The Search

Of everything
There is so much more than a name
There is so much more than an age
There is so much more than what you see
There is so much more beyond me

Saturday, February 21, 2009

In Memory

Copper, a beagle, on the left, passed away on January 16th, 2009
Patch, a brittney, to the right, passed away on February 21st, 2009
Domino, a cocker mix, to the right this row, passed away on December 4th, 2010
Three of a long line of pets in our family who have so lovingly gave their lives with devotion to their owners. These are my "grand dogs", so called because they belonged to our grandkids. Each dog I can honestly say had a lot to do with my grand kids upbringing. We have "dog sit" these animals many times when the kids had to leave on a trip or be out of town for a few days, and they were always a joy to have around, each one with their own personality. Copper took sick and after a visit to the vet lasted only a few days before the kids went home for lunch and found her dead on the stair landing. Patch's health had been worsening for the past year and her family had her put to sleep which gave her peace from her pain. It's a sad time here and not the first time we've all gone through this..... Domino was hit by a car on the road in front of her house and the whole family is crying together along with her family who loved her so very much. She was hard of hearing and only had one eye but she lived her little life to it's fullest and received a lot of love, as they all have during their time with us.

My thoughts return today to the pets I've had in my life......there was little "Poopie" who I found laying in a ditch. Someone had run over him and drug him aside to die. He was my first dog and after I run for help, we carried him home and nursed him back to health and he was with me as a kid for many years. Then there a "Sparkie" a little black half cocker who followed me everywhere I went on the creek, and slept next to my bed every night. Next was "Big Dog", a very large black & tan coon dog. Though he lived outside, I would bring him in the house, dress him in baby clothes and pull him around in the wagon. When night time came, Dad would take him down on the creek coon hunting and he was prized throughout the county as being one of the best.

After I married and left home, when our son was two years old, we acquired "Lady". She was a full blooded Brittney and highly trained bird dog who belonged to our neighbor. When the neighbor went to work during the day, our son would go over to their yard and let Lady out of the pen and the two of them played together all day...... Eventually, the neighbor decided to give Lady to us and she very happily settled in with us until her death 15 years later. Then we got "Target", half cocker and half brittney, a wonderful little black & white dog and very loyal to our son and daughters. She also lived for 15 years until after our kids had left home. When I had to take her in to have her put to sleep, I vowed that was the last time I could go through that. I simply could not lose another one, and we've not had a dog since. However, we did enjoy our "grand dogs".

I know how hard losing these pets are for their families. Copper and Patch and Domino, you were so loved.........Rest in Peace, you had good lives, but your jobs are over now. You did your jobs well, and we will miss you ...... In tribute to all of you and all of the special pets I've had in my life, each of you gave so much more than anyone will ever know.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day
May you all be surrounded by love....and so much more 
every day of your lives...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Right Moves

My friend “Shark” sent me this quote and it just seems to fit perfectly with my thoughts today.

"The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing;
it demands a firm and watchful stance against any unexpected onset." -- Marcus Aurelius

It’s been a bit of a hard past week or so……If you’ve read my blog “My Journey”,  in Sept. of '08, it talks mostly about the places I’m on my way to visit…..the areas we venture to in our lives…. What it doesn’t’ speak of are the distractions along the way, something else that takes us off the main road. Not detours really as I’m still traveling the same old route, but more of a “rest stop”… Pausing to look at a beautiful tree or to meet a new acquaintance is one thing, but not all rest stops are pleasurable.

It seems there have been a lot of these not so pleasant stops lately…… most being loved ones affected by cancer. I am acquainted with a young mother who at age 34 was diagnosed with colon cancer. Evidence of new cancer cells was found in her liver during the last pet scan so she is undergoing her second round of chemo,  and last week was extremely hard on her.   Another friend who is a cancer survivor, was hit with some very scary new symptoms which brought them much worry and upset for awhile. His turned out ok, but he had to wrestle once again with the old fears that surfaced.   Another one who has been in remission for 3 years is suffering some very painful symptoms and is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.   My prayers are with him.   And two others from the cancer website I belong to passed on, this was after a year where we lost 3 others in our group….. How dare cancer rob us of two more beautiful souls…… It seems to be everywhere you turn, and nearly every family you know is connected with it in some way, shape or form. I’m used to death. At my age one has seen a lot of it, and had to go through losing loved ones many times. And there are much worse things than death. Yet, you can never not be affected by it…..

