Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Breasts and Other Lady Parts

There was a time, if someone (read that as 'a guy') wanted to touch my breasts (or look at them naked, for that matter), certain conditions had to be met.  First, I had to know his name--and his entire history and genealogy.  We had to have been together for a fair amount of time and we had to be in love.  Considering I only have had three loves in my life, not many guys have seen 'the girls.'  (So I have Puritanical morals--sue me!  ;))  This is why what happened to me yesterday is so different than what has been 'usual' in my life.  I allowed someone to poke and prod, stretch and knead, squeeze and hold my unclothed breasteses.  I don't remember the person's name, I never saw her before, and I most likely will never see her again.  Yes, I had my annual mammograms.

From what I understand, many women have a hard time going for mammograms.  Some women are very emotional about the experience--The Mother cries like a baby, for example.  Other women have a great deal of pain having the procedure done--my friend with the tiny boobies suffers greatly with the stretching of the skin.  For me, the entire ordeal is quite routine and I never have had an entirely negative experience.  (Now, I'm not saying that it is pleasant, by any means, it's just that I don't suffer a lot having this done.) I guess one of the things that has made this a process that I don't worry about is the fact I have only had one 'problem'* with a mammogram in all of the years I've had them done.

After having my annual 'squeeze,' I DO find myself thinking 'what if' until I get the 'all good' report.  Of course, I've never been faced with deciding what to do in the case of breast cancer--or, thank God, ANY cancer--but I think about it from time to time.  While many women tell their doctors to do everything that can be done to save their breast, I think I would go the opposite way and say "Get rid of the damn thing and make sure all of the cancer is GONE!"  I'm not afraid to die--I got into this a few posts ago--but I am terrified of dying in pain.  Cancer causes pain.

I've never sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk with a breast cancer survivor.  I admire anyone who has battled through cancer and I would never judge, but for me, I cannot understand wanting to save a body part over a fool proof complete cure.  But, some women feel as if their womanhood is somewhat diminished if some of their 'lady bits' go missing.  Again, I'm not judging, it's just that I can't comprehend that.  And I only have my own life to use as a gauge when I think about it.

At the age of 34, I decided to have a hysterectomy.  I began having periods about the age of 11 or 12 and every year brought more problems with my reproductive system.  I was the poster girl for bad, painful periods.  In high school, there were times when I had to leave school because I was in such pain--and it wasn't anything I could hide.  I would turn pale and find myself praying to the porcelain gods, heaving my guts out.  Of course, this wasn't EVERY month.  I could go several months with a fairly 'normal' period--just long enough to think I was getting better--and then I would get blasted all over again.  Going to doctors didn't help much.  I was given many different pain pills and one doctor even put me on amphetamines.  Nothing helped.  The only relief I ever got was when I'd find myself in the ER and the doctor ordered Demerol injections--that's goooood drugs.  Of course, I couldn't be on Demerol every month, so the relief was short-lived.  Finally, I was put on birth control pills.  Everything changed for me then--and the biggest change was NO PAIN!  I thought I had found the Holy Grail and I was ecstatic.  For six months.  And the pain started to come back.  Going back to what was 'normal' for me came very gradually, but it was apparent that The Pill wasn't going to be my cure-all and I decided to quit taking it.  This then brought me an entirely new set of problems.  After I went off of The Pill, I would go for three months or so at a time without a period.  To bring it on, I had to go to the doctor and get a prescription--if I wasn't pregnant, I'd get my period and if I WAS, then nothing would happen.  With The Husband away sailing the Seven Seas, there was no chance of a pregnancy, so I took the pills.  This happened to me after each of the two times in my life when I was on birth control pills--and it took me at least a year each time to get back to my 'normal' cycle after going off of the pills.  It wasn't a fun time for me, at all.

Early on, the diagnosis of 'endometriosis' was suggested by a doctor.  The only thing he told me was that everything would get better once I had gone through a pregnancy.  And nothing more was said.  I didn't think much more about this and without the interwebs available like they are now, I didn't have a place where I could do any research into this problem.  I just tried to learn to live with it.  Now, of course, I realize that all of the problems I had were because of endo.  When The Husband got out of the Navy, we settled into our lives and went about the business of making babies.  Only, I just couldn't seem to do what came naturally to most of the women I knew.  It took us five years into our marriage before we had The Oldest--partly due to the endo.  (Some of the problem was The Husband and me being apart for long periods of time, but that was only part of the problem.)  After having our first child, I didn't have ANY relief from my symptoms as the one doctor said I would.  And once again, I suffered from infertility problems--it took SIX years for The Youngest to come along.  For most of the time that we tried to get pregnant, we didn't use birth control, thus the reason I say I suffered with infertility.  As it turns out, the doctor who did my hysterectomy said I was lucky to ever have gotten pregnant even one time--infertility is one of the results many women suffer with having endometriosis.

