Western education 2013

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

..... wonderful visits and a CT scan......

My family is away at the cottage and I am staying at home.  The phone began to ring on Monday from friends wondering how my week was unfolding.  My first visitor of the week arrives for lunch.  I was fortunate to be helping and eventually teaching for Karin at the local high school. She wanders through my urban garden and is wowed by my garden and often asks how I manage to find the time and how she wishes she did.  I tell her that I make the time to do things that bring me happiness and things that fill my soul. We part with a hug and a promise to see each other soon.

Later in the afternoon,  Mauricia arrives.  She has been a friend since September 2009 from my early days at Wellspring (cancer support).  She is a two time survivor and at 71, she is super young at heart.  We sit on the back deck chairs and share a bottle of red wine.  We talk about what's important and laugh at the craziness of our lives.  We have a wonderful time and I look forward to seeing her soon.  I love you.  I will be participating in the walk for Wellspring in September.

Tuesday brings Brayden, Lisa and Kelly to my backyard in the high heat of mid-July.  I went to school with Brayden and Lisa a few years ago at Western University and Kelly graduated from the same course a decade before.  Kelly wasn't sure she should join us as she had texted me earlier in the day to ask if she could pop by since she would be in the neighborhood.  She fit right in and we all spent a wonderful afternoon talking about what we all have in common - teaching!!!  Lisa is heading back to Sweden to teach for one more year in early August and the rest of us will return in September to our respective schools. 

Wednesday brings Elaine to my front door to accompany me to my CT scan at Victoria Hospital.  It is  
7am and I am glad I set my alarm to get me up... I am usually up early but Laidee was freaking out with each roll of thunder over night.  She was jumping in and out of the bathtub and in my shower.... I was too tired to get out of bed other than to go to the washroom.  I am sore in my left thigh and left hip... likely caused from trying to balance my way around the garden but I am not sure and I am already feeling anxious about the CT scan.  We arrive early and find a parking spot easily.  With a quick trip to the Tim Horton's on the main floor, we then continue on to the CT/MRI unit.  

I know the routine after so many scans..... first the contrast liquid - 1.5 litres of orange flavoured 'juice' sipped over an hour and then off to the change room to put on hospital clothes.  I always cringe at the prospect of yet another I.V needle shoved into an already impossible vein.  I let the tech know when I get comfortable in the chair that the main vein in my elbow is not a viable choice.  She prods and decides that it is soft enough to give it a go.  I knew what would happen but often, its just easier to allow the tech to find out for themselves..... she struggles, tries to push the tube in with saline and then finally calls it... she has to remove it and try another vein but not without apologizing profusely.  She finds another vein, selects the smallest gauge needle she can use and has success but not without blood beginning to run out of the tube and on to the hospital gown.  "This never happens".... she is perplexed and I just calmly tell her its OK..... after letting her know that I was in my happy place at the beach. She continues to apologize as she wipes up the blood .... so I do what I know will help out the situation - I give her a hug.  She thanks me for making her feel better and then leads me to the scan.  I note that the waiting room is getting busy at 9 am due to a trauma being brought in to the other suite.  The preliminary scan is done and then the i.V is hooked up and the contrast courses through my veins giving a very warm sensation and a need to pee.  "Hold your breath" drones an electronic male voice as the table I am laying on pulls me into the 'donut' that contains the scanner and then moves slowly back to its start position as I continue to hold my breath.  You have to hold your breath to keep the liver from moving as the scanner scans it.  A few scans later and another tech comes in to help me while the first one prepares for the next patient... She tells me to have a good day as I move out of the automatic doors.  The man in the wheelchair from the waiting room rolls into the suite - he is missing half of his left leg and a number of the ends of his fingers at the first joint.  His right leg is wrapped except for the toes sticking out that look grotesque... It is likely this is someone who has diabetes.  It reminds me of how fortunate I am despite the cancer.

