Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cognoscente ~ says the antonym for artist is scientist ~ I beg to differ

Pronunciation: /ˌkɑɡ.nəˈʃɛn.ti/

Function: noun

Etymology: Latin - to know
Date: 1776
1. A person with superior, usually specialized knowledge or highly refined taste 

Dr. Elizabeth Munro will perform my surgery. 

An actor performs. So does a magician. The musician performs, as well as the gymnast.  My surgeon will perform.  Artist, scientist, specialist, cognoscente. 

Based on the current tests surgery should be a relatively simple procedure.  (Everything is relative when dealing with cancer.) Mind you, I get five small incisions in a "crescent shape" across my abdomen. Cameras and tools, once inserted, will probe and cut and give eyes to the surgeon.  Various parts of my anatomy will be removed, but with the expectation that surgery alone will be curative.

While I am blissfully under anesthesia, a pathologist will examine the recently exited uterus and ovaries to determine the spread of cancer. Together the team decides whether to remove lymph nodes and/or perform a traditional abdominal surgery.  That decision is made and performed immediately if necessary (consent signed and witnessed today). I will find out when I wake up.

Either way I am up and walking ASAP and home as soon as the next day.

Based on the biopsy, the endometriod adenocarcinoma is currently grade 1. (Grade is type of cells.) The "best" grade... (Again, everything is relative.) The full pathology of said removed parts, determines the true grade and then the staging (extent of spread). Staging determines treatment, if any, post surgery (radiation and/or chemotherapy or nothing).

First two weeks I get to walk, a lot.  Then I see the surgeon again.  Somewhere around week three I get to walk (or  climb stairs) enough to sweat! No lifting until I am cleared around week six.  Dr. Munro says by then I may be at 80% normal (relatively speaking) but it will be a couple of months to be a 100%. That's if I get to skip radiation and chemo.

I do not yet have a date for surgery.  It could be as soon as Thursday, June 27th or skipping the 4th of July (Dr. Munro only does surgeries on Thursdays) July 11th.

Before the surgery date I am required to have an office visit with the anathesiologist and have standard blood work completed.

All in all, I am very confident in my medical team. They will heal me.

I still have my moments.  I am learning to ask for help. This team... the 7:00 am text answering friends, the feed me dinner friends, the listen to my babble calls with my kids, the coffee and baby fix rescuers, the prayer warriors, the kind words and thoughts senders, the partner in crime and exams...this team is what sustains me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Countenance ~ maybe a new lesson


Pronunciation: \koun'-tə-nəns\
Function: noun
Etymology: Old French - to behave
Date: 1250
1. appearance, especially the expression of the face
2. a.  a look or expression indicative of encouragement or of moral support
    b.  support or approval
3. Obsolete: bearing or demeanor

There is a group of women who take over the corner of the workout area in the gym. They are there every weekday setting up their P90X DVD. My age and older, they gather weights and bands and tie up the TRX straps so they have more room. Not so affectionately called the sewing circle by my trainer, I have come to know then on breaks and vacations.  One particularly tall woman named Connie attends the church I went to several years ago.  She is full of humor and grunts with the bestof  them.

Yesterday was the first time I'd seen the ladies since Christmas break. I asked about Connie. She died in her sleep last month while taking a nap after a work out. There with my sliders on the floor and my cable row set at 45 pounds I stopped.

Can't break down in front of the sewing circle and the rest of the gym.  I froze.  I breathed.  It didn't work.  No Trainer Eric. So I grabbed the owner of the gym.  Just a moment to say the words out loud.  Then back to working out.

The question is less about the moment and more about why I turn to a relative stranger. Why the only person to see me cry is my trainer? Where did this come from?

However, maybe I am asking the wrong questions.  Maybe it's ok to be me. Maybe, just maybe, it's ok for me to go through this in my own quirky fashion. Maybe one of the lessons is to stop trying to meet other people's expectations. Maybe it's ok just to feel in the moment and live confidently that whom ever I need in that moment will be there.

Blessings Connie. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Diffident ~ not a fan of these lessons


Pronunciation \di-fə-dənt, -dent\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin - to distrust
Date: 15th century
1. hesitant in acting or speaking through lack of self-confidence
2. archaic: distrustful
3. reserved, unassertive

I came so close to calling you. I even had a text written asking if you had five minutes to spare.  But I was sure you would be uncomfortable. You were with friends.  You were with your kids. You are on vacation. You are busy. It's Saturday night. It's Sunday morning. You are too far.  You are too close. I am the one you come to. I am your coworker. I am your client. I am your mother. I am the one who is strong.

