STHOOMB also known as Mammogram

“I can handle it. I’ve got it under control.” We are a nation of Stoics.

I went for a mammogram on Friday. Another name for this [and excuse my French] is squeeze-the-hell-out-of-my-breasts.

Mammography machine. Image courtesy of Google pics

Mammography machine. Image courtesy of Google pics

I have fibrocystic breasts plus fibromyalgia so the STHOOMB’s is @#%# painful. I know this going in so I just channel my inner male and “man up.” [Can we woman up? I think we should have that in our lexical phrase books. After all we carry for nine months, and then deliver, a baby. Or in my case two babies, and let me tell you it is not a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. More about that in a  different blog.]

Besides a mammogram being painful, or uncomfortable at best, they make you take off all your upper clothes and then give you a “gown” that is basically two or three Kleenexes

Kleenex coverup

Kleenex coverup

glued together. Doesn’t cover much, let me tell you. I may as well have been wearing pasties. I would have felt better. I could wear pasties with a tassel on each one and at least pretend I was having fun. Channeling my inner pole dancer…if I have one. Haven’t discovered her yet but you never know. Maybe she’ll surface when I’m ninety. Watch out world. However, that said, for a sixty-some overweight woman I have pretty nice girls. They don’t hang down to my knees. Unlike their owner they still have core strength.

So, anyway, having given you the Kleenex “gown,” as soon as you’re in the STHOOMB room with the medieval torture machine looming over you they tell you to take off your Kleenexes. Why did we bother with them anyway? The little changing room [you know the kind with a curtain that always gaps open a few inches] is right across the hall, so I could have simply “streaked” across the three foot wide hallway.
So I long ago decided I would not be embarrassed or bashful of my nakedness, and I simply chucked the paper thingy and “strut my stuff.” Then of course you not only have to be squeezed to $%%# you get to be manhandled [fortunately I have always had female techs so I guess it would be woman-handled. Once again our lexicon lets us down.] So it’s, “Lean forward a little, I just have to stretch it a bit.” [Read twist and stretch a lot]. “No, let’s do that again. Just a little more stretch [read twist and mangle]. Okay, now hold still.” So, finally, having shoved and stretched and twisted my girls to heck and back I finally get to put my “gown” back on and go get dressed.

Whew, that’s over for the next, what year? Or I think they’re saying we only have to get it once every two years now, unless we have a family or personal history of cancer.

But you know what? I’d rather have the crap squeezed out of my breasts than risk getting cancer. And all that brings me to my point. Life is like a mammogram in many ways. It’s better to go through whatever discomfort or even pain it takes to prevent something far worse. For instance, going for counseling if you’re struggling with something, whether it’s an addiction, or anger issues [as I had, ie, the anger] or secret pain because of past sexual trauma. There are a whole host of things that we try to stuff down or cover [usually with something like my mammogram “gown”]. We so often think we can handle something alone, or we’ve got it under control. Newsflash—in our lives we have very little under our control. We need to give it to God and go talk to someone. Ever bruise yourself and it hurts like heck but on your skin there’s nothing to see? Inner pain or anger, shame, self-hate, etc is like that. On the surface there’s nothing to see but if someone accidentally touches or bumps it we react. And our reactions aren’t pretty. There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve had to ask for help, go for counseling, and/or prayer and/or some kind of medication to help me through.

God is our refuge and strength, very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.  Psalm 46:1-2

As a post-script I’ll mention this; I was going to post a chart for Breast Self Examination but I discovered it’s no longer recommended here in Canada. The rationale being; 1. We lay people aren’t skilled enough to really tell what’s going on in our breasts. 2. It “alienates” us from our breasts, making us feel anxious and looking for something wrong when we touch them. 3. Most questionable changes in women’s breasts are noticed accidentally while showering. From Canadian Women’s Health Network website

The upshot of all this, so far, is that BSE has become controversial. I personally have never done it regularly because I have fibrocystic breasts, meaning there are always lumps and bumps palpable in the tissues.