Elaine and I head out of the hospital and I take her out to Angel's for breakfast.  We both enjoyed our meal and were fortunate to speak to the owner about my illness... I have known her since I used to go there for breakfast with the survivor group I paddled with in 2010.... we discussed, of all things, symbols of our passed loved ones.  Butterflies, dimes, pennies found and more.... and also our thoughts on our lives and its meanings... I will leave this private as it reflects thoughts from others whom I do not have permission to share.  We hug and as she moves off, she calls over her shoulder... see me next time you are in for breakfast.  I will head there after my appointment next week with the oncologist.  It will be a time for Max and I to talk about what our next steps are depending on what we are told.  Elaine and I head back to the house and we meander through my garden.  She will take a carrot home with her and as she puts it in the car, she finds a penny on the ground.... another symbol. Hugs and love... thank you for being here for me today. 

By noon, I am feeling very tired and head upstairs for a nap which lasts 3 hours.  Today my bowel is bothering me and I am bloating.  I am not able to go anywhere and choose to just blog and snack on the couch.  The dark chocolate I am sucking on finally settles the stomach.  The fatigue of not having a good sleep because of the dog.... the worry of the CT and a late afternoon nap all added up to a quiet evening.

My lovely daughter starts texting me through FB this evening.... oh how I miss her.  She will be back soon and I hope she is enjoying her time away.  We have a few more days apart which we will both make the most of.  

Thursday brings a road trip with my crazy gal pal Kirsten, whom I absolutely adore!!!  I am not feeling well as we start out the trip.... my gut has been upset now for days and I am just trying to stay the course.  Miss Regan, her daughter joins us on our trip as we head towards Sarnia.  We chat about the funny quirks and sayings I say.... just sayin'..... and note that for the second trip in as many weeks along the 402 that the wind turbines are not moving... OK 1 in about 40 are turning.  It's a beautiful summer day with a breeze as we get closer to the ferry and the trip across the river to the cottage.  Pat is grinning from ear to ear as we approach the dock.  A few minutes later we jump up to the dock and help the elderly couple on the boat with their groceries.  Despite the strong breeze along the river, it is a warm day with clouds building in the bright blue sky.  

We arrive at the cottage along a path.  It is amongst the trees that cast a cooling shadow from a canopy of ancient trees well above the second story roof.  The cottage is reflective of what it looked like in the 50's..... stepping back into a different era.  We drop off our bags and head out to walk the the island before lunch.  We are a mere 100 yards down our chosen path when I see a profile I easily recognize.... I am not a hollywood fan, I do not care much for the glitz and shallowness of famous people.... but Chris Hadfield is not like anyone out of Hollywood.  He is an incredible adventurer as an Astronaut and Pilot and a rare man of multi-talents who is humble and engaging in a soft spoken manner.  Last summer, Max was able to water ski with the family but I had to stay back because I was on chemo.  Pat, his sister and one of a few of my best friends walks us over to meet him.  I introduce myself and play with the pug who has accompanied him.  I do not like to intrude but ask him for a photo and he obliges us as he guides us up his boat dock.  We pick up the puppies to get our photos taken.  Wow.  Thank you so much!!  Pat tells me that he was not supposed to be at the cottage until later in the week and for some reason, I'll call it a wish... he was there for only a few hours before heading back out.  Later we had a fabulous lunch and headed for another walk around the island in the opposite direction.  There is something about being at a cottage.  Thank you Pat for inviting us. xoxo

Here is Chris Hadfield and myself on the dock.

Me, Kirsten and Pat!!  My awesome bestie gal pals.  Love you girls!!!

Friday I head out to help out a friend with her garden.....only I pulled on some vines wrapped in the trees ahead and the pain in my side came as a warning too late.... I would spend the remainder of the day in spasms and pain.... and into the night of sheer agony.  It felt like my belly was on fire and the bloating extended the abdomen while the sharper pain radiated into the liver and through the kidney.  I couldn't get comfortable and ended up in the kitchen leaning into the counter and jogging my feet in place... much like I did while in labour with my children.  Deep belly breathing..... calming down slowly.  The tears dried up.  More tums and two glasses of warm boiled water and continual visits to the washroom finally helped to relieve the pain enough to sit upright in bed and fall asleep.... at around 3:45am.  I call it my night in hell.... alone for the exception of the pets who just watched me move from room to room clutching my side and expanding belly.  I am not easily frightened....this was one of those moments where I can honestly say I was terrified...

