Friday, July 31, 2009

Flashback Friday: Humbled

Hi, friends.

I’ve had my fingers at the keyboard for what seems like forever, trying to think of something to type to let you all know I’m still here. I never thought that would be such a difficult thing… you know, with me being such a Chatty Cathy and all. One thing I’ve never been accused of is being at a loss for words. :)

But I’m finding that my body being this sick and in this much pain [and this medicated] takes a lot of energy. And apparently brain power. Many have asked what I’m doing to pass the time… what am I reading, watching, listening to? The truth is that I don’t have the energy or physical ability to really do much of anything. Mostly, if I want background noise, I am putting in movies that I love to re-watch so I don’t have to pay attention or think too hard; it’s nice to hear/see something familiar that I can tune in and out of, and sometimes the silence is really best. I have enough stimulation in my body that having everything else quiet is a bit of a relief.

As I lay there, topics flit through my brain that I want to share with you all, but only half of the thoughts/words form the way I want them to and I quickly realize that this is a time for thoughts to be jotted down and not written out. :) Part of that is due to the exhaustion, and it’s coupled with the added element of taking different medications to knock me out when needed.

I think there’s a rule somewhere… it goes something like, “Friends don’t let friends blog while heavily medicated…

If that isn’t a rule, I’m instating it as one now. Trust me, you all will thank me for it. And I’m sure at some point I’ll walk a fine line with that one over the next few months of this, and you’ll all get a good laugh out of whatever I write. :)

Anyway, the one thing I can tell you that is not fuzzy in my mind is that this experience has been humbling to me in so many ways. Ways in which I’m sure I’ll blog about in time… not the least of which is that I am so humbled by all of you.

Of course, in my tired and medicated mind, I think of the word “humbled” and immediately think of the song, “Oh Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble.” And that, in turn, immediately makes me think about nuns and hogs and singing.

To prove to you that those things go together and are not a hallucination from my medications, I’m reposting this Flashback Friday to entertain you today… hope you enjoy.


Flashback Friday: Vacations at Mt. Loretto
[originally posted: December 5, 2008]

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume the majority of you reading this didn't spend your vacation every year in a large convent full of nuns. I have to say I feel a bit sorry for you, because we did and it was fantastic.

Every fall my mom, Grandma Rita and all six of us kids would load up into the station wagon and make the long trek across the state to Dubuque, where the Mother House (Mt. Loretto) is located. My dad and my Grandpa Gerald would be following in the pickup hauling behind it a hog roaster and a freshly butchered hog to feed the nuns.

I can hear you laughing in disbelief... but I'm serious. And I have the photos to prove it.

My Aunt Janella was a PBVM (Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and she was living at Mt. Loretto at the time, so this was our chance to visit her and spend some time with all of the Sisters. And let me tell you, we had the run of the place. When I was little one of the nuns would offer to take me for my nap (usually Sr. Raeleen), and instead of laying down we'd sneak to the craft room and paint figurines or sculpt clay or make all sorts of fun little art projects. We'd play hide and seek and ride the elevators and have sing-along sessions. I like to think of it as my own little version of sleep away camp, only my parents were there, too.

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As you can see, they tried to groom me early for religious life (1976)

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Me at age 3, just trying to be helpful...

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Back:Grandma Rita, Sr. Joy (I think that's her name), Laura, Mom
Front: Steve, Janella, Me, Jim, Janette (Honestly, I mainly included this photo because I think it shows that Steve totally fits his nickname, Hoody. Doesn't he look like a "Hoody" in this photo?)

The facilities at Mt. Loretto were so much fun. They had a gymnasium where we could run around and play volleyball or basketball, and it's where I first learned of wolleyball, which is like volleyball but the ball remains in play off the wall.

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In the gym, working on my dream of being the next Mary Lou Retton.

One of my favorite things to do during the week was hang out with Sr. Stephen. I would help her clean the chapel and dust the pews, and then we would go into a separate room where they made their own hosts. The communion host would come in a large, flat sheet and we would have little hand punchers that would punch out the hosts into little circles with a cross pressed into the middle. (Much like scrapbook punches, now that I think about it.)

After we would finish making the hosts we would put the leftover scraps into a bag and walk down to the lake, get in the rowboat and feed the ducks. It was always so quiet and peaceful out on the water, and we were always there during the fall of the year so the air was crisp and the trees would have turned their mighty colors. It was a perfect example of work and reward... showing me that at the end of the day, the scraps we're left with can become something that can still nourish.

And the main event of the week: the hog roast.

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This particular year we were there on Halloween, and some of the nuns helped me with my costume to trick or treat. FYI: lipstick stains your cheeks and it doesn't come off for days. Trust me.

During one night of our stay, there would be a celebration with all of the nuns... we'd roast a hog and gather in the dining hall for a feast. And for entertainment? The six of us kids would at some point get up to the microphone and sing for everyone. Yes, we were the Von Trapp family without the fear of German invasion.

