Friday, 31 July 2009

Doctor Visit

Met with Dr. Raza this morning. He did a physical exam, and gave me a prescription for an aromatase inhibitor. I am officially off of Tamoxifen and am taking my first dose of Arimidex momentarily! I have to have a bone density test when I get back from out west to get a baseline reading, now that I'm in menopause and taking this drug. He told me to take 1500 mg of Calcium and 800 mcg of Vitamin D.

To celebrate, I bought myself a new pair of earrings and some hair gel while waiting for the prescription to be filled.

What a relief. I told Dr. Raza how anxious I'd been, and he said "You are well." He told me to watch any symptoms and if they persisted, to come and see them. And that is what the three month appointments are for -- to track my progress.

So, we'll soon be on the road again! Thanks for praying everyone! God is good -- all the time. Have van (or any other type of motorized vehicle) -- will travel.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

Go West Young Woman

We're all packed and ready to go. No, not on a jet plane, but in a van -- an adventure van. A Montana van, which may just go into Montana, on the way to Manitoba. The van is loaded with camping equipment, a futon to sleep on, my famous quilt that I made while on chemo, my violin (in case I want to destroy Doug's hearing on the way out), books, food, cooler, George Foreman grill, coffee pot, a two man tent (to put all the stuff in when we sleep), suitcases, an end table for Natalie, and last but not least, a dollhouse (Nat's). It was iffy as to whether to take the dollhouse, but hey, I wanted to be able to experience carrying a dollhouse across the country and shoving it into the tent each night. Perhaps I'll buy some Barbies en route to play with as well, considering it IS Barbie's 50th birthday this year. She was created in 1959, just like me. And since I look like Barbie and all...

I had my blood test today, and meet with Dr. Raza at 9 in the morning. Hopefully he will prescribe a new medication, and after getting that filled, off we'll go. I have been anxious all week, and have filled this week with people, activities and prayer.

Six years ago this week, Doug and I traveled out to Saskatchewan in a TransPort van, to begin a new life out west (or so we thought; we came home after six months). It was loaded to the gills (?) with everything we could stuff in it. Now we travel out west again, to celebrate life and each other, and the fact that I'm alive and well. A trip to celebrate my 50th birthday. I celebrated my 44th birthday then. Wow... so much has happened in my life since then.

Would appreciate your prayers for our safe travel and a happy reunion with Natalie, Josh and Aiden. I will blog when I get there, or perhaps even at campsites if they have wireless internet.

Well, here we go...

!Deb and !Doug

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


"Z" seems to be the letter of the day. Went to Zellers this morning to buy a cheap toaster for our trip, but took a side trip to Northern Reflections and bought a few clothes on sale for the trip. Brenda and I know how to shop quickly, as she was preparing to go back to the Southshore this morning. After our shopping expedition, we went over to where Mom was getting her hair done by Zelda. Got to meet Zelda, and she trimmed my sideburns (do women have sideburns?), and cleaned up my hairline. She liked my hair, so that was a bonus. I seem to get a lot of comments on my hair lately. Someone told me that people pay a lot of money to get hair that looks like mine.

I spent the rest of the day doing errands and a stop over at S's house, where C talked and prayed for me. Oh, I still need encouragement and prayer. Never realized this journey of mine was so complex and such a struggle. But God sends people when I need them, to help me. Spent some time this evening with Janet White #2 and Matthew, and then Robin & Erin came to visit, and we had a grand time talking on the verandah, until we couldn't see each other anymore. Hopped in Robin's new car and went to DQ for a Zundae. Into the house until midnight, threw a football at Erin, and listened to Robin sing a song, while Doug did some Z's in the chair. Now it's time for me to get some Z's.

Tomorrow morning, Matthew and I are going raspberry picking, and in the afternoon a former student of mine is coming to visit.

I'm off to Z land now....

Monday, 27 July 2009

Hello from Superior City

(Dad fishing in St. Martins -- notice the Inukshuks on the beach)

Well, we're back in Superior City (what I call Fredericton). We made it through the storm of the century at Century Farm Campground on Friday night, with high winds, torrential rains and power outage included. We cloistered ourselves in the RV with Jack and Afton and Brenda. Saturday morning the rain stopped and we spent the day getting ready to pull up stakes. We had a wonderful stay at Century Farm, and I thank the Century Farmers, Linda and Byard, for their hospitality. If we can, we would like to go back this year.

