Friday, May 29, 2009
He started with the obvious - describing it as a striped shirt. I think everyone can agree that for this particular shirt, 'striped' would be the apt adjective:
However, the next shirt he came to, and asked us to describe, led to a bit of discussion...
Okay, more of a little argument, and okay, it was just really me being difficult again. Sort of like the time another Danish teacher attempted to tell me that basketball and volleyball could be described as similar games, which he based solely on the fact that both have a 'ball', and I argued that in reality, basketball is more closely related to hockey, whereas volleyball would be more closely related to badminton. Yeah, I'm like that sometimes, and if I were the teacher I'd probably want to slap me upside the head, but that's not allowed in Denmark and besides, I'm the class entertainment. Without me, they'd all be asleep 30 minutes into the 2-1/2 hour class. But, I digress. Back to the shirts and my point.
We needed the equivalent of striped with which to describe the above shirt. So I said "på engelsk, det er 'plaid'" and then I quickly grabbed my dansk/engelsk dictionary to look up the danish word for plaid. Which, lo and behold is.. wait for it... PLAID. The teacher had decided to use another adjective to describe the shirt.. he chose "ternet". So with some speedy little page flipping, I found 'ternet' on the danish side of the book, which officially translates to "checkered".
When I said... "No no, that's plaid!" - and I then showed him that the danish dictionary translated the english plaid to the danish plaid, he looked at me strangely and said I was incorrect. Grumble.
Now, 'checkered' to me is the pattern you see on a flag at the racetrack - not the shirt pictured above. A checkered shirt, in my opinion, looks like this:
THAT is checkered. The one above it is plaid. Hmmph.
In Danish class, one of the important things we are taught is that when you have an opinion, you also need argumentation. So, I present to you, my argumentation:
1. any fabric woven of differently colored yarns in a crossbarred pattern.
2. a pattern of this kind.
3. a long, rectangular piece of cloth, usually with such a pattern and worn across the left shoulder by Scottish Highlanders.
4. having the pattern of a plaid.
1. marked by numerous and various shifts or changes; variegated: a checkered career.
2. marked by dubious episodes; suspect in character or quality: a checkered past.
3. marked with squares: a checkered fabric.
4. diversified in color; alternately light and shadowed: the checkered shade beneath trees.
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.
His argumentation was that 'plaid' was only used for certain plaids, not all plaids (as if that makes any sense), as in the definition found under the NOUN plaid (3. a long, rectangular piece of cloth, usually with such a pattern and worn across the left shoulder by Scottish Highlanders.), not the adjective, mind you. HA!
So, what's your opinion?
(And, btw, if you're a certain Canadian reader who has a certain PLAID skirt wearing scot for a hubby, feel free to chime in!)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
First, a package from my mom and dad with books, a big chocolate Easter bunny (not pictured - hmmm) and lots and lots of Hershey Kisses (also not pictured.. sensing a pattern here)...
A few days after that package arrived, along came another one, this time from my sister-in-law. She sent me a whole pile of books as well as the Parade article featuring Frederick and Mary and several pages from the Sunday comics - a nice taste of home!
My mother is really skilled with a sewing machine and whipped up these little caps for me and sent them off! I don't know if it was because of a slow postal weekend or if putting 'chemo caps' on the customs form means they rush things, but she mailed these on May 22 and they arrived here on May 25!! Woosh!
And then yesterday, much to my surprise, another package arrived! This one was sent by my co-workers back in the states. I am blessed to have a great group of people to work with - people that I consider friends and people who have been there for me over the years many times. I happened to have mentioned during a meeting about 2 weeks ago that I didn't think it was possible to purchase Saltine crackers in Denmark and saltines are one of those things that, as any good american knows, what you eat when you feel nauseated! Lo and behold.. SALTINES!
I have to mention it - I don't know if you can read the card or not, but it's 3 Golden Retriever puppies and above them it says HEAL!. Perfect card for me and one that definitely put a smile on my face.
Packages from the US are always exciting and I am so lucky to have great family and friends! Thank you to everyone. :)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Today was a perfect day. I woke up with a killer headache, mostly due to the lack of caffeine over the past few days, but happily my coffee tasted somewhat normal this morning and that headache passed quickly!
