Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Feeling fine

Two radiation treatments, eleven to go.   Dr. Newman had first said 17 treatments, but when I was there for the first treatment, she said that they were going to do 13 and then see how I respond to determine if I will need anymore.  That makes me feel comfortable.  I like how review and feedback is scheduled into all the treatments.  And so far, it has been a walk in the park.  They gave me a schedule of when I should starting experiencing the side affects.  Judy told me not to listen to them.  Good thing, because I had not.  I do listen when they talk about the side effects but when they start coming up with timetables, I don’t go for that. I don’t plan on getting all the side effects, but I like to know what they are so if something happens I will know whether or not it is really happening or if I am loosing my mind.  So far I think that the radiation is making me tired.  Yesterday morning I was sitting on the couch with my nephew and I feel fast asleep.  I never ever do that.  But I slept and it felt good.  I don’t really feel more tired then normal.  But I do feel different.  I can’t put my finger on it, but something is different.   I don’t have a soar throat, but my throat feels different.  The pain is managed bu not completely gone, which is OK, keep it all in perspective.  The pain is back to being around my entire rib cage.  And part of the pain not being so bad because it is similar to pain I have had off and on over the last 4 months. 

Emotionally I feel kind of like I’m in a cloud.  Like I am a little slower, a little sadder, a little more mellow, a little more grateful, life feels a little sweeter.  My friends a little more dearer.   It is a nice feeling.  It is like it is starting, finally.  The treatments have begun.  It is real.  It is happening.  And that is fine.  I am ready.

Yesterday Christopher went with me to the radiation treatment.  The Therapist showed him the room and the machines and how everything works.  He got to see my mask and then I had my second treatment and it was done.  When I got dressed and Christopher looked at me, he said I looked like an alien.  The mask is so tight that it leaves my face quilted with red lines covering my entire face.  Christopher thought it was “Sweeeeeet”.  Then we went over to the Challenger Learning Center so he could see where he will be in camp next week.  Then we went up to the 22nd floor of the Capitol so he could see a 360 degree view of Tallahassee, and then down to the Old Capital and took the tour through it.  We both enjoyed it a lot.   Ice cream at Bruster’s and we were off to Lake City to pick up Nathaniel.  After we got Nathaniel we picked up a pizza from Pizza Hut and came home ate and we were all in bed early.  My house was full of my boys.   Two nephews, both handsome, sweet great kids.  And I was so happy to have them there.  Now they are at the wedding and I have a quiet evening alone, and life is good.  Yes, life is very good and I am feeling fine.  Really, just fine, and ready, ready for each day whatever may come. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The First Treatment

So I had my first radiation treatment.  It was a walk in the park.  Ok, basically I just lay on my back with this tight tight mesh mask encompassing my head bolted to the table so that I can not open my eyes or my mouth.  My head is leaned back so I feel each swallow, and the table is just a metal thing that is not the most comfortable thing, but really this is not a spa.  This is radiation treatment for cancer.  And the machines buzz and click and lights go on and off and then it is done.   That is it.  I tried to see if I can feel or taste or smell anything.  I don't know, maybe a little ozoning kind of smell, but I think it was probably my imagination.  

I have to say that the technicians are all so kind and thoughtful.  They are constantly whispering what is happening and what I will hear or see or feel and then they just keep telling me that I am doing an amazing job.  Really?  I am just laying there thinking, ok, so I can do this, lay here for a few minutes.  I am a little claustrophobic but as long as my eyes are closed and I can’t see what is going on, it does not seem to be a problem.  Judy drove me over because Mary thought I would need someone for my first visit.  I thought that was kind, but really no big deal.  But I admit that when Judy pulled up to get me I was so grateful that she was there.  More because of the day the meds have blessed me with then anything, but I was so happy to see her.

When I came out of the radiation, another friend of ours from Monticello was sitting there waiting on yet another friend of ours who is going through her radiation treatments.  So we all said hello and kind of laughed that nervous laugh like we would rather be anywhere but in the radiation section of the hospital.  And then I heard one of the techs talking to the Doctor.  She was explaining that there was a woman who was not able to handle the treatment.  That she could not tolerate the mask and they had not been able to even get the photos and they needed Dr. Newman to talk to the patient to see what they would be able to do.  Wow!  I guess I am doing better then I thought.  Because it is not pleasant being bolted down by the head onto a table and then having machines moving around you barely an inch or so away from you.  And you must lie still and I guess it is sort of scary.  I thought all in all this was nothing.  And I look kind of cool after they take the mask off because it fits so tight it leaves the web marks all over your face.  You look quilted.  So ok, I am doing fine.

But the meds today...... I am off the steroids and I am as jumpy, distracted and on the edge of total irrational irritability that I can stand.  I can barely form sentences on my own.  I want to just jump up and do what?  I don’t know.  I don’t want to feel this way.  I am anxious and excitable and yet just want to lay down and go to sleep.  I think I have had these feelings already.  The tightness in the chest, the butterflies in the stomach, the head a little swirly.  I have the pain back in my neck chest and shoulders.  It is not bad pain at all.  But just surprised me how fast it came back.  I have actually taken a second pain pill today.  I can take 1-2 pills every 4 hours.  So far I have mostly been taking one in the morning and one at night and with the steroids that was just right.  But I had to take the second pain pill just now, not because I can not bare the pain, but because as I understand it, all of these feelings and the pain are not healing.  I loved the zen feelings I got to experience last week?  Earlier this week?  I don’t remember. But I do remember feeling very comfortable just letting everything be and all will happen as it should happen.  And now I would say that I am pretty close to the other extreme from that.  And yet when I asked my staff how crazy I was they looked so surprise and said I was acting perfectly normal.  I looked normal and they had no idea that I was going "Bleahhhaaahahhahaha!" inside.

But after my treatment Judy drove me to Ruby Tuesday and my staff from both the Tallahassee office and the Alachua office came and had lunch with me.  And we laughed and talked.  I dropped most of my food on my chest.  I tried to talk to my staff but I don’t think I did.  Then Judy stepped in.  And she talked to them and she told them what they might expect coming up over the next 6 months.  And there were some people around that table who have been through this kind of thing or have family going through this right now.  So they understand so much more then I do.  And I still don’t know what to expect or what will happen.  But it was nice to have her talk to them and assured them that if they had any questions on what was happening to me or why I was acting a certain way or anything to do with this entire process that Judy would be happy to talk to them.  She also said that she would make sure that they would know if and when I can not go into work.  We all laughed as Judy wove a spell of joviality and frivolity.  I was almost looking forward to everything just listening to her assure my staff that it would be OK.  And letting them know how many times I had told her about how wonderful they were.  It was very sweet.  And it was so out of body.  Like I could not believe that everything being said was because of me.  We talked about how they have been living through this as much as I have since April.  And that we might have 6 more months to get through.  They looked ready.  They were cheering Judy on and they loved her.  And there I sat next to her with turkey portabello mushroom smeared across my silk tank, a touch of mayo at my lip, sort of looking pathetic and once again I admired Judy and her supervisory capabilities.  She knew exactly what this group of people needed.  And their poor pathetic boss was just sitting there feeling so grateful to each and everyone of them.  And yes, I bought them all lunch and I will probably owe them a lot more lunches before this ordeal is over.  Ordeal.  Yes, today it does feel that way.

And as people come in and want to talk, I don’t want to be around them.  And as they call I just want to find a way to get them off the phone.  I don’t want people to see me when I feel this way.  I feel so out of control.  And yet, there is this calm that I can sense, but just can’t seem to reach back through the dark far enough to really put my hands all the way around it and pull it up to myself and hold on and hug it to me.  I don’t think people looking at me can see what is going on in my head, because they smile and talk and act like I am acting perfectly normal.  Oh, I hope I am acting normal.  Because I know this is medication making me feel this way.  This is why I don’t drink coffee.  Stimulants are not my friend.

As I have been writing this I have been trying to control my breathing and it has helped to pull that calm a little closer to me.  And I know that so far I have managed to experience things fairly well spirited.  And that most people would have no idea what I am going through emotionally right now. So that is really hard emotionally to know what others see and don’t see.