Saturday has started slowly with puttering to clean up the house.  Mitchel has texted to tell me they are on their way home.  They should be home by dinner.  I am just finishing up the laundry and cleaning up while blogging.  I am still really tired but OK.  So this was my week by myself.  

WELLSPRING - is a free support service for cancer patients and their supporters.  Yoga, Art Therapy and many other services to give women and men an opportunity to connect with others and take time out for themselves.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

.... the online commentary game....

This week I noticed an article on Business Week with regards to Monsanto.... you know, the makers of DDT, PCB's and who are now creating GMO seeds....

..... so, I learned a lot about online commenting.  There are those who are called Trolls or Shills... people whose soul purpose is to create controvery on online forums while sometimes getting paid to do so.  They quote articles they have sourced online to back up their points, they often times use sarcasm and 'humour' to rile up anyone who would challenge them.....

....... so, I riled a few of them.... I wanted to know what exactly they were all about and I had some interesting responses.

Michael - with enough banter I was able to discern this young man as being a bored high school student who thought it was hysterically funny to throw out casual insults throughout the internet on various topics from vaccinations to Monsanto.  When he was flailing in his arguments, I simply cast the net and used his own tactics against him.... he was not amused and when I finally nailed him with re-posts of his from many of the sites he had been on... his only retort was that I had no sense of humour.  According to what I could learn of him through my research... his parents immigrated to the States.  So this is how he shows respect to the adoptive country he now calls home and to the people whom live in it??  This is the better life his parents wanted for him??

Rob - This individual is intelligent and I got the feeling that there was something within his posts that were sensitive, almost defensive..... with poking, I learned that he came from a poor farming past and that his distinct belief and trust in advancing GMO technology was what was fueling his posts... he thought I wanted to live in the past where all farming continued in the old ways and back to a very difficult existence.... he couldn't have been more wrong.  I am anti-Monsanto, not advancing technologies unless of course they continue to splice animal/insect DNA into our food and then I have an issue with that.  He spent more time throwing websites, quotes and opinions at me to support his beliefs.... and in one site, when it appeared he was losing an argument he replied that he was at least getting paid $1 per post by Monsanto.  Whether he is or he is not... the internet is not forgiving according to the fellow he complained openly to about me pointing this out..... we ended our debate amicably and respectably.  I have learned much from this individual about presenting an argument and debating it.... and also learning to think twice before posting once.  

Hyper____ - this guy is interesting and I get the sense that he is very intelligent, blended with an open mind but firm in his convictions.... he is also sensitive.  It took insults and poking to get to the real deal with him - I needed to know where exactly he stood in his beliefs with respect to GMO's and Monsanto without the constant barrage of quotes and condescending remarks.  It turns out he lost a sister to cancer recently and this revelation took us in a different direction immediately.  I apologized for poking him and gave my deepest condolences.....but I truly needed to understand his strong rebuttles against those of us who were anti-Monsanto.  He doesn't support Monsanto but supports GMO in order to simplify farming and create a better environment - that I understand.  We were able to communicate a few more times... and this time with respect and kindness towards each other.... perhaps one day we will banter on another forum.

Elizabeth..... sweet, young and naive.... thinking that big companies were making developments for the soul purpose of advancing and bettering our society.  She makes statements that are not well researched and based on her own limited knowledge.... she makes up the majority of people posting on these sites.... She states what her credentials are but they don't necessarily match what is stated on her profile.... it's a defense mechanism used to tell me she has more knowledge than she does.  When pressed, she calls me nasty.... I tell her to firm up her point of view.... later, she changes her name to protect her identity.  It has taught me to carefully research before posting... Elizabeth/Jane has learned that lesson the hard way.