In the USA BSE is still recommended see here

Image courtesy of Google images

Image courtesy of Google images

Mammography is the most effective means for finding possible cancer. Here are the current Canadian recommendations. Age 40 to 49; Discuss with your doctor about your risks for breast cancer and need for mammography. Age 50 to 69 we are recommended to get a mammogram once every two years. Age 70+ discuss with doctor.  From Canadian Cancer Website 

In the USA women 40 and older are recommended to have a mammogram once every 1 to 2 years depending on what your doctor says. Women younger than 40 –at your doctor’s recommendation.  From National Breast Cancer Foundation  

I’d love to hear your comments 

 

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I’m Just Fine. Am I Fine?

So often people come up to us and ask, “How are you?” and we answer, “I’m fine, thank you.” Yet we’re not fine. We’re sick. Struggling. Worried about all kinds of things. Stressed. Depressed. Trying to do our best, yet feeling as if we’re failing. And on and on.

14 08 Di Phone 292

When people ask us that ubiquitous question; “How’s it going?” or some derivative of it, how should we answer. I know I get worried they’ll get overloaded if I answer honestly. If I say, “Not great. I’ve been sick since Christmas.” Or worse, “I’ve been depressed for the past three weeks, or months, etc.”

Yikes. Depressed. What are they going to say? “Uh, sorry to hear that.” and then they drift on by to the next person. Or, maybe they’re courageous and answer, “I’m so sorry, can you tell me more?” and you start to list all the reasons why. You’ve been ill for weeks/months/years and you just can’t take it anymore. Or you have bills piling up and you don’t know what you’re going to do, you can’t pay them. Or your husband, child, mother is sick and you’re scared and worn out. Scared of the future. For all of the above reasons, or for other reasons. For reasons that seem reasonable or reasons that seem foolish.

I know I have a hard time with the question; “How are you?” I have a chronic disease–Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so at any given moment i might be  in a lot of pain, or have spent several nights awake with severe pain, and/or I might be terribly fatigued, the kind of fatigue you get when you have the flu. If I say those things I sometime see people’s eyes glaze over, and I feel like they’re thinking “Too much information.”

Or I feel they will think I am not “answering in faith,” or “thinking positively.” I do know that in Jesus I am healed, etc, but I may still not be fine at that moment. I may be experiencing such severe vertigo I walk like a drunk, or have bruising falls.

I really don’t want to be needy. A “black hole” that might suck the energy out of others.

Or we’re afraid we’ll be compared to someone else whose problems are so much harsher than our own, eg, my fibromyalgia compared to someone else’s cancer or loss of a loved one. My “problems” are hardly worth mentioning in light of those other huge crises. Yet, despite someone else’s monumental problems I still feel terrible. One can drown in four inches of water as in an ocean storm.

I think we’re sometimes also afraid of being too vulnerable. Of maybe starting to cry [and if you can’t cry in church amongst friends who will pray for you, where can you cry?]

So how do we answer truthfully, honestly, yet without being a heavy weight in the moment?

I recently watched a documentary on rock climbing and when you rock climb you often have to rely on a partner, a friend, especially if it’s a difficult part of the climb, or a technique that’s not familiar to you. Rock climbing is actually a good metaphor for our Christian journey. We have to be connected to a partner, and they are connected to us. and it’s not a question of if I might fall, but of when all rock climbers fall at some point or another. And not only are you connected to your friend, you are both anchored in the rock. Our rock is Jesus

Rock Climbing

Image from Google Images

I guess it comes down to being willing to be honest and transparent, but also to give short answers and allow the other person to  ask for more info as to why you’re not totally fine right now.  2 Corinthians 12:7

I’ve had to learn this, especially as many people forget I have fibromyalgia and when I mention that’s the reason I don’t feel well they seem to have no memory of what I’ve said in the past. Which makes me wonder how many times I’ve forgotten something someone else has told me about their struggles.

