February, 2009

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Some more night worries…

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Hi there!  Here I am again, worrying at night, when my day went really well!  I took the dogs to have their teeth cleaned, went to my hearing test appointment (I can hear quite well, thank you very much!), went back and got the pups, and then let my neighbors’ dogs out.  I took care of a few to-do items, but not too many.  I’m still not feeling motivated which really upsets me.  I know, I know, I just have to do it, but it’s either that or listen to Dr. Phil talking about the octuplets’ mom…I mean, which would you choose?  hahahaha  Seriously though, I know it’s something I need to straighten out, and I will continue to think of strategies to help get me moving and start all the projects I’ve been putting off.

Anyway, let’s just get to the night worries so I can pass them on to you and get some decent sleep.  :)  All of the sudden, when I’m getting ready for bed, all these thoughts enter my mind…pretty much the same as the other day.  I keep worrying:  “will it come back?”, “what happens if it comes back?”  Any little imperfection on my body worries me.  For instance, I have felt what feels like a bump to me by my left ribcage, but I’ve shown it to every single doctor/nurse I’ve visited in the past nine months, and I’ve also had various x-rays, and everyone says it’s just the way I’m built.  That’s all the reassurance I need when I’m in the doctor’s office, but when I get home, I start worrying again.

My doctor commented on Wednesday that I looked great, and everything was going well.  He did remind me, however, that it’s still early in the process so I have to be very watchful of anything different going on with my body.  I hate being reminded that it was only about five months ago that I had the transplant, and sometimes I can distract myself and not think about it, but somehow it resurfaces in my mind.  Is all this happening because I’m not very distracted right now?–because I’m spending the majority of time by myself, just thinking (at least I have my pups though!  :) )?  I think and think and convince myself to do something distracting or watch something that makes me laugh, and those help for a while, but at the end of the day, I’m still left with thoughts swirling around in my mind.

I know it’s a waste of time to squander any time with worries, because I can’t do anything more than I’m doing.  I’m taking all my pills, I’m staying away from sick people and children (which sucks….my goddaughter turned a year old last week, and I haven’t seen her since August!), I’m going to all my appointments, I’m listening to my doctors.  Why is it that there’s always room for worry?  I guess it’s all about the learning experience of life and how we can train ourselves to overcome challenges.  I hope years from now the worrying will subside, but I’m really not sure it will.  There are no certainties when it comes to life, and the fact that I’m a transplant patient will always be in my mind in some form.  As I wrote before, this is good and bad; good because it forces me to focus on the present and the joy that I can find in it, bad because worrying is worrying and it’s pretty much a useless emotion (can you even call it an emotion?).  It can be crippling and it’s just useless!  I say we just try and get rid of worrying all together.  Maybe if we strike the word from the English language, we won’t ever feel it.  What do you say?  Shall I write Webster? :)

Wow…that’s deep stuff.  I’m feeling good for getting it out and thrusting all the raw emotion onto you.  Don’t worry (there’s that word again!!!! :) )…I’m still a very hopeful, happy person, but this disease changed my life forever–for good and for bad–and I just want to try and paint an honest picture of what it’s like to go through it, even after a successful transplant.

OK, now I think I can sleep.  :)  Thanks for reading even my depressing entries!  I’m on the lookout for some good, happy, fun stuff to share with you!



Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I had a good visit with my doctor today.  Check this out:  my white blood cell count was 3.0, neutrophils 1.8, hemoglobin 11.4!!, hematocrit 32.7!! and platelets 210,000.  Those are the best hemoglobin/hematocrit and platelet numbers that I’ve had (at least, that I can remember!).  I did a lot of visualization this week so that must be it.  :)  I need to work harder on the white cell/neutrophil counts, but they’re not bad.

I was very excited that my blood pressure was back to normal.  I believe it was the Prednisone that increased my blood pressure, and today it was back to 95/something…I’m usually under 100 so I was quite happy.  I wonder what my cholesterol count is now, because that too had increased with the Prednisone.  I’m guessing it too has gone down, but I guess we’ll have to wait until they test it to know for sure.

My magnesium level was good the past few weeks, and I’m down to eight 400 mg pills a day (I originally took twelve a day, which is considered a lot).  Also, several people say my cheeks are less puffy…hey, it’s a step in the right direction!  I should hopefully stop taking the Cyclosporin April 6, and I’m really looking forward to that because then my facial hair issues should gradually disappear…woohoooooo!!!!