Chris - a random disrespectful comment "people get cancer and die..... and that is that"  I carefully considered his statement after another one he posted where he calls me a few choice names.... I respond after researching his insecure FB account with "Naval Rescue Swimmers drown.... and that is that.  This lesson above all I think was the most important one....if you post ignorant name-calling posts, make sure you set your security settings on FB so people cannot just obtain your information and use it..... and really, don't post anything you wouldn't want your military boss to read when you are slamming civilians on an open forum without merit or respect.

The site Disqus, of which I am now a member of, does not allow you to retract statements published... and, as Rob discovered, things said in a heated retort can have an unexpected backlash.  There are many people with opinions that attack and demoralize others and it is really easy to get caught up in the melee.  Some are looking for approval in how many 'upvotes' they get with random snipe attacks on the unsuspecting as Michael and Chris does....they just look for reactions to start an argument.  There are those that likely get paid to post and often encourage through prodding to continue the conversation until either or both of you look incredibly stupid.  There are those, like myself, who will apologize for being inappropriate and continue the debate respectfully, using my own name (means I have to own what I say) and will stand my ground when attacked from behind. 

It is truly an art to communicate on any of these forums... remember.... 

1. State  your opinion - back it up if need be with published accreditied reports, keep it simple and to the point.
2. Generalized statements will always get you into trouble.  Only speak of things you know or have experienced first hand.  My brother's Uncle's best friend's wife........NO!!
3. Do not respond to reply posts that are insulting unless you want to battle it out... from an outsider's point of view... you both look moronic if you lower yourself  to their level (which is easily done).  
4.  Ask for clarification - if you do not understand a response to a post you made or others, feel free to ask for more detail.  Be polite and they will in turn be polite back.
5.  Know your opponent - scan other posts, how many posts and how they treat others online.  Often if they are really antagonistic, it is best to just post a link without opinion.
6.  Your opinion is Public!!! Once you put your opinion out there... you often can only edit it at best.  Make sure you do not respond emotionally and if you do.... read it twice before posting.
7.  You are likely not an expert - so don't give yourself more 'credentials' than what you have.  Elizabeth claimed she was a historian...but with a little research, she is a librarian who likes to read history... a buff and a Historian are clearly not one and the same.  As she quickly found out...she lost respect and credibility.
8.  The internet does not have all the answers... and yet, link after link is posted and some are heatedly disputed.  Make sure you have links to Scholarly papers that have merit and read the entire thing... because your opponents will to disprove the paper you have wasted their time referring them to.
9.  Set your limits - an article with opinion streams lasts only a few days.... like a conversation, it has a beginning, middle and end.  State your opinion, back it up and let others add to the conversation.
10.  It's not personal unless you want it to be - it is a conversation with strangers, so if someone says something and someone else adds to it in a derogatory manner, you can choose to respond with the same ammunition or choose to learn how to difuse the situation with maturity.... really hard to do but great practice.  You can also choose to re read what you wrote to see if it was misinterpreted or you were being antagonistic.  Prodding and pushing buttons can sometimes bring surprising responses as it did in my case and using the situation to take the positives.  
11.  Thank your opponent - often we learn from every interaction we involve ourselves in either good or bad.... if the conversation was terse and both opponents were heated, thank them for their enthusiasm and strong beliefs... they will appreciate knowing that it really was argued with good intentions.  Two antagonists I battled with online I now follow and ending the conversation with compliments and best wishes really made it enjoyable.
12.  If this puts you in a bad mood.... because they do not see your point of view.... then this is not for you.  Move on and find something else to do.
13.  Your sense of humour - may not convey well online and may well get you into hot water.  
14.  Clean up your act and act accordingly - Remember what you put out on the internet stays on the internet and becomes public property.  Any boss or prospective employee can find out what kind of person you are simply by looking for your comments on public forums. 
15.  Do you really know who you are chatting with? - we warn our children all the time about online strangers and yet we go online and make friends, combat on forums and share personal information... which later could come back and haunt you.  Keep to the topic... unless you feel it is absolutely necessary.  My cancer journey is public and I share some minor details if the disussion warrents it.  Most people respond well if they understand you come from a good place...its all in how you express yourself and since you do not know who you are speaking with... be respectful.  

