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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rant

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Rant

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post.  I’ve been a little preoccupied with finding my way through my medical treatment maze.  I’ve had a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, and I’ve been on Tamoxifen for five months.  I stopped the chemo after one treatment, and now I’ve stopped taking the Tamoxifen.  Now you’re caught up.  This whole cancer thing has really curbed my wandering–just saying.  Lately the only places I’ve wandered to have been the oncologist’s office and around Google looking for information on cancer, cancer treatments, and effects of different drugs.

I am over being angry–almost.  My oncologist recommended I get my ovaries taken out; or why not have a full hysterectomy?  All because I informed him that I am still getting my menstrual cycle.  He acted surprised by that info and then went on with his suggestions of further invasive surgery and/or drugs as a solution.  After a very informative appointment with my new OBGYN, I decided to stop taking the Tamoxifen.  She asked me why I needed the drug in the first place, and as a good patient I reiterated, “Because it blocks estrogen production, and my tumor had estrogen receptors” (which means estrogen made it grow).  She repeated the question and then asked, “Where is it your oncologist thinks your cancer will come back if they’ve already taken both breasts and told you it hadn’t spread?”  Silence.

These are the same questions my dear husband has been asking.  I agree with their logic, but it is so hard to resist treatment recommended  by a man with a doctorate degree.  I mean, aren’t these the people we entrust our healthcare to?  Let me hear you all say a resounding, NO!  First of all, my oncologist knows that Tamoxifen is an aromatase inhibitor.  It blocks the production of aromatase, which is a type of estrogen produced by the fat cells in your abdomen.  It has nothing to do with the ovaries or the production of estrogen from the ovaries; so he shouldn’t be surprised that my menses are continuing given my age (still young) and, again, the fact that Tamoxifen WILL NOT stop your periods and result in menopause, as he has led me to believe.  Now, maybe if I were older and nearer menopause perhaps the Tamoxifen would do just that; but it hasn’t.  My oncologist even went so far as to suggest that I may have uterine cancer and that is likely the reason I am still “bleeding”.  How irresponsible is this?  How many women have fallen for this?  Tamoxifen increases your risk of uterine cancer, and recent reports are showing an increased risk of a second more aggressive breast cancer.  The oncologist’s own nurse shared with me that she, too, was a breast cancer survivor.  She told me that the oncologist recommended that she have her ovaries removed and she complied.  Now, he wants her on another round of “hormone therapy” drugs for the next five years even though she already had five years of Tamoxifen!

My OBGYN, bless her heart, has reaffirmed my belief that I need estrogen, not only for the health of my uterus, but also for skin, hair, brain, and bone health.  She did recommend that I avoid consuming all white foods, except for cauliflower, because they lead to inflammation of your peritoneum which leads to all kinds of cancers down the road.  How ironic is it that the last time I took Tamoxifen (for nine months) I suffered from severe hip and back pains.  When I had a CAT scan done they discovered that I had arthritis in my hip and one of the vertebrae in my back had simply disappeared.  For the last two weeks, I’ve been having pain to the left of my tailbone that will not go away.

I am posting this in the hopes of encouraging all readers to be your own advocate in regards to your health and to the health of the ones you love.  In 2010, 44 – 48% of Americans were on prescription drugs.  Please do your research and ask many, many questions of your doctors before taking any medications.  When doctors start throwing statistics at you, or standard protocol such as “five year” drug therapy, please be suspicious enough to ask for a second opinion and also curious enough to review the research out there.

One final thought:  in Germany, they are having success with curing cancer by heating your body’s core temperature up to 102 degrees in a sauna or with infrared heat.  The tumors melt at this temperature and there are no nasty side effects such as those you have with chemotherapy.  Thanks for letting me rant.

On Being Raised by Ninja

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On Being Raised by Ninja

True confession:  I was raised by ninja.  I don’t know if that should be “a ninja” because I am referring to one person.  What’s the correct usage of the word ninja?  Anyway, I digress.  This person could melt into shadows, traverse our home with nary a whisper of movement, displayed an uncanny ability to keep track of all ten entrusted charges, arose before the sun to tailor daily rations for each individual, and plan and execute the day’s training.

Some days our lesson was in spatial relationship, otherwise known as rearranging the furniture.  This usually involved one room, but on a few occasions ALL rooms were emptied into the common living area and then reassembled according to certain specifications known only to our Sensei.  Spatial relationship exercises were a favorite of our mentor who seemed particularly interested in the different ways we could invent to get particular pieces of furniture through the narrow doorways.

Other days were spent in survival mode.  After breaking fast, we were released from the compound with a warning to remain away until called for the noon meal after which we’d be again banned from the compound.  Being one of the youngest pupils, I strove to emulate the older more experienced students.  On these days, I learned to quench my thirst from the spigot at the park without letting my lips ever come into contact with the pipe; this became immediately mundane when I was shown a path to a stream in which flowed icy cold clear water.  Snacks were readily available for the taking.  I was led to a grove of guava trees and shown how to bite into the outer layer to reveal the soft pink insides pitted with seeds.  Li Chi trees were also abundant.  Their prickly fruit yielding a soft, sweet white gelatin-like mouthful containing a seed that fit perfectly in your mouth; and with enough force of air from your lungs could take out a target at three yards.  As I increased my skill set the older students brought me along on their wanderings.  They showed me mango trees in which they had built forts.  The juicy mangoes were frequently harvested and brought back to the compound, so our mentor could school us in the art of cutting and serving turtlebacks.

