Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Four-Dessert Evening and A Long Needle

We had lots and lots of fun last night and discovered that our dining room table will indeed seat fourteen people for dinner if everyone squeezes in tightly and doesn’t mind a bit of coziness.

Here is the table before the guests arrived. My very own personal husband whipped up the place cards. Is he a talented guy, or what?

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He also helped with the dishes; twenty minutes after the guests left, our kitchen looked like this. Do you think he deserves a raise in his allowance?

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And speaking of my husband’s talents, he also a gift for creating arrows out of masking tape. He made these arrows as sort of a joking way to help with traffic flow. But even though he said it was a joke, if anyone had gone against the flow and gone the wrong way around the table? Well, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

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I also wanted to show you a candle arrangement my dear childhood friend, Lorrie, sent me for my birthday. Is that cool, or what? I just love interesting candles.

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It was a great night—especially with four desserts to choose from. Life doesn’t get much better than a Four Dessert Evening!

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And on a totally different subject, I thought I would share a little info for anyone who may not be sure what a stereotactic biopsy is—that’s the procedure I’ll be having Monday morning. Although I had one about ten years ago, I did a little “refresher course research” to remind myself what is involved.

STEREOTACTIC BIOPSY

In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses ionizing radiation to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. At most facilities, a specially designed examination table will allow you to lie face down with your breast hanging freely through an opening in the table. The table is then raised and the biopsy procedure is performed beneath the table.

One of two instruments will be used:

  • A core needle, also called an automatic, spring-loaded needle, which consists of an inner needle connected to a trough, or shallow receptacle, covered by a sheath and attached to a spring-loaded mechanism.
  • A vacuum-assisted device (VAD), a vacuum powered instrument that uses pressure to pull tissue into the needle. (This is the one they’ll be using for me.)

Other sterile equipment involved in this procedure includes syringes, sponges, forceps, scalpels and a specimen cup or microscope slide.

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There now. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Pressure, tissue, needle, scalpels, ionizing radiation, vacuum assisted device—all words that just make me want to smile.

Sort of. Not really.

Maybe when they pull out the long needle, I’ll just cast my mind back to our Four-Dessert Evening. That will make me smile for sure!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Menu

I've had several of you ask what menu I had planned for tonight and it occurred to me that what I posted a couple hours ago might have been a bit misleading.

Yes, I am hosting fourteen people for dinner but it's a potluck dinner so I'm not doing all that much except to organize the menu, clean, make a dessert (chocolate eclair torte) set the table, think through the traffic flow, unload the dishwasher fifteen times, and make sure the guest bathroom is somewhat clean.

The menu will include roast beef, potatoes and gravy, pineapple casserole, green beans, lima beans, rice, rolls, coconut cake, my chocolate dessert and another dessert yet to be named. In other words, there will be calories (and laughter) galore!

But thankfully, I am NOT the one cookin' all those calories!

The Father and Son Happy Tire Rotation Routine

Thank you to everyone who shared your stories, tears and personal experiences in the comments area after my post yesterday. It’s so nice to be reminded that we aren’t alone on the grieving journey.

Today’s post is going to be a bit different from yesterday’s but different is good, right? Since I’m having fourteen people in for dinner tonight (our Board Members and their wives) I figure I’d better spend my time cookin’ and cleanin’ rather than writin’ and postin’. (I’m sure the dinner guests would heartily agree because after all, it’s sort of hard to dine on a blog post.)

So instead of writing, I’ll post some pictures from Nathan’s visit last week.

He and Steve discussed all throughout the week how much tread is on Nathan’s tires and how much tread should be on Nathan’s tires. (Hey, it’s cheap entertainment!) Finally, they decided that the time had come to do the Father and Son Happy Tire Rotation Routine.

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While the men stayed busy with their manly man duties, Sarah and Meagan (Nathan’s girlfriend) took care of important business of their own—thrift store shopping! Here they are, about to leave the house. In the course of the shopping trip, they also engaged in some discussion about the all important subject of boys! Sarah is really enjoying having a big sister in her life.

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And lastly, a picture that should make you smile. My sister sent me the most colorful, beautiful cheery umbrella for my birthday. (It’s one of the things I asked for.) I firmly believe that there should be a law against black umbrellas; if it’s rainy, it’s already gloomy and who needs more gloominess? This is the way umbrellas should look!