For the uninitiated, it is a great way to learn communication skills and to make your voice heard.  With some people, I will just post a link with no comments to avoid any antagonistic and personal responses... remind yourself that while your friends and family love your sarcastic sense of humour... tend to one... it doesn't translate well to someone who doesn't know your twisted sense of humour.  I enjoyed my first real foray into online discussions... I might have a few bruises but I also have learned so much doing so!! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

.... a wonderful day for a walk...

.... you just never know what adventures or people will come your way....

Lydia and I just wanted to do something together yesterday.  Max suggested we head out on our bikes to Springbank Park.... I am not so sure my body can handle a trip down and back so we decide to take the car and park it near the community center off Wonderland Rd.  We noticed a couple walking their dog a few meters behind us as we stepped across the bike/pedestrian path and began our walking trip.  Along the way I would eat berries growing along the path and wonder at the surging river from the previous days of torrential rainfall.  Lydia wanted nothing to do with the berries and kept questioning if I knew what I was doing???  I have to chuckle and at the same time be grateful for all the forced 'marches' as a kid when my parents would point out all kinds of things to us kids.  She berated me for stopping and squishing a pair of Japanese Beetles as if I would intentionally embarras her?? 

A few hundred meters from the beginning of the paved bike/pedestrian path is a bridge that crosses over the river and curves around the parking lot of a Golf Course.  The tree that stands beside the pathway is a behemoth of a structure reaching a height of what I can only estimate to be in excess of 60 feet..... the trunk dwarfs the car parked a few meters away.  We crane our heads and I snap a picture of the canopy high above us making us feel like ants below it.


We cross back over the bridge and Lydia notices that the concrete has rusty markings criss-crossing the surface and I explain to her that it is the iron stucture beneath the bridge that has leeched through... I try to go down the embankment to look under the bridge and manage to slip a few feet.  Lydia is concerned that I may have hurt myself and demands that I return to her immediately... the couple that was behind us has stopped and I can hear the concern in the man's voice when he asks if I am OK.  "Yes thank you"... He mentioned something about being over 50 and not being able to do what we think we can.  I have to smirk and reply that I was thinking the very same thing.  We began to talk and walk along the path together.  The pain in my sternum and adjoining ribs are warning me to not do that again.

The couple come here often to walk with each other and to take their dog Walter with them. Lydia is loving their friendly pug-cross and follows him to give him a little pat.  The husband mentions that there is an upside-down shopping cart ahead and peaks our curiousity as to why there is a cart surrounded by four construction cones adjacent to the walking path.  We all inspect the cage and read the sign that tells us that turtle eggs have been layed here, well off the bank of the swollen river.  Wow!!!  They even have pictures on their cell phone of a tiny painted turtle cupped in the hand of their daughter from a previous visit.  

Lydia and I continue up ahead, with me still eating the berries along the path and admiring the old willows with burls that look like warts everywhere on the trunks and large branches....  I ponder as to the age of these trees?

We head along admiring the fast moving murky river and notice a culvert on the right hand side and some really tall plants..... the couple is just feet behind us and asks if it is a Hogweed (a noxious non-indigenous weed that is dangerous to touch its sap - can cause blindness and burns to exposed skin and eyes).... I have never seen one up close .... not sure that I want to...... but a quick seach on the internet on my phone indicates its a real possibility... The London Free Press has a picture of a blooming one in today's paper warning people to not remove the plant themselves lest they get the sap on themselves which can cause serious burns and even blindness.....I will have to visit the park again to take pictures when it blooms.

