Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A room with a view...well, kinda.


This has been my view for the past five days....
...at least, from my standpoint...or laypoint, I guess I should say.


I raised up high enough at one point to see that I was somewhat mistaken.
I actually think the yellow Porta-Potties add a nice spring-like contrast, don't you?
(sorry for the horrid cell phone shots)


But at least I always knew what time it was.
It's fun to watch the minutes and hours tick by when you feel like crap are as sick as a dog, right?

NOTE:
Before I go any further with the story, 
I want to stop right here and apologize for not answering emails, 
replying to your comments or visiting your blogs. 
I guess you see that I have been just a bit preoccupied. 
I know that y'all have been praying for me and I HAVE FELT THOSE PRAYERS...
and the best part is THEY ARE WORKING!

So when I last left you, I was due to go in for the final dreaded biopsy #5.

And that, I did.

I pretty much knew it would the most invasive procedure that I had had so far.

Have mercy...it was.

It was an outpatient thing and I was home by late afternoon the same day (Tuesday).
Wednesday was really painful but by Thursday, the pain was beginning to subside somewhat.
I thought I was on the upswing.

Wrong.

Although the pain was better, I was very lethargic and just had an overall feeling of yuck.
I began noticing the jaundice a bit on Thursday evening and had pretty much decided that
Friday morning we were probably going to have to head 30 minutes down the highway for Duke ER.
Friends, let me tell you, I was as yellow as minion, including the whites of my eyes.
After several lo-o-o-ng hours, many lab tests and a CT scan, I was admitted.
Did you know that most insurance companies require you to spend at least six hours in the ER
before they will allow them to admit you?
SHHH...don't tell anyone...it's a secret...
If you ask them they will deny it...unless that is if you are a trauma case.

My bilirubin level was dangerously high...the normal level for an adult is somewhere around 1.2 milligrams per deciliter (whatever that means)...mine was 19.4.

So you know those consent forms that we have to sign before having any kind of procedure?
There's always a potential risk and our anatomies are all unique as well...

BUT...and it's a BIG BUT...



...here's the absolute BEST NEWS YET...

...that last biopsy from he## that made me so sick also was NEGATIVE, PEOPLE!!!!!
Although I know that my God has always had this...and still does,
I'd be lying if I said I haven't had my share of doubts.
Being human has that effect on us, doesn't it?


By Sunday, St. Paddy's Day, I was feeling so much better and getting back to my old self...


...taking advantage of anything I could find to make the time pass more quickly.

My bilirubin level dramatically decreased over the weekend...
...on Saturday it had already come down to 7 and by Sunday, down to a 3.9.
I had been scheduled on Monday for an endoscopic procedure to see how things were looking
but the results of my labs were so much better than anticipated and it was cancelled...YAY!
Also, the CT results showed that the so called tumor had not grown in size at all...YAY!

On Monday morning, the BIG DOG doctor came to pay me a visit.
He just shook his head with when he saw me...in a good way, of course.
Just a month earlier he was sure it was cancer.
He told us that among the hundreds of patients he sees every year,
he might get two, maybe three tough nuts to crack like me among them. 
So finally it seems we are now looking at the autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) diagnosis,
the one that we have all been hoping and have prayed so hard for.
Autoimmune disease is when your own body doesn't play nice with other parts of itself.
Now, I wonder what in the world my pancreas and biliary system ever did to deserve such a thing?!
But you know what?
Even before the day I made the journey from my mother's womb into this life,
my Lord had already decided exactly how this body that He created would function...or not.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139: 13-14

So yesterday I began a short course of steroids which is the treatment for this AIP.
Hopefully, it won't be long before the "tumor" shrinks and I'll be good again.


But whenever I begin to look like this, it's time to stop...no matter what.
~
So I'm home, I'm feeling so much better and I'm looking forward to proceeding (with caution)
to a future filled with hope, dreams and many more of God's blessings!

Love to all, 

Monday, March 11, 2019

A tough nut to crack...apparently.

A tough nut to crack:
a problem that is challenging to solve.
Whenever I hear that expression, "a tough nut to crack",
I immediately form a picture in my brain of the Christmases of my childhood.
My mom had this big wooden bowl that she got out specifically to fill with a variety of nuts
and it was of course accompanied by a couple of nutcrackers.

For a little girl, it was not always easy to crack them, some more so than others.
I never really got much joy out that particular holiday treat...it was too much work!
And while we're on the subject...just for fun...
...do you happen to know which nut is among the hardest to crack?
Apparently, it's the macadamia nut...I don't recall even knowing about them back then.


