Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Unfriendly

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey. 

When I began this blog I wanted to leave something behind for my children, my grandchildren and many friendship's I've enjoyed throughout the years. When I began sharing it on social media, I wanted to turn it into something good, for myself and for others. It didn't matter to me that majority of the social media was used in quite the opposite of that. As long as I used it for encouragement and positive reinforcement, I was good. 

I went on Facebook and soon became friends with a vast collection of friends. It didn't matter to me what race, religion or part of the world they came from, I wanted to reach out to everyone. You know, social media is good for some things like posting your statements and immediately logging off, because if you stay on someone will attack you verbally. Sometimes, even threaten you. 

Originally, I had these theories that no matter what people said I would ignore or hope to change their outlook by my behavior or words. I had this vision of being an example to others. How noble of me, right? Of course, none of that happened. I put up with bad attitudes, foul mouths and just plain cruelty.

 I'm sorry to say, but I now believe that social media does more harm than good. It's just so easy for us to post our opinions without ever having to see someone face to face. We can be as cruel or as violent as we want to be. We can hurt people with our words without the fear of retribution as we sit on our couches or in our cars attacking others. Their reaction is something we never have to witness on a personal level. 

I would watch as people would unfriend each other after silly disputes, elections or different opinions. I would shrug and shake my head in disbelief, but then it happened to me. You know, we can believe that we can handle things, but in reality, we cannot. 

There are people out there who will continually attack you verbally no matter how much you may try to make things better. You are always wrong, always the aggressor, always the bad one. They post, they hurt you with words and log off thinking nothing of it. I cannot be like that. For me, when it hurts, it hurts deeply. It ruins and steals whatever joy I may be experiencing. For that reason, I had to unfriend the unfriendly. It pains me to do so, because it goes against everything I set out to do and be. Sometimes, things don't work out no matter how much you may want it. Sometimes, we have to part and for that I am sorry.

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Battle With Cancer

                                                       Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                       everyday is a journey.

Since returning to work, I have been asked many questions in regards to my future plans involving my cancer. Everyone seems to want me to go on disability or retire early. And then what, I ask all of you? 

Yes, my body hurts. Yes, my feet ache. Yes, it's a struggle. BUT, I'm not ready to hang it all up. As long as I can still move around, I want to continue working. I don't think I'm ready to hang it all up. As much as I complain about it, I need work. It isn't just about the money, but the mental and social livelihood of my soul. 

Besides, there's more to it than that. Some may think that by climbing a mountain, they have somehow conquered it, but we can only be visitors on that mountain. That's how I feel about my cancer. There is only one way I will ever conquer this cancer and that's when God takes me home. Don't ever think that my dying means I have lost the battle. Instead, I have won it. I'll be with my Lord and Savior. 

I don't think much of this so called battle. I don't consider myself a warrior of any kind. All the praise of a strong woman is a joke. I'm just as scared of the unknown as the next person. I guess the difference lies in how I approach my disease. I definitely don't want to waste the precious time I have wallowing in self pity, hatred or in a state of limbo. I want to do as much as I can in the short time I'm here. 

There is a deep desire within me to do and be so much more. There are times where I feel restricted by my own fears, inadequacies or just by the world itself. I want to help people even if that means only one instead of thousands. I am extremely passionate about my Ministry and this blog. These are not just mere words to me, I hope they bring comfort to someone. Let my experience be a light to someone who is lost and searching for answers. I want to be used by God by doing His work. 

The same goes for a crochet hat or scarf that is made by the loving hands of my ladies. Maybe this simple hat will bring warmth to a homeless person during a cold Winter. Or a baby blanket for a first time mom who has so much less than us. A mom who cries herself to sleep wondering how she will provide for her family. 

These are such simple little things that mean so much to others that are in pain. They need to know by simple gestures that someone out there cares what happens to them. My battle with cancer isn't about the medical mambo jumbo, the chemo, the radiation. No, my battle lies with the limited time I have to be of use. To me, Giving Tuesday, is every single day. I hope it is yours, too.

