Saturday, August 1, 2009

Folded Underwear and A Painted Wall

This sort of thing isn't seen at our house just every day.

Folded underwear, that is.

Since Meagan has been staying with us, she's been helping with the laundry. I have never before seen such precisely folded piles of clean laundry in my life. And I have never before seen folded underwear.


She'll be leaving on Monday and now my family is no doubt going to be plunged into the depths of depression as we adjust to the absence of her precision folding. (I'm more of a "flinger of laundry into the corner" person myself.)

Along with dish doing and laundry folding, we also put Meagan (and Nathan and Sarah) to work this past week painting a wall in our living room in our ongoing attempts to make the house more attractive to buyers.

In this picture Nathan is snapping his fingers and preparing to whistle the Jeopardy theme song in an attempt to get Meagan to move out of his way. He whistles the Jeopardy theme song simply because he knows it annoys her.

He's such a nice boyfriend.

Then he stopped snapping and just concentrated on whistling.

Of course, the longer he whistled, the longer she decided not to move.
She is such a nice girlfriend.

While the painting was being done, the living room stuff got moved to the dining room. And since I had a new and unusually placed collection of stuff in the house, I had to take a picture!

The Painting Women, huddling together to try and decide how to best ignore Nathan and his annoying ways.

Here's the wall before

Here's the wall after

And here's a picture of Nathan, just because I think he looks sorta cute.

Okay, that's enough excitement for today!

In a couple hours, our family (and Meagan) will be headed to Charlotte to spend the night with Steve's parents and then do the morning service at the church in Mooresville that was our home church when Sarah was in treatment.

I hope that my back discomfort stays semi, sort of, somewhat bearable on the trip and more importantly, that there will be plenty of opportunities for chocolate consumption along the way.


Friday, July 31, 2009

I've Had Enough For One Day

One chiropractor visit, one screening mammogram, one diagnostic mammogram, 120 miles driven, and one pair of Capri's with a "suspicious stain." Yesterday was such a lovely day.

(I also found out that my dad had to have unexpected surgery yesterday to remove his gall bladder. Love you, Mom and Dad!)

The chiro visit went fine. The doctor gave me a list of of stretches including a few that were recommended in the comment section. It's nice to know that some of you have tried the stretches already and found them to be helpful.

After the chiropractor, I was on the road to Raleigh for my mammogram appointment. Halfway through the (very fun) process, I asked the technician when the scans would be read. She said that as a rule, screening mammograms are read the following day; if all is well, a letter is sent out the next day. She added that if there were any problems, the patient would get a phone call before the letter arrived.

Then she looked at the screen and said, "Hmmmm."

Don't you just love it when medical personnel say, "Hmmmm?"

Me neither.

After she had "Hmmmmm-ed" for a sufficient period of time she added, "From what I'm seeing here, I can just about guarantee that you're going to have to have additional scans."

Don't you just love it when medical personnel say, "You're going to have to have additional scans?"

Me neither.

I explained to her that I done my best to get my mammogram done before August because our insurance is changing the first of the month and our co-payment and deductible will be higher.

I said, "Is there any way the follow up mammogram could be done tomorrow if I hand delivered the films somewhere today?"

She ran off and made some phone calls and before I knew it, I was out the door with a huge pile of films and reports under my arm. My understanding was that I was to deliver them to a doctor who would look at them and call me back in the morning.

Instead they sat me down in the waiting room. So I commenced to wait.

What I really wanted to was get up and get a magazine (since I am a compulsive reader) but unfortunately, all the magazines were in a basket.

And the basket was on the floor.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for me right now to bend over; I have to spread out my legs like a newborn giraffe and then lunge forward in as speedy a manner as possible in an effort to decrease the amount of time that my back is in a "stretched out position." It is not a pretty picture.

Since there were other patients around me, I was not real comfortable doing my "baby giraffe, lunging woman" routine in front of them and so I sat and stared longingly at the magazines. And rubbed my aching back. And wondered what in the world the technician had seen on my mammogram. And longed for chocolate.

After about twenty minutes, the nurse came back out and said, "The doctor looked at your films and said you definitely need additional mammograms done on both sides; do you have time for us to do them right now?"

Now what is your first thought when a doctor asks for additional views of an area of your body? You immediately think, "Oh no. They've found something."

Stress, stress, stress.

So far my day had included: Chiropractor visit, back pain, stiff neck, a drive to Raleigh, screening mammogram, a race across the city with scan results, strong desire to lie down and take a nap, and now being informed that there is "something" on my mammogram.

Maybe I should add, "Lie down in the fetal position and suck my thumb" to that list?

To make a long and tiring story shorter (but still tiring), I went through a very thorough round of additional pictures all the while wondering, "What in the world did they see that is requiring all of this extra screening?"

