Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stripping


Okay, so I don't talk about it a lot, but we have been really working on renovating. The house is 150 years old, and it is finally starting to take shape. One thing that really bothered me was the molding. The beautiful molding around two door frames had been painted a color I've never seen on wood in my life. You know that gold fiestaware?

Yes, somebody had painted the molding on those two doors that color. It was shiny just like the fiestawear. Why would somebody do that to beautiful wood door frames?

Ack.
That needed to be stripped. It was butt ugly.
What?
Yeah. I was talking about wood stripping.
Get your mind out of the gutter, for heaven's sake.
It's cold here!
Gees.
Good news is that another day of work should see that part of the job done. After months of structural repairs (assisted by brother in law Dave), ripping out a fireplace (with a FORMICA mantel, for the good Lord's sake!) jacking the house up, replacing beams, ripping out bathrooms, and kitchens, rewiring, ripping down crumbling plaster and lathe, drywalling, that sort of thing, now we are painting. Wow. Does that ever make a difference! It's turning out beautifully. We were looking at carpeting the other day.
Seems impossible that we've finally gotten to that point.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sickening

This cannot be for real.
(dabagirls = dating a banker anonymous)
I almost feel better about those $18 bn in bonuses we paid out.
NOT!
***********
I heard some insipid reporter on MSNBC asking "Listen, is it fair to be angry at the Wall Street executives for simply taking advantage of the banquet that has been set out on the table for them?" My response: "Well, yes, actually!" I was under the impression that the bailout was to save the banks, to preserve our tattered economy, not to enrich people who are already living a lifestyle beyond what most Americans can even imagine.
***********
This whole economic crisis just makes me sick. It is not getting better.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Margaret and Helen

I can't stand Ann Coulter. I think that she is a malicious bitch who profits from saying hateful things. I started one of her books. By the time I finished with the first chapter, I felt as disgusted as if I was holding a piece of fecal material in my hands. I closed the book and did not finish it. I've seen her on TV, flipping her hair, wearing her go-go boots, and I have to tell you that she reminds me of a snobby cheerleader who, through malicious innuendo and and gossip, makes her way to the top of the high school food chain. This probably sounds harsh, but really, I can't stand her, I can't stand her politics, and I can't stand her ugly opinions. If I continue to talk about her, I'll start swearing. I try not to swear, but I'm actually quite good at it, and I do not want to be offensive. So allow me to say, I can't abide that damnable Ann Coulter, and I'll just stop my rant right there.
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Ann Coulter really ticked off two little old ladies, Margaret and Helen. Gotta tell you I haven't laughed so hard in just forever. They look like a couple of stereotypical grandmas, but I have never in my life heard a grandma call someone 'asshat'. Caution: If you're an Ann Coulter fan, don't bother heading over to see Margaret and Helen. You'll just start swearing.
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My thanks to A Novel Woman for introducing me to this duo.

Laugh

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more puppies

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spring

My birdfeeder has been seeing a lot of activity. It is nearly empty at the end of each day, and it is not uncommon to look out and see 30 birds flocked around it and the suet. I noticed something today that left me glad in my heart. Goldfinches are bright yellow in the summer, but fade to a dull khaki color in the winter. However, I noticed today that these little birds are already beginning to turn yellow again.
Spring is coming!
Yay!
This has been a long winter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fortune Cookies

It's the Chinese New Year. The year of the ox. That is good news. Anybody sees that ox, send it to Wall Street, right away, to start acting all bullish, ASAP. If he mows down Mr. Madoff on the way, folks would consider that bonus. Anyway, the question was posed, somewhere out in blogdom, 'Do you believe fortune cookies?' Pffft. Next thing you know, we'll have people disputing the truth of Bazooka Joe's fortune at the bottom of the Bazooka comic tucked inside the Bazooka bubble gum.
(IS NOTHING SACRED?)
Anyhow, I will tell you now how I know that fortune cookies are the real deal. Just after my son Dylan was born, 22+ years ago, my aunt and uncle came to visit us in Gaithersburg, Md, outside of Washington, DC. They were visiting from Podunk Pennsylvania (side note: I moved back to Podunk PA, and they sold out, and spend their lives moving about the US in a giant mobile home. I try not to take this personally. But I digress. Their life of leisure and travel has nothing to do with fortune cookies.) Anyhoo, being ambassadors of city living, we asked my auntie and unc what they would like to do. One of the things on their list was to eat Chinese food. They had never done that. Easy enough to do. Ethnic restaurants are everywhere in the Washington metro area, so the first evening we had open, we went to a Chinese restaurant with a 5 year old and a newborn in tow. The first half of the meal was nice enough. Then Dylan began to cry. He would not stop. (Little did I know that he would not stop for the next six months. But I digress. This post is not about six months of colic.) I was mortified, feeling as if we were disrupting everyone's meal, and the beast would not be soothed. I was hormonal and beginning to stress. I wanted to cry myself. The bawling cranked up to screaming. Our cheerful waitress kept telling us not to worry about the baby, but I couldn't stand it anymore. We rushed through the rest of our meal, and the bill was brought to our table, along with the fortune cookies. Everyone cracked their fortune cookies open, and had a good laugh. There was one cookie left after we all had ours, and everyone was charmed that they had brought a cookie for that squalling baby. We all howled when we read his fortune. It said, 'There is a time for silence.'
*************
This is how I know that fortune cookies are the real deal.
I'm going to believe in the year of the ox, as well.
He'd sure look nice prancing up and down Wall Street.

Stupid

You know, a friend of ours went to a big sale at Grice's gunshop. He was surprised to find the place packed. People were stocking up on ammo. He was looking at a handgun. The store clerk told him that the waiting list was so long at this point, he might as well forget it. He heard it said out loud. People were getting ready for 'the revolution'.
Cripes.
Please tell me this kind of stupidity is not happening everywhere.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fun

I got Trevor's pin on Saturday, the one that read 'Cancer Sucks!' I put it on my coat right away. It sure does make people do a double take. They usually laugh, after the initial staring. Somehow it just made me feel a lot like my old self.
The 'spunky' self.
The 'funny' self.
It also made me very aware of how much of myself has been lost during this time. I've become a different self altogether.
The 'coping' self.
I realized what was missing. I had company on Friday night. My sister and her husband came for supper. They also brought supper. (Man. Sometimes having cancer just kind of works for me.) I met a woman, through the newspaper who is about 2 months ahead of me treatment-wise. She has been an invaluable resource to me. I also found out (in one of those ironies of small town living) that she was my sister and her husband's maid of honor at their wedding 20+ years ago. They had lost touch through the years. It was fun to orchestrate the reunion.
I miss fun.
I'm going to have more of it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This too shall pass

