Sunday, January 31, 2010

No More Bad Hair Days!

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror,
and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.'

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror,
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'H-M-M,' she said,
'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'

So she did and she had a grand day.

The third day she woke up, looked in the mirror,
and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going
to wear my hair in a pony tail.'

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

On the fourth day when she woke up, and looked in the mirror,
she noticed there wasn't a single hair on her head.

'YAY' she exclaimed!
'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Bread Pudding is made!

Anyone wanting a taste of Jitterbugs Bread Pudding with Rum sauce, just stop by this weekend and I'll share as long as it lasts! Preparation involved a lot of pot washing, and I haven't tasted it yet, so the jury is out.

My 2nd chemo infusion went very well today. My son-in-law, Lee, pointed out that I am now 1/3 of the way through the chemo. One third of the way sounds a lot better than 2 out of 6!

Being in the infusion center brings other very sick people into my consciousness. There was a lady there today starting her 2nd round of 6 chemo treatments. She took her radiation along with the first six! Another woman, about 50 or 55, was getting a treatment for a rare cancer tumor she has been fighting for 19 years - 19 years! I see young people there and I wonder what their battles are.

Well, I'm tired and still have my exercises to do.

Linda Gail

As a postscript, I'd like to add my friend Laurel's description for tonight's sky. I hope she doesn't mind, but it is so appealing, I thought some of you would enjoy it. Especially those of you who have access to the big sky with no town lights should be able to see (that is if the clouds don't obscure things).

"Tonight's full moon will be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. It offers anyone with clear skies an opportunity to identify easy-to-see features on the moon. As a bonus, Mars will be just to the left of the moon tonight. Look for the reddish, star-like object. (More moon dancing for sure!)"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jitterbug's Bread Pudding with Rum Creme Anglaise

I seem to have food on my mind a lot lately. A few nights ago I was watching Emeril and he prepared a bread pudding recipe that sounded divine! I downloaded the recipe, got my ingredients today and hope to prepare it in the next few days.

I also put on a big pot of my Mama's vegetable soup today. It is also very good. With my next infusion coming up tomorrow, I wanted to be prepared. I dropped by Mother Earth and bought a couple of little snacks I thought I'd like. A friend recommended ginger for indigestion, which was my main problem after my first infusion so I bought ginger tea and raw ginger that has been caramelized. Eaten raw it also serves to expectorate my sinus passages!

Picked up my prosthesis and bras today. Now I'm not lopsided anymore. I also was measured for a compression sleeve which my physical therapist tells me is essential. I will wear it when doing yoga, exercise or hard work (yard work, for instance).

I now have two cute little chemo hats another friend dropped off. I'm ready for my bald pate to appear any day now. It's not as exciting as waiting for biddies to hatch, but there is a degree of healthy curiosity!

Linda Gail

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Beach

Dear Friends, Cary and I have just returned from two days and nights at St. Augustine Beach. Good friends invited us to spend time with them at their place. Cary fished both days and today caught a flounder and a sheep head. We cooked them for lunch. We walked on the beach both days. It was a little chilly but the beauty of the sea and sky far out weighed the weather.

The incision for the port is healing very well and is beginning to itch a little. I had noticed my head had been itching more than usual lately. This morning when I was toweling my hair dry, lots of it began falling out on the floor! So the process has begun. I expect it will become thinner and thinner until it is gone.

I see my chemo oncologist, Dr. Staal, tomorrow. He'll read the numbers on my blood count and make any adjustments he thinks necessary. My next infusion is on Friday. I really must drink more water in preparation. I am supposed to drink a gallon of water a day. In this cooler weather, that's difficult.

Our yoga group lost a sweet friend yesterday, Margaret Freyer. I have Margaret to thank for an invitation to me to go to yoga the first time. Her husband, Charlie, worked with me at the school and she sent word by him for me and Shirley to go. The rest, as they say, is history. She was a sweet, English lady. Very caring and thoughtful. She had suffered for the last couple of years with heart trouble and didn't get out any more. I wish I had been a better friend to Margaret.

I am so humbled and blessed by friends who do special things for me. I have two friends who keep humorous e-mails coming, friends who send cards, face book friends who leave messages, many many people praying for me, a friend who washed my hair for me because I can't shower until the port incision is healed, friends who call and the list goes on. I am so blessed! Thank you all, dear friends.

Linda Gail

Friday, January 22, 2010

Port Procedure

Cary and I arrived at Shands shortly before 8 a.m. I was quickly taken to the holding room, given a gown to wear, and an IV was placed in my right hand. We waited and waited. Finally a very nice male nurse came and took me over to the new cancer center at about 10:30 a.m. I was awake during the entire procedure.

