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Health scares are never fun

Two weeks ago I was sitting in a hotel room in Salt Lake City debating on a job offer and the counter offer my current company had given me. The job offer was a job back in Montana and the counter offer involved a transfer to Salt Lake City. Health concerns, job security and happiness and quality of life for me, the husband and the pup were all whirling through my head. And then I had a sudden lurch of panic — I found a lump in my left breast. Holy hell was I mad. I had a fibroadenoma when I was 19 in that same breast and now THIS. The damn thing felt like a square of gum, like the ones in those foil packets that became popular 10 or so years ago. Anyways, I had a monster panic at 11 pm and started google searching and calling my mom. I had my panic rant and then we got down to business — we currently live in Phoenix, which has a MONSTER Mayo Clinic campus. The Mayo Clinic is possibly one of the best places I could go for a diagnosis. Turns out that the Phoenix campus has one of three breast center’s in the country. The others are in Minneapolis and Florida. I filled out the online appointment request form and finally fell asleep. Three days later  when I was visiting with people my phone rang and I spent the next 24 hours trying to get through to the appointment people with the Mayo Clinic. It is apparently a 15-30 min wait to get to their schedulers. THANKFULLY I did get through to someone and made an appointment for that Friday. I wasn’t going to waste ANY time twiddling my thumbs.

One thing a friend told me that week was the goal of taking action. Everything is worse before you take action. The act of movement releases some of the tension and anxiety. You will never move forward and onward without taking action. I would not have slept that night at the hotel if I had not taken action. I would not have felt okay about myself and my health without taking action to call the appointment office back.

So, 8 days ago I went to the Mayo Clinic with my in-laws chauffeuring me and my husband with them too. Support system? Yeah, I have one. And it’s a pretty dang great one too. This isn’t to say my parents wouldn’t have been there, but the in-laws had already planned a vacation to come see us that weekend. Talk about timing. That Friday was a total wash for focusing on anything but this medical potential panic. I met with a great nurse practitioner who pretty much immediately said, “you’re going in for a mammogram and ultrasound.” Well, duh, I could have diagnosed that much, but glad to know we were on the same page. I went out to the schedulers and asked when the next available appointment was for a mammogram — in 1 hour. It was about 15 minutes to the other campus where I’d go for that and away we went. We got there 40 minutes before the appointment but I checked in anyways and was seen 10 minutes later.

I have never had a mammogram. It has been a horrendous fear that as I get older I will need to face the breast squishing agony that women have to go through. I am not well endowed and cleavage is something that is fairly minimal on me. To think that I have to put the little I have on a tray to be squished by a plastic plate is NOT a comforting thought. Well, now I’ve experienced it and I’ve got to say, there are several positions that are uncomfortable and the rest are a full out painful experience. Give me an ultrasound any day of the week, because YIKES.  Both technicians (for the mammogram and ultrasound) were amazing women and I am very grateful for their ease of conversation and attitude towards the procedure.

The end result of all of this is that I have a benign cyst. I’m NOT enthused about this, but I am no longer in full blown panic mode. I was able to have a great weekend at the Grand Canyon and relax. I am still worried that it will need to be drained, but that is a fairly minor procedure compared to what this could have been.

I think the left side of my body is just going to cause trouble . . . door slammed on ring finger when I was 5, left foot broken at 18, fibroadenoma at 19 and now a benign cyst. . . oh, and that endometrioma that had to be drained that I blogged about too.So, dear left side, I don’t know why you need cause so much trouble, but I’d appreciate it if you’d stop getting so dangerously creative. Thanks!

 

 

 

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Static for you alone

This could totally be a post about being alone in the big world or feeling the power rippling through the crowds and yet no one else seems to notice, but I am not feeling quite so eloquent and creative at the moment.

Instead, this is a possibly silly post about me and the shopping carts at Costco. Every single Costco I have been to has carts that shock me. Violently. I had a few people actually jump and look at me strange. My hands fly off of the cart handles and I mutter something akin to, “OW!” and “YIKES!!” and “STOP DOING THAT!!!” It is really painful and seems to hit with no warning. I will walk with my legs farther apart (are my jeans causing static electricity?) but it still happens. I will push the cart with my wrists bent back so my fingers aren’t close to the basket and yet when I slow down the cart… *ZZZAAAAPPP!!*  and my hands fly off of the cart again.