By the time The Youngest was five, I was not living a 'normal' life.  My monthly cycle was about 35 days long and for only a week out of those 35 days, I felt almost normal.  The rest of the time I suffered with PMS and painful periods.  And I mean SUFFERED.  With two young girls to take care of, I couldn't completely take to my bed the seven days of my period, but I came close.  Whenever K was home, he was in charge and I was in bed, in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, trying not to moan because of the pain I was in.  At times I thought I was hemorrhaging because the flow was so heavy.  I could barely walk because my thighs were so weak and sore and my lower belly was distended and throbbing.  It felt as if all of my body parts were about to be discharged from my vagina because of the pressure I experienced in my pelvic 'floor'.  And these were the 'good' days.  (joking)  During my non-period, bad days, I had breasts that swelled like footballs and felt as if they would burst open if they were touched--and they hurt.  I had a painful, bloated belly and leg pain.  My moods were extremely erratic.  PMS to the nth degree was the order of the day.  And every month, things seemed to get a little worse and I had had enough.

Finally, the pain and problems got to a point that I couldn't go on living with them, so I decided to try talking to a doctor one more time about what was going on.  I had never told my GYN the extent of my problems before because no doctor had ever done much to help me previously.  But, with this appointment, I decided I wasn't going to leave until I had some answers and a possible solution.  As I started to read down my list of symptoms, the doctor joined me and finished the list without ever having read what I had written.  He said I had a classic, text-book case of endometriosis.  To be sure, he was going to do a laparoscopy on me to make the final diagnosis, but he had no problem with diagnosing me before the surgery.  And then we discussed solutions.  He said he could put me on medication that was proving to be helpful, but the side-effects were not fun.  (Weight gain--possibly to the extreme--was only one of the side effects.)  Or he could do laser surgery to remove the 'bad' tissue--the only problem with that is he could not be sure of getting all of the endometrial tissue, as it has a tendency to travel throughout the body in women with endo.  Or he could do a hysterectomy.  This would--in all likelihood--completely cure me of my problems.  Removal of the ovaries--and the stopping of estrogen production by the body--was the only 'cure' that he would come close to guaranteeing.  (Some women don't find this as the answer to their endo--they can't tolerate the hormone replacement therapy I went on.)  Even though I left his office knowing that I would be getting a second opinion and doing some thinking about what he had to say, I knew in my heart of hearts that I WAS going to get the surgery.  As I told him during my follow-up visit, "I'm done using the lady parts, so we might as well get rid of them."

Since having this surgery done, I have become addicted to The Gore and have done a lot of research into how other women have and do cope with endo and hysterectomies.  Solutions to endo are pretty much the same as they were when I had my hysterectomy, but far fewer hysterectomies are being done--and more people are frowning on the solution.  While it IS an extreme solution to a problem that may not be life-threatening, that doesn't seem to be the reason so many are against the practice.  I guess a lot of women feel 'castrated' and less of a woman once a hysterectomy has been done.  They seem to define themselves by how many lady parts they have.  This is a mind set that I cannot understand.  I'm not condemning anyone who feels this way, it just doesn't make sense to me.  A couple of months after my surgery, when I was feeling better than I had felt at any point in my life, I told someone that I would have had the surgery done ten years earlier if it wouldn't have meant not having The Youngest.  I cannot imagine my life if I wouldn't have done the surgery--and I don't feel any less of a woman because I have no uterus or ovaries.  Yes, I've had to take a pill every day since the surgery, but as I get older, pills are just a way of life for me--as is the case with a lot of older people.  The HRT hasn't been a factor in any health issues I have and, despite what some reports MIGHT indicate, I feel as if it has helped me.  Given the chance again, I would choose to have a hysterectomy in a heartbeat--it was the best decision I ever made for my health.

I do hope that every woman faced with having to make the decision of whether to have a hysterectomy or not would do a lot of research and get both sides of the story.  Too many people are condemning hysterectomies as too extreme--even likening them to misogyny on the part of male doctors.  While I don't believe that, to each his--or her--own.  I just beg any woman to do a great amount of research before making any decisions, don't buy into any 'politically correct' ideas just because, and make up your own mind without being influenced by others.  It is YOUR body and YOU have to live with it.  And if God created you a woman, just because some of your lady parts are gone, that doesn't change who, or what, you are.

