Monday, October 9, 2017

Houston, We Have a Problem. . .

I haven't posted in nearly 4 1/2 years.  Wow!  Life is mostly great!  I have gained two daughters-in-law, 2 ready made grandsons and now 3 Wooldridge grandkids.  Maxx is 4.  He belongs to Morgan and Desi.  Cayden is almost 3 and Capri just turned 1. They belong to Clayton and Courtney.  Harris lives nearby and Curtis is seeing the world living on cruise ships and selling jewelry.  Hollis and I are as happy as we ever have been.  We will celebrate the 39th anniversary of the day we met next month.  He is still the best human I have ever known.

On Monday, September 25th I had two biopsies on my right breast.  I'm tempted to write about that in detail.  Maybe I should.  I had a biopsy on that same breast 5 years ago and it was negative for cancer.  It was a very unpleasant experience and I was quite aggravated that there was nothing wrong and I had such a bad time recovering that the whole event went into my book as awful.  Now we are on this event.  My OB-GYN who has taken care of my girl parts for the last 8 or 9 years called me Tuesday afternoon and said "Well we weren't so lucky this time.  They found cancer in both samples."  Wait, WHAT?!?!  I have zero risk!  I have no family history!  I nursed all my babies for a year after they were born!  I don't smoke!  This can't be right!!  But it is.  It is a fact.  I have breast cancer. 

On Thursday, September 28th, Hollis and I met with a wonderful human being of a surgeon named Richard Fischer.  He said great things like "this is a curable cancer.  This is not what will kill you." and "This is a significant moment in your life story.  This is as big a deal as your son getting hurt in Iraq.  It's okay to be scared and to take care of yourself."  I hoped he would also give me answers.  Sadly, he gave me a list of options.  Option 1 seemed plausible.  2 wasn't even an option for me.  3 kind of sucked and 4 seemed impossible.  Now I needed to see a plastic surgeon to get more infomation.  On Tuesday October 2, my wonderful friend Eboni accompanied me to meet Dr. Steven Pisano, plastic surgeon.  He is one very confident guy but caring and gentle - things I seem to really appreciate right now.  He explained option 4 to me in detail and I pretty much drank the kool-aid right then.  

In the meantime, Hollis had a conversation with a woman who underwent a version of option 4 about 12 years ago.  She encouraged him to encourage me to take my time choosing an option.  Because his support means the world to me, I honored his request and spoke with friends who have had to make these choices.  

Now I am sure I want to choose option 4. Dr. Pisano's office has coordinated with Dr. Fischer's office and later this month, I am going to have a bi-lateral (double) mastectomy with abdominal tissue transplant reconstruction.  So many multisyllable words to say that the existing breasts are coming off and I will get new ones from my very own body (belly, middle, tummy. . . ).  I am really excited that I will never need another mammogram or biopsy (I really hate those things).  I will have a flat tummy again - I gave up my original about 34 years ago when I had the first of my four 9 pound babies.  I'm trying hard to manage my expectations about the tummy part but this plastic surgeon has lots of before and after photos on his website and he takes great pride in what he does so my level of hope is sky high. 

I cannot escape a couple of things.  I am super sad to lose my own breasts.  I have really liked being a woman with a nice chest.  I LOVED nursing my babies.  Even in the night time and even with mastitis, I was a great nursing mom and I treasure that time of mothering in my life.  I really hoped to die with them intact. Secondly, this is not going to be an easy surgery.  Despite the confidence of my plastic surgeon and his caring, competent nurse, this is gonna hurt!!  I have two weeks of prepping for surgery.  I start protein drinks this week.  I have to get t shirts and slit them down the front to wear under my surgery garments.  I had 5 prescriptions to fill to have on hand when I come home.  I will require 2 solid weeks of 24/7 care when I get home and full recovery will take 4-6 weeks.  Then in three months there will be a follow-up scar revision surgery.  I didn't even have that after having babies!  