I used to think it was the winter weather in Montana. But then it happened in the summer. And in Maryland, and now in the southwestern desert.  . . temperature doesn’t seem to matter. Humidity doesn’t matter. I’m just a magnet for getting zapped.

I nearly didn’t go to Costco, but Little Dog needed his food and I wasn’t going to lug a 45 lb bag of food on my shoulder since I also needed to pick up a few other bulk items.

Changes

There has been a lot of upheaval in the world and in my life. Right now we are facing the hunt for a new place to live and THAT is just a thrill a minute. It also means the ever enjoyable job of searching for a job or getting a transfer to a new office. While I am not the biggest fan of the job hunt, it always opens my eyes to what I feel I CAN do and what I WANT to do. I’ve recently debated on being an Environmental Planner or maybe get in to Environmental Engineering.  When I was an undergraduate I debated on going to the Engineering school, but I would have been in college for about 6-7 years and that wasn’t very appealing at the time. There are some unique circumstances there that I won’t go into now.

Sometimes I sit back and wonder if the Engineering Genetics didn’t have the right idea. But I really like Conservation Biology. I believe quite strongly in it and have continually tried to pursue a job that at least touches on that field.

Environmental Planning = I can learn a lot of it on the job and don’t necessarily need more school.

Environmental Engineering = the only way is more school from what I can see.

I have actually started watching the MIT Online course for Differential Calculus. Can you guess what it starts with?  DERIVATIVES!! Okay, so I might miss math a bit. I haven’t had to actually remember any of my maths or statistics for quite some time because the jobs I have taken didn’t need those skills.

 

Time to go watch some Calculus classes and see if I still want to keep going down the road of a career change.

Creativity

The urge to create is sometimes like a mosquito bite — you don’t know when it happened but all of a sudden it is a raw itch that you can’t ignore. Although creativity is far more pleasant than a mosquito bite, it is also something that if you don’t listen to when it’s nagging will leave you feeling like you missed out on some amazing brain fireworks. It’s that, “You know, I was going to do… this thing… now… what was it?”

Recently I wrote a letter to my uncle. Nothing remarkable there right? Except this was a real letter with pen and ink and the pen in question was a fountain pen — it’s part of our deal for writing letters to each other. If you are going to have a pen pal, it is sometimes vital to find the right writing instrument for the job. I have several fountain pens — two are the “under $20” variety and I have used them on any kind of paper. They don’t dance across the paper in smooth swirls and dips like a recently acquired pen. I also really like that the newer pen only has a bladder, not a “it can take cartridges or bottled ink.” It changes the feel of the pen and how I interact with it. This one has a metal ‘button’ you press to fill the bladder. Another pen, a gift from my dad a few years ago, has you twist the end of the pen to fill the bladder. None of these pens are ‘works of art’ or something you’d want to insure — goodness knows what I would do with a $1500 pen!!

I guess this comes down to you have to acquire the tool that allows you to reach your potential. It’s like using a pair of “whatever was on sale” running shoes and then finally going out for a pair or real running shoes that make your feet happy the second they’re tied on. There was a guy who worked at a running store who flat out refused to sell you a pair of shoes unless you were almost instantly comfortable in your shoes. This was to guarantee a reduced chance of injury due to a poor fit in the shoe and also to help you understand that your feet do not care about the color scheme or your shoes. I tried on just about every shoe in the store and finally had to go with a trail running shoe that we had the preconceived notion would be a poor choice for what I wanted to do. My feet didn’t care, they knew what they wanted and that was how it was going to be.

When your tool challenges you to push further and achiever more, you are building those skills to achieve a goal that might have seemed unattainable and is now visible on the horizon.

