Thursday, January 17, 2019

Life is messy

Around midnight last night I began musing about messes. I'm not sure why my brain decided to begin composing a blog post after I'd already been asleep, but I was now awake and that's what it thought would be a good idea.

I smiled in the dark, thinking about one of the kids' favorite episodes of Peppa Pig, the one about the Muddy Puddles. If you haven't had the pleasure of watching this gem of a show, you are missing out. Even though our oldest two were too old for it, technically, that didn't stop them or me from getting a huge kick out of the British accents, the ridiculousness of a family of pigs wearing clothes and interacting with other animals, and most of all, their dialogue. If you're curious, here is the link to the episode: click here . I had nothing to do with the art, production, etc. and claim no credit. 

The kids loved the reaction to the observation, "look what a mess you're making" being a simple, "oh." They use this line on me whenever I'm ready to blow my stack over whatever current catastrophe-in-the-making they are embarking on. I think their favorite part is that in order to play in the mud, the pigs must first put on boots. *blink blink* Yeah, I'll just leave that there for now.

It made me think about the adventures little kids begin: finger painting, texture tables, solid "finger foods", play doh, smash cakes, and yes, mud puddles.

Why is it that we encourage all of these activities for the under 5 crowd (and then briefly revisit them during college, perhaps; I have treasured, fond memories of playing in mud puddles with friends both at camp and at my university) but experience such a cerebral "ugh, are you kidding me" reaction when someone wants to drag out the play doh bin or the beads or the entire collection of Legos? Or, God forbid, glitter? But then why do we pay actual money to sign ourselves up for Warrior Dashes and Tough Mudders to justify playing in the mud? When did we get so afraid of Mess?

Why is so much advertising focused on the unending stream of products formulated to clean up our messes? We have some for laundry, separate from the ones for dishes, more for floors, specific window cleaners, furniture polishes, ones designed specially for our vehicles, and then we start on our bodies. Having no hair this summer streamlined my maintenance routine in more ways than one; I didn't have to participate in the shampoo, conditioner, serum, mousse, gel, texture, hairspray, product arena. I did still need the soaps and lotions and toothpaste and hand soap...

Did you know you can wash dishes with dirt?

Why this obsession with cleanliness perfection? Because clearly this goes way past clean. One doesn't take twenty pictures of their living room for social media when it is merely clean. One takes twenty to figure out from which angle it looks perfect. And here's my PSA for today: all of yours look better than mine, so breathe easy and step away from the vacuum. I'm okay with that. Dust is not my enemy. It's been around long enough to make it a family member. Perhaps one I wish would move on out but the reality is that's never gonna happen. Why are we afraid to have people over if the house isn't cleaned top to bottom? 

One of the very best pieces of advice an online friend gave me years ago was, "they are coming for dinner, not inspection." Thank you, Oli, wherever you are. That observation was pure genius and has freed me from so much stress over the years. Your friends, your family, your youth group, are all coming over because they love you and enjoy your company. Stop stressing over the fact that your family or your self are imperfect human beings who make messes. Get out the "good" china and enjoy it (maybe not with the youth group)- that's its function, to be used! Those plates want food on them! Use your imagination and envision the dishware from Beauty and the Beast and their desire to serve. If it stays in the cupboard/attic/garage, why even have it? 

One of the reasons our church heavily promotes being part of a small group is because over time those people become like family, ready to wade into whatever mess is currently taking up space in your life. Life is messy for all of us. For some it's relational: a marriage struggling, a fractured friendship, a prodigal child. For others it's a health crisis, a diagnosis you never saw coming (been there, done that), chronic something or other that never lets go, age, or some combination of them all. There's always the Fun and Games that life throws at you like being laid off, a car accident, a transfer to the unknown. You could name twenty others if you thought about it. The point is that you need those people to enter into your mess, and you into theirs. We are not intended to go it alone. 

So please decide in this still-new, still-fresh year to create time to spend drawing closer to someone else. If even the idea of having people over terrifies you or sets your anxiety level into the atmosphere, tweak it. Choose to meet up somewhere else, somewhere you're all comfortable. I realize for some people that means online, and while I get that, you really need to be careful too. I'm talking another person you can actually touch, because they are important in different ways. I don't want anyone ending up like Sandra Bullock's character in "The Net." Find a mentor, try out a new hobby, join a class (it doesn't have to be a gym, but if that kills multiple birds with one stone then go for it), start a book club, just find some way to connect with the people around you. You wouldn't want them to miss out on you, right!? And by this time next year or a few years down the road, you might have a Tribe that you wonder how you'd ever do life without. Thanks for being a part of mine. 

Not It

It's not that I don't love y'all or that there is nothing to write about, it's more where-in-the-world-do-I-fit-it-in lately. 

