The Mammogram

I had a mammogram years and years and years ago, like when I was… I dunno, early 30-something or so, because I had a sore spot on my breast. Nothing came of that and all was good. But it was good to get one under my belt. Then I had my first regularly scheduled it’s-time-to-start-doing-this-thing mammogram four years ago. They let me go a little later than usual because I had had that first one before that and it showed nothing mysterious. And I had put off that second one a bit because of nipple rings.

You see, everything I read on the Internet about mammograms and nipple rings said that they are a no go. That all jewelry above the waist would need to be removed. And wow, what a pain in the ass that would be for me. It would mean a trip to the piercing shop, none of which I was currently on terms with, perhaps a trip back if they didn’t have the plastic jewelry I needed to replace my metal hoops, having a piercer I don’t know replace my jewelry for me, getting the mammogram, and then maybe even having to go back to the piercer to have my original jewelry replaced. The reasons the Internet gave for removing all jewelry was pretty vague. Some said that the metal would interfere with the x-ray (Interfere? Ummm… dubious.). Some said the doctors are afraid that there might be lumps or bumps hiding behind the metal (In my nipple? Which sticks out? Dubious.). Some said long necklaces would interfere with the big machine moving around. That one I get! But a long necklace is easier to take off than body jewelry. I wasn’t ready to give up this mark of passage just yet, especially for another rite of passage that I wasn’t really looking forward to. So I called my diagnostic center (Doctors Imaging Group, if you’re interested, Ladies.). On the phone! And talked to a stranger! That’s how important this was to me. And you know what they told me? They told me that’s all bullshit. They asked me not to wear copious amounts of dangle jewelry, but my happy little nipples would be just fine all dolled up for the doctor. They said they are more worried about the liability of somone leaving an expensive piece of jewelry in the dressing room than the mammogram getting messed up because someone’s wearing earrings. That was such a relief! So I happily went to have that mammogram. And that was that. I had the mammogram, a quick ultrasound (Which I assumed was just to get a baseline since no one said anything otherwise.), and was sent on my way with a simple, ‘All clear!’ from the doctor.

All of this means that I was completely prepared for this mammogram. Which is good, because I was a little nervous about the outcome. I donned my tutu and my combat boots for the appointment, and was given a lovely cape when I arrived! It all went very quickly once I was called into the dressing room. The mammogram lady was super nice and just the right amount of chatty about just the right things (Walking Dead, natch.). I knew I’d have an ultrasound, so she promptly whisked me off to do that once she was done with the x-ray stuff. And the ultrasound went fine! I had read that it’s a good sign if the tech says nothing. And mine said nothing! Not even a ‘hrmmm’ or an ‘ohhhh…’. Good signs! She went off to have the doctor look at the pictures of my boob (She scanned just the one problem one.). The doctor came in a few minutes later. She said, ‘It’s a cyst! (Yaaaayyyy!!!) And the last one hasn’t changed at all. (Yaaayy… errrrr?!?!)
‘What cyst?!’
‘The cyst they found the last time you were here.’
‘No one said anything about a cyst the last time I was here.’
‘Well didn’t you get an ultrasound?’
‘Yeeeees, but still no one said anything about a cyst…’
‘Well there was a cyst. There is still is, and it hasn’t changed.’
‘Ok, thanks?’
And I was sent on my merry way.

You may recall from my last post that my GYN, Dr. Alderman, who I adore and respect and it totally cool and knows what she’s talking about, told me that if I was given an all clear and wasn’t referred for a biopsy by the imaging center that she would make a reference for me. She stressed that it was very important for me to not only have a mammogram and an ultrasound but a biopsy as well. And that’s scheduled for Wednesday! Yay?!

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‘It might just be dense breast tissue…’

…but there’s definitely something there. You need to get it checked out. What are you doing after this?’ And so begins my morning of Googling ‘breast biopsy’ and touching my boob a lot.

I love my gynecologist (Dr. Jennifer Alderman at the Gainesville Gynecology Group if you’re in Gainesville and looking.). I’ve been going to her for about ten years, seeing her once a year like clockwork. She’s super cool, speaks to me frankly without seeming cold, asks the right questions, and gives the right answers. I saw her yesterday and everything was business as normal until my breast exam. ‘Have you felt this lump?’ she asked me. ‘I don’t remember feeling anything like this on you before.’

