Saturday, April 24, 2021

It is my desire to be done with all this!

It has been a crazy month here in the Kingdom.  I am sure that I speak for not only myself, but also for the Prince, Happy, and Doc as well as all my support dwarfs and persons... ENOUGH already!  I am a horrible patient. I am not okay with needles.  I dont not convalesce well. 

I knew even after the high of the great thyroid/growth report, cancer free, that I was going to have one more "'procedure" to endure before my "check engine" light could be put out for what I pray will be years to come!  

On April 22nd, I was scheduled for a small basal cell skin spot removal.  A recent appearance, caught early, and in my mind, a very small issue that could and would be easy enough to handle. 

Except no woobie.  No support person.  And I would be awake and alert for it all. Needles would be involved.  I, even though I desire not to be this person, would loose my marbles. 

So, the week prior to my procedure, knowing how I panic about needles, I called to confirm my appointment, to make sure that the doctor knew where he was "digging" since I did not desire my forehead to resemble the Wack-a-Mole game, and reminded them about my terrible irrational fear of needles.  

After a bit of a run around. By run around I mean, they would not call in the happy pill to my pharmacy for me to pick up and take while the Prince drove me in to the appointment as that is not their protocol. I come to find out it was also not something they would even consider budging on.  They assured me that upon my arrival to the office 30 minutes early they would give me an Ativan, and my anxiety would dissipate within 30 minutes. 

First, I had to assure them I had transportation to and from the appointment, and had to sign a consent form.  ALL of which I was most willing to do!   I arrive at the appointed time.  I wait to be called back to sign my form and get my pill to calm my jumbled nerves, and realized as the minutes ticked by,  it was as if  I never had this conversation, or three similar ones, with two nurses, prior to this appointment, about my irrational fear of needles.  

By now, as I am waiting, I am waging a war in my mind, about doing this without the Ativan, and just with my sloth - as my life size woobie, was shunned from accompanying me, as the time that the pill should be starting to take affect, is passing by.  They have already indicated this process could be multi step and last most of the day.  

Finally I am called back to the office, and they begin prepping me for what is to come.  I remind the nurse that I am terrified of needles, she soothingly says, "it will be okay" and tells me the doctor will be in to mark up my forehead in a few minutes.  

Okay, I want this done.  Meds or not, I want this over so I can go home.  It seems NO one is remembering the meds, and at this point I do not wish to waste a half hour waiting for them to kick in. 

So I convince myself I can do this without the meds.  About that time I overhear them discussing the fact that I did not get the Ativan and did not sign the consent and now, if they give it to me I have to wait 30 minutes.  No, nope, not happening.  Just get me done and on the way home. 

The nurse comes back in and says very humbly, "I am so sorry that we did not look closer at your notes.   Do you want the Ativan now?"  I told her no, that I was just going to "suck it up" and that they would just have to deal with stressed out me, because as badly as I did not want any of this to happen, I also did not want any delays in the process.  I wanted to do this and get out as fast as I could.  

The doctor comes in, marks my forehead. Just a small round dot.  I feel relieved. I convince myself this will be simple.  I can do this.  I hop off my chair and grab my sloth, and mentally prepare for what is coming next.  

The staff was delightful.  I almost did not feel the prick or the burning, or my pulse racing, or my heart pounding, or feel my arm pits sweating, could almost keep my feet still, and my groans silent, nor did I recognize I was twisting the life out of poor Mr. Sloth.  It was almost, like everything I feared most in life was not happening.  But it did. And I survived. I wasn't happy. But I also wasn't vomiting. 

The first pass was so fast. For that I was so grateful.  Off I go to the waiting room with a bandage to wait on pathology.  Some are already waiting, some are already going back for a second pass... and I am praying that I can be done with this one pass.  So I read.  I pray.  I text.  Waiting...

As I assess the folks around me, I feel like I am just but a baby.  All my co-waiters were easily 25  + years older than I... As I am processing this information and wondering at 80 if I would care about basal cell on my ear... I hear the nurse call my name.  

We head back the hall and she says that the doctor has to make another pass at the site.  He did not get it all the first time.  I feel like vomiting, because now, in addition to an already open wound, they have to numb it again (with another needle) and he has to cut more from my head.  

I have Mr. Sloth.  I have a distraction, talking to the nurse about true crime.  But this time I can't focus.  My hands are shaking, and I literally feel ill.  Mr. Sloth is taking a beating, and my feet are moving back and forth causing me to move in a way that only God knows how that nurse injected the correct spot(s) and that doctor did not hack of more than he needed. 

Bandage returned to the site, back to the waiting room.  I am now pleading with the Lord to please make this last pass be the one that has the clear margins, because I know I have to go one more time to be stitched up, and if I have to do more passes with the doctor cutting out more tissue, I may literally fall out of the chair.  (and why did it not occur to me ask for that stupid pill while I was waiting, I have no idea...) 

My prayers or desperate pleas, at this time it is a fine line, are answered.  Clear margins!  So back I go again to get injected more, so that the stitch work can begin.   

Now during all these instances I have kept my eyes so tightly squeezed shut that when I open them to stand to leave the room,  they hurt.  This whole stitching you up thing... gosh closing my eyes and wringing the life out of Mr. Sloth, was not enough to distract my mind or my ears.   