Our best song was, "Oh Lord, It's Hard to be Humble" and we sang it with enthusiasm. Because the microphone was raised up higher on the stand and I was so much shorter than everyone else, Sr. Martin would take the microphone after we sang and bring it to my level to see if there was anything I would like to say since I couldn't reach.

Foolish woman. Of course I had something to say. It was usually my standard joke that I told at my grandparents' card parties about the Lazy Family that was too tired to go out and see what was wrong with the dog (you have to hear it to fully appreciate it)... and since then I've never met a microphone I didn't like.

So, we were unorthodox. We didn't go to Disneyland. But we had more fun, more life experiences and more fulfilling moments on our trips to Mt. Loretto than most people could hope for. And I wouldn't trade a moment of it for the world.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I so believe in the power of prayer, but I have never been comfortable asking for it from people. I’m actually never comfortable asking for anything, really, which I’m sure can be frustrating for the people around me. I think it’s that asking for help always garners attention that I immediately feel uncomfortable about… like I instantly want to apologize for turning people in my direction instead of their own lives. I hate the idea of my life being worrisome or a burden on others.

I’m not going to lie… I’m so glad I threw that out the window this week.

The past few days you all have overwhelmed me so much with your generosity. Your time, your prayers, your love and concern. Overwhelmed is the only word I can come up with. I am feeling isolated in my body right now, but I have never felt less alone in my entire life.

Physically, this is continuing to be a painful process. Everyone has been so helpful and my nurses have been great. I’m going to stay on the reduction schedule since there doesn’t seem to be a way to do this that will be any easier, but they are in process of changing me to some stronger pain meds that will hopefully ease this a little bit as we keep going.

Here’s what I can tell you, though… while my body is not enjoying this [that may be the understatement of the century, I realize], I am fine. I am not sad or scared or frustrated or any of those things… I’m simply resolved to do this, and I credit all of that to your prayers and support. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. I’ve never been so glad in my life that I threw my pride or whatever it is out the window and asked for you all to be here with me as I started this. I really can’t thank you enough.

Just know that while I’m hanging out between the rock and the hard place, I’m doing ok. Like all things, this rock is just a stepping stone. And I’m just taking it one step at a time.

stepping stones button

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Rock And A Hard Place

I’m not usually afraid of the unknown. I realize I can’t anticipate or prepare for something when I have no idea what may be coming around the corner.

The problem arises when I know what’s coming, and there’s still nothing I can do to prepare for it… yet I know enough to anticipate it.

Confused yet? Me, too.

Here’s the thing. As each day has passed this week, I’ve gotten sicker. I’ve gotten more weak, more dizzy, more tired, more nauseous, more pain, more everything. The past two days I have struggled just to sit up and stay awake. What this tells me is that the doctors are right… I have got to get off these steroids or the Cushing’s will keep getting worse.

That’s the rock. Here comes the hard place.

The last time I tried a small reduction of the steroids, I woke up the next morning in more pain than I knew how to handle. It was ripples of sharp pains going down my legs from my hips to my toes, with my hips, knees and ankles feeling like someone was tightening them with a vice. I was stuck in bed, unable to walk or move for about three hours while I waited for the medications to kick in. That day I increased my steroids back up to normal, and despite the increase I still woke up the next morning and experienced the same pain, only it lasted five hours. Yes, five hours of biting-a-pillow kind of pain.

So… you see my dilemma. I have to get off the steroids or I keep getting sicker. When I try to go off the steroids, the pain is insane. This is where I wish it was unknown, because right now I can’t help but anticipate something I know I can’t do anything about.

Tomorrow [Sunday] I’m going to start a steroid reduction. And it’s a bigger reduction than the last one I tried. And unlike last time, at some point I have to bite the bullet and stay at the reduced dosage if I’m ever going to get off of these things. The part I know is what it will be like the first day or two because I’ve already been through that a couple of times. However, since I’ve never stuck it out past that point, the unknown is what will happen when I don’t increase the steroid dosage back up.

Rock, let me introduce you to Hard Place. We’re all about to become very good friends.

There’s a part of me that is resolved and ready to just get on with this. And there’s a part of me that would run far away if I could. But that’s the thing about illness… there’s nowhere to run. There’s no taking a break or a breather or a vacation. There’s only walking straight ahead into the storm and trusting that God will find a way to get me to the other side of it.

So, not to be overly dramatic or anything, but tomorrow I’m walking head on into the storm. And while I know you all pray for me all the time, and I am so grateful for that, this is the first time I’m asking for you all to pray for me. I don’t think the pain should get too bad until Monday, but after that I have no idea what will happen or how we’ll proceed. I have home nursing at my disposal, but mostly I just need for my doctors to know what’s best for me and I need to have the strength and fortitude to do what needs to be done, no matter how painful or scary it is.

I’ll be honest… I hate blogging about this. I hate telling you the gory details and I hate that this affects anyone’s life but my own. But more than one person has asked for more real information than what candy bar I don’t like, so I promise not to give you fluff for awhile and will do my best to let you know how it’s going when I can.

