Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stuck in a Herd

Was it the lady in the wine shop after I was diagnosed, the Priest who prayed for me before my surgery, the woman I met at "Look Good, Feel Better, " or was it the conversation over dinner with two friends on the Bible. Seeds were planted, but timing had to be just right to bloom.

I was given a CD by the most God filled woman I have ever met. I was lucky enough to share a meaningful friendship with her for the short time God placed her in my life. I listened to the first few minutes of the CD and turned it off. I believe in God. I am a spiritual person. I was not about to listen to someone tell me I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord Savior. However, I kept the CD. It was a gift from someone who I deeply admired.

I was driving home from work after having a anxiety attack in the parking lot due to some insurance situation.  My attempt at keeping my composure failed. It was the straw that broke the camels back. I got in my car and headed home. I was driving down Carefree Highway hysterically crying when I see a rather strange site. Sheep on both sides of the highway. Yes, sheep. Hundreds of four legged fluff. This is not a normal site on this course of travel. A few cows every so often, possibly a javalina or coyote in the early morning hours, but never sheep. I pulled my car over in a hysterical crying state and began to laugh.  I got out of my car  and collapsed to the ground while watching hundreds of sheep. Waving my hands in the air, "God, I cannot do this anymore!! What have I done!!! Why God, why!! The questions we have all asked our Lord at one time or another. And there it was, my body fully engulfed with chills and a voice saying "It is time, I have you." 

A passerby stopped to make sure I was okay.  I wiped my tears and nodded my head. I told them I was in awe by all the sheep. I was not about to tell a complete stranger I was having a mental breakdown. They made sure I did not need assistance and drove away. 

I got back in my car, wiped my tears and turned on my radio. I plugged in the CD I so willingly refused to want to listen to. A testimony of a young woman struck by cancer and how she committed her life to Jesus. Here I was, battling cancer, talking to sheep along side the road, hearing the voice of God.  “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 ). 

The young lady in the wine store. You filled me with scripture when I was not sure what scripture to follow. You came along side me during the hardest time of my life. The Priest who accepted my faith even though I was not Catholic. You prayed with me and prayed over my family. My dear girlfriends I dined with conversing over the Bible, patiently knowing one day I would come to Christ.

As I am not a master gardener, but an apprentice. My seedlings are developing at the pace God intends. I thank each of you.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


After a routine bone scan, they found "abnormal uptake on my frontal calvarium."  If you would have seen the images, it looked as if someone put a huge target on the front of my skull.  My heart we go again.  MRI scheduled.  Anxiety at the highest! 

Great mets!  My body has decided to go into an overload of marrow making in the front part of my skull. I really hope that is a good thing.  Thank you Mr. Cranium for setting me into a near nervous breakdown.  I would love to send a letter of resignation to the cancer cell committee to tell them I am through with their major threats!  I can now return my living will back in the safe.

In two days, my chest will be in the hands of Dr. Lewis Andres as my deconstruction will take place.  My emotions are calm at this time, but I anticipating change by tomorrow afternoon.  I am amazed at how many woman have had their chests tattooed after this surgery.  I appreciate the art, but I am not sure I could do it. My confidence lacks this time.  I had a conversation today with a friend of mine who asked me if I went back and re-read my journal from my first surgery.  I told her I had not, but I probably should.  She mentioned she remembers writing, "it is not as bad as I was expecting."  She is correct, I remember saying the same thing. I also remember many times cursing and swearing in the dressing rooms.  One day at a time.

Glad I could get that off my chest....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Keeping peace

So my last blog was leaving Bali. To this day, that trip put me back on the spiritual ground I needed to be. With a little help of great friends along the way, I have revived my faith and have apologized to God for arguing with him for so many years. My Grams always said, "When you have nothing else to go on, give it to God."

Cancer changed my life. Surgeries, chemo and radiation damaged my body and drained me of my strength for quite a long time. I had nothing else to go he got a full plate. And then some. After many hours of talking to the air, meditating and praying for answers, I found inner peace. It is that inner peace that has taken me so long to find, for I will need to get me through the next phase.

