Monday, August 30, 2010

Musical Maya!

I know I've mentioned on several occasions how much Maya loves to sing -and boy, does she ever! She knows a lot of little children's songs plus several other songs she's learned from listening to many of her Mom's CDs too.

But one thing we noticed early on about her is her ability to pick up a beat and drum it out with her hands -on the table, on anything around her too for that matter. Her Dad loves to play the drums and has a set that he often practices on and does little jam sessions too with various friends of his as well.

Back before Christmas though, Bill saw this little snare drum set and decided that the price for it was right and it would make a good gift -getting two sets of these mind you -one for each of the children.

Now when I saw those two items, my mind immediately went on red alert! The thought of two small children, each drumming away with no real purpose, no training either, had my eardrums hurting just imagining what that would be like.

And let me tell you this too, I was quite happy when both those drums ended up getting broken and my ears got a lot of rest then too.

Can you imagine though the beating my ears (and entire system) would have taken if they had access to stainless steel drums like these though?

I'm pretty sure though I don't have to worry about either of the kids having access to drums like that -not in my lifetime anyway -and doubtful they would have any other use from these type of drums either now, would they?

Well, as long as I'm alive, if they do ever encounter anything like these, it will be for a completely different reason that to use them to make music, huh?

Changes of Scenery

It's been quite some time now -well over a month - since I did any walking. If you recall, from December through July, I had been walking with Sammy, my little dog, almost daily and some of those walk were pretty long ones at that.

After I came home from the hospital, for the first week I was home, walking was a bit out of the question since I was really tethered to the house, how far I could move around here, based on where there were places then that I could hang the lovely catheter bag. Unfortunately, that was during that time span, a necessity and one I had to just accept for what it was then and get over it.

But finally, when I returned to Pittsburgh to get the staples removed, they also were able to remove the lovely (or not so much so) catheter then too -a move that really made me quite happy and gave me a whole lot more freedom then too.

However, I guess this surgery -with it involving three different things -sapped a lot more of my energy and strength than I realized because just walking around the house at times had me often feeling really drained. Then I started having days when I just wanted to do nothing all day -and all night too -but sleep, sleep and then, sleep some more.

Because of that, I realized my legs just were not up to walking yet. I didn't have that much strength available to utilize. I already knew I wasn't up to walking the dog as yet because even though he is a small mutt, he is also very strong and when you walk him it is more like he leads, he walks -or rather at times -he PULLS you along. The nice thing about that is that when walking Sammy one can usually set a pretty good pace but right now, I knew I wasn't yet up to walking at those speeds either. That, plus the fact, he likes to run -to take off and let the leash out to the fullest which then, when he reaches the end of that, would end up jerking me and I really didn't want to deal with that as I knew I just didn't yet have the strength I would need to control him.

A little over a week ago, I did go on two relatively short walks with Mandy -nothing of any major distance or anything -just a little ways along our street to try to get my walking legs functioning a little bit again.

Today though, I decided I felt strong enough to go for a stroll -a little longer than just up and down this street (but without the dog still) so off I went, camera in hand again too, and decided to walk out one of the two nearby dirt roads to my home.

I walked out along what is known here as the Cooper Two Road -out to the foot of the hill where the mine reclamation had been taking place over the past year. I didn't take a whole lot of photos -just a couple out there and two along our street -mainly to show the latest changes of scenery around these hills.
These flowers were a new addition to the scenery along the Cooper Two Road since the last time I walked there back probably in mid-July. I have no clue as to what they are -they resemble, sort of, a daisy in color and shape, but they appear to be a bit more fragile than the daisies I'd seen blooming along the local roads earlier this summer.
The white flowers were almost exclusively along the north side of the road and these orange-shaded posies were all along the south side of the road. Again, I have no idea what these flowers are called but I just thought they were very pretty as well as quite colorful too.
On my return home, I stopped to take a picture of this bush, blooming in the front yard of my neighbor's home a few doors down the street from my place. This particular bush is one I'd noticed the past couple years in front of another neighbor's place up the street from my house and I'd asked him what it was called however, he didn't know the name of it. In the past month though, I saw another bush like this blossoming along the street going up the hill in town and as I am friends with the lady who lives there on Facebook, I'd asked her if she knew the name of it. Lucky for me, she did and she informed me it is called "Rose of Sharon." I like this bush so much -my neighbor up the street with two of these growing in his front yard, has one with white blossoms and the other with the lovely lavender/lilac shades too and I told Mandy some time in the future, I'd like to get one of each of these and transplant them along our house here someplace too. I just think they would make such a very pretty addition to the home lot.

But while I was looking at the bush in this picture, I noticed something else different at that location - sound I was hearing -and it sounded like water running or something. Finally, I realized that while I'd been recuperating, the family who lives there had added one of those circulating-type waterfall things and I was hearing the flow of that water clear up on the road. That got me to thinking too that although this wouldn't be all that great during day light hours but in the evening, would be really nice if they had some kind of Designers Fountain Lighting there to really highlight the waterfall, wouldn't it?

And finally, I really liked seeing the beautiful floral display along the handrail and steps going down to our friend and neighbor, Karen's place. I think these are probably morning glories but I've never seen them in this deep purple shade before so I could be wrong about calling them that.
Aren't they just glorious though?

I had my little pedometer hooked to my waistband today and according to it, I logged in 1.36 miles today. I thought that was a pretty respectable distance for my first really big venture out into the walking world again.

But as often happens to me now, and yes, I kind of figured this would be the case too so it wasn't all that big of a surprise to me, now my legs are a bit on the sore side -nothing drastic though -just a tad achy from not having been used like that very much for well over a month now.

But I think now I am really well on the road to recovery. I'll find out more about that tomorrow when I go back to Pittsburgh for my final post-surgery checkup so look for more details after I return home from that visit then!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cold Days!

Boy, I have no clue what the heck took over my body for the past couple of days, but there were times when I thought I was gonna freeze for sure!

All day Friday, while my neighbor was here sweating it out, trying to fix my lovely computer, I sat in my recliner all bundled up with a nice furry blanket around me and even brought the space heater out of the bathroom and set it up at the entrance to the living room to try to give myself a little bit more heat. Same thing went on all day Saturday day.

Finally, Saturday afternoon, because I felt then like I might be running a low-grade fever (couldn't have found the thermometer here if my life had depended on it, of course) but anyway, after about an hour or two from taking two excedrin, I started to feel a bit warmer. Of course within 6 hours, that warmth dwindled off and I was back to freezing again!

Today, I felt pretty decent -not freezing anyway as soon as I woke up -so I was able to get a shower, dressed and we managed to make it to church for a change. All four of us -Me, Mandy, Maya and Kurt. Maya was actually excited to go to church today because she knew she would be taking her backpack with her and placing it, along with backpacks from other kids in our church, around the altar so Pastor Carrie could then have the "Blessing of the Backpacks." That was a nice little switch in our church service and even Kurtis took his backpack up there too.

I thought initially that maybe we would make it the whole way through church without him going into a minor meltdown, hopefully not a major one, but as soon as the service was about to begin, he began to tense up and began to whine about not wanting to hear the organ. Seems he has an issue apparently with that kind of music but today, thankfully for us, the organist was off and our neighbor was the musician and she only plays the piano, so he wasn't too miserable then. A little whining, a little talking here and there but Mandy only took him out one time and that was at the very beginning of the service before she had a chance to get him to accept the piano music instead of being worried about the organ. It really is funny the various things -noises, especially -that can and often do, set him off! He's getting a bit better but one just never knows about those things and how much screaming they are liable to set off in him!

Back home and the kids left for the day to go with their dad for his day-long visitation which left me here in a quiet house, very peaceful too, I might add.

Then the freezing stuff kicked in again!

EGADS! Makes a person wonder what the heck is causing that! More excedrin though and it finally went away for a while at least.

I didn't feel like cooking anything -not worth messing with cooking just for myself -so I got myself a treat and ordered a yummy cheesesteak hoagie from a little sandwich/pizza place about 5 miles from here. I enjoyed going there too because there are two sisters who manage this place and one of them, her son was in the same preschool class with Maya both years she attended the preschool program plus, they both rode the same van too so she and this little guy had then been really good friends. Last year though, in kindergarten, they were separated and she started acting out on him in the van too towards the end of the school year. See what I mean about how academically she does fine and dandy but really does need a lot more help to adjust properly with the social skills area?

Tonight then, when Bill brought the kids home, I was a bit concerned and was hoping things would go smoother tonight than they did last Sunday night. That night, was really rough for Maya especially as she was in a very weepy mode, having a major hissy fit and didn't want her dad to leave, wanted to go with him and it took a long time to get her calmed down and ready for bed.

Tonight when they came home, he was going to give them a bath and I thought, oh boy, be prepared for a meltdown from one or possibly even both kids but instead, they both went willingly to get a bath and within 10 minutes after they finished up in the bathroom, both kids were sound asleep -one of the sofa and the other on the loveseat!

Who knows what might trigger the mood changes from day to day, sometimes, from hour to hour but tonight, things just went as smooth as glass!

And I'm a very happy camper because of that too. Now, let's see if I can just stay warm too!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Did I mention to you recently that Maya has become "starstruck" recently for one of the big name stars who caters mainly to the younger set?

