Thanksgiving 2017

thanksgiving 5It was asked of us at our Thanksgiving table this year, “Tell something/someone specific you are thankful for.”

It was easy for me. I had a cancerous kidney removed three months ago. I didn’t know for sure it was cancer until it was removed and the pathology report came back. I am thankful to be here and healed.

Before, during and after my hospitalization, I felt the love from far and near. I was taken care of with whatever need I, along with my hubby, might have, even before being asked. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my church – oh my, I still feel the love! It’s overwhelming! My dear hubby stepped up in any and every way he could, way beyond his comfort level.thanksgiving 1

I posted three different times prior explaining my story which began in April – the week before Easter. You can read about it here:

Three Weeks

That Dreaded MRI

Unnecessary Parts?

To see my grown children actually “mother” me was something I’ll never forget. I was so proud – not only of their maturity but of their love and knowhow. Of course, they both have four kids each so have had lots of practice! 😊

To be humbled by my physical self – poorly at the time, and still not at 100% – and to ask for and accept help, is not my normal mindset.

As for my mental self, well, let’s just say that the anesthesia one receives during surgery lasts a long, long time! I’m still not sure I’m thinking straight. 😊

About five days after the surgery, my surgeon called. I began speaking before he did, wanting him to up my pain meds. I was in a bad way! When I finally let him talk, he began with, “I have your pathology report back and it’s very unusual. . .” Thankfully my daughter was listening in because after he agreed to up my pain meds, I pretty much stopped listening.

The “very unusual” part of his message was that I had two cancerous tumors in my kidney – one quite large. But the real clincher was that each tumor contained a different type of cancer!

The essential point and most important was it was all removed. No chemo or radiation necessary.

We already knew of two tumors present. The MRI was clear on that point. And I already knew that was unusual. Why? Because I googled it! Did you know there are forums for just about everything on the internet? Fascinating! I compared pain levels, size of tumors, types of cancer, etc. Never once did I find a comment about one having two tumors, let alone two different types of cancers.

This all began with a trip to the ER in April for a pain on the left side which went away. The CT scan led us to check further on the right side where the kidney lesions in question showed themselves. It was not a fluke. It was God!

A month or so later, I was in communication with my primary doctor. Since my surgery was in a hospital in a different network than my primary, she hadn’t yet received my reports. I mentioned that I had two different types of cancerous tumors. She too commented that it was quite unusual. Later when I had an appointment in her office, she shared that in her entire practice, which began in 1990, she had never heard of this.

As time passed, those comments began to roll around in my mind. So, I asked my surgeon directly using the medical portal (I love those!).

“I met with my general doctor last week for a routine visit. She said she had never heard of a kidney with 2 different cancers in it. I wondered if you had. I know you said it was unusual, so I wondered just how rare it is? Thank you!”

He responded,
“It is quite rare. Having more than one tumor in the kidney occurs in about 3% of people with kidney cancer. Having two different types of cancer in the same kidney is even more rare . . .”

I’m famous! “😊

Seriously, I’m not sure what to do with that information. Nothing except to thank God again for His arms around me and again be amazed at His work!

Someone mentioned that now I was a cancer survivor. I disagree to the point that I do not have to deal with chemo or radiation or other means to kill the disease that so many must be subject to. I didn’t have to think about it and the “what if’s” day in and day out for months or even years. In fact, the word “cancer” was never mentioned until the surgeon called that day – five days after the infected kidney was removed. The terms, “areas of concern” and “suspicious lesions” were used, but never “cancer.” I believe that’s a psychological ploy because we all knew the possibilities.

I don’t feel like a cancer survivor because I didn’t know I had cancer until I didn’t!

But everyday I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness and thankfulness to God, my hubby, my family, my neighbors, and my friends who took care of me. I look forward to opportunities to pass it forward.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:7

thanksgiving 2

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Blue-Bellies and Gray-Backs*

pj,your friend

Joseph P. YoungThis is National Military Appreciation Month.

I’d like to take the opportunity to offer my thanks and appreciation to all those serving and who have served.

Pictured here is my grandmother’s great-uncle. He was a Corporal serving in the Civil War, representing the Union, in the 13th Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry. The story goes that he lost his arm during the war.

