Update 48

January 2, 2005 – It has now been seventeen months since I found I had breast cancer. Wow! So much has happened since then. A while ago I mentioned a book I have been reading called Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I am reading it all over again for 2005. It is a daily journal and I find so much inspiration there that I would like to recommend it again to everyone. One thing I have learned from reading the book is to be really grateful for what I have, so each evening I enter five things in my “Grateful Journal” for which I am grateful. If it has been a rotten day it is very hard to do sometimes and I have to dig deep but………..you really can find five things if you try. One of mine today was that I am grateful to be able to walk and garden in the sun. It was a glorious day today and I found myself reaching my arms up to the sky in exultation for just being able to feel the sun on my skin.

Still having my “moods” and sad times but for the most part I feel great and life is good! Work is unbelievable, I am so excited about the possibilities for 2005.

January 3 – Back and legs are still bothering me even with massage. I see my oncologist next week and will tell him about the problem but I am sure he will confirm it is just the herniated disc giving me fits. It amazes me how I have to fight my own self to not think that any ongoing pain could be the return of cancer. I would never have thought that “before.” Now that it will always be a possibility, it tries to rear its ugly head when you are not looking! I simply will not give in to Doleful Dolores!

I see both the psychotherapist and the massage therapist tomorrow – full mind and body experience! I am still learning so much from the psychotherapy – amazing stuff! – and the massage keeps me moving around.

Don’t think I am Rickety Ricky or anything like that! Not on your life. I am capable of moderate to heavy gardening but not for extended periods of time. My back is aways sore, sometimes more than others but…..I have learned a marvelous thing for my back. When I need to pick something up off the floor I stand over it, squat down as far as I can, put my butt up in the air as I pick up the object and then straighten my legs as I stand and return my back to an upright position. I know, I know, the mental picture that comes to mind! I was reading a book on stretching and the author described a toddler just learning to walk picking up something off the floor and a light bulb went off – I could “see” how to do it! I have been making a conscious effort to do that as I work around the house, studio and garden. Takes some effort and looks a bit odd but it has helped my poor back. I have been moving plants, putting plants in pots for future use, pulling out plants to discard, clearing spaces for bushes to be moved, taking cuttings of plants too large to keep in a pot – Greta Gardener for real! The architect will have the preliminary plans for us this week, we make changes, return them to him, he makes up the final sets and then we can get our building permit! WhooHoo! Harold is just dying to tear into the garden with a backhoe/bobcat/bush hog - some machine that has big treads and digs up stuff and has POWER! I cannot wait to have my new studio! This is like some kind of dream come true for me. Of course, now I will have to work until I am 101 years old to make good use of it but I see no reason for me to ever not work – I love what I do. After the past year and a half I appreciate the fact that I feel so good and feel capable of clearing land and helping build the studio, especially given how I felt last year at this time with no energy whatsoever!

I am not taking on more than I can handle though and that is a big improvement over how I used to accept work. The more I read the more I see how stress adversely affects my body and I am still working on reducing stress in my life but that is a big job. Stress affects my diabetes, my back and my mind and may have been partially to blame for my breast cancer. My aim is to be Stressless Tess! Say that one five times fast! Seriously though, every book I read on illness speaks of stress and its effects on the body. Please make a concentrated effort to take care of YOU this year. Pamper yourself and tell your “self” how wonderful you are and that you deserve to be pampered. Does marvelous things for your ego! I mean, who knows better than you what your “self” would really like! Sometimes I start to worry that I am spending too much money on my “therapies”, insurance only pays half of the psychotherapy and none of the massage, and then I stop and tell my “self” sternly that I am very much worth it. I feel much better after visiting with both of those wonderful women and I do indeed deserve to feel good and to care for myself along with caring for my family. Whooeeeee, Soapbox Sue is on a roll here! Please do nice things for yourself, your body and mind will appreciate it and so will your family and friends since it will make a better you!