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And with that cheery sight, I will sign off. And start cooking. And cleaning. And running amok.

Which I’m actually fairly good at!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Always

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Your Wednesday Dose of Old Beauty

Yesterday on our way home from the surgeon’s office, Steve decided that his forlorn and exhausted little woman needed a little diversion from all the Serious Talk that has been flying around in our lives lately.

And as usual, he was right.

The diversion was in the form of an antique store along the way highway leading to Manteo.  The place was a veritable photographer’s delight.  Every corner and cranny was overflowing with stuff—valuable stuff, junky stuff, beautiful stuff.  Old beauty.

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Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day.  (Some of them may already be in a collage but I wanted to post them full size, as well.)

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I loved the idea of an ancient gas pump sitting next to a (formerly) fancy sitting room chair.

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I adored the over sized diaper pins.

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So there you have it.  Your Wednesday Dose of Old Beauty. 

And may I just add that I hope you find unexpected beauty--both old and new--filling the corners of your life today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Surgeons and Naps

Before I lie down for the longest nap of this century, let me fill you in briefly on the day.

First of all, I was so blessed by all the messages greeting me when I got home a few minutes ago; thanks to each of you who took the time to send an encouraging word, a virtual hug or a long distance prayer.

There is good news and bad news:

The good news is that a secondary suspicious, cancer-related issue that had been mentioned turned out to be a "no go," representing nothing at all to worry about. Whew!

However, when the surgeon put my films up on the light board he said, "Uh, HUH."

Translated to mean, "My, my, my, my."

What he saw was a large number of microcalcifications in several different areas on the left side. From what I understand, macrocalcifications can show up in anyone and are very rarely a sign of cancer.

On the other hand, microcalcifications can sometimes be a sign of cancer, but not always. Certain patterns of calcifications, however— such as tight clusters with irregular shapes — can indicate breast cancer.

It seems the radiologist who read my mammogram is worried about the shape of the calcifications. The surgeon who examined me today is concerned that the extensive array of microcalcifications on this recent mammogram were nowhere to seen on the one I had just six months ago. And since calcifications are usually slow growing, this is obviously a reason for some worry.

Bottom line is that he told me he was going to go ahead and schedule a biopsy, and whether the calcifications were benign or malignant, he was still probably going to recommend having them all surgically removed at a later date, just because he would feel a bit "safer" that way.

They had an opening to come in on Friday but we already had a Board Dinner scheduled at our house and since that took a good deal of maneuvering to get the schedules of fourteen people to align, we we didn't want to change that.

Instead, I'll be going next Monday morning for the biopsy and will go back to the doctor the following Monday for the results.

So now you know what I know.

And now I'm going to bed.

Long Day

Steve and I are leaving for the surgeon's office in fifteen minutes.

I've been awake since 3 am.

It's been a long day already.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Random Act of Niceness

A couple weeks ago, I got a surprise box in the mail.   In my considered and humble opinion, there are few things more exciting in life than to get an unexpected letter or package in the mail.

 

When I opened the box, I discovered the following treasures awaiting within.

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A few of the messages inside the cards . . .

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In addition to the hand crafted cards, there were two tins of individually wrapped chocolates.  What’s not to love?

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My benefactor was a lovely lady (and blog reader) named Connie who designs and creates these fabulous works of art by hand.  I am just so grateful that she suddenly got the idea of sending me a box full of such fabulous findings!  I am going to have the best time giving those cards to various people over the next few months; pastor’s wives are always needing cards so I am extra thrilled to have such a unique and lovely inventory. 

And just when I got to plotting about how long I could hoard the cards and make them last, I got an email from Connie saying (in part), “Becky, if you need more cards, please let me know when you are down to six or so and I will keep you supplied.  I know we don't know each other, but I have a special place in my heart for you and your family. “

Wow.  I am blessed, or what?

And as for the chocolates?  Well, I must say they are causing me a little bit of happy anxiety.  Do I look at them or eat them?  Eat them or look at them?  Look?  Eat?  Look and then eat?   Oh, the rapturous agonies I have been going through in that regard.    (I have eaten a couple of them but I feel sort of reluctant to dig any deeper into the pile until I have sufficiently admired them.)