Up ahead are more cones and an orange frost fence complete with a sign that indicates the walkway is closed.  We can see workers up ahead but decide to stop and chat.  Lydia inspects under the cones to see if there are any turtles... no, but she checks again anyway and then plants herself beside Walter giving him some attention.  We formally introduce ourselves and the topic turns to the wife's cancer diagnoses and chemo last year.... I had chemo last year too, I tell her... that's when I realized she had a pink ribbon tattoo on her forearm..... Two unrelated women, born months apart, both 50 with similar stories of diagnosis... what are the chances???  I don't believe in chance meetings... this was meant to be.  We began to chat, her and I about our journey and where we were at.  She admires my daughter for being so accepting of my journey.... her youngest is struggling in her late teens with her mother's diagnosis.  We continue to walk together and Lydia hangs with Mark and their dog chatting amicably with him.  We both feel very comfortable sharing and chatting as we take a dirt path to the beginning where we first noticed them and their dog.  We bid each other well, I shake Mark's hand and give Ingrid a hug.  If you should need me anytime, please let me know.  Lydia and I will continue alone to get an ice cream cone while they head off in another direction but not before connecting through FaceBook on our iPhones.

Lydia continues to chat to me as we head towards the river and to the ice-cream stand.  It is a rare treat for me, so with a few small scoops in hand, we saunter over to an empty picnic table overlooking the rapidly rushing waters of the muddy Thames River... we sit on the table snuggled in together and just chatting about our recent experience and grateful for the encounter.  Lydia is such a gift with her joyful and poignant insight into our lives together....She hugs and kisses me "I really love you mom" she says as she licks at the dripping moosetracks icecream.  "and I really love you too Miss Lydia".  We sit there watching a stick rush by, carried by an incredible volume of water. 

Its time to head out and we will go and pick up some produce at a local growers stand.  I keep thinking that its getting late in the afternoon and that maybe we will just head to the grocery store.... sometimes I should really listen to my inner voice.... after purchasing our veggie needs, we head back towards home on the highway leading up to a main London road when all of a sudden, out of a side street, a car pulls out in front of us.  I don't have time to brake so I have to pull out onto the paved shoulder and speed by to make it around him... of course blaring the horn.  He speeds up and pulls up to the back of my car and I step on the brake to get him to back off.  He chooses to speed through traffic to once again find his way behind me only this time to take a picture of my plate and to flip me a nasty grin.  I roll back to block my plate from his vision.  The light changes and I try to weave around a few cars to get away from him and see that he has fallen once again in line behind me.  He follows me when he turns at the light into a drive lane leading to a parking lot.  Well that just did it for me.  I stopped the car, pulled the brake (standard car) and walked towards his car that had pulled in behind me.  I was hopping mad and telling him to get lost... bad enough you cut me off but now you are following me... I have a child in my car whom you put in danger (thats about the jist of it).... so he pretends to talk to his cell phone like a coward after trying to intimidate us!!!!  I stomp back to the car and drive around trying to lose him.... I park and Lydia and I head into the grocery store but a few hundred feet into the store and I get a bad feeling so we head out to see him walking in our direction.  I have a picture of his plate parked 20 feet away from our car..... 

We head back home and make a scrumptious dinner of our fresh finds.  After dinner we head out to shop at Giant Tiger for some cottage wear for Lydia..... she is an excellent shopper - she knows just what she wants and busies herself finding a swimsuit, shorts and tops.... and a lovely dress.  She is just so grown up these days and I am proud of her for knowing what she wants and for the confidence she exudes in her daily life.  I catch a glimpse of me in the reflection of a dressing mirror.... egads, do i really look like my mother these days. Somehow, the view of myself never seems to match how I perceive myself??? Lydia will tell me later that the lighting is yellow and not face friendly.... where does she get all this info??   Oh yes, from all the make-up sites she finds on YouTube.  

