A New Fear

I have been a swimmer for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories that I have is of me taking swimming lessons in the baby pool at our swim club. Following that I spent years on swim team and also just playing in the pool. Many times you couldn’t get me out. I’d swim all day.

I had a respect for the water of course but I was never hesitant to be in or on the water. I spent hours riding waves with my dad and friends.

In the last ten years I stopped going into the ocean as much -the fear then was stepping on icky things. I was more wary of the currents and undertow. Probably because I had little Kids and even if they had ease in the water the fear of your child getting pulled out into the deep looms large for most parents I imagine.

I still had a love of pools if they weren’t too crowded (that’s a germ thing-yes I got more leery of the humanity in a pool as I’ve aged and well it grosses me out if there are tons of people swimming in a small enclosed body I water no matter how much chlorine is dumped in).

I love the water and I really love being near or in the water. We have a cottage just steps from a Bay. But I now have a fear of deeper water.

I was out on the bay the other day on my kayak. Kevin was along on his kayak. It was a chilly day. About 55 degrees. I’m a new kayaker. I got a boat with pedals as I can’t use my arm to paddle because Of my issues with nerve damage and pain. I was thrilled when I got the kayak. I motored around last summer and if the bay was a little choppy I found myself feeling somewhat nervous. I am no longer sure of myself as a swimmer. I can’t really swim which because of my limited use of my arms but it really didn’t seem to be a huge issue last summer because the Bay isn’t really deep and the water was warm. But the other day the water was cold and seemed deeper and it was choppy. I had wetsuit bottoms on but just a jacket and hat on. And I was wearing boots. Wellington’s. Maybe not the best choice.

While on the water as I was traversing some choppy conditions I felt myself panicking. A full out freak out was just on the edge of my brain. I kept picturing myself falling off the kayak. Or it tipping. Me sinking as my boots filled and my coat became heavy. I feel the fear now as I write this.

I had a flotation device but not on me – it was secured on the back of the kayak. I tried to reach behind me to grab but my limited range of motion and the rocking of the kayak made it impossible for me to reach it. That was a rookie mistake not to have put it in.

I told my husband I was feeling very scared. Kevin told me to take deep breaths and as I did I felt myself regain control of my thoughts. The choppy water wasn’t really that bad. The boat wasn’t really in severe danger of tipping. I tried to enjoy what I was doing and concentrate on the beauty. I’ve lost the ability of being able to do a number of things since my nerve damage became so bad and kayaking gave me the sense of freedom that I’d been craving. I didn’t want to lose that to fear.

We ended the journey on a good note. I was calmer but I had a wake up call. I’ve definitely lost my confidence that I could save myself if I got into trouble. I’ve never felt this way before. It made me mad. Just one more thing that had been taken away because of my limitation and because my body is weaker because of being mostly bedridden this last year.

But anger won’t solve anything. I’m a problem solver by nature. So moving forward I need to figure out how I can feel less fearful in and on the water.

Over last summer when I first went out to sit on the beach at the ocean I walked up to the waters edge and watched the waves roll in and I realized even then that I was very leery about even attempting to wade in to my knees and not for fear of stepping on something icky –it was fear I couldn’t even get up if I fell into the shallow but wavy water. As a result of this I decided to head to the neighborhood pool and allow myself to ease into a better comfort with the water. During the first visit to the pool I ended up in the deep end with a swim noodle and I was able to ditch that after a time and then proceeded to tread the water and I practiced floating. It isn’t easy to tread water with one arm but it’s doable. But this pool visit gave me confidence to venture into the ocean at least up to my knees or hips. And subsequent visits continued to help my confidence. I also worked on leg strength in the gym when I felt ok.

So why the panic the other day?

Well I’ve had another surgery since summer. Just four weeks ago. I haven’t been allowed to do much and maybe kayaking wasn’t a good idea. Maybe I felt vulnerable. I’m definitely weaker. It doesn’t take long to weaken when your on restrictions to not work out or do too much physically. And I think the cold water scared me. Cold water can be paralyzing. But most of all my biggest obstacle that day was my own mind getting the best of me.