I would like to publicly thank Connie for her heartfelt gift and also (with her permission) post her email address so that you can contact her if you’d like to have her create cards and/or chocolate wrappers for you.  She said she did some chocolate wrappers for a teen birthday party (some of them had jewels on them) and she said the girls were quite reluctant to open their candies because they were all so beautiful! 

Anyway, here is her address if you would like to be in touch:

cj@walker.net

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I’ll leave about 8 am tomorrow for my appointment with the surgeon.  Earlier today, I re-read the radiologist’s report and looked up a few little terms I didn’t know the meaning of.  Now I’m sorta sorry that I did that. My little ol’ brain started to worry and my formerly fairly peaceful heart started having some twinges of anxiety. 

I will just be ever so glad when the appointment is actually here and I don’t have to wait on it any longer.  Of course, he wont be able to tell me anything definitive tomorrow, since we’re only going to discuss what type of biopsy needs to be done.  But I will still get a better idea of the overall gist of what I’m dealing with as he does a physical exam and explains a few more things from the report.

I hope that I will be able to sleep tonight and not spend too much time pondering things.  I wish there was an “unpondering” button to push somewhere in our brains. Wouldn’t that be so helpful?

Hmmm.  It just might be time to unwrap another one of those lovely chocolates!

 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Long-ish (But Good-ish) Post

Lovely beyond words.

That is how I would describe the Sunday afternoon nap I just got up from; it consisted of two solid hours of Sunday Siesta-esque Snoozing. After a frightfully busy week and weekend (in addition to the time change), it was like manna from heaven. If a nap can, indeed, be likened to manna. From heaven.

However, since I can’t ramble on about naps and manna all day, I’ll get busy (in a yawn-y sort of way) and share a few recent photos.

Oh wait. Before I do that, I want to tell you about the lunch guests we had at our house today after the morning service. This weekend was a Missions Emphasis at our church and since we normally concentrate on foreign missions, this year we decided to feature home missions instead. For our special speakers, we invited two couples that work full time on two different college campuses in Raleigh—UNC-Chapel Hill and State. They work with the organization, Chi Alpha, which has chapters all over the United States.

They brought a State student from El Salvador with them and we were also joined by a couple from our church who has done missions work in Belize. Talk about some interesting lunch time conversation! I love it that Sarah gets to sit at her dining room table and get a glimpse into the lives of people from so many life experiences and backgrounds. I love watching her face as she listens to all the stories.

But anyway, let me get back to where I was before I got to this point . . . pictures!

While Nathan and Meagan (his girlfriend) were in town last week, she took over the dinner duties one evening and made a most marvelous Chicken Parm and Italian green bean dinner. (Nathan made the dessert—butterscotch pudding in a pie crust.)

May I just say, “Yum?”

I may? Okay. “Yum.”

Meagan is an accomplished young lady in innumerable ways.

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Me. On my birthday. With my daily allotment of chocolate.

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Nathan bringing in said allotment.

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What are . . .

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these people . . .

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doing?

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Here’s the scoop: Steve, Nathan and Meagan had gone off somewhere and when they came home and realized I was working in the kitchen, they made a great show of getting organized and lining up in front of the window for their little ol’ display. Of course, they made me smile. And snap a photo.

It was such fun having Nathan and Meagan here all week. I was especially thankful for Meagan’s ability to have a good time without spending a lot of money. We were sort of a pitiful little lot all week in that area: Since Nathan and Meagan are dirt poor college students and since Steve and I are making payments on two houses, the bottom line was that there was no extra money to be found. Anywhere.

But we still had fun! We played Taboo one night and watched a video I got from a thrift store (for a dollar) another night. (The movie was called “The Truman Show,” a fascinating and well done movie.) On another night, everyone else stayed up late and watched several Sherlock Holmes episodes while I went to bed early to read and ponder life. Nathan and Meagan also walked on the beach a little and did some sightseeing in downtown Manteo.

I don’t think any of spent more than $10 on food or entertainment throughout the whole week (except for groceries) but we still had a marvelous time.

Does money buy happiness? Nope. Not in this house!

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From the Comments Area . .