*A couple of years ago I needed to have follow-up mams and ultrasounds of my right breast.  There was a cyst--which they had been tracking for several years--that was larger than it had been and they wanted to make sure nothing was going to come of it. By the time I had my follow-up, the cyst had gone back to the size it had been and there was no need for any more action, other than some extra mams to make sure everything was status quo.  I have had no more scares since.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Once Broken, They Never Heal

Luckily, I have only broken one bone in my life--at least, that I know of.  And that bone was in the smallest toe of my right foot.  This took place more than 25 years ago, when The Youngest was a baby.  I had just put her down in the crib for a nap and I had to rush out of the room to get to the bathroom.  (I'm ALWAYS rushing to the bathroom--just one of my 'normal' habits.)  As I was running into the bathroom, my little toe caught on the door jam and I heard a very loud 'crack.'  Immediately I knew the toe was broken.  There was no displacement of bones, but the pain was quite extensive and it began to darken within minutes.  I knew I needed to get to the hospital for an x-ray, but K was working.  He needed to be called home to drive me to the ER and I had to arrange for someone to watch the girls.  By the time I actually got a doctor to see my foot, an hour had passed.  The x-ray confirmed my diagnosis.  Of course, there is very little that doctors will do for a simple, broken toe.  I was sent home with instructions to 'buddy tape' the toe--that is, put tape around the broken one and the one next to it, so that the break would be stabilized.  And I then waited for the healing process to complete.  They don't tell you that broken bones never heal.

As I get older, I realize more frequently that my toe just isn't 'right.'  While I don't have the weather-predicting ability that some people do, my toe will let me know when there will be some sort of change.  Last week, during our February thaw, my toe was SCREAMING at me that change was coming.  Honestly, it felt as if I had a toothache in my toe--it just throbbed constantly.  I told K that we were in for some mighty bad weather and should prepare.  And change certainly came--except it wasn't what I expected.  The 'big' change turned out to be a drop in temperature.  A majority of the mid-west got BLASTED with big-time snow and we only got a drop in temps.  That is all.  I'm really quite disappointed, as something more should have come from the pain I was in.  I guess I won't rely on the 'broken-toe' method of predicting weather changes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Romantic Husband

There we were, the week before Valentine's Day, shopping in Hobby Lobby.  K came up to me and asked what size ring I wear.  While I couldn't figure out why he asked, my mind wandered a bit:  We were going to the mall later and there WERE jewelry stores there.  I got a slight thrill over how romantic my husband is.  And then he lead me to an aisle and showed me these:

GOTTA love him.  :D

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


EDITED:  I edited this to reflect the fact that I found out that the insurance in question was our car insurance, NOT our home-owner's insurance.

Our vehicle insurance bill came a week or so ago and it had gone up $250.  WTF!?!?!?  Today, K got a call from the insurer's rep.  The rep wanted to know if K had health insurance.  He said he did, from work.  Then the rep said that our car insurance had gone up the $250 because the insurer added the amount to compensate for the possibility of us not having health insurance.  So, because we DID have health coverage, our bill will drop $250, as it wasn't needed.

Here are my questions about all of this:  Does this have anything to do with Obamacare?  Are other insurers going to be charging us a higher premium if we don't have our own health insurance--for example, homeowner's insurance?  Or is this something new that just was put into effect?  I guess these questions will be answered when K goes in to the company to have a sit-down with the rep, but I thought I would put this out there for my readers to discuss.  I am really confused and would like to know what is going on.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Would Own A Gun, But...

We just got back from a several day road trip.  While this doesn't REALLY have much to do with the rest of this post, I must give a little update on what we did.  This was our trip to go and see the play 'Wicked.'  I have only one word for the experience:  WOW!!!  Words just aren't enough to say how much I enjoyed the play and performances--ESPECIALLY the performances.  I'm not sure I would have loved this as much if the part of the Wicked Witch would have been played by someone other than the girl who was in Tuesday's performance, because she was absolutely amazing.  I don't know when I have heard such a powerful voice come out of such a (relatively) tiny body.  But, this amazing time began with our traveling and my wanting to own a gun...

I've said on more than one occasion that there are two reasons why K won't 'let' me own a gun.  First, he'd be very afraid that he wouldn't see his next birthday if I had a gun at my disposal and, two, if I didn't do him in, he would be afraid that I would leave a long line of drivers dead by the side of the road.  And Monday gave me a good indication of how right he is to be afraid--some drivers don't deserve to LIVE, much less have licenses.