I am not an “I can’t” person but over the last few years I’ve said that more times than I care to admit. I want to be strong again! Mind and body. It’s so frustrating to try to get stronger only to be met with Pain as a result. But I’m going to try to figure this out. I’m not likely to kayak anymore this year. It’s getting too cold. I plan to be in some type of workout program. We have a gym in our barn so I have no excuse to at least try. And somehow I have to get into a pool. We have some indoor pools nearby. (Maybe they won’t be too crowded!).

I just want to feel strong again. I still deal with pain and that’s limiting -I have had three surgeries in the last year to try to get rid of it and it’s much better -but there may always be some pain I have to figure this out despite that. It can be done. I know it.

Next spring when I break out the kayak again I want to feel I could cross the bay (it’s a mile). I may not ever try it but I want to feel like I could. I want to no be afraid. I want to be strong.

New Traditions

For the last too long to recall years I’ve thought of Thanksgiving as a holiday of tradition. When I was a kid we did the same thing every year on turkey day. We did a family thing. Whether it was a large gathering or small it was always with family.

My family changed over the years a lot. My parents divorced and there were step-parents and step family. There were some years I didn’t even see my mom. That’s for another post . And some years I had boyfriends and chose to spend my holiday with them.

Some years were fun and comforting other years the celebrations somber or even angry. But the permeating theme for me was family and friends gathering. And also food food food.

When my dad was married to his second wife we ate chicken as he hated turkey. But we still got out the good China and sat down and thanked God and got down to some good eating.

When I was in college the holidays became a game of driving from one parents gathering to another with a hopeful stop at some friends in between. But I actually liked this musical chairs and of course the multiple meals.

After I was married a few years we took over the hosting of Thanksgiving from my in laws. My husbands family is large. With six sons and their families often we had 25 or more at our home. We shared food duty. Everyone bringing something but it was a huge amount of work but for me it was pure joy. I had always wanted to be part of a large family.

So as luck would have it I married into this big family and as I said I took over hosting the family. And I loved it. About five years ago things changed as my in laws began their decline. My father in law had dementia and my mother in law suffered a fall she never really recovered from and neither of them could travel to my home to celebrate. So things changed.

Some years we brought the feast to them. Their house filled with family and food was eaten with my mother in law acquiescing control to others in her home and my father in law tidying up as we finished as his need to keep order was calming to him as his Dementia worsened and he eventually didn’t know who he was tidying up after.

And as those years progressed we began to take turns and go over separately. Each family visiting them alone for a bit but trying to overlap so we could see some of the others in the family. Sometimes a big bunch of us would still end up there and my in laws seemed to fare ok. I have so many pictures of us sitting on their sofa with them. I miss that.

Kevin’s big family was growing more with grandkids marrying and great grandkids being born. And those expanding families began new traditions of having their holidays with their new brood. It’s just what happens. But I miss them. Today I’ll miss all that chaos.

We lost Kevin’s parents recently and my dad as well though I didn’t see him on Thanksgiving typically but we always spoke. My mom now lives with us. With all the changes – especially with the loss of my mother in law – we are all figuring out what the holidays will look like now.

My family – my three teen kids- my mom – and Kevin and I – talked about what would be a fun new tradition for us. We decided we wanted to do the holidays at our new beach house.

We invited the extended family as our doors are always open but this year they are all trying on their new traditions as the beacons that brought us together are now gone.

Though I’m sad for all the losses -I’m really excited for this new way of celebrating. Since my last surgery I’ve been feeling better. I still have some pain that will hopefully improve but I’m able to cook again. I’m not cooking the meal! No. Bethany Blues – a great restaurant nearby- made the dinner. We began to order our holiday meals not long after I got cancer. Making the entire meal is too overwhelming – so I made desserts with my mom. We have one more pie to bake today. Then all I have to do is heat the meal up later. I actually like to cook and I’m thankful that I’m now able to do so but I just can’t physically make such a big feast -and frankly I like the ability to relax with family on the holiday. My kitchen duties are much less this way.

I will miss the big family gathering and we are now trying to make sure we all find some way at least once a year to try to get Kevin’s brothers and families together at some point. I suspect it’s going to be hard especially as the families expand but it’s important to try I think. I have one brother and it’s infinitely hard for us to get together. Getting six families together will be challenging.

I’ll miss seeing my mother in law. If she was still here we’d be going to see her today at her assisted living facility. But I know she was in pain and unhappy living there. She tried to make the best of it but I’m glad the Lord called her home to be at peace. But she won’t be out of my head today.