Ruth finds us rummaging around the clothes racks and we give her a squeeze.... then Kevin calls (next door neighbor and friend) while we are chatting and I have a chance to say hello!!!  Ruth escorts us through the aisles as we pick out sales items for our pantry shelves.  It has been a long day and we hug her and head out.  Lydia reaches up to give me a peck as we navigate the bumpy roadway with the cart to our car.   I adore you Lydia and I know you will make a great mommy some day.  We hop in the car and she reaches over to kiss my cheek and rub my head... "Thanks Mom" she says with a broad happy grin.  I look over and into her eyes... "no, thank you baby".  We hold hands when I drive in between shifting gears.  Life is good.

Thank you to Mark and Ingrid for being such a special part of our has been many years since we have been back to Springbank park and it could not have been better if it was meant to be alll along.  We hope to spend some time with you both soon. xo

Monday, July 7, 2014

......Go on without me.......

...... while I attend my medical CT scan in the middle of the family vacation.......

Max's sister and brother in-law are hosting a family get-together at his parent's cottage for the first time in the 16 years I have been with my husband.  The cottage is a long drive from here and the itinerary has been emailed to everyone..... for the week of the 21st of July....... I am sure its just an oversight despite the fact we have known about my appointment on July 23rd since mid April.  I let my inlaws know that I will not be attending the first event that is a 5-6 hour road trip for our family .... inside I am thinking a possible first and last for me and I won't be able to make it even to the first one.  I will choose to stay behind and care for the pets and house while mine and my husband's family gets together..... a cancer life can be painfully lonely even with family..... I wish we had gone with a previous idea of booking one closer to us.... 

The fact that my illness has often times left me out on the sidelines of family life....this just feels a kick to the face......while it may not have been intentional, that thought doesn't take the sting out of feeling dejected.  I try to convince myself that I would just be a drag to everyone sitting on the dock or in a chair doing absolutely nothing when I could be at home canning my ripening tomatoes for 8 hours over a hot stove by myself.  There have been many moments in this journey where I feel alone and apart from others.....this just makes it real.  I try not to entertain the notion that I might not be here for the second annual event...if there is one.  I want to cry but I'm afraid I might not stop.  I feel like I am being punished for being ill. 

I head back upstairs to lay down while Max readies himself for the day... I have been awake for most of the night listening to the sound of thunder and seeing the flashes light up the curtains.  I am tired and feeling out of sorts.  He crosses the room and lays next to me and the first tear escapes and rolls down my face.... I tell him that I have sent out an email letting his sister know that I will not be going to the cottage and asking him to just go without me.... he wants to know if its possible that I might not want to be there visiting with his sister.... the thought had crossed my mind..... and likely that would be the biggest reason why I won't travel the 5-6 hours so I can sit in an adirondack chair next to her to hear once again about how my "cancer is no big deal" or to be asked what my clothes size is..... or some other such insensitive commentary.  

He heads downstairs after giving me a kiss and a pat on the back.....I turn over and pull myself out of bed... I am sore these days and today exceptionally tired.  I convince myself to just get going anyway but sit there taking a moment to reflect....we had discussed with our inlaws for the past while to consider renting a cottage where everyone could meet that was close enough to us for obvious reasons.....after 16 years of being married to Max and never ever being invited to the cottage before... its suddenly became a planned family vacation for everyone during the one week in the summer that I need to be here..... I really try to take the high road but as I pondered some more... I have to own the anger brewing inside me....  it's time to get up and putter around.

I head out to the garden and pull weeds, squish shitty cucumber beetles and try not to cry.... the overcast gloomy skies are not helping my attitude and later when Kirsten calls... I will jump on and off the pity train and then decide its not worth mulling over any more. I confirm to myself that I really wouldn't want to have to sit in an adirondack chair playing pretend nice for the better part of a week when all I want to do is smash her square in the face with a well placed fist!!!  There, I finally said it.....feel better.....not much.....I hate feeling these feelings.....its so not me.  I think Kirsten has a point.... we used to as kids tell our siblings anything and everything we wanted them to know that bothered us about them.... and now, we just quell the desire to just break loose simply in part by ingrained niceties that keep us all from punching each other in the face..... I will stay home and just putter and hope my family is having a wonderful time.... without me..... 

