Update 41

July 20 – Been awhile since I wrote an entry in the journal, lots of stuff has happened. Some good, some not so good.

I am going to not do July next year or ever again. My poor back is still sore, I have broken two teeth in the past three weeks, the 29th is the day I found I had breast cancer last year and today the doctor told me I do indeed have Type II diabetes! Whiney Whitney is very near the surface here, may be hard to hold her down but come on – I really do need a break!

Last entry was about losing teeth and having a sore back. I did go to the dentist and it was an old crown that he pegged the last time it came off to get some more time out of it but this time the tooth broke cleanly off so now I need a new crown. Have decided I must eat softer stuff at Wings as this is getting expensive! The week before that I chipped a tooth on my wings! They sure taste good, though! I did go for the MRI and let me tell you that I really thought I would lose consciousness because of the pain. I had to lay on my back with my legs up for 22 minutes and that, of course, was the absolute worst position for my back. I kept telling myself to hang on because if I stopped I would just have to start over. At one point, things were beginning to swirl with orange and brown and all I could repeat was “noise and pain, noise and pain.” Don’t ask me what that was all about – I am an artist, so of course my pain swoons must be in full color! It did turn out that I have a pinched nerve. That was on July 10 and I have yet to get into the Advanced Pain Clinic for a numbing shot. I will contact my regular doctor tomorrow and we will just skip them and go on to the orthopedist. I have advanced from draping myself over a table then going on to the recliner in a couple of hours to just sleeping in the recliner. I will try the bed tonight but do not hold much hope for that.

My sister Tina, did come in and the trade show was fantastic even if I did get no sleep at all some nights. Not sure how I did that but I taught my class and did demos throughout the whole show and didn’t keel over! Could not have done that show without her! I think my adrenaline was soaring and keeping me going! She left yesterday so now all my company is gone for awhile so things will get back to some sort of normal.

About the diabetes thing. I am just over the border from being pre-diabetic so have to take a half a pill of Avandia to get my pancreas to work properly. The doctor said that if I did nothing at all to change my lifestyle (eating and exercise) that the Avandia would last me for about 3 ½ years before having to go on insulin and if I did make those changes I could postpone that stage for a long time. I have opted to attend a course on handling diabetes, which consists of learning how to eat and how to read those nasty little things that I will have to poke myself with to get a blood sugar reading. I am not sure this has sunk in yet, probably won’t until I go for that class and stick myself with that lancet for the first time. I asked the doctor if he thought any of this stuff that has been happening was chemo related and he said he didn’t think the teeth were, that it was just bad luck (that is an understatement!) and he really didn’t know about all the other. I will ask the oncologist but it really doesn’t matter, the diabetes is here. A nurse friend told me that no matter what the doctors tell me, she has seen too many people that had chemo end up with diabetes. Your whole system is compromised as it fights the cancer. I think that the possibility was probably always there and that maybe the chemo exacerbated the whole process. I now believe it would be wise for anyone going through chemo to really pay attention to the possibility of diabetes. I will still ask the oncologist and will report what he says but my blood sugar was hanging around 112 for years and after chemo ended, I was 121 In January, 141 in March, 203 in June and 210 in July. Seems like a mighty big coincidence to me. I had even lost a few pounds during that time and was most definitely eating much better. The back thing is ongoing as I have a slight curving of my spine and degenerative disc disease due to age so I must get back on working on my back exercises do the next time one of these episodes hits it won’t be so severe. I saw friends at the trade show and when they found out it was a pinched nerve in my back, they said, “Yea! It is only a pinched nerve!” I just looked at them since my “only a pinched nerve” was driving my crazy. Seems a friend of theirs who died of cancer last year had complained of back pain and they found the cancer had spread and it was the beginning of the end for her, so when they heard I was having back pain they feared the worst and were very happy to find I just had a pinched nerve. When you look at it that way, I am happy to just have a pinched nerve, too! I must say I will be very happy when it is gone though.

I always thought it would probably take something major to get me to lose weight and to exercise regularly and it appears that breast cancer wasn’t enough! I do believe the diabetes diagnosis may just do the trick! I will keep posting in the journals as I find out more about this diabetes. For all of you reading this, get tested and if you are at risk for diabetes change your lifestyle now so you won’t be joining this club. Sigh, another journey.

Some good news, my friend, I will call her VJ, who just had her second go round with her breast cancer just found out that she will not have to have chemo this time. She is on a new drug as the Tamoxifen did not work for her. She just wrote and told me something interesting that her oncologist told her. I had asked her why the chemo did not kill those cells left behind and this is what she wrote: “I did ask the oncologist why the chemo did not take care of the runaway lymph nodes. He said that chemo runs through your body taking care of stray cancer cells but for some reason it is not effective locally, meaning the area where your original tumor was.” That is very interesting. Scary, but interesting. She is doing fine, by the way!

