Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Day in History (sort of...)

Have you noticed all the news shows are doing retrospectives of the inaugurations of Kennedy, Reagan and Obama?

Barack Obama was sworn in as President two years ago today. I don't know if there will be a second inaugural address, but his first one was amazing. It was a day filled with hope and great designer clothing.
Thirty years ago today, Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. The 1980 election was my first Presidential election that I could vote in and although my views tilt toward the left, I will admit that I voted for Reagan. It was really more of a vote against Carter. Since I never cared for any of Reagan's policies, the only benefit I received from his presidency was having something to rage against while in college.
Today is also the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's inauguration. My memories of that day are limited, but I'm pretty sure I watched it while sitting in the playpen by the picture window.  It's possible that I was actually more enchanted by my reflection as I was easily distracted very early on.

This past Monday was a 20th anniversary that stirred more memories for me. January 17, 1991 was the start of Operation Desert Storm. I was unemployed and looking for work in the Twin Cities. Each week I was staying with different friends until I could find a job. That week I was staying with some friends who were draft age and we watched the news reports of the invasion and I couldn't stop thinking what an impact the war might have on them.
I also remember how I really didn't want to live in the Cities (I had had two prior Cities experiences), but I felt like it was my only option to find a job. I started doing temp work in February and finally got my first job at Fairview Riverside Medical Center in April.  It would be another four years before I resigned myself to the obvious, and started having a life (social, community involvement, etc) in the Cities. During the denial years, I spent all my weekends back in Albert Lea. 
If someone would have told me on January 20, 2009 that I wouldn't be living in the Cities in 2011, I might have been excited about it, but I doubt I would have believed them. 

If someone would have told me on January 17, 1991 that I would spend the next 20 years living in the Twin Cities, I would have thought that they didn't know me very well. 

I've always had the philosophy that where ever I am, it is where God wants me to be at that time. I don't know where God will have me in 20 years, but I hope it's warmer in January. (wait, hell would be warmer in January...I may have create a couple of caveats to the above statement...)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mayo Mammogram Part 2

Everything is fine, but they sure hang you out there for awhile. 

The focus of the entire appointment was my right side. The tech took four additional shots and asked me to wait in the exam room while she went and talked with the radiologist. About five minutes later, she came back and said they needed another couple of images. 

She left again and I realized that the room was kinda cold. She returned and said "Sorry, we need a couple more." I guess I move too much while my breast is in a vice grip. She told me that I'm not supposed to move and I'm not supposed to breathe. Sorry.

She left me a third time and I really, really hoped that we were done because I was sore and cold. 

When she returned, she informed me that the radiologist would like me to have an ultrasound to get a better view. They would be able to do the ultrasound right away and she took me back to the waiting area. While I was in the waiting area, I was offered a heated blanket. Nice spa-like touch. 

My mind was trying to focus on the Today Show, but unsuccessfully. It was one thing that I had to come back for more images. When they only focused on one side that made me suspicious. The questions really started coming when they wanted to do the ultrasound.

Becky, the ultrasound tech came for me a few minutes later and I got to keep the blanket with me. It took maybe 10 minutes to do the ultrasound. Becky told me that she was going to get Dr. Brandt (the radiologist who has been reading my films) and bring her in to the exam room to talk with me and that Dr. Brandt might want to do an ultrasound exam of her own, just to be sure. 

As I waited for Becky and Dr. Brandt to arrive, the ideas started to flow again. The doctor wanted to talk to me? That just didn't feel right. I could see an image on one of the screens, but I didn't know if it was mine or not. I studied it closely. Could I see anything wrong? What would wrong look like anyway? 

I had positive thoughts and wasn't planning a funeral or anything. I have lots of friends who have taken on breast cancer and beat it. It would just be another adventure in my journey. I laughed a bit when I remembered the photo of a t-shirt that I saw on a friend's facebook page - "Yes, they're fake! The real ones tried to kill me!" 

Dr. Brandt arrived and introduced herself to me. She informed me that everything looked okay. They just wanted to make sure they got a clear enough view to be sure. She did an ultrasound for herself and I watched her face looking for that moment of "what's that?", but it didn't come. 

So, I've been through my first Mayo mammogram and the ta-ta's are fine. Nothing to worry about except for the numbness in my hand... from typing on my netbook while sitting at the airport.  Well, if anything is really wrong with the hand, I know that Mayo Clinic has a new Hand Transplant Center (no kidding).

