Tag Archives: cancer

Sharing My World 7

image

What is your favorite time of day?

Early morning, when the world is quiet, the coffee is hot and fresh and aromatically delicious, and I am curled up on the couch with my I-Pad reading my favourite blogs.  Scrolling through Facebook in case there’s something there to shock and amaze me or tell me something which will, without a doubt, immediately change my life.  Many pages make these kinds of promises but don’t deliver.  Well none have yet, anyway, but hey, you never know.

Early morning is for looking out the windows at my little corner of the world going about its morning business, full of busy people with their purposes and plans.  It’s about having the whole day ahead of me to fill with activities and actions and projects and deeds.  Or with absolutely nothing at all.

What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?

Cancer research.  Treatment and cures are admirable pursuits, but prevention deserves the most focus.  Because who of us has not lost someone,  somewhere,  to the big C?

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

If it’s simply warm and drizzly, not blustery and cold with the power to turn ones umbrella inside out, there’s something purely delightful about a long walk in the rain.  Even if it ruins your hair.  We live in a place where the air is so bone dry it can glue your contact lenses to your eyeballs.  When it rains, the clean fresh air and humidity and the deep, cleansing breaths you take to clear your lungs and your head are amazing – you can’t order that on Amazon.  I love all rainy days, including the ones not fit to be out in, because inside and out they wash the crap and the cobwebs away.

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?

Pencils are for drawing.  Pens are for writing brilliant things like lists.  If it’s worth writing, it’s worth putting down in indelible ink.  Purple gel is always a good choice.  However, when I wrote things on patient files I used erasable pens (with boring black ink) so that I could appear to be a decisive professional who did not have to scratch out stupid statements containing spelling mistakes.  Has anyone thought of inventing a purple gel auto-correct spell-checking pen?  I’d buy one of those.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the strong anti inflammatory medication I am taking which has reduced the puffiness in my face to such an extent that the dark circles under my eyes are remarkably more noticeable.  Well, at least I know it’s doing something.  I am looking forward to seeing my up-north grandchildren after Halloween.  I am looking forward to Halloween being over so those little candy bars will stop calling my name.

share-your-world2

Share Your World Week 43

Advertisements

Things You Can Say About Soup

IMG_1265

Yesterday was my two-week follow-up to learn the pathology results from my day surgery lumpectomy.  What can I say?  I’m just a mysteriously lumpy person.  Yet another young doctor poked and prodded my neck and jaw and performed my third ever exploratory scope up the nose and down the throat.  This one without any freezing.  I’d like to say I’m getting used to this procedure and that it hardly bothers me, but that would be a big fat lie.  My eyes tear and my nose runs for the rest of the day afterwards.  This handsome young doctor (yes, I’m not so ancient that I don’t notice and appreciate such things) wanted to give me a clean bill of health because this more thorough lymph node biopsy showed the same thing as the needle biopsy did.  Nothing more than inflammation.  From an infection.  But of what, and from where?  The ENT surgeon is still curious to figure it out and wants more pathology tests done.  He also wants me to take Prednisone for five days. And come back to see him in a month.

The wait in the office was over an hour, during which time we watched, on an overhead waiting room TV,  the latest updates on the situation in Ottawa from Wednesday.  Social media and news coverage seems to be centered on information about fallen soldier Nathan Cirillo and the heroic actions of Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, with very little about the perpetrator of this cowardly crime.  And that is as it should be.

I am happy to be alive and to once again be declared cancer free.  I never know how stressed I really am about something until it’s over and I suddenly feel lighter and able to breathe great refreshing deep breaths again.  A lone gunman in the nation’s capital will forever be associated with this little moment in my life.

After my appointment, W decided to look up a former co-worker from back in his government days who now works at the University Hospital doing bookings.  I met her once at a long ago Christmas party which I barely remember being dragged to, so she and I didn’t have a lot to talk about.  I mostly listened to her and W catch up on what happened to every person they ever knew.  She decided to give us a little tour of the Edmonton Oilers Ambulatory Clinic at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.  At the U of A hospital everything is connected to everything else.  I just wanted to go home and make soup.

Because this is exactly the kind of brilliant and exciting anti-social personality I have been nurturing these days.  I just want to stay at home, read books and blogs, watch movies and sneak Halloween candy from the cupboard.  All of this activity gives me so many topics to blog about (stop – you can’t see the computer screen when your eyes are rolling like that) I just can’t seem to make myself focus on any one thing.  Until – SOUP.  And the things that can be said about it.  In list form.  Why not.