My health problems that stopped me dead in my tracks at the last pull off from the main road, has been another big issue I’m trying so hard to get past, all the adjustments, changes in lifestyle, the steps I’m trying to take to insure that the rest of the journey goes smoothly, and all the new lessons I’ve learned, not to mention the challenges each of those incur, plus those ahead of me still.

Add in the latest break in the journey, that following a physical today, my hubby has a suspicious spot on his lip and is scheduled for a biopsy with the ENT on the 24th. He assured us that “cancer’s like this” can be easily removed with no problems and they usually never return or cause further problems, so not to worry…… yes I hear that, am I worried anyway? Yes……. even though I know in my heart he will be fine. This wonderful, strong, kind man I married almost 48 years ago will be fine……….My God wouldn’t allow it to be any other way…… How long will it take us to get back on the road after this one?  Can this opponent be pinned easily?

The weather station is telling us there is another winter storm on the way……wind and snow tonight…… Should I hold up for awhile before starting on down the road or keep going?….. My thoughts return to a friend who has reminded me many times, “ forward…..always forward".

I guess we’ll just forge on…… The vines are thick in this area,, we have a lot of supplies on hand in the form of medical support and many other resources in case we need to use them……

Be assured that “tarzan” is taking a stance…….quite prepared to wrestle if necessary, but in the meantime, I’m still going to stop and dance every chance I get……  it's all in the moves you make, right?    I'll keep ya posted.........

Monday, February 9, 2009

the REAL rehab

Monday.......ok, I fully admit I did not want to go, I did not want to be there, and the whole thing while I was there, was just getting thru it...... I really hate having to do this on Monday's. It wouldn't be as bad if it wasn't in the morning, but I am NOT a morning person, never have been  - never will be.   I need my proper waking up time and being ready to leave here at 8:30 a.m. is too early.....grrrrrrr.

ok, so I get there and my blood pressure is 158/over something. The lady says "oh my you are high this morning!" Well, duh, the alarm jerked me out of bed at 6:00, I only came to an hour ago, and it took 3 cups of coffee to get me this far, what do you expect!!@$!@#

I spent 10 minutes on the "nu step", then they put me on an aerodine bike, all I wanted to do was hurry up and get it done and get off of it.   I had been on that about 8 minutes, when they took the blood pressure again and it was 190/87

They made me stop and go take a couple of slow, pokey laps around a short track and set quiet for a couple of minutes, then took it again and it had came down to 158/67

After it came down again they let me get on the rowing machine if I promised to keep it slow, which I did, then we did some arm weights & stretches, and when I checked out to go home the blood pressure was 148/60.

I get on those machines and just get going too fast and they have to keep lecturing me about it. They put limits on me today and gave me numbers that show on the machines, (how fast I'm going) that I am not to go over! - and they said they would be watching me closely.   The head trainer said she doesn't think my blood pressure medication is at the right levels yet and she was going to call my dr. and tell him about all of this..... I don't know if she did or not, but I go in to see him on the 18th and I think they send a report in before I go, so he'll know anyway.

I AM going to learn to pace myself - I swear I am, it just doesn't seem like I'm doing anything for my heart when I'm just poking along, if I'm not panting and sweating.... She swears that it is.
Actually, I think it's all because it's Monday 
Monday's used to be my "un-day"
Now I have to join the world on Mondays.
Guess I need to change my "un-day" to Tuesday.....

After I'd been home about an hour I went out and walked again and I'm now up to 3,000 do what I should, I need to go another 5 times around the house and put another thousand on...... I will do that now..... And besides that I'm not skinny yet.  grump, grump.

