endometrial cancer ~ workforce reduction

12.16.17 ~ Katherine and Dima in Ireland ~ photo by Larisa

So, we’ve had a couple of nasty surprises in the past few weeks.

It turned out that my uterus was not only full of pre-cancerous cells, but also was harboring endometrial cancer that had spread more than 50% into the myometrium layer. So while I was still under anesthesia the surgeon took some lymph nodes to be examined to determine if the cancer had spread any farther. We had to wait two weeks for the lab results. Thankfully the lymph nodes were negative. Good news. Hopefully all the cancer has been safely removed but I will have to have two weeks of radiation in January out of an abundance of caution. Meanwhile I have three and a half more weeks to heal from the surgery. I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. but have begun puttering around the house between long naps.

My sister-in-law came for the first two weeks and took very good care of me and cooked all of our meals. Tim’s brother came after the first week ~ it was fun having both of them around and helped the waiting-for-lab-results time to pass more quickly. Thank you, Dan & Fran!!!

They say when it rains, it pours. Well, Friday was Tim’s last day of work. “Workforce reduction” to use corporate-speak. What a “thoughtful” Christmas gift…

Time for another nap. I understand fatigue is par for the course, all energy going to healing. But I wanted to let my readers know how I am doing. Hope to be back visiting blogs soon. Steady as we go.

surgery update

5.16.15 ~ Venice, Italy

Just a quick update: Tim came home from the hospital yesterday and this morning we are waiting for his first visiting nurse to arrive. He is comfortable on Tylenol and starting to resume a normal diet.

The laparoscopic surgery did not go quite as planned. After an hour the surgeon decided to open him up go in the traditional way. So Tim was in surgery for six long hours. Thankfully my sister was waiting with me.

The surgeon said Tim will likely never have a bout of diverticulitis again!

He will have a huge (10 inches) scar across his lower left abdomen. It joins the huge scar from by-pass surgery (2007) down the middle of his chest. Battle scars… And we’ve been introduced to the concept of healing from the inside out. While his incision is held together with staples on either end, in the middle (4 inches) it remains a gaping open wound.

When a wound is deep … packing the wound can help it heal. The packing material absorbs any drainage from the wound, which helps the tissues heal from the inside out. Without the packing, the wound might close at the top, without healing at the deeper areas of the wound.
~ The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma

On the advice of the occupational therapist I went out and bought a recliner to make Tim more comfortable as he recovers for the next month or so. He’s walking around and doing the stairs, but in between moving around he needs a cozy place to rest. Hopefully the worst of it is behind us now.


Early this morning we saw something beautiful that we had never seen before. Gulls flying overhead with the sun rays of dawn under-lighting their wings. It was as if they had shiny reflectors on the underside of their wings ~ breathtaking…

The patient (Tim) has had his last meal at his favorite restaurant and we’ve stocked up on clear liquids and chewing gum. Not looking forward to driving to the hospital in a snow storm tomorrow morning.

a very short visit

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
Katie ~ 8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Katie’s all-too-brief mid-August visit was a bright spot in our mostly crummy summer. We hadn’t seen her in two months and were happy for the chance to see what’s she’s been up to lately. At eleven months old she is crawling and exploring her world. Because the caregivers at her daycare label her belongings “Katherine V” (her surname begins with a V) her father has taken to calling her Queen Katherine the 5th.

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

The Russian name for teddy bear is misha and Katie brought one of hers with her. (You may remember her other grandparents are from Russia…) Her face lit up and she sighed with pleasure when she saw the four mishas I had waiting for her here. Then she tightly hugged each and every one of them in turn.

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Katie’s parents told us that she loves music and is fond of Jason Mraz. She dances on her knees and enjoyed shaking toy maracas to the music we were playing in the background. The next day she bonded with her teenage cousin Kia over music. They sat on the floor facing each other and bobbed their heads to the music Kia played from her cell phone. It was so sweet!

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Green beans and scrambled eggs for breakfast – yes!

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze

Katie and I got to read several books together and it warmed my heart to see that she loves to read on her own, too. Maybe some day we’ll find a way to tame all those wildly adorable cowlicks.