January 7 – I have had several people write and ask that the journals continue. I will have to think on that and see what I can come up with. Maybe after visits to the oncologist? Maybe when I have an “Ah-ha!” moment in therapy? Maybe they could be the “After Journals or How Humor Still Gets Me Through Life.” I mean, who else do you know that gets frogs in their potty! Any ideas or input from any of you reading this? The continuing journals, not the frogs! I go to the oncologist next week and my thoughts were to make that the final entry, as I am positive I am just fine.

A word on the frogs – no more so far, thank heavens, but I have had some neat correspondence concerning them. One woman’s story was very romantic and it was beautiful. Another friend wrote some interesting info on frogs, mainly that they never leave the area where they hatched! I told Harold that bit of info and he just groaned! We had a couple of hundred hatch! We still check each and every time we go into that bathroom for any reason!

Putting away all the Christmas decorations. I do get a bit carried away! But as I pack them up I think of the meaning of each one, where I got it, who gave it to me, if I made it myself what was going on in my life then…..so nice to savor the memories. So nice to be here and feel healthy, once again, to be able to savor the memories!

Finally getting used to the fact that I have diabetes and that I have to deal with it 24/7 forever. On the days I follow the meal plan and exercise, either walk or do heavy gardening my “counts” (where I poke my finger and get a reading from my blood meter) are within the normal range. Don’t eat right and up they go! So……………I am finding out how to outsmart myself when it comes to eating. Have even lost another pound – very slow going I must say but something is happening as my clothing is getting much looser! I have devised a form for my meal plan of 1500 calories and if anyone is interested email me and I will send you a copy. Makes it much easier to keep track of what I am eating and how it effects my blood sugar. Diabetes Diane here, passing on info!

Speaking of heavy gardening – Greta Gardener is hard at work! I am tearing my garden apart in preparation of beginning construction on my new studio! Pots are everywhere! One side yard is turning into the plant nursery and the other side is the construction access. What a lot of work! No regrets, though, it is too exciting to know I will have a new studio and gorgeous courtyards! Harold is planning to move into his new workshop as soon as there are walls and roof! We are still waiting for the preliminary plans from the architect, getting antsy but trying to be calm! We have drawings on graph paper all over the place with changes and we don’t even have the plans yet!

Being very, very careful of my back through all this. When I bend down to pick up yard trash, I pick it up from a squat position. Same for a newly potted plant and then I carry it close to my body. Did I tell you I read that if you can’t lift something from a squat position then it is too heavy for you to pick up? Doing back exercises, too, to strengthen my back muscles. Have resigned myself to the fact that I need to sleep on my back all night instead of my side like I always have in the past. The least stress is placed on your back when you sleep on your back. Another new persona – Back-tip Betty!

January 11 – Oncology check-up day! I was okay until I actually got there and then I began to get nervous, especially when they directed a woman back to the treatment room. I go to that office because it is not the office where I got my chemo treatments and I really don’t like to be reminded of that period of time! I go in to get the blood work and the nurse decides that it will be easier from the top of my hand! Well, maybe for her but definitely not for me! Nervous Nellie was kicking into high gear along about that time! I must have been getting rather white because she asked if I was okay. I am sure that with my flaming red hair the lack of color in my skin would be quite noticeable! She was trying to take my mind off it (after she tells me that she is using a smaller needle so it will take longer!!!!!!!!!) and we (actually she, I was doing heavy breathing at that point!) are talking about perfume and the kind I was wearing (Clinique Aromatics) and she asks what color is my hair naturally because Clinique smells different on brunettes and blondes. Well, isn’t she just winning points everywhere! Do you think that means she didn’t believe my flaming red hair was natural?????? She finishes and pulls out the needle and then she tells me to hold on to the bandage because it wants to bleed! Geez Louise! She says, “Nice talking to you.” I mutter something unintelligible and she leads me in to see the doctor. Luckily, I really like him (probably because he has never actually done anything to me, only ordered the stuff!) so started to relax a bit. He comes in, I tell him all my various ailments and he says he wants me to have another full body bone scan after I tell him about my ongoing back and now right hip aches and pains. He said he believes it is just my osteoarthritis acting up in my hip but since that is a new problem, he just wants to be sure. He doesn’t say anymore but I know the end of that sentence is to be sure it is not cancer. I didn’t faint or anything and it will be good to know for sure. I go on the 19th for that lovely test. A bone scan doesn’t sound too bad until I remember that it is in the Nuclear Medicine part of the testing lab and that they will inject junk into my veins and then I wait a half a hour for it to circulate through my body then go lay on my back for 45 minutes on a very hard table while that huge machine whirs around my body. Arthritic Annie will be complaining loud and long about that one! I’m sure Nervous Nellie will make a guest appearance that morning, too! I also have the pleasure of getting a colonoscopy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a treat! The doctor asked me how my last one went and I said I had never had one and he said how did that happen, he thought he told me about it the last time I was there. Well, he did mention it at the beginning and then didn’t say anymore about it so neither did I! We talked some more and I went to check out and have them make the appointment for the bone scan and before I get out of there, here he comes down the hallway and says, “Ha! You thought you would get out of here again, didn’t you!” Drats! I know it is important, especially since I have had cancer but I must say - I can handle anything above the waist but when they start poking and prodding around in the “nether regions” I get the heebie-jeebies! Of course, the nice woman doctor who he was going to send me to for the test is not on my insurance, only male doctors are on the list. Oh yea.

