Susan WonderStone's Blog


Black Salve, wool socks or plain old fear?

Go back to yesterday’s post to see some of the pictures I took on my Gothic Basin hike. Now, I’ll tell you about the spaces in between the photos. About a mile away from home, I realized my headlamp was in the backpack I took to Lake 22, two weeks ago. Jack and I decided we would make sure to be back at the car before it got dark. Being 4th of July weekend, we expected a lot of people to be on the trail. When we arrived, there were a lot of cars on the side of the road and in the parking lot across the street. I’ve always seen a lot of cars there and thought it was a crowded trail. As we got our things together and changed into our hiking layers, I realized the top of my hiking boots rubbed the tumor on my leg. I only walked in them for a minute before knowing I couldn’t hike in them. I’m thankful I had worn my low hiking boots in the car.

We only saw a few people on the first mile of gravel road that starts both the Gothic Basin and the Monte Cristo trails. They were all taking the Monte Cristo trail. We discovered later that most of the cars belonged to people on the Monte Cristo trail.  The gravel road ends, because the land slide took it out and dumped it and the hillside into the river. There are knocked down trees, gravel, rocks and boulders in places they weren’t before. (I know, having a preposition at the end of a sentence is grammatically incorrect, but that ‘s how I talk and that’s how I write.) I headed up the alternate route with three other hikers, while Jack climbed down the debris and took the shorter route thru the slide.

July 7th 2007, I broke my back in a skydiving accident. It was an L-1 burst fracture. My neurosurgeon said he had never seen an accident like mine without paralysis. I’m glad he didn’t tell me that until I was already walking again, unlike the nurses in the emergency room. He installed screws in T-12 and L-2 and flexible plastic rods to go around the burst fracture and allow me full range of motion. He had only used them one other time and had no idea how long they’d last or what kind of impact could break them. Anything that looks sketchy, I try to avoid, because I know if I break the rods, I’m not walking away from it. We met up with Jack on the other side of the slide. When we got to the Weeden Creek cut off that goes to Gothic Basin, we wished the other hikers well and started up the trail. About 30 minutes in, 2 women we had seen going to the trail from the parking lot were coming down the trail. They had asked us where the Monte Cristo trail was, but they turned when they should’ve gone straight. Monte Cristo has almost no elevation gain, but Gothic Basin goes up to 5,200 feet. Just a slight difference.

There was a lot of snow this year, so there are many creeks, rivers, waterfalls and snow still on the trail. I was wearing my waterproof Gore-tex surround La Sportiva low hiking boots, so walking thru small streams is easier than trying to jump across them. The roots and rocks on the trail were similar to most of the other trails we’ve hiked. When we got to the first waterfall and water crossing, I was intimidated. There were rocks in the water that looked like they could move. Before going down to the water, I looked for the trail on the other side. I saw it, but from where I was, couldn’t figure out how we’d get to it. I was watching my steps and missed watching Jack cross the rushing water and make his way to the trail on the other side. Sometimes watching someone do what I’m afraid to do is all I need to push myself to do it. I was more cautious than most. I thought about the rods in my back and if I slipped, how they could break. Knowing that an air lift and rescue out of there would be about $100,000 more than I currently have, I always do my best to avoid getting hurt.

About 5 years ago, I took a call from a man who was with his fiance on this mountain. He was calm, but his voice was shaking and he was sniffing. It sounded like he was crying. Cell service is usually non existent there, but he kept trying and got the call to go thru. They were snowshoeing and several feet of snow completely gave away and took her off the side of the cliff with it. He knew she was dead. I wondered if she felt like where she was at was a bad idea before she went over the edge.

The water was too deep to walk thru it without getting water over the top of my boots. Hiking in wet socks and boots sucks. I made it safely across the water, then realized the trail was about 6 feet higher than I was. There was no trail to get there from where I stood. Had I been by myself, this is where I would have turned around. I was scared. Climbing was the only way up. Jack reminded me how strong I am and helped me figure out where to put my hands and feet to get up. I was excited I did it! I had no idea this was the first of about a dozen similar crossings.