Again, I’m thankful to all who served currently and long, long ago.

God bless America.

*Blue-Bellies: Union soldiers/Gray-Backs: Confederate soldiers

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Her Very Own Halloween Gospel

Written 3 years ago. She’s still quite active and well today at 95 years old! ❤

pj,your friend

IMG_7906Life started badly for Teddy.

Losing her mother during her own childbirth and having her father just a year later abandon her; Teddy was raised by her grandmother, maiden aunt and bachelor uncle (brother and sister).

Teddy’s aunt was of the legalistic Christian variety while her uncle did not darken the door of the church, so obviously there were mixed messages growing up. Teddy always accompanied her aunt to church and basically accepted what was preached.

As a teenager she attended Pinebrook Camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. She again heard the gospel and knew she had to respond. Surrounded by campers and counselors at the evening campfire, she went forward to publicly accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. Teddy repented of her sins as best she knew how, and she never looked back. Sorting out what she had been taught and listening to the Holy Spirit within her…

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Trisha

Today is Trisha’s birthday. She would have been 68 years old. I still cannot believe she’s gone. It’s a good day to repost this. I’ll always love and miss you, Trisha! ❤

pj,your friend

My dearest friend Trisha died today.

She was 67 years old.

While she was gardening (a favorite pastime) she experienced a stroke. The medical staff could not save her. I’m certain she’s in Heaven now but those of us on earth who she left are devastated.

trisha late 1970’s, home for a visit

If I had a sister, I could not love her more than I love Trisha.

As I entered third grade in a new neighborhood and a new school, Trisha and her family moved in next door. She started second grade. That was 60+ years ago. She went to a different school and a different church than I did. I had two older brothers. She had two older brothers – and 9 (NINE) younger siblings!

Our respective parents lived in those houses way after Trisha and I each married and moved away. It was our home base. Her house…

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Excerpt #4 ‘Papa, Where Are You?’

halloween

I find it fitting as Halloween approaches to share an excerpt of the first of many Halloween referrals mentioned in ‘Papa, Where Are You?’

When Papa bounded through the front door, Julie and I ran down the stairs to him with our arms outstretched. He scooped us up and planted kisses on our cheeks.
I was so happy to see Papa take Mama to the hospital to have the baby, I forgot it was Halloween until Uncle Albert ambled down the stairs, ready to take Julie and me out for trick-or-treating.
We kissed Mama and Papa good-bye, put on our costumes, then flew out the door with Uncle Albert.
The harvest moon, as Uncle Albert called it, dispelled the darkness on the unseasonably warm evening. No need for a sweater to cover up our special costumes!  . . .

As the group of us danced down the street, in character, joining a sea of clowns and princesses and pirates, the adults gathered together at every long driveway, keeping a watchful eye on their charges as we ran up to knock on each front door. Julie stayed close to me the whole evening. Having only been in this town for a couple of months, she was still wary around strangers.
But everyone, young and old alike, was in a festive mood. It was like a great big block party.
After a fruitful and fun evening, Uncle Albert walked us up our long circular driveway. Julie and I couldn’t wait to empty our baskets and see what kind of goodies we’d collected.
When we rushed through the door, Grandmother was sitting in the parlor, a solemn expression on her face. The three of us stopped in our tracks. Something was terribly wrong.”

To read more, click on one of the buttons above to order your copy,

paperback or digital.

. . . and Happy Halloween! 

Unnecessary Parts?

During an interesting discussion recently, someone pointed out that I had pretty much been separated from most of my unnecessary bodily parts, those being tonsils, appendix, wisdom teeth, gallbladder, and uterus (after delivering two of the best kids in the world 😊).

As I recall all those events, I’m reminded of a lot of upheaval surrounding them. None were easy. All were unique experiences.

In third grade, my tonsils came out. I continually had sore throats and swollen glands so tonsilfinally the decision was made to remove those tonsils and, while they were in there, my adenoids. (What the heck is an adenoid anyway?) I remember the operating room – everyone and everything covered in green. This lady is putting something over my nose and mouth and telling me to breath and count backwards from 100. I began – 100, 99 . . . Ether took over. (Is that even legal anymore?) You remember the Bill Cosby sketch about him having his tonsils taken out? He was promised ice cream? Yep. Me too. But the throat hurt so very much, I didn’t even want to look at ice cream. It just didn’t seem fair to an eight-year old.

