Monday, April 21, 2014

Pima County Fair

Friday we had so much fun with Izy at the Pima County Fair.  I grew up going to the Kane County Fair (Elgin, Illinois) with my Grandparents Dice.  In the Midwest, the Fair is in August, but in Pima County it comes in April.  It was a surprisingly damp (slight shower) and cool evening, but our spirits were sunny.  Mark took Izy on her first Ferris Wheel ride; she visited her first petting zoo where she met a lovely llama; she learned about the carney games (a quick way to lose tickets), and rode the modernized tilt-a-whirl with another "friend" she met while standing in the ride's ticket line.

We spent almost an hour at the 4H exhibition hall and she admired the art work, quilts and made her own crafted baskets.  She gathered vegetables from the "farm", milked a (plastic) cow, and, another first, sat on a tractor.

Four and half hours later, she got into her car seat and was asleep before we hit the freeway!  Such is the happiness of a child at her first county fair.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My mammo results came in the mail today: normal.  I said a prayer of gratitude and prayed for all the women facing similar fears, diagnosis, treatments and healing.

Yesterday I did take a bouquet to the imaging center and asked staff to offer a flower to women getting a mammo.  I am going to try to repeat that behavior throughout the coming months.  It is a small action I can take that helps me stay on a healthier and happier path and may "crack some light" into the walls of the waiting room.

On Monday/Passover (and the day my results were written), I acted "as if" and bought flowers for myself.  Later, I received more flowers from my son and family.  The aroma from the flowers fills my home with comfort and love.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Walls in the Waiting Room

Friday I had my annual mammogram.  Since 2008, I have been on a mammo-roller coaster with several years of "call backs" for more images, three recent years of all clear and no "call backs" , and various friends diagnosed with breast cancer (one death) in between. 

As I sat in my gown in the waiting room (and it was an unusually long wait for this location), I watched the women around me, also waiting.  One was busy doing paperwork on her lap, another was flipping through a magazine and sneezing.  I, too, had a magazine in front of me but I was feeling overwhelmed with my anxiety and my fears for these women, too. 

I have been reading about suffering and the Buddhist practice of tonglen.  As I reflect on it now, I realize I was breathing in their anxieties, holding it in and letting it out with love--or trying to.  But somewhere in my breathe, the transformation of suffering to love got stuck.  Only fear remained in my body.  I am new at this practice and did it imperfectly.  But I tried.

(As I described this experience to a friend today she said, "we live within our walls in doctors' waiting rooms" and this struck me as a title for this blog post.)

Later, in the imaging room, I commented on how busy the office seemed--unusually so.  The tech shared that "we've been really busy since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.  We are seeing women who haven't seen a doctor for years and have been living with growing breast lumps."  I felt both saddened and grateful for the fact that women are now getting healthcare--but to wait because of the lack of it seem horrible to me and a failure of our country.

Whatever comes my way from my mammo this year, I am one of the fortunate women to have had health insurance all my life and good doctors to help hold me up through my health challenges.  I plan to buy flowers (tulips are my favorite) to take to the lobby and ask staff to distribute to women taking their mammos that day.  In a small way, I want to cut a crack in the walls in the waiting room.