Kelli and Mads came over this afternoon carrying some gorgeous flowers and a big basket full of fresh buttermilk biscuits - handmade by Kelli. Wow, they were good!! I told Ole that I should get the recipe, but I actually liked his solution better - he said "just tell Kelli that she'll need to make them and bring them over!".
So, let's get to the long and short of it. Since college, my hair has been pretty long, usually below my shoulders anyway. This is a picture Kelli took a few weeks ago...
But, with my treatments, it is pretty much a given that I'll be losing my hair. So, in preparation for that, I had it all cut off. It's taken me more than a week to be able to accept the fact that my hair is short. I keep forgetting that I cut it. If I have a bit of a headache, I keep reaching around to pull out my ponytail only to be reminded that it's not there! Anyway, here's the new me...
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We arrived on time, to an absolutely stuffed waiting room - I guess that's what happens when your appointment time is one of the first times after lunch. We didn't have to wait too long, however, before we were led down a long hall full of nurses into a treatment room. There was one bed, and two big fancy chairs that reminded of business class on a plane. Thankfully, they put me in the chair, not the bed!
The next 45 min or so wasn't so pleasant. The first needle stick into my veins didn't work - my vein apparently ran away (smart vein). Then she whacked around my arm a few times and tried another spot that also didn't work. And it was at this point that happy Patti became very frustrated, anxious, Patti. The nurse said she was going to go get a colleague to assist. And at this point, I wanted to run screaming out of there - but instead, I found myself getting very overheated and starting to feel sick. Ole helped me to relax again and get my mind off the whole thing and then the nurse came back in to let me know that she had called a nurse down from the anesthesia department (now that has to be a nurse that knows what she's doing!), so I felt a bit better about that. She then wrapped a hot towel around my arm to convince my veins to come out of hiding. Then green hero nurse (regular nurses wear white - operation room nurses wear green) came in to try her turn at bat. She wanted to stick one spot very close to my hand, but the other nurse told her that it was better if it was between the wrist and elbow - so against her better judgment she tried it there, only for it not to work AGAIN. At this point, I was no longer looking - eyes closed, think happy thoughts! Green nurse then stuck where she wanted to in the first place and got the silly thing in my arm. WHEW.
Then I sat there while red juice went first, then saline, then clear juice, then more saline, until the whole process was complete. My only reaction at the time it was happening was this really weird feeling in my nose - like I was about to sneeze, but not sneezing, just all tingly. So, I left the hospital feeling like, okay, I can handle this.
And I could - until a few hours passed. First, and they do warn you about this, you pee red. And yep, it's weird. It's the red drug that causes it, not blood, which is I'm sure why they warn you about it. Approximately 2 hours after finishing treatment, my body decided that it had to sleep.. NOW.
Slept on the couch, and woke up about 90 min later, but laid there trying to figure out how exactly to physically get up. Nope, couldn't do it on my own. Ole had to help me stand up. I wanted to get to the other end of the house so I could change into sweats - I managed to get down there, change, use the restroom, and then made it about halfway back before I just flopped into the nearest chair. Ole made up the guest room bed as it's down at this end, where everything else is, so I crawled into that and promptly fell back to sleep.
I did manage to eat dinner and then sleep again. The hospital told me to try to go for a walk each day, so we just not took the dogs around the block. I'm ready to go back to bed very soon.
So, the best description of day one is just WOOOSH.
(They did, however, warn me that any nausea is probably going to appear on day 2 and 3, so we'll see).
Monday, May 18, 2009
This is hard for me, but I'll give it a shot since the others have already spit out their own reasons!
1. Well, let's start with the obvious. I'm dealing with cancer for the 2nd time in my life. And, I am 100% confident that I'll get through it. It's scary, but so are other things in life, and I've done okay so far!
2. I was smart enough in life to wait for my prince. I didn't marry until I was 38 years old and looking back, I am glad I waited. I found my soul mate, I found the man who loves me for being me, and I found the man that truly makes every day a joy. He is MY Prince of Denmark.
