was the best thing she had ever done as it restored her soul and improved her art. I am feeling more and more each day that I must make some changes in my professional life to give me more time to be truly creative and to learn more – I love to learn new things – to be able to grow as an artist. I simply cannot waste this second chance at life.

I did dye my hair red and it is redder than before but I think I still want to kick it up a notch! I look very much like I did as Sassy Simone! Harold took a photo of Chloe and I at the airport this afternoon and I think I will use it as the “Photo of the Week” so you can see how much my hair has grown and how curly it is and to see my precious Chloe!

I do have a couple of stories for you about Chloe that are just too funny. By now you know that I am a bit of a “free spirit” and do not worry too much about what other people think (well, for the most part!). We picked Jen up to go to lunch on Monday and while at the restaurant her friend Meg (actually, my friend, too) came in so we spoke a bit and then Meg went outside to join the person she came in with and we took Jen back to work. We had to pass the restaurant on the way back from dropping Jen off so I rolled down my window and yelled “Hey Meg” out the window. Chloe said “Gramma!” in a very shocked voice and I turned to her only to find her way down in the seat so you couldn’t even see the top of her head! She said “That was so embarrassing! You are an adult and only kids do that!” Mind you she was dead serious! Not being a smart aleck at all, just totally shocked at her Gramma’s behavior! Poor child, she didn’t realize that we were also in a big red car with fancy wheels, meant to be noticed and that her Gramma also wore red sequin pasties to the doctor or she would have died of embarrassment for sure! Then we went to Sea World on Thursday with Nurse Martha and we sat in the splash zone for Shamu, the killer whale, and got just drenched and she didn’t like that at all and Martha an I were just dying of laughter! I know, getting drenched with icy cold, 52 degree, seawater may not sound like fun but it was a riot! I think we will have to wait a couple more years to tell her the real story about her Gramma!

I must tell you of our shopping trips. We were going to tea with my friend Patte and Chloe needed some shoes to go with the outfit she brought with her for the tea. A purple sari (a real one mind you, not a costume) trimmed in gold with gold beads. Now what kind of shoes go with that? Well………we found shoes with a clear top covered in rhinestones!!!!!! And a purple purse to match with a rhinestone clasp! And a hot pink leather one with zippers, chains and buckles (it called to us both from across the store!)! Next big purchase was the outfit I got her at Sea world. You will see it in the photo at the end of this journal entry. Purple, aqua, lavender shiny material, purple feathers at the wrists and purple chiffon on the sleeves and pant legs. A very practical outfit don’t you think? Mind you, these clothes are for the child who was embarrassed when I yelled out the car window! I was telling Jaime about our purchases and she asked if they needed to send money to cover all these clothing purchases and I hesitated for a moment and then told her “No………I have a feeling when you see them you would not send me money for them anyway!” Most definitely Gramma and granddaughter purchases! How fun that was to indulge in pure unadulterated fancy! We spoiled her rotten but she is a very smart young lady and I heard her answer her mother when asked if she wanted to just live with us that “No, because I know if I lived here everyday this is not how it would be.” She knew it was all indulgence and only for visits at Gramma’s. This was her first visit her all by herself and Jaime and Thad said that I had set a very high bar with this first visit and it would be hard to top next time (I actually fed her fudge once while she was in the Jacuzzi, is that over the top???????). I said it would not be a problem, it is easy to spoil someone for a week!

I feel just fine. Tired but full of energy as odd as that may sound. Need a good nights sleep after Chloe’s visit and I will be “good to go!” I don’t think I have any residual effects from the chemo, they will keep checking on that as I continue my three month oncology visits. Am planning on working out in my garden all day tomorrow, the Fourth of July, (also my grandson Caleb’s birthday, he will be four!) as I have a very full work week coming up. I think the worst is over with the depression and anxiety attacks. I really feel it was a grieving time for me for all that had happened and all of if finally burst out of the little box I had tried to stick it into and tuck it away! Just identifying it as grief was a relief and realizing it was normal was even better!

The only cloud on the horizon is another A1C test for diabetes to see what is going on. This one is next Friday and is a month after the last one. I have been trying to follow the things I learned from the dietician but have not lost any weight. Depending on what the test reveals I may see if there is a course on Nutrition I can sign up for and get a better handle on all this. The one session was very good but there is a lot to it and I need to really have some of that info hammered into my brain! I must say that eating six times a day is a lot of work! Not sure this is really practical for me and my lifestyle.