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Feeling The Cold

                                                Everyday is a brand new day, everyday
                                                      is a new journey.

I've been feeling cold lately. That may seem like a such weird thing to say, but for me it's huge. Since 2007, I have been in the deep throes of menopause with massive hot flashes. I've foregone long sleeves and especially sweaters. My ceiling fan is on all the time, even in Winter. I'm never cold, opting to wearing shorts and sleeveless tops whenever at home. 

All that has seemed to be a time from the past. I feel cold again. I shiver and feel chills, especially my hands and feet. I find myself wearing sweaters, socks and a comfy blanket in WINTER. Could I finally be done with menopause?

I'm sorry to say, but I am not really happy about it. I mean, when change happens, why does it have to happen everywhere? It's like a massive dose administered all at once. Can I take such an overdose to my mental psyche? I certainly hope so, because it's happening regardless of my feelings about it. 

Emily laughs, unsympathetic at all to my plight, informs me that finally I am just like her. I can now join the rest of the world. 
We are such funny people. We complain and wish things were different, but when it happens, we complain that it's happening.Insane, that's what we are, positively insane.

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Planet Earth

                                          Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

Sometimes, I stay up late on my days off crocheting as I watch documentaries, British movies or some murder series. It was on one of those crazy nights that I discovered Planet Earth. I was captivated and amazed at what I saw on this documentary.  We all could learn so much from this planet and it's other inhabitants. 

Male Emperor penguins face Winter in Antarctica where there is no sun for months and temperatures drop to 70 degrees below zero. They stay, because they guard a treasure, an egg resting on top of it's feet beneath the warm, downy folds of its belly. They do not eat or drink for four months and it is all done by the father. If only we humans held our babies in the same high regard. How is it that they value the sanctity of precious life way more than we ever had?

A pack of wolves charge into a herd of caribou targeting the weak, newborn calves. Yet, that little calf runs for it's life with everything it has, fighting for it's life even when the odds are so small. Why do we give up so easily? Why do we give in and tolerate the intolerable? That calf was all alone against that wolf, but we have God and we still give up. Where is that will to survive? Where is that strength to keep going?

There are so many varieties of birds of paradise, each one more beautiful and rarer than the last. The males really know how to court a female. They sing beautifully and melodiously to her. They tap their feet, they hop around in dance and display all their true colors for her to see. Maybe she will accept them, maybe not. Whatever happened to courting in our world? Now we have friends with benefits, casual dating or casual sex. Romance has done a disappearing act. 

The Earth is so beautiful, so vast and full of amazing sites that we cannot comprehend their very existence. How powerful our Lord must be to create something so extraordinarily unique and magnificent as our Earth. There are none like Him. If I am so in awe of the beauty on this planet, can you imagine what Heaven must look like? Will I be able to contain my JOY , all of my joy, as I walk with my Lord in the paradise of Heaven? Our Lord, our God is truly amazing!

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

                                          Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.


Thanksgiving is once again upon us and households everywhere are busy cooking up a generous feast for their families. In our family, I like to call this the "In-law Holiday" where everyone goes to their in-laws for dinner. We rarely get together as a family for Thanksgiving and this year is no exception. 

Emily and I will be having a quiet dinner of our own complete with a tofurkey, homemade apple pie and a movie. We could have gone to Springfield this year, but with our next bold step almost at completion, it wasn't possible. 

Normally, I'm off all week during Thanksgiving and I spend it doing something I totally love. I write. Nothing else, not even crocheting interferes. Unfortunately, I only had three days this year, most of it will be spent tying up loose ends (bold step). I guess, no writing will happen. 

As I get older, I really have this desire to be more traditional with my holidays. All the extravagance that we initiate into this feast, holds no appeal to me whatsoever. The same goes for Christmas or Easter. I want to stick to what it was meant to represent and to experience the spiritual side. Tomorrow is my most dreaded event yet . . . Black Friday. Ugh, I'm staying home. No comments from me on that subject! At least, not this year.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful day spent with the people you love making beautiful memories that are long lasting.

