Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Do You Choose to LIVE?

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, to put it lightly.  I'm going to share this with you, not because I want to go into "to much information" land, but because I learned something important these weeks.  Call it a personal public service announcement.  But this is a long post, so you may want to skip it .. your call.


Two weeks ago, I had a routine mammogram.  When I got there, I realized it had been three years since my last one.  Woops.  Totally forgot to make that a recurring appointment on my computer calendar (and ladies -- stop reading RIGHT NOW and mark your calendars.  Now.)



So I go through the prodding and smashing and bing bang, I'm out the door in five minutes.


Late Friday afternoon, I get a phone call from the doctor's office.  It's the nurse, telling me I need to have an ultrasound.  No, the doctor isn't available to talk to me, she's gone for the day.  No, they can't tell me what's up -- but there's that pause in her voice that tells me, Miss Nervous Nelly -- something's up.


So I worry all weekend.  But of course I do.  You know me.  Worrier.  But, as ladies, wouldn't we all, to some degree?


worry dolls

Monday comes and I'm called and told to report to the Diagnostic Center on Friday for an ultrasound.  A whole week from now?  Can't they find something sooner?  She says she'll call me back, and bless her, she does, and I went to the Center on Wednesday this week.


The indignities of another mammogram, this time with accoutrements that make slamming your fingers in the car door seem like a tickle.  And while I'm getting this done, I have a perfect view of my mammogram -- and a black spot the size of a dime.


"Wait for the doctor to read these, and we'll see if she wants an ultrasound," the technician says.  She explains that sometimes the extra smashing smashes out a normal tissue thickness out of the picture.


Around the corner comes a new technician with a plastic basket.  She asks me to gather my clothes because I need to go somewhere else for an ultrasound.  "Son of a bitch", I think.


Disrobe, lie back, ultrasound time.  I try to figure out what I'm seeing but I can't figure a thing out.  I couldn't ever see anything when I was pregnant and had ultrasounds, either, so I'm not surprised.  She shoots the film over to the doctor and leaves.  Only to come back and say the doctor wants MORE ultrasound shots.  "Son of a ..." I think.


The tech leaves again, only THIS time she comes back with the doctor, who wants to do the ultrasound herself.  At this point I'm too tired and emotionally drained to curse.  Mash, mash, add more goo, mash, mash.


But then the good news -- she's pretty positive she's just "moving around normal tissue".  Having missed three years of mammograms, they'd turned to a new digital imaging and by comparing the 2007 film with this year's, things looked different.  That black spot, she says, is probably nothing more than a thick spot.  See ya next year, don't miss any more scans.




During the days between knowing something COULD be wrong and then finding out nothing WAS wrong, I did a lot of soul-searching.  What would I do if the diagnosis came back as breast cancer?


I quickly realized regardless of the outcome, I had to start taking better care of myself.  My stress level this year has been through the roof and it's taken its toll.  So. Much. Drama.  When I thought of all the things I've talked about here and the even MORE things I haven't talked about here -- I'm surprised I haven't been committed.  And I don't say that lightly.


I realized something else -- life is meant to be lived.  Whether it's with migraines or cancer, it's meant to be LIVED.  It's not meant to be wasted on things that don't add value to your life.  While I'm reading to my son, I'm not thinking about the dust on the shelves.  While I'm playing tether ball after school with all the kids, I'm not caring about how stylish I am (or am not).  I didn't dye my hair pink to STOP living, to wallow in misery, or to give up.

Zack at the beach.  Sometimes you just have to play, no matter what your age.

Don't get me wrong -- wallowing in bed is a good therapy, and can be really restorative, but there's a limit to how much TIME any of us should dwell on the bad stuff.  There's always going to be bad stuff -- some just happens to be worse than usual.


One of the other things I realized is when things go wrong, it's a good time to take stock of what's truly important.  There are repercussions to trying to live too fast and travel without a road map.  I'm a fan of spontaneity, but when it suddenly seems like everything is running at high speed and the GPS has failed you -- time to stop a moment and smell the proverbial roses.


Maybe this medical drama was the wake-up call I needed.

Taken by me.  There's light, everywhere.



Quote of the Day: "Let's Go Elsewhere"


Photobucket



Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.

