The Rock is Still Hard

When last we left our intrepid peri-menopausal heroine she was agonizing over whether to try HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or not. After further on-line research she decided to give it a try for six months, just to get through the summer…

And so I picked up my prescription took it one time and then got a call from the doctor’s office saying my blood work came back and the dosage was all wrong. Jeez. In June 2017 my FSH was 22.0. This time it was 6.7 which doesn’t make any sense at all. (FSH should be going up the closer you get to menopause.)

So a new appointment was made for the 2nd week of April (because the Doc has a medical conference to go to in March so that is the earliest available appointment). But I feel better because I know this appointment is really going to focus on HRT and all my concerns. I have all my notes about crazy periods and different symptoms and will remember to tell her that I am only looking for short term relief. I thought I would wait and write a follow up post after that visit.

Funny how the one thing you don’t worry about is always the thing that bites you in the ass. At my last appointment I got my pap smear and promptly forgot about it. (I suspect when I made the appointment the receptionist heard pap smear and didn’t hear the part about HRT and that is one reason the appointment went the way it did.) Anyway, last week I got a call saying there were endometrial cells in my pap test and they need to do a biopsy. Wait. What? What does this mean? Probably nothing good.

After the first flash of panic subsided I did some reading. It wasn’t overly helpful but it could explain some of my symptoms.

So now I wait. All thoughts of HRT are on hold while I see if I have endometrial cancer. And if the cells are benign could they still be causing some of my miseries?

I am worried that I am going to feel miserable all summer. That I won’t get to be the parent I want to be. I have all these fun ideas of things to do but if I am exhausted and crabby and impatient it ain’t going to happen. I am scared that during this horrible phase of my life I am going to permanently ruin the relationship between my son and I.

Right now I am scared of all the unknowns. All the uncertainty. I tell myself this is normal and to get back to my life as it is for now. The kitchen floor isn’t going to mop itself. This is a known fact so I might as well deal with that.

And so it goes, the see-sawing between panic and it’s probably no big deal. The hope that in two weeks I will have answers and hopefully solutions and get to have a decent summer after all. I can hope. 🌈

Handmade Joy Exchange

Part II: What I Received

Yesterday I wrote about what I made for the Handmade Joy Exchange. Today’s post is about what I received from Sarah.

A lovely painting on silk! I never even though of painting on silk, it seems impossible. And it was from France! I have been to France twice for military deployments (pre 9/11) and this package brought back many happy memories. Thank you so much Sarah!

I’ve hung it in my office where I can see it everyday.
Sarah also sent this card she painted. I love it!

Even though I had my doubts about participating in the Handmade Joy Exchange I am so glad I did it. It really did bring me joy, in both the giving and the receiving. Thank you Anne for sponsoring such a lovely idea!

so lovely!

More on my “Creative Courage”

Part One: What I made for the Handmade Joy Exchange

I mentioned I was looking at more areas than just writing when I thought of my word for the year. I like to dabble in many different creative-ish areas. But I am, sadly, not very talented. I wish I could paint a landscape or design and sew a fabulous quilt but I am who I am. One very organized, list making, linear, planner, rule follower of a person. When I did a sketchbook experiment with a friend I was quite lacking in ideas. All his sketches seem so cool and fun. I wanted to be Bob Ross and paint a happy little tree with a sun dappled barn and a babbling brook. Or at least cool abstracts in a Paul Klee kind of way.

In this creative area I am thinking maybe my word should be creative acceptance. I am who I am and there is nothing wrong with that. So I can’t draw a picture but I enjoy coloring one. And I am good at following the directions in a needlepoint kit and creating ornaments or wall hangings. And I have done some bead work kits and sequins on felt. I have knitted scarves and one afghan. I made a quilted dresser scarf.

So maybe I am not creative in the traditional sense or exactly how I wish I was in my mind. But I have decided to believe I am simply creative in my own linear, follow directions, non-spontaneous way. And yet, there is more to the story.

After careful consideration I pushed myself to participate in Anne’s (My Giant Strawberry) Handmade Joy gift exchange. I felt like this was a pretty big leap for me. I was worried that all the other participants would be artisans with Etsy shops and booths at craft fairs. But I did it anyway.

