We Broke Them

Up bright and very early Monday morning, I could only stand it until about 4:30, I had to get up and out of the torturous bed. You would think that after two days of walking over six miles a day across uneven terrain, up and down hills, tripping and yes falling flat on my face that I would be so exhausted I could sleep for at least five or six hours. Not so, that bed was the most miserable experience I have had since my bilateral mastectomy a year ago. That bed may actually have been much worse than my mastectomy, at least when I was in the hospital I was given good drugs. I crawled out of bed and turned on the coffeepot, put in my contact lens and turned to look at the dogs. Both were still sacked out on the bed, neither one jumped up ready for breakfast.

I dragged out the dog food bucket and began filling each dish with dog food. At least the dogs lifted their heads to watch me, so I knew they were still alive. Both dogs just waited patiently for me to finish and bring them their dish. Not excited about food, who were these dogs? I think our dogs love food more than us sometimes. Wow these guys must really be tired. Charlie moved forward and sort of melted off the bed onto the floor to get his breakfast. I turned to Orso who looked at his dish then me then back to the dish, took a deep breath and halfheartedly stepped off the bed for his breakfast.

Each step Orso took reminded me of an old war movie where the Nazi soldiers goose stepped when marching. He would extend his right leg straight out in front of him then gently set his paw on the floor stop, lick the bottom of his paw, then repeat the process with his left leg. His right paw was especially tender and wouldn’t put much weight on it. I grabbed Mitch’s small flashlight and turned it on as I gently spread his pads apart to look for lacerations or any foreign objects stuck in his foot. The pads were fine, with no tears or cracks, but the skin between the pads were raw and inflamed from running around in the dry grasses and corn stubble fields. Orso’s nose and the bottom of his jowls were also red and raw looking. After two steps he laid down and didn’t move. Orso didn’t even look up when I put Charlie’s harness on to go out and pee. That was one pooped pup because Orso never lets me go anywhere without him.

Charlie was just as tired and showed no interest in walking very far. He quickly went about his business and turned around to go back to bed without any encouragement from me. So much for a half day of hunting, the only way Mitch and I were going to get anymore hunting in was to get new dogs. We decided to pack up, leave the hotel from hell and head home. Neither dog lifted his head all the way home.

The Hotel Room from Hell

Once a year maybe two if we’re lucky, we head to central Nebraska to go pheasant hunting. For the last five years we’ve stayed in a little town in central Nebraska at a national chain. The rooms have always been clean and the staff very friendly. Last year we didn’t go hunting because I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had my surgery about the time we normally go hunting. When I called to reserve our room a man answered with a very heavy accent that made conversation a struggle with a lot of repeating on both our parts. I was just hopeful that I had actually made a reservation and there would be a room for us when we got there on Friday evening. It turned out that we would have been better off if we haven’t gotten the reservation. The name had changed and was no longer a part of the chain. The man at the front desk was the same one I spoke with on the phone. In person he was not very friendly, I don’t think he ever smiled in his life. He spoke loudly and repeated everything I said. Granted I had a difficult time understanding him. I tried but I am not good at accents. He gave me the room key cards and pointed to the direction of the room.

We drove around the building found the room and started unloading. Evidently the new owners were economizing. The room was tiny with one bed, my mistake, I usually ask for two beds but having missed a year I forgot. There was a piece of cardboard taped to the wall presumably covering a hole. Spackle and paint must be very rare in this part of Nebraska. There was no in-room mini coffeepot, good thing we brought our own. The towel bar over the sink had no bar, just the two mounting brackets supporting the missing bar. The sink stopper was lying on the sink next to the sink, not in the drain for some reason. There were two bath towels, two hand towels and two wash cloths. One roll of toilet paper and no Kleenexes. There was a small refrigerator that sounded like it was on its last leg. Mitch’s favorite thing about the room was the hand written piece of paper with the new name of the hotel taped to the telephone in the room. Vary classy.

The bed was a full size bed, not queen size bed mind you, a full size. At least the television worked. I walked back to the front office and asked Mr. Happy for a roll of toilet paper and a box of Kleenexes. He handed me a roll of toilet paper and said that I had to wait for housekeeping the next day for the Kleenexes. I said that there were no Kleenexes in the room now and I wanted a box today. He said that I had to wait for housekeeping tomorrow. Customer service 101 was a class he evidently skipped. I walked back to our room toilet paper in hand and started to get ready for bed when I realized that I forgot my contact lens solution. Mitch offered up a bottle of water for me to use. Thanks but I don’t that would have worked. I jumped in the car and buzzed across the highway to the Walmart for contact lens solution and squirt cheese for the dogs to hide Charlie’s pill in. I should have bought two pillows and pillowcases, but I hadn’t seen the pillows before I left the room.