Jack and Afton left last evening and joined sister Ivy, who went to Freeport for a music concert. She's a going concern now, at 16 months old. She looks just like Cindy Lou from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

This morning, I went to see my physiotherapist. We talked about suffering and she wondered how I have been able to get through these past few months. We talked about the help of God, the suffering of Jesus and how He gained courage from his Garden of Gethsemane experience. And that what we need to go through suffering is courage. She gave me wise counsel, and made me cry when she said I was an example to her. Here I am, underneath a white sheet on the therapy table, crying away -- receiving physical therapy and emotional therapy. Thanks, E.

I've been thinking of courage today and what we talked about. We need daily courage to make it through -- courage that is from God above.

This Friday, I see Dr. Raza, the oncologist. Thursday is a blood test. After my meeting with the doctor, Doug and I will saddle up the van with a futon in back, and take off for northern Manitoba. The wild west, here we come. An adventure. I'm trying to pack light, but is that possible, when I've had my whole closet with me in the RV? Packing light -- now there's a challenge. Help!

Doug is going to make screens for the van windows so we can stay at campgrounds at night and not have the bugs eat us alive. We'd like to find a 12 volt fridge to take as well, so we could eat most of our meals on the road. It is our plan to travel through the states and up into Manitoba. Four days should do it, we hope! And if I get tired, I can flop out on the bed in the back.

Well, Mom and Brenda have prepared a meal again, so must go eat. Brenda goes home to the Southshore tomorrow. She's been such a help again to me -- I wish she lived here. I asked her to help me rearrange the living room -- I want to rearrange everything in my life right now. Perhaps I'll settle down soon, but for now, I must travel.

Please pray for my upcoming doctor's appointment and that a clean bill of health is what I have! A sign on a church sign this morning said this: "It's a GO, PTL." I agree == It's a Go -- my life will go on and we will go out west.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

Now it's Tuesday evening. We were able to post Friday's blog by putting the computer on top of the dryer in the lounge, looking at the transmitter. For some reason, I've been prohibited from communication. If I want to call anyone, I have to use my credit card at the pay phone, and internet is not an option. So, I'm resting from technology somewhat. It's been good, except I want the followers of this blog to know what's happening. When we leave St. Martins, we will have been here 16 days – the longest I have stayed anywhere, I think.

The weather is certainly not July-like here in New Brunswick. Cold and rain with fits of sun and clouds. Today was semi-warm with semi-sun. Mom knocked on my door at 9:50 – I was still in bed! We looked at the Old Home Week schedule and decided we would go to the Museum where they were offering help in searching your geneaology. So, after breakfast and clean-up I thought I would go for a nice walk. But, no, first we had to go search for Dad again – he decided to take the truck up to the gas station to pump up his bicycle tire, must have got confused and went somewhere. I told Mom to go call his cell phone again, and I saddled up my trusty steed (bike) and took off. After a few minutes of panic, she looked at their trailer site and saw the truck – he was back home safe and sound. He told us he went to the antique store. We think he got lost when he came out of the gas station, so we had a bit of an argument with him. This new reality is hard sometimes. He asks the same questions over and over again and he does get confused. But we're coping as best we can, and always keeping an eye on him.

Before going to the museum to research our lineage, I decided to take a walk up the beach and cut through the bulrushes in order to come back. I noticed blood trickling on my foot and wondered where it was coming from. I looked down at my calf, and lo and behold, a small stick had punctured my vein. I pulled it out and blood started pouring out, and the vein started to swell up. I tried to stop the bleeding with a leaf! (that's all I could find, and didn't want to rip my shirt in pieces). I prayed all the way back, envisioning myself lying in the swamp and no one ever finding me. "Mom! Have you got a first aid kit?" She did, and I swabbed the leg. We were going to bike to the museum, but we took the truck instead, as I was finding it difficult to walk. That way, Dad couldn't go anywhere as well, so I guess it worked out OK. I've got quite a bruised vein tonight, but all is well.

At the museum, we researched Mom's family name (Page), with the help of Faye. We went back to 1851, and I found out that my great-great-great-grandparents, Jane and James D. Page, came from Ireland in 1822. And here I thought I was British, although an English lady in the laundry room just told me that if I was Protestant, I was from Northern Ireland, which is British. Anyway, I was so excited to find out I'm part Irish! Now I now why I've always spoken with an Irish accent and wanted to go on a musical tour with Anna McGoldrick.

