Cancer, an Unexpected Education. . .

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(I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, this is just simply something that works for me and thus I am sharing with anyone who finds themselves in the same predicament.Your physician should always be your go-to person for any sort of treatment.)

Having cancer can lead to this pesky little problem called Lymphedema in which lymph nodes are surgically removed for your own protection—the super highway that flows within. (The system is an extensive drainage network that helps keep bodily fluid levels in balance and defends the body against infections.)
Due to the lovely fact that I no longer posses lymph nodes in my left leg, the highway system, for all intensive purposes, has been blown up and cannot move the fluid  upstream – it’s in need of some serious help. Physical therapists will recommend and sometimes prescribe compression garments in order to keep the fluid moving.
(Compression increases the pressure in the tissue under the skin (subcutaneous) thereby helping to reduce and prevent swelling. The compression of this subcutaneous tissue helps move excess fluid (swelling) back into the capillaries (tiniest of the blood vessels) and helps prevent too much fluid from leaking out of these little vessels.Secondly, compression reduces the ability of the superficial veins in the leg to expand and overfill with blood. This in turn helps prevent blood in these veins from flowing backward causing congestion. Congestion in the leg accounts for the leg complaints, swelling, and skin changes common in persons with venous problems.)
I for one do not care for the overly antiseptic compression garments they give you. Cancer is depressing enough, no reason to make you feel worse by giving you something that is more likely to be reserved for a nursing home patient. Thus my journey began in search of something that would work and not make me feel 100 – I give you my new best friend – the body shaper.  I purchased one size smaller in order to provide the most compression – it works wonders, not only for my lymph system, but for my psyche as well.

Mine is from Victoria Secret because I may have cancer, but I am certainly not dead.

~E

Soul Searching . . .

 

LosAngeles2[4]

A bit of housekeeping: I have spent the last three weeks fighting for my right to health care and a PET scan to keep one-step ahead of my cancer – I won.  It took two Oncologists pleading my case, and a letter to my Governor in order to overturn the health insurance snafu.  I received my results of the scan yesterday and I am happy to report that I am still dating NED (No Evidence of Disease) and Mel (Melanoma) is complying with the restraining order.

Ironically, I had a conversation the other day in regards to the predicament I have found myself in – fighting with Mel and clinging to NED in hopes he will stick around I was told the other day that I am in need of some serious soul-searching in order to rid myself of Mel altogether – I had to laugh.  My soul-searching, as it were, began in the summer of 2003 and came to its incredible implosion in the winter of 2008.  Five years of soul-searching, five years of deep introspective analysis, five years of being the only attendee to the continuous Pity Party of One, five years of mistakes, stupidity, and remorse- I left.  I moved from Los Angeles to rid myself of the dysfunction, to begin anew, a complete Ctrl-Alt-Delete reboot – that was six years ago.  I have never looked back, nor visited since I left that cold winter morning in 2008.

I no longer stress, (with the exception of the occasional holy cow this cancer BS is just that… a bunch of BS) and I am content. Thus, when I was told (repeatedly) to do some soul searching in order to rid myself of this cancer, it occurred to me that they haven’t the faintest idea of who I am as a person, (ironic because they are a relative)  nor do they realize that the dysfunction was dragging me under, and was the reason I left sunny Southern California . What does it take to find such contentment? Ironically, it takes some deep soul-searching.  Quite possibly, the repeated requests were not meant to convince me, but rather, to convince themselves.

I am headed back to Sunny So Cal, The City of Angels. . . Los Angeles this weekend for a visit.  Since we are driving, as I can no longer fly, I shall post about returning to where I spent the first 40 something years of my life as we head out across the plains in search of, perhaps, a soul.

The Adventure Awaits.

 

~E

 

A Time Gone By . . .

Vintage-Etiquette-Image-11

 

How do we effect change when it comes to manners/etiquette in our lives?  It seems to me that when we do display manners we are somewhat of a social pariah, as our world has become an ‘all about me and the hell with you’ society.  I present these to you as a Throw Back Thursday ( #TBT ) – to a time in which manners were the norm in our society and those who did not take part in such practical displays of courtesy were given a stern speaking to and most likely heavily reprimanded by their parents.

