Day 56 – Life In The Fast Lane

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Day 56

OK – I know it has been a week – where has the time gone?  Well, as long as we are on the subject, how much do you guys want to hear from me?  We have done it daily, every 2 days, every 3 days and now weekly.  What do you think? The reason that I have been stretching it out is I figured you were tired of the same old sleep, sleep, sleep…LOL

Well I really don’t have much to report, being on a schedule again has helped my attitude immensely.  I have still been sleeping about 10 -12 hours, arise to the morning routine –   Brush teeth and tongue, swish with Biotene, apply body lotion then fix my smoothie.  Next up is answering emails then a walk then I eat lunch and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I take a shower and leave for yoga at 5.  When I get home, it is dinner and every other night I do the epsom salt and baking soda soak before I  do the teeth and grease myself down again and bed.  It works!  Throw in a small task or two and I have completed a day without much time to worry about what I am not doing!  It does present some problems though, the other day I was assigned some neck exercises from the crew at Shands because, as we call it around here, my “waddle” is collecting lymph and I need to exercise my neck to tighten it up and force the lymph out.  I just need another 30 or so minutes a day to “tighten up.”  Not complaining because it adds to my day but I guess that I am going to have to start getting up sooner!  Especially after the weekend that we had.

Saturday the SoMMa meeting was featuring a demonstration by Micheal Grecian and I wanted to go.  Micheal is a rep for paint and brush lines and is an incredible artist.  He was showing us applications for different products and letting us play with them.  So I got up early, yes like 7 am, to get there, because Kat was going to spend the morning with the Wood Carvers.  I had a great time trying the products and getting to see the folks.  I had not been to one of our meetings since October.  Next was home to meet Kat and a nap before a party at Keoni’s and Amy’s that was being held for my niece Abby who was visiting from Oregon. 

We did not leave the party until 11:30 and I did not sleep well because I was so tired.  Sunday I got up about 1 and laid on the couch until 3 to watch the Jaguars and was back in bed by 8 o’clock.  I had a really good time and it cost me 3 days to get back to “normal”  but it was worth it.  I could not do it every day but knowing that I am going to do it and planning for the recovery make it tolerable.  

I know what you are thinking……what craziness has the boy been up to?  It doesn’t stop guys, there is always some train of insanity running between my ears.  Since I started using the moisturizing lotion, hypo-allergenic, fragrance and color free, I have started breaking out across my chest and in my arm pits.  Now it doesn’t itch or hurt so what’s the foul?  It is just one more of the little things that continue to sprout up.  Oh yeah and because I wore my ear rings Saturday my ear lobes started oozing again and my sinus passages are bleeding and raw while the radiated skin sluffs away.  Please don’t feel sorry or take this wrong.   I know that every bit of this is part of the plan. I know that I will come out of this ordeal different –  mentally, spiritually and physically and I, like most people, have fear of the unknown.  But God is good and I know in my heart that whatever the changes are they will be just what I need to serve his purpose for me here on earth.  I pray each morning and God gives me the willingness to walk through the fear not for Him to remove the obstacle.

As always, I am blessed.  I have food in the pantry, a roof over my head, clean clothes and people who love me unconditionally.  All I need is for you to tell me how much you want to hear from me.

Don

LESSON OF DAY – “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”  Eddie Rickenbacker

 

 

Day 46 – Straight and Narrow

2018-01-14 22.30.25Here we sit on Sunday night in front of a fire, bellies full of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots.  A day spent watching the Jags – who knew? – playing with art and of course resting.  I would like it if it was a touch warmer but I’m not going to complain – the sun was out and that is good.

Rewind to Friday, I burst out of bed with the intention of doing the laundry and cleaning the house because Kat has a 3 day weekend and I really didn’t want her to have to deal with it.  1st, I say burst but it was more like “let’s make a deal.”  I’ve described it before, alarm set at 9 with extrication coming about 11:30 – but hey I’m okay with it.  And I did get

the house mostly clean and the laundry done expecting a slow day on Saturday.  We had a great night eating pizza and watching tv finally settling down in clean sheets – life is good!  Saturday my sweetness went over to Leslie’s, her boss, to help with some chores while I recuperated. We spent the rest of the day absorbed in alcohol inks and resin pours.  We worked on my 1st bowl project, some test and practice boards and antler pours finally cleaning up our mess about 7 before relaxing to some dateline and more Planet Earth videos.