And this seemed to take forever.  4 internal stitches and 10 external.  Snip, tug, snip, clip, tug, tug... ugh - I feel like I may faint.  My hair is caught in a cap, the tape is caught in my hair.  Everyone is super nice and are trying to distract me, but I am unable to think clearly at this point, sort of just barely able to breathe.  

At last I am free to go.  

Just like that - four hours gone, and cancer gone!  For those of you keeping score that is two cancer free diagnosis's in two weeks time!   I am grateful!  I am!  Beyond grateful!  Overwhelmed actually.  

I get the stitches out in a week.  I am avoiding mirrors because the area is much larger than the doctor initially identified, and all wounds, mine and others sort of freak me out.  But I am cancer free.  To my knowledge at least.  

Here is to the worst series of tune ups in the world, or at least in my world, and prayers that I do not have any other issues for maybe another 10-15 years (or more). 

Just a little bump in the road as it were, to remind me of what is important.   To keep my focus on the Lord.  

To live, love, and serve my family and others as if there are no guarantees for tomorrow.  To be appreciative of modern advances that extend our lives.  That find and assess concerns early and for treatments that are maybe uncomfortable, but produce results that are amazing.  

For the knowledge that even if the results had been not so favorable, that technology has options for next steps. For my youth. (As I assessed in the waiting room 51 is the new 30.) For my overall good health.  For friends and family that step up, encourage and pray for me. 

Mostly, for my life size woobie, the Prince, that takes such amazing care of me.  I would be lost without his gracious and unending love for me.  So here is to the next 30 years Mr. Lingle.   Hopefully maintenance free, but if  there is more medical issues along the way, there is no one else I would rather have caring for me!  

You Just Can't Make this Stuff UP!  

PS :  Mr Sloth, needs some repairs.  I hope I am as good of a "stitcher upper" as my surgeon was!  He has a loose leg and a large hole in his bum that he is loosing his stuffing from... Sorry... 

Friday, April 9, 2021

The call came in...

Today, as I was winding down day 3 of living with my new status of "cleared to return to life as normal" with sensitivity towards my bodies signs and signals, I heard my phone ring.  At a glance, it was not a number I recognized, but I felt I should answer it, which I did,  and when I did, there was no one there.  

Call it spotty receptions, or bad cell service... I answered and said hello three times, and when no one responded I hung up.  

I went back to what I was doing, which was nothing but puzzling (for you that are concerned) and  within 10 minutes got another call from the same number, which I thought was odd... however, I found myself reaching out and grabbing the phone to answer yet again.  

Anyone that knows me, knows that every time my phone rings from an unknown number, I wage war within myself regarding to answer or not to answer... 

I say, "Hello?"  and the voice on the other end asks if this is Michelle.  I respond, "yes, Michelle Lingle, how can I help you?"  The voice identifies himself as my surgeon and asks if I have a few minutes to talk.  I respond that I do.   

Again, for those of you that know me, you know that I do not google things, disorders, people etc and throughout this entire discovery/testing/surgical removal of the growth in the right side of my thyroid, I never googled a thing!  

I proceeded to and through each step of the process with the facts that were presented, trusting the team that was leading me through this process to be informed and capable of doing their jobs.  Trusting that the Lord, who is the author of my life, to give me wisdom and direction regarding the decisions that needed to be made at each juncture in the journey.  

I am not going to lie, after my follow up this week with the surgeon, who if you did not see my post, was thrilled with my progress, it really sunk in how young he looked.  So when I got home I googled him to find out a bit more about him. While he is a Harvard Medical School graduate, he has been a practicing surgeon for less than three years! 

Yikes, I let someone young enough to be one of my children cut into my neck... but was quickly reminded of this scripture 1Timothy 4:12: 

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

This man, my surgeon, was compassionate, kind, genuine, thorough, gracious, gentle, truthful, and informative.  Everything you would want your surgeon to be!  Regardless of his age! 

Sorry...back to the point of his phone call.  

Pathology results were in, and did I have a minute to discuss the findings with him?   

I asked him if I should sit down.  He sort of chuckled and said, "you can sit or stand... your preference. "

He proceeded to say that he had just received my pathology reports, and was thrilled to report to me that my large tumor was NOT CANCER!  

To say that my emotions did not over take me, would simply be a lie.  The sweeping wave of relief, was followed quickly by a wave of disbelief leading to my request for him repeat the findings a second time, followed rapidly by more relief which caused me to sob out a choked "Praise the Lord!"  His response?  A hearty "AMEN"! 

He continued to reiterate that he was so happy that we had decided to remove only the right half of my thyroid vs the whole thyroid, which had been my initial response to the tumor.  In full disclosure, he told me that one of my four parathyroid glands were lost in the surgical process. Again, I only need one of those to produce my bodies required calcium and I still have three.   

More findings showed that  inside the right side of my thyroid, there was a minuscule (under 3mm in size) nodule that was identified as cancerous, but because its whole being was removed, I am considered cancer free!  No further testing or monitoring needed!  

I am only seeing a win, win, win!  

So for all of you that prayed, encouraged and prayed some more...Thank you from the depths of my heart.  The Prince and I are humbled to be loved by each of you!  We are grateful for this clean bill of health and the peace of mind that this news brings.    

As I prepared to hang up with the surgeon, I shared with him from my heart.  I told him that both the Prince and I were so impressed with his manner, care and follow through in regards to how he guided us and helped us make decisions along the way, with the baffling information that testing had provided.   

