Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My last visit with the amazing and wonderful Dr. M

There is something just not right about loosing your oncologist.  This is the person who has given you the WMDs, who has given you the antidotes to the WMDs.  Who watches over you and tries to figure out how to outsmart your cancer.  He is not supposed to move away.  But alas my dear sweet precious wonderful and amazing Dr. McCuttie Pie will be on his way to Emory Medical the end of June.  His beautiful little daughter's birthday is June 29, the same as the beloved Mr. Moon.  But today was not about birthdays, it was about my last visit with the amazing and wonderful Dr. M.

We went to Costco yesterday and I bought a cake that you can cut into individual pieces, each with its own pink, blue or purple rose bud on it.  I also bought 2 bottles of Korbel champagne, packed napkins, a knife to cut the cake, paper happy cups for the champagne and tubes of bubbles for the doctor, nurses and the rest of the support staff. 

Ms Moon and I left this afternoon and travelled up to the oncology department.  It was wonderful!!  I had her all to myself for more then 45 minutes.  Time to just spend talking and laughing with Ms Moon, yes it is as delightful and fun as it sounds.  We sat around the waiting room trying hard not to be drawn into a conversation with a woman who was a patient there, but was sitting in the waiting room selling "snake necklaces".  Now we all know that I am not a fashionista, so it should be no surprise that I had never heard of these things.  From the look on Ms Moon's face, I do not believe she had ever seen them before either.  The woman demonstrated the necklaces and bent them this way and that, twisted them and combined them with other necklaces.  Nurses came in one by one and purchased their bracelets or put in orders for specific colors.  There appeared to be gold ones and shiny silver ones, red, green, blue and some with multi colored ones like black and white.  There I sat without a necklace on, although I did have on my $2 flea market ring and my flea market cubic zirconia earrings.  An $80 value the woman hawking them proudly proclaimed. Although the price tag was significantly lower.  hee hee, they are huge and do not look any more real then someone like me wearing 2+carat total diamond earrings.  hee hee

Anyway, it always takes a long time to get into see the doctor when Ms Moon or Ms Judy go with me, and today was no exception.  But Ms Moon and I just talked and laughed and watched the people come and go.  Most people did manage to stop by to say hello when they saw our cake. 

Ashley came out and called for me.  I had told her I was bringing cake and champagne, but she had not taken me seriously, so was a little taken aback when there we were with a cooler bag and huge cake box.  She weighed me, I had lost 2 pounds.  I was surprised, but whatever, I am not going to stress myself over a pound or two anymore.  I will eat healthy and just do the best I can.  I asked Ashley not to point it out to Dr. M.  She looked a little anxious at me.  I said, "I brought cake, I will eat a piece"   She said okay, she would write it down, but not point it out and if he noticed that was him, not her.  I said, "Thanks"

The three of us moved down to the examining room and laid out our party.  Ashley took me through the questions, I kept smiling and saying I was good.  She opened up and talked to Ms Moon and I a little bit.  She is a very special woman our Nurse Ashley.  I love her to death.  I hope she knows that outside of the office she will always be my friend, and if she ever wants to come down and hang out with me and my crazy friends here there is a guest room waiting.  And the kids are welcome.  We have dogs, cats and chickens, not to mention a golf cart and lots of crayons and paper.  I am prepared from children.

Ashley left and it was a few minutes before she and Dr. M came back in.  She had obviously prepared Dr. M for the party.  It had never meant to be a surprise.  I told them last week when I came to give my blood, I told them at the last appointment.  Doesn't everyone take cake and champagne to their last visit with the doctor that saved their life???? 
They should.

So Dr. M came in and played doctor asking me the routine questions, concerned over my cough, a little worried over me in general I thought.  He emphasized the importance of me taking my tarceva

We ate the cake, we popped a bottle of champagne and we giggled and took pictures and hugged and smiled big smiles with eyes bright with tears.  Our little family of Dr. M, Bobbie, Ashley, me, Ms Moon and Ms Judy was breaking up.  It was the end of something special.  I am sure that Dr. May will be very nice.  And I will still have Bobbie as my nurse, but Ashley will be elsewhere, Dr. M will be in Atlanta and all of us, our lives will keep going.  But all we have to do to remember all the silliness and even the scary times, is to stop and be quiet, because each of those people, Dr. M, Bobbie, Ashley, Ms Moon and Ms Judy are just the most special and precious dear ones anyone could ever hope for.