Thanks for being there, people. I know I’m so very lucky to have you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blog Peep Questions: Round 6

Here’s how my blogging process has gone:

I lay on the couch thinking about blogging and decide, “I should do a Blog Peep Questions post. That wouldn’t be too hard.”

And then I sit up, look through some questions and try to figure out which ones to answer, get tired at the thought of it and lay back down.

The next day I repeat the process.

Today I said to myself, “Self, [yep, that’s what I called myself] you don’t have to answer a million questions in one post. Maybe just give them a question here and there to check in.”

WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!!!! I’m blaming the meds for it taking so long to realize that was a valid solution. Or maybe I really am just that slow… :) Yeah, let’s blame the meds. Cool? Thanks.

blog peeps logo

We’ll start today with something simple:

If you could eliminate one candy bar from the world, what would you destroy?

Easiest question ever: Almond Joy candy bars could not be more disgusting. First… I can’t stand coconut. Add an almond to it and you’ve put me over the top. Not to mention they use dark chocolate and I prefer milk chocolate… so there’s not one single thing about the Almond Joy candy bar I enjoy.

And people, I’m on steroids. There is not a food out there that doesn’t sound good to me.

Now, despite the fact that no one asked me, I will tell you that I think the Whatchamacallit is the most under-rated candy bar out there. While it’s not my absolute favorite or anything, I don’t think it gets near enough exposure:

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You get chocolate, caramel and a nice crispy, crunchy texture. Trust me. Try one today. Twizzlers aren’t the only thing that makes mouths happy. :)

[Oh, and feel free to leave more questions in the comment section]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Junk Yard Boys

We lived on an acreage in the country when I was growing up … it was on a blacktop road about six miles out of town. I’ve come to realize, watching my friends’ kids grow up in neighborhoods, how different their experiences are than mine was. When I hear of them running to so-and-so’s house, playing in different backyards, not being sure where they are but yet sure they’re ok… I realize I would be an extremely over-protective mother because I never had that experience.

I always knew where my mom was, she always knew where I was and I only played with my siblings. Well, I tried to play with my siblings. They tried to set me in front of the sprayer on the sink, convince me it was hooked up to a speaker they could hear me through, and then rode off into the sunset without me.

But I digress.

The point is, we didn’t have neighbors to have play dates. Except for the junk yard boys.

About a quarter mile down the road from our farm, there was a junk yard that looked just as your mind would imagine it from a movie. Rusted out cars, half-beaten down fences, overgrown grass and mean old barking dogs that were always kept just a little too far out on their chains. When we’d ride bikes past the opening to the junk yard I’d peddle as fast as I could as my brothers exclaimed those dogs were going to pull off their chains at any minute. Immediately beyond the dogs was a bridge that my brothers tried to convince me wasn’t very stable and could collapse at any moment. Again, prompting me to peddle as fast as my legs could take me.

I’m thinking my brothers should have thought ahead to the fact that I’ve always loved writing, because I now have a forum to out them on all their shenanigans…

Needless to say, the junk yard could get my imagination going. It didn’t help that the family who lived in a trailer at the junk yard housed two boys who were as rough as the dogs they owned. They didn’t go to our school, but they rode our bus, and in first grade one of them punched me in the stomach because I wouldn’t give him my gum. Pretty obvious why there were no play dates with our one set of neighbors.

Growing up, when anyone would ever utter the phrase, “What are we going to do with you?” my dad’s favorite quip was, “We’re going to throw her in the junk yard!” He always had silly little phrases you could count on as replies, and they have stuck with all of us through the years. I eventually thought it was a funny phrase, but I’m not going to lie… I always had a twinge of nervousness when I was little at the thought of being thrown in that junk yard. Probably helped keep me on the straight and narrow a little bit. :)

I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped myself from uttering the reply, “Just throw me in the junk yard,” in the past week or so, because I’ve heard, “What are we going to do with you?” in many a conversation. I think I’m a pretty uncomplicated person, but apparently that’s to offset the fact that I have a body with a penchant for attracting medical complications.

Feeling worse instead of better wasn’t the direction I was hoping for, but it turns out I’ve developed what is called Cushing’s Syndrome as a complication of the steroids. There’s a whole lot of symptoms and side effects that I won’t bore you with now. We’ll just say I’m feeling quite weak and tired and have been missing from here for more days than I meant to be because of it. I’ll be messing with medication changes and other such fun stuff, but just wanted to let you know I’m still here and kicking. And Riley is still here and being ornery, too, so all is right with the world in that respect.


So if it takes a few extra days for you to hear from me, just know that odds are someone has finally made good on the threat to throw me in the junk yard.

You can come looking for me there. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Missing Me

I’ve been getting quite a few emails asking for an update on how things are going, so I thought it was about time to get a post on here about it. It’s funny… I’ve spent the past year telling you stories and sharing with you about how I’ve dealt with different things in my life pertaining to this disease, but it’s taking some getting used to on my part to tell you how I’m dealing with it as it’s happening.