While I am more than overcome with joy that I DO NOT have to do this entire procedure again in 8 weeks,  I know that I would have been most comfortable with him repeating the process, after going through it this first time with him.  

I did joke with him, that it would have taken a large amount of "happy pills" and excessive persuasiveness to actually get me back in that operating room, and expressed again my great joy in not having to do so!  

He thanked me for my kind words.  He told me that I made his week with my words of appreciation.  He told me to have a great weekend.  

What he did not realize is that he delivered to me the greatest birthday gift every.  Monday I turn 51.  What more could a girl ask for?  A clean bill of health?  For sure!!! Yea me! 

The Prince said a few months ago when the wheels started falling off my bus, that I should not be discouraged.  This was just a middle of the journey, "check engine light" that came on.  I needed to spend part of this 50th year of life, caring for myself, so that I could be "tuned up" and ready for the next 50 years!  

This is part of my story.  Part of who I am.  I recognize that this situation could have gone in a completely different direction. I was prepared for that.  I prayed for the this!   I am humbled to have been spared another surgery, radiation, isolation during that time, and a daily medication regime.   

You really can't make this stuff up... and for that I am exceptionally grateful!  Rejoicing in answered prayers !   Happy Happy Birthday to me!  


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Well, that was horrible...

Nope, I am not strong, I just have a strong personality.  No I am not brave, I just do not let things I can't control frazzle me.  Nope, with 100% certainty I can claim that I am a wimp, a wuss, a glorified, oversized sissy.  

This journey started in November. Actually, the growth began as many as 10-12 years ago.   A co-worker noticed a lump on my neck.  I said it looked normal to me, but went home and asked the Prince.  He said he thought it could be a lump, or it could be normal, watch it for a few days and if it does not change call the doctor.  I call the family doctor, and 10-12 days later, I check in to see what may be the problem.  

Well he says, "I can clearly see a lump".  So, off  I go get some tests done that will allow my doctor to make a plan.  Blood work comes back perfect, ultra sounds show things okay, no one is to pressed about any of it, and I am not even put on a schedule to see a specialist until January 20th.  Frankly, I dismiss it from my thoughts, because I rationalize, if it were a big deal, they would be squeezing me into a specialist quickly.  I really do not  think about it again until the 20th when I went to see the endocrinologist for the first time. 

She asks me if I know why I am there to see her.  I reply, " seems I have a lump."  She asks if I have googled it.  I reply, "NO!"  She proceeds to tell me that many people over 50 have these nodules, and that until they become a certain size, they are just charted and monitored.  For me she says the next step will be to have a six needle biopsy of the growth, because any nodule larger than 1.5 cm they like to "keep an eye on".  My growth measured 5.6 cm X 3.1cm X 4.4 cm... just a smidge over the "to be concerned" about size.   

I thinks she sees my complexion pale at the words needle and the number six associated with how many needles.  I explain my irrational fear, she grants permission for my life size woobie to accompany me, even graciously gives me a happy pill,  and we set the appointment for the biopsy two weeks out.  

My life size woobie goes with me.  The whole thing is horrible.  I hate needles.  I hate that I hate needles. I hate that I have no control over this fear of needles.  Mercifully,  it was not a long torture session.  We are done in less than 30 minutes with what she assured me were great samples, and we started the waiting game for results. I make an appointment with my surgeon.  

By late February, there are still no results on biopsy.  The surgery date is scheduled, but the type of surgery is still a mystery.  Whole or half... I'm voting whole, and yet the surgeon is saying let's wait on the results.  If there is a 51% chance or better that the growth is cancer we will take the whole thyroid and do radiation.   

Two weeks prior to surgery the results are in.  30 -80% chance of cancer cells.  Not exactly the helpful statistics that we were looking for.

Here I am Monday morning.  In this photo,  I had yet to realize that I had to do this alone.  I was duped into thinking that my life size woobie AKA the Prince, would be with me until moments before surgery.   He did after all clear the whole day for me...

When I say duped, I  mean, knowing myself the way that I do, I asked at my pre-op appointment  if he, my woobie,  could be with me.  You know, covid world and all. Or did he have to leave me at the front door of the hospital and return 8 hours later to pick me up... they said, and I quote, "every person coming for surgery can have one support person with them."   Well, that sealed the deal for me.  Everything was going to be OK!   I basically skipped out of the hospital that day calm and assured that everything that I would have to face I would be able to do it with the Prince by my side. He's my number one support person!    

I followed all the pre-surgical requirements, fresh bedding, special soap for my nighttime shower, clean clothing to sleep in, no food or beverages after midnight, special soapy shower for my morning shower, more clean clothing, packed my little bag, posted on FB and off we went.  

Check in was a breeze.  The prince and I sat down to wait for my room, and within minutes, the nurse came to collect me.  Insert large eyes above mask here.  Wait, what?  Just me?  No, they said he could come with me to wait.  I get one support person.  He's my support person.   

"So sorry, he can't go with you to pre-op."   Boy, in that moment,  I was thrown off my game.  I stand to hug and kiss my support woobie, ( I mean cling irrationally to his neck) and now I am instantly filled with doubt, and fear...just typing it now, is causing my eyes to well with tears.  We make the nurse wait on us, as the Prince offers prayers for my peace and comfort and for the team that will be caring for me as well as for my surgeon.  One last peck on the cheek and off I go. 

