Distractions are golden!

Patty and I have been spinning the past few days over this latest turn of events.  As I’ve been saying, Patty’s frustration level has pretty much max’d.  I’ve been frustrated but I’ve also been at my wit’s end over a number of things.

Going back a couple of days… This past Monday, Patty called me when she learned that she was scheduled for a sonogram the following day.  Needless to say she was somewhat upset.  I zipped home to talk with her and reassure her that things were going to be ok.  We talked for a short time then Patty suggested we take a walk.  (As you know she’s starting to train for the Komen walk in November.)   That particular day was very hot with the temperature at our house hovering around 101 degrees!  She suggested we go down to the beach where the temps should be cooler.  As we drove to the beach, which is about a 15 minute drive from our house, Patty suggested that we take the walk  from Torrey Pines State Beach to La Jolla.  She said her sister had made this walk many times and really liked it.  Hey… Sounded good to me!

We were fortunate to find a parking place at the beach and maybe it being a Monday afternoon worked in our favor.  I got out of the car and realized the temperature was in the mid 70’s, so much nicer than inland at our house!  In fact, it was slightly overcast!  Perfect walking weather.  Patty wanted to get in a good six miles, which is in the neighborhood of a 90 minute walk.  We decided we’d walk south on the beach for 45 minutes then turn around and walk 45 minutes back to our car.  The beach wasn’t crowded at all.  We enjoyed watching people in the water, kids making sand castles and the hang gliders floating over Torrey Pines.  We were a good 30 minutes into our walk in an area that was somewhat secluded.  We could see people off in the distance ahead of us.  Suddenly Patty motions towards a man probably 50 yards ahead of us and asked: “Is that man naked?”  I looked and not wearing my glasses responded: “No… I think he’s just wearing a loose sweater!”   Patty looked at me like I was crazy.  We continued our walk.  As we got closer to the man, my eyes were able to focus better…. Yep!  He was naked!  He was walking around and in-between some fairly large boulders.  He wasn’t bothering anyone so we just walked by keeping our eyes forward.  We walked a few more yards and saw a man standing in the ocean in about a foot of water with an easel in front of him painting a seascape… naked!  Ok… he wore a baseball cap and a tank top, but other than that… naked!  Suddenly we were swarmed with nakedness from every angle!  It then dawned on me that we were at the infamous Blacks Beach, one of San Diego’s few nude beaches!  How this happened… I’ll never know!  I looked at my watch and we were now 35 minutes into our walk.  We still had another ten minutes to go until we could turn around.  No big… nudists don’t bother me nor Patty… we’ll just continue on our walk to the half way point, another ten minutes away.  And we did!  At one point I joked like I was taking off my shorts.  The expression on Patty’s face was priceless.  I did make an interesting observation during this 10 minute walk… there were probably fifty to sixty naked men in this stretch of beach and not one woman!  There were big naked men, short naked men, naked fat men, naked skinny men, naked hairy men, naked young men, naked old men, naked tan men, naked white men, naked black men, naked men with long hair, naked bald men,  naked men with tattoos… but not one woman!  What’s up with that?  We finally got to the 45 minute mark of our walk and… we had the privilege of turning around and going through the naked mine field again!

We finished our 90 minute walk and returned to our car.  We had a good laugh about the whole experience.

I learned something that afternoon… I now know what to do with Patty if she’s having a bad day!   If a good laugh at Blacks Beach doesn’t get her mind off things, nothing will!


One step forward… two steps back, part II

Patty and Mia on the 4th of July, 2010

Those of you who know me know that my glass is always half full!  Always!  So I’m trying to put perspective on the outcome of Patty’s appointment today.  The ultrasound didn’t go as well as we hoped.  It turns out that the entire implant has rolled to the point where the mysterious valve is now on the back side against her chest wall.  So… the “procedure” the doctor spoke about yesterday has turned into surgery.  No quick procedure in her office… a little longer procedure at the hospital.  Surgery date is September 8th.

I guess one good thing is that it’s an outpatient surgery.  Another good thing is that the doctor said she couldn’t make any promises, however once in surgery, she’d see if she could fill the implant to the exact size as the other breast.  If so, there would be no future surgeries…. at least that would be the plan.  She emphasized that she wouldn’t know if it was possible until she got a good look at everything.

As I said in the previous post, Patty’s pretty frustrated.  We have so much going on right now.  1)  I’m going to be changing jobs in the next few weeks which means I’ll be changing employer insurance.  Obviously insurance needs to be in place for any future health related things for Patty so timing on this surgery is important.  2)  Our granddaughter, Mia, who is six and lives in Phoenix asked “Grandma Patty” if she could go to Phoenix to be with her on grandparents day.  Hmmmm… Grandparents Day just happens to be September 8th!  That trip is canceled.  3)  Having surgery next week is a pretty big setback on Patty’s recovery.  She was hoping to be ready to go back to watching Avery by the end of September.  Now it looks like it’ll be more like the middle of October.

Needless to say, Patty’s going through a lot right now.  “One more surgery”  is the last thing she wanted to hear.  But she’s realized that this is not under her control.  It’s just another hurdle in the road to recovery.

So, here I am… Mr. Optimistic who’s glass is always half-full grasping for something  positive out of all this…  Patty is alive and doing well!!!

One step forward… two steps back!

As Benjamin Franklin said:   “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  Just when I’m getting comfortable with where Patty is in her recovery and certain that things are going great… something happens.  Another challenge!  Yesterday was no different!  I have to say this breast cancer ride with Patty has been just that!  A ride! 

