My journey through (and beyond) the valley with Cancer as my companion.
This is not a Blog about writing! (I already have one of those.)
This is a blog about a journey I am taking with illness. I have recently been diagnosed with Cancer. My goal is honest therapy as I progress through, and beyond this new reality in my life. I hope that, somewhere along the way you will find some words that will help you too.
While this is, in fact, an interactive Blog, I hope that you will scroll slowly down this page. For you see, the front of this Blog IS my journey. The entries are conversations that are held along the journey.Yes, there is a lot on it--before actually getting to the Blog entries. But, I hope that by the objects and words which appear before the Blog itself, you might come to understand just a little bit about me, and my journey, and some truly amazing friends who have agreed to journey with me. I hope that you, too, will choose to accompany me on my walk--through the Valley.
I invite you to join me, and discover the wondrous truths, meet some truly amazing people, and share those "memorable" moments this journey will undoubtedly present. Come along, won't you?
In His Care,
Would you like to help me help others? I found this amazing organization, and I am proud to be a sponsor. I hope you will check it out. It's called The Network For Good.
"RISUS OMNIA - INCRUMENTUS PER DEDECUS - SAPIENTIA PER DAMNUM"
("Every thing is funny - Growth through humiliation - Wisdom through loss")
The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.
"If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people."
"There is strength in truth."
~The Barton Family Crest~
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
— Helen Keller, American social activist, public speaker and author (1880-1968)
I have moved the list of my thanks for those who have helped to make this little Blog so very special. I hope that you will take a moment to read the list, growing every day, and let these fellow travellers along this journey know that you appreciate the contributions they make to our walk together.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
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|This isn't an update.
But, today I got one. I wasn't alone. It wasn't good.
Right now, I'm pretty ... well a lot of pretties, to be honest. This hasn't happened very often for me on this particular journey. More than perhaps I have wanted, or have been willing to admit to myself or anyone else. Patients have a really intense ability of awareness when things aren't going well, or even as they should be going.
It's not very often, but on this day I wish I could really ambulate myself away from today. I'd want to leave the huge garbage bag full of the vulgarities I'm spewing in my head. I don't need to write a blog entry about this in order to legitimize either it, me, or what I am feeling at the moment.
It's kind of silly to be writing this at all, to be honest. I already know it, so I'm not informing any of my selves about new news. It has, this day, all the makings of a hubungous pity party, this day does.
This day will pass, and I will arrive on the other side of it in whatever shape I arrive in. You see, sometimes the beyond we who are called to this journey can only see, or hope for, is measured in the sweep of a clock, not a calendar. If I were to put down the maelstrom in my head with the accuracy of an honest and ethical reporter, SM would lock this baby down faster than saying "Pea Soup" and the amount of time my brain would show me a picture of Lynda Blair. (I hope you got that. Not even I will make a second pass on that one.)
So why not cuss, and fume, and strike out and hit something just to hurt it? Since when does my position in anything, anywhere require manners, or gentility? Is it too hard? Is it always unacceptable? By whose standards, anyway? I'm entitled. I've earned it.
The answer comes when the vaunted title of "integrity" sashays into the room. It's not that I don't know enough vulgarity to fill multiple volumes of naval novels, mind you. Must this pain be this private even now, here?
Yeah, 'fraid so. Listen up. It's important.
This matters. If you simply refuse to take my word for it, ask someone you know and respect, like and admire even. Ask SM, or SMS. Or one of my all time greatest heroes.
The answer lies in a reality that, although I am the only one who knows the truth of it to the point of not giving one tinker's ....well, here it is.
That's not who this person is. No matter what, I just can't lose that. It isn't about good, or anything else. It's about losing the "me" I know me to be in this moment, even for a moment. That little moment of whatever that me is has taken at least one lifetime to develop, know, understand, and (to whatever degree) accept. That little guy in the jail in the center of my soul has been worth fighting the world for for all my life. It's gotta be true now, too.It's just got to.