I put on my brave face, glance at my Prince once more, and sense that he also is a bit thrown for a loop.  (Hard to say for sure behind his mask.)  I walk with blurred vision following a kind nurse towards the elevator, attempting to keep up with her small talk the best that I can.  

By the time I am alone with changing instructions, I am quietly sobbing and trembling.  I am not okay.  Having my support woobie TWO floors beneath me is NOT the same as having him there to tie the back of my fancy robe, or to brush my hair up in my nice blue hair net.  I am shaking so badly,  that the nurses assume that I am cold, and they whip out a fancy new gadget that I have never experienced before; a forced hot air, heated paper blanket!  Warmed up, I gathered strength. 

I challenge myself to get it together.  I reset.  I kept on with my plan... get my comfort things around me, read some true crime and text my woobie while waiting for what I know is coming.... at least one needle.  Am I bothered by the potential of them cutting through skin and muscle - no.  But that needle gets me every time!! 

I am happy to say that EVERYONE that came to care for me during this period of waiting was remarkable.  The first woman helped me with my gown and cleaned the surgical area yet again.  

The woman that came to start my IV was super gracious with my irrational fear of needles and we talked through it while I squeezed my sloth, and before I knew it she was done.  (I thanked her profusely for being good at her job! )

My anesthesiologist sensed my rising anxiety and  gave me a little "nip" to take off the edge...

and before I knew it, my surgeon was  there for my tattooing and the initialing of  his artwork!  


In my last few moments of discussion with the surgeon, I made him promise that if he got in there, and things looked even remotely questionable that he would just take it all.  He promised that he would indeed assess things and adjust in the moment if he felt it necessary.  We had determined because of the range of potential for cancer to just remove the right side with the growth and wait on results of pathology, knowing there is a chance I have to have a do-over in 8 weeks to remove the left side as well.

Sooner than I would like, my glasses and comfort items are being collected, and I am being wheeled down hall and to the elevators and finally into my operating room - which lets be honest here, sent my level of fear to a new extreme.  I really could have done without seeing the inside of this beehive of flurried activity.  

I remember Justin asking me if I could manage to get onto the operating table on my own, to which I replied, "of course".  Once on the table, him asking me to place my hands by my side and try my best to center myself on the table, which was super slim in my mind.  Then a wonderful nurse added some pillows under my knees, and another asked me to lie back on a pillow placing my head.... lights out!  

Next thing I remember, is one eye, half open, spying a clock on the wall that read 1:30!   Wow, best nap ever!  Except then I was awake...

From there the rest of this mess is a blur.  I keep asking for the Prince.  My voice is not working well.  I am thirsty, my head is heavy, I have a headache,  I drift in and out of sleep.  They can't get me a room, because there are no female rooms, so I am in holding, in the recovery room. Around 2:30 my surgeon comes and clears it so that my woobie can come to me in the recovery room, for whatever reason, still no woobie do I see.   It will be another couple hours until I see him, when he is waiting in the valet parking garage to take me home, oh the watershed of tears then... 

My surgeon, whom the Prince and I both agree is amazing, indicated that my growth was impressive, and it was a bit of a mess to remove.  I asked him if he took a photo, he said he did not.  I was slightly bummed.  As was my brother.  He said based on the look and feel of the growth, as well as how healthy the surrounding areas looked, he would be very surprised if it came back as cancerous.  In four - six weeks we will know for sure.    

To hear the Prince tell the story, I have acted as if they removed my whole head, set it to the side and did what they needed to do inside my neck,  and then stitched my head back on.  My pain threshold is pretty minimal.  So for about 72 hours I have had trouble swallowing the tiniest of pills, complaining in a whisper about my chapped lips, have had trouble getting food through my teeth,  requesting icepack after icepack, trying out a foreign form of sign language no one has been able to interpret on the first try, being super sensitive to smells, and noises, just being downright cranky and a touch needy,  and adjusting the head of my bed a million times, so much so that I am surprised I did not give myself whiplash to add to my ailments during this time! 

Today, 72 hours after all this crazy,  I am finally feeling so much better!  I do not however, have any desire to do this again. Not in 8 weeks, not in 8 months, not in 8 years.   It is beyond my scope of comprehension how anyone can have or be inclined to Factitious Disorder... you know making one's self sick so you need major surgeries... no thank you! I have had one other minor surgery in my life.  It was also horrible!  

I am asking my praying family and friends to intercede on my behalf for test results that are NON CANCEROUS.  If they could not track down any cancer cells in the six needle biopsy or in the further testing of those cells, and everything inside looks "clean and healthy",  I will continue to pray for this positive outcome, and ask that you join me in that prayer!  Additionally for obviously very selfish reasons, if you missed my declaration anywhere else in this post, I really do not want to do this again!! 

The lesson that I have learned in this, is that even when we care for our bodies, get regular check ups, eat well and workout religiously, sometimes there are just surprises in life.  The story of my life is made from these little surprises.  It was a bit of a reality check that I am not in control in the ways that I think I am. I do however rejoice that I know that ONE that is in control of this and so much more! 

