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Breast Cancer Awareness

One of Emily’s friends who just finished chemotherapy and surgery for breast cancer told her that I needed to write a blog about breast cancer and self exams. She seems to think I have a lot of readers and I am a nurse and I should just do this. However, my initial thought was my blog is about my family and not about social topics so that’s not possible. And in the next thought, it was as if God picked up a big old bat and smacked me upside the head and said idiot you have breast cancer in your immediate family and Emily’s friend is like twenty-five years old. And so here it goes as only I could talk about it.

I knew for years that my Grandma Carty had breast cancer and that was back when they did a radical mastectomy and removed muscle. She had to learn how to use her arm again and it was horrible. I always thought she was around thirty-five but my mom informed me not long ago that is was after my dad was born. She had my father at the age of forty-five so I had the age all wrong. She lived until the age of ninety-three I think. I am really bad with ages as you will see.

Back in 1994 my mother had a mammogram in April and she never received the results. She didn’t think too much about it until six months later when they contacted her to tell her it had gotten misplaced and she had a suspicious area. She knew right then it was cancer and our family doctor told her to calm down as she was ten steps ahead of the game. My sister was headed to South Africa for Christmas so we kept it a secret from her and she had her biopsy in December while Karen was out of the country. I took her of course and I remember the doctor telling us that he was 99% sure it was cancer but we were to wait until the pathology came back. It was only in one boob but she wanted them both removed. They refused and said that was overkill and only removed the cancerous one. She would then need yearly mammograms and be charged full price even though she only had one boob as she did not opt for reconstruction. We then met Dr. Greco the oncologist who was recommended by one of my burn unit buddies. He was running two hours behind but when he finally came in, it was like we were the only people on the planet and he was wonderful. She was put into a study and had four rounds of chemo and then took either a placebo or tamoxifen for the next five years. (She eventually found out she took tamoxifen). After her third round of chemo she told Brian and I that she was dying. In his usual I can’t handle this emotional stuff he told her that was stupid that dying people didn’t carry on they were dying and she would be fine. She was of course fine, but a nurse he is not. She made it to the five-year cancer free mark, then the ten-year and is currently at year twenty-two. She still smokes and the doctors still blame everything health wise on her smoking.

Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer maybe three years ago. I cannot remember her age but she was already in assistive living as she was blind from macular degeneration and nearly deaf. She decided not to do any treatment and is in heaven.

I will be honest and say I am not good on keeping up with self exams but I have had a mammogram every year since the age of thirty-five. I think I missed two years because life got busy. I so often hear people say they hurt too much and all other excuses. I am not going to lie, I do not enjoy having my boobs manhandled by a stranger and jammed into a machine. A couple of times it has felt like my collar-bone was meeting my waist but it lasted at the most fifteen seconds. Fifteen seconds of discomfort was more than worth another twenty-two years for my mother. No one could feel her lump, even when the doctors knew where it was they still could not feel it. So a mammogram saved her life and in the back of my head it might be an excuse for me skipping the self exams.

A nurse I use to work with on Women’s Health was diagnosed five months after having her third daughter. She felt a lump and at first the doctor office (not sure if it was her doctor or a nurse practitioner) was like it’s probably just a milk duct but then decided lets send you for an ultrasound (I think, its her story not mine and I suck at details). She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer with mets to the liver. The survival rate is five years so. I mean it just sucks. She is currently in remission but every PET scan is a nightmare until the result are back. I cannot imagine what she goes through on a daily basis. She just had a second birthday since the diagnosis and you better believe your life she was grateful for it.

Since my mom did not have reconstruction she had a breast prosthesis that she wore in her bra. The thing looked and felt like a real boob. Emily was two at the time and she would put it under her shirt and say she was having a baby. My mom and I thought it was hilarious but it would make my sister so made she could have spit rocks. She really did not have our sense of humor. In the grand scheme of things it hurt no one and I never took any pictures or might have just added it to this post.

 

Mole Moral ~  Do your self exams, see your gynecologist yearly and have your mammograms in the intervals they are recommended. No excuses!

