Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Sometimes? You Get Lucky

 Hi! How was your January? You know, that pleasantly boring month with nothing going on, so you can catch a breath after all the holidays?

Yeah, not so much. In late December, I FINALLY took a blood test to determine whether I have a gene mutation common among Ashkenazi Jews that predisposes us to ovarian and breast cancers, among other fun things. So, in January (calm, relaxing, boring January), I learned that I do indeed possess one of the magic mutations. I'm a winner! Come on down, Suburban Correspondent, it's your turn to play Genetic Roulette!

So the rest of the month was filled with discussions and medical appointments and decisions (decisions which weren't very hard to make, honestly), and frankly, I've seen more anatomical pictures and drawings and explanations than I ever wanted to. I'm really not a biological sciences gal, you know. I preferred physics, nothing to get squeamish about there.

Well! This is an unexpectedly unpleasant topic, isn't it? Let's look at some handknitted socks (I've done 3 pairs this month, because when there are medical decisions to make, I turn to yarn as a calming agent.)

You can't tell, but these are sparkly

Where was I? Oh, yes, so essentially, my body is holding a Fire Sale, in that Everything Must Go! Ovaries? Don't need 'em! Tubes? Ditto! Uterus? Oh, what the heck, while we're in there...

And, yeah, the boobs, of course, those too.

Oh, sure, we could watch and wait, but the medical consensus is YOU DON'T WANT TO. Which is fine by me, only I've never had surgery before. Ever. Remember that moment at the train station in October, where Larry and I had to decide to drive all night so we wouldn't miss the wedding, and everyone was all, "SURE! I LOVE this plan!"

That's me, right now, saying yes to two surgeries, one of which will produce visible results that I'm not sure squeamish me can handle. THAT will be interesting.

But, hey, this experience should be merely miserable and not horrible, to quote Alvie Singer in Annie Hall. Horrible would be having to change the tag line for this blog to "Kids! Vomit! Mice! Now With Chemo!" or - quite frankly - learning I have a good chance of dying before I even see any grandkids, since ovarian cancer is symptomless until too late. Barring the small chance the doctor discovers cancer when he removes the ovaries and tubes (yup, that thought does keep me up at night, thanks for asking), I consider myself to be pretty darn lucky.

Here, more socks:

knit while I watched a lecture series on the history of Ukraine

And, dear readers, if all goes well, I will become the proud owner of a set of NEW BOOBS, in a normal size for a change, and I will no longer have to spend $65 apiece for the engineering marvels that are my current bras and - OMG - I'll be able to wear pretty ones instead, with patterns and colors and I do not know what all. Also? I'll be able to buy shirts and dresses that fit me, instead of buying them one size too large to fit around my currently capacious bosom. 

So I'm keeping my eyes on that prize - new boobs for my 60th birthday, with a wardrobe to go with it. 

Yeah, all my kids have to get tested now. I feel strangely, terribly guilty about that. Let's look at the latest pair of socks, these are my favorite:

Not quite done, but I knit almost 3 pairs in as many weeks, stress will do that

You know, I never did get to meet my paternal grandmother, the one who died of ovarian cancer the year I was born and who unwittingly passed down this strange family gift. It was one of those weird eureka moments for me, getting those test results - they made me realize that, whoa, genetics really ARE a thing and she really WAS my grandmother.

I'm slow, what can I say?

I have more to write, about work and such (apparently, there is no limit to how many job applications of mine can be rejected), but I have to go to sleep right now, because tomorrow is my early morning shift at The Container Store. Before I go, though, a few ground rules for the comment section:

1. Anyone who uses the word "brave" will be banned (as soon as I figure out how to do that). Not brave, I just specialize in gallows humor

2. Please refrain from going into detail about the difficult recovery of someone you know who has had the same surgery. I need to pretend this will be simple. (And, yes, I have already experienced hearing stories like this IRL, SMH)

3. My hypochondriac self is convinced it is too late and I am already dying. DO NOT say anything to exacerbate that tendency, thanks! Larry doesn't need me to be any crazier than I am right now.