I know that is part of my story is already written.  That whatever the outcome,  God has the details.  My job is to live it out with grace.  If, it indeeds turns out to be cancerous, we do the next set of steps. But be prepared for it, as I will then be requesting prayers for the ability to do this again, without making the Prince and my people nuts, because I am sure knowing what I now know, I will not be so calm for round two.  

You just can't make this stuff up!  

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Of all the things... it is needles.

I really want to like my dermatologist.  He genuinely seems like a nice man.  The two times that I have talked to him.  On the occasion of my two visits.  

My first ever visit to him was last year at the prompting of my girls who think it is nuts that I, their mom who lives to be in the sunshine, has never, not once visited a dermatologist or even considered their importance.   

I as a mom who still uses only Ivory soap and water to wash my face... who does not moisturize other than to stay hydrated...who is not a huge proponent of sunscreen... before you come at me, I made sure all 7 of my kids were slathered, but by that time I was done with them, I already had been exposed for significant time, or I got distracted, and hey I just do not burn. 

Last year, I went to my family physician recommended dermatologist, who gave me a thorough once over.  He checked my scalp, where I have a hidden mole (that until this moment only my hairdresser and my husband and he knew about) to the bottoms of my feet, even between my toes.  

Because that was my first visit, he was great at documenting all the areas that he thought were areas that needed to be looked at again later (none) and the location and information about other skin uniqueness that I have (several life time moles/patches of freckles etc) so that he had a base for my future visits.   

Because I do not; actually I refuse to google anything related to my health, I had no actual idea what went on at a dermatologists office.  I have come to understand however,  if you have a suspicious skin issue, they like to deal with it immediately.  

This does not work well for me.  While the spot on my back last year was not new, it had been a life long friend, when said doctor spied it, he thought perhaps it would be best for me to sever that relationship and send it out for some testing.   

Sure I said, I will make an appointment and come back with my support woobie and a hand to hold next week.  "Nah", he said, "it would be simple."  He would make the area numb and cut out the spot and slap a bandaid on it and I would be fine.    STILL NOT OKAY !  

At this time, I explained to him my irrational and intense fear of all things needles (not the cutting part) the needle part.  The needle needed to make the area numb.  He brought in his assistant who sacrificed her hand to be my fill in woobie, and after some intense sweating, fretting, wiggling, squeezing of hands and puffing mouth noises it was over.  

I left, made an appointment for this year.  Got a call a week later indicating that nothing was suspicious about the mole they removed from my back, and life went on.  Never, not once, did I think about the dermatologist again.  

Fast forward to the robo call reminding me of my upcoming yearly exam.  Then the email to check in online.  Even sitting in the waiting room, I was still not concerned or even remembering the last visit, because last year he said my skin looked great.  That he had no concerns.  

I get prepared for him to come in for the exam.  He says hello.  Takes one look at my forehead and says, "that's new",  pointing at my forehead.  Oh yea, that.... it has been there a bit, I thought at first it was a bug bite.  It was red and itchy, and bumpy, but then just sort of blended in with my skin, although the bump, never actually went away.  

Next words out of his mouth..."we are going to biopsy that today."  WHAT!  NO ! I said, "look I really want to like you sir, but you make it hard.  Last year you cut me and this year you are going to stick a needle in my forehead. "  I am not okay with this.  I am not prepared for this at all.  

He sort of laughed, until he remembered how traumatic last years appointment was for me.  I think he also glanced at his notes where it must say...."this patient looks like a grown woman, but acts like a baby". 

He begins to tell me that he is 96% certain that this is a basal cell carcinoma, and it will have to be surgically removed, but first he needs to confirm with the biopsy so he can refer me to the surgeon.  He continues about how simple it will be.... my focus is slipping,  my heart starts pounding, my hands get clammy, my legs start shaking, my breathings a bit irregular ....  I am so fearful of needles. 

Since I am already in a reclined position, and strategically there is already a cart of supplies behind my head, (since now I know this is a standard procedure that is often carried out in a dermatology office, I just did not recognize the signs upon arrival),  he instructs his nurse to come to my side and start thumping my forehead to distract me.  

Literally, she is thumping me with her finger in the middle of my forehead, to which I reply that is not helping me, that I need something to hold.  She offers her hand.  The thumping continues, as a matter of fact the doctor that I would like to be a fan of, tells her to do it harder, she wont hurt me... and she does.  

The prick, the sting, all of it is making it hard to breathe.  I hate needles.  I am alone with strangers.  While I have never read of a person who died at the dermatologist because they biopsied a skin spot, I can't help but think I could be the first.  

He finishes.  I release that poor woman's hand. I hope she has since regained feeling in that hand. I sit up. I feel a bit off.  He waits for a few minutes until I seem to have normalized, he has me stand up so that he can finish my exam.  No other concerns.  Every thing looks great. 

As he is preparing to leave the room, he reminds me again, that the results will be in next week.  He will make referral for the surgeon, that I have to keep this small round bandage on the spot for a week, changing it daily, and that he will see me next year.  

I reply to him, "Yes you will see me next year sir, but I will not be alone!  I will be with my person.  My life size woobie."  The one that holds my hand and only mocks me a little for being such a wuss.  

Life lesson learned today: No more doctors visits alone.  Period. End of discussion!  Also, those small round bandaids are visible. No they do not blend in with my skin tone, and yea it is so cold here in  Florida I can probably wear my boggin for the next 5 of the 7 days!! 