The trail seemed steeper than the trail report says it is. Probably  because I was scared, the tumor on my leg started throbbing. Occasionally, when I’d step on a rock a certain way, the tumor I thought was done and came out of the bottom of my foot 2 weeks ago, would send shooting pain up my leg, body and into my shoulder. Every time it happened, I wondered if continuing was a good idea. The trail report also says there are several rock scrambles. I’ve been on rock scrambles, but usually they’re a short portions of a hike. This was a lot more! Going up is a lot easier for me than going down, because of my creaky knees. Going up though, put my feet in positions they don’t normally go. Since my left foot and leg were letting me know they were unhappy with a significant amount of pain, I was putting my right foot into more undesirable positions and most of the impacts.

By the time we got to the widest water crossing, both feet were hurting a lot! My heavier boots probably would have been worse because they don’t bend enough for the scrambles. The crossing was about 20 feet wide. On the right, was a raging waterfall coming toward us. On the left, was probably a 1000 foot drop off about 5 feet from where I stood. There were 2 large boulders mostly out of the water and smaller rocks that were barely under the water. I was concerned the smaller rocks would move. Quick visions of falling in the water, twisting my ankle, smashing my face and falling over the waterfall flashed thru my head. I heard the crying man from the phone call. I wondered if his fiance felt the way I was feeling before she fell. I stood there, trying to figure out the safest way across. Nothing felt right. I made it across to the first boulder. Jack was on the other side, trying to convince me that I could do it. He came across to me and went back and forth a few times, showing me how easy it was. It was about 4 feet to the next boulder. I was trying to figure out if pushing off with my right foot and landing on my left foot, or the opposite was going to give me positive results without hurting my feet more than they already were. A man was coming down the trail. When I said hi to him, Jack went back across to get out of the way. The man crossed, then his 2 large dogs and next, his girlfriend. When she got to the boulder I was frozen on, I asked “Why am I so fucking scared to go across the water?! I jump out of airplanes and I’m too fucking scared to move!” I was almost in tears. She jumped back to the other boulder, reached out her hand and said “Grab my hand and I’ll help you.” I grabbed her hand and jumped as she pulled me over. With tears streaming down my face, I thanked her. She skipped across the rock and down the path they went. The next section was shallow and I knew if the rock path slipped, my feet would stay dry anyway.  I think the mental and emotional stress added to the physical pain in my feet and legs. On the good side, the throbbing in my left armpit that always escalated on hikes, has been completely gone since mid April, about a month after my explant surgery. At my appointment 2 weeks ago, I didn’t specifically ask my plastic surgeon what activities were okay for me. I’m not sure what she said, but I think she said “Don’t overdo it.” What does that mean anyway? In 1997, at my 6 week post op appointment for the removal of an abdominal ectopic pregnancy that was killing me (I was bleeding out from the blood vessels that had formed among all my abdominal organs up to my diaphragm.) my doctor said the same thing. I had a c-section incision that was still healing.  I asked her for clarification regarding weight lifting. She said if I could do 20 repetitions, I should be fine. My next workout, both my husband and my training partner saw me at the same time and both yelled across the gym “What are you doing?” I was on the leg press with 4 plates on each side. They both thought 360 pounds was too much too soon, but I was easily getting 20 reps, so I decided it was okay. That might have something to do with today’s creaky knees.

The trail was really tough for me. Jack said I looked like I was walking in slow motion. He called me a sloth. I laughed, but I was giving it everything I had. I felt like the energizer bunny just before the batteries die. I had looked at the time and based on when we got there, we needed to turn around by 6 pm in order to get back to the car before dark. Around 5:30, I told Jack to go on without me. I would either make it in time or turn around at 6 and he could catch up. He was carrying my water bottle, my ASEA and my Sunflower Milk, so he was kinda like the carrot with me being the donkey. Not an ass, a donkey. At the next water crossing, I thought about my first static line skydive. I froze in the door and couldn’t or wouldn’t grab the strut. My instructor pulled me back in the airplane and told me I had one more chance. I had missed my spot and wouldn’t have been able to get to the field I was supposed to land in. He said when it was time, I would have 3 seconds to make the decision and get out. If I didn’t, I would land with the pilot in the airplane and he would get out without me. After the pilot circled around, I got out when he said to. Now, I was staring at the rushing water and thought “You’re going to miss your spot” and carefully jumped to the boulder in the water. From then on, I would tell myself, every second counts, and quickly take action.