And here it is now nearing bedtime and my nephew Christopher and I have gone to Walmart and bought food that he will eat.  And then we came home and put on Alice through the looking glass and we ate popcorn.  And then he ate an apple and we drank milk and ate cookies, and we enjoyed watching the movie together.  And now we are watching the Tooth Fairy and just hanging out on the couch.  And the most amazing thing of all is that Bob loves Christopher.  For anyone who has ever met Bob, they are rereading that sentence again.  I mean last night when Christopher got here, neither Bob nor Christopher were really ready for each other.  But when we came home today Bob had realized that he had his very own boy.  Maggie and Harry must have explained to him how special it is to have your very own boy.  And Bob just hangs out with Christopher like they have been best buds their entire life.  But Bob is so shy around people it is nice to see him just relax and look at his boy with such adoration and love.  And he knows that Christopher will throw the ball for him tomorrow and tonight Bob will move back and forth between my  bed and Christopher and Harry will lay next to Christopher asleep and every once in a while he will just bark, "hey!"  "Hey!"  and they are so excited to have their very own boy.  And so am I.  

And so today was a good day.  Strange medication day, but a good day.  I had my first treatment of radiation and it was kind of interesting.  And I had lunch with the best staff in the entire word and Judy and we had fun.  And then I got some work done and then picked up my nephew and everyone in this house is happy because we have our very own boy.

Oh, and by the way, the jittery meds?  All gone, just smooth sailing all the way to sleep. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pity Visits and Presents

So Monday was melancholy and yesterday was happy hyper Tuesday and it is exhausting just trying to hold on to the emotional ride given to me by these chemicals. On the melancholy days the tears just wash my face, my nose runs and turns red. But I am focused and able to work. On happy hyper days I bing off the walls at a million miles an hour, no focus, just pure adrenaline soaring me into the ether and flying so fast past everything that I can not begin to grasp even basic concepts like gravity. And I hate being around people when I am swinging from these extremes because it is exhausting and confusing.

Today, I am more in the middle. The tears still come, but not as noticeable to those around me, which is easier for them. I still have that jittery edge, but I can focus. I don’t stay as focused as a normal person, but I can stand upright, carry on simple conversations, complete many of my tasks here at work. That is all good.

And it is always nice to be more in the middle instead of out at the extremes. And this afternoon I will go and see my Pulmonologist. I am not sure why, but if he wants to see me, who am I to argue. He is a kind man and seems likes a good doctor. He has certainly worked well for me. Not being too pushy, allowing my fears and trepidation to guide us through this process. Well up to a point. He could have said when this journey began. NO! I will not start with an antibiotic. I will do what I always do and start at the worst case scenario and work our way backwards. But he didn’t he listened to me and gave me the opportunity to make sure that it wasn’t something else before we found the cancer. And he also was the one who picked the Italian doctor to work with me. I am very fortunate for that because Dr. Italian is good at what he does. One of the best, and I know that his biopsies were the best I could have hoped for. And because the lung showed malignant cells and the thyroid did not, means that we could throw out the possibility of thyroid cancer. Darn! But that is not what I have, and I am glad that we all are confident of that because of Dr. Italian.
 But really what I wanted to talk about was pity visits. I want everyone to know that I am open for pity visits. That’s right. You want to come and see me because I have cancer. I am good with that. I mean I don’t think I need everyone to come down all at once, but shoot, I have cancer. Don’t you think this is worth a trip to see your old friend Kathleen? I am not beyond using it. Yep, I have used the cancer card a lot lately. And like I say I use it only for good. Ok, mostly my own good. But I try to not overuse it. But I am willing to use it here. Come and visit me, just for a couple of days. But wouldn’t you hate blowing the chance say this fall when the world here has slowed a little, cooled down a spell and the green changes from that violent growth green to the slower more mellow green? And bring me presents. Chocolate. I like dark chocolate. Or Flowers or balloons or a book or something you made with your own hands. Or just a funny story or a joke or photos of what you have been doing. I am not picky. And honestly it is not that I want anything for myself. I want it for you. Yep, I am just turning into a saint here. Just thinking of all my beloveds and how hard this is on you hearing about me living with …..cancer. And you are just torn with sadness and sympathy for this poor scrawny woman. So cleanse your guilt, remove all evil thoughts, make me or buy be a present and bring it to me. Hmm, I wonder where you register for gifts for people who have cancer? Maybe the gift shop at the hospital? Maybe a Good will, or how about a Salvation Army thrift store? And I will be kind, grateful, loving and smile to see you. And it will only be done for good. Our good. Our shared good.

So, you aren’t buying this? I am really not surprised. So if you can not come and visit me, but you are still willing to cast a vote for my sainthood, then go see a neighbor, a friend closer by, or buy a bag of cat litter for the local shelter, or maybe a book for a school library or a public library. Look, I need all the help I can get to reach this sainthood of cancer. And I figure that if you have to have 3 miracles, then maybe those miracles can be the love and kindness given freely to others because of this turn of events. This journey that I have been given. And do you think I should do some kind of charity work for others who have cancer? Well, yes, I do. But I think that I will wait until I have moved much farther along this journey. I mean Judy and Denise are paying back Judy’s treatment by taking care of me. That is what Judy always tells me. She is just paying up her good karma for having survived 13 years after bone cancer. And she is an amazing survivor, and so is Denise who lived through the experience as her care giver. And they are two amazing woman.

So Vicki has August 20 – 27, (and I have us booked for facials with Katie on August 21st) and this next week my nephew Christopher will be here and the week after that his parents and brother will be in and out on their vacation. But other then that I am open. So come on over, spend a night, sit and laugh and talk with me. Let me see your eyes and know that the concern and hurt is eased as you see that this is a gift to me. And if you should choose to bring me another gift, well, OK, but I do love to open wrapped presents, especially with bows.

Ode to Ms Moon

Today is Ms Moon’s birthday. And as many of you have visited my porch via her blog you already know how special this woman is. And for those of you who have never had the pleasure of spending anytime with Ms Moon, well, here is a link to her blog:

But you see the thing that makes Ms Moon so special is all the love that surrounds her. From her most dearest beloved Mr Moon to their four grown children, who are just the most amazing adults in the world. And her precious Owen. But you see that is not even a scratch of the surface of all the loving, funny, generous, intelligent, kind, giving, silly, deep, dancing, singing, hugging and kissing extended family she has surrounding her. I could start to give you a list of names, but it would go on for so long and if I missed even one, I would feel like I tarnished a corner of a star that swings below our Ms Moon. Because she loves each and every one of us completely and un-judgementally. It makes no difference what so ever who you are. If you have even a moment of kindness or goodness or love in you, by just being around Ms Moon you will feel as if you could always be that person.

Now don’t get me wrong. She is perfect because she is real. She loves to say potty words. And I love to hear her say them. And sometimes do we get a little cattie talking about other people? Hell yes, we are Southern woman, Jezebels, divas, ladies. But we are not our Mother’s ladies. We are more. We are who we want to be. Do we wish at times that our minds were a little less….crazy? Yes, but then we would not be who we are. Here in the south we like to bring our crazy relatives out on the porch and serve lemonade. Bless their hearts. And we all have crazy relatives written prominently across our family trees. And we are proud of each and every one of them. Maybe that is why Ms Moon can talk about crazy so well. It is just our normal.

This is how I fell in love with Ms Moon. I had moved to Monticello after living 20 years on Pine Island down in Lee County. I had a strong network of friends and neighbors and lived in paradise. That is until August 13, 2005. That is the day that Hurricane Charlie changed my world forever. We all survived, but I swear that are many of us from that time and place still deal with PTSD. But for a quirky little island made up of old fishing families, artists, retired hippies and others searching for paradise it was hard to see how much we were all rattled. Some seem as normal as pie now, others, well, like my ex-husband made some decisions on how to survive those first few months of clean up after the storm that would cause changes that had no turn back. My husband decided that increasing a habit that I had pretended didn’t exist for so long to help him stay at wake at night when he was up at the marina changed our relationship forever.