I came up with my idea, started working on it and kept my fingers crossed that it would be suitable for whoever I got. I started off making a small needlepoint sign in spring colors. Or maybe it was a bookmark. But it didn’t seem to be enough. I decided it was a sign and then decided to make one for winter. It was supposed to be a snowflake but I think it turned out more like a flower. It would have made sense to stick with a needlepoint theme but of course why would I make sense? So I followed my creative courage and colored a leaf for autumn and made a felt sun for summer. I included a suction cup hook and now I get to imagine my “art” hanging in a window in England! I got to send my items to an Italian architect living in England. How cool is that?

I am just sorry I forgot to take a photo of the back of the sun, I put the word “Joy” on it with sequins. Oh well.

Welcome Spring

As luck would have it my son’s spring break actually falls over the first day of spring. Yeah! While the rest of the world looks to go to someplace warm for spring break I typically look for one last taste of winter before resigning myself to the summer heat of the desert. Through the wonders of technology here is a green paint chip poem to celebrate the First Day of Spring while I am off in Santa Fe! (The paint chip words are bolded.)

Spring 2019

I sip a glass of iced tea garnished

with a sprig of mint.

It is the first day of spring

and fittingly the first really pleasant day of the year.

Delightfully warm and sunshiny,

I consider my options.

The arboretum?

No leaves on the trees yet so that is a no.

A walk on the beach to search for sea glass?

Hmm, too windy.

There was no sense dealing with the 

prickly bramble patch without fruit to show 

for all the scratches gained.

A slog along the river bank to see the newly green ferns?

But it would be so muddy with the recent snowmelt.

Ahh,  I know just the thing.

I take a blanket out to my own backyard and lay in the sun near the clover patch.  I look for a four leaf clover until I find one.

How lucky for me to spend this glorious first day of Spring

in my own backyard.

“Good Things” Thursday

One of the great things about having a child has been getting to read so many children’s books. Old favorites and new authors have all been enjoyable. One of my new favs is Cynthia Rylant. I love all her series but especially ‘Henry and Mudge’ and ‘Mr. Putter and Tabby’. (I say new but we started reading her books 8 years ago, so by new I mean not of my childhood.)

In the past I have tried both gratitude lists and joy lists but neither quite defined what I was trying to capture. And then I read “Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book” and I had my epiphany. Not to spoil the plot but Mr. Putter is having a hard time writing a book and instead writes a list of “Good Things”.

I am stealing this idea because I love it. So thank you to Ms. Rylant and Mr. Putter 😊.

Good Things ☘

  • chamomile flowers from Trader Joe’s 🌼
  • working in my sketchbook (see pics below)
  • the sound of an owl hooting in the distance ( I also like it when I hear trains or church bells) 🚂
  • learning how to add emoji’s 🌵
  • signing up for an on-line photography class that starts in April 📸
  • reading “Match Making for Beginners” by Maddie Dawson and having a great line stuck in my head: “Whatever happens, love that.” 📘
  • chocolate covered strawberry ice cream from Tillamook 🍨
  • cloud shadows on mountains (makes me smile every time!) ☁️
  • lace curtains moving in the breeze
A few years ago I gave my friend a sketchbook and one to myself. We spent about 2 years drawing pictures for the other and then swapped books. Now we are supposed to use the drawings as inspiration to draw a sort of campanion piece. I am finally getting started. My drawing is on the left and his is on the right. I got the idea from Anne at My Giant Strawberry.


Again I am on the left, my friend on the right.

I am thinking this will become a semi-regular feature, like Photo Friday. We’ll see.

Sending good thoughts your way!

Flash Fiction (Mice)

This week’s challenge from Carrot Ranch gave me the shivers!

*There may or may not have been an incident in a sandy location where a certain briefer may or may not have sat in the office with her feet up on a chair because she saw mice running around. Just sayin’.

 

“Guys listen up. This is the pre-mission briefing for flight 7044.” 

She went quickly but thoroughly over the slides. Tanker crews liked fast and funny.  No jokes today though, this was a new mission and she needed to keep their focus. 

