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Sunday, November 29, 2009

.... Birthday Weekend

..... this fall has been one of the best we have had in years and most of it has been spent indoors. I find that my energy is easily sapped. My sister in-law calls this evening and expresses concern about how much I seem to be doing - I have to smile because I know how much she cares but I assure her that the blogs do not mention that my time away is short - usually a few hours at the most during the mornings and at times that there are few people around. I do not go shopping or go out at all on the weekends (last Saturday was an exception) - that is the time that Max goes and brings back the week's necessities. I have foregone the gym but do attend Yoga and Art Therapy at Wellspring only. My afternoons are spent refueling my energy usually by taking naps. It is so hard to also admit to her that I have a bottle of hand sanitizer in my car and 'wash' my hands before getting out of my car and when I return to it. I have towelettes that I use to wipe down shopping carts and I spend time avoiding people.... and here I am a firm believer that all children should eat at least a pound of dirt before they turn 5. Before this I think I must have ingested my fair share of grease, dirt and whatever else my hands came in contact with. Now I am constantly checking my hands for nicks and cuts that can easily get infected if I am not keeping them clean. Jeannie, do not worry.... I am taking the best care that I can!! Thank you for the phone call.

Saturday 28th November
It is Max's Birthday today and I get up early enough to make him breakfast in bed. I love my husband and just want him to have what is a traditional birthday morning. The past weeks have given me time to reflect on what is so important in our lives and one of those is to always make sure we celebrate our special moments no matter what. Fresh fruit and our seldom eaten but favorite bacon and eggs and a little special something in Max's coffee start our day. Lydia delivers her lovely monster drawing and of course the Dropeezes he loves so much. We spend time cuddling and Mitchel walks in and drapes himself across the bed. It is our weekend tradition to spend Saturday mornings talking and drifting through the flyers while sipping on coffee. I want to clean the house for him but he will not hear any of it. He knows that even the mildest of chemicals makes me ill and so without adieu, he finishes his coffee and is off to clean the house. I get the dishes done and do what I can to help out. He has found a rhythm and manages to get the chores done and is off to pick up some groceries for the weekend. I have already picked up a Cherry Cheesecake and some nibblies for a small gathering of friends in the afternoon.

What a wonderful afternoon spent with our neighbor friends. It is so unfortunate that his parents cannot come due to mom's cold but there will be time nearer to Christmas when I am hoping that all us will be feeling better.

Sunday 29th November
I am spending the majority of my day reading the Michael J. Fox memoirs 'Lucky Man'. I have read quite a few books in the past 3 months and I easily drift through a book now.... speed reading is the ability to scan getting the gist of the material while skipping over the connective words.. much like I do in my writings - get to the point while removing the fluff. I love reading Robert Ludlum but need to wait for a time when my mind reconnects with my brain - far too many details to skim quickly but great practice for detail retention. Michael J. Fox's story is well written, poignant and inspiring with beginnings that reminded me of my own childhood - living on military bases and managing to earn a grade 11 before heading out on our own. He had the blessing of his parents to pursue his desire to act and I like some of my contemporaries joined the military.

It is quiet in the house and I am cozied in to my bed enjoying the peace.... I wonder how my life had gotten so crazy that I forgot the very simplest of things that brought this sense of inner peace and serenity? I take time to stretch out my feet and my toes and cozy in even further. Despite the fatigue and the heartburn that has kicked in again - I am happy!! My children check in with me often to see if I am OK and hugs are plenty these days. I also wonder how much I would have missed out on if I hadn't been slowed to a snail's pace? The Yoga class has brought me back in touch with my spiritual side - not religious - just a meeting of the body and soul. I no longer jump out of bed but lay there and do a nice long body stretch starting with my feet, so when I do get out of bed, I no longer feel like I am walking on stiff blocks. I am not in a rush to get anywhere but set up short term goals to accomplish before the end of the day. It will all get done, but at my pace. Some days I am quicker than others!!

01 December 2009

I am en route to my Art Therapy class a little earlier so that Susan H. and I can meet up before she has to go to the Doctor's office. She looks great and well relaxed from her Yoga Class. We will make plans to get together sometime later next week. Although I have been put on a waiting list for the next Yoga Class..... I have been warned about physical pain that may worsen with activity.... I will adopt a wait and see attitude. I walk Susan to her car and with hugs she is off and I head off to meet with my Art class. The group has a few more members and it is active, fun and filled with great stories being swapped, tea being sipped and hugs. Bev has brought me a 'chemo' bag along with many other hand made bags that she offers for all the ladies who have shown up. Mine is a good size beige canvas bag that will now hold my purse, water bottle, books and my medicines that I will pick up on my chemo day!! It has been a sunny morning both inside and out!! Thank you so much ladies for being so sweet. Our newest member feels so comfortable with the ladies that she has removed her sweater... it is clear that she is missing one breast under her T-Shirt.

I think about the conversations that Max and I have every once in a while - I am not crazy about the idea of any more surgery never mind a reconstruction surgery. I am fine with the scars and the smaller sized breast - the scars will fade and I believe over time that the less we do, the better off I will be. I have not made a firm decision and will not for quite a while. I will focus on healing emotionally, mentally and physically. I know that some of the girls are not happy with their reconstruction surgeries.... lots to think about. I am mostly disturbed by a noticeable change in my skin just below the cheekbones and above the jawline - the skin is starting to ripple like the moisture is being sucked from the cells beneath it.... I think I have aged 10 years in the past 2 weeks and I am hoping that it is something that will rectify itself when this is all done. The nail beds on the thumbs are still purple and my feet and hands are still feeling numb near the tips of the fingers and parts of the palm - this much I have been assured will go away after the chemo is done.

