Monday, November 30, 2009

Thyroid Cancer

I think cancer is like the spanish one expects it. I sure wasn't expecting to hear it when I had an ultrasound done on my thyroid this week. As some of you know, I have several nodules in my thyroid (well, if you can refer to 14 as "several") so I asked the tech if there were any new ones and the size of the older ones so I'd know if any of them had grown. She showed me a couple of new ones and then she tabbed back to the scan of the largest of the nodules. It's up to 3cm now but the thing that concerned her was the "snowstorm" of microcalcifications in the nodule. She said she'd get the results over to my doctor as quickly as possible.

Microcalcifications in a thyroid nodule mean that the nodule is malignant. Its increase in size is also symptomatic. Ultrasounds are one way of diagnosing thyroid cancer and are 80% accurate. They'll be doing a biopsy on that nodule sometime soon (they haven't called me to schedule it yet) just to back it up but regardless of what the biopsy shows, the thyroid has got to go. It should have been removed two years ago when about 8 of those nodules hit the 2cm mark. The doctor said that the microcalcifications do indicate cancer and that she'd get me to a good surgeon as soon as they get the biopsy done.

I'm really not worried about this. Honestly, I'm not. So I have cancer.......I have a lot of other things too and this is the first diagnosis I've had in a long time that actually has a chance of being cured! LOL! Every other diagnosis I've gotten in the past two years has resulted in a doctor telling me, "I'm sorry, but this is something that you'll have to learn to live with". Thyroid cancer has a pretty good cure rate so all in all, it could be a whole lot worse.

The doctor hasn't discussed it with me yet but from what I've researched the course of treatment will be to completely remove the whole thyroid gland. Yay!! This thing is annoying and bulky and it's cutting off the blood flow to my brain. (and those things alone justify surgery to remove it as it should have been two years ago) I've had to deal with all that for a long time so getting this bulky thing out of me so I can breathe easier and feel better is something to look forward to.

After the surgery there is a six week period with no thyroid suppliments to try to get as much of the hormone out of my system as possible and then a mega dose of radioactive iodine. Since only thyroid cells absorb iodine that's the best way to get the radiation to the source. And that's it. No chemo or anything else. I'll be tested frequently and if it comes back, they'll do another round of the radioactive iodine.

Pretty cut and dried as I see it. That's best case scenario of course, but "best case" is what I'm counting on. The good news is that the microcalcifications only showed up in the one nodule and that means that it should be pretty well contained. I'm thinking positive that this is the way it's going to go and that I'll be cancer free so fast that I won't even remember that I had cancer in the first place.

I have to admit that all this on top of everything else is a little overwhelming, but I'll deal with it. I still don't know about the rheumatoid arthritis for sure. My rhuematologist and my hand surgeon are arguing about it. I wish they'd leave me out of their issues with each other. The hand surgeon says yes, the rheumatologist says no and my internist says she can't really help. She agrees that my hands look like I do but if the blood work says not, then the tissue biopsy is the only other way to know for sure because the blood tests don't always show it. Hmmmmmmm. I wonder if they can get a tissue biopsy when they're doing the thyroid surgery? Multi-tasking is a good thing! LOL! I'll have to ask them and see.  But in the meantime, I'm going to go on doing what I do.  I might slow down a little bit but then again, maybe not.  I'm not going to worry about it tho..........every day is a mini-day and I'll keep doing what I always do. 

Anyway, that's where we are right now. I probably gave y'all more information than you wanted but I'm trying to be very open with everyone about it. I'm not going to candy coat anything and I'll probably be telling a lot of bad jokes because even a dark sense of humor is good medicine.

It's gonna be alright.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Final Score: Humans 9; Squirrels 0

After an exciting week, the SRS took down the traps yesterday and wished us a happy, squirrel-free life.   I was almost sorry to see them go.  The SRSs, not the squirrels!  I've talked to either Mike or Perry every day for a week and I'm gonna miss them.  They were always so polite.

The last few squirrels were obviously sent in by the squirrel union to strong-arm us a little bit.  These were some seriously tough squirrels!  They shook the cages so hard that I could hear the rattling and banging all the way downstairs in my studio!  Since none of them got out, I'm sure the squirrels would have been moving onto more drastic measures before long.  It's probably good that the traps came down when they did before we found the head of a horsefly on our pillow. 