3. I have the guts to go just about anywhere. I grew up in upstate New York, I went to college in Michigan, I lived in NJ and worked in Manhattan, and then I moved across the country to Washington state. And then, as you already know, I packed up my world and moved halfway around the world to live in Denmark.
4. I can do a triple pirouette. Admittedly, not nearly with the same level of skill I once possessed, but I can still do it! So there's something you probably didn't know about me - I have a B.A. in Dance.
5. I was once given the nickname "Brit", which was the short way to call me Encyclopedia Britannica, because I can remember things and my head is full of all sorts of random facts and trivia. It comes in quite handy in my work as I'm often the go-to person for 'do you remember when we made this change and why?'.
6. I amuse people. In most situations, unless it's highly inappropriate, I try to make people laugh. I don't take things too seriously and I have fun with life. I credit my father for this trait! If a joke is to be found within a situation, I'm going to do my best to find it!
7. I make an awesome chocolate cheesecake, an awesome chocolate cake, and very tasty chocolate chip cookies (sensing a theme here!). I don't really like cooking, and therefore, haven't really tried to excel at it, but I can bake. And the chocolate cheesecake is my masterpiece!
So there you have it. Now, the real challenge is to attempt to find 7 bloggers that haven't yet been tagged by someone that I find awesome! If you've already been tagged - it's just more pressure on you to come through!
A Swedish American in Sweden
Not Quite Danish
On a Quirky Quest
Our Feet are the Same
Forget Me Knot Nonsense
The Spotted Sparrow
Friday, May 15, 2009
When all of this began, the 'Mammacentret' had given me a nice little binder to keep all the wonderful information about my surgery. Now that the surgery part of this is done, and the results are in, time to move onto another department, and another little binder. Actually, she asked if I'd like to have everything put into my original binder. I said yes - so now I have 2 books in one - the doublemint book, per se.
So here's all the gritty details, for those interested in such things. (I'm going to do my best to put the danish into english!)
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Tumor removed - 11 mm
Normal HER2 (don't really know what this one means)
29 lymph nodes removed - cancer in 14 of them
No distant metastasis
So, what does all that mean? Well it means I get the full treatment - Chemotherapy, radiation and anti-estrogen.
Step 1 - Chemotherapy
Next Wednesday will be my first treatment so today I went in for the introduction and the 'book'. There is all sorts of little pills, in little bags, with a nice little diagram of when I have to take each pill. Funny thing is, all these little pill bags were then placed right into the binder for safe keeping. So my little binder/book now resembles a small pharmaceutical company.
Come Wednesday, I will receive my first dose of EC - epirubicin and cyclophosphamide. After 3 treatments of EC, I'll then receive docetaxel for 3 treatments. And once all that is done, then I get the pleasure of radiation - but I'll worry about that bridge when I get there.
I can't really say that I'm looking forward to any of this! But hey - it's for my own good right? Right?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This past weekend, in my continuous effort to limit my computer time, we decided to head for the border, as in the German border. I find just a trip to the Citti market is exciting as there is way, way, more product selection in Citti than there is in your average Danish grocery store. I honestly cannot say whether Germany exists beyond Flensburg, as that is the furthest I've ever wandered into Germany, and I'm not sure it really counts, since it used to be Denmark there, but anyway...
Here is one thing that I think is really, really cool about the parking garage there:
I happened to have brought along the non-lady of the family, so we didn't park there, but still!
Now we've ventured down to Flensburg before, but this time, something new and exciting awaited our arrival - something that solidified the fact that we were going to get in the car and go...
Woohooo! Not really sure how the "J" became a "K" but who cares - it's the same place! Sort of.
You know how at TJMaxx you find rows and rows of stuff that isn't really all that organized but has those wonderful little red stickers where the price has been slashed ridiculously low and you suddenly buy things you never knew you needed? The German version wasn't quite as bountiful. There were red stickers, but they haven't quite learned yet just how far I expect them to discount things! Since we'd made the trip, I scoured every aisle as I was definitely taking something home with me - no matter what. I did finally find two nice throw pillows with removable covers for only 5 Euro each, and given the fact that Lexi went through a pillow chewing phase, some new pillows were needed. I bought some other things as well, but given that one of those things is for someone who reads this, nah nah nah nah, I'm not telling!
