Day 174-Free Days-Trying Something New

My game room window sill, a bright and sunny spot for the new Primroses!
My game room window sill, a bright and sunny spot for the new Primroses!

Good morning!  This morning I’m trying something different. My pain has gotten to a point where I am forced to do something new. I’m  writing by speaking because I’m not going to quit, or give it a break, as my husband suggested. I have  to honor my promise to write for 365 days.  I figured that it must have something to do with the way I was sitting when I write, so I’m sitting in a recliner, with my puppies by my side, speaking what I want to have written.  I’ve also decided that I need to relax and to that end I jumped on the Netflix train and plan to binge watch Orange is the New Black,  every chance I get.  If I massage was in the cards, I  would go get one, but that’s probably not gonna happen. So wine and Netflix it is! I still plan  to “write”  on Medium,  and I invite you to check out today’s story at The Weekly Knob. Hopefully, this way of “writing” will work as well there, it’s a bit of a learning curve for me, but I’ll get it eventually. I’m also using the wonderful Christmas present Miss Stephanie gave me called Sore No More, it works really well and has all natural ingredients!  I hope everyone has a good weekend see you tomorrow from a soon to be very chilled out patio! 😉

PS-check out my new Primroses that I mistook for African Violets…still pretty, and I had the perfect spot for them!

Day 173-Flash Fiction Friday-Floundering For Fun

img_2360

Heading out over the choppy water towards the causeway, Devin and Kaly prepared themselves for a fine day of fishing on the Neches River. The air was cool and Kaly pulled her coat tighter around her and bent her head down to stay out of the wind. Not wanting to miss anything, however, it was back up shortly, tears streaming down the sides of her face as the wind tore at her eyes, even though she wore sunglasses. She loved being on the water and whether fish were caught or not, loved any chance at going for a ride in Devin’s boat.

Devin had purchased the twenty foot,  center console Fishmaster fishing boat back in the summer and they had already taken it for several eventful trips. She was sure this day would prove no different, when she and her Devin were together, it was an adventure waiting to happen. Peering over the side of the boat, she watched the water rippling as they cut through the waves, Devin was making the turn now that would take them to the part of the river known as the “flats”-one of the best places for floundering they had found so far. It wasn’t bad for reds either, but that was for fall fishing…although not completely out of the realm of possibility. Kaly herself had caught reds at different times of the year, so she knew it could happen.

When they made their home in Port Neches, they were excited about all of the waterways, beaches and bayous available for every type of fishing and set out to do as much as possible. Every weekend they were free from work or some other obligation, they were at the beach, or one of the many parks that fronted a particular body of water. There was Port Neches park, right along the Neches river, or they could take a twenty minute drive and be at Umphrey’s Park, close to the causeway into Louisiana. There were others, of course, and Kaly’s personal favorite thing to do was to surf fish for reds in the fall, so far, she had the family record for the biggest one caught yet.

The flat cold water flounder was what they were after today though, and Kaly stopped her daydreaming just as Devin pulled the boat to a slow, sidling up next to a large tree trunk that rose up out of the lake like body of water they now found themselves in. He asked her what their depth was, and answering that they were in a safe six foot, she readied her fishing pole with a chartreuse worm and got up from her seat. Standing on the bow of the boat, she cast out next to the stump, and just as the lure flew out over the water, she felt a slight resistance and the next thing she knew, she was staring at her brand new fishing pole as it hit the water! It had flown right out of her hand, the line having caught up somehow in the rigging of the pole. Devin could not believe his eyes as she looked at him, mouth agape in horror, and said “How the heck did that just happen?” Embarrassed and devastated, Kaly hung her head and said “I have no idea! One minute I was casting and the next, I was watching my pole go in the water. I’m sorry Honey.”

