Monday, April 30, 2012

# 120 - Tomatoes Make Life Better!

Living life to the fullest might mean different things for different people, depending on their physical abilities. There was a time in my life when I THOUGHT that living it up meant staying busy with all sorts of activities until I dropped at night from pure exhaustion.

These days, I find delight and beauty in the most simple of moments. Even though my body won't keep up at the same pace as my pre-Addison's days with other complications, I still find such incredible fun and freedom in the most ordinary things.

This weekend, my husband was installing a low fence of trellis around our backyard vegetable garden because it is being trampled by our chickens. It was a beautiful breezy day outside and he was dragging out the compressor to which he would be attaching equipment for his construction project.

As he began to use the pneumatic staple gun, I watched and wondered if I could handle the weight and the power of any kick-back while shooting out the staples. I decided to give it a try. Now, granted, I would be handed a pink slip on a job site due to my slowness and lack of endurance, but I still wanted to give it a try! My husband is patient and willing to indulge me in a moment of pneumatic-power lessons.

Even though I barely helped with the fence because I was overly eager with stapling every board in sight, it feels good to know that I stapled a few of those trellis boards into place as my husband held everything in place.

I sure wish I could build something substantial. In my condition, one project might take quite a long while, but the willingness to participate and to contribute is ALWAYS present. My mind never gives up before the body.

Since our chickens won't be able to peck and scratch the garden to rubble due to the fence blocking their access, I'm eagerly looking forward to my fresh, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes to be ready for picking! Even better, now that our Sweet Basil is growing strong, I'm eagerly awaiting the day I again get to enjoy a seasonal bowl of tomatoes, bits of basil, a few chunks of avocado with cuts of mozzarella...drizzled with a tad bit of olive oil, then salt and peppered. Talk about fresh, delicious and addictive!

I have everything ready but the tomatoes! I'm cheering on their growth every day! This year, we're growing several different varieties, which is always entertaining for a life-long gardener.

As I stop to ponder my simple moments this weekend, I would have to guess that my best moments in life are mostly tied to things related to home. Outside of the home, I still have a great time and am fulfilling my own interests, as usual, but home is a marvelous place to be, especially with tomatoes growing strong in the backyard!

You can't beat the moments of biting into a home-grown tomato!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

# 119 - Dreaded Medical Tests

The past few weeks have been a roller-coaster for most of our immediate family because of medical scares. First of all, I'm writing today about a few tests I've been going through. If you are squeamish, please stop reading and go find something else to read about. Fair warning.


A week ago, I had two tests, a Mammogram and a Vaginal-Ultrasound, both on the same day. I can attest to the fact that I felt prodded, squished, poked and violated by the day's end!

To be fair, my mammogram was conducted at the WONDERFUL Breast Clinic in the Clear Lake area. They were awesome, even though I felt permanently altered by the end of the session due to severe compression, it wasn't anything to be scared about.

I thought about the women who avoid mammograms and wanted to yell, "It's no big deal! Even though you'll NEVER look at your boobs the same again after seeing them through the clear plastic as they are flattened by the nurse hand-cranking the machine down on you, it's okay!"

No worries! I don't think they've seen a boob explosion, yet.

For me, I don't miss my scheduled mammograms. My mom died from breast cancer at 57 years of age. As they are cranking down that contraption to squish the breast tissue as flat as possible to do a radiological skimming for potential tumors, I'm not really thinking about anything except that I hope my life-time will see an end to cancer. I always hope the mammogram will reveal no issues or if a problem is detected, I pray that it is handled early and pro-actively.

My mom and dad, at M.D. Anderson, shortly before
she moved onto her Heavenly address.

That same day I also had to get a Vaginal Ultrasound. For you male readers out there, you SHOULD know what this is about, especially if you have moms, sisters, daughters, a wife or should be knowledgeable. And I insist that you be knowledgeable because I had my first V-Ultrasound years ago and had NO IDEA what I was about to go through.

Years ago, I only knew I was scheduled for an ordinary ultrasound. Heck, I've had ultrasounds before, no biggie. Except, this time, there was definitely a "biggie" involved that shocked the living daylight out of me.

Lying back on the table with a blanket over me, the technologist pulled out this long "magic wand" looking piece of equipment and was putting a fitted plastic bag over it, kind of like the thermometer sheath that is slipped on before your temperature is taken. Yes, it was a Magic Wand condom.

I laid there wide-eyed as the technician said, "I'll need you to remove everything from the waist down; you can use those blankets to keep covered."

My mind begins to race...What the heck? If this is an ULTRASOUND...Why does EVERYTHING below the waist need to be removed? I stared in horror at the "wand" in her hand and asked, "What is THAT?"

Suddenly, the technologist's expression turned as horrified as my own. She asked, "No one told you about this ultrasound?" I shook my head in the negative while not taking my eyes off the wand and she continued, "This appointment is for a vaginal ultrasound and this tool has a camera on the end; I insert it into your vagina and take ultrasound photos."

Stunned, I laid there and murmured, "Nope, no one told me that I was having this kind of ultrasound. They only said the word 'ultrasound' and never used the word 'vagina' -- believe me, I'd pay attention to that word. In fact, I didn't even know this kind of test EXISTED, until this very moment."

From there, the nurse told me that I could take as much time as I needed to get ready or I could decide to not do it, but I did have palpable benign tumors or fibroids that needed to be viewed "close up." Yeah, I'll say that's a very close up view!