After shopping to the 'Maxx' we wandered out to the shopping street, but didn't stay long there. Then we spent an hour or two wandering through Citti grocery, grabbing yummy things I can't find here. I bought a few cans of stuff that looked like good lunch food, like canned ravioli and tortellini. These cans have since confused Ole a bit - he thought I bought them as a side-dish for dinner but couldn't quite figure out what to do with them. The fact that they happened to be Weight Watchers brand (not for any reason other than it looked good, lol!) and therefore the can said "4 points" on the side, led to even further confusion. And all that confusion led him to not prepare that as a side dish the other night - so that's a good thing.
Our original plan was to get Ole's coca-cola at Citti market, but they were sold out (note to all - do not attempt to buy Coca-cola over the border on a Danish holiday weekend!). Eventually, since the coca-cola is as necessary to Ole as iced tea is to me, we stopped at the border store and loaded up the car before finally heading home.
Tried one of those things that I DID buy as a side dish last night, and it was very tasty. We weren't sure about it, so had only purchased one of that variety, which means before long, I'm going to insist on another run for the border. Weeeeee!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
This was actually filmed back in early March - as you may be able to tell by the fact that we are wearing parkas! It was a sunny, gorgeous day so we took the dogs out for a swim - which they absolutely loved.
We were like proud parents when Lexi decided to actually go for it and swim! Now when we get to the lake, she's in the water before we're even fully out of the car!
Zoe LOVES to swim - and roll in the sand!
The goosebumps thing...
Yep, it's all about the nerves. Since I previously had a hysterectomy, I did a little self-test and there are some spots along that scar that also seem to be missing goosebumps, I just never had noticed. Probably because I'm not in the habit of rubbing my stomach area when I'm cold - I'm more of a rub the arms kinda gal (certainly makes more sense), so I noticed the smooth spot on the arm immediately!
I'm glad you all found it as fascinating as I did! It's made by Amoena, who I'm learning seems to have the worldwide market on breast forms. They call it an 'accessory', rather than an actual breast form. This is another way of saying that if you want it, you're going to pay for it - not your government health plan or your health insurance company. They call it the 'swimform' and here is the official description from their website:
"Clear silicone form with a hollow, concave back allows water to flow through so the form retains its shape in and out of the water."
So there you have it. I was just left wondering how well it fits into one of those super speedy Speedo suits all the olympic athletes were wearing in Beijing! (Hmm, wonder if those come with a pocket sewn in to hold the swimmers boob - I'm guessing not.)
As a further follow-up to the whole bra topic - I officially hate the silly thing, it's just not comfortable, and for the most part, I'm going with the baggy sweatshirt look instead (mind you, I had already adopted this particular look long, long ago, so, truth be told, nothing has changed). After a few more weeks, I can go to a store and pick out a few more stylish options that look just like normal bras, and hopefully will be a bit more comfortable.
The great deodorant debate
Yes, deodorant has aluminum.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is something I've read about as one of the ways to prevent lymphedema in my arm - not something that I was strictly told about by the doctors. In addition to the lymphedema thing, apparently aluminum deodorants have been found to possibly have some link to Alzheimer's, so, if there is an alternative, it's probably worth considering.
Great suggestions on the okologisk products - but, I have to say that in my experience, they haven't found to really work all that well. Interestingly enough, I did find a few types in a grocery store here, made by Sanex, that have that potassium alum ingredient but given the 'alum' part of that I'm not sure it truly qualifies as aluminum free. I'm no scientist (obviously) so I may very well be wrong, but it was enough to stop me from buying without doing more research. The other 'downside' to the lack of aluminum is that the aluminum is essentially what stops the sweat - so while the organic product may be a deodorant, chances are it's not an antiperspirant and therein lies the problem!
One thing I did find was a product made by Adidas - something called Aluminum free Cotton-Tech or some such thing, but it's also apparently very difficult to find and may actually be discontinued at this point depending on which website you view for info.
