Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve in 55+

So originally, when mom was looking to come down to Caliente for Christmas, she asked if there was a New Year's Eve event happening - which there was. We thought "why not go?". And so we planned to do the scheduled event - that is until we read more about it. It was $25 per person, included appetizers and had a jazz band. I am not a fan of jazz. But more hysterically, it was from 7 - 10pm. What the - how can you have a New Year's Eve party that doesn't even go until midnight?!? So we scrapped that idea and decided to just wing it.

Then, during waterball, one lady invited us all to her NYE party. Then the crowd was growing bigger so she booked a clubhouse room for it instead of having it at her house and asked us to bring appies and to come at 7.

So we got there a little after seven - there was a large crowd in the room sitting in chairs arranged in a circle but some had just finished playing a game. Since we were the newcomers we got dragged immediately into a new game - which was pass the banana between your knees to the next person in line. That is not as easy as it may sound - especially because some maynard thought getting ripe bananas was a good idea. So our bananas got squished and some of us got mashed bananas on our clothes. But it was good for a laugh anyway.

Then we played another game where they tied a spoon to the end of a long string and we had to thread the string through our clothes. The boys had to put it down their shirts and down their pants, and the ladies had to string it UP their pants and up through their shirt. I was the last one in line. Once I got the string through my clothes I thought the game was over - but NO - I had to pull the whole string out...... so I said - HEY - I have to touch the string after it has gone past the crotches of the entire line!!!! Which cracked everyone up - and then the 87 year old (the one with kids on social security) says to me 'oh yeah - and you probably should be suspicious of any banana bread over the next couple of days too......'

There was a game of pass the orange from chin to chin - Cam's sister played that one - and her passing partner looked about 8.5 months pregnant - and he was a man!! And of course, she is 5.5 months pregnant which added to the challenge....

Then we played a beach ball game where everyone had to tap the ball to the next person and if it was dropped, the person who last touched it was out. This game gets progressively more difficult because the circle doesn't get smaller - you just have to hit the ball that much harder and farther to the next person as more and more people drop out. Butch made a valiant effort before he was knocked out - even going so far as to make a diving save and ended up on the floor. Alas it didn't work - however, someone tried to recruit him to play waterball!

So in the meanwhile, the tv with the New York feed of CNN was on. They passed out noisemakers at 8:30pm....... I guess you can see where this is leading....... We got to the countdown of the eastern time zone and we all counted it down and at exactly 9pm we all went wild. The old folks were wishing everyone a Happy New Year and I was wishing everyone "Happy Nine O Clock". Then, immediately after all the 'new year' hoopla died down, everyone gathered their potluck appetizers, cleaned up the streamers, put the tables away and booked it out of there. At 9:22 one of them said - HEY we did pretty good - we got this all cleaned up and it isn't even 9:30! Cam said, 'so, if we'd been a little faster and got this all done by 9:05 that would have been AWESOME as opposed to 'pretty good'????

While it still cracks me up that we attended a 'wild' New Years Eve party that literally broke up at 9:22pm, I can still say with confidence that it was one of the best NYE celebrations I've been to.

After we left there, we came home and played dominoes (Mexican Train - another old folks staple for those of you wondering what being a senior is like). The sad news is that I have developed a cold. I guess it is a combination of being around other people who are sick and also the weather turned quite cold here - even to freezing overnight - who knew? And when I felt like I was coming down with something, I skipped waterball that day - but then we went shopping and I didn't wear a proper coat and got a chill from it.

No, this cold hasn't stopped me from playing waterball (not yet anyway). Cam has become as addicted to waterball as much as or more than me. He announced today that pneumonia is a reasonable price to pay in order to continue playing waterball (clearly at all costs). Although I do feel better when I'm in the pool. It is over 90 degrees in there after all....

So back to the Mexican Train - I had to wear a mask & wash my hands after every time I blew my nose - so I gave up early to get ready for bed, and then the rest of the crew packed it in shortly thereafter.

So that leaves me here now - at 11:40 pm on New Year's Eve, blogging about my ROCKIN' New Years Eve - with a party, and then a game and now off to bed and the New Year has yet to arrive even still......

And since I'm off to bed now, I guess I'll say to you all 'HAPPY 11:41pm"!!!!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Cam and I are now both at Caliente Hot Springs and brought the dogs. Most of Cam's family is here and some of mine (mom & Butch). The weather has been fantastic since we arrived - which is lucky because the 6 days before that pelted down with rain (the 6 days I was at home, I might add- the rain started the day I left).