Yep! Her idol now is Hannah Montana!

She has various sticker books full of little sticky things about a day -or week or month -whatever -in the life of Ms. Montana. While she may love these little toys -which are relatively inexpensive thus far -Grammy here is NOT a bit fan of these things.

Why? Well mainly because I am getting tired of peeling off those darned little stickers from the furniture, the kitchen table, the floor, you name it, it probably has some kind of Hannah Montana sticker on it somewhere or other.

But as she gets older and I'm sure will probably still be starstruck but no doubt with other celebrities, I'm just wondering how much it will cost if say, she wants us to get her lady gaga tickets or some other celebrity stuff. I doubt those things will sell for just a couple of bucks then, will they?

Gonna have to start teaching maya about economic concepts and soon now I suppose! Either that or just hope she doesn't go gaga over her in a few years too.

Something In The Water?

It's always been an old joke around these parts when you talk to a woman you know and learn she's expecting, in the family way, pregnant, and quite often someone almost always makes a wise crack about how that woman must have been partaking of the water in the area cause ya know, that's obviously what causes that condition.

But in the past 4 plus years since Maya first began receiving services for therapy to treat her for the autism, we've now had several therapists who apparently have been drinking the water here in our house -if that old adage has any truth to it, that is.

The speech therapist who worked first with Maya and then with Kurtis just had her second baby -another boy -since she started working with my grandchildren.

It seems to me there were a couple other therapists too who ended up having new babies while working with the kids but right now, be darned if I can remember who they were -except for one -Kurt's therapist for "Play Therapy" who is due in December now!

All I can say to her though is to keep on taking those one a day womens prenatal vitamins while you're waiting for this blessed event to arrive.

They really are a darned good thing ya know!

To Buy, To Make, Perchance to Sell?

About 25-30 years ago, an old friend of mine and I had this "bright" -or maybe not so -idea about having our own crafts type shop located, preferably in one of our homes or in some little place that we could perhaps rent cheaply.

Without a computer -obviously then, no internet -I have no idea how I researched anything, trying to locate suppliers -who actually qualified as a wholesaler -but I did find one place, located in Delaware, that would allow me to open an account and make small purchases from them of items that I could then offer for resale here.

Since, back then, I was also the local Avonlady and had a pretty good-sized route, I used to take photos, information on pricing of the various things I had in stock or could special order for a customer.

Sadly, apparently it was not an idea whose time had come because, though I did make a couple of sales, much of what I did sell was purchased by my Dad's two sisters. I'm pretty sure they bought these kits just to try to give me a bit of a start in the business world, albeit the world of very small business, ya know.

As most of you may be aware now, I'm really into doing embroidery work -tablecloths, tabletoppers, pillow cases, specialty towels and things like that and my goal is to get a little bit of an inventory, of sorts, of these items and then, post them on and account in the hopes of selling a couple of these items. Maybe even make a couple extra bucks that way.

I will say this much though about that idea, if I get an shoppe up and working, I'd better make a whole lot of sales and at really, really huge prices too so I can then make a dent in the medical bills I have that keep accumulating now too, as it seems every time I turn around the doctors want another test done or they figured out now I have this or that problem now too.

Thank goodness though between my Medicare and my supplemental insurance, I am not responsible to pay the entire bill for my five-day stay at the Pittsburgh hospital last month.

I almost fell over on the spot when I opened that bill Friday afternoon and saw what my total charges were for that five-day stay.

Can you believe it, but the bill was over $60,000?

And what hurts is I didn't even get a good night's sleep while I was a patient there either!

Long Day With LOTS of Blue Air!

Last night -Thursday night that is -I had an experience I never, never, ever want to go through again.

I thought my computer was dead!

Well, in so many ways, it was pretty much dead to my being able to use it, to do anything -other than run my spyware programs and oh yes, I could use my e-mail. But anything else -stuff that involved using the internet and either Firefox or IE -it may as well have been ready for the burial ground, for sure -or so I thought, anyway.

I mistook a pop-up on my computer for a security alert, clicked it on and there's were my problems began.

Seems that little icon I clicked that look so much like the icon for Windows Security actually belonged to a very nasty piece of crap type of virus or malware -not sure which, really. But if you get a message on your computer that looks very much like the Windows Security thing-a-ma-jig -a little kind of misshaped triangle with an X across it, do not, please for the preservation of your sanity, do not click that sucker or you will spend a whole lot of time and possibly a whole lot of money, lose files too in the process of trying to get rid of this thing!

It's called AntivirusGT and it is a nasty, really, really, nasty thing!

Thankfully, for me -for my sanity, for my pocketbook too, my next-door neighbor's son is very -make that VERY VERY -knowledgeable about computers and a darned nice kid too and I called him early Friday morning to see if he could tell me anything about what to do to get rid of this thing.

He spend about 3 hours, at least, Friday afternoon, trying to remove this thing and just when he thought he had gotten rid of it, he realized it had morphed itself into looking like it was a new piece of hardware that I had just added to my computer and so then, he began to back up my files on flash drives and such and finally got rid of it before he went to work.

However, by that time, it was also necessary then to reformat and then, reload stuff so when he came home from work around 10 p.m., he came over and began to reload the computer. Finished most of that and got it so I could use it again then shortly before 1 a.m.!

Still some stuff left to put on here on Saturday now but at least I am up and running once again.

But last night -when all this happened and I couldn't do anything -there sure was a whole lot of cursing going on here -under my breath as well as out loud too!

I can thank my lucky stars, for sure, that my neighbor is so smart as well as being a nice young man too and he did this for me for a VERY nominal fee! He wasn't going to charge me anything but he's fixed a whole lot of stuff on my computer for Mandy and me in the past and today -well, spending a good 6 hours so far working on this to get me up and running again -and better, way better, than before, well I insisted he give me a price and I'll square up with him after I get my SS check next week!

If I had taken my computer to one of the repair shops in our area, I would have lost a whole lot more than I did -which amounts to e-mail addresses in my e-mail address book, ya know and they would have charged me about 5 times what Daniel said he would accept for payment!

I'm thinking now that I'm gonna have to also bake something to take over to him as well for being so great about getting me on the road again to cyberspace!

Maybe some raspberry-oatmeal bars or Rocky Road Fudge Bars would hit his fancy too.

What do you think?

Peace and safe computing!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lunch Break!

I know I've mentioned here many times now about how four of the girls who graduated from high school with me and I meet once a month -usually on the last Thursday of the month -to have a nice, relaxed meal at a little local restaurant near here.

Today was our day for the August "Lunch Bunch" to congregate.

And today, as happened two months ago, I brought three extra guests along with me -namely Maya, Kurt and Maya's TSS, Amanda.

Normally, Mandy is off on Thursdays and normally, she is home then so I am free to go to these nice little meetings with my good friends, but every now and again, a glitch comes up and today was one of those days that Mandy had to work and I had to bring the kids along with me. Having Maya's TSS there is great because she definitely helps to keep the two youngsters pretty well in control and thus, enables me to be able to visit quite freely then.

The last time the kids and both TSS's who work with them went with me, Kurtis was mesmerized by the decorations in this restaurant -all different kinds of fish and other sea-type things hanging on the walls and from the ceiling. One that really caught his eye back then was a "Puffer Fish" and he talked a good bit after that meal about that particular fish. If you recall too, back then was when Uncle Clayton still had a big old fake shark's head hanging in his bar area of the garage where he was living then but that shark was Kurt's nemesis as he was absolutely terrified of that thing and refused to enter the area where it was hanging.

So we -both the TSS's and I -were really quite surprised at how excited he was over what he saw in the interior of this restaurant and that he accepted these items quite easily too.

Last night, before the kids went to bed, we told them that they would be going to lunch today with Grammie and Amanda -Maya's TSS -at Key Largo and both kids were happy, even excited then about this deal.

I really had no idea how excited Kurtis was -nor did I realize how well he remembers some things too -until this morning, when awoke and came downstairs and came up to my side immediately saying, "Go to Key Largo lunch and see Puffer Fish today, Gram?"

Yep! Guess we now know where his priorities lie don't we?

A Job vs a Career?

Over the past couple of years, something has evolved here, within my family, that makes me feel good, feel very happy about this, particularly for my older daughter.

For many years since she got out of high school, she worked in the food service industry doing waitress work. Most of that work she really disliked until she did eventually work at a really, REALLY, upscale restaurant over in State College and she did like that job -for the most part. But still, she was never content with that type of employment.

Then a few years ago, she began working as an aide doing home health care type of stuff -mainly helping senior citizens take care of various things in and around their homes, personal care, etc., and she found that she very much liked that kind of contact with people. From there, eventually she found a way to take the coursework needed and the test then to become a licensed Certified Nursing Assistant -I think that's the actual title but anyway, she is now a CNA and works at a hospital in the county adjacent to ours, near where she lives.

And the nice thing about this transition for her is that she now looks at her employment as being a "career" as opposed to a job! And yes, there is a difference between the two terms, ya know!

But even better, overall, is the fact that especially in this area, healthcare jobs are actually quite abundant! One of very few fields that around here usually has a lot of openings in it and that's a very good thing, isn't it?