I wonder how to bring back these types of normal behaviors and if by doing so, it would strengthen humanity as a whole.

These are standard behaviors of children in the 1950’s.  I grew up with these. Did you? Have you passed any along to your children?  Should we bring them back and if so how do we begin?

 

  1. When any adult, excepting your parents, entered the room, you would stand up.
  2. You would always vacate a bus or train seat for a woman or someone in senior years.
  3. You would never leave the Table without seeking permission first.  “May I please be excused?”
    “Please” and “Thank you” were required.
  4. At school, every teacher was referred to as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ and upon entry into the Classroom, everyone would stand and unanimously say “Good morning Sir”
  5. If you wore a hat, you would never wear it indoors, home or shop.  You would take it off if you met or you were talking to a Lady.
  6. “I want” were two ‘no-no’ words, rather you would say “I would like” or “May I please have?” followed by a “Thank you.”
  7. You would always open a door for someone, a woman, or adult and allow them entry or exit before you.
  8. Speak when you’re spoken to.  Children would not normally make the first comment other than to ask how a person was, you would sit politely when you had guests and wait for the question – and that was usually based around your schooling.
  9. Going back to buses and trains and even walking down the street, if you saw a Lady struggling with her shopping, you would offer to help, even if that meant going out of your way to take them to her home.

 

Have an amazing day and put into practice at least one of the above in your travels today – it will make the world just a little bit better.

 

~E

What I Did On My Summer Vacation. . .

 

Lake Winnebago, WI USA

Hello My Lovely Readers,

As you may recall, back in May I announced I was taking some time off in order to regain my health, both physically and spiritually, in order to listen to my heart, as it usually knows which path to take.  Throughout the summer, I have worked on dealing with the simple fact that Mel (melanoma cancer) will always be a part of my life.  It is quite shocking as I can usually overcome adversity, leaving it in the dust, yet Mel is a part of my life now, and even though I cannot ditch him I have come to terms with he shall always be that crazy boyfriend that stalks me from a distance — never knowing when and where he is hiding.  .  . waiting. . . watching. I have also come to terms with my new best friend Lymphedema — the wonderful after effect of multiple surgeries — my leg shall ever remain different, out of the ordinary, painful — ridiculously painful.

Surprisingly, while the last two and half years have been long, painful, and completely life upending — it has been for a reason — to do better.  To become a better person, to dispense all that I have learned in my 50 years on the planet, which, according to the calendar, I completed my 50th year on the planet last month, bringing me to pondering my entire life thus far, as half a century is a bit of time to do things right, to completely mess up, to learn, to love, to laugh, to cry, to experience nearly everything life has to offer — wild as it is as I did not think life was traveling that fast.  It seems like yesterday the biggest decision I had to make was, who to sit next to at lunch and what activity I wanted to pursue during recess.  Fifty years goes by at breakneck speed — the speed of light so it would seem.  Putting things off until tomorrow is not much of a choice as fifty years shows up in an instant and you may indeed find yourself not having taken single action step in following your dream, your passion, that one thing that nags at your heartstrings to accomplish.

As summer comes to its glorious end, I do not know about where you are, but here, in Wisconsin, it has been simply divine – rarely above 80, not a ton of rain, and sunsets on the lake that make everything that is wrong with the world disappear, if even for a briefest of moments.   I sincerely hope we can pick up where we left off, as if we were old classmates returning to the first day of school with adventures from our summer to tell.  I shall share with you all that I have learned these past 50 years – what worked, what did not.  I have had to do some cleaning up of my page, and I am working on a website and of course the ever popular book/novel/creative memoir, that I have been diligently working on. I shall pick up the pace as the lazy days of summer have past and it is time to pursue what I love. . . . Life.

It’s good to be back.

~E

I Had A Meeting. . .

 

Signing a Deal

 

Hi Everyone,

As you all know I have been doing the Melanoma Cancer thing for a long time now. The last two years have been interesting to say the very least.  Hanging out with Mel has been exhausting, distracting and quite frankly has taken up 99% of my time all while derailing my writing. Not to mention all the other things Mel has come between.

SO. . . .