Cary wasn't allowed in the recovery room where I stayed a couple of hours after the port placement. We finally left about 2:30 p.m. We had been told it was a 2 to 4 hour visit to the hospital. So much for scheduling.

I am very sore, especially around the puncture wound into the large vein. Oddly, I was told not to get the site wet for 5 to 7 days and to keep the bandage on. After my breast was removed, I was told to bathe the next day!

I was able to make it to my book club meeting at 3 p.m. and Cary had a wonderful meal prepared when I got home - meat loaf, turnip greens and baked sweet potatoes. I had not eaten all day except for several saltine crackers and a sierra mist they brought me in recovery.

So, I'm through another milestone. I will be glad when it is healed. This will put my physical therapy on hold for a few days and I was just beginning to make some real progress. Two steps forward, one back. What was the name of that game we played as children? "Mother May I?"

My big news this week is that Katie found out she is having a girl. Her name is Linda Grace!

Linda Gail

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Tomorrow I will have a little device called a "port" put in under the flesh over my right breast. This port will facilitate a safer, easier injection of all the intravenous medication I will have during the coming year. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and I should only be away from home 2 to 4 hours. I'll take a little nap and when I wake up I'll have a new gadget installed!

My physical therapy is going very well. My therapist is working on stretching the scar tissue. She is very good and a very pleasant person to be with. I have exercises I do at home which I am trying to be very faithful in performing. I do need to order a compression sleeve so when I am doing something strenuous, I can wear it and by doing so, reduce my chances of edema in my arm. Evidently it is one of those things that is easier to avoid than it is to get rid of once it occurs.

My friend, Carla, also comes by a couple of times each week to help with my lymphatic system and she does a little thing she calls zero balancing. It is very relaxing.

Love to all,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Tonight I went to yoga for the first time in several weeks. Every asana we practiced lent itself to stretching areas of my body that so badly needed it. I knew before I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery that the practice of yoga, the meditations we do, and the power we generate as a group, has made me a stronger, more resilient individual than I would have been on my own.

I have almost full range of my left arm in spite of the fact I lost my axillary lymph nodes (12 of them) on that side and have nerve damage from the surgery.

I especially want to thank Nitya and Gita for their faithful service to all of us, and to me in particular. Their caring expressions of love and concern reach out to each of us where we need it the most. They do more than lead us in yoga. They make us a priority in their lives.

The reception I received tonight from all the members of the group made me feel like a celebrity. It is difficult to express how it felt to come back to the group and hear shouts of exultation because I was there!

Thank you, dear friends, one and all. Each one of you has contributed to my well being in your own precious way.

I thank my Father in Heaven for each and every one of you.

Linda Gail

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mama Hen

A couple of you have asked me about Mama Hen. Unfortunately, she is molting. Cary says she wouldn't sit on eggs if we put her on them and I have to agree. She's a pitiful looking little hen. I think she's suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome! She has this peculiar look in her eyes and not even The Sultan will mess with her. His only overture to her has been to stand out in the back driveway and crow late in the afternoons, telling her it's time to "give it up and come in." It's very dear of him and she soon comes up from the woods side of 10th street and settles in each night with the other hens.

We have had a lovely day with warm weather and sunny skies. Worship this morning at church was just outstanding. I missed last Sunday so I was very glad to be back this Sunday. I also sang with the choir - one of my favorite occupations.

We had lunch in town and shopped a little at T.J. Maxx. I found my mother and me cute vests to get us through the rest of the winter. Mother loves bright colors so I was pleased when I found one in a pretty rosy pink color. She was laying up in bed snoring when we arrived, so we left the vest for the staff to try on her and headed back home.

Today has been such a wonderful day in every way. It's amazing how much pleasure one can extract from such a day, particularly when the last two or three days I have not felt up to par. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is a truism which may be liberally applied to health, weather, and lovers!

Love to all,
Linda Gail

Friday, January 15, 2010

Eggs in the Incubator

We are now the proud parents of 21 (hopefully fertilized) eggs, and a brand new incubator. Never realized there was anything to incubating eggs. But, can't be too hot, too cold, too much moisture, not enough, must be careful handling the eggs (I used latex gloves). If I can get Cary to cooperate, we'll fix a little nest where Mama Hen can be locked in and we'll divvy out 4 or 5 eggs just for her. We've got to get some bonding going on here!

I am still feeling punk tonight but at least the back pain is gone. I've used ice today and it helped tremendously. Tomorrow a friend is coming over to help me with my exercises so I won't overdo but still get the optimum benefit. We are doing work on range of motion, sculpting the scar tissue away and my lymphatic system. Now that the lymph nodes on my left side are gone, the lymph tissue must be stimulated in other areas of my body to take on the extra load. I really think working with my lymphatic system is another reason I am feel so punk today.

