Western education 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

...... a tear filled day....

...... began with me feeling normal and ended with me sobbing myself to sleep in the spare room.

I wouldn't say necessarily that I feel sorry for myself but it is fair to say that I am hitting my limit.  I feel fortunate that I am in treatment and that it appears to be working well..... but I am terrified, truly scared for the first time in a really long time.  I will be doing a CT scan after my "final" treatment to see what the status of my cancer is.  My head refuses to shut off to let me sleep these days and the offering of a sleep aid that has addictive qualities has me saying no thanks.  So, here I am at 4:30 in the morning groggy but awake with a stomach that has begun the boil and roll with a threat of travelling upwards.  The burn from the throat subsides as I head downstairs to grab a quick bowl of cereal.  Not the best choice but a quick one.  My appetite will wane and ebb over the next few days.

My hearing is now unbelievable sharp and with the neighbour's dogs yapping in a constant high pitch in the early evening I slam my front door.  The dogs are brought in and I can see him shake his head.  Everyone living around him would like to shake his head..... including his next door neighbour Vickie, whom I ran into when I entered the cancer clinic at noon yesterday to get my chemo.  She is a slight but feisty woman.... today she has a face etched in worry.  Her 80 year old husband was taken to hospital a few weeks ago by ambulance.  He was unable to get up and walk and he had lost the ability to communicate.  He was diagnosed with a brain tumour which they operated on an he was scheduled to do radiation to dry up the tumour they had drained.  I give her a hug and head over to clinic 4 to sign it. I receive the next appointments and the infamous pager, which I toss into my purse and look for a chair.  It is busy and I find myself sitting outside of the pharmacy.  A couple sits next to me and they watch me  conducting business with my iPhone and then I raise it above my head to obtain a signal.  My back is to the railing that surrounds the second floor and is open to a skylight above and radiation on the floor below.  The man beside me warns me about dropping my phone..... I jokingly tell him i am taking a selfie of my head.  He grins and we talk about our hand-held electronics.... oh dear, there goes my no talking to strangers today!!!  I am a true geek and I will always take up a discussion on tech gear.

They are waiting for his wife's father to finish his chemo... apparently he has sported a beard for all the years of his adult life for the exception of a few years in between now.  His wife is friendly and candid about his dismay of keeping his hair but losing his beard.  I would love to lose my 'beard' I tell her and the giggles start.  When her husband is finished his chemo a few minutes later the family retrieves him from the suite and pass by me with an offered smile and best wishes.  I nod and return the kind gesture. My buzzer goes off just as I finish sending messages to my students.

I choose a chair near the windows and my tech heads off to get a blanket and my chemo cocktail.  She will have to find a vein for the needle and I know in the pit of my stomach that this will be a painful experience as I try to relax when she puts the heated gel packs on my arm.  I can only have needles puncture veins in my right arm to avoid edema in my left from occurring.  As i sit there I can see everyone else in the chemo suite and most notably, an elderly woman whose deeply bruised arms are as a result of many pokes to find a vein they can use.  OMG I want to cry and in minutes, I not only cry out but the agony in the form of a needle pushing into tough skin, has me sobbing.  The tears have caught me off guard and I can feel the tech struggling to push the needle in further to anchor the IV.  Her beautiful blue eyes are watering and she quietly apologizes.  'Oh honey, its OK, you had to do it and it will be OK'.  She has asked a support worker to grab me a kleenex box so I can wipe my tears, which have now soaked into my shirt.  This is only the second time I have reacted this way..... the first time happened 25 years ago when a specialized needle was inserted, so what's the chances of getting the 'one in a million' needle whose end had a lovely little burr on it??...... I will save the details of that one.  The first two units of chemo are injected through the use of syringes into the click interlock.  The prickles move up the arm and the warm rush into the chest begins.  The bag follows and it will give me a sinus stuffiness and headache a few hours later.  My appointment was for noon but now the clock registers 2:40 when the needle is removed and I am able to leave.  My wrist will throb and be painful for hours to come but in the big scheme of things, it is the least of my worries.

