Monday 29 August 2022

Bringing back Mundane Monday

 I think it’s worth a revisit. Today’s topic is “ my spot”. Where is your spot? Where do you almost always sit to watch tv or converse? Last night the whole family was round and we watched the new Elvis movie ( daughter’s boyfriend had rented it through some account or other). I switched where I was sitting so more people could fit on the couch and in the room. It felt very awkward. Normally, this is my spot, the end of a three cushioned couch, so I can stretch out, have access to the coffee table, and see the tv. 

There is a two-cushioned matching couch on the opposite side of the room where husband's spot is.

If I am out on the “ front porch”, then this is my spot:

As you can see it is partially occupied.  

My father had a rocking chair for a long time which was his spot, book in hand, cat on lap. 

So, where is your spot? 

(I’ve amended my post and decided not to include an email address for picture sending, for those of you who may have seen the original post).


Thursday 25 August 2022

The quiet where I live

 I am, right now, on my porch, Harry Bingham book on the cushion beside me. I feel contented and peaceful and think about the quiet of living at the edge of this tiny village in midwestern Ontario. 

I realize, however, that it isn’t quiet. In fact, there’s a lot to be heard, noticed. I can hear the distant crowing of a rooster ( they don’t just crow in the morning), the triple call of a crow, the hum of a hummingbird that has visited almost every blossom in my mixed pot of flowers - petunias, geraniums. The neighbour’s son just started the four wheeler and is carefully driving away. There is a slight breeze making a soft rustle of leaves. The crow and the rooster aren’t letting up but other twitterings of birds, sparrows I think, add to it. And underlining all of the sounds is the incessant chirp of crickets. If I were on the porch on the opposite side of the house, I would likely hear more road sounds, the occasional deep rumble of a motorcycle, and about twice a day, the self-impressive squealing of tires as someone in the village peels away from their parking spot. I still don’t know who it is.

There is so much to hear, and at the same time so little.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Better - Aug. 23, 2022

 It is amazing what being treated by professionals who know what they are doing does to change your peace of mind. I understand that's a convoluted sentence. I'll explain. 

This last Friday, husband and I drove in the early morning hours to "the city" so I could have more tests done at a centre which is "all breasts, all day" as it was put to me. Apart from a slightly brusk (is that correct?) receptionist, everything was done at a much higher degree of skill, detail, and care. 

For those who want to know / care / don't get weirded out, my procedures were, in order, a contrast mammogram on both sides (I, at this point, was told I had cancer in my left breast), another very thorough ultrasound on the left side, and a stereotactic biopsy (one using mammogram to guide it) on the right side. Throughout all of these procedures, I was given explanation and detail and felt like I knew what was happening at every stage. I was treated with kindness and was provided with water, juice, and a warmed blanket. Every attempt was made to make the procedures as pain free as possible. I was given information that I didn't even know to ask about. There were even huge apologies provided because the biopsy was being delayed by an hour. I was told they were very thorough there, making sure that they knew exactly what was going on with my body. I was initially seen by a nurse navigator (there's that word again) who went over the day's proceedings with me, provided me with a very informative booklet, and gave me three phone numbers of navigators that I could call if I had any questions, concerns, or worries at all. 

Probably the biggest difference for me was the aftermath of the biopsy. My first biopsy was, of course, my first biopsy. I didn't know what was "normal", what to expect, how it should feel, etc. The bruising, pain, difficulty sleeping in a comfortable position, did I mention bruising? (think eggplant) took about a month to finally dissipate. 

This time, pressure was applied, a compression bandage was used, an ice pack was provided for the drive home, and a very detailed information sheet was given to me and explained. This was a much more "robust" biopsy and the difference in pain, bruising, swelling is mind blowing. I couldn't get over how little bruising and pain there is by comparison. 

I now wait until results are sent to the nurse practitioner who is overseeing things, and then an appointment will be set up with a surgeon at the same "big city" place who will determine the course of action. Yes, I know the wait will be weeks, but I feel confident now that these people know what they are doing. I feel that I will be given good, consistent, knowledgeable and skilled care. 

Yes, I still have breast cancer, but I now also have some peace of mind. I am now able to relax, focus on reading a book and having some of the words sink in (impossible a while ago). Yes, I still don't have a family doctor (and likely won't), but I feel taken care of by the professionals at this place and am so grateful that I made that choice for my next steps in care. I don't feel like I'm in this vacuum of lack of knowledge, although I still don't know everything.

