Monthly Archives: March 2009

…and a few hours later….SNOW!?!?!?

I had finished drying off my camera and was going to get busy with school.
Really, I was.
But, for some reason, my trigger finger was itchy again.

This time it was snow.
Those huge, fat snowflakes that are amazingly beautiful.
They’re so wonderful to watch, you almost don’t mind the cold. Almost.
I grew up in North Dakota.
I shouldn’t still be marveling everytime it snows,
but I do.

Jon, apparently, didn’t care how cold it was….for about three ninutes.

The ziploc wasn’t working well enough to keep my camera dry in the flurries,
so I ducked under the tree for a few minutes respite.

Can you guess what my next brilliant idea was?


Didja‘ guess right?

Didja‘ recognize the Go-Go Boots?

Same ol‘ scene, from another point of view.

A perfectly flocked cedar tree – can we have Christmas presents again?

This was taken at 11:11am, just 16 minutes after the first pic,

and just about two hours after the hail melted.

Beka is making “creme brulee” with her snow.
It probably tastes better than the hail.
Another display of nature from the storehouses of the Lord.

Hail?!?!

I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, (or was I hiding from the kids?) when I heard the noise. That wonderful noise that tells you something was not quite right. Looking out the window, I knew opportunity was landing in my yard.

Like a gunslinger with an itchy trigger finger, I had to get outside and shoot something. Because the weather changes SO quickly in the PNW, I knew the moment would soon be lost.

My camera is always charged and ready, that was no problem. Finding my boots was. After giving up the frantic search, I opted for my knee-high fancy boots, the ones we called Go-Go Boots in the 70’s, and tried shoving my jean pantlegs and bulky socks inside. Since I had finally found my winter coat (who put it on my husband’s side of the closet under his sweat clothes? grr) I was ready to go. I found some gloves, cut a circle out of the bottom of a gallon sized ziploc bag to protect my camera and I was ready to go.

Jon spotted my crazy get-up and asked, “Do you want to borrow one of my pairs of winter boots?” I shouldn’t have been shocked that he brought out my pair of boots. My MISSING pair of boots, that is. The pair that had been missing so long he claimed Squatter’s rights on them.

My first view of the street. It was like it had rained Dippin’ Dots. Kinda made me hungry.

Adorable little balls of hail nestled sweetly amongst all my hand-picked river rock.

More of my beautiful river rocks surrounded by hail.

I think the hail made Beka hungry, too.

I was going to make her stop eating it, because of the acid rain the natives always warn me about, but I figured,

“Hey, it is probably healthier than a hot dog!”

In Job 38, the Lord asks Job, in verse 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?

During his suffering and doubting, the Lord questioned JOB to remind him who is in control. He controls the storms of the earth and the storms of our lives; directing with measures of grace, mercy, and love beyond our understanding.

They stayed trapped for awhile, with the cedar droppings, but will eventually be fish food, I guess, since all drains lead to the ocean.


And, within 16 minutes of rushing outside to capture the beauty

from the storehouses of the Lord

it was

gone.
But, at least I know where MY boots are now.

How to Torture a Teenager

(Names are not used to protect the guilty.)
One day I had to run errands with all the kids still living at home. Had to. I had to take the older kids because they were the ones that needed to go to the bank. I had to take the younger kids because I had no babysitter. I found myself stuck in a mini-van in rush hour traffic at 4pm with 4 kids that needed to eat and/or sleep and/or be duct-taped to a tree, as their father likes to threaten in moments of mocking exasperation.

The oldest child was in the front seat, using her electric seat function as a form of torture on her younger teenage sister. She would move the seat all the way back, crowding the territory of her longer-legged sibling. When the screaming, protesting and smacking of the seat was sufficient, she would move the seat forward. Then, like a child, she would repeat this maneuver over and over.

The only boy in the van was paying the consequences (or rather, WE were) for eating way too much sugar at prayer meeting the night before. It was the worst case of SBD’s I have ever encountered, despite growing up with three milk-guzzling lactose-intolerant brothers. For those who weren’t privileged to grow up with brothers, SBD stands for SILENT BUT DEADLY, the worst flatulation known to womankind. I was hanging my head out the open window in the pouring PNW rain, trying not to hurl, but, literally gasping for fresh air and trying to rid my nose of the putrid smell that probably burned out what precious few nose hairs had survived my traumatic childhood. Like a morning sickness flashback, I was dry heaving over the side of the mini-van, while wondering if the 5-year old daughter stuck in the backseat with him was going to have permanent brain damage.