Things are looking brighter today. The chemo went much better. The benedryl dose was cut in half, and diluted with saline, and injected slowly over the course of a couple minutes. There was no headrush, no plummeting blood pressure, no sudden inability to make rational conversation. (poor Mary...I just kept on talking). I'm a little nervous about the reaction to the taxol itself which should start setting in tomorrow and last for a couple uncomfortable days, but I have a new painkiller. So we'll see what happens.
**************
This morning, I am sitting in front of my window, watching my birds. I have not bought birdseed this winter, because we were buying for Christmas, and worried about insurance and $100 pills. We made it through those days, and amazingly, it's worked itself out. We've still got things to sort out, but it does give you some confidence in the future when you see that the most dire consequences are not going to come to pass. So in a fit of faith, I went out and spent $16.85 on myself and the birds. I bought 25 pounds of sunflower seed and 3 suet cakes. In no time at all, our backyard has become a popular place for the birds. This has made me more cheerful.
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I had a good talk on the phone with an old friend the day before yesterday. Trevor's sending me a button. "Cancer Sucks!" it says. He doesn't need them any more. His wife passed away. This is the thing that amazes me about cancer. Everyone is touched by it. I haven't met anyone who has not had a relative affected by it, or dealt with it themselves, or had a friend...Not one person. I'm part of the Relay for Life in June. They asked me, and it seemed very ungrateful to say no. I see a lot of sick people, really sick people, a lot sicker than me. I can do my part to help, and the best thing is that when I help, I feel productive, when I feel productive, I feel better about everything.
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I've been kind of bleak lately. My life has become very narrowly focused. I don't like it. That is why I need my friends and family so desperately. Cara's phone calls from Washington as she waved goodbye to George Bush's helicopter making its last circle around the mall, her excitement at meeting Colin Powell face to face. Her breathless excitement at being frisked in order to watch the parade. The little American flags that they had been given earlier in the day had to be ripped off the sticks, and the sticks were confiscated. Cara's hysterical laughter at the thought of what could have happened had thousands of adoring fans been armed with little sticks when they caught a glimpse of their hero. That was a day brightener. A long talk with my friend, as for the first time, the scrabble game lay unfinished between us. Honest talk about life and regrets and wonderings. Mary's had some great losses this year, and it was reassuring to me that I could still find words of wisdom for her. Sometimes I feel as dumb as a box of rocks. But underneath all that rubble, it appears that the old me is still there. Emboldened by that, I told her the secret that I've been holding in my heart about this whole cancer thing. She listened, and she disputed. What I've been seeing as God's judgement, as a backhanded answer to my own prayers, she sees as something else. She gave me something to think about. I am. And when we left the cancer center, she firmly said, "Do not think that I'm done talking to you about this." She isn't. After 40 years, I know that she will have her say, and I value her counsel. My friends come and my friends call, and all of this shifts my focus from dark narrow path that I'm on. We've discovered that we are about to become an aunt and uncle. Tim's brother, the confirmed bachelor waited a long time to find the perfect woman. Now he and Dawn expect a baby in May. That made me smile big. I've been praying for them for a long time. My sister and brother-in-law are coming to visit this evening. Little windows open, and even in the dead of winter, I am refreshed.
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Life has been a roller coaster lately. What I have found is that the little things mean a lot. Now, if I could simply keep my eye on these things, it would probably make a more cheerful blog.
Sorry, everyone.
This too shall pass.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The End is Near

After this day, I will only have two more chemos to go. I am looking forward to the end of this. I should be grateful for the miracle drugs, but after nearly three months of this, I'm just weary. Just tired of the endless shots and bloodwork. The worry. Feeling bad. Feeling better. Pains. Tired. I just want to be done with this. I want to be me again.
I feel childish.
*stamps foot, shrieks, 'But I want this to be over NOW'*
I am an adult however. I'm concerned over the consequences of this second half of chemo, but those concerns go on the back burner, as I set to getting ready for chemo. I don't want to go, so I'm procrastinating
(So what do you think about those Steelers?!!!!!),
but I will finish my coffee and get off my duff and get ready to go, because that is what adults do, and I will remember that after this, I will only have two more to go.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama

Yesterday, on Inauguration Day, I received an e-mail from one of the 22%, one of Bush's die hard supporters. It began with the line "On this most depressing day...." It was the same old tired bull about Obama coming to take our guns away. As if, with all the problems facing this country, guns are the critical issue. I get so sick of hearing this crap. Fearmongering. That's all it is. Bold faced lies and propaganda. Obama has addressed the gun issue, and has made it clear that he doesn't plan to come and take our hunting rifles. Now, people are entitled to their opinions, and can believe what they choose. However, when I send an e-mail that says, 'Let's just agree to disagree on politics,' it seems to me that the gracious and polite thing to do is respect my opinions and quit sending me your Obama-bashing e-mails. Let's admit it, people. Bush made some critical mistakes during his presidency. These mistakes were so grave that his own party began to distance themselves from the presidency during the primaries. I make no bones about it. I am a supporter of Barack Obama. I was from the very first time that I heard him speak. I am an idealist, and the things that he says make perfect sense to me. I'm not going to re-hash my views on President Bush. I am not going to defend President Obama. I don't have to. The man won the election. Overwhelmingly. I will say this: Our country is undeniably in trouble. I think that we ought quit worrying about who we wanted to win the election. Regardless of who you voted for, I think that we better start praying to God that Obama is the most successful president history has ever seen.
*************
So, I ask all Americans:
What do you love more? Your politics or your country?

Good news!