Off to see Therapist Debbie after that, and as usual it was very interesting. I really could do this forever now that I am finding out so much about myself. I mean, it really is the ultimate “It’s all about me!” experience! It is nice though, to have someone really listen to you. It validates your deepest feelings as being real and more importantly, you find out WHY you have certain feelings and reactions to things. I told her I had an epiphany. I was thinking that because of breast cancer and all that went along with that and then seeing her for our therapy sessions that I am going to be the person I was really meant to be and not the person that I was “before.” I am more self-confident, more positive, more content, I am zeroing in on what I really want out of life and what will really make me happy and not what I think might make me happy. I feel as if I am emerging out of a cocoon, I was a hard-working caterpillar before, but I shall be a free-flying butterfly one of these days! Part of my journey has ended but my life soars out before me and I am excited by the new possibilities and insight I have gained over this long, long journey. My, oh my, Wise-woman Willow has joined the group!

I was planning on ending the journals after this oncology appointment but shall continue on for a while, at least until after I get the results back from the bone scan and know for sure what is going on.

I have a darling story for you (No, it is not about frogs although there have been no more frogs in the potty” sightings, thank heavens! Besides, they are not darling!) about my grandson, Caleb, who is four and a half. Jaime and my two grandchildren will be here for the weekend and Jaime called this morning and told me that Caleb had a wish list for me. He got on the phone and said, “Gramma, could I have fudge for dessert?” I told him I had already made the fudge and it was waiting for him. Okay, one down. Next was, “Could I have a Jacuzzi?” He remembers all of granddaughter Chloe’s tales of the Jacuzzi baths when she came this summer! I said he could have a Jacuzzi every night if her wanted and he said, “Every night?” then turned away from the phone to Jaime and said that I told him “Every night!” The I added, “Every night with fudge!” Well, he was beside himself by that time and he repeated my words to Jaime and I heard her ask him if she could have a Jacuzzi and fudge and I heard him say in a very grown up tone that he thought she could but that she would have to ask me. It was sooooooooooooooooo cute! I am the Gramma who is not responsible at all! I love it! I never buy practical gifts- only the fun stuff! And I make fudge for them and Rice Krispy Treats (which we eat warm, right off the pan with our hands, which is truly the only way to eat them!), you know, all the basic food groups!

January 13 – Thanks for all the comments on our new bathroom. Thank heavens Harold appreciates the beauty without having his male ego threatened! He is very proud of it, too, since he did most everything except the painting and wallpaper.

What a nice calm day today.

Until next time,

Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly and the Twins, Doleful Dolores, Rickety Ricky, Stressless Tess, Diabetes Diane, Greta Gardener, Back-tip Betty, Nervous Nellie, Arthritic Annie and Wise-woman Willow

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