Saturday, February 23, 2013


What's this you say about Bolivia..... Cathy, you  just drop this bomb about a trip to Bolivia and don't explain yourself? Well, let me enlighten you.

Our daughter Allison just completed her Foreign Service intro class. At the end of the class the participants are given an envelop with their assignment. The participants are given a list of the available positions and asked to rank which ones that would want to be assigned to. Since Allison is an English and Spanish speaker, that excluded some of the choices. Since she is 7 months pregnant, that excluded other since they were available NOW! Knowing she would be traveling with husband and child, her choices excluded a few locations that may not be as secure. I am not 100% positive but I believe her final choices included Mexico City, Santiago Chile and La Paz Bolivia.

She announced her new assignment by sending a link to this video.

Bolivia somewhere above it all. LIKE 2.5 miles above it all! Something like 20 + hours away via multiple flights. A world away and an adventure unlike any other. I am so proud of her. I am so happy that all her hard work is paying off with a plum assignment in an interesting place where what she does WILL matter.

I try to imagine what it will be like for a little baby, for a young mother and father and I am convinced it will be remarkable. I can't hide some disappointment that I will be so far away. But I have been far away as it is. We haven't booked the tickets yet, but it is my intention on going to visit Bolivia. Researching this trip I realize how expensive it can be, how far it is, how complicated the travel and how exciting it will be.

I have always loved adventure. This will be one fine one on one fine day. So congratulations to Allison - you will rock the Andes. I think possibly I shall be able to keep up! By the time we arrive I will have finished my 2nd 3 day!

Sam's Here We Come!

Whoever complains about the weather in the Bay Area is simply an idiot. Our weather has been so spectacular it seems as if day after day are postcard perfect. While parts of the country have to endure dangerous drifts of snow, we have been sitting in 60 degrees and sparkling skies. Waking up this morning I pondered where I should convince Glenn to walk.

The first thought was Point Reyes. No doubt it would be beautiful on the coast, but the trouble there would be the drive out and the time it took. The next thought was the Presidio. We have been meaning to walk out there together and do some exploring. But then it came to me, the one place Glenn would most certainly agree to SAMS!

Sam's Anchor Café is on the end of Tiburon Peninsula. With its larger than life deck and views out over the harbor to Angel Island and SF it is a nearly perfect location. When we have the boat we have sailed out there and tied up to their dock. But walking is what I need to be more diligent doing right now. All together the walk back and forth is 6 miles. It is a walk I have often done, from Blackie's Pasture to downtown Tiburon, but I rarely have a scenic lunch to go with the walk.

Glenn takes off on every walk with me with every inch of his 6'2" legs in what feels to me as a hurry. My favorite pace with my 5'4" legs is 3 miles an hour. I can walk faster. I can walk slower, but 3 mph is perfect for me. If we continued at this pace we would be walking at least 3.5 mph. Glenn reminded me as I complained about the pace, I always come on strong at the end of the walk. (Which by the way is true). But he slowed down so we could walk together.

We wandered down the Tiburon Bike path and then down San Rafael on Belvedere until we came to Tiburon. Glenn looked out over the water and I looked at houses. I guess I really am a Realtor because I do spend some time critiquing people's remodels while commenting on the average price in the area. By the time we reached Sam's I had selected a dozen homes that I would be happy to move to. Pointed out several more that would be wonderful to fix up and spend millions of dollars we don't (and barring a miracle will never) have.

We found our seats on the deck and ordered our brunch complete with our drink of choice. For me it's a Bloody Mary (it does have vitamin C doesn't it?!) Glenn had a Bud with his beer. I hope to improve some of my food choices so I skipped the many tempting choices in favor of a sweet potato, kale and cauliflower hash with poached eggs. Yummy!

Walking back I was a wee bit quicker than Glenn, just a hair. I can tell I am not in my walking form yet. The walk made me a good deal more tired than I would like. So.... diet (more healthy), exercise (more consistent) and some altitude training and I will be ready for a trip to Bolivia!

