Sunday, January 30, 2005

How Are You?

"How are you?"
"Fine, thanks...and how are you?"
"Great, but, sorry, I have to run."

Been there, done that, millions of times. Seems as traditional as turkey and little red wagons. Today I received an e-mail from a friend I've known for 30 years. Susan walked into the Oncologist office in No. Calif. for her first visit the day I had my last visit. (I continued care in So. Calif.) She had already been in the hospital for an emergency operation, had a different kind of cancer, different Chemo mixture but in many ways we were running (crawling along?) parallel courses.

Today when she asked if I was having trouble "finding myself?", I knew I would have to go beyond the "Fine..thanks". The truth is - I haven't felt my "old self" in almost two years. It was in March, 2003 that I had my t.i.a. (or whatever that was) which lead to entering hell.

In all due respect to the radiation and Chemo, I must blame the Shingles I got last July for really making my life miserable. (Now, of course, I realize the vicious cycle of lowered immune system & Chemo = increased chance of dah-dah - Shingles !)

I wake up in a drug-induced fog every morning. My Shingles medicine possibly helps, it is certainly strong, or is that drugged feeling left over from months of Chemo? Many days I let my dog, Hero, out the back door to go do his "business" - I go do mine -and we both go back to bed for a couple more hours.

By 11:00 or so I can slowly move around - by 4:00 I can actually pick up some speed. Toward evening my right leg starts dragging behind. My right arm loses strength and I swear that if Halloween was just around the corner I'd be ready for it. By my old standards I'm still "muddling along" as Susan so aptly put it. My brain feels fuzzy, it is hard to concentrate, worse to do bookkeeping or pay bills.

I refuse to say this is what getting old feels like. I am still looking for "quality of life". I thought I'd won the war when it was declared that I was in Full Remission. Now they tell me that was just one battle.

I recently saw a Social Worker at my "major university". She asked if I was depressed. I just stared at her and said "Who the hell in their right mind won't be?" Sweet young thing that she was, just stared back at me. I told her that some time ago I had a boss who maintained that sometimes it was more sane to be depressed than to deny it. Only a crazy person would think this was okay, gimping through life, afraid of the results from my next PET CT or MRI. Now, I don't intend to wallow in depression or live there full-time, but once in awhile a "this really sucks" may do me and a few others some good.

Okay, so I had a small chance of living this long. I'm not sure why - Is there a master plan no one is telling me about? I'm certainly no Lance Armstrong... I couldn't even steady my bike if I still had one. But, IF I have a larger purpose we'd best be getting on with it. I need co-ordination, exercises, strength, de-fuzzing and a few refresher driving lessons before I can hit the road, any road.

Patience has never been a virtue of mine and I actually am just now remembering that a long time ago I came to realize it was one of the larger lessons I was here to learn. HUMMM, imagine! Guess it took long enough today but I finally found a kernel of wisdom.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Buckets Are In Place

It's raining. No big deal? Then you don't have a roof that is leaking like a sieve. Three little unlicensed men have been up there, crawling around so far, various products in tow. Tar, more tar and silicone have yet to stop the rain water. So, I got the buckets out of their resting place in the bathtub and am sitting here waiting for my ceiling to start dripping.

This reminds me of being in the "Chemo" chair - looking up at the I.V. - waiting for the toxic mixture to start its slow drip into my body. It was terrifying to think of allowing this poison in. I was doing this of my own free will. I saw the caution nurses used in handling the solutions. I knew I had to work on my fears so that the chemo could do its job.

I sought out any old friend, Dr. Tony Madrid. He is one of the most fantastic people I've had the privilege of knowing both professionally and personally. He is also a top hypnotherapist. Together, in only a couple of sessions, we worked out a plan which I used for every Chemo treatment.

Here are some highlights: Let the nurses access my Port. Get my pillow, water, blanket and get nested. Relax by taking some slow deep breaths. When I could feel myself calming down I would start imagining myself as an internal traffic director. Green light meant the Chemo was suppose to travel along that "road" Red light meant it was going to far, invading too many good blood cells.

In my minds eye I had control of my treatment. In reality, I had no idea exactly where the Chemo was in my blood stream at the moment - or where it should be. Maybe it was all about CONTROL - because, as God knows, I am a control freak. Tony knew someone who actually did his thesis on something like: the great effects Chemo can have if the patient is positive about treatment.

I'm sure, if this is an issue for you or someone you know receiving Chemo, it could be looked up. If anyone knows more about this - please share.

In Chapter 11, of mom's cancer, Son shows a sleeping me (cute, eh?). What he doesn't know about that morning is that before I fell asleep I had meditated for maybe ten or fifteen minutes. I had my "Chemo Control" system well in place and could trust it enough that I could nap.

One think that I want to mention at the get-go of my Blog is that a lot of what I did during my treatment will likely not be listed under "Standard Care". A friend calls it my "Woo-Eee" stuff. Some of it goes "Out There" pretty far. If you want to hear about it, please let me know. The more support I have, the more I'll feel like saying.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Echoes from All Sides

A few days ago I sent out a shy "Hi". Within hours I heard from my daughter-in law, JLP from Peru and Jen from the Pulse who had interviewed "Son". Wow - this stuff works.

