Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"life is but a dream" I wish!

I had my endoscopy this morning.  I took in the copy of my surgical report (from my brain surgery) and my swallow study report.   Based on those and the finding in the swallow study that I have an obstruction from my goiter, the anesthesiologist declined to sedate me.  She was afraid I might stop breathing and would have to be intubated.  (I was at a hospital not just a "center").  She was afraid that my trachea might have a bend or kink from the goiter and there is no way to know without an MRI.

So, I had my endoscopy with no sedation, just some numbing spray in the throat.  It was not painful, but it was pretty awful.  Thank goodness it was quick!

My gastroenterologist said I need to have my goiter removed.  I know that.  The swallow study said that.  I have been to numerous endocrinologists and have not had much success.  I am on medication.  I have been on thyroid medications since 1995.   One doctor fired me because I gained weight.   The most recent endo doc does not believe in some of the medications I have mentioned- i.e. Armour. 

I am wiped out.  I hate my body- all of the things that keep going wrong.   I think of an old car.  You repair one part and discover other things.

And,  I called and cancelled my dental appointment. I was supposed to go in tomorrow for extractions. Even though I won't have general anesthesia, I was planning to take something (Valium?) to calm me. Now I am afraid, with my restricted airway, to take or use anything that will chemically relax me. I don't want to stop breathing just yet.

The dentist's office was not too happy.  They had blocked out three hours for me tomorrow.   I feel a little guilty about that.  I have to remind myself, they work for me not the other way around.

I am sitting here staring at my computer screen because I don't know what to do next. Friends recommend their endocrinologist and tell you how wonderful doctor so and so is. But then I go and don't feel the same way. Nobody I know has the same issues I have, so I cannot rely on opinions alone. I may ask my neurosurgeon's office at Johns Hopkins. I feel paralyzed right now. I wish I could just be a kid and have someone take care of me!  Although, being a kid was not all that much fun either. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sometimes life is just hard


Our sweet cat, Beta, died today.  She had collapsed on Saturday, unable to stand or walk, or even hold her head up to eat.  We sat with her.  Hand fed her the little bit she could eat.    I discovered a large tumor on the side of her neck- bigger than a ping pong ball and hard.  It didn't hurt when I touched it, but it bothered me.

This morning we went to the vet.  I got Austin up so he could have a chance to say goodbye.   What a fluffy cat.  She loved to purr.  Last night I slept several hours on the floor, next to Beta listening to her purr as I stroked her fur.   I wanted to bring her into bed, but was afraid she would fall out and get hurt.

The vet was very kind.  She answered my questions and confirmed what I already knew.  Beta would not have any quality of life if we "treated" her.  Meaning having a feeding tube put in and helping her go to the bathroom since she couldn't stand up.

She want to sleep.  So peacefully.  The last transition.  At least that we know about.

This is something I wrote on Facebook:

As with birth, I believe that death should be as natural, and comfortable as possible being surrounded by love and caring. Both are transitions beyond belief and beyond understanding, yet universal in nature

RIP Beta March 15, 1998- January 26, 2015

Cats I have known and loved: Andre' and Pierre, Sonya and Petya, Natasha, Faustus, Vanya and Cecil.  (I forgot to add Sasha and Katrina- they were not with us very long)   Those are the first "family" of cats that Nick and I had.   More recently we have had Amoeba, Beta, Tigger & Pooh, Black Cat
left to right; Black Cat, Pooh, Amoeba, in the window, Tigger and Beta. Tigger is the only one remaining
We have had dogs too.   Heather was with us from 1971 to 1985.   Suzy and Spots were more recent.  And the ferrets, must not forget them!

Now we have Buddy who is a 2 year old dog, and Tigger, who is a 15 year old cat.   It is getting too quiet and empty here.  Nick says we can get another cat when he turns 80.  That way he figures, he won't have to outlive any animals..


Buddy in the snow

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Still at it

Over a week since I last posted, and I am still in the process of cleaning up my sewing room.  Sometimes I feel like it will never be done.  I stare at all of my stuff and where it is, and don't know what to do.  Where does it all need to go.  I want there to be some order.  I have actually accomplished a lot.  I have my pins all in one place and my thread mostly in one place.   It's just that every time I get one part of the room, or drawer or shelf, I need to find places that no longer belong where they were.  I have been throwing a lot of trash out.   Things that I, at one time or another, didn't think of as trash, but I do now.   

There are also the things that I no longer want, but don't know what to do with them.  I mean, what do you do with a bag of 10, size 22mm nipple shields in sterile packaging?    I don't think I can Freecycle them.  Can I?  A random roll of gauze that I found in a drawer of antique linens?   What did I have in mind when I bought that?  Or, maybe it goes with Nick's art supplies.  Who knows?