Is my white matter showing?

No this is not me... Let's start there.
In fact I have not a clue whether this MRI is of a healthy person or one that has a life endangering tumor. I hadn't a clue either whether or not symptoms I have been having recently were related to my car accident, my age, the weather, allergies or a hyper imagination. But especially since Christmas I have had several things that have happened that cause me to ask the questions.

In 2011 I had about 2 weeks where I would get up in the morning and promptly fall over. Well having survived Breast Cancer, the fact that I couldn't stand up in the morning had me worried there was some thing going on that I needed to know about. I had an MRI then and the Neurologist who ordered it announced in reviewing it with me everything is fine! Let's just do one of your spine though. At $1500 a pop I thought, wait a minute, if nothing is wrong why do I need to do another one? So I took the report home read it and thought hmmmm this doesn't sound like nothing is going on.

The report spoke about nonenhancing nonspecific foci of periventricular and subcortical white matter T2 and FLAIR hyperintensity in the left cerebral hemisphere. What the hell DOES that mean? I pointed it out to my GP who agreed, that isn't exactly normal. I suggested to him perhaps these results reflected what chemo had done to my brain. He seemed to act like he thought that could be a possibility so I put it off on the back burner.

Then in the past several months I found myself forgetting pretty important things, like things on the stove. One incident in particular had me quite concerned (even more than possibly burning down the house.) When Allison and Chris were here for Christmas, Allison had a pair of pants that needed hemming. She came into the kitchen with the pants pinned up. I asked her who did that and she said "you did." And for the life of me I couldn't remember. I still can't remember.

At my age we have friends whose parents have dementia. My father is showing more and more signs of this himself. So obviously the idea that I, in my late 50's would already be showing these signs was more than daunting, it scared me to death. I thought about that MRI report. I wondered if they were connected.

Then my accident happened and I was paying more than usual attention to my body. I noticed my legs were burning, full of pins and needles. My face was numb. I was occasionally dizzy. My ears were ringing. Basically I had a laundry list of concerns that kept pointing me back to the obvious question, what is causing this.

I went to see my GP a couple of days ago. He ordered another MRI. He also said this, "These symptoms could be connected to the Statin drugs you have been taking." So I looked it up. Here are some of the side effects from the drug I have been taking for 6 years.

  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping and/or pain
  • Bloating and/or gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Rash
  • Statins also carry warnings that memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar,  ear ringing, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects.

    So here I am with what I believe is THE reason for all these very concerning symptoms. The good news is to end these symptoms all I have to do is end the drug. It takes on average 3 weeks to get back to "normal".

    I went ahead and did the MRI, scheduling a consult with a new neurologist and continue to listen to the ringing in my ears as I try to ignore the sensations in my legs. I have since been able to look at the MRI CD which is not something I can begin to understand. The place where I had the MRI I had been to in 2005 where the MRI was declared totally normal. So what happened between 2005 and 2011? And how does the 2013 MRI compare to 2011? Am I now just a victim of a statin drug or is there something else going on?

    When you are a Cancer survivor, one who found her own Cancer, I believe in not ignoring things, even at the risk of seeming neurotic.

    So my friends. Let's keep our fingers crossed. I will find out whatever I can find out. For those of you who are on Statin drugs which many of people my age are, please ask your doctor if you have had some of these symptoms. Stay on top of your own health.

    Side note: went to Dr. Nothing new to report. I'd say no statins for me! This survivor plans on living and thriving for many more years! Donate to my walk! Cuz it's the right thing to do!

