Monday, April 16, 2012

If You Trip, You Better Get Up and Run, It's Friday the 13th



There is folklore about how the superstition regarding Friday the 13th got started, and there's even an old wives tale that suggests if there are thirteen people seated at the table at dinner, someone at the table will die.

2012 is a particularly bad year for the superstitious because there are three occasions of Friday the 13th this year.  The first was in January, then we had the one just passed last Friday, and the next one is in July.  The freaky thing this year if you find such things freaky, is that each of these occurrences is exactly thirteen weeks apart.

Now I'm not all into the legend of Friday the 13th, I don't regard myself as a superstitious person.  I admit though I cringed a little when I found out my kidney stone was set to be blasted on Friday the 13th.  Yikes.

I've been looking forward to getting it over with, but not looking forward to doing it.  Just around this time last Spring is when I had that whole who-dee-do regarding my quirky little uterus, and in the prep for surgery to biopsy it, I had a horrible experience getting anesthesia going.  For those of you new to my blog, it was a monumental cancer scare not long after completing treatment for breast cancer.  It turned out to be nothing more than a quirky little heart shaped uterus and much ado about nothing, but not till I had been put through the wringer.

I was more than a little nervous this go round since I'd be at the same hospital, and was hoping and praying it would be a much better experience.

I never had those big garden hose veins in the first place, but after chemo, my veins were shot to hell.  I'm what they call in the business "a hard stick."  Well, except for my lovely lab lady who gets me in one stick (thank you Terry).

Some of you faithful readers will remember that during the procedure last Spring, my IV blew as they wheeled me into surgery.  I had an anesthesiologist who was impatient, obviously ill informed about lymphedema, and argued with me when I wouldn't let him touch my left arm.  By the time he was finished with me, resorting to sticking me several times in the neck while I was awake to start my IV, I was completely traumatized.

I learned my lesson, so that in the future, I would take better care of me, and I did.

This time I told every single medical person I came in contact with about my experience.  I told the pre-registration nurse when I was there ahead of time to sign all the consents and such.  I told the lab person in the hospital about it when I went to get my labs and EKG done prior to surgery.  I told the night-before-phone-call preregistration nurse about it.  I told the nurse who was assigned to me in the short stay unit about it.  I told the OR nurse about it.

I wasn't sure who my anesthesiologist was going to be, but if it was the torturer, I was ready for him.

I wasn't going to let him touch me.  I didn't care if I had to hop off the table and walk my silver painted toes down the halls of the hospital with my ivory fanny showing, it wasn't going to happen.  I was all ready for him.

Thankfully, a different anesthesiologist came, and I told him my whole story too.

This time in prepping me for surgery, it was a whole new diggedy.  I don't know what that means I just like how it sounds.  

No one argued with me or made me feel like I was exaggerating when I firmly stated I am a lymphedema risk in my left arm and absolutely no blood pressure or pokes there.

I showed the nurse who started the IV where my best spot is usually found.  I told her I am a hard stick, I need to have hot compresses placed on my arm, and I need her to be patient while my veins reluctantly show themselves for torture.

I told her about how last time my blood pressure cuff was placed directly over the IV which blew the IV in my arm.  (You ever have a blown IV in your arm?  It burns like hell.)  I said I wanted a blood pressure cuff for either of my legs.  That's what they did.

She did try to start an IV in my hand first, and I knew damn well she wouldn't find a vein there, but I let her cause she was so convinced she would.  When you have surgery they like to have the IV where it is convenient for them.  My good veins are on the inner side of my right arm and not easy to get to.  Next time I will just say straight up "Don't even try in the hand, you won't get nothin."

Once she got the IV in, right where I showed her, she taped it up good so it wasn't going anywhere.

I am getting better and better at speaking up for myself, knowing what works and doesn't work, and being a very good advocate for myself.  Throughout cancer treatment and going forward now into survivorship, I've found they often don't see you, they just see what they need to do.  They are just about getting it done the way they've always done it, and I've found I need to speak up and say what works for me.  There needs to be a lot more focus and conversation on quality of life issues while in treatment for cancer patients, and all patients in general.

Overall it was a rather uneventful experience, which was a real blessing for me.  I was anxious as I got up at 4:30 am that morning and prayed myself through getting ready, and prayed myself through walking into the hospital a little after 5 am for yet another procedure. One of these days I'm going to make a laundry list of every damn medical procedure I've done since my diagnosis.  I was one of those people who never had ANYTHING DONE except a couple of C-sections for my babies.  It's one hell of a list now.