July 7 – Need to call my regular doctor today. Nothing cancer related, thank heavens! I am having a bout of sciatica down my left leg and I cannot lie down at all so have only managed to get about two hours of sleep a night for the last three days. Even Tylenol PM does absolutely nothing! I am okay do far, but I know I cannot get by on two hours and those two hours are broken up into ½ hour segments throughout the night. The rest of the time I am changing positions, moving from room to room trying to find somewhere I can get comfortable! Do not like this at all!!!!!!!!!! I am getting a good bit of work done as that is the only thing that takes my mind off it and I am fairly comfortable in my office/work table chairs as I bought ergonomic ones from Office Max. I can even doze in them but then my neck hurts!!!!!!!!!! I do have degenerative disc disease, just from normal aging, in my neck and back so that contributes to this sciatica attack, too. My sister will be here Tuesday to help me with the convention next week so I MUST get this over with! Walking and standing are okay (except for the red hot burning sensation down my butt and leg!) but I need some sleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I dragged out all my exercises for my back from the last time I had this about a year ago (I know, I should have been doing them all along!) but they are not helping and even taking a muscle relaxer does absolutely nothing! I planned on working every day this week with no interruptions as I am swamped but life is getting in the way!

I have a story for all of you that is very important. I have been corresponding with my high school friend from Vegas who is also a breast cancer survivor of two years. She had a mastectomy and reconstruction. Well, she found a lump went to the doctor and was told it was cancer again! She has just gone through another surgery to remove two tumors and she just told me I could tell her story as she felt it would be of benefit to others. It has already made me aware and I will be having my doctors check these areas, too. Turns out that it is not a reoccurrence but a couple of cells from the first cancer that grew into tumors! It was because of where they were that they were missed the first time around and she is waiting to see the oncologist to see if she needs further treatment this time and to ask why the chemo didn’t kill those cells off! This is what she wrote;

“I was surprised at the news. I pretty much knew that it was cancer again but I had hoped that it was something new that could just be removed and no treatment needed. To find out that I still had some of my original breast cancer that was just lurking around for two years stunned me. My surgeon said that because the lymph nodes that were affected were up under my clavicle bone was why they were missed. Evidently when they do a mastectomy the surgeon goes under the arm looking for lymph nodes that may be involved, not up so high. He did tell me that this is not nearly as serious as the original episode and there is no evidence that it is anywhere else and that he feels very confident that he got everything....so I have to believe that this is so. I am recuperating very fast from this surgery but will, of course, take it easy when returning to work. I must get back to work so that I don't dwell on things. Please feel free to share my story with your readers, especially those that have gone through breast cancer that one should continue to check for lumps, even if you have implants. This was something that I found and went in and had it checked out. They tell me this is a rare occurrence but once is all it takes. I asked the chemo question of my surgeon and he said that was puzzling. I will pose that same question to my oncologist. When I went back to work after my first episode with cancer, I did it to show myself that I could and that I wanted it to be my decision and not let a disease force a decision on me, this time I am just trying to keep busy. Tomorrow will be my first day back and I am feeling pretty good today.” Her story shows that we must be vigilant about any changes to our bodies. I thank her for allowing me to share this with all of you.

Hair report: I am going to have to go and get a shaping cut soon! It is roughly 3” long now (got out the ruler again!) but without all my gels, I am beginning to look a bit scruffy. I really, really hate to say this but it seems as it is growing out that it is not as curly as it was! I really like the curls. I am hoping that it may be just relaxing a bit with the weight of the longer hair.

Off this weekend to paint a lovely mirror design with the painting group to which I belong. I haven’t just painted for the pure fun of it in a very long time. Will be nice to be a student for a change! I am especially looking forward to just being with all my friends there as I have not been very active for the last few years due to work. They meet on the weekends and I usually travel on the weekends sooooooooooooooo……………… I promised myself this time around to not let all these friendships falter because of work!

July 8 – Well Geez Louise! I will warn you now I am most definitely Whiney Whitney and Complaining Clara! I haven’t slept more than seven hours, in bits and pieces for the last four days! I did go to the doctor yesterday, he said he didn’t think it was full blown sciatica but very close, prescribed a stronger anti-inflammatory than the Celebrex I take on a regular basis and a stronger muscle relaxer than the Skelaxin I have. He gave me another back exercise to add to my list of exercises I have for my back. When I had the prescriptions filled the pharmacist said, “Well you will be going nighty-night!” I go there all the time, it is in my favorite grocery store, and know them well. I said that was a very good thing as I really needed to sleep! Do you think any of it made me sleepy?????? Not one iota. Did it take away any of the pain? Again, not one iota. About 5 a.m I decided I must have some sleep so dug out some of the Percocet from my last surgery. At that point I didn’t even care about inter drug reactions, I just wanted some sleep. Well, that stuff used to put me to sleep for hours and also tamed the pain from surgery. Guess what I got this time? Forty-five minutes of sleep, (sitting up mind you as lying prone is just not an option) before the pain woke me back up! Lordy! Faxed the doctor this morning with the wonderful news that after taking the muscle relaxer four times and the anti-inflammatory twice I felt worse instead of better and now the pain has traveled to my left calf, and still no sleep! I have to go in for some lab work tomorrow and on Saturday (the day I was supposed to paint all day for the fun of it!!!!!) I have to go get a lumbar MRI – an open one, thank heavens. I had an MRI years ago and found out just how claustrophobic I am!!!!!!!!! Now………I do not have time for all this! My sister comes in Tuesday, the convention is next weekend and I have a lot of things to do. I am still working, around the clock actually, but since I am only working at about half speed I am not really getting ahead!

