Friday, June 26, 2009

The Uncancery Future

Two moths since that last post, huh? We've been so busy, in the eloquent words of David Wooderson, 'L-I-V-I-N.'

I do intend to keep writing here, but for now I think the best update is more photo-centric.

My mom has a new portrait commission. He's a fox.

Harvested the Brussels Sprouts! Official Plant Friend Update to come.
Nieces & their Mama at Freestone during our first NorCal visit of the year.

Mark's birthday meant scratch bbq sauce.

Mark and Steve take over pizza duty.

Visiting friends at the Chula Vista Nature Center.

Peony season.

The little & big of the new exhibit at the World Famous San Diego Zoo.

Visit number two to NorCal included Santa Rosa pool time, Bodega,

and the Mission in San Francisco.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

MRI Results

Wednesday morning, Dr. So swept into the room we were waiting in, big smile spreading his chubby cheeks, and said, "Great news!"

He handed the radiology report to Mark to read for himself, but he developed a sudden, very damp, optical condition. Strangely, the same thing happened to me, so Dr. So read out this beautiful stanza himself:

"Status post bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, no MRI evidence for malignancy."

With the added treat of " . . . essentially no parenchyma [that's breast tissue] identified," that means that there's essentially no place for any new breast cancer to grow.

I don't know that I can put into words what this means to us yet. Even though all of my doctors suspected this was my outcome, I never really felt safe until now. I had a nice chance to talk to Dr. So about this, and he totally understood. I was spending so much time trying not to let this suspicion and unease drive me crazy. I don't have to do that anymore. I don't have to lay awake at night, charting my lymphs. As Mark pointed out, I can pop in a Jane Austen movie, or read my favorite Kipling or Hemingway, not because I'm semi-desperately needing to be soothed at night, but just because I feel like Austen or Kipling or Hemingway.

It means a lot, in essence. I'll work on figuring it all out, in between dancing, giggling, and smooching Mark, in my uncancery future.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Almost There

So the MRI is on Monday, and I just want it to be over. Looking forward to this test has been really reminding me of this period of testing last year, which was arguably the worst in this whole process. It's been a challenge to stay in the present and remember that my situation now is very different than it was a year ago. I don't want to waste this weekend, but I really would like it to be Monday, with me inside that clanging, banging machine, getting things done.

Things have been pretty happy and lighthearted around here, however. On Thursday I had my pre-scan labs done, and since Mark was almost done with a very light day at the hospital, he came over and met me with snacks. Still in his white coat, stethoscope and all, I had to laugh as he walked back with me. I told the phlebotomist that I hoped she didn't mind me bringing my own physician. To which Mark added, "I don't even know her that well."
He then proceeded to his chief occupation during blood draws; distraction. He swung the pastry he'd brought me from side as he said, "Looook into the danish . . ."
Which may well have knocked me out, if the danish hadn't been cherry, and reminiscent of, um, what was coming out of my arm.

We finished off the week with turkey stew, a lovely lunch with a new friend, a clean house, a lovely visit with old friends, and all the lilacs Che Bella had.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Nap Was Fantastic

And if you know me well you'll know that I'm an authority on naps.

My appointment was fine. He did a little prodding (all good) and set up my MRI for later this month, the 20th, I think (it's in my planner, not my brain. That's how I work.) So that will be good. I think getting IV contrast MRIs for the rest of my life will maybe get me over my abhorrence of IVs. That would be nice. And I do really well at things that require no movement, so the test should go well. Dr. So told us he'd call us when he got the results, but I think we'll schedule an appointment with him anyway.

That's another thing. Visiting the oncologist while you're trying to beat up cancer is very different from visiting the oncologist after you've supposedly beaten up cancer, and I haven't quite figured out the latter yet. At the beginning, for me anyway, fast and decisive is good. I really wanted action. Now that I've got a little more time, I'm wanting . . . meticulousness. On a level that some would find annoying, I want to be sooo examined. Sometimes I still don't understand why I'm so assuredly healthy, and I'd like to work on that. And it would be great if it didn't always have to be Mark that reminds me patiently why sentinel node biopsies work so well. I'm hoping to not resort to that piece of information as the new tattoo I joked about to disguise my radiation markers. Also, it's not really fun to lay awake at night and try to feel every discernible lymph node for 'normality.' Because there are hundreds.