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Warm and content

Today was pretty much a repeat but add cooking and a fire!  As I said, life is good.  After my rant Thursday night, I decided to surrender to the recovery and let the day dictate my activities and I can report that it has been met with some success.  I still feel guilty most of the time but I am trying not to give into it.  It is like a free floating anxiety, I can push through it, but when I sit quietly it is still there.  It is that feeling that you have something that needs to be done and if you don’t do it something bad is going to happen – almost a fear.  Of course it is totally irrational and I said it is diminishing, but it is still there.  It helps to do a task -take the cans to the recycling, get some wood for the fire, put the dishes in the dishwasher or pick up a bit.  It also helps to offer up silent prayers for God to relieve me of the bondage of self.  It is a waiting game filled with mental mind games.  Am I withering away? – I should probably begin exercising, am I eating enough greens? – maybe a trip to the store, I do have a job due at the end of February – should I clean the shop? Or should I sit on my flabby ass and get well.  Did I say the committees are in session?  Of course they are – reality – I have cabin fever – and that is okay.  Some changes are in order, but as always I need to reign in the need to exceed.  Kathy helped me to decide to begin setting a new routine. The routine of treatment is long gone and the needs of recovery change so much daily that I have gotten out of one and it does me so good.  Like they say in the program “fake it until you make it” so I will begin establishing a new routine to pass the day. To that end I will try to go to yoga again this week.  I may not be able to get through the practice but each trip will be better and it is a responsibility.  The second thing will be a walk.  I will start at 5 minutes and see how that goes.  And that is it, as you well know, I could easily set myself up for failure by planning every minute so I will start small.  With that I will bid you goodnight and retire with a new sense of hope and purpose.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY- “Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can’t build on it – it’s only good for wallowing in.”   Katherine Mansfield

Project time!

 

Day 4 – Another One Bites The Dust!

Day that is!  It was a bit better than yesterday and I will take and be grateful for that!  I

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Day 4

did have some thoughts about stretching out the writing until I had more to talk about, but then I realized that this was really as much for me as it for you – so here we are again.  The day was just about the same, but I did sleep until almost 11 today.  And it was only interrupted 4 times so there is improvement.   I did wake up about 6 with my headache starting so I took some aspirin and warmed up one of my gel packs and took it back to bed with me and  it worked nice.  Got up to an empty house – it seems my wife had sneaked out to attend a SoMMA outing to visit the studio of Heather Ferman.  Heather does handmade lampwork beads and is a silversmith.  I had really hoped to attend this one, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  She does very nice work and here is a link to her website Heather Ferman .   So I had some time to get outside and walk around.  It was a nice day and helped to get my head back to where it needs to be – HEALING.  I had already done some thinking in bed and it comes right back to where is usually does.  Acceptance, and what action are we going to do to move this forward.  Acceptance that this is part of the process, acceptance that I am getting better, acceptance that God has a plan, acceptance that if I do the next right thing today, tomorrow will be better.  So simple yet so foreign, but it does work if you work it.

So I got myself cleaned up, drank a couple of ensures and took my epson salt soak then crawled back in the bed to take a nap.   I tried to go it without an afternoon nap yesterday and what a disaster.  When I got up Kat was home and she caught me up on what I had missed at the tour.  Now she is off on her creativity binge and I had a delicious dinner of chicken with rice soup and a peanut butter sandwich, before spending some time with you and Kat.

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Blurry Love!

She is a amazing partner that has been such a rock – giving me enough string to hang myself but being there when I do.  I love you Kathy Lynn and I am so thankful to have you by my side.  Another thank you to my friend Sammy – thanks brother for the ongoing perspective and giving me the guidance that I need when I need it – love you and appreciate having you around.

Don

 

LESSON OF THE DAY – When in doubt, go back to the basics and do what you know works.

 

 

Day 2 – I’m going to make it!

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Day 2

God bless you all for the words of encouragement and support.  I got the most amazing description of the end of treatment from another survivor today that gave me some great perspective.  She said that get through the treatments we begin to imagine the last treatment as some Hollywood version of the end of a grueling footrace.  We cross the finish line, breaking the tape, arms raised in victory, the crowd going wild as you rejoice in your achievement surrounded by people lifting you up and carrying you away, when in reality you stumble across the line with a groan, fall to your knees exhausted and puke your fool guts out until you pass out.  What an great way to start the day.  It wasn’t much of a day, but it was better than yesterday and that is a blessing and a gift.   I took a 45 minute Epson Salt and Baking Soda soak before I went to bed last night and it really seemed to help me sleep.  This morning I got up, ate, showered and shaved.  Let’s talk about this shaving thing.  What a pain!  I knew there was a reason that I had not really participated in this exercise for 40 years!  Yes I did shave my neck and cheeks but those are flat surfaces, now I have to hunt for growing whiskers precariously sprouting from my jaw and chin.  It is a small price to pay for a cure and on the bright side the hair in my ears is also gone so again my friends, there is a God!  AND He has a sense of humor. The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking and moving from the couch to the bed.  I did take a stroll to the mailbox and took out the trash, but I am taking this seriously again.  Rest, calories and hydration, it has gotten me this far – why muck with success?