But I also know there are many of you reading this going through your own health struggles, who can relate and might feel less alone in this. And there are many of you who want to better understand how to deal with situations when you run into people who may be going through those struggles, too. So while I don’t want to turn this blog into some sort of medical journal, I’m going to try to keep giving you the real picture of what illness looks like… along with silly stories about my dog trying to eat my thumb. :)

Although I hate to say it, right now my days fluctuate from being about the same as my last update, to some days being much worse. Physically, it’s a huge struggle that I’m trying to adjust to. I spend the first part of the day trying to work through the pain of steroid side effects in my legs that intensifies overnight, and on the “worse” days it’s a writhing pain that can last many hours and is more intense than I have words for. After that starts to get under control, I then spend the latter part of my day dealing with increased pain from the disease as the day wears on. In between are all the other issues with my lungs, not being able to get much of a voice out and doing breathing treatments. Navigating my way through the increased pain cycle is taking some getting used to, and it will most likely continue as long as we’re dealing with the steroids. Which, as of right now, looks to be a very long time. But I am starting to adjust to the idea of it being a slow process, and am trying to balance rest with the desire to not be resting.

Not that I’m stubborn or impatient or anything… :)

For me, one of the hardest things right now is that I really look sick. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and I have to say that sentiment is dead on. Because right now, my eyes are truly the only thing about myself that I recognize. I have had the experience of “blowing up” on steroids many times before, but never in the way I have this time. It reminds me of when actresses in movies will put on prosthetic fat suits, and you can see where they can pull the skin away from their face and reemerge as themselves from underneath. They are nearly unrecognizable, but yet in there somewhere. I know I am still in here somewhere, but not once have I not been completely shocked by glancing at my reflection. It pierces my heart every single time.

I’ve had people I know who are heavier tell me they know exactly how I feel… but the truth is they can’t. They didn’t go from normal to obese in a matter of weeks. The face they see in the mirror is the same face they have always known. Even pregnant women get many months to grow into their skin, and the weird displacement of the extra steroid weight in my face, neck and stomach make it all the more strange. Even my hair has gotten so soft that it’s starting to lose it’s curl… it’s absolutely amazing the changes medications can make to your body. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever get used to… seeing someone else’s reflection in the mirror or the physical pain of expanding faster than a body can keep up.

But more than all of that, as I said in the beginning, is that I have always been so grateful to not look as sick as I feel. Yes, that can cause it’s own problems, too. When you are sick but don’t look like it, it opens up a door for people to judge more harshly. If you don’t look sick there are unrealistic expectations that are difficult to deal with or explain. But when you don’t look sick, you are also able to escape mentally what you can’t physically. You are able to look in the mirror and see possibility. You are able to be with people without them staring at the neon sign blinking over your head that says, “No denying this woman is feeling miserable…” When you don’t look sick, you get to present yourself however your heart desires. That luxury is gone for me in this moment.

I’ve dealt with eating and body image issues for the greater part of my life, so having this happen to such an extreme degree feels like a pretty cruel twist of fate. As much as it’s a struggle for me, I’m trying to approach it with the whole, It is what it is…” philosophy – I’m trying to joke about it, acknowledge it, deal with my embarrassment of it. Granted, I’m not going to be taking pictures or skyping with people… I have no desire to show anyone this new face I’ve got. But I decided awhile ago that fear has no place in my life, and I’m not about to start letting it back in now. So, while it hurts… while I hate it… while I would change it in a heartbeat if I could… I’m trying to make it just one more part of dealing with the daily grind. I’m choosing to adapt and adjust as best I can.

I know – with all the pain I am dealing with – this should be the least of my worries, but the reality is that it’s a big part of dealing with illness. And just for the record, before all the pep-talks start :) … I know full well it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I know people come in all different shapes and sizes, and that is a beautiful thing. I’m just saying this isn’t my shape. Or my size. Or my face. And sometimes… I just really miss seeing me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Celebrating Life

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let July 14th go by without republishing this, or posting something similar to it. Six years ago today, an amazing little girl completed her life on this earth. Kaitlyn fought a brain tumor for three years, and after eleven years of bringing joy and orneriness and spunk and love to the world, she went home.

Her life and her death changed my life completely. She opened my heart with her smile, she showed me what courage really means, she brought me to her family – who became my family – and allowed me the honor of being a part of celebrating her life, even through her death.

And the only way I know how to make sure she still has that amazing impact on people is to share her with all of you… so the following is what I wrote about her last year. I’d love it if you’d take a moment to read it again today… read it and celebrate with me the life of a great kid who left an imprint on this world that can never be erased.

And smile extra today for her…

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

An Angel Smiling
[originally posted July, 2008]

This is the image I can't get out of my head this week.


Five years ago this past Monday a gorgeous, fun, spirited and happy 11-year-old girl passed away from cancer. Kaitlyn is the oldest daughter of my friends Nick and Kelly, and big sister to their daughter Megan... and this smiley face is the symbol of her life.