At 5:45, a couple was coming down the path. They told me they saw Jack. They saw how defeated I felt. They encouraged me to keep going. They said I only had to cross the 3 snow fields we could see and I’d be at the basin. I kept going. The first snow field had boot tracks in 2 different places. I took the higher route, hoping if I fell, I’d at least be able to stop myself from sliding down the hill in the boot steps of the lower track. There’s water flowing under the snow field, so the edges are more melty than the rest. I made it across two of the snow fields without incident. The third one went up, not across. On my second step, I slipped. I didn’t slide far, but clawed at the snow with my hands. I stayed there for several seconds, deciding on my next move. I gently, but quickly moved back to the side. Since I had been scrambling over rocks for the previous two hours, scrambling up the side seemed a lot more safe than attempting to climb up the snow. I made it! The jagged rocks lined the bowl named Gothic Basin. It was beautiful! I was so happy I made it to the top!

I found Jack and since it was 6:15, we started back down the trail. The wind blowing off of the snow was too cold for me.  I think it was purposely pushing, telling us it was time to head back. When I calculated our turnaround time, I didn’t take into account how difficult it would be for me to scramble down. Once we got away from the wind, I quickly changed into dry clothes and stuffed the sweaty ones in my pack. I drank most of my Sunflower Milk for energy on the way down. Very few pictures were taken. We knew we’d be hiking part of the trail in the dark. The crossings were easier with my quicker decisions and for whatever reason, I wasn’t afraid like I was on the way up. Could have been that magic cookie I ate that I found in my pack from last season.

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On the way down, I was brave enough to climb up for the picture

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Jack always seems to sneak in a butt picture I find once I get home.

Jack had a headlamp, but since I didn’t, he didn’t use his. It was quite dark for the last hour. I also forgot to calculate that we were walking under 100 foot trees and it would be darker than the same time at home. We made it to the gravel road at about 10:20pm. I was exhausted.

There were times on the way up that I was hard on myself, calling myself a wimp, a pussy and when the tears showed up, a fucking crybaby. I was frustrated that I thought everything would be perfect after my explant surgery. I thought my health would be perfect immediately after. It wasn’t. My lungs were having a hard time, my joints hurt, my back never went into spasm, but was more painful than it’s been in a long time and of course the tumor pain in my leg and foot and the pain in the right foot from the added work. With my eyes on the amazing sights, I realized the only way to get there was on foot. I wasn’t any of the names I had called myself. I was 3 1/2 months after a surgery with two – 7 inch scars. I was told 9 years ago I would never walk again after I broke my back. I was told I probably wouldn’t make it thru the summer when the melanoma spread to my liver and lymphatic system in 2004. I had an open active tumor on my leg and several that have come out of my skin and are healing since my surgery. There are so many people who will never attempt a hike like Gothic Basin. I definitely overdid it, but everything turned out okay. I’m taking care of myself, still doing my treatments and praising my accomplishments.

I don’t regret being hard on myself. It makes it easier to see the contrast.

 

 

The aftermath of Gothic Basin

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More “stuff” came out of the hole during the hike. The gauze was saturated with sweat and ooze, leaving a cleaner hole than Jan 1 picture. There still appears to be more in there.

 

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July 4. Swelling from the rash was worse. Hike day, I had gauze and tegaderm covering the owie. The line about an inch above the current bandage is where the bandage stopped and the rash began on the top. Around the owie itself, which was under the bandage, is more rash. There was no rash on my right leg, so it doesn’t make sense that it was the wool socks like someone suggested.

 

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4th of July evening after work, while the masses watched and set off explosions, I sat on the couch. I was blaring music in an attempt to calm 2 big dogs and 2 cuddly cats (who are never all in the same room together), while cooking my left leg and right foot under the far infrared heat lamp.