To the great surprise of the pilots she suddenly stopped in mid-sentence and jumped onto a chair.  The entire room silently watched a mouse scamper across the floor and under the canvas wall.

The Lieutenant climbed down and resumed briefing the astonished pilots, picking right back up in the middle of her sentence. She had their full attention.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

You probably don’t want to read this post. It is full of frustration and indecision and fear. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day or good mood so seriously, you don’t have to read this. But I have to write this. I have to get all this out of my head and throw it into the universe. I am secretly hoping by doing this that I will magically be shown the path I should take. So here goes.

I had my doctor’s appointment on Friday and I got what I wanted, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Only now I am afraid to take it. Let me start with the doctor. I have seen her a few times but I don’t really feel comfortable with her. I can’t be positive but she looks like she has had plastic surgery (face lift kind) and something that plumps lips. And she has blonde hair that looks dyed. I feel like I am looking at a Barbie doll. I am not questioning her competency or intelligence but it made me uneasy looking at her.

Secondly the office was really crowded and she was running rather late (I thought) for a 10:00am appointment. Things felt rather rushed I realized later. She asked me about getting tested for the breast cancer gene, how I wanted the therapy delivered and we talked the cost of bio-identicals. Bam, Bam Bam.

When I climbed into bed Friday night I realized I had made a pretty big decision in a rushed and ill-informed manner. I panicked and then told myself it wasn’t set in stone.

We were very busy Saturday, lots of errands and by the time we got home I was exhausted. I laid down on the bed and started crying. The fact that I am in a lose-lose situation hit home. I suppose an important fact I should add here is that my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 33. There can be no doubt that colors how I think.

And now it is Sunday morning. Spouse and small child went up to Phoenix for the Nascar race so I have the whole day to myself. I am still in my jammies, still in bed with my name on a homemade blueberry muffin. (Just waiting to digest my thyroid meds, about 1 hour.)

So let’s run through some scenarios:

SCENARIO ONE: I get tested for the breast cancer gene, find I have it and decline HRT. Now I get to continue to feel miserable and hear the ticking time bomb ALL THE TIME.

SCENARIO TWO: I get tested, don’t have it and take HRT. I feel better but still worry because frankly it seems like nothing conclusive has been discovered about HRT and cancer without the gene.

SCENARIO THREE: I don’t get tested and take the HRT. Will I still feel better? Or will all the worry about probably triggering cancer cells (if I have them) cancel that out?

SCENARIO FOUR: I don’t get tested and I don’t take HRT leaving me right where I am now. All I can do is hope that once menopause kicks in I feel better. Let’s say that takes another 2 1/2 years at most. (I’ll be 55 then, surely I will be in menopause?!) I have already survived 2 1/2 years of this craziness. My biggest fear is that the mood swings and irregular periods and hot flashes are going to get so much worse before subsiding. That is what triggered looking for help in the first place. I am afraid I am going to get worse and have the summer from hell. Life is too short to lose a whole summer if you don’t have to.

SCENARIO FIVE: I accept the crazy situation and move to a one room cabin (two with the bathroom) up in the mountains on a lake. I walk around the lake and do a photography project where I take a picture of the same tree everyday and document the changes until I am done with this phase of life. There are no inconveniences and keeping warm with just a woodstove is a piece of cake. I eat healthy by default only shopping at farmer’s markets and local places. I sleep when I am tired and hardly ever have to clean as it is just me. Okay, this isn’t a viable scenario but it is in my head so I am putting it out there.

And then there is the as yet unknown scenario. I think about how the anti-depressant made me so sick and wonder if I should try St. John’s Wort? Studies appear somewhat inconclusive but it is used a lot more in Europe. And yet I find myself hesitating. Has anyone out there used it? Can you share if it worked or not?

My biggest fear is what happens if I run out of hope? If have nothing left to try? I like to think I will be okay just soldiering on. If I continue the yoga and meditation and 10k steps I will survive one day at a time. And one day I will wake up and it will be like magic, my energy and enthusiasm and patience will be back.

For now I am holding tightly to that hope, it seems that is all I can do.

