Friday, September 15, 2023


...about PSA.

For much of this year, I have tried to embrace my role as supportive wife, telling myself that the tales to tell belonged to my husband and that he was the one who needed to be lifted me. Please note that it says I "tried". Despite my notions and what started as good intentions, I also pouted, cried, panicked, gobbled cookies, scarfed candy, ate ice cream and leaned heavily on a very small group of poor unfortunate souls who were kind and brave enough to keep showing up and weather my behavior. September is prostate cancer awareness month, and I am now very aware thankyouverymuch. Just typing that word, "cancer", yuck.

It started with a couple of slightly elevated PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen since we are aware now) numbers, but zero symptoms. Age is just a number, as are PSAs, but a not alarmingly high number for said age is apparently still suspicious when it's been creeping upward. Next up was an MRI that we'd hoped would rule out any concern; but, instead showed some suspicious areas, so an utrasound guided biopsy followed. The biopsy results were available in the portal (which sounds much more mystical than it is), and the only googling we allowed ourselves was "how to interpret biopsy results" with their accompanying gleason scores and such. I could say the words out loud about what the biopsies showed, as in "the biopsies showed some cancer", but it took me longer to get the whole phrase "my husband has cancer", as if somehow the samples had come from some place that didn't involve him. Truth be told, I did ask the google a couple of other things like "what happens when a prostate is removed?" and some brief glimpses down whatever rabbit hole that query opened up. 

I sat at the edge of the frame for the zoom appointments with the urologist, radiation oncologist and then surgeon taking as many notes as I could in the event that my husband's mind was as filled with mush by it all as mine felt. Surgery or radiation - the doctors told him it was his choice because the success rates as well as rates for reoccurence were the same with either, as they believed the cancer was contained in his prostate due to his not terribly high numbers and the MRI. I told him it was his choice, because it was his body, and I kept my opinions out of his ears because most of the decision process seemed to involve very personal things. He opted for surgery. He reached out to his own tribe and got a couple of phone numbers for guys who had also had the surgery so he'd have a better idea of what to expect. I was filling in the blanks finding out what kind of underwear go best with a catheter. I really struggled with those logistics.

I was confident in the surgeon and the success of the surgery itself, but was still unsettled. I knew the operation and subsequent recovery would be life changing for some period of time with a potential to remain so. While I kept telling myself these possibilities were his concerns, I eventually lost the will to pretend they wouldn't become mine as well. I heard a bit of "well if he was gonna have cancer, that's the one to have".  Ugh. I know it was well intended, but no. The reality is that nobody really wants to talk about the private lives of prostates. It's awkward, and we can just leave it at that.

We read all of the paperwork the doctor's office sent us, noting the discrepancies on various pages. We weren't positive what to be prepared for, but told ourselves he was ready. Over five months after hearing that the MRI was concerning, the big surgery day came at the end of July. Five months sounds like a long time to agonize over something...because it is! The robotic surgery was to take ninety minutes tops, and I felt confident that I could keep my shit together in the hospital waiting room for that long. I was given my husband's number and pretended he was on some exotic trip while I kept watch on the color coded flight board for his status.
At the two hour mark, snacking and reading were no longer useful distractions and I entered the talking to strangers phase of panic. Luckily there was another designated waiter nearby willing to engage in mindless banter with me. When the surgeon appeared and asked me to come to a private room with him to talk, I clumsily attempted to gather all of the various bags I'd brought like a very nervous pack mule. He offered to help me which just seemed so ridiculous after what he'd been up to that whole time. We finally gathered me and my stuff and he very slowly gave me a recap. I suppose I could've warned him that I am a "tell me everything is ok quickly and then you can elaborate" kind of gal. He was pleased with how things went, saw something funky on the bladder, but the frozen sample showed no cancer and lymph nodes looked good. If he was pleased, I was certainly pleased.

The kids had asked that they be notified as soon as the dad jokes started flowing, and my hsband did not disappoint. I guess I had been expecting a groggy and maybe slightly queasy patient. Instead I was presented with a man using his hands to pretend he was parting the crowd in the hallway who ordered this for his post op lunch...
...and ate every last bit of it along with that pitcher of water. We knew there was a chance he could come home that day, provided he passed the milestones on the board like pain management, eating, drinking and walking. He reported his pain level as a 2 and we've already discussed lunch. The doctor just looked at me and said "he's very strong" and I admit to being as surprised as he was. My husband was just laying on the bed, wide-eyed with zero naps in sight. Our third nurse for the day took the stance that the catheter bag would be my responsibility despite how involved I tried to appear in reading paperwork when she started talking about it. My husband's responsibility was to just continue to lay there being strong while I read things I didn't want to read and looked at things I didn't want to see. We left the house at 5:30 that morning and pulled back in the driveway at 5:30 that afternoon (after stopping to grab a few dinner provisions because that lunch wasn't going to hold him over) with one of us a bit more rested than the other.

