Back Away From The Google

Guess what I found myself doing yesterday? Googling cancer statistics. Why? Was I trying to make my mind dip into a depression since I’m feeling good? Oh what a tangled web I weave.

I usually check the National Cancer Society’s or the National Institute of Health’s sites and that’s about it. I look around for published papers but they are far out of date.

You know what? The most current information I could find was a paper written in 2007. I already read that information in 2011 when I was diagnosed with lung cancer.

In five days I reach the anniversary of the surgery to remove a bit of cancerous material from my lung.

My fifth anniversary!

But what happens now. Doctors can’t say I’m cured because they can’t see into the future. Research papers and studies have not had the chance to continue long enough for results. I suppose it depends upon when actual lung cancer research began. I won’t preach again but lung cancer research isn’t well funded.

I knew the rate was 67% of all stage 1a lung adenocarcinomas would still be alive at the five year mark. I was one of the 67%.

What happens at the ten year mark? Do my chances of survival or recurrence increase or decrease? Each year that goes by do I say, “whew, another year down”? Is the survival rate at 10 years 62% or 72%? Do the chances for survival increase or decrease 1% for each year with no detectable disease. Or, do they increase or decrease by .01%.

But none of that type of thinking is good for me. Nobody really knows when they are going to die, and that includes me.

AND…..”whew, another year down”? What a skewed way of thinking.

These thoughts rambling around in my mind are just not right. I know I have to live each moment and be thankful I get up every morning…..and I am.

So, again, why do I have this part of self-destructive thoughts preventing me from moving forward. Just as eating healthy and exercising, why am I doing this to myself?

I know I will find my answers in my mind—probably in the middle of a sleepless night.

Today, I’m cancer free, and for that I’m thankful.

Just dumping negative thoughts today. 

 

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Making Grocery Shopping Fun

Here I sit.

Tis grocery shopping day.

But today is different. We’re doing it. We’re going healthy.

No more ice cream, potato chips, fried anything (which I never fry anyway), no mac ‘n cheese, no more gravies.

Just the good stuff I can’t pronounce and have to Google to see what I’m supposed to find at the store. Ya gotta know what it looks like, you know what I mean?

Which means the perimeter of the store. Except for the cat litter and spice aisles. Oh, and toilet paper and laundry soap.

Can we do it? I want to say yes.

I’m going in for my annual tune up next month and I believe I’ve gained 20 pounds since my last visit. Crap! Did I just type 20 pounds?

Anyway, I know I’m going to receive “the lecture”, along with all the blood test results showing all the numbers that are too high or too low. I know what I have to do but I have little brain gaps that prevent me from doing what I know is right.

Why?

I have been working on this for five years. Actually, I have been striving for a healthy lifestyle a lot longer than five years, it’s the act of not doing it that has me perplexed. My therapist has given me tools to make goals for myself, but I swear…..all the candy in the store has, buy me now, written all over the bags.

 I cram unhealthy things in my mouth, knowing I’m doing harm to my glucose levels, but I do it anyway.

Why?

I know to take baby steps but I sabotage every little step I plan. I’m tired of grunting my way through household chores and finding that my clothes don’t fit well anymore. I’m tired of putting it out in the blog world that I’m committed to walking every day and eating healthy—yet, that exposure doesn’t even make me follow through. By the way, I am no longer doing Weight Watchers.

Do I hate myself? No. Not anymore.

So, why?

I’ve said it before, I live an oxymoron life. I want to be healthy and avoid cancer–or be ready for the next fight, but I do the complete opposite to keep myself healthy. I’ve been semi-successful understanding my emotions and recognizing my triggers, but not with the health of my body.

Why?

 

 

 

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Nothing Can Last Forever – The Final Chapter

Our current residence is 3000 miles from our last home. The area we all knew our entire lives. For the two old farts in the family, that was a long time.

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Our current home

In our last home, our kids were able to attend the same elementary school. One went through three years of junior high school, and the oldest through junior high, and one year of high school.