I have decided that I must devote the rest of the summer exclusively to my health. It is difficult for me to keep up on this lovely blog idea of mine and concentrate on divorcing Mel all at the same time. All the surgeries, the tests, and medications have made my mind foggy soup in which it is difficult to manage words, sentences ….etc.  I struggle in thinking clearly and completing everyday tasks, so thought provoking blogs are not in the cards at the moment as these take a ton of mental power, which I have none.

However . . .

Even though I shall be departing the blog scene, I am still out and about across the internet.  I have a personal Facebook page for those who are ‘Friendly’ and of course my Twitter account for those who like concise thoughts.    I am all of these places daily, I write a little something everyday on Facebook so please join me there, as this is where I shall be until Mel and I are either divorced or at least I can get a restraining order.  :)

I appreciate your patience in advance and sincerely hope we connect within a different forum of this great thing called the Internet.

~E

My Personal Facebook Page 

My Twitter Page

Wednesday Thoughts. . .

blessing

 

“He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.”

~ Epicurus

 

Mother’s Day….

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~My favorite words for Mother’s Day, by Erma Bombeck but first a few of my own.
Blessed are those who have mother’s fully engaged in their lives, those willing to put their dreams aside to inspire the dreams of their children.

~E

“When God Created Mothers”
by Erma Bombeck

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said. “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?” She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said. “Six pairs of hands…. no way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked, “it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel. God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently, “Get some rest tomorrow….”

I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

But tough!” said God excitedly. “You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

Can it think?”

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

It’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “It’s a tear.”

What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said, “I didn’t put it there.

No Ordinary Girl . . .

Skyline-Los-Angeles-Night

Hello My Lovely, Loyal Readers.

First, I would like to thank you for your patience with my not so punctual performance here, as I deal with the Cancer Conundrum and thus my inefficient postings.  I do believe, as of this morning, I may be seeing some light at the end of this very long tunnel.  (No, not that light, just a bright spot on figuring out my ‘new normal’.)

While it is important to speak of Melanoma Cancer, the fact that it is not ‘just skin cancer’ and ‘not a big deal’ and that 1 American dies from melanoma every hour, I must move on for my own sake.  I shall share updates as I go along, for example I have another PET scan on the 15th and with any luck at all, as luck has been on my side, I shall be ‘pet’ free.  Yes, humor makes this entire situation a bit more bearable.  As for my humor, it seems to me, and those around me the more pain I am in, the more jokes I crack.  I wonder sometimes were these jokes come from as I have always been so serious, so focused on doing work — I am was a work-a-holic.  The last note I would like to mention about my Cancer Conundrum is that Monday May 5, 2014 is Melanoma Monday and I would suggest you check your spots, as may no spot be unturned. Here is a link to vital information on what to look for in order to avoid your own Conundrum.  For those wishing more information about my life with cancer, my door is always open, feel free to send an email and let’s chat.

 

So what shall you write about, you may be wondering.   Well, I have the answer, I have decided to write an installment series on who I am, where I have been, and how I ended up where I am today, as I certainly know that being a voyeur into another’s world can be quite hypnotic.   I do, however, still struggle with stringing words along in a sensible order, as always will be a perfectionist and thus poetic thoughts are difficult to come by lately, but I shall give it a whirl and see what comes of it.  I simply ask for your patience and understanding.

 

Let the frivolity commence!

 

In a galaxy far, far away….  Oh, wait that opening has already been taken.

 

We shall begin with an overview, a synopsis if you will.

 

I have spent a half century on this planet, and growing up in the 70’s in Southern California is an experience in its own. I was brought up in such a fashion that women should be women, while men should be men and I honestly believe in the convention of women’s work and there is nothing feminine about feminists.  I believe in Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates as my guides to understanding the big why of it all, as grasping this concept is what drives me forward.  I am fascinating in understanding why American society no longer dresses to go outside, as in many of us feel that pajama’s and looking disheveled is acceptable. Have we lost all pride? I still, at the tender age of 49 and 3/4’s have difficulty entering a bar as it is not a place for ‘ladies’. I believe women should take care of their men in order for their men to take care of them. My views on intimacy are different from most women I know — but alas, this is what makes life so wonderful — different perspectives. I have never been a so called ‘girly-girl’ and find the whole shopping phenomenon mind-boggling.

