Sunday, July 27, 2014

Preparing for the worst; hoping for the best.

It's felt like an eternity since Friday.  I've felt the love of my friends and family, those who are here and those who are far away.  Your prayers are palpable.  Thank you.

As I've done more research, I've learned a little bit more.  But I won't know anything for sure until my appointment tomorrow at 4 (could it BE any later or more torturous??).

My OBGYN had called me with my biopsy results.  She told me that I have invasive ductal carcinoma, which you know.  I forgot to tell you that it's grade 3.  I looked that up.  Here's what the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's website told me:

Breast Cancer Grades

The grade of an invasive breast cancer tumor refers to how closely the cancer resembles normal breast cells under a microscope. In general, a lower grade number indicates a slower-growing cancer that is less likely to spread, while a higher number indicates a faster-growing cancer that is more likely to spread.
Breast cancer grade is determined as part of a biopsy. There are three grades.
  • Grade 1 (well differentiated): The cells in these cancers are relatively less abnormal looking under a microsope. The cells do not appear to be growing rapidly. They are arranged in small tubules.
  • Grade 2 (moderately differentiated): The cells in these cancers are somewhat more abnormal.
  • Grade 3 (poorly differentiated): The cells in these cancers look the most abnormal. They tend to grow and spread more aggressively. 
The grade of a breast cancer is different from the stage. Stage is based on where the cancer has spread.

Um, so...that's kind of scary.

I also had a friend e-mail me and so kindly tell me that she's praying for me and thinking of me.  Her letter was very uplifting.  She mentioned that she has a friend who has the same kind of cancer who just finished chemo.

"Oh," I thought.  "Oh."

So...I may have to do chemo.  But I don't know.  I just don't know what will happen.  I'm arming myself with information.  I want to know what I'm up against.  I'm figuratively reviewing the opposing team's game footage.  I'm looking at images online that look like my x-ray.  I'm writing down questions.  I'll be bringing to my appointment a diagram that my father-in-law sent me that they used when visiting with a doctor about my mother-in-law's cancer.  So that we can have a real diagram instead of what he calls "chicken scratches" - the pictures that doctors try to draw to explain what's happening anatomically.

I want to know what stage I'm at.

I'm a planner.  My plan is to fight this thing with everything I'm worth.  To "beat it up," as one of my friends said.  To "kick its arse," as another friend said.  I should seriously print the lovely and encouraging things my family and friends have said.  They make me feel like a warrior.

Plus, listening to Ben watching the new The 300 movie is also helping to rile me up.  "I WILL FEEL THE THROAT OF CANCER UNDER MY BOOT."  That Eva Green girl kicks arse.  I'm going to pretend I'm her character.  And that I look like her.  That wouldn't hurt any.

Ben and I were eating dinner tonight.  The kids got hungry way early and ate way early and were downstairs playing.  Ben was looking worriedly into my eyes under those fuzzy blonde eyebrows.  I love his eyebrows.  I reached over and held his hand.  I told him that it may be that I have to have chemo.  That I don't know.  But that I might have to.

His cute brow furrowed and his eyes got moist. 

"But hey," I said.  "I am REALLY GOOD at barfing."

He laughed.  "You really are, Kar.  Four pregnancies, barfing from beginning to finish."

"I really could be quite accurate and careful in any situation, amIright?"

"Yeah, you've got madd barfing skillz."

"So really, I got this, Ben.  I got this.  We know what it's like for me to barf for several months.  We've been down that road before.  So let's put a check mark next to the barfing thing."

He sighed.  "Okay."

"Also, the losing-the-hair thing.  You know I hate doing my hair and pull it back in a ponytail every single day, right?  So no big whoop.  We could be matching baldies.  We could get cute little couples photographs together.  All I have to do is draw a goatee on my chin and we can be buds."

He chuckled softly.

"And if it makes me lose weight?  Sweet!  Right??  I could lose some poundage throughout all this!  So it won't all be in vain!  Up top!" I yelled, holding my hand up for a high five.

He high-fived me, and then looked at his hand with wide eyes.  "I'm so sorry, Kar.  I can't believe I just high fived you.  I'm so sorry."

"What are you talking about?  I asked you for a high five, dude.  You don't leave me hangin' on a high five, no matter what it's about."

"Um, okay..."

Then I grabbed his forearm with my other hand and stared hard into his little light blue eyes.  "Here's the deal.  I'm not leaving you.  Don't you think for a second I'm leaving you.  I'm fighting this.  Hard.  I'm not going to give up.  And we're going to be okay."

