Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

2010 in review

Happy New Year everyone! I know it’s been a little while since I posted anything, but the GOOD NEWS is I haven’t had anything interesting to report about my health in recent months because ALL IS WELL!

So, I thought I’d share with you how well received this blog has been – and that’s all because of you guys! As we move into 2011, I continue to be so very grateful for my perfect health, and especially for my friends, family and “angels” (both real and ethereal), and for the gift of another year to be on this path of living life as fully as possible.

Instead of talking about my health, I’m passing along a report from the “helper monkeys” at WordPress.com about this blog’s overall health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2010. That’s about 18 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 29 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 89 posts. There were 85 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was January 5th with 186 views. The most popular post that day was OMG! Cancer Free!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, mail.yahoo.com, knology.net, righthealth.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for magic mouthwash, prolapsed stoma, a different wholeness, adifferentwholeness, and ostomy bag.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


OMG! Cancer Free! December 2009


Ostomy 101 January 2010


Rumi’s Guest House August 2009


Still Starving October 2009


Prolapsed Stoma June 2010

So, here’s to a very healthy New Year for all of us! Thanks so much for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers over the past year (and more). I know without a doubt that all that love helped heal me and keep me healthy. Many blessings to everyone for 2011.

Read Full Post »

My dad’s mother, Helena Gardiner, would have been 100 years old today.  Her daughter, my beloved Aunt Carol, sent me the following few paragraphs in memory of her mom.

July 1, 1910, Mama’s birthday — 100 years ago.  Think of all that’s happened in the last 100 years!  An amazing time to live.
And has anything really BIG happened since October 1997 when she left us?  Well, 911, the obvious one, she would have been glued to the TV news. The current wars, but she lived through several of them, so nothing new there.  IPODS, IPHONES, IPADS, maybe.  Facebook?  Oil spills, major hurricanes and snow storms, and another financial crisis, like the one that happened in 1929, one year after she was married.  She always remembered that as the time she learned to fix ground beef 100 different ways.  But I think if she walked in the door today there wouldn’t be a whole lot of news for her to catch-up on, other than why her daughter looks so old, and when did we get a new car.  Of course, Karen’s tribulation, but she no doubt caught some of the prayers and was doing a bit of spiritual hand-holding in Santa Fe this past year.
I miss her, but so many of her physical idiosyncrasies are my own now.  I hear her when I laugh, sneeze or cough, and she still taps her onyx ring on the steering wheel whenever I drive, but when I look it’s my own hand and my wedding rings that are clicking.  I see her in my brother’s blue eyes, and remember her excited “Oh, Son, Son!” when he surprised her with a visit a few months before she died.  She left us with so many memories.  A single mom who would have smacked us if we had referred to her as such, but nonetheless, a woman abandoned to be the sole, if not financial than certainly emotional, support of her three youngsters.  A devoted mother who would never talk about dying, even in her advanced years, because she could not imagine leaving her children.  A survivor, a successful independent woman before society celebrated I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!
Her 100th birthday — a good day to remember Mama.  — Carol


I knew this amazing lady as simply “Grandmother” (she would have it no other way – no shortened endearments like “Grandma” or “Granny” were acceptable!) and, thinking more about that today, I realize her properness had a big influence on me. Her love of nice things – china, silverware, glassware – obviously rubbed off on me! As a girl, I was always impressed that she dressed so impeccably no matter what the occasion was. And so I learned to love getting dressed up and going to her house for Easter and rolling eggs down the hill in her back yard. I recall she always made my dad remove his hat before sitting at the table – and to this day it bugs me a bit when a man wears a baseball hat during dinner.

She loved azaleas and roses, and by taking me with her to various public gardens over the years, she helped instill a lifelong love of gardening in her granddaughter.

She would have been 100 years old today, but would not have wanted you to know that.

Happy Birthday to my dear Grandmother – Helena Gardiner.

Read Full Post »

June 11 was Grammy’s birthday (my mom’s mother). She would have been 103.

Mom and I “celebrated” Grammy’s birthday by going for our mammograms together. It’s been 13 years since Mom was treated for breast cancer.  Thankfully, she’s been cancer-free since then! She’s also been very good about going annually for her mammograms and follow-up visits.

I had my last mammogram about five years ago when I still lived in the Keys. Now that I’m on the “other side” of my colon cancer treatment, my oncologist, Dr. Fekrazad, has given me a plan for follow-up care that includes having a mammogram, a colonoscopy and a CT scan this summer. So, on Friday, I knocked off the easiest one on the list!

It seems mammogram technology has changed pretty dramatically since my last one. They’re almost all done digitally now. The technician at Santa Fe Imaging, where Mom and I went, told me they would be comparing these digital images with my previous film images and, more likely than not, they would be able to see much more than the film mammograms did. She cautioned me not to get jumpy if they should call me to come back in after they compare the new images to the old ones. She said if that happens it’s probably just because they’re able to see more “stuff” that they can’t compare to the old films. And, since I now have a history of cancer, they’re going to be extra cautious about anything they see.