My husband works from home and has Fridays off. Since his surgery was on a Friday, he did not tell anybody at work how he spent the day, and just shuffled down the hall Monday morning, business as usual. The catheter bag became business as usual as well, aside from one incident that still baffles us in which he dropped the bag getting in the shower somehow causing a tangle that took an enginering marvel to outmaneuver. That led to his first bout of light headedness with the added convenience of soaking wet and nakedness. I just sat on the bathroom floor near tears as he kiddingly asked how my summer was going.
Just a guy out walking his catheter

I found myself following some new social media links...
...and that summed things up nicely.

We went for his follow up appointment one week later, and bid a not so fond farewell to "Pee-ter", as my husband had named the catheter, (Dad joking still intact). The labs had not come back at that time, but it really felt like somehow in one long short week the first hurdle was far behind us. I was not home the following week when the doctor called to say that some cancer cells showed up on the vesicles and so radiation may be on the agenda. Therefore, I did not get to ask eleventy-seven follow up questions. We will learn more at his follow up to the follow up appointment next week. I looked back through my notes the other day from the first three appointments and did not see that possibility mentioned. I suppose maybe it was just a given? We were deflated is probably the best way to put it. Since radiation was a treatment option to begin with, we are confident the cancer will be kicked. There isn't really any point to spending time regretting the surgery because we cannot give it back.

I swear this post is not intended as a pity party you accidentally were invited to, although ice cream is about to be served. It's about awareness. We are so grateful for my husband's doctor who was closely watching those PSA numbers and made the referral to a urologist. I am fortunate that my husband actually does go for routine medical appointments and follows the advice given therein. If you have a guy in your life who doesn't like to take care of himself or go for checkups, get bossy!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

One Day at a Time

Well, I thought I was really off to the races, typing in a title that seemed to make sense...but now I have to pause to sing the theme song to the show, reflect on Bonnie, Valerie and Mackenzie, laugh about the friend who called me Schneider at the height of my house cleaning career because I had so many keys on my chain, and absolutely none of that has any relevance to what I had planned to talk about. Quite honestly, what I am about to talk about also has no relevance to what I originally intended to come back here with. I know I've said before that coming back from a blogging hiatus is always difficult because I feel like the offering has to be especially poignant and/or amusing, perhaps even cathartic. It is not a matter of feeling like I owe all five of you an explanation for my absence, as I am confident that you've soldiered on adequately without me. Instead I typically just catapult around in a pinball machine, bouncing off every single thing that seemed like a great idea to discuss, while the bright lights and clanging sounds just distract me from conjuring complete sentences. Did I go bra shopping out of season? Yes, yes I did. And was it successful? No, in fact even less characteristically so than usual. Somewhere I am sure I took at least one photo of the event, but considering how sidetracked finding that could get me, we are just going to talk about something

Today had all of the makings for an ordinary day. I say that with a great deal of joy, as there is nothing wrong with ordinary. My friend and I headed out to the good bagel place, armed with both a paper and mental list of items we needed to pick up on our quest to avoid the heat as best we could. After eating our bagels with cream cheese in the car, because we are fancy, we headed to the mall to use some coupons. I will not tire of handing the people at the Bath and Body Works registers my "no purchase necessary" coupon and walking away with only whatever free item was listed. I worked some other coupon magic at DSW and got some new sneakers at 1990's pricing. My quest to find knee-high nylons was foiled several time over though, leaving me to wonder just how badly I am showing my age by looking for such an item. (I own a pair of exactly what I am looking for, but the problem is that after weeks of searching, I cannot find them in my house either.) 

Once we were ready to accept that we really did not need anything else that the mall had to offer, we left for other places. We did not have anywhere to be, nor anyone to answer to or waiting for our return. We went to Marshall's (yup, right after deciding the mall had nothing else for us) and while waiting at the registers buying things we most certainly did need, saw a man shoplift a cart full of items simply by pushing his cart right on out the front door. One of the cashiers did call to him to let him know where the registers were, but maybe he didn't hear her. The crazy part is that this is the second time we've seen this event at that same store, yet there we were still waiting in line and paying for our merchandise.