Stress and What Do About It~~~

I’m going to forego all of the usual suggestions such as reading a book, listening to music, taking a deep breath, meditation, etc. Though everyone is different, those suggestions just never worked for me. All I can think about during meditation is that I’m wasting time when I should be doing something…. It’s a great idea if it works for you, but I’ve discovered and want to share some less talked about ideas. I do hope you will all post some of your tricks in the comments, or send them to me in an email and maybe we can come up with some things we haven’t tried before…..

I have found that during the normal run of the day – I have a tv or radio running in the background of my life. The other day I “stopped to listen” and realized that what I was hearing was just noise! I then walked in the living room and turned the tv off and vowed not to turn it on again the rest of the day. If you’ve never tried QUIET before you should give it a chance. We are often unaware of the noises around us, traffic, people talking, electronics, phones, you name it – the world is a noisy place. Those of you who work at jobs are especially vulnerable, … machines, co-workers, constant phones, or if it’s a labor job they can be worse yet with equipment clanging and banging on a constant basis. Being retired, I don’t have to put up with work noise any longer, but even home can become a “happening place” with appliances, etc….. If you do nothing else during your daytime, where ever it is, allow yourself some quiet time with absolutely no noise whatsoever. Ten minutes is great – an hour is wonderful – and at least a half day would be awesome. Go ahead and go about your activities, but try it without other noises and see the difference, it can actually increase your efficiency. You don’t have to go hide in the closet, just cut the noise around you and see what a difference it can make.

I have an aunt in a different state, who is a “Master Gardener”, she sent me the following, from her monthly newspaper article…..

The Spiritual Garden

We live in a fast pace society with little time and often no place to relax. With that thought in mind, one of the most recent trends in landscaping is the creation of your own spiritual garden. It may sound complicated but really does not require a lot of work. It is simply a place you design, create and landscape that will provide a retreat in your yard where you can have some privacy, a place to think, read, meditate, pray, or do nothing. It can be as elaborate as you want to make it or as simple as a bench under a favorite tree with some colorful containers nearby. Many people like to add a fountain or small water feature. Other suggestions might include tall grasses or low shrubs for screening, some paving or a small arbor. Your imagination and the sky is the limit so with spring fast approaching now is a good time to start a plan for your own spiritual retreat. You will never regret your hide away.

I do have a landscaped yard where I can go in the summer and it does provide a sanctuary for me…..however; the weather does not always cooperate when I need to go there, so this is weather freindly cure at best. The added benefit is the exercise you’ll get with building it and caring for it.

Walking, or other exercise…… I know, I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s now been proven to me that it works. (do any of you have to have things proven to you? ok, I’m stubborn, see tarzan blush), but it really does work! If you don’t believe me, try it! Exercise releases certain chemicals in your body that does reduce stress…..I don’t know how it works, it just does.

Now if any of the rest of you have any ideas out of the ordinary, please share them…… But first – don’t forget – learn to recognize when the stress is there! I still maintain that is the key, stressed….not stressed……stressed…..not stressed……stressed…..not stressed…….stressed?
Learn to know the difference.  Learn to recognize it when it happens.   

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Floodgates

Who opened the flood gates?......Even I am surprised at all of the words coming out of me, but that’s ok. I need to write and that’s what this blog is for.

The scariest time of my heart attack was when I was released from the hospital and started my journey back to regain my health. It didn’t take long to realize that due to the severity of my illness, being kept unconscious for 4 days, and the drugs I had been given, my thought processes had suffered. I simply could not get my mind into gear in order to think. I grabbed my computer and begin to type, and the words that came out were not of my choosing. I was mixed up on many levels. It was almost like someone else had taken over my body and everything was now happening in slow motion.

I might have thought I was competent, but I look back now and see that I wasn’t. When I wrote “hello world”, I was only at the very beginning of my recuperation. I have learned so much more since then.

As you may be able to tell, I feel like I am now honestly coming out of my “fog”. I am beginning to trust myself again as far as what I say and do. I really have been gaining strength on a daily basis, though I now know and accept that I still have a ways to go.

