Friday, June 30, 2017

Say Yes Ma'am to the Mammogram

A week ago Tuesday I had my annual mammogram done at Missouri Baptist, where I have been going for many years. I was given the option of a 3D mammogram versus the traditional screening. It is supposed to give better readings, especially for women who have dense breast tissue, which I apparently do. I was warned, however, that my insurance company may not pay the additional expense of the 3D test. The difference in cost? $60. That seems a small price to pay, and so absurd that the insurance companies do not feel it is worth that amount to catch breast irregularities early. I opted for the 3D test, though I can't say I noticed any difference in how the mammogram was done. The boobs still got smooshed two different ways.

The mammography office called me on Monday, which I knew was not a good thing. Normally they just send me a letter in the mail. The gal told me that they noticed a distortion in the right breast, which they felt needed to be looked at further. She scheduled me for a diagnostic mammogram, which possibly could be followed by an ultrasound. I have had fluid filled cysts in the past, so I've had the diagnostic test and ultrasound done before.

Later that day I received a letter regarding my mammogram results. It just said that the exam showed "an abnormality that requires further evaluation." Had I received the letter before the phone call, I would have seriously freaked out. I'm glad the office called so I could have the explanation to go along with the words.

Missouri Baptist Breast Health Care Center
This afternoon I went to Missouri Baptist Hospital (I have the annual mammograms done at one of their satellite offices much closer to my house) for the additional tests. The technician was hoping that the distortion would not show up with the mammograms she performed, but no such luck. The radiologist then requested the ultrasound. After reading those films (if they are even called that anymore since everything goes into a computer), the doctor came in to talk to me. She wanted to know if I had ever had breast surgery or experienced any trauma to the breast. No to both questions. She asked me if I felt a lump and I said no, and she said she didn't feel any either.

She then requested two more mammograms to try to get a better look at where the distortion had been pinpointed. Upon reviewing everything, she felt it was best to schedule a biopsy to see what we are dealing with just to make sure it is not a very early cancer growth. Three plus hours of multiple boob squishes, having it pressed upon by the transducer for 20 minutes, and lots of time sitting around pondering the "What ifs?" My biopsy is scheduled for July 5th, and then it will be 2-3 days before the pathology report comes back. More time to ponder.

With all the people you hear about getting diagnosed with cancer, do you ever feel like you are a ticking time bomb?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

We had family visiting from out of town last week as they made their way south to visit a daughter. On Friday we took them on a drive through Forest Park on the way to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. I always forget how gorgeous the cathedral is until I walk back inside it again. As it happened, our timing was perfect to catch the noon Mass, so our relatives were thrilled at the experience. From there we had lunch in the Central West End, and on such a beautiful day we were able to eat outside which is a rare treat in St. Louis in the summer.

Cathedral Basilica St. Louis
Busch Stadium
Friday night we took them to see the baseball game. It was a great game on a cool night until about the 7th inning when the Cards blew their lead. After that I was just happy the game didn't remain tied as I didn't want to sit through extra innings. I believe that baseball, and babies, should have 7 as the magic number - innings or months of pregnancy.

The relatives took off around noon on Saturday, and we got some work done around the house. Sunday Jim went for a motorcycle ride, and I went to my happy place - the Missouri Botanical Garden. With low humidity and temperatures in the 70's, it could not have been a nicer morning at the garden. As I've said before, we are incredibly blessed to have such a phenomenal institution in our city.
Missouri Botanical Garden

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Busy Times!

Last weekend was quite busy, beginning on Thursday night with the Garden of Glass exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The weather was perfect that evening, with temperatures in the low 70's and a comfortable humidity level. Artist Craig Mitchell Smith created the 24+ glass pieces, nearly all of which are located inside the Climatron. That is a somewhat small space, so I was curious to see how crowded it would be. As it turned out, it really wasn't too bad as they are somewhat controlling the numbers by issuing timed tickets. Ours were for 7:00, which is the earliest you can get in. I think the time slot kept some of the crowds away as there were people waiting in line outside the Climatron when we next walked by around 8:30.

Garden of Glass
The benefit of going early, besides fewer people, is that you still get some sunlight coming into the Climatron. It makes it easier to take photos for sure, since they don't allow tripods inside. The downside is that you don't get to see how the glass looks with full interior lighting on it. I'll take the smaller crowds any day. After we were done inside we had time to walk around the garden a bit, which was nice because it normally isn't open in the evenings. While we enjoyed the exhibit, we both felt that it falls way short of the magnificence of the Chihuly Glass in the Garden back in 2006.

Friday night I attended the world premiere of the movie "I Love You Both" with a girlfriend. It was held at the Tivoli Theatre, which I don't think I have been in since Jim and I saw "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" back when audience members were still allowed to not only dress up, but also go on stage, throw rice and toilet paper, use squirt guns in the theater, and flick their Bics. This new movie was written, directed and starred in by a brother and sister who graduated from a local high school. They recruited their mom to be in the movie as well because "we couldn't find anyone as funny as her." I love that! They stuck around after the show to answer questions, and it was interesting to get an inside look at the process of securing money, filming, and producing a movie on a shoestring.

As far as the movie itself goes, I thought the characters needed a little more development, and that the film drug a little bit. The premise is that one man falls for two people (in this case twins, played by the brother-sister duo) who both are interested in him as well. The problem is that he wasn't around them long enough to fall in love with one, much less both, of them.

Saturday I played in a pickleball round robin that lasted from 12-6. It was outside in a local park, and the temperature reached into the 90's that day. Luckily, there was low humidity and a breeze, so in the shade it wasn't too bad. After that I hurried home to shower and head off to a high school graduation party. Jim was in Kansas City so he wasn't able to attend.

Kirkwood Round Robin
Sunday morning I met a photographer friend in University City to see the Mannequins on the Loop. Different artists compete to win a prize for best dressed mannequin. The materials have to be a recycled product. Such creativity!

Mannequins on the Loop
Then finally I had lunch with a friend who had also been away on a vacation, though hers was to Ireland, a favorite place of mine. We wanted to catch up on our trips. She also wanted to bring me up to date on her new book, which is currently at the publishing company. All of the photos in the book are mine. I can't wait to see it - and read it. Busy weekend, but very rewarding in so many areas.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Epic Vacation Wrap Up

Our return to St. Louis from Auckland went quite smoothly. The flying time from Auckland to Los Angeles was only 12 hours and 25 minutes, which seemed short compared to the 15 and a half hours we flew to get from Los Angeles to Sydney. It was a more difficult flight for me in that we left Auckland at 1:00 in the afternoon, so I wasn't a bit sleepy. The time was passed by watching movies. I will say that flying Business Class on those two long flights was the bees knees, though. It will be hard to fly in coach on overseas trips in the future. Here we are leaving Auckland, still smiling after 30 days of 24/7 togetherness.

American Airlines Business Class
Many people have asked me which country I liked better - Australia or New Zealand? It's a hard call, because the people were so very nice in both countries. But I would say Australia for the wildlife - it's hard to beat seeing kangaroos, parrots and cockatoos out of the windows of your house. New Zealand takes the win for scenery, however. I can't remember a drive where every single turn brought exclamations of, "Wow, look at that!"

Over 3,500 photographs have been downloaded onto my computer, and it is taking a while to sort through them, throwing out the ones that are bad and doing a little correction on the ones that need it. But what a fun way to relive the trip. I can't believe how much we saw, all the things that we did, and the wonderful people we met on this journey. I summarize the adventure by saying that I had really high expectations for this vacation, and they were all exceeded. You can't beat that.

two thumbs up!