We then made our way to Wegmans to get the apple peeler that was on my friend's list. I got some hummus just because going to the grocery store and leaving empty handed is nonsense. She had put a cooler in the car as she is a prepared kind of gal. I admit that I may have questioned her decision to just throw an ice cube tray in the cooler, as opposed to a blue ice, or bag of ice, but I understand that flying out the door feeling, so I threw my hummus in with her few refrigerated items next to the melted tray. We were approaching unstoppable. Those bagels keeping us fueled well beyond our usual lunch hour. We headed to Target to check for something my son wanted and talked about the lint roller I needed and where they lived at that store. There was no reason to pull out my list of FOUR items to see what the fourth thing actually was (her apple peeler was on my list and the elusive knee-highs and small garbage bags). My friend looked at her list for Walmart on her phone as we briefly debated whether those items should be purchased at Target or whether we should go across the street to Walmart. I admit that I am rarely looking for a reason to go to Walmart, but considering the store would be air conditioned, it met our prerequisites for the outing. (I also thought I stood a good chance of finding my nylons there and we were looking for some new seasonal Tootsie Roll item.)

Noticing that it was 2:45 in the afternoon, we started to give some serious consideration to our need for something that resembled lunch and what the options would be once we entered the store. As we opened our car doors in the Walmart parking lot, having had no time in the half mile ride from Target to actually cool the car off, we were blasted with a wall of heat that sent us back into the car to regroup. We knew we had our newly purchased hummus and cottage cheese; however, we were lacking in utensils even after a glove compartment search. She ripped the plastic film off the cottage cheese in half and thought we could each use a piece as a scooper. I let her go first to confirm that was a bad idea. Here we were, two women with no time constraints, nor other personnel to deal with, spending money in our wallets and a complete lack of recall as to how to fashion a day. We may have strayed too far from the days when we were ladies who lunched? Could we not figure out how to navigate two meals on the run? Did the heat just send us sideways? Make no mistake, we were enjoying ourselves, but perhaps falling slightly short of thriving. We had our extra good bagels (because you don't drive downtown to not get leftovers), so we ripped one in half and used pieces for cottage cheese scoopers. It was yummy for sure. Sadly, we had both drained our drinking water resources, aside from what was in the ice cube tray, but we were about to head into the third store in a row with grocery offerings.

We came up empty on our candy quest, despite seeing some new Reese's products. She got her flour and contact lens solution. I got the lint roller that I never looked for at Target, forgot to look for the knee-highs, did not get a drink and never thought about the garbage bags until I got home and took out my list. We may function better under pressure, or at least time constraints. This worked too though, as long as there is still time left in the week to get everything I forgot.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Watch it glimmer...

...see it shimmer! Yes, that is correct, after nearly a three month absence from this space, I am back to talk about Jell-o! It is easier to swallow than some of the other topics we could discuss. (Oh boy, should I even come back?) 

I have many fond memories of standing at the kitchen counter waiting for the jello powder to dissolve as my grandmother stirred. The glorious artificial fruity smell and that clink of the spoon against the metal bowl. The finished product took its time to chill, but there was instant gratification in the small juice glass of that warm sweet elixir my grandmother allowed me. There was no asking for more as the rectangular pan disappeared quickly into the refrigerator. When the time came, she approached the firm gelatin with the same neatness and precision she did all tasks. Orderly lines were cut and cubes were dished out. Plain and simple, and in my opinion, delicious. I did not want to see any form of matter suspended in my jello, nothing to interrupt the squish. The thought of shredded carrots is still especially horrifying to me.

Our family was not completely resistant to change and newfangled ideas, so we did adopt an orange jello recipe as a staple for nearly every event. What are you even trying to celebrate if there isn't a bowl of orange jello stirred up with mandarin orange segments and Cool Whip? Maybe someone gets a wild hair and tries a raspberry version instead. The occasional jello mold would make an appearance as well. I recall my mind being nearly blown at around eight years old the first time I saw Knox blox. I could eat jello with my hands? Better still, the platter at the family reunion was unguarded? That was definitely my first experience with the wiggle and jiggle that was not subjected to portion control.

Flash forward to when I was a senior in high school suffering from some sort of a head cold. A friend told me he was going to stop by with "hot pop", which was his family's version of chicken soup. I anxiously awaited to see what this miracle cure could consist of. Imagine my delight that it was a mug of warm jello! It amuses me when these perceived indulgences we have as children, come back around later in life causing us to realize that we can have as much as we want. Sometimes you just cannot chase the original thrill, like most sodas no longer taste the way I expect them too after the bubbles tickle my nose, but others stay true. 

The dining hall at college always had jiggling cubes, cut with precision. One of my roommates was so grossed out seeing anyone eat jello, claiming it had something to do with watching the "chewing". So like the best part? Suffice to say, I tried every color they offered, sometimes warning her and sometimes not. 