Ugh, this post is sort of a downer, I'm sorry! Couldn't think of enough jokes, and I'm in a rush. But stick around, I'm sure the next 4 months will be an absolute laugh riot...


  1. As an operation expert,(10 and there better not be anymore!) I am here to tell you that anesthesia is wonderful. Just make sure they give you a little anti-nausea meds with it in case you get sick. You will have the most wonderful sleep, wake up refreshed and wonder where the heck the time went! I am a few years older than you, so my 8 year old tonsils were taken out when they still used ether, blech!
    My hysterectomy for Stage II uterine cancer (20 years ago) went just fine and your's will too. Sleep when you want, eat what and when you want, knit all you want and be sure to relax. Let everyone else vacuum and do dishes and laundry for awhile.

    And you get a new pair of perky boobs too? Sign me up.

    In all seriousness, you are doing the right thing in being proactive and addressing the situation now. It's not your fault the kids have to be tested..it's Gramma's!

    We will all be cheering you on for the next 4 months!

  2. Well, rats, it's always something, isn't it? You'll do fine, I promise. Forget about job hunting for the time being. Just keep writing often so we won't worry about you.

  3. Sending only positive thoughts your way!

  4. All the socks are amazing. You are amazing.

  5. Sorry about your genetic short straw. I like the advice above, knit and sleep and let your people do the rest. I'm glad these tests exist now and that you are able to make an informed decision, because your grandkids are gonna be wild and crazy about you. I'm in club easily-grossed-out too, so I feel for you there. Your new wardrobe options sound exciting. The socks are wonderful looking. I bet they are super cozy too.

    Please keep posting. We are all here for whatever you want to chat about.

  6. Oh wow. This is a lot. I'm sorry you have to go through it AND I'm grateful you have a sense of humor, a sharp mind, and a supportive family. Love and courage (and laughs, whenever possible). xoxo

  7. Those socks are gorgeous! And comfy socks are just the thing for winter. I've given serious thought to switching to knitting (I sew), but somehow the allure of cutting fabric up and sewing it back together is just irrestistible to me. Although knitting would be easier to carry around with me... I can't have more than one hobby - my free time is limited. :( Good for you for dealing with all of this medical stuff - I'm currently practicing avoidance, and it's really stupid on my part.

  8. If you need care packages (puzzles! chocolate! ridiculous tiny toys! books!) please let us know!

    Also if there is a decent extant-cancer chance, do not go for a laparoscopic hysterectomy. I don't even know if they put that on the table for you, though. Just, if they did, it is probably worth sweeping it off the table onto the floor and going for one of the other options. A friend recently got a hysterectomy and poof, some back pain and other not-expected-to-be-at-all-related-to-that-stuff symptoms went away at the same time, which is apparently not uncommon. (it will not do anything about the kids, the vomit, or the mice, however)

    Also, everyone I know who has gotten a breast reduction has said something to the effect of "best money ever spent" usually along with a "wish I'd done that years ago" and hopefully you will also find the results delightful. (clothes: they fit! bras: they do not have to be marvels of engineering *and* they're less uncomfortable! men: they have a significantly greater chance of talking to your face instead of your breasts!) Raglan-sleeved or otherwise dropped-armhole shirts with fastening up the front (like cardigans; requires minimal arm movement to get into and out of) are great for the early stages of mastectomy recovery.

    Oh, also reduced back pain reported with breast reductions/mastectomies.

    Apologies if back pain is the *one* problem you don't have, though. Maybe they'll also help obscurely with, say, ingrown toenails or something?

    (also: as someone who hit the "jackpot" of combined parental genetics resulting in an actually-present nasty chronic illness, don't feel guilty. You're not mad at your mom for procreating despite unknowingly carrying this gene, right? So.)(and if you are mad that you exist, eh, you'll get over it eventually, and so would your kids. ;-) )

  9. (hysterectomy/breast-removal are unlikely to help with kids, vomit, or mice. Sorry.)

