Day 110 – Insights

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Day 110

Happy Monday!  I know – keep it down Don it is Monday, but we all had another day to receive God’s gifts, whether we took the time to enjoy them or not. We have had an action packed couple of days since I shared with you last Wednesday.  Let’s see – Thursday started with me going over to UF Shands to meet with Kim, my lymphedema physical therapist.  She shared with me the “technique” for the massage needed to start the lymph flowing and it is 13 quick massages after you wear a compression bandage for 30 minutes.  I have to wear the bandage when I sleep, but you can see and feel the difference already.  I did yoga that evening but ended up with a primarily sleepless night.  Don’t know why, but I just laid and relaxed.  I got up early Friday because I had a busy day.  Our friends and artists Graeme Priddle  and Melissa Engler from Asheville were spending the night with us. They are traveling to do an installation in Miami for a client.  That means I had to pick up and clean the house and run some errands.  First I picked up the compression bandage – what a joy – not!  It wasn’t bad it is just that medical equipment people, to me, can be very cost driven.  I suppose it is just a necessity of the trade, but they seem more focused on what insurance will and will not pay than they do taking care of your needs.  Next was off to see Angela at Dr Moy’s for my hearing aid fitting.  Guys – WHO KNEW?  I have been re-introduced to a world that I had previously forgotten or didn’t even know about.  If I knew what an impact this would have on my life I would have done it years ago.  The TV is half volume, I can hear all the birds, the noises my truck makes, the washing machine, the sound water makes in the drain, leave crunching under my feet, everything said at a meeting, the rain.  I am blown away by what I can now hear – what a gift and blessing I have received!

Friday night was a blast catching up with Graeme and Mel.  We had BBQ from Gators off Beaver Street; ribs, brisket, sausage and turkey – delicious!  They all consumed “adult beverages” and we swapped stories until we were all tuckered out.  Small world, Mel asked about how I picked UF and I was telling her about this angel doctor that helped us when she suddenly asked if it was Mitchel Turk – It turns out that she is friends with Mitchel and Nadine.  We said our good nights and goodbyes because Saturday morning we had to depart before they did to get to our  SoMMa meeting in Ponte Vedra by 9:30. Here are the links to their work Graeme’s Graeme Priddle Melissa’s Mellisa Engler. We had a demo by pastel artist Lyn Asselta and it was eye opening to see what you could do with pastels. Lyn’s work can be seen here Lyn Asselta.  After the meeting we took a side trip to Ponte Vedra Arts and Crafts, what a cool store!  I looks small from the front, but it has the most amazing collection of fine art, basic art and craft items that Kat and I have ever seen.  Each isle is filled with some many products, techniques and ideas that we had to get out of there before we spent the retirement account….LOL.  Here is their website if you are interested  Ponte Vedra Arts and Crafts.  We then headed to one of our favorite 2018-03-17 13.55.59restaurants for lunch, Safe Harbor.  It is on the Inner Coastal on Beach Blvd. and we sat on the porch and stuffed ourselves.  Oysters, blackened and fried trigger, beautiful weather and the best lunch companion in the world!  It is soooo good to be me! We got home about 3:30 and immediately hit the bed. We napped until about 6, got into our pajamas and watched “The Wizard of Lies,” a movie about Bernie Madoff.

Saturday night and Sunday morning were rest catch up for me.  We were in bed by 10 and I slept until noon while Kat worked on finishing her alcohol ink class. Sunday afternoon I made it to the shop to work on Christmas presents until Jan, Albert and Finn stopped by for a visit.  We sat on the porch and collapsed while we caught up with each other’s lives and threw the ball for Finn. We made it to bed early again and I got up about 9 to work on a project for Eric at Farmtastic Creations.  I made it to Home Depot and worked in the shop until about 4.  I got cleaned up and had leftover ribs and turkey for dinner waiting for my baby to get home.  The days are still tiring and I am stringing more of them together – I just might be getting well.