As life progresses, and yellow and red flags start creeping into my 50 years of excellent health, I am reminded that it is what it is, and all you can do is make the best of it.  But I sure hope it does not always involve needles!!!! 

You just can't make this stuff up!   


Sunday, January 3, 2021

What one single thing can I do this year, that will matter 10 years from now?

As the new year began, I still had not selected a "word" for the year.  Last year was the first year that I subscribed to this practice, and while I did okay with it, certainly there was room for improvement!  I was not as consistent in putting the word into practice as I could have been and frankly got off focus a bit over the course of the year.  

Honestly, with that in mind, I almost did not select a word for this year based on a couple simple factors.  I did not like the words that were coming to mind and I just did not feel like it because I did not want the accountability of others.   

Unlike my last new years resolution (and the only one I have ever managed to keep and excel at), napping more, I felt like this word of the year thing was sort of in the same category.  Seems like a good thing to do, but ends up being more work than outcome, peppered with some guilt for not doing it or keeping up with it better over the year.  

I am in an online group with some ladies that were sharing their focus words for the year and while I thought that their words were "good for them",  I still found myself dragging my feet.  Then I read an article that one of them shared.  One of the questions is the title for this post. This question was included in a 10 point musings article, in which the author asked questions as a starting point for self reflection and for personal growth, as we were entering the new year. 

"What one single thing can I do this year, that will matter 10 years from now?"  Gosh.  That struck a cord with me.  One of the words that kept coming to my mind as I was considering my word of the year, was fervency.  Being fervent.  If I become fervent about the things in my life, the changes that I can make 10 years from now would be spectacular! Fervent in how I serve. Fervent in how I work.  Fervent in my hobbies.  Fervent in my relationships.  Fervent with my free time.

My being fervent can not be dependent on others.  It can not be dependent on whether I feel like it or not.  As an adjective, fervent means; very hot (glowing) or showing great intensity or feeling (zealous).  It is something that I alone, would have to commit to in my day to day situations to show others my great love for them, for the Lord, and my family.  

As I considered this further, thinking about how I would use my fervency in the upcoming year, another thought struck me.  If I do all things with such zeal and enthusiasm, I may be exhausted by February.  

However, if I apply this intensity to one specific area of my life, while those around me may not see the tangible day to day out workings, in just one year's time, there will be a marked difference in my life and the lives of those around me.  I can only imagine what 10 years would look like if I spent time being fervent in just one area of my life.  

They say that it only takes 21 days to make something a habit.  So here we go, I am boldly putting it out there...  I am going to be fervent this year in my prayer life.  I am going to attack prayer like I have never done before!  I will make praying for others my number one priority.  I will commit to praying for you in the moment (which I already try to make a practice) but will commit to logging it on paper, and continuing to pray for situations in my life, the lives of those I love, and for those that I come in contact with that need or request prayers.  

Prayer connects us with the Lord. Prayer strengthens hearts, minds and souls.  Prayer encourages us.  Prayer brings people together with a common cause.  Prayer heals. Prayer gives peace.  Prayer flames hope.  Prayer sustains us in difficult times. Most importantly fervent prayers, change lives.  

Here are some great passages about prayer to ponder as we are starting the new year.  Many of us with concerns about 2021, in the dark shadow of personal and world wide issues of 2020:  

  • Do not be anxious about anything , but in everything make your requests to God prayer, thanksgiving and placing your request to God, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind fully beyond understanding (Phil. 4: 6–7).
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
  • When I said my foot is slipping, your love oh Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me your consolation brought joy to my soul (Psalm 94:18-19).
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29,11).

Friends, here is to a healthy, happy, New Year.  May you find joy in your journey,  peace during hardships, strength when you feel your weakest,  hope when you are facing something insurmountable, and most of all grace for yourself and others as we walk this road together.  


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Charlie Trauma

In the middle of September of this year, Grumpy was jumped in the early morning hours, and beat with a baseball bat.  

This is how I learned, that if you are a victim of a violent crime/attack and your attacker is still at large, but you need medical treatment, they check you into the hospital under an alias. (Charlie Trauma) With a fake birthday (01/01/23). Makes it rather difficult for a momma to find a dwarf, in a covid world, who is about to head into surgery, but I did learn something new!  

More challenging was making heads and tails out of the "tale of woe" that lead to the attack, hospital stay, surgery and the weeks of recovery that the Prince and I assisted with. 

More than one time during this entire ordeal, I questioned how it is that Grumpy does not tire of this life on the street. Tire of his seemingly bad luck, and his inability to hold a job, stay in healthy relationships or even make strides towards getting off the streets.  I digress, that could be a post all its own. 

So in September, after yet another round of Grumpy's perpetual bad luck, the Prince and I took a deep breath and got down to figuring out how we could meet the needs of a dwarf whom, according to all recounts of this interaction, was innocent of wrong doing in this particular altercation.  

My mind was cautious.  The year before when he was hit by a car and lost his two front teeth, and was banged up with serious road rash and a broken toe, I was quick to rush to his aid, only to find out that the tale of woe was all a lie.  Well not that he was hit by a car, he was, just of the series of circumstances that he spun us leading to the accident that was the lie.  

After police reports and eye witness accounts we eventually learned the truth of that situation.  Out of that accident however we came to realize that he was struggling, and had been for a while, with Graves Disease and that this accident most likely saved his life. 

