Tag Archive | photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Eerie Feeling — Is it Cancer?

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When I saw the Weekly Photo Challenge for this week — Eerie — my first thoughts weren’t of Halloween costumes or fake blood or ghouls or goblins.  No, my first thoughts were of the sore spot and the “thickening” in my chest in an area that cancer once called home.

Since my bilateral mastectomy three years ago, I have been checking the area often enough. Monthly, I suppose?  Maybe less?  It’s often enough that I would notice a change.

5 days post mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection for stage 3c breast cancer

While I rarely have trouble with my right side since the surgery, my left side has been a different story. Because of the depth/extent of my left mastectomy and the resulting nerve damage, I have been plagued with a range of unpleasant feelings, from numbness, tingling, itchiness and dull pain, to searing pain and what they term “phantom pain.”

You may have heard of phantom pain before.  Maybe you’ve known someone who has had a limb amputated.  Or you’ve watched an interview with a war veteran who lost an arm or a leg.  Or you follow Grey’s Anatomy and saw the episodes when Arizona was struggling after losing her leg in the plane crash. Or maybe you’ve never heard of it and just think it sounds kind of eerie.

Well, it is kind of eerie.  And not just because of its name.

“Sometimes after a body part has been amputated, it feels as if that part is still there. This is called phantom sensation. It…is not pain, but is a “tingly,” cramping, or itching feeling where the missing part used to be.

[Phantom pain, on the other hand, is painful.]  The pain feels as if it is in the part that is missing. Phantom pain…may feel like a burning, crushing, or stabbing sensation.”  [UPMC.com]

This is a roundabout way of explaining to you that despite the wide range of sensations I’ve experienced on the left side, none of these feelings have ever prompted me to pick up the phone and call the doctor because I’ve always accepted them as my new normal.

But what I’ve been experiencing recently does not feel like the pain or other sensations I’ve become accustomed to in the past three years.  It feels different.  It feels like the pain I felt before my surgery. Like the pain I was experiencing in my breast when my cancer diagnosis came 3 1/2 years ago.

Now maybe you are thinking that doesn’t really mean anything.  I don’t even have that (or any) breast anymore.  I was thinking this, too.  But then I reached under my shirt and felt the area.  In fact, I’ve repeatedly “checked” the area over the past week.

And it feels different.  Like a thickened “something.”

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At first I thought maybe it was swelling.  Swelling has been an issue for me since I received my first intervention — months of dose dense chemo meant to make my inoperable cancer operable.  When I was finally ready for surgery, it was a different kind of swelling.  Swelling in my arms from lymphedema.  And despite having surgical drains placed to collect excess fluid/blood that can accumulated following the surgery, in the space where the tumor was, there was a significant amount of swelling in my chest/underarm/shoulder area. While surgical drains are very common with this type of surgery, leaving them in for many weeks is not typical.  But there was so much fluid that it was necessary. Even still, I developed large seromas [a seroma is a collection of serous fluid in the dead space of post-mastectomy skin flap, axilla or breast] that necessitated trips to the surgeon’s office every 2-3 days so he could insert a long, wide needle and manually drain the fluid.

But it’s been a while since I’ve had a seroma or swelling in this particular area of my chest.  And it does not feel like swelling.  In fact, it doesn’t feel anything like what I’ve become accustomed to.

Normally when I touch the area where my left breast used to be, since the tissue and muscle are missing, I feel rib bones (or the spaces between them) through a thin layer of skin.

It’s odd, really, to go from feeling the squishy, rounded softness of your breasts, to feeling the hard, unforgiving rigidity of bone.

It’s a difficult adjustment to make.

And though you may con your brain into accepting the new “normal” day in and day out, your fingers never really forget.  Touching the area where your breast used to be is still just as jarring for your fingertips as it was in the beginning.

So when something is different…less chiseled…more flexible…softer, your fingers notice.

So it is easy to recognize when something is different or awry.

Maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe it will be fine.  It’s probably nothing.  It will probably be fine.  I haven’t even mentioned it to anyone in my life other than “you” because I’m almost sure it will be okay.

But the eerie feeling I had this past week each time my fingers were drawn to my chest was enough of an incentive enough for me to call the office of the breast specialist who diagnosed my cancer.  And it was enough to make me accept (and not cancel) an appointment for 7:30 this morning so I can find out for sure.