There is probably an appropriate place (like under comments?) for me to write these people back. But, for today I'll just take a few lines to answer these e-mails. Thank you K. for my first post ever. I was hoping Son would sent some kind of word that the system he helped Kid Sis set up was "good to go". Instead you took time to write!

To JLP from Peru - I want to say Hi to your mom. I would encourage you all to stay as positive as possible. This does not mean to be in constant denial, but don't live in fear, either. Kid Sis had a stack of comedy movies constantly on hand. They weren't necessarily slap stick comedy but they most certainly were not a demand that I get up and save the world. She would come into the front room and see me just sitting there staring straight ahead. She'd pop in a tape and within a few minutes, I'd forget about everything, except the present time.

I have spent my life worrying about what might come next, crossing so many bridges before coming to them that friends nicknamed me "Bridge". It has come to mean different things to different people - but the name has stuck.

And Jen from the Pulse - thank you. The interview you did with "Son" was amazing. I learned a lot from it (i.e. had no idea that Son had created so many pages that were never used). The time and thoughtfulness you put into this piece of your work is appreciated by all of us. WOW.

Hey, Kim T. in Miami - I had no idea that "real people" were ever really going to read anything I wrote - so the shock is mutual! Thank you for the wishes for my health. I spend a lot of my time being frustrated over what I can't do yet. I forget about how far I've come and what it's taken to get here.

And last for today - HELLO Hong Kong, 9! WOW, talk about an Echo....Now I'm really impressed. As for being inspiring, I'll give that one to Son. He had the nerve to bring his work forward for any and all to see - to praise - to criticize. I'm having a hard time typing today - knowing that someone other than close friends and family may actually see it.

The "real" is easier. Serious illnesses and the threat of dying give us a chance to strip off our "costumes" and make-up and get real. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I hold precious? If I believe in the Soul's progression, Heaven, the here-after, or have any hope of any part of my being living on, why am I so afraid? There is no time for pretending, putting on airs, or being phony when our life expectancy is suddenly counted in weeks - not months or years.

Thank you all for taking time out of your daily routines to read and We are blessed!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Getting Up to Speed

First, and foremost, thank you all for the positive thoughts, prayers and concern showered on me and my entire family over the last two years. We have certainly been blessed by friends, new and old, as well as strangers willing to reach out to us.

I received hundereds of e-mails starting as soon as friends found out about the cancer. When I was very sick "Nurse Sis" would print out the letters and read them to me whenever I needed some cheering up. We kept them in peechees. One day I found a beautiful anonymous saying and immediately printed it on the front cover:

"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."

Some days flying was out of the question, breathing seemed to be challenge enough..then the thought would come to me ... all I have to do is breathe...Family and friends are holding me up.

Okay, now that I have tears of gratitude in my eyes it must be time to lighten up.

Inside, with the doors closed and the lights down low, we (Nurse Sis, Kid Sis and I) whisper - "Is it possible we brought all this rain with us?" One reason we left No. California was the 54" of average rainfall - another big reason - all the gloomy days when it couldn't decide if it wanted to rain or not. Rainy season in So. California is normally Jan. and Feb. But this year it was so excited to see us it started raining in Oct. We are now experiencing the hundred year rain...great. and they say it's all about timing!

I will be saying more about our beautiful remodeled home later but let it suffice for now to say that the man who put thousands of dollars into tearing it down to the studs and rebuilding,left on the old roof. Know any licensed roofers who work in the
West Hollywood area of L.A? I'm not kidding. Every time it rains another ceiling starts to leak - we're running out of rooms! Compared to other news, ours wains by comparison. But,it is very frustrating when you don't get what you paid for. And see, bet you thought this was all going to be about aches and pains (well, it is a PAIN, just not physical).

OTHER NEWS - Hero got a "Bear" haircut. He looks like a little black lamb and is jumping around acting like one. He may even lose some weight. Hero, a full Pomeranian, was suppose to weigh between 5 and 6 lbs. In our new back yard we had a very messy "Non-fruit" tree (we're still not sure what that means). It dropped dozens of little walnut sized pods every day. They'd hit the ground and break apart making a huge mess. Flys and Hero loved them. He got so big we were afraid he'd explode. We had the tree removed but he found a new source of Manna - the avacado tree next door was dropping some of its under developed crop onto our driveway. Hero was once again in the Promised Land. He was self-sufficient! He weighed in at 9 lbs. We both need to exercise. More about that later.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

First Post - nervous!

I'm the Mom from My son developed the comic strip as we went along in my treatment process. I, on the other hand, never made a note. I'm not one to journal or even write dates on the calendar with any clarity. So this will be a wonderful free-form of old thoughts, events, ideas, experiences mixed in with today's adventures. Whew - I'm off and running for now. More when I catch my breathe.