Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Since beginning my 'Wild Blue Yonder', I've developed an eye for wildflowers. I see them in a way that I never saw them before. Surely they were never so bright as they are this year? I certainly could not have missed that.
The killdeer eggs have hatched, and mama has absconded to the fields with them. I never even got to see them, let alone take a picture.
I ate my lunch in an old cemetary today, reading epitaphs, trying to imagine what it was like to live, and to die before the Civil War. What was it like to lose three of your children before they were grown? I walked around imagining stories to go with the tombstones.
I drove past a farm today and saw a group of wild turkey scratching the ground side by side with the chickens. It made me laugh out loud.
When I stopped by to speak with the Amish, I was glad to see the children come running, a bunch of them, bare feet flying as hands held their hats on their heads. Not just the ones I'd been dealing with, but the whole neighborhood. We talked about mosquitoes, and I gave them ice cream and ice cold orange sodas.
It was a day of mental snapshots, each image captured in my mind's eye, soul satisfying, perfectly centered, focused, clear and rich in details.
I'm the luckiest person that I know.
The bride was barefoot. The groom wore blue jeans. (So did practically everyone else.)
Each place at the picnic table had a real horse shoe decorated with flowers and tulle bags of candy. We toasted hotdogs. There were sloppy joes and salads and beans, all manner of casual outdoor dining.
The wedding cake was cute.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Today I was driving, thinking about things. I have been feeling increasingly 'led'. Tim is convinced of the direction that I should go. He's prayed about it and he believes that he has his answer. I prayed about it too, but I am more cautious about thinking that I know what to do next. I realized that the problem is that I have some pretty crappy self esteem. Really. Setting out on this new path would required me to believe in myself. I suck at believing in myself.
"I want to be a biology teacher." (You've always thought you were better than anyone else.)I'm not going to make a career out of the Army. Can I live at home while I look for a place to live? I have a job. (Go ahead, come on home, be a loser.) When my marriage fell apart, the response was 'You made your bed, now you can lie in it.' It doesn't matter what has happened, if I am anywhere around, it will be my fault. I heard my mother say, once, crying, "I feel like a big zero." I get that. Totally. I don't fit in my family. I'm a zero too. Family dynamics are a strange thing. I've walked away from the anger and the fighting and the accusations. I will never have a valid point of view. My opinion will never matter. It is what it is.
While I am content with my choices, while I'm at peace with my life, the fact remains, my self-esteem sucks. I have good and supportive friends and relatives and readers and all of it. Today I was trying to come to grips with this decision, praying about it, weighing things, and the inner dialogue went something like "Just who do you think you are?!!!" The voice varied between my parents, or my ex or the bosses at my last job, but over and over, as I pondered things, I kept hearing it. "Who in the hell do you think you are?" I spent the whole day trying to get comfortable with what come next, to figure out what to do next, to step out in faith, all of it, but running like a little tape was "Who does she think she is?" Finally, everlastingly weary of the whole thing, I did what I've been doing for the last week. I handed it over to God once again with a 'Your will, not my will, be done', and it came one more time. "Who do you think you are?"
She flaps around wildly, screaming 'Keeeeekeeeeeeeekeeeeeeekeeeee!'. The display is meant to say, "I'm wounded, easy prey, far more worth your while than that nest of eggs..." taking her (and the predator) further and further from her nest. When she has led the predator far enough from the nest, she simply flies up into the air and circles about until it is safe to come back. This particular bird has become so used to me checking out that nest that she has begun to nervously (but quietly) watch me, forgoing the display.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Cara is home for the weekend. She actually got home Thursday night but met a friend for coffee before she bothered pulling in this driveway. (Ouch.) She called me about 2:30 in the afternoon. "Mom," she said, "Will you make pizza for us tonight? Can the gang stay over?"
"Well," I said, "I have to run over and see Mary and Danny tonight." They had just gotten home from their trip out west. They had gone to see the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert, Sequoia National Park, Las Vegas, bunch of places. Armed with their new digital camera and a rental car, they had two weeks of adventuring recorded. I wanted to see the pictures and hear their stories. Mary was also recuperating from the day's adventures in radiotherapy and I wanted to see how she was doing.