02 December

I am very tired today and am suffering with a severe sinus headache - the pressure outside is changing and the sun has gone and been replaced with snow and winds.... not enough to stay for the day but the pounding stops after the second dose of Advil cold and sinus. The door bell rings and Walter is asking for help with another utility company... he feels bad because he can see I am not well but I motion him inside anyway and listen to his problem. I call on his behalf and the lady at the other end needs confirmation so I put Walter back on but she cannot understand him and so asks to speak with me again. I sort things out and scratch down a few notes for Walter's records on his bill and hang up with a pleasant 'thank you so much for your help'. He is relieved that it has been all sorted out and makes a quick exit after multiple apologies.... no worries Walter. I go back up to bed where I have been reading 'The Book of Negroes' by Laurence Hill from Burlington Ontario. It is understandable why the book has been so well received by the critics - it is a brilliant narrative of a fictional black woman from the 1700's who experiences being a slave brought from Africa to Charles Town (now Charleston) South Carolina. I couldn't put the book down despite the headache that was now beginning to ease. I would finish the book in roughly a day knowing that I would not be able to read after my chemo treatment on Friday for at least 4 days.

Max took Lydia to the food bank for the annual Brownie volunteer evening. Lydia's best friend's mom approached Max and offered to drive Lydia on Brownie night to help us out. What a sweet offer and we both really appreciate the help. Thank you!!

03 December 2009

It is an early start today - up at 6 a.m to get ready for an appointment at the cancer clinic for 7:30. I am the first one there and realize that I have to go to another clinic to get my blood requisition.... the IT department had done an upgrade and now the entire computer network was bogging down and forcing the nursing staff to do everything by hand. The blood work department was experiencing even slower issues and I was thankful that being the second patient of the morning meant that I would not have to suffer a long wait time. John is a new patient and sits across from me while breaking out in a huge smile when I bid him good morning. I can see that he has a dent in the left side of his skull above the ear.... it actually resembles a crater and I can see by his eyes that he has also likely suffered some brain damage. It doesn't lessen the fact that he is jovial and loves to chat.... he also doesn't seem to mind fielding questions about his skin cancer which was a result of an asphalt accident - it seems that someone forgot to empty the pipe that allows the hot asphalt to travel down to a waiting wheelbarrow.... he opened the door and received a scalding hot shower of the thick gooey liquid which solidified as it cooled... burning through his clothing and his head. His glasses saved his eyesight and after 6 weeks in a burn unit.. he was able to leave the hospital. He now has skin cancer in and around the crater on his head and has opted to not do skin graphs but will do radiation instead. He tells funny little aside stories about the nurses..... I love his laughter, his positive attitude and his stories and I laugh along with him. Later, he would pass by my examining room and point me out to the nurse with a grin and say 'now there's trouble'! An older woman whom I had chatted with in the blood lab waves to me on her way to her examination room and later when we both are leaving at the same time we bump into one another and as she turns to face me we both smile and hug each other. We part and laugh as we wish each other well. I ran across someone a few weeks ago that said 'if we all put our troubles into one big pile, chances are, you would pull your own right back out'!! I would be inclined to agree. After a few trips to the Cancer unit and hearing other people's stories - I consider myself lucky.

I managed to get blood work, see the doctor and be out of there by 9:30 so I headed out to Yoga - It will be my last class until the New Year. The gals were so excited to see me and we all just chatted and laughed before class. I am on a waiting list for the next class and it seems that all the classes are filled - I have no less than three ladies offer me their spot when I can get there on the days that I am feeling better. There are offers to drive me to class and hugs from another who I have not seen in 3 weeks. Our instructor comes up and gives me a hug and wishes me well for tomorrow..... I am so incredibly lucky!!

Thelma goes to the vet for blood tests to see if her Thyroid is Ok? She has a skin ailment that keeps flaring up - her hair falls out, she breaks out into these hives and she smells bad. Blood tests and some new meds to try..... I am keeping my fingers crossed that she improves.

Max and I go to Sears in the evening - there are very few people in the store as we make our way to the catalog department on the second floor where we pick up Lydia's new boots and cash in the points we have been saving for the past few years. We purchase a gift for Mitchel and some earrings for me and make our way home. We walk hand-in-hand and chat about Christmas and about my next chemo tomorrow when he will accompany me for the first time to the chemo suite. I am interested in seeing his reaction.

I wish to thank Beverly for the lovely 'chemo bag' and for our friendship in the Art Therapy program. I want to thank all of the people who have shared their touching stories with me. Thank you to my Yoga class for the hugs and offerings of help and to our volunteer Bunty for her wonderful stories and company over tea. Thanks to Eva for your phone call and am glad you did call when you were ready :) xox I want to thank Michael J. Fox for his candid and poignant book and for the positive power of his soul to effect change and awareness for Parkinson's - even though he is debilitated with this independence robbing illness, he still sees the bright side of life. It is something I see played out time and again in my journey with people so debilitated with their illness yet find the lighter side of it through laughter and love. May you all have love, laughter and live every day to it's fullest. xoxoxo

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