That's the only way to the "beyond" part of the journey. Anybody called on, or to stand witness to a journey like this will tell you, if they are being really honest, that what I am saying is not just "a" truth. It is "the" truth of the whole thing. It is the only truth that matters. I've seen countless people lose that truth in a moment. They most usually just don't recover from that moment's loss. It's a tipping point; a turning point. No matter who they are the instant before, they are someone, something else in the moment after. One step. One pace. One breath, and they can't recover back to the moment before.
That is not who I wish to be, either.
You see, in the course of the arc of history across the ages, I'm so much less than merely insignificant. I hope you really wouldn't tell me you had no idea I knew this. You'd be so very, very wrong.
Yet, here today, in this, that moment, knowing as well as I do the only human available, willing, and able to provide even the most casual support at this particular moment is me, it is no less a terrifying and shattering moment.
Why am I writing this?
Because that is who I am. That is what I do. I am a writer. Writers write. Every day. No matter what. As sorely as we wish others to acknowledge our words in a positive and meaningful way, we cannot subrogate ourselves to something we are not. We cannot abrogate our identities upon some stone with a mountain man bravado as we declare righteously our much anticipated return.
I would've been fine had it just been me. Well, it wasn't. Someone elses were there in the mix, too. That has me wanting to lay down a field of fire whose smoke would not rise more than a foot for more than a lifetime. You see, we on this particular journey can even negotiate our way to "okay", just so long as it is we who must do the negotiating and the accepting. When some other someone, someone else must be a contractual entity, our only hope is that we will somehow be able to pull that particular feat off without so much as a sneeze, or snort.
When it is someone whose every moment of life is all about selfless service, or simply an innocent on a battlefield...that gets dark quickly.
It's that dark inside me today. Today is, truly, one of THOSE days. I do truly hate and detest these days that are THOSE days on this journey.
You need to know that everyone who must see days like this, one of THOSE days, should have some kind of magical ripcord they can pull and escape for 24 hours. Be it a potion, lotion, pill or pablum is of no consequence; just so long as it is real, accurate, and pain free.
These times are not times where tomorrow matters. There is no tomorrow on these days. Next breath is too long. Next step is a foggy, briney deep too far.
A very dear friend happened to walk into one of these days in my presence on his journey. Before either of us knew it, he had been lost. He became a victim. He would for the remainder of his days, never escape the vortex of being "Patient". He lost his battle, his faith, and the measure of his life in that moment.
It happens. That's what you need to know. That's what I need for you to hear, and understand. We must prepare for this moment. That is the only way we can hope to survive it, or to journey beyond it. Doing what must be instinctive when this day is one of THOSE days is nothing more than a coin flip. We do, or we don't. There is no "try". (Thanks, Yoda!)
Sometimes, days of THOSE days can string themselves together into weeks, or months, or years. That's a very particular kind of hell. That's one of those times when men's or women's souls can break forever. If anyone on this journey has a chance of surviving THOSE days these days, this is one thing that simply cannot be misunderstood. Things change after days like this.
For my friend, he somehow tripped, clawed, cried, got just incredibly angry, and found resources within himself to make it though his first encounter with days like this. His very personal, mostly silent (Thankfully, because what came out of his mouth when he wasn't silent tore the fabric of the Universe. Believe it!) battle finally brought him victory over his deepest valley experiences. He wasn't around long after that victory was put in the books, and I spent a lot of time being just incredibly mad about that. I got to being thankful, but it was just one hell of a hike.
I wish I had his style, courage, and resolve. No way, not this cowboy. Not today.
And that is kind of sad, really. Today is when having his qualities, faith and hopeful spirit would really come in handy. You know...one of THOSE days.
In His Care,
|I'm not sure what's going on with me. It's pretty rare to have no ambition to to anything whatsoever. And it's not like I have nothing to do, should I choose.