After the technician finally disappeared to show the films to the doctor, I groaningly lowered myself to a chair to rest my aching back. As I sat there in my attractive blue gown, I nervously tapped my fingers and contemplated the unthinkable.

She finally returned and told me that there were suspicious micro-classifications in both breasts, but they were more prevalent on the left. The radiologist said that some physicians might recommend a biopsy on the left side; however, he was comfortable with waiting six months and re-scanning to see if anything had changed.

Great. Just what I need. Mysterious "somethings" in both breasts that I have to wait six months to investigate further?

Oh goody! I was just hoping for more stress!

I have always been an "interesting" case to my doctors in the area of breast health. Over fifteen years, I have had multiple cysts drained, I have had lumps examined, biopsied and/or removed, I've had calcifications biopsied by way of stereotactic surgery, I've been put to sleep for several procedures and surgeries, and I have spent hours and days worrying and waiting on results.

With all of those things being factors in my health, my various doctors have had two ways of looking at things.

The first is this: "Well yes, you have had a lot of 'issues' but since everything has been benign so far, that seems to be in your favor."

The opposite view I've been told is this: "Since your breasts have a habit of producing abnormal, irregular tissue, it's just a matter of time before something that is produced will turn out to be cancerous."

Have a nice day.

Let me just say that by the time I staggered out of the radiology clinic (back aching, head swimming) got back on the loop around the city, realized I was going the wrong direction, got off an exit to turn around and then couldn't find a place to get back on the loop, and then fought rush hour traffic, I was just a wee bit tired. And stretched. And exhausted. And weary.

After I got home, I told my family the whole story, ate dinner and then went upstairs to put on my pj's for an early bedtime.

Much to my horror and dismay, when I took off my pants I happened to notice (right below the "seat" area) this lovely sight.

I obviously sat in some sort of "chocolate conglomeration" at some point in the day. And when that was? I have no idea.

What I DO know is that I sashayed through three waiting rooms (chiropractor and two doctor's offices) and I walked through many halls with many medical people.

I don't even want to guess at how many people saw that "mysterious stain" and I don't even want to guess as to what their guesses were concerning its origin.

Once I saw that stain, I gave up on the day. I flung the pants into the laundry, took two Benadryl, some more Tylenol and collapsed into bed at 7:30.

And I said to myself something Nathan used to say when he was quite small and quite tired. "I've had enough for one day."

Ahhh! More Space!

I have a new post coming soon (and very soon) but I wanted to take a moment to welcome you to the New And Improved Smithellaneous Blog Layout!

Trumpet flourishes, please!

I promise you that I will not be making major leaps about in blog layout styles in the months to come; however, after spending a few months writing in the teeny weeny center column, I was starting to feel a bit boxed in.

Since I invest oodles of time, creativity and what remaining feeble thought processes I have into my posts, I wanted to give them a place on the blog where they could more easily be read without having to compete with "stuff" on either side of them. (I think I had gotten used to the
Caringbridge layout I'd used so long and I really enjoyed it.)

I should also be able to post larger pictures, which will be fun. It may take me a day or two to get all the fine details figured out but already, I'm excited about having more space to spread out in.

And after all the comfort eating I've done this week? I'm gonna need it!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Pyrocracker

Do you want to know the WORST thing about my visit to the chiropractor yesterday?

It was when the lady doing the x-rays told me, "Hold your breath. Let it all out. Okay, now breathe normal."

Breathe normal? She wants me to breathe normal? How in the Sam Hill does one breathe normal?

I wanted to yell at her, "It's normalLY. You need to add the LY! Please, I beg of you. Add the LY. You are driving me CRAZY!"

However, as much as I wanted to yell, I managed to remain semi calm and just limited myself to intense gnashing of my teeth each additional time she told me I could "breathe normal." (Grrrrrr.)

As for the exam itself, I think I have made the list of The Top Ten Most Difficult Patients of the Year for my wonderful chiropractor. (Or as Sarah used to say, "Pyrocracker.")

The good doctor made several valiant efforts to "adjust me" and was not overly successful. The highlight of the whole visit was when he was doing this thing where you lie on your side with one knee up and he kind of pushes and pulls and yanks at the same time and you feel like you're going to fall right off the table and your whole body goes into violent spasms of rebellion and your already tight muscles get even tighter and you have to resist a very strong urge to punch the nice doctor's lights out.

You know, that adjustment.

Anyway, right smack dab in the middle of it, I let out the loudest of loud yelps and when he was done I said, "I have always hated that particular adjustment!"

He promised that in the future he would find another way to do it; I think my yelping rather unnerved him.

After he had tried several other things (that didn't go real well) he paused for a moment and said, "You must REALLY have a lot of stress in your life."