Also, since she's been working now for about two years now as a CNA she is now thinking about trying to see if she can get things pulled together enough with funding and such and possibly get admitted to one of the school around these parts that offers a degree in nursing so that perhaps she could then move on up the career ladder to a job as an RN.

Now that would be quite a coup if she can get everything all lined up and do that. It would be something that I know would afford her many more benefits in the long run, not the least of them being a big boost to her self-esteem if she can get all her ducks in a row and pull it all together there.

Sure would be something that would make me quite proud and I think too, if my Mom were still around, would definitely make her beam with pride to see her granddaughter working in the same profession as my Mom had!

Upcoming Events

A little humor in the home lately involved Mandy and Kurtis this past Tuesday and I thought I'd share this with you today.

Every Tuesday, he has a therapy session at the center in Philipsburg that handles all his rehab-type programs and this is called "Play Therapy." It's neat really in that he meets with the therapist there -one he really loves -and they do all kinds of things, exercises, playing board games, playing with various toys and such -all of which is really beneficial to him and the therapist is also able then to gauge a lot about how much progress he is making all the time with the stuff the agency has in place for him.

This past Tuesday, after his session, he was in for a pretty long day though as he then had an appointment over in Altoona with the Allergy doctor so off they went to that one too then.

After his doctor's appointment, Mandy and Kurt stopped in a nearby store there and she said when they entered the store, right out in front, was huge cat on display. Not a live cat, but rather apparently some stuffed animal or some such but it was "dressed" in a cat costume that was set up to advertise then that the store now had Halloween costumes on display and for sale in another part of the store.

Now, you have to keep in mind that Kurtis has issues, shall we say, with various things -one of which is masks and costume type stuff for Halloween plus, he also has a bit of an issue about make-believe things involving cats. Go figure! We haven't been able to get to the bottom of the cat problems along the make-believe lines yet although he has no fear of real live cats and loves our Tomcat, Fluff-Nuts, here.

But anyway, she said when they walked through the door and he saw this big display of a cat in a costume -apparently it was very, very tall, very large -he stopped dead in his tracks and about all he could do was kind of mutter "Big Cat!" to her. She said she began then to brace herself for him to have a screaming hissy fit but he ended up handling it much better than she expected although she said his eyes were to the point of being about as big as saucers and she had a heck of a time getting him to walk away then from the display.

At home, in recent months, he discovered that there is this fairly large stone thing that Mandy has on top of one of the kitchen cupboards and though it is really just a big stone, it has a cat face painted on it. During the daytime hours, he goes about his business in the house, playing and never mentions this "cat" stone thing but at night, depending on the lights that may be on in the kitchen or dining room, if he happens to look up and sees that stone sitting up there with the cat face on it, sometimes he goes into a major panic over it although lately now, he has been getting better and just comes to me, pointing out to the cupboard at the stone and saying "Is just a stone? Is just pretend?"

Yes, baby, it is just a stone, just pretend and the more he grasps that concept, I'm hoping we can transfer that bit of understanding over to him to enable him to accept lots of other things he will see over the next two months now all pertaining to the Halloween season.

Maya did quite well in learning about Halloween, trick or treating, costumes and such without too much hassle but Kurtis -well, as you (and we) know, can sometimes be very much a horse of a different color about his fears and such.

Hoping here for a fairly easy transition for him this year now though!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Let the "Games" Begin!

Some good news today - for whatever it's worth -but last night and Sunday night too, I finally managed to get five solid hours of sleep logged in! Yippy skippy and can I have an Amen?

I have a follow-up doctor's appointment scheduled in Pittsburgh for next Tuesday - the normal check-up type thing after having had major surgery and right now, have just a small problem regarding that deal. None of my kids -by the looks of things -are going to be available to take me down to Pittsburgh that day!

Although I am driving again now, I am a bit leery of driving down there -traveling that far -by myself. Why? Mainly because I have a lot of difficulty staying awake while driving -even on relatively short jaunts -like 40 miles trips, one way -to Dubois or State College and I'm wondering if I can actually manage to drive 130 miles, one way, alone. Kind of irritates me to feel this way because prior to the diagnosis seven years ago of the cancer then, I never gave a second thought to hopping in my car and heading out to wherever I wanted to go, whenever I had the time and money available to do that too. I remember back when the kids were small, loading all three of them and just about everything but the kitchen sink too, in the little Chevy Chevette I had at that time and we took off, traveling west, first to Cedar Point Park in Ohio and from there, on to the home of my ex-husband's parents -the kids grandparents -on the western side of Illinois, and we left Cedar Point in the evening, I drove all night to get to the grandparents, home (including driving through Chicago) and once at Grandma and Grandpa's house, we drove then to their camp along the Mississippi where I finally crashed and slept for about 3-4 hours, while the kids rode in Grandpa's boat on the river and my son, got to celebrate his 8th birthday there, fishing with Grandpa. When we left to return home, I made that trip in about 12-13 hours, driving along with only a couple short stops for fast food and beverages or potty break and never batted an eye about having done that either. Travel then just didn't bother me the way it does today and I had no sleep issues of any type then to deal with though. I guess that's what made the biggest difference then to now.

So, we're trying now to figure out who I can maybe get to ride down to Pittsburgh with me -preferably someone who can drive that far without falling asleep and someone unafraid too of driving in city traffic as well. (Around here, not that many people are accustomed to how to drive in city/rush hour type of traffic so it is something of a consideration there, ya know.)

Today, since I actually felt like I had a bit more energy built up -two nights of decent sleep will do a lot for a person -while Mandy took Kurtis for his regular "Play Therapy" appointment as well as her appointment to see her own counselor too and then, from there to Altoona where the little guy had an appointment today then with the allergist, it was just Maya and me and her TSS, Amanda here for the rest of the morning.

I got a nice hot shower before the TSS left early this afternoon and then, feeling even better -being sweet smelling, squeaky clean and sanitary will do a lot for a body, ya know -I decided to tackle cleaning the kitchen floor and got that swept and all mopped up and clean then too. Always nice to be able to walk through the house and know it's just a bit cleaner than it was before!

But all that stuff kind of takes a back seat now too because of two phone calls I received and one I made!

Late this morning I got a call from the Cancer Center in Clearfield and the nurse (Missy) -who I have known for several years now since I was a patient there before with the oncologist who used to be at that hospital and Missy informed me that their office had just received information from my surgeon in Pittsburgh advising them that I was to be scheduled in the near future there for follow-up chemotherapy.

After talking a bit with Missy, giving her a bit more information and such, she said she was going to turn the information over to the scheduler in their office and someone would be calling me later today then to set up appointments for me. Before hanging up with her though, I mentioned to her about having received a "Script" for an ultrasound on the thyroid -which had arrived while I was in the hospital and I didn't discover it till last week one day while going through the pile of mail I'd received while in the hospital -and I asked her if maybe I should call the imaging department and schedule an ultrasound as soon as possible. She said she thought that would be an excellent idea as she felt both the surgeon in Pittsburgh (who had ordered the ultrasound) as well as the doctor at the Cancer Center there would both want that report on their desk as soon as possible.

So, I called the ultrasound department, told the scheduler there what I needed and she informed me she'd just had a cancellation for an 11:30 a.m. appointment there TOMORROW if I wanted to take that slot. And yes indeed, that I did. So now tomorrow, off I go to Clearfield to begin the testing process on the thyroid so they can determine what -if anything drastic -is awry with that little part of my body and system.

And about ten minutes later, I received another phone call from the scheduler at the Cancer Center who informed me that now they had me written in for an 8:30 a.m. appointment there on Wednesday, September 8th, for blood work, followed by a check-up/discussion with the oncologist there and after that, she had me scheduled then for my first chemo treatment on this go-round to be at 9:30 a.m. that same day!

Phew! Kind of makes one's head spin at first -once I got over the shock of having any type of appointment scheduled for me as early in the day at 8:30 a.m. Normally, I try to schedule all appointments to be no earlier in the day than 11 or 11:30 a.m. simply because of my screwy sleep patterns, ya know!

So that's the big news from my household for today. I'm not really excited about the chemo stuff on one hand but yet, I am anticipating it as the beginning of putting something else, hopefully, to an end. That being, having the chemo go on a "search and destroy" mission in my system to track down any little old cancer cells that may have escaped and are traveling around now in me, looking for a new place to land and build another home, ya know.

That's the way I look at it anyway. I have no idea as yet what type of chemo I'll be getting -how strong a dosage, for how long a period of time either. The last time I had chemo, I had a few minor issues at the very beginning of each treatment with some nausea but nothing drastic and with both chemo treatments I had seven years ago, I never experienced any hair loss other than a few strands here and there, but nothing severe. So I'm hoping I will be fortunate enough to have a similar experience to that this time around too.

I'm gonna have to call my cousin now too and find out if she's been scheduled to begin her chemo treatments too as yet. We both had surgery about a week apart and we both have to have chemo beginning at about the same time span too.

Definitely will give my cousin Nancy and I a lot of common ground to cover and discuss over the coming months about that subject, won't it? She, like me, has a very positive attitude in place about all this and we're both looking forward to a very positive outcome for each of us too!