In ninth grade, it was my appendix. My BFF told a joke and made me laugh – the kind that one keeps laughing so much, causing one’s side to hurt. That hurt didn’t go away. A couple of days later the doctor decided to do exploratory surgery. I’m not sure it was appendixnecessary but, while looking around, they took out my appendix. I do have to admit though; the pain went away. In those days (a long, long time ago) I had stitches, temporarily held together by metal clamps. After six days in the hospital – SIX DAYS – the doctor said I was going home. He proceeded to cut off those metal clamps and told me to get up and get dressed. He and my mother went into the hall to wait. I stood up and immediately fainted. Fortunately, I landed on the bed. My roommate screamed for the doctor. This delayed my release for a few hours.

As a freshman in college, I was scheduled for wisdom teeth extraction during Spring wisdom teethBreak. This seems common at that age. Of course, mine were impacted and – again, in those days – I had an overnight stay in the hospital for the procedure. When I woke up, both corners of my mouth were slightly torn and there was a heaviness in my chest. I’m not sure but I could picture the doctor kneeling on my chest aiming pliers towards my mouth.

In my early thirties, I had a hysterectomy. This truly was the easiest – now using the laparoscopic technique.hysterectomy pic

Twelve years ago, in my mid-fifties, I began experiencing indigestion/ heartburn. This was new for me and began happening frequently, but it always went away. One day, six months after this began, I had a bout that didn’t go away. It became so bad that I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack. Instead of calling 911, I called hubby who was working 2 miles away. He came home and took me to the ER. I remember thinking – and I can visualize exactly where I was enroute – that I was ok with dying because I looked forward to being in Heaven with my Savior. But I silently prayed to God that I would not die while hubby was driving!

If you’ve ever been to an ER, you’ll remember seeing signs all over, “If you are having chest pains, inform the nurse immediately.” I did just that and was ushered in. Unfortunately, it was full so I was on a gurney in the hall of the ER. A mean old nurse, who I assume had much experience with fakers, pretty much didn’t believe me. But she did give me nitroglycerin and left to check my records. Her change of demeanor was amazing when she returned. I believe she checked and noted I had never been to an ER and had never reported chest pain anywhere. So now she believed me. But the nitro didn’t relieve my symptoms. I don’t remember all the tests that were performed but I do remember part of the heart cath. Lying there awake while watching on a screen a doctor insert something into my heart. He told me that my heart was as healthy as a teenager. (The only good news of the day).

After more tests, I was admitted. A surgeon was called and we waited and waited and waited. I was in such pain and not much was helping. At some point, I was given something to eat. When I was told the surgeons name who we were waiting for, it rang a bell. I didn’t know him personally but hubby did (from my church!) So, I told the nurse to page him again and to specifically mention my name. Sometimes it really is “who you know”! The surgeon apologetically showed up soon after. More tests were ordered and it was decided my gall bladder needed to come out. BUT because someone had given me something to eat, we needed to wait till morning. It was a very long night.

The doc determined he could probably go at it with laparoscopy which relieved me as I had experienced that with my previous surgery. I knew I’d be home in a day or two.

As it turned out, yes it was done laparoscopically but I did not go home anytime soon.

I still had major pain and more tests were ordered.kidney 2

The ER we went to was picked because my doctor was connected to that hospital. However, I found out she did not make hospital calls. She had a co-worker do that. One who I had never met. AND my surgeon went on a scheduled vacation the very next day after surgery. His partner was now on duty.

AND they disagreed. One thought I had developed pneumonia. The other said no.
I was in the hospital for SIX days!!!

I went home still in pain and was to see the original surgeon in 10 days. That dang pain finally subsided by then. We never really knew the cause.
That was twelve years ago – still way too vivid in my memory.

At least it’s always a good reason for new pjs and a bathrobe! 😊

Up next? er Out next?

A kidney.

Prayers greatly appreciated.

To be continued . . .

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Funny Story

cloudPlane rides, as you know if you’re a long-term follower of this blog, don’t go over well with me. I’ve learned, however, to take my meds ½ hour before boarding and that seems to do the trick.