Caroline sent me an e-mail.
Seems that the 'sheep's butt hair' is temporary.
I cannot tell you how relieved I am to find out this good news.
**********************
It appears
(miracle of miracles)
that there was just the one mouse in the kitchen.
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I was approved for insurance through the Adagio program.
It is retroactive.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Epiphany

I typed my post "We're doing okay" and then I left for the cancer center. While I was there, I again encountered the elderly woman from our church. Again she asked me that trick question, "How are you doing?" and I responded with "I'm doing fine". She cocked her head at me, and she again said those magic words. With a big smile, she said, "I know that you're lying." Quote. Unquote. Keeping my smile in place, I said, "But, actually, it's the truth." Inside I was thinking, "My GOD! What do people want me to say?!!!!!!" At that moment, the friendly vampire lady came out and called my name, and I was saved. Or she was. I don't know.
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I really have been giving this matter some thought. I don't think that people are, as a rule, unkind. I believe that most genuinely do care when they ask the question "How are you doing?" When I answer, "I'm doing okay," I'm not being unkind or dismissive either. It leaves the conversation open if the person wants to continue it. If they walk away, then I can assume that they're satisfied with the information that they have gotten. It's not my job to try to figure out what they are thinking, what motivates the question, whether it be simple courtesy, a rhetorical question, genuine concern and a desire to help. Writing about it is easier. I write everything, and if people don't want to read it, they will click off my blog and go read somewhere else. Talking about it in any depth takes time. Sometimes, I worry about people thinking 'Oh, gees, I'm sorry I asked!' It just strikes me as better to give a short answer, which gives people a chance to either run for the hills or ask more questions. It puts the conversation in their hands. I don't have to worry about boring anyone. Mostly what I find is that my close friends will ask more questions. I'm pretty open in further conversations, because the fact of it simple: I welcome the support. I always feel better after a good talk with a friend.
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I'm learning a lot in these times. Before you are diagnosed with cancer, the idea of dealing with cancer in unfathomable. It is just so flipping big, life changing. Then one day, you are diagnosed, and you discover, for yourself, that it's even bigger and more life changing than you could have ever imagined. Having no choice in the situation, I stepped out. My life became a matter of dealing with the issues as they came up. Suddenly priorities became very, very clear. Insuring the kids were okay and strengthening our marriage to insure that it could endure the stresses. I had to find myself some courage. Suddenly it became very easy to winnow things - people who encourage give me courage. The discouraging people in my life take it away, make me doubt myself. Difficult relationships fell to the wayside quickly. Life has become more pure somehow, for lack of a better word. As I become more courageous, I am more confident about handling other issues in my life. I'm more matter of fact about dealing with disappointments. Life has begun to click into place. At 51, I feel as if I may have begun to wake up. My life is not defined by others. It is defined by myself. If people ask me how I'm doing and they are not satisfied with the answer, that is their problem, not mine. I can share myself and my thoughts freely, but in the end, others will judge me how they will. A liar. A sympathy seeker. Dismissive. These things are not my concern. They are not within my power to repair. My job is to live my life as honestly as I know how, to love my family and friends, to be encouraged, and to encourage, to fight my best fight. In the end, the only thing that I have control over is myself.
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And, really. I'm doing okay.

President Obama

Yesterday at the cancer center, I ran into my aunt. Together we watched our new President on TV. People are so enthusiastic about the change that is coming. I listened to people suddenly convinced that their job is also to bring about change in their own neighborhoods. I listened to people getting emotional and patriotic about America. This has not happened in my life time. Ever. I'm not sure how it happened, but suddenly, everyone has seemed to come together in a very big way. We are all playing for the same team.
E Pluribus Unum.
**********
I cannot be in Washington DC with Cara. I wish that I could be, but it is what it is. I will watch history unfolding on the television today. I will celebrate the change along with the vast majority of Americans. We've got a long row to hoe, but with everyone pitching in to do their share, I cannot see how we will fail.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We're doing okay.

One of the hardest questions that we get asked is 'How are you guys doing? I discovered sometimes we are frustrating others. These frustrated people are all aware of our situation.
Fact 1. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Chemo is not fun.
Fact 2. Tim's plant suddenly closed. Unemployment is not fun.
Some folks stick around after hearing the initial response that we were doing okay. 'How's chemo?' they asked. Or 'Has Tim had any luck finding another job?' We answer those questions too. 'Chemo is hard and I am really dreading going back to the cancer center this week'. Or, 'Tim has tested for two jobs but there have been no interviews yet. We're keeping our fingers crossed.' We talk and visit and are encouraged. Other people walk away after they hear that we are fine. In some cases, we hear later that we are 'impossible to help'. It makes me feel badly, as if we are difficult people, but I'm not sure what other response we could give. We're doing okay.
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I've seen Tim cry only two or three times in my life. He's not a real emotional charactor. I, myself am a sap, but am not generally a 'bursting into tears' kind of girl around others(although I'm more inclined to burst into tears now than I used to be). That rules out a tearful response when people ask us how we're doing. We both believe in God, and have made up our mind that although this is a hard time, we will behave as Godly people. We will try our best not to be discouraged and we will look for the blessings. There have been many. The fact of the matter is that Tim and I have always been careful, frugal people. With five children, we had no choice. Our goal was to get them through college. Tim and I have lived our lives without that education. We are both very intelligent people, but a lot of good jobs require not only that you be intelligent, but that you have a college diploma to guarantee it. We made up our minds early that all five of ours would go to college and to that end, we have lived very carefully. We have never had cable TV. My clothes are second hand (but I hasten to assure you I dress very well). We heat our home and our water with wood from our own woods. Our diet consists of, primarily, venison. We have two deer in the freezer. We drive older cars and have no car payments. We have a comfortable home, but we have put off remodeling the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom. They work. They're not pretty, but they're neat, and there will be time for all of that later. Our focus is on the future...our own and our children. So when you ask us how we're doing, well, financially, nothing has changed really. We're still frugal. We'll both feel better once Tim is employed again, but unemployment has not really cramped our style. We are not feeling especially pinched, so the first words that spring to our lips is 'We're doing okay.'
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Chemo is hard. I am discouraged, and I do not want to go back to the cancer center this week. I don't. I'm just everlastingly weary of the treatments, of feeling awful, and picking myself up, of enduring, of being brave, keeping that stiff upper lip. I get discouraged, sometimes, I cry, sometimes. I also pray and prayers are answered. I have a good husband. I have good kids who can make me laugh. I have friends who know how to cheer me up. Small miracles happen on a fairly regular basis, and I am glad for them. So if you ask me how I'm doing, the first response that springs to my lips is going to be 'I'm doing okay'.
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We are not being dishonest here. We are not trying to push people away. I have said, from the beginning, that this time will be a time to watch God at work, close up. It is true. He is working. That is how it can be, when you ask us how we're doing, even in these dark, dark days, our answer is, invariably, "We're doing okay."
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I always thought that people would be encouraged to hear that.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