Cara listened to this and then said, "Wait. You made plans when you knew that I was coming home for the weekend?" Me: "Well, yeah. I figured that you would be out running with James, Johnna, Sarah, and Tommy." Cara: "Well, yeah, but..." "Cara," I said, "I've got a life!" So I went home from work, showered, made two pizzas (cheated, used premade crusts), sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and mozzarella cheese. These babies were loaded. There were kids sprawled all over the sofas. The stereo was blasting 'throw back music', music from their youth. (they are 18 and 19. Isn't that hysterically funny...) The Back Street Boys, Destiny's Child, oh, I don't know what all. Lots of laughing and dancing. I left the house as Cara dropped her pizza on the rug. They had just finished cleaning up Sarah's Snapple pomengranate tea. I figured it was a good time to leave. The house is quiet this morning. They're all crashed where ever they could find a place. They'll depart during the day, for their jobs, or for their responsibilities at home.
They're all grown up, but it was nice to have them all at the house again. They are good kids, all of them brainiacs and marching band 'nerds' and they spent a lot of time at my house while they were in high school. So much has changed in this one year, and it was good to have a reminder of the way that it used to be, before Cara left for college, back when I had hair, back when I was the most hysterically funny mother on the face of the planet.
Things have changed so much in the last year, and now, again, I find myself on the precipice of big, big changes in my life. I'm blinking a little in amazement, but I am not nervous at all. How life does work. Stay tuned.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
It is no secret, if you have read this blog long, that I love thunder and lightning storms. I do. I like the wind, and the grumbling thunder that gets louder and louder, until with a flash of temper unleashed, the storm hits. I like to watch the storms approach. I like to smell the ozone. The best storms are the ones that come in from more than one direction. The thunder rolls across one end of the sky to the other. I love that sensation of being in the middle of something way larger than myself. We have a storm moving in right now, and I'm waiting.
Never does a storm move in without Jethro Tull playing in the back of my mind. They're one of my favorites too.
We've lost the power once already while I was typing this and listening to the thunder, so I will close and shut down the computer.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I've got some Amish kids enlisted in the war on mosquitoes. It will be an ongoing educational project, but a very good opportunity to work with a part of the county's population that I had previously not reached. When their mothers were giving them permission to go on a walk with me, the discussion took place in machine gun rapid German. We set out to look for larva. I explained what they would be looking for. The kids were so quiet that I began to wonder how well they spoke English. "You know," I said, "If you're working for me, it only seems fair that we work some sort of a payment out. Perhaps we could barter. Do you all like popsicles?" Eyebrows went up and they looked back and forth at each other grinning. Yeah. Their English? As good as their German, I think. I'm not sure where the idea came for popsicles and ice cream bars, etc., but it was pretty darn good. I realized later, since they don't have electric (no freezers), things like popsicles and ice cream treats are probably not a common occurance. So I've got my own little squad of 'skeeter beaters'. They will locate larva, I will treat.
I walked and walked today, miles and miles. I found some wonderful white flowers (haven't looked them up yet, so can't tell you what they are). I wanted them for 'Wild Blue Yonder'. Unfortunately this flower (which looks like baby's breath, and grows in clumps) is, as I said, white. Last night, as I was not sleeping, I kept thinking of those flowers. They were so gorgeous. Suddenly it came to me: Wild Blue Yonder is going to have clouds! And, yes, Red Lefty and Susan, I will take pictures. There is nothing really to take a picture of yet. You can plant a garden, but you have to wait patiently for God to do his part.
That's it really. It was a great day. I walked and walked with unearthly quiet children, as one of the Amish raked hay with a work horse. There is nothing more wonderful then the smell of new mown hay. My new pedometer shows that I walked nearly 6 miles today. It would have been interesting to see what the number would have been had I remembered to put in on first thing in the morning. I had tossed it in my back pack and forgotten it.
The withdrawal stuff has eased back a great deal during the day. Or else I don't notice the lessening symptoms because I'm busy. I still am not sleeping at night though. I notice that as the week goes on, the withdrawal seems to be exacerbated by the exhaustion.
Oh, and Mac? Welcome. The remote for the computer is because you can also watch TV on it.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, we went baby Brady's christening. When we got home, I downloaded the pictures from the camera to the computer to send them to all of the kids. It took me 14 minutes to get the pictures to download. It took me another quarter of an hour to attach them to the e-mail, and then I clicked 'send' and sat down to watch a movie with Tim. Somewhere between the beginning and the end of the movie, it sent. I knew it would take a while.
Tim began talking about the television. Since the switchover to digital, we don't get anything but PBS. This was news to me. I only watch TV on Saturday night, and that is when we watch our PBS line up, so I hadn't noticed. We have the converter box, because our TV is old. Tim was wondering whether we should invest in a new aerial. Maybe just get a new TV. We discussed cable, and satellite, but in the end, decided that really, neither of us watch enough TV to warrant spending the money. That kind of surprised me. We watched TV when the kids were home, but now, I guess we're just too busy with other stuff to think about it. I made the statement that if we were going to spend money on something, I'd rather have a new computer. Tim ruefully agreed.