I don't know how to explain it when I tell you that such a sad time is one of the most treasured times of my life. So often we experience a death in our lives and want to run away from it; leave it behind so sadness doesn't follow us. But that's not how it was in this case. Heartbreaking, yes. Sad, terribly. But in her struggle with cancer and even in her death, Kaitlyn taught all of us about living more than anyone seven times her age could hope to.

Megan asked me out of the blue a few years ago when it was that I became their friend... and this is one of those rare times I can't pinpoint the moment. Kelly and I became close friends in that year before Kate died, but I really think the week of her death and wake and funeral turned us into family. The kind of friendship where, whether they realized it or not, they were going to be stuck with me for life. But Kaitlyn had that effect on people ... the ability to bring them together. This little girl who put up the fight of her life, who never lost her spunk and looked out for other little kids in the cancer wing, brought a whole world of people together as they all fought along with her.

And she did it all while smiling.

kaitlyn jo up

I'm sure her mom could tell of many times when orneriness was more prevalent than a grin, but only a cool and happy kid would want to rock out to Bon Jovi's It's My Life on her way to Mayo for treatments. Or know all the words to Barenaked Ladies If I Had A Million Dollars. They had fun as a family and it's obvious in every photo you see of her with extended family that they loved each other beyond words.

I had the privilege, along with so many others, to be there with their family at Hospice when Kate died. At different times that day the room was filled with people who loved her... her young friends holding her hand... people gathering around her to pray for her or remind her of stories. And even when crying and reminiscing, there was always a touch of laughter. Because she brought that out in people. Even before she was gone it was obvious we would never think of her without eventually turning to a smile.

I know so much of that week was a blur for her parents, but pretty much every moment of it is seared in my memory. And this week, five years later, I can't help but stop each day and remember where I was. Yesterday, Thursday, was her wake service and today was her funeral. In the days between when she died and the services their house was a revolving door of people, and because their friend Joe and I were singing at the services there was a lot of planning to be done and decisions to be made. And I am so grateful that I got to be a part of it. I didn't know how to make it better for her family, because there is no way to make it better. But we did make it a celebration.

Nick walked into her wake service with a big smiley face balloon, and spoke so eloquently of their girl. He captured her spirit and her joys and her young wisdom that touched everyone. The wake and funeral were beautiful, and at the cemetery there was a warm wind that encircled everyone and made it impossible not to feel the spirit that was there. The sky filled with colorful balloons that were released in her honor, and that night as we all gathered at their home no one wanted to leave. It was like if we stayed long enough, if we didn't let the week come to an end, we wouldn't have to really say goodbye.

But we did leave, and five years later Kate's spirit is just as present as it ever was. And when we talk about her she brings us together as much as she ever did. She lived 11 years on this earth, and that kid truly lived her whole life. She touched people and left a mark. She accomplished what we all are trying to do... she laughed and she loved and she caused trouble and taught lessons. She really lived her life.

And she did it all while smiling.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh, That Dog . . .

Now, I know you’re all going to laugh at me for this… because it’s a well-known fact that I may have the most pampered, loved and spoiled dog in existence. But I feel this nagging guilt about the fact that he doesn’t actually get to be a dog.

You know, he doesn’t get to go on walks and pee on the grass and romp with other dogs. He’s got all this pent-up energy that can’t be run off in the confines of my little condo, which regrettably results in his insatiable desire to mark in the kitchen. Then there’s the fact he’s so hyper-sensitive to my not feeling well that he, instead of me, is on anti-depressants.


As is evidenced in the above photo, he has so morphed into thinking he’s human that he often sits up on the couch like this, mimicking the stature of the rest of us [while demanding belly rubs, of course].

Yep, I’m always trying to think of ways to make him happier as a dog.

I discovered early-on in Riley’s puppyhood that he is what they call an “aggressive chewer.” It wasn’t hard to figure out when I came home one day to discover he’d chewed a 2-inch deep hole in my wall. Not the corner, mind you, where he could get a good angle on it. No… he took his front teeth and gnawed right through the flat drywall.

And then I learned how to spackle.

I tried giving him rawhide bones, only to find out they were too easy for him to chew apart. He would swallow such large chunks of them that he would end up making himself sick. Which required my clean up. Which put an end to the rawhide bones.

Recently, however, I read that compressed rawhide bones were made especially for aggressive chewers… that they couldn’t swallow big pieces and were great to gnaw on and get out that extra pent-up energy. So I ordered them and we gave them a try.


Oh, was Riley a happy dog.


That bone was chewed on front, back and sideways.


He worked and worked until he whittled it down to tiny little pieces.


And then I found out my dog actually has dog instincts! He took those tiny little leftover pieces and dug at my furniture like he was digging a dirt hole in the backyard trying to reach China. He’d root in the crevices of pillows and couch cushions and bury his little bone pieces like they were treasures to be cherished.


And then he would come running over to me, whining for me to follow him, until I would get up and he’d show me his handiwork. Then he’d promptly pounce on his treasure and re-hide them somewhere else… after realizing he’d let his secret hiding place slip.