It says here that it takes 300 pounds of pressure per square inch to be exact,
making the Macadamia the hardest nut in the world to crack!
(just thought I'd throw that in) 
~
So I figure that you may be wondering about what's up with me since I've been a little absent
from Blogland for the past couple of weeks.
It seems like every week I have another procedure and I just haven't found the time,
nor have I been very inspired to post anything, much less, another non-update.
They are all sounding a bit boring and repetitive...another biopsy, inconclusive, non-diagnostic...
If I seem to sound a bit tired of all of this, you just might be right.

BUT...

* I am thankful for a group of caring doctors who seem to stop at nothing to get a proper diagnosis.

* I am thankful for the many dear friends and the prayers being spoken on my behalf.

* I am very thankful for a devoted husband who has been there with me during every appointment.

* I am also thankful for a loving family, all Christ-followers, who believe in miracles.

* I am SO very thankful for NO CANCER (so far) to be found.

* And I am MOST thankful for my JESUS who is keeping me sane throughout this whole ordeal!


source

Aren't these little guys cute?


So here's the latest...
The needle core biopsy (through my back) that was done last Wednesday was "non-diagnostic".
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will have biopsy #5...also performed by an interventional radiologist...
a procedure resembling a cardiac catheterization except the catheter will be going into my bile duct.
They say this will be the last one.
I think I remember hearing those words before.πŸ˜•
~
Sooo....there you have it...
...I am enduring all of this poking and prodding pretty well, if I do say so myself.
I'm pretty tough.
And unfortunately, a pretty tough nut to crack.

I'm thinking about changing my name to Mac...
...short for Macadamia.
πŸ˜‰

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Strawberry Flavored Medley

Welcome to the last week of February.....really??
~
So it finally stopped raining...
...these flowers sure have helped brighten up things around here this past week.


Like so many other areas, we've had enough rain here to last us for a very long time.


The sun finally came out on Sunday afternoon and the last couple of days have been lovely!
Even I, the lover of rainy days, was getting my fill.


I guess I better soak up all the sunshine I can since more is on the way.
~
As you may remember, I underwent my third biopsy last week.
This time, I had the report in just two days and the results were very encouraging.
The doctor who did my procedure said she didn't think it looked like cancer, but inflammation,
and the report below came from the cytologist who tested the samples.


Of course were very relieved to get these result, still being a bit cautiously optimistic.
Dr. Allen still believes this is most likely a malignancy, not wanting to give false hope.
He also told us that he wants to be proven wrong.
And if you are relying on statistics, it is the most probable diagnosis.

BUT...my God is bigger and smarter than statistics!
.
One more biopsy (a different approach this time) will be scheduled very soon.
If this one doesn't prove cancer, I will likely begin a short course of steroids.
If the "tumor" shrinks with the steroids, then inflammation will be proven as well.
Autoimmune pancreatitis is when your body, for reasons unknown, attack it's own pancreas.
It's quite rare and often disguises itself as a malignant tumor, appearing as such on CT and MRI.
It is also very difficult to diagnose...thus the many biopsies.
So I say biopsy the heck out of me...as long as they don't miss any cancer!


I saw this meme on Facebook and immediately related it to what's going on in my life. 
In order for the Lord to give us the desires of our heart, we need to be willing to wait on them.

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Isaiah 30:18
~
So I was all prepared to put out a plea to help our dear friend, Diane of Lavender Dreams.
Most of you already know that her lovely blog was removed for reasons unknown...
...but the good news is SHE GOT IT BACK, praise the Lord!
It's quite a mystery as to why this happened but the important thing is that she has her blog back!
I had not backed up my blog since I've been blogging...nearly six years.
Well, guess who's blog is all backed up now??


So today on the Wednesday Medley, Terri tells us that it is...
NATIONAL STRAWBERRY DAY

Hop on over to the Medley, copy and paste her questions to your own blog, 
plug in your answers, and link up!
You just might find out something you didn't know before. πŸ˜‰

NATIONAL STRAWBERRY DAY - February 27

Terri writes...

We continue with February’s heart-shaped and red theme by observing National Strawberry Day on February 27. These juicy, sweet berries can brighten up any dish and are delicious all on their own.
There are a few different stories behind the origin of the name. The more widely accepted version is that the berries would drop off the leaves and become “strewn” about the plant. Overtime “strewn-berries” became “strawberries”. There was a time (and some gardeners still do this today) when strawberry beds were mulched with straw, insulating the plants over the winter, keeping weeds at bay during the growing season and making them easier to harvest. Another sweet story tells of English children stringing the berries on grass straws and selling the “straw berries” in their neighborhoods.
Not only are they delicious, but they are also fragrant. One of the more aromatic fruits, they belong to the rose family.
Strawberries are grown in nearly every corner of the Earth (if the Earth had corners) except for her most frozen southern and northern reaches. Along with all these possible locations, there are over 600 varieties of strawberries as well.
An excellent source of Vitamin C, strawberries are also a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber. At 55 calories and zero fat in 1 cup, these sweet things hit the spot when a snack time is calling!
HOW TO OBSERVE
While the best season for strawberries is from late April to August, now might be a good time to scout out strawberry festivals and pick-your-own farms or plan to plant your own strawberry patch. Imagine sitting in your very own patch eating sun-warmed, sweet berries you picked or even grew yourself under clear blue skies.
BERRY PICKING TIPS:
  • Pick fully ripe berries. Strawberries don’t continue to ripen if picked too early like bananas or pears.
  • Don’t overfill your container. Berries are tender and can bruise easily.
  • Don’t wash the fruit until you are ready to eat. Strawberries are susceptible to mold and washing will speed up spoilage.
  • The best time to pick strawberries is on cool, cloudy days, but if they will be eaten right away, any time is perfect!
  • If you pick more than you can eat before they spoil, strawberries freeze very well. Pluck off the green caps and toss into a freezer bag. Use for smoothies, ice cream or cake toppings.
HISTORY
Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Strawberry Day. It is listed as an American Food Holiday.