I hadn’t felt it. I don’t do regular self exams. I know I should. I do it when I think about it. I do. But that’s only once every few months. But I don’t think I would have caught this lump if I *did* do self-exams. Dr. Alderman had me feel it, and while I definitely did feel something there, it’s not how I expected a lump to feel. I expected it to feel as hard as a rock, probably spherical, and pretty small. This lump is firm, but somewhat soft. It kind of feels like a muscle in comparison to the slightly softer tissue around it. It’s about the size of my thumb which seems huge to me. It definitely moves separately from the tissue around it. But I really don’t think I would have noticed it without Dr. Alderman showing me right were it is.

The doctor wanted a mammogram and ultrasound done immediately. She was firm, without being alarming. She was serious when she asked me what I was doing after this appointment. I did have to go back to work to finish something up before the weekend, but the GYN office made an appointment for me on Monday. Dr. Alderman explained to me that if something looks funky at the imaging center, they would send me for a biopsy. She was sure to make me understand that if the imaging center tells me everything looks clear and sends me on my way, I need to have a biopsy anyway. Turns out mammograms and ultrasounds are great at detecting changes in your breast, especially if you have an imaging history, but are pretty lousy at detecting the difference between all the different types of lumps and bumps that can live in your breast. So I was instructed to let her know immediately if the ultrasound center sent me away with a clean bill, and she would refer to me to someone for a biopsy.

As Dr. Alderman sent me on my way, I was feeling a little quirky. Not frightened. Not quite nervous. But there’s the whole unknown thing. Not the unknown of whether I have cancer or not (Nearly all lumps are completely benign. I don’t think I have cancer. If I do, well, we’ll deal with that when we find that out.), but the unknown of what happens behind the doors of a different doctor’s office. I’ve had mammograms before, so that’s fine. Right after the last one they whisked me into the next room to have an ultrasound, and that was kind of scary because it was unexpected. But I’ve never had a biopsy. I had a skin melanoma excised** from my left butt cheek about a year ago, and that ended up being a *lot* different than I expected it to be. I don’t want those kinds of surprises again. I want to know what to expect.

As I walked across the parking lot to my car, I remembered that Lorena had gone through a similar experience to this a couple of years ago. So I did what I do: I went straight to the Internet. Because Lorena does what she does: She writes. So I found her first post in a series about her mammogram, Lenny the Cyst, and her biopsy. I read most all of Lorena’s series on the way home at red lights and finished later in the evening. And Lorena, I want you to know that it helped! It helped me *so* much. I wasn’t sure if I’d write about this, but Lorena made a couple of really good points throughout her posts that I’d like to reiterate.

She found that when she started talking to ladies about her breast lump experience, many would surprisingly tell her, ‘I went through the same thing!’ It seems like this kind of lump/mammogram/biopsy thing happens pretty frequently, but for many reasons we don’t talk about it. I understand if one prefers to keep medical matters private. That is totally ok by me. But if you don’t care so much, as I don’t, I think we should make a point to talk about things like breast lumps. Talking and writing about it makes it much less frightening to others, and even to ourselves. Just writing this up this morning while I’ve clicked around on biopsy sites has made me feel tremendously more at ease with whatever next week brings me. I have a better idea of what’s going to happen, so I’m not as nervous and my mind isn’t racing the way it was last night when I went to bed.

Also, my lump is completely different from Lorena’s. Hers was painful; mine is not. Hers is tiny; mine is larger. Hers turned out to be a cyst; I don’t think mine is. So the more we talk about all of these different lumps and bumps and breast stuff, the more we realize that there are all kinds of things that can go on in there, and nearly all the time these things are perfectly fine and not cancer.