While I was gone, Mr. Happy knocked on the door of our room. It took Mitch a minute to answer thinking it was me and that I forgot my key. Anyway when Mitch finally answered the door the dogs bounded out in front of him and out the door before he could stop them. Mitch always thinks that everyone loves dogs. He looks at our dogs as big friendly dogs that love everyone, he forgets that a lot of people are apprehensive around dogs, especially large dogs. Mr. Happy was a few feet away from the door with a plunger in his hand thinking that because I asked for a roll of toilet paper I must have clogged the toilet and we were under water. He took one look at the dogs romping toward him only seeing giant brown monsters with poisonous venom dripping from three foot long fangs coming to eat him. He waved the plunger back and forth in front of him like a light saber warding off the evil creatures of darkness. Of course by waving the plunger at the dogs Charlie saw it as a threatening act causing him to bark and growl at the man. Orso just wanted to be petted by someone new and just kept moving toward the man. Mitch got them under control and shooed back into the room and turned to Mr. Happy. He asked if we needed a plunger to which Mitch politely declined.

I came back contact solution in hand and finished getting ready for bed. That’s when I realized I should have bought pillows. The bed had two pillows on it, one small pillow and one smaller pillow. The bed had a definite tilt to it. The foot of the bed was higher than the head of the bed. Sitting on the bed felt like sitting on quarter inch plywood laid over springs, not comfortable at all. To top it off, Orso was disoriented and clingy, making himself at home across the foot of the bed, shortening the length of the bed by two feet. Mitch on one side, me on the other and here comes Charlie making himself comfortable between us. A full size bed is large enough for the two of us, but add in one hundred eighty pounds of dogs and the bed gets really small very quickly. Charlie wasn’t happy with the hardness of the bed and kept squirming around flopping on my stomach. We laid there for about thirty minutes listening to the refrigerator cycle on and off. I finally couldn’t take it anymore got up and unplugged it. Between Orso at the foot of the bed, Charlie squirming around in the bed and a bed that felt like sleeping on plywood neither one of us got more than a couple of hours sleep. If I hadn’t been afraid of what disgusting things had been ground into to the carpet I would have slept on the floor.

We lasted until about 4:30 in the morning, that was all my lower back could take. I got up and noticed a puddle of water on the credenza next to the refrigerator. I looked down on the floor at the shotgun cases directly below the fridge and saw that two of the four cases were wet. Great. Neither one of us thought about the refrigerator defrosting when I unplugged it.

Mitch took the shotguns out of the cases to see how wet they were, salvaging three. One of mine, my back up shotgun took the brunt of the water. He dismantled it to dry out. I turned on the water in the shower turning the knob all the way over to the hot side in order to get the water warm enough, pulled the flow knob to shower and can only say that the best part about the shower was that the water was wet. I realized I forgot soap and reached for the bar of soap offered by the hotel. I picked up the package to unwrap it and discovered that it was already open and the bar had been used. Super disgusting.

It was going to be a long three nights. This trip was starting off a high note for sure.

Our Vacation

We took a much needed vacation last week. I have cheated Mitch out of a proper vacation on the last three out of four vacations we had scheduled. All three vacations I had scheduled surgeries. One bunionectomy so I would look good in shoes, a bilateral mastectomy because I got stupid breast cancer and the reconstruction of the mastectomy so I would look somewhat normal in clothes again. So I decided that regardless of anything else, I was going to take Mitch on vacation, anywhere he wanted to go. He and I deserved that.

We had decided that we would drive to Washington State and go wine tasting in the Yakima Valley. Well fate has a sense of humor. The week before we were to leave, Murphy decided to come and stay as a houseguest for a few days. That Monday afternoon Mitch called me at work to inform me that the microwave went out. The really nice three year old microwave died. Yippee! Thursday Mitch called me again at work to relate the story on how the outside faucet disintegrated when he started hooking up the really cool soaker hose system he made. I am going to have to stop answering my phone at work. Sunday was the final blow. I took Mitch to work as usual, came back did my usual Sunday morning stuff and waited for Mitch to call for his ride home. I loaded up the dogs in the station wagon, climbed in and put the key in the ignition and turned the key. Nothing, nada, zilch. The car was dead as a door nail. This meant that I had to unload the dogs, take them back in the house, fix them kongs stuffed with carrots to keep them occupied and jump in the firebird to go get Mitch. Mitch diagnosed the car and determined that we needed a new starter. Someone was trying to tell me something.