Linda Gail

Back Pain

Last night I experienced perhaps the most excruciating pain I've ever had with my back. The lower back started spasms and would not relent. I laid in warm bath water, then used a heating pad to no avail. I was finally able to go to sleep with my knees pulled up and sometime during the night I was able to relax into a normal sleeping position. I have been trying to decide what brought this on. A call to my physical therapist may shed some light. I just started exercises this week and think I may have twisted my back in the process.

Enough about pain! Look at that sunshine this morning and it's warmer! Hallelujah! We can all do with some outdoor time. My yard is in shambles, but someone else will have to clean it up.

The death and destruction in Haiti boggles the mind. It is almost impossible, even with the videos coming out of there, to imagine the suffering of the people of Haiti. Insulated as we are, our hearts must take time to sympathize and pray for them. I hear a cardinal singing outside, the sun is bright, my pain is gone and I feel a little guilty because I'm so blessed.

Bless you all,
Linda Gail

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunshine makes me happy!

The chickens are in my line of view resting on the sunny side of an orange tree, fluffing their feathers, taking sand baths(and sun baths) and appear to be mighty contented. Mama Hen, however, is still in a funk over no biddies and separates herself every morning. We assume she goes back to the now defunct "hidden" nest. She's molting and looks pretty sad. We have ordered fertilized eggs coming this weekend, but doubt she will sit on them. Even if she would sit, I doubt she would live through the experience. She started trying to set mid November. So, I guess we'll be in the incubating business! All for one little golden hen!

Yvonne received word this morning that the lymph nodes taken at the time of her surgery are free of cancer. She will have to recover for a few weeks before radiation begins. We are thankful to God for this blessing and count my blessings in too. I have been fairly symptom free from chemo side effects. My appetite continues to be good and I've actually gained a couple of pounds since surgery!

My first physical therapy session went very well yesterday. I have a really thorough, knowledgeable and delightful therapist named Barbara. She spent about 2 1/2 hours with me going over exercises I can do both to stretch the muscles and tissue under my arm and a set of massage type exercises to free up my lymphatic system. I intend to make full use of this resource in order to gain back what I've lost and prepare me for the radiation. Once radiation begins, I'll be set back again as far as physical therapy, but hopefully I will do well enough before then that I will easily be able to recover quickly.

Nitya called today to set our first cooking class for our yoga group. It will be completely vegan which is exciting since we could all do with less meat in our diets. I find I crave vegetables, light broths and soups.

I should get started on a couple of little knitted hats. Dr. Staal told me I would probably lose my hair about the 3rd week after my first treatment. Silas did cut it into a very becoming short cut.

I was just checking my calendar. Out of the next 13 work days, I have appointments in town for 7 of those days! You'd think I was a VIP with all those appointments! It's really great, though, because it gets me out of the house and involved with other people.

If you find you are cold, stop by and back up to our wood burner. Sure fire way (pardon the pun) to warm your fanny!

Love you all,
Linda Gail

Monday, January 11, 2010


My sister, Yvonne, had her surgery today. The preliminary report is very good. The doctor doesn't think her lymph nodes are involved. This is the very best of news! She had a lumpectomy and will have to have radiation, but no chemo. Needless to say, we are all very happy!

Today was my 3rd day following my chemo infusion on Friday. I had been told the 3rd day would probably be the worst. Well, if this is the worst, bring it on! I had a great day. We visited my Mother in Trenton, then came back through Gainesville so I could get my neulasta shot (to boost my immune system). We did a little shopping before finally getting home about 4:30 p.m.

I realize the effects of the chemo may become cumulative, so I'm not truly expecting such good results every time. But we have prayed, haven't we, that I would get through this without a lot of trouble? So, I am just accepting each day as a gift and know that whatever the next day brings, my needs will be met.

Tomorrow I go for my first physical therapy session. I am moving pretty well but still have nerve damage. I'm hoping the PT will help revitalize those nerves and I'll be able to use my left arm normally soon.

Good night, and God bless you all.
Linda Gail

Friday, January 8, 2010


Well, I'm safely home from my first chemo treatment. Of course the next few days could tell a different tale, but for today and tonight, I am feeling fine. I was impressed with the team in the infusion center and found the experience to be interesting and without stress.

Cary accompanied me. Bobbie and her friend, Donna, showed up about lunch time and took Cary out to lunch. I managed to doze a while until they returned with my lunch. Cary prepared a good supper tonight after we got home and I enjoyed that also. Although, I've developed a case of hiccups!

