Margot Update 50

 April 10 - Well, I have written a lot since the last update but…………….my computer died, wiped clean, and, had I backed up my info in a timely manner??????????? Of course not! So everything I wrote from February 8, 2005 until now is gone. You know how I am usually going on and on about mammograms and diabetes? Well now I am going to add to back up your computer files!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot tell you how many people have said they have not backed up their files in a long time! The extra work I have caused myself is extremely irritating! However, the good news is that I did not fall apart or even cry about it, I just called the computer tech and ordered a new computer! I am now high tech! Nothing I can do about the work I lost except do it again so it was pointless to get crazy about it all. Irritated yes. Crazy, no. You can call me Calm Clementine!

I am feeling just fine now. What a difference a year makes! Still have my crying days but for the most part I am feeling very “normal.” I just returned from a teaching trip, a place I had taught a year ago at this same time and the difference in how I feel is enormous! I had hair last year, but just barely, and was still wearing wigs. I am putting into practice all the things I vowed to do such as slow down. I was offered the use of a condo on the Atlantic Ocean after the seminars for a few days and I decided to stay on and take advantage of that wonderful offer and even had Harold and Jennifer join me after I was done teaching. My usual routine is to rush right home and get back to work! I read and painted and looked at the ocean for two wonderful days! Are you impressed? I also got tired very easily last year at this time but had done the Vegas convention and done two travel teaching dates, one back to the Reno area. This year I have done all that and way more and I feel great! Lots of hair (still Ravishing Red-headed Real Hair Rita!) and lots of energy!

I did have the colonoscopy in March and all was just fine. I had written a detailed account of what happened but do not feel like writing it again right now. I will later on, I promise. I did so well on it I don’t need another for eight years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hurray! The actual test was fine, it was the prep the day before that got to me. Had to drink disgusting stuff that made me throw up and then I still had more to drink!

I leave again in two weeks to go back to teach in Reno, Nevada, again someplace I taught a year ago. I missed my flight out of Orlando, got stuck in Phoenix and almost had a meltdown before I was able to get to Reno. That was before I started to go to therapy and I can tell you that I will not be having any meltdowns this year! I am still going to see Therapist Debbie, but every few weeks now instead of every week. Hard to fit appointments around my travel schedule and her clients. She feels I have come to terms with the breast cancer issues and is now concentrating on the rest of the problems connected with her diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and some days I am fascinated by what I find out and some days are very sad. I still have my bouts of weeping, Heartbreak Helen shows up for those bouts and luckily she doesn’t hang out for long but while she is here…………………I feel my heart could actually break from such strong emotion. Emotions are still so very close to the surface, I asked her when this was going to go away and she says that I am still grieving now for the little girl I was, she feels I have dealt with the breast cancer but still have not resolved all the old issues that brought on the depression in the first place. Does all this help or hurt???????? I am not sure, but overall I KNOW I feel better about myself and life in general. I feel very sorry for the little girl I was and all the crappy stuff that happened, but still tend to view her as not quite associated with me! That is part of the goal, for me to feel sorry for “me” and not “her.” I guess that’s progress! I’ll continue to go to see her for a while yet, I hate to quit anything in the middle!

April 17 – What a nice day! I met two friends for breakfast, M I have known forever and J I knew only from our phone conversations. J was diagnosed with breast cancer after me and M had her call me so she could ask questions. J is getting ready to have her expander removed and her implant put in. When we went out in the parking lot after breakfast I asked J if she wanted to “feel” what the implant would be like and she hesitated a moment and then said, “Yes.” Then M wanted to know, too, so here we all are in the parking lot with them poking the Perky Twins! Just picture it! J said, “If you had told me a year ago that I would be poking another woman’s boobs in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel restaurant I would have thought you had lost your mind!” M agreed but both thought it interesting and J was relieved to “feel” how normal the reconstructed breast felt. Both were impressed that I didn’t have on a bra!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t even own one anymore! The breakfast was J’s idea and we have decided to do it every six months to keep in touch and share experiences. To M’s credit she never once looked bored as J and I talked about our cancer and treatments. We actually laughed a lot if you can imagine!

April 28 - I am very excited – finally we are progressing on our home addition of a studio for me, a workshop for Harold and a new den! We have been messing around with this since last October and just had piles and piles of paper to show for our money and efforts. The guy will be here Monday to grade the garden and begin building the footers for the addition!!!!!!!!!!!! We have been running around digging up the last plants I want to save and moving our huge patio, brick by brick, to the beginning of the courtyards to be bricked and in stacks, waiting for after construction to be placed. I have been working outside for two full days, twelve hours per day, after returning from teaching in Carson City and was gone for almost a week on that trip. I actually went in early and got to see Virginia City and Lake Tahoe. I am tired and sore but a very normal tired and sore, no side effects left at all now form the chemo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I go next week for my one and a half year check-up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it! Sometimes it seems like a very long time ago and sometimes it feels like it all happened last month! I’m not antsy yet, will be by Tuesday when I go to the oncologist, I am sure.