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21 Day Food Detox

Before I left on vacation, a friend from church had posted on Facebook about her 21 day ultimate reset experience. I knew she was a beach body coach so I looked it up to see what it was all about. It intrigued me and sounded like something I wanted to do so I ordered it, knowing it would be at the house when I returned from vacation.

For the last year I have eaten nothing but crap as in highly processed and junk food. It was to the point nothing tasted good or interested me besides junk. I had put on about ten pounds which I could afford but had I not been training, it would have easily been twenty and then I would once again be ten pounds away from my heaviest weight. It was time to do something. I arrived home on Saturday and Monday was my start date. I always tend to start things on Monday. It’s the day of the week I joined weight watchers almost 21 years ago. I have been a lifetime member for almost twenty and have lost the weight three times. I didn’t want to have to do it again. It gets a little harder each time but I needed something to get me on track.

About six years ago I saw the movie Forks Over Knives and I really wanted to switch to a plant-based diet or even vegan. The way meat is raised in this country is disgusting and I am not sure when it went from a luxury item to a staple but somewhere along the way it has. I was all set to take it on after my hysterectomy but that was a disaster and then it never happened. The reset I did went like this, no meat after the second day. No dairy after the first week and no grains after the end of the second week. Therefore by the last week it was all fruits and vegetables. About three days into it I watched What the Health and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. Both of these documentaries also focused around plant-based diets and of course shock value regarding the meat industry. I wasn’t even five minutes into the health one when I said I was never touching lunch meat again. The fat guy did nothing but juice for two months and all his health problems disappeared. He said he juiced vegetables because it was way too much to eat. He also did not recommend people doing this for that long. Most of the people did it from 3-14 days and all raved about how much better they felt. So that was motivation to stick out the twenty-one days.

It was a lot of cooking and food prep, both of which I hate and try to avoid. I tried all of the recipes and even the bizarre ones and I liked all of them except the coconut greens. I could not choke those down and actually almost hurled them. But many times during prep I was cussing and thinking to myself it’s so much easier just to go to McDonald’s or to open a box of macaroni and cheese. I say the convenience of food has led to the diabetes epidemic in America. Since all of the food was pretty much fresh and dairy was gone I pretty much stayed in the produce section of the store. I did wander around looking for stuff for the two other people in my family. I refused to cook for them because all they did was make fun of my sticks and twigs diet. The amount of yummy sugar treats called my name but I stayed strong. I only cheated one day and that was at work when there was leftover cake and I couldn’t take it and had some of the icing. Icing has always been my favorite. It was really interesting as it was week three and I could totally taste the coconut flavoring in it. I don’t think I would have noticed if I was still eating sugar by the pound.

Yes I lost weight. I dropped about eleven pounds but keep in mind my weight was up about four pounds from vacation and totally enjoying myself and eating out all three meals for ten days. The best part about the weight loss is my work pants no longer feel like I am going to bust out of them. I was to the point if I didn’t drop weight I was going to have to buy a bigger size. I feel so much better and food tastes good again. I am still cooking and freezing the extras which will cut down in the long run on how much food I have to make. I realized I have a freezer in the basement and I may as well use it. I still have not had meat or dairy but I did add back in brown rice and quinoa. I am hoping to keep this up as it is so nice not having sugar cravings and just wanting junk all of the time.

Today was the first day I have run since the race. There was no exercising during the detox except for walking. Detoxing off of food was awful. Day four I had full body aches with hot and then cold and then hot and then cold. I actually napped under a comforter with jeans on and was still cold. Please remember I live in hot flash hell and have barely slept under a sheet for months. I was thinking during this time, if this is anything what coming off of drugs is like, I am grateful I never tried them or used them. It was horrible! I even took Motrin for my legs which was a no-no. However, they hurt worse than the day after the fifty mile run. I was also not suppose to take anything for headaches during this time. I didn’t follow that either, I had Excedrin when I felt a headache coming on. There was no way I was risking going back into a five-week headache for this twenty-one day program. I did not have one single drop of coffee for three weeks. It’s the only thing I really missed and up until about day eighteen I wanted to kiss anyone who was drinking it, just so I could taste it. Unfortunately, Brian hates coffee or he would have been kissed a lot.