So the good news is that I have a couple of baseline mammograms on file so there will be something to compare the new one to. I’ll find out what kind of biopsy I’ll have before I go to that appointment so that I can research that a bit and know what to expect. And then everything will be fine and dandy and life will move right along. I really kind of hope it’s a mass of hair and teeth, but I doubt if I’ll be that lucky.  😉

**Edited to add: I really had no idea what I was getting into with that one. No one told me I’d be having a ‘wide excision’. I thought they would just shave some more of the mole off, similar to how they did the shave biopsy, but just go a little deeper. Chris asked me if I wanted him to go with me, and at first I declined. But thought about it for a minute and thought it’d be a good idea. I like having him around. So when we ended up on the surgical ward I was so confused. I wasn’t having surgery. I was just having a mole removed! Things were a lot more invasive than I imagined. I ended up with like seven or eight stitches. If you’re interested, here’s a great blog post documenting someone else’s wide excision:
I did get ice cream after that one, though. Always a bonus.

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Staycation by the Numbers

1 Bicycle basket liner sewn
7 Magically happy pillowcases constructed
1 Tutu resized to fit
1 New skirt from my own pattern completed
2 Upcoming sewing projects in the planning and fabric purchasing stages
729 Creative ideas formed
0 Cars washed
All Pizzas eaten
0 Floors vacuumed
2 Puppies forcibly hugged and kissed upon my whims
0 Papers organized and filed
4 Naps taken
0 Blog posts written
1/4 Lawn mown
0 Fucks given about getting hardly any chores done

The point here is that I took a week off of work in order to stay home and sew. I sewed and sewed and relaxed and ate pizza and sewed, and I loved it. I needed a reset, and I’ve totally got my mojo back. And damn, that feels good.

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On Blogging

I’m ‘doing’ the NaBloPoMo in August. I’ve signed up and given my url and everything. But I’m obviously finding it to be a difficult task. When I said, ‘YES! I can do this!’ I figured that the worst case scenario would be that I could post a photograph or or a short quip each day if I didn’t have time to write a full blog post. That isn’t happening, though, and I’ll tell you why: Too many social media options. When I’m thinking I can write up a quick little blog post even when I don’t have the time for a proper decent post, I write it in my head and realize that it’s a Facebook post, not a blog post. And then sometimes I realize that it’s not even a FB post, but a Tweet! If it’s a photograph that I really like, it’s going straight to Instagram. So you can see that in my wee head I’ve composed a dozen blog posts this week, but they’ve been expressed on Facebook instead of here. 🙁

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And That’s a Wrap!

Chris and I made a video today! We’ve made a small handful of videos together, all of which have been me talking to the camera while working from an outline. Chris and I have had a blast putting these together with me in front of the camera and him behind it. He’s a great editor, and I enjoy being a movie star for the day. We’re a great team! This time, we had a script and a set and costumes and wow.

A friend of ours is turning eight years old next week.wrap He’s having a huge Harry Potter birthday party (Ok, who are we kidding? His *mom* is having a huge Harry Potter party!) and we’re going to have to miss it because we’ll be camping all weekend. We wanted to do something super special and a wee bit magical for him, so Chris put on his Cornelius Fudge costume that I made for him many years and many pounds ago, and he ACTED for this kid. He ACTED his ass off. Unlike our previous works, this one was done with one camera in one take. Granted, we worked that take over and over and over again, but our final run through wasn’t too bad at all.

We found a little corner of our home that looks kind of old school and turned it into Fudge’s office where his secretary, Ms. Fussywidget, took a letter from the Ministry of Magic to our friend Kieran. We’ll print the letter up on some faux parchment paper and slide it to Kieran’s mom sometime this week. We’ll have a QR code on the letter that his folks can scan with their cell phone that will play the video of us ‘making’ the letter for him. Of course at the end of the movie we’ll have a little muggle shout out to Kieran with our birthday wishes to him. I hope Chris puts his trademark outtakes at the end too! Regardless of what makes the cut, though, I’ll post the video here when it’s all said and done!

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I Was Upskirted. And I Didn’t Call the Cops.

Chris and I are on our annual Mother’s Day vacation, and we’re at our favorite part of it: Our time with our dear friends, Katie and Paul, in Maryland. This is time that we treasure each and every year. We usually try to find a couple of fun or unusual touristy things to do, and Paul will take a day or two off of work to play hooky with us. Katie just finished up her first semester of nursing school, so I’m excited that she was done with her finals by the time we were pulling into their driveway. She kicked ass on her exams, by the way!