Not one to make waves, Devin assured her it was no big deal and turned to ready another pole for her. Sheepishly, she thanked him and tried her luck again, making sure to hold on tight this time. She knew she would be in for some righteous teasing from this day forward, and promised herself she would take it and not say a word. Devin was first to get lucky, however, and hollered as he pulled up a nice, flat fatty, hoisting to the edge of the boat and Kaly went to grab the net. “Nice one Babe” she said as he dumped it in the live well. Not to be outdone, she at once turned to cast again, aiming for a spot to the left of the tree stump. As she felt the lure drag the bottom, a small tug clued her in that she had a bite, and she jerked on the rod, setting the hook. “Fish on” she shouted and Devin clambered over to her side of the boat with the net at the ready. Only there was no fish, and as she pulled harder and tried to reel, she realized she was caught on some roots or branches from the stupid tree. She could not believe her misfortune, she was the one who usually had the best luck catching fish, now here she’d been out smarted again.

After cutting the line, Devin declared she had better get one soon, the tide was changing and soon they would have to go back in. Kaly was cold anyway, but refused to be denied, pouting the whole time Devin readied another hook and lure for her. He handed it over saying it was her last chance and with that, she tossed the line out over the shimmering water once again. Bobbing the line in short, quick jerks, she wanted patiently for another bite. Scanning the water, watching the sunlight play off the waves, she felt a sense of calm overtake her and she relaxed, deciding if nothing happened, it had still been a fun day on the water. Just taking a boat ride was half of the joy for her, and spending time with her man was what brought a smile to her face. She could even put up with the cold when she knew they would be going fishing, it was their favorite thing to do. Devin once again brought her out of her reverie shouting “fish on” again! She just could not believe this! This day was turning out to be her nemesis, and she was about to put down her pole and go to his aid when she felt a tug.” AHHH, fish on here too” she shouted and then they were both fighting to reel, reel, reel each of their catches in. Hers was small enough that as she caught site of the fish about to break the water’s surface, she gave one last huge pull, and it flopped over the side of the boat and landed at her feet. Throwing down her pole, she grabbed the net and sidled up to Devin, scooping it under his massive flounder. “That’s the biggest one yet” she announced as he beamed with pride. “Well, at least you didn’t get skunked” he said as he surveyed her little flatty. “Fish is fish, you’re right” she said, and dumped him unceremoniously into the live well.

Feeling somewhat victorious, they put up their gear and got ready to head back in. Settling back down in her seat, Kaly gathered a towel around her legs and got out her iPhone to snap some pictures to commemorate another successful trip, as they glided across the water toward the causeway once again. She mused about the simple things in life they shared and how much joy it brought her, just a happy couple cruising through life from the starboard side.

 

Day 172-Throwback Thursday-My First Car Ever

My Ford Thunderbird
My Ford Thunderbird

For today’s post, I thought I’d share a pic of my first car ever, which I did not get until I had been in the Army for three years or so! Well, I didn’t need one until I re-enlisted to Ft Hood in Killeen, since before that, the Army provided all of my transportation. I either walked everywhere I needed to go, caught a ride with friends, rode a bus or took a taxi- when I was stationed in Ft Sam Houston the first time, we took taxi’s off base to go party in the city every chance we got. I don’t think there were many of those opportunities though being that was my AIT period, and our time was limited for such activity.

Anyway, after transferring to Ft Hood following the birth of my first child, I needed a way to get back and forth from there to my home in Ft Worth so I could visit him every weekend I could. Here comes my brother to the rescue, with a 1973 T-bird, which he kindly sold me (for $1,000!) I had prepared for this, my friend and roommate Robin had taught me how to drive when we were stationed at Ft Sam the second time. Funny story about that, I was so nervous about getting it right, one day she had me drive to the store and I got out of the driver’s side and somehow closed the car door on my right thumb!! Not knowing it was fractured, I stayed in agony all night long, went to the hospital the next day to have it checked out, by then it was too late. They could not drain the blood that had accumulated under the nail, x-rays proved it was indeed fractured, they put a metal splint on it-I had to finish the remainder of school with that on and try to work with glass tubes all day with that splint on my thumb! Fun times 🙁

Back to my boat of a car, I believe he (my brother) took me to the DPS following the purchase and I got my license. I can’t believe I learned to parallel park in that thing! I figured if I learned to drive that beast, driving anything else would be a breeze! Besides that, it was so big I could haul my friends around in it, no problem. Not that I did much of that, I don’t remember how long I had that car, but I learned to park it on a dime and the next car I got was my Plymouth Arrow. How I loved that car and miss it to this day. I think I had the T-bird around a year, maybe a year and a half, before I got the Arrow. I have a picture of Sean and myself with the car, before some lady decided to pull out in front of me some time later and wrecked my wonderful ride. I had been with a friend that day, he received stitches to his forehead, and my sweet little car had to be totaled. I was devastated, but happy that Derin was ok. I want to say my next purchase was the Chevy Lumina, but I could be wrong. My memory is so bad, lol, and I had so many cars!

