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Showing posts from March, 2011

Not the news we were hoping for

Or, if you're picky about grammar, not the news for which we were hoping.

The tumor is not in the parotid gland, which usually are benign. It is instead in a lymph node. The abnormal cells which were present are being stained and studied and the report will be available in a few days. We have an appointment Tuesday.

We didn't think we would learn as much as we did yesterday during the procedure. We kind of wish we hadn't, actually. But there are five days (counting today) between now and Tuesday, and we want to make the best of them. After that, we're probably in for a long haul of cancer treatment.

There. I said it. CANCER.

I've been dancing around that word, here and in my head, for a couple of weeks now. How is it possible that my husband can feel so good and have cancer? He's not in any pain, has no symptoms. How many 67-year-old men do you know who routinely take five-mile walks outdoors on a very hilly road? Most of the Medicare-aged gentlemen around here…


I'm sorry that the blog has lately been all tumor, all the time. When I write about "normal" stuff, it feels inauthentic. (Is that a real word?)

My husband's biopsy is tomorrow. We'll be at the hospital most of the day. There are two good things about this.

1. We'll finally start getting an answer to exactly what we're dealing with. No results for a few more days, though.

2. The hospital has free wi-fi. I can downlpoad to my heart's content while he is in day surgery. Heh.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Busy as bees

I must admit, it's difficult to think of something to write about other than the tumor in my husband's neck. We spend our days staying busy so we don't think about it, but the very fact that we're manufacturing "busy-ness" makes us both aware of what's really on our minds. And, to be honest, when I'm not creating a distraction, I'm playing some kind of addictive computer game. If it hadn't turned cold this weekend, I'd have been in the garden. Wearing mud boots, for sure, but I'm definitely ready to dig in the dirt.

Men's college basketball was a good distraction this weekend. I don't know if Butler can legitimately be called a Cinderella team, since they made it to the Final Four last year, but they were a high seed and made it again. The true Cinderella designation belongs to our neighbor to the east, Virginia Commonwealth. They played one of the first entry-level games in the tournament, and there was much discussion about wh…

Friday Quote Day

What worries you masters you. Maddon W. Robinson
In an effort to try to live more normally – that is, to live in a way that doesn't involve thinking about illness and treatment and death all day long – my husband and I went shopping yesterday.

We don't go shopping, as a rule. I go shopping, rarely, and usually just for groceries. So I'm not sure how "normal" it was to drive to the nearest large city that has a bookstore. And a Target. But that's what we did, instead of anything else we might have done here at home.

And it felt good. We had a nice day, with a late lunch (the Garden Bar at Ruby Tuesday's) that ended up leaving both of us too full for dinner when we got back home.

One day down, 11 to go, to learn the nature of what is growing in his neck.

I'm shocked, shocked! that I've gained just two pounds in all of this. I feel like I can get back on track – get back to normal – without too much effort. Walking is a pleasure, a good habit that I g…

Work-ups and workouts

My husband's otolaryngologist and the radiologist who read the CT neck scan are in disagreement as to the location and type of tumor present. Needless to say, our emotions have been all over the place.

The upshot is that he will have a biopsy of the tumor on March 30. We'll get the results April 5. This plan cancels a second biopsy; depending on the results we get in April, he may still need that, but since there's a question, the plan has changed.

April 5 seems like a long way away. We're going to enjoy this time and think positive thoughts.

I've been walking five miles about every other day, and hope to string a few consecutive days together between now and next Wednesday. We walk together sometimes, and that's been very pleasant, but we also want and need to go solo. It's helpful to have some time to do nothing but think, and walking is great for that. I went camera-crazy yesterday; if you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen a few odd images poste…

Where to begin?

March 11 was the day the tsunami hit Japan. I didn't know about it because our power was out. When I finally did learn of it, it made a power outage and water problem seem oh-so-small and insignificant. But I also had something else on my mind, something of a personal tsunami, if you will.