The twenty-one days wasn’t easy but it wasn’t nearly as hard as doing fifty miles. When I make up my mind to do something, I am all in and this was no different. I won’t recommend the program only because it is not cheap at all but if you have money lying around the difference is amazing. Oh yes there are all these supplements and detox drink that goes along with it which is the cost factor. But if you are rich or have spare change look up the twenty-one day ultimate reset. If you need a coach, I know a great one and she will get part of the profit because its pyramid beach body but it’s still good. And no, I did not drink one single shake of theirs either. They are actually not really recommended during the detox. I have found other vegan shake recipes, the first two I have made have been good. So who knows maybe I can keep this up, only time will tell.

 

Mole Moral ~ I love the show The Hulk when growing up and it is so nice to no longer feel like I am going to hulk out of my work pants!

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My mom writes a book!

My mom has had a book in her head for many years and after she retired she wanted to write it. However she ended up with a Mac computer because Windows 8 came out and she couldn’t figure it out. As we all know Mac does not have Microsoft office. Although my mom swore she couldn’t figure out the latest version of Word anyway so it didn’t matter. She looked at Pages and then said forget it. A few years later she mentions this to Emily who introduces her to google docs and the writing commenced. I’m not sure how long it took her to write it but then the time to publish came to light. In reality let the nightmare begin.

I contacted my friend Rachel since her husband wrote Suburban Junky. She told me what site they used and said it was simple and easy. That should have been my first clue because then the nightmare began. This all occurred maybe a week before I was to leave for the race and she had hoped to have it published before I left. So we uploaded her book to the site and it was all messed up. None of the pages lined up, the chapters were mid page and all kinds of stuff. So after talking to Rachel again, the site needed the pages written in 6×9 to fit the print size of the book. Why there isn’t a simple conversion program is beyond me. However, Google docs wouldn’t let us change the page sizes to 6×9 and neither would Pages. Trying to convert it to PDF and upload it didn’t work either and if we wanted different page sizes it would cost money for that program. I didn’t want to spend money on something I didn’t think would work. This probably went on for two or three days. Rachel told me her husband wrote his book in Word so then I found a way to pay for Microsoft office month to month since we would only need it for a couple of months. I have a work project that I need PowerPoint for so it was a decent investment.

If you think I just opened word and it was obvious how to change the page size, dream on because 6×9 is not your standard page size. I actually had to Google it and then switch it. I then uploaded her book to the 6×9 and emailed it back to her to work on it. She had to rearrange the words and move paragraphs around but finally it was finished. So she came over again to pick out a cover. I had to leave for work so Allyson helped her finish it and she sent it off to be published. I left for my run and vacation.

So after about two weeks of total and utter frustration my mom is now published. Her book came while I was in South Dakota. It is called  O’ Heavenly Father Show Us A Sign  and you can click on the link to read about it and buy it.

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I have not read it yet but Emily and others have said it is really good. One of these days I will read it but I haven’t read much of anything the past few years. If you do buy it and read it please let me know how you like it.

 

Mole Moral ~ Sometimes it takes years to achieve a dream but I am sure my mom will tell you it is totally worth the wait!

 

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The Mole car insurance fiasco

Today I received notification that Emily’s car insurance was misquoted and was going up. So I called our agent to see what that was all about. He was rather annoyed because he hadn’t even been notified yet. So he looked into her account and found she was chosen for a random audit. The underwriter labeled her car as business use which it is not. She does not do home health PT but instead works in a different location every three months and drives from an apartment to a place of employment. They also noticed that she did not start driving until 18, instead of 16 so they increased it for that as well. He plans to protest the business issue next week when his underwriter is back from vacation. So it is up in the air how much her insurance will actually end up being.

