Monday, March 31, 2014

Marching Into April - No Joke!

End of the World - Great Big Sea

On Saturday March 29th we commemorated another Earth Hour. From 8:30-9:30 local time, we shut off lights in an attempt to help the planet breath a sigh of relief. In 2007, a movement was started in Sydney, Australia to bring awareness to the ever growing concern of Global Warming. And please understand that Global Warming means way more than just the temperature of the earth going up. Believe it or not rising temperatures is the reason we have more intense weather patterns and more snow. Yes even more snow is because of warming temperatures on earth. 

Quickie refresher of high school science. Moisture is collected from the surface of the earth by evaporation. Collecting in clouds and then falling as precipitation. Rain or snow depending on the season. An increase in the sun power will cause an increase in the amount of evaporation. And it has to fall in the form of rain or snow or a combination of.  

And yet, every time that an uncharacteristic cold snap or snow fall occurs people jump on the "So where is the Global Warming Now" band wagon. It frustrates me, partly because these are fairly intelligent people and partly because there is even one person who considers this mentality as valid. Where is Global Warming when we find ourselves bracing for yet another Snow-pocalypse? It is right outside your frost covered thermal paned window. It is the intensity and instability of the weather patterns we once thought were normal. Global Warming caused Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The frequency and intensity of naturally occurring storms is multiplying at alarming rates. Hurricane Juan hit Nova Scotia in September 2003. The province was barely recovered from the that slap by Mother Nature when she let White Juan loose in February 2004. White Juan left behind 95.5 cm of snow in Halifax in one 24 hour period. That's 37+ inches. More than the yard stick that decorated the blackboard ledge in school. Three feet! Half the average persons height! 

But even that was several years ago now. What amazes me more than that storm is the fact that although wind gusts of 124 km/hr were reported, I can recall at least 4 days this past season that wind gusts reached or exceeded 100 km/hr. Almost seems norm now. Batten down the hatches indeed!  

Have we gotten used to bundling up and grumbling? How about this comic relief for you. In 1999, the city of Toronto (no stranger to snow) called in the Canadian Army to help it dig out when 27 cm of snow fell. That's right 27 cm. Seems a little over the top all things considered including that there was already significant snow on the ground - nothing new really. Sometimes it is not the amount of snow but the speed in which it falls that have some of us with the shovel at the ready feeling over-whelmed. Where do you put it all? Check out this link for some remarkable, record setting storms that have hit the Winter Wonderland known as Canada. 

I don't mind snow and despite all the dire warnings that had us shivering in our boots in fear more than cold, I think that here (at least) it was a fairly mild winter. A snowfall/blizzard would close schools and snarl traffic for a day and my friends would hear the doomsday predictions and send message to prepare and stay safe and warm. Snow would fall, clogging streets and usually blowing to make things barely visible past the edge of the balcony. Two days later we would be in plus zero temperatures and everything would be melting away. Only one day did I turn back from a walk because the wind chill was freezing my eyes. And there were a few days in January where just a light jacket if anything was required.

I get winter. I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. School wasn't cancelled, you walked. There was a lot of activities that you could participate in and enjoy more with the falling of snow. Snowmobiling, skiing, tobogganing, making ice forts, ice mountains to slide down (skeleton without the sled and helmet). Everybody had several pairs of mittens and long johns and Nipigon nylons. You wouldn't think about going out without being properly dressed for the conditions. We embraced winter and all it had to offer.

It is increasingly hard to do that when ski hills are closing because the seasons unpredictability just couldn't support them as viable businesses. Neither could the economy where people didn't have the exorbitant costs to involve entire families in sport. Plus electronics and modern conveniences mean there isn't a lot of need to venture out. So we don't. It's easier to curse under our frozen breaths then to go out and enjoy the cloud that landed on earth. I spoke to someone from Iceland recently who suggested that we were all wimps here. Life didn't stop for a few snowflakes. Chains were put on tires and schools and businesses stayed open. Just another day with more solid precipitation. 