So here I am writing this at the beach house. Kevin and my daughter have left and are off to run in a Turkey Trot together. I don’t trot except for on a horse -and I think this is a nice father daughter tradition.

I think I’ll honor my dad today by spreading more of his ashes in my garden. I feel he’s a part of this house – a place he never has been but a place I would have never had if it weren’t for him.

I’ve found things can change so fast and we have to learn to ride the waves. I have had many changes in my life and seem to have managed to morph as needed. It’s not always easy. Many times I’ve dragged myself into the next iteration of life kicking and screaming. But this new way of being together over the holidays is exciting to me.

Tomorrow we will go to Lowe’s to pick up our new fake tree that we will set up here at the beach house and will decorate this weekend in preparation to have Christmas here. We will have a tree at home in Maryland too Just in case the weather strands us there. It’s all about being flexible.

So today I will be thankful for many things. Family and food and improving health. And I’ll be thankful for new traditions. It’s change that makes us grow. As my dad would have said “it will put hair on your chest” (for years I didn’t get that but I do now. My dad’s sayings – Lord I miss those!).

Happy Thanksgiving – with love from me.

Finding new roads or currents 

The thought I might never ride a horse again had crossed my mind from time to time this last year. I am pretty sure my own horses don’t really mind that-but it has been hard for me to concede to that fact that my riding days are over. So I’m not really going there yet. But right now I am not supposed to ride a horse. Not only my horse – any horse – no can ride.  This has to do with the fact I have had two major nerve surgeries on my arm and chest wall and a fall off a horse would definitely not be good for me.  

Had I known my riding days were limited I would have ridden more when I had the chance.  There really isn’t any sense in those regrets but that is how I feel much of the time. 

I am a very active person or I was. Since laying in bed with chronic pain for many months I am basically starting all over trying to get myself back into shape. It’s not easy when you have physical limitations and chronic pain. 

I have a whole list of can’t do’s:

  • Can’t ride a horse. 
  • Can’t lift weights with upper body. 
  • Can’t bear weight on my right side using arm. 
  • Can’t paddle anything. Like a kayak or stand-up paddle board. 
  • And you get my drift. 

So I’ve been trying to figure out what I can physically do because focusing on what I can’t do is just depressing and not productive.  And there are many more things I can do than can’t. 

So far I can

  • Walk. 
  • Ride a bike 
  • Ride in the front seat of car again. 
  • Drive a car
  • I can lift weights with my lower body 
  • I can feed animals 
  • I can brush animals with my good arm. 
  • You get the picture. 

The fact I want to ride a horse again is a good sign anyway. The fact that I can’t -for now – is just a hinderance. 

With our traveling back and forth to our beach cottage I’ve been trying to figure out what I could do for activity on the water. Kevin and the kids got stand up paddleboards and they are so cool! I can sit on one while Kevin paddles and that’s fun. We got a two man inflatable kayak and that’s fun too – but I have been just a passenger bc I can’t paddle it. Passengering is ok. It’s fun sometimes – but I don’t want to be the passenger all the time. 

I thought there must be a water device that has pedals.  So I looked up kayaks with pedals and they exist! I found out fisherman use them as it makes it easier to maneuver while fishing.  

So we found a kayak outfitter in Lewes ,DE about 40 minutes from our cottage. We worked with one of the salesmen and he gave us the lowdown on different types of pedal kayaks. We selected a Hobie kayak. The price was fairly high (I may have gasped) but I really wanted independence. I wanted an “I Can” that I could do with my family on the water and I wanted something that gave me independence like the bike did. The price was worth it. 

The feeling of being on the water is amazing. I love the serenity and the exercise. 

I love the freedom and independence. 

I’m glad I found another “I can”

——

Link to the paddle sport shop Facebook page where they posted our picture. 

Here’s some info about the Hobie Mirage kayak I got. 

I’m a child 

I remember sitting in a therapy group years ago. It was well before I was going for myself. I always went in the hopes I could find ways to change other people in my life that I thought needed changing. I wasn’t ready to change me. I was fine. 

In that group I learned about The Inner Child.  Back then Author John Bradshaws ideas of finding the inner child and healing the inner child were big in therapy groups. 