For instance, school is back in session, so yes, I'm clicking my heels and singing praises, but that also means I'm making lunches and checking backpacks and reminding and nagging and coaxing and dragging people about. Carrie has had a humungous biology project looming since the start of the school year that was due today and she isn't home yet to grill about how it all went down. She's been on my laptop about six times as often as I have been, and it even went to school with her yesterday like Mary's little lamb. 

This morning Liam reminded me that he has online math he needs to be checking into, ideally daily so that he doesn't get behind and have a ton to do at the end of the grading period, which means he needs the computer. 

Damon just wants to be on it and finds random games to play, haha!

Bosley is ever Underfoot and a general Stupid Beagle. Australian shepherd and lab mix, my never mind! He has yet to figure out that he's to use the brain which resides between his ears to think about sounds and what they mean instead of just letting us know he hears e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. and barking about it. Insert multiple eye rolls here. Grandmama calls him Cottonball Brain. He is all reaction and no thought.

Yes, I know that I have a tiny personal, portable keyboard which connects to my phone but I got a new phone and am not seeing the version of the blog that I'm used to using- ugh, technology! I'll try to do better.

In the meantime, in protest of Winter and precipitation, I've been busy making lemon sugar cookies and the accompanying mess. 

As a tidbit of what's to come, we will be having both our roof and our fireplace replaced (separate issues) in the immediate future. There will be no shortage of A) mess, B) process, C) people tromping through the house, D) money flying out the window, E) more mess... lucky for you, that translates into blog posts! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy New Year 2019!

Hi! Just wanted to make sure I took time out today to thank you all for joining me on the wild and crazy ride that is called life. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for a lot of you. Thanks for the support and the love, and here's to a brand new year filled with potential and possibilities! May it be a wonderful year for you and yours! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Lady of the Lotions

This post got lost in the holiday shuffle. I titled it forever ago and stashed it and forgot it. Sorry. Here's some of the radiation story. My last day was December 20, the Thursday before Christmas, but I'll start from some pictures taken along the ride:

December 7:

You can see how my port actually fared pretty well, especially compared to my collarbone, which got pretty red from the skin being all bunched up due to my arms being up above my head. My nurse Barb instructed me to get a jar of Vanicream and use it two to three times a day, but nothing could be applied within 4 hours before treatment. So first thing in the morning I'd slather on my Vanicream, then if I went straight from radiation home instead of running any errands I'd slap some more on, and then again before bedtime. 

I was also informed that in the future, the radiated area will be more sensitive to sun exposure and will "crisp" first, so I'll need to be careful and use sunblock. Good advice for any of us, really.  

My armpit was the most problematic part. I'd given up shaving it, and was only allowed to wear deodorant since anti-perspirants have aluminum in them which is a metal which would then scatter the radiation rays. That's a no-no. Plus, when have you ever sunburned your armpit? I never had. I don't recommend it. That sensitive skin let me know that it wasn't happy with the rays it was receiving. 

And as Baymax shoots rays from underneath and back behind, the "sunburn" extends on my back.

December 9: 

Armpit has already peeled once, as you can see from the raw spot, the only part that was sore, really. Every Tuesday was doctor day, meaning I'd spend some time getting looked over and having questions answered. He prescribed a salve containing silver to rub on the worst areas. He then confided to me, "sometimes I forget to inform patients that the silver will tarnish and darken your skin. Sometimes patients freak out a bit, thinking the radiation is charring them. It's not from the radiation, it's just the tarnished silver." I told him I appreciated his letting me know! 

December 13, last day of treating the entire area. Now they focus the last 5 treatment days on just my scar/incision: 

The silver salve was working well and I was "dry peeling", which is apparently better than "moist peeling" where the team worries more about infection. Peeling is itchy though, so I also have a prescription for an anti-itch cream to rub all over. Still lotioning away three times a day with my various  slatherments, haha!

December 27, one whole week after all radiation is finished:

Haha, wow, I really look yellow! I promise I'm not really that color. Not sure what's going on with the bathroom light... anyway, you can already tell how much my whole area has healed. It's been two weeks since the wide area radiation and a week since even the scar got any. It's amazing! How cool is our God to form our bodies in such a way that it can fix itself?  Do I look perfect? No, still a way to go, but what a change throughout even just two weeks! It's not itchy except for the spot on my back, my collarbone part peeled and is resurfacing, and I have hardly any red anywhere. My armpit peeled twice but the silver salve worked wonders. 

Let me tell you, it is COLD when you slap a palmful of lotion into your armpit so you probably heard frequent squeals from my general direction, but it soon felt so soothed. Sometimes a seam or one of those tangled-in-the-machine thready balls would irritate my tender armpit, so I tried to choose shirts I owned with the softest fabrics to wear. 