I have another friend, I will call her MJ, who has just had her bi-lateral mastectomy with no reconstruction right now and she is doing very well. We even laughed a bit on the phone tonight and she had her surgery on Tuesday the 20th. Remember my two “grenades” (actually drains) that I had? Well, lucky her, she has four of them! She says she is uncomfortable and in pain but not in great pain. Her surgeon feels that when she sees the oncologist she will prescribe Tamoxifen with no further treatment needed. I will pray very hard for her that it works out like that.

I pass these stories on to all of you so you see that it is not just me who can get on with life. These two ladies, along with countless others are going on with their lives. Breast cancer is a nasty journey but you can get through it, twice if you have to, like VJ has done. MJ is doing well because they were able to find the cancer when it was small so please, please, please – get your mammograms!

July 22 - Well, back to me – I finally have an appointment to get a shot for my poor back! Not until Monday though (today is Thursday)! I had to fight for that as they all kept telling me August 2nd or August 18th! I cannot wait that long. I swear on a stack of bibles that when I am better from this episode I will do my back exercises faithfully! This will come back but it does not have to be so severe. I have begun taking the Avandia for the diabetes and if I even think about putting something in my mouth that I shouldn’t I say to myself – “Do you really want to eat this so you can end up giving yourself insulin shots?” That’s incentive I can tell you!

Next week is repair/doctor week. Monday I go get my shot from the Advanced Pain Clinic, Tuesday I see the new counselor, Wednesday I get my new tooth and Friday DOG goes in for a blood test on her Phenobarbital levels. I am happy to say she seems fine, no bladder infection signs and no further seizures. And…..I leave to teach a weekend seminar in Ocala, Florida!

Going to be time for a haircut soon, I am getting a bit shaggy looking. I trimmed up over my ears again and took a bit off the back but I am due for a styling. I’m afraid to have my curls cut off though, what if they are gone after that? I play with my hair all the time, I am so glad to actually have some hair now I guess I need to keep touching it to be sure it is real!

My garden is in real need of attention! While Chloe was here I didn’t get out there, then had my fateful Sunday when I slept no more, then my sister came and we had tons of stuff to do so haven’t been out there to really work in about a month. The garden behaved nicely for my sister, though, tons of stuff began to bloom while she was here and she enjoyed sitting out on the patio and just looked at the garden. Any gardener is so very pleased when their creation makes someone else happy and I am no exception.

July 26 – I am so bummed out today. Weepy Wanda is lurking around every corner. I did get my shot???????? That sounded like it was singular when they told me about it. There were actually 6 of them. One was to numb the area and the other was for the cortisone shot itself. Had to lay on my stomach, which hurt, and then get poked in the back with needles. This just gets better and better! We shall call him Dr. R. He said that sleeping in the recliner was the worst thing I could do for my back, just after he tells me the herniated disc (don’t like that either, my regular doctor said “pinched nerve” and that sounds not so bad, Dr. R said it is the same thing with different names) is why I can’t lie down. Okay, that leaves the only other option leaning against the wall like a horse! I forgot to tell him about draping myself over the table! Those shots were such fun that I get to go and have it done again in two weeks! That really works out well, though, as I leave the next day for a week long trade show in Ohio. Seriously, though, it did not hurt as badly as I had expected and I was very happy for that! That was a bit stressful but I got through it. He also treats diabetics – oh how I hate to say that about myself, Egads – here comes Weepy Wanda! Anyway, there was a lot of info so I armed myself with tons of pamphlets and all day ole’ Weepy Wanda has followed me around as I agonize over having to stick myself multiple times every day to check my blood sugar levels. Every day……………crap! Then got a call from the Diabetes Center at the hospital about the Diabetes Class and I have to call my insurance tomorrow to see just what they have authorized. The class is twelve hours long and without insurance is $1000.00!!!!!!!!!! If my insurance won’t cover it they do give a discount, still very expensive, if you can’t afford it I guess you are on your own. First time I can attend is September 12 and 19 due to my travel schedule and their class schedule. How fun, I get to pay someone to show me how to stab myself in the finger four times a day! I have to say, at least with breast cancer, there is a good chance it won’t come back. Diabetes is with you forever. I will be educating all of you on diabetes now along with breast cancer happenings. I have been harping all along about getting mammograms to detect breast cancer early……….now I am adding being tested to see where you glucose levels are and if the are creeping up to change your eating habits and start to exercise. My doctor said that hoofing it around the neighborhood every morning along with my gardening would be fine. Eating, now that is another matter. I have a new motto – “Eat that and you can bank on sticking yourself in the finger forever – don’t eat it and maybe get to go off all that and the medicine, you choose.” Seems to work quite well most of the time! Have lost 5 lbs. so far. Water weight, I am sure, but 5 lbs. is 5 lbs.! To go on with the saga, a family member by marriage has just been diagnosed with lung cancer and brain cancer! I found out about my diabetes on Tuesday and we found out about him on Thursday. What a fun week……..