My husband found a lump on his neck, a mass of some sort that just didn't feel right. He is a doctor (a retired psychiatrist), and thus is very reluctant to see a doctor for anything. The fact that he made an appointment with our family doctor for the following week and then made an appointment with an ENT made me take it as seriously as he was taking it.

He was able to get in to see the ENT first (we subsequently canceled the family doctor appointment), who palpated the mass and declared it malignant. CT scans of the lung, head and neck were ordered. We learned the results of the scans today.

The good news – the best possible news for today – is that the head (brain) and lungs are clear. Th…

Friday Quote Day

When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place. Author Unknown
I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like giving up sometimes. Just about anyone who eats reasonable amounts of healthful food and walks five miles a day would be losing some weight, right?

Anyone but me, apparently.

My longterm goals – being able to keep up with the grandchildren, living a long life, avoiding and/or preventing the debilitating diseases (especially, but not limited to, diabetes) attributed to obesity – have kept me going so far. I'd also like to fit into the closet full of clothes that I'm loathe to give away. Yet.

After all this time, it's become a habit – one I don't want to break – to take that walk every day. I missed it terribly when the water was down for a few days and I didn't want to sweat. I love to cook, and it just makes sense to me to cook the most healthful meals possible.

Both my parents' deaths can be traced to poor diet an…

Dizzy dame

I think my dizzy spell was a not-serious low blood sugar issue. I had some oatmeal before I started walking, but no protein. Believe me, if I thought it was anything serious I wouldn't be out walking again RIGHT NOW. Thanks for your concern, I do appreciate it.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

I had every intention of throwing a post up yesterday sometime, but the day got away from me. A lot happened, most of which I can't really talk about yet.

I had an unusual walk in the morning. Knowing I had to leave for an appointment at 1 p.m., I was on a schedule and walked quite briskly (for me, anyway). A little past the halfway point I felt like someone or something pushed my right shoulder. I stumbled to my left and felt very dizzy for a few seconds. I remember shaking my head, like you would to get the cobwebs out, and continuing on. But I didn't get very far.

I had my cell phone with me and, thankfully, it worked from the little valley I was in. I called my husband to come get me, and I've been fine ever since. My goals are pretty much shot for this month. I don't think I can make up the five days I missed, but I'm going to try. Yesterday's 49 minutes didn't help erase my deficit.

We noticed a flat tire on my husband's car when we got back, so w…

How about some knitting for a change?

I'm too fat to run, it's too muddy to plant, too early to reap and eating has been … meh. So what am I knitting these days? A sweet little shrug which I hope to complete before my oldest granddaughter's birthday in a couple of weeks.

I'm using some yellow Brown Sheep Cotton Top, a long-discontinued 50/50 cotton/wool blend which I snapped up on eBay when I used to haunt the yarn sales there. I haven't bought or sold anything on eBay in such a long time. Are they still up and running? Heh.

The shrug is from the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of KnitSimple. That issue has a dozen Post-It tabs sticking out of the pages; it's unusual for me to find so many appealing patterns in a warm-weather issue. (Pardon the poor-quality photo. The lighting in this room is less than ideal for extreme close-ups of knitted fabric.) The simple slip-stitch pattern is easy to work and makes the knitting a little more interesting.

The only problem I've had so far is that the description …

The trouble with slow food

Finally, shortly after noon yesterday, water was restored here in the Middle of Nowhere. We had it for a brief period on Saturday – long enough for me to run the dishwasher and take a camp shower – during which time the pressure fell, and we knew the pump had shut off again.
So the crew came back at 9:30 Sunday morning and worked another three hours on the wiring and it's done. I'm not quite ready to trust that it won't shut off again, but after another load of dishes, three loads of laundry and another shower, not to mention brushing my teeth and making coffee with running water from the tap, I think maybe we're good to go.
My husband threatened to go – as in move to a condo someplace in the south – in the midst of the crisis. I think he was kidding, and he's moved his worrying on to the Next Thing. (Because it's always something.) His dream location would be near a coffee shop, a bookstore and a gym, with moderate year-round temperatures.
I think I did pretty we…