We will.  Perspective:  we're sealed for eternity with our kids.  The rest is just gravy.  Sometimes lumpy, nasty gravy.  But I have my family guaranteed to be with me FOREVER.  No matter what happens.  But my plan is to stay here for as long as possible.  Or until I'm 95 and I'm like, "Kay, for realsies, I'm ready to be done."

I'll let you know what we find out tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I have cancer.

It's so weird to say that.  Today I was telling my friend Megs that I have "a little bit of cancer."  But it's like being pregnant - you're not "a little bit pregnant."  You're pregnant, or you're not.  You have cancer, or you don't.

I actually had a premonition about this.  Years ago, in fact.  I was pregnant with Gage and deathly ill.  And I remember thinking, "This is what it must feel like to have a really horrible illness.   Like cancer.  I wonder if this is what it feels like to be doing chemotherapy."  And something in my brain whispered to myself, "You are going to have cancer one day, you know."

I shoved that thought deep down into my brain and said, "Stop being overdramatic, brain.  Honestly.  How macabre can you BE?"

Then, when I found the lump in Lefty, I just...knew.  I knew I probably had it.  So I wasn't surprised when my doc ordered a mammo, and when my mammo was scary, and when I had to have a biopsy.  And I wasn't surprised when she called me from her cell phone on her day off today to break the news to me.

Also, I had another strong premonition last night, when I was doing my janitorial job.  I just knew what the results were going to be.  And I cried and cried while I vacuumed.

So, my cancer is called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  It started out (who knows when) in my duct.  And if we had found it at that time and done a lumpectomy, that would have been the end of it.  They might have done precautionary radiation.  But my cancer has now spread into the other tissue of my breast.  The lump I felt actually is a fibroid.  The cancer is a bunch of teeny dots nowhere near the fibroid.  Like the milky way. Everything else in the x-rays looks mooshy and smooth.  It's the dots that you can't feel that are the bad guys, in this case.

What is so cool is that we even found it at all.  If I hadn't had this lump, we would never have investigated it. We wouldn't have caught it until more damage had been done and had spread more.  Because they're not lumps.  They're teeny little dots.  Hundreds of teeny little dots.

We have a consultation with a general surgeon on Monday, and we'll discuss treatment options.  Obviously, we've been doing a lot of online research, and it sounds like, in most cases, women with IDC (I am an initials queen, but they actually call it that on all these medical websites) usually get a lumpectomy, and then radiation.  And then they'll usually take out a couple of lymph nodes in your armpit and test them to make sure it hasn't spread.  I guess the lymph nodes are where the cancer goes next, after it has conquered the boob.

And radiation - it's not the stuff that makes your hair fall out.  That's chemo.  Radiation is the laser thing.  They say the worst side effect is that you feel like you have a sunburn - red, itchy, sometimes the skin in the area peels a little...

I don't know how much they'll have to remove in the lumpectomy, but if it's a huge chunk, I really don't want to be...lopsided.  Or if they had to do a mastectomy just on one side and put in a fakie, I think that would also look really weird.  One fakie and one normal?  That would just look really bad as I grow older.  One perky and one hanging low, you know what I mean?  So I don't know.  We'll have to discuss that.  I don't know when he'll get me in for surgery.  Hopefully soon.  I don't know how many times I have to do radiation.  I don't know if it's months or weeks.

All I know is that our insurance runs out at the end of August and I have to make preparations.  Ben's new job doesn't have group coverage, so we'll have to go onto Obamacare.  Or do COBRA.  I might have reached my deductible by the end of August, so it might be cheaper to do COBRA than to start over with the deductible on Obamacare.

How am I doing emotionally?  Surprisingly, really well.  I swear it's times like these that the Spirit kind of pours you out a double dose of peace.  I cried a little.  And then I told my family and cried a little more.  And then I went out and raked our back yard.  I needed to do something physical and aggressive.  It felt good.  I had three cokes, which was a dumb decision, but right now, dieting is the last thing on my mind.  And coke makes me happy.  I'm not mad at Heavenly Father.  For now.  I'm sure I'll run the gamut of feelings with this thing.  It won't be pleasant.  But it is what it is.  I'll get through it with Heavenly Father's help.  I truly believe that everything we go through is for a reason.