My husband and I were invited to a fifties party years ago, We dressed accordingly and were treated to recipes made from cookbooks of the era. There was a jeweled jello mold that just made the evening feel even more fun, like I was somehow seeing an old friend who I immediately recognized despite how fancy she had become.

My husband is not one to request any kind of gelatin dessert on a regular basis. However, when his pre-op*  clear liquid diet included jello as an option, I strongly suggested he let me make him some. I let him pick the color as I am not completely selfish. Maybe I just wanted a little bit of comfort that could be found in the memory of that warm glass...
...but that was short lived as when I went to help myself to some cubes later...
...I saw what a savage I am married to.

*The surgery went well and I'll tell you about it another time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

This one's for the birds...

(...and Traci)

Things were going along rather smoothly this spring, once the gloom cleared, but then things hit a bit of a...
...which I guess is sort of like a bump, but with more promise? Unless there are other issues, like...
...problematic indeed. Yet my ill-fitting bras and I were set to persevere. We were enjoying our new airbnb guests...
...allow me to introduce the Dynastys...
...they typically waddle the late afternoon away partaking in the bird seed scatterings and not caring much about our interruptions. They just move about five feet further away and lay back down. Am sure they are eagerly awaiting a chunk of this guy to fall... bird feeding enthusiast husband was concerned that this food owl was scaring the birds due to his owl-ness. Obviously some very brave frequent flyers came by and left him looking far more terrfying in my opinion. Speaking of scary things though, the sound of these little friends always startles me.
And then I feel like an idiot because of course it's a little hummingbird and not the largest dragonfly ever. I mean, even if it was a dragonfly, that would actually be pretty cool as well I suppose. I am surprised every time the hummingbirds visit and stop to stare in awe.

I guess it's time. I suppose I've buried the lead far enough in here. Do I need to link to the past or does it just go without saying? What time is it then?
Time to foil unto others as they have foiled my swoop free spring. Oh, I saw a barn swallow the other day. It was not pooping and barely swooping, so I figured - bygones. My husband mentioned he had seen one. I figured as long as he didn't mention it two more times, we'd be ok. At 7:24 this morning though, on my way out for a walk... I turned around to compose myself and when I looked back...
...nope. And certainly not so close to that beautiful hanging basket my aunt just gave me! I still took my walk, and saw an egret land on a neighbor's roof, but was obviously a litle off my game since there is no photographic evidence of that bit of coolness! (I mean he looked so crazy up so high being all tall and stuff.) I decided I was not willing to let project aluminum foil make me late for work, so I just carried on as if nothing had happened...knowing full well it had happened, was happening, and would continue to happen. I actually remembered the lessons I have learned!

And so... was done. The shiny tack-y thing. I received no visitors during the process this year. It was almost disappointing, very lackluster. To mope about celebrate the job done, I grabbed a book and sat down on the porch to read. Then I heard them, all three of them,come swooping onto the porch in a flurry of disoriented complaining wonder! They circled around once and left, making a large arc around the yard before they tried again...
...nope! I will not be tolerating your shenanigans this year you diabolical winged creatures! (But thank you for letting me see you get foiled!)

Just in case you do need to revisit some of the history...
Here is the first series from 2010: part one, part two, part three
Here is the 2015 series in which I let them have their way: part one, part two, part three, part four

Monday, May 8, 2023

To everything there is a season

A time to march confidently to the fitting room…
…and a time to cast away those which did not fit!

Oh yes, it is that time again! I mean what else was going to make me dust off this keyboard? I think we all should have known it was going to be the quest for infernal satin or the barn swallows, and hopefully we have a little more time to catch up before the swooping starts and I have to make my tin foil hat.

Let's not minimize the effort that went into this journey...
...or, okay, let's. I'll see your power mesh, and my shrugging shoulders applaud the concern. Something to consider...
...I could pack some snacks in the leftover space with this one! Yes, someone with a keen eye for detail may be noticing all of the clearance tags. I have a rule that I do not pay full price for my ill-fitting bras. You may be thinking that maybe if I paid full price, I'd find a better fit? I doubt it. My optimism for such a foolish pipe dream snapped in a flash, like cheap elastic. With over forty years spent on this quest, Bigfoot might be less elusive. Obviously the top engineering schools in the country have been handing out degrees for undergrads working on "Anchorstrap technology". 
Please show me the crash test dummies that get harnessed in for the bouncing! What I wouldn't give to be more stable though. Even more bounce control...
...perhaps a graduate thesis? Thanks for pointing out the bounce zone, as I had no idea where the problem area might lie. Maybe someone with a packaging science major could come up with something? Luckily my friend was with me to offer the support that spandex was lacking. Whether the cups runneth over or the girls were peeking out from under, she remained diligent and committed to finding something.