On one day, much later in my training, I was shown passion fruit vines.  The vines were in flower and there were a couple of fruits visible.  As I reached for a fruit, one of the older students reprimanded me because the fruit was not yet ready.  On this day our exercise involved dirt bikes:  we were to master the art of riding.  Lessons started out with each of the smaller students riding behind an older one.  We were schooled in balance and counter-balance, and how to not let our calves touch the hot engine parts below.  Next, we were taught the mechanics of shifting gears, accelerating using the gas, setting the brakes, and finally starting the bike.  Since I was the only one of the younger students who was tall enough to sit astride a bike and touch the ground (barely) I was allowed to take a spin around the track by myself.  First, after the instructor ascertained that I could not, in fact, start the engine myself, he started it for me and sent me on my way.  I made it twice around the track when I was signaled to slow down and come in.  The diminished speed of the machine caused me to wobble alarmingly and because I couldn’t really touch the ground I hopped off the bike and found to my horror that I couldn’t support the weight of it and had to let it fall to the ground in a puff of dust.  To my surprise, the instructor didn’t scold or even speak to me.  I suffered quietly through my shame that night, especially since all the younger students refused to ride after my “dumping” debacle.  Our Sensei had heard of the day’s lesson and came to sit quietly with me.  I sat still in the comforting silence until I remembered the beautiful passion flowers.  Sensei allowed me to share my short tale of the vine with the half-ripened fruit, and promised that we would return to harvest them in a few days.

As our stamina increased, our range to wander increased.  Some days we’d wander far enough to harvest one or two pineapples to bring back to the compound.  Other days it was wild orchids.

My favorite lesson was the one on disappearing.  We had many neighbors there.  Some of them very bothersome.  On such occasions when an uninvited neighbor came calling, Sensei would give us the signal to hide.  We all became very adept at becoming one with the couch or crouching behind a potted plant.  The most bothersome neighbors would spend long minutes peering in through the windows, and leave only when satisfied that so many people could not have vanished into thin air.  We all eventually became so skilled at blending with the shadows that Hide-and-Seek was a game we could play all day long within the confines of our little compound.

Our lessons were eventually tailored to each individual.  There were lessons in mechanics, carpentry, weaponry, martial arts, plumbing, cooking, dancing, singing, musical instruments, electricity, fashion, and eventually computers and the pascal code.  It amazes me that one individual could be responsible for so much learning in others.  Now, as Sensei in my own little compound, I hope I can deliver education to my only two students with as much grace as my mother displayed.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Becoming a Grown Up

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Becoming a Grown Up

Some days being an adult is so overrated, but most days I enjoy being a “grown-up”.  I am lucky enough to wander through my days doing whatever it is my heart desires.  I could be guilty of living out the pleasure principle; but can I help it if I thoroughly find pleasure in the things I do?  Besides, as with everything else, there are limitations.  My hubby returns from work between 4:15 and 4:30 everyday and expects his dinner to be ready.  Bed time in our home is always between 8:30 and 9:00.  And there’s also those pesky kids I take care of and teach; but other than that I enjoy my freedom.

Yesterday, my girl and I drove an hour away for a specific errand:  I was being fitted for prostheses.  By the time she finished her spelling assignment and her arithmetic, we had enough time to hop in the truck, start the drive and get good and hungry.

I decided to stop at the mall’s food court and have lunch before I hurt somebody.  After lunch we shopped for clothes and shoes; then returned to the truck to continue on to my errand.  As soon as I got into the driver’s seat I started thinking, “I don’t want to go be fitted.  I just want to finish up the rest of my errands and go home.”  And then I settled on, “Well…maybe I won’t be able to find this place…I’ll look for it and not find it and then continue on with my day.”

It’s not that I don’t want prosthetic breasts; it’s not that at all.  I think it goes back to the pleasure principle.  It wasn’t something that I found pleasurable.  Also, I think I’m lazy when it comes to maintenance.  I had my bilateral mastectomy back in September of last year.  The healing process took quite a few months, and add another few months waiting for someone from the local shop in my little town to call me back (which never happened) and it brings us to eight months.  Eight months of living the free life:  no brassieres, no hassles; but also no breasts. My clothes definitely fit differently, and the divots where my breasts used to be are very visible beneath a t-shirt.

After the fitting, I felt fine.  It was almost like being on a high.  I was happy to have accomplished my errand, and I was happy I behaved very much like a grown up.  I can check this off my list…finally!

I know I’m an adult, but I don’t necessarily think of myself as one.  When I’m with my kids I just think we’re all the same age, but I get to be the boss.  I have trouble reconciling my age with my mental perspective of my self.  Is this what mid-life crises are about?  Anyway, I think it’s finally happening:  I am finally growing up.