Recently, I was on four different planes in a 24-hour period. (I survived! 😊)

As I settled into my seat on a full plane, I pulled out my book ‘Papa, Where Are You?’. I was giving a book talk the following week and always desire to refresh myself with the points I may choose to share.new book cover

Of course, I always hope that a seatmate may show an interest in what I’m reading so I could do a bit of marketing on the spot.

I was sitting on the aisle and the gal in the middle seat seemed to be glancing my way at my book. I was hopeful but not sure how to approach this.

“I have that book!” she says. What???
“I wrote this book.” I responded. What???

I turned it over and showed her my picture.

me for book cover

She told me she hadn’t read it yet but her mother had just given it to her and said she’d really enjoy it.

We were both incredulous.

She went further by saying that her parents had recently moved to St. Louis from Chicago because the closest family was here. They didn’t really know anyone other than family. Then in their retirement community, some nice lady sold them my book. Hmmm. Sounded a bit familiar.

I asked if by any chance they are in a retirement community near me, naming it. Yes, that’s the one. It’s also the one my mother lives in – that nice lady! 😊

Ha!

My new friend shared a bit more about her folks and something else rang a bell.

“Is your father retired military?” I asked.
“Why yes he is.” She exclaimed.

I laughed as I explained that my husband is retired military also and my mother has been wanting us to have dinner with her some night along with your folks.

My new friend asked how sales were going. I explained that as a self-published author, it’s all on me so, I remind myself often, “slow and steady, one book sale at a time.”

I’m looking forward to seeing her again!

*****
Last week, my mother was about to get on the elevator at her place. A young lady was getting on behind her carrying a bunch of flowers. As my mother does with everyone she meets, she struck up a conversation.

“Nice flowers.”
“Thank you. They’re for my mother.”
“Who’s your mother?”

You can guess the rest. My mother just met my seatmate.

BookCoverPreview

That Dreaded MRI

The fact that I was informed that this time I couldn’t have an open MRI just confounded the issue. The open one was a challenge for me and my claustrophobia, but a closed one? Well, I’d never be ready. But there was no other option.

mriThe day of, I had been given a valium and instructed to take it one hour before the procedure. I did as instructed and arrived 45 minutes early (also as directed) to fill out the obligatory paperwork. I then sat down to wait, hoping the valium would be working any minute.

Not 5 minutes later I was called in. Hoping there would be about another 30 minutes of prep, I followed. Oh no, they were running ahead of schedule and were ready for me. That tightness in my chest I’m too familiar with commenced as I explained I needed to wait another 30 minutes for the valium to kick in.

The two attendants were kind as one told me usually valium works within 30 minutes. I was doubtful. The gals gave me a trial run through. As I lay on the table/bed, they slid me in. I lasted 2 seconds. They slid me out and we waited 5 minutes or so. As they hooked up my IV and offered music, I was pleasantly surprised. The other MRI at another facility didn’t have the capability of using music. Immediately I was listening to Laura Story singing ‘Blessings’. Quite appropriate for the occasion. headphones

The techs, thinking surely, I must be ready now, handed me the ‘panic button’(for emergencies only) and slid me in. Within 5 seconds, I panicked and hit that button. They pulled me out. “Please,” I begged sheepishly, “Give me 10 more minutes.” I knew by then the hour would be up and was hoping I had grown a backbone by then. The gals had no choice but to agree and left me to my own thoughts (and prayers.)

Of course, I came up with another delay as they returned. “It’s not critical,” I began. “But would it be too much of a deal for me to go to the bathroom first?” I was serious because there was this thing, part of the MRI, that had been resting on my stomach and I knew I’d have another problem if not taken care of.

I returned from the bathroom with a new attitude, no doubt partly from the valium finely taking effect, but also prayers – my own as well as family and friends who knew what a wuss I was. 😊

“Let’s get this done!” I said with a new feeling of confidence. Having already been told the test would last approximately 35 minutes, I calculated each song would last about 3.5 minutes = 10 songs. As they slid me in once again, I began counting on my fingers each song as it finished.

At nine songs, all was completed.

Piece of cake! 😊
panic verse

For the birds . . .