My father’s life story, as far as I know it, is an amazing journey in itself. Sadly, I did not appreciate his wealth of knowledge until after his death, in so much as he was rarely around during my childhood.  He is a fine example of hard work will get you where you need to be, with nothing but an 8th grade education and a ton of determination he went from errand boy at RKO to an executive at Tri-Star Pictures.  There are times I wish I knew that guy, and not the guy I knew as my father.  (note I use the word father, not dad..it says a lot.)

As a child, I was taught that children should be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen either, which was the standard protocol of child rearing during the 60’s/70’s.  I was brought up in such a fashion as young ladies were to be taught to be delightful housewives. Yet, in the same respect, upon my father’s insistence, and necessity, I also learned everything there is know about ‘the department of the exterior’ as he would refer to house maintenance, as my mother was in charge of ‘the department of interior’. In so much I can fix most anything that comes my way. I am pretty self sufficient — as every woman should be.

As a teenager I was, most certainly, a rebel without a cause.

I endured an abusive marriage, crazy boyfriends, and had to reach rock bottom to realize that I did not deserve such treatment, thus finding the courage to re-invent myself. I’ve had a mid-life crisis, a complete mental breakdown, and recovered from it all — learning tremendous lessons.  I broke the cycle of abuse but it was not easy, as I come from a long line of alcoholics and serious dysfunction.

I spent the first half of my life working in office/financial management and at some-point, I decided that I needed a college education as years earlier my life as a teenage rebel had no room for such nonsense. At forty, I began the college degree journey. I have two degrees now, Law and Management. The law degree was so I could understand the legal process — being embroiled in Los Angeles family court and not understanding how to play the game was unacceptable. If it was only unacceptable before I lost everything that would have been good. Oh Captain Hindsight, you are so brilliant.  I earned a management degree in Hospitality because I had a vision of lovely retreat for those who struggle in life, (walk a similar path as to my own) as a way to guide them towards happiness. I honestly do not know if this will ever happen, due to the cancer deal, but one never knows. I have authored a book and contributed to several others. For more information about these just email me and I shall direct you towards them, as I am not one to toot my own horn, so many do not know about my writing.

After losing it all, except the clothes on my back, I moved from Los Angeles, to the Midwest, where I knew one person — in essence, I hit the Ctrl-Alt-Delete button and began anew.

I shall expand upon these points as learning how ‘not to conduct life’ from someone who did everything backwards, may indeed be useful to someone else.

 

Have a tremendous day, knowing that if I could certainly walk through the fire of dysfunction and out the other side, so can you. Life only holds drama as long as you let it, as soon as you no longer find it acceptable, it stops.

~E

 

A Journey with A Purpose. . . Part II

Journey

In our last episode, of what I now would like to call, Does this Lymphedema Make me Look Fat?  (ha-ha, you’ve got to laugh at yourself or this whole life thing wouldn’t be any fun.) we learned about three lovely characters that you will get to hang out with if you don’t catch your Freckle Gone Wild fast enough. 

I love my puns, don’t you?

If you missed the first installment please read it here.  

Your life changes, in an instant, when your physician tells you, you have cancer and the first thing that comes to mind, (my mind anyway) is “Get it the heck out of me already! What are we waiting for!” and so they do –remove it. Which brings me to another thing you must become accustom to when you have Melanoma – surgery.  You must be prepared for surgery and a bunch of them – it not a one and done scenario – No Siree’ Bob.  You have entered the world of multiple surgery land and once you enter there is no going back.

Why? You may indeed be wondering.  Well, I will tell you.   Contrary to popular belief, it is not as simple as removing the afflicted spot, it’s more of a let’s take a chunk out of you, and because it is such a large chunk we need to replace it with a skin graft.  Therefore, you get the 2 for 1 deal the first go around, skin removal for your skin graft as well as removing the afflicted spot, plus or minus 3 or so inches.  Yeehaw!  

Are you still with me? 

This surgery requires a few months of strict bed rest in order for the skin graft to take.  I must admit that my thought process was along the lines of that I would finally get a vacation, albeit not the vacation I really wanted, but a vacation nonetheless.  I, until this moment in time, worked 60+ hours a week, I am a A-Type person, so keeping me down is a bit difficult but in a crazy way I thought laying in bed would afford me the time to do things I had been neglecting – my creative side.    Oh Boy was I wrong.