 

New Year to Reboot

Well, it’s a New Year and also a 3 day weekend. I just got back from an 8 day vacation on the East Coast and can’t wait to go through those photos and see what kind of memories I captured. So far the highlight for me was going through family photos with my Uncle and then seeing my dad with his best friend from childhood — they were neighbors. I can only hope that when I am up there in years I will still be super close with my neighborhood best friends and we can have hilarious moments remembering the past.

Anyways, today has been a day of cleaning. One thing I will say about this desert weather is that you can open the windows and let in the fresh air rather than wanting to curl up by a fireplace and read a book.

To be rather gross, our kitchen smells like several things rotted to the point of possibly coming back to life as a more simple organism (mmm, mold).  So I have tossed EVERYTHING in our fridge that has expired or was in the goo-stage (found some carrots in a plastic bag that were just orangey-brown liquid and some salad dressing that expired last summer). I’ve also washed all.the.dishes. that had accumulated in or near the sink and around the house.

Poor pup is horrified by all of this cleaning action. He’s curled up in a ball on the couch sleeping away his stress. What a life for a pup. It’s only going to get worse Little Dude — I’m busting out the vacuum cleaner once I put away the dried dishes.

Here’s to a cleaner New Year with more responsible recycling and reusing.

To Kill A Mockingbird moment

This reminds me of a lot of mindsets I’ve heard recently. . . in the past year.  To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and takes place in a small town in Alabama.  Now, let me know if any of this sounds like something you might have heard in the past few months.  Also, apologies if any of the language offends, it is a direct quote from the book.

“Well how to you know we ain’t Negroes?”

“Uncle Jack Finch says we really don’t know. He says as far as he can trace back the FInches we ain’t, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin’ the Old Testament”

“Well if we came out durin’ the Old Testament it’s too long ago to matter.”

“That’s what I thought,” said Jem, “but around here once you have a drop of Negro blood, that makes you all black. . .  .”

I urge everyone and anyone to pick up that book and read it. It gives you such a view into a past that many of us never knew or experienced and for those that did, perhaps the book triggers some memories both pleasant and unpleasant.  I do not think you need to be on one side of the fence or the other to feel the emotions and stories being told in this book, although reactions will differ across the board.

I remember my mom suggesting I read this book when I was a lot younger. I didn’t pick it up until some point in high school and was blown away with the messages and images it conveyed. We watched the movie in one of my classes and I got a very different vibe than the one from the book. Race, religion and social etiquette play such HUGE rolls in this book, but also growing up and learning how to see the world around you rather than just the next game or glass of lemonade.

Education without realizing what a gift you’ve been given is the strongest message I see throughout the book.

Kids…

There is an ADORABLE pup at our dog park. He is a pit bull/bull mastiff mix and I swear his head is just his jaws with little ears on top. He’s Pac-Man with fur and a body. And what a total sweetie of loose skin and drool!!!

Anyways today there was a little boy running around the park. . . which of course Little Dude went BONKERS for. He wants to jump on anyone running and this tends to mean a lot of kids get knocked down. Now, this kid was smart enough to have learned that if a dog comes leaping and woofing at you, you need to stop running and acknowledge the dog. Little Dude literally LEAPT past the kid in a, “Oh I was doing this anyways” kind of way and then went on to sniff other things. I thanked the kid and he said, “It’s not a problem.”  Like, this was the easiest thing in the world for him.  He was a great kid.

So back to Pac-Man Pup — this little guy came galumphing over towards me and the little boy as he was greeting EVERYONE if they called his name.  So I told the kid that, ‘Hey, he might get to be as tall as your shoulders one day.’ The little boy’s jaw dropped and his eyes got really big and he looked up at me saying, in total disbelief, “He isn’t… old?!?!”  “Nope, he’s about 6 months old.”  “I thought…. I thought.. he had to … he can’t get any bigger!!!!”  Hahaha, sorry kid, that’s a 60+ lb puppy and he’s only going to get beefier.

Boggling the minds of kids. I do so enjoy it.

In other happy news, Little Dude left the kid alone after chasing him a few times and actually avoided him once he realized he couldn’t scare him with the woofing and leaping. We need more kids like that so I can de-sensitize this pup to children. Strollers and scooters and other wheel-based-travel still freaks him out, but baby steps. . .