Where are you? Where do you want to be? What are you willing to sacrifice to get there? What are you waiting for? Take your first step today. You’ll be glad you did!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 

 



Gothic Basin – 2 weeks and 2 days after black salve. I wouldn’t recommend it!

After I posted “Black Salve Results at 2 weeks” on July 1, a friend commented on the Facebook photo “That looks Brutal!” It was!

I responded “It’s making me sweaty and nauseous. When things get brutal, I show them what brutal is. Gothic Basin, here I come!” I’m not sure what I was thinking. I’ve been home 48 hours and I’m too tired to write. For now, enjoy the scenery. I’ll tell you all about it soon.  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns as the pictures might show. 



Black Salve Results at 2 weeks

I freaked out a little tonight after removing the bandage from my leg. It appeared that the majority of the tumor stuck to the bandage, which was good. When I got home, I noticed a black thing in the hole that looked like a worm. Cameron thought maybe it was a blood vessel. I dug it out with a cotton swab. I wouldn’t recommend doing that without something for pain, but I was more concerned that it would bury itself deeper into my leg if I left it there. If I were to go back to school, I’d probably be a pathologist. I worked for three of them when I was 17, staining Pap smear slides and encasing specimens in paraffin and slicing them to also go on slides for staining. One of the pathologists, showed me some of the slides, telling me what he saw without the microscope. One, was to him, obviously cancerous. I’m sure my job is totally automated now, but after he showed me, I always looked for ones like he showed me and prayed for the women they came from. He also showed me a few of the cadavers. I felt like I was invading their privacy, seeing them naked, even though he kept the sheet over the “private parts”. He was excited about how interested I was. Most people he knew, were grossed out and creeped out.

Squirrel!

Okay, since I’ll probably never go back to school, being my own lab rat is what I’ve got. I squished the black thing after I got it out. I’m guessing if it were a blood vessel, the blood would have squeezed out, leaving an empty tube. Also, since it wasn’t connected to anything and my leg didn’t bleed, it probably wasn’t a blood vessel. It stayed black, never moved and was just wider after I smashed it. imageThe yellowish part still in the hole appears to be more of the tumor. In the past when they’ve done that, they weren’t finished. It is deep. My body has gotten so efficient at healing, I hope the rest of it comes out before the hole closes up. I’ll put my magic salve in the hole and cover it with a waterproof bandage. I’ll watch it closely for the next few days, but fully expect in a week or two, the scar will look old.

My favorite Bob Proctor quote is “I am responsible for my thoughts, my feelings, my actions and for every result I get.” Some people might “blame” Bob for the responsibility I take over my own life. Some might give him credit! Taking responsibility over every aspect of my life gives me power! ME! Blaming anyone for any detail of my life, takes my power away and gives it to them. Good/bad are 2 sides of the same coin. Learn from the “I did this thing, but it didn’t work out” experiences. Love and promise yourself to always make better choices. Celebrate when things go right.

I take full responsibility for my own “healthcare” and the choices I make. I’m sorry for the choppy post. My leg hurts!

Love, Gratitude and Blessings

~Susan



Loving Life!

I had my 3 month appointment with my plastic surgeon today. March 18, I had my almost 22 year old breast implants removed. I had no idea how big my pectoral muscles were until the implants were gone. At my pre-op appointment, she said my breasts were probably significantly bigger than before I got implants, because typically, women gain weight in their breasts in “middle age”. WTF? I’m going to live a healthy productive life until I’m at least 140 years old. I’m nowhere near middle age!  I told her I didn’t think they were bigger, but we would both find out after the surgery.

At today’s appointment, aside from my breasts, we discussed my pectoral muscles. It was hard to not flex when she was taking my “after” photos. She says they’re HUGE! They are big, but I haven’t dumbbell pressed 95 pound dumbbells since some time before I broke my back in 2007. I won a push up contest recently, but haven’t done chest presses at the gym for about a year. The ketogenic diet I’m on is supposed to maintain lean muscle mass, while also supplying needed nutrients. I am very happy with my new body!