. . . and apparently the squirrels, the raccoons, the bees, the ants, the deer, and heaven knows who/what else.

It used to be such a joy to watch my birds feed: two hummingbirds and a finch feeder off the deck out back and one “squirrel proof” feeder out front for the big guys.

There is one chair in my living room where I can sit and see all of them. I don’t get much else done when I sit in that chair, but what a delight!

That is until last summer when my hummingbird feeders were empty, broken and spilled on the deck in the morning. I was stumped until one evening I was about to step racoonout on the deck when I saw this LARGE animal out there. Of feeder on deckcourse,

I screamed like a girl 😊 and it disappeared. At first, I thought it was a cat – the largest I’d ever seen. But then I thought about it. My deck is a second-floor deck without steps leading up to it. That means animals must climb straight up a post. So, I googled it. Yep. A raccoon was going after the hummingbird nectar. I was horrified, and not a little impressed, that it could accomplish that feat. After that, I had to bring in the feeders each night. Sigh.

Once I noticed a swarm of bees around one of the hummers feeders. They overtook it. Again, horrified. I read what to do but did the opposite. I didn’t want to poison the hummers but I freaked and felt I needed to act immediately. The hose didn’t work so I purchased one of those sprays that you can stand 20 feet away and zap them. I picked the middle of a very hot day when the hummers aren’t around much and I began to zap. It was scary. It took a while. It worked. When I was pretty sure I had zapped them all, I grabbed the feeder and promptly washed and washed it. I know, I know. I apologize. I shouldn’t be killing bees. Forgive me. I panicked!

The finch feeder is pretty much squirrel proof but it didn’t keep him from trying. It was comical until this year he (the squirrel) realized that if he got up on the railing and squirrel2stretched really really far, he could reach the hummer feeders. And if he tipped them, ever so slightly, the sweet nectar would drip out and not only pour into his mouth but down on the ground. I’m sure the ants were on the ground rounding up all their friends for the nectar party. I determined that particular feeder didn’t have a good seal (duh) so away it went. It doesn’t matter so much since I only ever have one or two hummingbirds, which makes me sad. But it is what it is.

squirrel3When I yell at and chase the squirrel off the deck, he calls my bluff. (kind of like a child. OK exactly like a child) He realizes yelling doesn’t scare him and neither does banging on the window. He’ll skedaddle only if I step out onto the deck. But then this once I got this picture of him hanging over the edge, hoping I’d think he was gone. His tail was the tell. Get it? Tell Tale! 😊

And then there is the front big-bird, squirrel proof feeder. I love having the cardinals, etc. dine there. The squirrel does make the attempt but always fails. I don’t chase him anymore. He’s obviously a slow learner.

But finally, and this is the kicker! I filled the front feeder to the brim one day. The next morning, it was empty! Empty!! I looked down and there were prints all around. The @#%&@ deer found it!

We’ve lived here 18 years and never had a deer problem. So many of my friends are sharing the terrible stories of deer demolishing their gardens, etc. I don’t have any gardens – only ones in pots on the second-story deck. I now apologize to all my friends with their deer woes, for all my silent snickering and eye rolling! 😊

The only flowers I have growing in the ground are large, blooming yellow Stella Dora’s out front and I always enjoy them.

After I noticed the empty bird feeder, I glanced over. Gone! All gone! I ran to the side of the house. Gone.

The deer are closing in.

All this bird feeding used to be fun. Now? Not so much. But I persist.

As for the Stella Dora’s? No solution there.

God says to “consider the lilies. . .” I’d love to, if I could find some!

 

RIP

pj,your friend

ImageMy mother married when she was 19 years old to a young man named Ralph,  three years older.

They knew each other in high school but didn’t begin dating until later.  The day after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Ralph enlisted in the then Army Air Corp.

They married in May the following year, just before he was called to duty.  Mother was with him during part of his training and was there to pin his wings on him when he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in  February 1943.

Mother was pregnant by this time so moved back home with her folks to await the baby’s arrival.  Meanwhile Ralph was sent to California to train on the B-24 Liberator Bombers.

My brother was born in July.  When he was a month old, Ralph was granted a leave and came home to meet his son.

The last time my mother heard from…

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