That group was BIG into healing the inner child. We had to get up and speak to our inner child. I hated that.  I was there to fix someone else. I was fine. Yes my dad drank. Yes he had anger issues and yes I grew up in a dysfunctional family but my inner child was fun. I was there to fix a guy. A guy I was dating. 

I still recall the house where we met. It was a funky cottage in an older section of Bethesda, Maryland. Not far from the Potomac river. It was an eclectic neighborhood. And the house vibe wasnt what I would have expected for a therapist but the room with its area to sit in a circle on the floor with pillows lent itself to comfort and a safeness. But when we had to talk to our inner child I thought they were all nuts. I only attended two or three sessions. During the last one I attended a woman a little older than me decided to put it out there for me -she said that I needed to stop and look at myself and ask myself why I wanted to date such people that didn’t want to commit to a full relationship. It wasn’t him it was me that needed to change. 

I was taken aback and left that night never to return. I wasn’t the one who needed to change. It was him. 

I was only 24 or 25 years old. I wasn’t there yet. I was so immature. I didn’t see what the others saw. But good for me to seek therapy. Good for my mother who herself went to therapy over the years even when people made fun of those who sought such help. She taught me not to question therapy it was just something one did like go to the dentist. I saw no stigma.

I just wasn’t ready to search inside myself. 

As the years progressed I went to a number of therapists. Some didn’t jibe with me so I left treatment. Othees worked out well for me and I stayed with them for years. My last one -Barbara-who we (my entire family ) saw died of Colon cancer. I still miss her and haven’t found anyone since that was a good fit for me. But i will. 

But before Barbara there was Claudia. She might even read this as we are Facebook friends. Claudia. She was my therapist right before and a then after I married. She was the perfect therapist for me at the time. She got me to work on me. She wasn’t a Bradshaw enthusiast I don’t think though I’m sure we did work on my inner child in many non-direct ways -like in regression therapy. 

Claudia and I talked, she did Reiki, tap therapy (as I was dealing with terrible anxiety) , hypnosis and more.  She was a kind and caring person. She championed me and I’ll never forget her. 

She made me see my inner self and my inner child. She helped me realize that I was a good person and I deserved good things.  Though I still struggle with that sometimes. 

But I came to realize we never really grow up all the way. And the most evolved humans are the ones who embrace their inner child and spend time healing any brokenness or trauma that child encountered.

 And It’s fun to act child like sometimes. The other day my BFF from childhood -Eileen-sent me a text and in that text she wrote something that made me belly laugh. It hurt too since I’m recovering from surgery! But it’s good to let that child shine through sometimes.  We go back almost 50 years. That’s a lot of lifetime but we still can snicker like the teens we once were. 

My husband gets together with high school friends and they go on and act like they are still 17. It’s a good thing I’ve known a couple of them for almost as long as he has or the jabs and old stories and theimmature  behavior might get old -but I can join in some bc I have old stories with some of them -though I forget many of them but our friend Terry has us doubled over much of the time. That’s the kids in us. Those connnextions are a blessing.  

Tom Atkins wrote a poem about picking a honeysuckle and tasting its nectar and how it brought him back to his childhood. I love the poem be when I read it I felt it. I was picking honeysuckle as a girl and then later with my little kids.  When I read that prom it warmed me ane I felt that child inside me giggle. 

So all these years later I’ve come to know my inner child and I’ve worked on her. I’ve know when I go to therapy I go to help me not another person. 

Little Anne is in there and she has healed a lot over the years because I worked on both of us. We still have a ways to go. I still have a lot to figure out.  

A couple weeks ago I was perusing one of the local online yard sale pages and I saw this Barbie dollhouse. (See below). It came with the furniture and car. My heart jumped. I wanted it. My innner child jumped out and sang “get me that dollhouse”.  I had one as a child though these have evolved and are even better than before.  But I remember seeing that dollhouse under the Christmas tree one Christmas morning many years ago. I still remember how I felt. 

I have no room for such a thing and no reason to buy it- except for the way it makes me feel. Like a kid again. And that’s a good thing. 

I didnt buy it. But I saved the picture. I hope it goes to little girl who will someday when she’s middle aged look at a picture of a dollhouse and feel the way I felt when I saw it. 