He Ain't Mickey

Stevie has written about her ongoing battle with the gray squirrel who has moved in for the winter. Pretty funny stuff. Her tenant pays no rent, and she's pretty flustered about the whole situation. I laughed a lot until today. when I found that I have a visitor in my snack cupboard. How he knew that's where we keep the good stuff, I don't know. He actually climbed up a wire, gnawed a hole in the back of the cupboard (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and comfortably came to visit, chewing into a bag of sunflower kernels, a bag of pretzels, and a box of graham crackers. Lest someone doesn't get the importance, allow me to say it plainly.
I'VE GOT A MOUSE IN MY KITCHEN.
*SHRIEK!*
I went into hyper-mode. Snacks were thrown away. I mean, this is actually the highest cupboard in the kitchen. I was vacuuming up droppings. Sanitized the cupboard. The empty cupboard now has one lonely box of decon in it. If we get no activity, we'll seal the hole with steel wool, and patch it. I'll sanitize the thing again. Wait. Watch. Perhaps I may, after a time, bring myself to store snacks in it again.
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We are a country home. In the fall, field mice will try to move into the basement. It is their way. I'm not such a baby about it. They were especially aggressive this year, perhaps knowing something that we could not about the coming winter, had actually gnawed a hole in a door going into the basement. We put Decon down, like we always do, and in very short order, found no more evidence of mice. We blocked their entrance, thought we had the problems solved.
I'm pretty matter-of-fact about mice in the basement, but we never had them move upstairs.(why am I hearing the Jefferson's themesong? MOOOOOOOOving on up, to a deeeeee-lux apartment in the skyyyyyyyyyyyyy!) This guy (these guys? oh. Please God, don't let it be more than one...) has moved right in and made himself at home and I am a little frazzled about this. Not nearly so matter-of-fact about this one as I am his well-mannered cousins who wait patiently in the basement for us to begin setting out the poison.
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I am ever so sorry that I laughed at you.
I will not do it again.
I solemnly swear.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cold

It's -6 degrees today.
It could be worse.
If we used the celcius scale, it would be -21.
(If I'm laughing, my face can't freeze.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Choices

I wrote a post a couple days ago. It was one of those things that I was tempted to come back and delete the depressing thing later. I decided not to. I'm dealing with cancer, and you know what? It's not all sunshine and roses. This particular post was written after a two day bout with unrelenting (and unexpected) pain. The weather sucked, and I was homebound. I read a book which caused me to begin questioning my own worth. Life is funny like that. Sometimes you can be rolling right along, and *smack*, you get sucker-punched, and find yourself reeling from the blow. Unfortunately for you folks, I blog. Next thing you know, my black mood is right out there for all the world to see. I finally decided to leave that post as it was, not delete it, because, really, everyone has days like that, days when we are not at our finest. They pass. My own mood passed as, finally, blessedly, the electric jolts of pain in my legs and abdomen began to ease. The weather got nicer. I reached out to others, and their conversations, as always, buoyed me and put things back in perspective. In the space of a day, the world looked a much nicer place to be. It was an important message, I thought, a reminder to everyone that the dark days come, the dark days go. So I left the black post right where it was, blogged a more cheerful post to reflect the change in my mood and continued on.
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Mike left a comment on that post that intrigued me. He said: Debby, life seems like a choice to me, not a response. If you view choices in a certain way, life begins to look very much like a computer program. Your input into the "system" (the world around you) determines the response you get back out of that system. As suggested by the programming analogy, this is a quite literal model. Basic proof is most quickly seen through simplistic examples; if you smile at everybody (input) they smile back and are more kindly disposed toward you (response). If you ask people questions about themselves (input) instead of talking about yourself, they like talking to you (response). If you study (input) you get good grade from your teachers (response). If you work (input), you get paid, etc.If you frown, people respond negatively. When you put negative orders (programming code) into the system, it returns negative results. It gives you what you ordered.We can change our lives by consciously operating in "cause mode." We don't control people's responses to us but we do control the quality of the code we submit to the system. Intentionally positive programming brings consistently positive results, because the world works systematically, like an incredibly complicated computer.
***********************
I've been cogitating on this one for a while now. To a degree, Mike, you are right. Anger begets anger. You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar (although crap draws them as well). Complaining angry people attract other complaining angry people. Suspicious people wind up being people that others are suspicious of. The list could go on and on. But the world, unfortunately is not a computer, and the positive programming theory often falls flat. I've seen, with my own two eyes, smiling women reduced to tears by grown men who feel that it is acceptable to belittle them in a public setting. I've seen smiling mentally retarded children ridiculed by people unwilling to be patient, to slow down even a minute to preserve the dignity of another less fortunate than themselves. I've seen someone come into a new church, their tremulous smiles met with judgment, scorn, and gossip. After the dust settled, the empty spot in the pew was unmourned. I've seen smiling people mocked for the color of their skin, for their sexual orientation, for their beliefs. 'Smile and the world smiles with you' is not always true. It is not at all like a computer, that you imput a code, and the world spits back a standard and predictable response.
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I know two girls. They smile all the time. Oh, my God! They are beautiful. Lively, intelligent, well read, opinionated, spirited. The youngest says the most outrageous things, but she says them with a huge smile. The world, charmed, cannot hold a grudge, and laughs with her. She is like a sponge, dancing along wide-eyed, not willing to miss one thing. The world, enchanted, does not hold back one thing from her. I look at her, almost in awe. I cannot even guess how far this child will go in life. She is gifted, beloved. The oldest girl laughs no less. Her smile is just as quick and big as the youngest's. However, the oldest's smile hides pain. She does not speak of this. I cannot tell you how often she thinks on these painful things. But I can tell you that her own buried pain makes her quick to offer sympathy and comfort to this world. She does not discriminate. The oldest is bi-polar. Sometimes, she is manic. Her speech is rapid. The world picks up on this difference, and gives her no quarter. Her smiles do not enchant the world. She is labeled, and she is judged, and people are not always kind. She will never be given the benefit of the doubt. It is a fact. It breaks my heart. These two girls are my daughters, and they are how I know that big smiles and positive attitudes do not always garner a positive response from the world. I see the differences every day.
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Bob B. also left a comment on this post: Debby, I'm inclined to agree with you. As I see it, the only choice we have it be happy or not. Everything else in this crazy world is pretty much out of our control.Through all of life's ups and downs, joys and sadnesses, triumphs and adversities, I choose to be happy.
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Probably the most powerful words I've read in awhile. Thanks, Bob. Mike is right, to a degree. Positive attitudes, constructive behaviors can garner good things in this world. Bob is right as well. Sometimes life sucks, big time. Shit happens: Cancer. A love is betrayed. Random acts of violence. The world can be an ugly place. Sometimes we get sucker punched. That is, plain and simple, life. We reel for a moment, and we grab for support, and we try to get our bearings. It is not all within our control, but we can learn from these hard times. We can choose to gather wisdom from the dark days. We can choose to learn about courage. In the end, we can choose to be happy. No matter what the world dishes out, we can choose to be happy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wilderness