We missed morning waterball, but I went to the afternoon session. Cam did not join me but on Friday morning he went to the morning waterball with me - and VOILA - he got hooked too! Thank goodness - it locks up our retirement plan - something we agree on finally.... It was funny to watch his progression in learning the game.... It took about 20 minutes for him to go from hitting the ball too hard and politely not 'ball-hogging' but then watching it drop to the water, to progressively 'get' the game and then set the ball high for the front row to spike and himself expertly tipping the ball into the corners that no one is standing.... he grew to be cutthroat in 2 short days!!!

So Thursday was Cam's birthday, then Friday was our anniversary. We have been walking in the desert with the dogs. We picked up our friend's dog to take her with us since our 3 dogs hung out in the summer in Oroville for a weekend. So each time we'd go, my friend would provide us a steel comb and pliers to take in case of cactus. Then we went for a long hike into the desert with the dogs offleash and even climbed some hills. The dogs loved it but I think were really tired & hot. So we headed back and we were almost back to the resort when I realized my 'borrowed' dog was missing. So we all split up and were searching the desert for this dog. A couple of times before she had ranged fairly far but we could always see her & then call her back. But this time there was no sign of her. After quite awhile of searching, I could see that it was getting to be time for the sun to set and I started to panic a bit that the dog would be lost in the desert after dark, so I made the decision to run for the dog's house to get the owner to come out to the desert to help us search - so I started running all the way back thru the desert & the resort to their house and as I rounded the corner, the dog's mom shouted to me that she was home..... Talk about relief! I guess that dog just had enough walking in the desert and booked it for home...... The panic level was high for me - and the sweat was even higher..... I haven't run that much probably since high school..... and the adventure wasn't over for me because I had left 3 people searching in the desert with no plan..... so I had to run BACK to the desert to see if I could gather them & let them know - but I couldn't see them, so I ran back to our house to see if they returned home.....which they hadn't - and so by this time, I drove my car back across the resort to the gate..... and thankfully my crew were returning so all was well and I was able to start thinking about calming down. That was an exciting - if panic-filled - Christmas Eve event.

To calm down & alleviate some space issues, we opted to go into Palm Springs for Thai food for our anniversary (10 years!!!!). But we didn't dither as Cam really wanted to go swimming on Christmas Eve -cause how often can you say you did that ?!? The swimming pools are over 90 degrees here....

On Christmas morning, all 12 of us went to a community pot luck brunch. The food was fantastic - pot luck at a 55+ resort with all that cooking experience.... YUMMMM Cam and I led a guitar/singalong of a handful of Christmas carols - I was proud of Cam b/c he hadn't wanted to do it but he did it. And the folks seemed to appreciate it - even though we started out quite rough. But we got a little better - but we only had practiced these songs for 45 minutes or so the night before so what the heck. We ended with one of our faves - a non Christmas carol - it was Those Magic Changes - and so since we both know it very well, we could leave a decent impression on the crowd as we left and hopefully they don't remember the rough start.

We went back to the house and opened presents. A good time had by all. Then Cam and I took the dogs for a walk in the desert since we didn't get to first thing in the morning. We decided to try a side gate instead of the back, and we were deeply engrossed in a conversation when all of a sudden I noticed Cooper had caught site of a bird or something and was bounding around in a field of cacti. JUST as I was thinking 'that is a really bad idea', Cooper started screaming and leaping around so Cam sprinted over to him to check out his injuries and crouched down beside him to investigate. He really wanted to keep him still and calm so that the inevitable cactus issue that Cooper had wouldn't get worse. So I was staying off the edge, not wanting to lead Molly into the cactus patch. I kept asking Cam to pick up Cooper and bring him out of the cacti but he said he couldn't really do that and I should go and check it out....

So I got over there and saw that Cooper had a cactus ball about the size of a large russet potato stuck to the back of one of his front legs. The opposite side of that SAME cactus ball was jammed into Cam's forearm - locking dog and man together in a awkward, not to mention painful pose. So this walk had been impromptu and we didn't collect my friend's dog and therefore had not collected the tools either. So I was freaking out a bit about what to do because when you tug your limb (or should I say Cam's limb) from the cactus, the skin simply stretches a long long way. And did I mention that after Cooper had the cactus on his paw and before Cam could reach him, he tried to bite it off - so he had cactus spines driven into his tongue, gums and lips...OUCH.

