Archive for July, 2011

I am Stuffed–Maybe I’ll Walk Later

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2011 by drycreekherbs

great-horned-owl_773_600x450.jpgI am doing really well walking again…it is verrrrrrrry boring to walk in the old mall but it is air conditioned. Thirty-one days of triple digits hot. We have a couple of great horned owls who live with us on our property. One of them has been more visible than usual…I watched him this past week in the bird bath which I just loooved. I am going to try to get a picture of him….I admire him endlessly except I do not want him to have Mickey or Morris for dinner. But I am glad to provide the owls water. I did not take this photo.

Len found this photo in some drawer and scanned it for me. I told Mary it looks like one of the pictures you see in the Life section of newspapers….old folks celebrating their 63 wedding anniversary or a church directory. This picture is from 1983. I love Len’s aviator glasses–and I am glad he willingly gave them up about 25 years ago. I think wearing old fashioned glasses can be very aging…maybe I should concentrate more on what is ‘age appropriate’ as Stephanie H says rather than being critical….hmmm, age appropriate dressing never occurred to me. I think it is incredible that I used to actually get permanents…me, with naturally curly/wavy/frizzy hair that I now pay $350.00 to get straightened. This particular hair do required layers of permanent wave rods in order to accommodate my hair’s thickness…giving the resulting lion’s mane look. Very Olan Mills. As I recall, I really liked this photo.

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Len and I met at Sam’s this morning so we could buy another grill…This may be the 17th we have owned. Usually they rust and are health hazards so we drag them off to some landfill after a few months. So today we went to get a mini grill in order to grill sausage tomorrow afternoon…The buddies are coming over for poker and happy hour and we/I want to grill sausages…after all it will only be about 105 F. Len is very unexcited to be the chef. After shopping we went to Luby’s for an all you can eat for $7.99 eat-a-thon.We didn’t even go back to the food line but I did make a spectacle of myself with a tray which required a cart to move!


A Commentary on Breast Alignment

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Nearly all the tape/bandages are off. Not bad, not bad at all. But different. Yes. the sicky breast is now the perky breast. A full 1 inch more ‘up’ than the other. Dang, I had a lift and didn’t even know to expect it. And, well this is notable. Sicky is now pointing north east! I can perhaps rely on Righty (AKA Sicky) when I am lost. It makes me giggle. Poor ole Lefty is droopy and certainly pointing to the Galapagos Islands. This could be a new movement…breast orienteering. orienteering_adventure_activities_mandurah_peel_fairbridge.jpg Photo depicts group prior to breast consult.

I cannot wait to get the remainder of the adhesive off my skin. Yuccccccky. Hospital folks said to just use Dial soap and it will sooner or later (could that be months) go away. It is just that my arm pit is sticking to my boob. Also, hospitalites said I could use finger nail polish remover to get adhesive off…but to be careful…to keep it from wounds. YIKES. You betcha.

As far as looks go. Welllllll. Sicky looks a little puckery too. I don’t mind at all. Carol, my new best friend and nurse navigator told me I can use aloe vera plant gel when I am healed sufficiently…also vitamin E. Carol also told me today, I can wear deodorant and shave once I am healed sufficiently.

In a different conversation, Lou, my skin care specialist, told me yesterday I was realllllly growing hair…great. Probably I will have facial hair or worse. Is that because I don’t have my hormone patch? Oh damn. I will have a soul patch or worse. And speaking of Lou, here is how lucky I am….she not only gave me a great Vitamin C peel, and waxed my brows and upper lip….she made me the best ever Guamanian rice. She knows I love it. I have eaten every bit of it. More or less 13,000 calories.

Guamanian Rice Recipe

Ingredients: 2 T. Achote seeds; 1 1/2 tsp salt; 2 T. cooking oil; 1/2 c. chopped onions; 1/4 c. chopped celery; 2 c. water or chicken stock; 2 c. rice; butter.

Directions: Soak achote seeds in 1 1/2 c warm water for 30 minutes. Add salt. Rub or press achote seeds ( What is achote?) achiot3b.jpg

achiote.jpgto release color. Strain liquid into a small bowl. Saute onions and celery in oil. Measure achote colored water and add enough water or chicken stock to equal 2 cups. Bring to boil in saucepan. Rinse and drain rice and add to boiling water. Add sauteed onions and celery. Reduce heat to low; cover pan and cook about 20 minutes till rice is tender. Devour.

