Duke Gardens: February 27, 2016 (and some food)

I love running errands in Durham because when you're done, if you have energy, there are so many fun things to do.  Yesterday, after our two errands, dear husband and I went to Duke Gardens.


DSC09941casCherry tree

DSC09944casAnother cherry tree and The Bridge

  DSC09949casHeron and duck

DSC09950casReally short daffodils in the grass

DSC09954casFormal garden

DSC09956casPansies (It's encouraging to see lush pansies like these.  Mine are still struggling after the winter.)

DSC09957Then we went to lunch at Pompieri Pizza - my favorite pizza (oh... favorite in Durham and Chapel Hill.  Then there's Lily's Pizza in Raleigh, and my all-time favorite, Pizzeria Regina in Boston's North End)

DSC09959saWe brought cupcakes home for dinner from the CupCake Bar (and a brownie for Younger son who doesn't care for cake).



My scar looks great, but what about the rest of my life?

"Dr. S does such beautiful work!"  "Another example of Dr. S's beautiful work!" were the exclamations from the nurses and the assisting doctor at my six week return visit after my partial thyroidectomy this summer.  It's true, Dr. S does do beautiful work.  My scar is very small and not very noticeable.  

How one's thyroidectomy scar looks is a big deal in thyroidectomy circles.  It's such a minor thing to me. Medical professionals tell you lots about the scar before your surgery, but I had no idea how completely the rest of my life would fall apart afterward.  

Some people sail through major surgery and back on into their lives.  I, apparently, am not one of them.  There are so many ways surgery has made my life smaller and more broken.

If your thyroid levels are in the correct ranges, which mine are, recovery from a partial thyroidectomy should only take a month or two.  It's been three, and I'm still nowhere near normal.  I have bouts of nausea and weakness, and my energy level is still very low.  I can't drive more than 5 or 10 minutes.  The surgeon and the endocrinologist both said that these nothing to do with surgery.

However, my regular doctor, who knows my drug allergies and reactions (many extreme), said that she's sure it's from the surgery and my body's reaction drugs to the they used, and that it could be months before I have normal energy again.  Adding to the reactions to the surgery itself, when I had my surgery, I hadn't totally recovered from my prednisone reaction from last spring.  I was already starting from behind. 

So, if I overdo it - which means anything like a normal day - I can end up nauseous and lying in bed for days.  Over the last three months, I've designed a schedule for myself that works for my body, and which I can gradually increase.  If I stick with that, I'm mostly fine.  If not, my recovery goes way back.

That's not where someone is supposed to be at this point, though. I irritate people by not being able to do what they want me to (my kids and my husband, on the other hand, have been great at helping me and encouraging me to rest and recover).  

All sorts of things are crazy about my body right now.  I have costochondritis (inflammation of the chest muscles and tendons) which constricts my breathing, makes it difficult to sleep, and keeps me from carrying much.  I was in physical therapy for that, but I haven't been able to drive to it for the last few weeks.  If I use any part of my body the slightest bit to excess, things get weird.  I planted a dozen pansies yesterday, and my right arm is really weak today.  Planting pansies isn't a big deal.  If I try to dance, which I don't have the energy to do, I get dizzy.  I've got vision problems so I have to go for a brain MRI next week.  I'm claustrophobic so that makes me really scared (to say nothing of how scared the vision problems themselves make me).  

On top of that, we've had the cloudiest, rainiest fall that I can remember so my seasonal depression is in full swing. 

On the bright side, sort of, I'll be able to sing again.  Currently, I'm an alto.  Before surgery, I was a second soprano - and an alto if I was having problems with my voice.  I don't know if I'll ever be a second soprano again.  

When I had my knee surgeries, six and seven years ago, choir was one of the things that got me through. I could sing on crutches (and did for the Christmas Eve service).  Obviously, that can't be the case this time.  I don't even know if I can go back as an alto, though.  

I always struggled to be soprano-y enough for choir.  Because of my weak vocal fold on the right side (found out in voice therapy), my voice takes about 15 minutes to warm up.  If I have to sing high right away, it's really bad for my voice. 

I've tried for many years to be a good choir soprano.  One Sunday morning, there were no high sopranos there for the rehearsal before the service.  The choir needed high notes so I tried really hard to sing a high F - five minutes after we started singing.  By the time some high sopranos showed up, a few minutes before the service, I could barely croak.  I ruined my voice for the day for no reason at all.