We did tell the ninos.  I wanted to be as honest, yet comforting, as I could.  I think it's important to give your kids as much information as possible.  I let them know that most women do really well when they get treatment for this, and that I'll be just fine.  I told them that cancer is a very scary thing, and you don't mess around with it.  You get treated for it.  But that I was going to be treated and that I needed their help to be really nice to each other and to do their chores to help me.

I actually went to the temple with my mom and sestrah (have you seen Orphan Black?  There's a Ukrainian girl on there that says "sestrah" for "sister") this morning, and Nat and I got endowments done for two of our ancestors that are sisters!  So, so cool.  But when I was inside the temple, I had some new insights.  Even though I hadn't gotten THE PHONE CALL yet, it's fair to say that we've been going through some stuff, and I really was able to internalize the importance of going through trials so that you can appreciate the blessings. The good times.  The beautiful things.

So my goal is to take mental snapshots of things that are beautiful.  Things that make me happy.  Because they're all around me.  They're in Gage's infectious giggle.  They're in the bright flowers my mom brought me (and the two cokes she brought me).  They're in my dad doing as much research as he could about insurance on my behalf.  They're in Ben's warm, strong hug.  They're in Dylan's gangly 11-year-old awkwardness.  Or Sadie's constant smile.  Or Micah's love of snuggling.  Even in Pepper's nasty dog breath in my face as we napped together on the couch this afternoon.  There is beauty in the ashes of life.  And I'm choosing to focus on the beauty.

I'll let you know what goes on and when I'm going under the knife, as they say.  I really feel like I'll be okay.  If it was brain cancer or pancreatic cancer, I would probably be reacting differently.  I actually feel like I'm in this cool club now - I can be all, "It's October!  Cancer awareness month!  Let's do the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure!  Let's buy me a shirt that says, 'Breast Cancer Survivor!'  I survived CANCER!"  Even if I lost my hair, I'd be like, "Sweet.  I don't have to do my hair."  And I could wear those cool decorative head scarves.  Or, if I'm like, "Bennn, I want to buy some ice cream," and he's all, "We can't afford it," I can be like, "Fine.  Don't give the girl with cancer ice cream..." All passive-aggressive-like.  Or if my kids don't do their chores, I can lay on the guilt trip pretty thick.  "I have cancer and can't do all the chores, you guys.  You promised you'd help me..."  Ben bought one of my new favorite songs on iTunes today.  Pretty sure he did that because I'm the poor girl with cancer, and he knew it would give me a pick-me-up to have this song on my playlist.

Am I evil or what?  Forgive me.  I'm not trying to make light of it.  I'm just trying to make it seem less heavy. Which actually makes light of it.  Hm.  Humor is how I cope.  So, sorry/not sorry.  I'm going to find the humor in all of this as well as the beauty.  Because I have cancer, dammit.  I'm allowed to deal with it in the way that works for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Conversion via the Beastie Boys

I primarily teach ballet at this place that is mainly focused on jazz dancing.  A little bit of acrobatics, a little bit of ballet, a whole lot of jazz.  They do these jazz competitions that I have heard about but never participated in or worried about.  I had my ballet performances to prepare for - what were these jazz competitions of which people spoke?  And my little jazz girls think that ballet is the most boring thing on the planet.  But their wise studio owner makes them take ballet, because she knows that ballet is the building block of jazz. 


I love her for that.  Because it's true.


No matter how fun or funny I am, no matter how many jokes I tell, no matter how much I smile and cheer for them when they finally get something, they hardly ever smile back.  They just sigh and lean on the bar and half-heartedly do rond des jambs, their arms bent into a weird, very non-balletic shape.


The power of my pure, unadulterated finesse has not changed their minds about ballet.  Is't possible?  My weird jokes and the assigning of nicknames and psychotic smile aren't having any effect??  My weird jokiness is my superpower, man.  And it's been defeated by Ballet Ambivalence.


And I get it.  I hate math, right?  And I had some really cool math teachers, but no matter what they did, none of them made me like math. 


I had an idea last week.  I decided on Tuesday that I was going to do a ballet class using pop music.  Something I've often flirted with doing.  Ever since I heard that song "Walking on Broken Glass."  At the time, I remember immediately choreographing a dance to it in my head - doing ballet to a pop song.  My ballet class, when I was 14, did a ballet dance to "Everybody Dance Now."  That was so bad-arse.  I seriously felt so cool when we did that dance.  And since the studio I work for is so jazz-focused, I knew they'd be okay with my little experiment. 