Let’s see…what else.  My left knee still gets achy, especially when I lift it or stand on it after sitting for a while.  We’re not sure if it’s from the Prednisone taper (because I didn’t have the aching previously), but the taper ended a while ago.  I think I’m going to look up some knee exercises on-line to see what I can do to help it.  I can still walk for a couple miles, but it’s sore later on, when I’m not being as active.  I guess I should spend some time visualizing a healthier knee, huh?

I left a message for my social worker here today, because I know I have to get some of my worries out (she is also a cancer survivor, which makes it easy to relate).  I don’t hold many worries in, but speaking with a professional AND a survivor is reassuring (I guess it makes her seem more qualified, you know what I mean?).  She also makes me laugh, which is important when you’re discussing something so serious.

Now I’m sitting here watching the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships for the ski jump.  I am really good at that sport on the Wii, but I am pretty sure I’ll never be trying this in real life!  Actually, I’m absolutely positive I won’t, not just “pretty sure”.  I love watching the ski events; they scare the crap out of me, but I love watching them!  For a while during the ski jump, I thought “there are an awful lot of people named “Jack Wolfskin”, then I looked it up and realized it’s a popular European brand for outdoorsy clothes.  :)  To get back to the skiing part though, I haven’t been in years, and I was never very good, but I could (pretty much) make it down the slopes without falling.  Now I’m scared of it ’cause I don’t want to break anything, but I bet someday I could make it out on a bunny slope somewhere.  Don’t think I need to prove anything to myself by trying to do anything much more difficult than that!  I also watched speed skating tonight, and that was exciting.  I’m constantly surprised when these races don’t end up in a domino effect because everyone is so close.  I would love to be able to skate like that, but again, it’s something I can go without learning.  I’m not a good skater either, but I’ll still get out there and give it a go (but I admit that I do like to stay pretty close to the sides of the rink, you know, just in cases).  Watching these events makes me superexcited for the Winter Olympics next year.  They’re so much more fun than the summer ones.

OK, I realize I’m being quite verbose again, and I would like to end on a fun note.  Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkHvRCp3z5A Aunt Nancy sent it to me a couple weeks ago, and I’m just getting to my e-mails.  You have to watch the whole thing…it’s very impressive and quite inspiring!  Before it’s over, I bet you’ll find yourself moving along to the beat and smiling.

I better head to bed now…I actually have to be up before 7 AM!  Yup, can you believe it?  I’m taking the dogs to the vet to have their teeth cleaned, and then I have my hearing test later in the morning.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday!

Lots of love,


Monday, February 16th, 2009

Remember when I said I would write a nice entry yesterday ’cause it was Valentine’s Day?  Well, I lied!  :)  But I’m here now!  I’m sitting here with Katie and Catherine, watching “Platinum Weddings”…it’s so ridiculous how much money these people spend, but it’s entertaining for us!!!  We just finished watching “Pretty Woman” because my mom never saw it before…can you believe that?  She really enjoyed it…I mean, who wouldn’t?

By the way, there’s a bride on tv now who has three separate dresses…one for her reception, one for the ceremony, and one for I don’t know what.  Craaaazy!  It looks like it’ll be a cool wedding!  I’ll let you know what the grand total comes to.

All is going well here.  Friday, I went to my ENT, and I drove myself to my appointment.  It just feels nice to jet around solo, listening to my music and singing along.  I love driving with others, (Rachel, Mom, Mrs. Tuminaro, don’t be offended!) but it feels good to drive.  I missed it.  By the way, in case you were wondering, my ENT took out my ear tube (the one he put in back in July)…I’m scheduled for a hearing test this week (sometimes the treatments I’ve had can lead to hearing deficiencies).  He also told me to put a couple of drops of olive oil in my ears every week…have you ever heard of that?  I guess my wax isn’t easy to get out…I’ll have to get a bottle of olive oil for my bathroom!  Although I do use that sometimes to mix with lotion to help when my skin is extra dry.

By the way, they didn’t give a total for that bride’s wedding, but every time they mentioned the price for something…the dresses…food…jewelry, etc., each one was several thousand dollars.  It was beautiful, but it just seemed ridiculous.  Here’s my idea of an ideal wedding:  no cake….ok, there’ll be cake, but it will be from Costco or Safeway because they taste better than the fancy ones.  Also, there will be homemade pies (rhubarb for me!, cherry, apple, etc) and cookies.  I don’t care too much about what the place looks like or whether the chairs have covers on them; I just want to make sure they’re comfortable for the guests.  Here’s the most important part of the wedding:  music and photography.  Dancing will be verrrrry important, and the music will go on for a long, long time.  As for the food, how about just some dips and chips, hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, coleslaw…hmmm…what else goes with that type of food?  Beer and cider, of course!  Ideally, it would be outside, of course.  Sounds like fun, don’t you think?!  :)  I think watching all these Platinum shows makes me realize how crazy people get with this stuff.  And I think my experience with leukemia makes spending all that money seem even sillier.  The main idea is to have a wonderful party to share with your friends and family, people you never see together all at once!  Do they really care how fancy your event is?  Ideally, they would all stay a couple days so everyone can spend time together.

