Swapping Leaky PICC for Brand New Port | Battling Bertha

Merry Christmas from the Rodarte Family

Merry Christmas from the Rodarte Family

Christmas Week Wrap Up

Last week was crazy.  We discovered my PICC line was leaking and the rest of the week revolved around doctors, hospitals and Christmas.

Let’s break last week down into bite-sized, easy-to-digest chunks, shall we? I will try to keep this as brief as possible.

Ovary Pain

Awoke in the middle of the night Saturday with a very sharp pain on the right of my pelvis.  For ten years I have experienced a mild discomfort in this area when I ovulate, but never this severe.  I self-diagnosed myself with an ovarian cyst years ago.  But since we did not have health insurance, until the ACA made it possible earlier this year, I never did anything about it.  (That is an entirely different discussion that I am leaving on the table for now.)

Leaky PICC Line

Sunday night Shane, my husband, flushed my PICC lines, and we discovered that one of them was leaking.  We figured the chemo nurses could fix it.  So, Monday we went in for my appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Ellent, and while we were there I asked Kim, one of the nurses, to take a look at it.  The leak was in the line and not the connector, so my only option was to have it replaced.  We all agreed a Port-a-Cath was a better option.

I told Dr. Ellent about the sharp pain and his concern was that it might be appendicitis even though I was adamant that it was my ovary.

Mary, Dr. Ellent’s Make-It-Happen-Woman, scheduled the PICC-port swap for Wednesday, then sent me off to St. Luke’s that very same day for an ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvis.  Good times.

Since no one told me otherwise during the ultrasound, I assumed my appendix was okay when I left the hospital.  They would have admitted me otherwise, right?  🙂

The Swap

Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Shane took me in for the procedure.  Since we are becoming old pros at this whole surgical procedure routine, he basically settled me into my room and then left to run errands.

Dr. Fang and the Intervention Radiology team at St. Lukes

Dr. Fang and the Intervention Radiology team at St. Lukes

A port placement normally takes 45 minutes.  Mine took an hour and a half.  About half way into it Dr. Fang, the Intervention Radiologist doing the procedure, declared:  “Without exaggeration, this is one of the most difficult port placements I have ever done.”  He went on to tell me he’s done thousands.  At least 2 per day.

My vein had collapsed from the PICC line and he had to insert a balloon to inflate it.   There were a few other complications but I was too drugged to comprehend what he was telling me.

They left the PICC in while placing the port so they could use it instead of an IV (hallelujah) to infuse pain meds.  Well, I was on the table so long, I ended up getting three doses!  Awake, not so alert, and happy.  I think I may have even giggled and told Dr. Fang that all these complications were my Christmas gift to him!

As Dr. Fang was finishing up, he moved the plastic surgical sheet back so he could bandage the area, and the PICC got caught in the sheet, pulling it out.  That was a very odd feeling!

Shane was waiting for me in my recovery room.  He told me he’d gone to the Asian market and picked up a jar of Kimchi for me!  What a great husband.

My poor skin had a severe allergic reaction to the adhesive on the bandages but that is a story for another blog post.

The kid liked her presents.

The kid liked her presents.

Christmas Day

There is no better excuse for taking the day off then, “I had surgery yesterday.”  So, I was basically off the hook in terms of chores on Christmas day.  We had a lovely lasagna dinner with our friend Jill and Shane’s brother, Brock, and their guests.  It was a very peaceful, stress-free holiday.

Into the Woods

Saw “Into the Woods” with the family over the weekend.  Since we are Broadway buffs, we liked it.  I think you might need to enjoy live theater to enjoy this movie.  Chris Pine was definitely channeling William Shatner as Captain Kirk as Prince Charming.  I find myself singing songs from the movie all day long.

Ultrasound Results

Went in for my appointment to review the ultrasound results with Dr. Ellent on Monday (yesterday).   Obviously I do not have appendicitis.  My suspicion of a cyst on my ovary was correct.  It measures 3.2 cm!

They also found evidence of liver disease.  Since I am not a drinker, this is puzzling.  Dr. Ellent believes the Lipitor will help.  I will be getting a 2nd opinion soon on these results since neither are in the scope of oncology.

Dr. Ellent ordered another round of labs, I’ll see those results tomorrow when I go in for chemo.

By the way, both the Tamoxifen I am taking to suppress estrogen and the Lipitor can both cause calcium deficiency.  So I am upping my Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D3 intake.

Today, most of the pain from the procedures has subsided.  I still feel the pressure on my ovary and I do have some hip discomfort that I am blaming on the drugs.  All things considered, I feel great!

The last few days, I have worked on blog and website updates for each of my businesses.  Did I mention I relaunched Handmade in Texas?  It’s a lot of fun and a great platform for a podcast.  Things are definitely percolating!

There you have it,  my Christmas week wrap up!

All is well!

3 Relationship Marketing Rules

We received a great Christmas gift via Twitter from a client over at ShaKa Studios. Through all the hustle and bustle, the small things we do consistently over time, to create great relationships with our clients, continue to yield positive results.

