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.