Geez…I didn’t mean to go on and on, but it’s fun to watch those shows and think about how you would do things differently.  It’s pretty funny, actually, if you get a room-full of women watching that show…you hear lots of “Oh, I would never do that.”; “That’s pretty cool, but look at her dress!”; “HOW much was that?…oh, that’s just ridiculous.”; “They don’t even seem happy….why are they getting married?”; “Oh, it’s all about the money…I mean, look at that necklace!”….yup, we have lots of opinions when it comes to weddings!

Anyway, I digress.  Let’s see….where was I?  Oh, back to Friday!  I went to Petsmart and got these cool new toys for Jameson and Guinness.  One is a wiffle ball bat that comes with a tennis ball, and I was really excited about this, because I haven’t swung a bat in years!!!  I figured it would be fun for all involved:  myself, Jameson and Guinness.  When I tried it out in the yard though, I felt a bit clumsy.  I kept throwing the ball up, swinging with all my might and watching the tennis ball fall on the ground.  Jameson would grab it right away, probably wondering why I would get such a defective toy…he loves me too much to think I’m defective when it comes to sports.

I wouldn’t give up though because I was having too much fun!  I made several good connections with the ball, and that motivated me to keep trying.  I think I was probably getting just as worn out as they were!  I couldn’t wait to see someone else try the bat to see how he/she would do.  Katie was the first to give it a go.  I watched and waited, wishing her failure (sorry Katie, but I didn’t want to be the only one who couldn’t hit it!).  She missed the first time, and the second time and the third time.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  Katie laughed and criticized at the same time:  “This bat is just too light to hit the ball.”  “I don’t think it’s possible to really hit the ball well with this bat.”  “It’s just not made properly!”  “You see here, where the top of the bat has the basket to hold the ball?  That just makes it all off balance and that’s why I can’t hit it.”   hahahahahahaha  She did make several good hits though, and she too became addicted.  “Just one more…can I try again?” It did my heart good to see that she was behaving just as I had.

Then my dad walked by.  We convinced him to come over and try it out.  He hit the first ball halfway across the yard.  The second time he missed, so we started laughing.  The third time, he hit the ball across the yard again.  He left with a good record of 2 out of 3, and Katie and I sat there.  I guess he showed us, huh?!  We were eager to include him in our people-who-couldn’t-hit-the-ball club.  Instead we learned that he could teach us a thing or two about it!  I’ll see what my mom, Laura, Tiso, Ronnie and Kathy can do.  Jameson and Guinness will love that!  The more people out there playing with them, the better!!

Moving on with the weekend, we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  My dad and I took Jamie and Guinny for a walk and then drive around the neighborhood.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and they were happy to be out enjoying it.  We ate some pizza for dinner, and then Rachel came over to watch some cheesy movies.  I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day even though I’ve never been dating anyone at the time.  It can be a lot of fun–hanging out with the girls or my family.  Honestly, it doesn’t bother me too much…I think when I was in Spain for a semester it made me a little sad, but that was my fault.  I decided to go out and enjoy the gorgeous weather in Sevilla, so I walked down by the Guadalquivir River by myself.  I felt like the only single person around.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, was coupled off (except for me!) and they were being all lovey dovey as they strolled along the river.  I just kept thinking, “Gimme a break!!!  Is this for real?  Aren’t there any other single people out enjoying the day?!”  :)  Even pets were all coupled off….hahaha just kidding.  But that would have been funny, wouldn’t it?

Yesterday, Susan came to visit!!  I didn’t even know she was home visiting from Texas, so that was a nice surprise.  It was so good to see you, Susan!!  She also helped me remember the spelling of another one of my favorite flowers…I wanted to include it in the list I gave you before, but I didn’t know how to spell it!  Anyway, here it is:  http://www.fiftyflowers.com/flowers/AllFlowersMatsumoto_258.htm Aren’t they cute?  Speaking of flowers, I never told you what kind of flowers I’d want for my wedding!  Paloma, Rachel, Susan, Laura and I constantly discussed our ideal flowers.  I like so many different ones, but I think for my wedding I would want something really bright and cheerful.  I’m thinking sunflowers, statice, anthurium (red)…I know, it sounds weird so far, but it’s actually pretty together…I can’t remember all the other ones I wanted in there, so I’ll have to go hang out in the flower shop again, but you get the idea…yellow, purple, red…something vibrant!…oh, and definitely some Bells of Ireland in there…I love those!!