Went to the Cardio White coat yesterday. I have to get his clearance for surgery. Came away with a "status quo" report, some suggestions for pre-op/post-op hospitalization, and an appointment for a chemical stress test next week. THEN, maybe he'll give me clearance; not until. Although quite friendly, he was not impressed, either with my Lovenox noncompliance of late. He suggested an alternative to my daily injection into my stomach: twice daily injections into my stomach. Yeah, he's that kinda guy. I like him.
I've done a bit of research. It seems that some folks with an overgrown Thyroid can show symptoms of malaise, depression, and generally a "flat line" attitude. Sounds and feels quite familiar these days. I'm also (check the time here) having quite a bout of insomnia. For me, historically, that would be a very good thing. Writers love extra time to write.
Not much on that right now, either. Pressure is building inside me about the surgery. Trust is one thing; premonition is another. I've gone through this before, so it is neither novel or unanticipated. I just have to get into a mindset of preparing to heal the body before surgery. That is much more of an uphill climb this particular time. I hope it's symptomology.
In His Care,
|I got into trouble yesterday. However, an interesting development came from it.
Near the end of this particular adventure, it was Sarareed , of all people who said: "You've got to blog about this!"
I'll avoid the long explanation, and go for the shorter version if that's alright with you.
As you may know, I am preparing for surgery. I am to have my overgrown Thyroid removed surgically. That isn't going so well. In order to be "cleared" for surgery, I must get the approval of my Primary Care Physician (PCP).
In order to do that, some four specialists, not including the surgeon, to "sign off" on my having this surgery.
Trying to get six principle specialists' schedules coordinated for appointments, in the correct order, is a bit of a "task"; one which, to date, has been impossible. Perhaps it was the holidays, and my desire not to be in the hospital on my birthday...I'll not presume to know. Or comment.
The final appointment was to be with my PCP. No other appointments prior to this one worked out. Yesterday, I visited my PCP. I wound up in the Emergency Room. The good news is that I escaped and got to come home.
You see, I actually answered a question my PCP asked me. "Are you having any symptoms now?" I asked him to clarify his question. He looked at me somewhat askance.
"Well, these two blood clots in my left leg have been causing me a bit of inconvenience of late, if that's what you mean." I said, quite innocently. Sara eyed me hesitantly.
"What blood clots?" He asked. Sara let a small grin escape.
I showed him where they were.
"You can't possibly know that you have blood clots, much less where they are." He said, defiantly. (Yep, he's one of "those".) He decided that, since I had no idea what I was talking about, HE would decide if I had blood clots or not.
"We'll have to get an UltraSound on your legs right away." He said, with his presumed authority. (Can you tell this YOB is not my favorite White Coat yet?)
After going around my body systems, discovering things he should already know (some of which I happened not to know at that particular moment), I was directed to the Outpatient Imaging Department. (We snuck off to McDonald's first though. Don't tell. It's our secret, okay?)
There was a bit of a wait for the US, as one of their machines had suddenly and mysteriously fallen apart. It seems my showing up still has effect! Hannah, the US Technician, did a superb job getting images on both my legs, and told me I would have to wait for the results to be reviewed by my PCP before I could leave. It happened to be past 7:30 PM at this point. We're four hours into the adventure. What do you think are the chances that a PCP will be pacing his office waiting on an UltraSound report at 7:30PM on a Friday evening? Hmm?
An hour later, having determined that my PCP was most likely NOT going to respond, and Sara and I pretty much understanding that the necessity to wait was somehow based on the results of the US (okay, someone cheated and told us we REALLY SHOULD wait, hint, hint!), the radiologist who read the report instructed that I was NOT to leave the hospital, but to report to...you got it, the Emergency Room.
As it turns out, I didn't have two blood clots in my legs after all.
I had three blood clots in my legs; 2 in the left (which I knew) and one in my right (which I did NOT know. DANG IT-Record blemished!).