I went into this kind of blowing off radiation and its effects, honestly. I had seen "Stepmom" years ago with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon and was really afraid chemo would do to me what it did to Susan Sarandon's character. Then when it became apparent that mine would not be that bad, I stressed over my surgery. I was really not looking forward to having a catheter and a breathing tube during surgery, but once we got to that point I discovered that I wouldn't need those things! In fact, I was way more worried about those two particular possibilities that I was about the definite removal of my boobs. Perspective, I tell you. Stressing about nothing, all that time! (The lesson here is to talk, ask questions, and talk some more to save yourself unnecessary aggravation!) I never had time to worry about radiation or what it would do to me, even though I'd seen pictures online of those undergoing treatment similar to what mine would be like. 

Here is where I can not say enough wonderful things about my particular radiation team. They gave me hugs, told me to help myself to the treats in the office, made sure I knew I could ask any question anytime, explained anything I wanted to know, sang along to whatever music I picked, and generally made me feel like a family member. I saw them almost every weekday for about 6 weeks. Because they were fantastic to each other and to me, I actually had a wonderful time throughout my radiation experience. 

This was my very last and busy day. Zita took me to get my IV meds that morning. Dada surprised me for my last day and was already waiting in the lobby for me, much to the glee of the gals on my team. "Turn around! Turn around and look who's behind you!" Haha. It was great. They both got to meet more of my team and saw firsthand how much fun we have back there with Baymax.

I'd finally fished Tiny Traveling Tino out of my chemo bag (which has taken over the properties of my old Bible study bag as in "hmm, where did x get to? Oh. It's been in my Bible study bag, haha!") for a trip to radiation:

Here he is in my crosshairs, haha. 

There were more hugs, even from my adorable doctor, and a diploma and well wishes and admonishments to come visit and they'll see me for a follow up appointment in about a month and wishes for happy holidays, etc. 

Yes, I needed tissues. Like I wasn't going to cry after seeing these people every day for over a month, come on!

So now I'm done with Baymax!

Today was Day 10 of taking Tamoxifen, which I'll be on for the foreseeable future. I take 20 mg once a day and that's part of my maintenance program along with the IV meds I'll get every three weeks through May. Once those finish we'll have to schedule my port removal and I'm not sure if that counts as a surgery or how that all works, but I've learnt my lesson and am not going to stress over something I don't need to think about for five more months. 

In the meantime, I've started doing some yoga in the morning thanks to YouTube. It really helped a lot with the skin along my right side, keeping it limber and supple and stretched. I'm glad I started when I did because I think if I hadn't that I may have been overly protective of the area and might have ended up with temporary T. Rex arms with a loss of range of motion. Now it's helping with middle age stiffness and mobility. God knows I don't do yoga for meditative benefits or peace yet; Damon joined me this morning which involved him crashing into walls and almost getting decked while weaving in around me. But range of motion is a good thing so I shall soldier on whether or not I ever end up in a headstand or a downward dog with my knees unbent. Given that it's first thing in the morning I think either of those are Highly Unlikely. 

In case I don't blog again in 2018, thanks once again for the prayers and support you've provided. You may underestimate how much it helped this year. It helped a lot and me and mine are appreciative. We hope your holidays have been blessed with peace, love, joy, and wonder, and that your 2019 is even better!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

I'm sitting here, perhaps as some of you are, amidst the Detritus of Christmas Crap. I don't mean that the presents were crap or that the intentions behind them were, either. I just mean I'm sitting amidst the physical mess left behind: two tables heaped with boxes which are themselves filled with bubble wrap, tissue paper, hoping-to-be-reused wrapping paper, new socks, empty glasses, books, Christmas cards, candy wrappers and writing implements. In short, in the Mess of Christmas Aftermath. 

A grandfather is here, outside with the grandsons, partaking in a Nerf war. His dog and our dog are outside as well. Ours is barking madly (the neighbors must hate us), desperately wanting to be part of the running, shooting, laughing and mayhem. His penchant for eating Nerf ammunition has him clipped to his tie-out, far away (hopefully) from any stray bullets. We're all witness to his displeasure. 

Dada is downstairs, testing out new video games with the Care Bear, who got both her highly desired ukulele and her cell phone, given before Christmas. 

We are surrounded by Stuff. Good stuff. Stuff to read, stuff to snuggle into, stuff to eat, stuff to wear, stuff to play with. We are thankful for the Stuff. 

But I suppose this is a post where I should talk about the Stuff that made this Christmas special for me. I finished with radiation last Thursday, which will be another post, and today was Day 5 of Tamoxifen, which is a medicine I could be on for the next 5-10 years as part of my maintenance regimen. It's all good; thankfully they're not huge. I'm thankful the medical community has the knowledge and that we have the insurance which will help take care of me for years to come, God willing. It's been a year of medical magic for sure. 

