Sunday, October 9, 2011

The countdown starts

Tomorrow is my 7th treatment. This will be the first time the remaining number of treatments is less than the ones I've completed. A milestone! I've been keeping track. First there was the first one. Then I was 1/6th of the way finished. Then 1/4. Then 1/3. Then weird one (5 of 12) and then 1/2. So now we get to count it down: First a weird one (7 of 12), then 2/3, then 3/4, then 5/6 then another weird one (7/12) and then the last one.

Today I am finding I am almost looking forward to tomorrow. Today I feel energetic. I brought some kindling up to the wood pile, used the leaf blower to clear my deck, and am about to vacuum. Tonight I'm making dinner, real dinner. I feel like I could do more. Last week I poked around, and then the previous week, a treatment week, I was very sloggy. I'm not looking forward to feeling bad, but I am looking forward to being done with treatment and the best way to do that is to keep going.

I've been finding myself feeling sort of guilty for not working and for not picking up anything that is even mildly challenging at work or in my life. If I forget I am in treatment and that rest is an important part of healing, I feel like I am being very self-indulgent. But then, when I remember the part about how important rest is, I let up a bit. It's a funny thing. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do after I get done with treatment and all of this is a part of that. Do I WANT to go back to the day to day of work? Do I WANT to sign back up with all the community things I was doing? I'm not so sure. The things that I am drawn to are not on those lists. I want to write my book, of course. And I am looking forward to going to Penland in the spring. I like being in my office because I like seeing the people, but I'm not necessarily drawn to what I had been doing there.

So - off to vacuum...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Half done or half not done...

Today I got my 6th treatment. I now wear a pump for two days and then can say I am half done with treatments. The schedule has been interrupted twice due to getting ready for and then having surgery. But now I am on the track to get them finished. I think I will have one more surgery but it won't be until next year and an evaluation of the effectiveness of this regimen. I harbor a secret, well a not-so-secret, desire to not have any more surgery but am not sure it is worth spending too much time on because I think the surgery is a given...

I have been very sore following the surgery, which was just about one month ago. I had to get admitted to the Asheville hospital once I got home from Chapel Hill because I was in a lot of pain. Once that was balanced I went home again and went to work - mostly to soothe myself. the pain, once I finished with some of the medicines, came back and I went back on them and, again, when the medicine was done, I was in pain again. I finally got some relief, both mentally and physically, when Tina explained that pain was to be expected and that taking the pain meds was a good idea. I am not in much better shape. Also, today Joan explained that it really does take 6 weeks and I am just about at 4 weeks. Though it doesn't look like much, I really did have a significant operation done and it is just plain going to be sore for a while longer.

Done. Explained. Understood.

I shared the room today with a young couple I know from work. And yesterday I had brunch with a friend who is also dealing with cancer. Another friend just got diagnosed. And other friends are in the middle or newly finished with treatment. It seems to be everywhere. I'm not sure if it is my age (though many of these people are significantly younger) or a factor of the times. Or is it like when you get new shoes and suddenly everyone has new shoes? I do not like my identity being so tied to this. It makes me very sad at times, angry at times, resigned too. I feel impatience with the process, impatience with my ability, or inability to do much of anything. I scold myself, saying I SHOULD be doing more. But then I stumble into the den and watch tv or doze and that seems to be enough. Lucinda referred to the Elsie Masterton syndrome, the model we have all three been given by the force of nature she was. We have all lived by modeling ourselves after her. But right now I really cannot do it - and I'm not so sure I even want to once I feel better. It is too much and ends up in a mad spin of activity but not necessarily the inner calm I want.

So Heather and Emily and some others understand and help me understand and help others understand too. Lucinda called me this morning telling me that she wants me to do only what is best for my healing. Last week I overdid it. On Friday I was at work all day long and then went to an event which would have been nothing in other times, but was too much for me in these times. I stood for only about an hour and a half and by the time I got into my car I was in a lot of discomfort which took some major dealing to dissolve. Too much. Not a good thing. Not worth repeating. I am my own example and Elsie's is not appropriate to me now - or later either, I suspect. Time to let that one really go and be Laurey who lives her life THIS way, not the daughter of Elsie who lived her life THAT way.