Ack.
Probably should delete the last post, but you know, it is what it is. The weather here has been awful, cold and snowing, virtual white out at times, treacherous roads. We live on a mountain top that is locally renown for its crappy weather. Scandia residents are considered hardier than most folks. I think it's so much nonsense, myself, but whatever. Folklore has to have its beginnings somewhere, I suppose. It pleases people to think that I'm tucked away in Scandia eating venison sloppy joes, feeding the woodboiler that heats our house. Neither sleet nor snow, nor lots of snow keeps me from my daily shot at the cancer center. Yeah. We're a rare breed up here.
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The extreme weather has kept people from visiting. The isolation is wearing at me. Left to my own devices, I have read myself into a stupor. I have spent a lot of time sitting quietly staring out into the snow, pondering, wondering what all this means. Events of the last 3 1/2 months are finally starting to sink in. I've wandered into a place even more remote than the mountain that I live on. I look at my husband and he seems too far away to reach, caught up as he is in a day to day world that I am no longer a part of, at least for the moment.
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After a week of wandering in this wilderness, today I realized that I was in danger of getting myself lost. Tim, steady as ever, was waiting. "I understand," he said. And something within me began to unthaw. I saw a friend in the grocery store. "Is there anything I can do?" she asked. "Call me," I said. "I miss shooting the bull like we used to." "I can do that," she said, and she grinned the sort of grin that you give someone who doesn't have cancer. I laughed. I got a call from a friend who is just finishing her final week of radiation. I'm going to give her an Indian name: 'Been-there-done-that'. I could never have conceived of laughing square in the face of cancer and chemo before these days.
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With each interaction, I realize the value of family, of love, of friends. I grope blindly in this wilderness, and I find comfort and warmth of others guiding me back where I belong.

Worth

When I find an author that I like, I tend to read all the books that author has ever written. I read Joan Silber's 'The Size of the World', and liked it very much. I then grabbed her first book which was 'Household Words'. It was a good book and well written, but by the end of it, I was ready for it to be over. It was about a Jewish housewife in the 50s, widowed early. She survives, and even thrives, but what emerges is a strong willed woman who will win, no matter what. She nags and pushes her daughters to the point of estrangement, her friends are sometimes people that she doesn't like, but she sees a purpose to the friendship, and maintains it. The men she meets are 'beneath' her, in her estimation. At the end, when she's dying of cancer, she's evaluating her life, the worth of it. It is not so maudlin. She's still strong willed, afraid, but will not admit it, and despite her flaws, convinced of her own worth.
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It struck close to home. I am not dying, but I have been thinking about life. Some people think that life is a choice. I don't know. It never seemed that I had all that many options at my fingertips. My life has always seemed like a response. Adversity crops up, leaving me no choice but to face it down, and get past it. Difficult situations, difficult people, difficult times. I just kept my eyes ahead and moved ahead, plodding along in my little rut. That sounds grim, doesn't it? It wasn't. Plenty of joy in it. Plenty of nice memories. Good people. Great kids. Seemed to run by a lot quicker than I expected, but it was a decent life.
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The point of this rambling is nothing really. I've just been thinking about my life. and where I've been, and what I should have done different. What I could have done different. Have I led a worthy life? Wearily, I'd have to say, 'Plllt. Who knows?' I've made mistakes, but we all have made mistakes. I can honestly say that my goal has always been to be kind, and I think that I am. I try hard to comfort. I try hard to be wise. In the end, when it's all said and done, I'm not at all sure that I'll be able to say that I have lived a worthy life. But then I realize, in the end, I won't be the One making the decision. I also realize that I need to read a funny book this time around.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No Longer Invisible

I've always felt a little bit like I was invisible, as if when I'm out and about, my plain-ness blends into the background, and that I am just another face in the crowd, unnoticed. I was always kind of comfortable in my 'cloak of invisibility'. This round of chemo has been kicking my butt. For the first time, yesterday, I was too tired to fuss with make-up. What does it matter anyway? My eyelashes are pretty much gone at this point, so mascara doesn't do me any good. My skin is so dry that I keep slathering moisturizer on, so no point in trying to apply makeup on top of that. I stared at myself in the mirror, and thought, "To hell with it" and skipped the wig too. I just pulled a hat down over my ears. We went to town, I got my shot, and we stopped at the grocery store. I've had such a craving for tomatoes, and so we stopped to pick them up. I walked into the grocery store too tired to even think about my appearance, just get my tomatoes and the other few things that we needed. Intent on my shopping, I missed it at first. People were staring, and when I met their eyes, they smiled at me, sympathetically. It's official. I look like a sick person, and sick people are apparently not invisible. I was glad to get back to the car.
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I've been thinking about that today while I cleaned the house. I gathered up a pile of get well cards, and put them in the box with the others. I took a few moments to read them. What brave words in the beginning. Talk about kicking this with style and grace. Talk about my spirit and good humor triumphing over cancer. Those words sound so naive now. I still expect to triumph over cancer, but the whole style and grace thing, plllt. That's out the window. So is my humor, mostly. That spirit? Seems kind of flicker-y, like a spluttering candle. What I'm doing now, is enduring. Simply enduring, holding on the best way that I know how. It is not graceful. It is not pretty, but I am enduring.
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Some days, that's all that counts.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Interviewed

Rhubarb is interviewing me. Since I've been at a loss for words lately, I figured it was an easy way to put together a post. I'm still trying to come up with 10 facts about myself for the "I got Scrap" tag. I know that I can be scrappy. I just can't think of anything interesting about myself. I'm still thinking on it, Mikey. I mean she posted a nudey picture of herself on her blog. I don't plan on topping that.
I can't.
And I shouldn't.
I won't.
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Anyways, let's get started on this interview.

Debby, you are a wonderful writer. Tell us, why do you write a weblog? What got you started and why?