I sleep whenever we travel.  It all started when I was kid and had car sickness:  The sleeping helped keep me from getting nauseous.  Sleeping had/has become such a habit with me, that I continue to do it to this day.  I have told K that I HAVE to sleep because he makes me so nervous with his driving--and he IS a good driver, I'm just a nervous passenger.  I found out on Monday that I need to sleep just so I don't have to experience the OTHER drivers on the road.  I usually sleep until we are within a mile of our destination, but on Monday I woke much earlier than usual, so I got to see what goes on when I'm passed out.  And it was more than a little frightening.  As I was stretching and attempting to clear the cobwebs from my sleepy mind, I began to pay attention to what was going on around us.  And there are some drivers--most?--who should not be on the road.  This is what I saw in a mile-long stretch as we were racing down the interstate at 70+ MPH...

  • The first driver I noticed was hugging the center line and I pointed her out to K, while telling him to watch out.  As we passed her, I saw she was fixing her hair as she drove down the highway.  Now, she wasn't just moving her hair around, she was fluffing and combing and straightening and patting her hair with BOTH hands.  WITHOUT any hands on the steering wheel.  No wonder she couldn't keep the car moving in a straight line.
  • The very next car we passed was being driven by a guy, who I am CONVINCED is a serial killer.  I SWEAR, when he glanced at me, that I saw flames shoot out of his eyeballs.  And I KNOW he would've ended my life with just a little more than a look, if he wanted.  I'm completely sure his picture is hanging in the post office...he was very, very scary.
  • And finally, the third car we passed was being driven by a guy, also.  Now, 'driven' probably isn't the proper term for what he was doing, because I have no idea HOW he was steering this vehicle.  The first thing I noticed about him was that he had an iPad in his left hand and he was reading it.  Yeah, while going down the highway.  BUT that wasn't all.  He also had a cellphone squished between his right ear and shoulder and was talking on it.  And it gets better.  He was WRITING on a pad of paper with his right hand.  I know, I MUST have seen wrong.  Nope.  I looked more than once just to make sure I saw what I saw and didn't imagine it.  I have no idea how he steered the car--and I don't know if I WANT to know.
So, in the space of one mile, if I had a gun, I would have shot and killed three people.  Maybe K has a point and I WOULDN'T be a responsible gun owner.

Friday, February 04, 2011

That Purple, Padded Room IS In My Future

I've been sitting here in the computer room surfing The Gore and doing all of my 'regular' stuff on this machine.  K is sleeping on the couch--he is working night shift--and I am trying to be as quiet as possible.  That is why I'm in the computer room and not vacuuming, for example.  While K WILL sleep through just about anything, I usually don't do much more than have the TV on when he's sleeping off a night shift.  That is why I was completely baffled by what has been happening.

While sitting here, I have been hearing 'noises'--like people talking or the cat meowing.  (I know, cats don't sound like people, but you've never met my cat.)  So, I went exploring to see if I had left the TV on in the kitchen, or if K turned the one on in the living room, or if the cat is getting ready to hack up a hairball and is announcing such.  And I found:  Nothing. Nada.  Absolutely no noises at all.  I MUST be losing my mind--and that just means that I WILL be sitting in that purple, padded room very soon in the future.

Using Computers and The Interwebs

If you are reading this, then you probably know how to use the interwebs.  And if you are reading this, you probably know how to use computers.  And if both of the previous sentences are true, you more likely than not have been asked by someone to find the answer to a question by using the interwebs.  A question they can find the answer to themselves, simply by using Google.  And that is why so many computer users--geeks, as well as 'normal' people--get livid when asked to 'find' answers.

I LOVE my computer.  While I'm not a total geek, I tend towards that description.  I'm not quite as computer-savvy as I used to be--a few years ago I KNEW I could build my own computer, but I'm not so sure these days.  That being said, I do have a knowledge that a lot of my friends and family don't.  I don't mind being asked to look up information for people--especially those who don't have computers or lack the experience I have.  I've often thought that I could make money by doing searches for others, but setting something like that up would actually take time and effort, neither of which I'm willing to do.  So, I will be content to search for houses to rent in the southwest for my sister-in-law and look to see if the knife The Husband wants is still being manufactured.  I have the time to do these things and it doesn't really take away from what I may WANT to do.  However...