And it affected all of my friends, because as I tried to ignore all the signs and not accept that he could choose drugs and alcohol over me, they had to deal with him and his madness in a totally different way. And he lost his job, and I had the offer for the promotion in Tallahassee and off we went. But he spiraled out of control and after a very long drawn out ordeal we finally went our own separate ways. I choose the roots of my gardens and animals and peace of labrun. He continued to make his choices. So I had all these amazing friends on Pine Island and now at 51 I live farther north then I have ever lived and have dear friends at work that I have known for almost 24 years, but no beloved ones here. So I met Jane Davis at a pine needle basket class at the Art League who invited me to join the garden circle. This is what she said, “Do you drink?” I said, “I like an occasional glass of wine”. She said, “We meet on Sundays, we drink wine and eat food and make things or talk about gardening.” I said I was in and then I met Carolyn Milligan who was the chairman of our Garden Circle. Carolyn and I were both single and interested in a lot of the same things so we went to a Murder Mystery at the Monticello Opera House. And there they were talking about auditions for Casablanca. Carolyn said she wanted to try it out and we double dog dared each other to go to the auditions. I was gone that weekend down to Palmetto to visit my Dad. But on Monday Carolyn called me and reminded me of the dare and so I went. On my audition sheet I put down that I would like a small part with no lines. I am on the thinner/taller side and had suggested that maybe I could play the part of one of the background men. So they cast me as the first man shot. Yep, my first role at the Opera House was dressed in a 1940s man suit and fedora. I had like three lines and then I took off running around the theater with the French police chasing me until I went to run out a door and they shot me. I met my most beloved Rich who had been cast as Ugarte and he helped me to learn how to die and fall behind a curtain. I then got to come back dressed as a woman in glamorous evening wear and just sit in Rick’s café. How cool was that?!?!?!

Then before one of the early rehearsals Ms Moon comes in and announces to everyone that she has found the next greatest thing in the entire world. Dark Chocolate M&Ms. That is it. That is when I fell in love with Ms Moon. She had the second biggest female role in the play, Yvonne. Normally cast as an ingénue who is desperate for Rick’s attention, whiny, wimpy, “Rick when will I see you again, sigh, sob.” But not our Ms Moon. No this was a scorned woman. A woman whose looks would be fading and she knew it. A woman who was “Rick’s girlfriend” but without any of the stability or prominence. And she drinks too much. And Ms Moon was amazing. And then in another scene she had to slap one of the actors across the face and she couldn’t. I mean they worked and worked and worked with her on that and she did finally pull it off, but I loved that it was so easy for her to get up there and take on Yvonne and make her into a believable character but could not slap a fellow actors face. Oh, and I loved that she told me about dark chocolate M&Ms still one of my favorite treats today. And from that moment on life was different. For me, for the Opera House, for the world. Rich, Ms Moon and I became the three musketeers, the cool crowd, the people who worked hard, took their acting (or in my case behind the scenes duties) seriously, but always willing to welcome someone else in and to have a laugh and live life real. And the Opera House family just swept us up into it and my most beloved ones here are part of that family. And I can not ever imagine my life without them. And we are each so different and bring so many different things to the Opera House and I think that is good. And last night a small handful of those beloveds ones met for rehearsal of Sylvia. The play that Ms Moon and Jan are co-directing, and through her a surprise birthday party.

And Ms Moon is doing movies and she is 56 today and not slowing down experiencing new things in her life. And she is taking care of me. She and Judy my two lead team members. They are who are keeping me standing up right now. Letting me deal with this cancer however I deal with it. And they love me. And I love them deeper then I can ever imagine loving another human being, because they don’t expect me to be anything then who I am. And that allows me to try and be the best that I am.

And that is why we all love our Ms Moon.
Happy Birthday Mary

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I feel Good!

I feel good!! Just like I knew that I would! Yes, that is a commercial for some kind of thing that helps you to move. And I have to say that it is finally starting to work and I feel like a new woman. I remember seeing all these advertisements in woman’s magazine going back to the 1800s and on through the 1950s and 60s. I mean sexual revolution, woman’s rights, shoot, nothing if you are not moving folks. Maybe instead of giving all those woman in the 50s and 60s laxatives instead of valium and alcohol our world would be a very different place.

And I feel normal. I don’t feel like someone with cancer. I don’t look like someone with cancer. I am dancing around and I can think clearer and all in all I am extremely maniac and hyper today, but in a happy way. A totally talking so fast only dogs can hear me, smiling and dancing, jumping around maniac.  Yep, Happy Tuesday!

And when I went out this morning to give my chickens and rabbits their treats I see that peep number 4 has hatched. I am a little worried about this little golden bundle of fuzz because both of its mothers are busy on the ground taking care of it’s three other siblings. But it looks strong and healthy and hopefully tonight when I get home it will be doing well and maybe strong enough to be on the ground with the rest of the family. Two mamas. That is the secret to success. I have had peeps before, but only one mama trying to raise her babies right and keep the other chickens from killing her babies. But with two mamas and one being Zora Neal, the queen chicken, no one is messing with these little ones. In fact Zora Neal and Bea Arthur have the largest half of the coop all to themselves. And now with only one rooster there is a lot less need to kill. When I saw how Peggy and Sue were treating the last peeps that Bea tried to raise I started wondering if they might have been roosters. And now they are meat. Tasty meat. Oh how far I have come.

But what made me laugh out loud, that kind of I have lost total control here laugh out loud was when I saw two new baby bunnies, all white with red eyes appear out of the magic bunny hole. And I have to say that I am seeing an alarming number of baby bunnies everywhere. Mostly they are brown and white and black spotted, that is why the white bunnies made me laugh. I felt like I am in a magic show, or maybe a Rocky and Bullwinkle show where Bullwinkle keeps trying to pull the white rabbit out of the hat but instead always seems to pull out a lion or a rhinocerous. Brown bunnies almost seem normal. White bunnies means things are now completely and utterly out of hand.

The bunnies come and go as they choose, they eat as they choose, they are the masters of their own fate. This is not good. This is not what a normal clear thinking person wants to unleash. I mean didn’t something like this destroy a continent or something? I think I need to get live traps. I think I need to do something. But how do you stop bunnies? And I am not asking any of these questions with the intent of doing anything. Really, I am just at the point of realizing that I have completely lost all control over any reality what so ever and with my mind where it is these days, I just want to sit down and go ohmmmmmmm. I am way more responsible then this. I am way too neurotic for this. And yet as I have given over my fear and anxiety to the universe, nothing seems to be in my control, and I am fine with that. Me. Ms OCD. Ms I have been a manager my whole life. The organizer, the doer, the get out there and take charge kind of person. And right now, I am not that person. And I like it. I like not having to be in charge of everything. But everyone keeps coming up and asking me in charge kind of questions. Well here at work that makes sense, but I mean in all aspects of my life. People are saying to me, what can I do for you. Please call and ask for assistance, please let me do for you. And I can’t. It is not that I don’t want the help. That I don’t appreciate the true and loving desire to be kind to me. But folks I am trying to take a journey with cancer. The doctors decide what I need, when I need it and how much, how long and well, everything about that. I just show up and they do everything. And then I am in charge of eating, sleeping, and at this point keeping my house from being condemned by the health department. It is my job to show up when and where I should be, and to enjoy this very moment. I am liking this. Now that there is the big scary thing looming out of my control, out of my reach, I am learning to not worry. To replace guilt with happy thoughts. It is Happy Tuesday. So if you want to do something, just go ahead and do it.  Just call and say hello and if I need something at that moment I will ask.  But right now asking is so appreciated, and I am not in charge.  I am not setting up schedules or in anyway taking control or scheduling anything for anyone else.  The simple act of telling me that you will be there for me, so far is everything that you need to do.  So if it is not too rude can I ask everyone to stop asking?  I mean it is very stressful and I know that is not the intent, but it is.  So I am just going to take each day, whether happy super maniac Tuesday or menacholy Monday, I am just going to enoy which ever trip I wake up on.  And if you want to play that day, then come on over.  Otherwise, no need to ask if there is anything you can do.  Because I don't know.  And wow!  Just not feeling guilty that I am letting everyone down by not orgazining this vast army of beloved people into fulfulling my every need is so freeing.  So if you want to do something for me. Go ahead and maybe someone will set up a calender system like Michelle suggested and will manage the assistance. Or not. I don’t know or care. At this point what I need is to not have to be in charge of anyone or anything, but myself.