This is the only Christmas where Damon will be 8, Liam will be 13, and Carrie will be 15. Getting them the perhaps ridiculous things their hearts desired at each of these ages made us happy. When I finish my potential decade of medicine, Damon might not still want Nerf guns and bullets. Well, okay, he might, since he's a b-o-y, but you never know. My point is that I don't want anyone to miss out on what matters most at Christmas. Hug those in your life hard. Tight. Tighter! Nothing lasts forever (and yes, those of you who are trying to get little ones to sleep through the night- even that stage doesn't last forever and you ARE allowed to say hallelujah that it doesn't!)  and tomorrow isn't promised. Say thank you for those little things and the people doing them. From me: thank you to every single one of you for reading, praying, sending cards, sending food, transporting my kids, coming to visit, texting, calling, dreaming up fun gifts, and being your wonderful selves. Thank you for being part of my Christmas and everyday magic. 

For those of you still searching for a little bit more, who are maybe missing some of that magic because you thought the hole you're trying to fill might have been filled by some of the Stuff, try checking out on the odd hours each day. They are rebroadcasting their services all week long, and Ben has a good reminder about making room for Christmas itself, not the Crap or the Stuff. Listening to it in the background of your Aftermath might help as you get through the rest of the Christmas Crazy. 

Be careful traveling and eating and shopping and recovering and eating and napping and sampling Christmas cookies... you know how it is. Remember that you are loved lots, not just by those around you, but by a Savior who was born at Christmas. Thanks again for being part of my tribe. May your Christmas be merry and bright!

Monday, December 10, 2018

For those patiently waiting

I must apologize. I've been terrible about transferring quotes from our quote board to the blog, but there are some old ones up now (finally) at Telling It Like It Is over there on the right side, or you could just click on the link above. I have another half a quote board to do, but at least it'll give you something fun. So sorry! 

We've not been as good about writing them down in the first place lately, including a gem that I've forgotten half of. To whatever was said, Damon's reply was, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down." Carrie wondered aloud, "did you ever even play with Weebles?" And I forget where the ensuing discussion went. All I remember was that the conversation took place in the car...

Maybe capturing quotes quickly should be a New Year's Resolution. 

The struggle is real

A certain slender teenager made her way downstairs before church yesterday morning, and the first thing I noticed was that she was in a navy blue sweatshirt instead of one of her multitudes of black ones. So I did what any mother would do. 

I "ooooooooooh"ed.

She rolled her eyes and smirkily (bwhaha, brand new word on a Monday. Ooh yeah!) muttered, "Idontwanttotalkaboutit" which is straight out of "The Gods Must Be Crazy". If you've never seen it, go track it down at your library and settle in for some giggles. 

She then sighed and confessed, "I didn't put my laundry in the dryer last night so my jeans are still wet and these are the only ones that come remotely close to fitting." 

I look down and lo, and behold, she's in her "Saturday jeans" which are the ones I've deemed to thin in the rear to be acceptable in public. This child wears jeans into oblivion. The same pair as often as she can get away with it, over various pairs of leggings (because it's cold in Ohio for like six months) until they absolutely must be washed. Once out of the dryer, they're back on her bod until the cycle needs repeated.

These ones are short and thin. I could see the tie dyed leggings poking out at her ankles. 

I smiled, and again heard, "Idontwanttotalkaboutit".

"I need some jeans."

I should explain. This child hates shopping. Actually despises shopping. For her to initiate a shopping trip means we're at Situation Critical.

So off we (she and her Grandmama and I) go to Walmart, her choice, where she tries on seven or eight pairs of jeans, texting me as she goes, with pictures, of what's too big, too short, too tight, too huge, and so on. 

During all this, I'm texting my brother, who commiserates as he is 6'4" and hates shopping and comments, "Jeans would be tough. I can't really find jeans for myself."

I think and think and can't remember the last time I bought jeans for myself at anyplace other than Goodwill. I think the last three pairs I've gotten have all belonged to someone else first, hehe!

She settles on a pair of 16 regulars with a boot cut and likes them enough (or will at least tolerate them) that when I suggest grabbing an extra pair, she doesn't roll her eyes and she snags one out of the stack.

We head home, I go to cut all the tags off and discover she's selected a pair of 16 husky which is not going to work at all. 

"Carrie! These are husky! Is this what you meant to grab?"

"Uh, no. Those aren't going to fit."

If you've seen her lately, you know she's not a stick, but she is nowhere near the husky category. She's a tall, slim chick, but isn't a skinny jean fan. She likes some room and as she has actual muscles from all these years of karate, she doesn't want jeans sticking to her as she's sitting in school all day. 


"They sure aren't. I'll take them back tomorrow..."


Anyone else feel like they live in Walmart these days? I feel like we should just put our account on direct deposit...

Tis the season!