The winter of this generation sucks. Cold is one thing, wind chill is another. You can dress for and play in 3 feet of snow. Wind chill and freezing rain gets right to you bones and crystallizes your blood. When it's a real winter, it's cold and you can dress for it. When you have a thaw mid season, you pine for the heat as if the season ended, then Mother Nature's fury hits again. It's miserable to walk in slush that soaks your socks and the ice that has come with the freeze the next day. Ain't no boot that is waterproof enough for that or provides the grip for ice rinks. That's why we skate :)

Several days after the ice on-slaught,
these branches well exposed to sunlight
are still thickly coated in the Greater Toronto Area. 
A pre-Christmas ice storm paralyzed a large part of Southern Ontario and a vast number of people were stranded at airports and train stations and 400,000 were without power. Some for nearly a week in the dead of winter with turkeys ready to be stuffed into an oven to feed masses. In the age of cell-phones and internet the Twitter-verse was awash with requests to report downed lines and emergencies online. Easier said then done when a) you can't read the Twits with limited battery life on said phone or b) no power at all to charge the cellphone or the cordless, desktop or tablet. And those people will pay for the inconvenience. Granted they didn't have to pay for the hydro they didn't use but they will pay for the clean-up and repair costs with skyrocketing bills from here on in. Say what? :( 

Memories are short and people like to remember the winter of 2009-10 because it was the winter that wasn't. We got used to not having a real winter. When it came back this year, we had been lulled into a sense of complacency and we weren't ready for the severity. I don't think that it helps when weather forecasters and the media hype up a bit of a snowfall by using words like Snow-mageddon, Snow-pocalypse, Snow-icane or Weather Bomb. Oh wait, so accustomed we have become to the hype and panic started by the media meteorologists that when I heard of the Weather Bomb on it's way, I assumed it was more of the same. That one though, is a legitimate phenomenon and can occur with snow or rainfall. Another new weather phrase that we added to our daily lexicon this year is Polar Vortex. The Polar Vortex of 2014 swept central Canada and held it in its icy grips with fingers that reached far into the southern states that didn't know how to deal with the flurries that ultimately caused traffic and travel nightmares and general chaos. So remarkably cold was this winter that a contest was held to determine the worst in the country. The link has some great graphics, information and reveals the winner. Spoiler alert it is Winnipeg also know as Winterpeg!

One day in the winter of 2013-2014 there were weather
warnings posted across the county - simultaneously!
Newfoundland had some houses that had been buried to the eaves with snow. Nova Scotia had the roof blown off buildings and one completely flipped over. Prince Edward Island became the worlds biggest snow fort. New Brunswick-ers still wander with snow shovels in their hands at the ready for the next dump. Quebec and Ontario dealt with far below average temperatures with wind chills added that froze them solid and in southern Ontario, everything that stood still or blew in the wind was covered with inch thick ice. Manitoba and Saskatchewan had snow falls and wind chills that they still haven't thawed out from. Alberta has had a rough year all around and the massive snowfalls just added to the clean up still not complete from the summer floods. British Columbia had colder than expected temperatures as well. Good to live on the coasts of the country this winter for sure. Even the northern territories were spared the frigid temps of central Canada. I chuckled when I saw cities in the north warmer that Toronto, Ontario. Rob Ford and all his hot air couldn't stop the cold shoulder. 

So all you naysayers who poo-poo Global Warming, just remember that Mother Nature is fictitious, the February scapegoat (groundhog) is just a rodent and the seasons will continue to change and worsen. Autumn extends into winter, winter is still hear and we call it spring. Summer starts later and goes past the traditional fall season. Mud-slides that shouldn't be will, tornadoes will be more frequent and stronger. Winter wear and tools will be needed in the southern states, and we will soon need SPF 100 in the sun. It wasn't that long ago that you could go outside and play all day in the sun with no sunscreen and not get burnt. Now 10 minutes max and your fried. 

I was disappointed with the lackluster attitude towards Earth Hour this year. I did my part, but what we really need is a collective attitude adjustment. A lifestyle change. It has always been an important issue for the me (the wasteful abuse of the planet and its resources), so I made a lifestyle choice. Lights were rarely left on in unoccupied rooms when my kids were little, because I chose to teach them to shut them off. It's a habit that we can learn. They did. I won't suggest we were perfect but we tried. It's a start. 

credit where credit is due:

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Stars In the Sky

Dancing In the Sky - Dani and Lizzy

First, I have to give a loud shout out to this song and the artists. When people here it, they are typically floored by the passion and beauty in both the words and the voice. Dani and Lizzy are the twin daughters of Canadian music legend Paul Hyde (Payola$) and inherited some family musical talent. When I first came across this song, I was so taken that I was shocked. It is a song that is a comfort to the very soul of someone who has lost love. I enclose the lyrics below and a link to their website. Listen, enjoy, buy, support talent!


