Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday´s Update

I was not able to make it to Viborg yesterday, but I did talk to Ole and get an update on Patti.
She was moved to the "Patient hotel" yesterday, and actually, she WALKED across the street to the hotel, on her own, so that tells you a great deal about how she is doing!

She is still very tired from the long surgery and the anesthesia, so she is spending much of her time sleeping and resting. Her body just needs time to heal from Tuesday.

She will be in the Patient Hotel from 3 to 5 days... until she feels ready to go home. They want to keep her there, for sure, until they are able to remove the drain that they had to insert during the surgery.

They also were able to meet with the doctor yesterday to talk with him about how the surgery went. He gave a great report and said that what he expected to do (remove Patti's right breast and 1 lymph node) was exactly what he ended up doing... so that was GREAT NEWS! Everything has been sent to pathology and within the next week or so, they will find out what the results are and what measures need to be taken in the future.

Continue to keep Patti and Ole in your thoughts and prayers... and pray that she does not go stir crazy while she is "stuck" recovering! :-) I think if she could get her laptop and her Bejewled Blitz games up and running, she would be much happier!
Oh and she would be REALLY happy if none of you would beat her high score while she is out of commission!!

More to come!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on Patti

Sorry to disappoint those of you who are expecting a Half-Danish/Half-English post from Patti´s "guest blogger"....but tonight is all ENGELSK! :o)

I just got home a few minutes ago from Viborg and am happy to report that I left Patti ,AKA PING, smiling and eating a roll with "smør og ost" as ALL bread products in Denmark are served! It was a long day for Patti as Ole and I sent her off with 2 very YOUNG nurses at 12.45 and we did not see her again until 7.15 tonight. Her recovery took a bit longer than the expected 2 hours, but I think it was just Patti´s body way of forcing her to rest after such a huge trauma.

We did not get to talk to the surgeon tonight, but hopefully by the time I go back to Viborg tomorrow, we will have more news that I can share with you from the doctor.

The plan is that sometime tomorrow she will be moved to the "Patienthotellet"... this fancy "Halfway House" (Patti´s term!!) which is where you have your recovery before you go home. She should be there 3 to 5 days. It is a very fancy looking building that is part of the Viborg hospital and I cannot wait to see it in person! (And yes, I warned Patti that I am bringing the camera tomorrow!)

So thank you all for your love and prayers and good wishes all day. I know she felt them and I can tell you all that Ole and I did as well as we waited.

Good night to our blogger friends. It just amazes me that our tiny little blogs have connected us the way that they have..... especially at times like this when we need each other so much.

Hugs from Patti (and the guest blogger too!)


Monday, April 27, 2009

Uhh.. I'm a bit hungry over here!

Tomorrow is the day of my surgery.

I have approximately 4 more hours in which I am allowed to eat anything. If you follow this blog, then you know that I don't usually do the cooking around here. There is meat in the refrigerator waiting for the magical moment when Ole will fire up the grill and turn that meat into yummy hamburgers. But that moment has seemingly been temporarily delayed while he sits and stares at some Danish soccer match on TV. Apparently it's very exciting - his team isn't playing but rumor has it that a very high ranked team is getting a pounding from a very low ranked team, and that means there is some random cheering, in Danish, coming from the living room. As long as the food appears before midnight, I'm good!

Tomorrow morning I'm not allowed to eat or drink after 6 am, which basically means that if I want to have anything to drink in the morning, I'll have to get up early, but if I can't have my coffee (with cream) what's the point of that? Sheesh.

I had to call the hospital today to find out what number I've been assigned in the surgical order - and apparently I'm #3, which means that instead of getting there at 7 AM, I don't have to be there until 9 AM. Not so bad, though I think I'd prefer to just get up and go rather than sitting around waiting.

I just want to take a moment, again, to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to send me nice comments, Emails, phone calls, and cards. I feel pretty lucky to have such wonderful people in my life!

I hope to be back and writing very soon, but in the meantime, I've asked my fellow expat and friend, Kelli, if she would be so kind as to post an update or two for all of you as my guest author. Maybe you'll even get that update in Danish too! (She's all crazy like that posting in Danish and English - a skill I haven't yet managed to acquire!)

See you on the flip side!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Got tea?

I'm baaaack!

Spent last week in Washington State and have made it safely home again to Denmark. Going to the states is generally for 1 of two reasons - for work, or for family. Unfortunately, as the two things are on opposite coasts, the trip never covers both.