And yes, I am sure that I sound quite maniac at the moment. But it sure beats the melancholy I was in yesterday. I was quiet, turning more in. But today, I want to kick up my heals and dance. And I realize that as unnerving and confusing this is for the people around me, sorry about that. But I am not going to fight it. That is it. I am not fighting sleep. I used to drive myself insane if I didn’t get enough sleep, if I didn’t eat so many vegetable serving a day, and my diet is basically fruits and veggies!  That I was not balancing my amino acids, carbs versus protein, was I drinking my 8 – 8 ounces of water everyday. I still hope that I am coming close on those things, but I am not worrying about them. If I feel sad, I am going to not fight it and be sad. If I am happy I want to dance and sing and enjoy it. If I am tired I want to lay down and sleep. If I am not tired then I will not worry about it and when my body and mind are both ready at the same time it will happen. And if Bob wants to ride in the car, then what is wrong with that? Yep, this more relaxed, happy, maniac day is just what I needed. A good movement, a fair balance on the meds and I am a happy camper. And I am going with it! Wow! I feel good!

Monday, July 26, 2010


I am preparing for the journey.  It is funny how I didn't plan on this.  But it is as natural as picking blackberries in the summer or planting lettuce in the fall.  The instinct just came out and I have started sleeping in my sick room.  I know that is an odd name for the room.  But it is where I want to go when I am sick because it doesn't look like a room that you will stay sick in.  it is bright and filled with light.  There is a rattan love seat that I love, and a wooden table that you can take completely  apart and store out of the way, but is put together now in its cubby hole with my sewing machine sitting next to the lamp.  Plenty of space to put things. And a clock.  There is a dresser that I put extra sheets in and some  comfy sleep things.  A ceiling fan and the bed is just big enough for Bob and Luna and I.  Just a perfect little nest.

The bathroom is just around the corner and quite convenient.  My bedroom is bigger with a giant bed, and has the open bathroom connected, but it is dark with only one window and it looks like a room that could just swallow you up .  

At the Opera House this weekend I saw so many people who have been through cancer themselves or have  been in the health care industry and taken care of people with cancer.  It was an eye opener.  These are all survivors and people with full and happy lives, and the total understanding of what I am getting ready to go through is unnerving.  I can see something in there eyes that I can not possibly know or understand until I am in the midst?  After the first treatment?  Not until I am through the treatments?  Until they say you are in remission?  I don't know.  And I understand that my mind is like a blank canvas.  I have no idea what it is going to be like.  I have tried to imagine, to prepare, and other then the nesting habits, doing all the laundry in the house and getting it all neatly put away, Buying extra animal feed, filling the car with things for the dump to make sure that everything is done and complete.

But my body.  I simply have tried to understand how I will feel and what can I do.  I have no idea.  Period.  None.  

And I am mentally tired.  Everyone is so concerned and wanting to share and help and do things, and I don't know what to say.  I don't know what to say, what needs to be done.  I think that everyone will know what they should do when it is time.  And if I need a ride, I know who to call.  And if I need to eat, I know others that will be there.  But the hard part for me is the asking.  And this is not from not wanting to impose.  It is just a lot to be trying to keep a positive outlook, think about all the things that need to be thought of and to then to also try and organize other people.  It is just too much.  And I know that sounded horrible and I don't mean it in a horrible way at all.  I mean the support has just been overwhelming, and I feel overwhelmed. 

But I am getting to see the best of people.  The true, concerned, loving, giving, sharing best of people, and I hope they understand that it is not a lack of desire to have their gifts.  It is a total overwhelming of I don't know where to start.  What I should be doing or what I will be doing or how do I contact all of these people for their assistance.  That is what is the hardest.  And right this minute I am fine.  Really, I have had this cancer for who knows how long and yesterday I washed the dogs, took everything I could load in my car to the dump, cleaned up some around the house, washed everything I could put in the washer and folded it up neatly and put everything in its place.  I bought presents, and wrapped them.  I went to Casa Luna and was wrapped up in love and sweetness and kindness and felt so accepted for just me.  The grand babies were crawling and running and smiling those heart breaking smiles. The children who have all grown into the most amazing adults laughed and hugged me and just let me know that I am part of this extended family of people who want to be together because they love each other, for exactly who they are.  And we ate delicious pizza and salad and Jessie's cake, and everything was perfect.  I only stayed for a little while, and no one minded.  And I got to hug Ms Moon and tell her how much I love her.  And she smiled and talked about filming the movie.  And life just keeps moving forward.

And the three baby peeps are doing so well.  Their two mamas cluck and worry over them and the little peeps scratch and peep and flutter around their mamas.  And the bunnies are building porches on their little tunnels and hardly even move anymore when Bob comes racing through.  I have caught him a couple of times with a tiny bunny that he is fleaing and loving on.  The baby seems a tad confused.  Bob a bit overzealous, but he is learning the difference between a stuffed bunny and a live one, and that is a good thing.

And I am just a regular normal person for the next few days.  And I am feeling completely unprepared, and yet completely where I should be.  Thursday my nephew Christopher will come to stay with me.  And then on Friday he will go with me to my radiation treatment and then we will drive to Lake City to pick up his older brother and bring him back to the house.  And we will have some family time together.  Then next week Christopher will stay here with me and go to space camp.  And this 10 year old nephew of mine, this youngest child of my youngest brother and I will get to spend time together.  I have spent time with his older brother when he was younger, and now I get to spend time with this one.  I have older nieces and nephews, specifically Cole and Corie.  They are both happily married, Cole and Amanda have a beautiful son and Corie and Andy have two adorable children, a girl and a boy.  I spent some time with them when they were young, but all of our lives were in a different place then and so we did not get to bond as much as I would have liked, but life is ever evolving, and just because I could not spend the time with them then that I have now to share, does not mean that I will loose the opportunity with this nephew. 

And I also have Annie and Jim.  My college friend, Susan's children.  I got to spend more time with them when they were growing up because I would work in G'ville and get to stay with them at that time.  And then I have my youngest Niece, Jessica.  She will be in first grade next year.  These children are all amazing and I am so fortunate to have them in my life.  And now I will get to spend time with one of them.  Just to myself.  I hope that I am feeling up to this.  He will be in space camp and I will be in my second week of radiation.

The count down is also on for Vicki coming.  That is giving me peace.  Knowing that my Vicki will be here.  My friend who has shared a heart with me for most of our lives.  And I know that others will come also.  And I don't care that it is taking cancer for us to make sure that we get to spend time with each other.  I am grateful that those who can come will, and those who can't will call or email or just stop for a moment once in a while and think loving thoughts.  And know those thoughts will extend past me and each of us who is being touched by this gift are thinking about a lot of people and sending loving postive thoughts out to them also.

Finally, I have to say that I am getting tired.  I am sure that I will get my second wind soon.  But just the process of scheduling and waiting, testing, and preparing takes so long.  Well, not really so long, but it feels likes that because of the unknown.  Very much like we have all been here along the gulf coast.  We know that their is oil being released into our precious warm waters of our beloved gulf.  One of the planets nurseries, cradle of life, The snow melts at the top of the planet and gathers nutrients and mud and dna and pieces of here and there and ends up in the warm life giving salt water of our gulf and it is frutiful and bountiful.  We know that this oil is changing the environment, rapidly, but we can not see how this is going to impact us.  Not just the people us, but all lving things "us".  We don't want to wish for the  worst, but we don't know what is good or bad anymore.  We don't know if the places we love, the animals we love, the world that has been so many of our homes for our entire lives will be the same or different.  That is what it is like for me with the cancer. 