I get into my car to pull out of the parking lot and I begin to sob uncontrollably.... what an emotional day.  I need to get home and put my Neulasta needle into the fridge.  The Victory program called a few days ago to inform me that the final two needles had been ordered and would be shipped in for pick up.  Hard to believe that this life saving injectable protein is $2600 per needle.  It will jump start my immune system but not without a bit of discomfort in the small bones that produce the white blood cells.  They have generously covered it under compassionate grounds.  I am deeply grateful for their generosity and say as much on the phone when they called a few days ago.  I make it home with a wet face and a dejected feeling of woe..... a slump I rarely find myself in.... and one I clearly do not want to experience again.

...... death is rarely something I have entertained in my journeys but lately, I have seen so many stories that remind me how really lucky I am.  I am grateful for all the help I have received but scared that it will come back when chemo ends... apparently this is quite normal to feel this way.. In my first journey, I assumed that I would get better and just move on and away from cancer and never have to deal with it again.  I think we all like to believe or maybe we are all wired to think we are immortal.  It would explain so much of the stupidity I have witnessed lately of people just risking so much to get across a street!?  I am deeply sensitive this week and yes, I have an angel on my left shoulder.... three people yesterday told me so as they looked over at it..... I really needed to hear that and intuitive people seem to know what to say.  I am a firm believer of angels and that they truly look over us.  I have been following a baby Max on FB 'Pray for Baby Max'.  He is almost a year old and on the 27th of September, his 35 year old father passed away at home.  Max's Mom, who is an earth angel herself announced the death of her soul mate and was kind enough to let everyone know that a day after his passing, baby Max spoke the word 'Mamma' for the first time in months and pointed skyward.......she knows in her heart that her soul mate is now one of the angels looking over them in their time of need.  It's what will keep her strong in her weakest and saddest moments and what inspires me to believe that everything happens for a reason.

I think we all ask ourselves at pivotal moments in our lives why we are the way we are and why we are here at this moment in history.  What do we need to learn and what do we teach other in our life's journey?  I am here to be a teacher.... not just any teacher, but one who brings the experience of a life journey and blend those soft skills into the skills so necessary for our ever changing work force.  I am a path maker and quite unintentionally.  I started out shy and reserved but zany and fun-loving.... life would prove to temper little of that... my desire to seek out a laugh and have fun is my driving force through my darkest days.  I have a slightly furrowed brow for the constant thinking I do... it has been mistaken for an angry face..... I suppose if I walked around with a perpetual smile I would be less intimidating??  Those who have gotten to know me well don't see it that way.

I am looking forward to next week when I have a guest arrive to watch me teach.  I would love to hear a candid critique of what she thinks of my sometimes zany energetic style.  Yesterday was not so much but that could be the stress of chemo day.  I pray that the next is the last one I will ever have to do.  I pray that the rest of my life is spent doing things with my family and evolving in my vocation.  I look forward to seeing my friends Julia and Chris!!!!  I love you guys!!

This morning in the early hours as my husband rises to ready himself for work brings yet more tears.... I am reflecting back on my life, sorry for putting my family through this journey and deeply fearful that my bucket list will remain undone should things not work out the way we hope.  Learning to let go and move forward will be my challenge over the coming months to establish a new me and a new way of living my life... in the here and now and reigning in the fears and challenges yet to come.  It is frustrating and overwhelming at times to take waaay too much in and having to digest it all at once.  I have to learn to take baby steps.  I have to forgive myself for my weakest moments, those I feel are spent feeling sorry for myself and be brave.  The times when I just want to run away and hide will be the times I need to acknowledge the emotional pain and step back into living my life and learning to accept that I don't have to be strong for everyone all the time.  Thank you John for your kind words to day... you see what I try so hard to hide sometimes and I am deeply grateful for your support... you are a blessing in my life.  The men in my life know what the score is and that is good.... everyone else just thinks I am bullet proof... if only they knew.  Max knows that a lifetime ago, life was anything but charming and understands that I am a driven personality but with a sensitive soul and that is why we love each other.... we know what each is right to the core.

This blog is dedicated to Max and his Mommy who are on a difficult path right now.... I don't know you but I feel for you both.  I dedicate this blog to little Melody whose rare condition has her going from an energetic almost 3 year old to an infant in minutes.... she loses the ability to walk, talk and her motor functions are grossly challenged.  Her young Mom Sami is stronger every day and has dedicated her life to finding a cure for her toddler.  I dedicate this blog to everyone no matter what challenges you face in life.  To those who have recently lost a loved one, know that they are watching over you. xo

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