Sunday, October 21, 2018

Images From the Weekend

I can't remember how many years it's been since I found this bottle in the woods. The things inside are whiter than they once were. It stays on my porch, a reminder that there is so much about the world I do not know.

This is just a rusty piece of tin. It may end up being a texture in one of my photographs. You can see pieces of a clay pot on the ground there. I have an asparagus fern in a pot that had a rough time last winter. I thought it was a goner. The fern has slowly grown back. The pot is barely holding together.

Here is one of my favorite places to sit and collect my wits. I was swinging here using my phone to film a slow motion video. The video turned out to be mostly a bore, save for two leaves I caught leisurely floating down to the ground in slow motion. I tried to walk around and film another one where the leaves were more prominent in the video. Mother Nature is fickle. I walked all the over the yard, standing and waiting for leaves to fall. I was in my slippers and the ground was damp from last night's rain. So all I got for my effort was wet feet.

And the realization that those two leaves will never fall again.

And that the light falling on my prayer flags pictured below will never quite fall the same way again.

Yet, new leaves will grow, and fall. And light will still shine. We can hold this hope in the dead of winter, and in the darkness of long nights.

This swing is a "gratitude spot" for me. The porch is attached to a room that was originally attached to my grandparents' old house. When I sit here, I feel very close to my ancestors who have gone on before me.

Today I thought about my great grandmother, who lost a son in the war.  He was buried in France, probably in an unmarked grave. I never knew him, but he was my uncle and his story is linked with my story. My great grandmother, my mother, and I all have in common the loss of our sons.

One of my prayer flags is a prayer for all who mourn. May all who mourn find peace and comfort and hope.


 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Grace

It's been another while between posts. I'm not sure I have much of anything to say but I'm here, sitting quietly and waiting.

I have visuals.

The first was on campus during a rain. Our pathway floods too much when it rains. A foot could drown in this!



This second one shows all that is left of my grandparents' house. The poor old house was falling down and needed to be put out of its misery.

Life is sad sometimes.

Life is happy sometimes.

This week, someone died who had inflicted a lot of pain on people I love, on my family. He inflicted irreparable damage. He just about crushed the possibility of certain relationships growing strong. It's been hard, reading all the good things people are saying about him. But I've realized that just because my loved ones were victims of his hard heart, it didn't mean that that his heart was entirely hardened. I believe there is always at least a little bit of goodness in most people. Sometimes you have to look hard to find it, but most of the time, it can be found. If one looks hard enough.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Statistically Significant"

Earlier this week I went to MD Anderson, where I did blood work and had a bone density scan. The medicine I am taking to protect me from the return of the breast cancer affects bone density (thanks, Arimidex). The medicine is "a hormonal treatment that helps fight breast cancer by lowing the amount of estrogen in the body." Estrogen is rather necessary for strong bones.

My "statistically significant" numbers had not moved in the direction I'd hoped they would move. So I will return in six months to see My Colon People and My Breast People. I will see My Liver People, including the Livid Liver Lady, in April. Gosh, I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. I will also have to forge a new relationship with The Bone People. I'm sure they are friends I haven't met yet.

My PA told me she has seen women increase their bone density. She made suggestions. The last thing I told her was that I felt like a challenge had been issued.

Deep inside I am disappointed and discouraged. The odds are stacked against me. I've done a lot of reading about ways to increase bone density (you sure can find a lot of quack-a-doodles when you search for health issues/solutions). For me to expect a positive change as soon as six months is probably not realistic. One might be inclined to think "Why bother? I'm fighting a losing battle." I am not that one.

I'm positive I'm not the first cancer patient caught between a rock and a hard place. I could choose to go off the Arimidex. Plenty of women have done so because of intolerable side effects. One night I woke up due to pain in both of my hands. That pain comes and goes. Lots of times it feels like I've caught a fast thrown hard ball without a glove. I decided I could live with that. 