Mercy, grace, patience. We have to always have these qualities with others and ourselves.

God bless your journey in Christ, whether it’s a difficult climb, a free-fall, or a smooth walk [for now].

I welcome all your comments

 

 

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The Manger Is Empty.

The Manger Is Empty.

Photo from heritagebooktalk.com

Photo from heritagebooktalk.com

Although it is wonderful to celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus at Christmas, there is an important thing to remember. The manger is now empty. Jesus the Messiah is now not only grown to be a man, he sacrificed himself for us, died on a cross and rose again. He is now seated in glory at the right hand of God the Father. Yet, defying our imagination, he also comes, with the Father, to make a home in our hearts when we love him and obey him. What does obedience on our part require? To believe in him above all else in our lives, to put him above all else in our lives. This leaves me speechless [almost].

But let’s back up to the manger. It was an incredible miracle for Jesus to be born in a lowly manger for our salvation [and according to scripture we don’t know if there was even a stable…scripture makes no reference to one.] The biggest, most amazing miracle for me happened nine months earlier. Jesus, the son of God, who, according to the Gospel of John, was with God in the beginning and was God, and through whom all things were made, Jesus became a tiny human single cell in Mary’s womb.

Human fetus at 12 weeks gestation; Photo from Google Images

Human fetus at 12 weeks gestation; Photo from Google Images

Did the Father say, “We need a human savior who is also God, a savior who will come to earth in all aspects as a human, including starting human life as a tiny cell. And Jesus the Son part of God the Trinity, said, “Pick me, I’ll go.”

The Father said, “You will have to divest yourself of all your glory. No God-attributes until you are 30 some years old and are baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Jesus; “That’s okay, pick me.” The Father adds, “You will have no autonomy even as a human until you reach human adulthood. You will rely entirely on your parents, and they may not always have all they need to provide even a good human life. You will have times of being poor in human terms. They may also make mistakes as all human parents do.”

Jesus; “That’s Okay, pick me.”

So The Father said, “I choose you. You are the chosen one.”

And so it happened. The embryo grew in the womb of an unknown, unmarried young girl who was probably somewhere between 12 and 14 years old. The baby was born in a dark corner of the world and laid in a manger, a feeding trough. His arrival was not announced to kings or religious leaders, but to the lowliest in human terms, shepherds. But his glory was revealed then, in the visitation of myriads of angels saying [and likely singing] Glory to God in the Highest and the good will of God towards humans.

This is Christmas, the Celebration of Christ our Saviour and Deliverer.

Scripture references; Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:2-4, Hebrews 4:15-16, John 14:6-7, 9, 23, John 1:1-5, John 5:24, Luke 1:26-38

Please share your thoughts with us; leave a comment

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A Weighty But Delicate Subject

Hi. My name is Diana and I’m addicted to M&Ms and almost all forms of chocolate, as well as cheesecake, and anything creamy and sweet, etc. But with the help of a Higher Power I am going to overcome…

Okay, this is hard…fessing up here for God and Everybody to see. But I have to do it. Challenge myself.

Yes, I conducted a personal and private “intervention” for and with myself [took a lot of selfies over time as well as combed through my past pictures] and made a personal photo album that spans the past ten or twelve years. I can see where I’ve been, where I am now, and face my weight. Ugh.

Me with my little, ie much younger, sister.

Me with my little, ie much younger, sister.

I tried to be positive about it. I reminded myself that recently when I posted a nice current pic of myself on Facebook I was hit on by three different guys [who looked to be in their late 40s to mid 60s]. They all wanted to PM with me [I didn’t know them, they weren’t even FB “friends”] and one wanted my phone number. Wow. Haven’t had that happen for years. Now, mind you, it was a head and shoulders pic. But I can safely say, I have a nice, even pretty, face. [My dear hubby has said it, but it’s nice to get supportive evidence. “smile.”] Being able to say anything positive is very helpful. I also faced that I am very overweight.