Mom and I played a card game this afternoon that one of the campers here taught me the other day (Sharon). It's called 140's. I thought I would win, but alas, I did not. Mom beat me by over 600 points. What do you think of that? My Irish eyes weren't smiling. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. I'll tell you that Max wins a lot of games – Scrabble, Crib, 45's. She's very competitive – moreso than moi. But you gotta love her. And washers – the campground game – she and Nurse Cherry beat the pants off me and Mom last week.

Well, Doug and I are going to go build a campfire again over at Mom & Dad's campsite. I'm leaving at 5:30 in the morning and going back to Fredericton with Doug, so that I can go to my physiotherapist to get some back therapy. My back went out last week, and I need to get it in top shape for the western trip. After my appointment, I'll drive down with Jessica. The Southshore Sister is on her way from Shelburne tomorrow as well.

Learning how to rest in St. Martins, I remain

!Deb, the Irish Washerwoman


It's Friday, July 17th. I am sitting here in the lounge/laundry house at Century Farm Campground waiting for my laundry to launder. The internet is still down, so it's hard to say when this blog entry will be posted, but I'll write it anyway. It's raining, it's raining, and the old woman isn't snoring (me). She went to bed and bumped her head on the breakfast table this morning. Had a beautiful thunderstorm in the night, and the sound of the rain was so soothing. Max stopped by a few minutes ago and wonders what we'll do today. We watched a movie at my place last night, so perhaps we'll play a game or two. We're having a cribbage tournament with Mom and Dad; Max and I are two up on them. Today will determine the winner.

Dad has been fishing in the inlet all week and has caught a few fish which they dutifully ate. He is obsessed with fishing. Mom has only lost him once; he seems to be getting his bearings. He's going fishing in the rain. Well, I guess if you can sing in the rain, you can fish in the rain.

Nurse Cherry came on Tuesday and stayed overnight. We walked, sat on the beach, ate together and enjoyed campfire til midnight. The stars have been so beautiful here. Doug came down on Wednesday night and stayed overnight, traveling back to work on Thursday morning. He's coming down with Dale tonight. Old Home Week starts today here in St. Martins. There's a fiddle concert I'd like to take in tonight – if I remember.

I've been out running a couple of times this week – along the marsh and back up the beach. Does it ever feel good to run. And Max and I have been walking the park quite vehemently (have you ever seen a vehement walker?). I haven't been out on my bike this week yet, and want to make Max bike with me, but I don't know whether I can convince her to bike in the rain or not. Maybe tomorrow.

I spent every morning working on our ministry's government return. Max made me work every morning until I got it done. I posted it yesterday at the St. Martins post office. It was 16 days late, however, I had permission from one of the directors at Revenue Canada, after telling him what I've been through this past few months. It was a miracle that I was able to talk to a director on a Friday afternoon at 4:15. I was given grace. Thanks for pushing me Max.

We decided that we're going to drive out west after my doctor's appointment on July 31st and stay a month. Doug found out the other day that he has enough vacation (we didn't think this was so). We will put a mattress in the back, pack a cooler, toaster, coffee pot and stay at campsites, just like we did on our honeymoon 31 years ago. Then we traveled through Cape Breton and over to PEI in four days. This honeymoon will be a lot more miles but perhaps the same amount of days and we'll end up with the reward of being with Natalie, Josh and Aiden. An adventure – to celebrate my 50th birthday. What better way to celebrate than to be with family? I'm looking forward to having time with Nat's community of friends as well – they have been such a support to me through this time.

Well, my wash is now in the dryer. Max and Mom are sitting in the other room chatting up a storm. We're going to resume the crib tournament after lunch. That way we can keep Dad busy until the sun comes out. Brenda comes next week, and perhaps Jessica and Nurse Cherry again. Never know, maybe a visit from Q as well.


Sunday, 12 July 2009

Southshore Adventure -- St. Martins

We arrived in bonny St. Martins on Friday evening. Dale and Max were already there with their trailer, and Nurse Cherry, Katie, Allan and cousin Jessica were tenting as well. We enjoyed a campfire with them on Friday evening. Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day. Max and I walked to an estate sale on Main Street, then to the Quaco Library for another yard sale. After lunch, we went on a tour of the Fundy Trail by car, stopping at various lookouts to hike and look out. What a beautiful province we live in! We walked on the suspension bridge over the Big Salmon River -- the water was so clear that we could have seen salmon swimming had there been any. Max thought there should have been, considering the name of the river.

After a BBQ supper at Dale & Max's trailer, I convinced Doug to go biking down to the Caves. He's a wonderful man; he hates biking, but he does it because he knows I love it. My bike is like my motorcycle and horse all rolled into one. I feel so free on my bike. I made the trip without having to walk my bike up the small hills. We sat on the beach for awhile and watched the waves, then traveled back to another campfire at Nurse Cherry's campsite. At midnight we went to bed.