In the last 5 years I have met the most amazing people.  People who have been exactly the people I needed to have in my life.  Each of the people in my life today, both near and far, family and friends. Some I have known for 50 years or 35 or 25 or even less years are here right now and their love and support and humor, not to mention the crazy meds have given me the most amazing life.  I am surrounded by love and joy, friendship and support of every kind you could ever imagine, and the center of that whole system, the amazing Dr. M is leaving.  And I will miss him fiercely, not just as my doctor, but as someone I admire greatly.  I am thankful that I will have Ms Bobbie to help me adjust to the new doctor.  I know that I will find a way to get to see Ms Ashley.  And the same with Ms Moon and Ms Judy.  Our lives are all so filled with other things these days.  Ms Moon has her kids and her two perfect little grandsons.  Ms Judy is involved in her community working on the roads and the fire department and her life is so busy with all the rain we have been having. 

My life is so different today then 2 years ago.  I am happy.  Really truly, completely happy.  The meds are helping me keep things in perspective and life is not static.  It is a changing swirling dance of actions and reactions. 

I choose not to throw another petulant tantrum over his leaving.  No, instead I hugged Dr. M hard and whispered in his ear, "thank you for saving my life, I wish you much happiness and success for you and your family."  He squeezed a little harder then let go and we smiled into each other's faces.  I looked over and Ms Moon was taking pictures of Bobbie and Ashley blowing bubbles.  The world seemed just fine.

Ashley, Me, Dr. M and Bobbie

My amazing and wonderful Dr. McCuttie Pie, love you Dr. M

Ms Bobbie and Ms Ashley, love you ladies!!
The amazing and wonderful Dr. M is pretty perfect when it comes to doctors, but my primary physician is a pretty great guy also.  Sunday, a squirrel bit my finger.  He bit and hung on so tight that he cracked my thumb nail and left a pretty ugly puncture wound on the fleshy part of my thumb.  Edna and Henry were playing with the squirrel.  I thought he was dead and took him away from them so they would not rip it into little pieces and then bring them to me, piece by piece, preferably while I am asleep in bed.  So I picked up the poor dead thing and well, they obviously cross train because he was playing opossum, and chose at that moment to come alive and bite my finger.  Yep, a squirrel bite.  Dr. D and I had some good laughs over it during my visit with him yesterday.  He had asked me if I had had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years.  He has been my doctor since I moved here a little more then 5 years ago, and sure enough, I had had a shot in 2007.  So I did not have to have another.  We again looked up the CDC website and just as OB and I had read on Sunday, I probably had a better shot at winning the lottery then getting rabies from that squirrel.  So he ordered some antibiotics to make sure I did not get an infection and as he was filling out the paperwork and we were joking and laughing, I said, "Oh, I have stage 4 lung cancer."  He stopped and looked at me.  I felt terrible, we had been laughing just minutes before.  I gave him the very short and quick version, told him who I was seeing, he had me fill out the papers so he could get all of my records, we laughed so more and then I left.

So it has been a trying week when it comes to having to go see doctors. 
But I survived the squirrel attack. 
I survived my last official visit with Dr. M. 
Ms Moon was there, that helped me more then she will ever know. 
OB and I have seemed to have gotten over the stomach flu. 
Harry is still hanging in there. 
Bob and Edna are both trying very hard to be good dogs. 
 Marina has blessed us with her scabby little self this week
 and we have had rain every day. 
Thunder storms that have rattled the windows and doors. 
Lightening cracking over our homes,
life giving water drumming the nearly saturated soil. 
My gardens have not looked this good in 3 years. 
I am happier then I have ever been in my whole life.
My Dad turns 87 tomorrow
happy birthday Daddy
My older brother turns 61 tomorrow
happy birthday Rob
Daddy, OB and I will be in Spain a week tomorrow
I hugged Dr. M and told him that I would stay in touch
he gave me his email
I hugged Ashley and Bobbie
Ms Moon was there, supporting, smiling, sharing this place and time with me
I came home and OB was working away in the barn
Bob, Edna and Harry were all sleeping
My gardens are growing
I have a new doctor to get to know
my cancer is trying to come back
my life is so wonderful
that I am happy and ready for whatever, whenever, just bring life on
and then bring death on
and Dr. M, best wishes
and Bobbie and Ashley, love you two, and I will see you next month!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday again