I just laughed.

I'm sorry. I really did laugh in the face of my pyrocracker.

I said, "Yeah, you might say that."

The pain is still there. The stress is still there. I can't move easily or bend over. It hurts to get out of the chair. It hurts to get into bed. It hurts to even think about moving.

And so today I will go see the chiropractor once again and we will discuss the x-rays which "the breathing lady" took yesterday. Then he will once more attempt to get something to move in my tight-as-a-drum back and neck.

I'll be seeing him at 10 am for my Happy Adjustment Appointment and then I will immediately drive to Raleigh for my Happy Mammogram Appointment. And the timing is especially wonderful because my mammogram appointments always make me extra stressed, mainly because of my complicated history and the breast cancer scare of last year.

So this morning when I see the chiropractor, I will be bringing in an extra layer of stress with me! Isn't that just so very thoughtful of me? I'm a self-service patient! I provide my own stress!

I'm good like that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Scary, Alien, Sandal-Eating Microbes

Recently I found a cute pair of almost new, black leather sandals at one of my favorite thrift stores.

The price? Three bucks.

As I paid for them, I rejoiced with exceeding great joy about my latest bargain. Although I didn't go so far as to dance in the aisles or anything, I did do some serious internal rejoicing. (If rejoicing can, indeed, be serious.)

With continued internal rejoicing, I decided to don yon black sandals last Friday when I took Sarah to our meeting place with Victoria's mom. Once the Great Daughter Hand Off was accomplished, I turned the car around and headed back home, planning to stop for a few minutes at my favorite consignment store on the way.

After I had spent about an hour (and five dollars) in the store, I headed out to the car. As I walked along, I noticed that my shoes felt sort of . . . funny. Not ha ha funny, but funny, funny.

I had been noticing throughout the day a gathering pile of little black clumps on the light colored floor mats in the car but I just thought I had tracked in some dirt. However, as I sat down in the seat of the car and pulled off my sandals, I saw a most disturbing sight.

Warning: These might just be the scariest shoe pictures you have ever seen so please, proceed with caution. Pregnant ladies and children are advised to steer clear altogether.

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

That is what my almost new shoes looked like! In less than hour, they had been eaten away! They had disintegrated! I could fold in half what used to be a thick, sturdy sole!


I sat in the middle of that parking lot and I pondered. I pondered what could possibly have caused my shoes to just dissipate into thin air like that. What could be behind this malevolent mystery?

Finally, the truth dawned. The light came on. I received a clear answer to The Question.

The sandals were obviously being eaten alive! They were defenseless little fellas that had trusted me (their new owner) to help them and to defend them and I had failed. Right before my eyes, I was seeing scary, alien, sandal-eating microbes at work, microbes that had infiltrated the earth from The Planet Shooz and had come here for the express purpose of munching on my fabulous footwear.

I mean, what other explanation could there possibly be?

For the rest of my journey home, I kept on glancing worriedly down at my sandals.

I thought, "Any minute now, those microbes will get finished with the sandals and they will start eating their way into the bottom of my foot. I am going to arrive at home with both feet missing and will have to call Steve on my cell phone to have him come out to the car and help me inside. And then I am going to have to explain to him about the scary, alien, sandal-eating microbes. And he won't believe me. And he'll think I'm just a little, teensy, tad bit crazy. And he'll silently blame my hysteria on PMS. Or peri-menopause. Or some other mysterious 'makes a woman crazy' condition."

As my wild imagination continued to run amok, I was fully convinced that my feet were starting to feel a bit warm and kind of prickly. I could just picture the little microbe thingies getting closer and closer to my very own personal foot flesh.

It was not a happy trip.

Even though, theoretically, I knew that I was in no immediate danger, I must say that it is highly alarming to have shoes that you are currently wearing begin to disintegrate for absolutely no reason. And what could be more normal (in my mind, at least) for one's thoughts to turn to scary, alien, shoe-eating microbes?

When I got home, I ran into the house (thankfully, my feet were still intact) shoved the shoes into Steve's face and shrieked, "Do you want to see something really, really strange?"

Poor Steve.

He put on his patient husband voice and said patient husband words to me as he carefully examined the microbe-devoured, newly destroyed, almost new sandals. And then he finally came forth with his masculine opinion.

"Dear," he intoned, "The only thing I can think of is that maybe those sandals were stored in a hot attic and the shoe materials started breaking down in the heat. When you started wearing them, they just couldn't hold up."

Or something like that.

I know he was trying to be all comforting and technical and everything but personally, no one is ever going to convince me otherwise.

It was scary, alien, sandal-eating microbes that were at work.

And that's all I'm saying.

Well, except that I should also add that I feel fortunate to have escaped with my feet still intact.

