Thursday, July 27, 2017

The latest on the working of my brain and gray matter

I saw the neurologist today. I do not have another brain tumor (good news). I do have a hemangioma which is a cluster of blood vessels on my head- between my brain and my scull. The doctor said that he has seen them in the spine and liver, but never in anyone's head. That concerns me. Also, from what I understand, a hemangioma can rupture and hemorrhage. Not likely, but scary. . On Monday I am having an MRA similar to MRI, but to study blood vessels in the neck and brain. The neurologist still wants me to see the neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins. Oh, and he says that the hemangioma is not likely the cause of my headaches. I disagree. Stay tuned!

Me, July 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017


I came across this picture the other day while going through some of the boxes from my in-laws' place.

Shortly after we arrived in Thailand,  September 1976 actually, I found out I was pregnant.  We were so excited that we called our parents.  Those were the days when we had to have the Embassy operator contact the overseas operator who somehow placed the call to the States.  So it took a bit of time to get a phone call through.  We called my mother in Maryland, and my in laws in Virginia.  We were so excited!  I was due late April 1977.  I had two other friends who were due at around the same time.

We were 12,000 miles from home.  So far from family.  Nick's parents made plans to visit us in the spring of 1977 so they could meet their first grandchild.

In January 1977, at five months pregnant, I lost the baby.

My in laws make the trip anyway, which was wonderful.   Instead of cooing over a new baby- the wish of us all, we were able to sight see and show them Thailand.  We also traveled to Bali with my in laws.  And that must have been the magical place because I got pregnant with my daughter.  She was born in February 1978, in Bangkok.

So, why this long story?   Well, the dress I am wearing in this picture is one that I made. and wore as a maternity dress both with my first pregnancy and with my pregnancy with Courtney.  I sewed a ton of maternity dresses!

Here we are in Ayutthaya, Thailand, 1977.  Nick's dad took this picture:

Nancy & Nick Sherwood, Thailand 1977

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Random ramblings

The last week or so my mind has been all over the place.  I have been having vigorous dreams.  I don't usually recall my dreams.

I think that there's something going on in my brain.   I am not 100% sure what.  I had an MRI a couple of weeks ago, and when I went to my regular medical practice, the nurse practitioner had a very concerned look on her face.

Let me back up a bit.   In March 2014, I was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor.  Same medical practice.  My doctor listened when I told him about my bad headaches.  He ordered an MRI that led tp my diagnosis.  The PA was in the room when I got that diagnosis.

Now, I have been having bad headaches again.  And a couple of episodes of double vision (very disconcerting).   So the report for this MRI was scary.   Among the words in the report "slowly growing enhancing lesion within the left parietal calverium near the vertex".   "considerations include intraosseous hemangioma or intraosseous meningioma".  Oh yeah, it could also be some sort of artifact from Lyme disease- so I had a blood test for Lyme too.

Add to that I have the wrong cholesterol- high bad and low good, and a fatty liver.  Oh and I needed to increase my dose of thyroid medication..  I am aging (that's a good thing, right?) and I am way overweight.  And I feel too lazy to do anything much about it.

Oh yeah, I need a new knee.   Seems like every part of my body is falling apart.

So, my dreams:   I never dream about my brother.  He died June 15, 2001.  He was living with our mother because his life had been falling apart and he was just starting to get it together.        But a couple of nights ago, I dreamed about Dale.   Nothing very interesting.  Just Dale and I walking in a park talking quietly.   We were both young and healthy.

Truth is, Dale is dead.  He was 51 when he died.  He was killed on his motorcycle.  When he died, my mother, sister and I cried and I know I had at least one screaming session in the shower.  When he first died, I felt that I saw Dale everywhere.  Even the reflection of my eyes in the mirror were Dale's eyes looking back.

Why did I dream about him now, 16 years after his death.  I guess my mind is traveling all over the place.

Next random thoughts :  I've always liked learning about facts in history and who the people were.  There's been several TV shows recently with American history stories and a show about First Ladies.    And looking at the pictures we have recently acquired from Nick's mother.  So old, Nick's grandmother dressed in long dresses and fancy hats.  She was born in the 1800s.

I have been thinking about time travel.  No, not like in sci-fi.   No matter how well done time travel movies are, they cannot replicate the dress and mannerisms of the past.  I wish I could sort of somehow eavesdrop.  Be a "fly on the wall".  Observe.