1.  The process involved in making home-made soup is very therapeutic.  At the dinner table a much-loved uncle used to say, with the passing of every dish – “here, have some of this, it’s good for what ails you”.  Well the making of soup can be curative and good for what ails you.  If you have no clue what I’m talking about, make some and find out for yourself.

2.  Butternut Squash will make soup orange.  I don’t like the taste of squash on its own, so I mixed in all of the following things – white onion, the last of the cabbage, a parsnip, one small white turnip, lots of celery, a zucchini, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, some red and green pepper, a can of chick peas.  All of this was added to vegetable broth, a couple of packages of chicken broth powder, vegetable seasoning, fresh ground pepper and sea salt.  So no ordinary salt and pepper in this house.  There could have been more things than this added, I can’t remember.  I put a yam back in the fridge because the pot was full.  Maybe I threw in a carrot.

3.  When everything is happily boiling away and you turn the heat down to simmer, the house fills with the best aroma ever.  Assuming you like the smell of stuff cooking.

4.  Creamed soups are more yummy than the ones in which you are able to pick out all the vegetables you don’t like.  I don’t like adding flour or cornstarch, so I don’t.  My little hand mixer turns this concoction into a smooth and creamy hot mess delight.  I throw in some butter, because the body absorbs vitamins from vegetables better when there’s fat involved.  Never mind how good it makes things taste.

5.  A piping hot bowl of orange soup on a windy fall day restores your faith in whatever you’ve lost conviction and confidence in.  It’s good for whatever needs rejuvenating.  It promises you that everything will once again be all right.  It’s damned near magical.

And now I’m hungry.

Nothing is a Lucky Seven Letter Word

Yes, it's a picture of a painting.  Should I blow it up and frame it??
Yes, it’s a picture of a painting. Should I blow it up and frame it??

Yesterday I sat in the waiting room at the specialists office for my follow-up appointment concerning the results of the needle biopsy I had done over two weeks ago.  Our holiday in Ontario was wonderful, by the way.  I forgot a hundred times that all this was hanging over my head.  The time flew by.  Time waiting in a doctor’s office does not fly.  There were eons of it to look around at all the other people there facing their own worries and battles and challenges.  I’m not so special after all.  Just another patient to be diagnosed and treated.

And it turns out I’m okay.  There is no cancer, there is no lymphoma.  Just inflammation from an infection that never cleared.  Who knows where or why.  Today I start on a course of heavy-duty antibiotics for a month, and return on the 22nd of September to have it all reassessed.  The biopsy found nothing.  “Nothing” never sounded so good.

You don’t realize how much something is weighing on you until it’s lifted and set aside.  The relief is huge.  I feel like my life has been given back to me.  I know that’s way over the top for drama considering the circumstances, because I would have dealt with a different outcome too, one way or another.

And then this turns out to be the same day Robin Williams decides to end his life.  I just don’t get it.  We look after the physical body so well, but our mental, emotional and spiritual healing practices need a lot of work.  All I know for sure is that no matter how difficult this life might get, I still want to live it.

But maybe that’s because the degree of difficulty has never overwhelmed me.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to battle depression every day of your life.

So are we back to normal here yet?  Picking out all the funny little things in life that make us happy?  Annoying the hell out of people who have REAL problems?

Yes we are.

This Different Me

sue fitzmaurice marjorie pay hinckley

Last night I slept for eleven hours.  It’s amazing what a good long sleep does for your outlook on life in general.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like myself.  For one thing, I don’t want to write every day, even on days when there’s nothing of any consequence to write about.  Oh, hell, who am I kidding, that’s always been the norm here.  Now that I have something mildly interesting to talk about, I don’t feel like talking about it at all.  Apparently these days I prefer to sit down and stare off in to space with an empty head.  I suspect W is completely exasperated with me, because no matter how hard he tries I can always find a reason to be negative and bitchy.  I’m not so fond of this different me.  No doubt he isn’t either.

When I’m at work and some annoying person starts complaining about a random inconsequential minor stupid bit of nonsense (they’re all like that lately) I really would like to tell them to just please shut the F up.  I don’t care.  I’m sick.

My CT scan was done on the seventh of July, and now I have an appointment booked for August 11th at the University Hospital with an excellent doctor.