Okay - time for a nap.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Still feeling good

It is important to remember the good days. Or, shall I say, the good weeks. This, for example, is a good week. Last week was not.

Right now I am in a three week break and I am very grateful for that. I have now had 4 treatments. On August 17th I will go to Chapel Hill and will have an MRI to see how this treatment is going. On the 18th I go to see my doctor there and will find out if I will be having more surgery or if, (hope, hope) I can just continue with the treatments and not have the surgery. I am not even sure if it is an option not to have more surgery but I roll the possibility around in my thoughts and imagine great pleasure at being told that it is not necessary. And, at the same time, I am trying to imagine hearing that I DO need surgery and imagine being fine with that news, fine with the surgery, fine with it all. It is interesting holding both possibilities at the same time.

Last week's treatment seemed to be going well. I had the Monday session, did fine on Tuesday, going to work and feeling good. On Wednesday I went in for more fluids and to get the pump disconnected. All seemed good. I went home and had a quiet afternoon. But in the evening I started getting cramps and called Heather to come help me. By the time she got to my house I was in serious pain. I had called the after hours line of my doctor's office but missed them calling me back twice - bad phone service at my house at the wrong time, during which time the cramps got worse. Heather insisted that we just head for the hospital and I agreed, the cramps getting worse and worse. And then, when we got to the hospital things were even worse for me. Poor Heather. Every single seat and inch of the ER waiting room was full of people waiting to be seen and I was doubled over in spasms. She got me in, somehow, but the scene was bad inside the ER too - people everywhere, me screaming, the nurses not able to get a vein for me to receive medicine. It was awful. I could not help screaming and it was not getting better. There was one moment when I remember thinking that I could not stand it anymore, but they finally gave in, gave me two shots in my butt and things calmed down. The IV specialists came in and the doctor came in and the pain stopped and we went home - at 2:30 in the morning.

The next day I woke up sick again - throwing up. Heather came and got me, took me to the doctor's office where we were seen, without an appointment. None of my nurses were there so a new one helped me. Heather had to go to work and through the haze of drugs I vaguely recall her leaving and Eleanor coming. I remember Ann, the new nurse, saying that the only pain drugs they had were morphine and demerol, both of which I say I am allergic to. But Ann said she was going to try a low dose of demerol and that if I got sick she'd be able to help me counter that with other drugs. I was really groggy so went along with it. Nothing happened except that I got more sleepy.

And then a fire alarm went off which we were told we did not need to heed. I was really not awake during all this, but I do remember them coming and telling us we DID have to leave the building and there was a real fire. I have snips of images:
Eleanor wheeling me to the garage. Me wheeling myself to the edge of the garage where the fire was and feeling the heat of the flames - and we were four floors away from the burning. Eleanor taking me to St. Joseph's, loading me in and out of her car, in and out of the elevators, trying to figure out where to go, being found by the nurses, being told to go to the 10th floor and then to the 1st floor and being questioned by the nursing staff and trying to decide if I should be admitted or if I should/could go home - which is what I did.

Then I have vague recollections of Eleanor taking me home, me collapsing onto my couch, waking up to see her reading in the chair opposite my couch, fading back to sleep, waking up to see Marilynne, fading back to sleep, waking up to see Whitney, going to sleep for the night, waking up to find Whitney gone, and then sleeping all day long until night and then sleeping all night too. Two full days of sleep.

That night Whitney told me a firefighter had died in that fire. The next few days were full of Asheville mourning for the man who died. Firefighters came from all over the state, honoring the fallen man.

And today the news is that the fire was arson.

It all felt so close. It all felt so scary.

