Monday, March 23, 2020

surviving COVID-19 #2

Well, that was a good plan but obviously not something that will be achieved daily. I have no discipline, I guess. Sigh.

Part of the problem is that I feel so differently every day. Things are not linear or even sloped in one direction or another, moving toward or away from despair. It's more like this:

I was on my way home from the grocery store this morning, having gone during designated senior citizen hours. Gah to that, but I appreciate their caution. Anyway, I had a thought but this first.

The store was quite civilized. I saw no pushing or grabbing or impolite behavior. Everyone gave each other wide berth....waiting until you exited an aisle before entering. Many wore masks. I wore gloves. Purple nitrile gloves. For posterity, here they are.

We didn't hoard them but bought them for our tax preparers. Now that we're done with that gig for a while, they are coming in handy. I put them on when I exited the car and took them off after the groceries were loaded back into the car. Then I sanitized my hands. I usually like to have breakfast or coffee as a reward after shopping but these are not usual times so I drove through the line at Caribou and drank my iced Americano in the parking lot. I gave the young woman a hefty tip, because I know what it's like to be a working college kid.

My thought as I was driving home was this. I remember clearly after the tornado, walking around the block (weather similar to this...cold and gray) and sobbing because it felt like a war zone. Piles of branches at every corner. No street lights. The sounds of helicopters and generators. It was terrifying.

This is like that, but after the tornado, we could drive to LeSueur or Mankato and things were normal. We could buy batteries and candles and have dinner like we usually did. You could order off the menu and you didn't have to get in line at the Salvation Army van in the street. (We were very grateful for Easter ham and scalloped potatoes in styrofoam containers that year!) When you drove ten miles for dinner, people had taken showers and dressed up. Two things difficult to do when we had no hot water, no lights, and so much to worry about besides whether our clothes matched...or not.

By the time I got home, though, my mood had lightened. I unpacked the car and left a few things for my trip to Canby and Sioux Falls to take Mom to surgery. There's a dearth of "supplies" out that way even in normal times so I had some dread about not finding coffee or food. Solved that by buying supplies to keep in the car. I've decided that cold brew coffee in bottles might have to do for a while.

I'm also packing a bag of disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, spray disinfectant, and tissues. I'm taking extra clothes, not knowing how long I will be there or what the circumstances will be like when I do come home.

If this seems like over-preparation, remember what Dr. Fauci said: If in the end it seems like you did too much, then you did the right things. Or something like that.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

surviving COVID-19 #1

I saw somewhere today that historians recommend writing down your experiences with the coronavirus every day. For posterity. I usually like to do things in a linear fashion which means I am behind in my record but I'm just jumping in. So much feels out of my control. Everything feels out of my control.

I went for a walk up by the high school this afternoon. Regis and Gus go up every day and I thought it would be a good way to get some structure into my day. Seriously, my ass is sore from sitting in the chair so much. You know that physics thing: a body at rest tends to stay at rest.

So, I thought I would go and look for signs of spring, of which there were precious few. I found a couple blades of green grass but those might have overwintered green. It was a pretty much monochromatic landscape. Brown. Gray. Not uplifting at all, but it did feel good to walk.

Everything is closed. Coffee shops, hairdressers, the dentist, bars, banks, restaurants. It feels like a ghost town. So strange to have nowhere to go and no place to be. I am continuing to work with my fitness client but I am prepared for that to end soon. I wonder if we could do virtual workouts. There are two confirmed cases in Nicollet County and two in Blue Earth County.

I sent a text to all the kids today and asked them to let us know how they are and to send pictures of the kids. They were heartwarming. I realize I am going to have to work at things for a while...finding good, being happy, staying active.

Breathe. Love. Breathe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

doing the social distance dance

Regis and I went out the other day and did some necessary errands. I noticed, at each place, that people automatically move away when you enter. As I got out of line at the court house, the four people waiting moved aside so I could walk between them. At the vet clinic, the fellow who came in after me, made a big circle and waited on the other side of the room. It's a little creepy.

