Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Role Models. . . Day Two In The Hospital.

How beautiful is the wake of that boat and the colour of the river?

These last few weeks, as I have waited to hear when my surgery will be, emotions flood through me. . . and some days, looking at my new circumstances with acceptance and dignity isn't easy.

 Those are the days I hardly ever stop praying. . .

I can honestly say I have never asked "Why me?" as the answer is, of course, "Why not me?"

I feel the certainty that God is is control, that He has His hand on me every minute of the day.

I am not afraid of dying, when my time comes, but, the uncertainty of what living is going to look like is awfully scary sometimes.

I like to be busy. I love projects, the bigger the better. . .

What if complications change my ability to live my life the way I want to?

I struggle sometimes, with that fear.

But, as a problem solver, it is in my nature to look for another way to do things, for examples of others who have overcome and who live beautiful lives, even if those lives are not what they would have chosen.

I have been mindfully looking for those examples. Some of whom I have known or still know, personally, and others whom I've gotten to 'know' through blogs online. . .

Not everyone is a person of faith, but they have all persevered and made the best of what they were given.

I thought I would introduce you to one of them. . .

This is Alicia's story.

I love her peaceful, gentle, quiet life.

And even more amazing? After years of childlessness?

She and her sweet husband Andy adopted a beautiful baby girl.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All's Well

Okay, this is Ev blog-jacking on Rosa's blog, but it's been fully sanctioned by Rosa, I swear!  Plus, I'm a middle-aged gardener too!

I just received a very welcome call from Rosa in the hospital.  I didn't realize that she would be allowed her cell phone, but I'm glad of it because I got to hear all the news directly from the source.

Her surgery was earlier this morning, at about 9:30 so it's been a long wait for me to find out how things went.  Luckily, some of the words she used were:

  • grateful
  • peaceful
  • worry-free

That's what we all wanted to hear!  That makes me feel grateful, peaceful and more worry-free as well. (And it's really all about me, isn't it?  No? Oh, hmm.)

I'm sure it wasn't altogether pleasant, but those are still comforting words to hear.  She went into the surgery with certain expectations based on a not-to-scale drawing by her surgeon, and we all go into things with past experiences on our mind or ugly web images.  There is the expected pain, but Rosa says it's manageable so far. The incision isn't as long down her leg as expected and the numbness isn't even as numb as she thought.  I'm hoping that's good news for the prolonged numbness that was forecast.  She was surprisingly chatty for someone who'd just had surgery.

I'm sure that all of the support of friends and family that she's gotten so far has gone a long way towards allowing peace to rest on Rosa.  It's nice that she doesn't have to think about whether the dishes are being done, or what to feed anyone.  It's great that she's surrounded by competent nurses and surgeons who she can trust to take care of her.  And she knows Who is really taking care of everything.  That's where the ultimate peace comes from.

I'll be leaving her with family visits tomorrow because she may be more tired tomorrow than she is right now.  If there's any more news, I'll let you know.  Otherwise, I'll get to see her on Thursday and I'm update you again.

- Ev

Words To Ponder. . . And Comfort. Surgery Day.

Well, I am in the hospital right now. As I have prepared this post ahead of time, I don't know what that looks like but I came across this post from Emily Freeman that really spoke to me so I wanted to pass it on. . .

How Death Brings Us to Life. (Click on the link to go to Emily's post.)

* Okay, I just realized that the whole thing might sound a bit morbid as I am not dying today, but, somehow, it is comforting. . . 

I hope to update you on how things are going soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Today Started Out A Bit Weepy. . .

My morning started early, with a call from the hospital nurse.

I needed to do my pre admission over the phone. It was 7:30 am. We went over my medications, exactly what the surgery entailed and things to remember for my recovery when I come home from the hospital.

"This is pretty hard" she said.

I agreed and the weepiness began.

The reality was really starting to set in and it became quite difficult to stop thinking about it and just focus on the positive. Thankfully, my sister-in-law Dorothy dropped by to keep me company, although, she may have regretted it as she ended up vacuuming my whole house!

Thank you Dorothy!

And then my other sister-in-law Evelyn came by and dropped off supper. Pulled pork on buns.

Yumm. . .

I got messages of encouragement all morning, which was lovely, although some of the messages brought tears to my eyes. . . but in a good way.

Not long after Dorothy left, Nicole came. She was there to take me to my Cat scan and keep me company.

When we got to the hospital I was given 32 oz of water and told to drink it up within 20 minutes.