Have a Blessed day everyone. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Last Find

                              Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.   

This is the last find of the series from the year 2015 that I've never posted. For whatever reason, I stopped writing about it at this point. Honestly, I think that life intervened with the daily schedules and the next thing I know, the hormone treatment stopped working. The next thing that followed were the events of this past Summer. I hope you enjoyed this lost mini series of posts.    

Tamoxifren

By: Lottie Krol                                                                                                                                            So what is this hormone drug called tamoxifen? I have been avoiding this subject since day one. Normal people would have looked up the side effects within the hour of finding out. Not I, though. I had no desire to know. Why should I? No matter what they were,  I still had to take it.

In all honesty, I really was meaning to get online and see what I could find out about it, but life intervened. One day goes by, then another and another. Soon the intention is lost among other more important issues. Or we tell ourselves that.

So I looked it up finally late at night while everyone slept. I don't know why I thought it would contain a simple list. It was pages long and numerous websites all depending on what you were asking. Did you want the side effects? Or the cancers associated with this drug? The weight loss/ weight gain part of it? Costs? Definitions?

So let's first find the definition of tamoxifen. What is it and what does it do. I found a great website( drugs.com) that provided all the necessary information. Tamoxifen blocks the action of estrogen, a female hormone. The list of side effects was so long that I had to cut it down to the most pertaining to me.  Out of that list I am experiencing hot flashes, leg cramps and fatigue. Not bad, eh? Here's the list:

Tamoxifen side effects
Information by Drugs.com
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to tamoxifen: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Tamoxifen can increase your risk of stroke or blood clots. Call your doctor at once if you have:
  • signs of a stroke - sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance;
  • signs of a blood clot in the lung - chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood; or
  • signs of a blood clot in your leg - pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs.
Also call your doctor at once if you have:
  • blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;
  • unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge;
  • changes in your menstrual periods;
  • pain or pressure in your pelvic area;
  • a new breast lump;
  • liver problems - nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • high levels of calcium in your blood - vomiting, constipation, increased thirst or urination, muscle weakness, bone pain, confusion, lack of energy, or tired feeling.
Common tamoxifen ide effects may include:
  • hot flashes;
  • vaginal discharge; or
  • weight loss

  Drug.com is the medical encyclopedia, but I found another website good for the real dirt on Tamoxifen, Cancer Survivor Network. You can go on and ask any question pertaining to cancer and fellow patients will answer based on their experience.
 I found so much information on the various symptoms and what the patients are doing to ease the discomfort. Take leg cramps, for instance. I never knew that what I'm feeling every night is a charley horse. Didn't even enter my head and no wonder. According to many of the patients, their doctors also claim that leg cramps are not the cause of chemo. Really? Then why are so many of us experiencing them? I have had leg pain ever since the very first treatment back in 2007. Since taking tamoxifen, my right leg is also beginning to hurt.

I am so glad that I have taken the time to look all this up, especially in finding the Cancer Survivor Network. If I have any questions or concerns, I now know where to go. It feels so good to know I'm not crazy to have these same symptoms and emotions. There are others who are experiencing the same. Talk about safety in numbers. I am normal after all.

Have a Blessed day everyone. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mellow Jello

                                 Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

The following is a story from 2015 that I've never posted. The post refers to my fourth bout with cancer and the hormone treatment they placed me on. I'm happy to say that I'm still in remission now. Enjoy.

Mellow Jello
By: Lottie Krol

Sitting at my quality cart at work, I felt drained, weepy and strangely mellow. There wasn't an ounce of stress in my entire body. I could have sat there surveying the entire packaging floor for the remainder of my shift, not moving an inch. I  was that comfortable and relaxed.

It has been a week and a half of taking this hormone medication and already I can feel the emotional roller coaster ride it is playing with my moods.