So I set out to make a playlist.  Using just Ben's music on iTunes.  Because all of my CDs were stolen in 2001.  I'm still mourning that.  Stupid apartment complex in stupid Salt Lake...  We're too poor to buy iTunes music for me.  So I listen to iTunes radio.  Or attempt to listen to Ben's music, which he got from his CD's, which never got stolen.  Lucky fella.


And Ben's music....hm, how shall I put this? 


It sucks.


I mean, we have a few song tastes in common - we both love the Beatles.  We both love Led Zepplin.  We both love....ummmm.... Yeah.  That's really where it ends.  He has some hardcore heavy metal, and I hate that stuff.  It makes me feel very angry and want to punch someone.  And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work in a ballet class.  He loves Beck.  I love one of Beck's songs, "Loser."  (I like to sing the words wrong.  I like to sing, "Soooo, I'm a matador....I'm a loser baby...)  He loves The Doors.  I like the Doors alright, but each song should seriously be cut down by half.  Seven minutes for "Light My Fire"?  No song should be seven minutes long.  "Light My Fire" is a seriously cool song.  For about the first three minutes.  And then for last minute or so.  The middle part needs to be cut out.  The whole organ solo thing.  Bor-ing.


And Pink Floyd?  Don't even get me started.  I seriously, seriously don't get them.  I pride myself on being artsy, but this stuff....I just.....I just can't handle it.  But I do like the majority of "Comfortably Numb."


So creating a playlist without buying tons of music on iTunes was a bit of a challenge.  It took some doing, but eventually I put together a pretty rockin' set of songs.  The biggest challenge was for pirouette music and grand allegro music.  You really, really have to have songs in 6/8 or 3/4 for pirouette exercises and grand allegro (big jumps).  Anything else feels really wrong. 


And can I tell you how hard it is to find pop songs in 3/4 that aren't all slow ballads?  You can do slow ballads for pirouettes, kind of.  I mean, it has to really have a pretty quick tempo still.  And big jumps?  You cannot muster the strength and energy to get excited enough to do big jumps to, like, "Take it to the Limit" by the Eagles.  (Though I did use that for our pirouette exercises.)


So I looked to Google.  "Pop songs in 3/4 time."  There were a few forums on the subject.  Mainly people listing songs and other people swearing at the first people, telling them that that song is in 4/4, not 3/4, duhhhh...  There are some good Beatles songs in 3/4, but I didn't want my entire mix to be Beatles, and I felt very strongly that I needed to use Across the Universe for adagio.  It was staying right there.  Apparently there's a Jay-Z song in 3/4 time, but I wasn't crazy about it.  And there's a Kanye song in 3/4 time.  Again, not crazy about it.  In the end, I settled for "By My Side" by INXS, but when it came time to do grand allegro, I just...couldn't do it.  It just...wasn't quite right.  I ended up switching to a song I wanted to do for petit allegro that worked alright for grand allegro - "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash. 


And how did the girls react to our Jazzy Ballet Class?


They loved it.


I mean, who doesn't love The Clash?


Another favorite for them was when we did jetes to "Body Movin'" by the Beastie Boys.  They were doing more hip hop jetes than ballet jetes, and I had to remind them to keep it ballet-ish.  They were like, "Who ARE these guys???"


I grinned.  "The Beastie Boys."


"The Beastie Boys??  Who are they?"


Ah, young innocence.


Let me think of what else I had on my list...


Plies - I Will Buy You a Garden by Everclear
Tendus - Complicated by Avril Lavigne (don't ask me how a 38-year-old man has Avril Lavigne on his playlist)
Degages - Respect by Aretha Franklin
Fondus - No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley
Stretch - Stay with Me by Sam Smith (could his voice be any silkier?  I'll admit that I full-on bought that single on iTunes)


I can't remember the rest.  But we only do, like, six exercises in an hour.  These girls are still beginners and have a hard time grasping things, so I alternate exercises every week.  I always make sure I do plies and stretches, because warming up and stretching are really important, but next week, we probably will skip tendu and degage and go into rond de jambe, adagio, frappe, etc.


Anywho, the class was a success.  All the moms that usually sit in the observation room on the floor and text the whole time were standing up to watch when they heard Everclear.  And they slowly started to grin.  Nineties nostalgia kicking in.


The girls didn't start grinning until jetes to "Body Movin'."  I think it's safe to say that "Body Movin'" converted them to ballet.


Maybe just for that class.  We'll see.  I'm constantly creating more pop music playlists in my brain.  Driving down the road, listening to the radio, and going, "Oooh!  This would be really good for frappe!" 


