Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Winter Photo Walk

I haven't been going on photo walks this winter like I was doing during the fall, mostly because I've been pushing to make my walks as aerobic as possible. Today I was determined to walk in spite of being rather weary because tomorrow we have sleet and snow in the forecast. Snow wouldn't keep me from enjoying a walk but a quarter of an inch of ice under the snow would and that's what they are forecasting. I decided to take my camera with me since I knew I didn't have the energy for a brisk walk much less incorporating any jogging into my route. It was a little on the chilly side for stopping to take pictures but I bundled up and I enjoyed myself. I enjoy the contrast between how my neighborhood and closeby trails look during the different seasons. This winter almost has different seasons within the space of a few yards. Some of the sunny areas have been confused by the wildly fluctuating temperatures. We have gone from 70 degrees F to 20 degrees F within the space of 12 hours many times this winter. A few of my neighbor's lawns are mostly green although most have the winter brown look. I even spotted a few bent over daffodils that bloomed and then got zapped by the cold. I am approaching the two year mark since my diagnosis with melanoma and feel very fortunate to have done as well as I have. I may complain about the chronic issues I've dealt with since my groin lymph node dissection but when I look at people who not only deal with that and worse but are also fighting active melanoma in important areas of their body, I am aware of how lucky I've been. I have also been relieved that when push came to shove I was able to work very long hours over the past month. That may sound like a silly thing to be relieved about but a key ingredient to it working out for me to work from home has been that I get a lot of flexibility some of the time and other times I make up for it by putting in long hours. I've been lucky over the past two years to rarely have more than a week or two when I worked evenings and weekends as well as regular hours and I didn't worry about it since I had so many other years since I started working from home that I did put in a ton of extra hours as the trade off to not having to commute anymore. However, I have worried recently about what would happen if I had to try and work long hours for months without a break and wasn't sure if I could physically handle it. The answer, at least this time, was yes I can handle it. I am glad though that work is slowing down at least somewhat at the moment.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Where is the chimney in the picture?

And today's picture puzzle is: find the chimney. A chimney is larger than a bird, duh. Even so, my chimney is almost as hard to see these days as it is to see the birds that blend into their surroundings, when I try to photograph them. I have a working fireplace or I did last winter but this winter I've been afraid to find out if the carolina jasmine and miniature fig vine have created a block which will send the smoke back into my house. Last winter, and so far this winter, we have had so many warm days interspersed with cold ones that the fig vine in particular hasn't died in the winter like it used to. It's quite cold now and a fire would be cozy but I'm not sure if I want to risk it. The acuba bush in the second picture is sentimental for me. My parents had several in front of their house and my bushes were started from cuttings that rooted in center pieces and I brought home to my house and planted after they had a good supply of roots. I have variegated ivy that was started the same way, beginning as part of arrangements at my parent's house. I am finally taking a day off. The trade off to working from home, and having some slack periods, is I feel obligated to work evenings and weekends from time to time. After three solid weeks without a day off I am ready to laze around which is what I'm going to do. I know how lucky I am. I think about people I've gotten to know who have advanced melanoma that aren't able to work or who are caring for small children while fighting horrendous battles and still find the time to reach out and support others. They are a remarkable group of people. I truly feel priviledged to know them, some I'll never meet in person but know only through an internet support group; some I've been able to meet face to face which was fun. The last photograph in this entry will be my help yourself photo. I think I've posted it before but it makes me laugh every time I think of it. I used to do year round bird feeding until I realized that the birds were turning up the opportunity to eat what I was growing in favor of the feeding stations. I occasionaly put food out for the birds, when it's in scarce supply and the weather is bad, but for the most part I eased into letting them share the bounty from my garden and stopped filling numerous feeders. My help yourself photo is of a large sunflower that the birds ignored until I finally removed the seeds for them and put them into a feeder. I'll leave it here with my funny photo.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hidden in Plain View

I am still after that elusive good photograph of my birds. This photograph is sort of like a child's picture puzzle, where the question is: Find the bird in the picture. It's amazing how they blend into the scenery even in the winter. I know that's good because it's safer for them especially with the neighborhood cats prowling in my garden so much. Hard to believe that I am on the sixth week of my new walk/jog effort. I have averaged over 4 days each week so far. This past week I haven't done quite as well but I made it out this morning ahead of the sleet. It's hovering just above freezing so I doubt the sleet will amount to anything but I'm glad I got home before it started. I don't mind walking in the snow but sleet and freezing rain are better for being cozy inside. I'm coming up on two years since my melanoma diagnosis. I may have talked about this before on my blog. The beginning of February, 2005 was when I had my melanoma primary removed. Two years is a good place for me. Given the fact that my primary was so deep and I had a lymph node that was positive for melanoma, statistically I would have been more likely to recur in the first two years. For the matter, even making it one year without a confirmed recurrence was a big deal since my breslow depth was almost 7 mm. The farther away I get from my diagnosis, the more optimistic I have become. That's not exactly accurate. I was very optimistic initially but in some ways that was bravado. I couldn't keep up the optimism when I started having so much trouble with pain and blah, blah, blah. I have good days and bad days but in general I am genuinely optimistic. In March I have a full body PET/CT scan scheduled and a slew of appointments and it will be good to get that behind me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Only in the South