77 comments:

  1. Right on, Lori! Glad your tests ended up normal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. AMEN! I've had the proverbial slap in the face due to medical problems/scares so many times and each and every time I'm thankful. Whatever I had to go through to get my wakeup call was worth it. I just hate that I need to be slapped so often to remember how precious life is. If someone knows a way to keep from slipping back into the same old patterns, please let me know! Glad to hear that your humps are okay. Hehehe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! What a post! You have certainly given me something to think about. I'm 59 and I don't think I've had a mammogram in 15 years - maybe longer. I've always been healthy as a horse, I suppose I need to do more to make sure I stay that way.

    Thank you, Lori, for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Lori, I am so glad that you have adopted this attitude towards living life.

    I've been in your shoes, only in my case, it was breast cancer. I remember very well how I felt between the mammogram, the return visit, the visit to a surgeon, the needle biopsy and then a core biopsy, all before anyone told me clearly that I had breast cancer.

    That was 6 years ago. My life has changed incredibly in that time. Breast cancer gave me a new life and I started counting my life again from that time. I am now 6 years old and life has never been sweeter.

    I hope all of your readers take heart from what you've written...to book a mammogram if they haven't had one in a while. To do regular BSE's...mammograms don't always catch things and neither do BSE's (mine couldn't be felt with fingers)...so both together do the job. And remember to live...life is short, much too short...it's important to be "IN" every day.

    Love you girl and I'm glad all is well with you!!! ♥

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bless you, Miss Lori. I am so very glad that the outcome was on the positive side of things. And I am happy that they have the tools to diagnose these issues early. A wake up call, indeed. Thank you for sharing this.
    Enjoy the day.
    Erin

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank God it was just normal tissue Lori - such a relief.
    Life is a wonderful gift. It's so easy to get caught up in everything, but it is meant to be lived! That's something that's been brought home to me this year.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so glad it all turned out okay! I was actually sitting here getting nervous reading your post! ::hugs::

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm glad you got good news. It really does make us stop and think about what's really important, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  9. so glad everything turned out ok. Sometimes we do need a wake up call don't we! off to live.....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, no wonder you weren't up to writing for a while. Glad to hear you came through clear. I had a scare like that a few years ago. While doing a self exam I felt something. A week of worry and stressing until a doctors appointment so he could check... then another week of waiting for an ultrasound (still not sure why he didn't request a mammogram), and in the end, after two weeks of nail biting and not sleeping, the ultra sound failed to find anything and the doctor decided it was my imagination... at least until I reminded him that HE had felt the lump too... at which point he conceded it was most likely scar tissue from my breast surgery a couple years previous. No he is no longer my doctor.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh Lori, thank god everything is fine! And thanks for the thoughts about resting and living and the hint about the mammo - very bad concience here...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow! What a week you had, Lori! A crisis will always push you to make choices about life and living. One thing I've learned is that I need to be nicer to myself. I'm working on that now. Glad you're all right!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Whew, so glad to hear that turned out ok! Something similar happened to me at my last mammo, but fortunately it was all during the 1 appt!

    ReplyDelete
  14. First of all I apologize for the bad english, but for some things I need google.
    I can understand very well what happened to you. I've received in the spring very surprising the diagnose cervical cancer. I go every six months to a check and suddenly he was there .... Meanwhile, everything is ok, it could all be removed surgically. But the wait is hell ....
    From me too the call: Go to screening.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm so very glad that everything turned out alright for you. And talk about coincidence. I spent this week setting up appointments for all my medical and health checkups (dentist, gynaecologist etc). Take care and keep well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am so glad you are going to stop and smell the roses. It is so important to handle that stress level. I spent 10 years chasing my tail after my first husband died, and with all the stress, I ended up with breast cancer. 11 years after lumpectomy and radiation I am cancer free. I now choose not to let stress run my life. I hope you do too.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow, a tough experience for you and a lesson for everyone. What is really important in our lives? You're never going to regret the time you spend with your loved ones.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lori, I'm so glad it worked out. I'm still waiting for them to find out what's wrong with me. I started being horribly nauseated all the time, throwing up five times a day... So many tests. So much waiting. The waiting is almost as bad as the sickness. Good luck with your new life. May it be beautiful and true.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm so glad to hear all is well Lori.
    So many of us push ourselves to do too much in life without realising it until we get a shock like this, but it's a great time to assess and make changes. Once that's done we should make sure that along with the medical check ups, we put a reminder on the calender to reflect on what we've done and why to stop us slipping back to bad old ways.