Today is March 21st. To me it is the first day of spring and always has been. I know that somewhere along the line the planets changed their alignment and the official date of spring was changed to March 20th. But not for me. 

Livia Sdraulig age 34, Linda Sdraulig age 10, Sandra Sdraulig age 13

The first day of spring is a time when the northern hemisphere wakes up from its long winter sleep. Flower bloom once again, babies are born and people come out of their hibernation with a "spring" in their step. The grass goes from brown to green, the trees begin to bud and the rain washes everything clean. Ready for lifes' renewal. But maybe there is a reason I have never liked spring. 

March 21st 1974 was the first day of spring. 

It was a Thursday. 

It was 40 years ago. 

It was 2087.1 weeks ago.

It was 14,610 day ago. 

It was almost my life time ago.

It was March break and the family and a friend of my mom's (Jenny) piled into the car for a late March break trip that coincided with an appointment for my brother, Ron at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. The same trip was made many times for the same medical concern - treatment for Hodgkins Disease for Ron. The same road was travelled. Mom drove, Sandra (oldest) sat in the middle of front bench seat. Jenny road shot gun. The back seat order is a little fuzzier. I was in the middle with Linda (youngest) and Ron (3rd child and only son) on either side of me (second oldest). 

I remember stopping for gas, buying treats including licorce. I remember stopping at Perkins Restaurant for supper. The pay phone in the basement by the washrooms where we called my grandmother from Duluth, Minnesota. That was it, until the impact and the screaming. 

It was a divided highway near Hinkley, Minnesota. A transport truck hit us and climbed atop the trunk of the car, pushing us. The friction of the gas tank along the pavement started the fire. The speed and momentum of the truck pushed us a long ways until we went through the guardrail and tumbled down to land wheels up in the Grindstone River. The ice and the snows of winter still hanging on prevented any threat of drowning, and the raging fire was a more pressing problem. "Don't breath" yelled Mom. 

Ron pulled me out after finding himself half in and half out of the car window. He risked his life for when he got me - damage was already done to my body. The darkness of the night, the intense heat of the flames and the arrival of the emergency personnel prevented any further attempts of rescue. Jenny crawled out on her own. We heard this as we were speeding down the highway in the state troopers car to the first hospital. No one else did. Including the driver of the truck. 

Ron survived unblemished but not cancer free. Jenny and I bore the scars of that night for all to see and question. Last I heard Jenny was living in cottage country (Collingwood or Wasaga Beach). We never kept touch. She was mom's friend and personally the last thing I needed was face to face reminders of what happened and what I looked like. It's easy to avoid a mirror. 

I spent nearly 3 months in hospital recovering from 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns and minor instances of stitched up gashes. There was a lot of surgery, I don't know how many. And there was a lot of blood lost and replaced. 

So much life was lost on that day and mine was saved. 


Things We Lost In The Fire - Bastille

I have always been grateful to those that donated the blood for me, because I've always claimed that I got good blood. Since that time, I have not had a mosquito bite that I can recall. If they do bite, I don't get the irritating and itchy swelling from it. I think they don't like me. I also rarely get sick with the flu or colds. Good blood I think. For this reason I always wanted to give back and donate blood.

Luck, has not always been on my side. When I was finally not selfish and immature enough to actually make the decision to step up and donate, I feared a diagnosis of AIDS. I never made the wisest decisions because I didn't know how to do anything but rebel and be angry. I did things for spite and stubbornness. If I was dying, I didn't want to know about it ahead of time. Although the idea was never far from my mind, I was afraid to do the test that might tell me something I didn't want to know.

Then earlier this year, I was forced to confront that fear. Possible cancer detected. And in the grief and self-pity, came a decision that regardless of the outcome, if they would have it, I would donate blood before it became contaminated with the chemical soup of cancer drugs.

A pin to commemorate the first donation.

I got good news (for a while) and Canadian Blood Services got a unit of the good stuff. Deep veins flowed swift and the nurse attendant was thrilled with my 7 minute donation time. I felt so good and so proud of myself for finally taking the plunge that it ended up being a selfish act, after all. That was a big surprise for me.

Fact: Each unit of blood that is donated equals about 450 ml which doesn't make a difference to the person donating. But every donation can make the difference between life and death for another person. A typical car accident victim needs 50 units, a cancer patient may need 5 units during a treatment. 