Patty has been doing so well.  Everyday she makes progress in her recovery.  There are actually short times in my day when I look at her and forget what she’s been through… but then reality always brings it back.  She’s been through so much over the past 17 months… the early mis-diagnosis; the mastectomy; chemotherapy; hair loss; another surgery due to problems during early reconstruction; fainting spells; loss of appetite; reconstruction surgery… etc.  There were times early on in her diagnosis when I really didn’t know if she’d be with us 17 months later.  But here she is!  And I need to keep that in perspective!

 As you’re aware, Patty had her reconstruction surgery one month ago.  It was a long surgery and somewhat painful recovery.  She was strong and a trooper and hung in there and did what she needed to do with little complaint.  Two weeks ago the doctor started adding saline to her implant.  Patty was so happy and excited about the whole process.  For a woman, losing a breast is obviously very difficult.  Suddenly seeing a breast again after having the reconstruction surgery was an amazing thing for Patty.  

 Patty had an appointment with the doctor yesterday to have more saline added to her implant.  (Here’s where the title of this blog applies!)  Long story short, there is a one-way valve on her implant where the doctor inserts a needle to add the saline.  Apparently the implant had moved/shifted to a point where the doctor was not able to locate the valve!  So… what does this mean?  It means Patty is scheduled for an ultrasound this afternoon where the doctor will try to locate the valve.  Once located… Patty will have a “procedure” (which is another word for surgery) to move the implant back to where it’s supposed to be, to be able to continue to add saline.  

 Needless to say, Patty is extremely frustrated right now!  I don’t blame her.  I’ll admit, I’m frustrated also.  Patty has been going through this battle for 17 months now!  She’s tired of not feeling well all the time.  I know her… she’s strong and strong-willed!  She’ll get through this “bump.”  She will!  But I can’t blame her frustration.  

 We don’t know if she’ll have the “procedure” today or if it will be scheduled for a future date.  But for now… One step forward, two steps back!

The frustration of recovery!


Patty and friends at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life a couple weeks ago.

Patty’s recovery from the reconstruction surgery is going well.  She still has a long way to go, but overall she’s doing really well.  They started adding saline to her implant last week and she’s pretty excited to have a cleavage again!   

The initial recovery period from the surgery was pretty painful.  She hid it pretty well from me at first, but as I’ve said in many previous posts, her eyes tell the story.  She fooled me and was on the go pretty quickly.  Too quickly!  I should have known better.  Those of you who know Patty, know that she’s hard to keep down.  She wants to exercise and get back into her routine.  She can’t do it!  Not yet.  I could see she was tiring easy and “hitting the wall” by early afternoons.  So, I’ve had to put my foot down and limit her activities.  She’s begrudgingly cooperating… 

Up until surgery her “job” was watching our granddaughter, Avery.  The doctor told us that she wouldn’t be able to watch her full time again until at least 8 weeks after surgery.  She thinks it’ll take her 6 weeks, but I’m going to win this battle.  She needs to take as long as she needs.  Avery kept Patty pretty busy during the days, but now that Patty’s on her own, she gets pretty bored!  She’s been devouring a lot of books, which she loves, but she gets frustrated that she can’t do it all right now.  She’s doing so well, I just don’t want her to overdo it and, in turn, take longer for her recovery.

She has a doctor’s appointment next Monday to add more saline… a little at a time.  Right now it’s all about adding the saline which in turn stretches the skin until it’s the same size etc as the other breast. 

Patty’s been walking as often as possible… a couple miles at a time.  She’s impatiently wanting to push the walking farther to start training for the Komen walk in November!   

She needs to heal first… she has plenty of time!

A year later…

Nearly one year ago when Patty had her first chemotherapy infusion.

Today is a landmark day for me… exactly one year ago I started writing this blog.  Over seven thousand hit’s later, it’s going strong.

Today’s personal achievement made me reflect over the past year… and it’s been quite a ride for the two of us.   Patty and I have experienced so many  ups and downs over the past year, but I realized that the “downs”  really make you appreciate the “ups” when they arrive!

At first, the ups and down seemed to change daily but it seemed like the “downs” were winning!  The “suspicious lump” (down), the actual diagnosis (down), the faulty PET Scan (down), the CAT Scan that disproved the cancer had matastasized (Huge UP), the mastectomy (down and an up), Patty’s quick recovery from the surgery (Huge up), Chemotherapy (down and up), Patty shaving her head before chemo got it (down)… I could go on and on, but the bottom line is… here it is over one year later and Patty is doing so well. (definitely the biggest UP of them all!!!)

Patty’s recovering from her reconstruction surgery.  Sure, she has some pain related to it, but she’s getting stronger everyday.  She does tire easily, but that’s expected.  Her sister Kathy is staying with us this week to help out.  Believe me, her being here is such a help!

So one year of blogging.  A year ago I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone write one!   But over seven thousand hit from literally around the world is an accomplishment for me.  I really realize the power of the internet as I’m getting hits from Athens, London, Russia, Bucharest, Melbourne, Punjab, Canada to name a few and countless cities across the United States.  I’m hoping this blog is helping others who are newly diagnosed or the caregiver for someone with cancer.  It may not have all the answers, but it relays how Patty and I have dealt with the day to day trials of living with breast cancer.

I’m shooting for another year…  to be continued!