But now I am calming down. I had cramps two other times after the ER night and I got rid of them and that is a good thing. At this point it is empowering to think that I can handle cramps without ending up in the emergency room. That I can do something on my own about this.

I am going to Vermont for a week in a couple of days - by myself. This is not something that would ever have occurred to me as being hard, but these days, being so reliant on Heather, things are a bit different in that regard. She does a really good job taking care when I need it and backing off when I don't need it. (This is a very hard thing for a caretaker to do and I have tremendous respect for her for being able to step in and out.)

I try to stay present, to celebrate feeling good TODAY and to not worry about what the Chapel Hill visit will be. Today I feel good.

I am signed up for a two week seminar NEXT year that is based on Centered Prayer. I am not sure what that is, except that I think this is what I am doing. Being here, now.

And that's my report for today.
Don't postpone joy. Or life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day one. Week 1. Round 4.

Well, then there are these dips. Today is a dip day. I had my treatment this morning for about 5 hours and then went to lunch with Heather. Felt fine enough that we came home a did a tiny bit of cleaning. The mouse problem in my kitchen drawers has not gone away even after we tried scented Bounce dryer sheets. The mice just adapted, making nests of the sheets. The smell of the scented sheets is more than I can stand so we emptied out all the sheets and put everything in them in the wash or in the sink.

And then I quit, went to read and take a nap which was just one hour but was one of those completely out naps.

Now I'm up with tingly fingers and a craving for a vanilla milkshake. I do not want to go out and I'm having a hard time finding anyone who can help. I would like watermelon too. I even posted on Facebook and the response has been tepid. Well, one person said yes, but in 2 hours and one person said yes but she lives FAR from here. And others are not home or are not responding. This is the tough stuff. I just don't feel good and would like some help. Also my calves are twingy.

News flash!! The faraway person called and is on the way. I feel like collapsing in relief. It's such a dumb thing. But I feel very delicate and it will be nice to have those things.

It feels like I am being prepared for surgery. No Avastin today. If I have surgery they want me to be off Avastin for 1 month, as it makes one's blood thinner and is not a good complement to surgery. I'll see Dr. Goldberg on August 18 and will find out then what the plan is. I feel anticipatory disappointment at the idea of having surgery - as if I SHOULD (there's that word...) be able to will it away. And I am trying to hold both in my heart. That I WILL have surgery and that it will be okay and not too difficult AND that I WON'T have surgery because there are no more cells that need to be removed. Hard to hold such disparate things at the same time. I am ALSO trying to be present-oriented, telling myself that now is now and then will be then and there is nothing to be gained by focusing on the what ifs and the scoldings.

The truth is, this is a fucking hard thing to do and it is hard to feel gratitude on Day one, though it IS true that I AM grateful for the availability to me of the treatment and the doctors and such. But I do sink too. I'm mostly showing the up side to this all in public writing and when people see me. But today I don't feel up.

There is today's truth. That and the fact that I am 1/3 done (well, I will be at the end of this week.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Treatment Eve

I so love the Not-treatment weeks. The days stretch out, gloriously long, filled only with good thoughts and strong feelings and the idea that I am completely fine. The feeling of fear starts to creep in around Wednesday and builds until now - Sunday night. But I went to dinner and a movie tonight and that helped - except that the father in the movie had stage 4 cancer and died from it and that was hard to hear. But the good part about the movie and dinner was I did not dwell on tomorrow very much.

People are telling me how they admire me and my bravery and courage. I must say I don't really feel brave, just sort of tenacious. I am allowing myself to sleep or take time just for me and I don't know if that is tenacious. Maybe, I think, when I feel judgmental, being so selfish is not the right way to be. Maybe I should force myself to DO more, to go to work for a longer period of time each day, to go to an exercise class and to just plain old DO more, be productive or something. But what I AM doing is going to work for just a couple of hours, going home, having lunch, taking a nap, taking Tye for a walk, going home again and watching tv until I am sleepy. Is that brave? I'm not sure.