To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.


Now, still being more human than dog… and after almost six years of training me into submission… he decided to finish this little game by bringing me the small pieces to hold for him while he chewed on each and every last bit of them. They were too small for him to grip in his paws, so he’d lay them in my hands and wait for me to hold them for him … content to chew away.

This past Wednesday I made the mistake of not paying attention while holding onto the small piece of bone. And when my aggressive chewer bit down into the rawhide to rip it apart, he instead ripped apart my thumb.

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He chomped down and his tooth went all the way through my thumbnail, cracked the nail upward and sideways, and punctured so deep into my thumb that the pressure split a hole all the way at the top, meaty part of thumb as well.

It hurt. And OH MY WORD did it bleed.

And it was at that point I realized how absolutely abnormal my life has become when I didn’t even yell, cry, wince or react. I simply pulled my thumb from his mouth [said a swear word I won’t mention here… uttered more incredulously than dramatically] and started cleaning it up. My mom happened to call shortly afterward and she held her breath as I started the conversation with, “You will not believe what I just did…”

It took me a day to decide if I should laugh or cry on top of everything else that’s happening right now… and decided I would just call it an added insult to injury. :) But in the grand scheme of things it isn’t really anything more than a nuisance. It’s clear every time I try to use my thumb to hit the space bar, however, that the universe is really trying to teach me patience!

But at least I can say … it’s never boring around here


Yes, peeps. This is the innocent face that punctured a hole in my thumb.

Considering he is faithfully by my side 24/7 with that endearing look, it took all of 3.2 seconds to forgive him.


But not even this look is going to get me to hold a bone for him ever again. I may be a well-trained pushover, people, but I’m not stupid…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Black Hawk

Before the great couch-switch of 2009, I had some other fun company and household additions as well.

Do you remember when I told you the story of almost forgetting to get my license renewed last year? About how I was in too much pain to drive myself to the DMV, but then totally lied my head off about how disabled I was as I walked in with crutches, for fear they’d make me take a driving test? No? Well you can read about it here. It was also in that post that I acknowledged it was time to sell my car and move on from that part of my life.

And since my nephew Thomas is turning 16 today, they came a few weekends ago to pick up my car for him.


This is my sister Laura with the new driver… aren’t they cute? I can’t even tell you how much I love that family. This picture is also inadvertent proof that I answered this question honestly in my Facebook Interview: If you have friends coming for supper what would you cook? a takeout menu.

[What would I do without Applebee’s Carside-to-Go? At least I made sure they had a car to go fetch it in…]


I sent the camera outside with my sister to take a few shots for me. Here’s my brother-in-law, Jeff, doing his best to act like he knows what he’s looking at. [Just kidding, Jeff!]


And Thomas, just looking cool. The car suits him, don’t you think?


He was trying to decide what to name the car [wonder where he gets that from… naming inanimate objects… *cough* George *cough*] when he noticed the county on my license plate is “Black Hawk” and thought it fit perfectly. Pretty creative, isn’t he?

I also greatly benefitted from their trip to see me… of course the best part was just seeing their faces… but the second best part was that Jeff installed ceiling fans in my red room, piano room and bedroom.



Not to mention pretty.


I’ve always had a problem with the uneven airflow through the condo, with the back rooms staying hot in the summer and getting so cold in the winter that ice has actually formed on the inside of my walls. But that isn’t going to be a problem anymore…


The main reason I wanted the fans, however, is because of the whole I-haven’t-been-able-to-breathe-thing. There’s nothing better when you’re short of breath than putting these fans on high and enjoying the wind tunnel they create.

Heaven, people. Pure heaven.

And did I mention they’re pretty, too? smile_teeth

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

12:34:56 7/8/09

Did you all know about this?

It’s totally random, I know… but I thought it was interesting that today is the only day when all the numbers would line up in order from 1 through 9, at 12:34:56 on 7/8/09.

And because I can’t sleep anyway, I thought I’d record it for you so you wouldn’t miss it:


You’re welcome.

I’m obviously running on empty here… so if you could cut me some slack for being heavily medicated and pretend this was interesting, that would be great!

[I’m working on getting a real post up for you on Thursday… you know, one that includes more words rather than numbers…]


Monday, July 6, 2009

Before and After

My friend Kelly and I have a running joke that I should never say, “That’s my plan.” It gets me in trouble all the time. I’ll look at a situation, find the best possible scenario and make it my plan… and then it all inevitably goes to hell in a hand basket. So now we think about the best possible scenario and decide that it sure would be nice, but declare emphatically that I’m totally not planning on it.

Because if it’s a plan… it’s not happening.

After my whole episode of waking up in the kind of pain that made it so I couldn’t walk, I really believed I had been through the worst of it. I made the mistake of having a plan somewhere in the deepest recesses of my brain of how this latest setback was going to right itself, and was positive I’d be on an upswing in no time.

I’m sure you can guess how that’s been turning out.

This past weekend went swiftly to the aforementioned hell in a hand basket, and I think it’s safe to say Saturday was one of my worst days ever. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say I have no doubt now this is going to be a long road of getting back to my normal self. Or, at the very least, establishing a new normal for myself. Patience and fortitude are going to be my new mantra.

In the midst of all this, I sat here thinking about how grateful I am to have started this blog last year. I really just wanted to see if I still had it in me to write, but now I think it actually took off like it did – and all of you found me here – because I would need this to keep me going in times like these. I would need it to keep me mentally motivated and participating, even when I physically can’t, and even if it is at a different pace.

So, this sporadic schedule of posting is probably going to go on for quite awhile because I’m not making any plans [even in the quiet thoughts of my own head] as to how these next several months are going to go. I know the road I’m on, but I’m still trying to figure out how the heck to walk down it. So I’m going to deal with what comes as it comes, and I’m going to come here to what feels like my reprieve as much as I can to talk to you all. And tell you some stories. And answer questions. And keep myself connected to the outside world. And make sure you don’t forget this nose:


Because really, who could live without that nose?

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And it’s good to remember that in the midst of all of life’s insanity there’s always good stuff, too.

Like the fact that Mom and Dad came for a visit on Friday afternoon, and I put them to work with some heavy lifting. Part of me wanted the couches moved around because of the “different decorating” philosophy I talked about in my last post, but mostly it was because I discovered my flowered couch was a lot more comfortable for me right now. It has one long seat cushion, is more firm and has higher arms to lean against… all of which makes it easier for me to get up and down and is more comfortable for my ribs when I’m sitting up. You’d think cushiony would be better, but I’ve learned it’s not so great to “sink into” furniture.

But I digress… the point here is that I took before and after photos per your request! I have to tell you, it feels like I got all new furniture because the switch makes my house look so different.

Here’s my red room before:


And the red room after:

Riley wasted no time testing out his new couch position:
_MG_7746“Seriously, woman… all this decorating is getting out of hand… will you just leave well enough alone already?”

Here’s the piano room before:

And the piano room after:

And here’s a shot just so it makes sense why I call it the piano room:

I now think I’m officially done redecorating/rearranging, which is probably a good thing. I actually had the thought pass through my mind to paint over my wall of doodles when I get stronger and change that up, but I think I would totally regret that impulse. Best I quit while I’m ahead and just enjoy the comfort of my “new” couch, don’t you think?!?!?

_MG_7747“Change one more thing and I swear I’m leaving you…”

Yep. Riley agrees.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter “D”


Oh man, this was the perfect letter for this week! You won’t believe how easy it was to choose one of your suggestions to work on for the A 2 Z installment … Decorating.

Yes, I know you’re all scratching your heads. I’m barely functioning for a month now and somehow decorating fits perfectly into my life in the midst of it all? Well, you have your ways of coping… and apparently I have decorating.

The first week or so after I had my outing was a rollercoaster. Well, it’s still a rollercoaster, but I’m at least getting used to it being that way now. The first week I was so weak and tired, but the first few doses of steroids made me so fidgety, antsy and unsettled – which is a weird combination. Couple it with the fact that I was looking around my house and realizing I was going to be looking at the exact. same. thing. every. day. forever… and you have a girl who might have been going a little stir crazy.

Stir crazy, but without the ability or energy or air to do anything about it. Not that I let that stop me or anything.

I’m someone who likes to fix things, so when life is completely unfixable I tend to look to something that can be done. I need to give myself the power to accomplish something regardless if it’s important or necessary, simply because doing is better than stewing. [That was totally an accidental rhyme, for the record.]

On one particular day, every time I had to get up off the couch to fetch something or go to the bathroom I would take decorations off my end tables and furniture, set them on George and wheel them into my main living room where I would set the decorations in the middle of the floor. It took all day, but by the time I went to bed that night all the decorations from my piano room, bedroom and red room were in a pile – and my rooms were bare.

I kind of enjoyed it for a minute because apparently, when you can’t breathe very well, having things looking cluttered makes you feel claustrophobic. Mostly, it was just good for my sanity to feel like I was somehow starting fresh.

Which is what I did the next day.

I did the same process, only in reverse. Every time I got up I would wheel George to the stockpile and try to make sure that I put decorations in different rooms than they originally came from… you should so try it sometime. It’s amazing how you don’t appreciate things that you pass by all the time, but see them in a totally different way when moved around. The “re-decorating” part took a couple of days, partially because I was getting more tired as the days went on and partially because I tend to futz about when decorating. I’m still moving little things here and there, probably more for distraction than actual aesthetics, but that’s ok with me.

Mom and Dad are going to be coming for the day on Friday and I think I might even have them switch my couches from one room to another. Not because I think they’ll look better, but because it will look Different. And right now, making things look different is making me sane.

Different Decorating.

It’s the latest in coping mechanisms… I’m sure professionals will be recommending it in no time. smile_wink

a to z

Ok, people… throw me some “E” suggestions for next week in the comment section. And before we go, Riley and his cute shirt that my friend Leslie gave him would like to wish you a Happy Fourth of July!!!!


