Western education 2013

Friday, November 6, 2009

.... taking care of myself

.... means that I pay closer attention to the changing needs of a body under attack by chemo in a time of the H1N1 PANdemIC......

It is really hard to keep a sense of panic at bay when all you hear is the H1N1 is coming..... and the relationship to it's deadly predecessor the Spanish Flu of 1918. The first wave was relatively mild which was quickly followed by a much more aggressive one.... flash forward to London in the year 2009 and a health care system that runs the gamut of confused, frustrated and lacks enough vaccines .. the Spanish Flu deaths were mostly attributed to spinoff infections and poor hygiene practices... hence the incredible amount of tax funded pamphlets and advertising. Being immune deficient means that any cold or flu can encourage any number of spinoffs despite the obvious strain it causes to an already challenged system. I am in between my treatments and can only have my flu shot just before my next one. I brought my children in on Thursday afternoon to a clinic available for those with immune issues or who lives with one and although the line-up was long, it took less than 40 minutes to get them through it and I was impressed by their organization and quick processing of paperwork. Despite the fact that there were screaming children everywhere, mine quietly took the needle much to the surprise of the nurses and after, we sat and waited the 15 minutes before leaving. Max received his a few hours later.

Chemo is an aggressive opponent to all body functions and can put a body into menopause, become hairless in a matter of weeks, kill an impossible to kill wart - the one on my finger has held on for years after many months of wart killer.... I am now watching it shrivel and die within two weeks of my first chemo. I often wonder what else it is killing besides my mood these days....

I am used to being upbeat and positive and for the most part I still am but there are times when I am frustrated by my lack of energy and of course the lack of control in my life.... I love routine and goals. I am highly motivated and will tackle just about anything with zest. With a blank schedule I have been able to fit in a yoga class and art therapy at the Wellspring center - these are the events that give me spiritual energy and an opportunity to touch base with other women that are going through similar situations. They are a great resource and coffee afterwards in the kitchen draws more personal experiences. I missed last week's Art Therapy and the woman who sits beside me was quick to inform me that no one spoke and it was so quiet - 'we missed you!!' she tells me and the group once again sparks with life and the chatting and laughter is infectious. We are drawing a Garlic and showing what each of the segments represents.... I have Friends , Live, Love, Laughter and the final one is Family - it is the largest segment and when you tip the picture sideways to read the words, it is the foundation. My husband and children are my world.

Thank you to Bruce for dropping by on his way to work to bring us some wonderful home made treats and a gift. We have worked together for many years and I am eternally grateful for your support, friendship, sense of humor and the hugs!! You are a wonderful soul and I miss going on road trips to repair the microwave link or working on a complex repair with you. Our conversations cover the gamut and your sage advice with child rearing and life experiences have been invaluable. I miss you so much!! Thank you.

Saturday 7th November 2009.

Traditionally, Max makes coffee and a snack on Saturday mornings and then we go through the flyers and plan our day while sitting in bed.... our discussions are usually a recap of the week or what we want to get accomplished. This morning Max casually mentioned that my hair still looks really good and maybe I won't lose it after all..... he went to pick up Lydia while I was getting ready for my shower. My hair over the past few days has been getting courser and my scalp a little more sensitive. Running my hands over my hair and watching as the hair begins to fall into my lap is a clear indicator that my hair will not be staying much longer. My eyelashes look like they are following suit and I wonder if my eyebrows will be next. Not everyone loses their eyebrows but I know that there are some women who have and they never fully grew back. I have a pencil that will be used to draw them in should they decide to leave. Next month I will be attending the 'look good, feel better' program and I am sure that they will help me with any issues of lost eyebrows!!! Max and I chuckle when he gets back from picking up Lydia who has been on an overnight with her Brownie Pack..... he smiles at me and says that he's not worried and I smile back because I am not either. I am sitting at my desk blogging and as William comes by with the vacuum, I ask if he can vacuum my head... he gently passes the nozzle over my head - wonders if maybe I should just shave it off as he notes the sound the hair makes as it hits the inside of the hose on its way to the canister in the garage. I put my hat back on my head and continue with my blog... maybe later.

I check my facebook and note that I have mail in my inbox.... I open it and begin reading and am confused and need to read it again..... and then it dawns on me, my friend of 20 years has passed away from a viral infection in her heart while she slept overnight on the 4th of November. She was strong and resilient and had a life filled with challenges. She has two grown daughters and leaves behind a third - 8 year old Nicole who by all accounts is truly a miracle. Nancy has been through so much in her 51 years and I weep for the loss of a truly incredible woman. I called Sara - also a friend and colleague and her boss in hopes that we could inform all of her friends and colleagues that would want to attend a memorial service. I love you Nanc and will miss you!! Nancy E. Swartz 7 June 1958 - 4 November 2009. May you rest in peace my friend.

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