Aren’t I just a fountain of positive thinking! I go tomorrow for my first appointment with the new counselor and I really think I need it right now! I probably should have gone at the beginning of my breast cancer journey, too, but……….I was not ready then.

I did do something fun last weekend, though, Harold and I had a date! We went to see La Nouba - Cirque du Soleil, it was excellent, and then on to a really great seafood dinner at a place called Fish Bones! Did some yard work on Sunday, figured if my leg hurt worse I was going the next for the shot anyway!

I hope I am in a better frame of mind after tomorrow morning, I bet you hope I am, too!

July 29 – Well, on this day last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was very busy today so hardly had time to think about it. Seems amazing that a year has gone by since that fateful day. My life certainly has changed! Didn’t feel sad, didn’t feel particularly anything, don’t know exactly what I expected to feel today. Next anniversary is August 13, the day of my mastectomy surgery, wonder how I will feel that day?

August 23 – This is the longest between updates, so much has happened. I am still messing around with my back, been since July 3, manage to sleep in the bed once in awhile but mostly in the recliner. When I am in the bed I have about a thousand pillows making a nest for me to support – well, everything! I go on Wednesday the 25th to have a nerve test to find out just exactly where the pain is radiating from and then next week I get the final series of shots. Be glad when that is done with. I leave the next day for Dallas to visit Jaime a & Co. for nine days and have told them I need a ton of pillows and an egg crate thingee for the mattress. Right after I get back I go in for my last reconstruction surgery, (the twins get nipples!) so if those shots don’t work I will be getting a lot of rest anyway! Not looking forward to the surgery and all that goes with it but am looking forward to having it all done, finally. Don’t like things half finished!

I go to see the general surgeon for my year check-up from the mastectomy surgery on the 26th and of course, am hoping he gives me a clean bill of health. I have been a bit sore lately on my outer right side at the end of the scar and in the surrounding area but feel that it is because I am doing more in the yard and reaching up to trim stuff, especially since Hurricane Charley came through here and tried to destroy my garden! What a mess! Lost trees and there is three or four inches of debris over everything. No damage to my house though and we were only without power for 3 ½ days. Harold had gotten a generator so we had fans, TV and the refrigerator was running. I was actually away in Columbus, Ohio when the hurricane hit on Friday but got home on Sunday afternoon and my plane was only ten minutes late! I was amazed.

Lost a bit more weight and am definitely eating healthier and feel I will be able to lick this diabetes thing in the bud. I get back on September 9, have a big function on the 11th, first day of the diabetes class at the hospital is the 12th, the 13th is Dr. J. and pre-op stuff for surgery, 14th is blood work for my regular doctor, the 15th is the nipple reconstruction and the 19th is the second half of the diabetes class. I figure I am going to be sore ( my tummy from the skin graft, the twins should be fine as they have no feeling anyway!) and I might as well sit in class and get that over with as to sit at home.

Have seen the new counselor four times now and really like her.

Here are a bunch of great Flavia quotes: The last two are my special favorites.

“Say the words you long to say. Share the truth of your heart.”
“People who see the beauty in those around them cause beautiful things to happen.”
“Perhaps in destiny’s grand design, there are no random meetings and all is meant to be.”
“There is music in the garden, among the flowers and the trees and when our hearts listen closely we can hear it.”
“Tenderness is strength, never weakness. True courage is found in letting ourselves be vulnerable.”

August 24 - Having kind of a crappy day. I have to start testing my blood sugar so need to get the $#$@* machine before I come to you and then track the readings before I eat breakfast and two hours after dinner. I am getting one that you test your forearm instead of your finger tips and I have heard that it doesn't hurt. We'll see. I'm a little afraid of the nerve test, not much on pain and I have had enough for a while. The last shots were very painful. Don't much want to go for the nipple reconstruction and hurt all over again but do want it all to be done. I go on Thursday to see Dr. P. for my year check-up with him. Always dread these appointments.

I’m feeling very down now so think I will end this update. Hopefully next one will be a bit better.

Take care,

Margot – Hmmmm……..the only other persona this time was Weepy Wanda! And the Twins of course!

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