My dream of keeping them in the same schools went away. Poof!

New schools. New friends. New routines. New culture.

We moved just slightly before the big housing crash. At the time we moved, the company my husband works for paid for all moving expenses. If, after a three month listing time, our house didn’t sell, the company would buy it from us and sell it. The company hired their own appraisers and we received far much more money than we ever dreamed of getting for that house. In fact, the four years we lived there, our house had doubled in price.

I haven’t a clue what we were thinking when we were looking for homes in Georgia. We had three days to find one (time that the company paid all expenses for us to find a house, including flight from Seattle, motel, food…etc.)

For some reason we had our eyes set on BIG. Not thinking that our oldest would be off to college two years after we moved and our daughter would soon be following….we still went BIG. Needless to say, since we bought when we did, our current home isn’t worth what we paid for it.

The finished basement of our current home is larger than our first home. I have 5 toilets to clean. Well, 4 now that the youngest has moved back home and can do his own cleaning.

My husband and I worked hard to have a great backyard for the dogs this time. Our kids all graduated from the same high school while living in this house. We had our celebrations, but it was just our immediate family, except for the year my mom visited for Christmas.

What other kind of memories does this house contain?

ooooo…..bad ones.

I have felt grief beyond what my mind and heart could handle. I lived with the fear of being diagnosed with cancer. I finally faced my mortality and, at the time, I didn’t want to live as I had been living.

I broke here and I’m trying to put myself back together.

Today, our home is cleaned in sections.

Due to a tiny house my husband inherited from his dad in rural Missouri, this won’t be the house our grandkids will grow to know as Grandma and Grandpa’s. More than likely they will know the Missouri house as our forever home.

Which is fine. That house only has two toilets and will be a breeze to clean. It’s the renovating that is a challenge.

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Our Missouri home

Until then, I’m determined to wash away the bad memories this house holds. I will strive to make new, happy memories to carry with me.

….and we shall move one more time…no more.

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Nothing Can Last Forever – Part 3

The third house we moved to was going to be the house we lived in until we rotted.

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We had three decent sized bedrooms for the kids, an en suite master bath, and a powder room on the main floor. It was also a brand new house we watched them build. I had three toilets to clean but it was still manageable to keep the activities of three kids in order as well as the house.

Again, my husband and I worked very hard on the back yard to make it a play space for our kids. To this day, that was their favorite backyard.

This is the house we lived in when our oldest started kindergarten and our second started the next year. My dream was that they would go through elementary, junior high, and high school with all the same kids/friends.

Our youngest turned one in this house. We had much more room for parties and many great memories. The magical time of childhood dreams.

Then…..one day, I took our oldest to a birthday party and just happened to pass by a new housing development. What the heck, I thought, I’m going to go look at the model home…just because.

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I LOVED that house! So I drug my husband through the model home, and with a bunch of financial finagling we moved. The house wasn’t far from our old neighborhood so all three of our kids would remain in the same schools. I still had three toilets to clean but the house was still manageable, inside and out.

Then my husband received a job promotion that we could not let pass him by.

So, we moved…..

 

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Are We Really Done When the Toothpick Comes Out Clean?

When I hit the bottom of the bottom and began ascending to life, I recognized all the stinky ways I treated people. I would be so involved with my own insecurities and  determination to hide them, I don’t think I really saw others around me.

Words spewed from my mouth without any filters. What I thought, is what came out my mouth, whether I intended to be offensive or not.

I still speak before I think but I believed I had changed my thinking about myself and others. I don’t think I have fully developed heart-felt compassion or empathy. At least not in a healthy way.

My sarcastic humor can be hurtful to others and I just didn’t think what I find amusing may be a bad joke, which can hurt someone reading it.

Which happened, today on that Facebook. I didn’t receive a bad comment from one of my friends, just a friendly reminder that some suffer in ways that are different than ours— that’s not funny.

She has given me pause.