People at age 57 are a little more aware of their mortality than people at, say, 37.  It's going to take a while to heal.  And then there is this lovely anxiety that has moved into my heart, brain and stomach.  I'm scared and I have a little over two weeks to be scared - yay.  I have very little appetite but this is not really the time to shrink my belly.  It will soon be pressed into a new service!  And in addition to all these emotions, I feel guilty.  I am going to be cured on surgery day of breast cancer.  No follow up treatment will be necessary.  That part is truly amazing and I promise that just as soon as I get through all this, I will try really hard to refrain from bitching because I would not like to be seen as ungrateful here or ever.  I know I am lucky/blessed.  I have friends who have undergone torture to get rid of this disease and I have lost more than one friend to this horribleness.  Mine will be gone.  I promise all of you I will not forget that.  

In the meantime, it's real, it's looming and it's rough.  My support team is first class.  I have friends putting together a care calendar so that Hollis can work during the day while I recover.  He will take wonderful care of me.  My sister will help care for me and then reclothe my new body.  Other than the pain and the fear, this would be really fun!  Not really!  All prayers appreciated.  I promise to update when I can type.  Thanks for listening.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'll take what I can get. . .

Last night was the 2nd Sunday Family Dinner of 2013.  Quite unexpectedly, Curtis is home right now and this matters because I was a bit trepidatious about starting them without him but these things take care of themselves and although it will be hard the first few weeks we meet without him when he goes back to sea, I am very grateful that he is here now.  We had everyone present and accounted for and ate spaghetti and meat sauce with salad and garlic bread.  These are not fancy meals.  They are meant to bring us together and they do.  Last night after we ate, Ayden and Grandma were engrossed in an iPad game called 4 Pics, 1 Word.  Hollis and Grandpa were chatting and I noticed a couple of the boys were out on the deck out front.  I went out to join them.
As a side note, I have been struggling with the empty nest thing off and on for a while now.  It's cliche but the fact is, going from being needed to not being needed is tough.  Our grocery bill is lower, but we only have each other to prepare meals for.  Our light bill is lower, but we don't have power-using, noisemakers in the house either.  We are very comfortable alone together but I miss being a mom - A LOT!
Another side note: also on the cliche list is "A daughter's a daughter for all of her life, a son's a son til he takes a wife."  Two of the boys have long term stable relationships with wonderful women whom I adore.  I think the old saying is just a bit off because adult self-sufficient men, even single ones, just don't have much need of Mom either.  There are times when this situation makes me very sad.  Where did the time go?!?  How could I have squandered all their growing up years?  I have a friend who is in her early 30's and last week she got a stomach bug.  She has a husband and two elementary school aged kids of her own but on Facebook she posted "I want my MMMMOOOOMMMMMMYYY!"  I told her that hers was a lucky mom.  My guys would no more have that thought or ever say it out loud than the man in the moon.  I know to be thankful for their self-sufficient lives.  Not every parent of a son has this and I am aware of that.  I just have to work hard to not feel left out of what's going on in their worlds.  I will never get them off my radar. They are my children and I will worry about them until I die but I also must realize that I am not on their radar in a reciprocal way.  They are guys!  But, back to last night. . .
When I went out on the deck, we chatted for a while and then the other boys came out too.  We laughed as we talked about current pig hunting stories and past adventures with friends from school years.  I kept thinking other adults would come out there too but they didn't.  I had about 30-45 glorious minutes with just my guys and it was WONDERFUL!  They don't need me anymore but I love it when they laugh together.  I need that.  
Morgan is just a few weeks away from parenthood.  He and Des are going to be so awesome at it.  Des already is and it is great to see Morgan in the step-dad role with it all coming so easily to him.  Newborns are a new area for him but he is so very happy that this little guy is coming into his world and it is great to see the joy in his eyes when he talks about assembling cribs and registering at the hospital.  No, I won't be needed again the way Des is right now but hopefully in a year or so there will be a toddler who runs to see me and wants my time.  Will that fill some of this emptiness?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

. . .and then things got weird. . .