I'm sooooooooo sad that I have to leave this job.  At whatever time our house sells.  I have to start applying for dance teaching jobs in Oregon...

Apple. Cider. Vinegar.

Dude, dude, dude.  You are not even going to believe this, but it’s true as I’m sitting here. 

So.  Plantar fasciitis (please pronounce that in your head with an over-exaggerated southern accent.  Thank you.) for a year.  I’ve had the maximum number of cortisone shots.  I’ve done all the physical therapy.  All of the stretching.  All of the taping.  Everything I could think of.  The last time I saw my podiatrist, he said that I’d have to get custom orthodics ($500) or get surgery.

I’ve noticed that the pain is different than it used to be, though.  Quite honestly, I think it’s my bone spur.  Some heel bone spurs don’t affect people.  But I think mine is inflaming the whole area.  It’s a new type of pain.  In new places.  The doc said he could go in and shave off the spur, but I was like, dude.  There must be something I can do for this spur without surgery.

So I hopped online and did some searching.  And I came across this website called earthclinic.com.  It’s a website dedicated to holistic/herbal/home remedies for problems in the body.  It’s a forum-style site.  I saw all of these testimonials about apple cider vinegar helping with joint pain, bone pain, and most of all, bone spurs.  A bunch of people drank the vinegar, but I was like, gag.  That won’t work out for me.  But then I saw that some people have actually topically wrapped apple cider vinegar-soaked cloths on their heels/knees, etc. and had really fantastic results.  And I was just so desperate that I tried it.

So.  I wrapped my heel in a cloth that had been soaked in ACV and rung out.  Soooo stinky.  Then I put a grocery bag around my foot and tied it, so I didn’t have to smell it all night and get it on my sheets.  Then I put my sleeping brace over it – a thing that holds my foot at a 90 degree angle while I sleep (it’s for plantar fasciitis, but I used it to just help hold this thing in place).  And then I wrapped a towel around my heel and tied it on top of my foot to keep the washcloth right there against my skin.   And I slept with it like that.
The next day, HUGE DIFFERENCE.  I could walk without pain for the first few hours of the day.  It was amazing.  I had to teach dance that day, and I did it with zero pain.  I could jump!  I could show these girls what I wanted them to do!  As the day progressed, it started getting sore again, so I did it again that night.  Next day, same story.  Less pain.  Dang.  I was sold.

So I did that for a week, and saw a huge improvement.  This one guy on earthclinic.com came back and said that he got an x-ray before his apple cider vinegar regimen, and then a month later, he got another x-ray, and the SPUR WAS GONE.  I don’t know how it works, guys, but for realsies.

We went on vacation, and I didn’t want to hassle with it, so I took a break from the apple cider vinegar thing.  But then I somehow pulled some tendons in my foot when we went to the beach.  So painful.  I am such a dork – my brother-in-law is in podiatry school, so I took a picture of my foot with my finger pointing to where it hurt and was like, “Ouch.  It hurts here.  Help.”  So he asked if it hurts when I push on it, when I move it here and there, so I texted him all that info, and he was like, “I think you pulled the tendon that attaches your pinky toe to the bony tuberosity on your foot.”  (Side note:  I really love the word “tuberosity.”  It just rolls off your tongue, no?)

So I went onto good old earthclinic.com.  Again, ACV was mentioned, but also, alfalfa leaves.  Ground up alfalfa leaves.  I knew I had to teach ballet yesterday, and this was Monday.  So I went to the local health foods place and bought a bottle of ACV tablets and a bottle of alfalfa tablets.   It wasn’t that expensive – like $6 per bottle, and each bottle has 100 tablets.  So I started taking the tablets on Monday, and yesterday?  I could actually walk!  And dance!  Both types of tablets reek, but I’ve been faithfully taking them.  And I’ve continued with my ACV soaks on my feet.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m telling you, I really do think that some herbal remedies work.  And some don’t.  For me, at least.  I tried St. John’s Wort for my depression – nada.  But Echinacea to help shorten the duration of colds – I did that the whole time I taught school, and I swear by it.  I saw all my colleagues doing it, and it worked for them, too, because you know, teaching school, it’s like wading around in a cesspool of germs, right?

Ben thinks it’s a load of bunk.  He thinks herbal remedies are a placebo.  I tell him that if they’re a placebo, I’m good with that.  If my body is tricking itself into thinking that these pills are working and as a result, is healing itself, cool.  I’m getting results, whether my body is tricking itself or whether these things really work. 