 I am able to enjoy my time, laugh, notice the little things, proceed on a quest to find the dastardly tomato horn worms (shudder!!), think about getting a hair cut, binge watch the entire new season of Indian Matchmaker on Netflix, and freeze my peas from the garden to enjoy this winter. The other part of me is so angry about the lack of care that I have received at my little town hospital where this all first happened, and so angry at health care in general here in Ontario (or anywhere in Canada for that matter), but I'm pleased to say that the peace of mind trumps the anger right now. 

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Almost wordless Wednesday

 Before I take you on a post-rainfall collection of pictures, I would like to say a very sincere thank you to all of you. Your comments on my last post have helped more than you likely realize. You are all special people.

Friday 12 August 2022

A Very Different Catch Up - Aug. 12, '22

 I've been not writing this particular post for quite some time. More than a month now. I am still not sure I will click Publish, but I'm going to write it, even if it just sits as a draft.

I've been away from blogging due to a completely unforeseen circumstance. I've been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no notion at all that anything was wrong. I had a regular, it's time for it mammogram, and got a call back the same day that they wanted me to come back in for "better images". I had to wait two full weeks for that second mammogram.

On that day, it turned out to be not just a second mammogram, but also a very thorough ultrasound, followed by a radiologist standing over me saying they saw a 'mass' and want to do a biopsy. 

If that doesn't knock the wind out of you, I don't know what does. Things literally close up around your peripheral vision and the world becomes very very small. When, when will the biopsy happen? When you say mass, do you mean cancer? Can I call my husband?

Well, the biopsy happened that very day, within the next 20 minutes, followed by another mammogram. Yes, a biopsy where they took what seemed to me to be four samples, followed by what all women know and understand if they've even  had one mammogram in their lives. 

I was told the pathology results of the biopsy would take five days. Here's the thing. Absolutely none of the time frames that I've been given have been the truth. Five days turned into two weeks. Yes, cancer confirmed. 

The other chapter to all of this is I do not have a family doctor. I am one of thousands and thousands of people in Ontario who do not have a doctor. Mine retired toward the tail end of Covid. He was supposed to be replaced, but that fell through. So basically for all of us Canadians, if something goes amiss, we go to the emergency room at the closest hospital (alas, my closest hospital has had it's emergency room closed at night for a long time, and now that bigger centres are also experiencing this, the media is in a flutter about what will our premier do to solve this problem. The problem has been around for a while.) I digress. When one does not have a family / primary care doctor, it makes things very very difficult when one is diagnosed with something like breast cancer. One feels a great deal of panic, anxiety, fear, mixed in with a huge dose of anger. I have been assigned a "patient navigator", and even that took quite some time to happen. She is lovely, but she's not my doctor. She is, in fact, a nurse practitioner who is wonderful, but unable to take me on as a permanent patient. She will, from my understanding, help me through the cancer process. I am being referred to an excellent centre in a bigger city, but even that has taken weeks and weeks from my official diagnosis date. Don't let anyone tell you that our health care system is perfect because we don't have to pay out of pocket for surgeries or procedures. There's a whole other level of let down.

So, that's my world right now. I advocate for myself continuously, phoning people, asking if they've found me a doctor (no, and likely, I won't get one), phoning for appointments, leaving messages, fixing other people's mistakes, and on and on it goes. It is exhausting to be your own advocate while riding the rollercoaster of emotions that I have read are completely normal to be experiencing right now.

I do not know what my treatment will be, as I still haven't had my appointment for further tests in the bigger centre, but it is coming up. I now know that I will have to wait at least two weeks for results to happen and then more time before those results make their way to my patient navigator. My brother and sister-in-law put me in touch with her cousin who has gone through breast cancer and she told me that the hardest part is the waiting. At this stage, I agree with her. 

Again, I am really opening myself up here, feeling quite vulnerable. Of course my immediate family knows, and my closest friends, but the community does not, so I'm not sure why I'm writing about it in a blog post for virtually anyone to read (ha ha, all the thousands upon thousands who read my blog) but I am, and there you have it. We have zero family history of breast cancer. I had no inkling that anything was wrong. I've never been a smoker and never took HRT. 

Please, as a favour to me, if you choose to comment, only positive stories of successes, women who beat this and have lived happy, healthy lives afterward. I am in no frame of mind to hear of anyone who did not and I will delete those. I do feel like many of you are "friends", as much as you can be friends with people you've never met, so I don't anticipate any upsetting comments, but I'm advocating for myself here as well. I also have heard that the stats are one in eight women will be told they have breast cancer. That seems pretty unreal, but it's what I've heard, and I know I'm certainly not the only woman to have ever had to deal with this, but when it is you, you suddenly feel very alone in your experience, and the unknown, and the waiting, dear lord, the waiting, and the sh*t show that is our healthcare system, well, it's all a bit much. And so I shall say adieu and decide if I shall click "publish".