Archive | September 2013

Soup’s On

A cloudy, pre-Fall Saturday.

First soup of the season…..

Made with acorn squash (baked and pureed), chopped sweet onions, chopped celery.
Some heat (red chili flakes, a few dashes of ancho chili and some cayenne).
Herbs (basil and sage)
Sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice)

All in an orange juice base with a bit of black pepper, some brown sugar, some butter to smooth is out and milk to thin it a bit near the end of cooking. YES… I forgot to add any granulated garlic and ginger… but it tastes great without it. YUM..

Won’t do any good to ask for a recipe… I just started cooking and tossed in things I thought would make it taste good.

I learned this cooking method from Mom. It worked well for her and usually does for me.

Replacing chicken stock with orange juice made for an interesting flavor, not to mention far less sodium. I just added ingredients, stirred and let the scent of the mixture guide the next step. Of course, I taste tested along the way.

Yes… another made up recipe.

I was taught to cook this way by the BEST…  My Mom.

I can hear her saying, “Soup’s On.”

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Persistence

Through grueling hours, days of persistence in pursuit of a highly skilled surgeon to even review his case, my brother and his endocrinologist feel they won the lottery.

It was not easy.

Working with an insurance company.
Sometimes they seemed like a heartless lot without an inkling of a soul.

Sifting through online documents trying to find just the right, highly skilled surgeon who in turn would be approved by the insurance company, and who worked at an approved facility. Not an easy task.

Calls were made. Return calls were anticipated.

Finally. A call they had been waiting for. A highly skilled surgeon told them to send him all the documents regarding the case so he could review them. All the local documents, test results and all of the same from the Mayo Clinic.

We could now all breathe a bit easier, especially my brother and his doctor.

Couple this search with the fact that both my brother and his doctor are working a full schedule. Both have a life away from work. Both want the best possible outcome for my brother. I feel like he won the lottery when he was assigned to this doctor. She’s the best and I could never thank her enough for all she’s done for my brother. For what she’s done for my family.

The highly anticipated call came. After reviewing the case, the highly skilled surgeon, at a Seattle hospital said he would do the surgery. AND… both the surgeon and the hospital were approved by the insurance company.

Mixed emotions. While my brother was so impressed with the Mayo Clinic and knew he’d be in good hands there, he is comfortable with the man who will perform the life-saving surgery closer to home.

Again… a lottery win.

Persistence paid off.

Mom taught us that.

Won’t give up.

After a week of coping with what is going on with my brother’s battle with stage 4c papillary thyroid cancer and coming to grips with what my Dad said last night, I simply needed an evening alone…. a simple evening at home.  Alone.  An evening to create.

My brother needs surgery. A difficult, complicated surgery. Life saving surgery.

My Dad is dealing with chronic kidney disease and told me that he’d refuse kidney dialysis if his kidney disease got that bad. We had a short, unhappy conversation about that. It ended abruptly.

My coping skills were less than stellar today. I needed a distraction when I got home from work.

I am making a quilt. I wanted, no, needed to work on it. I love fabric. I love color. I love creating something, basically from next to nothing. Creating something from an idea. Creating…. soothes my soul.

While I was working on my project – a baby quilt for my great-niece to be, such a life affirming project – I was listening to Sirius radio through my satellite television connection. One of my favorite music groups came on.

Train.

With one of my favorite songs.

“Calling All Angels”, just what I needed to hear.

The song mirrored my need for my Mom to help my family.
To help me cope with all this.
To help my family cope with all this.
To help me, help them.

“I need a sign, to let me know you’re here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know, that things are gonna look up
‘Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup”

“When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you can feel the world shake from the words that are said”

“And I’m, calling all Angels  (—me— calling my Angel)
And I’m, calling all you Angels”

“And I won’t give up, if you don’t give up
I won’t give up, if you don’t give up
I won’t give up, if you don’t give up
I won’t give up, if you don’t give up”

“I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me”

“And I’m, calling all Angels  (—me— calling my Angel)
And I’m, calling all you Angels”

Read more: Train – Calling All Angels Lyrics | MetroLyrics

So…. I am calling on my Angel….

I am channeling Mom, more each day.

And, since I know she won’t give up.

I won’t give up.

In Between

Last week my brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 32-wedding anniversary in Rochester, Minnesota.

They weren’t truly celebrating in Rochester by their own choice. They had traveled to Minnesota so that my brother could be examined by specialists. His local endocrinologist had sent him there for highly specialized care.

My brother and his doctor are battling stage 4c papillary thyroid cancer. He’s endured having his thyroid removed, two sessions of radioactive iodine and countless examinations. He’s endured being told that ‘this is the best kind of cancer to have’……. whatever that statement means. He’s endured two surgeries and recovery periods. He’s endured nerve pain and dealing with the scarring due to those surgeries. He’s endured bouts of sleeplessness and swelling that hampers his swallowing. He’s endured the balance of getting enough rest and trying to get back to work. He’s endured his own concern for his family and the high cost of treatment.

Last Friday, my brother called me to let me know of the results of all this testing which included a painful biopsy of tissues in his neck. (I was wrong in thinking that what I read online the day before was correct, that the biopsy would not be all that painful. I know that my brother has a high pain tolerance, so I know that it really hurt.) He told me that he met with a team of specialists.

The surgeon and endocrinologist told him that at this point, surgery was no longer an option, it is a MUST. Beam radiation treatments won’t get all the cancer cells.

The two previous treatments of radioactive iodine had not done their intended job. Now, the small amount of cancer cells that had hidden during the thyroidectomy have grown in number and have become aggressive.

The surgeon gave my brother detailed information regarding the surgery. He also gave him the golf analogy “a hard lie” to express the difficulty of the surgery. Even though my brother does not play golf, he understood the stark reference.

Now he was caught in between a difficult surgery, a known painful recovery and an unknown quality of life … or …. worse, if no treatment, way worse.

A tentative surgery date was schedule.

That’s a lot to digest and deal with.  Calls to family had to be made. Results had to be relayed.

And… as if ALL this was not enough, my brother called me the next day to tell me that the insurance company was balking at coverage. They stated the Mayo Clinic is ‘out of network’ and if that did not change and he went ahead with the surgical treatment there he would be financially responsible for half the cost. I did my best to assure him he’d have help paying for the treatment if he were to go ahead with it. I’d help to pay every month for as long as it took. I’d enlist other family to help him too. He said that they’d have to jump through hoops to get the insurance company to authorize the treatment whether in his home state at a facility approved by the company or after looking over the exam records possibly allowing treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

My brother is caught. Caught in between.

In between the specialists who know how difficult and yet how necessary this surgical treatment is and the insurance company not prepared to cover the cost at a facility ‘out of network.’

In between the necessary treatment and great concern for being so far in debt that he’d never get out.

A tough place to be, yes, ‘a hard lie.’

And, in between the team of specialists and the insurance company.

My brother’s quality of life.

In between

My brother’s life.