I will leave you with my “eerie” photos…

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Even more eerie than fake blood is real blood… These are my mastectomy drains.

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Kevin looks for ghosts amid the cobwebs this Halloween

As always, thank you for being here.  And if you would like to participate in The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge, just click on this link.

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Daily Prompt: My Little Characters

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I happened to notice The Daily Post‘s Daily Prompt for today — It Builds Character — and couldn’t resist the opportunity to share some photos of my little characters.

The prompt asks that we show readers a CHARACTER.

Every month, my boys, twins who are in the same class, must do a family project for school.  October’s project asked them to choose a character from one of their favorite books and turn a pumpkin into that character.  M chose Greg Heffley, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.  William chose Darth Paper, from Darth Paper Strikes Back, an Origami Yoda book.

So when I saw today’s prompt, M and I hatched a plan.  We took the pumpkin heads and, well, I’ll just show you:

M wearing the pumpkin head we made -- Diary of a Wimpy Kid's Greg Heffley

M wearing the pumpkin head we made — Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s Greg Heffley

M as Darth Paper from Darth Paper Strikes Back

M as Darth Paper from Darth Paper Strikes Back

During dinner, M also developed a character he decided to name Detective Bacon Mustache Hamburger Head.  Unfortunately, Detective Bacon Mustache Hamburger Head had a not-so-secret admirer in Ginger (our weiner dog) and had to change his name to Detective Hamburger Head when Ginger got a bit too close to his mustache.

Detective Bacon Mustache and his secret admirer, Ginger

Detective Bacon Mustache Hamburger Head and his admirer

And both boys decided to pose for one last photo:

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And this is a terrible segway, but I just wanted to thank you for your kind words when I was struggling last week (Why I Can’t Wait for my Colonoscopy).  And I also wanted to tell you that of all the things they found in my colon (like plenty of scar tissue and adhesions), cancer was thankfully not one of them.   It’s nice to have some good news!

Thank you for helping me get through an especially rough week!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside — A Word From the Dogs

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Let’s Make a Break for It!

I failed miserably with my plan to write a complete non-Weekly Photo Challenge post this week.  And now it’s Thursday at 12:47 a.m.

ImageI’d love to blame a brief stint in the hospital, too many doctor’s appointments, a lengthy to-do list, nightly struggles with 4th grade homework x 2, tear-filled boys who do not want to go to bed, crippling fatigue, high-maintenance canines, a husband who was logged enough hours to equal days worth of playing time since our local video store opened on Tuesday (10 a.m.) with the newly-released Grand Theft Auto Five (if you’re not sure what that is, please see photo to the left), and blah, blah, blah… but I won’t bother.  Instead, I will just present you with another photo challenge and I’ll hope you keep returning while I’m on my downswing!

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Well, much to my chagrin, it seems I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open for long enough to post this one, so I’m going to turn it over to the dogs — literally!

For this week’s challenge, titled “Inside,” Kevin and Ginger (or Big and Little as I often call them) are sharing the view from inside our kitchen out to our empty, unfenced backyard.  To me it looks like an empty not-quite-green palette that I long to paint.  To the dogs (my favorite Houdinis) it looks like the open road to FREEDOM!

Kevin & Ginger:  “Yep, all we need to do is pull the front door handle or slide the back screen open — and we DO know how to do this! — and we are free!  There’s no fence to stop us!  It drives our Mom crazy because she has to keep the doors closed ALL the time (even in the summer) and hold onto our collars whenever anyone goes in or out of the house — and that’s A LOT because the twins are always going in and out!  But she knows we’ll take any chance we can get to run away.  And then she has to run through the neighborhood for hours to catch us.  It scares the hell out of her!  It’s SO much fun!!”

Me:  “Yes, it’s a real hoot!”

Kevin & Ginger:  “So these photos are of us trapped INSIDE.  I remember when Mom took these.  She unlocked the glass door for a few minutes while the boys carried the compost out to the compost bin.  She was watching us like a hawk ’cause she knew what we were thinking.  We were working hard to figure out how to unlock the door again.  See the smoke coming out of our ears?”

Kevin:  “Ooh, look, you can see where I scratched big holes in the screen.  See the tape she put on them?  I have no trouble pulling that right off.  Silly Mom!”

Ginger:  “Anyway, I just uploaded the photo — it’s at the top of the post.  I’m the little one.  Kevin’s the big one.  Thanks for reading Mom’s blog!”

