Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Surgery Experience at St. Joe's

We left the house this morning in plenty of time and watched the sun rise as we drove to the hospital.  Not being a morning person, this is a treat for me.  Loved the pink swirly clouds and the light road traffic.

My outpatient surgery was for contouring the transplanted flap/breast with liposuctioned fat cells, (taken using a needle and taking the cells from my hipbone area on each side), and creating a nipple.  The new nipple will be tattooed later in his office.

The surgery registration at St. Joe's is a breeze.  I have to congratulate them for the expediency and coordination of the staff.  The nursing staff do a great job of getting the patients prepped for surgery, then the anesthesiologist comes in and after that the surgeon.  Then the patient gets wheeled in to the operating room and things happen very quickly.  Before you know it, you're waking up in the recovery room.

I woke up with a slight panicky feeling because I felt like I couldn't breathe.  It had something to do with the tube still being in my throat and was trying to get to it.  Never had that happen before.  After that it was ok.  In the recovery room I began waking up, but I was so dead tired I had a rough time coming awake.  I knew I was supposed to wake up, but my eyes were so heavy it took me a long time to come to.  I started shaking my head to clear it and did everything I could to try to wake up.  I had a great nurse who I had a conversation with.  Her name is Betsy, and she told me about a near miss she had involving her car, accidentally putting it in reverse, and her 18-year old daughter nearly being behind the car when it surged backward and crashed against a tree.  Then another near-miss involving her mother, but in my brain fog, that story is gone to me.

When it came time to get dressed and ready to go, she brought me a beautiful "chemo graduate" blanket that had been made by the nurses to give out to the breast cancer patients.  She asked if I had ever received one, and when I said no, I hadn't, she brought one out.  It's so pretty!!  I thought that was such a sweet thing to do.  She also gave me lots of advice and encouragement.  I had been telling her about my arthritis and how it's impacting my life and she told me that she also has arthritis problems, and how important it is to keep "filling your tank," meaning keeping your life active and filled with friends and activities.

Jim brought me home, and I crashed for several hours.  It's all becoming a dreamlike fog to me now as I try to put it into words.  The surgical bandages will stay on for a week until my office appointment with him, when I'll see how the surgery turned out.  I'll let you know then ...

Surgery Tomorrow

It's 12:30 am and I'm wide awake - did a dumb thing and had a delicious cappuccino after dinner tonight.  Might as well take advantage of the awake time and make an entry in my blog.  At 4:30 am we're supposed to wake up and leave the house by 5:15 to be at the hospital by 6:00 am.  I'm having outpatient surgery to finish up the breast reconstruction saga brought on by my cancer diagnosis 3 years ago.  All is well - I have finished all the chemo, the mastectomy, the Herceptin infusions, the radiation, and the tram flap breast reconstruction, except for the contouring that I'm getting tomorrow.  The contouring is going to use liposuctioned fat cells from somewhere - don't know yet where - to even out the new "breast" that once was my abdomen.  That will be nice.  Then (cover your ears if you don't want to hear this) a nipple will be constructed, to be tattooed at a later date in the doctor's office.  I'm glad to see the end of the road on this journey.  Seems like it's been forever.  My experience was not bad at all - even though it was lengthy and involved.  I didn't realize at the time that my cancer was as aggressive and had spread through the breast as it did, but the treatments I had left me with the best possible final result - NED, or No Evidence of Disease.

Now for the final Nip/Tuck, and I'll be good to go!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Sailing

Well, aren't I a slacker!  It's been a whole week since I wrote on my blog, and I'm feeling guilty.  I know - I have the stats to prove it - that this blog has very few readers, so it's mainly a way for me to journal and keep track of what's happening in my life.  Written for myself.  And if I can entertain a few people who happen by, so much the better, but by going a whole week without blogging, I'm just disappointing myself.

So why do I have a photo of our back yard in winter?  To think cool!  It's been so hot the past few days.  Yesterday it was in the 90's, and probably nearly the same today.  Again, it was a yard sailing day for 3 of us.  Carolyn went to a retirement party for one of her former faculty friends, so couldn't be with us.  We went to several individual ones, then also went to a church flea market, another at the agricultural center, and a third at the Mission flea market.  Also went to a sale at one of the high schools, and another in a parking lot.  Some really great finds, but I was miserable.  Although I took 2 Extra-Strength Tylenol, my arthritis in my knees was so bad I could barely walk.  I have a prescription to turn in for a generic form of Mobic, which is supposed to work pretty well.  Must get that filled tomorrow.  Anyway, it was a lot of walking, and I really struggled.  I didn't want to miss out, and plugged along.  Between the heat and the walking, I felt like I've aged about 20 years.