I decided to have my fibroids put on a big smile and went for it.

At least this most recent appointment found me prepared for understanding what I was getting myself into. I'd already met the "magic wand" and knew its purpose, even though it appeared to wave around like a banner of creative-medical-imaging gone awry.

It doesn't really hurt to have this test, but I will say it is not a comfortable test either. If you need one of these tests or know someone who needs one...don't shun away from having a test that might detect something amiss. That dreaded test could be the start of life-saving decisions.

I guess men could also go through this another area...if one area can be probed, so can another. Since I was ignorant about this test, I don't want to put limits on its potential.

ANYWAY...this week I followed up with the Mammogram and V-Ultrasound results that BOTH came back as abnormal. Not the results you want to receive. But, the Breast Clinic had me come in for an ultrasound, no probing and no needles were necessary, only a simple breast ultrasound, and the doctor announced happily that I only have fluid-filled BENIGN cysts! Nothing to worry about! Thank God.

Of course, Stefie, in the midst of her own worries and
busy life is sweet to make sure I knew she was
sending me love and saying her prayers. It's great
to have people like her in your life. I am blessed!
Then, the V-Ultrasound abnormal results found me scheduled for a Uterine/Endometrial Biopsy. I had that unpleasant procedure performed yesterday. Turns out, I needed to have two separate biopsy zones and it was NOT a pleasant experience. Immediately after the procedure, the pain was so bad that I nearly began vomiting and almost passed out, even while lying down. I broke out into a clammy sweat and was terribly shaking after the biopsies.

My doctor's office uses no form of anesthesia, some doctors will use lydocaine. I would NOT have this done again by a doctor who doesn't use a topical anesthesia. However, my doctor is amazing. He knows this is a painful procedure, especially for women like myself who have a "chandelier cervix" that must first be manually rotated, then clamped in place before a biopsy can begin. But, as the biopsy took place, I definitely felt the removal of tissue in a long scraping motion, then a plunger kind of ending that seemed to nearly pull my entire uterus with it, and the cramping was horrible at that point, probably up there with labor pains. But, the worse part, for me, was when he said, "I need to clean the cervix of any blood or rogue cells, then I've got to go in again for another biopsy; I want to go the extra mile right now and do the the other side of the uterus."

I nearly rolled off the table and slithered out of the room with my bare butt in view. The second biopsy was the worst part of it all. I nearly shot off the table in pain.

Afterward, I laid on the table for about 20 minutes, trying to make my eyes focus again. The sweet nurse put cold compresses on my forehead and told me to remain lying down, to not even try to sit up by myself. Apparently, my face had absolutely no color left in it. At one point, I could see her mouth moving, but could not hear sound...I knew I was close to la-la-land.

By the way, I drove myself to and from this appointment. I don't like to be around others when I am suffering; I've been through a LOT in life and prefer to be by myself when having a bad moment. Plus, I didn't want Deputy Dave to take off any time from work for TESTS. After all, if any of these results come back ugly, he will probably need that time off for more serious considerations.

My test results on these biopsies won't be back until the end of next week. I'm hoping they will find the reason behind my 43 year old body no longer having periods for the past year. I thought I was pre-pre-pre-menopausal, but that's not the case. Turns out, there's something wrong...there's a reason my body is not working right and the next step is to see a doctor about my kidneys. Process of elimination folks. Not a fun process, but necessary.

Deputy Dave made me a dinner that was fit for a Queen. I didn't have much of an appetite, but each bite was pure deliciousness! And, he even got me Key-lime pie! It's great to have a man in my life who shows his love in this manner. He might not always express it in words, but that's when we've got to learn that words are often empty and demanded out of pure selfishness...but seeing love in action is something solid and meaningful. I looked at my dinner plate last night, heavy-laden with Porterhouse steak, a loaded baked potato, sweet potato with cinnamon - covered in roasted marshmallows, broccoli and cheese, and crescent roll while knowing his love was baked into every bite. For him, cooking is an extension of his nurturing. Plus, he's good at it!

Last night, I laid in bed and the uterine pain was not lessening. I could feel the tears and cuts very plainly along with bad radial cramping. It didn't make for a restful night. Today, I've been a lump on the mattress, staying still and trying to heal --- which I already have issues with healing due to a rare condition, so I just want to get patched up.

Tonight, we had a special date planned; I'm not going to miss it. It's just here in Houston, so I won't have to be out long and I think I can handle it.

I just hope we're getting close to an answer as to why my body is malfunctioning in this area. My uterus is no longer needed, so I would not be devastated about having it removed. That's been one of the areas of discussion, but we also discussed leaving well enough alone if that is not the source of the problem. I guess we'll see how it goes. And I leave it in God's hands. I won't be worried until the time comes to put worry to good use. For now, it would be senseless.

My sister and I at a wedding a couple of years ago.
We are closer than close can be. My sister sent me constant
text messages throughout my painful day, letting me know that
she was with me in spirit.
I'm so blessed to have life-long girlfriends who are super supportive, most of my family are generous and are eager to share burdens, offering loving support during difficult times such as these. My brother even called me the day before my biopsies to shoot the breeze, for a long time. So nice to have family like I've been blessed to have. It's always wonderful to be loved and to know that there will be a day when you will probably be given the chance to give the same kind of supportive love to them in return, not for regular "happy" EASY day-to-day moments, but for those times when it is hard to find words.

For my words are...MY UTERUS HURTS!