As for today, I will survive. Later I will get dressed and go to the library and pick up the copy of “Enchanted April” that I requested. A trip to Italy this afternoon seems to be just the thing. I have lots of happier posts to work on too and I figured out my next sketchbook idea which I am excited about. I will enjoy the peace and quiet and not having to cook. I’ll take a nap if I feel like it.

And now I wait patiently for the universe to send me my answer. Thank you for listening.

Flash Fiction (Back Up)

The 28 February 99 word flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was back up or backup.

The Wrong Path

She could not believe she was watching yet another lame Christmas movie about time travel.  Just once she wished the woman would choose the glamorous life she gave up for marriage and kids.  No one in their right mind picked a lazy husband and bratty children over a successful career and spotless apartment.

If she could back up her life she knew the exact time she would return to.  Where she had made that first critical mistake that led down the wrong path to her current life.

She looked out the immaculate window of her high-rise condo and sighed.

Two Months In

Honestly I am not sure where to start. At the end of January things were not going well, and not for lack of effort. I had to go to the doctor anyway (to renew my thyroid medication) so I talked about all my peri-menopausal symptoms and said (out loud) “I am ready for some drugs”. I was thinking hormone therapy, progesterone specifically, but my primary care doctor is against it. She recommended a mild-antidepressant shown to work on hot flashes and mood swings.

The idea of an anti-depressant left me, well, depressed. I have been thinking I just needed something to help until I get into full blown menopause. I know anti-depressants have been used in my circumstances but I was feeling pretty uneasy about this. And since I was overdue for my pap smear anyway I got a current referral for the GYN I used for my IUD and made an appointment. (For any male readers I know you have no idea what I just said, that is okay, just keep reading.) I was curious to see what she had to say because frankly she seems to have a completely different take on menopause than my primary care doc.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a GYN appointment before the first week of March. In the meantime the antidepressants arrived in the mail and after doing a bit more research I decided to start taking them. The plan was to see how they made me feel and still get a second opinion from the GYN.

I took the pills for four days and thought I caught a stomach bug. I was nauseous and exhausted. I slept two hours Friday afternoon, eleven hours Friday night, another two hours Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t eating much, mostly crackers and ginger ale and when I did eat a scrambled egg and a piece of toast I felt sick again. I checked the side effects on the pills and stopped taking them.

Three days later I felt better physically but was still feeling quite unmotivated concerning life in general. Mid-February I got my period, another bad one. Crampy and heavy and not helpful in getting anything done. But it only lasted seven days which was nice for a change.

And then I had a good week where at least I was sleeping well and getting something of one sort or another done everyday. I loved the snow and was happy to get out in it. Focus was still a problem though.

And here it is the end of February and I feel like a yo-yo. The last few nights have been broken sleep but yesterday I got a nice amount of pesky tasks done and that made me feel good. And today I feel….okay? But sort of ready for a nap. And my breasts hurt.

One more week until my doctor’s appointment. Every few days I find myself googling “what symptoms progesterone relieves” and every time I find myself nodding my head and reminding myself to ask for the bio-identicals. My thought is if it is something my body used to produce then there shouldn’t be any yucky side effects. And I don’t care if that thinking is wrong, I am going with it. Do not even think about trying to set me straight!

Why yes I am feeling a little prickly these days.

So now you get to wait along with me to see what happens next in the journey to menopause saga. I am pretty sure we are due for a happy upturn in the plot. Stay tuned.

Snow at Sabino Canyon (Photo Friday)

I promised pictures of desert snow and I have some. Because it was snowing so much I took my little point and shoot camera. Sadly I had battery issues so the video I took didn’t save. But I did get some pictures. (And yes, I ordered a new battery this week.)

Is it just me or do these cacti seem to be trying to huddle together?
The mountains were hidden all day.
Poor shivery cactus!

Sabino Canyon looked so wonderfully different in the snow.
It was like walking in a snowglobe when we headed out.  Big, wet flakes.

I have to confess I was really surprised at how much snow we got and how long it lasted. And it was wonderful. (Of course it is easy for me to say that since it is now in the 70’s!)

Keep your focus!