Fact: 52% of Canadians say they or a family member has been the recipient of a blood donation. I would suggest that that is a conservative estimate. Every day, Canadian hospitals require 2000 units of blood. These donations come from 3.5 percent of eligible Canadians. I am proud to be a minority. 

There is nothing to fear, if you are healthy. Give blood. Give life.


According to the Canadian Blood Services, every donation can help to save 3 lives.   

Today, I commemorate a sad occasion in my personal family history with the hope of life and the remembrance of death past. I choose to give hope to another. I gave a donation of the blood that saved my life, in memory of the people I love that died. 40 years ago I lost three. Today I saved 3.

For every birthday in my family, there is a corresponding death anniversary. Today I took the first step to return to the celebration of Spring and of life by giving life to someone else. Three months from now when I am eligible to donate again, I will be nearing the death anniversary of my beloved brother Ron. On that day, I will mourn and at the same time I will share the gift of life again. 

We cannot and we don't have to let go and forget our trauma. For every scar on our heart and body is a story of our life. 

I am not dying any faster than the rest of you...that I know of right now, and I maintain a guarded optimism coupled with a dose of hope and a truckload of stubbornness. I want to try to celebrate the life that I have and do my small part so maybe someone doesn't have to feel the loss that I know too well.

Give. Love. Remember. Donate. Please. 

"Dancing In The Sky"

What does it look like in heaven?
Is it peaceful is it free like they say?
Does the sun shine bright forever?
Have your fears and your pain gone away?
Cause here on earth it feels like everything good is missing, since you left
And here on earth everything thing is different
there's an emptiness

Oh-oh-oh I, I hope your dancing in the sky
and I hope your singing in the the angels choir
I hope the angels, know what they have
I bet it's so nice up in heaven since you've arrived

Now tell me, what do you do up in heaven?
Are your days filled with love and light?
Is there music? Is there art and invention?
Tell me are you happy? Are you more alive?
Cause here on earth it feels like everything good is missing, since you left
And here on earth everything thing is different

Oh-oh-oh I, I hope your dancing in the sky
and I hope your singing in the the angels choir
I hope the angels, know what they have
I bet it's so nice up in heaven since you've arrived
Since you arrived

Website: Family tab
2013: Under The Dirt Sky
2012: Paradise Forever...Lost!


Monday, March 17, 2014


Beer Beer Beer - The Clancy Brothers
(Irish Drinking Song)

It's that time of year again, when everyone's blood runs green for the day. Get to the nearest pub and hoist a cold green one and shout "Slainte".

It's my lifetime desire to visit the Emerald Isle. Yes, even in the midst of the political and religious strife of the "Troubles" that extended from the 1960's to the late 1990's. Stay away from Northern Ireland people said. There were frequent reports of bombings and terrorist type attacks. Indeed, more than 3500 were killed and 47,000 injured. Back then people thought I was nuts. Today they know it lol! I'm kidding (that's the beer talking), but I still want to go. One day I shall.

Besides the Leprechauns, there seems to be something magical about the place. An old world charm, the friendliness of the people, the camaraderie in the pubs, the comfort food, the pace of life and the beautiful countryside, the stone buildings and the ancient castles. 

And the music..oh the music. You can tell so much about a nation by their traditional songs. There are not too many that I personally have heard and not liked. Some people mumble along the words to our national anthem, I find myself "trying" to sing along to ditty's I've heard but once in a drunken haze. And I want to dance. Dance like nobody is looking. Without a care in the world - like Phoebe from the television show Friends when she runs. Devil be damned, turn up the music and dance. With a pint or two of liquid courage coursing through the veins. 

Truth? It reminds me of the Italian songs I learned listening to the Cucina parties growing up, with the homemade wine in the wicker-wrapped bottles decorating the table. Except the Italian traditional songs sang more about women, wine and the mountains (well in the north anyways) and were happier, less morose, less poignant feelings. Bionda, bella bionda lalala...

The fascination for all things Irish is above all else, the people. Wherever we originate, we know we will be embraced by the Irish. What other culture would allow you to laugh with them and enjoy their eccentricities right along side. Holding each other up in laughter, song and libation. What a sad world without the Irish to remind us to let loose and have some fun. Alcohol is not mandatory...Laughter is! 

The Fields of Athenry - The Dubliners

There are several stories that have heard recently that explain some myths we hold to be true and I want to share because I found them fascinating. Of course all related to this holy day, the land and the people of Erin. 