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My First Mayo Mammogram - Part 1

I started Wednesday with an annual January tradition, at least for me, my annual mammogram. 

The appointment truly started my Wednesday as the appointment was at 7 a.m. (yawn....) The very friendly women at the appointment check-in desk was both systematic and passionate. Her warm southern-accented voice asked me if I had had previous mammograms at Mayo. "Nope, this was my first."
My first mammogram? "No, I had previous mammograms."

Did I bring the films? "No, I requested them to be transferred here a couple of months ago."

She quickly looked at the database. HealthPartners hadn't yet sent them, even tho I requested them two times. The appointment lady grabbed a form and started to fill it out as I murmured about being ticked off at HealthPartners. She told me that Mayo would get those films from HealthPartners and judging from her tone, I believe her. Sounded like she had done it before.

I waited less than 5 minutes and was taken back to the changing room. After another five minutes, the tech called my name and took me back for the exam.

Mammograms are an exercise in "acting-casual-while-someone-is-flattening-your-breast-in-a-vice." My tech was great as she made me comfortable by chatting with me. Questions like "where do you work," "what do you do," and "where do you live?" It only took five minutes before we were friends as I learned that her daughter graduated with my niece, both from high school and dental hygienist school. (There are 31,000 people who work at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and I always seem to run into people who are either from my home town, related to someone I know, or know my sister and her family)

Although, I had prepared myself for the exam to take some time (my appointment sheet said to plan 45 to 90 minutes), it turned out that I was on my way to my office by 7:30.

A previous HealthPartners mammogram required a follow-up appointment, but it was almost a week after the appointment when HealthPartners called me to come back in. (Obviously, no rush to read the films and follow-up) 

So, I was surprised when the Gonda 2 South appointment desk called to tell me that they wanted me to come back for more films. I started looking at my calendar and asked about scheduling something during the last week of the month. The woman on the phone gently let me know that they would be able to get me in for an appointment much sooner than that.

My follow-up appointment is Friday morning (and they said that it might take up to 90 minutes). I don't know why they are asking me to come back - it could be that they don't have my other films as a reference and want to do more. Maybe they saw something that raised a flag. My goal for the next two days is to stay away from worst case scenarios (although I've been told by my "Debbie Downer" friends that when you expect the worst, everything is good news). There is no history of breast cancer in my family, so that's a positive in my favor.

If they do find something wrong, I'm already at Mayo Clinic. That's a huge comfort for me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Millions of words about the tragedy in Arizona have been written, spoken, tweeted and blogged already. And more will follow. The blame game started immediately. 

I'm guilty of thinking the worst of those with whom I disagree. I'm happy I wasn't near a computer or such at the time as I would have added to the noise.

My thoughts are focused on nine-year old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim of this violence. She was at the event because she had just been elected to her school's student council and she wanted to learn more about government and politics. 

Everyone is talking about the destructive nature of our political rhetoric and Christina-Taylor's death is, perhaps, the metaphor for what this is rhetoric is doing - it is destroying our future and that of our children. The Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said it best Saturday night, "Pretty soon, we're not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office."

It breaks my heart to know that even the deaths of these six people may not stop the rhetoric; I've heard that the Westboro Baptist Church, who have protested at the funerals of our soldiers and at Elizabeth Edward's funeral, plan to show up at Christina-Taylor's funeral. I pray that they don't. 

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke 
It's time to do something and it can start with each of us. Maybe it won't make any difference, but I have to believe that it will. It's the only way I can get through this.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Look Back at 2010

Since I seemed to have started the year with a small pity party about how the year ended (yesterday's post), I don't want to negate the fact that 2010 rocked. 

If someone would have told me in January 2010 where I would be and what I would be doing in January 2011, I would have been very surprised.  Shocked.  Disbelieving. 

2010 was an awesome year!

I don't ignore the fact that 2010 was the year of my 50th birthday. I didn't just celebrate my birthday on one day. Oh no, March 2010 was the launch of Elizabeth 5.0!

This isn't my normal birthday apparrel, but the lovely birthday outfit that Hazelden Development requires of its staff to don on their birthday.  Although I wasn't working in Development at the time, I did have a meeting there that day.  My chin is up because the glasses won't stay on otherwise. 