When I was very young, I took to reading with a vengeance. By the time that I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was reading at least one book a day, and was noted in school for reading at a college level. What this meant was that the teachers had no more materials to test me with, so while other kids read and tested to improve their reading comprehension, I was allowed to read whatever I wanted, left completely to my own devices. It was a very nice time. I read constantly, at home, at school, where every I was. I distinctly remember the day that I read Mark Twain for the first time. He's still one of my favorites. I wept over books, and I laughed out loud at books. They become my little world within a world. I just think that when you spend that much time immersed in words, you naturally become skillful at putting them together. This being said, I don't believe that I am an especially gifted writer, truth be told. It always surprises me when people say that I am, and I invariably think they are just being kind.

I started blogging because of Mikey. Mikey had read a comment on another blog. She thought I was funny stuff.
(I am pretty funny stuff, by the way).
She began needling me to blog. It wouldn't have occured to me to do so on my own. I thought I'd give it a try. Now, a full year later, I'm still blogging away.

What's something that has been truly timeless for you?

Probably my friend, Mary. It's a neat thing to have a friend that you have had for 40+ years. I look at her and I see other places, other times, other people, other days. Unending summers. Phone calls. The torment that is high school. The doubt of motherhood. Sad times. Glad times. When I am with my friend, I am all the other ages I've been. I hope that it is the same for her.

If you could have dinner with four contemporary public figures, where everybody's entree (except for yours) was heavily flavoured with strychnine, who would the guests be and why?

Ack.

I couldn't do this. There are lots of people that I believe have no business breathing. They are mostly people who consider themselves worthy to pronounce judgements on others. Women being stoned in the mideast, Darfur, Somalia. Really, every where you look, either on a grand scale or a tiny scale, you see people judging, and condemning, doing horrible things in their own self righteousness. I believe that God said "Thou shalt not judge" for a reason, and if you have eyes in your head, you'll figure out why in pretty short order.

Do I ask God why he doesn't smite people? Yep. Things just would be a lot simpler if he'd just haul off and smite people like he did in the 'olden days'. But He doesn't. I don't care how angry I am at a person. I simply could not sit down at a table, and watch them eat strychnine. It would make me one of them.

Inquiring minds want to know - do you prefer your men in boxers or briefs?

I prefer just the one man, naked when it's practical.

Finally, a topical issue. If you could give some advice to women before or after they are diagnosed with breast cancer, what would you tell them?

Since I'm in the middle of the battle right this very minute, I don't really feel qualified to offer advice. Really. I am simply dealing with the issues as they come up. I think my biggest hurdle has been learning to talk about my own personal hard times. I am a good listener, and I am a person quick to comfort. but I tend to be very close mouthed about my own problems. I am just learning to talk to others about these things, and that is important. Accepting help has been another issue for me. This is a holy time, steeped in lessons. I simply try to learn them, and to endure patiently. Maybe, when this is all said and done, I'll have words of wisdom. Right now, I'm simply trying to survive.
*checks pulse*
Yes.
I'm still surviving.
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If you’d like to join the fun, it’s simple.
Send me an email or a comment saying ‘interview me’.
I will then email you five questions that I choose.
You can then answer them on your blog.

Explanation

People who know me seem to have some doubt as to my 'reserved nature'. Let me explain it to you as best I can. I can talk about nothing the livelong day. I can talk your ear off, and I am interested in your life and full of questions. I have oodles of funny stories, because really, life's funny like that. I can listen to people talk forever. I find people fascinating.
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Where I get reserved and quiet is talking about myself. About feeling sick. About the fear in the middle of the night. About the gray fog that is my future. About my own doubts. About my own self loathing. About the surety, deep inside me, that when people say nice things, or do nice things, they are only saying so, or doing so out of a sense of responsibility, or because they are being nice, or because they are Christians (and therefore have to be good). Cancer is kind of personal, and I'm just learning to talk about it, a full 3 months after the diagnosis.
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And yes, as people step out in kindness, as my friends rally around both Tim and me, it does occur to me that God may be trying to show me something here. Believe me, I am trying to learn the lessons.

Happy Birthday, Blog

My first blog post was January 8th.
Happy belated birthday, blog.
Disclaimer:
This blog is Mikey's fault.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Comfort

I went into the Cancer Center for my neupogen shot, and ran into the woman who so thoroughly scared me on chemo day. I'm pretty quiet, but finally said, "I hope that you're feeling better." She rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, were you there?" and I allowed that not only had I been there, but was having the same treatment. I told her that I had just been given the benedryl, and was decidedly woozy from that, struggling to deal with it, and suddenly, I'm watching her drop right in front of my chair. I also took a deep breath and confessed that it scared me witless.
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Right away she was patting my arm, telling me that it had actually been her last treatment, and that she'd done okay with the others, just as I had. The benedryl had been a problem for her, too, the first go around, but the next was easier. By the end of treatment, the benedryl had ceased to be an issue for her. She also said that she had not eaten before she came, and that she had snorfed down some chocolate milk and a bag of animal crackers to fill her up after she'd arrived. (Even 36 hours after chemo, this combination did not sound so good to me.) 'Don't worry," she said, and I'd do alright, she told me.
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We ran into each other at the grocery store later, and spoke again. She was quite concerned that I not be worried. Surprisingly, she was also in the Walmart when we stopped there to pick up Cara's sugar free birthday cake. Mrs. N. was waiting on a prescription, but was full of lively assurances still.
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I am, by nature, a reserved person. I hope to God, though, that I never miss the chance to comfort another.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Horoscope

My horoscope today read: "You and many others are in a sticky situation. Some perceive recent events as disappointing, but the long view will prove that what's unfolding is actually for the highest good. You are in exactly the right place. "
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I hope so.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Queen of Denial