To the annoying beep-beep of his Gameboy, the boy was kicking the seat ahead of him in perfect syncopation, annoying his sister with every sensory faculty available to him.

My dear younger teenage daughter was being tormented from the front and from behind, so she did what any good teenager would do – started yelling. She was threatening to throw the Gameboy out the window and threatening the older teenage sister ahead of her. The cacophony of yelling, giggling, gasping for fresh air and fart cliques (he who smelt it dealt it! he who makes the rhyme committed the crime) was a symphony of insanity.

I was in the hot seat, literally, because the oldest teenage daughter kept turning on the seat-warmer on high and cranking up the heat so she could make me think I was having a hot flash, which they all think is hysterical.

So, I did what any good mother would do. I carefully modulated my discipline. I ruled out spanking, ruled out cutting off their allowances (they don’t get one anyway), I ruled out extra chores. I simply reached over, shut off the seat warmer, AGAIN, turned on the radio and CRANKED the classical music. The louder they protested, the louder I turned it up. Because I was still hot-flashing, the window was rolled all the way down so we were the center attraction in rush-hour gridlock.

We drove this way the rest of the way home, four kids yelling and ducking in embarrassment, and the mom serenely driving her minivan, thumping the steering wheel in time to the most beautiful sound in the world. Revenge.

Day Four and Day Five

Today was supposed to be the day off.

I had a few squares of chocolate, but I didn’t exercise, unless you count ironing a dozen dress shirts as exercise.

The only thing on the agenda for today was to call my endocrinologist and ask how I was going to find out about my test results. The lab technician previously told me that most patients have a consult with their doctor the same day as the scan because the results are available right away, and was surprised I didn’t have an appointment with my endocrinologist. I realized we hadn’t even discussed getting results with the endo.

Knowing I would never get the doc on the line, I left a message for his medical assistant.

When she called back, the conversation went something like this:

“Hi, this is Mindy, I was in yesterday for a PET scan and I was wondering how I am going to find out the results of that scan.”

“We will send you a letter in the mail.”

“A letter? You mean to tell me if I have cancer I am going to find out in a LETTER?” (I’m also remembering that just to receive the results of bloodwork, it took three weeks.)

“If you prefer, we can make you an appointment.”

“OK, that’s great. Can I get in next Friday? Dr. E. should have the lab results for the blood work by then, too.”

“I can’t get you in on Friday. Dr. E. is booked out until the middle of April.”

“April? I can’t get in to find out the results of my scan until April? So, you mean I have to find out if I have cancer in a LETTER?”

“Yes, unless you prefer to make an appointment.”

I thanked her and hung up. I am in shock and awe. I can’t believe that a doc. who charges $500 a visit wouldn’t want to see me again, even if it is just for the money!

Just to amuse myself and fight away anger, I tried to imagine what the letter would possibly be like.

Variation 1:
“Dear _______________,

We are so thankful for your business at our hospital. We enjoy the amount of money your insurance pays out on a monthly basis for all your visits and labwork. In this time of economic crisis, your money is a great economic stimulus for our office, so we can’t say we feel too much regret with the recent diagnose showing your cancer has returned . Rest assured, your money is keeping us in business.

Variation 2:
Dear ____________________,

We have good news and bad news. The good news is we are now validating your $10 parking tickets for our newly built parking garage. The bad news is, that due to your recent diagnosis of cancer, you will have a lot of tickets that will need to be validated.

Variation 3:
Dear ___________________,

We are greatly embarrassed that our office is run so poorly that traumatic news, such as your recent diagnosis of cancer, has to be delivered via snail mail. If you prefer receiving such horrible news through email, please contact us through the email address provided at the bottom of the page and we will gladly update your contact information. Or, if you are totally connected, check out our Facebook, where we daily post diagnosiseseses and prognosiseseseses. Or, if you prefer, we’ll Twitter you.

Variation 4:
Dear ____________________,

We are thankful to announce that your recent scan indicates that you don’t have cancer. Congrats! However, the scan did reveal the location of one certain missing surgical clamp that you must have taken during your prior cancer surgery. We will have to charge you for rental for that item and personal trauma to the doctor who misplaced the item, so we expect your exorbitant bill will arrive soon.

Variation 5;
Dear ____________________,
We are pleased to announce that the result results of your PET-CT scan do not indicate the presence of cancer. However, due to your good health and coincidal drop in our county’s economy, we are going to have to drop you as a patient to our clinic. You are not bringing in enough funding, so we need to concentrate more on lucrative patients, like those in Medicare and Medicaid programs, where we are allowed to charge $75 per Tylenol.