I have a saying that goes like this:  You never know when you wake up in the morning what God has planned for you.  It's not deep but some days are more of a surprise than others.  Take, for instance, this past Thursday.  I am a fairly new employee at a local credit union and I am still in training.  To be more specific, I was in Training Camp last week and the culmination of Training Camp is a field trip to one of the CU branches and lunch out.  Wouldn't you know, the branch for half of us to visit is the one that is walking distance from my house so of course, I volunteered to drive.  We took 2 cars for 6 people and left for the branch about 10:15.  I was kind of excited to see the "inside" of the branch and who doesn't love a field trip.  As fate would have it, I also gave blood that morning in the bloodmobile.  I have been giving blood at any opportunity I had since I was 17.  I give every time a blood bank comes to my place of employment and I have gone to the blood bank in New Braunfels a few times between employers so it's about as routine to me as anything.  After my donation on Thursday, I drank my sports drink and ate some peanut butter cookies.  I had had my usual breakfast so all was in order.  Back to the branch.  We were in the lobby of the branch being told by the manager of the branch about how members accessed their safe deposit boxes and it occurred to me that I probably ought to sit down.  I didn't exactly feel bad; I just wanted to sit.  Shortly thereafter, we moved into one of the offices for a demo of the video conferencing that allows members to open accounts and close on loans and I again expressed that I probably ought to sit down.  I began to feel really strange.  It was not hot in the room but I was sweating and apparently most of the color had drained from my face because my pregnant instructor took a granola bar from her purse and offered it to me.  It did not look good and I could not eat it.  A few seconds later, I fainted.  A first for me!  I was sitting down in a rolling office chair so I did not fall but I sure don't remember being moved from the office to the lobby area at all.  
I came around pretty quickly but it was too late - my co-trainees, instructor and the branch manager were all pretty freaked out.  They had already called 911, credit union headquarters and Hollis.  The fire station is only about a mile away so the fire truck and ambulance were there in very few minutes.  By this time, I was awake but shaky and apologizing profusely for being the problem child of the field trip.  The EMT's hooked me up to a heart monitor, took some blood for a blood sugar reading and took my blood pressure.  Head EMT guy said he was going to stand me up, take another BP reading and that would determine if I was going to finish the rest of the branch tour.  I flunked that test big time.  They thought it best to take me to an ER and I was not in a position to argue.  
Hollis could have come and gotten me but he would want me to get checked out.  One of my coworkers could have taken me and my car the very short distance to my house but that would have meant they had to come off the clock and I didn't think I could ask them to do that and I wasn't really sure I wanted to be home alone for the afternoon so I went with the EMT recommendation and let them put me on the ambulance.  
I have only been in an ambulance on two other occasions.  I rode with my handicapped uncle once from his nursing home to Silver City for some tests and Harris and I rode in two in one day when he was moving from Augusta GA to San Antonio when he was hurt in Iraq.  Never have I been a patient in one.  I talked to Hollis before we left the branch and assured him that I was aware and coping and that I expected the ER would put some fluids back into me and I would call him when it was time for me to go home.  He also agreed that I should go get checked out.  It's about a 15 minute drive from the branch to the New Braunfels hospital.  When you go by ambulance, you avoid the ER waiting room - you know, the one filled with people with the flu.  That was a plus.  I was seen shortly by a doctor who ordered some blood work and as I had predicted, they started an new IV (the EMT had started one in the ambulance) and I just wanted to sleep.  Once it was determined that I was in working order, I was released about 3:30.  Hollis had come to the ER and we went to get me some lunch and then went home.  The doctor said I should stay home Friday but I am headed back to work tomorrow with no lasting effects that I am aware of from the adventure.  I did call the blood bank on Friday to let them know about the "reaction" - their word, not mine and they said it would be noted.  It was not at all the Thursday I had anticipated when I woke up.  It's okay if it doesn't happen again.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2013? Bring It On!!