At one point I said that I didin’t want to make this all about my health because there is “so much more” in life, but I’m learning that I have the need to talk about it…so you'll just have to bear with me for awhile, I can not deny it any longer. Yes the floodgates have opened and thank goodness the muddy waters are finding a way out……

Let's Talk Stress~~~

Many things can contribute to stress in our daily lives…..unexpected company showing up at dinner time comes to mind, work, a cranky spouse, an emergency of any kind, a health matter, several things happening at once such as the phone ringing at the same time you hear the doorbell while you’re in the middle of putting together a new recipe, interactions with others, a looming appointment, family problems, etc…   We all have our own levels at which the stress becomes intolerable to us or reaches a point that it’s doing harm to our physical well being.  In this crazy, wild, fast world we live in today, stress is almost second nature to everyone.

Stuff happens…….Usually we have no control over what causes stress, but we do have some control over how much we let it run rampant. Most people with health problems of any kind live with constant stress. It’s a vicious circle, the illness causes stress, the stress causes illness. It’s a hard battle to rise above, let alone win.

The following paragraph is taken from a paper released for publication by the Mayo clinic staff……..When one is stressed a physical response occurs automatically. Your pituitary gland begins to release it’s adrenocorticotropic hormone (ATCH), which signals other glands to produce additional hormones. When the pituitary sends out a burst of ACTH, it’s like an alarm system going off deep in your brain. This alarm tells your adrenal glands, to release a flood of stress hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones including cortisol and adrenaline - focus your concentration, speed your reaction time and increase your strength and agility. When you begin to de-stress, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream decline. As a result, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal and your digestion and metabolism resume a regular pace. But, if stressful situations pile up one after another, your body has no chance to recover. This long- term activation of the stress response system can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes, increasing your risk of all sorts of health problems. Stress develops when the demands in your life exceed your ability to cope with them.

As with most older people, I’ve had my share of stress through my life and at age 65 I’m just learning to recognize it. I believe that before you can control stress you must first learn to identify when it rears it’s ugly head.

Some physical signs of stress are headaches, muscle aches, oversleeping or insomnia, bowel changes, rashes, stiffened muscles, higher heart rate or pounding heart, tiredness, overindulgence, angry outbursts, feelings of being overwhelmed…..

Learn to recognize when you are stressed and only then can you begin to learn what to do to control it. Often times stress underlies what we “worry warts” consider normal. It’s like we’re riding a constant high and we don’t even realize what we’re doing to ourselves. 

All this to say that this morning I got online and made an effort to locate others like myself who have cancer, are on watch and wait, with back problems, and had a heart attack…. I’m afraid I didn’t have a lot of luck.   I hope that wanting to discuss having these ailments does not make me seem “self serving” or make it sound like I’m looking for sympathy. That is not my purpose at all. I know there are many other’s who have it much worse. There are a lot of positive things about my condition and I very much appreciate those. For instance, because of my type of cancer I have not had to have treatment of any kind. I am so fortunate in that regard. I have very few symptoms, and am living with it quite well. The heart problem has been fixed. I choose not to dwell on what might have happened, but rather that it did happen and I lived through it, and it’s up to me to get past it. There is hope for my back problem, when able, we’re hoping a minor surgery can relieve the pain. 

It’s just that I want to learn how other’s cope with having various problems at the same time. It is multi tasking at it’s best, both physically and mentally.

Stress has been said to be the “silent killer” . I’m not ashamed to admit that I have yet to figure out a sure fire way to control stress and just hope to find others who are dealing with the same type of challenges, and what kinds of tricks they have to cope.

I am known to a particular circle of acquaintances, including this connection, as “tarzan”. As explained in my profile, I embrace that image because I choose look for and give credit to the many vines available to me as I swing through life. However; one friend calls me “turtle woman” in order to remind me not to swing through too fast…. It does strike a chord in me to “look before I leap”, and give thought to what I am doing before I do it. To take things as they come and stop trying to outrun life in general.