Seriously, where would they begin to find the letters they need to send out to patients? Are they from a class in med school? Instead of writing Business Letters, do they learn to write Bad News Letters and Good News Letters? Are they taught the subtle nuances a font might have in creating a better aura for receiving bad news? Are they taught that double spacing draws out the agony of the news, so keep it single-spaced?

Maybe along with a diploma and the Hypocrites Oath, they are provided with a book of letters doctors may need, so all they have to do is rubber stamp their name on the bottom.

********************************************************************************
Day Five

I really was hesitant to publish my post last night. I was so beyond the capability of deciding if my emotional reaction to the “we’ll send a letter” comment was in the confines of reasonable or not, so I had to sleep on it for a day. I slept on it. I am still bothered. So, we are still praying about it.

Today I did my final step in the week-long adventure, I had to give blood one more time. It was a good feeling, in a way, to be done with the physical stuff.

But, it truly leaves me with the hardest part.

The waiting…
and waiting…..
and waiting…….
and waiting……..
and waiting………
and waiting……….

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”

A verse shared with me today by friend, Lydia,
“He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
Psalm 122:7.

…..so………I am
w
a
i
t
i
n
g
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Day Three

Very early morning in downtown Seattle. The buildings rise up, mingling with the fog, and makes me marvel that I would actually find such beauty in the city. I have always been a country girl.

One of the USA’s earlierst skyscrapers, one of the beautiful sights we saw on the way to the hospital. http://www.smithtower.com/History.html We have learned to not focus on the traffic, the people cutting in front of you, the road rage you see, and the concentrate on the beauty around you. This was my support team for the day, daughters Rebekah, Jana and my grandaughter, Brookie, or “Dr. Brookie” as she is sometimes known.

I had the IV in my hand, they were saving my “good” veins for blood draws later. The second picture shows the input of the radioactive glucose. I had to lay still for one hour in a quiet room to let the glucose spread into my body. I was covered in warm blankets, they lowered the lights and I listened to the Psalms on my Zune. They said that some people are really bothered by this time of having to sit still for an hour. I laughed to myself, because to a Mom, this was bliss. One INTERRUPTED hour with no phone calls, nobody knocking on the door, nobody calling my name. Ah, peace and quiet.
This was the lovely drink I was offered after my 12 hour fast. MMM, good?!?!? In fact, I had to drink one and a half of these doozies. It was the “contrast” I needed for the scan.

The scan machine, doesn’t look so scary, does it? From my claustrophobic point of view, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Part of my secret to surviving the 40 minutes? I didn’t open my eyes once I was on the table, again covered with warm blankets. I prayed and sang hymns in my mind. They were kind enough to tell me when I was halfway done and when I had five minutes to go.
The final step is more blood work on Friday and then the Waiting Game, the hardest part of it all. My husband, Scott, has simplified the process in this way –
There is a test,
There is a wait
And a result.
This will be the story of my life, since my type of cancer can never really be cured and can never really go into remission. You just live your life always waiting and watching. Every six or 12 months, you start the process all over again.
As we discussed the next step, THE WAITING, we talked about how this is like the Christian life. We have a test, or a trial, then a waiting as we work through it and then watch for the result. The best result we want to receive from the doctor is to be cancer-free. The best result we want to receive as a Christian is to be free from the sin that so easily besets us, and to be transformed to the beautiful image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In whatever stage of trial you are in, the test, the wait or the result, may you look to the Lord for help and strength in the journey. He has an infinite love for you.
Your name is written in the palms of His hands – they bear the marks of His love for you.
As I wait, I am seeking to be patient and trusting.
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Day Two

This morning began with another thyrogen shot, timed precisely as the first shot that was given Monday morning. The technician went over all the dietary rules again, and itemized the procedure for Wednesday.

I have no exciting pictures of needles, no hospital stories to tell, but they should have given me a sticker, because I was very brave.

I was very tired today, with achy joints. I felt like a Gramma. Oh, that’s right, I am one.

The Lord blessed me through other people today. I received several encouraging emails, my dear neighbor, Terry, brought me freshly brewed chamomile tea to help me relax, and I received a few phone calls from praying people.

My husband decided if I was going to suffer, he was going to suffer along with me.

He took sick leave so he could attend all the doctor visits with me, and today he vowed to go on the high protein, high fat diet with me. It consists of meat, cheese and only a few vegetables.