We finished up a lot later than we usually do.  We went to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch about 2:30.  They have a wonderful salad bar - perhaps the best I've ever seen.  This is the 4th time I think we've gone there specifically for the salad bar.  What a great lunch, and it feels so healthy.  Sharon and I decided to have a pitcher of white mango Sangria, and it was wonderful.  Very refreshing.  Unfortunately, Cathy is allergic to alcohol, so she can't join in, but she was the driver, so it all worked out.

I'm still giving Ball antibiotic pills twice a day for his tooth that was pulled.  Such a good boy.  He doesn't try to run away or fight, even though I have to shove the pill down his throat.  Ming Poo was so funny today.  There was a mirror resting against the coffee table and she saw her reflection in it.  She was fascinated and twice walked around to the back of the mirror to find the kitty she saw.  So cute.

I had to do some watering of the garden plants and patio plants.  I keep thinking we'll get some rain, but we haven't in a while and these temperatures are too high for the plants.  I hope they will perk up a little.

One thing I bought today at one of the flea markets was a pair of little girl's patent leather tap shoes - $1.00.  I have plans to use them to make 2 pin cushions.  I want to find some black and white toile fabric and also some old lace, perhaps some black tulle, maybe a rhinestone broach for a little bling.  I think they will be very cute.

Since I've been neglecting the house, tomorrow I'll get the laundry done and some cleaning and tidying.  I also want to work on my own projects and get some reading done.  Happy Sunday, all!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shape Up!

A good day today with girlfriends.  We did our favorite Saturday stuff - yard sailing followed by lunch, then Sharon and I went to our favorite consignment shop.

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and we are having a cookout with family.  I've put together a rather ambitious menu with probably way too much food, considering that the kids really don't each much.  I started some of the stuff tonight to make things easier tomorrow.   I know it will be hot and humid, and I have to have the oven on for several hours.  That's not going to be good, but what can I do?  I can just imagine that by tomorrow, I will drop some of the items from the menu and say the heck with it.  Example, I had planned to buy ears of corn from the farmer who sets up a stand beside his truck a short distance from our house, but he wasn't there today.  Oh, well ...

I'm falling into a bad habit of watching television after dinner until we go to bed, then read for an hour or so.  The reading isn't bad, in fact I would like to do more of it - it's the wasted time with TV.  I have so many things I plan to make or do and none of it has even been started.  Not good, Diane.  I'm keeping the house neat and clean, and I'm ok with those chores, but all my creative plans are moldering in the dust.   Must change that behavior before I fritter my life away!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ball's Sad Day

It's Friday evening after 9.  Just got home a short while ago from grocery shopping for our Father's Day feast, and hubby and I finally - after about 8 tries - gave Ball a pill.  Ball is one of our 4 Tonkinese cats.  He's 12 1/2 years old now, and we just noticed last night that his left fang tooth was loose and at an angle.  I saw that it was in bad shape and needed to come out.  Called the vet this morning, and he was nice enough to fit us in at noon.  After taking blood, giving him a checkup, an antibiotic shot, and an opiate pain killer, he was able to extract the tooth with a hemostat.  I'll bring him back in another couple of weeks to have the rest of the teeth examined and a dental cleaning.  Meanwhile, twice a day we have to give him one of these antibiotic pills.  You've seen this on the internet, right?  How to Give a Cat a Pill?  Well, it's all true!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Me as Hostess

Today I was hostess for our monthly Red Hat luncheon.  I chose Liberatore's, a very nice Italian restaurant in Westminster.  Originally I had 18 attendees, but through one medical problem and another too-busy-and-overbooked, we had 16 who were there.  Since our group has been together monthly since 2003, we have become close and really enjoy seeing each other.  It's become our tradition to have little favors, a gift for anyone whose birthday is that month, door prizes, table arrangements, i.e. potted plants, a Friendship Ball filled with some small treasure or candy for the next month's hostess, and a contribution to our basket that will be given away at Christmas.  This year the basket is a Gardening Basket.  My contribution was a bulb planting tool kit with a bulb hole digger, a gardening spade and some fertilizer mix. In previous years we've had a Wine Basket, a Spa Basket, a Tea basket, a Christmas Wreath, and a Decorated Red Hat.  The items really add up in 12 months and make a really terrific win to one lucky person.  Last year it was the Wine Basket, and wouldn't you know it - it was won by a woman who doesn't drink!