We have had a little bug, Bug and I.  A stomach thing.  It is hard for me to know when I am sick and when it is the meds.  The symptoms can be quite similar.  So what difference if I am sick or just having side effects?  Well, when someone else gets what you have been dealing with a few days.  Terrible to say, but it does make me feel better, just knowing that it is a flu and will go away soon, and to make sure that I do not spread it anymore then I already did, when I did not know what I had.  And I try very hard to not spread anything.  remember wash your hands.

So we have both been a little under the weather.  Which is really funny, because we would mention to each other that we were not feeling great, but with both of us being bull headed we would just keep working.  Let me tell you the old adage to "walk it off" does not help a flu bug.

We still accomplished an amazing amount of things.  The barn is clean, now just organizing the boxes that are on the shelves.  There is still plenty to go through and throw out, but the floor is cleared.  And the second horse barn that was never finished and still had dirt floors now has a wooden floor from floor boards of Osgood Marine Ways.  Literally a hundred years ago they were laid down in Gulfport, Florida.  Seriously these 2 plus inch thick pieces of marine wood were the original floors in Osgood Marine Ways when Larry's grandfather dredged the land and then built the marina.  He did not own the land he dredged.  People didn't need to own land back then (ha!) and so instead he signed a 100 year lease with the city.  That lease is up and the land is now a park.  I still had a half dozen or so of the 14 foot boards.  Boards that weigh much more then I do.  Boards that have been carefully moved and stored for decades.  And now, they are making a beautiful floor for the area that was meant to be a second horse stall.  Instead now is a work bench on top of the old sturdy floors.  After the work bench had been built my mind clicked into go and I remembered I had another board that had been a work bench.  This heavy board also has a huge heavy vise attached to it.  It will make another fine work bench, although it would have been nice if I remembered it before he had made the other bench.  Oh well.  My mind comes and goes, but the crazy meds keep me from worrying about it. 

So the barn now can hold the golf cart, the lawn tractor, my garden wagon, 2 Harley Davidson's and still have plenty of room to work.  Many projects have already been completed in that space, and soon I will be able to get out there and start working on some projects of my own.  My garden bench is coming along wonderfully also.  The sink and water is set up.  The top of the bench chosen, the shelves and decorative attachments discussed.  Now, just to put it all together.  And I will be a gardening fool.  Shoot, I have already gotten out and done more work in my gardens this month then in the last several years.  It is heaven.  Here is a little of that heaven:

the garden on the east of my front porch

patti pan squash

the caladiums are named "Kathleen".  The garden in front of my little porch with flamingo, caladiums, native azaleas and native easter lilies

shooting star hydrangea from Ms Moon

Just one hydrangea with so many beautiful colored flowers

isn't that one flower head just gorgeous!?!

Just one bush with so many colors

in front of my glass house
The green is more like mid summer then spring June.  I am enjoying the hard work of the garden.  It will take me most of the summer to get my gardens back in order.  That is just fine.  I have a few trips coming up, and they will take me from my gardens more then enough. 