To go along with my new outlook on life I have been treating myself better. I still go every month and get a deep tissue massage, more often if I feel I need it and of course, I see Therapist Debbie

Onward……………..I was visiting a new website today and would like to pass it on – – lots of great info on lymphedema. What it is, how to treat it and how to help prevent it. Their position is that anyone who has had lymph nodes removed is at risk and should take preventative measures to protect the affected limb. They recommend wearing a compression sleeve, gloves while gardening or doing housework, preventing sunburn and insects bite, preventing cuts that could get infected, carrying heavy stuff with that arm and having blood drawn or blood pressure cuffs used on that arm. They mention wearing a compression glove or gauntlet along with the sleeve and I had not heard that before so must check that out. They said that lymphedema usually occurs in the first two years if it is going to but can actually occur any time in the whole rest of your life! I know I have said all these things before but it never hurts to have a reminder. I meet so many women who have had lymph nodes removed who have never, ever, heard of the possibility of their getting lymphedema. Makes me crazy when I hear that and Crazy Carrie appears and wants to rant and rave and I have to contain her!

April 30 – Worked outside all day after going to the plant nursery and using my Mother’s Day gift certificate from last year! I was still too tired to really get into heavy gardening at this time last year. When I finally felt better I had the nipple reconstruction and then we decided to add onto the house so never used it. We had a very large bricked patio off our kitchen (remember the photos?) and each and every brick has to be taken up and moved! I am paving a courtyard along my side of the house. Harold says the other side is his! He has hurt his back so Jen and I lifted bricks all day and I laid mine down and she stacked hers for us to use after the building is done. It is supposed to rain tomorrow so I will use the time to go and buy more gloves. Wore holes in mine so I imagine they are not much use for preventing infection on my impaired arm! Mind you, it doesn’t feel impaired at all – I just know I am at high risk for lymphedema since they removed nine lymph nodes during my bilateral mastectomy surgery. As a matter of fact – I FEEL JUST GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Imagine – a year and half after finishing my chemo and I am building a courtyard! It was hot today and I had to go get a headband to hold back my hair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last year it was no problem, I actually had to wear a hat so I didn’t get a sunburn on my scalp since I had such a little amount of hair! I can honestly say that if someone had told me last year that just one year later I would be helping to build an addition to our house I would have just laughed and said, “No way!”

Here is a bit of useless trivia. Remember we used to go every Friday night to Wings? They closed their doors a couple of weeks ago! Remember that Sandy, our longtime waitress and friend got cancer and didn’t want to see us, me especially? That still hurts my feelings even though I have tried to rationalize the whole situation. Anyway, it became a bit awkward when we went there so we stopped going and now they have closed! The end of an era.

May 3 – Yea! Yippee! Hurray! I saw the oncologist today and I graduated! I now go every six months instead of every four months because I am doing so well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I asked him one more time abut my chances of recurrence since I am not taking anything because of being estrogen negative and he said my chances were 10-15% which is very low. Double Yea! Yippee! Hurray! Happy Harriet was just flitting about today! I was nervous when I got there, just being there makes me nervous! The nurse got my blood drawn without too much of a problem and that is always the worst part. I like Dr. M. and look forward to seeing him – he has never done anything bad to me himself – just ordered it done! I should say unpleasant or uncomfortable since chemo was not a bad thing it was a good thing as it looks as if I now have a wonderful long life ahead of me!

Another breast cancer survivor friend of mine sent me something the other day from someone who was a survivor herself and it was very interesting. The author was very forthright in her manner of writing and I enjoyed reading it. I really like the part where she wrote that you will meet the coolest women, that the most fabulous women get breast cancer and now you get to hang out with them! She also said she learned the true meaning of one day at a time or even one minute at a time because that is how we get through it all. She says that everyone should be doing it that way because you never know – but we do – we get to know just how good we have it for now and that can be enough. She ends with a prayer from a minister – “Lord, help me to believe in new beginnings, to make a beginning, to be a beginning, so that I may not just grow old, but grow new to each day, to this wild amazing life you call me to live with passion.” Is that great or what! I made a nice copy in fancy text and pasted it up in my studio where I can see it every day.

Photos will start up again. This is my UnPatio.[Click on the image for a larger view.] My daughter Jaime named it that. Remember my wonderful photos of my garden and all the greenery and patio tables and umbrellas? Well, Harold Jennifer and I picked up every single brick and either stacked them or I paved the whole side of my house to begin my new courtyards! I dug up every plant I wanted to save and either replanted it somewhere else in the yard or put it in a pot for the new courtyards. The crew comes in the morning (yes, they haven’t made it here yet!) to level the ground and build the footers. Are you thinking, “What does this have to do with breast cancer?” A lot! Harold and I have talked for years about adding on a studio for me and a workshop for him and after the last couple of years we decided to do it NOW! No point in waiting because – you never know what life will bring so we choose to live in the present and not in the future. The other part of it is that I am capable of moving hundreds of bricks and laying in a paved courtyard a year and a half after ending chemo along with bilateral mastectomies, reconstruction, implant and nipple surgeries and am feeling just fine! And working and traveling again! Life is very good! This message from Living in the Present Prudy!

On that happy note,

Till next time,

Margot a.k.a. Happy Harriet, Perky Polly - Keeper of the Perky Twins, Living in the Present Prudy, Calm Clementine, Ravishing Red-headed Real Hair Rita

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