January 30, 2015

When Your Mammogram Is Abnormal

I'm not one to think the worst or to worry to excess. Oh wait, yes I am. So the call that my recent mammogram was abnormal really scared me.

My doctor made the call herself to assure me that this kind of thing is very common. A shadow, an obstructed or blurred view, anything out of the norm, and they follow up. Caution is a good thing of course.  I know this, but the timing couldn’t have been worse—two days after our family lost a very special person to breast cancer.

I tried not to worry myself sick and for the most part, I did okay. There’s a lot to be said for breathing and visualizing the positive. My aunt, even when facing the most stressful and scary circumstance imaginable, was always positive, living in the moment. She taught me (and so many others) that important lesson.

My appointment was scheduled for the day of my aunt's Celebration of Life. Oddly ironic and terribly sad. Thankfully I was able to get on a cancellation list and got an appointment a week early.

I teared up as the tech prepped me for my repeat mammogram. When I told her about my aunt she shared that she had recently lost an aunt to breast cancer too. She put her hand over mine and told me that I'd have the results before I left that day. I was relieved—I didn't want to spend another moment waiting and imagining the worst.

The next step was an ultrasound, after which, the tech left me on the table while she went to consult with the radiologist. There was no point in getting dressed, she told me, in case they needed more pictures.

So there I lay, face hot and palms sweaty despite the chill of the ultrasound gel on my chest. After about twenty minutes I'd had enough. I sat up, wiped myself clean and tied my gown. Then I took a close look at my ultrasound. The last few pictures were still on the screen.

The white dotted markers made it simple to spot. A cyst. At first I was shocked there was actually something there. I'd had myself convinced the re-test was due to a poor photo, but there it was.

I knew it was a cyst because it was completely black and had a smooth, rounded border. My daughter Avery has a brain cyst and "Dr. Google" has provided me with enough images to understand what I was seeing.

"A cyst in the breast, which feels and looks like a lump, is actually a sac filled with fluid. Cysts occur most often in women in their 30s and 40s and usually go away after menopause. However, the exact cause of cysts is not yet known. Cysts rarely turn into breast cancer, and having cysts does not necessarily increase your risk of getting breast cancer." source
The tech finally returned to tell me I was free to go. "But what about my results?" I asked in a panic. She told me I'd have to wait to hear from my doctor. Well, I may have wigged out just enough to have her stick her head out into the hallway to halt a passing doctor. "This lady was told she could have her results" she told him. The doctor looked at me and said, "Looks good. You're fine."

He didn't mention the cyst. I get it. That news was best coming directly from my doctor who would have the time to explain if I had questions.

In the change room instead of feeling relieved elation, I felt an angry sadness. I sat on the floor and cried and used my gown to wipe my tears. How lucky I was—thoughts of my children losing their mother and the other frightening images I conjured up while I waited for these results were quieted. I got the result that so many women, my aunt included, deserved but didn't get.

January 28, 2015

Beware The Snapping Turtle

snapping turtle
One of the benefits of having a blog is being able to vent. I try not to hit "publish" on topics that are negative or mean spirited or just plain whiney. There's already enough of that nasty noise out there, I don't need to add to it.

So if you're reading this, it would seem I found a nugget of positivity or a learning moment somewhere in here. Plus, how cute is this turtle picture? I just want to reach out and stroke him and say, "It's okay scared turtle. Everything will be alright." But then I remember...salmonella. So perhaps just soothing words of encouragement from a distance then.

Turtles may appear passive and even apathetic, but you should see them when they're feeling amorous. The day we took the kids to "Reptilia" we got an eyeful. I tried to tell the kids that the turtles were just playing. True, if by "playing" we mean #turtleporn

I feel like a turtle some days. Not in a "Come back to my shell and party!" kind of way, but in a "retreat into my shell and hide" way. I'm not confrontational AT ALL. I live in fear of hurting people's feelings. I'll often apologize even when I've been wronged—just to smooth over an awkward situation and bring the "happy" back.

I smile at grumpy people.
I give people the benefit of the doubt.
I root for the underdog. 
I wear my heart on my sleeve. Which can be messy.
I turn the other cheek whenever possible
I'm a Snapping Turtle.

"Snapping turtles have fierce dispositions; but when encountered in the water, they usually slip quietly away from any disturbance. (I hear ya turtle.) Snapping is a defense mechanism. A snapping turtle will bite humans if threatened, but as a last resort and will try to scare off threats by hissing before it bites." source

I've hissed and I've snapped, but only when provoked. Like if you mess with my family, I'll crush you with my beak-like jaw. 
This morning at school drop I was faced with a choice—to swim away or to snap?