We are set for Spain.  I am even getting excited about going back to that little community and seeing such precious sweet friends.  I need to get focused on getting everything I need to take on the trip.  We have been hitting all the goodwill's in the area on Tuesdays.  That is old people day.  We get 25% off what is no longer cheap prices.  Don't get me wrong, they are for the most part cheaper then retail stores, but not always.  Goodwill's have become too cool and now the prices have crept up.  But OB is teaching me how to bargain shop, and Ms Moon had already shown me how to watch for name brand items and I have taken 3 garbage bags, overflowing up to Wag the Dog.  All of these clothes are either way too big or I have not worn them for at least a year.  That has given me room to reorganize my closet and now most of the clothes fit me for the most part.  It is amazing when you go on old people day how much you can still buy for a great price.  I have bought some great name brand beautiful skirts and tops for the Spain trip.  I actually had one woman say she liked my outfit.  I took that off and did not buy it.  I wear clothes, not outfits.  I don't even consider my clothes that I wear on stage as outfits.  Some are more like costumes, most, are just clothes from my closest.  I still have a very diverse closet thanks mostly to my mother's legacy and inclination to learn about other cultures through their food and clothing.


After dropping off our contribution we headed over to the Opera House which was already starting to fill up.  It was the Rotary Club kick off dinner for the Watermelon Festival.  The Rotarian's served chicken perlou.  It was delicious.    Everyone was there and it was nice to hug and say hello to so many people.  We had wanted to go to the bed race, but we wimped out and came home.  We started to work on a few projects and before we knew it we had missed the race.  That is okay because really we weren't feeling all that great.  So instead we sat in the front yard with a fire in our new fire pit.  OB played his guitar and the flames, the animals, it was wonderful, magical, perfect.  We just sat there and enjoyed the quiet evening in the woods and country.  The dark of the night slipping around us, the flames in the small above ground pit casting shadows up in the leaves of the trees.  The music from the strings reverberating against the wood of the guitar.  The music dancing with the song of the insects.  The smoke, energy from the wood and heat and oxygen, lifts up like memories of the trees themselves.  A beautiful perfect night.

A new day now filled with possibilities that stretch out before me.  I am happy.  So happy.  I have seen some of the worst times anyone should have to deal with in the last 5 years, and yet in the last couple of months I have never been happier in my whole life.  It is like I am slowly shedding the old sad parts of my life and learning how to make room for laughter, happiness and life.  

Bob and I enjoyed life and our new hammock

Real life. I still have time for more life.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Saturday morning

It is a beautiful cool Saturday morning.  We have had rain everyday for the past week.  Sometimes it came down in buckets, other times it was mist, heavy and wet dropping out of the thick  black clouds dripping off the leaves.  But it has scrubbed the pollen from the air and settled the dust on the road into a hard layers of crust that brakes under our tires and feet and will fluff up and fill the air again when the ground dries out this weekend.  It is a glorious morning.  My heart expands like the blue sky above me filling with more and more beauty around me.  I am happy.  My life is wonderful and the possibilities lay before me like blueberries on a bush.  All I have to do is pick them.

I think the thing that has kept me silent the most lately is the obvious change of my ability to think and reason.  I have absolutely no idea why at 56 years old I would be struggling with this.  This has nothing to do with cancer, does it?  Staying focused and keeping things straight in my mind and being able to remember things is such an effort these days.  I am happy.  I am doing more and catching up with projects like never before.  Life is a balance of working in my gardens, around the house, in the house and my animals.  But where are my friends?  They are there, like they always are.  I am the one that got lost and I desperately want to get back to having them in my life.  They keep calling and emailing and gently reminding me they are there.  I am the one that is lost.  Talking to people takes so much concentration and focus.  Something that is hard these days.  I am not sure why.  I can tell you I am no where near as smart as I once was.  Nope, not real bright these days, but more even tempered, active and happy. 

Oh and time.  I have started wearing my watch again after getting a new battery for it.  But it does not matter.  Time and I have always danced around each other.  But now I am spinning and trying so hard to get caught back up in the same time as all of my dear beloved ones.  I am getting closer.

Yesterday Carolyn and I went to see my liver doctor, Dr. C.  He is a good friend of Dr. M.  Like the amazing and wonderful Dr. McCuttie Pie, is handsome and charming with a quirky sense of humor.  However unlike my dear Dr. M, Dr. C is quite tall.  I have been trying to get in to see him for several months to get the results back from my genome testing of the Hep. C virus to determine if I qualify for treatments.  My appointment was 9:30 yesterday, I wrote down 1:00.  So I not only missed my appointment, but the doctor only worked half a day yesterday, so there was no way to see him.  My fault, I have no idea how I could have written down 1 instead of 9:30.  Maybe I was writing 1 because it was June 1st?!?!?!  I have no idea.