I have this injection , you see, that I am supposed to take every day. Sometimes I forget to take it. It is quite painful, and is just a necessary part of life. I sometimes disregard purposely causing myself this particular pain. Yesterday, I got severely busted over that choice.
So, at about 10:30PM, I got the injection I should have been giving myself. My record got a Doctor's note that the patient has been "medically noncompliant" (JEEZ! YA THINK?)and I got sent home.
My PCP's gonna have puppies. I was at least as right as I was, which he refused to believe. I was wrong, as I missed one of the blood clots. Sara was having puppies because I missed a dose of Lovenox, thinking that was why the blood clots formed. Unfortunately, for her the reality is that the blood clots have been active for almost a week. WRONG!
Much pain, several hours of "time out" for the patient, and one shot of Lovenox later, we got to my home, ordered Pizza to arrive ASAP, and laughed. A lot. But, I owe a debt of thanks to an entire team who cared for me with great vigor, respect, and honor at a most inconvenient time in our local ER.
I got the shot. The pain nearly trebled. I took some pills. I went to sleep. I woke up knowing that, to be honest with myself, I had to blog this.
I have. Task accomplished.
That's one way to postpone surgery. But, I did it with style!
The only problem is that now I'm on everybody's s*%T list. Oh, well. Stuff happens. Sometimes at the speed of life.
In His Care.
|Just a quick note on a couple of things that made me smile so far in 2016.
I spoke with a lifelong, life-strong friend on my birthday. We hadn't spoken in a long time...too long. As per usual, in about five minutes, it was as if we had just hung up the phone. The rest of the hour was a gift to us both. We shared it with joy, laughter and much vigor. It was one of those calls that, in the old days, would have required a handwritten letter of thanks and recognition of the gifts given and shared. I may do that yet.
Secondly, I spoke with my Sister. We haven't spoken in quite a long while. This telephone visit was just as treasured, as we found a moment where we could peacefully coexist. It helped us both.
I'd like to be able to report many more such occasions in 2016. That's not such a bad intention, is it?
In His Care,
|I'm not sure what this means. How does one "live" at 60? I've not been here before. According to many, I wasn't supposed to be here. Yet, here I am. More than nine years beyond expectations, I am re-arranging priorities, opening or closing activities that consumed time in 2015.
Having a birthday on the last day of a year can be a complex proposition. Not only is it the end of one year, and the beginning of another...but it is also the end of one year and the beginning of another. See what I mean? Complex, indeed. But for this archetypical Capricorn, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'll be away from computers for the remainder of this day, and tomorrow as well. I wanted to get this idea down before I change direction and live in the physical world for the rest of today.
I want, on both counts, to leave a very large inventory of life, and living behind me. But, I also want that inventory to have some bit of demonstrable value, as well. Having lived it, surely there can be found some value for having done so beyond the simple ticking of a clock somewhere.
Having made that decision, looking forward is something I'd like to see as a very large blank slate, with countless opportunities. Refusing resolutions, I am much more interested today with intentions. That list will come tomorrow. At least, that is my intention.
For today, I am going to take a bit of a large step, and get out into the living, physical world of friends and community where I live.
Stay safe, well and happy. We've shared a lot of journey this year. I kind of like the idea of a celebration just to recognize survival on, through, and with the journey in 2015. As SM has said, most of it won't be missed at all. Some of it, though, will be missed for the rest of my life. That's only appropriate.
Intend to be happy for today, and for tomorrow. The world gives us a little free spaced to do so. It's a holiday, after all. Bridge what has been with what is yet to come with joy. Joy is, after all, an intentional act.
Happy 2016 to you all, with appreciation, love, peace and joy sufficient.
In His Care,
|It's been a while since I've done anything productive, writing-wise. My best intention is to change that status in the new year. However....
One of the many inconveniences of not having my usual level of account (and it would be yours, as well.) has to do with email.