After all the procedures I've been through, there is no more ignorance is bliss for me.  I get nervous.  I know what's coming and I carry with me still some of the post traumatic stress of prior procedures.  I do what I can to get through it and that includes lots of prayer, deep breathing and knowing that no matter what happens, provisions for strength and spunk and courage will be delivered to me.  Jesus at the wheel, and I've got my own back.

My stone was blasted, I am recovering, and will return to work later this week from disability leave that was supposed to be for new boobies, and ended up being for cervical radiculopathy (a pinched nerve) and a kidney stone.

I am still moving through this world missing my fat bunnies, and facing the little things and the big things that happen every day when you no longer have boobies.  Like when I went for my EKG and the tech said "You don't have to take your shirt or bra off, just lift your shirt, and lift your boobs up a bit so I can place the electrodes right under your breasts" to which I reply "Honey I can take the boobs off if you need me to..."  Somebody crash a cymbal!  Clang!

All things considered, Friday the 13th of April was a lucky day for me.

Every time I wake up from one more round of general anesthesia, I always feel lucky.

Shit happens.

I don't take anything for granted.

I woke up.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

the sacred ordinary, Easter 2012

Waking just before daylight, no sound, the world sleeps, and then the sun rises on an Easter morning, birds break out in praise like God's choir.  I have a front row seat in my backyard.
He is risen.  He lives.
A hot cup of chai tea while the rest of the creatures in this house sleep.
Picking up remnants of a BBQ and get together at our house last night hosted by my son. Most honored guest?  Cara girl, our Easter miracle released from the hospital for the weekend after 40 days there.
A purple bead bracelet with a tiny prayer box dangling, inside it my most solemn prayers. (thank you Kimberly O)
Hot rolling my hair for church, having hair to hot roll.
My family (Husband, 2 sons, and mom-in-law Grandma) all seated next to me in the pew at a high spirited joyous moving and way too long Easter service at a Baptist church.
Realizing that on the two year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis, I will be an opening ceremony speaker at the UC Berkeley Relay for Life, 4/21/12.
Getting back into jammies and a late afternoon nap.
Yellow tulips blooming outside my front door.
A sacred heart candle glowing on the mantel.

This was my sacred ordinary.  I am so blessed and thankful for a weekend that was like coming to a safe peaceful place, out of the storm.  Thank you God, I needed this respite from what troubles me.

Mostly,
I am thankful for
another breath.
Another chance to get it all wrong.
Get it all right.
Love.
Hurt.
Taste.
Walk.
Sing.
Praise.
Live.

I breathe in this sacred life,
reminded this Easter night,
no matter what,
nothing
will ever separate me
from God's love.

Happy Easter dearest Reader.

from your writergirl that dreams

Monday, April 2, 2012

Oh Dear Me, Still Not Enough D3!

I am quite familiar with all the discussion about Vitamin D3 for health, immunity and cancer prevention.  Did you know that most of the women diagnosed with breast cancer are very low in Vitamin D in their serum blood levels?  I didn't take this lightly, and for at least a year I've been taking 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 every day, and whenever weather permits, I sit out in the sunshine between 10am-12 noon for 10-15 minutes or so, without sunscreen, to soak up some Vitamin D.

I was thrilled that at my last appointment with The Good Witch a week ago, all my labs came back excellent.  Tumor markers good, all organ function excellent, cholesterol low, good cholesterol excellent, blood pressure 119/71.

Imagine my surprise though to find out my serum Vitamin D level in my blood was still very low!  Yikes!  It was only 35.  Most of the info I've read states that your blood serum level should be in the 50-70 range for health, and the 70-100 range for treating cancer and prevention.

Oh my goodness!!

Now that I've found out just how low I am, and based on recommendations I've read, I'm upping my intake of D3 to 8,000 IU per day.  I prefer to buy the soft gels in either 2,000 or 5,000 IU; it's a whole lot easier to get up to 8,000 when you start with a higher dosage pill.


The only way to determine the correct dose is to get your blood tested since there are so many variables that influence your vitamin D status. I recommend using Lab Corp in the U.S. Getting the correct test is the first step in this process, as there are TWO vitamin D tests currently being offered: 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. The correct test your doctor needs to order is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the better marker of overall D status. This is the marker that is most strongly associated with overall health.  Dr. Mercola


Your "D" serum blood level is a very good number to know, and just requires a blood draw, so next time you get your cholesterol checked, have your Doc check your "D" level too.  If you are in cancer treatment, or a Survivor, you really should know this number and have it checked.

Here's more info from Dr. Mercola's website to learn more about what some consider "the silver bullet" for cancer, Vitamin D3.


D3 from Costco, plaque from Kimberly O





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