The electricity has been restored. Now let's pray for the water. Our electrician is on his way. Should the water problem get fixed, I'll be doing laundry. For days. Heh.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Friday Quote Day

"Nothing in life is more remarkable than the unnecessary anxiety which we endure, and generally create ourselves."
- Benjamin Disraeli

Yeah, I'm a little anxious at this point.

The water has been non-functioning since Tuesday. As long as we still had electricity, I was dealing with the water problem pretty well.

The power went off sometime after midnight.

(Here's where I wish I could use italics, but there's no such option on the BlackBerry.)


My entire village is without power, more than 1000 customers. Grrr.

I'm anxious about the lack of exercise, for sure, but realistic enough to accept the situation and know that if I *could* shower, I *would* be sweating.

The eating is the harder thing to handle. I'm an emotional eater. I like to say I'm an occasional eater, I eat for any occasion. (That's how I used to drink, back in the day.) I want to eat crap - carby, sugary crap - on an occasion like this.

So far graham crackers have …


It's very difficult to cook without running water. It's impossible to clean up. And as much as I hate it, we're reduced to using paper plates and foam cups until this crisis is over.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Still H2O-less …

They worked and worked and worked, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., but there still is something wrong. The worst part is over – mounting the huge and heavy metal box, which will protect all the switches, wires, capacitors, etc., from future damage. The work will resume tomorrow.

They (our electrician, our neighbor and my husband) got caught in a horrible rainstorm, with wild wind whipping the rain into sheets. I hope none of them get sick.

When he got home, my husband handed me the mail, saying casually, "You got a letter from the White House. Looks like a personal letter, not a form letter asking for money."

I carefully opened the envelope and it was, indeed, a letter from President Obama. When my dad died (six months ago today, and oh, how I still miss him!), it fell to the family to procure a flag to use in the flag ceremony. Our Congressman was able to give us one, but we had to ask for it and pick it up. In the past – I don't know how long ago – the color guard brought th…

Two showers in less than 12 hours

Because we can!

We showered last night at the motel before we went out for dinner, and showered again this morning before we checked out.

Hopefully the water situation will be resolved this morning. The wiring is coming together as I type; once everything is mounted and put together, all we have to do is put it up on the pole. I'll be spending just a little more time with the cows today, if they're still in that pasture.

I'm not as awesome as our electrician is. He is working magic on all these switches and boxes and wires, oh my, and I didn't even search for the workout room at the hotel. I guess these monthly goals are good for working toward; if I don't reach them, I won't feel like a failure, as I will have made progress.

Some things are unavoidable. Like water problems.

Outstanding in their field

Usually when we have no water we also have no electricity. Not so this time … I'm trying to be grateful for that, at least.

When I woke up Monday I noticed that we had incredibly powerful water pressure, something that isn't the norm here in the Middle of Nowhere. We live "on a well," as they like to say around these parts, where water pressure is adequate, but not impressive.

So we called our friend Jack, who cleared his schedule and came a-running to figure out what the problem was. Jack truly is a jack-of-all-trades, electrician being the primary one. And he's helped us out in the past, so he knows our system. (When you live on a well, you either have had problems with your pump, or you will.)

Our pump and well are located quite a distance from our house. Thank goodness for my all-wheel drive vehicle, because the road – I use that term loosely – isn't very vehicle-friendly, unless your vehicle is of the all-terrain persuasion. Or a tractor, which I guess i…

Hello, Internets, how I've missed you!