1. The wearing of green to honour St. Patrick on the beer drinking holiday named after him has very little to do with the culture of the country. In fact the official colour of Ireland is blue. Which makes me wonder why there is green but no blue on the flag? Ok, beer fog again. But the truth is that the idea for green probably came from the colour of the shamrock and the referral of Ireland as the Emerald Isle. 

2. Even St. Patrick himself is a bit of an oddity. Lore has it that he was responsible for driving the snakes out of the country and is the patron saint. But hold on to your Leprechaun, St. Patrick wasn't Irish and there were never any snakes on the Isle for him to banish in the first place. And to this day, there are no native snakes in Ireland. St. Patrick however remains a Patron Saint of Ireland.

3. Originally St. Patrick's day was a dry holiday steeped in religious tradition and solemn contemplation rather then hoisting a stein. It was likely the immigrated population in the New World that decided to mark the day as a celebration of national pride and heritage and flocked to the pubs to guzzle a cold green one. 

4. Family celebrations in the form of parades were not common place until the mid-19th century and had modest beginnings in Boston and New York. Many of the millions that left their homeland during the potato famine ensured that the heritage of the land of the Shamrock stayed alive. 

5. Call it a prayer or a blessing, nobody does it better than the Irish. It has roots in religion but the wording allows it to apply to all, regardless of the deity revered. Mother Nature (as a concept) figures more prominently then a higher unseen figure so often the cause of war rather than peace. Peace and love to all. Amen. 

6. It is St. Paddy's Day not St. Patty's day. 

7. There are currently more than 8 times the number of Irish immigrants living abroad then there are in Ireland itself. So St. Paddy's Day is another day to cry in your beer as you remember the homeland and ancestors you left behind. For the millions upon millions who claim an Irish heritage just for the day, we can often do the same, for here in the Americas we are almost exclusively "from away".  

8. Any country that boasts the catchphrase/motto/slogan "Kiss Me I'm Irish" is okay by me. Next to drinking beer, it happens to be one of my favourite pass times. Mwah! ;)

Previous post on the subject:

Credit where credit is due:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Free to Dream

Dreamer's Dream - Tom Cochrane

It's funny, you never really know how much stress you are holding within until you have the opportunity to release it. That weight falling off your shoulders. It's a burden of the soul.
I have been tied up in knots for two weeks and although I knew the cause of my stress, I alone couldn't put an end to it. It took a doctors confirmation. And I got that today. 

My last blog post (and several previous ones) about my abnormal breast mammogram lead me to a dark place where I was questioning my mortality and planning my demise. We never know when it is going to be our time for the most part but faced with the prospect it is normal if not fatalistic to consider a world without us in it. 

It's not like every waking moment is spent in that dour mood for if time is indeed limited we must grasp every moment and cherish what we have been given. 

I've lost people who were important in my life before I had a chance to know them and I was too young to remember anything about them (my dad), I lost people that were important in my life suddenly and without the opportunity to say a final good bye (my mom and 2 sisters). And I lost people that were important in my life given the chance to say good bye (my brother). From my perspective, I have to say that given that opportunity to say a few final words, makes the closure of that chapter a little easier. I got to say "I love you" I got to see the peace as he moved on. I didn't like it and it still makes me cry but the only unfinished business we had left was a lifetime of living and memories that never came - that is where the tears come from. The loneliness, the void left in my life. But they all left a void and they all claim the tears that stream down.

I am here today, now to say that at least for the time being my perceived "death sentence" has once again been lifted. I hope that this is the end of this episode but then again I thought that before too. So cautious optimism is how I would prefer to look at. Onward and upward is the best that I can do for now. As clouds are the reason for the rain and thus the cleansing of the world, so are the tears of joy welling up behind my eyes. Behind them is the smile that will signal renewed hope. The sun has come out again today. 

As much as medical tests and invasive procedures brought panic and fear, I am grateful that they were done. It's easy to say that now, of course. But I would like to think that even if my results were different I would still be glad that I am part of a medical system that can provide support and further longevity with early intervention. I firmly believe that knowledge is power. Better the devil you know, because then you can decide on the weapons you may need in your arsenal to fight. It's hard to fight a ghost you can't see.  