Luckily, Dr. So understands this. He praises my vigilance but also knows that it can make a person a bit nutty. He also encourages vacation. If only there were a country that heartily embraced naps . . .

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back to Dr. So

Oh, it's been a while. I haven't seen Dr. So, apart from a friendly parking lot run-in, since May, after my last radiation treatment. Tomorrow's the day we resume our tumultuous acquaintance. I'm not sure our visit will go beyond the usual armpit poke and a little more scheduling, but we'll see. Surprises abound and all that. Mainly I just need to make sure my follow-up imaging is on-track. Hopefully all of my surgery inflammation will have calmed down enough to make it MRI time. And while I still hate IVs and the clanging is no fun, the situation of my not having any conclusive evidence of health makes me really eager for this. But all of my memory of these visits being so negative. . . yeah. I'm struggling to not go back to the scary/sad places. So far I'm mostly winning, and I think one clean MRI would do me a world of good. Wish me luck, kids. And a glorious nap in the afternoon - I'll need them both.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Back! With Salad Dressing!

Hi, everyone. I don't know why it's been so hard for me to get over here and write lately. A few out-of-town trips and apparently I'm all wackadoo. I do have lots to write about, but I thought I'd start my comeback with something I know a few of you want, and that I'd been working on for quite a bit. Salad Dressing!

I don't have a name for this. It's just the everyday vinaigrette that I use when I'm not celebrating a seasonal acid (lemons, blood oranges, etc.) This is pantry food at it's best. You can use it as you would any vinaigrette, but I like it best in a salad with whatever good fruit we're getting (apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, grapes, grapefruit, persimmon, pomegranate, and pretty much all types of orange have been tried with success), a little cheese (parm, pecorino romano, goat cheese, feta, and mozzarella are all good), and nuts (pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, especially glazed spiced walnuts, etc.) It's fun to try out different combinations, and you can certainly also add any of your favorite salad ingredients. I love thinly sliced fennel bulbs and fresh herbs, and I can see red onions working well also if you like them.

So, a word on a few ingredients, and we'll begin. I've been futzing with this dressing for at least 8 years and it's gone through two rounds of official recipe testing, so rest assured that everything's there for a reason before you start experimenting. I started using organic Raw Agave Syrup for the dash of sweet because of the sugar-sensitive people in my life. It's got a clean flavor and a really low glycemic index, but I kept using it because it's great at emulsifying the dressing, too. You can pick it up at Henry's, Jimbo's, Whole Foods and the like. For the curry powder, I can't emphasize enough that a quality product is important. Whatever you do, don't use the curry powder you'd find in the spice aisle at a big grocery store. It's awful. Go to an Indian market. There you'll find quite a few varieties which you can play around with if you like, but I'd recommend a nice bright red blend. You'll save a buck, too. So.

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed or smashed (depending on whether you like a lot or a little)
1 tbsp. raw agave syrup
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. + small pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cardammom
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake well, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. Shake again before pouring. A little goes a long way. Leftovers can be kept sealed in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

All Good in the Scherensnitte Hood

I haven't been working on very many art/craft projects around here. All of this walking & making sure there's always milk in the house, I suppose. I'm not used to doing it all. I have several projects that are sort of stalled right now. Promise to share when they're done. But I was looking around blogland today and found (thank you, Extreme Cards & Papercrafting) a German site filled with Sherensnitte patterns of all sorts. Balsten mit Elisabeth has a lot of really pretty designs of varying difficulty, and a lot of text I don't understand. And then there's this:

Image from Balsten mit Elisabeth

I'm officially cutting paper tonight.