Owning the T-bird made me realize that I could drive anything, no matter the size, and I even worked on it from time to time under the guidance of my Dad. I have a photo somewhere of myself covered in grease after doing it’s lube job all by myself. He made sure I knew how to change the tires and do my own maintenance in case I was ever stranded on the side of the road. I think the headliner hung down a little bit the whole time I owned it, but I didn’t care- it got me from point A to point B and that’s all I needed at the time. I worried about having a car that looked good later. Back then all I needed was a set of wheels! I do remember it would go really fast before you realized it, the ride was so smooth. It was a good first car to own and I think it finally just literally fell apart, I took it to the junk yard to be scrapped for parts and then got the Arrow, my first real love (car wise). After driving the T-bird, the Arrow was so little and zippy, I could really maneuver in and out of traffic with ease and just loved it’s sporty good looks. The T-bird had been a boat and the Arrow was like a bullet in comparison, I loved driving it so much. I even had guys want to race me in it, it was a dream of mine to be a female race car driver anyway. I would take them up on I from time to time, but I was scared of getting into trouble, so I took it easy and usually let them win. (I totally could have beat them though, lol)

So that’s my story, do you remember you’re first car? What were your challenges and how much did you love it? I want to hear about it, so you know what to do. Leave me a comment and then come back tomorrow for another installment of Flash Fiction Friday. I’ll say a prayer that I think up something good! 🙂

Happy Thursday everyone!

Day 171-Wednesday's Medical Minute-Radical Prostatectomy

(Due to the nature of the subject matter, expect this to be a discussion of very sensitive matters)

As some of you are aware, my husband has been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. Monday morning, bright and early, he will undergo what is called a radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the entire prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue. This is the treatment for localized prostate cancer and was the most highly recommended option because of the many benefits it affords.

My husband is lucky to be having his surgery where they will be using a technique called robotic assisted radical prostatectomy, the preferred method for removing the cancer, yet sparing the nerves responsible for achieving erection. There is still a chance the doctor will not be able to spare the nerves, and there are likely to be issues involving sexual and urinary function, if only for a short period of time.

The surgery is done laparoscopically, through several small incisions in the belly with robotic arms that specially trained doctors operate. It is minimally invasive and offers many benefits including reduced scarring, trauma and pain, the possibility of infection is reduced, recovery is quicker and it only requires an overnight stay in the hospital. The robot is called the daVinci surgical Si HD System, the most advanced robotic treatment method for prostate cancer today.

Image showing the location of the prostate
Image showing the location of the prostate

Here are a few things you may or may not know about prostate cancer in general:

The prostate is a walnut sized gland that sits at the base of the bladder and is responsible for transporting the seminal fluid up through the penis. It is divided into lobes or “zones” and 70-80% of prostate cancer originate in the peripheral zone-which is the sub-capsular portion of the posterior aspect of the prostate gland that surrounds the urethra. The prostate is sheathed in the muscles of the pelvic floor, which contract during ejaculation. If the cancer is determined to be low risk and localized, radical prostatectomy is the preferred treatment option-resulting in a zero PSA count and requiring no further treatment such as chemo or radiation.

Once the surgery is done, depending on things like the age of the patient and fitness level,  recovery time and sexual and urinary function may or may not return to normal. The patient may experience some level of urinary incontinence for a few weeks following surgery and need to use pads or diapers in case of leakage. The patient may also experience some level of erectile dysfunction, although having nerve sparing surgery reduces this risk. After recovery, the patient should be able to achieve an erection, but will no longer ejaculate seminal fluid. For this reason, younger men may want to consider other options, such as chemo or radiation.