 I have been dealing with severe pain in my left breast for at least nine months. It has progressively been getting worse. Long story short, radiation has caused my left implant to become encapsulated. In English, I have major scar tissue building up. My right breast has some slight encapsulation, but nothing that is out of the ordinary. My options were given to me by a wonderful plastic surgeon, but two out of the three would involve the possibility of more surgeries in the future. They would also not guarantee I would be pain free. The only option to relieve me of pain and not deal with any further surgeries is to have both implants removed permanently.

 I had flashbacks of the day they removed my bandages after my mastectomy. Tough view to swallow. Melissa Ethridge sings it best "...the scars are still there in the mirror, every time she gets herself dressed." I am not scared of the surgery itself. The fear is the emotional PTSD of the process. Compression bandages, drains, doing nothing for two weeks. I am not the best person when I can't do anything. I am trying to find humor in it all.

 Humor got me through the last series. The only humor I can think of right now, is after this surgery, take my implants and return them to the original plastic surgeon and ask for a refund. Hell, at least a few injections of Botox for all the hell we have been through.

So to my daughters original question from five years ago "Mommy, are your new boobs going to be long and skinny? I rescind my comment of "No, they will be round and perky." to "No honey, I will look just like you do."

Monday, July 25, 2011

When in Bali...

The Maya Resort and Spa is not a resort, but a sanctuary of stress free bliss! We have died and gone to heaven. Cold towel upon arrival and exotic beverage. After we checked in, the staff drove us down to our villa. Each villa has their own "door entrance". You open the wooden doors and walk down the stairs to your villa. Our unit overlooks the lower section of the rice paddies. Bonnie and I are both speechless over this place. Negative edge pool, outside is stunning! There is a book on the table listing this as one of the worlds top 100 resorts. I can see why.

The spa called our name...full hour massage, body scrub and lunch one day, facials the next.

The hotel provided a shuttle to uptown Ubud. We ventured to the Monkey Temple after a morning of spa relaxation. Rule of thumb when visiting the Monkey Temple, do not take food in with you(even if they are selling bananas at the entrance way!) and don't make eye contact. I love monkeys, but I also know how easily they can turn on a person. So we strolled through the temple without food, making fun of the idiots who carried food in. The idiots were then being accosted by monkeys. Couple of loud screams heard in the distance could not have been good. Last thing I wanted on this trip was to be bitten by a rabid monkey.

We found a great restaurant I read about on Trip Advisor. I must give high regards to Bridges. The food was incredible, great wine selection and the setting was just as wonderful. It was so good, we ate here twice!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Travel to Ubud

I am usually researching and planning any vacation ever taken. All the planning for this trip was in the hands of the Wilmots. I left myself open to any experience willing to cross my path. We had no set plans on the places we wanted to see. Bonnie has never been to Ubud, so this was a new area for her to explore.
I am in awe to the landscape of this country. The temples along the roadway are a work of art. Driving on the other hand....we will leave this task up to the hired drivers. There is no rhyme or reason to the lines on the road, who gets what lane...all while motor scooters are coming at you like you are invisible. Yet, no accidents. This may take some getting used to. Did I mention you can fit a family of five on a Vespa?

Our driver is quite the character. He takes us to all the touristy places along the route to Ubud. The silver/gold smith, the batik fabric store, wood carvers and lunch at the rice fields along the way. The narrow roads are lined with store after store of goods for sale. The workmanship is pride worthy, yet the cost is pennies on the US dollar. Each town you pass specializes in a certain trade. This is a decorators paradise.

Arrived in Bali!

After a long day of travel, our feet landed in Bali. Upon exiting the airport, I have never seen so many motor scooters in my life! We grab a cab to the Patra Hotel not far from the airport. Vacation has begun. I can smell the salt water in the air. After checking in, we unload our bags, shower and head out to the ocean. Nothing is better than a long walk along the ocean after flying all day. We kicked back and enjoyed a few cocktails and headed back to the room. Tomorrow brings us more Ubud.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chopper or bus, that is the question?