June is the one month of the year that is no one's birthday, so I decided to have a gift for each member.  I have quite a few new or like new gift items in my stash, and pulled out 15 things that I thought would be nice door prizes.  These ranged from several books, a Red Hatter teddy bear, Neutrogena sun block, scented candles, recipe cards, a personal battery charged fan, and similar items.  All were wrapped and in gift bags.  No one realized until almost everyone's name had been pulled that everyone was getting a gift, including the 4 African Violets that were the centerpieces on the table.  It was a lot of fun and everyone seemed happy with the gifts.

At the end, I collected everyone's money and when I tallied the count, I came up short by about $20, and couldn't figure out what the problem was.  Everyone was concerned and they started turning in extra dollars until it dawned on me what the problem was.  I shouted WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! I FORGOT TO PAY MY OWN BILL!!  Everyone had a big laugh and all the extra dollars were handed back.  It was so funny.  I tend to be a ditz at times, and I think even more so as I get older.  Anyway, all was fine and the day turned out very well.  I'm glad that it's all behind me.  For the next 20 months or so.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Honfest 2010

Two friends and I went to see Honfest in Baltimore yesterday. 
These gals look like best friends.  Great outfits, Hons!

Hon is short for Honey, what the waitresses call all the customers at the Cafe Hon, the restaurant with the giant pink flamingo above the restaurant.  

It's all in the attitude.
This is a fun celebration to recognize the uniqueness of Baltimore, past and present, for its colloquialisms of speech and sense of style.
Elvis after he went bald.
There were about a dozen contestants vying for the title of Baltimore's Favorite Hon 2010.  
Don't you just love the rollers and the pearls?

What a hoot!
And the flamingos socks with sandals, couldn't be better!

Although a beautiful day, the temperature was 90° and the humidity sapped your strength.
This is Missy, holding the mike, the 98-year old Hon!
 The crowd was happy and cheerful and very supportive of all those who participated.  There was even a 98-year old woman who climbed up on the stage and spoke.  The crowd adored her. 
Is that a flamingo in your hair, Hon?
That's some big hair, Hon!
"Ah was born in Bawl'more, Hon!"
Love the pink beehive!
This is Miss Butts, with her huge hiney!
Gotta love the hair rollers!
Nice tattoo, Hon!
The bubble gum is the icing on the cake!
All the Hons on stage.
The Blond Beehive Hon!

We finally left before we melted into the pavement, but it was well worth it.  We plan to go again next year.  

Buh-bye, Hon!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Weekend Begins

Good for me, I started my exercise program today.  Went to the park and walked the loop all around it.  Couldn't walk very briskly, but I did it, and it's the beginning.  Don't know the distance, but it could be 1/2 - 3/4 mile or more.  Tonight Jim and I went to Olive Garden for dinner.  I had a glass of red wine, the salad bowl and a flatbread appetizer with fresh tomato, basil and melted cheese.  It wasn't very big, but I brought half home, along with half Jim's meal.  Small steps.  Oh, I did also bring home a chocolate gelato with caramel and chocolate chips to go ...

Yard sailing tomorrow, along with the Honfest in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.  That should be fun.  I'll have my camera with me to capture the flavor of this annual event.  Think of Hairspray, beehive hairdos, cat's eye-glasses frames, spandex pants, leopard print clothing, pink flamingos and the 60's, and you'll get a sense of what it's all about.  It gets its name as in the expression, "Hey Hon!" from the Cafe Hon in Baltimore.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Getting Old!

I'm pretty tired tonight.  I had a hard day at the library, where I volunteer once a week for the ongoing Book Sale.  There were many, many boxes and bags of book donations that came in during the week, and another half a dozen while I was there.  I managed to plough through most of them, but didn't get as much done as I would have liked to do.  I just don't have the energy any more.

It bothers me that I have slowed down as much as I have, and I don't know what to attribute it to, although perhaps it has to do with having had breast cancer in 2007.  The treatment for it was chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation, and Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody infusion treatment for a year.  I started having reconstruction surgeries in April 2009, and have had several, and will have a final one for liposuction contouring on June 30th.  It just seems to me that I've really aged over the past couple of years.  I also have a lot of arthritis throughout my body, especially in my knees, and that has slowed me down a lot.  I take Aleve, but not regularly, and it helps a lot.

think maybe know I need to get back into exercise again.  I used to go to the pool twice a week for water aerobics, but I don't any more.  I've given up that membership.  I have a treadmill and that's where I have to begin.  I also have several sets of dumbbell weights, and those may help in strength training.  The other thing I like to do is to go for walks, so I may start going to a local park to take walks.  I just know I need to do something, because I sure don't like feeling this way.  At least I've managed to lose a few pounds, maybe 5-7, by cutting back on portions and making better food choices.  I need to continue to lose, although it's very hard to do.  I know all the things I need to do - it's just following through that is the key.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wedding Bells and Mechanical Woes