I came home tonight, and guess what? We have a new computer! It's a Dell, an All in One. Flat screen monitor. Really, the amazing thing is that there is so little to it. I looked at our old one, with the tower, with the printer and the speakers and the mouse, and wires every where. I looked at the new one and thought "Where's the rest of it?" It's amazing. It has a remote control. Not sure what that's for.
I talked to Cara. I told her about the new computer. She said, "WHAT???? You guys got a new computer. A flat screen? Dylan! They just bought a new computer," and she began relaying the specifics. I could hear Dylan in the background making comments. "I KNOW!" Cara said to her brother. "They're going to a real concert, and they got a new computer. They're just leaping into the 21st century." To me, she said, "The next time I talk to you, you'll be telling me that you both have Blackberries. Man. You're getting all cool and stuff." "Yep," I answered. "Getting you kids out of the house was a major step up in the world of cool for us."
We got a new computer. It looks pretty sharp. Wireless keyboard and mouse. No tower. It is behind the flat screen monitor. Speakers all built in. I guess that I should hook it up, maybe. That means taking this one apart. Setting up the new one.
Okay. I'm going to do it. Thing is, I'm not all that technically proficient, so if you never hear from me again, well, understand that 'my leap into the 21st century (as Cara would phrase it)' was not successful, that I have fallen into the abyss of technical chaos and confusion. You can pretty much figure that if you don't hear from me in a week, that I am curled up into a fetal position, wide-eyed and sucking my thumb.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
We went to Johnsonburg this afternoon. Tim's brother waited a long time to marry, but he found a wonderful woman and got married when he was forty. Today, I watched little Brady get baptized, a strapping boy with big feet and big hands. Dawn looks tired (but far better than the last time we saw her), but she has a glow about her. I gave her a hug and told her the same thing that I had told Norm the night before: Dawn looks like a woman who's had every dream she's ever had come true. She still looks that way. Norm held the baby so carefully, and I loved that he could not stop looking at him. By the end of it all, I decided that Norm also looked like a man who's had every dream he ever had come true. A new family. I was teary eyed with happiness for all of us.
Leaving that ceremony, I saw, one street over, a bride and groom posing for pictures on the front steps of one of the historic buildings. They looked pretty happy too. Two different ceremonies, two rites of passages, life changes. Unaccountably, I found myself getting teary eyed all over again. Life really is beautiful, isn't it?
Today's symptom seems to be pain in the hands and feet. I got carsick in the one hour ride to Johnsonburg and got carsick on the one hour ride back. I am starting to think that I will never sleep again. I am exhausted, actually sick with it, but it is 2:18. I have not yet fallen asleep. I guess the only bright spot that I can think of for that is that, at least, I'm not having bizarre dreams.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Well. When the visual disturbances began, and this sort of giant shiver thing that ran up my spine and 'exploded' at the base of my skull with a dull roar that blocked all other sounds for a few seconds, I seriously found myself wondering 'What the hell?!!! Is this a sign of brain cancer or something?' So figuring out that it was not cancer metasticizing was a relief.
The teeth chattering chills were a wonderful break from the hot flashes...
*thinks some more*
It provided quite a bit of entertainment trying to figure out why I would have dreamt such a thing as that for Pete's sake... (or, yeah, I do love asparagus, but I usually eat it)
Yeah. Okay. That's all I got.
Friday, June 19, 2009
One person's account:
"I stopped taking the drug for 4 days. For the first couple of days I seemed to feel fine...just very, very tired due to heavy dreams and the inability to sleep well at all. Once the 3rd and 4th day hit....it has been awful. I am moody, I feel light-headed, my head feels 'clogged', as though I have 'medicine head', I am very nausous and emotional. My heart feels like it is going to pound through my chest. I feel so, so icky."
"Day One and Two off medication: Brain zaps (you could swear you hear your eyeballs moving!),very dry mouth, a bit hyper (more talkative than usual), more sensitive to heatDays Three and Four: Brain zaps still there but not quite as intense,mild headache, face feeling flushed, sweating more than usual (during exercise),general flu like symptoms (muscle aches, sore throat)Days Five and Six: Still having brain zaps, mild headache, itchy, clogged head feeling, slight dizziness,just general yucky feeling."