This morning we went to church. We saw Q's sister and her father there. Small world. Then a walk in the rain back to the campground. After lunch Doug tried to get connected to the internet up at the lounge/laundry building, but due to technical difficulties, he was unable to. I called Jon and Alicia and talked to Afton, who told me she wore a couple of bathing suits this weekend at the lake. She is so fashion conscious, honestly -- her life is all about her clothes, and she's only four! Jack told me he dropped his little John Deere tractor in the lake and lost it. Tragic for Jack. I told him he'll have to buy another one at the store. I guess I'll have to keep my eyes open. Poor Jack -- that tractor meant a lot to him.

I went for a short run up the marsh beside the beach, in the rain. I was soaked when I got back, but it sure felt good. My energy is coming back, and I need to get in shape for The Run for the Cure in October. The campground we're staying in, Century Farms Campground, is donating the proceeds from their annual auction in August to Team Dancing Queen. I was so blessed to see this on the poster. Thanks, Linda and Byard -- you guys are great!

We watched a DVD this afternoon, and then decided at 4:30 to drive home to Fredericton, where I am writing this blog.

I will pick up Max in the morning and Mom and Dad will follow us in their trailer. Doug will go back to work. Someone has to pay the bills since I don't seem to be working. Man, is it ever hard to get into rest mode! I want to produce!

My emotions went a bit crazy this afternoon -- hormones, honestly. But my husband is so kind and understanding. He told me to tell me whenever that happens. Every day, I have up and down feelings. Many times a day I think about death -- it flits through my mind and sometimes it's almost unbearable. But I continue to pray and hope and feel the prayers of people. St. Martins church still has me on their prayer list, as do many people. They called out my name this morning in the service and my heart skipped a beat. I am so blessed to be prayed for. Prayer carries me; I know that. Please continue to pray for my peace and that no fear will touch me. I should not be afraid and need to keep my eyes on the Creator and the Healer.

I will try and post in St. Martins if the internet service becomes available.

Jonathan, our firstborn, is 29 years old today. It's hard to believe almost 30 years has passed since I had our beautiful blonde-haired boy. Happy Birthday, Jonathan Alton Douglas MacDonald. We love you.... !Mom and Dad x0

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Rest Period

I spent the morning packing the truck for St. Martins, and stewed up some rhubarb on the side. Yum! Nothing like it on toast or ice cream...the weed of the lawn, so to speak.

Went up to Jessica's cottage on Davidson Lake this afternoon. We pedaled around the lake in the boat built for two. Sometimes I took a break and Jessica pedaled for me. I sat on the deck for a couple of hours and finished the book I borrowed from the Saint John Library on Nurse Cherry's card (don't worry, Cherry, I renewed it the other day; taking it back tomorrow). It was about a woman chaplain in Washington state who battled breast cancer. She has quite a sense of humour, to say the least.

This evening, Linda dropped by for a visit and then Kim from Campobello visited. It was nice to see them both and catch up. I'm playing telephone tag with Natalie again, so I decided to bounce on the trampoline (it's good for your lymph nodes). Doug grabbed the phone and is talking to Jonathan, so who knows when I'll talk to Nat. I need to go to bed!

Tomorrow morning I go for another lymphatic massage, whatever that is. Doesn't feel like much, as I said. Perhaps I'll ask her to do something that hurts instead. At least it would seem like I'm getting my money's worth. Cousin Els is coming over at lunch time with a phlox to plant in my garden, and then we will go have tea with her mother up the road and tour her garden. I've never met Cousin Els' mother. I've always admired the geraniums in her window.

St. Martins here I come! Doug is staying with me for the weekend and then he's coming back home to work. Mom and Dad are coming down with their trailer on Monday (I figure we'll be able to keep track of Dad this time because we'll be able to see him on the beach, and there's only one main street in St. Martins). I can't wait to use my Quaco library card (Quaco is the region of St. Martins, but I just like to say the word). Maxine will join me mid-week, and I hope to beat her at cribbage. Doug told me he is going to bring my prosthetic to me when it arrives in Fredericton. I told him not to bother because I'm so used to living lopsided. Doug is a tease sometimes. And I'm not. (NOT!)

So, I'll update you from St. Martins -- a new seaside adventure -- another southshore adventure. I love the coast. I love the ocean. I love the sun. I love the Son.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Prosthetic, Anyone?