Pathology Report at Last

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Lisa called to tell me the scoop…Pretty good too! According to her, Dr. L’s PA and nurse, he did get a good clean margin so hopefully no more surgery is indicated, and the four lymph nodes removed for biopsy were cancer free!!! She wasn’t able to tell me the stage but I got on the phone and called my BC navigator and also Jose P, my GYN for further clarifications. Between them I found out that the pathology report says it is stage 1! Very good. baloons.jpg joy.jpg

So what next? After dancing in the street and calling a press conference? I have an appointment August 16th to meet with my medical oncologist, Dr. R. Between now and then he and my other team doctors (surgeon, radiologist, and ?) meet and review the results…..they make a recommendation and Dr. R presents it to us on the 16th. Us: Len, Susan L, my nurse navigator, and me. I want all these folks with me to listen. Susan L is a fine listener and between the three of these people I might grasp it all. Apparently it is a lot of information and can be very daunting. Very daunting. Radiation and 5 years worth of estrogen blockers are likely. I am holding my breath that no chemo is indicated. I also called Vivian B and spoke to her husband, a GYN oncologist. He provided even further information. I am being cautiously optimistic. One thing this has taught me is not to get too confident. I have a mole on my back–it has been there a couple of years…I am convinced it has grown so I have made a frantic dermatology appointment. I understand this is a typical, newly-diagnosed reaction. I hope so. I also hope I don’t have Munchausen. I learned about it on 2 episodes of Law and Order.

Because I am in the celebration mode and because it is hotter than hell, I am going to Maine! Belinda is going with me and we are going to stay at David C’s cabin in Sedgwick. David was one of Sarge’s classmate when he was growing up. Steph, Sarge, Mary Rae, & Don and I had dinner with David years ago. I have been to this cabin but I can’t remember much about it. What I DO know is that it is not 105 F in Maine. It is supposed to be in the high 70s and 60s for lows. YES, and it might rain. OMG, I may take my Wellies. WE leave on August 4 and home the 9th. “I’m on the Road Again”—yeah Willie!

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Biscuits and Sausage Gravy: How Lucky Can a Girl Be?

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I am soooooooooooo lucky. And, why do I consider myself a girl? That is a question for another time. Now to Biscuits and Gravy. Months ago, Max told me about fixing breakfast at his church…biscuits and gravy. I went wild. I said, “Damn, Max, I love biscuits and gravy. I will convert to get some.” He said something to the effect that some day he might fix me some. Well then time passed and this mean-assed cancer started. Max told me he would come fix me breakfast since I was now pitiful and needy. I agreed, of course. Today was my big day. He came over as usual–Monday, his work day here. He was laden with all the stuff. He cooked, I asked questions, salivated, and moaned appropriately as I stuffed myself. Len was tickled to be in the food line too. I tell you, I just plain love Max Jordan. Cancer survivor, friend, cancer coach, and one hell of a biscuit and gravy cook. Looks like I don’t have to convert Thank you, Max.IMG_1676.jpg

About Control Which I Just Thought I Had

Posted in Learning Curve on July 24, 2011 by drycreekherbs

I think it is easy to be a control freak and I guess I might be overly fond of control. Recent events have been a blistering awareness that regardless of whether I liked it or wanted it, I don’t have much any more. It annoys me when people want to tell me that mortals never really have control. OK. Well, I thought had some. And OK, I don’t. But here is what can make me feel better in the face of having precious little control…that is to carve out something in my life that I can impact/control. Carol and I were talking and I told her how much I enjoyed writing in my journal–it is one of the few things that I have been able fully concentrate on….I can hardly focus on reading….anyway, she said she thought it was because I could feel some control over it….wow, yes, that is it. it is mine, it is me, and I love it. Credit to Jackie and Ann for pushing me to write ages ago….


The other thing I am doing that makes me think I can harness some control is wearing a flower of some sort when I go to the hospital. It is almost corny and I don’t know how long-lived the effort will be. What I have discerned is that when I go to the hospital for treatment or a consult I want those treating me to know I am Susan, a real person. A person that in a period of 64 years has been special in some way to someone. I don’t want to be just a name on a list to ‘do’. I want to be noted and cared about. So, maybe manipulative, and I sure know how to do that, I am wearing a real flower. I try to get gardenias. They are novel, pretty, and smell great to most people. So, I have been importing them from Austin or locally in a box of 3….they last a week if I am careful. But here is the part I like. I wear them and every single time I do, in every department I go to in the hospital, I get all kinds of comments and questions. I become a person the staff wants to talk to. I also use their name from their name tag and I ask questions about them…where did you go to school….do you like your job?…and I try very hard to compliment the work they do…everyone likes that. I want them to be able to take a breath with me and see me as someone they want to help.