For now, I'll stick to my normal stuff and see what else I can find out there the big, bad world!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Goose bumps - or lack there of
Given that the process of removing a lymph node also entailed cutting some nerves, I have just discovered that there is a part of my right arm that lacks goose bumps. I was cold and about to jump into the shower and as I rubbed my arms in a feeble attempt at warmth, there it was - a goose bump free area. Weird, eh?
Free pre-stuffed bras
One of my benefits of surgery was a free bra. This thing is like putting on some old-fashioned corset - there are 7, yes 7, hooks up the front of the bra. I would love to know who exactly determined that 7 would be the magic number. I can tell you that getting all 7 hooked is a bit of a challenge... hook the first few and by the time you get to the rest, a few previously hooked have slipped free. It's a test of will!
One half of the bra is currently stuffed with cotton so that I don't look all lopsided when I venture out in public. This means that after I finally do manage to get all those hooks hooked, I then get to "reshape" my cotton side - it tends to get a little lumpy at times. Eventually I will get something better to fill the bra, but I have to wait until my incisions are healed before I can go for my first official boob fitting.
I have learned more about filler boobs then I ever thought possible, but we'll save that for a later time! Okay, okay, I'll give you one preview - did you know they make one just for swimming? You can wear the normal one to swim but if you swim regularly (like several times per week), they recommend that you get the special swimmer's boob. Apparently it all has to do with the manner in which water flows through your suit as you're swimming. Who thinks of these things?
As in a Secret of the deodorant variety. At the present time, due to the physical inability to get in there, I am unable to apply deodorant to my right side. So, just as a cautionary warning to you.. if you're standing near me, you may wish to stand on my left.
And about that - apparently I should wear aluminum-free deodorant in the future. Given the lack of deodorant selection in this country, finding such a thing could be quite a challenge. What is it exactly with the lack of solid sticks in this market? Do Danish women actually prefer the cold goop of a roll-on or the frozen blast of a spray? Or is there something in the sticks that isn't permitted by the government here? This is one of those 'weird' things expats are left to wonder about. Oh well, the deodorant I use now all came from the states, so I guess I'll just have to purchase a different kind on the next trip!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I believe I left off somewhere in a recovery stupor enjoying my first food on Tuesday evening. I really have to say that I had the 3 most enjoyable danish women with which to share a hospital room. These ladies were a riot - and while I could understand most of their danish, they were very sweet to switch to english whenever they were addressing me directly. We exchanged names and talked about our dogs and just really had some fun in the room. Perhaps I will see Tøve, Marianne or Bertha again at some point in this journey - great ladies!
So Wednesday morning we woke up and Drew Carey returned to take each of our breakfast orders and deliver our breakfast. Nothing special - the typical danish breakfast of bread and cheese, etc., but everything was fresh and nothing felt like pre-packaged hospital cafeteria food, so that was definitely a plus! One of the other nurses then put a thermometer on each of our tables and I really didn't think much of it until she closed the curtains around two of my roommates, at which point Marianne then hollered out "we don't take our temperature the same way you do in the states!". Ugh. Enough said about that.
The doctor then came to speak with each of us and when that was said and done, we were escorted over to the patient hotel. And I would like to reassure my dad at this time that yes, we did in fact take the monorail from the hospital over to the patient hotel!
We were all checked into the hotel and were given meal tickets. We had to give our breakfast, lunch or dinner ticket each time we went to the hotel restaurant for our meals. The staff would then check for all the tickets before closing up the restaurant and if a patient missed a meal, the nurses would then go to the patient's room to check on them and make sure all was okay.
Each evening, a nurse came to my room around 9:30 pm or so to check the surgical drain and make sure things were okay with that. It was optional but an option I wanted! And each morning, Ole joined me at the hotel so that we could go over to the hospital to see the nurse for a quick check-up.
The hotel itself was like any other basic hotel. The only difference was that the bathroom had all kinds of safety railings and equipment that you would expect in a hospital setting. However, I really need to talk to these people about their paper products - the sandpaper labeled as paper towels and toilet paper just wasn't very nice!