Surgical Oncology
Professor of Surgery
Divisional Director and Zone Section Head
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Does that not all sound excellent?  I’m sure I’m in excellent hands.  I should be feeling totally excellent.  Except that the ‘oncology’ word scares the living shit out of me.  He is also a plastic surgeon, so if half of my head has to be removed I’m sure he can build me something interesting to take its place.

The holiday that we’ve booked for two weeks with family in Ontario can go ahead as planned, leaving on the 26th of July and flying back on August 9th.  I have hours in the day when I completely forget about all of this.  What’s the point in worrying and imagining and dwelling on it, really.  I thought when I got to Day 16 of Jazzy and her happiness project and my life took this funny turn that I would have to put a hold on all her blather about happiness.  At least this different me realizes what a huge mistake that would have been.  I’ve had a couple of dark days but look, here I am.  I survived them.  I think life likes to hand you bad things you think you won’t be able to handle just to show you how strong you can be and that you can.

So until the middle of August, life is good.  We’ll have a fun holiday, a time to remember.  And perhaps after the middle of August life will still be good. Maybe it will just keep on getting better and better.  One way or another, life does go on.

See how weird this different me insists on being?  Seriously, stop it.  Okay.  I’m done.  Me too.

There’s not much more I can say on this topic anyway, since I didn’t ask any questions in the interests of ignorance being bliss.

Okay!  Has this bloggers block been broken?  Different me hopes it has.

The Fault Dear Brutus Is Not In Our Stars

How long has it been since you read a book that brought you to tears?  It was yesterday for me.  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is one of those books that’s hard to put down until you’ve made it all the way to the bitter-sweet end.  It is about sickness and death, and yet it’s also a life affirming love story, both funny and sad.  It is touching, and it is beautiful.

I read a rather awful review written by someone who said John Green could not possibly understand “the terminally dark” since he hadn’t experienced it himself first hand and therefore it was not his story to tell.  I think this person was especially upset by the humorous bits, as if the real thing is something you couldn’t possibly joke  about.  But we all have lost loved ones to cancer and have witnessed the battles and the suffering and the pain and have tried to make our own peace with it.  There seem to be as many cancers out there as there are reactions to it, and I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to deal with it and to cope. Everyone struggles to do the best they can with whatever strengths they have.  This story may not mirror your own personal experience, but I don’t think that makes it any less valid.

fault in our stars

“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.

“Augustus,” I said.

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”              

“When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I’d been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn’t get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. The nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn’t even speak, so I held up nine fingers.

Later, after they’d given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, “You know how I know you’re a fighter? You called a ten a nine.”

But that wasn’t quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating face up on the water, undrowned.”       

There is so much to love about how this book is written.  All the incredibly wise and perceptive passages made it hard for me to choose just a couple of quotes, but I hope these spark your interest enough to read the rest.

Bogus Wonder Woman Wonders

Who Is Wonder Woman?
Wonder Woman? (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (This isn’t actually me, although I’m quite similar.)

Daily Prompt: Write an entire post without using any three-letter words.

That should read – write an entire post using absolutely no three-letter words. There, that’s better.  So…here goes nothing.

Things Bogus Wonder Woman (my latest alias) is wondering about today which will be more or less forgotten by tomorrow:

1.  That fellow hitch hiking  across Canada wearing Stanfield’s underwear.  In November no less.  Is he crazy?  Raising testicular cancer awareness in this manner sounds seriously chilly.  I wonder where he is today.

2.  I wonder where half of November went when I wasn’t paying attention.

3.  This afterclap  word supposedly means an unexpected subsequent event, like a further clap of thunder.  However, I think it could also refer to a point in time following venereal disease recovery.  Wondering if this definition shouldn’t be added to dictionaries everywhere.  Insufficiently motivated to further pursue.

4.  Nursery rhymes have become seriously outdated, which means children find them hard to understand.  I wonder if this rewrite of Little Miss Muffet would ever catch on.

Little Miss Blogfair sitting on desk chair

Munching on chocolate eclairs,

Following comments, editing content,

Sobbing when nobody cares.

No?  Well alrighty then, moving right along….

5. I wonder what’s being served this evening at dinner time?  Should I perhaps be looking into this question more deeply?  Instead of wasting time avoiding three-letter words?  Word avoidance of a particular length turned into a harder feat than originally anticipated.  Although avoiding every letter E would be much worse.