But to worry about will I be "fine", hmmmm.  Will my life be the same.  I know that one.  Life will not be the same.  Because as each moment is here it must pass on, die, go away so that the next moment can be here.  We spend each and every day of our lives living and dying, gaining, learning and loosing.  To live in the moment to learn what is there at that very instant, to appreciate it, to let it go so that the next moment can arise.  That is life.  And that is another reason why it is hard to imagine the future, because what is at the end of every journey is only one moment in that journey.  And to focus on the end means to loose the moments of the journey.  So if the greatest gift I ever give myself, is to let it be, to appreciate this very moment.  This cancer, this day, this life, this exact situation, and to remember that it is a gift and that I have seen and experienced and felt the most open, loving, kindness.  I have been welcomed into so many peoples thoughts and concerns.  The worry, concern, affection, love, desire to help,  it is all there and let me tell you, it is strength and energy and if I listen carefully and live in this moment, then no matter what is to happen, it will just be another passing moment, to remember and appreciate. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

just another day

Things are pretty good right now.  I am back on the steroids and the pain meds an the pain is managed.  It is not gone, but I am in an interesting balance between I don't care and I don't hurt.   The steroids don't make me jittery, no this time on them I am hyper.  I mean like race around in a circle and talk a million words a minute kind of hyper.  And my emails at work.  First I have a hard time focusing and then grasping the simplest of questions.  So when someone asks me a double question, say, what is your name and phone number.  My first response has been, "I don't understand."  Then I giggle.  I think that is the pain meds. And then I can't seem to answer these emails without a zillion words.  

Then there are moments of quiet clarity, that are usually followed quickly by more giggles.  But other then this bizarre feeling of the hyper need to try and burn off adrenaline, and then the total absurdity of the whole situation it is quite a trip.  And then there are the tears.  I mean I sit at my desk and open an email.  The email starts out, "Good morning" and my tears just stream down my face.  My nose turns red and then starts to run and then one of my staff comes in and sees me and has this panic look on his face and I start giggling, tears still washing my cheeks.  And the poor guy just stands there stuttering not knowing what to do.  So I smile, cough to try and stop the giggle which just makes a sort of snorting sound which triggers the giggle reflex again and I ask if there is something I can do for him.  He says he just wants to ask a question, and I tell him he is welcome to, but if the answer doesn't sound right, he might want and wait and come ask me again later.  And then he asks me the question, usually something simple and easy and I lean back in my chair and wipe the tears from my cheeks, I don't know why, they just come streaming down again, and I look at him and say, "what do you think we should do."  Note, that is my main supervisor tool.  Anytime any one of my staff comes in with a  question, a problem, whatever, I always ask for them to explain the situation to me and then I try and look thoughtful and intelligent, and then I always ask, "what do you think we should do."  And you know, they always have a solution.  Sometimes it needs a little tweaking, but usually not much.  Usually they just need me to delegate the authority to them.  I have this amazing staff.  Albeit quite small.  And they are constantly looking at what they do and finding ways to do smarter, cheaper, more timely.  And they are holding up pretty good at this point with dealing with constant increases in work and now their boss running in and out, giggling like an idiot with tears streaming down her face.

So that is work.  At least I am awake and getting some things accomplished.  Not as much as i would like, but when you spend so much energy just trying to stay focused, it does not leave as much for the actual doing.  

And I feel strong, and other then the emotional swings, I feel mostly normal.  So last night I went up to the Opera House.  We had 130 dinners with another 67 paying play attendees for the Great American Trailer Park Musical.  So a full house down stairs and a nice size crowd upstairs.  A great first night for our new collaboration between TOASC and Monticello Opera House.  I helped downstairs serving.  I really didn't do that much, and then Ms Moon, Mindy and I went up to watch a little of the play.  I didn't push it and came home a little after 9.

This morning I met with my new lawn guy.  He gave me a great price and will start on Monday and mow every other week.  I might learn to like this.  I really do like to mow, but it would free up a lot of time having someone else do it.  We will see.  I have a couple of great mowers and I think that when I am able to get my mower working again I just might go back to doing my own.  We will see.  That is not anything to worry about at this time.

So when I got done with making the arrangements I went up to the Opera House, but they had everything set.  I just brought the programs home and I am folding them for this evening.  And tonight Bob, my friend from work will be coming to see the play.  I hope he enjoys it.  He likes theater, and this is cute, even if it uses a lot of "adult language".  

And so everything will be normal for the next many days.  And then Thursday start the radiation.  That evening I will pick up Christopher and then the next day his older brother Nathaniel, and get to spend some time with family.

So, just trying to continue taking each day one at a time and come up with a calendar so that I can write down all of my appointments so I don't have to worry about them. I will probably have to do a blog at a later time about how many things do not work normally as you go through this process.  I am trying the recommended treatments to try and get things going, but so far no luck. Funny the things that become a part of your everyday.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Plans, drugs and my mask

So I have tried for the last couple of days to take pain meds and no steroids.  The pain meds help for sure, but not enough, so tonight I went back to the steroid.  I have so much to learn in the pain management thing.  But at least when I am taking both the steroids and the pain meds together I am jittery but pain free.  Without the steroids I am drowsy.  And today a new symptom.  High.  Yep, the toromodal makes me loopy, and sleepy.   So I sat at my desk working away, struggling to understand the simplest of questions and be of assistance, and then I would feel like I had dozed off.  Just for a second, literally, but I am sitting upright, hands on the keyboard, head tilted to my chest and I think maybe asleep.  Then someone would come in or call and I would giggle.  Just giggle and coo and act like I am totally stoned or drunk.  And there is still pain, but I didn't care. I mean I really didn't care.  So all in all, not a bad way to go.

And then I went for my CTsim and they ran me through the machines and painted and marked my chest where they will shoot the radiation on my rib.  And then they made my mask.  They have you close your eyes and they tell you that they are going to lay the material over your face and it will feel warm and wet (and by the way slimy).  So they lay this gelatin mesh on to my face and then gently mold the mask to my face and head.  Then as it hardens up, they bolt the mask to the table and there you are in this sort of Silence of the Lambs full face mask bolted to the table so that you can not move when they go to shoot the C7 vertebrate.  After they had gotten all the information they needed, they unlatched my head from the table and let me sit up and they showed me the mask.  It is so cool.  It is a mesh that looks like 3/4 of my head.  And when they finish the radiation I get to take my mask home.  Bonus!!!  I just have to say, very cool.  So, next Thursday I go back in at 10:45 and they will start the radiation treatment.  17 treatments in all.  And that will help with the bone cancer and will help with the pain.  

And then when I got home Dr. Broeseker's office called and I will go in on August 6 for them to discuss the protocol with me.  I think he wants to start the chemo the week after that.  So I finally feel like things are moving forward.  And I am ready.

So, silly, dopey, drowsy day, filled with beginnings and now the day is almost done.  I am going to go lay down.  Not much at all today.  Thank goodness.  And again, I realize how each thing that has happened along this journey had worked so well for me.  I never had to get hit with all the information all at once.  Instead this process has evolved and next week I will start the radiation and then the  chemo and I will be on my way to the doctors taking care of this cancer.  And yes, I am having a hard time putting together letters let alone words, so just a short entry today.  And that is OK.  It was a good day, giggles, accomplishments and now to bed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The doctor said.....

I had gone for my bone treatment on Monday and the doctor was not there so I had given a list of notes to the lovely kind girl who hooked me up to my drip and made sure that all went well for the first of many bone treatments.  These are the treatments to help my bones get strong to help stop the cancer.  To help my bones be like normal bones, strong enough to hold up the non-skeletal part of this soft body.  The list had been simple questions, when can I get off of the steroids?  Any recommendation on things I need to do to prepare other parts of my body for this journey?  Like dental care?  

So when I got home last night the doctor had called and left a message to call him at the office and he would call me back.  And he did.  And he said that because of the cancer on the C7 vertebrate, he would like to go ahead and start treatments as quickly as possible.  Would I mind starting the chemo while I am on radiation?  And, well things were going to have to be stepped up a bit.  It is time to pursue this disease a little more aggressively.  He was sorry to say that his best first guess of the chemo would be two chemicals, and he knew he had said I would probably not have many side affects, now that they knew more about the cancer and where it is, well, I will loose my hair and  suffer from nausea.  This was not what we had talked about when I first met him.  Before the bone scan. 