I know, you’re sick of reading about what I would want at my wedding, but it’s these shows…I can’t help but think about it!  :)  OK, no more, I promise.  This post is already long.  In fact, you’re probably not even reading it anymore?!  Let’s just see if you are.  So yesterday, I went and hung out at the mall with a crowd of sick children playing on those things they have for kids to play on in the mall.  I played with the kids, let them snot all over me, and I never washed my hands afterwards.  Is this true or false?  If I don’t get any answers, I’ll know you didn’t get this far.  :)

I hope you enjoy the pictures I included of Indie, Laura and myself (and a couple other ones I threw in there). We had a wonderful time taking her to Great Falls…she’s such a laid-back li’l pup (OK, she’s not so little).

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your long weekend!



Just sharing some worries

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Hey there,

Feels like I haven’t written in a while, but I think it’s only been two days or something…I am so addicted to this blog!!  :)  Anyway, I’m just having some worries, and I don’t think they’re anything, but I knew I would most likely sleep better if I got some of those worries off my chest…that’s right, I’ll just pass them on to you so you can worry!  hahaha only teasin’.

My counts and everything are about the same…they’ve gone down only slightly and no one’s worried, but I definitely think about it and what it could mean.  There’s one worry.  Here’s another one:  Any time I have a symptom that could at all be related to GVHD, I worry that I have GVHD.  How about a third one?!!  Here you go:  I worry that although it feels like longer, it’s been a mere four months since I had my transplant, and I of course worry that the leukemia could come back.  Several weeks ago, I had a nightmare that it did.  I can’t remember if I shared that with you, but it was awful.  I can’t remember the details, but I remember waking up scared.  Here’s one more for you to soak up so I don’t have to worry about it :) :  I worry about secondary cancers…cancers that result because of your treatment for previous cancers.  Now, that is absolutely not fair!!!!

OK, so those are my top worries (they don’t include 1)finding a job once I’m well, 2)figuring out just how to move on with my life, 3)discovering some way to sleep less, etc.). It’s likely that none of those would happen if I relapsed, so I guess that’s why my primary worries center around my illness.

Typically, I’m able to distract myself and focus on all the good things in my life, but the worry is always there in some form.  I hate that it’s there, but it is, and there’s not much to do about it but address it and then push it back down again.  It usually hits me late at night, especially if I watch tv.  I definitely think tv can be have a depressing effect, because it has this power to suck me in, and I feel guilty after hours of watching it; I mean, what a waste of time.  I was taught the lesson of all lessons about time…twice!!!  I know that time is limited, but I will just stare at the tv sometimes (usually at night), and even if I’m tired, I won’t get up and go to bed.  Yup, the worries definitely come at night.  Will they ever stop completely?  I doubt it…even when I’m five years out from the transplant, I’ll worry.

Sometimes when I have these, let’s call them “acute worries” (because they can upset me so much that  I feel a little aching in my chest or my pulse rate increases), I wonder if more medication for depression might help.  But then I will have so many good days.  I even had a good day today (I’ll write more about that later…I’m trying to lay all my worries on you right now)!  :)  I think I just realize that acknowledging the worries is all part of the process.  It would be pretty darn strange if I didn’t worry, and if I weren’t hypersensitive to any changes going on in my body.  I get that, I talk myself out of the worries as much as I can, and I move on.

Tonight though, I felt like I had to get some off my chest.  You’ll be happy to hear that I feel a little better after doing so!

Now I think I’m going to go to bed.  I will write a much happier entry tomorrow….it is, after all, Valentine’s Day!!!!  Thanks for listening (or technically, “reading”) and supporting me, no matter what I’m feeling!!

Lots of love,


PS Stay tuned for supercute pics of Indie, Laura and Tiso’s new dog…Laura and I took her to Great Falls Wednesday, and I stayed overnight at their place, so needless to say, I took lots of photos!  You surprised?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Guess what?  I did it!  I took out my yoga DVD today, and I followed along, while the dogs stared at me, wondering what was going on.  I think their favorite was relaxation.  Jameson put his head by my head on the mat, and I think we all nearly fell asleep.  Only problem was, relaxation didn’t last long enough, so I had to repeat it 3 times.  :)  It felt good though.

I didn’t make my walk in time.  In fact, most of the day was pretty unproductive, although I did make a couple phone calls I’d been needing to make.  Here’s where I made a mistake:  when I was having my breakfast (around noon), I turned on the tv.  I found “Cold Case” (the real shows, not the TV drama), I watched two of them and then “CSI:Miami” came on.  Although typically I hate that show because of the way the guy with the red hair talks, the story was interesting enough so I watched it.