Gulp!  I mean. . . Seriously? 32 oz???

We also had to watch a 5 minute film about the possible sides effects of the dye they would be injecting before the Cat scan. We had quite a laugh as they talked about the 1 in 70,000 chances of a reaction, or, in more familiar terms, about the same as being in an accident while driving from Edmonton to Calgary and back. We both mocked the necessity of such a thing, because , really, what are the chances???

A nurse brought me in to get an iv going and we began to talk about what was wrong with me and details of the surgery I would be having.

All of a sudden I felt warm all over and the thought flashed through my brain that I was already in the 20% . . .
(my dermatologist told me after the initial visit that there was an 80% chance that they would excise the area my mole was in and the lymph nodes and everything would come back clean. Thus the 20%. . .)

 So, who's to say I wasn't the 1 in 70,000?

And that's when I started to feel hotter, queasy and like everything was falling away.

Yes indeed.

 I passed out.

I felt mortified!

The nurses were wonderful and just kept coming by my stretcher asking if I was feeling better and, after a box of apple juice, I was!

Only the second time I my life that I have fainted.

After that, lying on the bed for the Cat scan and having the dye injected was a breeze.

 There came a really cool part when the cat scan machine, which  reminded of of a star gate, started whirring and I totally thought "Hey it's just like something from Star Trek! This is so cool!"

Because sometimes I'm a dork.

Once I was done, Nicole drove me home and we grabbed a quick bite to eat.

I spent the rest of the day just hanging out, with a quick trip to the grocery store for some last minute perishables.

It's nearly 11 pm and I have an hour before I have to stop all eating and drinking, including water.

But not to worry.

I saved my favorite donut and have big plans to party with a cup of tea and donut at 11:30.

Because there is nothing like a good party. . . or a good donut. . .

I will have some scheduled posts over the next week although Henry is going to phone my friend Ev tomorrow and she will be updating you all on this blog as to how I'm doing.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. It is immensely  comforting to know how many people and prayer groups are praying for me.

God is truly gracious.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Little Something To Lighten The Mood.

Since my last post was rather gloomy, I wanted to post something a little more lighthearted today.

In our family Morgan is the resident poet and his efforts are guaranteed to amuse. . .

If you don't mind a bit of boy humor.

Lest you think Crystal was offended. . . She herself has quite a large selection of 'gas' jokes. . 

What do you think Chandra???

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Biopsy Results. . . Not What We Had Hoped For. . .

I have been dreading writing this post.

I have so been enjoying writing everyday that I had decided I would keep it up no matter what came my way.

I have missed a few days this month but. . .

I had good reason.

When I went for my checkup a week or so after surgery, I went on my own, not expecting results from the biopsy. After all, we had been told it would likely take two weeks.

However, the results were in. And they were not what we had hoped for.

 The original site on my stomach came back clean, but the cancer had traveled. It was found in one of my lymph nodes.

I was one of the 20%.

So what next?

Melanoma can not be treated by chemotherapy or radiation. These therapies are sometimes used if someone is in the late stages but they are meant to alleviate symptoms, not cure or even necessarily put the cancer into remission. *edit 2016. At my last check up my melanoma doctor told me there is now treatment for melanoma that can actually cure this cancer! It's new and from the sounds of it, the best protocol isn't fully funded yet but . . . it's amazing news for anyone who's cancer can not be treated with surgery.

Melanoma is treated by surgery. The goal is always to take out as much as possible (within reason of course!) around the cancer site in hopes of catching any stray cells.

To keep it from traveling.

So. . .

Deep Breath. . .

I will be going for a radical groin dissection and muscle transfer this coming Tuesday at the Misericordia Hospital.

This involves removing all the fat above the area of my groin where the biopsied lymph nodes were removed. They will go down my leg a ways, removing all the other lymph nodes in this cluster, as well as all the fat. That will leave two major arteries (veins??) exposed right under the skin.  To protect them, they will detach the top of a long muscle  that you use to cross your leg. It will be moved from the outside top of my thigh and reattached it to the top of my groin area, thus covering up the arteries(veins??) and protecting them from harm.

As you can imagine, this is not a very common surgery but I have an amazing surgeon who has been practicing for twenty years and she has done many of them.

Which is very comforting. . . It is a very good thing when all the nurses comment on how thorough your surgeon is. . .

Complications from this surgery are common, both because of it's location and the fact that my leg will go numb down to my knee. As Dr. Dabbs explained, it might seem great that you don't feel the pain but neither do you always realize when you have done something you shouldn't have.  (And I have a very hard time sitting still or taking things easy!)