Went on a bike ride this morning to McDonald's. Not to eat or drink, just to see the coffee crowd. Talked to M., one of Mom & Dad's coffee partners for a long time. Dad came and mowed my lawn, went home for lunch, came back and mowed some more. I asked him him how much I owed him -- "$55.00," he replied. If I'd known that, I would have done it myself. Good help is hard to find. He'll have to put it on my tab.

Janet White #1, Jessica and I went out to Jive's for lunch. We didn't jive, just ate. Then Jess and I went to Lawton's drug store where I had a prosthetic fitting. Got measured and stuffed, all for over $500.00. Good thing Doug has Blue Cross, some of it is covered. It was very strange having something there again, if you know what I mean. I felt like Jane Austen. No that's not her name... what was her name -- you know, the full figured woman from the 70's. Jane ______. Fill in the blank if you can remember.

I invited Jessica in to see my new body. We laughed. The fitter told me I have to put the prosthetic in its 'cradle' every night. I said, "Sort of like putting the baby to bed each night?" "Yes, that's right." It's so the 'baby' won't lose its shape and will be ready to go the next morning. I also get to bathe it each night. The bionic woman, yup, that's what I am.

"He makes all things new" the Bible says. Well, He's makin' this girl new -- new hair, new eyelashes (you should see them -- they're curly, and almost like they have mascara on them), new chest apparatus to wear. And I went to Nubody's today to see about a new body. Maybe I'll be a fitness trainer when I grow up. Every day I have a new career. Keeps my mind active.

This morning on the way back on my bike, I saw that someone had graffiti-ed (new word) something like "Thank the Lord for all His blessings" on a bunch of rusted steel bars over at the government garage. What a strange place to put graffiti, but I was thankful for it anyway, and am wondering who did it and why there. Just for me and every other passer-by I guess. It's nice to see some inspirational graffiti for once.

Well, I must go -- Randy dropped by and he's taking us out for ice cream in his new car. Oh, by the way, Cousin C got a new car, too: a cherrymobile just like Nurse Cherry's, although Cousin C is calling it "Ruby 2." Congrats, Cousin C. Everytime I look out the window now, I think Nurse Cherry is over there taking care of you.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Strawberries & Massage

I didn't get up until 9 and coughed most of the morning. I sat on the verandah in the cold with a cold, trying to will the sun to come out. But alas, it did not. So, I came inside and put on the furnace. Imagine, a furnace fired up on July 7th! Mom and Dad arrived after 11 with strawberries they picked for me (aren't they great? I've been treated like a queen this year). Mom hulled them and I froze most of them. After lunch, I drove her home and went to my lymphatic massage appointment. I heard this was a good thing to do after having chemotherapy. Jolanta, the therapist from Poland, worked on my sore shoulder as well, and stretched my arm where I had surgery on the lymph nodes. She thought I had great range of motion. The lymphatic massage was so gentle I wasn't sure whether it was doing anything or not, but I'm going back on Friday morning to have another session.

After going to the Superstore to try and find Certo and bottle caps (it is very difficult to find ANYTHING at my favorite store since they've moved everything), I came home and attempted to make a batch of jam. Tape the directions to the cupboard, don my reading glasses and read VERY carefully. Prepare beautiful berries, sugar and Certo in a large pot. Forget to read the directions and alas, midway through, discover I did not do it correctly. So I tried to make up some method for getting it to gel, thinking I could 'trick' the jam into gelling. Jam is not a person -- it's 9:00 p.m. and it's as runny as a river.

Doug and I walked over to the strawberry fields tonight and I picked a couple more boxes to eat. Don't know whether I'll attempt jam again. Perhaps I should RECORD the directions on a tape recorder, very slowly, and try again.

So, did the massage work? Not sure. Did the jam work? Not sure. Nothing's a sure thing, is it?

Tomorrow is an exciting day -- out to lunch with Janet White #2 and Jessica, then off to be fitted for a brand new breast!

Monday, 6 July 2009

I Love My Bike!

Today was a good day. Visited Jessica and had lunch, then picked up a few groceries. Went to my family doctor and had him look at a mole on my neck. Funny how you get kind of paranoid about things, isn't it? He also checked out my breathing and told me to stay on the inhaler for another week. To the library to renew a book I've been reading about a woman chaplain who had breast cancer; can't seem to get the thing read (might have something to do with the fact that I read about five books at a time). Then I went to the Fredericton Indoor Pool to watch Jadon, Janette's son, have a swimming lesson (he's 4). Also made a stop at Marge's, where Janet White #1 was helping her mom houseclean. Janet hadn't seen me for two weeks and loves my hair, and thinks I should keep it this way. I've had a request to put a pic of my head on-line, so perhaps I'll do that in a few minutes (if I remember, that is).