Finally I got off the couch, took a shower and played outside with the dogs.  I made my bed, did some laundry, and later the yoga.  I made myself a lunch of cheddar cheese, radishes and grape tomatoes, along with some chips and salsa.

Tomorrow I’m going to Great Falls with Laura and Indie, then Laura will take me to my doctor’s appointment, and after that, we’ll go back to her place where I’m spending the night.  We’ll watch a movie, relax and I’ll get to spend some more time with our new family addition (oh, and with Laura too!).  Thursday we’re going to see “He’s Just Not That Into You”, and I’m looking forward to that!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that I only had my transplant four months ago…can you believe it?  Sometimes it feels like a lot of time has passed, and sometimes it seems like it was only last week.  I worry when I start dwelling on that, because I know that so much more time must pass before I’m considered cured (I think the norm, even with transplants is 5 years in remission–but I’m not positive about this), and I am aware of possible illnesses or reactions that can happen at anytime.  I don’t sit around and contemplate this much, but it does enter into my mind, and I’m constantly surprised by the small amount of time that has passed between the transplant and now.  I feel good right now, and it’s difficult to accept the fact that the doctors still don’t want me to be out and about yet, that I’m just at the beginning of the healing process really.

The best thing I can do is to continue to welcome each day, to go to all my appointments and follow all instructions, to visualize a long and happy future (with good health along the way), and to try and live as normal a life that I can at this time by hanging out with friends and family (in non-public places).  :)  Let me tell you, whenever I’m allowed out, there will be some sort of a big celebration!!!!

By the way, I’m sitting here watching the “Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show” to take a break from all my crime shows, and this dog is one of the competitors…apparently they’re also known as monkey dogs because of their round faces.  Check out “Taser” (his owners’ son invented the taser!!!):  http://tasertheaffenpinscher.com/Information/taser.html .  How cute is he?!!!  Also, I think the Havanese is a very cute breed and apparently they don’t shed very much!  Hard to believe considering their coat:  http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/breedinformation/toy/havanese.html …adorable!!  To be truthful, there is really no dog I don’t like, even the Chinese Crested:  http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/breedinformation/toy/chincr.html .  :)  I’m also a big fan of pugs!!!  I’ve never had a small dog, but perhaps one day!

OK, I’ll stop bothering you with all that stuff…oh, wait!  OK, one more, I swear.  Check this one out…he reminds me of an Ewok…soo cute!  http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/breedinformation/toy/pekese.html .  Seriously, I’ll stop now.

Hope you are all doing well.  It sounds like we’re going to have more gorgeous weather here in VA tomorrow!  Enjoy it, everyone!



Another Beautiful Day!

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Well, I didn’t have an inspiring day or anything, but I felt like writing anyway.  I did actually accomplish something today though.  I cleaned off the kitchen counters and 1 and 1/2 cupboards.  Not bad, right?  Then I had some lunch and lay down on the couch to take a “little” nap.  Three hours later, I woke up!  I even set my timer for 25 minutes, but every time it went off, I set it for 25 more….timers and alarms mean nothing to me right now!!  I’m such a rebel.  :)  It’s just too darn easy to reset them on my phone.

I did enjoy a little bit of our gorgeous weather again when I went out to play ball and frisbee with my pups.  Sometimes it’s hard to get my butt moving and get outside, but once I’m out there, I feel so much better!  The fresh air, running around with Jameson and Guinness or watching them run their path around the front yard, it’s so…hmmm, what’s the right word?…soothing?  relaxing?  refreshing?  Perhaps all the above.

Right now, I’m just watching my gameshows (geez…I sound like I’m 80 or something!).  Can you believe I’m sitting here yawning after all my rest today?–how discouraging!!  C’mon, Julie!!  GET MOVING!!!!  I have lots of lists of things I should and need to be doing right now, but I keep finding other things to do instead, so of couse I’m pretty disappointed in myself.  I think I’ll just go ahead and blame Laura’s cells.  hahahaha  Only kidding, of course.