I’ve come to love my inner child. For a long time she was hurt and she was ignored. And that hurt child helped facilitate some bad choices bc she was hurt. But Now we are one. I’m am and adult and I am a child and we love dollhouses. 


Screenshot Photo cred: Facebook yard sale site. 
More about the inner child in this great article: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child

Where I come from. 

I love cities. I love the pulse of them and the way you can walk to the shops and restaurants. I love the way the local people go about their lives while me -the visitor -watches them like they are a species. Maybe they are -city people. 

I was a city person for a short while. I lived in Boston for about a year in my twenties. I was part of the hustle and bustle. I walked to shops and I took the T down town to work everyday. I learned how to get on that T ( the Boston subway) – pushing my way in at rush hour -holding on tight to the silver rail or pole that spanned each car – packed in like sardines- and snagging a seat of it became available. And God help is if we had train trouble. Or another train had trouble. Being stuck in a train car like a sardine with no lights and no AC is a bitch. I can’t believe I didnt claw my way out when those things happened. I could not deal with that now. 

What I came to realize in the years since I left the city is that I was really a poser. I was not a city person. I was pretending to be one. 

While I lived in the city I took every opportunity to get out of it. Visiting the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. All of those visits involved camping and/or riding bikes all over those areas. We were on beaches and in the mountains. The city was where I worked and lived but it was in nature that I truly felt alive. 

When I flock to the city now I always gravitate to the parks or to the water. In Baltimore I love Fells point -bc it’s kitschy -but also because it’s on the water. I never stay long in the city. Just long enough to enjoy watching the real city people  -and maybe some of them are posers like I was. But I always leave to come home here to this little farm because I’m from Nature. Nature called me and she won. 

I’ve always found solace and peace in nature. I think we are drawn to what can balance us. And since I’ve been young I’ve been drawn to trees and the forest and to rocks and water. 

When I was a kid we had a small line of woods near our house and I had a special place I went to that was private but so close to the house I could see our backyard fence just feet away.  There was a big rock there and I could sit there and think -my hands running over the cold, smooth surface. There was a dirt path that led up through the woods. Houses flanked both sides. I could run up the path and pretend I was on my horse exploring strange lands. I could see the kitchen lights of our neighbors windows as evening fell. I’d walk in the house after being gone for hours.  Nobody worried. It’s just the way it was back then. 

“I’m going to the woods” was on my lips and came out of my mouth thousands of times during my childhood. I travelled alone or in packs with my neighborhood friends. I was known as the one who always fell in the creek. Sometimes it was by accident and sometimes it wasn’t.  I’d come home in soggy Danskins. Cold and wet but happy.  

I’m sure I escaped to the woods back then to escape the chaos that was part of my household. But it was more than that. It was like I felt more at home outside in the woods than I did indoors. 

I rode horses on Saturday’s at a farm 45 minutes from my suburban home. It felt like another world and I was so happy when I was there. I was sure I was supposed to be part of that world and not part of the confines of suburbia. I think I knew then where my heart wanted to be. 

My dad never liked farms. To him they didn’t represent the ideal world he had in his mind. He was kind of an inside the box thinker. I lived outside. And I followed my heart a lot even if it didn’t always work out. I’m the The Road less travelled type of girl – dad not so much. 

 I remember my dad taking us every so often to the Catoctin mountains about an hour outside where I lived. I loved going on those excursions with my dad. We would hike some. Then he’d drive around inside the pretty park. Once we took our dog and she puked in the car on the way there. Once or twice after visiting the park we stopped at a hamburger place in Thurmont , Md right outside the mountain park and we’d have small square hamburgers at this cute little restaurant. I always loved small towns and always wanted to live in one –and now I do. Those trips were special. My dad seemed more at ease, more focused and friendlier. Except for the time the dog puked in the car. 

 After my dad moved to Florida he would come North for fall and one year we went back to the Catoctins. He was excited to share that time with my kids. He travelled to Colorado regularly and the year before he died he took a bus trip across Idaho and into Montana and beyond. He took a cruise on the Rivers of France. That was so outside his comfort zone going outside the USA -but I’ll bet being on the water was enticing to him. 