So Cam just kept pulling his arm and I watched in horror and fascination as his skin stretched further and further until finally the cactus ball broke a little and Cooper and Cam were separated. But Cam still had the cactus spines in his arm. and of course, so did Cooper. So we decided the best plan was for me to go and get help - to Skip's for his tools and expertise. So once again, I was running across the resort in a sweaty panic - but this time, I dropped Molly off on the way at home and picked up the car as my poor heart wasn't going to take any more of this running. So I drove over (remember, it's Christmas day) - and I can hear a commotion on their back porch - so I run down the side of the house and see that they have a houseful of company - but I explain what happened and Skip grabbed his Leatherman and I explained in more detail as we were heading to the car.

So off we went to find Cooper and Cam in the desert - then Skip performed the unpleasant task of grasping the cactus & ripping it out of Cooper's leg. That came off fairly easily actually - and then he plucked each spine out of Cam's arm, and then between the two of us, we both plucked out the numerous spines from Cooper's mouth. He was such a good boy, none of us could believe how calm and relenting he was. He flinched only twice when I pulled out the two that were in his gums. Ugh - I can't even imagine. Cam can though, and he said the spines are like needles only worse since needles are SMOOTH and these spines are barbed down the entire shaft.... Cam's arm was bleeding in a bunch of little dots.

So once the cactus spines were removed from Cooper, it was like nothing ever happened for him - back at home, he was ready to play some more. But we needed a break from the adventure so we went swimming.

Then we all assembled for a fantastic Christmas dinner and then went for a short walk - IN the complex on leashes - (the dogs, not the people) to avoid anything exciting or painful.....

Now, to throw back a bit in the story.... remember me running to Skip's backyard to collect him? Well, I also collected a fire ant sting. In my panic mode, I didn't pay much attention - but simply brushed the sucker off my foot. However, once the excitement died down, I remembered the ant and I now have 3 fire ant pustules on my foot - one right between two toes, and one at the end beside the nail and the other one is on the next toe. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to fire ant stings - in 2008 in Phoenix, both my feet were swarmed with fire ants and it is NO JOKE - fire ant stings are probably the worst thing ever as far as biting bugs that don't actually kill you go. The worst part about it is that the sting pain lasts for WEEKS. So in case you're wondering why I'm blogging at such and early hour, it is because my foot was driving me CRAZY and I couldn't stop scratching it - and the more you scratch it the worse it becomes. It is awful. And I keep wishing that I could have been the one with the cactus and someone else could have the damned fire ant sting..... As painful as Cam's problem looked, once the spines were out, his pain was over and he has no lasting aftereffects. I will be stuck with these painful & itchy stings for a long time to come........ I hate fire ants.

BUT, I'm still happy to be here. Yesterday, the waterball crew gathered an 'impromptu' (planned in secret) game of advanced waterball. Normally there is no waterball on Sunday allowed at the park but I think they figured that all the brass was at home for the holiday so we could get away with it. About a half hour into the game, one of the low-level brass wandered over on his day off to tell us he had had complaints. And the complaints were due to noise b/c 2 people wanted a noisefree Sunday to enjoy. So he said we could keep playing if we could be quiet. So imagine 20 people in the pool playing a fast-paced game of waterball - but very little sound. We were whispering 'Service' - and some people mimed that the ball would be served - whenever there was a good play, we jumped up and down and splashed but no one said anything. It was bizarre and funny and stupid all at the same time. Of course there were a lot of 'SSSSSHHHHHHHHHH' if someone got a little too excited. And the ref kept saying 'No LAUGHING' (tongue in cheek, of course). But we got to play for 2 hours so we were willing to put up with the 'no sound waterball'. I'm sure it was a strange specatator sport......

So, my icecube is now fully melted that I put on my foot to try to quell the fire - not sure if it was the icecube or the distraction of typing this blog that has allowed me to stop scratching the bites, but I'm about to try Orajel on them - it has anaesthetic in it so I'm hoping that will help. The Hydrocortisone cream I tried didn't really stop the itching - maybe Benzocaine with do the trick!

Anyway, despite the seeming pitfalls, those were just short blips in an otherwise perfect holiday and we are enjoying ourselves immensely. And yesterday, we popped into town and I dropped Cam and the dogs off at a dog park (no cactus) and then went to Walmart to buy our own desert supplies - pliers and a comb - so we can head back to the desert....

Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas time and that your upcoming New Year will be prosperous and most of all -HEALTHY.

Monday, December 13, 2010

RIP Skeleton Man - and others...

So in the spring I blogged about different people - including skeleton man and we found out today that he died 3 weeks ago....

I also had previously blogged about an 86 year old man whom I played waterball with every day who had breast cancer 15 or so years ago. He passed away in Aug or Sep of prostate cancer....

And I don't think I blogged about her but another lady I met in the spring was killed in a car crash while driving down for the winter.

I know this sounds really depressing - I didn't mean it to - also some other people I know have passed away recently so even though it's a sad time, it is also time to remember to live life to the fullest.

If I ever am to actually die from cancer, let it be when I'm 86 and have already beaten it when I was 40. I would be ok with that!!!

I spoke to a lady in the pool yesterday who is 87. Her kids are on social security. Apparently that is the litmus test in a 55+community - you cannot be considered old unless your children are on social security....

On a lighter note, I am having a love/hate relationship with crickets. They are very noisy but my inlaws cannot hear them. I have learned that crickets tend to be frightened into silence, so while we are all quietly watching tv, I will suddenly leap up from the couch and jump on the stairs.... or earlier tonight, I grabbed a sandal off the floor and fired it across the room. It buys 2 or 3 minutes of silence. They are wondering if there really AREany crickets - but I think I have convincedt hem that I'm not schizophrenic as we have actually clapped eyes on a few of the suckers. But they move quicker than you think so they are hard to kill and I have just grown used to sharing my room with them.

Once again, I am convinced that this place is the ultimate cancer recovery location. I am totally relaxed and happy down here and I have a spiritual friend who tell me how wonderful I am all the time. She says I am a beautiful soul.... or maybe she meant sole.... NAH..... She talks about a light shining from me..... who knows - it might be that one from out of my butt!!!! (some of you will know exactly what I mean!!!) Anyway, regardless, she tells me that I have already beaten cancer and her spiritual guides tell her I will be fine. And that's good news no matter how strange a manner it may be given....

It's probably why I like it here so much - all of these people think I'm wonderful. It is very cool to be introduced to a community who has no idea of your past indiscretions, moodiness, bitchy attitudes or downright rudeness. I find it really easy to be a positive caring person here. And of course, I am much better at this at home these days too but still easier here.

We have all done & said things we regret - and generally we have to live with that regret b/c the people we have hurt are still around us to know. But all the people down here know only 'waterball me' - and don't know how one day years ago when I was in a left turn lane, a lady honked at me JUST as the light turned green - which really irritated me and so to punish her, I waited at that light until the turn light turned yellow - and then I gunned it and left her at the red light...Bwaaaa ha a haaaaa. That's 'evil me'. you can be who you want to be in a place like this!!

Hopefully the 'nice me' isn't just a Desert Hot Springs one.....

I don't know - I think I might just have to stop telling people I work with that there are no stupid questions, only stupid people asking questions.....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wow - it's December!!!

So I had my 3rd to last Herceptin on Thursday - no issues or problem except for the snowstorm but the Rav performed nicely in the snow. It's a good car.

I am now on the path to seriously considering cancelling my appointment for the uterine surgery as the thyroid medication so far SEEMS to be finally kicking in as far as solving my problem with menorraghia. I hope this remains true b/c the difference is almost unbelievable. I may be a skeptic, but I have some more time to assess this before they perform surgery anyway. I will wait to see what next month brings me before I actually pick up the phone to cancel.

I also have to pick up the phone and call my plastic surgeon at some point to advise him that I have considered his option of slicing off the top half of my remaining nipple to graft it onto my new fake breast. And the answer is NO WAY!!! It won't even work anyway or have any sensation so what is the point? In my opinion, nipples are overrated anyway.

Next chemo isn't until Dec 16 and no other appts until then. (except waterball - yup, I'm in California) But I'm not going to blog a whole bunch about it because this is, after all, meant to be a blog about my journey through recovery from breast cancer. Well, I guess relaxation and recuperation is a part of that too...... well, if anything exciting/interesting happens, I'll post, but otherwise, assume I'm in the pool playing waterball.... ha ha

My next and final reconstruction surgery is scheduled for Jan or Feb.

Catch ya later! It's TOPS day here so I'm off to weigh in.