Monday, August 29, 2011

And....we're clear.

Last week was nothing short of a huge roller coaster ride. My emotions were up, then down as I waited for Thursday morning and my first ever mammogram. Thankfully, I am in the clear, for now. One not-so-uncomfortable mammogram and ultra sound later...the conclusion is fibroid cysts. Doctors have no explanation for them but he is certain they are benign. These are the words I needed to hear. Of course, I am required to monitor my cysts for any changes but overall, I walked out feeling much better than when I had awaken that morning.

From that odd moment on...the week picked up even with only a couple of days left. Mom and I celebrated fibroid tumors at a small diner in town (Jerry's) where my grandfather had spent many of his mornings. It brought back many memories to the point where both mom and I teared up remembering the counter where pa-pa had enjoyed coffee with other retired truckers. Over a stack of carb loaded pancakes and warmed colored water they called coffee, we celebrated these small lumps and took turns naming them while exchanging stories about pa-pa.

This weeks begins the final chapter of an official summer. This summer was not what I planned or expected. I planned on bike rides, training, and enjoying a rhythm of life that was constant. Instead, there is no rhythm, life right now is more like a mosh pit. I am trying not to get hit in the face as I push through the crowd. Even in the down moments, there have been fun nights with friends, cocktails with girlfriends and the memories of past summers. The walking path right outside our front door is now complete and every evening, JC and I walk the dog through the new trees marveling at the deer and how they have grown over the past few months.

Deer family we see every night while walking the dog...
I have always heard it is about the little things in life but after this summer, I can truly believe it. Each piece of summer has a bit of enjoyment to it. The small bowls of ice cream with fresh fruit, cooking with home grown herbs, hugging a long time friend, watching deer grow their first set of antlers. I look forward to these things each night. At the beginning of summer, I was concerned about moving, getting the house together and now, I know it will happen if it is meant to happen. I still have bike rides to look forward to although they may not be on a schedule. Hours are hours...and I plan to use them all just not in a specific order.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When life hands you lemons...

I had just finished a bike ride, which in the summer means I am encrusted in salty sweat, my hair is a heap of matted mess, and I need a shower. Peeling my kit off, I headed for the shower and just about the time I was ready to wash another 30-miles away, I felt something. I felt again...that was not there before. What is that?! I felt again. I asked my boyfriend to feel it. Hmm.

Breast exams are critical and although I can rarely find anything off the table in life to joke about...I am serious about breast exams (I'll joke about them too!). Breast cancer is no joke and when I found a small lump, I immediately began a course of action which included calling the doctor at 8:02AM the next morning, calling my mom and doing research on the web.

My family physician has been my doctor since I was eleven years old. He is patient with everyone, direct, and knows my history. His wife is a 19-year breast cancer survivor. When he entered the examining room, he was more somber than normal. He found a few other lumps but was not immediately concerned.

His best diagnosis was to have a mammogram and ultrasound which I have penciled into my datebook for next week. I chuckled when the receptionist asked if I had breast implants. The mere thought made me giggle out loud and I assured her I could barely fill out a B cup, let alone withstand implants. My doctor feels everything is benign but he wants to be sure. I would prefer he be sure. 

Did I also mentioned I am uninsured? When you change jobs suddenly, you become uninsured. If one more person suggests COBRA to me, I may roll up the enrollment packet they were obligated to send me and beat someone with it. The monthly costs for COBRA were approximately $379 per month. When your income is significantly reduced, COBRA is not an option but more like a decorative coaster on my coffee table that is covered in coffee stains.

Uninsured, facing a mammogram, ultra sound and constantly fondling myself in my spare time, I have found some lemonade in my life, no less from the Federal Government. The government has a program to refinance interest rates for homeowners should they become underemployed. I completed the 60-page intake forms, had them copied, notarized, and met with my HUD agent today. She was so pleasant. We chuckled at the maze she had to navigate on the homepage of the program. Always an overachiever, I walked in with all of my papers signed and prepared in blue ink. She noted my attention to details. 

Yet, still in the office as she ran back and forth to the copier to grab the series of papers, I would feel my lump. I have never been so vigilant about something on my body. It feels very foreign because it is. Mom insisted after the HUD appointment, that we have lunch. We saddled up to a greasy local pub whose specialty ranges from chili to an amazing grilled cheese. Mom further suggested a beer, implying I deserved it. She was paying...I was drinking. I enjoyed it...with a perfectly toasted grilled cheese, extra dill pickles and seasoned salt on my crinkle cut fries. Again from time to time at lunch, I would feel my uninvited guest nestled just below my skin with my salty fingers. 
Mom had water, I had "flavored" water

Benign or not benign, the fear alone is something that stops you cold. I am constantly surrounded by breast cancer ribbons and various pink breast "cancery" things. Oh the irony of me hating pink is funn right now. I did not like pink when I was two...I do not like pink now. 

Even if benign, surgery may be needed to remove this parasite. Did I mention I was uninsured? Oh...I did. Surgeries are not free but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now, I deal with one task at a time and enjoy everything that has nothing to do with this lump including a girls night out, walks with the dog, new haircuts, house warming presents for friends in New York, bike rides, and looking forward to my boyfriend being home at night. 
New hair
As the phrase goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Do you know anyone who likes natural lemonade? Me either. Lemonade is good only when amazing delicious sweet sugar is added. I prefer to make a simple syrup when making homemade lemonade (remember, I am an over achiever). So I say when life hands you lemons, hand them back and go buy some lemonade. Homemade lemonade takes forever and a full pitcher takes a lot of lemons. I deal with things one by one right now. One lemon at a time.
Enjoying lemon meringue cake with the cat and dog...