I am taking the anti nausea med because I understand it is easier to get ahead of it, than try to catch up.

I am about 2/3 through "Stones to Schools" by Greg Mortenson. I hope everyone will make an effort to read it. I truly believe his work is Jehovah "breathed" and blessed by Him. There are too many "coincidences" that come together to help the Central Asia Institute to build schools for Jehovah's hands not to be on it.

Love to all,
Linda Gail

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I made myself a very dirty martini tonight as my pre-reward for tomorrow's chemo. After all, we should celebrate every time we have the slightest excuse.

I know I am in God's hands. As that chemo is coursing through my veins, I am going to imagine that the chemo is God's Spirit going through my body to convert any cells that don't belong there and protecting those that do. I found imagery very powerful before my surgery. I think we don't use our imaginations enough to think of good things. I also plan to take a hand carved cross with me and several of my favorite scriptures.

So, good night all. I love you and hope I feel up to giving you a full report tomorrow evening.

Linda Gail
PS: The little hen who was so intent on "nesting" has gone back to her hidden nest during the day and only comes back to the rest of the flock at night to roost. We believe she is sitting on the old nest still hoping for biddies. So today, between Cary and I, we have narrowed the area she's going to and hope to find her nest. We plan to get fertilized eggs from a friend and place her in a cage and let that little Mama do her thing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

1st Chemo treatment, coming up!

I have discovered I will have to be proactive in keeping track of my schedule. I called today to report I hadn't received a call from scheduling only to discover my chemo had been scheduled. The scheduling secretary hadn't had time to call me! I'm sure after the first treatment, a schedule will be set and these kinds of problems won't exist.

My first treatment is Friday morning, this week, at 8:30 a.m. I start taking a med tomorrow to help prevent allergic reactions. Reportedly they may keep me awake, so I am getting another med to help me sleep if that becomes a problem.

The last report I had from pathology is I had one positive lymph node from the breast area and one from the axillary area where 11 other lymph nodes were removed (a total of 12 lymph nodes were removed). Every doctor has given me a different count, but I think this one is the correct one. Reportedly, the doctor who prepared the report did not do a summary which has caused the confusion.

Love to all,
Linda Gail

New "do"

I forgot to mention yesterday that Silas gave me a new hair cut, much shorter. It looks very nice. It's short enough I can comb it toward my face to hide the silver halo!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Treatment plan for Radiation

Cary and I met today with Dr. Lightsey, the radiologist at the Davis Pavilion. My appointment was for 2:30 p.m., finally saw her at 4:30 p.m. and left the building at almost 5:30 p.m. Have a notion this is common fare for me(and most other patients) with the different clinics I will be going to for chemo, and later for radiation.

The treatment plan prescribed is 6 weeks of radiation (5 days each week = 30 treatments). This seems a bit daunting to think about. I have been assured however, that the radiation is as essential to my longevity as the chemo treatments.

The main problem I have right now is waiting for all these treatments to begin. The dread of them. Once they begin I will at least know fairly soon how difficult a course I will be following. Not knowing is the hardest part.

Isaiah 43:2-3a "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour." This was one of our scriptures last Sunday and surfaced again in my devotional guide yesterday.

Today I received this encouragement from my devotional guide. "I said to the man who stood at the gate of the next year: 'Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.' He replied: 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God, that shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.'" King George VI used this as part of his Christmas radio address at the beginning of WWII. King George VI would be most surprised (and delighted, I hope) to know his words brought comfort to this American lady at the beginning of this new year, a year that for her stretches out into the unknown.

Love to all,
Linda Gail

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day

Cary and I had a quiet day today with our grand daughters, Ana and Olivia. Cary cooked the traditional New Year's dinner (black eyed peas with hog jowl) and I baked a sweet potato pie. We just finished the last of the eggnog. The girls have gone home to stay with their Dad.

It has gotten cool enough to light a fire again in the wood stove. I think about all the blessings I enjoy and I'm truly thankful. The girls have been a pleasure. Olivia is at that loving stage where kisses and "I love you" are liberally sprinkled through the day. I love lying down with her at night to read a story and listen as her breathing slows and she falls asleep. Ana is becoming a young lady, helping clean up after meals and being more responsible.

Thinking back on past new years, I remember when Mother and Daddy always came out to share the day with us. Then, after Daddy passed away and Mother became a resident at Ayers, we invited friends to come share the day with us. I have always loved New Year's Day because the stress of the holidays is behind me and New Year's Day is low key and relaxing, yet promising a fresh beginning.

I'm not making any resolutions this year. I'm just pledging myself to be the best person I can be all year, which is what I ought to be doing anyway!

Love to all,
Linda Gail