It is now evening and I am dragging my leg around like it is made of cement! I did fall asleep for a half an hour in my recliner after dinner (darling Harold went out and got take-out for us, he did last night, too!) and rested at my work table – I am fairly comfortable sitting in my computer chair leaning forward – for about 15 minutes. Really have no great hopes of sleeping tonight either. Now that is depressing! However, I am coping very well mentally so that is good. Did have one stray thought today wondering if it could possibly be cancer then got hold of myself because I have had one other episode like this, although not so severe and I didn’t have cancer then so am sure I do not have it this time either. Stopped the exercises in case I am contributing to whatever the problem is going on back there until I get the results of the MRI. What a pain in the butt this is – literally! Trying to think of something positive or clever to say but I am just too tired.

July 9 – 2:30 a.m. – Okay, I have had enough! Last night I took two of the Percosets and got 2 ½ hours of sleep (sitting at the table with a bunch of pillows for my head to rest on!) and mild nausea for about 6 hours after that. Felt like about 3 days after my chemo treatments. Oh yea. Not worth taking that again, I can tell you. Was fuzzy minded, too, so have decided I would rather be awake and clear headed with no nausea than get 2 ½ hours of sleep. Went for the blood work today, results should be back Monday or Tuesday. That seems a really long way off! The doctor is running complete testing because of my “history.” Drank lots of water and squeezed that little rubber ball for the whole day beforehand and the tech did very well getting the blood out of my right arm. That really works so if you have trouble having blood drawn for whatever reason try that. It is best if you drink lots of water and squeeze that rubber ball for about three days before the testing. Muddled through the day trying to nap whenever I felt the least bit sleepy. Went to Wings, I’m fairly okay sitting up, and got chicken stuck in my teeth so on the way to coffee Jen gave me apiece of gum to chew and out came my tooth! Not just a cap mind you that I could glue back in with Fixodent, but one that was pegged into my remaining tooth! Decided not to go for coffee, I have had quite enough fun for one day. Geez, geez, geez Louise! I do have an appointment on Monday morning to see the dentist for a cleaning but now I guess we will see about the stupid tooth! It doesn’t hurt at least. MRI tomorrow, hope I do not have to lay in one position very long as that may not be possible. Again, results probably Monday or Tuesday. My sister gets in Tuesday night and of course, I am not ready for her or for the convention next weekend. DOG has to go back to the vet on Wednesday to see if her bladder infection is cleared up, I am really beginning to dislike July. Between me and the dog this has not been a great month. You know I am usually in a more positive mood but I must say no sleep and constant pain will do you right in. I did not feel this bad with cancer for crying out loud! Well, on second thought, maybe I did!

I believe I wrote that counselor K suggested I continue on with therapy a while longer and gave me the names of some counselors and one is a breast cancer survivor herself. I finally called her and am making plans to go and see her. I have spoken with her a couple of times on the phone and feel a real connection with her. She is out of network with my insurance so they will only pay a portion but I feel the connection I felt is worth it, at least or one session. If I don’t feel it was worth it, the insurance company gave me the names of four counselors who are in network so the cost would be much less. Guess I will just have to see.

By the way, did I mention that the end rack in my closet pulled away form the wall and dumped everything off the shelf and of course, to fix it, all the clothing had to come off and then be hung up again! I’m telling you, I have had enough fun lately! I did find some things I could live without though, seems it has be “a while” since I really went through that stuff. I sent a box off to Chloe for dress-up that included silk scarves, colored leather boots (green, yellow and hot pink!) and silver shoes. Getting older makes me care for my feet better and since anymore I mostly wear Birkenstocks, I figured the boots needed a new home. I’m sure my daughter will be thrilled with that box!

It is now 3:00 a.m. and I am going to try for a nap. Wish me luck. New persona – Sleepy Selina! Maybe Sleepless Selina would be more appropriate!

Photo of the Week: Sorry, cannot do the new “hair” look this time, (next time I promise) I must do the follow up from last journal update. Remember last time I bragged about my front “garden” and specifically asked that you notice my gorgeous florals? Were you just a tiny bit jealous on seeing my wonderful display? Well, it is true confession time - they are fake!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m sorry for the trick (no I am NOT!) but I cannot get anything to grow there, so years ago I started “planting” different arrangements for the different seasons. Store them in the garage attic in a bag, I do! I even won Yard of the Month for our neighborhood a year or so ago! I did tell them that area was “not quite real” and although they were a bit taken aback they said the award was for the all-over look of the yard. I even got to keep it for two months instead of one!

On that note, I shall sign off as I have to go for that dreaded MRI tomorrow and hope to get a bit of rest as the nap thing did not work out.

As always,

Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly, keeper of the Perky Twins, Sleepy/Sleepless Selina. Gramma, Whiney Whitney and Complaining Clara!

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