Just the other day, after doing some sit ups, I attempted to get up off the living room floor. It wasn't happening. My knees locked and hurt as hell every time I placed pressure on them.  I rolled around on the rug like a cockroach on its back. No matter how much I tried, I could not lift myself back up.

Frustrated, I burst out crying, sobbing incoherently and uncontrollably. Emily came running out of her room and helped me up, giving me a hug in the process. She patted me on my back as if comforting a small child.

Anger. . . another emotion that hasn't escaped me. While praying in my car (something I do all the time) my voice grew louder with every word as I told the devil to get the heck out of my home. By the time I was done, my face was super red and sweaty. I got so worked up that I was practically spitting.
My co-worker (a male) tapped on my driver's window inquiring if I'm alright and who am I yelling at? Oh, I didn't tell you I was in my work's parking lot when that little episode happened? That mechanic thought I was crazy having a conversation with myself. He hasn't stopped teasing me about it, always asking which imaginary friend I planned on talking  with today.

I'm not exactly proud of these moments. In fact, I'm both embarrassed and afraid of these emotions. You see, the last thing I want to do is hurt someone's feelings or be the cause of a breakup. Words are very powerful and if we are not careful, they can cause great havoc among friends and strangers. Just think of all the interactions we have with people in the street. The way they speak to you and treat you affects your entire day.

What if I run into someone I don't care for at all and tell them my true feelings? That would be terrible. No, we cannot have that. Watching my words is just not enough. I also have a very expressive face. Ugh, this is so much work! Why can't I just be myself?

So I'm sitting here at work, hoping for the workday to quickly come to an end before I totally have a crying meltdown. How would I explain to these people what I'm going through? None of these symptoms are considered even typical of a cancer patient. Yet, the last thing I want to do is present to them the wrong image of what is cancer.
 
But what is that image like now? No longer is cancer represented by baldness, vomiting and looking anorexic. That doesn't mean these symptoms don't exist, but there are so many other forms of treatment out there now unlike the ones we have known thus far. Cancer is evolving into the new modern age and we should be grateful for it.
 
The focus now is more on quality of life and being able to work and co-exist among others as normally as possible. I have to say that this treatment so far, is allowing me to do just that. Yes, my moods are ever changing and extremely unpredictable, but there are so many benefits, great benefits to these little chemo pills.
 
So what exactly are these little pills? Hmm, maybe it's time to find out.

Have a blessed day everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Lost And Found

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

As I've been posting these old stories written in 2015 and forgotten, I wondered why I never shared them. Was I saving them for something else? Most likely. To have forgotten them explains my state of  mind as I flutter from thing to the next. I believe my intention with these stories was to create a series and then life intervened. Happy reading!

The Unprep
By: Lottie Krol

Staring at my old chemo bag, I felt indecision on what to do with it. It felt strange to no longer have a need for it. It has been with me since 2011, storing everything I needed for a day of chemotherapy infusion at the clinic.

For a moment I felt confusion and sadness as I placed my chemo bag back into the closet. I won't be needing it today or for a while. So what do I take with me instead?

I felt uncomfortable sitting in the waiting room of the cancer clinic, not knowing where to fix my eyes or what to do with my hands. I never sat so still before with nothing to do. There was no crocheting hook in my hand as my fingers nimbly stitched row after row easing the tension of what was to come. There was no inspirational book to read or challenging bible study workbook to complete. Not even a puzzle nor a notebook to doodle on. Not a snack to bite on or water to sip.
There was no chemo bag leaning beside my legs. For what? I wasn't  staying all day as before. It's just a quick checkup and straight to work I go. What do I need a chemo bag for that?

Yet, my eyes darted nervously around the waiting room, my hands not knowing what to do with themselves. Maybe I should rethink this situation, but how do you prepare for this? How do I prep for something that I have no experience of?
First, I think I need to throw out any old concepts of a chemo bag. That was the past version that obviously holds no purpose now. My needs have changed so should my chemo bag.