    ReplyDelete
  20. YeeHaw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! {{{{{}}}}}

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow! It's pretty scary. I'm glad everything turned out to be normal and OK. I wrote down two important things you wrote:1. " There's always going to be bad stuff happening." and 2. "When things go wrong it's a good time to take stock on what's important." This year has been very tough (incredibly) on our family. These experiences has made me grateful to have the love and support of my husband. And they have made me stronger. I know everyone has their burdens, we just have to learn to LIVE with them.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Whew... You not only are blessed, you are a blessing! Be well ~~T

    ReplyDelete
  23. So glad the tests turned out for the positive.
    I get a mamogram every couple of years - and here is a little "too much information" for you - it gets easier as you get older, you know, gravity and all that! LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I had the same call and it is a shock.

    I say again and again one of the most important things in life is loving and being loved.

    Do what is important.

    ReplyDelete
  25. thank goodness all was ok..
    i've been dealing with a possible health scare this Fall that turned out ok...so i know exactly that kind of stress of waiting and tests and waiting ..
    and it does make you reevaluate what is important..i believe the universe sends us messages..and things like this are a real wakeup call on so many levels..to value each day..and to take better care of oneself..

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Lori,
    I had a very similar experience after my mammogram last year, and then, when I delayed my appt this year (silly girl!) I was certain I was in the throes of breast cancer. Well, everything turned out ok, but it certainly made me take a good hard look at the way I'm living my life. Funny how that works...
    x, Val
    PS. It sure was fun doing the blog hop with you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am so, so happy that everything turned out normal!

    Thank you so much for posting this--I think, in this day and age, we all need to remember what is important!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Glad to hear you got good news. I just went thru a similar experience.
    Tried to leave a Congratulations to the winners comment, but it would not take - hope this one does.
    Hope you are enjoying the holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  29. So glad you got good news. Thank you for the post, it had to be hard to write. We all need to take better care of ourselves (women are better at taking care of others). You said some things that hit home with me, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I hated the drama, but hope that you'll bring good out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Such fabulous news! Its wonderful that your tests came out okay.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I read your post last week or so that said you were having a mammogram - I had a sick feeling your health woes were related to that test. So glad everything turned out okay. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Lori, so glad that your post turned out the way I hoped it would! I was awfully worried as I started reading. Enjoy your new lease on life...live on!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Girl, can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that it was good news. My hubs is a sonographer, except he ultrasounds hearts and arteries. So I wanted to give you the story on the other side of the table. He quite often does a study on a patient, gives the results to the doc, and has the doc tell him they need a different measurement, or view. So here he comes back to you (the patient) to do another study. Then gives it to the doc again, only to have him say, "I don't think that's right. I'll go do the study". While you, the patient, are laying there terrified because they've done the study 3 times! Medicine can be a very frustrating world.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Oh Lori! I'm so glad you dropped by my blog because I LOVE, LOVE yours! New Follower! =)

    ReplyDelete
  36. So glad there was nothing wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks for the warning that it would be a long read. I got a sandwich and settled in my chair to do some serious reading. It was worth it.
    :) Glad the worry dolls worked.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Why do they do that to people on Friday afternoons when nothing but worry can happen? I had the exact same experience and I asked them when I went in why they would do that. Of course, no good answer. But so glad you're okay and that you'll continue to be okay. Geez. How scary.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'm so glad things turned out ok for you, its so scary when you get a call back after a mammogram.I know

    ReplyDelete
  40. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, its all good...
    LIFE is GOOD...
    Jelveh
    Peace

    ReplyDelete
  41. Crikey, what an ordeal! Thank heavens it was nothing serious.

    I saw something yesterday that one in 8 women end up with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Which is scary, as that means you're bound to know someone affected by this. Thank you Lori for highlighting the importance of regular checks!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Lori I am so happy to hear that every thing is well :-)

    ReplyDelete
  43. I am so glad things came back clear. It is a scare though, having been through that myself.