1.  Given all that information on this πŸ“National Strawberry DayπŸ“, do you have a favorite recipe for strawberries?  Would you share it with us?

Who needs a recipe? I like mine just like this...  

 
...that's a real humdinger, isn't it? Or how about this one? 


No real recipe here...if I remember correctly, this was my red, white and blue dessert last July 4th.


Again, no recipe needed...
...but since you asked for one...

Strawberry-Pretzel Salad
(click here for recipe)
2.  Some people think the smaller, northern varieties are sweeter than the larger berries that grow in the south and in California.  What are your thoughts on that?
I agree, the strawberries that you buy in the stores usually don't even compare to the locally grown ones. "Bigger is better" is usually not the case when it comes to strawberries. Every now and then you can get lucky but if they look white inside, you can pretty much count on them tasting like mushy cardboard... no thank you.
3.  There is a Strawberry Festival right here in Plant City, Florida (next town over from Lakeland) and it is a huge event that lasts 11 days with headliner acts each day.  Have you ever been to a Strawberry Festival?
There are many cities who have their own brand of Strawberry Festivals, one being in a town close to where I grew up in Troy, Ohio. I know it lasts for several days but I don't have any memories of attending it. My sister still lives there and I'm pretty sure she has been to a few of them over the years.
4.  Strawberries are grown in every US state.  Have you ever grown them in your garden?
I have never attempted to grow them in a garden of my own but I'd like to give it a try one day.
5.  Strawberry is the only fruit that has seeds on the outside, and technically it is not a berry but rather a fruit, and would you be surprised to learn that strawberries belong to the rose family?  Do you have any strawberry trivia to share with us?
Well, it seems I learn something new every day...I did not know that the strawberry belonged to the rose family! Did you know that folklore states that if you split a double strawberry in half and share it with the opposite sex, you'll soon fall in love? I didn't either...thanks, Google! πŸ˜‰
6.  Tell us something random about your week!!


I am looking forward to getting into this book that I received in the mail yesterday. My pastor's wife will be leading a ladies small group starting this Sunday afternoon and this is the subject of our study. I took one look at the title and knew I was all in. Did I ever tell you that I don't believe in coincidences?

I know I keep saying this but I'll say it again...
thank you SO MUCH for your prayers!

Much love,

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Pet Lovin' Medley

Hey ya'll and Happy Hump Day!

So how did it get to be Wednesday again so soon?
I know that time flies when you're having fun and we had a great time in Tennessee.
The weather was cold and rainy most of the time but it didn't matter one bit.
I got to walk across the bridge and into the meadow where the farmhouse is going to be.
I have to believe that this will happen.
I've got to keep the dream alive or it feels as though I'm giving up.
I won't do that...I can't do that.



On Sunday, Parker's 12th birthday began with a birthday doughnut.


I was blessed to be able to witness this precious boy's entrance into the world
and just can't believe that in another year, he'll be a teenager!
Please.....make it stop!!!



We ate lunch at his favorite Thai restaurant but I missed getting a photo of his birthday cake pie...
...Key Lime, to be precise...complete with twelve candles!
Our visit to see the kids in Tennessee was just what I needed.
~
So by the time many of you may be reading this, I will be undergoing my third biopsy.
I was impressed by the doctor I met last week...he was very kind and answered all my questions.
He said that it's not uncommon to do a third, fourth or even more biopsies in cases like mine.
He told me that too many times a doctor will send the patient away to return in six months
or so to get re-scanned after an inconclusive biopsy.
Many times it's too late because a tumor could grow drastically during that time.
Dr. Allen plans to do all he can to keep that from happening.
I am prepared to do whatever it takes to get a correct diagnosis so I can get on with
whatever treatment is needed...and get on with my life!
Let's do this!!
~
So let's get on with the Wednesday Medley, shall we?