"As far as the symptoms you are talking about, these are mine when experiencing the withdrawal:- sick stomach- dizzy/vertigo- can't concentrate or form clear thoughts- speech comes out wrong due to the lack of clear thoughts- hyper periods- heavy head- extremely emotional, go from sad to angry very fast with really no reasons- brain shocks, these are the worst along with being dizzy, its like an electric spark runs up my spine and bursts right at the top of my neck when it hits the brain- hearing things, can't really explain what I hear, almost like I can hear inside my head? Not voices, just noises, like hearing the blood go through the veins.- extremely tired"
"Within a couple of days of starting this, you begin to exhibit severe flulike symptoms - headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, dizziness and fatigue. There may be insomnia. Agitation, impaired concentration, vivid dreams, depersonalization, irritability and suicidal thoughts are sometimes occurring."
Let's read on:
Most common withdrawal symptoms: Yep. Got all of 'em.
Less common difficulties: Got all six of these too.
Parasthesia (skin crawling, burning or prickling)
Non-specific mental symptoms: I'll be darned. I have three of these as well.
Depersonalization - sense of unreality and loss of self
Okay. So I'm going through drug withdrawal. I had called the Cancer Center to express my concern about this drug, and was told "well, stop taking it for a week and see what happens." I was concerned about this advice. My sister has a drug manual for her nursing courses. I stopped by and read that dosages should not be 'increased, decreased, or discontinued' unless a doctor was monitoring the situation. I again called the Cancer Center to question the advice given in the previous call. I was told that the person would try to speak with a doctor and would call me back. If they did not get back to me on Friday, they would speak to me on Monday. No one called.
My questions now? Why in the hell would such a powerful drug be prescribed for chemo induced menopause and hot flashes? And why would the staff just blithely hand out advice like that over the phone without even bothering to familiarize themselves with the drug that they are offering advice about? Surely the staff realizes that they are dealing with some very potent drugs at a cancer center.
Okay. I admit it. I am really, really angry right this minute. And you know what else? I don't think that it's just the withdrawal making me that way.
PS: I'm as mad at myself as anybody else. NEVER take a drug until you've researched it. I just read a website set up for physicians offering advice to each other about how to handle withdrawal in their patients. One doctor commented "I feel as if I owe a personal apology to every patient I ever prescribed this to."
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Today I worked nine hours and came home, got our truck and headed out to shovel a truckload of compost. I drove it back home and then shoveled it off again. I'm sweaty and tired, and have just polished off another quart of water. I'll take a long hot shower and then I expect to sleep soundly tonight, untroubled by nightmares.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The day ended before I ran out of steam. That was a wonderful change.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
I went to Erie to get my dry ice. It's an hour and a half trip there, and back. I spent the rest of the day setting traps. It was a warm day, muggy, with a breeze blowing in the rain due that afternoon. I tramped though the fields and woods setting my traps, driving from site to site. At one point, I had a long walk to a wet area at the back of a farmers field. I trudged through a knee high field of grass. There were flowers too - daisies, and indian paint brushes, and clover, and phlox, a multitude tiny little flowers that, as a child, I used to pretend fairies slipped out at dusk to pick them for their little fairy tables in their charming fairy homes. I took a second to drop down into the grass and hug my knees to my chest, and just listen to the wind softly hissing through the grass, and the birds, and the buzzing of fat bees in the clover. I felt that if I closed my eyes, I would continue to hear the same sounds, but open them to find that I was in a different time, maybe wearing a bonnet and a long skirt.
I love when that happens.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
As I painted, ignoring Tim as he and one of the tenants discussed the pine tree by the front porch, I noticed a red truck pulling into the nursing home next door. I saw the same old man get out of it, with the same dog. They entered the nursing home, and it was not long before they were back outside. The young man moves his own wheel chair with his feet, and he made a beeline to inspect our work. "Hi," I called out and went over to talk. Turns out, just as I had guessed, the old man was his father. The young man had a severe stroke, and was in the nursing home. The dog was his, and the father was keeping it for him. He comes, with the dog, nearly every day. A very ironic twist. Usually it's the children visiting their parents in the nursing home, not vice versa. The situation touched me. Anyways, Rob was scooting along in his wheel chair inspecting the missing hedges. I said, "What do you think of that, Rob? Tim over there hacked down those shrubs. Looks awful, doesn't it?" And, Rob tried to speak. The words were garbled, but he was pointing to the tree in the back yard, against the fence. "You think that tree needs to come down as well?" Satisfied, he leaned back in his chair and said, "Yeah." "Men!" I said. "Tim! Rob agrees with you about the tree in the back yard." To Rob, I said, "Well, you might just as well go up front and weigh in on the pine tree by the porch." As Rob inspected the pine tree, I talked with his father. He wants to find a van with a wheel chair lift to take his son places. He hates the nursing home and thinks that his son needs to get away from it. I thought. "I'm pretty sure some of the city buses have wheel chair lifts," I said. "I'm pretty sure that you can arrange transportation through them." "Really?" the father said. "Let me do some checking," I said, and I went to our truck to write down his name and phone number.