I have kept, for several year, several hundred emails that I originally intended for a particular use. Today, I find that intended use unnecessary. So I have been "purging" several Mb's of email from my account. That includes several large groups of folders as well. Things in the past should, in my current thinking, stay there. Like so much unneeded luggage, they simply increase the difficulty of the journey.
It's taken quite a while to arrive at this particular point of thinking in my life, and my world. No, it is not easy. It's just worth it. The only thing worse than being involuntarily imprisoned is to voluntarily be imprisoned. For 2016, I'm going to try to remain free. Freedom is not free: that is to say that freedom invariably comes with costs. Some of them are quite expensive. Still, I choose freedom.
Which brings me to my second point of today. I got the Blogging Newsletter today, and it has a couple of really interesting tidbits in it. I am a writer. But, one of the joys that I have consistently found in my writing endeavors has been this Blog. I began this work as nothing more than a conversation with myself. It did not remain one very long. As with countless emails, the blog entries have stacked up. These days, it seems that the original intent has found a new presence here in this blog. I find no difficulty in that at all...save one.
While purging my email, I had occasion to smile--a lot at the emails of support, argument, question/answer, and ongoing conversations I have had with multiple hundreds of WDC community members. It was surely a trip down memory lane, to be sure. I haven't done that with this blog, and am wondering if there would be any value in doing so. For me, the greatest value has always been the comments and conversations that found their beginning and, in some cases ending here.
The years (so far) of this journey with you have sustained me in all of my five lives: physical, mental, emotional, financial (yes, that too), and spiritual. It's not always been easy, but it has always been worth it to me. Friendships remembered, activities begun and ended, fellow travelers completing their journey home, and those still on the journey are all part of the tapestry of this Blog.
It will continue. I hope to see you here again soon. The echoes become louder, the silence sharper, and the deeds more interesting. As for me, and for this journey, I don't wish to miss a single one.
In His Care,
|I went to bed for the night, embroiled in a rather short-tempered and often angry embroglio...with myself.
It has to do with dates, and celebrations of strange things, like days of death, for instance. I could not find peace. Since I have a steadfast rule that requires me never to let the sun set on my anger, I got up. Here I am.
On this date, in the year 1913, my Father was born. On November 24th, 1992, the day before Thanksgiving of that year, he died suddenly in his sleep, having suffered a major heart attack.
The first event happened only a few miles from the location of the second.
In 78 years, this man traveled the world more than once. One of the things I remember about him with great clarity was his feeling that he could safely travel anywhere, as long as his bedtime found him in his own bed. There is a strange discontinuity here, however.
More often than not, in the years that I knew him, my father would most often sleep in "his" chair, in the living room. The TV test pattern would be visible on his always-on Zenith/Admiral color television (one of the few material possessions he took pride in), and there would most likely be a book open in his hands.
That man could snore! (I do come by it honest!) But, for me, that was a sound I always identified with contentment. He was home, my Father.
Today, I do understand his sense of security by the home fires. Of course, it is me in the chair with the TV and the book, covered with warm blanket while sitting/reclining on a heated mat. But, for me, I must be supine to sleep. I require a bed--at least right now I do. I sit at a desk and type or click most of every day I can, now.
His chair was his place of serenity, and it took him to his eternal reward. We started a conversation we never got to finish around that chair. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to finish it, should it still matter, around a throne one day.
Happy Birth Day, Father.
|I have had a truly magnificent Christmas. That experience was provided by my WDC family, and by friends who know what it's all about.
I got the spirit of Christmas this year during rather difficult circumstances by not only being, but also of having a WDC Secret Santa. I'm telling you true, if you have not participated in one way or another in this annual fun fest, you are missing one of the most amazing lessons in the spirit of Christmas! Now that she has been officially notified, I can tell you that it was my distinct honor of being a Secret Santa for Lorien . There is a bit of backstory involved here, but I'll save that for another day's entry (or not).
Not only that, but I was the recipient of some amazing Christmas cheer from Ember Rain . All this festive fun was organized, again, by Leger~We Got This , one of my WDC heroes.