So tomorrow I go for another treatment. I am nervous that the side effects (affects?) will get stronger and that I will not feel well. The pins and needles in my fingers gets worse each time to the degree that I could not type for a couple of days the last time. I hope it does not get much worse.

And I am fortunate that it doesn't matter if I go to work or not. The team has things under control. So if what I need to do is sleep, I can. And there is no need spending a whole lot of time worrying about the possibility (probability?) of surgery. I see the doctor in August and will find out then. In the meantime I am going to go to Vermont for a week for a break from this routine. Funny to say I "need" a break, but it is true and it will be good.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Feeling good

Tuesday of a Week #2 is a good thing. I feel regular today. A slight tang in my mouth, a tiny bit of finger tingling, but good energy, good spirit, good feelings. I am happy to have the remainder of this week to feel good and I am hoping that the treatments continue with no noticeable decline in my health.

I have one more session and then go to Chapel Hill for another evaluation. I found out today that Dr. Goldberg is moving to Ohio but he has agreed to continue to consult with me. I'll confirm this when I see him in August.

Right now I am wondering if there is a possibility that I will not have to have surgery. I really don't want to have such a large incision - completely across my belly. But, on the other hand, if that is what it takes to be confident that no rogue cells exist, I guess the surgery is the best option. Just feeling kind of grumpy about it.

And I'm also thinking about work. I have really not been present at work in a serious way since starting treatment, or even before - since the surgery. I had never spent so much time at home, so much time doing not very much. But I am slowing down and am not necessarily hyped about jumping back into the fray. The gang is doing a fine job of managing and even the smallest things are not interesting to me right now. Actually, they kind of turn my stomach, even the smallest things - like trying to help solve the problem of where to fry chicken for 600 people in September. Funny, the distance is making me really think about what I want to do and how I want my life to be. I'm not convinced that I want it to be the way it has been. This is a major wake up call and I am trying to listen to the messages I'm getting.

I started working on my book today - mostly just organizing things and getting ready more than I was.

Also today a big hatch happened in Hive # 1. I have not gone in to look for the Queen, but for the first time I saw a LOT of new bees climbing out of the hive entrance. Perhaps they were the babies that hatched from the brood I put in in June. Probably. It was fun to see that much activity. I glanced into the other hives and did not find full honey supers, though there are lots of bees in all hives. Still need to do a major exploration - a State of the Union, but not quite yet.

For now, good night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Groggy days

It is now Friday of my third Week 1. I've been very sleepy this week. And right now, though I am at work, i feel like I could easily go back to sleep or the entire day. how does one cope with this? Just say, well, I'm tired, I'll just sleep? Or does one try to fight it, see if I can accomplish something? It doesn't seem to work that way, sadly. Yesterday I came to work, stayed for about 1 hour, and went home where i slept until 1. I was then awake for a couple of hours. took a three hour nap, went to a meditation session, and then went home to sleep for the entire night. And the day before I woke up at 5, read until 7, slept until 11, went for a treatment - during which I dozed, and went home where I took a 3 hour nap before having dinner with Whitney. Home and in bed by 9:30. Whew.

I guess the main thing to say is that I must really need this sleep. Today I woke up fairly alert, as if emerging from a thick fog. I guess this is what Week 1 looks like these days.

The really good thing about this is that the gang at work have things well under control, so I am not missed, in terms of getting anything accomplished. I feel very fortunate that they can cover for me. One of the many positive aspects of going through this.

I'm considering going to Vermont in August to hook up with the bikers on the Northern Tier. It's odd to feel intimidated by that excursion, not unlike the idea of riding for 100 miles. I wonder if I can manage. I felt pretty good last week, (week 2) so I trust I'll be okay. It's disconcerting to feel so wobbly. I cling to Heather and to friends here, knowing that they can be with me in a few minutes if I need help. Stepping out to Vermont, plane flights, carrying luggage, driving a distance...all feel intimidating. But instead of succumbing to the intimidation, I'm going to try to do it.

That's all for now.