Don’t forget to “Paws for Independence!”


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Facebook Interview

Hey there, peeps…

Just wanted to check in with you all… I can’t even tell you how I felt when I sat at the computer and read all of your comments this week. It’s absolutely ridiculous how lucky I am to be surrounded by such kind and loving people. So many of you talked about how you feel like we’re friends even though we’ll never meet, and I have to tell you I know exactly how you feel. It’s not always easy for me to tell people about it when things are rough, but I have such a real sense of friendship with all of you that it just didn’t feel right not letting you in this part of my life as well.

I wrote about it for you, but in the end I’m the one who was given so much by your comments. You all help me more than you know. So thank you for that.

Ok, onto today’s post…

I still haven’t written anything new, so this totally makes me feel like I’m cheating on a college paper or something… but here for your reading pleasure is a random questionnaire I took on Facebook when I first joined it a few months ago. I don’t normally do this kind of stuff on Facebook, but I’m kind of glad I did this one so I have something fresh to share with you. :)

Hope you enjoy some random facts, just for fun…

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Do you believe a good life is attainable? Or is it something that is out of our control, i.e. subject to luck etc.
totally attainable, if you choose to love the life you have

Beach or mountain?

Left-handed or right-handed?

Close your eyes for a moment, who pops into your head?
Nicole and the twins [I keep forgetting to ask her if it’s ok to show them on the blog or not… people, they are SO CUTE.]

Do you say "I love you" in the relationship?
if I love the person then I say it all the time

Aliens have landed and selected you to visit their home planet. Do you go with them?

Describe your perfect Sunday morning?
I loved my old routine of singing at church and then eating at Panera with my friend Kelly and her family

If you could be successful at any job in the world, what would that job be?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
my impulse is to say Hawaii [even though I’ve never been there], but anywhere by a lake would be good

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
Riley, then I could figure out why he pees in the kitchen

If you have friends coming for supper what would you cook?
a takeout menu

What makes you cry?
not a lot. I usually only cry if I'm exhausted

What makes you laugh?
my friend Susie… she doesn’t think she’s funny, but she is

If you were an animal in the wild, what would you be?

If you won the lottery, how would you spend your millions?
I'd build a condo that had tons of windows and a skylight so I could feel like I was outside. Then it would be all about setting up trusts for nieces/nephews and charity

If you could travel back in time, what mistake(s) would you want to correct?
some incredibly bad hairstyles

Do you believe that the cup is half empty or half full?
half full

Who was your hero as a child?
bionic woman [I wrote about my obsession here]

What do you do for fun?
be with friends. laugh. drink. eat. tell stories. laugh some more.

Are you an outdoor or an indoor person?
I want to be an outdoor person but am obviously meant to be an indoor person

If you had only six months to live, what would you do first?
start asking people to come visit

What 3 words would your best friend use to describe you?
gives her all [at least I hope she’d say that]

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t have a clue

What are you most proud of in your life?
I'm most proud of the people in my life

Do you own any pets, and if so what do you have?
YES... Riley the wonder dog [he kind of owns me, really]


Do you have any tattoos, and if so what and where?
no, but I'd like one

When do you plan on getting married?

Get the number or give the number?
give the number

How do you feel?
with my fingers [that’s totally my Dad’s favorite line]

What size shoes do you wear?
7.5 or 8

Water or 100% Juice?

Would you rather be hot or cold?

Would you rather lose an arm or a leg?

Favorite Place to Eat?
anywhere that's not my house; probably Montage or Texas Roadhouse

Opera, Musical, Concert, Play, Performance, or Other?

Your favorite Disney Films?
is Mary Poppins or Annie a Disney movie?

Why did the chicken cross the road?
because it has no ability to reason and instinct led it there

Juice and crackers or milk and cookies?
juice with cookies

Favorite fruit?

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Would you rather be blind or deaf?

Define yourself in 3 words...
encourager, friend, empathetic

What is your favorite TV show?
Alias. Best.Show.Ever.

Kill the spider or let it out?
kill it

Walking past a beggar, spare change or ignore?
spare change

Where do you want to travel next?
to my patio. and then to a friend's house.

What would you do if Michael Jackson asked you out?
laugh hysterically [I answered this a few months ago, obviously]

What is your favorite food?
pork chops, mashed potatoes w/milk gravy and corn

Do you read Harry Potter books?
yep… kind of obsessed with them

What is your favorite place?
being at the lake

If you could have one super human power what would you choose?
the power to lose weight at will

Have you had a beer in the last week?

Vitamin Water or Gatorade?
I haven't tried Vitamin Water, but I'm guessing I'd like it over Gatorade.

Flip flops or sandals?

What do you do on Fridays?
write a Flashback Friday blog :)

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Ok, just for fun why don’t you tell me at least one random/interesting thing about you in the comment section … that should keep us entertained for awhile. smile_teeth