Terry Fox was a great Canadian who selflessly chose to run across Canada in 1980 to raise awareness and funds for Cancer Research. A world-wide phenomenon now but when he started support for his daily marathon run was minimal at best. But it was his efforts that kept someone I know alive who suffered the same cancer. Awareness and early intervention meant that instead of losing a leg and a life like Terry Fox, this young man is alive today and prospects are good. The scars of the disease are forever, but scars are road maps of life lived for some. They tell a story. 

My story can be found at until I can publish the whole thing. 

For now, for today, this chapter is done. I am cancer-free! Cheers! 

Link to previous post on this subject:

Saturday, March 01, 2014

If I Was a Boat

Welcome to My Life - Simple Plan

I used to think that it if I was a boat on the water and wind got knocked out of my sails, I would still be able to stay a float and survive. But I've had to many holes bashed through my hull and the repairs are wearing thin. I'm not so confident anymore. The wood is rotting and the facade is fading. The stormy seas tossing me about the waves are precipitated by my tears falling like a spring storm churning up the water and my emotions at the same time.

I have always been an optimist. I tried to see the bright side and look for the good. Even when I was being kicked, I could admire the shoes of my punisher. But it is getting harder to do that. The patterns of the soles are etched in my own soul. The depth of the scar is getting to be too much to bear.

Life shouldn't have to be a fight everyday. Wondering what next. Wondering where that alleged karma is. Wondering what you did that was so wrong that you only start to see the end of the tunnel and then someone lengthens the tunnel and puts out the light. And if good things happen to good people, what did I do that was so wrong that I pissed off everyone and revenge is being served like a hundred lashes designed to bring me down as soon as I stand. Damn! 

Statistics. I was going to do some research into the odds of someone likely to experience these trials but on every site there was a link off to the side for the newly diagnosed and I closed the tab faster than I can suck in all the surrounding air. My doctor said she had never heard of a similar experience. It was a double-whammy. 

It's like this. In November (2013) a routine mammogram resulted in an abnormality being spotted. I was told that this is not a particularly unusual occurrence, but it didn't do much for my already heightened depressive state. I tried to remain positive because it was just a shadow that the professionals wanted to shine a light on. Nothing to worry about. 

However, there seemed to be a bit of an urgency to the scheduling of the second mammogram at the Breast Health Clinic at the hospital that had me on a brief fatalistic alert but the optimist took over and I walked in with a face of confidence. The pictures are taken and I am told to wait while the radiologist takes a look. Sitting in that room with 8 others (plus most had partners with them) I felt alone and real fear began to make an appearance. Before my test and during my wait I watched so many of them come and go. Their simple second look turned out okay and they were allowed to go. I hoped the same would be true for me. But no.

I became a statistic when I was one of the rare ones that warranted an additional diagnostic analysis with an ultrasound. Anxiety hit the roof and I had myself dead and buried. Lying on that bed, I remembered the last ultrasound I had. Circumstances were happier then and I tried to focus on that - pregnancies a quarter of a century previously. Those tests brought joy and I hoped for the same now. The technician was satisfied in her reading of the results that it would be okay. But had to take the results to the radiologists, in case she read it differently. When that radiologists walked in to do the test herself I lost it emotionally. Tears fell silently down my cheeks as hope was washed away. The conclusion of the test brought no additional hope when the radiologist said she thought she was looking at a cyst but wanted to go one step further in the diagnostics. To be sure. A core biopsy would be scheduled for the new year. Christmas could be a time for peace. Results would be harder to get with people taking time off. 

The walk home, I tried to hold on to her optimism. She couldn't possibly go around giving people false hope. She said she was confident it was nothing. I kept repeating her words to comfort myself. Try as I might I couldn't hold on and slipped further under the cloak of sadness. I must have looked a fright as I walked down the street sobbing, tears blocked my vision and I walked blindly on. The ocean was a few blocks ahead of me. I didn't trust myself to go that far. 

Christmas became a time of joyful reunion with my kids. It seemed like a lifetime since I had seen them. The weather threatened delays and cancellations when I needed some face to face time to share this news with the people who mattered most. My children needed to know what was going on from the horse's mouth. I needed to see them so I could gauge their reaction and deal with it. We clung to the radiologists optimism and hope was renewed. 