Oh, and ACV helps with weight loss.  I saw on one of those reality TV shows with those gypsy girls (a fascinating culture.  I could watch those gypsy shows all day) that they drink it to keep their weight down, and it seems to be working for them.  A ton of people on earthclinic said it helps them with their weight.  Nice side effect, eh?  I wouldn’t feel sad about losing a few pounds on this stuff.  Because the three pounds I lost while being violently ill in Chelan?  Yeah, I gained it back.  I’m awesome like that.  Sigh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Boob Pokin'

So I had my biopsy yesterday.  It really wasn't too bad, honestly.  I went to a baseball game with my folks the night before, and my mom quite helpfully told me that once, when she got a biopsy on her boob, she got, well...shish-kabobed.  Like, they accidentally poked all the way through to the other side.  I was like, "MO-OM!  I DO NOT NEED TO HEAR THAT RIGHT NOW!"  It's like ladies that tell you all of their horrible labor stories when you're pregnant.  Don't need to hear it.  I can listen to it after I have the baby, and I can swap stories with you, aight?  But none of this pre-emptive PTSD.


So, understandably, I was a little nervous.  I did it right there in the radiologist's office, and the actual procedure itself was only like a minute long!  While the ladies were setting up, we chit-chatted about this and that.  I found out that the main gal knows my mom and that the other gal really loves to paint in watercolors.  The Watercolor Lady had plantar fasciitis once and we commiserated about it for awhile.  She took several minutes trying to shoo a fly out of the room.


I looked up at one point and saw some x-rays up on the screen.  And I realized that they were x-rays of my boob!  I was like, "Is that ME?  Is that Lefty?"  Yep.  They were huge on the screen!  I was like, "Dang, if I had this size of boobs, I'd probably be seven feet tall!!"  It was fascinating.  I've never seen an x-ray of a boob before.  And yes, I saw the calcifications.  They looked like constellations.  Bright white.  Dots in clusters.  Everything else just looked mooshy and smudgey in there, but these little guys were very prominent.


They had me lie down on a table (they really should try to make it more cushioney) on your tummy, with your boob hanging into this hole in the table.  And then they pump the whole table up, like the hairdressers do with their special chairs, and then the doctor lays on his back and works underneath you, like a car mechanic working on a chassis.  I guess it makes sense, since boobs are so....weird.  I mean, they take on different shapes depending on how you're positioned, right?  It would make the most sense to have them hanging down toward the earth...

Anyways, so first, they have these rollers that kind of clamp on your boob on the top and bottom, and they tighten the rollers.  It's a little uncomfortable, but not bad.  But maybe it's just me.  And my insensitive boobs. Wink.  I had to turn my head and face the wall, my cheek on the table.  They took some x-rays, and I had to hold my breath during them.  I was worried that my heart thumping was messing the x-rays up, but the gal said I did great.  I got to stare at a painting on the wall during the whole procedure.  The painting was really beautiful.  Lily pads in a pond.  I later commented on the beauty of the painting, and they said that the artist is a medical doctor and likes to make paintings based on anatomy.  The lily pads, with the faint outlines of their stems going to the bottom of the pool, represent kidneys.  I thought that was cool.


So the radiologist came in and positioned himself underneath my chassis/boob and was like, "Okay, I have to give you a local anesthetic.  It's going to sting, but then afterward, you won't feel anything, which is a good thing."  I gave a thumbs up, realized he couldn't see it, then grunted, "Okay..."  I was nervous.  I think the shot is called Lidacaine or something like that, and I've had that shot lots of times in my dumb foot before cortisone shots.  And they hurt like a Mother of Pearl.  So I was scared.  But dude, I didn't even feel a pinch!  I didn't feel any stinging!


"Is that too terribly painful, Karlenn?  Are you doing alright?"


"Wait, you're doing it right now?"


"Well, I just finished."


"Um, no, not painful at all.  I didn't even feel it."


"Really?  That's strange..."


I mean, maybe the discomfort of the rollers that were clamping my boob made the shot not seem like that big of a deal??  I don't know.  Whatever.  I'm glad it didn't sting.


After a couple of minutes, they were ready to do the biopsy.  So apparently, they go in there, and they extract three samples in some way - I quite honestly don't want to know the trauma my poor boob went through.  And then!  They put in this little "marker."  They want to mark the space where they took the samples from, so that if they have to come back, they know where to go.  I thought that was fascinating.  So I have this little tag inside me.  Like those sharks they tag and then track all over the ocean.  So cool.


