Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Friday, September 3, 2010

I am back kind of sort of

Monday morning Vicki left.  It broke my heart.  It was like I had missed most of the visit.  Which I guess makes sense, but now she was flying back to Indiana.  I know if I really need her she will be back her in a moment, and she did so much for me when she was here, but I am just not present most of the time.  I don't know where I am.  I don't know what happened to the live in the moment thing.  I mean I loved that time, like at the beach there are moments so clear right this moment I can smell the beach and my friends woman scent mixed with cigarettes and rum, the glow of the sun on the water, the familiar sound of the soft ebb and flow of the surf.  The feel of the chairs and the sand and the heat.  Well, I guess cancer is what happened, and maybe it is my mind and body dealing with the happy out of control cells as they are chased down by the WMDs, I don't know.  I am just glad that I had that time at the beach with Vicki and Mary and Judy and Denise.  It was perfect even though there is a lot of time I was sleeping, when I was awake I was there and I was with some of my favorite woman.  perfect.

Tuesday morning when I woke up my hair hurt.  Not my skin, my hair, or to be exact, those tiny hair follicles that anchor your hair in your scalp that are the basis of your hair growth.  It felt like I had worn my hair pulled back real tight for a week and then tried to brush it in the opposite direction, that kind of discomfort.  But my hair appeared to be sticking in place.  As I washed my hair  it was quite uncomfortable and felt like maybe I was loosing some hair.  I gently rubbed it with a towel like I normally do and there was hair everywhere.  On my face covering the towel, the floor, and you would think when I looked at the mirror that I would have big bald spots, but no, it looks thinner, but not bald.   And now here at work my head starts to hurt and I gently grab handfuls of hair and gently pull.  Lots of hair comes out and I have filled a white legal size envelope.  So not that much hair, but I am sure that within the next couple of days I will probably not have much left on top of my head. And by the way, I threw out the envelope of hair, I mean yuck.  I grew up in Palmetto and one summer I worked for the Parks Department as a part time park ranger at Gamble Mansion in Ellenton.  It is small as plantations go, an old sugar plantation.  And in many of the rooms were these frames filled with flowers and fancy swirls, etc. made out of family member hair.  I never liked those things they just creeped me out, all these dead peoples hair.  I don't know, it was gross, like a car accident, you couldn't help but look at them and be amazed, but hair, yuck.

So I called Mary and off we went to see Ms Paige who cut my hair to about an inch long all over my head.  I like it.  I never thought of myself as a short hair person, Mary took pictures, and all in all I was happy with the feel, the ease and the look.  But my hair still felt like it was getting ready to let go.  And it did.  and it still is.

And so I would sit here at night and stare at the computer and I would try and write.  You remember that movie with John Travolta and he had seen a light and was it aliens or a tumor on his brain and he was brilliant and could levitate and it turned out of course to be the tumor not aliens.  So anyway I don't have brain cancer, so I am not like a freaking genius or anything, and I can't levitate anything with just my mind.  But as I would try and write I found that I could not spell.  OK,  so that is not so great, but I can write 2 sentences in the form of one sentence at one time.  Without trying.  Like who would try and do that?  Code breakers Vicki suggested, hmmm, good idea, but I have no control over this, and well when you are trying to read something,  between the misspelling and then the 2 sentences combined into one, it doesn't make sense.  I would write my little heart out and then go back and proof read it, and it made no sense.  If you read every other word in the sentence it would make sense, read the other words and there was a totally different sentence not related in anyway to the other sentence.  And the worse part was I had no idea where I was going with either sentence. So I would just sit in my new red chair and stare at the computer.  But then this fly or bug or something started flitting around my shoulders last night.  I jumped up irritated, I was going to get that insect, whatever it was.  It was hair.  My hair falling out, gently tickling my shoulder as it slipped past to pile up on the chair.  So here I am ready to have deal with this pesky pest and it is my own hair.  So I vacuumed it up, sat back down and continued my crazy writing and deleting, but now I enjoyed the feel of the hair as I knew what it was.

You see having cancer is to go insane.  Your nerves are all on edge with the treatments and the meds

So today was the final day, the last extension for me to send in my letter of tenure for a colleague of mine.  A man I have grown to be quite found of, and his lovely sweet wife.  We attend many conferences and trainings together besides being co-directors of the EPA PPG for certification for Florida.  And I have grown to respect his talents and humor and tenacity.  He is constantly moving forward, writing exams, manuals, setting up trainings, recording online programs, review programs, new regulations trainings, negotiating computer based exams with IT and multiple Agencies.  I mean an all around nice and talented man, who seems happy in his life and choice of career.  And here I have to write a letter to support his tenure and I can't spell, no problem, spell check!  But I can't get two sentences to follow the same thought, even when they are interwoven amongst each other.  I got the letter written and sent off, but I am sorry I hope this doesn't hurt him.  I tried so hard to provide clear documentation on some of the amazing things he does.  I hope it makes sense.  I mentioned several times in my emails that I had cancer, I hope they take that into consideration.