She agreed with my statement that my breasts hadn’t grown in 22 years. “They are really small.”  I’m actually thankful they aren’t any bigger. Looking straight on in the mirror, it looks like I have some, but a side view, reveals my pecs are bigger than my boobs. There’s a big dent where my pecs end and before my breast tissue begins. She said the only way to “fix” the dent is to do a fat transfer. She also said she won’t do it because of the amount of cancer I’ve had. It’s all good. I’ve had women tell me they don’t want to explant because they’re afraid of what their boobs will look like after. I don’t care. I’m happy to be alive!

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What are you afraid of? What are you afraid to do?

How will you make your life the best story in the world?

I’m planning my next adventure. How wants to join me?

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan



Acceptable way to die

When my son was 7, he believed if I died from the cancer, that it was because I chose to. He believed that I had a choice to live or die. Because of his belief, I had a mission to not let that happen. How could I purposefully abandon him?

Now I know, most people don’t think that way, but what if it’s true? When I look at different ways people die, it seems cancer, heart disease, stroke and so many other health problems are a completely acceptable way to die. If a car accident is “someone else’s fault”, that’s an accepted way to die.

Going back to my son’s belief, dying from anything is no different than suicide.

How are you going to exit?

Yesterday, someone I’ve seen around, but had never talked to, died doing something he loved. I don’t believe it was intentional. Nor do I believe that it was stupid. I also don’t believe he was suicidal. I don’t know that we’ll ever understand why some people seem to live forever and some die so young. He was 30 years old and so full of life.

Three weeks ago, a 27 year old friend died, also doing what he loved. He had helped me on several occasions, but I didn’t know him very well. So many questions as to why?! Again, so full of life.

Today, as I spend hours doing alternative cancer treatments – enemas, sweating, oil pulling, dry brushing, full body vibration machine, earthing, prepping food, cleaning the open and swollen tumors, taking care of my organic garden and later, getting in the hyperbaric chamber, I think of these friends who died so young, full of life and healthy.

I can hear both of them saying “Shit, that wasn’t supposed to happen!”

Few people who’ve never been sick, see the utility in dying at the prime of life with no or few health challenges. It sucks that they were so young, but at the same time, I believe that being sick for months or even years and dying in a hospital bed would suck more!

Allowing others who’ve died to take part of my life source through depression won’t bring them back or help me or those around me at all. It’s my job to keep myself as healthy as possible and keep moving forward.

I will continue to do my daily treatments until I’ve been cancer free for a year. Regardless of how long it takes, I know I feel better than most people do. I am worth the time I put into myself!

What if we all take care of ourselves to the best of our abilities, take responsibility for every aspect of our lives, get outside and have as many adventures as we can?

Loving from a distance. It’s what we do when someone leaves our lives, no matter how they leave. We either continue living or can choose to go too. I’m choosing life!

Now to increase my income!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 

 



Sun or Sunscreen

Yesterday at the Lake 22 trailhead, a group of people were slathering on so much sunscreen, they had a white sheen on their skin. They would be walking under ~100 foot trees for however long it would take them to walk 2.7 miles to the open lake. More than likely, long enough to no longer have sun blocking benefits, but plenty of time to absorb the endocrine disrupting and other toxic qualities of the chemicals in the sunscreen. We were waiting for a parking spot, so they had a head start on us. When we caught up with them, that filter most people have got lost and I said “Aren’t you glad you put on so much sunscreen?” They didn’t know I was being sarcastic until I told them I was. They genuinely thought they were doing something good for themselves. I take my out of the box knowledge I’ve learned over the years as a given that everyone knows, but learning that I’m so wrong! My hiking partner looks up things I talk about on our hikes, most of which, he’s never heard of. He thought sunscreen was a good thing, but he likes to be tan so doesn’t use it.

As we continued to pass our sunscreened hikers, I said “I have recurrent melanoma. I don’t use sunscreen anymore.” One of the women said “Good luck with that.”