I'm not going to share all the details of the core biopsy to save the squeamish, because it is not a pleasant experience when put to words. But the reality is that as with any medical (or dental) procedure, the freezing sucks for just a moment and the rest is less daunting. For me, it was a longer mammogram in an uncomfortable position listening to soothing voices tell me what was going on and a "snap" that reminded me of my construction stapler. I couldn't see the instruments but I thought this a good thing. In reality, both arms were above my head and the tears flowed unrestrained. There was only one thing that stopped my chest for heaving in conjunction with the uncontrolled sobs - a medical vice. It never occurred to me at the time, but I sure didn't want to screw up the test results and have instruments probe where they shouldn't. I think it was okay, because both the radiologist and the doctor were shocked by the pool of tears that collected on the bed sheets. 

The wait for the results to come back from the pathologist was far worse than the procedure. I was afraid to hear the news. And I was angry too. I thought I had done all the right things as preventative measures and this was like my body had let me down. A betrayal by my breast friends. 

I swear that both the doctor and I breathed a collective sigh of relief when she could share the news a week later that the pathologist report came back and it was clean. Suddenly I sat a little straighter in the chair. The weight of doom was off my shoulders. Such a scare is often followed up with more frequent mammograms. Bring it on - I can take it. Calling my children with the good news was a highlight and we all smiled a little brighter.

Goodnight Elisabeth - Counting Crows

And I thought that appointment date for the next mammogram was the reason I was hearing from my doctor when she called early in the week (Monday Feb 24). But I sensed hesitation. "I didn't want to tell you this on the phone" is not a good sign. Against all the odds, and more than a month of feeling safe and the gauntlet was dropped on me again. A fight for the retention of both my sanity and health was to begin anew. The radiologist/technician/doctor gave the all clear and were confident that the samples were taken from the correct location. The pathologist gave the samples an all clear but was not confident that the said samples came from the area of concern. So I have two choices. 

Another core biopsy was scheduled for weeks' end, or I could take my chances and wait for 6 months and see what the follow up mammogram shows. Stress for a week and wait a week for results or freak out for 6 months wondering if I am dying. Yes, it's fatalistic - but it's not like the odds have been in my favour up until this point. I've fallen on the wrong side of the tracks ever step along the way. 

It was just a fluke that my daughter happened to call during the day while she was on her work break and caught me emotional just after hanging up with the doctor. I had to tell her, the nightmare was to be repeated. Woman to woman this is hard because we put ourselves in those shoes. We've all worn shoes that were uncomfortable and sometime hurt and made us bleed. United in the sisterhood of beautiful breasts that made us women.

I couldn't bear that my son should find out this latest set back when I wasn't in a rational place to discuss it. I didn't want him to worry but he seems to have this weird 6th sense when it comes to knowing when something is up with me. He'd find out and it would be better coming from me when I was still coherent. For the numbing effects of alcohol would soon prevail.

Leading up to the appointment yesterday (Friday, Feb 28) I spent some time in contemplation and reflection. That's just a sugar-coated way of saying depressed, anxious and fearful. I don't cope with stress the way I used to. These days I hide in my shell and try to protect myself from any more harm. I know I shouldn't, but feeling alone and lonely by yourself is better than feeling it surrounded by people who can't feel or see your pain. I already feel like a freak, I don't need the world to remind me of it. 

There was a certain resignation that came the morning of the appointment. I was numb. There weren't a lot of tears left to shed. Do what you have to do to leave me be. The technician knew my past history, (was she the same one from before?) she was kind as she explained the procedure again. She drew pictures to explain so I could focus on those along with her words. It was like I hadn't heard the instructions before. The procedure was similar, with more discomfort than I remembered and a chill that went straight to my core (no pun intended). I was prepared with extra tissues to collect the tears but the exposed positioning of my body didn't allow me to use them for more than an object to squeeze with stress. But as I said, there simply weren't a lot of tears left to flow. 

The logical part of my brain is telling me that I will survive this last crisis whatever the outcome of the tests - at least not by my own undoing. The emotional part of my brain isn't sure I want to fight anymore for even another breathe. In the end it was the words of the technician/nurse that I cling to. In a very subtle but meaningful way, she let me feel less alone at the moment by letting me know she understood because she had experienced the procedure herself and more importantly as I left her parting words were "now you can tell them to leave you alone."

Because that's all I ever be left alone and in peace. It is hard for me to share the shadows in the closet and to give light to the darkness of my mind. There are a lot of ghosts in there that are frightening. 

It is getting increasingly hard to keep healing the hurt. But even if broken, I shall continue to try and stand on my own, even if I can no longer fly.

Thanks to all the supporters who could read through my cryptic words and know I needed to hear they cared. I love you all. 

Previous posts on this subject and experience: