?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.


So yesterday I managed to get meds that will help me get on top of my current respiratory infection before I start radiation therapy in ten days. With good health in mind, I also cancelled my activities for today – swimming, meeting my trainer, coffee with friends — and took to the couch. We have a wonderful couch when someone doesn’t feel well. It’s one cushion on the seat area, which makes it feel like a mattress and not a bunch of smaller pillows.

I slept; took meds; enjoyed the Christmas tree lights that come down tomorrow. In other words January 5 was cancelled. Not sure what January 6 will hold, although it is the seventy-fifth birthday of a good friend. We already sent him flowers in case I wake up in the morning and decide to cancel January 6 too.

This could become habitual.

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Good Drugs

If you’re thinking I’m referring to hard core street drugs, think again. I’m referring to doctor ordered prescriptions for a respiratory infection.  It took 24 hours from the time I first contacted my primary care physician until I was actually seen by his PA. Then it took visits to two pharmacies to fill the prescriptions. And that at an out-of-pocket cost of over $100.

I don’t feel bad, however, since the person in front of me had to pay over $400 for his co-pay.  If I weren’t feeling so crummy, I’d rail against Big Pharma. Instead, I’m home and in bed and on the road to recovery.

And we’re expecting another ten to 12 inches of snow tonight. So why not stay home and recuperate?

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Today I received my walking papers from Dr. R, my surgeon.  We’ve been together seven weeks and one day, which isn’t long for most relationships. In this case, it was long enough. I still have work to do to regain complete mobility of my right arm, and much of the area around the incision (BIG incision) is still numb. But from a surgical point of view, I’m on the road to recovery. We shook hands before he left the examining room, but there was no lengthy farewell.

However . . . I started coming down with a respiratory infection yesterday. I’ve had enough of them to recognize the symptoms, and I asked Dr. R. for a prescription. He demurred, saying I should contact my primary care physician. That’s reasonable, except that we have 15 inches of snow, and Dr. T. is a long way away to go for another doctor’s visit. It’s nothing I want to try in this weather.

I’m thinking maybe my body is so relieved to be discharged that it is releasing all the pent tension about this process. Or maybe this is my annual bout with infections, as I was laid low this time last winter for six weeks. Or could I have caught something from someone else?

I don’t know, but I’m not venturing out tonight. I called Dr. T’s office and left a message hoping he would prescribe something now with my promise of visiting him next week. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.  In the meantime, Dr. Brandt is on the job, and Dr. R has left the building.

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Back from the Holidays

It’s been over a week since I’ve blogged. It wasn’t intentional, but I know that whenever we have houseguests my personal routine goes out the window.  No piano playing, no reading, no blogging.

It’s natural if you want your guests to have a good time that you devote more time to cooking, entertaining, and being with them than you might when someone just comes for dinner on an ordinary day. And when it’s my grown sons and their partners who are involved I try doubly hard. It’s the “Mom” in me.

But now we are back in our usual routine, which currently means I’m in physical therapy to recover the full use of my right arm that was compromised from my surgery for breast cancer. And Earl is back at his real estate, which keeps him feeling like a contributing member of society.  My sons and their partners have all returned to their own worlds too.

The only remaining item is the approximately twelve inches of snow that dumped on us this past week. It’s incalcitrant, which is a fancy word for ‘relentless’. Still, it keeps me inside and working at reclaiming my piano practice, reading, and blogging.

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Christmas Day

We were four: Earl, Kevin, Lonna, and me.  And we woke to several inches of snow and blowing winds, which was fine since we had no place to go and no worries about family members coming to us. It was a small holiday celebration.

But there was plenty of food and wine and time to read and nap. At day’s end, which is when I’m posting this blog, none of us had left the house and a couple of us were still in our jammies. I didn’t even retrieve the morning paper until 4 PM.

Still, after a year when both my sons and Earl and I were challenged with work issues, health issues, and relationship issues, it seemed right. A low-keyed Christmas to counter-act a high-stressed year. And perhaps a respite to help us meet the challenges of 2018. Merry Christmas to all.

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All is Calm

It’s Christmas Eve Day, and we’re settled in for the time being. Three of us are napping; the fourth is watching football. A winter storm warning is in effect, so there will definitely be a white Christmas. I’ve had my daily nap and done my arm exercises. Arm-anda complains about them, but does as she is told.