Then they uncranked the rollers and had me slowly sit up, putting pressure on my boob for awhile, and then they put this special strong tape over the...well...hole.  I mean, I saw an x-ray of the thing they put in you to take the samples, and it's not a teeny needle.  It looks like maybe the size of a pencil or a tampon or something.  I shuddered and looked away.  I was surprised they don't do stitches, but oh well.  If the tape does the trick, then I'm good.  They did that special tape when I got my hysterectomy, and that totally surprised me.  Tape??  Crazy.


I had to wait for another couple of minutes, and that's when I saw the towel-o-blood under the hole in the table.  I had to look away again.  That was a whole lotta blood...  But I felt fine.  I hadn't even had time to eat lunch yet, but I wasn't dizzy or anything.


Then we had to do a whole other round of mammograms, something with which to compare future mammograms, should that become necessary.


They told me not to do any housework or anything for 24 hours.  (Yesssss.)  And then Ben took me to Jamba to get an Orange Dream Machine.  I took it easy for the rest of the day yesterday and attempted to take it easy today.  It's not always easy to take it easy when you have four needy children, amIright?  I'll find out the results of the biopsy on Monday.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Total, Real, Earth-Shattering Spiritual Experience


First of all, may I say that typing on Ben’s laptop beats typing on the iPad, any time, any day?  I felt that my writing on those days was extremely sub-par.  Glad to be back to a normal keyboard.

We had about a week in Chelan to ponder our upcoming life change.  Moving 9 hours away to a new city.  We’re still not sure how we’re going to make it work, with Ben taking such a huge pay cut, but we’ve been poor before.  Heck, we’ve always been poor.  We know how to be poor.  I’m a grump about it, but I have to keep reminding myself, as my sister once changed one of her passwords to, I’m “poorbuthappy.”  I have kids whom I adore.  I have a husband whom I adore.  I’m mainly able to function physically.  My mental state is perfect – which is a big deal.  If my mental side is doing well, I’m good.  I’m good. I feel like we’ll make it.  We’re just hammering out details.

I was washing dishes one day in the kitchen, there in Chelan, pondering my life (I had someone recently tell me that all the mundane household chores that we do as housewives are actually a blessing in disguise, because it gives us time to ponder and be really open to the Spirit.  Or stress  out a ton.  I’ve known women (including myself) that usually do the latter. )

At any rate, throughout this whole process of Ben losing his job, I’ve had a difficult time feeling promptings from the Spirit.  I’ve been praying to accept whatever direction Heavenly Father wants to send us.  I’ve been reading my scriptures.  I’ve tried to find quiet moments where I can really listen for His promptings.  And I really haven’t gotten much.  Which has been frustrating.  It feels like it’s harder to get those promptings now, because our home is so chaotic with the kids constantly fighting and screaming and being generally crazy.  I feel like it was easier when I was single, or when it was just the two of us, to hear the promptings of the Spirit.  I’m the kind of person that needs to step back from the chaos and just be silent for awhile.  In fact, I brought my ear plugs with me on our trip – BEST DECISION EVER.  It shut out the extra noise for me. 

So I’ve been a little frustrated with lack of spiritual direction.  Quite honestly, I think the Spirit has had a hard time reaching me, not only because of my chaotic environment, but because I’ve been just…so upset at this whole situation.  We have to leave the home that we just barely bought.  A beautiful home that fits our family so beautifully.  We have to live on half of what we earned before.  And that will be hard.  We’re literally looking at double-wide trailers now over there.  It’s ridonkulous.  I’ve just been in a general state of pissiness.  Which obviously makes it hard for the Spirit to reach me.

So back to my story.  I’m drying drinking glasses, and I’m thinking about having to go back to work. Because it’s inevitable.  I’ll have to go back to work.  I sighed and thought to myself, “I guess I should get my teaching certificate up to date…” and I felt sad and defeated.  I did love my teaching job.  Mainly.  It was hard.  Those kids sapped everything out of me, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically…I came home as a shell of a person.  I went to bed at 8 p.m. every night.  I spent every spare second creating lesson plans and grading papers.  And visualizing that kind of life with four kids now… I really don’t know how I can be a good mother to them when other peoples’ children have sapped the life out of me, you know?  I can’t picture coming home from that and being a caring, loving, energetic mommy to my ninos. I know my mental barriers – things I fear will push me over the edge, and every decision I make is basically decided upon by whether it will push me over the edge.