Mitch installed the new microwave, a much cheaper not as nice microwave without a hitch. Something went right for once. The new faucet took three trips to the hardware store and one afternoon to install. The starter for the car took two trips to the auto parts store (one to buy the starter and one to take it back) and an online order to get the right starter for our old station wagon. It seems our vintage car also has special vintage general motors parts. After I added up the costs of the new “fun” stuff, I decided that we should stay a little closer to home for our vacation.

Second choice was a trip to Texas. We drove to San Antonio for the River Walk and the Alamo. We both have been there, but it was decades ago and decided that it would be a nice place to go in the spring. The River Walk was beautiful and peaceful even with all of the people there. Down along the River Walk, there were cool breezes and shade, making the stroll very pleasant. Dinner was at a very nice restaurant. Very nice, meaning the steaks started at thirty five dollars and the wine list started at sixty dollars a bottle. I kept a straight face while the steward pointed out the better selections at three hundred and fifty dollars and up. I was pretty proud of Mitch and myself for not dropping our jaws and saying something totally inappropriate. We settled on a nice half bottle of wine saying that we couldn’t drink a whole bottle. The steaks were done to perfection and the wine was very good. A wonderful dinner and one we won’t be repeating anytime soon.

After spending two days at San Antonio playing total tourists, we headed up to Fredericksburg, Texas, the heart of the Texas hill country wine area. You know me I am not going to pass up wine tasting if at all possible. We found out Texas is number five after California, New York, Oregon and Washington in wine production and sales. Plus because of the size of Texas there are so many microclimates and soil types that the same grape planted in one area will taste totally different in a different region.

It’s a good thing that Mitch was the designated driver and adult because I was like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to stop at every one of the wineries I saw. Mitch being the adult and not totally feeding my wine habit stopped at a few. I tasted many wines and even brought a few bottles home.

I got to find my vice, wine tasting, so next up was feeding Mitch’s vice, history. There is a National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg and Mitch wanted to go so we did. I should have paid more attention when the nice lady explained that the tickets were good for two days and that we could come and go in the museum multiple times. The tickets also included the Admiral Nimitz Museum, Pacific Combat Zone, Japanese Garden of Peace Memorial Courtyard and Plaza of the Presidents. The first museum, George H.W. Bush Gallery was huge. I had no idea how much time, effort and money had gone into the museum. There was so much detail and photos throughout; there were even planes and a jeep in the museum. It was Mitch’s turn to be the kid in the candy store. I wandered around and looked at the photos, read some of the stories, but he was totally enthralled absorbing everything he could.

Three hours into the museum and only about two thirds of the way through, I was getting a bit antsy. I wanted to be outside in the fresh air, taking pictures and people watching, but I controlled myself and acted like an adult. I kept reminding myself this was also Mitch’s vacation and I had my turn, now it was his turn. Sometimes it sucks to be grownup. It took us four and a half hours to get through the first museum. I felt like I was back in school. I couldn’t wait to get outside. Poor Mitch, by the end of the tour I almost dragged him out.

On our way back north we wanted to stop at this huge outlet mall in Gainesville that Mitch had gone to about twenty five years ago. The mall he remembered was huge with so many stores and the parking lot was filled with cars making it difficult finding a parking spot. So we stopped in Gainesville and checked into a hotel for the night, planning on doing some serious shopping in the morning. After breakfast I asked the front desk clerk if there was a map of the outlet mall so we could chart our shopping trip for expediency. She looked at me and said that almost all of the store fronts were empty that there were only about six shops still open. We couldn’t believe it so we walked over ourselves, just to see. It was like a ghost town, store after store front empty. This would be a great place to shoot a zombie apocalypse movie. What a disappointment. There was nothing left to do but hop in the car and head home.

After we got home, the really fun stuff started, unloading the car, getting the dogs out of hock, washing all of the clothes we wore and putting everything back on hangers that we didn’t wear, because I am a firm believer in over packing. Of course the yard has gone to seed and needs to be mowed and the weeds are planning a coup on tomato plants. I wonder why we came back.

Ladder 1 – Susan 0

Now that spring is here with warmer weather, our long overdue “do to” list is underway. You know the usual stuff, raking the mountains dead leaves that have wintered in every nook and cranny around the house, getting the gardens ready for tomatoes, peppers and this year potatoes. Another item on our “to do” list is to stain the outside window trim. The trim has been looking especially shabby and weathered, so I decided to go with a darker stain around the windows for be a fresh new look. New stain meant a trip to the home improvement store and shopping for the perfect color, one of my favorite things to do and one that makes Mitch crazy. As I was perusing the colors trying to decide which one would be the right choice, Mitch stood there looking like he’d just passed a kidney stone.

I wasn’t sure how much we would need, so just to be on the safe side I bought four gallons. We have twenty three windows of which six require an extension ladder to be used to get to; the rest can be done with just a six foot stepladder. I am not fond of heights; in fact one could say I am almost terrified of heights. The height is not the real fear it’s the fear of falling off the ladder that is the scariest part of climbing a ladder. I started with the easiest windows first leaving hardest for last. Climbing up the step ladder, reaching what I could, repositioning the ladder and repeating the process went very well for the back side of the house. I moved around to the kitchen side of the house and kept up the momentum of the morning, everything going very well, too well I should have known.

I had just finished staining the trim around the kitchen door and carried the can of stain, paintbrush and the hand broom I used to whisk away spider webs around to the front of the house. I came back, grabbed the stepladder, closed it for easier carrying and stepped off of the porch to carry the stepladder down the hill and around to the front of the house. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the next thing I remember was taking a header off the porch and doing a somersault across the yard with the ladder. I sat up looked at my right arm which had a big chunk of flesh gone and was bleeding. The right leg of my jeans was ripped and my shin had a two inch long scrape down it. It didn’t take very long for the bruises to show up, they formed quite quickly in fact. There are three dark ones on my forearm and a really spectacular six inch bruise on my shin. I thought that the most dangerous part would be climbing up eighteen feet or so on the extension ladder and leaning out to reach as far as I could to stain the trim on the front of the house. I had no idea just carrying the stepladder would be my downfall.

Mitch has dubbed me “Dances with Ladders”.

Wall Check

This afternoon I was doing my weekly wall check for slobber bombs and there were a lot as usual, there were even a couple way up high on the wall. I thought to myself, “what does Orso do, stand on his back legs put his front paws on the wall and sling his head around to whip a slobber bomb as high on the wall as he can?” Is this a game with him that he keeps score with Charlie over, “I can shoot a slobber bomb higher than you?” I sprayed the Fantastic antibacterial cleaner over each dried gross blob and scrubbed them off the wall.

I stood back and surveyed my handiwork and noticed the walls now have clean spots where the slobber bombs were, standing out starkly against the rest of the walls. This means that in order to not have lighter colored spots dotted around the room I need to wash all of the walls and clean off a year’s worth of pipe tobacco smoke, dust and god knows what else. I filled a bucket of water and cleaner, grabbed the step ladder and washed all of the walls in the living room. I stood back to admire my work again, and decided that no amount of soap and water were going to improve the look of the walls.

That means only one thing, time to paint the walls. Since I have to paint the walls, I might as well freshen up the room with a new color, a new look. If I’m going to go with a new color on the walls I need to spend some quality time at Lowes and Home Depot staring at paint chips for hours, searching through the myriad of colors and hues in my quest for the perfect shade. For some this may seem to be a chore, but to me this is one of my most fun things to do. Every time we go to Lowes or Home Depot I wander off to the paint department and load up on scads of paint chips. Even if I have no painting project planned I can stand there for hours, just looking at all of colors, thinking about which room I would paint with the different shades. It makes Mitch crazy, when I come home with an armload of paint chips and paint books. Mitch’s idea of painting a room any color other than white is off white. He’s very adventurous don’t you think?

In order to spare Mitch the agony of living through another painting project, I just won’t tell him. I’ll go to Lowes early when he’s at work, stock up on paint chips and stick them all over the wall in the living room to see which one I like best. Then I’ll head back over and buy my paint and paint the room before he gets off work. It will be a surprise and I can guarantee you it won’t be white.

So Many Choices

Oh what to do, what to do, so many choices. My fun options for the day, finish working on the tax return, clean out the closet or spend some quality time on my elliptical working out. I mean, these are some difficult choices to make. Which sounds like more fun, taxes or closet, closet or working up a sweat, I just can’t decide. How much fun can one person stand on a snowy cold Saturday? Any takers? No? Can’t say that I blame you, I even gave Mitch the choice of taxes or ironing and can you believe it, he would rather spend the afternoon ironing than work on the taxes.

I would make the dogs do the taxes, but they don’t have thumbs so they get out of it by default. They get to have all the fun. They lay around sleeping on our bed storing up energy to be able to eat, run around like lunatics and sleep some more. I shouldn’t complain, I have to do the taxes because we are lucky enough to have jobs to feed us and pay the bills. Sidebar to the jobs, I splurged and bought a Powerball ticket at the store so maybe next year we won’t have jobs. We’ll still have to fill out our tax return, but it will be more fun when I have a few extra zeroes and commas on the end.

And because of the jobs I have a closet full of clothes that I desperately need to clean out. I can also blame the jobs for me buying the elliptical to work out on at the odd hours of the day and night. Come to think of it, it’s all the jobs fault I have to make these choices. If we didn’t have jobs, I wouldn’t have to fill out a tax return (no earnings), clean out a closet (no clothes) or work out on the elliptical (no elliptical). We would starve and freeze to death, but that’s beside the point. I wouldn’t have to make a choice between the above options. I would have other more fun choices to make.

Choices, like which bridge to sleep under, which dumpster to go diving in for dinner, or searching for a job to be able to eat and stay warm. Okay, so I don’t have anything to really complain about, but it’s my Saturday, my day off from the grind, my day off to do something fun. I could be going hiking or shopping, something fun, but no I’m sitting here trying to decide between taxes, cleaning out the closet or working out. I would flip a coin, but then I would have to flip it twice and with my luck the coin would roll into the closet and I would have to clean it out to find out which choice won. I am such a drub.

What a Tyrant!

I am married to a tyrant. It just proves the adage, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” or something like that. Anyway, I go and have a little surgery and now Mitch thinks he’s the boss of me. And he is certainly enjoying his new job, a little too much I might add.

“No, you can’t do this’ or “What are you thinking, of course not, you can’t fix breakfast.” “You had major surgery three days ago and was just released from the hospital one day ago, what are you thinking?” Granted I only felt like lying in bed and sleeping until this morning, but it’s MY JOB to take care of him and run the house.

If I start to get out of bed, he almost runs to my side of the bed and asks what I want, then pushes me back and goes to get whatever it is I want. The only thing he can’t do for me is go to the bathroom but if there was a way to accomplish that he would do it for me. He follows me around the house asking what I am doing or what do I need? God forbid I stand in one place too long, then Mitch gets really nervous and makes me go sit down or go back to bed. I think he is afraid I’m going to clean something or start cooking.

The dogs are glad I’m home. They give new meaning to the phrase, “Love me to death”. They were so excited to see me get out of the car, I thought they were going to crash through the door to say, “Hi, glad you finally made it. We missed you soooo much.” Mitch had to put leashes on them and take them for a walk to burn off some energy while my son and brother got me in the house and back into bed.

Now it’s a race to see who can get to the bed first and position himself close enough to be in the best snuggle position and not mow me down as they launch themselves from the living room in a race to be first. I’m telling you, two dogs weighing one hundred eighty pounds combined hurling through the air at you is the true meaning of terror. And then there’s Mitch right behind them trying fruitlessly to get control of the situation before he might have to take me to the emergency room and explain how I got squished.

As much as I complain about him ordering me around, I know it’s because he loves me and the longer I take to heal, the more likely he will starve. It would just be nice if he didn’t take so much pleasure being the boss of me. It is nice knowing that there he is taking care of me for better or for worse. But between you and me I won’t tell him that.

What a Day!

What a fun day Tuesday was, I couldn’t ask for a better day, oh sure. I woke up with a monster headache for the third day in a row. Switching from Daylight Savings Time to normal Central Time is a killer, even though we gained back that hour we lost in the spring. I keep waking up an hour earlier which is not good since we get up at 2:30 in the morning because of Mitch’s work schedule. Charlie and Orso are totally confused and don’t understand why they are eating an hour later but their stomachs are still on Daylight Savings Time. They were being especially annoying poking and pacing letting me know just how put out they were waiting for me to get my contacts in and clothes on. Ever tried putting a contact lens in when all of a sudden you get a jab in the back of your butt? Super good time.

The morning just kept getting better and better. I unplugged my phone from the charger pushed the button to turn it on and nothing happened. The screen stayed black and the phone felt hot. Wonderful, phone dead. It is two years old but I wasn’t ready for an upgrade, it worked just fine for me. I guess Sprint had other ideas and probably secretly sent a self-destruct code to my phone while it was charging. You don’t realize how attached to the little buggers you are until it doesn’t work. I always carry my phone when walking the dogs because between my “natural grace” and the things that go bump in the dark, I want to be able to call for help when they drag me off a cliff chasing some deer. I told the dogs that they better not knock my down or drag me around since I had no phone, like they care. I spent the day randomly calling my cell phone just to see if anyone called and left a message. No messages, just goes to show you that I really shouldn’t be so attached.

I was swamped all day at work with no time to take a breath, which makes the day go by faster, but didn’t help my headache. I had a consultation appointment with a plastic surgeon late in the day to discuss whether or not a mastectomy was a viable option and what the recovery time was. I have already read the horror story articles about women that the surgery didn’t go well for them, complications and infections, multiple surgeries and taking years to heal. I’ve heard the “It’s a great way to get a boob job” remarks and read the articles that paint a rosy picture of the procedure and wanted a realistic explanation from a reputable source. The plastic surgeon was awesome, we spent an hour and a half asking and answering questions. He explained the different types of reconstructive surgery available. When we left we both felt that we were as informed as possible about the procedure.

Mitch just had to tempt fate and suggested that since we were in the area, why not buzz by the Sprint Store and get a new phone. I don’t know about you, but there is no buzzing by a Sprint Store. We pulled into the parking lot and of course it started pouring down rain just as we parked the car. We made a mad dash into the store and was greeted with a packed house. Sprint was the place to be evidently. A Sprint staffer pointed out that there were eleven people in front of us (I think she wanted us to go home) and would be helped as soon as someone was free. Of course I didn’t know what I wanted, because I wasn’t looking for a phone so I wandered around looking at the different phones available. I am not super tech savvy so I mainly looked at the different sizes and colors. When it was finally our turn, I had narrowed it down to two models, decided on one based on the staff’s help and thought I was good to go. Oh no, I had to pick a color and a case to match, then it was screen protectors to avoid scratching the screen. The last challenge was trying to get my old phone to turn on so that they could sync all of my contacts and data over to the new phone.

Two hours later, we walked out of the store new phone in hand back into the pouring rain and headed home. Pour Mitch, by the time we finally got home it was too late for dinner. More good news, my headache was still going strong.

My World Turned Inside Out

I have been sitting here trying to think of something witty or profound to say and nothing comes to mind. I’m not feeling especially wise or funny right now. To be honest, I’m feeling lost and scared. Every year I go get my basic health exams done, you know the ones, Pap smear and mammogram. In the past both have come back questionable, so I always keep my annual appointments religiously. I had my first breast biopsy when I was eighteen. I’ve had three more since and so far they have all been benign. After the mammogram the technician put me back in a tiny room to wait half naked for the radiologist to read the X-rays and pronounce me free to go. There was a knock on the door and the technician said the radiologist saw something he didn’t like and wanted more x-rays.

After more smashing, contorting and discomfort I was sent back to my tiny little room to wait. Everything was going to be fine, I told myself, the same as always. The knock on the door and look on technician’s face said something different. The radiologist wanted to do a sonogram because he wasn’t sure if he saw something or if it was a shadow from the scar tissue made from the last breast biopsy I had done four years ago. Off I went to get a sonogram. This day was not turning out the way I had planned. The technician completed the sonogram and took off to show his work to the radiologist telling me to lie still and wait until he came back. I waited for what seemed like an eternity thinking what was wrong, how difficult could this be? The technician knocked on the door and in walked the radiologist with the technician. This was not good. The last time I saw the radiologist was four years ago when he saw the last lump. The radiologist explained that he wanted to watch the tech do the sonogram to see exactly what the tech was doing and what was showing on the screen. Oh goody, now I have two men looking at my naked chest and not in a good way.

After ten minutes of rolling the wand back and forth across my breast, the radiologist explained that the “lesion” or “mass” was new and not a shadow from the scar tissue of the previous biopsy. He said he would call my doctor and recommend either an MRI or a needle biopsy to find out if the lesion was benign or not. The technician made a DVD copy of the x-rays and the sonogram for me to take with me to the surgeon for show and tell. G-Rated of course. My gynecologist called and we discussed how to proceed. Once again it would be the needle biopsy, fun, fun, fun. She also explained that since I had been on hormones for seven years and if the mass turned out to be cancerous that I would have to stop taking the hormones. I told her that wasn’t she just the bearer of more bad news. I was not looking forward to hot flashes. Of course, I figured that it would be another benign tumor just like the previous three times. I called the surgeon’s office and made an appointment for Friday, October 11th, giving me a week and a half to stew about it. Outwardly I knew it would be nothing as always, but inwardly there was this little voice inside my head saying, “are you sure? What if…?”

I played off the impending office visit, telling Mitch and myself that it was no big deal, then immediately following up with a statement about just lopping both breasts off and not having to worry about this in the future. Friday finally came and I was so keyed up about going so that I could get this over with that I totally forgot to take my boob DVD with me. I walked into the reception area and signed in, making a joke about being early. The receptionist smiled, asked for the DVD and I gave her this stricken look, I couldn’t believe it, I forgot it. I knew exactly where it was, sitting on my dresser. I apologized profusely and walked out to call Mitch and ask him to drop what he was doing and bring it to me. What a nincompoop, I suck. Mitch being the saint he is, brought it to me in record breaking time so I could still make my appointment on time.

I took my prize back inside with me and handed it over to the receptionist to give to the surgeon. Once ushered in to the examination room, I got undressed from the waist up, donned the fashionable gown and waited for my surgeon to come in make it all better. We crossed the hall to the room with his sonogram machine so that he could find the lesion again and know where to stab me so he could take the tissue samples for testing. His nurse squirted the lubricant on my skin, and it was off the races with my surgeon rolling the wand over the area marked on the sonogram and x-rays searching for the lesion. He couldn’t find it. Back and forth he rolled it over and over and didn’t see anything suspect. He was getting frustrated and I was getting worried. Was I wasting everyone’s time on a witch hunt? Of course I wasn’t the one that found it the first time, but my brain works in a weird twisted way, I blame myself first. After about fifteen minutes of a fruitless search for the mass, my surgeon decided he wanted to call in the big guns.

It was decided that I would go to the Women’s Center and get a sonogram needle biopsy there by the hospital’s radiologist. Evidently the women’s center had a bigger better sonogram machine and they would stand a better chance of finding it than the surgeon’s office machine. Since it was after four on Friday, I would have to wait until Monday the following week for the scheduler at the women’s center to call and set up an appointment, another weekend of waiting and wondering. The stress was really starting to build and the little voice was getting louder, the “what ifs” coming more and more. I still presented an outward, “this is no big deal.” But inside I had a bad feeling and told Mitch so that night in bed.

His response was, “What do you want to do?”

“There’s nothing I can do but wait. I just want it done and know the outcome, that’s all.”

Monday afternoon on the 14th I got a call from the scheduler setting up my appointment for that Wednesday at 2pm. I wish I could have gone right then, I don’t do waiting well. You should see me during the Christmas season, I make Mitch crazy. Thankfully I was not responsible for taking the DVD to the center; my surgeon’s nurse ran that over for me. The staff at the Women’s Center was amazing, caring kind women that treated me so wonderfully. I can truthfully say that everyone I had dealt with so far have been the most wonderful caring professionals in the healthcare field. These are special people to do what they do every day.

As the radiologist took the syringe and prepared to stab me with it the technician reached down and grabbed my hand and held it. I looked up at her and she had such a soft sweet smile on her face, it was almost like having my mom standing there holding my hand telling me that everything would be alright. That was so unexpected and reassuring, I almost started crying. I felt like I wasn’t alone in this, that they were there rooting for me as much as I was. I felt a sharp prick and then a burning sensation in my left breast; I looked up at the screen and could see the needle moving back and forth squirting the lidocaine around the area to be snipped. It was weird and a little creepy looking at the screen and seeing the needle then the fireplace log starter moving around inside me while the radiologist hunted for the best site to take tissue samples. Again it was time for more waiting. Two to three days before I would get the results and since it was late Wednesday afternoon, I probably would not get the results until Monday.