I made supper for Doug and created a wonderful tasting sauce for fish, that I wrote down in case I can't recreate it. Perhaps I should open a cafe. I told Brenda on the weekend that we should open one (if I lived in the same town, that is), but she didn't think she could handle the stress of it all. And yes, owning a cafe and having people in for cafe is a lot different, isn't it? But one can dream. I really don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

Tonight, Matthew (my 14-year-old friend from next door) went biking. It was my FIRST time on my bike this year -- Doug shined it up and serviced it this afternoon. We had a great ride -- I always feel like it's my version of a motorcycle or a horse. What a sense of freedom I feel on a bike. I think I've given up the motorcycle desire; heard about yet another accident the other day. So, biking it is. Oh, it felt so wonderful to feel my leg muscles tense up and my heart rate rise. I'm getting ready to exercise at a higher level, I can feel it. Before you know it, I'll be able to run -- and start training for the October 4th breast cancer run. Anyone want to join me?

Well, I must go see if I can take a picture of my head. Doug trimmed it up last night with his trimmer (he thinks he's my hairdresser now). Let me know what you think.

!Deb, Biker

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Farewell to Nova Scotia

Menopausal Puffin' Mama made it home with Mr Doug. We hated to leave the Southshore Sister's B & B. Yesterday's activities included a walk in the rain, lunch out with Brenda at Charlotte Lane, an upscale cafe, a spa treatment for Brenda and me (facials and pedicures), and a night at the Osprey Arts Centre for a couple of hours of blues music and cover tunes with Bob Vacon and friends. Brenda is so good to us and treats me like a queen. I really enjoyed the concert, but had a few hot flashes up there in the balcony, and I thought about running out of the theatre and jumping in the ocean, but a few deep breaths calmed me down, so I didn't have to resort to this drastic measure. The music was great and the structure of the evening gave me a few ideas about a musical concert I would like to do someday.

It was definitely a full day, and we climbed the thousand stairs to our bedroom in the sky last night ready for a great night of sleep. The first thing we encountered was Maggie the cat lying in our suitcase, which unnerved me a bit, as I'm not used to cats. Plus, Maggie is like a small lion -- she is a mouser and eats the heads off the many rabbits that populate the area. I didn't know what she might do to me in the night. Doug put her out of the room. To sleep, to sleep we fell, but alas, due to the heat upstairs, Doug opened the door to let the air flow through the room. An hour or so later, I felt something kneading my calf while I was sleeping. Am I having a massage? Am I still at the spa? No, Maggie is giving me a cat massage! "Doug, Doug!" I whisper screamed -- "The cat! The cat!" Doug once again put the cat out. Just like Fred Flintstone. We really didn't get that great a sleep last night.

This morning it was absolutely beautiful and we spent the morning on the deck overlooking the ocean. Brenda's carpentry boss came by for coffee, and then we took a drive in town to the house he has been building for the past year (Brenda has been working with him on it). I'm very proud of my southshore sister. She can do anything. I really didn't want to leave the B & B, and Doug and I have this policy about not getting home too early after a weekend, because we don't know what to do with ourselves. So, I had a bit of shut eye in the sun. Brenda made muffins and a flourless cake, and tuna sandwiches. We had lunch and finally it was time to say good-bye. I hugged her and thanked her for everything--that the past few days were so wonderful. That they made me forget what I've gone through and made me feel normal again. Then I began to cry. I love my sister friend. Hugs for Paul and Aaron and Luke and we made our way out of beloved Shelburne, and arrived home about 8 tonight. What to do? Clean up a branch of a tree that fell in our driveway, put some laundry in, and go over to C & W's for pie and conversation. I've got lots to do this week before my next vacation, which starts on Friday...


Friday, 3 July 2009

I'm a 'Puffer' & Failure is Success

Last evening, the four of us walked the waterfront down by the bay. Beautiful summer night it 'twas, with sailboats, mini cruise liner and gigantic fishing boats. I also like these walking tours in Shelburne. If you've never been, please come. You can no doubt stay at the Southshore Sisters' place. On our walk down the main street, we came upon a Honda Magna V30 motorcycle for sale: $2,000 or best offer. I shouted, "Doug! There's my bike!" I wonder if he'll take $500. for it? Brenda didn't think it was a good idea. We walked on, but it's still in my head. I can't seem to convince Doug and Brenda of my need for freedom on the road. Perhaps I'll have to get a convertible instead. The four of us traipsed up to the bedroom after Paul's Cousin Bob visited awhile and watched "Pink Panther 2"(well, at least three of us watched it; Brenda slept, as usual, through the movie). Very funny movie.

