Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Latest Art Quilt

It's 24 x 32 and is from the second Rose Hughes book. I learned one very important lesson from this quilt; I'll never use velveteen again. That's what the plain green is. It stretches very easily. There is a lot more detail to this piece but it doesn't show very well in the photo.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Once A Reporter, Always A Reporter

If you don't want to read about a needle biopsy of my left breast, stop here. I told myself I wasn't going to write about it, but dammit, I can't stop being a reporter. I'll try to get you to laugh. I promise no gory details. It was painless.

I've known for about a week that this was coming. I had a microcalcification, which is rarely cancerous, but the radiologist said let's do a biopsy just to be sure. I happily agreed and then went about my week.

Well last night about 1 a.m. I hit the wall of fear and anxiety. I started to wonder what position they would have me in to do the biopsy. I turned a bit in bed to see what might be best from my non-medical perspective. That turned into a sleepless night with dreams about all sorts of positions. A dream earlier in the week had me lying at the entrance to the doctors office for the procedure. That was just a dream.

By the time we drove to the hospital I was a wreck. If I'd had a xanax, I would have taken it. Kerry and I had a consultation with the doctor where he explained everything. It took forever to get me checked in; the machine that was supposed to print something ran out of paper, then the clerk couldn't figure out how to load it so she had to wait for help. Meanwhile, I thought I was going to faint. Finally she put the paper tag around my wrist; that way I could be identified if they lost me.

Dr. Khine told Kerry and me all about the procedure. He said he had done 3,400 needle biopsies. He didn't look old enough for that number, but I let it pass. He said he would numb up my breast really well. I said that my brain needed numbing too. He smiled, and said he couldn't help me with that.

My question about what position I would be in for the biopsy was answered as soon as I entered the room. No I did not take this with my iPhone. Kerry had my purse with iPhone in the waiting room. I found it on Google Images. You got it, that hole in the middle was for my breast. Now it isn't that big so there is a little plate that slides over to support the good breast that has not gone off and gotten microcalcifications. Then they use an x-ray device to accurately position the breast so the biopsy needle will go in the exact spot of the microcalcification. At this point I sort of gave my breast over to the female technicians who were wonderful. My head started to sweat so I had to ask someone to wipe my face and neck. You are told to be absolutely still once they are positioning the pendulum hanging from your chest through the hole in the table.

I had to look to the right and keep my left ear flat to the table. My neck started to cramp up so one of the technicians gave me a little massage. Both technicians were always touching my arm or back in a very comforting way. I had given up my glasses so I couldn't see a damn thing.

Once they got my breast into the right position, they discovered that the needle would go through a sizeable vein. Not good. So they twisted, turned, compressed and generally treated my breast like bread being kneaded. Finally they got the vein to move; the doctor came in. This is when I was glad I had given up my glasses. He pulled out a tray where I faintly detected three syringes. I closed my eyes. The only thing I felt was the tip of the needle as he injected the first dose of lidocaine. Each dose got increasingly larger and went deeper. He warned me of a loud pop that would happen next. Sure enough, the biopsy needle shot into my breast. They took 8 samples without ever removing the biopsy needle. Then they x-rayed the biopsy material to make sure they got it. Thumbs up on that procedure.

I mentioned to the doctor that I could post my mammogram on my Facebook page. He cracked up. Said no one had ever mentioned that before, but no, he wouldn't give me a copy.

You know how animals have microchips so they can be reunited with their owners. Well, I now have a tiny microchip marking the spot of the biopsy. Of course, once that was in place I had to go across the hall and have three more mammograms to make sure it was in the right place. They don't compress much for this part of the process. Thank God.

The whole procedure at Kaiser in Roseville, CA cost me $25 and took about 90 minutes. God bless medical insurance and Medicare.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

My 793 Mile Adventure

That's how many miles I drove in 39 hours. Saw some of the most beautiful parts of California during my drive: Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Mammoth Mountain, the Easter Sierra Nevada, Mt. Whitney, Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley with all of its waterfalls and high peaks.