But like I said to Dr. B, well, it really isn't much of a choice, hair or cancer, I guess they both have to go.  And nausea, I know that he is prepared for that, and he has a plan.  And Ms Moon has a plan where I can stay with her on the days that I can not stay by myself.  And I have been thinking about moving into my guest room because it has more light and more windows and views of my garden.

And this is not going to be a few weeks.  This is going to be month and months and....  well, no way of knowing for sure, but the doctor assured me he would be there until the cancer was gone.  I assume he means and I am still here.  And we discussed a few more things, like how he picked out the Radiologist Oncologist because he thought that I would like her and that  would help me on this journey.  And about the fact that the pain is not like a headache where you take an aspirin and the headache goes away.  No, the pain will be here until the cancer goes away.  Hmmmm, that is longer then I thought.  OK, all of this is more then I thought.  This is harder then I thought, this is more then I wanted to do.  I just wanted to sort of have cancer and then be OK.  That life would be richer because of the challenge and journey that I had survived.  But now it is real.  I mean really real.  And it hit me like a rock.  

We want to get on this aggressively because of the C7 vertebrate.  There are still worse case scenarios that I had just brushed aside.  

And I went to work and for the first time I started to get things in order.  And then I left for the CT simulation and guess what?  I was a day early.  Yep, I actually worked out simulating the simulation.  No one is going to deny that I may have a bit of the overachiever going on here.  And then as I was driving back to the office, I knew I could not go back there.  So I called and told them I would be in the morning and that I had screwed up my appointment so I would have to leave tomorrow for the actual CTsim.  And then I thought I am just going to drive and drive and drive.  But I was afraid to just drive with out a plan.  I need a plan.  So instead of just driving, I went to see Ms Moon.  And she never expects me to be perfect or judges me for not being the best I can be.  She just lets me be me, and she listens to me, and she sometimes says the right thing and sometimes says the wrong thing, and then we talk about the string theory and we do not talk about things we can not handle.  And because it is real, and that we are both trying to be the best person we can for the other one, it is such a relief.  I just hope I don't leave too much hurt on her shoulders when I leave.  And then I started preparing.  I bought chicken food, hay, scratch.  Order rabbit food.  I made calls and left messages for people to start mowing my grass.  I made an appointment to have a will drawn up.  I went to Chicken delight, some place that I have never been in or even bought food there.  I have eaten food there, but never actually been there to buy it.  I don't know if I will go there often.  the food tasted wonderful,  but well, let's just leave it there.  And then I came home and watched "It's complicated" because Netflix just left me that DVD in my mail box today and it was adorable.  And I ordered Chinese food to take up to the Opera House for the TOSAC cast/crew who are bringing "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" to our lovely theater this weekend, and I wanted to save, Welcome.  We are glad that you are here. Welcome and please have a lovely time.  Then I called and the lawn guy is coming tomorrow to give me an estimate on mowing the yard for me, and Jack and Jan have volunteered to take care of the dogs.  And Rich said that he is just going to show up one day and start doing things.  And Judy and Denise are there, so that if I want to stay home some time and need help they will be able to help me do it.    And I am better.  I am back in control with myself.  And life is ok.  No, life is good.  I can do this.  Judy said there would be days like this.  And so far this is the hardest and the first one like it, but I did it.  And now I will take some pain meds, go to bed, and maybe I will even sleep.  


The very first decision I made when I got sick, was to be open about this journey.  I thought somehow by being open about it, it would make my life normal.  Like it would be no big deal.  Like it couldn't be such a big deal if everyone shared a bit of the journey with me.  Let me just say right now, I am sorry.  It was selfish.  It was self centered, it was Copernicusian.  Yes, I know I just made that word up, but I like it.   You see I love the fact that Nicoli Copernicus realized that we are not the center of the universe, this blue/green planet filled with life of such variety.  No, the sun is the center of our universe, and don't you know he would be amazed to be able to see all the photos from the Hubble and how that would blow his mind?  

But you see Nicoli got it wrong.  Because we are the center of our universe.  Each and everyone of us is the center of our own world.  Even if as parents or teachers or caretakers or spouse or whatever role we feel we play.  No matter how many times at the end of the day we feel like we are only supporting actors in our life, we are the center of the universe of our self.  I named my puppy Bob, Robert Copernicus.  And I have tried to explain to him over and over, well until I had the epiphany that, no, my dog Bob actually understands Copernicus's theory better then I do.  He was talking about the earth, not our own individual universes. And trust me, Bob is the center of his universe, of mine, and of all the other animals and living things in my family.

And here is another big secret.  I am not strong.  Everyone thinks I am so strong.  I am a conduit for strength.  You see I get all of my strength from the people around me.  So, I figured if I was going to be able to participate in this journey that had been given to me.  If I was going to actually be able to come out where ever the journey takes me with anything of me left.  If I was going to not throw myself in bed, pull the covers over my head, wail and rant and scream uncontrollably like I had always planned on handling things, I was going to need people to tell jokes to, to discuss the string theory with, someone to discuss what is on the other side and not try to convince me that what they think is the only right way.  Someone to look at me and see me, and not look at me like I was failing.  And so I told everyone about the cancer, and it made it better.  It made the cancer small, into a tiny little c.  No big deal.  People get cancer and live all the time.  This was going to be sort of fun.  We would all go to this sort of scary place, but just close to the edge, not really all the way there, and we would laugh and be amazed by the doctors and their WMDs, and there would be a few tough times, but all in all, an interesting and amazing journey.  It wasn't going to hurt anyone, and I would have people there who would have shared this journey with me so I would know that I actually did it.  I survived cancer and it was no big deal.  

But it has hurt people.  It is so hard to listen to Vicki over the phone.  To look into Ms Moon's eyes, to see the concern on my co-workers faces.  To hear the pain in my father's voice as I tell him that I don't think I am going to be well enough this year to go to Spain with him.  I was selfish to want to share the pain, but honestly I refused to listen to Judy and accept that my cancer was going to be all that bad.  Not the golden child.  Not the person who had survived so many things in life.  I know bad things have happened in my life.  I have already mentioned some, not all, because honestly, I don't think of the things that have happened to me to be bad.  They don't stick with me, I don't hold a grudge, I can be cautious, but honestly I remember so many amazing, wonderful, beautiful, glorious, joyful, delightful moments.  But the bad?  Nope, I may have the story, but not the hurt.  And I like my life like that.  So, my perception is off.  So I hurt people without realizing it because I don't perceive what I have said or done from their universe. I am too busy spinning around in my own universe.  But when I see it, the hurt I didn't mean to share, I remember those.  

I will remember the choke in Vicki's voice, the blur of Ms Moon's eyes, Judy trying to gently explain what I can't possibly understand yet.  I will remember my Father saying, "Spain is not as important as my baby girl getting better."  I am going to remember so many faces looking at me hurt the first time they see me after they find out.  And I am going to remember the smile, the ease of breathing and talking again when they realize that I am still me.  Still here, that life is still flying around the sun as we each spin our lives on this blue/green planet covered with such a vast variety of life.  And I will take those hurts that I have caused, and I will incorporate it into love and that is exactly what each of those reactions are.  They are love, because they love me.  And I hope that they know how much I love each of them.  And that is why I wanted them to take this journey with me.  because together sharing something hard, some thing that no one chose to do, but a gift that was freely given based on science of cells.  That simple.  And the only way to fail this journey is to travel it badly.  And since the doctor called last night, that is what I did, I took a side road off the high road and ran down deep into the bottom most area.  I just needed to go there.  To be overwhelmed, shocked, do denial, rant and rave and cry and scream and hide under the bed.  But as it turns out I am not so good at all of that.  So I took a little time and checked it out, and I am back.  I am back in control.  Don't get me wrong, I am not in control of this journey or what is happening or what will or will not happen.  No, I am in control of myself and how I travel this journey.  And I have looked at the dark side, and I don't think I can do it.  Ranting,?  Ok, maybe, I am going to be on and off steroids after all.  But no raving, crying, renting my clothes, living in a dark place, feeling sorry for myself, etc.  Nope, I think I will keep trying to figure out the tight rope of joking, reality, loving, sharing, living, doing, surviving, and remember that is the journey.  This is not about being well.  This is about having cancer and the journey to the place where I no longer have cancer.  Where I am "well" again.  And I am not going to screw up this journey by missing too much.