The beautiful pink rosebush in my garden popped out its first blooms of the year just a week ago!

So, I’ll be sure to provide an update once Mom and I get our results back. I’m confident we’re both going to get good reports.

Since I’ll probably have to start going for annual mammograms like Mom does, don’t you think it would be a nice tradition for us to go for them together on Grammy’s birthday each year?

And, it sure isn’t lost on me what a beautiful thing it is that Mom and I are both here, and able to refer to our future in terms of “years.”  I’m so truly grateful for this wonderful gift we’ve both been given!

Read Full Post »

Prolapsed Stoma

Just when I thought I’d experienced pretty much everything I was going to with this cancer stuff.  Then, without warning, my guts are hanging out. Literally. (Yuck.  Even the name – “prolapsed stoma” – sounds disgusting!)

I’ve been doing really well lately, feeling better, gaining weight, keeping busy. Then, last Thursday I noticed my stoma seemed to be “sticking out” a bit more than usual. It was about time to change the ostomy bag anyway, so I went into the bathroom, removed the bag and – gasp! – there was about an inch of, well, intestine protruding out of my stoma. Let me just say this is not something you want to see (don’t worry, there are no photos for this post!).

It wasn’t painful, other than emotionally. I will admit I pretty much freaked out. I did have the presence of mind, though, to immediately phone my surgeon’s office. I got Dr. Brown’s nurse, Blanca. Usually she’s very helpful and sweet. Perhaps I caught her on a bad day. Between sobs, I described what was happening, and her rather un-sympathetic response was, “Well, that happens sometimes. If it gets worse, you should go to the hospital.”

I was choking back tears of panic. She asked me to hold a moment. When she returned, she said she’d been able to speak to Dr. Brown between patients and he suggested I lie on my back to see if the intestine would go back in on its own. She said he wasn’t too concerned if it was only protruding about an inch. If it got to be four or five inches, then I’d need to have it looked at.

I hung up in disbelief. My guts were literally hanging out and my surgeon wasn’t too concerned? However, I did as he suggested and laid flat on my back in bed for a while. It wasn’t long before the intestine began to sink back in (where it belongs, thank you!). While I laid there watching and waiting, I couldn’t help but think there has to be something symbolic about having one’s guts hanging out. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with what it was.

When I finally felt like it was safe for me to get up, I went right to the computer and Googled “stoma prolapse.”

Not a good idea! I saw all sorts of gross photos of intestines popping out of stomas several inches and more. I tried to just read the text and not look at the pics, but it was impossible not to notice them. Besides, there wasn’t much explanation in the text that seemed helpful either.

Fortunately, my three-month check-up with Dr. Brown happened to be scheduled for today. I went to his office hoping to get some answers to my burning questions:

• What causes this to happen?

• What can I do to prevent it?

• Will I need surgery?

His answers were (in this order):

• Don’t know.

• Nothing.

• Hope not.

Okay, I may have paraphrased a little. Basically he said they don’t know why stoma’s prolapse, although he believes it’s often related to a stomal hernia. He felt around my stoma as I was reclining and then lifting up as in a crunch, and said he thought I might have a small stomal hernia forming. (Oh, joy…)

He said there was really nothing I could do to prevent another incidence of prolapse. And there wasn’t much I could do to prevent the hernia from increasing. He said, “You could lie on you back all the time and never use your stomach muscles, but I don’t think you want to do that…” And, as for surgery, he said he did not like to operate on stomal hernias unless it was absolutely necessary. Ditto for prolapsed stomas. If I had a persistent prolapse of many inches, he said we would consider surgery then.

Well, thank God for small favors! I am so disinclined to have more surgery (unless it concerns life or death), I was at least comforted by this last bit of info.

So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. And keep trusting that it was a one-time incident…or at least that if it should happen again it won’t be any worse.

I left Dr. Brown’s office and had a chocolate milk shake – to reward my inner cry-baby for not making more of this than need be.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Okay, I can’t stand not including a photo. So here’s one I took tonight of my new neighbor. His name is Billy.

My new neighbor, Billy. Isn't he adorable?

Read Full Post »

More than Valentines

A Valentine


This postcard arrived in the mail yesterday. It was sent to me anonymously from the “Valentine Goddess.”  I do know that it came from someone in Key West because there’s been a flurry of them mentioned by my Key West friends on Facebook. I have a sneaking suspicion who the designer of the card is (this art has her “signature” all over it!), but I get the impression from the comments on Facebook that it’s possible others may have been involved in the distribution of these wonderful Valentines.

I also like to read a weekly astrological column in Pasatiempo (the Arts & Entertainment magazine in my local newspaper). The astrologer, Heather Roan Robbins, made this clever comment – that I just loved:

Ask not what Valentine’s Day can do for you, but what you can do for Valentine’s Day.

To that I say: whoever took the time, effort and expense to send this lovely little Valentine’s message out to the world definitely asked themselves that question – what can I do for Valentine’s Day? They certainly came up with a great idea and deserve an enormous hug of appreciation.  We can always use a little more love – without exception!