Infections are common.

Redoing stitches at least once is common.

My leg can stay numb with pins and needles or electric shooting pains for up to a year. Sometimes longer.

Lymphodema often occurs. This happens when when the fluid normally dispersed by the lymph nodes can't find a way out and begins to build up in your leg. If not caught early it can become a lifelong issue.

I'd add a link to that but, foolishly, I went googling at four in the morning the night I learned what was happening and, of course, found a horrifying, worst case scenario picture that kept me awake for the rest of the night.

Thankfully when I called my dear friend Nicole the next morning, she laughed at me (she's a nurse) and told me I could find pictures just as bad from infected toenails!

 Lesson learned.

 But I am not looking at any more links. . .

I have been told that my surgeon and I will see a lot of each other for about two months. . .

I have decided to do all I can to keep those visits to a minimum.

To that end, I have been thinking through what might cause problems and working out what I hope might be solutions to those problems. . .

My kids have thrown in their two cents,  Henry's family has been wonderful and my sister Lisa came up to add her substantial contribution. . .

My sister Tamara left me with something to occupy my mind. . . something to dream about. . .

Because, for me at least, three quarters of the fun of any event is the planning and the dreaming.

And I love to plan and dream!

 What if your plans don't work out the way you thought they might???

You still had the joy of the planning and dreaming!

I am doing more pre blogging with the idea that there will still be posts at least every other day.

I having been posting links this month on many of my friend's and family's Facebook walls but that won't work for a scheduled post, so, if you are interested in coming on this journey with me, just bookmark me, become a follower (although I think that is only helpful if you have a google account or a blog of your own), or Follow by e-mail. (that sends any new posts straight to your email and is one of my favorite ways to follow a blog. ).

I have been asked by several people how they can comment if they do not blog or have a google account. It is very simple. Sign in as anonymous, write your comment and sign your name so everyone knows who's commenting. Click on 'Publish your Comment' and you are done! Commenting from hand held devices doesn't always work however, so you could always leave a comment on Facebook (I'd be happy to 'friend' you) or even e-mail me if you really wanted to. . .


So. . .

I will keep blogging and when there is something to share about my journey with cancer I will do it here.

But. . . really. . .  it's more fun to focus on those things that bring joy and remind us of God's grace and goodness, so the plan is to continue Looking for the Beautiful in the Everyday. . . my blogging theme for this month

And perhaps my theme in the months ahead. . .

I hope you join me.

**And in the spirit of Looking for the Beautiful in the Everyday. . .

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Whirlwind Visit

This is just a quick post.
I was visited by a magical whirlwind this week.
She came.
She whirled.
She left beauty in her wake.

I am pooped!

But she did all the work. . .

Hmmmm. . .

Something's not quite right about that.

But I have just decided to say thank you.

Check back tomorrow for all the fabulous details. . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birthday Presents

If you lived at my house and had a birthday, there are a few things that you can expect. . .

I would make you a birthday dinner with a menu of your choice.

I would bake you a birthday cake but, if you were one of my kids you would ask for a DQ ice cream cake instead.

You would get a card with money inside. . .

Unless I found a gift as cool as this one. . .

I mean, really. . .

Could anything be better than a Snuggie???

Certainly not money!

Of course, if you were one of my kids, you might also find that your birthday dinner doesn't necessarily show up on your birthday. . .

Jesse and Holly are both still waiting.

Three months for Jess and two for Holly.

I've done worse. . .

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Big Fail At Blogging For 31 Days Straight!

Lisa in HER kitchen. . .

My sister Lisa flew in to visit yesterday and we were so busy visiting and doing that I somehow forgot to blog yesterday!


Oh well. . . .

Sometimes, life's like that!

We've (okay. . . she's) been super busy today and Rebecca dropped by to lend a hand for the afternoon as well, so we've been having a grand time. . .

 But, all of a sudden. . .

I'm pooped!!!

So. . .

Tomorrow is another crazy busy day as we (or, if Lisa has her way. . .she. . .) get(s) a whole bunch more done so we can spend Thursday morning having fun before she flies home later that afternoon.

I am, of course, taking pictures as we go along, so I will be posting fully on all our activities as soon as it slows down a bit. . .

Stay tuned, because seriously???

That woman is amazing!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Technical difficulties . . .

I had planned to post about the lovely meal we had tonight for Crystal's birthday.