Closer to the surface, I am feeling hopeful. I know I need a plan. I will need to set goals, track my progress, and actually meet those goals. I can't afford to be lackadaisical about this. I need to charge full on at this beast. The doing is the hard part. I have ideas on what I could do. I'm already doing a lot of the right things. I need to be more intentional with those actions. I've brainstormed and written a list of ideas to help myself improve my health. Just need to keep on moving toward better health.


“The most effective way to do it is to do it.” --Amelia Earhart






Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Still Kicking

Someone said something today about something I should write a blog post about. I'd been wanting to come here again and so I took that something they said as a message from the Universe.

But I can't remember exactly what it was we were talking about.

I'm still dealing with The Cancer (everything is going relatively well on that front).

I've still been sewing and putting together quilt tops that need to be finished. 

I'm taking swimming lessons, again, through the Wellness Program at work. I believe I might be a perpetually remedial student. I could swim if I didn't have to breathe.

I've begun walking again. I bought a Fitbit and I try to move more. I'm working on better eating habits. That will be a never ending project. I suppose all of it is a never ending project, in that I will never arrive at that place where I do it all perfectly. And then one day, I'll be gone. What will become of my never ending project?

What will remain undone?

What kind of mess will I leave behind for someone else to finish or clean up?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

It's A Mundane Cycle, Y'all


 I've been back to see my livid liver lady. It seems my liver enzymes are normal at this time, and I have a hemangioma on my liver. I go back in a year. I think it's the physician's expectation that all will be well at that time and I can "fire" him. He will be the second physician I've "fired" on this journey. I know it's a good thing. I'm grateful for their expertise, that's for sure.

When I go back to the colon oncologist in April, they may be moving me to what they call aftercare, which will be mostly a matter of continuing monitoring, only maybe not as intense (I've been to MDA for one thing or another every month since December). Though I will miss my colon oncologist and his PA, this is movement in a positive direction.

I told someone that one of the gifts of my cancer has been the heightened awareness of my limited time in this life. We all know, on an intellectual level, that we are walking around under a big hammer and we never know when it's going to fall. Our time is limited but most of the time we don't even think about that. I've been trying to reevaluate myself and my life in light of my health issues. I know I've grown. I've discovered I'm stronger than I thought. I have progressed.

But I'm not entirely satisfied with where I am. I want more, and I can't seem to pin down what "more" would look like for me. Some of the things I want, some of the ways I want to be, I'm not sure those things are me. I'd like to be more disciplined, for instance. I say I'd like to have familiar and dependable routines. I do have routines, they just aren't exactly routines I'd like to brag on! I want better routines.

Honestly, I have to ask myself, is a better routine what I really want for myself, or am I just comparing myself to other friends who are almost anally routine and thinking I fall short? I have a friend who reminds me that it's all about "the direction of correction."

But then again, since I am relatively undisciplined, with irregular routines, I am naturally more flexible. Flexibility is good, right?

I've heard people say that dealing with cancer has caused them to look at their lives, to measure their time better, to drill down to what's really important to them. In that process, some things naturally fall away. I've been thinking along these lines, but I haven't really drilled down, and I don't think I've let much of anything actually fall away. Or if I did, it was something I needed and wanted, like my walking.


I did recently begin again with my walking routine. I'm slow getting back at it. That's okay, because I am learning I can sometimes reset and begin again. We all can. All it takes is some determination and persistence! Yes! It's easy...not! But what else is there? Do I want to sit and criticize myself for what I have not done or accomplished, or for not being what I think I want to be? I don't know.

 ("You can begin again" is a message from my better self, assuring me I can begin again, putting the idea in my head. "I can begin again" is a "duh, I can begin again" thought from some other part of me. What? You don't have a committee in your head? It's a pity! "We can begin again" is a general reminder that we all can begin again, and in some areas right now in our world, it's obvious that we need to somehow begin again. "We can begin again" is also somewhat of an admonishment for me.