This is pretty typical of me these past many weeks.  I am supposed to be somewhere and I simply loose track of time, or completely miss the time I was supposed to be there.  hmmmmm 

I did realize yesterday as I was standing on my porches looking over Labrun that there are so many more important things I do not ever want to forget. 

I never want to forget how the light looks as it breaks through the leaves sprinkling filtered patches of moving light between the trees.

I never want to forget the beautiful houses and red brick roads of Thomasville
Or the huge houses along highway 90 in Monticello with the little craftsman cottages nestled in between.  Dark green oaks and camellias stand strong scattered in yards that stretch into long gardens along the quiet street.

I never want to forget waking up with Bob and Edna fast asleep on either side of me.  As I stroke their soft dog ears they stretch and snuggle up closer.

I never want to forget how perfect life can be sitting on a porch with a good book, a glass of clear cool water and a cat on my lap.
Or the satisfaction of bending over to pluck weeds out of my gardens.
Or the tingle from using Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap
Or the tingle from a tender kiss
Or the tingle from wrapping your arms around a precious beloved one and feeling their heart

I never want to forget a hummingbird at my feeder or a tufted titmouse or cardinal or a bluebird living in the Martin house.

I never want to forget how my breath catches in my throat each year as the first gloriosous lily blooms on my back porch.

I never ever ever want to forget my Father sitting next to me at the Leaf Theater in Quincy watching Annie Get Your Gun as my father's foot tapped along with There is No Business Like Show Business and a tear came to his eye.  His fingers snapped a rhythm with his feet.

I never want to forget the day they dedicated the children's library to my parents in Barcarrota.  I think Dad missed Mother more at that moment then any other moment before or after.  I want to remember what that love looks like in my Father's eyes. 

I never want to forget my brother Rob and how he and his family, JongAe and Jessica came to Orlando to visit Vicki and I in our condo one summer and how this new little family hung on to each other in the pool.  Three people making a family by their love for each other.

I never want to forgot the pride my brother Tom and his wife Pat look upon their two sons, Nathaniel and Christopher with.  How they celebrated Heidi's graduation this past weekend and how much she is a part of our lives.

I never want to forget how it feels to ride on the back of a Harley.  Rock music screaming as we roar down the road trying to beat a ferocious rain storm racing in behind us.  The hot summer day turning black and heavy.  The temperatures plummeting as the storm tumbled and schwacked at the land and people.  The air tingling my skin, the adventure as we both leaned forward willing the bike to outrun the storm.  Turning from one road to another, now so familiar, these ribbons of asphalt.  The air charged with ozone, my hair blowing in the wind, a wild look of joy in my face. 

I never want to forget watching Christopher hold Edna at just weeks old.
Or the first time I saw my Bob sitting in the back of the kennel while his brothers vied for attention at the front.
Or the moment Harry and Lily was born and I held in them my hands as they took their fist gasps of air.

I never want to forget OB's eyes
or Mary's smile
Vicki's laugh
the twinkle in Judy's eye
or how my youngest brother sounds just like my Dad when he chuckles

I never want to forget how it feels to fall in love with someone
or how it feels to fall in love with someone who will be your friend for life
or how eyes brighten before tears fall when you say goodbye to a precious beloved one

I never want to forget all the peace I have found sitting on my little front porch
or all the moments I have simply sat in my yard, in almost every corner of it looking at the grass and trees, animals and sun, the moon and the stars. 
Or how the sky can go from endless blue to dark and heavy gray as a front passes over

I never want to forget how simple words can take my breath away. 
Or how a photograph by Clyde Butcher reminds me so much of the land I grew up on and like ghosts from the past hangs on my wall, one moment in time. 
simply magical

I never want to forget each moment, each day that I spend right now.  Happy and content.   Busy, but not crazy.  Learning and growing, changing and questioning.  And yet with all this questioning and internal review what have I come up with?  The realization to let go of control and just be there.  Really there, and to never forget how wonderful it all is.