So what are my new needs? Since I no longer need to stay all day, I may not need as much stuff inside my bag. For instance, snacks or drinks will not be needed. Also, the size of the bag can turn from being a large tote bag into a large purse instead.

But one of my major concerns happens to be that usually I'm on my way to work right after the oncologist visit. The last thing I want is to lug around a huge bag. Even if I leave it in the car, I would have to lug it back upstairs after work.
Then again, I wonder if I even need a bag.

The more my mind drifted in that direction, the more I thought about other things that I don't have to do this time around. I mean, I used to totally sanitize the apartment before every infusion and sometimes even daily depending on the type of treatment. Good ole Clorox wipes were my secret weapon. 
 
Just doing daily chores like laundry and grocery shopping ahead of time so I could rest indoors for the next couple of days. I don't have to prep in anyway for this treatment and that feels weird to me. Am I not being cautious enough? Shouldn't I being doing something?

need to be doing something. Could this really be this easy? Isn't this what we have been hoping for? A treatment that we could live with  that doesn't interfere with our daily life?
Maybe I've been approaching this in the wrong way altogether. Maybe instead of moping around feeling sorry for myself looking for something to prep, I should be rejoicing. Who wants to be super cleaning every single day? Or running around doing last minute errands?
 
No, the more I think about it, the more I believe that I need no prep at all. No special errands, prescriptions, cleaning and definitely no chemo bag. All I need is a skein of yarn and a crocheting hook. That can fit easily into my handbag. Yes, that's it.

Have a Blessed day everyone. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Another Day, Another Find

                                                          Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                          everyday is a journey.


I've really been enjoying re-reading some of these old stories I've never posted. All these are from 2015 when my fourth bout with cancer returned. You can tell I was very emotional more so I think from the hormone treatments than anything else. 

Looking Back
By: Lottie Krol

Boy, my mind has been drifting back to the past. Did you ever have that happen to you? A moment where you can't shrug off all the memories and emotions that come flooding back as if no measure of time existed between then and now. These feelings are raw, potent and real.

All day long, I keep reliving my cancer history over and over again in my mind. Every single moment of my recovery up to now. There are many things I wish I had done differently, but I also learned a lot since then.

Before I go any further, I think I should provide a little background. In 2007, I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Besides having a hysterectomy, my 7 pound tumor was so huge that it blocked six inches of my colon  causing a colostomy to be performed.

My recovery was slow with my developing an abscess which resulted in another emergency surgery. Followed by a fistula, reversal of the colostomy and numerous infections/high temperatures that resulted in prolonging my chemotherapy treatments and a massive weight loss problem. Didn't I say my recovery was very slow?

Then there was this long period of almost five years where my cancer was in remission. My perfect, idyllic world was shattered once again in 2011 when my cancer woke up from it's long sleep. Another round of chemotherapy treatment, another remission lasting only seven months.

In the  Fall of 2013, we began my third bout with cancer, this one lasting not the usual six rounds, but eight rounds of chemo. Another year and a half in remission resulting with my new struggle with cancer for the 4th time in the Summer of 2016. So here we are now.

Looking back, I have come full circle with my journey. I went from being totally dependent on my family to take care of me, helping me physically deal with my illness to being independently handling this illness on my own.

My physical appearance has definitely changed. After losing so much weight in the beginning, I gained all of it back plus a lot more. My hair, after each treatment grew back a shade lighter or darker and definitely wavy. When I look in the mirror, I see someone totally different as if I emerged from this illness a whole new person.

In fact, my appearance was the most difficult and continues to be a struggle in acceptance. If you've spent majority of your life as a skinny person and suddenly that changes, gaining 80 pounds, it will play havoc with your self confidence.

The biggest change has taken place by my taking the reins in maintaining my health. I've changed my diet, choosing to eat more organic, fresh produce and more fish rather than meat. Incorporated a simpler lifestyle that is both stress free and clutter free. I have tackled my finances, making choices that were based on my needs rather than my wants. I am always on the look out for ways to instill a better way of cleansing my mind, body and spirit.