This is insanity! I mean, lets punish people for waiting to drive until they are more responsible by jacking their rates up when they turn twenty-five. I thought they were suppose to decrease at that age. Ha! As for the business use, well that’s just the sort of stuff this entire adventure has been. One mishap or hurry up and wait after another. Emily still does not have her California PT license and last week they hadn’t even finished processing her fingerprints which she mailed on 6/2.

 

Mole Moral~Make your kids start driving at sixteen, it will cost them less at twenty-five.

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Who is this Gary Lindsay character?

It was September 1982 and I was a sophomore at Fox High School. I was in the marching band and had been playing the flute since I was in fifth grade. Mr. Butler, the band director announced that a marching band was coming from South Africa and we were hosting them. They were all boys and played either the trumpet or the drums. I immediately wanted to host one (keep one just sounds like they were animals or something). So I brought the note home and read it to my mother. She interrupted me two sentences in and wanted to know if they were black or white. I said what difference does it make. She said it didn’t but was just curious. They were white and from outside of Johannesburg. I can still remember the night they arrived. We were all waiting rather impatiently in the band room and it seems like the flight might have been delayed. I’m thinking it was around 10:30pm on a school night before they showed up. My family was assigned to Gary who was not a drummer but a trumpet player. I swear within ten minutes we were carrying on like brother and sister and were best friends for life. I loved calling him a dork. They spent two weeks with us. Gary brought us this copper clock that was a map of Africa. It hung in our living room for years.
It was a short two weeks and some of you know the love story with Anton the drummer so you can skip this part. I’m pretty sure I noticed Anton that very first night. Anton stayed with Scott whom I became very good friends with from this point on. (Scott is a respiratory therapist in Columbia but In high school he wanted to be a mortician. Personally I find trachs, sputum and respiratory treatments way grosser than a mortician.) Anyway Anton and I fell fast and hard in teenage love. I would learn I was the first girl he ever noticed. I had a boyfriend at the time who I dumped in a really awful way and broke his heart. If I could go back in time, I would have handled that differently.
The boys did a lot in those two weeks. They went to the Magic house, the arch, a cardinals game, and since I’m writing this in CA, I can’t remember what else.
I had a party for Gary and every single person I invited came. This included the popular boys that I had crushes on during junior high. However I still didn’t think anyone knew me or liked me. My party had no alcohol and my mom present and yet they all came. I’m sure it was because of Gary. Haha.
After the boys left Arnold, they went to Disney world and then flew back home. Within a month some of the band parents would get together with Mr. Butler to see about going to South Africa the following summer.
So in August of 1983, my sister, my mom and I went to South Africa with Fox High School band for three weeks. My sister was only going into eighth grade but she auditioned on the clarinet and was in the band as well. It was 1500 each for the trip. I raised 1400 and my sister 1300. I think we sold everything except the kitchen sink. This would affect me as an adult as I will buy almost anything off a kid selling stuff as a fundraiser. As for my own kids, I worked extra shifts to avoid fundraising. I’d rather rip my eyes out than ask people to buy stuff. However this fundraising made me appreciate the trip much better than if my dad just wrote a check for it.
Flying to and from South Africa was horrible. It took almost 24 hours and I had horrible motion sickness but it was worth it to see a different country. My mom, I and my best friend Kathy stayed with Gary. My sister stayed with the Lansom’s who lived around the corner from Andre whom my sister would eventually marry. After the first half of the trip I went and stayed at Anton’s house with Scott and Sarah. The three weeks went by way too fast and we were back home and I started my junior year. Anton would meet a girl sometime around December who he would eventually marry and have two gorgeous daughters.
Gary went to chef school and finished it and felt called to missionary work. He joined Covenent players and met his wife Heidi. Three weeks after they were married they came to the US and have been here since. They worked on the east coast but had to travel to west coast for training. They would stop in and see us each time. They were here when Kayla was born which was really cool. They eventually took jobs and settled down. They lived in Texas before this. Gary has bugged me for years to come see him and now that I have he can’t bug me anymore. Ha

Mole Moral~when your kids tell you they hope you die so they can go live with Gary & Heidi you know you have very special friends that God has blessed you with.