Doug and I didn't have much sleep due to my excessive coughing, so this morning Brenda made a call to her nurse friend to get some advice, and in the old grey mare we hopped and made our way to the Roseway Hospital here in Shelburne. As we drove up the Sandy Point Road, I commented that here we were again driving up the Sandy Point Road, going to another hospital (Sandy Point Road was the name of the road in Saint John as well). After about an hour, I was seen by Dr. K., who advised that I be started on a puffer (ventolin), with attached aerochamber, which would assist me in inspiring the ventolin correctly. He said it was like a big cigar. I said that was good, since I thought I should take up smoking (sometimes you just feel like going to extremes, especially when you've done everything 'right' to achieve good health over the years). Actually, he did ask me if I smoked as he peered down my throat cavity. I never have and never will. He also gave me a prescription for an antibiotic if I need it, but that I needed to start puffing two times, morning and evening. So, I'm a puffer now. He told me that sometimes radiation affects the bronchial tubes, and considering I finished radiation two weeks ago, perhaps this is why I contracted this lovely little condition. So, after acquiring the goods from the pharmacy and paying $34.00 for the aerochamber, which looks like a small airplane made out of plastic, I administered the strange tasting stuff for the first time in my life. I remember having a friend years ago who used a puffer, so I did have some experience with watching her, I guess. I can't wait til tonight til I can puff again.

When we came out of the hospital today, we talked to a man named Sandy (lots of Sandys today). He's a singer, too, and we performed last year at Aunt Viv's church in Cloverdale, wherever that is (if you have never been to Cloverdale, go. I'm sure you can stay at Aunt Viv's ranch and play with Pippin, the horse). Sandy told me that his other singer friend (who I met), had a major motorcycle accident about a month after we sang last year. He was only 1,000 feet from home and a lady rammed into him with a car. Brenda piped up and said to Sandy, "Oh, Deb, wants a motorcycle..." as if to say, "Tell her, tell her not to be so foolish." Sandy just looked at me with caution in his eyes. "OK, OK, I know, Doug almost died on a motorcycle years ago, and I know, people in cars don't see you and all that." I think it's about time I gave up the motorcycle petition. I'm not making much headway.

Now on to "Failure is Success." What do I mean by this? Well, let me explain. I called Dr. Murdock in Fredericton today to find out the results of my hormone blood tests. He came on the phone and said, "Well Deb, it appears that your ovaries have failed. Your FSH is 53 and your estradiol level is 32, and anything under 100 means you are in menopause. You won't require surgery. I'll write a note to Dr. Raza explaining this change and you can be switched over to the other drug (aromatase inhibitor)." Isn't that great! We were out on the sundeck hearing this news -- me, Brenda and Doug. I high-fived Brenda and shouted, "YES! I'm in menopause!" What celebration took place. My ovaries have failed and now I'm officially in the change of life. Who would think? At only 49 3/4 years of age! But bless God -- I don't need more surgery, and it definitely explains all the symptoms I've been having the past couple of years. I really didn't think he would tell me that I had achieved this stage yet, so it was a total surprise. It gave me an extra boost of hope because they won't have to battle estrogen production like they would if was still perimenopausal. So, failure of my ovaries meant success in another area.

I am reading a book about menopause written by a female gynecologist. Very interesting and I'm learning lots about this new phase in my life. She says that your attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, and expectations greatly impact how you experience menopause. She cites that the !Kung tribe women (yes, they have an exclamation point at the first of their name!) in southern Africa enjoy a higher social status after menopause, and as a result, instead of dreading the transition, very much look forward to it. Their entire culture is in agreement with this belief. Not surprisingly, the !Kung don't have menopausal symptoms; in fact, they don't even have a word for "hot flash" in their language!

So, now another stage of life to go through. I'm not getting older, I'm getting better, right? (Those of you old enough might remember that beauty commercial from eons ago).

Well, it's time for dinner again. Paul's mother, Sybil, and Aunt Fran have come to be with us for the evening. We will no doubt play a game of cards with them -- they love to play cards, and they are very good. It's challenging trying to keep up with them. They crack me up. I hope I don't laugh too hard, or I might have to take an extra puff.