This year we took a little trip to Savage Mill to check out the shops, have a pint, and just hang out with our friends. We were in a particularly quaint store that sold only handcrafted items. A place after my own heart! As I looked at handbags and tchotchkes and jewelry I thought about the lovely things that my maker friends produce and how well it would fit in there. I thought about the makers of these products and made a decision to definitely buy a thing or two in order to support them in the best way possible. The shop is made of up three rooms that aren’t necessarily small or isolated, but there were very few shoppers in the mall this Thursday afternoon. As we entered the shop, the four of us split up and we wandered in different directions, towards things we each found to be interesting.

As I glanced at some too cute little signs on a wall, a man, maybe in his late twenties (I’m horrible at guessing ages.) or early thirties commented to me about how nice the artwork is. I smiled, like I do, nodded in agreement, and turned to continue shopping. I’m usually pretty aware of people around me when I’m in public. Not in a paranoid way, but I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. At the grocery, for instance, I like to know who is in front of me and who’s behind me so that I don’t block an aisle or something. I had noticed that this guy had been pretty close to me most of the time I had been shopping in this room, but I didn’t think much of it. He was a little closer than I like a stranger to be to me, so I turned to actively avoid talking to him any longer. When my back was to him I felt the hem of my skirt move. Skirts do that. They move when your butt does. It’s not unusual. What *is* unusual is when you twist around to fix your skirt and you see that the guy who had been next to you is moving into a standing position and is putting something behind his back.

I didn’t immediately realize what had happened. I saw that whatever the guy was putting behind his back had a light at the end of it. I was confused. Why would this stranger have a light of some sort near the hem of my skirt? I’m sure he saw the recognition dawning on my face as my brain put together the clues and formed an idea of what this cretin had done. I was between him and the exit of the shop and I started slowly backing away. I could feel the blood rushing to my face as I raised my finger at him. ‘You… you!!!’ I said, shaking. It was when he immediately got defensive that I *knew* that he had done what I suspected. I called out for my husband. ‘Chris…? Chris! CHRIS!! THIS GUY JUST UPSKIRTED ME!’

At this point a couple of things were going through my head: 1) Don’t let this guy get away, and 2) Let as many people hear the commotion so that they will help detain him. I was not embarassed. I was not going to be quiet. I think those first few moments helped define how I feel about the situation right now, a couple of days later. I think being outspoken about it right then helped me continue to be outspoken about it and not brush it under a rug. And I think that’s a good thing for me.

As Katie and Paul and Chris came to see what was going on, the guy was walking, backing actually, towards the door, talking, saying how he did nothing wrong, using lots of ‘Maams’, ‘No no no’, ‘You don’t understand’, backing away, on his phone, deleting the photos, hurrying to the door, walking, ‘Maam’, ‘It’s not like that’, walking, deleting, ‘I didn’t do anything’, walking. As Katie and Chris blocked his way in an effort to slow him down, Paul began video taping the confrontation on his phone.* Chris and Katie were trying to get the guy to hand over his phone. He would show them a photo or two, but wouldn’t hand the phone to either of them. We were out in the hallway part of the mall by then. The guy was still trying to walk away, still deleting, still defensive. Katie smelled pot on him. Walking. Deleting. ‘I didn’t do anything’.

Chris asked me what I wanted to do. If I wanted to report it. The evidence, if the guy even got a good shot, was gone**, there was no witness, I had somewhat humiliated the guy in public, and I didn’t even know if upskirting is illegal in Maryland.*** I asked Chris to just make sure there were no photos of me on the guy’s phone and that would be enough. Paul was still video taping. I was still confused. I was *so* pissed. I was pacing. Walking towards Chris and Katie and the guy, then walking back to Paul. Back and forth. I just wanted the guy and his phone to go away. The guy finally handed his phone to Chris, and among the seemingly consentual nude pictures of ‘his girl’, Chris found no upskirt photos of me or anyone else remaining. The guy apologized to Chris who in turn made the guy apologize to me. Whatever. Just go away. He did.