So, with all that in mind, that's why I said "Let the "Games" Begin" as we both venture forward to start destroying bad cells and building new and healthy ones in their place!

Peace, my friends.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not Like The Good Old Days!

I almost forgot about this little issue, of sorts, that became a bit of a discussion recently here in our home.

Sometimes, I don't think folks realize how good we actually do have things today, compared to how they were when I was growing up.

Take for example a small thing -like television viewing -back then and now.

Today, we have cable for viewing TV programs whereas back in the day when we got the first TV set in this old house -long about 1955 I think that was -the reception we got then was downright pathetic.

Snow, snow and yes, for good measure, a whole lot more snow! And the audio -also really crappy too -all kinds of static all the time. It was not unusual to have to sit by the TV set back then, ready to do all kinds of adjustments too on the horizontal or the vertical to stop the picture -if you could call it that -from flip-flopping every which way!

Back then, if you wanted to try to improve the reception you got here, I think you'd have to have spent the majority of all your spare time reading all kinds of antenna reviews and then, even after doing that, because where this place is located -about 50 miles from the nearest broadcast station and down in a deep gully at that -getting decent reception here back then was virtually an impossibility.

I suppose today, with the improvements made to various stations in our area for more high-powered delivery of their signals and maybe even better antennas today too, reception might be improved somewhat over what it was back then.

But I, for one, don't see any sense in switching our set-up from the cable company over to one of those Dish type things -just because they might offer a few more channels than we currently get today. I figure we get about 60 channels here now, plus I have a high-speed connection to the internet via the cable company and also, this spring, I switched my telephone service over to the cable company too -so I'm actually pretty happy with the set-up we have these days.

Anyway you cut it -I can only watch one channel at a time plus, the reception being provided via this medium beats the hell out of what we had way back in those good old days!

End of a Lousy Week!

Thank goodness this past week is now over and done -history, as they say.

In my opinion, it certainly had very little about it to be happy about anyway. Least of all, the continuous naps my system was demanding of me and all of that kept me from accomplishing much of anything then.

Why was this happening anyway? I'm convinced it is because, as yet, I have not been able to get my system regulated and therefore, when I fall asleep, I am waking up every 2.5 to 3 hours because -well, because I have to make a visit to the bathroom. Trust me people. This does get aold, very old, after a while! And as a result then, I am falling asleep within an hour, tops, after I sit down and even if I am doing something, trying to move around a bit, I will get so darned tired that I am virtually exhausted. Time for this problem to begin to cease and desist is all I have to say on that issue. (I should be happy though because at least my normal sleep time has increased upwards from 1.5 to 2 hours per nap to a maximum amount of 3 hours. Any increase there has to be considered to be progress I guess. I'm aiming for the days (nights, that is) when I can sleep for 5 hours straight through -no bathroom interruptions!)

The past 2-3 days were even more uncomfortable for me too -thanks to the weather we experienced here from Friday through today. A lot of humidity, as in forewarnings of rain on the way, and that does not so nice things to my back and legs -like makes them ache like toothache, ya know. See what you younger folks have to look forward to one of these days -good old arthritis settling in every darned bone, joint, tendon, etc.!

Yesterday, I was grumping to Mandy about the aches and pains and inability to sleep properly and I mentioned, in passing, that I wished I knew where in blazes the heating pad we used to have was now. That's when she 'fessed up to keeping it in her bedroom and using it all the time to keep her feet warm when she goes to bed!

Whhaaatt!? What kind of excuse is that anyway? Here I am in pain and no heating pad and all she's worried about is keeping her little old tootsies warm!

She did however mention to me that if I got her a nice electric blanket sometime before the really cold weather sets in here, she will let me have the heating pad back to use on my back joints. Nice offer, don't 'cha think? I think I'll have her put that in writing that she has duly promised to hand over the heating pad to old Gram here!

I did get one thing completed this week and that is I finished up another tabletopper I'd been working on for the past 3 weeks now. If I'd been able to stay awake, I could have had it finished probably at least 3, maybe even 4 days earlier than I did but right now, I'm just happy that it is completed. Sorry, but I haven't had a chance to get any pictures taken yet of this item, nor of the table topper I completed prior to the surgery either. But one of these days soon -hopefully sometime this coming week -I'll get caught up on that aspect too and be able to post photos here of these two recent projects. (Both are Christmas themed items as I'm trying to build up a little inventory, of sorts, of items suitable for Christmas gifts.)

The other issue that has been bothering me lately too is that so far, my appetite is still really the pits. Nothing tastes quite right to me -even things I really, really love -like pizza for openers! Well, there was one exception to that issue and that came about Monday night when a good friend of mine from church called to say she was making a big pot of "Stuffed Pepper Soup" and would Mandy and I perhaps like some? If so, she said she would bring a container down for us later Monday night and when she showed up and handed me this big storage container of this soup, still hot, fresh from her stove, the aroma drifted right through the lid and permeated my sense of smell so strongly that a half hour later, it was still there, tantalizing me and I had to have a bowl of that soup!

Boy, was I ever glad I did that too because it was absolutely wonderful and it turned out to be the only food substance I ate all this past week that did taste good and the way it should taste, etc., etc. Finally polished off the last of it this evening when my son was here for a while. Considering today was his 37th birthday, that was his birthday present this year from me -a bowl of Stuffed Pepper Soup, leftover here since Monday night but, as good as it still was, he scarfed it up in record time and gave the soup a rounding vote of approval too.

I suppose the lack of appetite is a good thing on one hand because I'm not yet up to par on my walking regimen -only went for two relatively short walks this past week. But if I'm gonna get my system built up and prepared for when I have to start getting chemo treatments some time next month, the appetite had best be returning at least a little bit, I think.

That's about all that's been going on around here this past week. Here's hoping the coming week brings at least a little bit more in the way of fun things, food, sleep and other exciting things!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tangled Webs!

So, tonight I remembered I hadn't downloaded some pictures on my camera since before I had the surgery and I figured no time like the present to do that job.

It should have been an easy feat to accomplish and would have been a hell of a lot easier to do if I'd been able to find the cord that is plugged in somewhere in the back of my computer and that I then plug the other end into my camera and presto magic, within seconds, the photos are removed from my camera and transferred over to my computer -as well as to my account on Kodak's Gallery too.

Should have been easy yes, but it sure as heck wasn't!

Why was that? Well, because in the past two weeks, one day Mandy got the urge to neaten up around my desk and the computer and in doing that, she pulled that cord for the camera off to the side and I couldn't locate it!

What a mess to try to de-tangle these darned wires -all of about the same size, of course and yes, each and every one of them is a standard color too. All black!

Why can't computer manufacturer's and camera makers and speaker suppliers and phone people make the wires that go from each of these type units into the back of the computer each a different but standard color for all to use?

Really, folks, would that be all that difficult a deed to perform?

The speaker cable/wires could be oh -maybe in yellow, the phone wires in red; camera wires -how about green, maybe -just so when you go to locate the darned thing, you only have to look for one particular color -not detangle a kazillion of these little wires, all black, and very confusing too if, as is the case in my set-up here, the back of the computer is situated on my desk and very difficult to pull it out a bit to try to look behind the darned thing to see if you can find the needed wire that way.

So instead, you have to weave the phone set's wires in, out -under and over all these other wires, then do the same with the speaker wires and of course, the mouse too until finally you retrieve one lone wire that has the little thingy near the end of it that you then recognize as the part that you plug into the darned camera so you can download some photographs to the computer!

There are already enough things -as I expressed earlier this evening -about computers and programs and such that can easily confuse me for hours on end and I really don't need one more item -like a big mess of these wires to befuddle me and de-tangle the darned things.

Anyone else get annoyed by things like this or am I just getting too darned old, not having near enough patience to try to work this kind of stuff out without running the risk of turning the air in here really blue from my blue vocabulary that things like this tend to bring out and to the surface in me?

Something else that should be given a priority level by manufacturers, in my humble opinion anyway!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tackling the Bills!

Well, the bills from my recent hospital stay -as well as tests and prior hospital visit back in May -have begun to trickle in and as I look over these things and wonder where I'm going to find the extra cash in my checking account to pay "my share" -that lovely deductible, ya know, it gets me to wondering about medical costs as well as insurance too and how various states might compare to what hospitals and insurance companies charge, in comparison to Pennsylvania.

I did a little peeking around to see if I could get any clarification about any of this -and really, the only thing I did learn was about North Carolina health insurance.

And it made me feel pretty good when I realized that my insurance here costs -and pays out too -about the same in that state as it does in Pennsylvania.

Not that getting this little bit of information will help me figure out how to pay the balance of the bills I have floating in here now but at least I know if I were ever to move to North Carolina, it would all run me about the same there as it does here.

I know -small comfort that is, huh?

Better than nothing though is my feeling about all of this!

Silly Things Remembered!

Tonight, Mandy's friend, Ken, is here and right now, they just left to take Sammy for a late night "business" walk. (One that, hopefully, will keep him from pushing the bathroom door open during the night and going in there and leaving a deposit on the bathroom floor that I would then have to clean up when I wake up and stumble in there, half-awake, ya know!)