Just call me Cleopatra.
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There are different layers of intimacy for the people in my life. I have Tim, and the kids, and a few members of my own family, some friends. These people make up the first layer. I know that I can tell them anything, and they will listen, and they will talk with me, comfort me, if necessary. They will not collect these details, and then hop on the phone, calling everyone they know to share personal details to make themselves look important. I depend on my inner circle a lot, and am very grateful to have them. Then there are people who are friends, who I see at church, talk with on the phone, share with. That's sort of the second layer. Then there are acquaintances, people that you say 'hi' to when you meet them, who stop and talk, but always about general sorts of things. Nodding acquaintances. They are the third layer. Cancer has been a tough one for me. For one thing, I was raised to be a stoic, and being in the military just sort of clinched that deal, since they were always, always keeping a sharp eye out for malingerers. So I've just gotten used to dealing with things in a quiet way.
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I also write, after a fashion, for both for my newspaper, and for this blog. My story is my story, and I tend to be a lot plainer about writing it that I am telling it out loud. Maybe because I don't look you folks in the eyes.
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Only the people in the first layer of intimacy get the full story, with all the unvarnished details. They are the ones who get the worries, and they are the ones that see the tears. The people in the second layer get an abridged version of that same story, usually light on the 'downer details'. I try to be upbeat. By the time you get to the 'nodding acquaintance' layer of intimacy, you get the 'I'm doing fine. I'm enduring well. Tim and I are making it.' And these words are not a lie, because, actually, we are. Day by day, we are enduring what is probably one of the hardest periods of our life. In the end, we are going to be okay. We realize that. David M forwarded a poem by another poet. As Mr. Wallace put it, "The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying." Those words have become my mantra.
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There are people in the waiting room at the Cancer Center who are quite caught up in their disease. I don't know how to phrase it kindly, so I'll just say it. There are people who have never been so important as they are now that they have cancer. I don't know how to handle them. They go on and on, telling the most personal details of their illness, and they want sympathy and lots of it. They want you to share your details, which always makes me uncomfortable, because I do not know them. There are people who come in alone, and sit quietly, watching trash TV while we wait for our names to be called. They make me sad, all by themselves, and I hope they have someone to talk to. Then there are people like me, square in the middle of the road. I come in with my friend or family member, and we visit quietly. Sometimes, somebody will recognize me from the paper, and we will visit on 'safe topics'. Remember the man who gave me the thumbs up as I waited for the CT/PET scan all those weeks ago? I likened it to being saluted by a veteran? I've gotten to visit with him and his wife. I can visit with people, talking about cancer in a general way.
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I'm afraid that I look like a weirdo in the eyes of the Cancer Center staff. I hope not. Some of them are very solicitous about little things like giving shots, wanting to detail step by step. I don't need that. Just give me the shot. Just access the mediport. I've gotten used to these things. I don't like them, but they don't surprise them any more, so let's just get 'r done. I talk to my doctor pretty frankly, I think, but my approach has been more matter of fact. There are symptoms I don't like, but I can endure them, and I think that my body is putting up a good fight, so I ask my questions. I share my concerns. I listen intently, and I walk out of the office ready to go. There were times when I cried, early in the game, but now I feel like I have a handle on what's going on, and my practical nature is emerging once again. I just what to get this done and over with. My goal, as I explained to one doctor, is to finish treatment, to close this chapter, and although everyone has been wonderful to me at the cancer center, my goal is to never see these people again. Really. It's a small town, and I know we might run into each other at the Walmart or something, but we'll just nod politely, maybe speak about the weather, and we'll keep on going. That's my game plan.
***************
Anyway, I talked about my quiet dreading of the changes for the second half of chemo. New drugs. I do pretty much feel as if, comparatively speaking, I breezed through the first half of chemo, but reading up on the second half, I did have some concerns, and they kept me awake in the dark. I was worried about steroids and 'roid rage'. Brianna is home, and over all there are some positive signs with her, but I have to keep my cool with her. If I began having drug induced emotional meltdowns, it would spin her off track. I was worried about the potential allergic reactions to the taxol itself. What if I couldn't take it? Would it endanger my plan to kick cancer's butt and be done with it? Losing my finger nails and toe nails was a gruesome prospect, as was getting bloated from the steroids. I have no hair. I have gray skin. I have big scars. I already feel very self conscious about my appearance, but the second half could well make things even worse. So I had plenty to fret about in the dark, and I did. I slept about 5 hours.
Yesterday, I went to chemo. Cara took me this time. We took the Scrabble game.
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It was a whole different ball game. The place was crowded and busy. I had five pre-meds, and in keeping with my body's sense of humor, it handled the big stuff without a whimper. What hit me hard was mainlining the benadryl. Before the full dosage was administered, I felt like I had been suckerpunched. I was woozy, and sickish, and wanted a nap something awful. I kept this to myself, assuming that it was a normal response, but it was pretty bad. I watched a woman walk out on the arm of her mother. I recognized the wig, and the gray skin, and for some reason, we locked eyes. She hesitated at the foot of my chair. She looked familiar, but I couldn't place her. Did she recognize me? I tried to make my woozy brain work, but couldn't. Suddenly, she was dropping like a stone, Cara was grabbing for a chair, and the woman was vomiting. Her doctor was called, and I heard the words 'taxol' and realized that she had just finished the same treatment as me. She came to once, fainted dead away again, and was carried back to a chemo recliner. Eventually an ambulance was called, and she was taken to the main hospital. Her children were called, and I recognized her daughter. Nicky had graduated with Dylan.
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This whole little drama scared the puckey-doo out of me, sitting there in my own lightheaded fog. When the nurse returned to change my IV to yet another pre-med, she suspiciously asked me if I was alright. 'No,' I allowed. 'I feel very lightheaded. It's just the benadryl, I think.' Sure enough, I had some seriously low blood pressure. They do what they do, and got it up to a reasonable number, and the treatment continued. I was there for seven hours, was walked to the door by staff, and came home sick. Cara was quite nervous about the fact that I might get sick in the 'Cara-mobile'. I am proud to say that I did not. But for the first time, chemo made me sick. Really sick. It was not fun. I am better this morning, but still not so great. This second half is going to be a whole 'nuther ball game, apparently.
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I got an e-mail from a friend who wondered if I was, perhaps, being a little too cheerful and strong in my blog. Maybe glossing over the difficult times. I guess that she's right, probably. So you folks have been moved to the inner circle.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cara is Vindicated



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Cara is vindicated.

Cara has been saying for years that cellists are hot.

Cellists are totally awesome.

Cara now feels that she can prove this.

Oh.

Wanna guess what Cara played in the orchestra?

Joys and Concerns

My ironing basket is empty. There's a joy (and one that I'm not all that accustomed to). I had a nice talk with a good friend on the phone. That was a joy too. I got the tree down, and the decorations put back up in the attic. The poor house looks naked. I'm not all that sure that can be called a joy, but I'm glad that it's done. It just feels good to be productive, and it is a sign, to me anyway, that once I get this chemo knocked down, it won't be long until I'm up and active again. Hey. What do you know? Another joy!
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This second half of chemo will be different. Instead of two drugs, I will have only one, taxol. A woman who's had the treatment said that the last half of chemo was a lot easier for her than the first half. Caroline, the woman with the blog, said that her fingernails and toenails turned black and fell off. Everyone is different, and so no one actually predicts what will happen for you. They can't really. There are steroids involved, and so I might gain weight. Body aches are a common side effect. I guess that I will see what happens tomorrow. I'll be glad to get this second half underway. It seems easier to endure what is happening than it does to try to be level headed about what is going to happen.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hooray!