The parking lot at our school is not for the faint of heart. It's chaotic. Fortunately the school has given us access to a quieter section, reserved for families of children with special needs. This way we can hand our children directly over to their E.A.s who are waiting at the door.

Today as I slowed down to park, another parent following closely behind swerved around me. She was late and was not permitted to be in this parking lot in the first place. But like I said, she was late so the rules don't apply to her. Right?

She glared at me as she drove past and parked a few feet in front of me.

When I returned to my car, she was getting back into hers. I pulled up beside her and gave her my best "stern" look. She stared back at me indifferently. 

That was it. I snapped. Well, it was more of a warning "hiss" really.

It would've been cooler if I could have actually rolled down my passenger side window. Instead I fumbled awkwardly with the power controls. The window was frozen shut so I had to get out of my car.

I walked over to her window and asked, "Did you give me a dirty look just now?"

She looked shocked.
She responded with a meek, "No, I was just looking at you..."
Seriously, don't lie to a turtle. Ever.

"This is parking for families with kids with special needs. See the sign on my front dash? You are not supposed to be parking here. And, you need to slow down. This a parking lot. There are children here."

I can't honestly remember what she said. "Sorry" maybe? I couldn't hear her over the clatter of my snappy jaws and hissing words.

I got back in my car and drove away.

I advocate for talking it out and finding a path toward forgiveness. But this woman messed with the wrong turtle today. Sometimes for the sake of our own sanity and self-esteem, have to let it out. Otherwise, we might just... snap.

Sometimes I don't snap, but wish I had.

Like when that woman "shushed" us!
Or when that lady shouted at my son
But, I'm fierce when I need to be

January 26, 2015

Red Wine and Grody Grout: Coming Clean About Getting Dirty

If you’ve ever spilled red wine on your lap (or heaven forbid, somebody else’s) you know how alarming it is. Know what else is alarming? When you cross your legs and knock over an end table, causing a glass of merlot to splash down onto your friend’s new cream carpet. It’s been over fifteen years and she’s still mad at me.

Red wine spills are pretty scary, unless you know the “stain solution.”

Watch this short video and I’ll share some stain removal hacks for dirty girls. Dirty like, avocado squashed into your pants or mustard on your collar... ahem.

I’ll also reveal a dirty little secret I’ve been keeping for over a decade…

For more information about OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover, Canada’s #1 trusted stain fighter inside and out, please visit www.oxiclean.ca or visit their Facebook Page. Find it nationally at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

This post was brought to you by OxiClean, however images and opinions are my own.

January 23, 2015

A Soft Place To Land—A Story About Friendship

I'm not calling my friends soft but, they are. Not in a doughy"Gym? What gym?" kind of way. But in a gentle, comforting, curl up in their bosom and nestle, kind of way. Not that I curl up in their bosoms. There is absolutely no bosom nestling going on. Except for that one time at that Christmas party and it was mostly innocent.

Life for so many of us is stressful these days. Like REALLY stressful. I have no idea why, it just is. Maybe it's because a lot of serious stuff goes on "mid life." Good god, we're middle aged. I'm just going to go ahead and glaze over that statement.

I don't get to see my friends very often. Mostly it's a quickie phone call here or a funny text there. Like I said, we mid-lifers have commitments and responsibilities out the whazoo.


If I should need a friend, and I have this past few weeks, I have only to reach out with a faint whimper and as if by bat echolocation or some kind of emotional ESP, they are there—with wine and wisdom and of course, their soft bosoms. Just me or is the word bosom absolutely hilarious? I challenge you to try to use it in casual conversation at least twice today. Do it! I dare you.

I saw this quote the other day and it spoke to me. We mid-lifers are into that sort of thing by the way. Quinoa, yoga, e-books, Fitbits and new agey quotes rock our world.

"There's a gift of quiet blessing only friendship can impart, for a friend shares life with gentle hands, kind words and a caring heart." 

When life threatens to knock you down, and you're looking for a safe place to land, seek out a friendly bosom. FYI, I gained a few pounds over the past few years, so my bosom is fairly ample. So feel free to land on me any time.

Here's the quote in a pretty "pinnable" form because we mid-lifers are also mildly obsessed with Pinterest. 

You might also want to read... Friendship In Our Forties