I am still feeling moody.... sitting in the back yard watching a woodpecker eating seeds from a birdfeeder when it gets slammed from behind by another woodpecker.... yah buddy... know how you feel.  This morning I rescued a mouse swimming in our pool... he was on his last strokes when I pulled him free using the net.  I simply put him back under the fence where I was sure he travelled from when he came upon the pool... and because the cat was out looking for a place to pee nearby... OK that's the story i'm sticking to.  The thunder tolls every once in while as the clouds thicken.... I wonder how William is making out in Winnipeg with the flood relief job the platoon was bussed out to help with.  The thunder is now deepening its retort and I am sitting under a metal umbrella typing while waiting for the lightening..... reminds me of a story about my neighbor Rudy from our last house.  

     Rudy, bless his soul, lived in the aluminum clad house kitty corner to my house.  Each time a thunder storm would roll in, I would sit on my covered porch and watch Rudy struggle with the aluminum ladder and place it firmly so that it sat just above the eaves... the aluminum eaves.  I would yell out 'Hey, lightening rod Rudy!!!!'  He would just turn and wave and continue to remove debris from the leaves in the eaves while lightening flashed overhead.  I often cringed waiting to hear the telltale snap of a bolt that met up with Rudy rummaging about.  Ironically, two houses were hit a few blocks away... but not Rudy.  Rudy Meyer was a rough exteriored Dutch man who survived the worst part of the war and eventually would come to Canada as a young man.  I have only known him as a cranky old man who eventually gave up trying to scare me away and would just hug the stuffings out of me.  I suppose it was in part because I wouldn't take his shit and he learned to give me less and less over the ensuing years when he became too sick to mow his own lawn and I would do it for him.  He was even grateful, in his own way, when I had Max rebuild the back stoop before he could fall again.  I am sure I saw tears...
     Rudy eventually had a heart problem that led him to go to University Hospital to have surgery and he was not quite right, his partner Sharon would tell me on the way to a visit one particular afternoon just after his surgery.  We got to his room and I looked around.  "Sharon, did you happen to leave a set of outside clothes for Rudy and his wallet?"  She replied, "why yes, of course, he insisted".... of course he 'insisted'... I headed down to the nurses station to report him as missing and likely already on his way home from the hospital.  The nurse just looked at me.  "I worked security and that was one of my jobs... you need to put out an APB, he is likely travelling by cab, foot or bus....  She picked up the phone and called security... and yes, he was nowhere to be found.  I let her know I would bring him back when I locate him.... the nurse frowned and called a local cab company.  I headed out with Sharon on a path I figured he would travel and asked her to keep an eye out.  A few miles down the road we spotted him chatting with someone from the sidewalk which i pulled up onto and parked.  "Well Rudy, come on, lets go".  He followed us to the van but threw a temper and kicked the back of my seat until I conceded to turn the van around and head home.  "OK Rudy, but after you visit with puppy and have your tea, you will need to be taken back... deal??"  I spun around to see a very pouty old man with his arms folded tightly and nodding yes.
       Rudy would eventually be diagnosed with lung cancer, somewhat beat that after yet another surgery and then finally, near the end, he was diagnosed with liver cancer.  He went senile before the end... I ran into him in the cancer unit on one of my check ups and he didn't know who I was.... after almost 18 years of knowing him.  I still miss the cranky bastard!!

Max and I talk about the planned vacation to the cottage later in the evening...I remind him that in 16 years of marriage, we have never been asked to join his sister at her inlaws cottage EVER.... then suddenly, plans are in place and voila... .cottage week is in the ONE week that I cannot attend even though we knew about my CT scan 3 months ago.  Max finally concedes that he spoke for both of us and made a mistake about the doesn't help that I feel left out, ignored and now just resigned to the fact that I don't feel important.  The weather continues to misbehave in direct reflection of my thoughts.... I choose to sleep in the spare room convincing myself that its because I need to move about to get comfortable... but I know better than that....I punch my pillow square in the middle and simply fall asleep....