Oh, that "catch and release" program that the SRS told us about?  Uh huh, I knew it was a job security thing!  We talked to Bruce's best friend last night and guess what moved into his attic this week?  Yep, he's got squirrels.  Hmmmm..........he only lives about a mile away from us.  I'm willing to bet I know where our SRS released those squirrels.  The real kicker was when he told us the name of the SRS he's using to get rid of them.  Yep, he's made friends with Mike and Perry too. 

I'm sure it's just a coincidence.  But just to be on the safe side, I'm going to send Skipper over to Joe's house for backup.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jailhouse Rock

Rocky threw a party in the county jail,
The Squirrelly band was there and they began to wail,
The cages were a-jumpin' and the joint began to swing,
You should have heard them locked up squirrellies sing!

Let's rock!  Everybody, let's rock! 
Everybody in the whole tree top,
Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock! 

Fluffy Murphy played the tenor saxophone,
Little Foot was blowing on the slide trombone.
The drummer squirrel from Aspen Tree went crash, boom, bang,
The whole rhythm section was the Acorn Gang!

Let's rock!  Everybody, let's rock! 
Everybody in the whole tree top,
Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock!

  Did you know that if you sing that to squirrels sitting in cages on the side of your house, they get reeeeeeeeeeeally annoyed?  Apparently squirrels have no sense of humor unless they're in on the joke. 

We're up to 4 now!  The last one to get in the trap must have been my little Mr Anger Management Issues squirrel.  He hit that cage swingin' his little fists and when the SRS arrived to get him about two hours later, he was still banging on the bars! 

I heard a thunk on that side of the house about five minutes ago which means that we've got another one in the trap.  That makes it 5 now.

Five squirrels in 24 hours!!  What the hell was going on in my attic anyway?  Did they open a nightclub up there?  If they were charging a cover, I want a piece of that.  Oh wait.  What am I going to do with a bunch of nuts and seeds?  Never mind.

The SRS said that one trap had two squirrels in it.  Hmmm.  Some kind of buddy system?  Was there a Chip-n-Dale type of argument about who was going to go inside to investigate first and they finally decided they'd just go in together? 

The SRS will leave the traps up until we've gone three days without any squirrels.  I'm beginning to think that I'm going to be busy monitoring traps for quite awhile!  I thought about asking him to check the company records and see if my neighborhood has been on their "relocation" list in the past.  LOL!

Oh well, back to singing..........

Let's rock! Everybody, let's rock!

Everybody in the whole tree top,

Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Humans 1; Squirrels 0

That's the score so far.  The really nice Squirrel Removal Specialist (let's just call him SRS from now on) came out this afternoon and mounted two squirrel traps on the side of the wall.  He gave me his number to call and explained how to check the traps twice a day.

It wasn't long after he left that I went outside to look at the traps and discovered one of them was full with a very pissed off squirrel.  He's shaking the bars of the cage and yelling things in squirrel that are best left untranslated.   When he saw me he shook his little fist and said bad things about my mother. 

The dogs next door (a Rottie and a Doberman) are having a great time with this.  Those squirrels sit on the fence and tease the dogs constantly.  I hear the dogs barking all the time and when I see a squirrel run by the window with a smirk on his face, I know why.  So the dogs seem to be rather delighted to see the squirrel all locked up.  They're sitting on the other side of the fence pointing and giggling. 

The SRS will be here soon to unload this one and reset the trap.  The traps are very humane.......they look like little jail cells from the Andy Griffith show without the cots. 

The traps will be out for three days or until they quit catching squirrels.  It's kind of entertaining for me to watch it (yes, I'm still bitter about the patio cushions). 

I wonder how long it will take for another fuzzy vandal to find his way into the Squirrel Relocation Program?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The War of the Squirrels, Part 2

Some of you who follow my blog may remember me talking about urban critters and my ongoing Squirrel War.  Just when I thought that all was quiet on the western front, it started up again.

It began about two weeks ago when I kept hearing a gnawing sound on the side of the house. It was always around 8am and I’m not awake at that hour of the day (Bruce works nights and we sleep during the day) so the sound didn’t really register at first. By the third day of being awakened by it, I was seriously annoyed, threw on some clothes and went out to the backyard to see. When I got to the corner of the house, I looked up and a furry little head popped over the side of the gutter. Yep, it was my old nemesis, The Squirrel.
Okay, so I don’t know if it was the same squirrel or not. It’s doubtful but so far I haven’t found a way of determining the difference between them. But I’m pretty sure it was one of the same family and he’d heard about me.