The condensed version of this September story is that Grumpy and two homeless friends ( referred to as "band of minions" from here out), was sleeping under an overhang in the local area.  When the sun came up, a neighbor came over to wake the band of minions, and encourage them to get moving.  

They responded by packing up and moving down the road.  Perhaps the group of minions did not move fast enough for this neighbor, or perhaps my dwarf did grumble a bit while walking off the property and a neighbor assumed that he was running his mouth at him (those details are still unclear) but the band of minions and my dwarf kept walking. When the man yelled at them from the porch they started running.  This man who was clearly offended by what he thought he heard from Grumpy, or the fact that they were not moving fast enough, jumped in his car, took off down the road, cut the minions off on the sidewalk, jumped out of his car, grabbing a baseball bat from the rear of the car, and promptly started beating on Grumpy.  Grumpy took several hits to the head, (resulting in stitches and a busted eye) and took the brunt of the hits on his left forearm, as he defended himself from the blows of the bat.  What broke up the beating is still unclear to me.  What I do know is that Grumpy is lucky to be alive and able to retell the tale.

An ambulance was called, Grumpy was whisked to the hospital.  Police were called, and arrive on the scene to interview bystanders and neighbors and they apprehended and arrested the man almost immediately.  The man confessed to the entire thing. 

Grumpy received stitches in his head and had a busted eye, along with an emergency surgery to repair his arm by installing a metal plate, and a few pins to hold the forearm together.   Because of covid, none of us, family, or his band of minions were able to be with him at the hospital during this time.  

The Prince and I were now faced with the uncertainty of what to do, not only with the dwarf that needed four weeks of recovery time and slew of doctors appointments to check the progress of his injuries but his band of minions that showed no sign of leaving his side. 

So we set them up at a local motel near us so that we could assist with getting Grumpy to appointments, check in on his meds, make sure that he (they) had food to eat and clean laundry.  Of course not an ideal situation, but the best option for the situation we found ourselves in.  

Grumpy has since disbanded the minions, after of few weeks of free room and board, one young man went back home to his family.  The other young woman while now is back with her family, is still close to Grumpy and helps him in many ways, like helping him find work, or keeping him on his med schedule, and making sure he gets to appointments.  Grumpy's stitches have been removed, his eye is healed as has his arm.  We rejoice that he is young and mends with relative ease.

The Prince and I have said numerous times that many of our adopted kids are "crack" kids.  Not because of the fact that their biological mother did drugs (although we have no way to be sure) but because they simply fall through the cracks.  They fell through the cracks in the educational systems in which they have been enrolled, they have fallen through the cracks in the mental health treatments that they have received, they have fallen through the cracks in regards to service available to them in this current world we live in.  All the while having fierce advocates for them in each area of their lives, not to mention a steady, consistent, unconditionally loving home environment.  It leaves on scratching their head some days. What could have been done differently, or what did we miss in this process? 

They are on the cusp of not being "special" enough to qualify for services, but too "special" to be able to function on their own in a society that requires you hold a job, pay your bills, have a bank account, keep medical appointments, shop, and do other basic adultish functions.  And because of their distaste for rules, structure and authority, they are unable to continue living in our home.

Because of this crack they land in, it propels us as their parents to continue well into their adulthood to come to their rescue, fix, resolve and assist in these areas, sometimes at nauseatum, because simply their minds are not able to comprehend, or carry out tasks that are necessary for successful independent living.  Welcome to the world of mental illness. 

I will not lie, there are days when I am not okay with this stage of their lives or my life.  While I am not sure what I thought adulthood for these dwarves would look like,  never did I imagine one that would live with the Prince and I always,  or that the struggles of the others would be so great that their best life is not at all what I had envisioned all those years ago when we eagerly welcomed them into our homes and hearts.  

Slowly, I am beginning to come to the understanding that, no matter what I wanted for them, or what my version of their success may look like, I need to be okay with who they are, and where they are in their story.  Their story is also not a direct reflection of our love and care for them.  

I trust that the Lord who brought them to us,  loves them more than we do, and that He does not make mistakes in how He knit these dwarves together.  Their uniquenesses, or "special" qualities are not a surprise to Him.  While frustrating at times, and overwhelming at times, as their parents, we are called to minister to their needs for our lifetime.  

There is a fine line between ministering to and enabling them.  We draw the line at the "cost" to us. The "cost" to us can change on any given day based on the circumstance of that day.   If it "costs" me mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially to aid them, I give myself the right to not answer the phone or the text message.  To say no to the request, or to re-route them in a different direction based on our shared past and their current request.  I will not allow my life to be interrupted by their chaos, but will meet them on my schedule to aid in whatever ways the Prince and I deem acceptable.  

There are a lot of people that think we should wash our hands of this crazy and move on.  To that I reply, Christ did not wash His hands of me and my crazy.  There are days when I am sure He looks at me and just shakes His head at my stubborn, prideful self and thinks that I may never "get it".  This is my inspiration for how we love, even when those we are loving seem unlovable,  unable to express gratitude or thanks.  The Prince and I do what we do based on nothing more than our love for them each.  It is because He first loved us, that I love them, and serve them.  I may be the only Jesus that they see. My prayer is let them see Jesus in me.  