When they take him out late at night like this, the simple cat we have -good old Fluff-Nuts -seems to like to stroll along with them too. Mandy says it really is quite comical to watch the cat as he will walk along side of her and Ken a little way and then, kind of drop back a few feet -momentarily -and all of a sudden then, he will spring into action, running up behind Sammy and pouncing on Sam's back or batting at his head or tail -which is almost always in motion too, I might add.

It is really funny to watch these two -Sammy and Fluff-Nuts -as they are still very good friends inside the house. Not simply toleration on Fluff's part, but he walks around, sometimes going up to Sammy and meowing right in his face, other times, he will seek the dog out and snuggle up against him. Kind of nice, seeing these two get along this well ya know.

But anyway, tonight -before they left -Mandy had been telling Ken about some of the many other animals we've had here over the years and in doing so, she happened to remember a story about me that my kids have always thought was really hilarious.

This was back in the mid-to-late 80s and at the time, we had a dog -something we almost always have had -and we also had two cats then too. I don't remember now which cats these were but I do know, we had two cats at the time.

Anyway, one day I was upstairs in my room, trying to clean it -to get rid of some stuff I no longer needed or used or that fit -and in doing cleaning like that, it entailed moving a lot of my furniture out of my room and into one or the other two bedrooms until I got things cleared to my satisfaction.

As I was doing this, at one point, I noticed one of the cats -a gray tiger striped fellow -soundly asleep on my bed. Not that this was an unusual sight because we always seemed to acquire the laziest cats in the area, the kind that usually do nothing outstanding except to sleep.

I may even have stopped momentarily to stroke his fur a bit and talk to him. Who knows.

But only a few minutes after having seen him, as I was moving a dresser into the girls' bedroom, I noticed that cat laying on a little chair the girls used to toss their dirty clothes on to before gathering them and putting them in the hamper. And on seeing him laying there, I got to thinking that this cat must really be fast and good at scampering from one room to another, getting all positioned quickly too and already asleep there without my having even seen him moving at all.

Almost like he had flown between the two rooms, ya know.

But anyway, I got the dresser into the girls' room and went back to my room to start moving something else around and there, in front of me, before my eyes, was the same darned cat, in the same position as before, asleep in the middle of my bed!

What the heck was going on here I asked myself as I turned and went back to the girls' room and saw this cat still asleep on the chair over there.

And then it dawned on me that my kids, knowing if they had said anything to me about bringing another cat into the house that I would immediately have nixed that idea, had gone and smuggled in this cat -one that was absolutely identical to one of the cats we already had too and then, I began to wonder how darned long they had been able to pull the wool over my eyes with this cat deal anyway.

I called older daughter Carrie -who was at work -and grumped to her that her brother and sister had gone and smuggled another damned cat in here -used a few bad words in the process of telling her this and she howled laughing at me.

"Mom, " she said, "that cat has been in our house for at least three weeks now and I can't believe you never realized that before now!"

Well, no -I hadn't noticed an extra cat at all.

After all, when you have kids as good as mine obviously were about sneaking things into the house behind my back and if one of the things brought in looked exactly like the other cat too, how the heck would you know it was a different creature anyway?

Or maybe, just maybe, I really needed to either give my glasses a darned good cleaning or even to get my prescription changed and get new glasses so I'd be better able to see these things!

Just a little humor that Mandy reminded me about tonight and something that over 20 years later, my kids still love to tease me and tell people about "this is how dense Mom can be at times: ya know!

Just one of many things on my "bucket list" of wishes that some day, something akin to this will happen to one of the perpetrators of this deed to me!

I Wish I Knew!

Years ago -like about 45-46 years that is -I was working for a large, national association in Washington, D.C. and they were -at that time -in the process of converting all their membership files over to the then pretty new medium of computerization. I was one of several employees chosen then to become a part of that new department -The Computer Section.

Now bear in mind, I was trained then to become a keypunch operator and back home, when folks learned my job at this place involved working around computers, many people thought this meant I really had it great, knew a whole lot about computers, operations and such and well, dealing with those little cards with those funny looking little holes punched in 'em was considered to be very high tech back here.

I did learn about a few other things while I worked there pertaining to computers but it was all pretty minimal in reality. I even was lucky enough for a time to receive training on writing programs using the COBOL language too -but not enough to take me any further in that type of work.

However, it was enough that I do still have an interest in computers and do enjoy various things I can do now with my own computer, in my own home. Compared to where I worked back then and the size of the computer that did our processing, being able to perform many of the things I can do with this little box on my desk, the screen in front of me and a mass of tangled wires behind that box and on they floor is really remarkable and amazing for sure. The computer at our office back then was a huge piece of equipment with several great big reels of computer tapes that the operator had to know which tapes to put in this machine that took up about one fourth of the entire floor where our other offices were located!

But, today -though I do have this blog, I am pretty active with e-mailing (something a lot of people, even today, consider to be a "marvel" to be able to do that and play around a lot with Facebook as well, my knowledge about these things is really very, very limited. VERY!

And it is that limited knowledge that sometimes makes me wonder about some of these things pertaining to computers today too.

Sometimes, strange things happen while I am playing with the blog thing. Things that one minute worked fine and dandy and the next -not so wonderful. Frequently, the same sort of situations will develop while I'm playing on Facebook too and the problem then often is that I have no clue if it is something within my own computer playing little tricks on me or is it a glitch with Blogger or some new technique or application that I have little or no understanding about with Facebook. And running into those type of things is -for me -sometimes really frustrating.

Sometimes I wonder -or maybe I wish -that these various components had some kind of data center virtualization that controls everything pertaining to Blogger or Facebook and where those entities could some how check into those centers to see if someone having a problem is dealing with something that is just within that person's own computer or if any of the goofy little things that occur are part of a larger problem then within those particular programs themselves.

I'm thinking this would be neat in a real world and maybe even better -plus faster -in the virtual world -because it could then sort things out quickly and let the individual know if you need to call for some kind of technical repair for your unit or even trade it in and get a new, bigger, better, faster computer or if your little piece of equipment -old or new -is working fine but their system is the one with the problem at the moment.

Just wondering if something like this would/could/should be possible now or in the future and just one of many, many things I wish I understood and knew a whole lot more about!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Moving Along

I really meant to write something before five days had gone by between posts but well, I've been a bit busy -sleeping!

Much as I despised the old catheter that had accompanied me home from the hospital and which -thankfully -was removed last Tuesday, a week ago today now, I have since discovered there was one thing really nice about having to deal with that damned contraption.

It allowed me to sleep -soundly -for 5 to 6 hours, solid, uninterrupted sleep, sweet blissful sleep!

Since its removal, my sleep patterns have gone back to waking up after 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, maximum, sleep at a clip and as a result of that, sleep deprivation followed rapidly behind those patterns. It seemed the last week, all I have wanted to do was sleep, sleep and sleep some more!

My sleeping has improved slightly -not up to the lovely 5 1/2 to 6 hour spans I had been enjoying but slowly, it is expanding a little bit and that's a good thing to have that happening, isn't it?

I have to try to tell a little bit of a story here but it's gonna be hard to tell this because I really can't give all the necessary particulars without risking starting a small war in the neighborhood. So I'll try to give just a few of the bits and pieces here and hope this makes sense.

This weekend, we learned of something that had happened to someone we know. It wasn't a nice thing to have happen to a person -and no, I can't even tell you more about this for fear of identifying too much detail. Sorry about that, really I am, cause I'd dearly LOVE to tell the WHOLE story as well as the REST of the story, as Paul Harvey would have said.

But the crux of this whole tale centers on how I don't believe in trying to get revenge or retaliating against people (or things/events) that seem to beg, at the time, for one to try to seek revenge. I've always told my kids that if something happens that we think should deserve revenge/retaliation, that it is always better to take the high road and do nothing to gain that bit of self-satisfaction cause if it is something that actually warrants revenge, leave it alone and in due time, the offenders will end up with something happening to them that will serve them right. Know what I mean there.

My older daughter has never liked that I believe this way and often has wanted to do something, anything, to people she has felt wronged her or me or her siblings in some way and it's been difficult over the years to tell her even if she feels it is taking way too long for the revenge she wanted to see happen, it is always well worth the wait.

And this past weekend, something did happen to someone who she (and yes, even I too) felt had wronged us a long, long time ago. Like 22 years ago! Something none of us could ever have imagined as a potential punishment came along and knocked a certain someone off the pedestal they've sat on for way, way too many years.

And you know what? As I was told the whole story of the current event, I sat here and laughed and laughed till I cried. Repeated "No S**t!" over and over during the telling of the tale way too many times too. Apparently said that so many times that hearing that phrase kicked in with Kurtis and got his ecolalia into full gear that he came up to me, index finger to his mouth (the gesture we use on him when trying to get him to listen and please be quiet) and he said, voice slightly lowered too, to me "No S**t!"

Now I have to do a lot more work on my bad vocabulary I guess so that someone isn't trying to work Karma my way as a punishment, don't I?

But anyway, we -all of us in my little family -have been basking in the delight of seeing someone get their comeuppance -22 years after the fact -but you know, better late than never. Right?