The choir's had lots of altos lately and not as many sopranos as they need.  The choir director doesn't like it when I have to sing alto rather than soprano so I'm not sure that I should even try to go back when I can sing regularly again.  I can't even try to sing soprano (for those who know music, my voice teacher, a retired voice therapist, doesn't have me sing above a C right now).  

So, choir brings me to faith.  

Along with praying for other people, I do pray about my surgery and recovery.  I have thanked God so many times that it turned out to be an "easy" type of non-aggressive cancer.  Two of the ladies in the choir sent me get well cards.

Beyond that, faith and church have helped almost not at all.   I didn't expect them too - after all, neither helped after my father died or after my father-in-law died.  Church, and the expectations of faith, seem to be even more burdens to worry about at these times when I feel fragile.

Among all the things I have to do around the house, but don't have the energy to do, the church pledge form burns like a beacon.  I don't know when or if I'll be back at church, but if I don't return it, I'll get a phone call (not that anybody's called to find out how I am).  A number of years ago, when I hadn't been to church for months because of health issues, I got the "you-haven't-returned-your-pledge-form" phone call.  The guy wanted to take me off of the church membership because I hadn't been there.  I told him that he could if he wanted, but I was waiting for a call from the doctor so I had to get off of the phone.  They can take me off this time if they want - I'm not healthy enough for church.  

Singing brings me a large part of my social life, and that's gone when I can't sing.  One community theater group is doing Hairspray this winter - I'd love to do it, but I don't have the voice or the energy yet.  My usual group is doing Li'l Abner next summer, and I don't know if I'll be doing that either.  I'm not deciding until I hear more about the show and what the director is going to do with it.  However, I remember detesting that comic strip because of its stereotypes and casual sexism so I hope that the musical is different.

There are two singing possibilities when I get better enough, though.  There are two groups in Durham -Beer and Hymns and the Pop-Up Chorus - that you can just join and sing.

I'm on a Facebook group about thyroidectomies, and people have so many posts on how their scars look.

I'd rather have a far more nasty scar and have energy, not have broken relationships, and be able to sing and dance.  

Cribs and guns

Dear Husband and I were 20 and 19 when we got married.  We lived very frugally for a long time.  Most of our furniture was second-hand or very cheap.  

However, we had/have a lovely crib and changing table.  My parents bought the crib for us, and my in-laws bought the matching changing table. Older son's baby room was beautiful because of them (use "them" either way in that sentence).  

We used the crib for three children and also lent it to friends.  It still is in fantastic condition. Recently, we've been wondering what to do with it.  Keep it in case one of our kids might want to use it some day?

It turns out that, as wonderful as our memories of the crib are, our kids' memories of the crib - what few there are - mostly involved trying to escape from it.  They have no emotional attachment to it at all.  We decided to donate both pieces....

...and found out that we couldn't.

There's a wonderful ministry, The Furniture Project, at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, NC.  They have a storage unit full of donated furniture, and they can furnish a room or an apartment for formerly homeless families, immigrant families, domestic violence victims, etc.*

As soon as I found that, I sent an e-mail to the director.  Now that we are able to donate to help others, I like to do so.  We could give our baby furniture to someone who needs it!


She told me that there was a new law four years ago.  Drop side cribs had caused 32 deaths between 2000 and 2011.  They cannot be sold or donated.  Changing table regulations had also been strengthened.

Oh well.

I'm all for making things safer so I'm not complaining.


In 2015 there has been at least one shooting by a toddler a week in the US...

They found that so far in 2015:

• 13 toddlers have killed themselves with guns
• 18 other small children injured themselves
• 10 injured other people
• Two killed other people

[From The Telegraph dated October 15, 2015]

That's just in 2015, and the year isn't over yet.  15 deaths from toddlers - almost half the death toll for a decade from the now-banned cribs.  

The second amendment reads:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Armed toddlers do not constitute a "well regulated militia."  People who leave loaded guns where toddlers can use them do not constitute a "well regulated militia."  People whose guns go off accidentally in their pocket or their purse do not constitute a "well regulated militia."  

Continuing with the article:   

The states with the most restrictive gun laws didn't have any recorded toddler shootings. California regulates gun sales quite heavily, requiring those who buy guns to pass a written safety test, and only guns from a very stringent roster can be sold.

If we can save babies and toddlers from cribs, we should be able at least reduce the harm from guns.  The death count is FAR higher.


 *  It turns out that our church is a sponsor for The Furniture Project, although, in the last twelve years, I'd never heard of the project.  Our church's website is very pretty, but not very useful.**

**  I just looked at it - you can't even tell from the website that our church has a choir!  Then we wonder why people don't join the choir?!