Discovering the cancer is done through a blood test called a PSA-prostate specific antigen and graded by the results of the biopsy. It is important for men to start having PSA testing in my opinion, way before the age of 50, the recommended age right now. Younger men are getting cancer these days and one should speak to their doctor if they are experiencing any symptoms or have a genetic concern. In my husband’s case, he had both. Studies have found that men who have the surgery for localized prostate cancer are less likely to die than men who have radiation therapy.

During recovery the patient will have to be catheterized, this should only be required for a week or two following surgery.  In some cases, like my husband’s, he will have a suprapubic catheter as well as a urethral catheter as well as special dressings covering the surgical incisions. He should go home with only one catheter after his brief hospital stay. The hard part will be keeping him down for the recovery period- one to two weeks. The first week he will not be allowed to drive, and for up to three weeks, he cannot exercise, run or play golf, and can return to work on light duty after three weeks. We may both be nuts by the end of the recovery period, lol. Most men have trouble with urinary control for up to 6 months following surgery, however, everyone is different and some gain normal control after one week. Again, this depends on general fitness levels and age, in addition, the doctor will provide you with exercises to strengthen the muscles needed to regain control.

Medications and other methods may be needed for up to six months following surgery to achieve sexual function.

Typically, you will follow up with the doctor one week after surgery, then 3 months later for the first PSA check. For the first year, your PSA will be checked every 3 months. It should remain at zero following surgery. If it is any higher than that, further treatment may be necessary.

I hope I have shed some light on what can be a scary subject for most men, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. In the meantime, keep the prayers coming if you don’t mind, we need all we can get! Thank you in advance and I’ll see you all tomorrow for Throwback Thursday. Keep smiling and have a great day! 🙂

 

 

 

Day 170-This is My Essay Tuesday-I Joined The Military

When I was a senior in high school, I was looking for a way out, I just didn’t know it yet. I thought having a job was enough, at the time. I was the typical teenager, filled with angst, worried about my future- even then, I knew I wanted to help people, which is why I was working in a nursing home. I was part of a program at my school that allowed us to work part-time and go to school too, called vocational health occupations education-VHOE. I wasn’t exactly happy with my home life, and figured I would never be allowed to grow up, as my parents were very overprotective. I usually walked or caught a ride to school, and they drove me to work, which I saw as unfair, since most of my friends were already driving.

Then one day in government class, a recruiter for the military came to speak to our class and a bell went off in my head. Here was my chance! Not only would I be able to help people, I would get to do it away from home…and serve my country, what a win, win! I immediately started the process of figuring out how to get myself into the Navy (I picked that branch because that’s where my dad served) and, because I was a very short woman, my government teacher helped me write all the necessary congressmen to make it happen.

See, at the time, the Navy had a height requirement of five foot and I am four foot nine. So this meant someone had to sign a waiver for me to be allowed to enter. My government teacher showed me an article where a man who was shorter than me got in, and the fight was on! The next thing I knew, my story reached the news, I was on the cover of the local newspaper and even had a radio interview (where I got to meet George Hamilton) explaining how I only wanted to serve my country and they wouldn’t let me in because I was a woman and I was short, yet a man got in who was shorter-it was size and sexual discrimination!  We wrote all the local congressmen,  Jim Wright, Lloyd Benson and the secretary of the Navy pleading for my case.

In the meantime, a recruiter for the Army reached out to me, and said I would only need a one inch waiver to get in, and reluctantly, I went ahead. I figured as long as I was allowed to be in the military, serving my country and helping people, it was still ok. I was disappointed it was not the Navy but my dad reassured me, his feelings weren’t hurt and, having his blessing, I went on with the plan. After discussing what type of job I wanted with the recruiter and the process I would go through to get in, it was decided that I would enlist right out of high school. I think I had two weeks between graduation and enlistment. (If memory serves, I believe the newspaper did a follow-up article showing I did indeed make it into a branch of the military.) Six weeks into my service, unbeknownst to me, my parents received a letter of acceptance from the Navy-I was not made aware of this fact until much later, blissfully otherwise engaged in my Army service, they figured I had fought so hard to get where I was, why upset the apple cart? I was livid when I found out, because what they didn’t realize was that I wouldn’t have lost any stripes or anything by switching branches, and now I was never going to get to go to Italy, one of the destinations my dad was anxious for me to see.