Yesterday, Tim spent a great deal of time watching football. I guess these games are determining some pretty important stuff. Since I am not a football fan, these determinations do not matter one whit to me. So I perused the web. I found a pretty interesting blog. Caroline's Breast Cancer Blog was a big comfort. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2007, so she has been down the long treatment road ahead of me. It was affirming to discover that she felt as if treatment had released her 'evil two year old twin'. I felt much better. I tend to get very quiet when the hard times hit. I can't bear the thought of being a whiner. Sometimes, though, I get grumpy. I can't stand me grumpy either, so I try to stay away from people then. Yet when, to my closest friends, I say how awful I am, they are surprised that I should be surprised by this. "Bring it on," they say. "We can take you." They can. I know it. I'm glad for all the people in my life who 'ain't skeerd o' me'.
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Another thing that Caroline complained of was the boredom. Oh, man, do I ever 'get' that. I feel isolated, too exhausted to go out. I take naps virtually every day. I read a lot. (Digression: suggestion? 'The Size of the World' by Joan Silber. Excellent, excellent book.) My focus on life has become very narrow...how do I feel?...have I lead a good and productive life?...when will my life be 'normal' again?...will it be? Thinking, napping, reading, writing. Not exciting, I'm afraid.
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I realized when I read Caroline's blog that I am very blessed. For a woman who usually finds herself dealing with side effects for the most innocuous drugs, here I am pumped full of some pretty 'kick ass' medications, and actually doing pretty fine. I'm tireder than I have ever been in my life, and although nausea is my constant companion, I have, not once, up-chucked. Reading Caroline's battles with the various side effects, I realize how lucky I have been. As she talked about mouth sores, I realized how close a call I had. I might have had to give up chipotle peppers or my orange juice! Comparatively speaking, I have sailed through this chemo, at least so far.
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I read about her joy when her hair started to grow back. That joy turned to dismay when she noticed that it was all gray, that dismay to horror when she realized that it was not only gray but what she described as 'sheep's butt hair'. Thick, wooly, completely unmanageable. You can bet I sent an e-mail immediately. I had to know, all these months after chemo, did she still have sheep's butt hair? No answer yet, but I will keep you posted.
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I'm dealing with a lot of stuff here, and sometimes I am overwhelmed. I am accustomed to being able to handle everything, but am finding that sometimes I can't. It was nice to discover that while these feelings are new to me, really, they are pretty normal for these tough times. I read through Caroline's blog and came away feeling like a human being, and a pretty lucky human being, at that. Hooray for the internet. Hooray for bloggers!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chemo

Chemo Brain
by Richard Harvey
**
The things I do
In anticipation of
The things that I will do
But I don't end up doing
Because the things I am doing derail
My train of thought
From the direction it was headed
To the direction it went
Where I found me
Looking for the things
That I was doing
When I was preparing to do
What I wanted to do
Before I forgot
What I was doing
When I went to do
What I needed to do
When I found the things I was doing
Brought me around to
The things that I was doing
I remembered I forgot
The thing that I was doing......
What?
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This pretty much explains chemo brain. I am fuzzy (pretty ironic choice of words for a bald woman!) and unfocused. Trying to decide what it is that makes me joyful, I discovered that I guess a big joy would be writing...but I can't seem to write coherently right now.
*sigh*
These days are not my finest.
But...
I am halfway done with chemo.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

SARAH PALIN: Before it got to the other side, I shot the chicken, cleaned and dressed it, and had chicken burgers for lunch.

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!
JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.
HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves tocross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either against us or for us. There is no middle ground here.
DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?
COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.
BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.
JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now and will remain against it.
AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.
DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken doesn't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.
OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed access to the other side of the road.
NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.
PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.
MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.
DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.
GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.
BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments,we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.
ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.
BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken 2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken 2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash or need to be rebooted.
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?
COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I Resolve

Dylan, Cara, and Cara's friends Sarah and Johnna did the Times Square thing for New Year's Eve. They spent a wonderful day in New York City, and got to walk in Central Park after dark, which for some reason, enthralled Cara. They gamboled through the city. Cara's thrilled because after much haggling in Chinatown, she was able to get 'one of the furry Russian hats with the earflaps'. Dylan bought one too. They've got the 2009 big glasses. They were at Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree. It was cold, but they were on the move, and kept pretty warm. Towards evening, they headed for Times Square and immediately got caught up in the crowd. They were packed shoulder to shoulder, unable to move. The barricades that you see on TV are not only in the front, but in the back as well. Once inside the pen, they were unable to leave. Unable to move, they got cold quickly. Cara called about 10 o'clock, laughing. "It's freezing". Dylan said, "I'm not having fun here. Not even a little. I have done nothing to warrant taking my freedom away." Cara said that there were suspect puddles everywhere because men could not get to the restrooms. They were 12 blocks away from the 'ball' but would be able to see it drop. I called at 12:30 to make sure that the girls had made their connection to the bus that would bring them back to Clarion University, an 8 hour trip. They had. After the brisk powerwalk, they were warm again. They were again lively and enthusiastic. They all agreed that it had been a memorable day. Something that everyone should do.
Once.
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It strikes me that this is what is missing from my life. It's been a rough month. Chemo really dragged me down this past cycle, just at the time when I most needed my energy to prepare for Christmas. Worries about our economy suddenly became personal with Tim's job loss. I've noticed age spots appearing across the back of my hands. The skin on my face seems thin and fine lined. To add insult to injury, in addition to dealing with the exhaustion from chemo and the bone aches from the daily neupogen shots, I've been thrown into menopause abruptly, so I've begun to have spontaneously combust periodically. Hormone treatment for the hot flashes is not an option. Worst of all, somewhere along the line, this year, I've managed to lose enthusiasm, and excitement, and life has become a grim plodding from one treatment to the next, one day to the next. one nap to the next. When I'm awake, I'm greedily sucking in every detail, not wanting to miss a thing, aware that I don't know what my future holds. I'm not fearful. I'm resolute. But not joyful or enthusiastic. Listening to my children laughing at their big adventure, I am acutely aware that there is a difference between living life and living life. And suddenly, I know what my New Year's resolution is going to be.
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Either that, or I will have to change the name of this blog.