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I’m a doctor, not a physicist!

IMG_4059 This guy came in a kids Burger King meal at least ten years ago. It belonged to my nephew Tyler and he would push the button over and over again and the guy would say I’m a doctor, not a physicist. It drove Brian’s parents insane so they hid it from him in their house. That summer we went to Disney World with Brian’s parents and his sister and my other nephew Kyle. We took two cars and as always when we traveled we had walkie talkies so that we could talk back and forth. Yes, this was the day before cell phones with unlimited texting. As we were leaving I spotted the guy so we (ok it was me because I’m actually ten years old) snuck him out of the house. About an hour down the road we played him over the walkie talkies. It then became a game the rest of the trip to steal him from car to car and play him and annoy the folks on the other end. Ever since then he has sat on the end table at Brian’s parents house. Every few visits I would push his button just to hear him say “I’m a doctor, not physicist.”

Brian’s parents did not get to come to Emily’s graduation because his mom was in the middle of passing a kidney stone. The stone passed on Saturday and was by far the biggest one I have ever seen in my life. So they gave Emily her gift a few days later. Larry had a nice speech all ready to go and a fancy bag with gift wrap to hand to her. He said since she’s a doctor now, she gets to keep this guy and he can go with her for all her travels. She was thrilled and since she has taken a job as a traveling Physical therapist, this little guy will get to see the country. I was probably more thrilled than her because it’s the kind of crazy gifts I give and I love this stupid toy.

Mole Moral~ If your phone rings in a couple of weeks, you may not want to answer because it just may be a guy saying I’m a doctor not a physicist as Emily and I will be traveling to Gridley CA for her first job.

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Our old TV

Sometime this past summer I had went to Costco and was looking at TV’s that hang on the wall. I was trying to get an idea on the price for a future purchase. This cute red-headed kid approached me from Direct TV and started talking about ways to save me money. By the time I had gotten away from him, I was saving a seventy dollars a month by switching to direct tv and would be receiving a three hundred-dollar gift card to Costco in the mail. Now our old TV is the kind that has a light bulb and it was never right from the very beginning. Everyone else’s light bulb would last years and ours burned out every three to four months. At first they were two hundred dollars to replace and I finally wised up and found a web site for fifty bucks. So Brian and I both agreed once the current light bulb burned out, we were getting a new TV.

So we waited and we waited and we waited and waited some more! Until finally I said the dang thing isn’t ever going to burn out so lets just get a new one and that is what we did New Years Eve. We purchased a nice sixty-five inch flat screen after Brian told my sister anything over sixty and the picture was too stretched out. She will never let him live that down. And then the issue was what are we going to do with the old fifty-five inch dinosaur that we own. It still works great but I refused to put it in the basement. For starters, I am sick of the lightbulb and to move it down there we would have to redo the entire sitting area and Brian would have to build shelves for my ten million scrapbooks. That thought alone made him agree to get rid of it.

First we called the salvation army and they wanted no part of it because it was not a flat screen. We drove up to Goodwill because they would not answer the phone. Same response, that is not a flat screen get lost. So I found a recycling place in Arnold that I had no idea even existed. I drove past it for at least four years when Kayla and Bridget carpooled to dance together. Brian drives up and they take one look at it and said nope it’s not a flat screen go to the dump. Ok not exactly what they said but close enough. During work today Brian’s buddy said if the recycling people won’t take it bring it up to my apartments. He said to set it by the dumpster and it would be gone by morning. Brian said no way would that happen so they bet a dollar. So Allyson and Brian drive up to his friends and he helped them get it off the back of the truck. They hadn’t even set it on the ground before a guy walked up and inquired about the TV. Brian told him it works great, he just bought a new one so his friend helped the stranger carry the TV into his apartment. After that Brian paid his friend a dollar.

 

Mole moral~ Always pay up on your bets, after all it may just help you give a perfectly functioning TV to someone who could use it!