Tamara, Byron , Rebecca and Evan came as well, so we made it quite an occasion!

However, once again, techonology failed me.

My computer got all glitchy on me and i had to shut it down.

So here is a quick post to tell you to tune in tommorow  for a post with pictures galore . . .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mundare. . .Day 2

As we were up on the stairs by the giant sausage, two ladies strolled by, smiling and looking up at us.

"Looks like the locals think we're pretty foolish. I'm pretty sure they think your sausage is rather over the top Tam. . ." 

The ladies came closer, laughing and telling us what a good idea the sausage was.

They weren't locals at all, but rather, Edmontonians like me.

The ladies then asked if we would mind taking their picture.

Tamara offered them her sausage as a prop. . .

I snickered.

 They happily accepted.

When Tamara has a good idea. . . .

We should all be listening.

Because over the top can be a very good thing. . . .

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sisters. . . A Beautiful Thing

My sister Tamara and her husband The Big Guy are in town over the weekend and I got the chance to hang out with them along with their daughter Opera Diva.

We had the opportunity to visit the tiny town of Mundare. (Isn't that the first place you bring your out of town guests??)

It's the oddest thing. . .

We spent a few of our early growing up years in a tiny town, and those years hold some of our fondest memories.

Mundare was like going back in time. . .

Well. . .

Except for the sausage. . .

We didn't have a sausage in Yarrow.

Mundare is famous for it's sausage however. . .

So lunch had to include sausage. . .

And, if I wanted to go back and recreate my childhood. . .

There is some serious incentive to move to Mundare!

  On top of all this fabulous- ness

My sister Lisa is flying in on Monday and staying for four days!

Sisters are a beautiful thing!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Natural World.

There is such solace in the beauty of the natural world and it's intricate systems.

The glory of God and his creation are laid out before me.

Everything, down to the smallest butterfly,  has a special part to play in His plan. . .

Revelation 4:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Been a Crazy Day. . .

So this is going to be a post about beautiful pink. . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Beauty of Acreage Fresh Eggs

It is a lovely sunny morning here and I took a little time to play around with my camera in the greenhouse, working on ways to take product shots.

Don't you love how beautiful eggs can be?

Thanks Carolyn. . . .

Don't forget to click on the picture for the best view. . .

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Fall Visit To Wellington Garden Center

I have to say, when I  first started toying with the idea of joining the 31 Days challenge and choose '31 Days of Looking for Beauty in the Everyday', I envisioned many posts that would be no more than a picture showcasing the ordinary beauty I had found that day.

 Some thing simple.

Something that would not take up a lot of time. . .

 I did not expect to find myself writing more than showing. . . .

 I expected to blog about things like a pretty sandwich, beautiful farm eggs or even just the beauty of light shining through a bubbly glass of ginger ale.

And I notice those things. . .

Somehow though, I've come to realize that I don't just notice the small beauty, I also seem to seek  something out of the ordinary almost everyday as well.

I've found myself blogging about creating,

 About special dinners,

 About adventures with friends,

 And about goats!

None of these things are a part of the everyday really, but it seems that they are often a part of my everyday.

So, if you've come over from the Nestor's 31 Days hoping to find beautiful little bits of everyday and have been disappointed with what you've found, all I can say is. . .

Who knew???

I certainly didn't!

Last week was filled with some pain, a lot of discomfort and the attention span of a gnat. (I didn't watch one DVD or even read a book until Saturday!)

If I hadn't pre written blog posts for the week, I would never have managed to keep up with the 31 Days challenge.

Last night was the first good night's sleep I've had since  the surgery and I woke up feeling like myself this morning. (for which I am entirely grateful.)

I had developed quite the case of cabin fever by Friday, so, as Morgan and Holly had the day off, we went out for breakfast and made a quick stop at Canadian Tire, before heading home for a nap. (Me, not the kids. . .)

Because that wore me out!

 How crazy is that??

I was still pretty restless on Saturday and Morgan suggested I head out with my camera for a bit.

Which I did. . .

(*As always, if you want to see these pictures at their best, just click on the first one and you will see them  as larger images in a gallery. . .)

Nothing perks me up like a visit to Wellington garden centre .

As you can probably tell by the sheer volume of pictures posted. . . .

And now I'm off to take a nap.

Blogging is exhausting, isn't it???

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Process. . . Concrete leaves

 A quick look at the process. . .

Leaves with curves, dips and ruffles require special handling. . .

But perhaps. . . .

that will be my little secret. . .

© A Life of Whimsey