Now, in the back of my mind i knew I was overweight, but I was so frustrated with all the diets that failed, all the exercise programs that failed. Okay, at first I lost weight. Then I plateaued. Then I began slowly gaining again [Sound familiar?] If I didn’t rigorously watch what I ate and how active I was, I gained. I’ll be honest with you. At the beginning of this summer I was so discouraged I said F#@$ it, I don’t care. And over the summer I gained. And gained. And gained.  Finally a month ago I had my little “intervention.” I am now back to watching what I eat rigorously. But not so rigorously that I can’t maintain it. At first I lost 5 to 8 pounds. Then a week ago I put on about 4 pounds. Argh!. But I will keep on keeping on. I have combed the internet for info about diets and exercises, especially for overweight people. For instance, I know I can’t right away start with exercises like “The Plank.” I did that a year ago and wrecked my back. Because I carry too much weight in my middle. But I have found some info. I will share it with you here and in upcoming posts, in case you need the same thing.

One of the things that throws a spanner in the gears…oh, I mean a wrench in the works [spanner–my NZ background coming out] is my Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Almost any challenge to my body noways puts me in bed with severe fatigue and malaise, as if I had the flu, as well as severe pain, for the next few days. So I have to approach exercising very carefully.

But, I will do it. I have faced that I have to always watch what I eat and how much activity I have. I cannot just let it go. I know God will help me with this.  I also have the goal of fitness at least as much as losing weight. Research has shown that being “fat and fit” is healthier than being slim and flabby.

I can do this.

Me in 2012, in Meaford. Pic taken by my son. I weighed 50 pounds less here.

Me in 2012, in Meaford. Pic taken by my son. I weighed 50 pounds less here.

I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment here. 

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Rejected, But In A Positive Way.

13-10-20-vacation-147My manuscript for Love In The Storm was refused by the publisher. Sounds discouraging and I had a little bit of disappointment. No matter how often you tell yourself it’s unheard of to have a first manuscript accepted something inside just hopes….

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

My agent told me positive things [I’ll get to those in a minute] and I hope it isn’t just my hope steering me wrong, if you get my gist.

My agent had felt that Love..Storm, which dealt somewhat heavily with the subject of suicide [though it was all positive in the end–there was still the requisite HEA, ie Happily Ever After] was a bit too heavy for a first time, unknown author to offer readers right out of the gate. Tamela [my agent] said she phoned the publisher and they discussed this because Tamela actually liked my writing. [Yay!!!] The publisher agreed it would be best to put Love…Storm on the shelf for now, and we could revisit it later.

Because Tamela liked my writing so much she would like to see something else. I looked over all the stories I have finished or partly finished and they all left me cold. I just felt I’d worked them to death for now [some have already been revised and rewritten a number of times].

However I had a brand new story burning in me, wanting to get out and I felt it would be best to work on a story that’s hot in me. That was a few weeks ago and my story is still hot.

I’m changing how I write. I’m doing a lot less “by the seat of the pants”–called ‘panstering’ in the writing industry–and  a lot more planning and research before I start. I have a sense of what my plot is, although it may change. More about that in a minute.

I have a good idea what and who my heroine is, but my hero felt vague, so I did some back-and-forthing of ideas and decided I’d really like him to be—but I’m not going to tell you yet. He’s hunky. Of course.  08-07-01-al-53-recovered-copy-2
Dark hair, dark eyes, a sort of strong, silent type. But maybe my heroine can get him to open up. He has some wounds, of course. Maybe my heroine can help him find healing. Ultimately his healing is in Jesus. But how to convince him of that. And she needs some healing too, but she needs help to find it. Just like in our real life romances.

So as I get to know my hero I’m getting a much better handle on the plot. It’s almost as if the book is plotting itself. Woo hoo.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have to work my patootie off [actually I wish I could]; I do. There’s still writing scenes and sequels, sorting out what goes where, pacing, tension–ah, of course I want all of you, my readers to be on the edge of your seats.

So, on that note, I will leave you. More anon [soon]

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