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God’s beautiful end of the day

Tomorrow I start the day with a trip to Lavilla for fluid and a return home for more calories and rest.  And we got another $300 in donations to the fund so we are officially 1/3 of the way there!  Thank you all for all of your help, love and support!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Aim at the high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time, and maybe not the third time. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting, for only practice will make you perfect. Finally, you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.”

Annie Oakley 

 

Day 44 – Phase 1 Completed!

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Day 45 – I AM Blessed!

The end of Phase 1 – Hallelujah! Thank God, sobriety, Kathy, Jan, you, texts, emails, phone calls, cards, prayers, support through the “Go Fund Me” drive, the many Doctors, Nurses and Techs and myself for getting me this far!  When Kathy woke me up this morning, I truly thought that I was going to die. I had another one of those headaches, my throat was sore from one side to the other and my ears ached.  Soon after rising the headache was gone, a shower helped my ears and the Throat Coat Tea soothed my sore throat and I guess I earned some grace because there was no traffic on the way in.  It was a beautiful morning that picked me up even further.  Upon arrival at 9:30 our receptionist Casey was out sick which bummed me out a little but I was ready for the last one at 9:40!  Hmmmmm, little did I know!  Jan showed up at 9:50 and Kat at 9:55 but they came out and got me just before 10.  Jenn was back from the holidays and it was reassuring that she was going to run my last treatment.  That’s what I thought!  After they got me strapped down Jenn realized that the tech before her had not correctly exited the sequence and the computer was frozen up.  Not to sweat it, 10 minutes and a hard reboot got us underway.  I got to give hugs to Jenn, Hana and Michaela on the way out, but they were to busy to come out for the celebration.  Carlene was waiting for me at the desk, we picked up Jan and Kat and I had the privilege of ringing the “Chimes of Hope.” Here is the link for the video Ringing the Chimes of Hope  It was so cool when everyone in the reception area applauded, but I wanted to applaud them for just being there.

I wish that I could tell you that I danced home, went to the shop and cleaned the house before Kathy drug her sexy self home, but alas I would be lying.  I worked on my neck and went straight to bed for another 3 hours then sat on the couch until 6 when I got up, emptied the dishwasher and fixed my dinner.  It was a let down in some respects.  Yes I knew that there was going to be a period of healing, but I have done so well that I did not expect to feel this bad.  I know, I have been subjected to 45 days of chemotherapy and radiation and that there is no reason to think that I would feel better today, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to or that I am giving up.  I ate 3 meals today, drank 2 electrolyte drinks, and had 2 ensures as well as sleeping and resting.  I WILL feel better, I know it, sometimes I just have to have a “Pity Party” to put it behind me, and tomorrow is another day where I can sleep until I get up and see what the day brings – If God sees fit.  I had a good day today – I woke up next to Kathy, I completed treatment, Jan, Kathy and I graduated – no we all graduated – and I was given a day of healing – God is Good!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – Just because you graduate doesn’t mean the journey is over.

 

Day 35 – 5 Radiations and 1 Chemo To Go!

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Day 35 145lbs

It takes so little to confuse a fool!  Treatment on Sunday???? Come on.  I got up at my normal 5:30 to get to an 8:00 treatment only to realize in the shower that there wasn’t going to be any traffic!  So I lollygagged.  It was nice not to have to rush.  My sweety even showed her beautiful face before I left.  Sydney and I shared cheese grits for breakfast and the temperature was nice enough to sit on the porch and watch the morning for a minute.  One thing this has taught me is to take time to experience the small stuff because it enriches my life so much.  The smell of a smoldering fire, the sound of the turkeys feeding, the moisture in the air before it rains.  It looked like today was going to be a wash out when I left catching rain on the way in, but by the time that I got home the sun was out and Kathy was already in the shop.  I was ready for a nap so I iced down, slathered up and crawled back in bed until noon.  Kat and I had lunch together and headed out to the shop together.  With Kat’s help I finished a table for Kim and Johnnie then turned a pyramidal cone for another customer.  It was nice to accomplish something positive.