It was a close call.


And in other news . . . .

I guess I shall have to pay my chiropractor a visit today since my back pain isn't giving me any relief. I have pretty much decided I can't go through the rest of my life on ibuprofin and muscle relaxers. (Although la-la land is a really fun place to be!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Yucky Happiness

It's only 6:45 pm but I'm headed to bed with doses of Xanax, Flexeril, and Tylenol on board. I'm having major back pain/spasms, I feel stressed and I'm weepy for no reason. I sound like a real delightful person to be around, don't I?

Steve is such a patient and loving husband; he helped me get out of my clothes and into my pajamas, because doing anything other than making tiny motions causes me pain. Nathan and Meagan did the dishes for me after dinner which was wonderful.

Sarah is headed back home tomorrow afternoon which makes me happy in the midst of my yuckiness. So I guess I'm headed to bed in a state of happy yuckiness. Or yucky happiness .

The important thing is that I'm going. And I should definitely stop typing before the muscle relaxer kicks in. Who knows WHAT I might say . . .

Never Been A Newbie

I am forty-seven years old.

During these forty-seven years of life, I have never been the "newbie" in a band or musical ensemble. Never.

And just to prove that point, I am hereby going to take you on a pictorial musical journey so that you can experience along with me my long-running foray into non-newbieness.

The first step on the journey is when I was in my early teens and my friend, Lorrie, and I wrote, played guitar, and performed together. (By the way, you MUST promise not to laugh at my hair in these pictures!)

In my later teens, my two younger sisters and I performed together for several years.

When Steve and I got married (I was nineteen, he was twenty-three) he and I, along with my younger sisters traveled and sang together. (The four of us lived FULL TIME in a 31 foot RV. Since Steve had been raised in a family of all boys, he definitely deserves a medal of some sort.)

After taking a two year break from the road, we started up again with Steve and me, my sister, Debbie, and her husband Randy.

Then it was just Steve and me as a full time duo.
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I was four months pregnant with Sarah in this photo.

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Steve hamming it up for a Garth Brooks style song we wrote.

In the studio recording, "Like A Blanket." The majority of the guys in this picture (all professional studio musicians) either donated their time or gave us a discount on the session since we recorded that CD to give away to cancer families.

The final product of that recording session. (Ordering info is on the sidebar.)
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And to go back even further in our musical history journey, I just couldn't resist posting this picture of Steve in one of his early (pre-Becky) bands. Isn't he just the grooviest dude ever? The plaid pants are especially wonderful.

After spending fifteen years spent traveling around in various musical permutations, we left the road and spent 4 1/2 years at First Assembly in Smithfield, where Steve pastored and we headed up their worship band. I happily and encouragingly welcomed various newbies to the band, all the while so thankful that it wasn't me who was new because being new is so scary!

This is actually a band rehearsal, which is why I have my shoes off and Steve is sitting down.

To sum up that whole musical journey, I just have to say that there's something very comforting about being the old-timer in a musical group. It was a role that I liked because it didn't make me feel intimidated or scared or mushy in my spirit. ("Mushy in my spirit" is a theological term.)

But then it all changed. My "never been a newbie" status was obliterated forever when I was asked to fill in on the keyboard at our home church. Now let me just say that I have been listening to this particular worship band for eight months now and I have been so impressed with how good they are. And then they ask ME to fill in on keyboard?

Miss Never Been a Newbie?

Miss Insecure Piano Woman?


I was a bit nervous (understatement) while driving to the rehearsal Wednesday night. Happily though, the first person I spoke to was the lead guitar player who remembered Steve's and my group from the early eighties. As it turns out, he and his band had played a mini-concert at a particular church as sort of an "opener" before Steve and I and our group sang. How old did THAT make me feel to be discussing music from the early eighties? Yikes.

At any rate, the rehearsal went fine and everyone there was very friendly to ye olde newbie. To be honest, I had actually been losing sleep over the whole deal because I just wasn't sure I was up to the musical level of this band, and I could just picture myself crashing and burning in fine newbie style!

But lo and behold, I survived.

I arrived at the church yesterday at 8 am for another rehearsal. Then at 9 am, the first of two services started. You can see from this picture that I was really rippin' it up on the ol' keyboard.

Look at me go!

And look me again! Am I fabulous keyboardist, or what?

Oh wait. You mean I was actually supposed to be playing?

Oh right. That.

Although the morning turned out to be very enjoyable, I must say that I was very relieved when we finally left the church after the second service. It's just really a lot of pressure being a newbie after forty-seven years of non-newbiness!

But I did it! Hooray!

And of course, I had a brownie to celebrate. One cannot successfully become a newbie without a brownie (topped with ice cream) to mark the occasion.

And you can quote me on that.