Thursday, October 29, 2009

Visit Me on ...

Talkin' With Teenie today. I'm the guest blogger on her site as she calls attention to breast cancer in this pinkest of months. 

And, in a most personal note, please honor an amazing woman I was blessed to call "aunt." Roselee died last week at the age of 85. She believed in the power of books and they tumbled from every shelf in the house; her children obtained library cards as soon as they moved to a new zip code. Roselee's daughter requests that in her mother's memory, everyone who knew and loved her read to a child. You, of course, did not know my great aunt Roselee but if there is a child in your life, please read to her. Someday she may grow up to be the woman who eliminates the need for pink ribbons.

Love your life,


Friday, October 23, 2009

A Cyst is a Cyst Unless it is a Mole

Quick update for the friends who think I'm keeping some awful news from them:

The cyst is not a cyst; the dermatologist says it is a mole after all. She wants to leave that mole alone but fast-talked me into having another spot on my chest frozen. Turns out this doc was one I had seen back when I saw several docs a week and remembered only when I saw the bowl of M&Ms in the waiting room. (Seriously. Unwrapped candies in a doctor's waiting room when everyone is worried about flu transmission?)  I don't remember why I saw her, but I do remember never wanting to waste my time with her again. Wish I had said "no" to the Can-O-Ice and asked my primary doc, the one who mistook the mole for a cyst, for a referral to another dermatologist. That little voice inside my head was chatting me up, trying to get me to listen to reason and I went ahead and ignored her! You'd think I'd have learned to trust her by now. I do think I'll get that 2nd opinion, if late, and have the back mole removed. They can check what's left of the spot on my chest, too; it might be dysplastic and bears watching.

Either I'm suffering from the mildest case of flu on record (did you know you can develop flu symptoms from close contact with someone who has received FluMist?) or the week on Advil destroyed my innards. I'd check in with someone who might know but I feel like crud.

And I'm not joking about FluMist. I was there when the kids received a dose of FluMist (one received it for seasonal flu, the other received it for H1N1) and the nurse failed to inform me of the possible risk to innocent, unvaccinated bystanders. Discovered it myself when the kidlets  developed some side-effects and I went to read the warning labels online.

So, I whine on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Day of Ferns and Flowers

October is almost July here;  the seasonal differences are very subtle. The butterflies know, of course. The one above lived in Oregon last July and we met during our family Volcano Road Trip.  Yesterday I planted gigantic ferns donated from another woman's garden. A neighbor gave me some more today; someone else had given him those ferns, which had been given to him from another's garden. We must be living in the time of ferns. Daughter laughed and quoted a line from last year's school musical, "Ferns.  There's something shady about 'em. Don't trust ferns."

Yesterday the kidlets received seasonal flu shots/FluMists, and Danny also received the first of two H1N1 FluMist vaccines. Gracie is opting for FluMist all the way, and that requires separate doses a month apart. With the H1N1 in the headlines and documented cases in local schools I'm glad the kids are getting some protection now. The vaccine debate is one I have with myself until I start putting faces on the children who die from flu and other common diseases. The medical decisions are probably harder for me than any other parenting decision I make.

Sunshine today. I'll plant that last fern before someone hands me another.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where I Want to Be

It's Raining, It's Pouring, There's a Waterfall in the Basement...

Looks like we're going down Home Repair Road without a map, or GPS. Tonight the boys heard the sound of pouring water in the space beneath the house, just off the basement work room. Armed with a flashlight we scanned the pipes. Danny saw the first leak. Then Joe turned on the kitchen faucet and we witnessed the extreme home waterfall effect coming from our pipes. The water might well have been liquid gold rerouted from our bank account. Except of course, we don't have gold, liquid or otherwise, in our bank. A call to the plumber has become the focal point of my Friday. Hooray.