While I was turning Kat ran to the store and I thought it was taking her forever to get back so I stepped out of the shop to find her washing her car so I closed up the shop and came in to ice down again and drink an ensure.  Well that turned into another nap before dinner…lol.

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My Busy Babe!

Tonight we have just been vegging calling William, Kat’s son, catching up on the computer and enjoying each other’s company.  William is coming home for Thanksgiving from Jersey City to see us and bring his car home before the snow hits the Northeast.  He is having his first experience living outside of Florida and the change has been a little rude as the temperatures dipped into the 40s as a high last week.  He has never seen snow before and is in for an experience!  As the day went on the temperature has been slowly dropping and I am starting to look forward to maybe lighting the fireplace this week if it gets cold enough – but don’t get me wrong I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t.  I am feeling pretty good today, my neck is getting pretty burned, but still no blistering and I am on the edge of nausea but that is pretty normal anymore and I have figured out how to keep it manageable.  If this is as bad as it gets I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement they keep me in God’s arms and in the cocoon of hope and healing.  It is a wonderful week that we are heading into – a week of family, friends, gratitude and thanksgiving.  Let us all try to be a little more patient, a little more understanding, a little more kind and a little more loving toward each person we encounter – I promise good feelings and inner peace.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Observe the Lord’s Day as he would have you, and perhaps He will observe your days as you would have Him.”  Richelle E. Goodrich

Day 3

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Day 3 182lbs

Welcome back!  Today was a day of differences.  I was a little head-achy, my tinnitus was a little louder, but I woke up and was grateful to begin another one. (even though it was 5am)  I know I’m supposed to be eating but I never thought that I would have to force down food!  I have been eating between 2500 and 2800 calories a day high in protein, drinking at least one Pedialyte  and 2 liters of water.  Between peeing and rubbing my belly I use up half the day. Then there are the every 2 hour baking soda rinses for the mouth and after radiation icing down for 15 minutes and an aloe vera rubdown.  But I feel good.  I wish that I could get out to the shop – I have been working on a table that is turning out very nice, but I was on the phone with insurance, finances and doctors all day.  I did take some time to talk to my  friends Mac Brown in the morning and Jeanie Theirault in the afternoon.

The center waiting area is light and airy and full of life. Casey, the receptionist, greets

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Reception and waiting room

you with a smile and your name.  There are art projects, kid’s play room, kitchen, coffee and plenty of families and patients to talk to.  I partook of the weekly lunch for patients, families and caregivers.  It was very cool.  It is catered by different restaurants and today was Zoe’s Kitchen.  There were beef, chicken and spinach, wraps, rice, fresh fruit and a complete salad bar….top that off with chocolate cake-

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lunch

delicious calories plus! When we settled down at our tables they went over activities that are available to patients; dinner at Indochine, a tour of the Federal Reserve, a cocktail hour another night, reduced tickets to the Icemen, and the free events around town.  Next they had a doctor come up and explain his specialty for about 15 minutes, then went around the room letting alumni, and graduating patients share their experience strength and hope to the newcomers.  Then we got to introduce ourselves talking about where we were from, our cancer and treatment.  As I’ve probably told you, we

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chime ringing

Jacksonville residents are few and far between.  In the room of about 40, only two of us were from here.  I made it a point to run down some folks to let them know if they wanted to know where to go or what to do please ask or call….I’m going to have to start carrying more cards! I even sent one guy over to the Dreamette, he was jonesing  for good soft-serve.  When the lunch was over we all gathered in the lobby where to graduates rang the chimes in the lobby to signify hope and completion and had their pictures taken.  It was touching to watch these families say goodbye to the friends that they had shared so much with and the gratitude they had for a new beginning.  Next it was off to treatment with Hanna and Jennifer who tied me down and gave me a sunburn……it is one expensive tanning bed!

Today was very reminiscent of early sobriety.  You come into the rooms a broken person thinking it is the end and you are sentenced to a glum existence.  I was accepted with open arms into a community of experience strength, hope and fellowship. Before I knew it I was getting out of myself and helping others,  I just had to show up and be willing to do some new things.  I came home smiling, happy and filled with love and gratitude.  Who knew so much good could thrive in a place filled with so much tragedy.  Thank you for letting me share – it means so much.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – Be willing and take action, you won’t be sorry.