I think going back to teaching school would do that.

So then I thought briefly about teaching dance.  How, in these past few weeks, when I get home from teaching dance, I’m completely energized and happy.  Patient.  Alive.  I was thinking, as I sat there, drying the dishes, “You know what I really want to do?  Keep teaching dance.”  And I’m not kidding, it was like angels singing Hallelijah and blowing trumpets.  A parting of clouds.  Chills going up and down my arms.  And a clear voice inside my head – not an audible voice, but a voice, nevertheless.  A clear, piercing voice.  And the voice said, clear as day – “You need to teach dance.  This is what I made you for.  This is your destiny.”

I almost started crying right there in the kitchen.  I know it was a Spiritual prompting.  And I’m going to follow it.  I’ll probably make as much as a public school teacher makes anyways.  Haha!  I’ll be teaching (a lifelong passion), and teaching something that is a huge part of me.  I’ll be dancing for a living!!  A dream come true!

Can I tell you something cute?  I was teaching my little 7,8,9  year old girls today, and after class, I had three girls give me huge hugs.  Cutest thing EVER.  And I had a mom ask if I could give private lessons to her daughter every week to help her with her jazz pirouettes, fouettes, and turns in a la seconde.  I checked with the lady in charge and arranged it.  So I start that next week.  It will be fun, helping someone one-on-one.
As to when we’re joining Ben in Bend, no idea.  I’m kind of waiting for him to figure out what he’s doing.  I think he should just go ahead and find us a rental house and get all settled in while I tie up loose ends here, and then we can go join him.  Besides, the house will sell much better if we’re not here in it.  Because my kids are complete and total SLOBS.  He’s like, “Maybe I should find a room for rent.”  And I’m like, “For a month?”  I want the kids there to start school at their new school.  I don’t want to rip them out of their school after only a month or two here, you know?

Ben and I (okay, it was just Ben) used a roto-tiller to till the dead grass in the backyard today.  It took Ben two hours.  I pruned trees so he could get under and around them.  I’m in charge of raking the dang thing while Ben starts painting the house.  Ooooh, wait until you see what colors we’re painting it.  It will look so much better!  And hopefully sell well.  I think I should try to find some area rugs to jazz up our rooms and also cover up the fact that these floors show every speck of dust.  We should have gone with the lighter color so that dirt and grime could be hidden more easily.  Ah well.  You live and learn.  So we have lots to do.


I got my biopsy today.  I’m so tired right now that my eyes are rolling into the back of my head, so I’ll type all of that tomorrow.  Oh, and this will take a few days to upload, because Ben accidentally tore up the internet line when he rototilled.  It was buried only a few inches of topsoil he tilled!  I don’t know what kind of idiot buries an internet cable in the first few inches of topsoil, but whatever.  Bad on whomever did that before.  Ben says he can fix it.  So until then, no internet.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Woking About

We headed down to Wenatchee one day this week. Mainly so we could go to the Wok About Grill, one of our favorite places to eat. Completely worth the half-hour trip each way.

I also really wanted to get Ben some jeans for his birthday, and there really isn't a place to buy any in Chelan. At least not any that would please my picky man. Every pair of jeans he owns has a hole in the crotch. Nat and I were trying to figure that out the other day - why the crotch, of all things, is worn out on our husbands' jeans.  We thought that maybe our men wear their jeans below their bellies, which makes the crotch hang low, and then their thighs rub together right there, thereby causing the crotch holes? That's the best we can figure.

Anywho, if Ben had his 'druthers, he would want a pair of Lucky jeans for 80 bucks. Which we have never been able to do, honestly. The next best thing for this picky man is Old Navy. So we made the trip down to good old Wenatchee.

The Wok About was as awesome as usual. Love that place.






Then we went to what Ben calls Old Slavey. (He has names for almost every store - Safeway is Slaveway. Pizza Hut is Pizza Slut. Little Caesar's is Little Sleazer's. He's a funny guy.)

The kids were being super-special, so after about 5 minutes, I took them out to the car. Containment. But first I picked out some sunglasses and sports socks for myself and gave them to Ben. Old Slavey has the BEST workout socks. I also got some schlip-schlops for Sadie and Gage.

Ben ended up with a few pairs of jeans and a t-shirt. I'm glad. No more wearing patch-crotched jeans for my man. For now.
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