The Key

Room is quiet
Only a steady
Sound of air
Flowing from
A plastic tube
Occasional
Snore from Dad
Glass doors
Provide a window
To the hallway
Doctors walking past
Carts rolling by
With food, linens,
Cleaning supplies-
Right outside sits
The faithful one
Never far away
Caring for others
Keeping track of
Vital signs
Medication
Answering questions
Calming fears-
I know it is
A team effort
But I believe
Nurses hold the key

I wrote this poem while sitting with my Dad in ICU after his open-heart surgery. I was amazed by and thankful for the care he received, especially his nurses. ❤

Simply Sunday

Today I will be driving back home to Oklahoma from Arkansas. It is hard to say goodbye, but I am grateful for these past two weeks with my parents. I leave with a thankful heart. Thankful for doctors, nurses, family, and friends. Thankful my Dad will be going home from the hospital today. ❤

Love this tree near my parent’s house.

Cocooned

Life in limbo
For a brief time
No place to be
No place to wait
Only one person
Allowed at a time
With the patient

No mulling around
In the lobby
Outside
Seating
Available
Perfect!
Now if only
Wind and rain
Would cease-
These times call
For lots of love
Often demonstrated
By a waiting room
Filled with family
And friends helping
To pass the time
COVID changes things
But it cannot stop
The outpouring of
Love and support
Sent by caring hearts
Across the miles
From wrapping
Around our hearts
Spinning a soft
Place to be
A place to wait-
Cocooned in peace

Simply Powerful

Power is often
Found in the simple
Expressions of love
In very few words
Because those are
The only words
Necessary-
Praying for peace
Held in love
Thinking this morning
Filled with courage-
Words from the
Hearts of others
Allowing themselves
To be givers
Of the calm
Their kindness
Pulling away
Anxiousness
Lifting me up
Carrying me
Reminding me how much
I am loved and cared for
Leaving a smile
On my face
A melody
In my heart

These past few weeks have been challenging. An MRI led to a biopsy which led to surgery. Yesterday, I had an excisional biopsy. The surgery went well. I am having very little pain and will spend a few days resting. Once again, we are waiting for the results.

I was very anxious the few days leading up to surgery, until the day before and the morning-of when messages began to pop up on my phone. Each one lifted another piece of the struggle. Each one reminded me that someone else cared.

Yesterday morning, I was overwhelmed with feelings of peace and calm. As I thought about it this morning, I realized many contributed to those feelings. They are still present today. And I know they will carry me through the waiting. ❤

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.

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!

Cues

Cue-a signal (such as a word, phrase, or bit of stage business) to a performer to begin a specific speech or action.

When I think of the word cue, it is usually about music. As a pianist, I’m very good at giving and receiving cues. For example, I might follow a singer’s breathing or lead them into an entrance with tempo/musical changes. The cues help us stay together, resulting in beautiful music.

This week, I’ve been forced to listen to a different kind of cue. It actually took several days for me to even recognize that it was a cue. 

If only it had been a musical cue. 

But no, this was an emotional cue manifesting in a physical symptom.

The first time it appeared was around 5:00 p.m. I had planned to cook dinner-homemade meatballs, roasted veggies, and pasta. 

All the ingredients were ready.  

Suddenly, I began to feel a little nauseous. “Hmmm, that’s weird,” I thought. I immediately began to worry about getting sick. But I hadn’t been anywhere, and it was not likely. I almost changed dinner plans to take-out.

But then, I decided to push through. We needed a home-cooked meal. It would surely make us all feel better. So, I cooked. It was yummy. I even baked cookies. When the cookies were done, I realized the nausea was gone.

The same thing happened the next day, at the same time. Curious. 

“I wonder if this is stress?” I asked myself. This time, my daughter and I took a short walk around the neighborhood. Guess what? Nausea once again disappeared.

That night, I told my husband what had happened. I also expressed that I thought it was a reaction to stress over all the changes occurring right now. He agreed. 

Somehow, just sharing how I was feeling helped.

As I thought about this more, it made sense. I may be putting on a good front, staying calm, and saying I’m not worried. But truthfully, these are unsettling times and they are affecting my emotions. This little cue was trying to get my attention. Trying to tell me it’s ok to not be ok.

The time of day also made sense. Each time I noticed this feeling, it was around 5-5:30 p.m. This is the time of day we would normally be getting home from work. Everyone would be sharing about their day, talking about what went well and what didn’t. Talking about students and what we were planning the next days, weeks, etc.  

That has all changed. We are together most of the day at home. Not knowing when we will go back to work. Worrying about our friends and family. Worrying about our students. All things that are out of our control.  

No wonder my physical cue was nausea.

The most important thing about cues? They require a response. How could I respond to this one? Well, I’ve found a few things to be helpful.   

  1. Take a walk
  2. Tell someone how I’m feeling
  3. Cook
  4. Play piano

This experience also made me think of our kiddos. How do they react to stress? What is often their first complaint? “My stomach hurts.” I guess some things never change. 😉   

Take care of yourselves, friends. Listen to your body and pay attention to your emotions. Don’t be afraid to say how you’re feeling.  ❤ 

Pink October

I received a phone call from my doctor’s office this afternoon. Insurance previously denied the claim for a breast MRI I had in April. There were two levels of appeal, and today’s call informed me that our final appeal was not successful.

This news was disappointing. After all, my doctor is a specialist. She weighed all my risk factors before ordering this particular test. I was so confident that information would change the decision.

My risk factors included family history (my mom is a five-year survivor), extremely dense tissue, and my use of hormone replacement therapy. Over the past eighteen years, I’ve experienced extra mammograms, ultrasounds, two MRIs, a lumpectomy, and multiple needle biopsies-all benign.

Rehashing these details did not help. My frustration only grew. And then my sweet husband called. He calmly reminded me that I could not change this outcome. The MRI had provided peace in a moment of uncertainty. And that was more important than money.

Writing through my frustration brought transformation. I am left feeling thankful. Thankful for my mom and my current health status. Thankful for an expert doctor who is comprehensive and thorough. Thankful for a husband who knows what I need to hear just at the right moment.

Our first outing after her mastectomy. ❤

I do find it interesting that this decision came during Breast Cancer Awareness month. The month in which we celebrate and encourage survivors. A time to remember those no longer with us. Time focused on raising research funds and seeking a cure.

Who knows? Maybe it came at just the right time, forcing me to write.

I will see my doctor later this month for a checkup. My prayer is for continued positive results. I will not live in a spirit of fear for what might happen in the future but will continue to be diligent where my health is concerned.

So in the middle of this pink October, here is my reminder-Early detection is the key! Don’t delay in getting your yearly mammograms!