Terri, our friend from Florida asks the questions on her blog and we answer them on ours.
Just copy and paste the questions, put in your answers and link up to her blog.

FEBRUARY 20th IS NATIONAL LOVE YOUR PET DAY

NATIONAL LOVE YOUR PET DAY Γ’€“ February 20

On February 20th, pet lovers everywhere observe National Love Your Pet Day. This holiday is a day set aside to give extra attention to and pamper your pets. This is a good day to focus on the special relationship that you have with your pets.

Did you know that most households in the United States have at least one pet? While there are more cats than dogs in the US, more households have dogs than cats, but not by much. Pets are not limited to the canine and feline categories. There are quite a few who prefer the companionship of birds, reptiles, fish or rats. Whoever your pet companion is, we are sure you will enjoy spending a little extra time with them on National Love Your Pet Day and reap the benefits, as well such as stress relief and lower blood pressure. So on February 20 (and every day) show your appreciation to your pets!

HOW TO OBSERVE
Bring your pet a special treat, take an extra long walk or give them more attention on National Love Your Pet Day.  Whatever you decide to do, spoil and appreciate your pets!  Use #NationalLoveYourPetDay to post on social media.

HISTORY
Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Love Your Pet Day.


1.  Have you ever had a special pet in your life?  Will you tell us about it?

Okay...you asked for it, Terri! My first reply to this question would be more like "When did I NOT have a special pet in my life?" The first pet in my life was our dog, Tippy. He was a Heinz 57 mix and basically a very sweet boy. I remember he had this very fluffy tail that curled over his back. 



There were several other dogs and a few cats as well but none of the cat's names come to mind. My mom didn't like cats much and they stayed outside, away from the humans much of the time. If I had to pick a favorite pet over another, Hunter would share the top of the list. Adam brought him to us when he was just weaned and what a smart dog he was! He was mostly Jack Russell with a little Feist mixed in. 


When Oscar joined the family as a wee pup, Hunter dominated but they got along well. Later on, they became best buds.


Hunter lived to be almost 13 and died suddenly and quite unexpectedly in 2015. We think he must have had a stroke and in a very short period of time, he took his last breath in my arms. So for a year, it was this guy who demanded all of the attention...


And then along came Tasha, very unexpectedly when we rescued her from the shelter. This is the day I picked her up. I'll never forget how timid and shy she was.


In a matter of minutes, they bonded....and the rest is history. 


2.  Did you grow up with pets in your home?  What did it teach you?

As I mentioned before, we always had pets but Mom never allowed them in the house. Occasionally one of the cats would slip in the door and she would quickly shoo them out. What did it teach me? It taught me that whenever I got big enough to have my own home, I wanted my pets to live inside with the rest of the family.

3.  Do you ever wonder what animals are thinking?

Yes, but most of the time I think I know. If you've ever had a dachshund, then you probably know that they have a way of being quite transparent.

4. Sometimes a pet gets out and doesn't return for a few days. What do you think happens to them when they go on a walkabout?

This happened when we had Hunter although he never ran away for that long. He was gone one time for almost 24 hours and I was absolutely beside myself as every scenario imaginable was playing in my head. I can't even tell you how many trips up and down the road I made as I was looking for him and calling his name, thinking at any moment I would see something white lying in the ditch along side of the road. That night, I slept on the couch in the living room with the blind pulled up enough at the bottom that I could see him if he came to the door, wanting in. He finally did show up in the wee hours of the morning to my great relief. There is usually another animal (or more) involved when they wonder away but all that really matters is that they do come home.

5.  With cats and dogs being the most popular pets, what is the most exotic pet you have personal experience with (didn't have to be yours)?

When I was a young teen, I had a chameleon named Cam. He would turn whatever color he was placed on and I remember him jumping on the living room curtains and blended in so well that we had a difficult time finding him. I also had a hamster who got lost outside during a photo shoot in my mom's flower bed. I never did find him, sorry to say.😞

6.  Please tell us something random about your week so far...

I went to the grocery store yesterday when we returned home and I noticed that I parked next to an identical black Honda CR-V as mine. At the time, I remember thinking that whoever owned the car would most likely come out of the store before me and be gone by the time I came out. Well, wouldn't you know that as I was exiting the store, a lady walking quite a distance ahead of me was heading in the same general direction as I was. I went ahead and clicked my remote a couple of times to unlock my car (of course the lights would flash too) and I noticed she was heading directly towards my car and she actually opened my door! I then hollered a friendly "Uhhh......you've got the wrong car!" and totally confused, she looked back at me and realized she had opened the door to my car instead of hers. Apparently she had clicked her remote at the same time as I did and when she saw my car (which was the closest one) she thought she was unlocking hers! We both got a good little chuckle out of it. How's that for random?


So I'll keep you posted...and I continue to thank you for your prayers.
I am just so grateful to all of you!

Much love,
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