I can eat. I can sleep. I can buy more flowers for the garden.  I can sit. I can write. I can't pick up the phone.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pedetentous ~ one day at a time


Pronunciation \Ped`e*ten"tous\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin - foot + stretch out
1.proceededing step by step
2. advancing cautiously

Endrometriod adenocarcinoma. It is important to me that I say the words out loud.  I face them without hushed tones or fear. It is the next journey I get to take.  

There are moments.  Printing out the cancer insurance form was one.  The font is minuscule and two pages long... all except the 40 point header that states "Cancer Claim" in bold print.  Really? As if i don't know that this is the form i down loaded.

Or for some reason stopping in the middle of my session with my trainer and breathing through some tears.

Both places. Both times. There was someone to hold my hand, touch me, and just be with me.

Yet for the most part, I feel blessed.  Yes, I have cancer and I feel blessed. I am surrounded by friends who laugh with me and hold me and pray for me. I have the most incredible team of doctors who have jumped on things with speed, expertise and kindness. And of course I have Kate and Jared and Jacob - a blend of support that compliments each other and meets differing needs.

No guarantees here though.  Some days will be harder than others.  The two lessons I already know that are on the syllabus are learning how to ask for help and accepting that I am loved. I am sure there will be others.

"Team Karen"  That's what my friend and colleague has decided to call all us.  This is my part.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tyro ~ In Unfamliar Territory

Pronunciation: \ˈtaɪrəʊ\
Function: noun
Etymology:Medieval Latin tr, squire, variant of Latin tr, recruit.
Date: 1587
 1. (a) : a beginner in learning something.(b): a novice 

When we lived in Arizona and all three kids were small, we had outside cats. One day Kate or Jared found a baby bird on the ground underneath the largest orange tree in the front yard. The mother bird was screeching and pecking at the cats who came near. Unfortunately we could not see the nest, and though feathered, this little one could not fly, only hop.

Thus began the week we saved the bird. In the day we placed the fledgling in a soft sided laundry basket and shoved it into the branches of the orange tree. The mother continued to feed him and fend off the cats. However, at night she returned to the nest. We would take the basket inside and cover it with a light blanket, only to return him to the tree at first light.  This went on for several days, until he finally flew to the nest on his own.

I don't know how to protect Jacob. He is set to fly, literally, off to war this night. To borrow a phrase from another mother, I did not raise my son to go to war. I do not know how to do this.

Thousands of mothers before did not know to do this. There is an ethereal quality to this journey ~ as though I am stepping into a stream of history and experience that is not unique ~ painfully, painfully, not unique.

There is much for me to learn. There are also old lessons of faith, mindfulness, gratitude, patience and community to remember.

I love you Jacob.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jargon - Fighting the Irrational Fears

Pronunciation: \ˈjär-gən, -ˌgän\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French jargun,
 Date: 14th century
 1. (a) : confused unintelligible language (b): a strange, outlandish, or barbarous language or dialect (c) : a hybrid language or dialect simplified in vocabulary and grammar and used for communication between peoples of different speech
 2. the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group
 3. obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words

If you look up phobias ~ irrational fears ~ there are hundreds of officially recognized categories. Fear of clowns ~ Coulrophobia. Fear of being out of mobile phone contact ~ Nomophobia. Fear of phobias ~ Phobophobia.

However, no category for "Fear about son deploying to Middle East." There are, much to my discomfort, dozens of family support sites and organizations. Yet, I am not ready to jump in just yet.

So, I am turning to what I know. Jargon ~ Slogans ~ Self Talk ~ and writing blogs with miscellaneous defined words. First up is "mindfullnes." This practice of staying in the moment is a tool I will need to use as Jacob prepares to deploy on October 18th. Recovery folk might say "no future tripping," or "one day (one moment if necessary) at a time." Those given to quote the Bible may choose "do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough trouble of its own." 

I admit to using less effective tools as well. I've been calling Jacob just to hear his voice. I am getting a passport and have demanded that Kate and Jared do the same. I am talking to strangers ~ younger veterans in Starbucks.