Katie had asked the shop-keeper to call security. She kicked it up a notch and was on the phone with 911 by the time we made our way back to towards the store. I told her not to send the cops. She asked if I was ok. A couple of women who had been watching the confontation asked if I was ok. That helped. It somehow helped me feel better that strangers recognized a horrible situation and at least seemed to care. I don’t know why, but it did.

I felt myself start to cry, but I didn’t allow that to come to fruition. Fuck that guy. I didn’t want him to be able to make me cry. In the end, that’s exactly why I didn’t want the cops. I didn’t want this guy to have the power to ruin my day. I get just a couple of days a year to be with these people who I love, and I was not going to spend one of those days dealing with cops and paperwork and statements, let alone take the risk that this horrible thing that happened to me would be downgraded to a ‘Oh, sweetie, just you don’t mind. These things happen when you wear cute little skirts.’ I won’t forgive, and I sure as hell won’t forget, but I really just wanted to have a good day with my friends. Again, I didn’t want to give him the power to ruin my day, let alone my whole vacation, or this place for me.

So did I do the right thing? By not reporting the crime, I have failed the guy’s future victims. But I don’t think calling the cops would have stopped him from doing this next week. But I did do the right thing. I did the thing that was right for me at the time. It’s the decision I will live with, so it has to be the right thing. And if this ever happens to you, you will do the right thing for you at that time. At this point the only thing I can think of that I wish I would have done is this: I wish I would have thought to tell him, ‘For every disgusting act like this that you do, someone is doing this to your mother. Someone is doing this to your daughter. Someone is doing this to your sister.’ I wish I would have had the foresight to make it personal to him. That’s the only way he will realize that what he is doing is wrong.

*Fucking brilliant. That somehow comforted me.

***Even if the shot(s) he got had been crappy, if he hadn’t have had time to delete them, the tattoos on my legs would have positively identified them as being photos of my underskirt.

***It is. I think. Maybe? Frankly, it’s hard to tell.

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Bird Planning

You may recall that one of the biggest reasons I wanted to get a planner is to have a place to log my birding activities. I’m so happy to say that I have a place to do that now! My friend Tessa invited me to her house to make planner inserts, and I think I made the best bird planner in the whole world that has ever existed. Move over Audubon! IdyllicChick is coming through!

In preparation for my visit to Tessa I drew up an entry for my book. I want to record the date and the weather, and I want to have a few lines to write about who I’m with, where we are, and what birds we’re seeing. My Lovely Husband Chris was kind enough to scan that sketch, multiply it, and add a scan of some washi tape birds at the bottom. When I got to Tessa’s house she duplicated the .jpg and centered it properly for my little book. Tessa was gracious enough to not only print my pages on my choice of paper colors, but she gave me a couple of her original artwork screenprinted covers as well! (Check them out here.) She helped me cut the paper down to the correct size, punch holes in the middle, and sew the bindings up with some vintage crochet cotton that I brought from home. I left the ends of the binding string long enough to be able to incorporate it into a littel bookmark so that I’m always at the ready to record a bird.

So here’s the coolest thing about my little fowl tome: See the little birdy watermark there? When I see a lifer (A bird that I have never seen before, or at least haven’t recorded before) I get to put one of these adorable bird stickers there! How cool is that? I bought the artwork for these from Etsy as a download, then sent them off to Moo to have them made into stickers.

As wonderful as I think this whole bird book thing is, I certainly want to share it with you. To download the printable in Traveler size, just give a little clicky right here on this thumbnail.  BirdLog




And do take a look at the little video that Chris and I made that shows off my happy bird book!


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M-m-m-my Fauxdori

My Jendori has arrived! It is nothing less than fabulous.

While waiting for my real planner, I’ve been carrying around a little notebook that I picked up in Bruges. I think my life has changed already. Pre-planner-life I did tend to put a note or two in my phone if I needed to, especially if someone suggested a movie I should watch or whatnot. But having that simple little ruled notebook in my purse all the time has led to habits such as list-making (Gasp!) and writing (No!) and even some minor journaling (Crazy!). It’s a whole new world out there, people. I’ve switched out my little purse for my larger one (It’s actually more of a winter purse than my little lady bag anyway.) so that I can have my Jendori with me everywhere I go. The idea of filling up an insert, labeling the cover with the beginning and ending dates, storing it away, and starting a fresh new insert really thrills the organizer in me.