I have shoe boxes full of cards.  Christmas cards, birthday cards, Mother's Day cards.   I want to keep the cards with notes and letters in them.  Even, or maybe especially the Christmas Cards.  I love following my friends and their families as they grow and change.  Keeping track of the new babies, the marriages and the grandchildren is such joy.   Some of the people I exchange cards with, I haven't seen in over 20 years.   Our lives have taken completely different paths, both geographically or in interests, or just in the way lives do sometimes.    We grow apart but are still a piece of each others lives, even if only once a year . 

I need that connection.    It feels like a bigger part of my already large family I guess.   I grew up in a family of five.  Two parents.  Two siblings.  And, now, there are only two of us.  We are all we have.   (yes, I have a husband and children, but I am referring to my "family of origin)  I have 24 living cousins.  The only member of my generation of cousins no longer with us is my brother.      Of course, in time, those numbers will all begin to decline.   Of my cousins, all but two, and myself, have grandchildren. So, life goes on even after it doesn't.   My mom and dad are gone, but my sister and I are still here.  And my parent's eight grandchildren are here.  And two great grandchildren.    Og så videre, og så videre(and so on and so on) as the Norwegians say.

I think about my life a lot.  My mortality I guess.  I have had so any things go on with my body.  In addition to birthing five babies.   It is weird.  Almost embarrassing.  Whenever I have to fill out a form for a new doctor, I have to write down all of my surgeries.  There are too many to remember.  There are never enough lines on the page.   And yet, here I am.  Looking forward to more medical stuff.  By looking forward, I do not mean I am looking hopefully, but, that it is in my future.  Rett Fram- straight ahead.  I don't know why, but often times the words to express a feeling or action are easier in another language.  Mostly it's Norwegian for me.   On rare occasions, Thai.    I am so lucky to have these languages.  I feel like they are tools that help me express things I cannot quite pinpoint in English.

And so, next week I am having an endoscopy.  This is to see why my swallowing is so difficult and restricted.  And, perhaps to stretch my esophagus.   We'll see.   I don't look forward to it, but I look forward to it being over with.    Then, the very next day, I am having "oral surgery".  I put it in quotes because I am not sure it is actually surgery.  I am taking something to help me relax, before the procedure.   Then I am having my four, very loose, front bottom incisors removed, extracted, pulled out.   When I think about losing my teeth I want to cry.  I will miss them.   But, they are very loose.   They hurt my bottom lip when they scratch it.   I will be getting implants.  That will take a few months though because I have to heal first.

So, I continue to purge and clean and ponder.    In this room, my creative space, will I be inspired to be creative once it is easier to find everything?  Wasn't that creativity at least a part of what created the mess and chaos in here in the first place?   

Friday, January 16, 2015

Seven months out!

It has been seven months today since I had brain surgery.   A craniotomy.   Today is my "cranniversary"!

What does it all mean?  I had a brain tumor.  I felt crummy for months.  I got the tumor removed.  Completely.   I think I am still recovering.   Sometimes when I think about the reality of it all, I don't believe that *I* had a brain tumor.  Only people you hear about have them.  Or characters in movies.   A brain tumor puts a dramatic, serious spin on a story.  "Oh, you know who has a brain tumor".  "No, really?  Oh that's awful".  

My head has bumps and dips and seems to be a perpetually changing landscape.  I have a metal plate.  I have titanium screws- one of which pokes out a bit.  I guess I honestly do have a screw loose.

Sometimes I get really depressed.  Having babies was a vulnerable time and place.  Trust can be made or broken.   But, hopefully, if all goes well, you get to take a baby home.  You get to recover and get on with your life.   And of course, the angel of amnesia sets in. (no, you don't really forget)  Otherwise, nobody would have more than one child.  Ever.   You are never the same after having a baby.  Raising a child.  Loving an adult that grew inside and heard your heart beat in a way nobody else ever has or will.

But, having your head cut open.  Skin pealed back.  Skull cut.  Brain exposed.   That takes extreme trust.  Or shock.  Of fear.  Or all of the above.   The fear is not so much about the pain, but about the reality of life after having your brain exposed to air.  It is not meant to be exposed to air.  How will you feel after surgery?  Will you be yourself?  Will you be crippled, or have mental deficits?   And then you come out of it.  And, like becoming a parent, you have a new normal.   And I supposed, like having a baby, you forget or at least lose the intensity of the fact that a tumor was in your brain.

I find myself wondering;  am I more forgetful than before?   How have I changed?  Am I weaker, more susceptible to illness and injury.   Am I less capable and competent?   Who am I?  What do I want?   Who do I want to be?   What do I want to do?