The area that has suffered has to do with my relationships with others. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but for me to get to the bottom of this situation I will have to take a very close look in the mirror and see what I will find there. I have re-established a deepening of my faith with my Lord. I wish I could do the same with the people in my life.

Something else I have forgotten to mention is that I have a different oncology team than when I first began this journey. The original hospital where I stayed wasn't up to form, especially in the care department. I never thought about choosing a hospital like people choose a doctor. I always thought we just went to the neighboring medical facility. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I transferred myself to another hospital where they basically saved my life. In the Fall of 2011, my insurance changed and no longer was accepted there so I made another move that has become my permanent home since then.
 
I totally believe that old adage about things happening for a reason. I couldn't be happier with my oncology team and the care they provide. But then, if I didn't trust and believe in my doctor, why would I stay?

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Looking Back Once More

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

As I've mentioned earlier in the week, I have been fortunate to have found some journals I have written in 2015 right as my fourth bout with cancer returned. I am still in remission and the post below happened last year. Enjoy.

Mum's The Word
By: Lottie Krol

So why the secrecy? Well, where do I begin? It isn't about keeping it a secret, it's a lot more complicated and quite lengthy in detail. Maybe, we should begin with what it's not about.

It's definitely not about my lack of acceptance of this disease. That happened years ago and I'm definitely not afraid to say the word cancer. Believe me, I'm not freaking out because it came back. I always knew it would since I have a re-occurring cancer. As to dying, well it's more the process of dying that I'm afraid of than where I'm going or death itself. 
So what's the problem this time?

I'm not exactly sure. All I know is that each and every time the cancer came back, it was a new journey for me. A sort of an experience in learning something new about myself, especially if that meant working on a piece of me that was broken. I feel like that now. I feel there is something that needs to be fixed whether that involves me, the people in my life or both. Something here is not right.

This is why it's so difficult for me to pinpoint only one thing, it's a multitude of things. I cannot shake off this feeling that I'm not where I should be at this point in my life.

When I first was diagnosed with cancer, I never felt so loved in my life by my family. That whole experience refreshed my relationships with all of them. As I faced my long road of recovery, I was looking forward to developing an even more intimate and loving bond between us.

For a long time after that, that's exactly what we did. We all gathered for birthdays, family celebrations and holidays. Then somewhere in between then and now, things started to turn sour. It really begins with just one rotten apple and suddenly the entire barrel is infected. That's what happened to my family.

Old hurts began to re-surface and then more hurts sprang forth. Words were exchanged and grievances were developed. Family members took sides and even more disputes followed. Pretty soon, family celebrations were cancelled, people didn't show up and now only certain members are invited to certain parties.

I cannot walk into any of my family's gatherings without hearing about one grievance or another. Lord knows, I have tried to tell them about my cancer returning. Every time I opened my mouth to say something, one of them goes on a rant about some kin of ours that has done them wrong.
I'm so disgusted with all of them and their petty battles with one another. They don't get it. None of that  is important, because life is way too short. Am I not the perfect example of that?

What has happened to my loving family? Where are those people that came together to show me love when I needed it? Why can't they love one another? Why can't they bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones before it is too late?
My friendships haven't been any different than my family. They too have suffered. I have lost a few friends in the past  couple of years. Some have died, some have let go of our friendship or simply disappeared due to my negligence of their needs.
 
Either way, this was something that I never intended to happen. My goal has always been to develop deeper and lasting memories of my time here on Earth with the people in my life. Cancer taught me to respect that. So what happened?
 
Now I know that we started off perfectly heading in that direction. We began by building a strong tower and somewhere along the way it came loose, tumbling down like a game of Jenga. Just one little piece destroyed all that we've worked towards.
 
So no, I don't feel that I'm where I should be eight years later. To me, it seems as if I took some steps backwards. I don't want to die when things aren't the way they should be. Nothing is settle. Everything is in disarray. So how do I fix this?

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Yarn Bombing My Life

                            Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey. Some murmur if their sky is clear, And wholly bright ...