Regardless, I continued fulfilling my enlistment period, which was three years, as I was already done with basic training and AIT (the schooling you get before you go to your permanent party placement) and was set to be stationed in Colorado. I had enlisted as a combat medic, the Army’s version of a nurse in the field, and was set to start fulfilling my dream to serve my country and help people, just like I’d wanted. While on a training exercise in AIT, I had injured my knee, the first of a repeated injury I had over the years, and upon landing in Colorado, was in a half cast- not exactly the way I wanted to start my career, but there it was. Backing up for just a second, let me just say I had been a thorn in the Army’s side for quite a while by this point, first fighting to get in, then in basic, they had to let me skip my first march, because my uniform had to be specially made since I was so small. I didn’t exactly receive special attention, being a woman at a co-ed training station in Alabama, but life was tough for me because of my size, training was difficult…while everyone else was marching, I was running to keep up! My helmet was too big, so when the others were shooting at targets, I was fighting to be able to see, because my helmet kept falling over my eyes ( and the heat and humidity was so bad during the summer, we had to put salt tablets in our water canteens!) Somehow I made it through the grueling 6 week challenges, I even made sharpshooter and got that medal. I was also quite boy crazy and found myself getting quite a lot of attention from the opposite sex, since this was a co-ed training facility.

Luckily, I  had my bff and partner in crime, Teresa. She and I made it through basic training and AIT together before we headed off to different permanent party stations, and I lost track of her. I still miss her to this day, and wonder often how her life turned out. We did everything together, including getting in trouble. Our drill sergeants knew we were a pair, our friendship got us through some crazy times back then. I hated that we were going in different directions, I thought we would be in each other’s life forever. I have tried to find her, but only knowing her maiden name (Smoyer) I have no way of locating her. I made new friends of course when I got to Colorado, but it just wasn’t the same.

img_3821
From top left, my gov. teacher, me, my bff Teresa, she, me and her boyfriend Mark off duty

I barely got settled at my new station in Colorado before my unit was deployed to California for a desert training mission. We were part of an assignment sent to help set up a medical dispensary in Ft Irwin, Ca. It is still one of the training centers for the Army today. At the time, however, there was barely anything there, our medical dispensary ( couple of wings of it anyway) a movie theater, snack bar, church, and combat training facility…not much for the guys to do but work, drink and get into trouble! Not sure how long our “mission” (training) was, six weeks I believe, and then it was back to beautiful Ft Carson Co. to finish out my year long tour of duty. During the time I was in the desert, I encountered my second bad experience as a woman in the military. The first had been the night I was being taken by my recruiter to the AFEES station to spend the night before being flown to Alabama for basic training. Both times I was propositioned, and both times ended badly for the men that did it. I was not going to be treated that way, just because I was a woman in the military. They were both reprimanded, the recruiter later lost his job and the officer I encountered in the desert was transferred ( I learned later he ended up at the hospital he wanted to be stationed anyway) but these things happened long after the incidents, mainly because I was scared to speak up each time. My dad told me I was just one of many the recruiter tried to have his way with, and was subsequently relieved of his duty many years later. It was definitely not the way I should have been introduced to the Army as a female, yet the theme was repeated many times throughout my career.

That was just part of the difficulties of being a woman, short or otherwise, in the Army, yet I made it through four and a half years, only getting out after several injuries made it impossible to continue my service. I was honorably discharged with a medical in 1984 and secured a job at my first hospital shortly after. My training was changed after my Colorado service to laboratory technician, due to all of my recurring knee injuries. That sent me back to my favorite place Ft Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. After my training was over there, I was sent to Korea for a yearlong tour of duty and that would have fulfilled my three year commitment, had I not re-enlisted. But that’s a story for another day.