My room had a fully adjustable bed, a nice chair, a TV, and a desk with internet connection. I had the most fabulous view out over the lake while laying in bed...
Outside the hotel there were several benches and I found some new pets while I was there:
Rather than bore you with the details of each day at the hotel (they all kind of blended together after awhile!), I will just tell you that I came home on Sunday and I am very happy to be back home!! And, I'll share a few more pictures from the patient hotel...
Saturday, May 2, 2009
The wonderful Kelli has been keeping you all up to date and I cannot thank her enough for being my guest blogger, and for being a fantastic friend during all of this.
I arrived at the hospital Tuesday morning at 9 AM only to be told that they weren't quite ready for me yet, so we sat in the waiting room until about 10:00 AM or so. They then gave me an extremely stylish set of hospital clothes - no open back gowns here! The fabric felt a bit like terry cloth. The top was a button down shirt that fell just below the butt, pretty much like wearing a man's shirt, and the briefs were true granny briefs - they came up way, way too far! The also gave me some socks, the kind lacking any elastic whatsoever, so you put them on and they just immediately fall down. So, I took them back off.
Once properly dressed in Viborg's finest, I had to just lay in the bed and wait. They came and shot me in the gut with a blood thinner, apparently to avoid clotting while I stayed in bed for 24 hours. They also hooked me up to an IV line at this point. Before they wheeled me away, Kelli had arrived so Ole and I got some time to chat with her and that helped pass the time. I had a nurse attending to me, and she had a student nurse following her - the student nurse was a dead ringer for Drew Carey, so that's what I called him! Then Mario Andretti showed up to drive my bed from my room to the surgical area.
In the surgical area, I was forced to put the socks back on, and then I had to confirm which breast they were removing - a good safety check in my opinion. The nurses there then gave me some fancy plastic bootie shoes and a wonderfully fashionable hairnet - woohoo. I got out of bed and walked into the operating room. Now I had a team of nurses frolicking around me attaching things to me, asking questions, etc. At some point during all of this, they all exited and the surgeon came in to draw lines all over me. He left again, the gaggle of nurses returned, and with them, my favorite person in all of this - the doctor who would knock me out. First I was given what they were calling a 'block' - which I later figured out must have been an epidural of some kind. They gave me a shot in the spine and it felt like I imagine a house must feel when you blow insulation into its walls. Kinda cool really. Finally, they had me lay down and that's when the nice knock-out doctor gave me the good stuff - can't really tell you much after that point!
Cut to much later - I remember someone telling me that it was over, but that was all I heard. I recall waking a few times and asking for something to drink, and then immediately falling back to sleep. Eventually, at 7:10 pm, I woke up again and asked someone what time it was and then I asked when I could go back to my room, and they said "right now". And so, I got wheeled back and my 3 danish roommates cheered my arrival. They were so welcoming - apparently I'd been gone quite some time, and they were all happy to see me come back awake and smiling. Ole and Kelli then joined our little room party, Drew Carey brought me some food, and my day's ordeal was over.
The worst part of day one was not for me personally, but for Ole and Kelli. As it turns out, no one was telling them anything about whether or not I was out of surgery and that had them quite worried. Ole kept trying to get information but none was forthcoming and he was understandably frustrated. When I finally returned to the room, he was very relieved!
So that was day one. There is more to tell regarding the rest of the days until this point, but I figured day one was enough information for my first post surgery blog!
I was able to read all of your comments and I want to thank each and every one of you - you have definitely made this easier for me and I appreciate it so, so much!
Friday, May 1, 2009
So I started thinking..... how can she be recovering so fast?! Is she really THAT tough?! And then I looked around at where I was! The Viborg Regional Hospital PATIENT HOTEL! She has her own private room, complete with a tv, private bathroom and internet connection, plus the ability to come & go as she feels up to it! The nurses are on site, ready for whatever the recovery patients need. There is a great little "cafe" set up for the patients, complete with a balcony to enjoy the Danish springtime while you eat, and there is even a MONORAIL to transport you across the street to the hospital should you need it! It looked like something from Disneyworld!
So I got a first hand view of the Danish health care system.... and I must say, I AM IMPRESSED!