It then occurred to me that they didn’t know the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and disease. After my first melanoma diagnosis, I was freaked out about allowing the sun to touch any part of my or my son’s skin. It continued until it spread to my liver, lymphatic system and the skin all over my body. My research flipped my beliefs. When I’m going to be in the sun for hours, I do wear sun protection clothing or sunscreen I make, because sunburns suck!image

Since there are still no medical treatments for recurrent metastatic melanoma that give better results than what I’ve done, I continue to be my own lab rat and experiment with what I learn.

I saw this article today and hope others will do their own research and do what’s best for them.

http://www.realfarmacy.com/scientists-blow-the-lid-on-cancer-sunscreen-myth/

I hoped we would run into the non-believers in the amazing benefits of the sun,  to explain my understanding, but they must’ve turned around. Their car was gone when we got back to the parking lot. The pharmaceutical and ‘food’ industries don’t want us to know we can live better without their chemical soups.

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan

 



Happy Father’s Day, Lake 22 and Cancer

My friend wanted to go hiking today, since both of our dads died 17 years ago and neither of us would be celebrating Father’s Day. George, the tumor on my chest (remember, we named him), went away and will be remembered by the scar tissue left behind. I’m working on it with my lotions, potions and magic (or prayer if that’s what you call it). Soon it will only be a memory.

This week, I’ve been having a lot of pain from a tumor on the bottom of my left foot, which felt like it was traveling up my leg. I’ve had both of them before, but for whatever reason, they must be afraid they’re going to miss out on something and have come back a few times. Last week I applied blood root black salve to both of them. The one on my foot reacted, but barely. I applied it again the next day. It definitely hurt more!  On Wednesday, the pain was so intense, I was pale and sweaty and didn’t know if I was going to puke or pass out. The pain was bearable without my shoes on, so I ended up standing and working 7 hours in my socks.  I’ve been making a concoction of DMSO, Magnesium oil and Lugol’s iodine and putting it on the recent scars several times daily. I also put it on the spot on my leg that didn’t react. It started burning immediately. Yesterday, I decided to reapply black salve. I felt it reacting – tingling,  as I was trying to go to sleep. I used Emotional Freedom Technique tapping and the pain resided within a couple minutes. I was just as lucky when I woke up this morning, except it looked awful!

Left Foot Owie

I decided I would try the hike. My friend knew about my explant surgery in March and the current cancer situation, but he was willing to go slow and wait for me or even turn around if I needed to. Both owies were bandaged and I was ready to spend the day in the forest, talking about our dads, the things we want to do with our lives, the qualities of the significant others we dream about…you know, the little things.

Lake 22 is on the Mountain Loop Highway in Granite Falls, WA. It’s one of the few hikes I haven’t done on Mtn Loop. The trail reports looked like it would be easy enough for me, in my current condition. It was 2.7 miles to the lake, another 1.1 miles around the lake and 2.7 back to the car. I figured if the pain got bad, I could turn around and wait at the car. Since the trail around the lake comes back to the same trail, I could’ve waited while he walked around. He disagreed with my ideas. He would have gone back with me if I needed to. That’s one of the qualities.

I didn’t feel either owie. Once we got to the lake, we stopped on the bridge to take pictures. Immediately, both owies started throbbing. We started moving again and headed around the lake. As long as I kept going, I didn’t feel them. As soon as we started going back, I realized that going downhill escalated the pain. It sucked, but the smells, the trees, the birds, the cute little mountain rodents, the waterfalls and navigating the rocks, creeks and tree roots lining the trail, kept me distracted. The pain and swelling seem to still be increasing since we finished the hike. It was my first hike since October. I’m feeling it now. I am so excited I accomplished it!

I am so happy and grateful I was able to hike 6.5 miles, only having to stop to breathe once and I’m still awake, sharing my adventure with you! I hurt all over, but it was worth it!

 

 

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I am so happy and grateful I was able to hike 6.5 miles, only having to stop to breathe once and I’m still awake, sharing my adventure with you! I hurt all over, but it was worth it!

Love, gratitude and blessings

~Susan




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