 My dad also loved the beach. He lived the last years of his life on a small island on the Gulf side of Florida. As kids My family spent years going to the Maryland and Jersey shores every summer. He taught me how to ride waves. We ate Taylor burgers together from our favorite dive on the boardwalk on the jersey shore. 

Sometimes I am amazed at how similar we were. He just never saw it and I don’t think I did until he was gone. I wish it didn’t take death for me to see this similarity -I always looked for our differences. And we had a number of them but we both loved the beauty of the world. 

Sometimes he was the chaos I ran from to the woods to find the calm I craved -but maybe in his life he was running from the chaos inside himself. Maybe nature called to his heart like it does mine. 

It’s hard to walk into a canopy of trees and not feel enveloped in a hug from something not of the human world.   Or when you walk on the beach with the sounds of the waves and the gulls how can the heart rate not slow? 


I’m from nature. When I reach out to it it always reaches back and gives me just what I need. No wonder I often sleep with one earbud in with ocean sounds playing on my IPad. Or I crack my window open at night and can hear the snort of a horse and the crow of the roosters in the early morning. Farm sounds for free. 


I live in the country now.  We have neighbors but we have space too. I am 8 miles from a small town that I love -And not too from big cities. My place is here on my farm or at the beach. Or in the woods or at a lake. I am from nature.  

My world has been limited lately. My pain makes it hard to go out anywhere in the car. I hate being cooped up. I’m like a wounded eagle wanting to fly free. 


For now I have the lane next to my house-And the trees beside it and fields surrounding it. I try to walk everyday on the lane. I don’t make it that often but I try. I walk out the door and visit the chickens and ducks. Sometimes I have goodies to feed them. I step onto the lane -sometimes it’s dry, sometimes wet and sometimes soggy but it always calms me. 

If we open our hearts to nature it  will speak to us.  We are all part of the same thing but our humaness is a shield that hinders our connection. Drop the shield and the real world will reach out to us.  


On the lane I talk to God, my dad, my father in law, I pray, if I’m with my husband or one of my teens we chat. I take pictures. How can I have so many pictures of the same place? What a small world I live in. But the that world changes everyday. It is what nature does -it is never the same. 

I stop to take a picture and I’m somewhere else. I’m in the puddle looking at the branches of the trees in the reflection. I’m mesmerized by naked branches. I have so many pictures of the winter tree. 


But for a moment I’m not in pain.  I’m part of that tree. I’m part of that puddle. I’m part of those woods and of the cornfield. 

I come back inside and I’m grounded and whole. 

I am from nature.  

Meandering moods 

My moods have waxed and waned lately. The other day I was in a terrible mood. It was one of those that was just making me feel ugly and I swear it permeated out of me and I just looked ugly too. Which didn’t help my mood any.

I am tired of dealing with the pain and I’m tired of missing out on doing things. Some days I feel like I’m about to burst with being tired of feeling crummy. Add life’s doling out other stuff like my daughter being in two car accidents in one week you could understand why I might get moody     .

But it’s not who I want to be.  We are all allowed our moments but I don’t like those moments to last. I don’t want to put negative energy out into the world. Don’t  we have enough of that? I feel like we get back what we put out.  I will tell you that it’s not easy to put out good stuff when you feel crappy.

I seem to find a change in my down spirit when I go looking for positive things. I know it’s bad when a baby goat on Facebook  doesn’t make me laugh. When I get like that I know I’m craving nature. The real kind -like me being out in it. And that’s not always easy now BC of the pain. But when I want something I somehow will figure out a way to do it.

Walking has become important to me. I know that if you keep moving you keep moving. So I keep moving. Even if I don’t want to. If I have to I take pain meds and I go. Pulling in the elixir that nature freely gives lifts my mood most of the time.

When my mood is up I am vastly aware of all the good things in my life. I see how one small area of pain can turn gold into ash. It’s all perspective. And some days my perspective will be positive and others not so much. I am only human.

I keep looking ahead to better days. But I don’t want to waste the days in the present. Waiting is fine but we need to live while we wait.  So I do what I can. I live the best I can. I try hard. Sometimes I’m just tired.

I have another surgery April 21. I am optimistic that my surgeon can help much of the pain. I’m grateful to have found a doctor that is so dedicated to helping woman with post breast therapy pain. Multiple surgeries aren’t uncommon in this group. In the waiting room on one visit I met a woman who was going through her 19th surgery. The third with my surgeon. We exchanged contact info and we are in touch and she joined the Facebook group for post breast therapy pain that I am in.