Tomorrow is always another day, and I get excited for each day because it gives me another opportunity to organize my life.  Maybe I need a personal assistant to wake me up with breakfast in bed each AM (so I can ease out of the bed slowly, but at an earlier time so I don’t waste half the day).  After breakfast, he/she will put in my yoga video, put out my mat and clothes and make sure I do yoga.  Then he/she can prepare some hot cocoa and set up the computer, so I can get caught up on e-mails and facebook.  I don’t need anyone to remind me to play with the pups, but it would be nice if he/she reminds me to take a nice walk in the afternoon.  Perhaps he/she will allow me a 30 minute nap, but that’s it!!!  Oh, also he/she will fix my lunch, have my pills ready, prepare my shower…we can make dinner together since I need to build on my cooking skills.  He/she will make sure I always have food stocked and ready, especially for when I crave items like popcorn and M&Ms, Snocaps, cheese and pickles with radishes, cherry tomatoes, etc.  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  Then, when I go to bed at night after watching my favorite shows, I will have a feeling of accomplishment!!  But I will also get back to reading more.  Little by little, my personal assistant will help me switch from tv to reading…not completely of course…I will always be allowed  to watch my faves like “Medium” (another new one tonight!).

Wow, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all have personal assistants?!  I’ll practice visualizing it, and maybe it will come true.  hahahaha :) In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to find ways to bribe myself into getting up early and making things happen.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Whew!  I’m getting tired from typing all this!  I think I’ll go listen to Obama’s news conference…hey, I know it’s TV, but at least it’s educational!

Lots of love from VA,


Lazy Days.

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Yup, I had a pretty lazy weekend, but it felt good.  Actually, come to think of it, mostly I had a lazy Sunday.  Yesterday I drove out of the neighborhood for the first time, and boy did that feel good!!  I braved 66 AND 495!!  495 certainly changed a lot since we were in Seattle.  I’ll have to see it during the day, but it definitely seemed quite different when I drove on it last night!  I hate those barriers that come right up to the end of the lane and don’t give you any room.

Anyway, despite that, it was wonderful to be behind the wheel again.  I put my music in, opened the sunroof and enjoyed the beautiful evening.  Last night was the first time I’ve gone anywhere by myself, and it’s always nice to have a little space.  I took an evening stroll with Lori and Tim and then we watched a movie…thanks, guys!  I had a great time.

Yesterday, during the day, my mom, dad, Katie and I went to visit Laura, Tiso and their new dog, Indie.  As you can see from the pictures below, she’s a beautiful dog, and even though she has only been with them since Friday, she seems quite relaxed in their home, and she didn’t even bark when we arrived.  It’ll be interesting to see how all the dogs do once they’re together.  She might be able to meet Jameson and Guinness sometime this week…I’ll keep you posted!!

It was nice to have Katie home this weekend.  We were going to do the “Dirty Dancing Workout” DVD, but I flaked out on Katie this AM.  Sorry, Katie!!!  Next weekend, I promise!!  I’m really looking forward to it, although the dances are so long, I think I might only be able to do one at a time.  Little by little, right?

With all this spring weather, I’m starting to fantasize about spending days out on the back porch, watching the flowers open up everywhere, hearing the symphony of bugs…soon enough it’ll be here!!

Anyway, now I’m watching way too much “Law and Order” (Kathy, I blame that on you!!!! :) ).  I think I better head to bed soon…all this relaxation really tired me out!  There’s not too much else to share.  My parents made a delicious dinner tonight with salmon, spinach, cauliflower and salad…mmmmmmm!!

I’m also very excited that my favorite show came on this past week…”Medium”.  Looking forward to another episode tomorrow!  But seriously, TV isn’t my life.  I do go outside and play with the pups, Friday I walked in the neighborhood for about 2 miles, and yesterday I drove AND walked, a big day!

I have a doctor’s appointment Wednesday and Friday (Friday’s for my ENT).  I will let you know!!!



Ode to the flower shop.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Hi there!

It is a cold day out there!  I promised the pups I would go out and play with them, so I have to get my butt up and do that…once I’m all layered up!  It looks beautiful out there, just chilly.  It will definitely be a fireside type of evening.

So last night I was trying to fall asleep and I started thinking about Valentine’s Day (how can I help but think about it?  There are so many commercials for gifts and so much talk of it on the news!).  Whenever I think about Valentine’s Day, something in my brain automatically fires off some sort of neuron or something and the next thing that pops into my mind is the flower shop where I worked for about five years prior to grad school.  Why is that?  Well, because roses and flowers are a favorite gift for the holiday.

Thinking back on my flower shop days, I mostly remember having a lot of fun.  Certainly there were days when it seemed that every customer was unpleasant and being in an environment with all women (except for a lot of the drivers) could become too emotional or catty, but now I miss the bonding, and I miss smelling like flowers when I get home from work.  I miss hearing the personal stories behind the orders, and I miss helping customers create the perfect gift for their loved one.