I have been waiting -fairly patiently -for the day to arrive (after the surgery, during my recuperational period) for me to feel confident enough in my footing to be able to start walking again. I've felt pretty good, really and truly, I have but the idea of starting to walk the roads here again was something I still hadn't really felt quite up to -at least, not by myself.

However, late Sunday afternoon, Mandy had taken Sammy out for a necessary stroll and I decided (knowing she wouldn't indulge in a really LONG walk) that maybe I could try strolling along beside her and the dog. And so, on went my old walking shoes and out the door I headed and walked down the street -past two houses -turned around then and we walked up the street and back past about six more houses. And the legs held up okay -with no shakiness at all! I figure the distance walked to be probably a total of maybe 1/3 to 1/2 a mile -no big deal in the walking sphere -but a big move on my part to get my life a bit more back to normal!

Yesterday -that would have been Monday (in case you can't keep track of days -or feel the need to know that) we (Mandy, the kids and I, along with Ms. Randi, one of the kids many therapists) drove down to Bellefonte to pick up Alex, the older grandson and bring him back up here to spend two days and nights here with us. Because this Thursday will be his 13th birthday, we all went to a really nice restaurant in Bellefonte (Bonfatto's) for lunch as a treat for him, the birthday boy! Had a delicious lunch there -Bayou panini sandwich -that was so big I couldn't eat but only half of it and had to bring the rest of it home to enjoy for lunch maybe today or tomorrow.

The kids have been pretty much running their normal course -some good behaviors, interspersed with some not the best kind of stuff, but yet, nothing drastically bad or memorable.

Well, with one small exception that is.

Yesterday morning, Mandy was trying to do a little clean-up of the living room floor which was, after the weekend, in dire need of sweeping, sure, but also of the kids being put to the task of picking up, putting away, the toys they had strewn about. As is usually the case when it is time to "clean up" Maya went into a bit of a hissy fit, refusing to help out, insisting it wasn't her toys, that she hadn't made all the mess, Kurtis had and well, yadda yadda, ya know.

And in trying to get Maya to help, Mandy had told her that she didn't like her attitude.

By that time, Kurtis decided he would try to dig his heels in too and not be helpful in the clean-up process which prompted Mandy to grump at him about his unwillingness to help out.

His response was to turn to Mandy and quietly announce, "I don't like your attitude."

Needless to say, both Mandy and I cracked up laughing then at his refusal. Maybe not the best thing to laugh or even snicker when the kids do/say something that isn't quite the behavior we want to see, but gee, his comment was really comical to us at the time anyway.

And besides, Kurt usually is pretty good about helping to pickup stuff. Sure he may whine and grumble about cleaning up, but generally, he does listen and does help out! (Just wishing his behavior in that respect would begin to rub off a bit on his sister!)

And that's about the extent of my busy, oh so exciting life here for the past few days!

Hope your days hold a lot more fun and games and good things in them now! (And yes, I am positive that mine will improve over time too though!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Recap!

I've been behind on blogging for quite sometime now but the past couple of days, I've been even more "behinder" than usual, if that's even possible!

But I have had so many things going on over the past two weeks and some of this stuff is really, to me, absolutely incredible too, but I HAVE to share it with you if that's at all possible.

First off -thanks for all the well wishes and prayers and I think by the time you finish reading this post, you'll agree wholeheartedly with my thoughts that those wishes and prayers all played together and worked -quite nicely, as a matter of fact.

About 2 days prior to my going to Pittsburgh for the scheduled surgery, I got a call from the surgeon's nurse telling me she had some results for me from the CT scan done as part of my pre-operative tests.

Seems that test revealed a nodule on the thyroid that has to be checked out further. So as soon as I am considered to be "back on my feet" I have to go have an ultrasound and have this checked out. From reading about thyroid issues online, both my older daughter and I -and this was reinforced to me too by my best friend who is a retired registered nurse -but thyroid problems, especially if they are malignant --(which accounts for a relatively small percentage of these things) are usually not that terribly difficult to cure. So I am thinking positive thoughts about this and getting this testing done now in the near future!

The surgery went well! They did a bit more than had initially been planned too. A full hysterectomy -although the surgeon did tell my daughter he removed everything except the ovaries and that was because he couldn't find them! I thought that was rather amusing -thinking maybe he was looking for cherries and they had turned to withered up old olives or perhaps, had been pulverized about seven years ago when I had radiation treatments for the colon cancer I had then! In addition to that, they also did bladder repair (nice) as well as full hernia repair too! The latter was a bit of a surprise as the surgeon called upon for the hernia repair had initially said he was thinking this might be just a bit of tacking things up here and there as he was concerned that full hernia repair might be biting off a bit more than would be easy to chew, ya know.

I had the surgery done on Friday, July 30th and returned home on the following Tuesday, August 3rd! Mandy and the kids came down to pick me up and we had a nice ride home -with very few issues with the kids. Okay, I didn't say NO ISSUES -just not a horrendous amount of them although there was a good bit of Mandy putting her hand between the seats, reaching back to two small children and ordering them to surrender to her hands whatever toy, book, or other thing one or both had that they were using to beat the other over the head with it. By the time we got home, the floor in the front of the car, under the dash, was pretty well on overload with these items.

The biggest drawback to my homecoming though was that they sent me home with a catheter still inside me. Now that, I know was a necessity, but it was also a royal pain in the dupa as far as I was concerned. It truly limits one's ability to do ANYTHING when you have to remember this clunky hose and bag attached to you, find a place to hang the damned bag and also, that wherever it is hanging, it is not going to give you near the amount of room you need to do even the simplest things in life -like easily get a cup of coffee, much less make yourself a quick sandwich! Yeah, just a royal pain in the dupa.

That catheter, as I already blogged before, also provided for a lot of comments over the past 10 days too from Miss Maya. More later in this post about her!

This past Saturday though, I did get quite a surprise when the main surgeon from my team phoned me to check up on me, how I was feeling, any problems, etc., etc. I was quite impressed by his call!

He also then informed me that he was calling to tell me that they had received the pathology reports from the surgery the day before. And he began to review the reasons I had been referred to him: Displasia in the cervix -right? Yes. Well, the report says there was no displasia. Hmmmm. Then he goes on to say what the report did show -seems there was cancer cells present in the uterus! Holy Rip! Really? Yes and he went on then to reiterate how happy he was that my doctor at home here had referred me to him and how happy he was that it had been decided that I have the full hysterectomy too! Why? Well because had I not done that, had I continued just having pap smears, etc., the cancer in the uterus would NEVER have been detected without having had the hysterectomy!

Is that incredible or what? Doesn't that speak legions though that someone was definitely looking out for me? I think so! And so does my surgeon!

So now, the upshot of that discovery is that in about 4-5 weeks, I will have to begin having chemo once again. I am not upset by this -not in the least -as I know I can handle this -been there, done that before ya know -and also, I know this is important to do this too in an effort to try to track down any possible little cancer cells that may have escaped the surgeon's scalpel and are not racing around my system looking for yet another place to land and take up residence then! Hopefully, the chemo treatments will catch them and will do a destroy mission on them then too!

Tuesday, of this week, older daughter Carrie took me back to Pittsburgh to have a test done on the bladder to ascertain that all is working as it should be there and if so, then they promised to remove the catheter! I am so happy to report that all went as it should and they did the test and then took that God-aweful contraption out of me! Free at last, yes, free at last and such a good feeling it was too!

Then, on to the surgeon's office to have the incision checked out and the staples removed.

Because Maya has been displaying some not always positive behavior in recent weeks at the babysitter's house -a place where prior to my problems making it necessary for her and Kurtis both to go spend time with Jenn-Jenn (Mandy's best friend who is their sitter) Maya was becoming unruly and thus difficult to manage. We figure it was a jealousy issue that she didn't want Kurtis to share the little throne royalty such as her majesty, Miss Maya, had in Jenn-Jenn's home. So, because of that and because she usually behaves quite well for Aunt Carrie, we decided to take her along on our trip to the hospital and doctor's office -to kind of return her place of glory to her, ya know.

And that worked out just great -fine and dandy -and quite fun for Carrie and I as we listened to Maya singing in the back seat of the car, watched her watch in total fascination too the various things taking place as the medical people checked me out!

When the med assistant came into the examining room to check the incision and remove the staples, Maya and Carrie were there with me and the assistant asked Maya if she wanted to watch her remove the staples.

Boy, you never saw a six-year-old respond to a question like that as quickly as Maya did! You betcha she wanted to watch that process! So the assistant procured a little stool, put it alongside the examining table and helped Maya to step up there so she could watch her carefully snip, then slide the staples out of my abdomen.

And was Maya fascinated? Was she ever!!! If she could have gotten her nose any closer to see what was taking place, it would have been resting directly on my tummy! She was spellbound, really and truly spellbound with no talking during the entire procedure from her, just eyes glued on the "prize" as it were!

The assistant, as well as the urologist who checked me out yesterday, were as fascinated in watching Maya watch the staples being removed as Maya was! Incredible, huh?

After leaving the hospital, we had decided we would be taking a longer route to return home as we wanted to stop by my cousin's house in Latrobe, PA (About 40 miles or so south and east of Pittsburgh) to visit a bit with her and her husband -both who have had some really big major medical issues in the recent past.