I received so many bouquets of flowers on my birthday, that co-workers wondered if someone died. 

I celebrated the night of my birthday with my extended family (also known as the Burnsville-Minnesota Valley Figure Skating Club Board of Directors) at Axel's in Eagan.

The Saturday after my birthday was the surprise party that my friends (high school and the Circle of Friends gang) and my family threw for me in Albert Lea. My bestest friend Mary even flew up from Atlanta for the occasion.
That's high school friend Trish Stanley (a friend since junior high) and Circle of Friends buddy Paula Treiber (who, along with her hubby Carl, drove from Sioux Falls for the party) in the picture above. The party was held at Casa Dorman - the best party location in town! (Kudos to Mary Jo Dorman and Jill Peterson for keeping me occupied the day of the party - wine is always a good distraction!)

In May, I traveled with my sister and her family to Drake University for my niece's graduation from pharmacy school.  (People say she looks like me, but I think she's far prettier!)

Included on the trip to Drake was my great-nephew Drake (I kid you not!) 
And isn't he just the cutest little guy?  

On Father's Day, my inner jock, the one that has been fighting to get out for the last 49 years, ran a 5K race - my first! On some days I was training because I wanted to lose weight and on other days I was training because I wanted to prove that I could do it, even at age 50. 

The new home for the Minnesota Twins opened this spring and I was lucky enough to have a sister with the right connections and an extra ticket. And not just any ticket - a VIP ticket.  It was a fun experience to see the stadium perks that I'll never experience again.  Were the seats good? Fourth row behind home plate! 

No telephoto lens was used on the photo above.  After the game, since it was the Friday before July 4th, we got fireworks! 
We celebrated Drake's 1st birthday later that month. My niece Anne (Drake's mom) gave Drake his own cake to play around with. I took lots and lot of pictures of him that day - (Don't you love digital cameras?) 

I love making quilts and friends dare me to enter them in contests or county fairs. So in August, I did!  Strictly on a whim, I entered a quilt that I made for my bestest friend Mary. I told her that I didn't care what I got, just as long as it was on display for people to see.  I ended up getting a Champion ribbon (purple), but instead of hanging up, it was folded up in a display case.  On a bright note, all Champion level quiltmakers are entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to the Calico Hutch in Hayward, Minnesota (if you haven't been there - it is one of the best quilt shops I've ever been in!) Guess what? I won!! 

Isn't this quilt too pretty to be folded up? 

2010 was also the year that I officially became a blogger.  And because of the blog, I have met some amazing people and learned so much from them! A group of bloggers, organized by Missy from "The Marketing Mama," got together in January and volunteered together at "Feed My Starving Children," an organization that puts together food packets for people around the world who are in need of nutrition. We learned alot from that.  

Then Molly from "The Snyder Five" blog involved many of the Minnesota Bloggers (yes, we've organized!) in a great rummage sale event to raise awareness and money for Hunger in America. It was a cold and rainy day, but we had customers and raised some money. 

Then my life totally changed in August when I accepted a position with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The fall was a blur of packing, painting, cleaning and moving. 

It was a pretty full year, wasn't it?

What's next?

Monday, January 3, 2011


Nothing lasts forever. 

I'm fine with that. Truthfully, there are times in your life that you can get through only because you know they won't last forever. Bad times have endings and good times have endings. 

Just as the year 2010 was coming to a close, so was a moment in my life.

The question that I'm asking myself over and over is, "Do I want closure?" I think my friends might ask me, "Why do you need closure?"  "Do you need a placard that says, "The End" to be satisfied?"

I attempted to attain my mythical closure via an email. Not sure why I sent it, but moments after hitting SEND, I started to wonder which would be better? Getting a reply or not? 

No reply would make my email similar to a balloon being released into the air, silently watching it get smaller and smaller and farther away. **heavily symbolic with a great visual, but only symbolic!** On the other hand, if I do get a reply and it's not perfectly phrased or, worse still, vague, will it make this desired closure more difficult?  Honestly, I really don't know which one I prefer.

The cock-eyed optimist that dwells within my psyche is repeatedly tapping on my shoulder **okay, it's a bit aggressive and sort of slapping me on the back of the head!** and pointing at the calendar.  Look! It's a new year and a chance to create something new, something better. 

It's the perfect opportunity. That was last year. This is the new year. Let go and let God.

Don't ask "Why?" Ask "What's next?"