I do have a problem when someone asks me to find out 'why is the sky blue?' or any simple, easily Googled question such as that.  I also have a problem when someone asks me to do a search for them, but THEY are on the computer themselves for 20 hours of every day.  EXCUSE ME!?!?!?  And just why can't you do it yourself?  And, obviously, many people feel the same as I do, because there is a site that has been developed called 'Let Me Google That For You'--  This is for those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question than Google it for themselves.  It is an easy to use, step-by-step course in how to use Google to get the answers you are seeking.  So, if you don't want to pass on this link whenever someone asks you a simple question, make sure you say--in your MOST sarcastic voice--"Just wait a second and let me Google that for you."  It might help, but I doubt it.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Winter Driving*

*OR, Get The F*** Off Of My Roads If You Don't Know How To Drive On Snow!

I live in the great north woods.  We get snow.  I have lived around snow my entire life, as I was born and raised 100 miles north of where I now live.  From sometime in October until a time in (the earliest) late March, the roads have snow on them.  That means, no dry pavement for about five months out of the year.  This time period just happens to coincide with the school year, and that is where this story comes from.

'Back home' has a world-class engineering school.  Students and teachers/professors come from all over the world to be part of the university.  Of course, this means a great deal of culture shock for some of these people, as well as a very different way of living.  Many, many of these people have never seen snow.  This causes a number of problems.  K's niece used to work at public safety at the school and told this story:

One morning a professor from India came in and--in his thick, Indian accent--said, "Need ID card."

The Niece:  "Okay, you need a new ID card.  Step this way and we'll get a new picture.  What happened to your old card?"

Professor:  "Got in car.  Started car.  Car wouldn't move.  Tires spin.  Got out of car.  Put ID card under back tire.  Got in car.  Put car in gear, stepped on gas.  And (adding hand gesture indicating flying motion, while looking off into the distance)  'FWINGGGG!', card went flying.  So, need new ID card."

About this time, The Niece had to turn away from the professor so that he wouldn't see her laughing.  She couldn't stop laughing.  To this day, she doesn't know HOW she managed to complete the task of getting him his new ID card.  This became one of the favorite stories around the public safety office.

Bad, Bad Business

When I go into a business establishment, I don't demand much.  I would like to be acknowledged--a smile, a 'Hi,' a 'May I help you?' is sufficient.  I don't need anyone to hold my hand or be at my beck-and-call.  And for my part, I will be a good customer.  I don't ask for help until I have exhausted my own resources and brain power.  I don't make demands or ask for what you can't provide.  Actually, I may be one of the easiest people to please, as I don't want to be a bother--even if it involves nothing more than you doing your job.  That is why today's experience just baffles me.

On our way home today, we stopped at our local Jimmy John's for sandwiches.  With all of the restaurants and fast food joints in town, we haven't been to Jimmy John's all that often.  Actually, this might have been only the third time I've had food from there since they opened a few years ago.  Anyway, we decided to go in and order because we aren't that familiar with the menu and figured this would be easier.  And our visit went like this:
  • We walked in and no one does anything but stare at us.  As if we were cockroaches that crawled out from under the counter.
  • After deciding what we wanted, we walked up to the counter and placed the order.  No one STILL had said anything to us.  The first time we were spoken to was when we were told how much we owed.
  • After paying, we stepped back and waited for our food to be prepared.  The next words spoken 'to' us was when the numbers of our sandwiches were announced.  Assuming our order was finished, K went to the counter, picked up our sandwiches, and we left.  And no one still had said anything to us.
As I said, I don't expect to be gushed over, but it is nice to have a little sense of gratitude shown.  And even if there isn't any gratitude, at least be a bit friendly!  Being a college town, we have many, many restaurants--many of which don't last beyond one or two years--so I don't HAVE to be treated rudely in order to get take-out food.  This entire situation was/is very, very bad for business.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Six Degrees

There is the theory that every person can be linked to every other person in the world by only six steps.  While I don't know how true this is, I DO know that my mind can usually take me from one subject to another completely unrelated one in about six steps--and I do it ALL of the time.

The other night while in the shower, I found myself thinking about the blood orange I had eaten earlier.  And as is my regular way of doing things, my mind went wandering on its own for a few seconds and the next thing I realized was that I was thinking about my first love.  WTF?!?!?!?!  So I decided to figure out HOW I got from blood oranges to a guy I think about very, very rarely.  And this is what I came up with:

Blood oranges-------->Florida-------->The South-------->South Carolina-------->The Navy-------->Military/Air Force-------->First Love (who was in the Air Force when we got together)

I discussed this with The Oldest and she said she is exactly like this--and her husband can't comprehend how anyone's brain works like this.  He said she is like a computer with multiple processors that work at the same time.  I guess that is as good of an explanation as any.  I'm not sure if this is unique to only certain people or is this a 'woman thing?'  Does anyone have thoughts?