Today, I am sharing my 3 Relationship Marketing rules.

Relationship Marketing Means More Loyal Clients

Relationship marketing is about creating relationships with your clients.  When you have a relationship, your client is more likely to do business with you again, and even refer business your way. If you are really lucky, they might just talk about you on social media.

When you have a relationship, your client is more likely to do business with you again, and even refer… Click To Tweet

So, how do you create these relationships?

I built my entire 27 year sales career around relationships.  It started at my very first job, as an assistant store manager in a clothing boutique, and continues today.  You just need to remember three rules to create great relationships with your clients:

  1. Be genuine. It helps if you are genuinely nice.
  2. Be transparent. Share a bit of your personal life. Just a bit.
  3. Say “Thank You” often and with enthusiasm.

I send a thank you card and small gift, usually yummy Sea Salt Caramel from SendOutCards, to each of our custom furniture clients over at ShaKa Studios.  Here is a tweet from one client on Christmas eve:

I’d say that was a pretty groovy Christmas gift our client gave us, eh?

Your turn. How do YOU build relationships with your clients?

"the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo

Book Review: “the life-changing magic of tidying up”

In October, I was introduced to a brilliant website called Blogging for Books.  I was quite excited.  I would be allowed to choose a title to read, free of charge, in exchange for a posting a book review on my blog.  Isn’t that a brilliant idea?

I quickly found my first title:  “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.  It was touted as an international best seller, having sold over 2 million copies.  The cover of the book is beautiful, and very Zen.  Much as I would expect from a book with “the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” as a subtitle.

"the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo

“the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo

In October, I spent a few days in the hospital due to a port-a-cath infection which basically threw off my entire month.  And there was a shipping glitch at Blogging for Books that delayed the receipt of the book.  So, I didn’t actually start to read it until November.

I had high hopes.

If you have ever watched a video I’ve filmed in my office, you know I am not the neatest freak in geekdom.

I was looking for something within the pages that would inspire me to declutter permanently.  Here is a sample of what I did find:

“I visited the home of a client in her fifties…  when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp.  It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about.  She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stocking tightly in the middle.  I was speechless.” (p. 80-81)

This is exactly how I organize my socks and stockings. I could only imagine the disapproving sounds the author would make when she opened my drawer.  My Korean grandmother made those noises.  I am quite familiar with them.

Here is another passage, this time about bathroom organization:

“I once bought a wire basket big enough to fit all the soaps, shampoos, and even facial masks used by my family.  My delight at this convenient item as short-lived…  One day I noticed that the shampoo bottle was red and slimy on the bottom.  Examining the rack, I saw that it was so covered in slime I could not bear to look at it.  Almost in tears, I scrubbed the wire rack clean…” (p. 157)

I am looking for decluttering tips, not a treaties on how to become OCD.

I could not finish this book and I do not recommend it.

I am very grateful to Blogging for Books for the chance to discover a technique that isn’t for me.  Maybe the clutter is just who I am?

You weigh in on clutter.  In or out?  How do you manage your piles?

Synchronized Holiday Lights and Giving Up on Cancer Treatment | Monday Morning Rant

Ah crap.  I feel a rant coming on….

This morning two separate but equally disturbing tidbits made the hair on the back of my neck stand up: synchronized holiday lights and a fellow breast cancer warrior giving up on treatment because she can no longer afford it.

What Do Synchronized Lights Have to Do with Christmas?

What do synchronized holiday lights have to do with the spirit of Christmas?

What do synchronized holiday lights have to do with the spirit of Christmas?

Seriously…  there is a major television network encouraging people to send in videos of their homes decked out with synchronized lights.


I thought that Christmas was the season of giving.

When did it become such a commercialized hot mess that people go out and spend thousands of dollars and countless hours putting lights and timers on their homes to impress whom?  Surely not their neighbors because if anything, it would annoy their neighbors.

My husband, a professional custom furniture maker,  is currently building a memorial chest for the mother of a 21-year solider killed in Afghanistan 2 years ago.   He has built a few of these memorial chests now, never charging more than the cost of the materials.  Why would we want to capitalize on a mother’s grief?

I’m sure Mary, the mother of Jesus, feels the same way about her son’s birthday.

I told you I was going to rant…  but wait…  there’s more!

Giving Up on Breast Cancer Treatment

And then…  just a few minutes ago, I read a Facebook post from a fellow Breast Cancer warrior stating that she is giving up on treatment beginning January 1 because she can no longer afford her insurance and co-pays.

She is self-employed.  Her insurance bill is $600 per month and her deductible is $6500.   She simply can not afford to continue with treatment.

I have so many things I want to say about this and none of them are nice.

This should NOT be happening in the United States of America.  Period.

YO!  TV SHOW that is sponsoring the stupid synchronized lights contest…  how about you sponsor a woman with breast cancer who can’t afford her treatment, instead?

Rant over.