I've had a long relationship here at WDC. In a very "Dad-like" way, all three of these members and I have a history that goes back to my first month as a WDC member. Having been away, involuntarily from this community for several months, this has truly felt like a welcome home party. I am radically grateful to each of them.
While it is true that sadness has accompanied this particular version of Christmas in uniquely new ways, there has also been great joy. I hope your Holiday Season, however you call, describe, celebrate or ignore it, has brought to your being at least a touch of what has come to mine.
Happy holidays to you all. Feel free to spread the joy as you choose.
In His Care,
|Unplanned occurrences can be either stress-creating or stress-reducing. This one is the latter.
Because of difficulties making, and getting to referred Doctors' appointments, the anticipated surgery has been cancelled for the 29th of December, 2015. It will most likely take place in January, 2016.
This is a bit of a difficult dance to choreograph. Sarareed is doing a tremendous job with that. Getting the previously required clearances from the specialists, getting their reports to both my PCP and the Surgeon, and getting scheduled times for surgery, etc. requires administrative qualities of the first order. She has them.
For now, at least, we both can de-stress just a bit and work on enjoying holidays, birth days, and all the things this season represents in both my life and hers.
I'm going to choose to look at this situation as a gift. Happy Holidays!
|It is not necessarily the Christmas Season that is stressful. Many of regular life events, occurring during this holiday season, are stressful. Occurring during these holidays seems to add orders of magnitude to what would normally be already stressful events. They make irreversible reminders for our future living.
My Father died the day before Thanksgiving. My Sister's birthday is December 30. She died in 1967, yet this day does not come without remembrance of her, her life, and her suicide. Her birthday was the day before mine. This has a real effect on my birthday. Knowing that beloved family members will not be at the feast table are constant reminders not only of their deaths, but the joys and sorrows their lives brought to that table, as well.
The only time I was ever involuntarily terminated from employment was on December 24th. Yes, I do always remember.
These are but a few examples of what I mean when I say the calendar adds stress to this season by varying orders of magnitude. Any one of these events would bring more stress than a human should be required to endure. Having them during these holidays only piles on the stress. If you are unable financially to bestow the blessings of Christmas on those who surround you, whom you love, throw a couple more orders of magnitude on the pile.
The stresses of this holiday season visit us all. Everyone gets them, and no one is exempt.
Why is this so?
1. We have belly buttons. We are human. It is a part of human nature to remember, recall, and recount things of value from our past living.
2. The seeming incongruity between what the season should bring to mind, and what it does bring to mind can be crippling,
3. We never forget, but it seems that during these times we remember much more clearly.
For me, the major stress of Christmas is to overcome these three points. How do I attempt to (and sometimes even do) do this?
1. I was born. My life has had so many good and valued times that I cannot possibly resent, regret or wish away my life. I remember, recall and recount those events which lifted me up, allowed me joy, peace and happiness without feelings of guilt or sadness.
2. I accept that there are some powerfully sad memories related to this season. But there are many, many more joyous, wondrous, and magical things to bring into the forefront of my thoughts, words, and deeds. Whether it is because of, or in spite of the other things, I cannot say, but I believe the reality is in a bit of both.
3. I welcome those memories, because I believe that any life worthy of tearful sadness upon the parting has most definitely been a life worthy of laughter and continuing or renewed joyful expression when it was lived, and shared with me. It's not the season's fault. It's mine, and I am the only one who can affect the "temperature" of the season around me.
The stress of Christmas is something that, finally, I am grateful for. So many absent remembrances return to the center of my being that I cannot help, if I am honest, feeling joy, and happiness upon their return. The focus for me once again returns to the journey, and not so much to the destinations of life. I live again, in the "now" of life. This is a place I very much prefer.
It is also a place I highly recommend. Yes, there are some painful steps to get there. So? For me, it is well worth the pain to get to the glory.
I wish for you the same this holiday season. Make the trip. It's not easy, it's just worth it.