This is not a journey I had planned for. I forbade my children to join the military. That didn't work out too well. I am not sure I can even attempt to plan now. 

So, for today, I think I am thankful for small pox and anthrax vaccinations (yes, just two of many he has been given this week). I am grateful for cell phones that let me speak to him. I am thankful he was able to visit this summer. 

When you see me if I am prone to irrational reactions to news from overseas or moments of tearfulness, please be patient and remind me to breathe. 

What Worked for Me Today Talking to Jacob and remembering that writing often helps. 

Blue Star Moms
On January 22, 1942 the Flint News Advertiser printed a coupon asking Mothers of serviceman to return the coupon after filling it out. The following February 1st 300 mothers met in the Durant Hotel, in Flint Michigan. Captain George H. Maines, who had conceived the idea for this group, acted as the chair of this first meeting. It was decided that after receiving 1000 responses from the ad to form a permanent organization.

On February 6th the organization was reported on Congressional record. Chapters then formed in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, Iowa and Washington. In June of 1960 the organization was chartered by congress. 

 Mothers volunteered throughout the tough times of World War II. They worked in hospitals, train stations, packed care packages for soldiers and were an working part of homeland security during times our time of war. The organization waned in size over the years but has held together by mothers showing pride in both their children and country. In recent times we have began to grow in strength. Being attacked on our own soil has once again started mothers hanging flags in their windows at home proclaiming pride in the fact that we have children protecting our freedom during at time of war Our organization not only provides support for active duty service personnel, promotes patriotism, assists Veterans organizations, and are available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts to help our country remain strong.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chortle - Adventures with Animals


Pronunciation: \ chȯr-təl \
Function: verb
Etymology: blend of chuckle and snort; coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
Date: 1871
1. to sing or chant exultantly
2. to laugh or chuckle in satisfaction or exultation

It began early one Tuesday morning when I was dropping off food before work at the house. On Tuesday evenings I go to the house in country and make dinner for the boys. (With Jacob in the Air Force and Jared 24, I guess at some point I need to stop saying “the boys.”) It’s a way for me to stay connected and they do it for the free food.

As I got out of the car I heard what sounded like a goat bleating. I quickly dismissed it, thinking it must simply be some odd bird upset in the early morning. But then I noticed that the dog door that leads from the mudroom/laundry room to the outside was nailed shut.

I woke Jared and he explained that we were now providing foster care for a goat. A friend of Jared’s had the goat in the bustling Willamina metropolis and was told by law enforcement that it wasn’t an approved domestic animal for the city limits. We, with 16 acres in the county, have no such restrictions. Worried about the dogs (Indie a large mixed bread and the ever annoying pug) not accessing the yard, I was assured by my son that this arrangement was only temporary.

By the following week my boys, along with the two brothers who own the goat, had acclimated the dogs to the goat – to some extent. As long as Marty the pug was not around the goat and Indie tolerated each other. Once, however, you added the pug, it became a circus of running, barking dogs and leaping, bleating goat. Great exercise yes, but not a permanent solution.

All was going well with Indie and the goat sharing the yard and doggie door as long as Marty stayed inside. Granted the goat leaves droppings everywhere – including the laundry room floor and the dog bed, but there was no major head butting going on. That was until I needed to do laundry and walk outside to get reception on my cell phone.

The goat was resting on the dog bed when Marty came through the house door. Hearing the barking Indie joined the melee. I was outside and when I mistakenly opened the door to separate the combatants they all ran out - goat down the driveway followed by both dogs. Flipping my phone open I dialed Jared to tell him I had lost the goat.

Interestingly enough it was the goat that came when I called. He came through the door and into the house chased by both dogs. I yelled to Jared I had to go and follwed the parade into the house. All three went straight through the kitchen and living room to my bedroom. The goat ended up standing on my bed followed by both dogs.

The goat was going nowhere. So, after locking the pug in the bathroom and getting Indie outside with a dog bone I returned to push, pull and coax the goat off the bed and into the kitchen. That is where he pooped all over my freshly mopped floor.

Goat sitting – at least where the goat uses the dog door – isn’t really working for me.

What Worked for Me Today
Remembering to Laugh - and recalling a myriad of odd animal adventures in our family.

Men Who Stare At Goats - available streaming on Netflix