I have fought very hard against a tsunami of grief, anxiety, self-loathing, and depression. I’m proud of my progress and proud of how I have learned the value of myself as well as my friendships.

But compassion?

Empathy?

I’m going to pause and think about this for a while.

Not to worry—those of you who are waiting with bated breath for my next house post, it’s coming.

I have some thoughts to mull over.

I want to be the best me I can be!

 

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Nothing Can Last Forever – Part 2

Our second home was a brand new home. In fact, we were able to watch the house being built.

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I was determined to stay in that house so that our kids could start in one school and go through the progression to high school without having to change schools.

My husband and I worked very hard to create a backyard just for kids. My husband and dad built a huge shed in the back, a big sandbox for the kids and a big play area for them to play in.

It was the house our little ones went Trick-Or-Treating for the first time.

Our daughter turned one in that house. We had more room for parties, but we were farther from our families. Not that far, but I suppose it was too far for most of them.

We lived there a couple of years before deciding to have another child. The big problem with that house is the fact that the kids’ bedrooms were TINY. A twin bed fit in them and a person could stand in between the bed and the closet. That was it. Not big enough to fit two girls or two boys in…depending what our third child would be.

I have some pretty dark, extreme anxiety memories from this time period, but the good far outweigh the bad.

We brought our third child home to this house. We had far outgrown the place.

So, we moved……

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Nothing Can Last Forever

Not that I enjoy my ride on the crazy train to depression, I love when I begin to go into remission.

Obviously.

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with our house. I love it, but it is so stinkin’ big! As I was cleaning part of it today, I reflected upon the houses we have lived in since the beginning of our marriage.

Our first was a story and a half. That meant that the two bedrooms upstairs were tiny, cramped, slanted roof-size rooms. An adult person could only stand up straight in the middle of the room. Closet space was …. um …. minimalist.

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I’m sitting on the porch with our first two kids

The memories from that home will always make me smile. You see, it was a house that my dad bought next to the house I grew up in. I spent many hours with him while he renovated that house so that my grandpa could move in there. He gave me an old metal bucket to sit on while I read various books.

The house was on what I would call a pretty steep hill…in the South, they’re called mountains. My grandpa would walk up and down that hill many times a week to do his grocery shopping. I can’t remember how old my grandpa was when my aunt and dad decided to move him downtown—maybe 87? I don’t know who decided, but going up and down that hill seemed to be too much. You know, I think that’s what kept him young. Anyway, when he moved, my brother and I were fortunate to rent the house from my dad.

My brother married and moved on and I stayed in the house.

It’s the house my husband and I brought home our first two kids. The house we sectioned off a part of the living room to build a temporary room for the second child because she seemed to never sleep.

It was a house with one bathroom. We had to go down the stairs, around the corner, and through the kitchen to get to that bathroom. When my water broke in the early morning hours, I couldn’t believe I made it all the way to that bathroom without having to have a jar of pickles handy. (pregnant lady joke)

Our oldest turned one while living there. He also got his head stuck in the balusters that weren’t to code—my dad renovated it prior to all the new building codes of today. When our oldest was 2 he locked me out of the house and stood at the window, laughing at me.

The day before my daughter was born the temperature was 99F degrees . A temperature seldom felt in the Seattle metro area, hence, no air conditioning in our house—or many other houses for that matter.

We shoved our extended families in for holiday parties and birthdays. We almost sat elbow to elbow, but it is a nice memory.

The only bad thing about the house was the school district it was located. We moved to an area with better schools long before our oldest started kindergarten.

I loved our little house and cleaning it was a breeze.

But we moved…..

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Sunday With April

In the mental department, this week was a pretty difficult one. Could I pinpoint why? Nope, that’s the nature of the beast within.

In spite of the mood, the following made me smile:

-I read some rather funny FB posts–I’m serious, I have some funny friends

-While the temps are getting high, the humidity is not in the unbearable range

-Sitting on the deck with our youngest on a Friday night – wonderful conversation time

-how much I really like the lush look when the leaves fill in the bare branches

-our little cat spying another cat outside, then going nuts trying to get through the window

-that with the help of our youngest, we convinced my husband the sketchy parts of the deck needed repair.