He pointed a little finger at me and started barking and chattering. Oh my gawd, the things he said! I asked him if he eats with that mouth and it only made him madder. He stomped his feet and twirled his tail and cussed up a blue streak! Really, it was an act that could bring back Vaudeville. He finally stopped and just sat there glaring at me, his little sides heaving as he tried to catch his breath.

I told him, “Look, you need to go find something else to chew on. Houses are not chew toys and you’re waking me up.” He chattered a little more, ran down to the other end of the house, hopped on the patio roof and into the tree (that’s like Route 66 to the local squirrels) and sat there cussing at me some more. Then he blazed off down the fence to the neighbor’s yard.
We heard the gnawing sounds a couple more times but Bruce went out and checked and the attic vents were all covered with steel mesh so we figured the squirrel was exercising his futility. The next morning I heard scurrying sounds going up the side of the house and then a “thump-thump-thump-thud-thump” sound. He’d been climbing up the downspout on the side of he house, lost his grip and slid down like a klutz. I softly chuckled and went back to sleep.

I should have known that wasn’t going to be the end of it. A couple days later we woke up to the sound of thumping on the ceiling. The furry little bastard had made it into the attic. We checked the mesh over the attic vents and sure enough, he’d managed to peel back a corner of it, gnawed at the hole a little bit to make it bigger, and came right on in like he owned the place.

Of course you know this means war.

I ranted and raved about it for quite awhile. It’s not like they don’t have a soft and comfy home to go to coz that huge nest in the tree is fully lined with the stuffing from my patio cushions! What’s next? Do I wake up to find him on my pillow complaining about how loud I snore? Will I get up in the morning and find him in the kitchen with his head stuffed in the coffee canister? Nope, there is no way I’m going to share my house with a squirrel. One of us has got to go.

Being of sound mind, I know that it’s better to let the professionals deal with squirrels. And there are lots to choose from in the Denver area! The yellow pages are full of Wildlife Removal Services. Of course I already knew this because of the raccoon who gave birth in my chimney, but it still amazes me.

The Squirrel Specialist showed up today and I had the strange and eerie feeling that we were re-enacting a scene from Ghost Busters. It got more and more surreal as he asked questions.   He had his notebook out and was scribbling down my answers. To his credit he did not say “Just the facts ma’am”. I showed him the place in the bedroom ceiling where we heard the most noise and he took more notes. Then he went outside and we got an education in squirrels.

The nest up in the tree is the “summer home”. That’s where they have their babies and hang out in spring and summer. When it gets cold they try to find a way to get inside houses and from what he said, they can be rather militant about it! Remember, these are urbans squirrels. They’re street smart and stealthy. After looking around our backyard with all the trees, the Squirrel Specialist said that our yard is the perfect sanctuary for them. All our neighbors have dogs or children and our backyard is the only one on the block where there’s not a lot of human or pet traffic. Combined with the trees (especially all the pines that provide them with food when they’re not calling for Chinese takeout or raiding trash cans) this makes our backyard squirrel heaven.

Great. I’m running a resort for the freaking squirrels! The Squirrel Specialist said that urban squirrels are too smart for things like predator piss, owl decoys and taped predator calls to work so there’s not much I can do to get rid of them unless I hire a Great Dane with a bad attitude. Seems like the best we can do is make sure that they don’t have any easy point of entry into the house.

The plan is to put a trap with a one way door over his little entry hole. The Squirrel Specialist will come back every day to check the trap and when the squirrel is in it, he’ll take it away and release it somewhere else. I’m a little doubtful about whether or not this will work since I saw the squirrel up in a tree, carefully watching and listening to everything that was said. I think that the Squirrel Specialist wasn’t the only one taking notes. If UPS delivers a box from ACME addressed to Wyle E. Squirrel, I’m outta here! I really hope that Squirrel Specialists wear helmets, goggles and full body armor.

Wait. Back up a little bit to that part about catch and release. Release where? Oh, he said, “We’ll take him several miles from here so he can’t find his way back and release him in a different neighborhood”. Ooooooookay. Is that something like job security?

We’ll have to wait and see what happens next with the “one way trap” and the catch and release program. The Squirrel Specialist is confident that they’ll catch him. Since I know these squirrels well I’m not so sure about that. All I can say is that I’m glad my walking cane has a sword in it.