Four in the morning, we are packed, loaded in the truck and back down the mountain to catch a chopper to the airport. Plans are to spend the night at the Rimba and catch our flight to Lombok the next day. I believe I mentioned in a previous blog you give a few extra days in travel time for "choppers not flying." As we are about to experience.

After sitting at the helipad for a few hours, we are informed the choppers are not flying due to weather in the lowlands. A decision needs to be made as if we will now board a bus and head down the mountain, a three hour drive on a windy, unsettling road.

First let me explain the hesitation of taking the bus. Shootings have taken place along the road to the lowlands at buses full of expatriates. John lost a good friend a few years ago during an ambush on a convoy of vehicles heading to the lowlands. Matt was fired upon while heading to the golf course in the lowlands and watched a guy die next to him. Matt has not taken the bus since. I can understand his apprehensiveness. I have heard about the bus ride. Honestly, I am a little nervous myself. Everyone is leaving the island, the tribe knows they are leaving for the summer and there has not been an altercation in quite awhile. They may be getting restless. After much discussion, we decided to take the bus.

Normally, you board the bus and you are taken directly down the mountain. This time we were boarded onto the bus and taken "uptown" to the bus stop. We were then to board another bus going down to Timika. As we grabbed our luggage, we looked around us and realized, this was not a good scenario. 15 or so expats being looked upon by the local tribe, knowing where we are heading and the route to be taken. You may as well put a target on us. OK, now I am not feeling very fuzzy about this. A few phone calls were made to security and we were advised NOT to get on the bus. Don't have to ask me twice! We head back home and hope the choppers are flying tomorrow.

Could we be so choppers flew the next day. Decision is made, we have to take the bus. Security is contacted. We board the bus and are taken to a destination where we are met by armed security to escort us down the mountain. The photo above is us waiting outside the buses for security to arrive. I think it is time for a Xanax! Down the mountain we go. I say a few prayers along the way. I looked fear in the face when I was diagnosed with cancer, but this was a different fear. You are taking a chance of not only yourself, but your family. This choice is presented to expats everytime a chopper does not fly and there are flights to catch. Tough decision to swallow.

So, the bus travels on and we are 10 minutes from the airport. Ten minutes to catch our departing flight. The airline is contacted to hold the plane for the people arriving via bus. Game plan is Bonnie and Christi head into the terminal, I grab luggage and meet them inside. We arrive, and the ladies go blowing through security to the check in counter. The guards don't even blink. In America, they would have been shot dead or tackled.

In the words of John Wilmot, he could not have stated it better:

"They made good time down the hill, made it to the airport and Garuda was still there. Only to get in the terminal and watch the last of the standby folks board up and go. Flight left them standing there, and the Ibu’s(white folk) nearly had a riot. Freaking out shouting ensued- as they then found out all flights to Bali or Makassar or Jakarta were full up through the 17th (when I am scheduled with the girls). Then they found out that no rooms were available in the Rimba! You could nearly hear the screeching up here as about 10 Ibu’s were stuck in the same situation. Finally after calls to the VP level and above, intervention by PTFI folks set it right and they mostly all had a place to sleep, but definitely not separate rooms.

That afternoon, after looking at many, many options (Jayapura to Makassar on standby to Bali) or other even less favorable versions involving Merpati Airlines and unsavoury airports, they decided on a longer, but very reliable method of Airfast to Cairns (yes, they had to go East to travel Westward… typical of here). Once in Cairns, they caught the JetStar flight to Darwin, and will catch a connecting flight to Bali tonight. ETA in Bali is 8:45 tonight. But, they will miss Lombok entirely, and will spend the night in Kuta area tonight and see if they can extend their stay in Ubud one day earlier. It should all be right now, but crazyness all yesterday. Woke up this morning to a fine mist and again, no choppers flew- for the third straight day. Sheer pandalarium at the helipad and at Rimba and at the Airport. People are getting seriously stuck and sick of the travel here- specifically in the highlands. Looking at about 750 folks not able to travel properly and more tomorrow, maybe."

There you have it. Travel in Papua. Can't wait to get to Bali!