2012 brought great news - Morgan and Desiree are having a baby.  2013 will bring the BABY!!  For years, Hollis called me a "baby freak."  I hated it when he said it - I don't want to be any kind of freak.  The facts however, cannot be denied.  I really, really love babies.  The only ones I'm related to that have come along since I had my own all live very far away.  This will be my first nearby related baby since Curtis was born 24 years ago.  That's a pretty long wait.  Here are some of the things I cannot wait to do with this little guy just in this year alone:
Mid to late April - he will be born.  I am sure I will annoy his wonderful mother to no end going on and on about how he looks just like his father.  I will try not to but every fathers mom does this.  I will try not to bug Des with my observations.  Very soon - in the first month or so - I look forward to having that little guy asleep on my chest, just like my babies used to do.  I love it when you pick up a newborn and the pull up their knees and put their arms up over their heads to stretch.  They grunt and squeak - it's just adorable.  My grandson will do that and I will treasure it.
May or June - he will come to my house on Sundays for family dinner.  I will have to share him but he will be here with his Papa and uncles and great grandparents and I will savor it.
July or August - he will giggle.  Smiles will be all over the place but sooner or later he will laugh out loud.  I hope it's when I lift him over my head and lower him toward my face - that used to make his dad giggle.  It will bring back great memories.
September or October - he will be trying to crawl and Ayden will be hauling him around.  I can see this in my mind.  Ayden and Ashton will be great big brothers but at age 9, Ayden will be the one to hold him on his hip and this little guy will pat his brother and smile.  Once he's mobile though, he will chase and be chased by his brothers - maybe up and down my hallway.  That will be a hoot!
November or December - he will start eating food.  I will sit in front of his high chair and every time I move the spoon toward his face, I will open my mouth wide.  I won't be able to help myself - I've tried with other babies.  Oh, and when I pat him after a bottle, I will burp - I always do.
I'm not sure when he will first spend the night at my house but I hope it will be a very regular event.  I want to love him and watch over him and just let him know how glad I am to have him in my life.  I hope he will come to feel the same way about me.  I figure it will be 2014 before he says "Omi" or "Papa" but he will and it will be very hard to not give him anything he wants in the whole wide world when he does - except soda.  I won't give him soda.
Baby Wooldridge - 16 wks
Prior to his arrival, there will be sewing - lots of sewing!  I will crochet for him and craft for him.  That will be pretty fun too.  People keep asking me how many quilts one baby needs.  I shall endeavor to discover the correct number.  
So I have some events mapped out for the year.  They are the things I anticipate when I am going to sleep at night.  I hope each of you has some events mapped out.  Maybe you plan to travel or change jobs.  Maybe you're going to move or learn something new.  I plan to bond with a baby - because I am an enthusiast of the highest order when it comes to babies!  I wish you all a wonderful new year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent and Acolytes

Today is the 4th Sunday in Advent.  All but the center candle is lit on the Advent Wreath.  There were no greens yet in the sanctuary but there was our usual Eucharist.  There is a family of 3 at St. Margaret's.  The dad of the family is deployed for a year to Kuwait.  The mom and the 10 yr old daughter of the family hold down the home front and we are all watching Dakota grow up.  We like to think we are keeping an eye on them for the dad while he's gone but they seem pretty able to cope on their own.  This morning just after the procession of one priest, one acolyte and two lay Eucharistic ministers, while we were still singing the processional, I noticed Dakota had her mom engaged in an earnest but quiet conversation.  Then Dakota left her mom's side and tiptoed to the sacristy.  Shortly, she emerged in her acolyte gown and filled the empty acolyte spot on the side of the church that didn't have one.  I glanced around the congregation to see several knowing smiles.  When we went to take communion, I asked Mom if that had been Dakota's idea.  She said "Oh yes.  She asked me why there wasn't a second acolyte.  I told her whomever was scheduled must not have been able to make it and she said 'But Mom, I'm here!' so I told her to go get vested."  One little instance of awareness.  One little act of initiative.  A willingness to serve without being asked.  The knowing eyes of others present at the worship.  It was small but it impacted me deeply.  It all matters.  Maybe just to those of us who noticed, but it matters.  I caught up with Dakota after the service.  I told her that I really appreciated her role in the service this morning.  I told her that back in the 1970's, I was the first girl to be allowed to acolyte at my church.  She could not even grasp that.  Today I am just thankful that I saw an act of service by a 10 year old girl.  May she never loose her willingness to serve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Adventure in Alabama