Or perhaps I should simply call in a different type of professional.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

White Rabbit

Some days I feel like the White Rabbit running around saying, "I'm late!  I'm late!".  Other days, I run around saying, "I'm early!  I'm early!"  Most of the time I just run around thinking, "Where the hell was I going anyway?".    It really doesn't matter if you're early or late when you don't even know what it is you're early or late for.   I figure that sooner or later I'll run into it and recognize it when I see it.  The world is round ya know. 

But this time I actually know what it is and I'm early! I'm not sure how it happened, but I've actually begun getting ready for Yule!  I know!  It shocked my socks off too!  I'm usually running around at the last minute trying to do it all at once.  Well, truth be told, I'll probably end up that way this year too but at least I'm making a start on it now.

It's sort of a complacent feeling to know that even if I don't do anything else I'll at least have done two things to get ready for the holidays this year. 

The first thing was to give Bruce my Yule wish list.    He gets all stressed out and paranoid about selecting gifts so I do most of it myself.  he does the shopping but I give him the list of "you can't go wrong with these".  I know, it's not very romantic but it's easier to give him a list to choose from than to deal with him stressing himself sick over it.   And since my post-surgery-anti-insanity plan includes catching up on reading, that means that I want books, books and more books under the tree!  I had to give him a list of the books I haven't read yet.  I might actually catch up on both Rita Mae Brown's series!  I also want to read the last three books in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay.    Obviously I have some seriously eclectic tastes in literature and since I'll be frustrated about not mini-ing, light reading is best.  Anne McCaffrey is also on the list.  I was hoping that Jane Lindskold would have a new Firekeeper book out but alas, nothing new.  I also need to go check Stephen King's website and see when he has a new book due out.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the list.  Topping the list is a mini sewing machine.  Not a mini-mini, but just a mini.  As in a real sewing machine that weighs less than five pounds.  I don't have space in the studio to leave my full size machine out and I just can't lug it around from the shelf to table and back again anymore so a mini machine is the answer.  Small, portable, easy to use......yep, that's the ticket.  I've been out of the textile loop for awhile and even before that I was quite happy with my old Brother so I didn't even know which brand name is topping the quality list anymore.  As always, my best friend came thru with the info and I'm getting a Janome mini. 

So that's one thing checked off my Yule to-do list.  Yay.  The next was to get some Christmas-y stuff put up on Etsy.  I had some fabric that I'd been saving for a parlor set and a bed and it's just goooooooooooooooorgeous!  It's not a holiday print so it could go either decor or just plain Victorian.  Either way it's to die for.   The parlor set is probably one of the best I've ever done but the bed is pretty elegant too.

I wanted to do one more bed, but something informal and fun.  I dug out a white wire wicker bed and a couple of really cute fabrics with tiny holly red with white lattice and green leaves and the other white with green leaves and itty, bitty red berries.  I thought it would be light and airy and bright and it is.  But somewhere in the middle of making it my Muse took over and said it needed a teddy bear holding a stocking.  My sense of humor got the best of me and, well, this is what happened:

T'was the night before Christmas and something more than a mouse was stirring under the tree. Mama quickly rose and threw on her slippers to tip toe down the stairs. Her wondering eyes beheld such a sight! A package was missing from under the tree and one stocking no longer hung by the chimney with care. Mama knew that it probably wasn't the Grinch so she quietly crept upstairs and opened the door to her wee one's bedroom.

The light from the hallway shone on the bed but no one was nestled there dreaming of dancing sugarplums. However, Mama quickly determined where the missing package and stocking had gone! As she turned to look for the guilty one, from behind the door and out of sight came a voice that exclaimed.................


There are more pictures of it on my website here.  I love it when my Muse lets her sense of humor show. 

I got one other thing done.  I have a new video for Christmas on You Tube.

Now if I can keep the momentum going thru the holiday season, I'll be doing well!  I'm planning on making fudge this year too!  When I make fudge, I go on a marathon and make around 35 pounds in five different flavors.  My favorite is butterscotch pecan.  Yum!  I won't be doing 35 pounds of it this year, but I'm going to try to make a few batches at least.  I need to start on my shopping list first.  Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. 

Oh, before I forget, if you haven't done so already, stop by Julie Campbell's blog ( ) and congratulate her on her new title of IGMA Artisan.  Julie's dolls are amazing and I'm delighted to see her receiving the recognition she deserves.

One more thing...............pop over to MiniMadWoman's blog today and wish her a Happy Birthday!   It's always fun to visit Marigold Manor but she's got a party going on over there today and you don't want to miss it!