We were really looking forward to Friday, too. Replacement Fridge is due to arrive. A real fridge, with a freezer that freezes and a fridge that fridges. Whatever. Not so exciting in light of the plumbing extravaganza.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Crash! Another Bump on the Road

In this Pink Month let's touch on another cancer-related syndrome. One of many possible causes of a painful syndrome called Tietze's Disease is radiation treatment to the chest. What is it? Simple definition: Inflammation of the cartilage of the rib cage, causing pain in the chest similar to angina pectoris. When this pain occurs on a woman's left side, and the left side is where her primary cancer was removed, thoughts of the worst kind sweep all rational ones away. Could the tenderness be a recurrence on the chest wall? Those nodules, are they small tumors? Bless the primary care doc for noting the likelihood of Tietze's but insisting on x-rays with rib detail immediately to rule out the other worries.

A 24-hour-wait (watch the woman clean her house) before the news: all is clean. Treatment for Tietze's? Ibuprophen, 600 mg 3x a day. Let's see if the tummy can handle that stuff.

The evil-looking mole didn't seem so awful to the primary care doc; her guess was "a cyst." Here's hoping! Whatever the growth is it's coming off, and my lovely bod is getting a much-needed, long overdue skin check from a dermatologist. All you sun-kissed beauties out there, get thee to a skin doc and do likewise, once a year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Melanoma and Breast Cancer: Nasty Bedfellows

Guess what? If you have ever had breast cancer, you are 1.4 and 2.7 times at greater risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. And if you are a woman and have had melanoma, be ever vigilant for breast cancer; your risk is increased as well.

The association between the two malignancies has been noted through studies before but in a new study published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science researchers have explicitly advised doctors to monitor breast cancer patients for signs of melanoma and vice versa.

Although my personal Agents of Doom have never mentioned the relationship I was aware through a support group member. When I noticed a scratchy mole on my back, one that had changed appearance very recently, was suddenly raised and (gulp) bleeding, the meaning was not lost. The primary care doc appointment on Thursday is a formality; I know I will insist on a biopsy for that mole and for several others.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

When Momhood is Not Enough

Tonight I ran away to the only library within 15 miles still open past 7:00 pm. The fantasy was to escape to a hotel for the night but the cost of regaining my non-housewifely identity was too steep. Hence, the free version at a cubicle with WiFi, good until 9:00 pm.

Weeks of pointless house toils and dramas needed only one squabble-too-many between the blessed offspring at dinner to push me out the door. Do other moms run away, too? I gave their dad instructions as to what needed to be done before bed (homework, music practice, showers) and bid them all adieu. Turned off the cell phone. Plunked myself into the ergonomically incorrect and painful study cubby, plugged in the MacBook and researched Star Wars Clone Trooper costumes for Dan. Added the gloves, ordered the best deal and finished that Halloween task. Next, on to a form for Gracie's teacher, due tomorrow. Filled out all the juicy details of how my daughter learns best, works best, plays best, etc. Thought twice and decided not to include bits about how she sasses her mom best. Done, into the envelop it goes.

Ahhh, a few moments left for me. What shall I do? Update the old Hedgie Blog? Hmmm... wait a moment. That sniffling in the study cubby next to me no longer sounds like a little girl with allergies. Heck, it sounds more like a middle school girl moaning and sighing, semi-sobbing (the high-drama, tearless variety) I'm so familiar with in my other life. Noooooo, it's not possible. I sneak a look over. Yes, it's true. She seems okay, though. Should I get maternal and ask if she is okay? No parent in evidence. Hem, haw, hem, haw. Before I make a decision she gets up, walks around. The backpack has been abandoned; the cubby light turned off. My guess is that she's off to either find a friend or cry in a bathroom stall.

Moments later it is closing time. The library staff comes by to straighten up and shepherd stragglers to the door. I tell the librarian about the missing girl and her backpack. She brings it up to the front and we both look for her. I hear rather than see the first sign that she will be okay: "Honey, are you all right?" Another mother — her own — is there, paying attention to the puffy eyes and withdrawn demeanor.

It takes another hour and trip to the bookstore before I arrive home. Both children are awake, distraught, in need of reassurance that I am still coming home to them. My "moming" doesn't seem enough for them or for me anymore.