Six months into trying to get my darn leg to heal, I was ready for another surgery, as is the standard procedure. A series of surgeries to remove the skin graft so that, because mine was sitting directly on my nerves pinching them.  My point is, now that I have rambled is you get to have a bunch of surgeries, a half a dozen or so.   Sounds fun right?  Thus bringing us to yet another new change in your life –you get to finally have ‘people’.  Yes, that’s right your own entourage, only yours consists of not body guards and manic fans, yours consists of physicians, surgeons, and therapists.

Photo as my leg is today, two years and a half a dozen surgeries later.  The original freckle gone wild was the average size, nothing spectacular, nothing to write home about. It was on the lower portion of my leg, the smaller chunk missing. The upper chunk is my most recent surgery, in which a small, pea sized lump reoccurred underneath my skin.  The point being, a small thing becomes a large thing in an instant.  (Yes, it hurts like hell, 24/7.)   I cannot, for the sake of vanity, and the fact I am just one person, show you the large chunk missing from my inner upper thigh – but let us just say it is resembles the lower portion – it could be it’s twin.

Leg

I went from one primary doctor, once a year, “Gee your fine” visit to, 1 Surgeon, 2 Oncologists, 1 Dermatologist, and 1 Physical Therapist.  I also enjoy hanging out, on a regular basis, with a plethora of technicians, lab personnel, nurses, and various and sundry others who all know me by my first name. In visiting your entourage, you will need assistance, especially for those long days of waiting in between lab visits and oncologists visits as they schedule them all at once.

 

Chair

 

I, for the sake of having to be driven to my appointments (Did I mention that driving long distances is out of the question?) I schedule nearly every appointment back-to-back.  I still streamline everything I do.  I cannot help it, it’s what I do – streamlining, efficiency, work smarter, not harder attitude.  Do it right the first time and there is no need to do it over.  A lifetime of streamlining organizations still sings loudly in my heart.    In as much as you need to get around, I use either my wheelchair (NASCAR has nothing on me!) or my cane.  Both use to disturb my soul, as there is something inside of me that refuses to be put down, set aside or be told that I cannot do something, but then I realize these are simply tools in which I use now to get something accomplished.  I use the wheelchair for sitting at the stove for cooking long meals, since standing is not an option. Someday, when my ship comes in,you know the one with the boatload of cash on it, I will redo the kitchen so that it is more user friendly, but for now, I shall simply, Improvise, Adapt and Overcome any obstacles that stand in my way.

Therefore, my lovely readers please do not dismiss the power of the sun, the damage that even the loveliest of tans can bring. Take care of yourselves, inside and out.  Feed you soul delicious food, exercise to feed your spirit, meditate to feed your mind and live in gratitude.  Despite my limitations I find joy in everything I do, every breathe I take and am truly grateful for this life of mine.  

Bloom Where You Are Planted, and Watch Your Life Flourish.

~E

 

PS. For those still waiting for my 101 First Last Date’s book to be completed, I recently received it back from my editor and so it I shall write my little heart out to make it a memorable read.  I do believe, the cancer is behind me now, as it certainly is no longer welcome in my home. And for those who are also following along with my goal of getting back to being in shape before I turn the Big Five-O, this past surgery threw me for a loop but I am back on it and with a bit of due-diligence the scale will stop saying One at a time in no time at all.  Yes, I will post photos when I reach my goal, but for now, I shall just guide you here to what my goal is – a long ago photo.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. . .

Locks of Love

 

Last November I decided to grow my hair for those who have to suffer through the horrors of chemo, as I have been blessed to not have to endure such sufferings.  Since November, I have had three more surgeries and in as much my attention has been elsewhere and not focused on the length of my locks.  It is most definitely longer, significantly so, the bottles of shampoo and conditioner I run through vouch for such things, but I really had no idea, until this photo. . . November on the left, yesterday on the right. It speaks for itself.   The lingering question is, shall I continue to grow it until the end of summer first thought, or shall I keep going until the end of the year as the more I can give the better it shall be?

Thoughts?

Remember, even though it may seem as though you have nothing to give, the smallest of gestures will lift your spirit and fill you heart with warmth as giving is far better than receiving.

~E