Oh dear, now I'm going down another rabbit trail. I attended part of a presentation on dealing with an active shooter on campus (yes, it was sobering). The officer talking said there were three ways we might react, or maybe we'd do all three. Some would be in denial, thinking it wasn't shots they heard, or thinking they could reason with the shooter. Some would deliberate and think too long about what to do. And others would quickly put together a plan and execute it as well as they could. I was listening and trying to imagine which person I'd be (even though I firmly believe none of us civilian types know for sure what we would do under those circumstances). When he said some of us might have to channel our inner wolf and act off of our indignation over someone daring to do this to us, and to our coworkers, that's when I thought, "uh-oh, that does not bode well for me." I'm not good at confronting others about being rude to me. How am I going to confront an armed man? Because, in that case, assertiveness might be the thing that saves me and others around me. While it is a shame that we have to be playing out these scenarios and planning our actions, it good to try and develop a plan before the disaster hits. I guess what I'm saying is there may be times when I need to stand up for others. And I need to be strong enough to do that.

This is rambling, and I'm about to run out of room so I'll have to hush for now. I think there's another story from this but it will have to wait for another day (or another month, if my recent writing pattern is any indication.)

Maybe I think too much and do too little?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

There's Something I Want to Say

(and this is not it. Not really. I'll have to think more on what it is I really want to say. In the meantime, there is this.)

I'm here to get my once a month post in early.

I've been to Houston for a checkup. My radiology oncologist has bowed out. He says I no longer need him. I liked him a lot so I'll miss seeing him. He always came in and shook our hands then sat down and made eye contact with me while he talked. He was reassuring and matter of fact. On the way home, I thought about how the doctor we see on our cancer journey becomes the favorite one, the one in whom we place our trust. And sometimes, we forget that there is a whole gol-darned team behind that doctor, a team that is helping to make (and keep) us well. I breathed a silent "thank you" to my radiology team. I won't ever know all of their names but nonetheless I am deeply appreciative of their efforts.

I'll still have to see another member of the team because of the medicine I take and the possible side effects. My radiology oncologist told me that people were keeping a good eye on me, with blood tests and CT scans and X-rays. Because it seems like "your body likes to make these things." I suppose I won't fuss about the fact that I'm traveling to Houston one time in each of the first four months of 2018, since they are keeping a good eye on me. I hope after April that I will be able to go less frequently.

I've had my birthday. It's always good to know I made it through another year!

It's Mardi Gras season around here, which means I'll be off for Monday through Wednesday of next week. It's raining now and rain is predicted into next week. I'm not planning on getting out in any of it. Not in this weather.

Things are somewhat depressing around here. It's probably a combination of the weather and the general situation in our country and the world right now. But I've had a couple of reminders this morning that there is still plenty of good in the world and that's the part I want to pay attention to. I want to be one of the good ones, in whatever way I can.

Today would have been my grandmother's I don't know whatieth birthday. I think about her a lot when I am sewing and quilting. 

Well, that's it for now. I can think of nothing else to say. And I have no recent pictures to share.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Decay All Around

Casualties of winter—the pot may be a goner, but spring will return and maybe the fern will too. It's been such a unusually cold winter this year. I was so happy not to be cold this weekend!


And my prayer flags that I made in July of 2015 are showing their age. Leaving them out to rot is an exercise in letting go, which doesn't come easy for me. It also seems like we/I need prayers like these more than ever.


"Be Well," my hope always, and my prayer for my sister. Hope, that thing with feathers that is often hard to hold. I have to include here friend Cyn's encouragement from the time I posted these when they were brand new, "The assault on hope doesn't mean hope is down. Hope is an evergreen. Hope is your shadow. Hope is a forever friend." That's the kind of thing I need to hear often these days.


"Breathe," "Light," "Love," breathe light and love? Breathe? Be light? Spread love? The cotton is fading and fraying.


"Peace to all who mourn." Over the holidays, I knew of a couple of families who were mourning. May peace come to them. 

The first flag in line is "Joy." Joy might have been the first one I made.

Some have suggested it's time for new flags. I say, "not yet." Let's watch these slowly wither and die. 

I'm so ready for spring to arrive.