A New Day

Actually yesterday was a pretty good day.  I took my steroid in the morning, it makes me jittery but I can still work.  I did not take a pain med because they make me drowsy and I had no pain.  You see I have been treating this cancer like it was a little "c".  Nothing to get too worked up about.  I mean within 12 hours the doc had put together a pretty good little cocktail that had me pain free, so really, no big deal.  I got my monthly report information entered, my quarter numbers completed and my annual numbers in.  Wohoo.  I felt like I could move file cabinets, run around the office and leap over small desks without falling on my face.  I was super woman.  No pain, no big deal.  I headed over to Ron and Pat's and water jogged.  I love this thing.  It is just a floaty belt that keeps you upright in the water.  Then you just move your legs like you are jogging and there are a pair of aqua bells that are foam dumb bells that are buoyant and you can exercise your arm and chest muscles but moving them through the water.  So basically this is like treading water without most of the work of trying to keep your head above water.  Not bad, really.  So for 45 minutes I jogged my way around and around the deep end of Pat/Ron's lovely pool.  Pat is a gardener so as you work your way around the pool you are constantly delighted by another view of her garden.  And since I have known Pat her garden has spread and grown and like all gardens, more beautiful each year, each season, each day as another plant takes the feature with their own special beauty.  And Ron is a gardener also with his tomatoes, peppers and cukes.  

Unfortunately as easy as it felt floating around like a cork bob on a fishing line, I did move for 45 minutes steady, constantly pumping my old woman legs.  And when I went to get out of the pool.  Oh boy!  Talk about noodle legs.  So I just took it slower, and got my land legs back under me, but then started reconsidering my pain med choices.  I have been acting like the pain would just go away.  Poof!  No pain.  And after all pain is not something that will be constant, everything will change in life, and I figured the pain was just temporary, no big deal.  Well, maybe a little bigger deal then I thought.  

 But then I headed over to the Opera House for the read through of Sylvia by A.R.Gurney.  Allison who Mary, Judy and I met while I was in the hospital finding out I had cancer, is going to be our Sylvia.  She is adorable, smart, quick and is going to do a fine job.  That is the best thing about our Stage Company, people will be there to help her do this.  We have this one actor, Dani, and she is absolutely adorable and lovely and wonderful and we all love our Dani, and her young son Riley, who is going to be a fine actor himself someday, and not to forget Russell for letting us take so much of his wife's time.  Dani can be sexy and vampy and funny and so cute, which for a mother of one who is no longer 20, something to admire, but to do it on stage in front of people, really amazing!!  And when we did Killing Mr. Wither's she showed us that side.  But I don't think if Pat and Mary and Jack and Jan and Herb and I had not taken the time to work with her, that she could have pulled it off.  She had it in her, but to then put it out there on stage, very different.  And she did it, and she did it well!  So I think that Allison who is still a little overwhelmed is going to do just fine also.  

And then I realized that no pain meds, too much in the pool and it was time to go home.  Oh, and I know this is tmi, but do you realize that with cancer, one of the ways you do not loose weight?  You just never get to have anything move on.  Yep, no that you really didn't want to go there, but unfortunately, that is one of the things that is in my life, and having a big impact.  So I bought the recommended treatment, headed home hoping for rest, maybe a hopeful "moving" morning and to enjoy just another day.  Then the doctor called.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Circle of Life

Life is ever changing and evolving and growing, living, dying, and expressing itself in so many wonderful and wild ways. 

So yesterday Mary and I had so much fun at the audition for the movie director.  Just saying that makes me smile.  I mean really, how fun is this?  And Marcy, who I now think of Mary's and My agent since she turned us on to this guy, said that he was impressed, so maybe one of these days he will have a project that he can use us in.  What a hoot!

And still pain free today, although I feel like I have drank like 10 cups of coffee.  I do not do any type of caffeine because it makes me nervous, jittery, irritating and annoying to others as I interrupt their thoughts and keep wanting to jump up and run around the room.  But it beats the heck out of the pain.  This morning Mary, Owen (who was a great help!) and I met my new best friend, Dr. Shelileah Newman.  Now I am talking about a drop dead gorgeous, fairly young as doctors go, African American woman, with eyes to die for!  And she was funny and sweet and even as she was telling me the problems associated with the radiation, I was like, ok, that's fine. 

She mentioned that since the metathesized cancer on my rib is so close to the heart and lungs they need to be careful not to damage those during the 17 treatments of radiation that should start probably Monday after the Thursday CTsim.  Which is when they will mark the locations and take me through a trial run.  And because the cancer that has metathesized on my C7 vertebrate is so large that they have concerns of it pressing on my spinal column and making me into a quadriplegic or that the cancer could then metathesis into my spinal fluid which I gather is not a good thing. 

I was able to ask her about why no one wanted to do a Pet Scan.  She said that they actually had pretty much done one, in that they ran all of the same tests that are run on a Pet scan, only each test had been done individually rather then all at once.  She said that she doubted that the point of origin could be found with this test, and that they have now looked everywhere the cancer could have metathesized, so she felt that they have what they need, and that the Pet scan would just be redundant to the already completed ones.  That made me feel much better.  And she has confidence in what she needs to do.  She has confidence in me and with Mary, my team member that she has met, and feels that I have made good decisions, and lets just do it.

I told her that I do not plan on fighting this cancer, that is why I have her and that I expect her to use whatever WMDs as necessary and for her to fight this as best as she knows how and I will just go along for the ride.  She smiled and so, ok, we can do that.  See, she is amazing!

So even though this news sounds kind of well, devastating, I would rather say, that I am glad that they know what they are up against, and as for me, well as far as I know there really isn't much say in this for me.  It is what it is, and I don't think as long as I follow the protocols that I can do much to make anything different.

Can you tell the steroids are making me jumpy as I jump from one thought to another, and having a problem staying focused?  But, again, no pain!  But I have to say it is weird to be so jumpy and at the same point struggling to keep my eyes open, because I do just feel tired.  I think that is the pain killer they have me on.  It is very nice and relaxing, but I have to get back to work, lunch is over and I need to get my reports written for the end of the month, quarter and fiscal year.

So, a new doctor with more news, and just about the time that life just might to start to look a little dreary or depressing, you go out to feed your chickens before you go to meet your new radiologist and then on to work, and you find a baby peep hopping around its mothers (Zora Neal and Bea Arthur are sitting side by side on two nests, so really for a one day old peep how lucky!  Two moms!) just being as cute as all chicks are and then pop!  Out of the bunny burrows comes a baby bunny smaller then my fist. 

I am a bad environmentalist.  I raise rabbits and chickens for my fertilizer for my gardens.  I normally have 2 bunnies of the same sex.  But somehow along the line, I obviously screwed up because now I have bunnies everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.  They dug out of the hutch that Herb built them in my chicken coop, and then proceeded to dig burrows under the chicken coop and out into the pasture.  Not a safe thing for bunnies.  So Herb cemented around the coop for me and we secured those little bunnies into the chicken coop.  So they simply dug their tunnels six feet away from the coop in every direction imaginable and in the early morning and late evenings you can see families of these brown, black and white spotted rabbits noshing through the grass and my gardens.  Baby Bunny and Fiver Bunny moved into the barn and Baby comes out to great me each evening when I come home so that I can put out bowls of rabbit chow and scratch for her.  She even lets me pet her a little. 