Isn't it neat how life works? Yesterday, I watched this trio and I realized how blessed I was. The very next day, God gave me the opportunity to be a blessing right back.
Friday, June 5, 2009
We are painting this house. We have removed the rotten dilapidated shutters, and we have begun to paint it green, not a dark green, but sort of an antique-ish green color from an 'historic house' paint line. The windows will be trimmed in vanilla. We put a copper topped cupola at the roof peak to provide ventilation in the attic. We put on a new roof and new gutters and new soffit and fascia. It really is beginning to look like a changed house. (Yes, BB, I will take a picture)
Anyways, I was up on the porch roof when Tim sent me down the ladder to get something from the trunk. I can't remember now what it even was. I looked at the ladder feet, and they were set. Assuming that the ladder was locked (and you know what they say about those people who assume: assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME. This time it did.) It was a telescoping ladder, and it began to collapse. I grabbed for the roof with one hand, clung to the quickly collapsing ladder with the other. My shoes (comfortable old slip ons) went flying. One went completely to the sidewalk out front probably 20 feet away. The other nearly dropped on Mike's head. There was no time to yell. Tim grabbed for me as I swung crazily in the air. The ladder swung out and I was hanging on to roof with one hand and the ladder with the other, suspended in the middle, holding on to both for dear life. Alerted by the dropping shoe, Mike looked up and grabbed the ladder at the bottom and pushed it back against the house. Once Tim had a firm hold of my belt loop, I was secure enough to let go of the ladder and grab the roof with both hands and pull myself up on the roof.
Later, a resident of the nursing home was out with his father. Wheelchair bound, he watched us working for quite a while, fascinated at the progress we were making. His father, white haired, with the sunglasses you wear after cataract surgery, had brought the family dog, a nondescript black and tan hound of indeterminate breed. The trio talked quietly, the younger man's comments were spoken with great difficulty as his father waited patiently. The dog rested his head on the son's knee. I called down to ask them how it looked from the street, and got the official okay.
As I watched that father with his son, I tried to imagine how it would feel to be confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk. Unable to do for yourself. Unable to speak. Unable to even pet your dog. I realized that I was a darn lucky woman. I had a long winter. I was sick. Now, I am not. Now I can paint. I can walk for miles. I can work. I can fret over cancer as much as I want, but for all I know, I could sail off a roof tomorrow. Or get run over by a truck.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The fact is, things change. What cannot be changed must be endured. These are my circumstances right now. It is what it is. Last night, I was thinking about it. I've never been comfortable with my looks, and I'm the kind of person that really cannot stand to look at herself. What is the opposite of vain? Whatever that word is, it describes me. I decided, for the first time in my 52 years to find out where one goes to have a makeover. Working hard: while I take pleasure in the fact that I can work hard, I need to ratchet it down a notch. After my long day Friday, I was so exhausted Saturday that I had to lay down and take a nap. I slept for three solid hours and would have probably slept on if the phone had not rung. Wearing myself out is not the right thing to do at the moment, I think. There's the whole 'wait and see' thing: I'm not comfortable with that, but I will take the best care of myself that I can, and I will be vigilent. As I told Cara, that's what faith is all about. Really, this is a 'changing gears' period in my life.
Last night I laid in bed thinking on all of these things and praying in the dark. Much to my surprise, tears began. They were not tears of sadness, but as fast as I could wipe them, they came. I was puzzled about them, but I thought on, and prayed on and wiped these silent tears, and accepted my circumstances, and pondered how to make the best of them. Somewhere along the line, I realized that these tears were tears of release. All these months of stress and treatment and feeling like crap and being brave for the kids and not thinking the unthinkable, all of it was rolling down my face.
And this morning is a new morning. I will go out there, and I will live today as best I can. I feel better. I have a plan. Fortified by silence and prayers, I will step out in faith and I will meet the challenges of this day. And the challenges of tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. And...