I also can currently control how much exercise to do. Thank God, I feel reallllllly good and am recovering very nicely. Today I walked 6.5 miles…15 days after surgery. I walk in either Walmart or this older strip mall. Walmart is tricky because it is so crowded but the other mall is very under populated—just some government offices—the latter has a lot of walkers in it….both are air conditioned. We are still suffering triple digit temperatures. Walking inside is imperative. I am gaining weight….too much comfort food and wine.

My Moma Came to See Me.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2011 by drycreekherbs


It has been two years since Mom has been here. She is so fragile. Brother Bill and nephew, David, brought her up for the day. Len was a good soldier and took the guys to Ft. Hood for show and tell so I could spend some quality time with Mom. It is easier to shout at her so she can hear when it is just the two of us. I love her so much and she looooooooooooves me.

She was pleased to check out the incision and see that I was still more or less fit.


News…No News…Change in News…On and On.

Posted in Learning Curve on July 21, 2011 by drycreekherbs

It really has been awhile since I wrote…My neural maps are different every day. This is a lot of learning….and in someways I am making it like a made for TV, reality drama. As I write I am enjoying medicinal crema de tequila and listening to Bob Dylan sing Thunder on the Mountain. Len thinks I am a hippie! I wish I were dancin’ on a table in the Mean Eyed Cat Bar, in Austin! I loooooove it.


Ok, since I last wrote I have been the recipient of many fabulous notes, cards, emails, food items, and gifts. I love them all and I am saving all except food, which I have eaten. I am gaining weight not losing weight. Where to start? Well this week I learned that the medicals call the shots…they tell you when and how and you do it. Not at all like making a hair appointment. I fill out the same form every where I go and act like I like doing it. Anyway, I had a CT scan that I didn’t know I needed because a pre-op chest X-ray showed a lung nodule. Damn. That news set me back a little. But it turned out ok. I like John, the CT scan tech. He did my chest about 8 years ago. We had a great reunion. So,I will watch that like other body parts for changes. I am an extreme watcher of my body parts now. I am almost scared to touch my neck for fear I will come across a neck full of marbles…aka lymph node cancer coyotes.

I had a happy visit with my radiologist, female, Dr Angela D’ Rob. I like her. She is about 30something and wears cute clothes and pointed toe shoes. All good credentials for a radiologist. She also talked about loving hormone patches so I knew we were sisters. For at least 45 minutes she thoroughly explained so much that I didn’t know. I finally understand why it isn’t a good idea for me to have had a full mastectomy…so IF after all the treatment IF it came back and I had no breast tissue it would hit the chest wall and there would be less tissue to work with. So now I get it. She was very clear on lots of things. BUT the stinkin’ final pathology STILL isn’t back. They said 7-10 business days and I guess they meant it. So without that information, I am in a holding pattern. Once we get that information, they/I will know the treatment plan. Maybe more surgery, maybe chemo, maybe no chemo, definitely radiation, and definitely estrogen blockers for 5 years.

Yesterday we went to see the surgeon’s PA for drain removal. That is one mean piece of work. It is stitched in me with something that I believe is kin to barbed wire. Len has been in charge of drain care. He apparently believes in the “fast yank method”. So much so that I have skin tears. Hellllllllllo. It hurts. Not the boob, the yankin’ of tape. He is on probation now. My PT comes from trying to do my own taping. He is verrrrrrrry good in most cases, just not taping. He even has set up a ‘clinic’ as he calls it, in his restroom. AND he is washing his hands prior to working on me!!!! This is big. The long and short of the visit to meet Lisa, surgeon’s PA, is that I didn’t get the final pathology report and I didn’t get the drain out. Someone forgot to me tell me to take a pain pill (!) prior. Apparently, drain removal is slightly uncomfortable. Medical phrase which means your hair could turn white and fainting is likely. So we go back tomorrow. I was given two mastectomy bras. Len says they weren’t gifts but he is glad I have them if they make me happy. They are soft sided and have pockets for falsies or drain.

I did have a small altercation with a mean-spirited, grumpy volunteer in the Cancer shop. He was grumpin’ around and crotchety. So in true form i asked if this was a bad time to be there…this usually brings people back to center point. But he just explained he had had a bad week. i said, “Yes, i too have had a bad week”. Len wanted me to not start a fight. Damn, I wanted a good fight. i just knew I would win.

Susan L met us at the Optical Center so Len could go on home and she and I could catch up and then I had a hearty lunch. She grounds me. I bet she goes home and drinks straight gin after time with me. I on the other hand am quite relaxed.

Other photo is from church. Sweet Nedra and Darlin’ Vic. It is very nice to have folks that love me. My sweet Mom is coming to see me tomorrow!

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