Monday came and went no phone call; does that mean good or bad news? Tuesday I called the doctor’s office finally out of patience and was told that the results had just gotten there but the doctor hadn’t read them yet and would call me back as soon as he read through the report. My world stopped as soon as I heard the doctor’s voice on the other end of the phone, “I’m sorry, the pathology report shows you have breast cancer. It’s a small mass, which is good…” he droned on. But that was all I heard, “breast cancer” then there was a roaring in my ears and my chest tightened. I squeezed back tears, took a deep breath and clenched my jaw shut to keep from blubbering out loud. No, my mind screamed, no not now, not today. Like any other day would be a better day for cancer. I focused on what the doctor was saying. He said that he wanted me to come in and talk to him and discuss our plan of action. The sooner the better, I could come in today or tomorrow whichever was better for me. I could get a mastectomy or a lumpectomy and get radiation therapy.

I told myself I could do this and called Mitch to tell him. As soon as I started to tell him, I couldn’t talk, tears ran down my face, I took a breath and blurted it out. In his usual calm voice he said that we would get through this. We would go to the doctor’s office discuss our options and go from there. “WE” being the operative word. Not you but we. We were a couple, a team and we would fight the fight together. I don’t think I could have loved him more than at that moment. Mitch had my back, no matter what.

It is funny how you can read something and it doesn’t affect you as much as saying it out loud. I could see the words breast cancer in my mind or even say breast cancer out loud, but when I added the two words, “I have”, I would tear up, my voice dropped to a whisper and I could barely speak the entire sentence, “I have breast cancer.” It took me three days to be able say that without crying, but now I can and I can smile and think about the positives in my life. I am working with the surgeon, doing research and talking the best source in the world, my friend who went through this last year and is amazing. She is the strongest woman I know who has inspired me to try to be half as strong as she was.

I gave myself a wallow time to feel sorry for myself, but now it’s time to get beyond that and fight the fight of my life. I’m done wallowing it’s time to put on the boxing gloves.

The Walk from Hell

I did not enjoy our walk this afternoon, no not at all. It started off so promising. Mitch was busy putting brakes on my car when I got home from work, so I fed the dogs and changed my clothes. I put their harnesses on them, grabbed my phone, stuffed a couple of poop bags in my pocket and grabbed the leashes off the coat rack. We walked outside, I leashed each one up and told Mitch we would be back shortly and would fix dinner then. It was a beautiful afternoon, mid-seventies and a light breeze, perfect for a dog walk.

Nobody else was around just the dogs and me; we were about halfway to the dam when Charlie stopped to sniff something in the ditch next to the road, took a step and jerked sideways and sort of jumped and limped to the road both at the same time. I looked at him and he was holding his left foot up as if he had stepped on something and cut his paw or had been bitten. I looked down at his elevated paw and saw something sticking out between two of his toes. It looked like a small stick sticking out of a dark brown rock wedged between his toes.

So being the loving caring pet owner I am, I reached down to pull it out. Imagine my surprise and disgust when I discovered it wasn’t a rock wedged between his toes, but instead it was dog poop. I now have dog poop on my left thumb. Gross! Charlie had stepped in some other dog’s feces and was as disgusted about it as I was when I touched it. I walked over and pulled a leaf off of a bush to try and wipe as much off of my thumb as possible. I didn’t have a Kleenex with me and if I did it would have been in my pocket and I certainly wasn’t going to stick my poopy thumb in my pocket to retrieve it.

After wiping as much as I could off of my thumb, I picked a bigger leaf to try and wipe the poop off of Charlie’s toes. Charlie was being his usual uncooperative self and jerked his paw away from me causing me to get dog poop on my right thumb. Now I have dog poop on both thumbs, I am thoroughly disgusted and feel super gross. I can’t touch anything with my thumbs because I don’t want to get the gross icky poop on anything else. I decided to turn around and walk back home. I held the leashes in each palm curling my fingers around them with my thumbs sticking straight out so I wouldn’t accidently touch anything with my thumbs.

Halfway home and so far so good, no other people or dogs show up and both dogs are behaving rather well, when all of a sudden now I have a goddam gnat flying at my face. There was nothing I could do, I couldn’t swat it, just wave my arms around like a crazy woman and jerk my head spasmodically to try and keep it away. I can only imagine what someone thought if anybody looked out of their window at me.

Where is a wet wipe when you need it?