Kevin:  “Ooh, I just found a picture of our butts.  I’m going to put that one in for fun.  Don’t tell my Mom.”

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Our Cheeky Bums!

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

It is safe to say that I have missed blogging.  I have missed you, dear reader.  But it has been difficult to find opportunities to write to you.  Between not feeling well, working on a few projects, having two very active and easily bored twin boys home for summer, and all that is going on with you-know-who, it has been a bit of a struggle to visit with you.

So I will pop my head in again with a Weekly Photo Challenge.  This challenge is titled “One Shot, Two Ways,” so I am offering you a shot of the clouds and sky, two ways.

These images were taken on a muggy night on the short trip home from the boys’ soccer game.  The clouds above the soccer field looked pregnant with rain.  Since it had not rained for some time, it was a welcome sight as I thought about my parched garden.

But as we drove home and the minutes passed, the clouds thinned to reveal the gray whisps and fluffy tufts of a sky on the brink of nightfall.

There was no rain that night.  No relief for my languishing flowers.

But the beauty of this moment was not lost on me.  As I took these photos with a home along the way as a backdrop, I was amazed when I realized how often I must fail to look up in the evening, because these clouds must be present often enough — I just haven’t noticed them.

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The third photo, of the last of the sun’s rays streaming through the clouds, is an extra that I couldn’t help but include.  It was a reminder to me that even when times are difficult, there is beauty all around us.

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Thank you for visiting and for serving as another reminder of the beauty in my life…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

Since it’s been ages since I participated in a Weekly Photo Challenge, I thought I would take a brief break from the serious topics I’ve been posting about and share a few photos with you.

I have been overwhelmed with the kind responses to my last post, The Devil is in the Details…and My Bed.  It is taking me a bit of time to respond to you all individually, but I promise to do this and will keep at it because everything you’ve said has helped me tremendously — and each comment means a great deal to me.  And I’m sure your words will continue to help me move in the right direction.  Thank you…

The Weekly Photo Challenge topic for this week is FRESH.  What came to mind was my little pot of fresh basil grown from seed.  You’ll find this tin pot of my favorite herb on my kitchen windowsill:

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And the “fresh” idea the boys hatched when I asked them to take my Mom’s dog and one of our dogs for a walk last night:

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This is virtually the same photograph, but my Mom’s dog is a bit more visible in the wagon in this shot so I felt compelled to include it:

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Until we meet again, thank you all…

Weekly Photo Challenge: World Through Your Eyes — “Old San Juan”

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Thank you for all of the likes and wonderful comments and congratulations for celebrating my first year of blogging.  You’ve made me feel so special!

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge topic for this week is “The World Through Your Eyes.”

The criteria for this post is as follows:

IN A NEW POST CREATED SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PICTURE OF THE WORLD THROUGH YOUR EYES.

A few tips reinforcing what Ming taught us on Tuesday:

  • Observe a scene first before lifting your camera to your eye.
  • Ask yourself: What is the subject? What will you (not) include in the frame?
  • Look for natural lines or frames in the shot to guide the viewer’s eye.
  • Try different angles: Get low on the pavement. Look down from above.

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I’ve chosen to feature photos of Puerto Rico.  I know, I know — Puerto Rico, again?  But when you view the photos, I hope you’ll see why I chose to share them.  They were all taken in Old San Juan.

As always, thanks so much for visiting…

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To participate in this or a future Weekly Photo Challenge:

click HERE or HERE.

Thank you!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting — “Not Enough Time”

I know my response to last week’s photo challenge was far from pretty.  But I appreciated the comments I received and I was grateful for everyone who encouraged me to continue to share the truth of my story.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands of The Daily Post posed the theme “Fleeting” for the current Weekly Photo Challenge.  Naturally, my thoughts turned to the fleeting nature of life itself.  I got to thinking about how we are on this earth only briefly, and of how we have such a limited time before our bodies turn to dust and the memories we spent a lifetime making soon begin to fade.

So for the challenge this week I’ve decided to tackle the fleeting nature of life.  But to make it far less morose, I am going to focus on childhood and how quickly those precious years pass.  I say “far less” because I am still going to sprinkle a few cancer-y photos in the mix.

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As always, thank you for visiting.  And if you’d like to participate in the challenge, just click here.