Back in December, we traveled for family and spent the holidays seeing mine. As Ole was able to go with me on that trip, we brought extra suitcases for the purpose of hauling back jars of iced tea mix. Unfortunately, winter in the Northeast isn't a great time for iced tea selection and the stores had decided to not carry my particular brand in the winter months. Had we known in advance that they wouldn't have it in the store, we probably could have arranged something, but I had just assumed it would be there, and I was wrong. We did, however, still manage to fill up those 'extra' suitcases with all kinds of other items so all was not lost. But, my lack of tea problem remained. And no, another brand cannot be substituted. I think iced tea mix is one of those things where you find one you like, and nothing else will do. Having me attempt another brand, with a different sweetener, would be like telling a Coca Cola drinker that they'd have to make do with Diet Pepsi.

So this past week I was scheduled to head to the states for work. And this time, I planned ahead. My friend, co-worker and all around life-saver, pre-ordered iced tea mix for me from the local grocery store. She arranged a price per case that beat the shelf price, so I said go ahead and order 10 cases. I knew I wouldn't actually be able to get 10 cases back here in one trip, but the stuff doesn't go bad, and I'd like to avoid a future crisis, so voila, 10 cases were waiting for me in Washington. Happy Day!

I had brought along two very large suitcases and very few clothing items. Knowing the tea was the goal, I also had to limit my normal USA shopping to just a few essentials - namely, zip lock bags.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for - just how much did I manage to haul back?....


Yes, there you have it! Nearly 5 full cases. I had the room, but the weight was a bit heavy so 2 of the cases had some jars extracted to get under the 50 lb limit on the big suitcases. Each of the big bags had 2 cases in them, and I had one case in my carry-on. Mind you, that raised some eyebrows at the security checkpoints!! No one said a word at Seatac but upon arrival in Copenhagen, the security folks asked me if I was carrying syltetøj (jelly/jam). I then explained that it was iced tea mix - my guess is that's the first time they have ever encountered 12 jars of iced tea mix in a carry-on! Doesn't everyone come back from the US with iced tea? Apparently not. All in all, 55 jars of tea made it back and each jar makes 35 quarts.. I should be good for awhile!

But wait, there's more!

I arrived home to a very, very nice surprise! On thursday, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law had come over and cleaned my house from one end to the other. The house is amazingly clean - I have no idea what they did differently from what I normally do but I could definitely get used to this! The place is gleaming. Every knick-knack has been spit polished and artfully arranged, my plants look like they're all brand new, the floors are shining - it's unreal. My awesome hubby had arranged all of this while I was away and he also purchased two bouquets of fresh flowers and an orchid. I love my Dane!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring in Denmark

Sometime last fall I went around and dug up all the various bulbs I had stuck in the ground the previous year. I decided to revamp one of my flower beds and just fill it up with all kinds of bulbs. The great thing about tulips and daffodils is that they're so reliable - you just stick them in a hole and a few months later, they reward you by growing. The dogs generally don't eat them, (I say generally because.. well.. I have found some on the lawn here and there so a few were 'sniffed' out and dug up) and that's always a plus in this house. At this point, I don't think I can count the number of rose bushes that have been consumed by a certain black dog. She did grow up a little and recover a bit from her rose eating obsession, but then we got a 2nd dog, and this one eats trees, and anything resembling a tree. Doggie #2 has pretty much destroyed a favorite azalea bush though I'm still holding out hope that it will miraculously spring back to life.

Back to the bulbs. Just for extra 'doggie' protection, I dug a few inches down in the entire bed, dropped every bulb I could find into the flower bed, and then took some of that green wire fencing and set that down over all the bulbs prior to shoveling all the dirt back in - puppy proofing. Getting your paws stuck on a fence seems to work to prevent further digging. Genius!

Spring has arrived, the daffodils are in full blooms, and now all my beautiful tulips are arriving one by one (and some hyacinth too!)... yeehaw!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Thank you all so, so much for your kind comments. Though I have never met the vast majority of you in person, it feels good to know that I have my expat buds around to help me get through things, and to keep me laughing.

Let me give you the rundown of how it got to this point. And, btw, I kind of like "Brystkræft" - sounds so much nicer than breast cancer, even if it actually means exactly the same thing! In my danglish eyes, I like to think of it as breast craft - and in the end, perhaps I will get to 'craft' a new breast. :)

It all started about 2 weeks or so ago when I found a lump. It's not like I religiously do self-exams or anything so the fact that I actually noticed was an accomplishment in and of itself. But, when I noticed, it scared the crap out of me, mostly because it WAS noticeable, and I knew right then and there, that it was probably not going to be good news.