But I digress! My new planner really has arrived and I want you to see it! So here’s a video of the unboxing! Eeeeeep!

Post-video watching notes:
-This was pretty obviously the first video of this sort that Chris and I made together. There are a lot of problems with it. But we had *so* much fun making it! And Chris is a wonderful editor! So I think we might make another video one day.
-I was wearing my pajamas. I didn’t think they’d show. Forgive me.
-I honestly didn’t realize that the focus would be on me so much. I know that sounds ridiculous, as the camera was pointing right at me the whole time. But I probably would have worn a different shirt (And put on real pants!) if I had known that.
-I am so decorated from the elbows down!

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Planner Planning

Making the move to purchase a hard copy planner is causing me to… plan for it. I’ve been researching how to get the most out of my planner, especially when using it along side my digital calendars and list-makers. One of the biggest realizations I’ve had is that I can upload a photograph of my planner page to Evernote and it’s still totally searchable! Once I make some improvements to my handwriting, that is.

But I also want my Fauxdori to be as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. And I want to consider dipping my toe into art journaling. I need supplies! Stickers! Paint! Stamps! So I did some Small Business Saturday shopping last weekend.

The first place we hit was Reddi-Arts. Since Gainesville recently lost it’s last remining art supply store, Reddi-Arts was a welcome sight. The place is a maze of art supplies *and* art! It was refreshing to simply walk the aisles, browsing. Dammit, I meant to look at rulers and I forgot to! But I did pick up the pictured items that were on my list. Yes, I tried *all* of the pens. It was hard to choose! I’m especially excited about the watercolor supplies. The staff was quite friendly and offered help at all of the appropriate times.


Then we drove just a scootch down the road to The Write Touch. I was afraid that they may only have wedding invitation suppllies, but I ended up having to make a point to take it easy, because I wanted to go home with *everything* in this shop. They carry stationery, leather bags and folios, planners, Filofax, antler-handled desk accessories, fancy fountain pens, washi tape, and… I can’t even say what else. All kinds of… stuff. Cool stuff! Stuff with curse words on it! I can’t wait to go back and see what else they have. I know I missed lots of things. And here’s what I went home with. The skull and crossbones stationery was a no-brainer, but the flower press was an impulse buy.


The washi tape set was my favorite purchase. The rolls are so big I’m going to have to share them with friends! The Victorian feel of the designs is going to mesh perfectly with my new planner. When it arrives. If it ever arrives. I know it will arrive! But I’m anxious. So very anxious.


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Holiday Thoughts

I may be repeating myself, but vacation and holidays are so inspiring to me. Chris and I rarely spend a holiday at home because his family is pretty close by. So while I’m away I spend time reading and knitting and generally surfing Pinterest and Etsy and such. I get myself so worked up and excited to get back home so that I can start sewing and spinning and playing with new ideas and just Getting Shit Done. And then I get home and… crickets. It’s not that nothing happens. The costume *will* be done in time for the event. The spinning wheel *will* get tuned up before Spin In. Things happen, but not in the uber-productive way that I expect.

This holiday (Happy Thanksgiving!), I’m all about the planner. The idea started when I wanted a pretty way to track my Life List of birds. And now that I’ve ordered a cool little fauxori (Google Midori planner. I got a beautiful knock-off one on Etsy.), I’m thinking that it will change my life. Before we left home yesterday I started clearing a space to work on my planner. A little secretary desk in a bookshelf where I can put a chair and hide away all of the new stickers and buttons and washi tape and stamps and paper punches. And this is already sounding like it’s just an excuse to buy more stuff. To consume. But here’s the thing: Chris and I (and YOU) all work very hard for our money. We deserve nice things. And if consuming this thing makes me happy, possibly for a long while, and encourages me to produce (And also helps a small businessperson to realize her dream), then I’m all about spending the money and spending more time on me. So here’s to the smell of new leather and the possibility of a more creative, pleasing life. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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