    I am going to try my best to LIVE each day and be present. Thank you for your post.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I am so glad everything came out OK for you and the realizations you have come to. Been there... ultra sounds, biopsys - squish, squash and then wait. Not fun at all. Your post was wonderful. I am a cancer survivor and made some big changes when that happened and realize now how I have let some bad habits and thinking slip back into my life. Thanks for the wake up again call. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Great Post Lori. I am making that appointment 1st of January. Thanks and Be blessed to be a blessing
    P.S. Love the photo of Zack

    ReplyDelete
  46. Great Post Lori. I am making that appointment 1st of January. Thanks and Be blessed to be a blessing
    P.S. Love the photo of Zack

    ReplyDelete
  47. Bless your heart Lori, I'm so glad it turned out ok for you. Years ago on an old blog of mine that was very popular, I took my 3000+ readers on my journey after being diagnosed with cervical cancer due to the HPV virus. The outpouring of love and support for me was incredible, and during some dark times I would just sit on the computer and read their comments to get me through. Most of them went to their doctors for a screening because of me, and 2 readers did indeed have cancer due to the virus. Post like ours save lives sometimes, and if that falls under the TMI standard then so be it.

    So yes, go forth and de-stress your life in baby steps so it doesn't stress you out more lol.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hey Lori I am so glad to hear you are clean of boob. LOL
    With new awakened insight I am wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas.
    Nicole/Beadwright

    ReplyDelete
  49. What a frightening ordeal you went through! I'm so glad the tests came back normal, and now you can relax about that issue.

    We women tend to take care of everyone else and forget about ourselves. My goal for 2012 is to be healthier; more exercise, healthier meals, less fretting, more me-time. We'll see how it goes...

    The reminder card for my mammogram has been on the counter for weeks. I'm making the appointment today.

    Thanks for a wonderful post.

    ReplyDelete
  50. No wonder you needed to step back, Lori! It's incredible how we get these chances to reevaluate things. I'm grateful for you that your tests came back clear!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'm so glad that the scare turned out to be for naught. But you're right that it's a good wake up call to take better care of our bodies and to realize what's truly important in life. The dust bunnies can wait.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Lori, what a scary experience! I'm glad it turned out OK, though, and that you were able to turn your health scare into something positive.

    I'm in the middle of a health scare of my own right now -- I should know how I'm doing in a couple days -- and one thing it's taught me is that I really, really love my life and being me, flaws and all. Even though all of us would rather not go through stressful times like these, at least they do teach us important lessons.

    *Hugs.*

    -- Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hate mammograms and ultrasounds. Once I was having an ultrasound and the technician was taking too long, and I was thinking all sorts of things, yeah, I'm a worrier too!!! So I promised God I wouldn't eat chocolate anymore, just please let the results be OK. The results were OK but now, I don't eat chocolate!!! :^( Patsy from
    HeARTworks

    ReplyDelete
  54. So glad this was just the universe sending you a message to slow down, and not something more dire. Sometimes we need a slap upside the head instead of a gentle nudge...been there, gotten slapped! And as always, thank you for being brave and open enough to share an important message with everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Glad for your good news, Lori! Best wishes going forward.

    ReplyDelete
  56. So glad to hear that all's good and yes, enjoy your life from today onwards and stop and smell the roses each day too :)

    ReplyDelete
  57. Glad the outcome was good - both in terms of the test and in terms of what it's sparked off for you mentally. I totally agree with everything you've written. Goodbye to stress, hello life!

    ReplyDelete
  58. so glad you're ok and thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  59. So glad everything turned out okLori - sorry you had to go through all that to get there. Thanks for the reminder. I am almost 6 months overdue! Putting it in my calendar now.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Lori, tienes toda la razon. Te agradezco que hayas compartido con nosotras esa parte tan personal e intima tuya. Tus palabras me han servido para reflexionar. Vivir, Vivir... y disfrutar al maximo a tus seres queridos! Gracias Lori. Me alegro mucho que todo este bien. Feliz Navidad desde Puerto Rico.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Glad it worked out ok. Totally understand, my recent one went as far as a biopsy. But I never worried because they always see something. I'm lumpy :-)

    Every year!!! Remember that.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I'm glad it was good news in the end.
    We do only get one chance and we should grab it with both hands.
    I've had a pickled medical history and it has shown me a lot.
    Take care. :o)

    ReplyDelete
  63. I have been praying for good news and checking facebook and your blog everyday for the news. Great to hear good news!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Okay Lori - I vow to tell the doctor in January. I have neglected all of that and more while we waited out DH's recovery from surgery...years. I've been thinking about all of this self-neglect and trying to put it into perspective. I think you just did.
    Thank You - Sharon

    ReplyDelete
  65. I'm so glad your tests turned out normal! Cancer is a scary, scary thing. I've kinda been at a similar place lately - wanting to enjoy life and live it the fullest I can despite my limitations from migraines and other things.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Lori, I know exactly how you feel/felt. I went through this about ten years ago now....I couldn't have described it better. And glad everything is alright with you!