Grabbing Life by the Balls

The Big C is a television series I’ve been watching on Netflix.  Is this not the absolute best way to watch these things – having the power to skip all the intros and the credits and cut to the next episode with no commercial interruptions?    Although I rarely watch anything on tv anymore, I guess you could call this a condensed version of doing just that.

Thinking it was a movie when I first clicked on it turned out to be a happy accident because otherwise I wouldn’t have started watching it at all.  Days later and almost to the end of season 2, I’m still hooked.   So I suppose it’s safe to say I like many things about it.  The acting, the writing, the portrayal of not one but several messed up lives and how they intertwine.  Some of the situations seem a little too contrived, but the excellent acting always saves it.

After having listened to bits of the theme song a dozen times I was compelled to hear the whole thing.  And I’ve come to love it too.

Wikipedia  has a well detailed article on the premise and cast here .  The show is into its third season, so they must be doing something right.

Every person living with cancer or close to someone fighting the disease has a story to tell.  Some of us have been given a heads-up on how long we’ve got to get our shit together affairs in order.  Most of us think we have forever.  But the only thing for sure about the life we’re living is that it ends.  You take the life you are given and you deal with it.  It’s the living and the dealing that make you who you are and your life what it is.

Grabbing life by the balls seems to me like one of the best options we’ve got.  So let’s just do that.

Sentiments from Scents

My maternal grandfather died when I was nine years old. If anyone explained to me the nature of his illness, I don’t remember what was said. There were hushed whispers about cancer for a long time, but he continued to live at home and grandma was taking care of him. If I thought much about it at all, I guess I just assumed that he would eventually get well.

Our grandparents lived mostly on one side of our house, although my grandma never took anyone else’s privacy too seriously. So I didn’t take hers seriously either. I would go skipping into their bedroom whenever I pleased to visit and talk and generally make a nuisance of myself. Grandma had potted plants all over the house and had moved a bunch of them into the bedroom so she could fuss over them without leaving grandpa alone. So it never smelled like a sick room as much as it did a flower garden. Perhaps she was giving him a little preview of things to come. Seeing grandpa so sick made me sad, but listening to grandma just made me mad. Even if he was half asleep she never shut up, ranting and raving about everything non-stop. Later I understood that it was her strange way of coping with a situation over which she had little control. But my nine-year old self wondered why grandpa put up with it. Maybe he liked the noise and it kept him rooted in this world a little longer than he would have stayed if he’d been left in peace and allowed to slip away in silence.

Ultimately it wasn’t the cancer that killed him anyway. He fell down the stairs. Terrible, tragic accident, everyone said. It crossed my mind that he might finally have been attempting some kind of getaway and if that was so, it was certainly one that stuck. He never regained consciousness and passed away in the hospital.

His was the first funeral I ever attended. It was just like a church service, except a lot more weird. There were flowers on the casket, and along the walls, and on pillars and posts and framing doorways and on tables and on the floor. I assumed they were to cheer up my grandma. They were everywhere. The room was too warm, and the smell was over-powering.

During the service my brother told me to stare really hard at grandpa’s face. If I did that and didn’t blink and kept doing it until my eyes hurt, I’d see him move. Well that was too tempting not to try, so I did it until my eyes burned. I was about to give up and kick my brother for being such an ass when suddenly I saw my grandpa take a breath. Even though I knew it wasn’t possible, it made me gasp. And take in a lungful of the sickening sweet and cloying scent of a gazillion flowers.

I felt all hot and cold and shuddery, and I tugged on my mom’s arm and told her I was going to throw up. She glared at me and told me I WAS NOT going to do that. So I didn’t. But it was a struggle. Finally kicking my brother really hard helped take my mind off it.

My whole life flowers have been something I always associate with grandma (because she loved them more than anything, possibly even grandpa) and of course with funerals. I know I’m supposed to be all thrilled to get a bouquet for a special occasion, but the truth is, the smell makes me nauseous. I like them just fine when they’re alive and growing outside in the open air. But when you cut them, they’re just going to die. I carried an artificial bouquet at my wedding. Not a good time to be flouncing about carrying something that makes you want to puke.

I understand the appeal of a great big smelly old flower arrangement, and if I get one I try to be adult about things and tolerate it.

But seriously, I just don’t like them much, mostly for how they smell. Floral perfumes and air fresheners make me gag. It’s been a lifetime since that day, but the memories remain aromatically vivid.

Powered by Plinky