Don’t get confused…I didn’t do the arranging, unless it was a wrapped or boxed arrangement.  You would think I learned a great deal about arranging in all those years, but I’m definitely not super-talented.  :)  I like to think I’m better than an amateur, but I’m not so sure about that!  But, back to Valentine’s Day.  It was a holiday to be dreaded in the industry (at least to me!) because of all the work and all the possible problems that came along with it:  the weather, delivering to offices and gated communities, helping drivers locate the addresses if necessary, making sure you have enough flowers.  Working there and watching how stressed the owners would get definitely helped me realize that I never want my own business.

Nonetheless, in the weeks leading up to the big day, we often had to stay late to process orders and to take care of any computer-related issues with orders.  Once that door was locked, we turned the music up, ordered some pizza, perhaps danced and sang a little bit, and did our work.  My feet would be killing me at that point, but the music and the noise of a shop full of activity gave me adrenaline, and we would work on through the night.  There was also that Valentine’s Day that they surprised one of the designers with a stripper to celebrate her birthday…now that was entertaining!!!!!  No, you will never see pictures from that, but just let me say now that I never asked him to put me on his shoulders.  :)

I miss it (not the stripper, but the flower shop :) ).  I miss the craziness of it all, I miss all our girly conversations, I miss hearing the drivers’ funny stories when they came back to the shop.  I can’t even begin to describe those in writing, but suffice it to say that one of the drivers called the police on the neighbor of a recipient because that neighbor refused to accept the arrangement for his neighbor….no, he didn’t call because the man refused, but rather because his dog was on his roof!!!!  hahahaha

I learned a great deal about human nature when I worked there.  Some customers I will never forget, either because of their ridiculous behavior or because they were kind.  Some of their stories made me teary, some made me laugh and one in particular touched me so much I had to walk to the back of the shop when they picked up their order because I was crying.  This case involved a young mother and wife who had died of cancer, and I believe it was Mother’s Day when the father and his children came in to pick up an arrangement for her grave.  There was a mirror in the front of the shop, and I was wrapping an arrangement in front of it.  I looked up and saw them walking through the door, and I just couldn’t hold it in.  I had to walk to the back of the store so they wouldn’t see me crying.  The flower shop helped customers with a variety of occasions:  weddings, funerals, proms, homecomings, the holidays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and every day pick-me-ups, to mention a few.

Just being around the different flowers was wonderful.  I was just talking to Rachel (she, Susan, Paloma and Laura  all worked at the shop), and she mentioned that she loved the fact that she learned so much about plants and flowers when she was there.  It’s true…I too feel proud of myself when I can name a certain flower or plant that other people don’t recognize.  I was constantly adding new flowers to my list of favorites.

Which reminds me….to every couple out there, find out what your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend (sure, guys  like flowers too!) likes.  Don’t just assume roses for Valentine’s Day and every other occasion.  There are lots of flowers out therel  Sometimes the best thing to do is to ask the designers to use the freshest flowers they have and make something that they would like…you can always request colors or certain flowers, but if you’re not too picky, it’s nice to leave the design up to the designer.

I think I wrote about the flower shop a long time ago here on the blog, but I was just thinking about it again, missing it at Valentine’s Day.  Did I tell you before about the card messages I saved?  I wrote down my favorites, and I’m pretty sure I wrote about them on the blog…some people are very clever!!  My favorite will always be “We apologize for your extended elevator entrapment”….hmmm…makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Anyway, make sure you treat yourself to some flowers, but don’t just pick what you see first!  Walk around a while and choose something you’ve never gotten before.  Someday I vow to have flowers in every room of my house, even if it’s just a bud vase.  You can’t help but smile when you see them.  I love the famous quote “The Earth laughs in flowers” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Some of my faves you might want to check out (’cause I have great taste!):

delphinium, daffodils, bells of Ireland (careful, these are spiky!), larkspur, sunflowers, freesia, liatris, lisianthus, heather, hydrangea, orchids, stock, statice, tulips, and waxflower.  You can see what they look like here:  http://milwaukeeschoolofflowerdesign.com/flower-foliage-glossary.htm .

I think I’ll end with another quote:  “Flowers…are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  That Ralph really liked himself some flowers, huh?!  :)

Also remember to be extra friendly to whoever takes your order–I would always write “please make extra special” if the customer was really nice.  Of course, it’s hard to find someone who was as good a sales associate as I was!!! :)

Hope everyone is enjoying his/her week.

Lots of love,


PS I also loved the flower shop because they had dogs there during the day.  I took them for walks during my lunch hour, and I miss them so much!

Everything’s Lookin’ Good!!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Hey there,

How are ya?!!  I’m sitting here watching “Criminal Minds” (I just can’t get enough of these crime shows!), and enjoying the fire (in the fireplace, of course).