    Hugs
    Dagi

    ReplyDelete
  67. Lori, just last week I scheduled a mammogram and learned that it had been 3 years since my last. (I thought it had been more like 18 months). Of course I started fretting I would come to regret that lapse--and I'm not scheduled to have it until after Christmas.

    So ratchet up my agitation about a hundred thousand times and that must have been what you have been going through.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I am so glad your test came back clear.
    You know, I have a breast cancer history in my family and in these days I have been thinking if it's time for me to have my first mammography done.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Big hug.
    Ambra

    ReplyDelete
  69. I've been called back twice. Yes, it's scary.

    Thanks for sharing and for the reminder to all - So glad for you that all was okay!

    ReplyDelete
  70. Very same thing happened to me 2 and a half years ago. Very unnerving. Glad your results were positive!

    ReplyDelete
  71. Yearly Mamograms for EVERYONE! I'm 47, had BC first at 42, had lumpectomy and radiation. Then in January found 3 more spots in the other breast. Off with the Boobs I said - and, while it's been a year of surgeries, it was caught early and I didn't have to have more rads or chemo. I have perky boobs made from my stomach flab and I feel great (and cancer free).

    Your post was right on. Wake up, enjoy, keep the balance, do something creative every day and enjoy love.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Holy crap, Lori! This reminds me of the time I had to go for an MRI because my doc thought I had MS. Turns out I just have migraines and really bad fibro, but it sure beats the alternative.

    I'm so grateful that thinks are OK with you, and that you're in my life. <3

    ReplyDelete
  73. Been there done that!!! No two ways a bout, it the best thing to do is get mashed every year!!!

    It is way to darn stressful to go thru this sort of thing, so whatever it takes to avoid it!!!!! I have had to deal with it three years in a row as my mm and gmom had cystic breasts- it never gets routine. So glad all is well!! Big hugs!
    E

    ReplyDelete
  74. I'm so relieved that is wasn't cancer. I went through a similar situation last year, which like you turned into a multitude of test of which I am still doing a year later, so that they can "watch" it.

    It is a eye opener, and does make you put things into perspective.

    I'm looking forward to the new year with a healthier body, and a healthier mind for myself, my family, and all my friends :)

    Happy new year :)

    ReplyDelete
  75. Lori, you commented at my blog yesterday, so I came here to check out your blog. I've only read a few posts so far, but I'm so impressed with what I've read. You really know how to make a difference. I'm so glad that your scare was not cancer.

    When I was 30, "they" said that women only needed to have a Pap test every other year, so I skipped mine. During a doctor's visit about 6 months later, the doctor and I both decided we were uncomfortable with that timeframe and he did a Pap. A few days later the doctor's office called and told me that I needed to re-take the Pap test. I knew something was wrong. It took about 3 weeks to do another Pap and a biopsy, then schedule the surgery. The result was that I had gone from an early barely-cancerous stage to "carcinoma in situ" in that short time. The cancer was removed and I've never had a recurrence. The doctor told me that if we had waited another 6 months to do the Pap, such a fast-moving cancer would have been so advanced that I would have died.

    10 years later, I found a lump in my breast. Here we go again, I thought. My doctor felt the lump and got me in for a mammogram in only 2 days. The mammogram showed the lump and I was immediately sent for the ultrasound. The technician could not find the lump. It was a cyst that was squished by the mammogram. Again, no recurrence. That was 20 years ago.

    So please, if you don't get an annual Pap test and mammogram, make an appointment right now.

    If you haven't heard this, my current doctor told me it's easier to remember if you do a breast-self-exam every day in the shower. Just soap up!

    And, Lori, I love your pink hair.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are like a hug to my heart. Thank you! :)

DESIGN BY: THE BLOG DECORATOR