Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Quick Check-in

It is too much for me to write at length right now, but I know many of you have been praying for me and I wanted to let you know that my surgery was very successful.   The surgeon got 99% of the tumor which is more than we had hoped for.  I am worn out, with low energy and stamina but I'm going to be fine.  The recovery from this surgery is very different than the biopsy in January.  I hope to improve much quicker.  I wish I could sleep more but I'm good for a couple of hours at a time.  I'll get better, I'm sure.

Thank you very much for giving me so much support and encouragement.  The cards, notes, books, hearts, and all kinds of other goodies have made me smile.  I can't wait to get home and hug my daughter, hopefully that will happen tomorrow or the day after.

I have thanked God for each of you who have carried my name, I promise you, your prayers have been incredibly effective.  Thank you again and again.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beef and Broccoli Recipe

Slam, butchering a whole tenderloin
I was well cared for after my surgery in January.  My friend, nicknamed Slam, had already planned a visit before my great adventure disrupted my life.  When he heard about it he decided he would still come and spend two days cooking for me, taking care of everything else he could see that needed help.

One of the things he did was go to Restaurant Supply and he bought a whole beef tenderloin which he then butchered himself.  he cooked some that night for dinner.  The rest was vacuum packed, labeled and put in my freezer.  He told me that the chain meat was particularly good for stir-fry.

I had one Sunday before my second surgery which was the first night I really wanted (and felt able) to make a whole dinner on my own.  So I decided I would defrost that chain meat and make beef and broccoli, which I love. I used the following recipe and I highly recommend you give it a try.  It couldn't have been any easier and it is delicious. If you don't happen to have tenderloin chain meat on hand, use something else and the flavors will still be amazing, even if the meat isn't melt in your mouth tender.  Enjoy!

Beef and Broccoli a la Pixie
Beef and Broccoli a la Pixie

Step 1:   

3/4 lbs lean beef

1 T. rice vinegar
1 t. sugar
1 t. soy sauce
1 T. water
1 T. cornstarch

Mix together the marinade.  Cut the beef into strips (I go for about 1" wide and as long as I can cut them, up to 4" long) and stir the beef into the marinade.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes, a couple of hours can't hurt it.

Step 2: 

1.5 lbs broccoli cut into florets, I use the stems, too, peeled and cut into 1" by .5" pieces
1 large onion cut into slivers
2 garlic cloves cut into slivers
1 T. fresh grated ginger

4 T. oyster sauce
4 T. soy sauce
2 T. water

Mix all and set aside in a bowl

1/2 t. salt
1 t. sugar

Mix together and set aside in a bowl

1.5 t. cornstarch mixed with 1.5 T water and set aside in a bowl

Step 3:


1/2 c. vegetable or peanut oil
3/4 c. water

Heat wok or large pan on the stove until it is hot.  Add the oil  and swirl it around.  Dump the beef into the pan and spread out the pieces by the time they're all in a single layer it's time to turn them over.  When they are cooked through (no longer pink) remove them to a clean bowl.  

Add the onions and broccoli to the pan stirring constantly.  After the onions begin to soften add the garlic and ginger.  Keep stirring.  When the broccoli is bright green but not quite cooked through add the water and sprinkle with the salt and sugar mixture, stir.  Cover the pan until broccoli is almost done to your liking.  I like mine cooked to just barely still crisp, by the time we're done with cooking it's just tender but not at all mushy.

Add beef back to the pan along with the sauce, cook for 1 minute.  Move the food to one side and pour the thickener into the sauce.  Stir it in and then combine with the food.  Cook for 1 more minute and your're done.

Serve with rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I have my suspicions, but nobody has really claimed responsibility for this little project, hearts just started arriving in my home.  Sometimes carried in by a friend, sometimes delivered by the US Mail.  It has been great fun.  I have amassed quite a collection and I am so very grateful. It has been sweet to receive each and every heart, some of them took quite a bit of work, I imagine and they all carry with them the kind thoughts and healing prayers of the quilters in my life.

Melinda went out and bought me some ribbon (those of you who read her blog will NOT be surprised to hear that it is red with white polka dots) and teeny tiny clothespins with which to attach the hearts to the "clothesline".  I am planning to take this with me to UAMS for my surgery.  They may not let me hang it up in the ICU but Lynda will make sure it is hung up as soon as possible.

Not all the hearts were signed, but I want to give thanks to the following ladies who have gone out of their way to encourage me since my last surgery:

Stella (one she made herself and one that is from both Stella and her wonderful husband Charlie)
Jo Ann

 I am blessed, indeed.  Thank you, all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Power of Red Socks

Slipper Socks from North Fulton Hospital
I have two sisters, The Funny Sister and The Beautiful Sister.  (I'm The Talented Sister, in case you were wondering.)  Now, the truth is that The Funny Sister wishes I would call her The Smart Sister, but The Beautiful Sister is pretty smart, and so am I, so she's going to have to live with being called The Funny Sister until the rest of us lose our minds.  I'm working on it, but I haven't quite gotten there yet.