Katelyn told us all about a year ago that she thought she'd graduate in August 2012 and to begin planning for the event.  I waited until about a month ago to get really serious about getting there.  I missed her high school graduation because the dumb ol' Army scheduled Harris' Purple Heart Ceremony for the same day back in 2008, but I digress.  Having completed all the required courses for a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, Kate was planning to walk the stage on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 9:00 AM.  I was determined to be there.  A few moments on the Southwest Airlines website made it clear I would not be flying to Birmingham and then driving to Tuscaloosa.  If I wanted to go, it would be in my car.  I started casting about for fellow travelers as soon as I realized I was looking at 13 hrs of driving - EACH DIRECTION!  Curtis thought going along was a great idea and Clayton also agreed.  I know that the entire clan would loved to have gone along but these guys had the clearable calendars so they were in.  
At the 5 hour mark of the designated route was Tyler - bingo! - housing! Mom graciously waited up very late on Thursday night for the 3 of us to arrive after having worked all day.  She got up and fixed breakfast for us Friday AM and sent us on our way.  She then drove to Houston, picked up my brother, Currie and they flew to Birmingham and rented a car.  We drove 8 hours.  Actually, we drove 4 hours to Vicksburg, Mississippi and took a break.  I got us some fried chicken to take to the Military Park and in we went.  Mom had reminded me that her great-grandfathers name was on the Wisconsin monument in the park in recognition of his service in the Civil War.  We began the driving tour and Clayton and Curtis were immediately entranced.  We stopped at the huge Illinois marble monument and they took photos and video.  It's pretty impressive in it's construction and there are bats living in the recesses of the carvings so it was cool to see.  We stopped at a couple more spots along the way but then we got to the Wisconsin memorial.  The names of all the soldiers who served were in bronze on plaques covering well over 50 feet of wall space but each group was alphabetized so we started at opposite ends and searched for Peter Peterson - I won!!  The boys saw their 3X-great-grandfathers name on a Civil War monument.  It was somewhat indescribable for them.  Vicksburg National Military Park needs more time than we had to devote to it that day.  I hope someday they will go back and see all it has to offer.  We had to eat our chicken and hit the road.


Laura and Kate at Baumhowers

Matt & Jordan
Clayton & Curtis

Four hours later, we were in Tuscaloosa.  Lots of family had already arrived and when Mom and Currie rolled in from Birmingham, we all went to dinner.  Kate was so happy to see us all and just glowed with excitement.  We had lots of fun and great conversation.  After dinner, some grown-ups went back to the hotel to crash and some grown-ups went out with the graduate and her entourage.  They called it a night just before 4:00 AM.  
One Happy Graduate

Kate had to be at pre-graduation festivities at 7:30 so she was up and gone pretty quickly.  The rest of us go to the Coleman Coliseum at 8:20, the procession began at 8:30 and the ceremony began at 9.  There were about 1,500 graduates.  A few hundred PhD's, a few hundred Masters and several hundred bachelors candidates who all paraded across the stage to accept the symbols of their accomplishments. The cheers for Katelyn's name were the loudest due to a really big entourage sitting all together.  It was loud and great.

After graduation, we all caravanned to Carmelo's for brunch.  Great meal, lots of laughing, a glowingly beautiful graduate and beautiful weather made it all perfect.  Now to go all our separate ways - The Marston's and McLaren's back to Fairhope, Matt and Jordan back to Chattanooga, Mom, Currie, Laura, Kate and Lex to Birmingham to see UAB where Lex is now attending and us back to Texas.  We took a rest first.  I even tried to go to the only quilt shop in Tuscaloosa but it is closed.  It is full of fabric and tools and patterns, but it is closed (I was sad about that).  The boys and I left about 4 and drove back to Vicksburg.  Since the park was closed, we did the next best thing.  We went gambling on a casino boat.  We left with eleven dollars and change more than we went in with and then had a bite at Waffle House.  We got to Mom's house about 1:30 and I woke up about 7:40 this morning.  The boys got up and we went to Kathy's to eat breakfast and visit.  They left for church and we drove 5 more hours to get home.  We went a little over 1,600 miles in just under 72 hours.  It was so much fun and all three of us are so very glad we went.  Thanks Kate, for such a great celebration of your awesome accomplishment!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Birthday post post script

Caroline and me in Gruene

Kitten tossing is kinda fun!

My beautiful boys and me - Harris, Clayton, Morgan, Curtis


One of two beautiful plants I got for my yard from my in-laws.
Here are some photos from Birthday weekend. . .
Barrett, Curtis, Chris, Clayton, Morgan and Harris