Later we’ll go to services at Earl’s church and then enjoy a late supper with friends at our home. It’s a far cry from the Christmases where I was raising children and an even farther one from my own upbringing. Excitement and exhaustion were the hallmarks of those holidays. This year – with the curtailment of my activities these past several weeks – everything is more laid back, even reflective.

Breast cancer surgery is behind me and radiation is before me. Regardless, right now all is calm.

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New Traditions

In past years, I would be knee-deep in wrapping gifts, prepping food, and tearing my hair on this date, even if I started holiday planning early. It’s the nature of the holiday.

But this year, we are not exchanging gifts nor am I doing a lot of cooking.  You’ve read about our plans for Christmas Day dinner, but we’ve also come up with a different idea for gifts. We are giving each other memories.

There are eight of us, and it works like this. I think of a personal memory that I’d like to hold onto for each of the other seven participants, write it down, and seal it in an envelope. For instance, I might remember a certain trip I took with a certain adult son where it was just the two of us. If we don’t remember it, who will? On Christmas Day, we shall open the envelopes as if they were actual presents.  Because they are. 

We shall read the memories aloud so that everyone present enjoys them; then each family member takes home his or her collection to smile at throughout 2018. Maybe it will become a new tradition.

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It’s the shortest day of the year – in terms of daylight – but it was long enough for me to schedule a variety of medical appointments for the next two phases of my breast cancer recovery. Phase Two is work with a therapist who specializes in helping patients recover their lost mobility and prevent lymphedema, which is something you really don’t want.

Phase Three is the actual radiation treatment.  Specifically, thirty-three of them taken daily, except weekends, at the hospital.  That’s a real scheduling challenge, and I imagine other activities might have to step aside for that time as side effects come into play.

Still, I’m lucky to enjoy the holiday season without Duane the drain and with Arm-anda in good hands. My family starts arriving today, so it isn’t a moment too soon to appreciate all we have in spite of this challenging autumn.

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I’m feeling more and more like my old self (meaning ‘former,’ not ‘aged’.) each day. I realize it’s a reprieve before I start radiation. So I’m working as hard as I can to pack as much as possible into my waking hours.

Today was the first day since surgery I didn’t nap. There was too much to do. Put up the Christmas tree that usually is decorated around Thanksgiving. Friends made it happen. Start on crockpot soups for the arriving guests. See the surgeon who did my operation in the hope of being released from his care.

This last was quick, although he didn’t release me.  I have to return in two weeks instead of one (which is progress in one sense) to make sure all is healing well.

I haven’t told the radiation oncologist yet or inquired at the hospital, but it’s my plan to start radiation on January 15. I imagine most patients wait for their doctors to tell them what to do, but I’m not most patients. Being in a family of medical professionals helps me be more assertive.

Tomorrow I see the physical therapist and will ask how I get on the radiation schedule. That is, after she tells me what I have to do to get the mobility back in my right arm. I understand I have to be able to raise both arms at a certain angle above my head for radiation. I’ll do my part if the medical team does its part.

Finished the day at dinner with friends and feel blessed on so many fronts. Today was immeasurable.

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Christmas Dinner

The number of guests at my Christmas Day table continues to change as my sons and their partners struggle with relationship issues, travel issues, weather issues, and cat care issues.I can’t really solve any of that for them, but whoever manages to get here will be treated to wonderful comfort food, not only on Christmas Day but also throughout their visit.

But let’s focus on the Big Meal, the one that’s comparable to Thanksgiving. If you’ve read this blog regularly you know I’ve engaged a personal chef to prepare our Christmas Day dinner. And she had a challenge since some of us are carnivores, others pescatarians, some drink, some don’t, and one person has a nut allergy issue.

In a nutshell (probably not the best description after that last paragraph), there will be something for everyone without my having to shop, chop, cut, simmer, peel and devein, etc. Mindy Kasewurm will arrive before the holiday with everything ready, except for final heating at the last moment.  But that’s when guest Lonna goes into action.

For the record, here is our menu:  Appetizers: exotic cheese plate with dried apricots and other fruits with baguettes and crackers as well as jumbo shrimp cocktail.  Entre: For the meat eaters, there is beef tenderloin; for the fishy people, it’s sablefish. Then a kale and apple salad, followed by roasted Brussels sprouts (We also have someone who is vegetable-challenged, so he will not be partaking.) and roast potatoes.  Dessert is a pumpkin roll.

It may sound standard in some respects, but all participants will have a variety of foods they eat.  And the best part is that I don’t have to do any of the work. That will make Christmas Day a 9.9.

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