In the introduction of “The Way to Rainy Mountain" by N Scott Momaday …he wrote: ”Tortoises crawl about on red earth going nowhere in plenty of time.” Very wise words to remember for someone who is always in a hurry, but that does not change my desire to be alert for any vine available when I need it, nor does it change the outcome of the race between the tortoise and the hare…   There is much to ponder and learn in Mr. Momaday's statement.

Putting yourself “in the moment” does help, both in realizing that you are stressed, and it gives you an opportunity to do something about it. Several times a day, stop, take time to think about what you’re doing, where you are, what is going on around you, and how you’re feeling. Make it a habit. Once you realize when you are stressed, there are ways to turn it around. There will be so much more on that to follow…………

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Random Thoughts

Below you will find three separate pieces, just thoughts that I have been needing to get rid of. One is about the feelings I have in living with various ailments (Stalkers),  one is about reminding myself to stop and listen to what I'm doing and what is happening around and within me (Listen), and one is about searching through my feelings and dealing with the priorities in my life (Still There).

They were in my mind, they had to come out........   Writing (for me) is like that, it is a way of releasing the thoughts that crowd one's mind.   I can not rest until those words floating around in my head are turned loose to be on their own.

Sometimes I feel like I need to apologize or at the very least explain my need to write and the words I allow others to read, but I'm not sure I could make anyone understand......  it's just necessary that I get them out of me.   I do not have the talent to dress my words up in fancy attire before they go out, but I try to make sure they are presentable to be seen by others, and maybe someone, somewhere can relate to them.

I hope that the reader of my words will look past the way they are dressed, and realize that there is "so much more" beyond the tattered and torn rags.   

Still there

Where is it?
The cancer…..
15 months ago
It came into me
It took over my every moment
Bringing illness, and fear
Prevalent in my daily thoughts
Ruling my existence

Then a new visitor arrived
Suddenly flooding my life
The cancer did not go away
It’s only hiding
Dormant now
Silently lurking
less important somehow
Behind my heart

Before them, pain
Crippling pain
Accompanying my walk
Sometimes debilitating
Quieting the music
And stopping my dance
Replacing it with screaming throbs

Cancer, you’ve taken a back seat now
I want to push you out the door
And I know you won’t go
Not on your own
And I am too weak to fight you
For now
But only for now

-----The day will come


And it just is…….
Life with all of it’s happenings
The sorrows
The joys
Riding the waves
Hearing the noise

Listen, it’s life!
Dare to embrace
And hold closely
The sounds
of laughter
and tears
The uncertainties
Keeping poise through fear

Each moment a note
Worth playing
Or singing
Mixed melodies
Sounds of learning
In a different key
Amplified together
so others can hear your symphony

And it just is……..

The music of life

Can you hear it…….

The Stalker's

I never know just where they are…..
or which one is is more powerful
to spread it’s darkness upon me
the silent walker’s, ever present as my shadow

When I turn or hide they follow
Especially in the light, but also obscured
My empty effort to hide from the ominous
My companions, my stalkers

Different in their tormenting ways
As I turn quickly to face one
The others manage to escape
Hiding yet lurking in the depths of days

Waiting, just waiting to strike
When I least expect them
Which affliction will show it’s face
And which one do I challenge the race

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Rehab.....

Rehabilitation  - "to restore to good condition"......yep, that's what I'm doing!   Well, I'm trying anyway.   I am starting on my second week of Cardiac Rehab.   I drive to the hospital about 15 miles from here 3 days a week on Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's.   While there, I am hooked up to a heart monitor and my blood pressure is monitored before I work out, during work out when I'm on a machine, and after I work out.    Each time I spend 10 minutes on 3 different machines for a total exercise time of 30 minutes.   On Monday's the work out session is followed by another 30 minutes of weight lifting (light weights of 2 or 3 pounds) and stretching for the upper body.    On Friday's the work out session is followed by focusing on the lower body with rubber bands around the legs and feet and stretching of the thighs, hips and calves for 30 minutes.    Wednesday's is "education day" with classes on nutrition, general heart attack information including angina, cholesterol, exercising safely, and stress management.    We were also given a log to write down our daily intake of calories, fat & salt in our diet, and given orders to buy a "pedometer" so we can keep track of the number of steps we take each day.

On our days off,  (tuesdays, thursdays, and  the weekends) we are to do what we can on our own.   Believe me, this has all been quite the experience.

I'm doing it - I am doing what I'm told, but I'm not sure I can say I'm doing well......  for instance, with my right hip/back/leg problem because of my bad disc, and now the left leg/foot problem, walking is hard for me.    The orthopedic doctor did write orders that keeps me off the treadmill, and the upright stationary bike, but I find I am over doing now on the other machines.

I come from the old "no pain, no gain" era, which is totally wrong,  so I've had to really change my way of thinking in exercise along with a lot of other things......    I got on the "rowing" machine yesterday and was really working hard pulling and pushing, nearly out of breath, panting, sweating, when the rehab nurse came over and yelled at me to stop, just set there for a minute or two, catch my breath and quit working so hard.    I guess my blood pressure was too high, and she didn't like what the heart monitor was showing.   I honestly thought the harder I worked the better it was, but I guess that's not the case....

So far today which is an off day at home, I have walked 2060 steps.....  I am doing this 1,000 at a time as that's about as far as I can go without my legs giving out.   An hour of rest though and I'm ready to get up and go again.....  I want to get over 3,000 steps in today, and hopefully next week I can get that up to 4,000 on my days off, then eventually get it up to 5,000 which would be equal to about 2 miles.

The machines I get along best with in the gym, is the "Nu Step", or any kind of horizontal movement for my legs.....that particular machine does not hurt my legs at all, and it actually feels good to move them without pain, but I know I need other movement as well so I have to work on other machines and other parts of my body in order to get stronger over all.   I'd love to have a Nu Step at home, but they don't give them away so it's going to take some time to save up for it.....  I'm keeping my eyes open for a used one in the classified ad's....

Now that the super bowl table spread is gone, I am really watching my diet.   I was amazed when I started noticing how much salt is in canned vegetables, or any processed foods for that matter........I have cut down.

As I just told a friend, I have so much to learn and so many old habits to change!    It's not easy, but then as they say, nothing worth having is, and when it comes to good health habits I have a lot of work to do.

Nearly an hour has passed, so I'm headed back outside to work on that 3rd thousand steps.   At least we have nice weather today........   ok, are any of you ready to go buy a pedometer and join me?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

the game - the food

I was disappointed in the final score but boy did Arizona show up and give Pittsburg a run for their money.....  It was really a good game and you can tell by the picture we had a great time eating our way through it.......

Big "A" Weekend

It's Super Bowl weekend!   Though I'm not holding my breath for a win, I'll be cheering for Arizona to at least make a good showing against the Steeler's. We're having about 20 people over to watch the game with us, and in honor of the Cardinals I just had to bake a "cherry/berry" pie.

As you might assume, there is "so much more" to the story....

I had spent most of the day baking pies and preparing some other dishes in the kitchen on Dec. 23rd when I had my heart attack.   Because of the condition I was in, not only do I not remember much about baking them, I never got to eat any!    The pies were taken to the ICU waiting room where the family and some others got to enjoy them, but they didn't think there was a way to save me a piece.

When I decided to have this get together today, I was bound and determined to make another pie.   Believe me, it was a little nerve wracking to walk into the kitchen and start the process.   Would I live through it again?    It's funny how we associate certain things with events in our lives and I will never bake another pie without thinking of that day.   However; the picture serves as proof that I did survive to bake again!   I hope they taste as good as they look.

Today will also be my first time back to Church since the attack.   I just hadn't quite been strong enough until now, but I'm anxious to see everyone again.   This afternoon I'll get the hot wings ready and make some guacamole and we'll have a fun evening.   I just can't wait to cut into those pies......One thing for sure you can bet I'll enjoy them.   Not exactly "heart healthy" food, but there is nothing on the menu for today that even slightly resembles the word diet!   I hope you all enjoy the game!