Read Full Post »

Marathon Girl

As hoped for, Karen was freed of her remaining tubes this morning. She was pretty darn happy about that and was given permission to take a shower.  Karen advised that the shower was lacking in the accoutrements we all would hope for at this stage (i.e., it was hand held drippy kind of shower head), but it certainly beat another sponge bath.

The real “wow” of the day is that Karen (aka “Marathon Girl”)  is booking down the hallway. We’ve taken three major walks around the floor.  We got lost on the first trip – which led us into the “Ritz Carlton” section of the floor. All this time we thought we were in nirvana as Karen has a private room -little did we know that there’s a really really spiffy section on the other side – gargantuan rooms, with beautiful views of the mountains, built in couches, etc.  We had a good laugh about our “slumming” it over here on the other side.

As we walk along, we’re thinking of our future years together as old ladies perhaps taking a stroll along the boardwalk in Miami Beach – although we’ve lost our northeastern accents at this point and probably won’t fit in very well over there. But we’re working on where it might just be that we can grow old together and continue to share strolls together.

Shawn came to visit today and we shared some more  laughs with Karen about Mount Vesuvius (which is how Karen is currently referring to the ostomy -we’re all anxiouslyand eagerly awaiting its eruption).

It’s great to see Karen getting stronger by the minute – anticipate she’ll be heading home shortly. Kate comes in tonight as my replacement. Karen is so looking forward to her visit.  I am sad to leave, but I am so comforted by the support team Karen will have with Kate and the Santa Fe angels, Shawn and Nataysa.

Read Full Post »


Karen had a bit of a rough evening, with a short bout with nausea.  Gave us a little concern, but then this morning, as vitals were all coming in good, Dr. Dudley freed Karen of her i.v., her oxygen, and the inflatable leg cuffs, with the proviso that Karen continue to lengthen her walks. Dr. Dudley also hinted that the two remaining artificial appendages (the wound drain and the Foley catheter) might be removed tomorrow if she continues on this upward progression. Well that was all our girl had to hear and she was up and about walking three times the length of our prior walks. The walks are difficult, but Karen is doing better each round.

Taysa visited today, with a teapot, tea cups and some of Karen’s tea – no styrofoam cups or Lipton tea  for this patient. Karen also gobbled up some carrot cake from the Flying Star.

We’re hopeful that Karen will be “sprung” from this joint early in the week if things keep going as well as they seem to be. Got our fingers crossed.

Read Full Post »


Day 3 at the hospital and Karen is doing amazingly well.   Yesterday, at 6:30 a.m. she got up for the first time and walked to the doorway of her room.  She walked two additional times, each one longer than the one  before.  Today she volunteered for 2 walks.  INCREDIBLE.  Karen was starting to fuss more about all the tubes, which also is a very good sign!   We’ve since seen Dr. Dudley and he removed one tube and some bandaging.  

Dr. Brown visited last night and noted that he feels her ostomy is one of his “top 3” for the year. Made us both smile and we certainly hope that is the case – as we understand that will make for less complications down the road.  This morning the ostomy nurse visited and she commented how nice the stoma looked – reaffirming Dr. Brown’s assessment. Makes one realize that  surgery is an art form and we’re hoping Dr. Brown and Dr. Brown are the “Rodins” of their trade.

 Please keep the prayers and good thoughts coming !


Read Full Post »


After battling snowflakes and slick roads, Karen arrived at Presbyterian around 11 a.m.  Around 11:30 she went off to pre-op with dear Shawn at her side. 

Karen’s surgery started at 1:13 p.m. and to all of our surprise she was through in less than 2 hours (prediction had been 3+).  Dr. Brown came out to the waiting room to give Shawn, Tasya and I an update – he was very pleased and positive. The tumor had shrunk since Karen’s last exam at his office (a very good thing-yipee!). Surgery went well and he will be checking in on her tomorrow.  Karen entered surgery with an incredibly optimistic attitude that was noted by Dr. Brown  Which we all hope will go a long way toward her speedy recovery. 

Karen spent a few hours in post op. She’s now in her room and is trying to get some sleep in between the various beeps of the IV, etc. She’s in really good spririts.  Will keep you posted further tomorrow. Thank you for all of your love and prayers. They were definately felt here.

 P.S. The staff here at Presbyterian have been absolutely wonderful – supportive, reaching out to give us updates.   Particularly Theresa in the surgical waiting area. An absolute angel.

Read Full Post »

The Ghostwriter

It’s just Alison with Karen’s help seeing if I can navigate the blog – huge leap for one as technology challenged as I am. Karen is sipping her Go Lytely and we’re looking forward to a fire this evening the fire-place once that innocuous looking liquid has done its job.

Karen is being incredibly strong – amazing me each moment we’ve spent together today –  she’s facing tomorrow with strength and determination like only Karen can.  Will post an update as soon as I can post the surgery. I know Karen is so grateful for your love, prayers and thoughts. Please keep her especially in your thoughts over these next few days.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »