Western education 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

...... getting prepared for round 3....

.... and getting as much done as possible in the days leading up to chemo tomorrow morning.  I am finishing a quilt this week, sewed a bag, went to the college to work, purchased some furniture for Max and Lydia, purchased school supplies, and picked apples from our apple tree to make apple sauce....

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at the college getting things ready for the upcoming school year in the lab class.  It was an amazing feeling getting the soldering iron in my hand once again!!!  I haven't missed a beat and managed to solder the through hole and surface mount components with one minor issue which I quickly rectified.  I have neuropathy (nerve damage) in both hands and the tips of my toes because of the cancer and the treatments I am receiving.  It never went away with the first journey and I am fortunate that they are numb and not tingly.  The down side means I can get easily injured if I am not careful.  Soldering meant that I had to be ever so diligent to ensure I would not burn myself and to make sure I knew where my hands were at all times.  It felt good to be productive and making gains on the practical projects!!!  Both are done and working and now it is the paperwork to document everything that needs to be completed.

Thursday was hospital day..... yes, I made sure I parked the nose end in towards a large planter box with no parking spots on the other side.  Hard to believe how fast the past three weeks went after the accident.  I arrive at Clinic 3 kiosk to obtain my blood requisition prior to my appointment with the chemotherapy doctor and the pager unit, which I tucked into the front pocket of my jeans.  I have the same lab technician drawing blood and I ask her to draw blood from the vein in my wrist.  As much as I dislike having needles in this sensitive area, I liked it even less when she tapped into my largest vein causing a bubble to form in it making it impossible to have my chemo IV installed there in my last round.  As predicted, she jabbed me and had to move the needle around to get into the vein.... yup, hurt a lot.  I miss my regular lab tech who is currently on holidays.

I arrive back in front of Clinic three and sit beside an elderly couple.  She has had a lumpectomy with the same surgeon I had and is now waiting to see the chemotherapist.  She knows very little about her cancer and believes she is a Stage I diagnosis..... I remember being just as naive about my first diagnosis.  I suppose that part of us just wants to live life without sometimes clouding it with all the minutest of details..... details that come back to slap you upside the head and you wished you had paid more attention to.  It does help to bring someone with you to these appointments to ask the questions you had not thought about and to keep track of what is going on.  I find that I really do not want to discuss her or my diagnosis and move on to creating an invite on my 'Martha Stewart' iPad application.  I fill my days in between visits and appointments with things I need to get done.  That reminds me.... I deleted the addictive Candy Crush from my iPad..... biggest relief to rid myself of this ridiculous time waster.  I have moved on to create sewing projects that have more meaningful and rewarding outcomes.  I am finishing off a quilt for Sarah's daughter and it is gracing my dining room table.  The lady next to me drapes herself over my arm as if we have been friends forever while talking to an old friend she has spotted in line.  I smile politely and continue working.  I have finished the invitation to my colleagues for a BBQ before the school year starts.  I tether my iPhone to my iPad and send the file out.  Thankfully, my pager has beckoned me to my appointment.

I do not have to wait long for the doctor to arrive after the intake nurse comes and takes all my information down.  How is my appetite?  It improves the closer to the three week mark I get but then it will subside the day of chemo and for a number of days after.  No, I am not nauseated much but my bowel stops moving, I am bloated and simply uncomfortable.  This chemo journey has been easier than the last one and I am deeply grateful.  The chemo brain clears quicker and I am able to focus better after a few days of being in the cloud.  I am active and sleep when I am tired.  I am less tired now, have more energy and can breathe a little easier.  The lumps in my neck are now impossible to find.  The doctor palpates the neck, bloated belly and listens to my heart and breathing. Epirubicin is a drug known to cause heart damage in some patients and it can take years for it to present itself so they are always cautious to check to ensure they get a good strong rhythmic beat.  The lungs are clear.... the sound of rasping or bubbling is bad... and so far so good.  I thank this incredible doctor who not only holds a mechanical engineering degree but was also a military helicopter pilot and now a doctor!!  He has packed in three lifetimes in his early 40's.....   We shake hands and I head out, only to run into my medical Oncologist.  I am so happy to see him and let him know that the lumps in my neck have disappeared.  He asks permission to inspect my neck in the waiting room and I give him the go..... yes, there is no lumps that he can find in the neck.  His smile is broad and wishes me luck.  Time and a CT scan in early September will confirm how much of the cancer is remaining in the body. Thursday afternoon has me taking William out shopping for items necessary for boot camp.  The mall is virtually empty as we go to the stores we need to find running shoes and personal care items.  His new girlfriend is with us and she is lovely but is also young and in need of completing her education and finding a good career.  He believes he is in love....I believe he needs time to do his own life before contemplating setting down.  Sarah and Tina have brought their children to play in the pool this afternoon after a night out at the drive-in.... no one is listening and poor moms are running around like mad after their kids... Sarah has a few months to go before baby number 2 and she is clearly not enjoying her day.  Yes Sarah, we all have moments like these and are grateful that they are few and far between.... hugs and love.  Linda has also come to visit and has brought fresh veggie spring rolls with her... yummy!!  Busy day with wonderful friends.