Scott also cooks for me when I have special dietary needs. This time, he got off pretty easily, the diet is only 36 hours. The low-iodine diet for the radioactive iodine scan lasted three weeks.

For lunch today, I had filet mignon and bacon.

Since I was so tired, he even cut it into little pieces for me.

He had filet mignon, too. He is certainly feeling my pain!

And, he let Beka watch Andy Griffith during lunch.

Tonight he presented me a plate with fresh chicken, cauliflower and smoked cheddar cheese. I horsed it down before I could photograph it.

Oh, the suffering at our house was unbearable today!

We’re thankful the Lord, His Word and His people have upheld us, and will continue to do so, throughout this time of uncertainty.

Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Day One – P.S.

This was our beautiful view while driving home from the hospital yesterday.

The rainbow ended right on the interstate. We always tell our friends from the midwest that the rainbow ends in Washington, now we have proof.

The colors were so vivid, we were amazed. We all have seen dozens of rainbows, but each time, don’t we always shout, “Look, there’s a rainbow!”

It’s as if each rainbow is the first one we’ve ever seen.

This rainbow was always before us. We never caught up to it, it was always just ahead of us, reflecting the glory of the One who made the rainbow as a promise to the world.

It’s leading presence gave us the sense of what is promised in Deuteronomy 1:30 “The LORD your God goes before you…”

Our enthusiasm deepened as we viewed the entire rainbow – the beginning and the end.

We had been driving and contemplating my health situation,

sometimes talking,

sometimes silent.

The Lord doesn’t speak to us with an audible voice,
but He does speak to us.

We heard that inaudible voice of comfort and nearness.

Genesis 28:15 “And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you, in all places, where ever you go.”
From the beginning, to the end.

Day One

“How is your day going?

This was the polite question the barista asked me this morning as she took my order for an almond latte and a toasted whole grain bagel with cream cheese.

I stared at her dumbly. It was a simple question, but I had no answer. What could I say in the traditional 5 seconds or less allotted by social norm for polite banter?

So, I used the standard line. “Fine.” It’s the word we all use whether we mean it or not.

But somehow, fine just doesn’t begin to touch the jumble of emotions that were swirling through my head this morning. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t doubting. I was merely in that hard place of waiting on the Lord, wanting to be able to accept His plan for my life with faith.

Can you tell by the look on my face I am not crazy about needles?

I had just returned from my first thyrogren shot, the first day in a week long quest to discover if my papillary thyroid cancer has returned when her question caught me off guard. I just couldn’t answer. I had too much to tell.

Fine? Fine. Fine!

I am all of these. Am I fine? No, I can’t say that, I might be physically ill. My cancer may have returned. In fact, walking through the doors to Swedish Cancer Institute this morning I had that realization that my life could be changing dramatically, again. I have no idea where these initial steps are going.

Am I fine. Yes, I am fine. I am functioning on a normal level. You would never know, looking or me or hanging around me what the I am going through. I am not trying to hide it, nor am I trying to broadcast it. I am trying to live my life normally as I can.

I am also fine! Underneath my faltering, feeble steps, I am walking on solid ground, the solid Rock of Christ. I have chosen to rejoice in all things, to give thanks in all things and to trust the Lord in all things. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience the common human emotions like-

“I don’t want to be sick again!”

“I don’t want my family to have to go through this again.”

“I don’t have time to be sick!”

-but I surrender these things to the Lord, being honest with Him and I seek to make His thoughts my thoughts and His ways my ways.

The technician warned me that the shot may bring a headache, fatigue and/or nausea. She kept telling me this was normal, and I wanted to say, “Yea, duh, this is normal every day for a woman my age,” but I just smiled and nodded like a nice patient would.

She also told me not to exercise for several days. No exercise? No problem, haven’t felt like exercising for years. Exercise? Now, I finally have a good excuse not to.

I have to be on a 24 hour diet with no carbs and no sugars. I can eat plain meat, eggs, cheese, butter, mayo and unsweetened peanut butter, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, green beans and cauliflower. Compared to the three week long low iodine diet needed for the radio-active iodine tests I have had previous years, this is a piece of cake… even though I obviously can’t eat cake.

I have another thyrogen shot Tuesday, a shot Wednesday of radioactive glucose prior to the PET/CT scan and blood work on Friday. I get Thursday off.

What should I do? Maybe I’ll eat a candy bar and exercise. Then, again, maybe I won’t.