Tiffany (our granddaughter) and Phoenix's wedding took place Sunday in Texas.  There were some photos posted on Facebook, and I downloaded a few into my photo library.  I've tried to upload them to this post, but they must not be in the right format for that - it failed.  The wedding was outdoors, and Jim called just before the ceremony - said it was hot but not humid, and it was a very nice setting for an outdoor wedding in a park.  I wish them both a very happy life together.  This is another photo of the couple that was taken a couple of months ago.

Jim will be coming home on Tuesday.  I will be glad to have him back home.  Why is it whenever a man leaves town, the household appliances and house in general rebels?  It must be another one of those corollaries to Murphy's Law.  So far I've had a printer that quit working and a GFCI breaker that has tripped twice.  Unfortunately it's connected to the garage refrigerator/freezer, so everything inside got warm.  The vacuum cleaner also stopped its suction, although I was able to figure that one out and it's back working again.  I'm almost leery of going off in the car for fear it will suddenly leave me stranded.  Hurry home, Jim!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thoughts of Lavender

Jim left this morning for Dallas.  He's gone to spend 5 days there for our granddaughter's wedding, and to spend time with Roxanne, Jim's daughter.  The wedding will be on Sunday, and Jim will be spending the following day golfing with Roxanne.  I'm so glad they are having this time together.  It will be the first time Jim's gone to visit Roxanne in Dallas, where she's been living for about 3 years now after being transferred there with her job.  She loves it there, and it will be interesting to hear Jim's view of the area once he returns.

I watched a DVD this evening - one I had brought home from the library and knew Jim wouldn't care to watch.  It was Keeping Mum with Maggie Smith.  Also featured Patrick Swayze and Rowan Atkinson.  I enjoyed it.  I love Maggie Smith, so knew it would be good.  The last movie I watched with Maggie Smith was also with Dame Judy Densch - Ladies in Lavender.  I absolutely loved the music in that film and downloaded the original soundtrack of Ladies in Lavender with Joshua Bell from iTunes.  It was a wonderful film, because of the leading ladies and the simple yet beautiful story.  They played two sisters who lived together on a cottage by the cliffs in England before World War II, when life was still normal and lovely.  After a ship was lost at sea, a nearly drowned young Polish man with a broken leg washed up on their shore, and the two women got a doctor and nursed him back to health.  Once he was better, he continued to live with them, learning English and helping them around the house.  He was an accomplished violinist and therefore the beautiful music in the film.  It's a lovely movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I'm an anglophile and really like those kinds of movies.

We visited a Lavender Farm a couple of years ago on Cape Cod, and I have some nice photos from that day.  I think they capture the essence of the little shop and the fields.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To Do or Not To Do

I made a "To Do" list this morning, and it's really long.  I put all kinds of things I don't want to forget about on it, and that's a good thing, but it sure makes the list seem like forever.  So far I struck off 2 things - washing the kitchen floor and cleaning the guest bathroom.  And, surprisingly, I still have energy left.

I find that I really need my computer calendar and To Do lists.   Makes my life a lot easier to handle if I don't have to keep track of things via paper lists or to keep things in my head.  I used to hold off on bills until just before the due date so that I would have the use of my money in the bank for those extra days to collect interest, but it's way better for me to pay the bills on line as they arrive and then put them in the filing pile.  I love paying bills on line.  Cheaper, for one thing, without having to pay for postage.  Less paper to handle, and writing checks takes time.  Where possible, I have bills paid directly from our account monthly, and I don't need to keep those in mind either.  Anyway, the system we have works for me.

I uploaded my book lists to The Library Thing this week.  It took me a while to figure out how to do that - I already have an account on, and I wanted to upload that list to TLT.  Maybe it's me, but I had a really hard time figuring out how to do that, and didn't want to have to do it by hand.  My list of books is over 430, counting those on my " have read" list and "to be read",  way to many to do by hand.  I'm still learning about the Library Thing site and how to use it.  I love and have belonged to that site for six months or more.  One reason my TBR list is as long as it is is because of people's reviews and recommendations of books.  I try to add a review of books as I finish them to give others an opportunity to get another person's viewpoint.   So far, I think I've published 20 reviews.  For any of you who are readers and like to keep track of what you've read, either of these sites, or both, are great.  I regard them as on line book clubs.