Friday brings more company to visit and a busy day of running around before William leaves on his plane to St. Jean, Quebec and to 13 weeks of boot camp.  He is so excited to be going and we are excited for him.  Today we will pack all his items and make sure he has enough stuff and money to get him started on his new path.  We all go out for dinner at Swiss Chalet thanks to Debbie Cowie who has gifted us with dinner cards.  We invite Olivia (Will's girlfriend) to join us.  She is very humble and polite - I think she is not used to being spoiled and it makes her feel awkward like yesterday when I bought her a few items from the dollar store and gave her my hoop earrings.  We all sit and chat about stuff and after dinner, the little fellow from the table next to us has walked over to me to get my attention.....this happens a lot to me with children I do not know..... and I have had a few climb into my lap without hesitation.  Little Charlie is looking up at me and smiling while his parents call him back to the table.  They apologize for him and I look up at them and then smile at Charlie as he turns to go to his Mom.  She picks him up and he faces me and waves.  I blow him a kiss and wave back..... and then they are gone.  Its a magical moment.  I am not wearing my headscarf this evening and still, he did not hesitate to try and connect with me... life is strange sometimes.  When I go to the Alzheimer's ward, the elderly love to touch me and hold my hands.... I simply hold their hands right back and talk to them.  As a child, animals would come up to me and allow me to pet them including a fawn whose mother and my mother faced off across the clearing where their children were playing quietly.... we parted ways but not without looking back at each other.  When I am at peace with myself and quiet, these moments happen more and more....a great sign that the soul is quiet...  William and Olivia will spend the last waking hour of the evening with her family and I pick them up and bring them home to sleep.  I will be making breakfast for the group in the morning.

Saturday morning arrives early with me sitting bolt upright.... my alarm has failed to rouse me from sleep but my mind knows that at 6:50 am, I have lots to do before we leave for the flight out.  Max has decided to stay back at the house and judging by the welling eyes, he has made a wise choice.  I started to well up too.  I am left to take all the kids to the airport, including Olivia,  to see him off.
Will checks in and then we are off walking towards the Tim Hortons.  Ameeta and Peter have come to see Will off.  She calls herself his Indian Mom (West Indian) and we follow her instructions on how to bless William the Indian way.  We stick a red sticker on his forehead and touch his head as he bends to touch our feet to ask for blessings.  Ameeta takes her turn with Peter and then photos are taken.  William's new colleague and girlfriend are sitting next to us as we chat about what bootcamp was like when Peter and I were in.  The boys are too excited and are all smiles as they wave to us from the waiting room in the arrival/departure lounge.  There is a glass wall between us.  Will blows a kiss to Olivia and then turns with Paul to head to the plane terminal.  I am not teary, just really super relieved that we got him there in time to start his new adventure.    Will will spend the rest of the day texting me or calling me to tell me how things are going.  I can hear the chatter and excitement from the other fellows in the background.  Apparently he is on the 7th floor of the towering building that houses so much of their living quarters and other amenities they will be taking advantage of in their training.  Thirty years ago, I was housed with 35 other women in an H-hut (2 story barracks that form an H... ), today in St. Jean, he will be in his own room after cabbing it to base with his new buddies in a cab because they didn't want to wait for the shuttle.  Something tells me they will learn the military motto quickly of 'hurry up and wait'.  I am proud of you Will and as I have texted him... "remember all the wonderful moments and feelings when times get tough and go there for a few minutes to recharge and remember why you chose this life"...... he wrote back that he loves me.... letting go.... hard....    In the early evening, Lydia and I went to check out some furniture in a storage unit.  She chose two blue vinyl/oak chairs and a round table for her room and Max picked up another computer desk for me and an office chair.  School is coming soon!!!

This morning I got a call at 5:20 on my cell phone.... "hey mom, I am up and waiting to line up for breakfast!!!"  This is so cool and I am having fun"....... wondering just when the shoe will drop and he figures it out.... oh well..... I am there for you buddy!!!  Mom loves you.  Now I will spend my day trying to get everything on my want to do list, done.... tomorrow is chemo day starting at 8:30 am.

I wish to dedicate this blog entry to my son Will and his brother Mitch.  They will miss each other so much... Mitchel is bummed out... too many people leaving his life this week... first his girlfriend Sara and now his best friend and brother Will.  Sending love to both my boys as they continue in their life path's looking for their own happiness.  Looking forward to seeing you at graduation Will.  Love forever and always, Mom.

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