On that same visit I met Mary. We had “met” online on that same Facebook page a while back. It was fate that we had appointments the same day. Mary and I suffer from the same pain areas and we lament to each other. It feels good to connect with people who are living what you are living.  You don’t feel so alone. When I left the surgeons office that day I felt happy.  Even though I felt crappy. I like days when I can feel happy and crappy at the same time.

I think about what I’d like to do when I feel better. How I’d like to help others. I want to share this story with others. If I could save a person one less closed door, one less doctor telling them their pain isn’t real , or that it isn’t from the cancer treatments, – I’d feel so great. This story may always be dynamic but i know I have circumvented the system and I know that can be of great help to others

There are other things I want to do to help others. I might be able to do some. Some I might not. We will see.

I also want to do things for myself that I havent been able to do for some time – ride my horse, paddle a kayak, swim , lift weights, do laundry (ok that’s a stretch) , cook(sometimes), and spend time on the beach just being.

See what I mean about living in the future? I thinks that’s ok but I want to live here and now.  I want to make now the best it can be under the circumstances and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to that. I have learned to be resilient over this last nine months. I have dealt with pain, surgery, loss and grief and more pain. I am strong. Even in my worst moments there is something inside of me that wants to keep going. Thats been a beacon during some of my hardest days. That little niggle of strong.

Today we have been pelted with a snowy rainy mix and I want to take a walk later to see how the sun hits the snow on the trees. Maybe I’ll get some photos.

Right now I’ll share some beauty from my walk the other day. I decided to walk into the cornfield.

I hope I am putting out some good chi. I’d sure like to get some back.

A glimpse of the lane along the cornfield.

Pine trees at the edge of the field

Sunset looking at the back of our little farm.

Winter cornfield.

Another look at the back of my farm. I didn’t get rid of the orb. Kind of liked the vibe.

Cornfield selfie

Surgery journal …it keeps on going 

So the last I left off – I think- is that I was slowly healing from my surgery. 

Recap – I had breast cancer surgery which led to pain for three years that was ignored by my breast surgeon. It exacerbated last May 2016. I was bed ridden. I had to begin a journey that would lead mye to a nerve surgeon that agreed that I may have a problem with surgical clips. This clip issue had been suggested to me by a physiatrist I saw over the summer.  Surgical clips are made of metals and are used often in surgeries to close of vessels. They have caused issues In patients but it’s not common or maybe not admitted by doctors that they are an -in fact- an issue. 

The nerve surgeon operated. Removed clips in my axilla (armpit) And he found some clipped onto nerves. Not the right thing to clip.  The nerve surgeon also cut some nerves and buried them into muscle. He removed a neuroma (bundles of scar tissue ). He was optimistic that he had cleared the area of clips and that these were likely the cause of much of my pain. He Closed me up and here I am just over three months later. 

Now I will say that I’m still in the process of healing. But I have had pain in the back of my armpit -it’s not new pain- I think my surgeon thought it was pain that would subside as he treated all that other stuff I mentioned to you above. That pain in the back of my armpit is becoming worse. And the symptom that bothered me the most -the nerve pain that made me cough -is still around and seems to flare when that armpit pain flares. Nobody gets the cough symptom. That is very frustrating.

Is it worse BC I’m more active and doing more things?  Well I’m not bed ridden anymore and I am doing more and the more I use my arm the more it hurts. I can’t work on my range of motion exercises much because it causes pain. And it hurts as a passenger in the car and when I drive. I tried a long ride to the beach a little over a week ago as a passenger and that about crushed me. I am not big on opiates so I’m only willing to take so much medication. It was a stressful trip to say the least. 

I went to see the nerve surgeon this week and he took a long time with me. He pondered my continued pain. He had some ideas of the nerves it could be. He hopes it can calm down and become a non-issue the longer I heal. 

So the plan is to get a series injections right in the areas of my pain. The injections contain lidocaine -a numbing agent -which is short acting and some steroid which we hope will calm the pain down. I get the next injections four weeks apart. I won’t know if this injection will help even for the short term for up to a week.  Then if  I still continue with pain a few months from now I will have to have more surgery. 