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Been a long time - 30 years to be exact

    Ok so it has also been a long time since I wrote anything. In the past month I have visited my father (who has been in a nursing home in Redlands for a month). I have put away Christmas and opened up the marketing materials to get 2013 off to a good start. I have dodged several bugs, and got into a car accident. We have been attempting to refinance our home and get ourselves on solid financial ground for moving forward in our 60th year. I have nursed a dog who had come up lame and succeeded in not walking for any appreciable time in the last month. But this past week, while my partner lounges on the beaches of Costa Rica, I have been taking stock, looking ahead of me and behind me in an attempt to move ahead into the rest of the year. In looking behind something of real note took place 30 years ago yesterday, our first child, my little girl Allison was born.

    There a lot of that going around, that "time" thing. But this particular one fills me with joy. I was 29 when I gave birth to Allison. She came in her own time (three weeks late) a sign of the self directed person she has become. Allison is intelligent, no doubt about it. And she is like all of us, full of her own idiosyncrasies. She, unlike me, when given the option of buying something on sale or full price would always opt for buying it on sale. She has the same car we gave to her when she was 16 (a salvaged Tercel that has been through miles and miles  and miles of life changes.) She has been known for having a black and white attitude about life, expecting that people might be well advised to do things according to the rules. Yet she traveled to Yemen by herself demonstrating that rules sometimes are broken. And she is married to someone who doesn't fit the mold and she is totally in love with him.

    She is 10 weeks from giving birth to our first Grandchild - A little girl. She and Chris, her husband will be experiencing how having a child of your own somehow turns a black and white life into one  that has some room for a gray splash or two. When raising our girls I learned a lesson that I carry with me to day. In fact it is part of how I got through my experience with Cancer, keep your knees loose. Life always has its bumps, its moguls on the run. If you keep those knees locked, you will fall and when you do, you will hurt yourself and possibly others. I know this sounds a bit dramatic but it is one of the best lessons I have ever learned. Keep your knees loose.

    When walking into my father's room in the nursing home, I tried to keep my knees as loose as I could.  I looked at him with sadness. There would have been a time when I would have looked at him in anger. Ours was not a perfect relationship. He was not, and is not, a perfect man. I am not (although I like to think I am) perfect either. Our relationship hangs on a thin thread but that thread doesn't break. Family is like that. It is our family that can give us the greatest joy, but somehow it is family who can cut you to the core quicker and more efficiently than anyone else. Yet this was a time to not dwell on those times, but with what was in front on me right then. An aging father reminding me that I am aging too.

    Being in Redlands also had its pluses. I got to spend some time with my sister Vicki (who lives in Gig Harbor Washington.) I drove by my old house at 205 Fremont Street to see it still standing.

    I had rarely seen Redlands look so stunningly beautiful with the San Bernadino Mountains in clear view. We took a trip to Palm Springs by Marilyn's statue and Frank Sinatra Blvd. Had a cocktail or two while eating outside in  January.  But most importantly, just for a moment when Vicki and I stood in our father's room, I believe he knew and appreciated us being there.

    Flexibility. It is a pretty important thing.

    I have two walks this year coming up. There will be a wonderful trip to see a grandchild. There will be business I need to take care of in order to keep things afloat! It seems as if most of our friends will be celebrating big birthdays. How we approach 60 should be a picture of flexibility. So my friends this should be interesting. I am not sure if my blogging will be as frequent as in the past, but I will blog. So follow along and see just where those moguls show up (because there is certain to be a few) but also stick around for the stunning vistas when I have time to take them in - I will be sure to share.


    A wish for a Happy Birthday during a walk with Leslie and Olivia yesterday.  What a difference a year makes - even more 30 years. Allison did send me a photo of her standing crib side... but we will leave that for her to share. I will share a photo of her as a wee babe and a recent photo.

    P.S. Actually had two good walks this week. One to the Chiropractor.... and one with Leslie and Olivia totally around 16 miles. Our walk is just around the corner. Trust me June isn't that far away! I need another $1000 to hit my minimum for the two walks. Can you help.  I am keeping a map on Facebook that I am coloring in pink for each state. Pick a state make a $20 donation and you will own that state! At the same time remember to give me names of people you would like to honor on the warrior card. I am very appreciative of it all!