Did we find anything? Yes, yes we did. Were both purchases disappointments once worn at home for over five minutes? Also, yes. My shoulders are stressed - gotta bounce! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023


What do I do when I'm not here trying to enchant you? That is a fair question, but sadly, one I do not have the answer to. I spend a great deal of time trying to find motivation - obviously with little to no success. Sometimes I look for other things to do, but I don't want to be too fancy...
...and definitely not a formal member of anything, so this might be perfect? The job application game has really been kicked up a few notches, and the pop quizzes don't have the obvious answers they used to have. 
I mean would they excuse my penchant for pocketing post-it notes if I was a creative self-starter who didn't ask a lot of questions?
And what kind of place is this where I'd potentially have to choose busting up a fist fight over my morals? I wish I had taken more screenshots of the other Sophie's choice level decision-making demands.

I try to take my mental health walk every day because nothing keeps me feeling more grounded than trudging through sleet and gloom this time of year.
The real pick me up though is the section of gray hair that usually escapes my hood and dances right in my peripheral vision. I have decided that salt and pepper doesn't truly describe my look, so I am going to call it cinnamon and sugar. I think the thought of warm apple pie gives me a cozier vibe, but maybe salt and pepper go better with...
...coleslaw hair? Pass the salt and pepper I guess..., no, there aren't enough holes to deliver the amount I'm hoping for...
...that'll do!

Yes, we found a new store to unleash ourselves on that has lots of...
...including the most elusive soap scent.
I am not certain the monkeys would agree as to the legitimacy of this one, but this guy conjers a worse scent...
...and I probably should've rescued that baby.

This little piggy went to the outhouse... check on the fiance?! (My aunt explained to me that it was "engaged" instead of "occupied," as opposed to the worst salute to a diamoond ring ever.)

Um, excuse me, but where are her clamshells?!

And what the flock?!
Maybe not everything needs to be told how it is? I appreciate the subtlety of pork rinds, and how recently I found out what they actually are!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Hearty Random

Sometimes it's hard to say what you want to say, or express how you really feel about someone.
Maybe you can find the words, but feel compelled to take creative liberties with the spelling to add more emotion?
Clearly it's important to stay motivated...
...well maybe not clear at all. Here's some simple advice...
...just go! How about a game with your love?
When he tries to give you a missspelled piece of his heart? No points! (I still lost.)

These Vagentines must be shared...
...but are leaving me speechless with their tags hanging out! Good fortune indeed!

Happy Valentine's Day, folks! I guess it must be time for Easter...

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Writing Wednesday

Apparently the art of alliteration in snappy titles has been lost on me. The other thing I am completely adrift on is the current role public libraries serve to provide. I went to the library to try to work on some writing today, since it's Wednesday and all. My house is plenty quiet in a literal sense, but figuratively, there are a lot of voices ranging from dust bunnies to half finished craft projects screaming for my attention. Off in seek of solace and quiet, to the library I went! I suppose it should be noted that the last time I embarked on one of these productivity in scribing attempts at the library, I did encounter some chattiness, but nothing to deter me from believing libraries could still be the sanctuaries of my youth where I was shushed on countless occasions.

My first mistake was not grabbing one of these chairs...

...instead I opted for one of the chairs with the swivel tables to put my notebook on...

...that happened to be so very close to shelves of books.
I had not considered what it was like to be a dog, until I saw that the opportunity to find out was closer than I realized! Fear not though, as this distraction was quickly forgotten, and then replaced by the crying toddler who had fallen during storytime. He recovered quickly, able to run a few laps around the main room. No worries though as the more than full volume conversation taking pace at the circulation desk in that photo helped me forget about all of the other shiny objects. I was fully invested in the call on speakerphone one row over. I was dangerously close to turn into a fist pumping "get off my lawn" type of character demanding more library-like behavior.
And then came the Cabin Porn. Followed by the joke told in two rounds to various librarians who proved to be disappointing audiences. The guy claimed he'd been working hard on his joke since Monday, looking so forward to the opportunity to share it.
Granted, the joke has been on Reddit for five years, but who'd know? Certainly not somebody armed with paper, pencil and literary dreams! Maybe I needed to be better organized, declutter my mind...
...or just go home and succumb to what may await me there...

...but I was surely not expecting this trail of Pringles my husband left on his way upstairs with his lunch to make sure he could find his way back down.