-finished knitting another pair of socks

I hope you find something to make you smile and be grateful for this week!

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That Stinkin’ Thing I Do

It’s almost noon.

I’m still in my pajamas. I have taken the dog out in my pjs one time and hopefully, the next time she has to go out, I will have taken a shower and dressed for the day. (my daytime clothing choices can be bad, so it may not be a bad thing traipsing around in my pjs)

Throughout life stages we have routines. You know, the one that starts with an alarm to get to work on time. If you sleep through said alarm, the day is totally screwed.

For me, the next stage was stay-at-home mom. The babies became my alarm clock and dictated my daily routine.

Now…as an under qualified, old person that nobody but McDonalds will hire, I have a new routine.

I usually wake up by 7:30….that’s after initially waking up at 5:00 when my husband starts to exercise before going to his place of employment. After a tiny feeling of guilt that I should get up and exercise too, I turn over and sleep for another 2 1/2 hours. Every single day, I have to talk myself into getting out of bed.

If it weren’t for my routine of taking my medications on time, and the whine of the cats begging for food. Oh, and letting the dog out before it’s too late. I would be in bed at noon and beyond.

The grocery store avoidance is a bad routine, and I want to make it stop. (It’s the reason I’m in my pjs at noon). I find all kinds of things to distract me until I finally realize that I won’t be going to the store today.

sigh

My therapist suggested I turn things into a habit. I like making positive thinking a habit, I like knitting as a habit. I cannot make grocery shopping an enjoyable habit. Geesh! What a waste of time. If I would just go and get it over with, I would have all day to do something else beside feel guilty.

So….I’m going in. I will make an attempt to notice all that is beautiful in the grocery store. The smells that make me buy stuff I shouldn’t. The music that distracts me so that I buy stuff I shouldn’t. The line I have to stand in to pay for the food I shouldn’t be buying.

don’t suggest making a list. I always have a list. It is written according to how things are arranged in the store. Remember…..my mission, should I choose to accept it…..get in, get out.

 

 

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The Faces of Depression

If one were asked to draw a picture of what a depressed person looks like, most likely the drawing would look as described below (because I can’t draw).

The person would be slumped over, head down, emotionless face.

Yup, that’s what some depressed people look like.

Maybe you could draw a little black cloud hovering over the head, or a black dog nipping at the person’s heels.

Some could have a bottle of booze in their hands.

Some will be on such an ambitious high (mania) they believe they can conquer the world. Some will overcompensate for the shame they feel about being depressed, they will go to great lengths to hide it, if they are able. Oh! I forgot…some can be the nasty, mean ass you want to avoid.

Some can’t hide it, and we are afraid of them.

The depressed get by until we can’t. It is my hope to take the shame out of mental illness in order to seek professional help to live in spite of mental illness.

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A better place in a blog post for this picture of the head I found.

It takes a village, really, to help a person see that something isn’t quite right with an individual. Then it takes a warrior to seek help because the ‘cure’ doesn’t happen overnight. The struggle will last a lifetime.

However, the lifetime struggle is manageable if you have the proper help. Life can become what you make of it. A person is able to find joy again……we have to learn how to fight against the depression—or anxiety.

So….next time you see that beautiful person with a smile plastered upon their face, that wonderful gentleman tipping his hat to you–do they even do that anymore? A person laughing at a party. The person telling the best jokes. The person going out of their way to help the less fortunate. The person who makes you laugh. The angry complainer….pay attention to the subtleties– you never know what great lengths they are taking to hide their inner turmoil.

Am I an expert regarding the actions of others? No.

I am, however, an expert in how I ‘hid’ my depression. I have a suspicion I’m not the only one who sits on that mask of depression-lack of self esteem-lack of self image…..so that nobody will find out what secrets lie in our minds.

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