I had a dream the other night that I would call my typical anxiety dream. Mankato had built a huge river walk downtown, three layers of wide concrete walkways with ramps and steps. There were lots of stands selling food and drink and souvenir t-shirts. My friend, Joanne, was with me and inexplicably, we were driving a bulldozer. Like Thelma and Louise. Sometimes we had trouble locating a ramp when we needed one so we would announce ourselves, people would scatter, and we'd drive the bulldozer down the steps.

We didn't drive off the top level into the river but we sure made a hell of a mess.

Not much new to report on Mom. We're anxiously watching news of the Covid-19 virus and hoping it won't prevent her surgery. Today, there are 4 cases in the county where her hospital is located.

Here's how serious it is in Minnesota. The St. Patrick's Day parade was cancelled and the Irish pub, Patrick's has to close at 5pm, at the governor's direction. Someone posted a meme on Facebook that said obviously Governor Walz has not heard of day drinking. Just a little pandemic humor.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Shirley Update

Mom's been a traveler this week. She went to Sioux Falls on Monday to see the surgeon, then went back on Tuesday to be cleared by the cardiac folks. All good.

This morning, the surgeon's office called and scheduled her surgery for Thursday, March 26. I'll go out to Canby on the 24th because we have to go to the hospital on the 25th so she can have a magseed placed. That's a new one.

Here's what a magseed is:The Magseed marker is a small radiation-free seed that is easily placed by the radiologist in soft tissue with no restrictions on implantation time. On the day of surgery, the patient can go directly to the operating room, without delaying the start of the procedure. The surgeon then uses the Sentimag platform to confidently localize the Magseed marker.

And here's what it looks like.

Looks huge in the first picture but it's actually very tiny.

Monday, March 09, 2020


I think it's in her DNA to be optimistic and to have a cheerful outlook. When times are tough, Mom always says, "This too shall pass," and says she remembers her own mother repeating that proverb when the struggle was real. Here you go, Mom.

If you're curious about the origins of this proverb, here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject.
Cousin Deb and Larry drove out to Canby yesterday to take Mom to her surgery consult today in Sioux Falls. My brother, Pat, will meet them to be another set of ears and to ask questions. No doubt this will involve lunch at some fine dining establishment. Never miss an opportunity for a good meal, I always say. One of them will call me this evening to give me the low-down and I will pass it on via this blog asap. I only slept for three hours last night (full moon, time change, dog on the bed) so I can't say exactly when that will be.

 In my research, I found a lot of people have an equally optimistic outlook but with a little side of dark humor.

 Have a safe and uneventful trip today! Wish I could join you for lunch!


Thursday, March 05, 2020

Shirley's Adventures

Ten days ago, Mom sent an email to us letting us know she had found a lump in her breast. Her local doctor thought it was suspicious and referred her to the Edith Sanford Breast Center in Sioux Falls. Her first appointment was at 10:30 on Monday, March 2nd.

I drove to Canby last Sunday and we went to Sioux Falls the next morning. Not only did they get her in a little early, but by 12:30 she'd had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. They were reasonably certain with those tests that it was some kind of cancer and they didn't see any evidence of lymph involvement which would be very good news. The tumor is 1.2 centimeters (less than half an inch), but it will need to be removed surgically. 

Mom reacted as I thought she would. She shrugged and said, "What are you going to do?", it's just something to deal with and she had all the nurses and doctors laughing. She told them we were going out for lunch and wondered if she could have a glass of wine. When they said yes, she wondered if she could have two.

After a most delicious lunch at Grill 26 (Minerva's), we drove back to Canby to wait for a call about the pathology. Not too many details yet, but it's invasive lobular carcinoma. You can read more about it here if you like medical information: Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

The next day, the surgery center called to schedule Mom for a consult with a breast cancer surgeon. She will likely get more details then, like the staging and recommendations for treatment.Mom's appointment is Monday, March 9th. Cousin Deb and Larry are coming out to Canby from Minneapolis to take Mom to this appointment. I'll update here as more news becomes available.

To the right, you can put in your email address 
and you'll be notified when there is a new update.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020


I'm too tired to put together a reasonable chronology of the last few days. Tomorrow, I promise.