It is a work in progress.  Some days are better than others.  The Prince and I do a good job of trying to balance the trials and struggles in our own personal field of strengths.  We have not arrived, nor do we always do what we need to do with a joy filled heart.   Most days when I head out to aid or assist, it is with a heavy heart filled with more questions than answers.  It is in those moments that I try to re-focus on why we serve, why we care, and why we love them unconditionally.  

This is a saga that will continue, for my lifetime, I can't make this stuff up, but I would really like to re-write their story some days! 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Some of these things are not like the others.....

This year has been a year with many things, not like the others.  Not like the things in other years, the things in other weeks, or just things from the other day.  Due to the pandemic, family dynamics, schedules and children that are all now grown adults, life is very different this year, so why would we not expect that Thanksgiving and Christmas this year would look different too? 

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a stickler for "traditions".  I have worked exceptionally hard to sprinkle all kinds of special into our kingdom.  I am not saying other families do not have similar or even the same traditions or special things, and heck my ideas may not even be original or all that clever, but I have woven "special" things each year into the fabric of our lives. 

For example, the birthday placemat and your favorite meal on your special day. Our thankful tablecloth that we use ever year at Thanksgiving to record who is around our 12 foot table, and what they are most thankful for that year.  Which I then hand stitch to preserve the memories for years to come.  I have a 15 X 15 storage locker for all things Christmas, because I love decorating the house for the Christmas season, by room and by theme.  

I had always assumed, after my dwarves were grown, that my home and our traditions, would be what everyone stopped and planned for.  That these traditions would be held on to with as much gusto as I had placed into creating them over the years.  I am now seeing that perhaps I should have lived a little more in the moment of the years past, because it seems going forward there will need to be continual adjustments to those "original" plans.  

After all the craziness of 2020, why not have a holiday season filled with different?  I recognized that while I am a planner,  as I get older,  I like things to be the same.  My dwarves, I am recognizing, however, may require somethings to be different.   I would like to think that I am flexible and willing to make these changes, but I won't lie, it was hard this year to be flexible.  

While I loved much of this change, there were some things that I did not really enjoy. Mostly, the feeling of it not being the same as years past.  All those years ago, when I was painstakingly training myself and my dwarfs in the finer aspects of all things holiday (November through December)  and weeding through the "traditions" that would stick and the ones that would fall by the wayside, never did I envision a year where we did not all come together and celebrate and share those moments, together, under one roof, as a family.  Now I am realizing, that in much of what I do, I need to find the joy in doing it alone, and if any of the dwarves want to join in, extra benefit for me! Additionally, I can't be picky about the ones that are wiling and available to help.  If I find that I am doing something alone, and if it causes me frustration and angst, that I need to let it go for next year.  I need to make my plan, be okay with it, and if others join in all the better !  

Back to this year and our different.  Many of you know,  the dynamics of our family and home look different this year.  We have Doc and her husband local and close.  Sneezy is putting in some effort to re-engage this year, with at least myself.  Dopey is living out of state, but is enjoying an extended visit with us due to pandemic restrictions on his state. Happy is here and is going no where soon. Grumpy has been flying under the radar since early December. Sleepy is home for an extended season because of pandemic requirements at her out of state college.  Bashful finds himself spending his days at the county jail.  

As a mom to such a varied group of dwarves, I found myself in a situation this year that was less than ideal for me.  Never in all the years of raising the dwarves did it occur to me that they would not be close as adults.  Never did I anticipate that after years of raising such a different and diverse set of personalities in our home, that some are just over chaos and poor behaviors. Never could I have anticipated a pandemic, where those that are on the outer circle, I would have to treat cautiously due to potential contagiousness and different life styles.  I realized that there was no way that we were all going to be able to be under the same roof, at the same time, for this holiday season, pandemic aside.  I realized that I was going to have to be the one that was flexible, and in that realization set about attempting to make other plans, so that I could be with as many of my dwarves as I could during the Christmas season.  

I have learned that even the best laid plans, in a pandemic filled world, have to be fluid.  Baking with one dwarf that desired to do so, had to be set aside because of illness. (Not covid)  I baked when I had time and if someone could join in, they did. What a gift for this momma's heart!   As for gift exchanges, holiday meals, and gathering, again we modified and over came.  

We discussed and came up with plans for blending and combining some traditions into one day.  Christmas Eve, so that Christmas Day was free for new options.  We zoomed our church Christmas Eve service. We added a special little three year old to our group with a sleep over and activities the night before Christmas Eve.  We made a plan with family for an "open house lunch" so that we could socially distance with those that are not in our immediate bubble.  We invited friends that could not get home to their family, to be with us. We made sure Bashful had much mail leading up to Christmas, even if it meant addressing and stamping the cards and handing them out to people to send to him.  We made a plan in case Grumpy showed up.  

We shared our traditional meals.  We shredded through miles of wrapping paper.  We took photos. We worshipped together.  We prayed together.  We laughed.  We napped together.  We watched movies together. They played video games together.  We Face timed across the miles.  We shared our favorite gifts received.  The only thing we never got around to was our gingerbread houses... 

It turned out to be, okay...  none of these things were much like the Christmases of the past but still vaguely familiar.   It is my prayer, as the albeit self appointed, Chaos Coordinator of this Season, that everyone who walked into our home over the last several days left here, with full bellies, full hearts, and the knowledge that they are loved and appreciated for who they are, for their relationship in and to our family, and that above all, the reason that we in Lingle Land celebrate the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.