I got to Lone Pine several hours before Mark and Julia were due so took myself out for dinner at a local restaurant that turned out to be pretty decent. A friend from the Bay area, Mary Sue and her husband, were dining at the same restaurant. These are the types of coincidences that just amaze me. Mary Sue, Denny and a friend are doing a week-long backpacking trip. We had a great chat.

Mark, Julia and Zoey arrived around 8. It took many trips to unload their car. They've been on the road since July 6th; in that time they have been in Evergreen, Boulder and Durango, Colorado. Mark played a concert in both Boulder and Durango; Julia played in Durango. Zoey the dog just hung out at all of those places.

Tuesday morning Julia and Mark took both cars to the trailhead for Mt. Whitney, which is where they will end their adventure and pick up their car. We loaded up Kerry's Honda Element with all their stuff including her French horn and his trumpets.

If any of you out there are hikers you should know that they are "ultralight" backpackers. The pack that each carried, including food in a bear cannister, weighed 20 pounds. Mark sewed all of the sleeping bags, tent and other travel essentials from incredibly lightweight material. You can cover a lot more ground when you don't have 60 pounds on your back.

We stopped in Mammoth Lakes at the post office to drop off food for one re-supply point. Did the same thing in Tuolumne Meadows. They had mailed food from Durango to the other re-supply points. Entering Yosemite Valley is a lot like entering a cathedral. Waterfalls were still running but not the spring gushing. Still a fair amount of snow at higher elevations.

They got their wilderness permit and then suited up for the adventure. Zoey and I left them in Yosemite Village about 4:30 and headed back to Lincoln. I was very glad to be home. She was the perfect passenger. Harleen, however, is not sure she's the perfect playmate. Zoey prefers people to dogs. Oh well, they willl figure it out.

The photo was taken just before we parted company in Yosemite Village. I had Mark take his hat off so everyone could see his shaved head. That tonsorial event occurred last night after I went to bed. When they finally get to their car in 23-24 days, they are heading directly to a motel to shower for hours. That's a long time to go without one. They are both seasoned hikers in great shape so I have no worries about their safety. Besides the John Muir Trail is very well traveled in the summer. And in the past, Mark has shown that he knows how to be rescued by helicopters. Let's hope this is a no helicopter adventure.
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Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Grand Adventure Starts Tomorrow

In the early morning tomorrow Mark and Julia (my son and daughter-in-law) will begin their journey from Durango, CO to Lone Pine, CA. I will travel from Lincoln, CA to Lone Pine (about 7 hours without stops). This is the last big adventure of their very interesting summer which took them all over the southwest. They are going to hike all 220 miles of the John Muir Trail (

Gulp, that's the mother in me trying not to worry. Basically they will be out of communication from Aug. 3 to Aug. 23 give or take a few days at the end. The challenge for anyone who hikes this trail is which end to you start at and then how do you get back to the starting point where your car is. We talked about it quite a bit; I finally decided that I was in need of seeing the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. It's actually the prettiest part. So we will meet in Lone Pine, which is at the base of Mt. Whitney (tallest mountain in the lower 48 states). Tuesday morning we will take their car up to the Mt. Whitney trail head and leave it there for them.

Then we start our drive up Highway 395 stopping at Mammoth Lakes where we will leave some of their food at Red's Ranch near Devil's Postpile (pictured at the bottom) and Tuolumne Meadows where we will leave more food. Then on down to Yosemite Valley where I will drop them at a camp site for people who are going to start the John Muir Trail in the morning.

I've hiked very small parts of the John Muir Trail in Mammoth Lakes. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I got up to 11,000 feet before my hiking partners noticed that I was giddy from lack of oxygen. Back down I went.

Below is my favorite picture of the two of them on their wedding day Oct. 4, 2008 at the
Grand Canyon.

Once I drop them at Yosemite then I will take their dog Zoey and a lot of their stuff back to Lincoln. They will drive to Lincoln after they climb Mt. Whitney. If we are really tired, Zoey and I may check into a motel outside the park to get some rest and then drive home the next day.

Zoey and Harleen have not met but I'm sure they will have a grand time. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the prettiest parts of the Sierra Nevada. I might even visit a quilt shop or two on my way to Lone Pine. Watch for a post later in the week after I've recovered.

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