And of course the problem has become even worse with the bunnies now that I leave the chicken coop door open so that the chickens can come and go as they like.  I understand that this is not an ideal situation.  The last thing I would want to do is to introduce some deadly disease into the wild rabbit population like the conquerors of the native people in the various countries bringing in small pox etc.  Now I do not see any wild rabbits on my property, but I contribute that to the three exceptionally large Labradors.  But that does not mean that my semi-domesticated bunnies might not spread outward.  I am not sure how to contain them, but unfortunately every week I have to bury one that did venture out and got chased or scared, or something because they do not have a mark on them, but they are dead.  So that is keeping the population a little controlled.  And I have noted that the older wiser bunnies do not leave the coop, but to maybe venture out directly in front of the door to the coop and then leap back in the door quickly if anything at all seems to be out of their comfort zone.  I love my bunnies, but I wish I only had a couple, but I will take the best care of the ones I have and try to keep them as contained as possible to minimize any damage to the environment.  I wonder if I would deal with this better if my mind were a little clearer and not so distracted by everything happening.

But I just feel so comfortable within this circle of life that surrounds me.  Baby chickens and bunnies.  Radiologist with  lovely smiles and a sweet voice. Ms Moon right next to me, holding back tears and the little Owen entertaining us and all those around us with his good looks and charm!  I mean this kid is really something adorable!  I told Ms Moon that if he were older and we could tell if this was going to be a hen or a rooster, that I would want him to have it for his own chicken.  He loves and imitates Ms Moon's rooster, Elvis and he loves his rooster.  But I am afraid that if this peep turns out to be another rooster that he will end up as chicken pot pie, and that would be a terrible thing to do to Owen.  "Look Owen, remember your little rooster pet?  That is what you are eating!"  I mean I do understand the circle of life, but I think I will leave the lessons on how that translates into the food we eat to his PopPop and his Daddy.  Both fine intelligent, sensitive men.  Men of nature and hunting and respect and eating what you kill.  They will teach this young man right.  I just know they will.

And I will have my 10 year old nephew up visiting in 2 weeks and going to space camp, and going to movies with me, and out to eat pizza, he loves pizza.  And then I will also get to spend time with his older brother and his parents after that, so life is good.

I am feeling good, albeit jittery and wanting to lay now and sleep while I shake a leg uncontrollably, but no pain, and loving the new animals that have come along.  It is hard life these little creatures have, and to keep the peeps protected safely with their mothers and the baby bunnies with their family is a challenge.  But I will do my best, and if they make it I shall listen to them tell me their names, and love them as much as they allow.  But I shall always have the smile on my face that they brought me this morning.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


One of my concerns when I thought about journaling in a blog and putting it out there would be dealing with the comments.  I have watched as Ms Moon who loves to respond to each comment struggle to find the time to respond.  And I love the dialog and how even though the blogging community is spread across the world it is so supportive and loving.  And the word community is accurate in so many ways.  I have read about births and deaths, love and anger, extraordinary events and everyday events.  Through Ms Moon's generosity by introducing us, many of you have spent some time on my porch and have been so wise and kind and generous and giving and have told me stories, referred me to other websites and have made me feel so welcome to this world that y'all are building together.  And not all of the comments are left on my porch, some have called or emailed me, but I have received nothing but kindness, love and support.  I am humbled to think that so many of you actually come by and sit down on my porch and leave so many wonderful gifts for me.  I am grateful beyond words.

And yet, I am not able to respond to each comment  I feel a little intimidated answering your comments, partially I guess because I write this journal as a record for myself.  A way to literally take all the emotions I am feeling and get them off my chest (small joke there about the cancer on my 2nd rib next to my sternum) because cancer for me is literally a pain in my neck (ok, another small joke about the cancer on my C6 vertebrate in my neck), so when I see the comments, it just takes me back a little and then I read them and feel so humbled.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  

And some people have suggested that I should check out blogging or linking to the blogs written by other cancer patients and survivors.  Hmmmm, I don't think I am emotionally ready to join that club.  Right now, I am still me.  I feel so accepted and beloved by my friends, the generosity is overwhelming.  But I feel normal, I just have cancer.  Would I feel sick if I read about people that have been dealing with this disease for years, or what about people who know they aren't go to see their grandchild born or their next birthday.  What about people who are angry or ask, "Why me?"  I don't even know the correct terminology of this new world I find myself in, and I am not sure that I want to.  I am an overachiever, and how does that fit with cancer.  I am not competitive with anyone but myself, are their people who are competitive about their cancer?  That just sounded mean.  I didn't mean for it to.  But I am finding out how self focused and centered I am.  I just don't think I am ready yet to go the cancer blogs yet.  I don't want to be the new kid on the block.  I don't want to be like everyone else.  I want to be special.  I don't mind having cancer as much as I mind that I have already lost so much of my self already with this disease, I don't know what else I could loose, but somehow if I become another person with cancer, who will I be?  I no longer have the desire to do so many things I love.  I don't garden or read or want to do things.  Right now all i want to do is nothing.  I don't want to do anything.

No, that is not accurate, but it does feel that way at times.  

The last time I blogged I was suffering.  Oh, that sounds so melodramatic.  I was in a lot of pain.  That distracting kind of all encompassing pain.  But my new best friend, my oncologist, gave me steroids and a painkiller and it took the pain away immediately, completely and no nausea.  A little shaky inside and out, kind of speedy, which I don't like.  But not sick and NO PAIN!!!! Wohoo.  I almost feel like me again.  That normal person who just happens to have cancer.  Not just any cancer, oh no, I am special in that I have metathesized cancer on my lung, pleural lining and bones. But who knows where it is hiding, and what is the next spot that it will pop up on?  Now that I am pain free, that doesn't sound overwhelming anymore, it is what it is.

And I feel like one minute I want to be normal, the next special, then worthless but then I pick up Ms Moon and we meet our friend Marcy at this film directors and we audition for a movie.  I mean I just feel like I am completely inconsistent.  Adjusted, ready to deal with the adventure, the next minute ready to crawl under the covers.  So appreciative of everything of all the gifts and generosity of my beloved ones.  And then I feel imposing, not larger then life imposing, no, taking advantage kind of imposing.  

When I walk into Ms Moon's home and have to tell her more bad news, and she holds back the tears, for me.  She is strong for me.  And then I call Vicki and talk to her and she is honest and funny and tries so hard to be strong for me.  But I know she cries over this.  And bless her daughter Sam's heart.  She reads my bog everyday to her Mother.  And when I wrote the blog about the cancer having metathesized to my lungs, Sam couldn't wait to get a hold of her Mother to help her buy plane tickets down to be here for me.  Vicki will be here August 20- 30th.  Ten whole days

And Susan, my friend from college, GO GATORS!  calls and asks when can I come and help, and she sent me a book by Queen Latifah, Put onYour Crown because the first chapter, Success, has the quote "You area braver than you believe, stronger then you seem, and smarter than you think." - Winnie-the-pooh.  I love Winnie the Pooh.  When I got married the first time Susan bought me a Winnie the Pooh cook book.  I have it today.  Someday, when Annie, Susan's daughter might get married, and I will give her the book.  And Susan calls Linda, the third member of our little college group that I still love and they talk and the circle is complete again.  

And all of my dear friends here put up with the mood swings and the irritability that just pops up.  Usually when they are most worried about me.  I think because they want me to be well, to be happy, and I feel like I am imposing. And I guess that is why I succumb to the irritability.  And I am not usually like that.  See, changes, pieces of me missing and other parts new, that I hope will go away.

But since this was about comments, and I think that all of this has been about comments and how they have affected me.  And I hope that I am not making a huge fau pax but saying that I appreciate your comments, the gift of your time, of your kindness, of your knowledge and experience, and I don't think that I can respond to those comments.  If I am, I am sorry, but know that even though I don't tell you each time, I truly appreciate what you give me back.  That you show me each day, whether in a comment to this journal, or for the call, or the email, or for the visit, of just the positive thoughts.  And again, thank you.  I feel so nurtured and loved and protected and pampered and cared for.  And this is what I want to do for others, but now it is my turn to learn this from you.  Be patient with me, maybe I will learn to be better.  I want to, but there are so many learning lessons coming at me so fast.  And I am trying, and all of you are helping in so many ways.
Thank you.