A gift from Maven Jan

The Funny Sister has a theory that she first shared with me when I was in my 20's, she was very insistent about it and at the time she held much more sway over me than she does now.  She is still a power player in my life and I love it, I just don't let her tell me how to do everything any more.  (Sometimes I wonder just who the older sister is.)   Her theory was that red socks had healing power.  Now, if she comes and reads this she may well correct me, but the fact is that I came away from that conversation believing that when one is sick, she should immediately don red socks.  It's not a superstitious thing, or some kind of weird new age thing, she just believes one should put on red socks when sick.  Almost my entire adulthood when I have gotten sick I have put on red socks if for no other reason than to think of The Funny Sister and laugh.  Also, if I talk to her on the phone and tell her I'm sick, I know she's going to ask if I'm wearing red socks.
Betty Boop always makes me smile

You know when you're in the hospital they give you slipper socks to wear, they have little rubber bits on them to keep you from sliding.  Guess what color my slipper socks were when I was hospitalized last time?  Yep, they were red, you can see them at the top of this page.  Guess North Fulton Hospital also believes in the red socks thing.  LOL

How could you not love ruby slipper socks?  

Recently, The Beautiful Sister (who lives in Hong Kong) told me she was very sick with some kind of flu bug.  She couldn't even sit up to Skype.  I asked her if she was wearing red socks.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that The Funny Sister had never told her about the red socks thing.  Now, The Funny Sister says that's okay because surely she has told The Beautiful Sister other valuable information that I don't know.  (Now I'm wondering what I'm missing out on!)

So many people have offered to help me since my hospital stay and in truth my needs are well met.  So I began telling my friends last week that if anyone asks them what I need, to please tell them I need red socks to help me through my next surgery and recovery.   I have a great love of novelty socks, and this being February, I thought cute red socks would be easy to come up with.  Turns out I was right!  So far I have received four pairs of socks, two of them from The Funny Sister.  We have agreed that I will wear them into the hospital on surgery day and even though they will make me take them off for the operation, we will ask the nurse to put them back on me as soon as I am awake and allowed to wear them.  I give you the most awesome red socks for getting better ever:

The most awesome red socks ever

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being Loved by Melinda

Melinda takes care of me in so many ways it would be silly to try and list them.  But recently one of the most amazing ways is that she brought this quilt to me while I was in the hospital.  I love it, and decided immediately that I would take it with me whenever I had to go back to the hospital again.  I kept meaning to post a picture of it in the past month, but today I got the news about when I can expect to have surgery. I'm so grateful to be bringing this quilt with me when I go!

If you don't know Melinda, btw, you should check out her blog at http://melinful.blogspot.com/ she is a much more faithful writer than I am!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

From Under the Magnolia to Little Rock...

What looked like a long shot, and certainly not a thing to be hoped for in the near future is going to happen, at least, at this point it looks like it will.

One of the most, possibly the most prominent neurosurgeon in the world reviewed my files last week and as I was told by his wife he said "this tumor is absolutely operable".   Dr. Weaver, my local neurosurgeon had thought it would be thus.  What is impossible even for very talented surgeons is what Dr. Yasargil specializes in accomplishing.  I am invited to visit him in Arkansas, be examined, have special MRI cuts performed and assuming that nothing new is found that changes his mind, to be operated on by him in the same visit.  If all goes well I would be discharged from the hospital at most five days later and on my way back home to Atlanta within seven days of the surgery.

The logistics are beyond my ability to comprehend.  My husband has taken on the insurance piece, thank goodness there is something practical he can do.  My friends have offered every kind of support including traveling along with us to Arkansas and taking care of my 11 year old while we're gone.  While I can't quite sort every detail out in my mind at the moment, I trust that the pieces will fall into place.  By the end of the week I should know the most important part, which is when Dr. Yasargil expects to see me in Little Rock.  I'll keep you posted.

Thanks to all of you who have posted and sent email messages.  I am grateful for your support and prayers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Lost Weekend

The neurosurgeon, in his wisdom, said "Sure you can go to Amicalola Falls with the group from Tiny Stitches the weekend after you have brain surgery, if you feel like going."  Now, let me just say this.  In a week when I heard a lot of no, including "no, you cannot take a shower" and "no, you cannot leave your room" hearing yes meant everything to me.  What he knew but I didn't, was that there was no way I was going to be able to go.  He wasn't worried I'd get to the mountains and be far away from medical professionals because I wasn't going.  No. Way.  Have I mentioned how much I love my neurosurgeon?  The things I like best about him include his sense of humor and his ability to empathize with my desire to live as normal a life as possible.  (That and the whole "I can cut into your brain and not cause major damage" thing is pretty cool, too.)

So... Melinda and Stella and all the other Tiny Stitches ladies went off to the retreat while I lay mostly unconscious and certainly too drugged and weak to care.  I was looking forward to making the mystery quilt, which I have enjoyed every year that TS has been doing this event, but Maetha, who owns the shop always comes up with all kinds of fun side projects and goodies to give away and I was missing that too.  Or so I thought.   After the retreat was over Melinda came by and brought me a great stockpile of goodies.     Stella had, in addition to everything else she worked on in the weekend made me an apron, I got a pattern and fabric for making some pretty napkins, too.  A little bucket with my name on it that I know I will use for toting tools around in the future.  Somebody made me a beautiful black and yellow thread catcher, plus Robin's pattern for that project.  Quilting girl socks, a name tag made out of "Georgia" fabric printed by Hoffman for the Quilt Shop Hop last year.  Melinda even brought me candy, which Maetha sprinkles around the tables a few times a day during the retreat.

I feel so loved!