Yes I know. It bites. 

But I need to get this pain level under control so it doesn’t limit me so much. I’m limited socially and physically. I’m up and around which I’m so grateful for. But it’s not enough yet. My mom moved in with us at the end of November. I want to be there for her.  I don’t want to be dealing with my own pain issues that it limits me from helping her. 

I’m 75% better than last summer. Being bed ridden and now being up and around is a huge deal. A lot of the pain is gone. But what’s left is bad. If it weren’t for the pills for nerve pain I’d been in bad shape. I hardly ever tolerate any RX meds. I failed all the cancer hormone blocking drugs I’ve tried. I was very pessimistic about the drug neurontin also known as Gabapentin. It’s used to treat seizures but is very effective on nerve pain. Which is a hideous burning pain that can go from light burn to a blaze if left to smolder.  The drug has been great for me. I have little side effects. A few twitches here and there and memory loss. The memory loss is the worst of it for me. I put up with it because the pain control is that good. And the drug isn’t like an opiate. I’m just writing everything down and when I forget something at least I have something to blame it on. I have read coming off the drug is  tough. Not like coming off opiates but it can be hard. But I’ve read how to counteract any unpleasant side effects with natural products like magnesium – which can make the taper off the drug much better. But I’m not even there yet. I still need the drug -so in an unlike fashion for me I’m not going to worry about when I go off it. 

Nobody said that this healing would be easy. I think I just got in my head that it would be a done deal when all those clips came out.  I’m disappointed. But I’m so determined to get to a point where I won’t have so much pain. I don’t know if I’ll actually ever be pain free on my cancer side -but I’d like it to be much better.  And I’m not pain free elsewhere. It’s just that the level of pain that sets us back from true living can be different for each of us. And I met my match. 

The one good – well maybe great thing- that has happened is that from my experience I have been able to help other woman in the same pain situation as I am in ( post breast therapy pain syndrome). A couple woman have even gone to my surgeon after I mentioned him on the Facebook page that I belong to for ladies with post breast cancer therapy pain. 

It feels good that my hardships haven’t gone in vain and that my experience and what I’ve learned and shared could actually be help to others.  

I have a lot of things I want to do. I am so grateful for how far I’ve come. And I call upon God each day to help me to be more patient. I am doing the best I can.

I miss riding my horse. I miss farm chores. I don’t miss doing laundry though -I can do a bit of it but I try not to. This week we hired a cleaning service to come in and clean. It was much needed. We will probably hire them on a regular schedule. I just can’t keep up and my teens aren’t the best cleaners. And I’m kind of done with the eye rolling from them especially when I can’t pull my own weight doing chores. And frankly I don’t want it to be a fight. In the scheme of life it’s just not worth being mad at messy kids. Life’s too short. 

The road to recovery isn’t always a straight line. I’m learning to be more accepting of that. Right now I am better than last summer. I’m so grateful. 

I really am learning to live one day at a time. I don’t know how I’ll feel from day to day. So just focusing on today is the easiest for me. It’s forcing me to live more in the present. The theme to my last blog. 

I’m carried by the thank you’s I’ve gotten for sharing my experiences and hearing that what I’ve written has been empowering them has really be a saving grace. I’ve been carried by the good wishes of friends from all over. 

It’s not a road I’d wish on anyone. During my worst days I sometimes can’t find a thing to be joyful about. But I see that life happens no matter where I am or what I feel – and I want to live life. 

I orten  think of the Apostle Paul in the Bible and his unending optimism and want to call people to Christianity despite his circumstances. His letters never waivered in his goal and he never lamented on his circumstances though he was jailed when he wrote many of the letters that now are books in the New Testament. He found contentment in any circumstance. This was because of his love of other things outside of this earthly place and his faith of what lay ahead for him. 

Sometimes you have to try to enjoy life even when you aren’t where you want to be- whether that be physically or emotionally. I’m no Paul. But I can learn from him. 

This cancer journey has been such an incredible challenge in my life. It’s not easy for me to stop along the way and consider I need to be learning from my discomforts . I just want out of it. But in the moments where I can just stop and breathe and  just live in the present despite my discomfort I see how truly blessed I am. 

I don’t know where the road will lead but I’m on it – better to make the best of it when I can.