So many questions.   I want to be well and energetic and healthy.  I want to learn to go easier on myself.  I want to give myself permission to just do nothing without feeling guilty.

Instead, I feel like a mess.  My head is lumpy.   My teeth are loose and I am having extractions in a couple of weeks.   I have trouble swallowing.  My thyroid is a mess and I cannot get whatever treatment I need to make it better.  I want someone else to take care of me.  I want to be a kid, whose parents make all the decisions and appointments and take responsibility for everything .  But, that is not my reality. And, honestly, my childhood's reality was not something I want to repeat.

My reality is something.  I am not sure what.   I see moms and babies and get such a charge just by being in their presence.  I feel wonderful when I hear a mom with a four month old talking a mom with a one month old and saying "well, Nancy told me to do this or that and it really helped".   I see moms who are exhausted and weepy and struggling.  And then I see the same moms with their smug smiles, knowing that they have a beautiful baby.  That they did it all with their own milk.   Oh, yes, that I love.  In my small way I know that I have made a contribution to those moments of beauty.  I do contribute to world peace in a small but important way.

To top it all off, I am 60!  That sounds old!  I think it is the beginning of old.  It is past middle age- unless I choose to believe that I am going to live to be 120 years old.   What the heck.  How did I get here?  Where is here anyway?

I decide to clean up my sewing/ study/ scrap-booking room.   It needs to be organized..  When I try to find a piece of colored paper or a paper cutter, I have to dig through layers of "stuff" to try to find anything.   Somehow, the process of cleaning and organizing seems to create more mess and chaos before order can be reached.

Life is messy.  And so is this room!      I call these pictures "before the after".  And I didn't even get a picture of my computer desk.  Maybe later.

The first of many bags of trash. Toys, patterns, fabric, yarn, pins(ouch).  My "stash" of things that I didn't even remember that I had.   Almost overwhelming.  Not quite, but I am taking it slow.

My sewing machine and some of the fabric in my stash!

           More fabric and patterns and my serger and iron. So much stuff to go through and some to toss

My scrap-booking area. The bags are full of unfinished projects also known as WIPs (works in progress).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

the continuim

So much for my tech savvy!  I don't know how to write above the picture, nor do I know how to get the picture to the top of the page.   Oh well, bear with me.

This is an image I have been thinking about a lot lately.   How each of us comes from the one before and she came before and our children come after and it never ends.

More later.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year to a one week old 2015!

Every day I have experiences or thoughts and tell myself "I am going to blog about that".  Then I don't.  About half the time I cannot ever remember what I was so excited about in the first place!

I think about my kids the most.  More than anything else.  Never sure what will pop into my head (as long as it isn't another brain tumor!)

I try to make some sense out of age and stages.   And what it all means.  As I sit here typing, I look up expecting to be in a pub in Freemantle Western Australia that a friend owns.   He had video games that the kids love.

I place each child and memorable activity of one sort or another, with a place.    Courtney and Morgan sitting under the Christmas tree in Chiang Mai.

The American/ Australian Women's club in Perth admiring our Christmas tree and party.  Looking out to the beautiful views of the Swan River and the city of Perth.    We got that one right!  Three years in a row we hosted them.

Back in time to Thailand again.  This time Bangkok.  I am pregnant and happy as we open gifts from home.  Christmas music plays on the armed forces radio station.   It's the tropics and the weather is all wrong, but we are happy.   I was pregnant both of the Christmases we spent in Bangkok.   Only got one baby out of the deal.  That was Courtney.

Courtney's first Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Sherwood's house.  Courtney had a red velvet dress on with ruffled bum tights and saddle shoes.  Or maybe the earlier shoes- white baby shoes.   She discovered pretty quickly that running on the hardwood floor in tights is a bad idea!

Christmases in the house, in Reston.  Our first Christmas in this house was in 1983.  Courtney was five and Morgan was 2.  What excitement!  And all the grandparents and aunts and uncles were still living. How hectic can you get!

For our second Christmas in the house, in 1986, we had three kids.  Courtney 8, Morgan 5, and Darcy 2.5.  Austin would make his debut appearance in May 1987.

We were here, in Reston, with four kids in 1987 and 88.

For Christmas 1989. we were in Taiwan.  We went into town and bought an artificial tree from the store called Mr Christmas".  We are still using that tree!

Christmas 1990, we were in Hong Kong with 2.5 week old Chance and all of the older siblings.  In a hotel suite that was chosen for it's proximity to Toys R Us.

Well, this is nothing like what I thought I would write, but I had fun doing it!

Nite nite folks!