I know you’re all wondering how my doctor’s appointment went today, and I won’t make you wait any longer!  It went very well.  I met with the head of the bone marrow transplant program in our area (he’s at my same practice), and he seemed quite happy with my numbers and progression.  My white count and neutrophils are up slightly, as are my hemoglobin and hematocrit.  My platelets are in the normal range, and that’s always encouraging!

He said that he thinks we can reduce my visits to once every two weeks, unless I get a fever or some sort of emergency (I don’t plan on doing that, by the way!).  The only thing that worried me was when he said I had a bad case of hirsutism…I got a little worried and asked him what “hirsutism” was, and was relieved when he said “unwanted hair growth”…relieved yet pissed at the same time!!  Anybody can look at me and see that I have eyebrows all over my forehead (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating…only slightly though), a mustache, hair on the side of my face, and even hair on my neck now!  It bothers me more than anything right now, as you know, so I’m constantly trying to remind myself that although I don’t feel attractive at all, my health is good, I feel good and within a couple months, the hair will be gone.  To be honest though, I just can’t wait to finish the cyclosporin and start losing the hair…even my arms look hairier (which explains why the band-aids hurt so much!!!).  By the way, the last couple of times, I’ve asked for the non-sticky wrap they can use instead of band-aids after drawing my blood, and they happily switched for me.  :)

Although nothing is for certain, and you can never predict the future, I admit that I got excited when my doctor told me that with the protocol I had for my transplant, there is no research on fertility, and the fact that I didn’t have more intensive total body irradiation (TBI) could give me a better chance of having children some day.  I asked him about this again because my menstrual cycle started, and I had been under the impression that perhaps I would never have one again, that I would go into early menopause.  I’m thinking good thoughts now, even though no one can give me an affirmative right now regarding fertility or sterility. I will never underestimate the power of the mind.

A good family friend, Norma, took me out to lunch today and to the doctor’s office.  I had a wonderful time, and I loved seeing Bayla, her dog, after so long!  Check out the photos below…isn’t she gorgeous?  Speaking of going out to lunch or to restaurants, my doctor does not think I should be going out to eat for a while.  This is a change from Seattle, but I completely trust him.  As he said, there is no need to risk my health just to enjoy a meal at a restaurant…you never know how clean a kitchen is unless it’s yours or someone you know.  He did OK trips to the movie theater at off times, namely matinees in the middle of the week.

All in all, it was a good appointment.  Now I’m sitting here with Guinness, and I’m tired!!  It’s only 9:39 PM…maybe I’ll get to bed at a normal time tonight….that would be nice!

Well, I hope everyone is doing well!!  Stay warm…it’s a chilly night out there (in Virginia, at least)!



Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

How’s it going?  All’s well here.  I’m just watching a little “Without a Trace” and catching up on e-mail and my blog (obviously).  I had a good day today.  I woke up late (that’s the only bad part), got some paperwork done that I’ve been meaning to work on, caught up with a couple friends and went to see a movie with Laura and Tiso.  I definitely recommend “Taken” if you’re into action films (I am usually not into them, but this one actually has a good plot).  Liam Neeson is perfect in it, and I would give the movie a…hmmm…let’s see…I think 4 stars.  Highly entertaining!  I also had some popcorn and m&ms which makes any movie experience more enjoyable.  Thanks, Laura and Tiso!!  I had a great time.

Before I forget, I found that “Dirty Dancing” workout DVD on-line…I hope I’ll be able to keep up with it!  I also found a hip hop one.  It is going to be fun…Kathy, we’re going to make you do it too!  Remember when we did the belly dance one?  That was fun….or perhaps funny because it’s pretty hard to pick up those moves!  Kristi, I can’t wait to do the hula-hooping one, but I definitely know I have to wait a while to try and execute all those moves.  I get out of breath pretty easily right now…just running up the stairs is enough to do it.  I’m going to mention it to my doctor again tomorrow.  I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, but be thinking good thoughts for tomorrow’s visit!

Let’s see…what else do I have to share with you?  I wrote The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society today to see if I can be part of their program “First Connection” where they match new patients with survivors who live in the area, so they can help support them and recommend possible resources.  I’m very sad that I can’t be part of TNT this year, but I hope to man some of the water stops (with Guinness as my company…Jameson isn’t too fond of large groups of people…I think he feels like he should be herding them).

There’s not too much else going on.  I’m watching “Will and Grace” now…I need a little something happy before I go to bed…”NCIS”, “The Mentalist”and “Without a Trace” make for a pretty heavy line-up, don’t you think?!!  I hate that I’m watching so much tv, but I’m also working on the computer, so really it’s just background noise.  ;)

I hope everyone is doing well.  I’ll let you know how my appointment goes tomorrow.