Running out of Gigabytes before you run out of billing cycle is like:

Running out of yarn before you complete the sweater.Running out of energy before you reach the finish line.Running out of seeds before the end of the row.Running out of calories before the end of the day.All of the above.
I haven't connected to the internet using the 3G modem since I got back from the beach. I went to town one day last week and stole some bandwidth from McDonald's, but everything else I've done "online" has been accomplished with the BlackBerry.

Which was fine, really, but still.

If I were still on the BlackBerry exclusively, I wouldn't have just deleted all my e-mails. My e-mails (I have a Gmail account) are sent to three computers and in order to stop that nonsense, I disabled the account on one of them. Then this morning I decided (I'm so brilliant) that if I downloaded the current e-mails to read later and then deleted them from the Gmail repository at Google Mail, I…

A guilt-free rest day

It's been a long time since I've done absolutely nothing all day long to improve my fitness or maintain my household.

Until yesterday.

When I woke up, it was raining, raining, raining. Within a few hours, the rain was mixed with snow and now we have a couple of inches on the ground.

I could easily have walked the 20 yards or so to the garage to work out on the elliptical, but I made the executive decision to take a day off.

All I did yesterday was prepare dinner, play computer games, knit and watch a movie. It was a lovely day, despite the weather.

Saturday was good, as well. I did my strength-training routine (yay, me!), worked out on the elliptical, got cleaned up and then my husband and I went on a movie date. We weren't the last people in America to see "The King's Speech," but the theatre wasn't very full. Heh.

Shopping, dinner, a movie AND fitness, all in one day. No wonder I needed a day off yesterday! Hope you had a great weekend, as well.


Friday Quote Day

Things do not change; we change. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Or at least we make the effort. And in making the effort, change happens. As Yoda said, "Do or do not. There is no try."

Wow, two quotes in one day. Does that make up for no quote last Friday? I hope so!

To paraphrase one of the most successful political campaigns in recent history, "Yes she can!" I did my little 10-minute weight-training routine yesterday morning immediately after posting and before I could let anything else distract me. And it wasn't so awful. I just need to put my big-girl panties on and get it done without thinking about it. Every other day, it's what I do. Just like every day I brush my teeth, take a shower, make coffee, check my e-mail.

Modern technology has expanded the to-do list. Heh.

Now that I can download podcasts in a timely manner (at least when I haven't run out of gigabytes), I've started listening to Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone. I've been reading Shauna&#…

Strength training

I found an article in the current issue of Women's Health that lists 12 excellent reasons for women to lift weights. The reasons are compelling, inspiring, motivating, and I know I said I wasn't going to set a strength-training goal, but with this list in hand, I'd be crazy not to.
As I drifted off to sleep last night, I had the grand ambition to lift every other day, using the 10-minute routine I referenced last month. The light of day hasn't dimmed the ambition, a good sign for sure.
The 12 reasons begin with "You'll lose 40 percent more fat," meaning that the pounds you lose won't be muscle and fat, but largely lard.
Therefore, I'm going to cut this short and go lift weights. Really!
P.S. For those of you following my photo blog, I'll be updating it in a few days. My wireless plan limits me to 5GB of data transfer per billing cycles, and I'm running out. Again. I called our local high-speed wireless provider yesterday, but they haven't …

Home again and the February wrap-up

First, thanks so much for your quotable quotes last week! I appreciate all the inspiration.

The length of a trip is at least two or three days more than the actual trip itself. Getting ready and packing take a day or two, driving takes a day or two and decompressing takes at least a day. For my little getaway last weekend, I drove to NC and then drove the next day with my son and his family to Myrtle Beach.
The trip was their gift to me for my birthday this year, one which ends in "0" and therefore is momentous. Since the trip began on February 25 and my birthday isn't until May 25, I'm telling everyone I'm having a three-month celebration for the big 6-0.

I had a great time, it was fun walking on the beach every day, not cooking a single meal from Thursday night until last night and enjoying some family time. The extended family is both shrinking and scattered, so it was very special that this effort was made.

The weight-training goal for February was a complete,…