Separately Together

Two people separated by
Doors, walls, a long hallway
One entered
The other remained
Not allowed to cross
This particular threshold
Leading to necessary discomfort
A small room where muscles
Are pinched and prodded
Where skin is broken
Then held together
Only one entered
The other remained
Both feeling discomfort
One physical
One emotional
Both holding tight
That is love
Connection that cannot
Be separated by
Doors, walls, or a long hallway

My husband, Gart, does not like for me to brag about him. Wednesday morning, he sat in not one but two different waiting rooms while I had a biopsy followed by a CT scan.

I knew no matter what happened, he would be there when I walked back out. Ready to listen and encourage. “Let’s not worry until we have something to worry about,” he would say.

That evening, I participated in my weekly poetry circle. This poem came from that time. Writing and listening with a group I have grown to love and trust.

I am thankful to report the biopsy showed no cancer! I will follow-up with my doctor next week. And I know if I need him to, he will wait once again in another waiting room. ❤

Time After Time

Blue Mixed with Gray

We are experiencing unusual winter weather in Oklahoma this week. Frigid temperatures and freezing rain made for a slow drive this morning. I had an early morning appointment at the hospital.

When looking directly out of the front windshield, all seemed gray. Bare trees were covered in ice. Brown and white were mixed on the road from the sand. A layer of white covered the grass. The sky was filled with gray clouds.

Sounds like a dreary scene. And parts of it could be described that way. But there were also bits of wonder. The icy tree limbs brought thoughts of a winter wonderland. Evergreens with white tips provided a lovely visual, making the green stand out.

I looked up and around, giving more attention to the sky, and noticed something. There were tiny hints of blue mixed with the gray. I had to squint to see it, but it was there. The sky was not completely gray, after all.

Funny how life is sometimes that way…squinting to see the blue skies.

Our hospital trip today was for a biopsy/CT scan. A necessary though unwanted addendum to my recent MRI day. MRI Day

As I’ve said before, I’m grateful for good health care. But honestly, I was nervous about these tests.

That blue mixed in with the gray this morning was a perfect reminder of the realities of this life. Beautiful, sad, joyful, difficult…all of it meshed together. That is life.

As I began to feel the strength from those offering prayers on my behalf, I also realized my own prayers for peace had been answered. That answer came through those swaths of blue sky mixed in with the gray.

Enjoying Time

Several times this past week, I thought about painting. An extra colorful sunrise on my drive to work or maybe the evening sky-I would notice a scene and think, “Wonder if I could paint that?”

Of course, time passed, and I used none of it for painting…until today.

My sister-in-law, Paula, was in town this weekend. She invited me and my daughter, Rachel, to a brunch today at my mother-in-law’s house. Thought it would be nice to have some girl time.  

When Rachel and I walked in, it looked like a party! Pretty pink plates with gold polka dots, matching napkins graced a gold tablecloth. A coffee bar, mimosa bar, yogurt bar, scones, and yummy croissant breakfast sandwiches were displayed in the kitchen.

What a surprise! And then I noticed the centerpiece on the table. It was a flowery coffee cup with the letter K filled with pink flowers. Curious. Then my sweet mother-in-law, June, said, “Well, this brunch is for you.”

I have been a little nervous about some upcoming medical tests. The brunch was supposed to be a pick-me-up. That it was. ❤

We ate, laughed, talked, prayed, and I cried just a little. We also baked cookies and watched a great movie. I returned home relaxed and encouraged.

Guess what I did once back home? Painted! Maybe not one of the skies from previous days, but that does not matter. The love and kindness of family reminded me of the importance of slowing down. Enjoying time without worrying about what is to come.

MRI Day

We have days dedicated to celebrating almost everything.  Days for donuts, coffee, moms, dads, cats, and dogs-and the list goes on and on.  Today was MRI day.  At least, that is what I decided to proclaim.  Especially now that my doctor insists I have one in addition to my mammogram every year. 

They are not particularly fun.  Imagine lying face down on a narrow table.  White towels lining the hole where your face rests.  Your arms straight out in front-think Superman pose.  No, wait-Wonder Woman. 😉

Once in position, you must be perfectly still for thirty minutes.  Perfectly still while the tube you are in makes random, intermittent noises, as if preparing for take-off.  Actually, it is just a really loud camera.

I know this probably does not sound like something to celebrate.  But this year, I choose to view it differently.  I am celebrating deep breaths that helped me to relax.  I am celebrating old hymns and classic James Taylor singing inside my head. I am celebrating medical science that says early detection is key.

Even though physically uncomfortable, the above reasons eased my anxiety. And I was reminded that I can do hard things. So, get your mammograms! And if your doctor says the word MRI, you can do it! Until next year! 💕

Mask Up!

I do not like to wear a coat. Oh, I’m thankful for the warmth it provides, especially considering the weather here a couple of weeks ago. For several days, the morning temps hovered around freezing.

If I’d only had to walk from my car to the building, that coat might not have been necessary. However, I have morning car duty-about twenty-five minutes outside. So, not only was I bundled up, but I also wore rain boots and carried my umbrella.

Although thankful while outside, I felt restricted while driving to school. That zipped up coat felt like it was holding me back. Constricting my movements instead of protecting me.

Sometimes that is how it goes, even with the things we need. Rules, routines, laws intended to help, protect, keep us safe. And yet, we struggle against them. Somehow afraid they will do the opposite-take our freedom.

Think about speed limits and other traffic laws. We push the boundaries by wanting to drive a little faster or speed through that yellow light. What about our work schedules and expectations? Designed to help us be our best, yet we complain and find small ways to buck the system.

In our current state of a world-wide pandemic, mask mandates come to mind. I wear one to work every day, as do my colleagues and students. No, it is not fun. However, it is necessary. And we wear them to show our respect and to protect each other.

And yet, depending on which business I happen to enter in which town or city, I may or may not be able to count on that same consideration. It is disheartening, to say the least. Something so simple met with such resistance.

As with most things in life, balance is needed. No one wants to feel like they are wrapped up in a cocoon. Yet, we need the wisdom to recognize the times when necessity says mask up and face the facts. You might just save someone else’s life.

Best Course of Action

My mom and her sister, my Aunt Elizabeth, are breast cancer survivors. My dear friend, Shannon, lost her battle with breast cancer. I witnessed each of these women respond with bravery and courage to a disease that has touched so many.

Geneva’s Daughter Instant Friends

Because of my family history and personal health issues, I have mammograms regularly and see a specialist. And though my personal health history does not include cancer, it does include a lumpectomy, multiple biopsies, and MRIs.

I DO NOT LIKE MRIs AT ALL...

Today was my six-month checkup, including an ultrasound. Dense tissue makes detection difficult. And even though the doctor saw nothing alarming, she recommended another MRI and follow-up again in six months.

When MRI was mentioned today, I kind of zoned out for a moment. I began to feel the anxiety that accompanied my previous MRI. Yes, I survived. But it was definitely an emotional challenge.

Once again, I found myself feeling anxious. For clarification, I asked, “So, you think I should definitely have an MRI?” “Yes. You meet the risk factors. I believe it is the best course of action for you.”

On the drive home, I was tempted to let worry start creeping in. But then I had some thankful thoughts. A doctor who is thorough and gives me her honest opinion. Health insurance to help cover this cost. The knowledge that if there is ever an issue, this test will find it early.

So, I will stay on this course of action, even though it makes me nervous. And I will continue to encourage all my women friends to remain vigilant in fighting this disease.

Get your mammograms! And even an MRI, if necessary. 💗💗💗

It’s That Time Again

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Please fill out this paperwork.

Date of the last mammogram?
Ultrasound?
MRI?
Personal Cancer history? No
Mom breast cancer? Yes
Aunt breast cancer? Yes

Same questions-every year-sometimes every 6 months. And this time, in the middle of a pandemic.

Here I sit-blue hospital mask. Waiting to hear my name.

Kelley? Dressing room 4. Put on your cape. She’ll come to get you in a minute.

Here I sit-blue hospital mask and floral cape. Waiting again.

So glad I wore my blue earrings today. They’re my favorite!

Seems silly, but somehow, they make me feel a little less nervous.

I’ve done this a million times. And I know it can be lifesaving. There is no other option.

I can’t help but think about the brave women I know who have fought breast cancer. Many won their fight, some did not.

And yet, at some point on each of their journeys, they sat where I’m sitting. Being proactive, preventative. But also wondering, what if there’s something there this time. The thought can’t be helped.

That’s why I sit here, waiting. Wearing my blue hospital mask, floral cape, and favorite blue earrings.

My turn.

Don’t breathe. It is a 4-second test. Breathe. Repeat x 4.

Wait again. Possible ultrasound. Usually, what happens to me. This time, I mentally prepared for that one. Who am I kidding?

It is worth all the waiting and anxiety of this moment. Because it will either provide peace of mind or the need for a plan of action.

Kelley? Bring your things. Follow me.

Ultrasound. Press and click what seems like x 50…

Everything looks stable. See what your doctor says. Otherwise, see you next year.

Walking out into the fresh air, I want to shout to the skies.
Get your mammogram! Do not wait!

Faces

Dear Friends,

This past week was our Spring Break from school. One whole week to relax and do whatever I wanted. Except, it really wasn’t. Yes, I was able to relax and spend time with family. But no coffee with friends, spring clothes shopping, last-minute trips out of town, etc.

I tried not to worry about establishing a new routine or what would happen in the weeks to come. But now it’s Saturday, and a new week is almost here. It is time to think ahead just a little.

This morning it hit me what I’m going to miss the most when Monday comes-faces. I see so many faces each day. Faces help us know how a person is feeling. We can see happiness, disappointment, struggle, or excitement with one single glance.

We can also receive what we need from the face of another. If I am the one showing sadness or struggling, a smile from another person is powerful. It shows that someone else sees me and recognizes how I’m feeling.

So, although I won’t see all those faces on Monday, I will be thinking about them. Those colleagues who greet me each day. The students I greet each morning as they enter the building. Those few ornery boys who still call me grandma every time they see me. My friend who sits across the table with a cup of coffee.

As I think of those faces, I will also pray. For that is one thing I can do no matter where I am or what the circumstances. These are unsettling times with many unanswered questions. But I have faith that I will see all those faces again soon-live and in person.

Until then, I remain thankful for technology and social media. And with that thought, I will share a picture of my face from this morning. Hopefully, you will see joy and contentment amid uncertainty. And be reminded that I love you.

Take care of yourselves, sweet friends.

Kelley

“I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” 3 John 1:14

Thoughtful Gift

Sometimes the simplest things bring the most joy. And when they are unexpected, it is even better.

I am having some difficulty with my neck and left arm. A herniated disc seems to be the culprit. Activities such as playing the piano and typing are not helpful at this time. Of course, these are two of the things I enjoy the most.

A package came today. I had not ordered anything, so I assumed it was for my husband. He called after work and asked if I had opened the package. “No. I didn’t know what it was.” “Well, there is something in there for you,” he said.

What was it? An adjustable, 8-position, laptop desk. He knows how much I love to write. And that I prefer sitting in my comfortable chair or sitting in bed, propped up with pillows when I am writing.

Perfect timing. ❤

Writing helps me take care of myself. This desk will help me be able to continue writing while also taking care of my neck.

Tonight I am thankful for my husband, and this thoughtful gift.

On Second Thought…

This week I was reminded of my “word of the year” choice-strong. Hmmm…maybe I should rethink that choice.

The event responsible for my remembering? A steroid shot in my neck. I’ve been dealing with arm pain and weakness for several months. Doctors discovered a herniated disc and this was the first step in treatment.

Though I was anxious for relief, I was also anxious about the procedure. I was not quite sure what to expect. Communication from the doctor’s office indicated that iv sedation was standard. And I was fine with that.

Upon arrival, I was informed that sedation was an option but not necessary. It was, after all, only a ten-minute procedure.

I wish I could say my choice was easy, instant, and made with confidence. That was not the case.

Anxiety began to creep in. I knew I would function better in the long run without the sedation. But it was still a difficult decision. There may have even been some tears involved.

Thankfully, my husband, Gart, was there to encourage me. He reminded me of past experiences. Told me I was strong (there’s that word again). And told me I could do it!

I’m happy to report, I did it! However, right when the doctor said, “Ok. We’re all done,” I passed out. Pretty sure I had been holding my breath.

The nurses were kind, reassuring me that this was a common reaction. I felt much better once lying on my back with a cool cloth on my forehead. Still, I was a tad embarrassed. But at the same time, proud. And maybe even a little bit strong.

On second thought…maybe I will hold on to my word. After all, it represents a needed area of focus. And in this instance, it reminds me I don’t have to be strong all by myself.