8.14.15 ~ Sound Breeze
Grammy & Katie

Morning nap in Grammy’s arms – an hour and a half of bliss for me. Little did we know that hours later our visit would be cut short when Grandpa Tim got seriously ill with another bout of diverticulitis and wound up in the hospital for three days. But Katie’s aunt Bonnie and cousin Kia came down to look after her and the three of them had a wonderful time together. What a blessing a loving family is.

In a couple of weeks Katie will be coming again for another visit. I cannot wait!!!

Grandmother Elm
5.14.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Finally, some leaves have appeared on my tree! I think it is an elm tree.
5.14.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

My grandparents had an elm tree on the northwest corner of their house lot. Its branches and leaves could almost be touched when looking out the window of the green bedroom, feeling like the leaf canopy of this elm in the above picture.
5.14.13 ~ Stonington, Connecticut

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
~ Hal Borland
(Countryman: A Summary of Belief)
Zoë ~ 5.13.13
flag flying outside our fish market today ~ 5.14.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Toby went into the hospital for cancer surgery five days ago, and will probably be staying there for another week or so. The day he went into the hospital I had to go up to my father’s house for a few days to help out with the ancient ones. Chelsea had some time off so my aunt Em from Maryland came up and she and I tried our best to fill Chelsea’s shoes! It’s good to be back home now and slip into a more “normal” routine again, at least for a little while.

Up at my dad’s it was so quiet without Bernie around, but I was able to get outside for a short walk and take a few pictures. Later, while sitting on the porch watching birds with Dad, I experimented with the telescopic lens and got a fairly decent picture of a nuthatch (below), if a little blurry! But next time I think I will use the sports setting with the auto-shoot feature. It worked so well today with the flag picture this morning (above), which was whipping in the wind.  Enjoy!
a nuthatch ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
pansies for Bernie ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
branch shadows playing with the roots of my hemlock tree ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
trillium ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
garden steps ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
primrose ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
life and death on a maple leaf, spider eating a lady bug ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
garden whimsy ~ 5.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut


I am soooooooooooooooooooooo tired……………..

It was only ten days ago that Auntie came home from the hospital with eight stitches or staples in the back of her head, on the mend, and a few days ago when her doctor removed them in his office. Yesterday Tim & I finished preparing for the big storm and went to bed, content that we were as ready for it as anyone could be.

We only had two hours of sleep when the phone rang. Auntie had fallen yet again and this time she broke her hip or her pelvis. The local hospital felt she would get better care at a bigger hospital so off we went in the wee hours of this morning for another long vigil at an emergency department until they found a bed for her so she could be admitted. When they transferred her from the gurney to the bed, as gently as possible, her cries and screams of pain tore my heart open…

After Auntie got settled and we felt satisfied that she was in good hands we had no choice but to leave her there. The sun was rising behind the gathering clouds – a monster storm is on its way. I saw on the news this evening that the hospital was calling in extra staff and testing its generators in preparation. Governor Malloy has declared a state of emergency. He said the storm is a hurricane blending with a nor’easter and that we could have an eight foot storm surge. The barometric pressure is forecast to be so low it will break all the record lows in this state.

I still haven’t been able to sleep. And now I have an earache.

Must get a cup of green tea and honey and then some sleep now, but I hope to have some time tomorrow to visit blogs and respond to comments. I have much catching up to do in the blogosphere, at least until we lose power! Good night all – things will surely look brighter in the morning.

Windwood Faeriegrounds

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Windwood Faeriegrounds
created by Jennifer L. Johnson & Edward Johnson
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Everyone needs a playground … don’t they? Even the wee faeries of Old Lyme need a whirl or two on the Faerie Wheel to keep their spirits spry. Three good faerie friends decided to get together and create an amusement park for their pixie peers. Chinook, Squall and Leveche are wind faeries and have built fun contraptions to share their love of breezes. Pixiechutes, TumbleTwirls, and the Swing-n-Wings keep the pixie dust flying.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

Well, this post was supposed to be added on Sunday, but an early morning phone call changed the course of the day. Auntie fell at 3 o’clock in the morning and had to go to the hospital to get stitches in the back of her head. The doctors admitted her. She has stopped eating again and seems only strong enough to move her arms. Our spending the day at the hospital with her did not seem to be helping much and I came home with a terrific headache.

We had just visited her and my dad on Saturday. Auntie was a wisp of her former self, lying in a dark bedroom, complaining about the dark and the household noises, but refusing to allow her curtains to be drawn open. She grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go for the longest time. I read to her for about an hour and then left her bedside to visit Dad in the living room. We had a little apple tasting party – McCouns are still his favorites – and then showed him our latest photos on the TV screen. Block Island, the giant seagull, and the fairy village. He seemed to be enjoying the visit.

And now something seems to be the matter with my blog. Instead of a place for comments at the end there is a message saying, “This content cannot be displayed in a frame.” Huh? So I do apologize – I have no idea what is going on!!!

Anyhow, I love the Faerie Wheel above – it may be my favorite thing from the whole exhibit!

learning by ♥

"Learning by Heart" by Nikolaos Gyzis
“Learning by Heart” by Nikolaos Gyzis

It’s funny the twists and turns the course of our lives takes sometimes. Last month we were concerned with moving my failing 97-year-old aunt from elderly housing into my father’s house where my sister, her husband and a couple of home-care aides could make her last days as comfortable as possible. Auntie is hanging in there for now, even perking up occasionally now that she is settled in her new digs.

Sometimes we find ourselves bracing for one event when another unanticipated one appears on the scene. Toward the end of August my hard-working, stressed-out husband had an attack of angina late one night (or was it early one morning?) and landed himself in the hospital. Zounds! But the silver lining to that cloud was that son Nate flew up from Georgia and daughter Larisa came by train from New York and we found ourselves swathed in comforting layers of love and support.

This setback in Tim’s struggle with heart disease has left me frustrated and angry with his doctors. Predictably, I went on a search for a new book to give me some fresh ideas about how to proceed from here. After nearly a year on the vegan diet there has been no improvement in Tim’s health which has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Truly, there are no simple answers.

The book I found, published just this year, is scientifically way over my head, but I’m learning. Learning by heart. About the endothelium layer of the arterial wall. About endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidation, hypertension, and blood sugar. That there are more kinds of cholesterol than you can shake a stick at!

It seems the traditional 5 risk factors for heart disease (elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking) are not the only ones doctors should be paying attention to. Of the 20 top risk factors there are, elevated cholesterol does not even make the list. Hypertension is #6, diabetes is #11, obesity is #19, and smoking is #20.

For now I am focusing on #1, endothelial dysfunction and what we can do about it. We can do nothing about #8, genetics, but it is interesting to know that there are myriads of genetic mutations causing different biochemical reactions that each play different roles in the development and progression of heart disease.

On a heart happy note, in the middle of all the other excitement, Larisa and her boyfriend Dima got engaged! It’s so nice to have a wedding to look forward to next year, and I’ve been told it will be very unique, non-traditional and unpretentious. Yes!!! ♥

an ancient disease

This morning we learned that late last night another one of Tim’s brothers, age 57, survived a heart attack. I’ve come to the conclusion that September is heart attack season. You may recall that last September one of his brothers, at age 51, had one, and Tim himself, at age 54, had one in September 2007. It will be interesting to see if the three youngest brothers make it out of their 50s without repeating the pattern laid down by the three oldest brothers.

Apparently the gene came from their maternal grandmother, who didn’t survive her heart attack at age 54, and their maternal great-grandmother, who didn’t survive her heart attack in her 50s – not sure of her exact age. I remember Tim’s mother was thrilled to have made it past the age of 54, only to succumb to lung cancer at age 60.

Egyptian Princess Mummy Had Oldest Known Heart Disease

Poor Princess Ahmose Meryet Amon – her name means “Child of the Moon, Beloved of Amun.” A CAT-scan of her 3,500-year-old mummy revealed “blockages in five major arteries, including those that supply blood to the brain and heart.” Interestingly, “The new study suggests that genetics may be even more important than thought in causing atherosclerosis, and the mummies might hold clues to which genetic factors are involved.” Tim’s cardiologists were certainly very interested in his medical family history. Researchers have yet so much more to learn about cardiovascular disease.