So, before heading down to their home, we stopped in Murraysville at the Hoss' Restaurant there for a nice big meal.

As I got up to walk to the salad bar, Maya called out to me -"Gram, you sure are walking much better since you got your staples taken out!" I was kind of stunned, not expecting her to say anything -much less that comment -and I turned to her and said "What?" And of course, you know, don't you, that she repeated that sentence in a much louder voice -to make sure, of course, than every other patron in the place heard her then too!

After enjoying the meal, before we left, we all went to use the restroom and as I walked in there, Maya -again in a pretty loud, very clear voice, announced to the world, "Gram, you can sit down and pee now can't you?" To which I responded, yes, Maya, I can and then she shouted out, "GREAT!" You betcha, sweetheart, it is great! Both that I can do that procedure again and also, that you are savvy enough at your tender age to think that all this is "great" cause yes indeedy, baby girl, it sure as Hell is!

Then on down to visit with my cousin and her husband and I was so proud of Maya while we were there as she was as close to being angelic as is ever gonna be possible when you are six years old and your name is Maya!

Now, my cousin's husband has health issues and as a result, he is on oxygen 24/7 and Maya had never been "up close and personal" ya know with the breathing mechanism he has to have. He overheard Maya whisper questions to Aunt Carrie about what that stuff was around his face, in his nose, etc., and he called her over to him and then, removed the breathing tube and showed her how it works. Once again, she was mesmerized by all this "teaching" stuff, ya know. He held the tube to her ear so she could hear the sound of the oxygen as well as holding it by her hand too so she could feel it and the he calmly explained to her that he has to have this so he can continue to breathe and she was able to grasp it all, take it in and also, have to fear or questions in her mind now if she sees other people with devices like this!

Thanks so very much to him for taking the time to explain that in an easy to understand manner and alleviate any possible fears that she could possibly have taken away if she didn't have all that explained to her, ya know. Best thing he could have done for her, then and there, for sure!

The full upshot of the trip to the hospital, seeing all these things, etc., is that Maya announced to Aunt Carrie and I last night then that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. If she keeps going as she has been thus far, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she does follow through and do just that!

Tonight, when the kids got home from the sitter's, after having a piece of freshly baked yellow cake with chocolate-peanut butter icing on it, I wheedled Maya into getting a tube of body cream I had handy and got her to rub it on my legs and feet -felt so darned good and cooling when she did that!

However, she's a bit of a sadist at times too as she dearly loves to come across any "boo-boos" that might be present on my legs at those times -old bug bites, or scratches the kittens have left when they tried to use my fat legs as climbing implements or scratching posts -and when she encounters things like that, she dearly loves to dig at them! Why, I'm not sure but that's her way. And that's what she did tonight until she managed to scratch each and every mark until it began to bleed a bit. So then she told me she had to get some bandaids and put them on these little boo-boos, you know. As she came back to me with the bandaids, she informed me she was using the "brown bandaids" on my marks as she didn't want to "Waste her pink Miss Kitty bandaids on my boo-boos!"

And at that comment, both Mandy and I howled in laughter!

So now, my left leg is proudly displaying 7 brown bandaids there to protect those minor little injuries they already had.

Nice to know she's also concerned about not wasting some things in the household too, isn't it?

So there you have it -as encapsulated a report as I will probably ever be able to provide to you about things and events in my life in the past two weeks!

(I just happened to think too in the past, Maya has never hesitated to share her "Dora, the Explorer bandaids" with me so maybe these Miss Kitty ones are considered to be extra-special in her train of thought.)

And now, I think I'll retire for the night!
Pleasant dreams to all and thinking totally positive thoughts about the way things are going in my life here these days!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

And, What Did You Measure Today?

Anyone who reads my blog -whether it is a friend or family member who knows me well or a fellow blogger I've come to feel I know almost as well as family or friends/neighbors, etc., knows I often put things in my blog about my grandkids, especially Maya and Kurtis.

There isn't a day that goes by that we don't have a mixture of all kinds of emotions going on here. From the tantrums of small children caused by their lack of knowledge or understanding -or remembering -rules/regs in the house to sweet things these two can do from time to time and also, to things that are sometimes downright hysterically funny as well.

The sibling rivalry problems I have to say are now in full bloom here! Not so much with Kurtis but very much present with Maya. Everything has to be judged by her by whether or not Kurtis gets the same treatment about everything imaginable as she gets -whether it be a helping of food, a treat or disciplinary actions. It is all about being identical there. Unfortunately, that is not always possible because he sure isn't going to get put in time out when he's been behaving properly, helping to pick up -or whatever -and she has not been fulfilling her end of that bargain. But she usually only sees these things as being all totally unfair to her.

And about all we can do about that right now is to try to keep as level a path as possible for both of them and wait it out until she is able to view things a bit better. I suppose by that time it will be Kurt's turn then to cast accusations of unfair treatment coming toward him then, won't it?

One thing with Maya though is that she is very, very intelligent. VERY! We don't always know how to answer her questions either because we aren't always sure exactly how well, how much she does understand about a lot of things that happen in this household.

And because of that factor, when she begins her little "20 Questions" games -which usually seem more like they are "820 Questions" as they do often seem unending -I have, for the most part, taken to answering her in a truthful manner but just trying to put some things into terminology that she can grasp.

I worried almost 4 years ago when I had to have a colostomy about how I would cope with her as trying to have something called privacy in the bathroom is pretty much an unheard of entity here -then and still is that way.

How was I going to explain to her when she would eventually see there was a difference between her anatomy and mine -in the way we used the bathroom, anyway. I ended up by simply telling her the bag and the barrier is just how Grammy has to use the bathroom because she had been sick and had to have the doctors fix her up that way.

And, as a result, both she and Kurtis have very little snoopy factors and off-the-wall comments or questions about that aspect of my life. Just acceptance that this is the norm for me and thus, for them to be exposed to this stuff too.

Now this week, when I came home from the hospital, I was sent home with a lovely little contraption that I'm sure many of you have had to encounter at some time or other in your own lives -a catheter.

And yes, eventually it did bring about some questions from Maya about why does Gram have this bag she has to carry around all over the place and what is that stuff in the bag too?

Finally, on Thursday, she asked me about the bag -getting a bit more specific in her questioning, she wanted to know "Do you pee in that bag, Gram?"

Well, yes and no! She knew what the bag held but I could see she just couldn't quite fathom how it got there. So I tried to explain it a bit and finally ended up telling her it is like the bag on Grammy's belly that takes care of the other stuff and she was okay with that explanation.

Today though -actually tonight -when she came home from spending the day with Jenn-Jenn and her family (the kid's sitter) -she asked me "Did you measure your pee today, Gram?"

Yes, she is aware that there are markings on the bag which denote how many cc's of urine is being passed and she understands from the home health nurse who comes by every couple of days to check up on me, that the nurse records the numbers from the bag when she is here, doing her check-up.

Ya know, I find that pretty doggone amazing that she can, at less than 7 years of age, understand the recordings of those stats and that the information is very important too for my doctors to have accurate readings. Now I know that she is also concerned that I am doing my own follow-up stuff about that too.

That and she continues to give me hugs around my shoulders now too -"Just until Gram's stitches all heal up so I won't make her belly hurt."

Aw, now isn't that sweet though?

(I hope this post isn't TMI for some people to read about but it is a fact of my life as well as for many others around the world and for us, it is a normal thing to have to cope with life's waste products in these ways. I apologize if you found this embarrassing or anything like that but it is what it is and that's the way it goes!)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Welcome Back to the Family Zoo!

Not that my daughters don't love and appreciate their brother all the time cause, yes -really they do. But there are times when he really does come in handy.

Like he did, today -for a good example.

Ya'll know by now that this place is known for some goofy things to happen here. Never a dull moment what with Kurt and Maya here and some of their antics. Usually provides a good deal of humor to us most every day.

Then there's the silly little dog -Sammy -who insists on laying right at my feet, or as close to me as possible and frequently manages to trip me too when I don't realize he is under foot. Or the little spats that go on from time to time between Sammy and Chino -they gray cat.

Or now, there's the added attraction of the seven really cute, identical kittens Chino was so gracious to present to the family about 2 months ago now and who really do need to move out and on to other digs -soon. Cute, yes indeed they are. But we already have Chino and Fluff-Nuts, the Tom-kitten for feline fun and don't really need nor do we have adequate space to keep these seven kittens. (Still trying to locate a vet service that does affordable spaying and neutering, ya know.)

But lately, Chino has taken on another role too. She's decided -apparently -that she is a big old great huntress and almost every day this week now she has appeared at one of the doors or screened windows, hanging on the screens with some type of not-so-lovely smallish animal in her mouth. Her gift to us I guess for having been the providers of a roof over her head and food in front of her for her and her large family.

The other morning, as Mandy was getting coffee for herself and for me, Chino flung herself against the screen on the kitchen door with a pretty bedraggled little mouse in her mouth and almost scared the living crap right out of Mandy, then and there!

One evening last week, she deposited the head of a little bunny out near the front door stoop. Not exactly the kind of thing I really want laying around my already pretty barren flower garden ya know.

But this afternoon, my son was here -doing his laundry -and Mandy came rushing into the house looking for her brother.

Why? Well because she wanted him to identify what the heck kind of animal the cat had in its mouth this time!

The brother was in the basement at the time, doing his laundry but said he'd be right up and when he got to the dining room, Mandy started to tell him about this animal Chino had in her mouth and wanted him to go out front and get it from her and dispose of it then too.

Somehow or other though, while she was telling him about this corpse, and though we were all on "red alert" NOT to let the darned cat slip into the house with this gift of hers, someone managed to open the front door and in slinks Chino -dead little beastie tightly clenched with her teeth -and she heads straight for the area under the dining room table.

Amanda -the TSS -was standing in the doorway as Chino went gliding past her and she started making these goofy little throaty noises while Mandy headed immediately to the kitchen bar stool and was perched atop that -not in a seated position though but more of a crouching on her haunches type pose. Kurt and Maya were both giggling hysterically as was I too!

And Sonny Boy then went into attack mode, grabbing the cat and trying to herd it and her prey back to the great outdoors. Unfortunately, in trying to do that, the cat lost her grip on the animal and it landed with a large splat on the dining room floor which caused that much more screams from Mandy and these other sounds from Amanda!

Finally, the cat and the animal -now identified as none other than a fine specimen of a rat (ugh) -were both outside and Clate managed to dispose of the corpse somewhere in the back field.

And now the theme song for today -let's all sing it together, okay -"It's so nice to have a man around the house!"

Wonder what the heck will happen here next now, don't you?

So do I but I hope to heck it's no more dead animals!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

That Green, Green Grass!

Boy, it surely is the truth that there is nothing better than that good old, green, green, grass of home! And you never realize that until you have to go off and leave home in the distance, not really 100% sure that you'll return in one piece or not either.

Last Thursday, Mandy and I loaded up the car and headed out of town. Our destination -McGee Hospital down in Pittsburgh, PA where I was schedule to have major surgery the next day -Friday, July 30th.

Before leaving the area though, we had to make a couple of stops -the bank, post office, grocery store to load up our cooler with ice and then, last stop, to gas up the little buggy.

On our way out of town, Mandy's phone rang and it was the hospital calling to give us our instructions for the next day -mainly, my arrival time at the hospital -which they said was to be at noon Friday. At the time, as Mandy repeated the recorded message to me and I tried to write down the particulars that we would have to know, the fact that they said my arrival time was to be noon didn't register with either of us.

Not until we'd taken care of our errands and got gas and she was busy tucking the receipt for the gas into her wallet did it register that they had given us an "Arrival" time of noon.

When that dawned on her, she looked at me and said that we really didn't have to go to Pittsburgh then if we didn't want to as we could easily get up in the morning and get there by noon with no hassles.

Doing that would also eliminate the expense of a motel room and I could go home and do the prep for the surgery in the comfort of my own home, in the privacy of my own bathroom!

What more could one ask for anyway?

So we turned that car around and headed back to the house.

On the way home, we stopped at the mail boxes in town to check our mail and when we pulled up there, our neighbor and good friend, Shirley, was there, getting her mail too. I told Mandy before she got out of the car -because I knew Shirley knew we had planned to leave on Thursday and she would be inquiring what we were doing, still in town, to tell Shirley that we weren't going to Pittsburgh after all because I had changed my mind, chickened out and wasn't going to have the surgery after all. (Trust me, I knew that would get a huge rise out of Shirley and I was also risking her coming over and lambasting me with a lecture about not thinking things through, etc.)

So Mandy hopped out of the car and yes, Shirley -true to form -asked her what we were doing there now and Mandy told her "The old so-and-so decided she's not going through with this and I can't get her to change her mind!"

Boy, wish I'd had my camera with me to have been able to get a picture of the look on Shirley's face and that finger, waving and wagging at me as she hollered that I better get going to Pittsburgh as she didn't want to hear any nonsense like that, for sure!

About that time then, Mandy started to laugh and explained to Shirley what had happened, about the arrival time, etc., and we were just going to "relax" -as much as one can when you're doing the cleansing prep required before abdominal surgery and get a decent night's sleep at home to leave about 8 a.m. then for Pittsburgh. Yeah, Shirley likes a good prank like that!

So Friday, away we went.

We arrived at the hospital about 11:45 a.m. and Mandy's long-time best friend, Missy, met us there as she had promised Mandy she would come and sit with her while she waited out the surgery till I was out of recovery and such. Thank goodness for Missy doing that too because the surgery was expected to take about 2 hours but ended up lasting close to four hours instead!

They ran into a few problems with loads of scar tissue and radiation residue plus lots and lots of excess bleeding too -so much so that I had to have three transfusions while on the table.

But finally, the surgeon came out and told Mandy that they had taken the uterus, tubes, cervix but that he couldn't find the ovaries and had no clue where they had disappeared to! They also did bladder repairs along with a full repair of the hernia I've had around the stoma from my colostomy for the past 2 1/2 years now as well. A lot of work for the four surgeons in the operating room, for sure!

But anyway, I'm happy to say that after four days in the hospital with no further complications at all, they released me yesterday to make the ride back to my home, back with my kids and my grandkids too!

Not that I am totally pain free now but each day, the discomfort and pain does lessen and now, I have to return next Tuesday -August 10th -to have some kind of test run on the bladder to make sure it is functioning properly and have the staples removed at that time too. If all is well with the bladder, I will also then get to leave this lovely catheter behind then as well -an added feature they sent home with me!

Oh well. Can't have everything all the time, can ya?

It was really quite comical at times too yesterday when Mandy came to pick me up as she had brought Maya and Kurtis with her. She figured since picking me up wouldn't involve a lot of sitting in a waiting room, or things like that which the kids do have a bit of difficulty with, that they would be okay to bring along for the ride. And for the most part, that was true.

Except for one minor thing at the hospital -elevators!

Kurtis is petrified of elevators! So was Maya at that age and it's really only been the past year or a little over that, that she doesn't wig out completely about getting on an elevator.

When they got to my room, Kurtis came running in and up to me and told me "Is just an elevator. Not scardy. Just and elevator and I pushed the button too!"

I thought Mandy had managed to talk him into self-calming himself about the elevator ride up to my floor but it turns out, he only got that calm attitude about the elevator AFTER they got off it and walked down to my room!

When we went to leave, the fussing, crying and wailing began in earnest all over again and kept up until we exited the elevator in the basement by the parking garage. Meanwhile, Maya was even trying to talk him into calming down, telling him it was nothing to be afraid of. Of course, as soon as we got to the car and they got in their seats in the back of the car, the fighting started up with one wanting whatever toy the other had an eye one and then there was hitting -and screaming -and crying -and spitting (yes, that would have been Kurtis who spits now when he is angry with his sister) and all in all the next hour of the drive involved a lot of commands from Mandy for each of them to hand over whatever toy they were hitting the other with so by the time we stopped for a quick potty break, almost all their toys were on the floor of the front of the car!

Then there was singing -since there were no toys left in the backseat for them to fight over by then and their singing is quite a treat too -trust me when I tell you that! There was also some conversations they had between each other using their own private vocabulary -a bunch of jibberish really which Mandy nor I had a clue at all as to what they were saying. After that, there was a conversation with Kurtis in which he announced, over and over again, many times "I have surgery!" Don't have a clue even today what that was all about!

But it was a trip we won't forget, that much is for sure and actually, considering all the circumstances, they really weren't that bad after all.

Quite entertaining that twosome can be!

But it sure was nice to whiz along Interstate 80 particularly the last 55 miles of our trip home as that section is heavily forested and the trees -all green and full and beautiful -just impacted me even more about how lucky I am to live in this part of this beautiful state.

So last night, I checked my e-mail, read some of the posts on my Facebook and tried to work on clearing out my reader -which at that time had 364 posts showing up on it to be read!

I finally got it all cleared out tonight about a half-hour ago and decided to take a nice refreshing shower since it has been horribly hot and muggy yesterday as well as today and after that, to do a little post here just to let everyone know I survived and am getting better by the day!

Thanks for all the cards and prayers and help people have been giving us during the time I was in the hospital and since I got home too. Phone calls galore, food too -all very much appreciated too.

This morning though, I got up around 6 a.m. and made coffee and when Mandy came down stairs around 7 a.m. as she was getting coffee for each of us, the gray cat of ours -who had been outside, hunting all night apparently, appeared at the back door by throwing herself against the screen and hanging on there. And when she did that, she about scared the living daylights out of Mandy because she had a big fat old mouse in her mouth! You never heard such screaming or saw such jumping around as Mandy did at that sight! And Maya -well she just stood there howling in laughter at her Mom's actions!

So now, it's going on 1 a.m., I'm feeling somewhat cooler from the nice comforting shower and ready to curl up in my recliner to sleep there -again -tonight. I'm not going to sleep in my bed because if I were to lay down there, I would have nothing to brace myself with in order to get up and out of that bed! Sucks to get old and a bit decrepit at times, ya know!

And tomorrow -I'm gonna enjoy to the max another day at my home, with my kids, my grandkids and friends and neighbors around me!

Live really is good, isn't it?