It's snowing, it's snowing . . . I almost feel guilty over my jubilation to wake up to a morning snow. I know the northeast is getting hammered and don't envy them that. I also know about the accidents, power losses, etc. that people in some parts of the country are dealing with. We had quite a few years with problematic storms, for my part of the country, which took some of the joy out of my childlike love of a snowy morning. However, last year we didn't have a single snow that stuck to the ground and I missed it. I'm not expecting this to last as the forecast is for a switch over to sleet, then freezing rain, and ending with all rain. That's part of why I stuck my head out the door to snap a few shots because I suspect my daughter will sleep in and miss it altogether as she's off work today. I need to get to work soon. Been a long 10 days without a real work break and I need to finish something up this morning. Not complaining, I am very lucky to be able to work from home and I've had plenty of slack time leading up to my current busy time. I have managed to keep up with my walk/jog and have made it almost to 5 weeks of sticking with my latest effort. I am pretty tired but mentally doing well which is the big thing. Guess I better get to work now.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Day 25

I like the way it's working out to keep track of how many days I'm into my latest fighting form effort. After 25 days I am mentally much better. Not sure about the physical side. I'm betting my blood pressure is great because that's the one thing that is always dramatically lower when I'm making an effort to be physically active. I'm pretty worn out but last week I managed to get in my walk/jog 5 days or rather 4 days was a walk/jog and the 5th was a walk with Bill. I have to go to my office today for some on site instruction which is okay. I so rarely have to do that and I can hardly complain. It's a 45 minute drive to get there but considering that I had to make that drive there and back, 5 days a week, for a few years until I finagled working from home 5 years ago; I am lucky that it's rare for me to have to be there physically. All around my work situation is full of good fortune. When my daughter started a high school that didn't have a school bus, I started working from home. Once she had a driver's license, I was afraid I might have to go back to commuting because I let them know I had more flexibility but it worked well for me to work from home so I continued to do that. When my daughter went to college, there was some talk that maybe I would go back to commuting but fortunately that never happened because after the melanoma dx, it has made a huge difference not to have to commute both because of physical issues and all the doctor's appointment, etc. I hope that this will be a permanent situation and after all these years it probably and hopefully is.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Foggy Morning Day 22 Old Photos

I love the fog and this morning it was foggy. I leapt outside with a rain coat over my nightie and tried to get some good foggy photographs but none of them worked out well. I'm posting old photos, some of which I may have already posted, but they are images I feel like writing beside on this foggy unphotographable (at least by me) morning. This is day 22 of my latest push to get back into fighting form. In the past, getting back into fighting form was an image I liked even when I didn't have any specific battle to fight. I certainly never envisioned that I would end up with stage III melanoma after I had taken so many steps to hit 50 in the best shape of my life. That hitting 50 in fighting form became a goal when I was in my mid 40's. Here it is 2007 and I will turn 50 this year. I have until November to get into fighting form, whatever form that might take at this point in my life. I don't see myself going to indoor climbing walls with my daughter like we did in December of 2004 a few months prior to my melanoma diagnosis. My daughter was home for winter break and I got her to go with me to the climbing wall because I was formulating this vague goal of doing an older adult tailored outward bound rock climbing trip in the Sierra Nevadas for one of my 50th birthday present to myself. Her natural balance and youth were rather in contrast to my age in spite of being a very active 47 year old at the time. However, at the time I thought I could spend the next 2 and a half years getting stronger and stronger having already made a lot of progress. I also had a vague goal of running a marathon or a half marathon which are other goals that I'm letting go of in favor of something more in line with where I am now. Where am I now? Well, this is day 22 of my most recent effort towards getting into fighting form and I have walk/jogged 14 of those days, keeping it under 3 miles but doing a minimum of 2 miles. Looking back over my log, I have managed to get in 35 miles during these 21 days. Today is a rest day so I was looking through yesterday. If I make odious comparisons, what I have accomplished is not very much but it's one hell of a good start for me at this point in my life. I think I should throw away my old running logs. I couldn't resist looking back to see what I had done during the same time period from mid December 2004 through early January 2005 and I had run/jogged 75 miles. I don't know why I would look back since it's not a goal to get back to where I was then. I am 2 years older, am still dealing with chronic pain and neurological issues but I am one hell of a lot better than I was when the bone pain and balance issues began. That part of the equation has been dramatically improved with the vitamin D supplements. The frozen shoulder was dramatically improved by P.T. and although I still have pain in my collar, shoulder, arm and neck area on one side, I have full range of motion where at one point I couldn't lift that arm to shoulder level much less get it over head. The left leg lymphedema is dramatically improved. My attitude is enormously improved. PROGRESS!