Q. Anonymous said, “Wondering where Sarah got her cute little backpack?”

A. It was given to Sarah by a long time blog friend, named Ann. (You’ll see her name crop up a lot in the comments area.) It’s a Vera Bradley brand which I know can be found all over the country. Sarah just loves it.

Q. Anonymous said, “This is off-subject, but have you ran into Andy Griffith? If you do happen to see him in the grocery store, tell him L in Alaska says hello!”

A. Although we haven’t seen Andy, we do walk and drive by his house (and land) several times a day since he lives less than half a mile from us. If I see him, I’ll be sure to tell him hello! (smile)


Kilgore Kids said, “My kids helped me make the peach cake this weekend. It was very simple and I love that it was just basic ingredients. It was very tasty but I will agree you can definitely cut down on the sugar. We used the entire 1 cup called for and I think it would have be fine with quite a bit less. Still they had great fun and we had a tasty dessert to share.”

I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. Just to let everyone know, I cut the butter by half when I made it last time and it didn’t turn out as well as before, mainly because the cake mix powder didn’t have enough liquid to “unpowder-fy” it. I think cutting down on the sugar would be fine but the recipe seems to need all the butter.


Q. Anonymous said, “Now for a question: Why is it that ‘Arise My Love’ is done with sticks? I must have missed that day in youth group/Sunday School.” =)

A. Yes, that is sort of a unique “take” on things, isn’t it? It all falls under the umbrella of “creative worship,” taking something that has been done one way and putting a fresh spin on it to make it more meaningful—to the viewers and performers alike.

When I first heard about the concept, I was a bit incredulous (sticks? really?) but when I saw the video of it, I was blown away by the creativity involved. Pretty cool stuff!

Q. Jan said, “What is a ‘worship chorus’? Speaking of music. I attended a Catholic Church this weekend that has reverted to Latin during Lent for the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei parts of the Mass. I had a great time singing the liturgical language of my youth. (As I said, 48 is very young!)

A. Jan, how great that you got to participate in a service using that old, beautiful language. Sarah would jealous, since she loves Latin.

A “worship chorus” is basically a song that is not a hymn. As a rule, worship choruses are fairly repetitive, making them easier to learn quickly and sing easily. They can be very simple in their message or they can be as rich in theology as any hymn. In fact, some of the worship songs that have been written in the past few years are considered by many to be “modern day hymns,” songs that will be sung many generations from now.

In the Bible, the book of Colossians says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

And onto another subject altogether . . .

Q. Jill said, I will pray for your biopsy. I hate asking this but have they ever mentioned proactive mastectomy for you?

A. Jill, so far that option has not been mentioned. I’m sure if a doctor gave me some really, really good reasons for it, I would consider it but it’s sure not a road I’d want to walk down anytime soon.


Catherine said, “Becky, I said it last year, and I say it again: Go the top specialist and hospital in the area which is probably Duke. Where you took Sarah when she was in trouble. Give yourself the same care. With the issues about your breast, you not only need top care and monitoring, you need it consistently. If you go to a different place, doctor each year, they are going to dig around and redo the investigation which cannot be good for you and the breast.”

MN Mom said, “Becky, you are in my prayers as you deal, yet again, with the unknown. Hopefully, you will hear the same good news as last time. I agree that you should seek the very best care possible. Being from MN, of course, that would mean the Mayo Clinic for me, but I know that Duke is also outstanding.”

Beverly
said, “Prayers for you as you face this trial once again...and I second (or third?) the idea that you should be going to Duke!”

I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate your prayers and concern and good advice as I await the outcome on this latest “plot twist.” If anyone believes in the medical excellence of Duke University Hospital, our family does!

However, since we now live on the Outer Banks, Duke is now 8-9 hours away, round trip. Believe me, if it were closer, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

Since we have moved to a few different places since all of these issues started cropping up, I’ve been very careful about making sure radiologist records, doctor’s reports and all mammograms films follow me wherever I go. That way, when I’m seeing a new doctor or radiologist, they have older records and films to compare with, and they’re not all having to start from scratch in their investigative process.

The surgeon I’m seeing Tuesday (who comes highly recommended) will have every single item of my medical records in his hands when I walk in the door; that makes me feel confident, knowing he’s got some history to help him put things in context.

As I said, thanks to all of you for your sweet and encouraging words. I am blessed!