!Deb, the Menopausal Mama on a Puffer

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Hair We Are

"Hair we are" in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. After a couple of days at Greenhill Lake Camp, we ventured out in the cappucino car and drove all day Wednesday, arriving at dinnertime last night to the Southshore Sister's Bed and Breakfast. I was thinking about calling this post "Hair we are" on the way down, because my hair is growing fast and furious. I opened up the local newspaper last evening and there was an ad for a local hairstyling shop: "Glee's Hair We Are." Cool. Thus the name. And this morning, I thought I would use a comb for the first time in months. Not that it made any difference, but it sure felt good to comb my hair. Can't wait to use a hairbrush; then I'll be singin' the Veggie Tales song again, "Oh, Where is My Hairbrush?"

Brenda and her husband Paul own a three story vintage house right on an ocean inlet in Shelburne. It is idyllic and I always feel like I'm visiting a bed and breakfast when we're here. We stay up on level three. It's an aerobic activity just to go to bed. The bedroom also has its own private ensuite, so it truly feels like a B & B.

This morning, Brenda, Doug, Aaron and I packed into the cappucino car and off we went on a day's adventure in a southeasterly direction. First to Birchtown, to a Black Loyalist School, then to Barrington, where we climbed to the top of a Lighthouse (more stairs). Brenda was a bit dizzy but I did fine. She was worried about me, but I was more worried about her. We spotted a shoe store and I lit up, since I really need new Birkenstocks. Not knowing whether they had such a thing, we ventured in, and lo and behold, they had Birks, Clarks and Riekers (sp?). They had the exact model I've been wearing for eight years, and I asked if they gave any discounts to out-of-towners. "No tax," the cashier replied. Favour. Who would think I'd buy another pair of longevity sandals in such a remote place? I think God had something to do with it.

We met Paul for lunch at an organic cafe (the food was organic, not the cafe). I actually had a gluten-free panini and sweet potato fries, topped off with a strawberry-rhubarb-organic ginger ale smoothie. Lovely.

To a local music store where I bought new guitar strings, and Aaron talked to the owner about guitar necks. Doug went to Home Hardware and bought a $3. belt and was pretty proud of his purchase. He was wearing a homemade belt, so it was an improvement.

We drove to Shag Harbour, where the only government-validated UFO sighting happened. I wanted to stop at the post office and get a letter with the postage cancelled on it, but we drove by too fast. We saw the ocean where the UFO happened. That was good enough. When you drive with Doug, you have to be prepared to shout "STOP" if you want to see anything, or he drives until he can't drive anymore. He was that way when he owned trucks, I guess -- it's in his blood to get the load delivered. In this case, he was on his way to see the windmills.

On we traveled to Pubnico where seventeen huge windmills were awaiting us. Doug has been obsessed with these for years. He wants to build one. He was going to build a lighthouse once, too, but hasn't done that yet. It was going to be a library lighthouse. Maybe he'll build both structures if we ever move again.

We drove through East Pubnico, West Pubnico, Middle West Pubnico, and Pubnico. Very detailed place. Acadian in culture; hard to believe so many people live way down here on the tip of Nova Scotia! Finally made it to the 17 windmills. We took pictures and videos of these amazing machines. All of a sudden, one of the corporate trucks came zooming by, and then backed up to where we were standing inside the gate. We thought we might be in for a reprimand, but no, there was more favour coming -- this time for Doug. Rejean, a mechanical engineering tech is passionate about his work, and we followed him to the outermost point of the cape, where we got to go inside the windmill, and he explained how it worked. He told us that he climbs a 250 foot ladder when he needs to work on the windmill turbine. He said he can climb it in six minutes, twelve minutes or three minutes, depending on his energy level. The turbine is 30 x 12 x 12. It was massive. More pictures and Doug was in his glory. I thought it amazing that we were inside a lighthouse today, AND a wind turbine. I can tell that the wheels in Doug's head are now turning, as he is no doubt designing a windmill to live in or something.

We traveled back via the highway and I drived to catch some shut eye, but I have a desperate chest cold and the coughing won't let me sleep. Brenda put me in a lounger when we got home. I went to sleep for a few minutes in the sun out on her deck, with the ocean passing by in the inlet. Beautiful. Doug thinks I should go to the hospital to get my chest checked out, but we might just go to the pharmacist and get some cough medicine (OK, Nurse Cherry?).

Well, I must go eat dinner -- it smells wonderful. Fresh haddock off the boat this morning, salad and potatoes. Organic.

Deb in the Southshore