  10. Love you! Proud of you. Demand the help you need, and I wish i was closer so i could help.

  11. The socks are beautiful (my vote is for the blue ones because they spark JOY) and the proactive mindset makes perfect sense to me. But dang, January has been quite the mallet! Please send out the bat signal for care packages and be specific in your requests for your family/local friends to help. (Someone offers, take them up on it! There's always vacuuming, toilets/tubs/sinks, baseboards, dishes...) Big hugs now, gentle hugs coming up.

  12. Love the socks! I've made one pair that fit in my life, the other pair would have fit a small elephant. Same yarn, different needles I think.
    Anyway, I'm wishing you the best as you go through your surgeries. I do like Cheryl's idea - relax, sleep, and knit when you can. Time to have others care for you...seems to me with the kids, vomit, and mice, you've done lots of caring for others in the past.

  13. I’ve been lurking around here for years, all I can say is YOU ROCK! A good sense of humor is an asset, as is the calming effects of knitting. You got this!

  14. I like the socks. Your attitude is pretty sweet too. As a fluffy 56 year old, the idea of new boobs that are smaller and perkish is dang near the best news ever. You got this. Oh, and milk the family for sympathy while you can. You know it won't last. ;)

  15. *re-checks the ground rules for commenting*

    Wow, that is a lot to take in and it sounds like you have taken charge and are doing what needs to be done. And you are doing it with grace and humor.

    Please keep us posted. Sending much love. You've got this and you've got us. xo

  16. I’m wishing you all the best for a quick recovery. Looking forward to more socks and cute bra shopping updates. Hugs.

  17. I am having a resection of my colon done on the 15th. I am LITERALLY getting my shit together. What can I say, when it comes to ewwww surgeries, you're in good company. (((HUGS)))

  18. I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I'm glad we have the medical knowledge & skills to allow you to deal with this. And those socks are amazing!

  19. Rocky Mountain Yogi GirlFebruary 02, 2023

    When do the procedures start? What’s your love language? Cheese? Chocolate? Yarn? Let me know and I’ll send it your way. I’m remembering when we got our first bras.

  20. People I know who have come face to face with their own mortality in ways similar to yours have come away from it changed (for the better). Setting aside the obvious physical challenges, they get their priorities sorted and seem to have a satisfying life as a result of their ordeal. I hope the same for you along with a quick recovery from the surgeries ahead. You have birthed, raised, and educated six children (EXTRAORDINARY in these times), so I think you have the strength for what’s ahead for you. Maybe rest and let your family take care of you for a while. BTW - Nice work on the socks!

  21. My goodness, it's not fun times, but great that you got tested and are taking care of things proactively. Fingers crossed for everything to go smoother than you thought possible.

  22. What fabulous socks! You've got the right mindset - perky new boobs are something good to look forward to. Just remember - cute new bras and tops are a necessity that will come out of your medical/emergency budget. The usual $65 you used to spend on each bra will now automatically be shifted toward your yarn budget. Good luck and a smooth recovery!

  23. LOVE the socks. Especially the blue. Glad you're doing this, because we like having you around. And yes, blame it on Grandma.

  24. Your sock game is ON POINT. What a terrifying discovery, but I think you're wise meeting it head on and reducing the long-term risks. Plus what woman wouldn't go for a new pair of boobs? I know I would, but I have no medical excuse, purely cosmetic preferences, so I think you have a winner here. Cheering for you in this corner and I hope all of this goes to plan without any complications.

  25. I'm sending you all my thoughts, prayers, and vibes for uncomplicated surgeries and a quick recovery. I know it's a good thing that we now have ways to test for genetic predisposition to cancer, but it's still scary to be faced with all that information all at once. The multicolor socks are stunning!

  26. I’m so sorry to hear. Thank god you did the test. My big tip- Order a squatty potty on Amazon. ❤️

  27. Being proactive with your health is awesome. Go YOU! And I really, really love your socks. Again, go YOU! <3

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  29. Had the bottom half of the surgery...nothing left total/complete hysterectomy. My one hint that worked fabulously is if you have any bladder incontinence issues (sneezing, coughing, laughing....) get a uro-gyn eval to see if you could benefit from a bladder sling repair at the same time the complete hysterectomy is done. Life changing!