Archive for the Learning Curve Category

American Immigration Experience in Review

Posted in Learning Curve on March 27, 2017 by drycreekherbs

First let me say this and get it out of the way. Cortisone shots make me pain free and euphoric on day 1; jittery on day 2; depressed on day 3 & 4; and cranky, depressed, and jittery on day 5, and very talkative on day 6 (as noted by the facial expressions of my Mah Jongg partners today). My knee doesn’t hurt though. Nothing comes free.

So here is the synopsis of my experience with American immigration. It is safe to say that it was easier than the Mexico version. It does help if everyone is speaking the same lingo. BUT, our USA immigration officers (IO) have a definite protocol. Expect the process of forgiveness to be slow and don’t take rebuffs personally. Do not try to control the situation. Just let it all slide off of you. Do not tell the backstory. Do not appear friendly. Do not show any pictures. Do not offer any explanations. Do not ask to take photos for Facebook. It is like this: Wait until spoken to; answer with one word if possible and don’t think for a quick minute that your story is any more interesting than the last 13,000 immigrants. Then and only then, pivot and move on. When a missing passport is involved, expect a couple of earnest interviews, an oath-maybe two, a search (no orifices, thank God), and a lecture. I keep thinking about refugees.

Do not apply for a new passport during spring break if you live near a military installation. Try to find everything funny and worth it just for the story. Believe it when the passport application says, “Read Carefully.”

Charmin’ Billy, aka my Brother Bill, sent this captioned photo upon my return to America, the land of the brave. 201703272042.jpgHis text read, “Santa Perdida, patron saint of deported gringas.” He is a funny guy. Maybe I should make up a set of Holy Cards to carry in case I am incarcerated again.

Yesterday I went to visit Foy. I was pretty sure he would enjoy hearing my tale of woe. He loved it. He said, “Susan, this is the best worst story I ever heard.” High praise.


I Really CAN be a Trooper

Posted in Learning Curve on March 21, 2017 by drycreekherbs

Today I had a shot in my knee. I didn’t even flinch and watched the entire process. Lots of exposure watching and getting chemo..called desensitization. I found out today that because of Medicare regulations, it is necessary to start with shots before any knee replacement.

Now for the Mexico story.

Hit and Run: No Serious Casualties

Posted in Learning Curve on October 10, 2016 by drycreekherbs

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Len ran over my purse day before yesterday. I was in a huge hurry doing something that I have since forgotten. So I sat my purse down near the garage door and started some chore. Then I went into the house, then ironed, then started cleaning out my closet, then Len came in the house and said, “I ran over your purse.” He really did. Nothing but my hearing aid case and a black plastic serving spoon were destroyed. He wanted to give me a lecture soooooooooo much. I was pleased I didn’t receive a series of tut-tuts.    


Posted in Learning Curve on October 5, 2016 by drycreekherbs


Well, damn. I guess I won’t be able to open a casino or go to law school free. I just knew I was going to be an American Indian or African American. Nope. Just like Daddy used to say, I am Heinz 57. I especially wanted to be a descendent of the Lost Roanoke Colony Indians. These photos were going to be on my Facebook Profile. I’d better refocus my aspirations.   IMG_6175.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.

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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That Part is Over.

Posted in Learning Curve on July 13, 2011 by drycreekherbs

How is it I was so totalllllllly and completely spooked until the actual day of the surgery? I really did feel like I was getting ready to walk the plank. Drama queen, couldn’t be anything like, “I couldn’t sleep”. No, walking the plank.

But yesterday, the day of the surgery, I was just putting one foot in front of the other. Len was so good. There had to be moments or hours when he wanted to take a brick to my head….very patient, very kind, and now verrrrrrrrrrrrrry popular with the Posse. There is zero reason to recount every detail, in part, because I was zonkered much of the day. Nurse Navigator, Carol, told me I could take a tranquilizer before I came in so that took the pitch off of things, I guess.

We got to the Mammography Lab at 7:30 for the wire placement and the mammogram, then taken away to Nuclear Medicine where a student (intern) put dye into my mammary ducts. He did a good job and it went very quickly but I noted he was nervous and after it was done came the explanation that he was a virgin. I like that I was able to be his first. I think it stung like bee stings. After the ‘dye job’ we were transported/escorted to surgical waiting. They didn’t have a booth for us so we sat by some vending machines (food and drinks tormenting me) in DSC07109.jpg DSC07112.JPG the waiting area. It was empty except for one person. I played Words with Friends on my iPhone with Carol S and Clyde M and talked with Len…then Belinda came. Len got a couple of funny photos of her braiding my hair. From then (11:00 am) on it was a nice blur. Barbara came next, then Becky, then Nina, then Jackie. Becky and Nina left after a couple of hours, I think. I was supposed to have surgery at noon….I had the surgery at 3:30!

During the wait, the gals entertained me and Len. It was exactly the kind of distraction I needed. To have watched Len be nervous would have made me insane, but this way he was the good caretaker. I’m going to add Belinda’s funny email below that she sent after the fact….Apparently I tried to do some drug deals with anyone. Must have worked because I hardly remember anything, in fact nothing.

Bottom Line: Dr. L. believes that we are good to go. That means that the on-the-spot pathology found no cancer in the sentinel node and that Dr. L believes he took a good margin out along with the cancerous area. The absolute pathology will be revealed next Tuesday. This is the best of the possible scenarios….Yes, Dr. L was pleased with his work….just a little dent in my boob near my arm pit.

The night was very blurry. Lots of the usual hospital stuff but I slept well when I slept. I was discharged at 10:30 this morning….only 17 hours after surgery! They wanted me gone, gone, gone. So, I am home with little discomfort except the emotional kind….called worry. The pictures are pretty funny. Barbara’s Gordon says, I am “…the only woman he knows who is brave enough to do that (photos).” Not so much brave as superbly drugged.DSC07113.JPG I just noticed I am playing with the phone in every photo.

On the way home, Len went in to McDonald’s and bought me a LARGE, carmel frappe. Minimum of 1000 calories and it was restorative.

Belinda’s Email to Missing Posse Members

I woke up this morning thinking “i love Len Krals.” His devotion to my friend Susan just made him more dear to me. Yesterday afternoon when we got the good news about Susan, Len with tears in his eyes said, yesterday was the second happiest day in his life. The first day was when he married Susan and the second was yesterday when he found out she was going to be okay. What a lovely sentiment and spoken from the heart.

Susan under the influence of a mild tranquilizer, provided many entertaining moments yesterday. She asked not once, not twice but at least four times for a little tranquilizer just to take the edge off the experience, all as she appeared to be rather well rounded. When the topic of jello post surgery came up (we were thinking she might be hungry), she moved the conversation to jello shots. One of her final coherent conversations prior to being wheeled off to surgery had her reaffirming her devotion to Creme de Tequilla. Then as they rolled her back into her room post surgery, munching on her ice
Cubes, she picked up where she left off the conversation telling once again about her devotion to Creme de Tequilla. I choose to believe the Creme de Tequilla conversation provided her with wonderful thoughts during her surgery.

All of which made Len smile. He finds delight in her. Let me end with the beginning thought – I just adore Len Krals.