I went to the local doctor (always an annoying experience) so that she could then refer me onward and upward. She confirmed that something was definitely there and so off went the referral.

Next step - Mammacentret Viborg. It's inside the hospital and after missing the entrance to the actual parking garage and driving in a big circle around Viborg (well, it felt like a circle after having passed through no fewer than 6 roundabouts), I finally caught the entrance the second time around and found a place to park. The hospital was about what I would expect, with the addition of a big 'netcafe' right off the main lobby, which I thought was actually kind of cool.

The mammacentret part had a big waiting room with tables and chairs, nice arrangements of candles everywhere (a Danish necessity) and pitchers of water, coffee and tea. Since the local doctor's office has an average waiting time of an hour, I figured I'd be sitting there awhile. Not so - they came and got me right away and trotted me off for the mammogram. That was exactly as expected, and as uncomfortable as expected. The nurse did speak quite a bit in Danish, and I actually understood most of it, which was cool. But she also understood that I didn't understand everything, and so, whenever necessary, she simply explained in English - something I definitely appreciated.

From there, I had to go have an ultrasound. The nurse explained that I would go in the next room with her, and that the doctor would review the films and then come in and do the ultrasound. When the door opened and the doctor came in, I was just a wee bit surprised to see that the doctor was actually one of my classmates from the sprog center - a woman from Poland. I knew she worked at the hospital, but it's a big place, and what are the odds that she would suddenly appear as 'the doctor'! I wondered if it would bother me at all, but she was professional, and in the end, it didn't really matter to me - I just wanted to get done with it all no matter who the doctor might be!

After doing the ultrasound for awhile, she then explained that she would need to do some biopsies. By now, I had already steeled myself for the worst possible scenario, so I wasn't surprised. Biopsy itself? Not really a pleasant experience. It doesn't hurt really, it's just annoying as hell. When all was said and done, and I was thoroughly poked and prodded, a biopsy was taken from under my arm, and 4 more from my breast - or was it 5. I don't remember at this point - let's just say it wasn't fun.

The nurse then got on the phone to make sure I could get the results and a follow-up appointment before the big Easter weekend, which I appreciated. Having to wait through Easter would have been horrible. So, last Wednesday we went in for the results and well, you already know what came of that.

What I did learn in the past two weeks is that certain common phrases in English don't translate well to someone who is not a native English speaker. When the doctor and nurse were explaining the results to us, and what to expect, etc., I basically said.. "Okay, we'll play it by ear." They couldn't figure out what the heck I was saying - oops!

So, what's next.

On April 28th, I will go in for surgery and I'll come back out a bit lopsided. I have no idea at this point what type of emotional reaction I may have. I'm hoping it really won't bother me much, but I really can't say as I simply cannot imagine it as I sit here now. Only time will tell.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

To blog or not to blog..

That is the question.

After deliberating in my head for a few days (while frantically swapping gems in Bejeweled Blitz) - the answer I have come to is... to blog.

For those who regularly follow this blog, you'll know that my posts are a journal of my experiences living in a foreign country. Generally speaking, I like to share the things I find funny, or odd, or annoying, about Denmark, and about how I cope with life in Denmark. And now and then, I throw in a picture or story about my dogs and cats, because they're here, and because, frankly, they're rather amusing. Through it all, I hope you're laughing with me (or at me) and that you're enjoying my tales.

But, real life doesn't always provide you with just the amusing things - it also throws in a dose of sobering realism. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Yeah, it sucks. But it is what it is. This isn't the first time in my life that I've dealt with cancer. In 2005, I had cervical cancer. Hearing that news sent shock waves through my system. The first time you hear that diagnosis, you can't help but be shocked, and scared. Prior to that diagnosis, I had already decided that kids weren't something that I wanted, so when the doctor told me that I would need a hysterectomy and that I wouldn't be able to have children, I told her that she had just gotten off easy. I won't bore you with all the details, I will just let you know that when all of that happened, I just tried to look at the bright side - I would no longer be a customer of Tampax, Playtex and the like! Ultimately, I got through it and came out stronger on the other side.

So here I am trying to look at the bright side again because, well, that's just what I do. You, my friends, are about to get a first hand account of the Danish medical system! I just know you're on the edges of your seats in anticipation!

I am not turning this blog into a 'cancer' blog but for the near future, you're going to have to put up with hearing about it. I promise, however, that I'll still sprinkle the blog with tales of the animals in my life, so yeah, you'll have to put up with that too!

I hope you'll all continue to laugh with me in the coming months because I'm going to keep trying to amuse you.

As for today...Happy Easter and God Påske!

And P.S. I passed module 4!!
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