Twenty years ago, while visiting family in Norway, I stood in the room that my grandfather had been born in.   I stood in that room and took it in.  Felt the spirit of his mother, my great grandmother, bringing Nicolai into the world.  If not for that, my father wouldn't have been born and neither would I.  That room was a piece of me.  That farm.     I climbed the trees and imagined my grandfather as a young boy climbing those same trees.  Running to the barn to milk the cows.  Being a fair haired blue eyed boy.

I never met my grandfather.  He emigrated to America through Ellis Island.   I have the ships manifest with his name.  When I first found it I cried.   But, after my grandparents had their five sons,in America,  (my dad was the middle child), my grandfather wanted to go back to Norway. My grandmother protested that she had five American sons and she would not leave.   In 1939.  If you know anything about world history, you know that was a very bad time to go to Europe.  My grandfather died there.  My father would never say anything at all about his father.   I have visited my grandfather's grave in Norway several times.

In photos, I see my cousin's faces in my grandfather's. I see my sister and brother and myself.    I see my children in my grandparents faces and gestures.

None of us are one.  "No man is an island".  True.  We go so far back.  Forever back.  And, of course, when there are grandchildren, the line continues on and on.


And another direction my thoughts are going.  Letters.   We lived overseas when I was little (my family of origin), and my parents wrote "home" often.  My dad would write letters for me to copy and sent to my grandmother.   Even when we were back in the States, we wrote letters.  Long distance phone calls were for emergencies.   We didn't have any relatives in the Washington area, so we wrote.

Fast forward to 1976.  Nick and I went overseas.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.  A lot.  Long descriptive letters about the places and scenery and people.   I actually kept a log of who I wrote to and when, and who I received mail from and when.    I am sure that log is in one of the many boxes in the basement.    Physical evidence of my life and the people we had left behind.

Since Nick's mom died, we have found letters written between Nick's parents.  Many from the time Nick's dad was about at war in the 40s, in the Pacific.    There was so so much love.

I cannot toss the letters out.  I am not sure what to do or how to treat the letters, but they are priceless.

Letters and photos from parents and grandparents and great grandparents.   The past is real.  It is talking to us.  Dormant until they are read.  And then what?   I don't know.    If I threw them all out, nobody would know the difference.   But I would.   And a priceless treasure would be lost.

My brother lived to be 51.  My dad died a few weeks after my brother.  He was just shy of 85.   My mom died less tan three years later.  She was 77.   My father in law died 7 years ago.  He was 93.  My mother in law just died about 12 weeks ago.  She was 99. 

Not sure if there's a point of all of these thoughts.   The loss of Nick's mother has removed our last "buffer".  We are now, all the way, the oldest generation in our family.  I have been without both of my parents for a while.  But Nick's mom was my buffer too. 

I don't think of myself to be "old", but I realize that this is the oldest I have ever been.    Nick will be 70 this year.  I think with his buffer gone, he is feeling old.  Nick has been sick for a week or so and I worry.  I am not ready to be a lone buffer.  Not for a long long time.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Well, what do you know?

I have been having headaches for the last few weeks.   Last week I had an MRI.

Here's a picture.   What do you think?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"You Should Write a Book"

I talk a lot.  I tell stories about things I've done, places I've been, how my past experiences relate to the present.  I have so many memories I want to share.

I'll say, "when my son was a baby he would..." whatever.   I talk  about the places we have lived.  The cultures and how they relate to the way we live.   And, whoever I am talking to seems interested.  And they all say "you should write a book".

Do they really want me to write something, or is it just a tactic to get me to stop talking.

As kids, many if not all of my friends had to watch the slides that their dad (usually their dad) took.  "Oh kids, do you remember that funny looking tree".   We would pretend to pay attention and care.  The best part was being allowed to run the slide projector.

Home movies were more fun.  Watching ourselves run around, soundless, in three minutes bursts.   Occasionally the projector would be threaded wrong and there would be  fragile unrolled movie film all over the floor.  Or, the film would break.  And the dad would get out the splicing kit.  Splicing while everyone waits.

When we first went into the Foreign Service, suddenly, we wanted to see everyone's slides.   All of a sudden we are in that club that wants to know about where people had been and what they did.  And we loved their stories.

After we had been overseas,  we had the newer colleagues come and see our slides and hear our stories!

There is a special "family" among Foreign Service people.   We are truly interested.

And now, we are here.  Home.  Retired.  At least retired from the foreign service life.   Our parents are gone.  They were our best audience.  Our kids have lived the stories with us, or heard them too many times.

And so, when I catch a person who seems to be willing to listen, I talk.  Yes, I talk and talk.   And then I hear "you should really write a book".

Should I?   Maybe.   Meanwhile, I'll keep writing here from time to time.  Yes I will.