And I am adding him to my list of Role Models.  He has had his own brush with the "C" and look what a full and happy and amazing life he has.  And he and his sweet lovely wife do fun things and are always on the go and look like they really enjoy each other.  Yep, on the list.

Now it is Friday, and almost a week since I was able to put together more then a few sentences on the blog, and hair has the mange, big time.  Both sides of my head, bald patches where I lay my head on the pillow sleeping.  Full hair on the front of my head, mangy on the bank and my little sideburns strong and holding.  Hat or scarf decision day.  Scarf, dew rag, to be exact, blue the color of Rich's eyes.  I set my outfit of the day, take a shower, clog the drain big time.  I mean like two heaping handfuls of hair, yuck.  Get dressed, do the makeup, face the scarf.  I have a small head, a very small head and ears that turn out to be quite large and stick out on either side which actually help to make my head not look so small, but who is kidding who, I have a little head, big ears that stick out, large bony shoulders, strong enough to handle many different journeys and adventures.  And I have a bump, fortunately not large enough to notice, especially with my ears.  And moles and just a sort of small shaped head, not "perfect".  Thank goodness I asked everyone who volunteered to shave their heads when I lost my hair not to, because I thought what if they have perfect heads and I don't and I have cancer.  Nope, lets not go there.  I change my outfit and pull on my blue hat and off to work I go.  I noticed I had much less traffic into and past my office.  I realize it was the Friday before a 3 day holiday so it was half empty, but I mean I looked mangy. And I did not wear the hat all day.  Just when I went outside.  It doesn't bother me that I look mangy, really I can't see it.  And when I rub my hands over my head, I still feel hair.

But it was time.  So as I left the office I called Ms Moon.  She was over visiting Lily and Jason and oh yeah, Owen.  Well you don't think I am going to let Ms Moon visit Owen just around the corner from my office and not go.  When I pulled up to Lily and Jason's there stood the precious Ms Moon with Mean Aunt Jessie and Lily with Owen dressed smartly in his yellow shirt and orange pants holding his duck with the same colors.  Ms  Moon looks at my mangy head and sweetly says do you want to have your head shaved?  "Yes, I do", I said.  And so Lily went in to get the clippers and Jessie shaved my head while Owen played with shovels and axes and large dangerous objects, smiling that smile that just grabs your heart and squeezes it hard.  And I love how Owen laughs every time he sees me.  I think he is starting to get to know me, and even though I know he does not notice the same things that all of us older people notice like a mangy head, it is nice to have a child laugh at you each time he sees you.  And right now having someone laugh when they see me just feels right.  So now I have a fine bristly fuzz, well where I have hair.  Jessie did a fine job. And again I had to accept that I have cancer.  I see it in my eyes.  My large brown eyes that seem to fill the space where I used to have hair.  Those eyes look just fine.  Not scared, a little crazy, mostly just watching to see what is next, acceptance of a journey not chosen, but gladly taken and appreciated.

At first I wasn't thrilled with my scrawny new bald self, but as I have let it settle around me, I am happy with this look.  This ever changing journey.  And a ball cap is a good choice, the bill balances the ears.  Funny how  as I shed my hair I am gaining my ability to communicate again. Able to fulfill my need to write to make a record, and maybe to reach out.  hmmmm, not sure about that last one, but just maybe.


  1. This was magnificent and so are you!

  2. Your posts make me smile on the inside. You are so open and honest and it's so interesting seeing different descriptions of this journey through your posts and Mary's. I don't know who will be my Mary if I get sick. You are lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people and to be exactly who you are, living life every day with eyes and heart wide open.
    Hope you feel stronger and less crazy every day.

  3. I have heard the hair comes back thicker than before chemotherapy. You are a brave person. I am sure the tenure letter was just what was needed.

  4. My arms go round your shoulders Kathleen. A brave woman standing her ground with the Big C. Just hold that stance and know you are never alone, you have friends to stand beside you!
    What an image you gave of your hair falling...I can't think how disorienting this might be however. I am glad you made peace with letting it all go..I hope your head feels better and no more discomfort of your hair follicles.