I have enjoyed the rain today  Last night while we were sleeping we had “thunder boomers” and I don’t remember the last time I was awakened to them.  While I lay there I remembered my parents telling us that it was just the angels bowling.  I don’t know how to explain it other than I felt so relaxed and calm waiting for the next strike.  It probably started Saturday night before we went to bed.  I shared with Kat that I had no idea 5 months ago how much my life would change as a result of having cancer.  It’s not just special toothpastes, compression garments, hearing aids and sleep patterns – it is a new life.  Like sobriety and the loss of Sally it is another wonderful awful experience in my life.  New friends, and a new appreciation of old ones, a renewed relationship with God, the cigarettes are gone, the hummingbirds are back, the sky is bluer, the season more spectacular, I can hear and I love Kat more than ever.  It is like we are dating again and appreciating what we have.  I am thankful, grateful, blessed, excited and full of awe for the world around me.  It gets a little better every day and I still have a way to go, I cannot imagine the things to come.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” —Willie Nelson

Day 105 – Living Life

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Day 105 – We have Beard!

I can’t believe it has been a week since I last shared with you, but time flies when you are having fun!  It has just been good but a bit frustrating.  By the time I get done with my day I have just been ready to go to bed.  Last Thursday I had an appointment with Louise and it went really well – I have been extended to a month!  Then I headed over to yoga and made it home about 8.  Friday was a thrilling day of cleaning house, but I made it all the way through this week including laundry.  Now it took me until 7 and I was pretty worn out but felt really good about getting it done.  Saturday we got to go to a “reveal” party for my nephew Will and his wife Jessa. Apparently this has become the real hip thing to do even to the point where Krispy Kreme sells donuts that are filled with pink or blue filling for the parties.  We all bit in at the same time to find out that it is going to be a boy.  It was fun and Albert and Jan, Daryl and Val are really excited about the prospect of a grandchild.

Sunday was a sleep in morning, it was really funny I was asleep and opened my eyes about 10:30 and the house was so quiet that I thought it was Monday and that I had overslept for my therapy appointment.  I jumped out of bed and went running into the kitchen and saw Kathy with her headphones on the computer!  I just turned back around and fell back into bed and was immediately sleeping again!  I slept until 12:30 but I spent the afternoon in the shop working on a project for Eric at Farmtastic Creations and finishing up a mortar pestle Christmas present. 29133005_10214874070781182_2656956538417053696_n Keoni and Amy stopped by for a minute to pick up some leftover donuts for the pigs then Kat made chicken piccata for dinner with black bean pasta. With the time change and all the activity it was back to bed!

This week hasn’t been as adventurous but Monday I did go to the physical therapist for the lymphedema therapy.  Kim is my therapist and she spent the appointment doing baseline measurements. She is very optimist that we can shrink the “waddle”  and we will get down to it Thursday.  Kat and I ended the day at the woodturner’s meeting where we had a demonstration on turning long thin objects by Ed Malesky.

Then the wall appeared.  I did not wake up until 2 o’clock Tuesday and had to force myself to go to yoga then today I got up about noon and have spent the day on the couch licking my wounds.

Barbara helped me to put it into perspective Monday night.  I have had 5 good days.  They may not have been 100% and I may have been tired and sleeping a bit but I did string 5 together before I had to quit.  That is so much further than I was a month ago and while the last 2 days would have depressed me a month ago, today I can feel good about the accomplishment and understand the need to rest.  I still do feel a little selfish when I tell people I cannot do something, but I  am trying to make intelligent decisions and I have quit imagining what they think.  I am doing the best that I can and cannot help it if that is all that I can do.  We were going to go to Atlanta this weekend to see the American Craft Show Saturday and spend the weekend with my nephew Chaz and his fiance Jovie until Kat pointed out to me that I probably didn’t need to spend all day Friday driving, all day Saturday at the show and all day Sunday driving home with some visiting thrown in the middle.  That is why I love that woman so much – she is so practical…LOL

A kind God, sage advice, prayer and taking action has been very good to me. I feel myself getting healthier and stronger daily.  The best part is that I have been able to to it with a smile and forgiveness in my heart.  Instead of waking up today being mad and disappointed at where I am, I am able to be grateful for the progress and thankful for the time given to me to heal without the pressure to perform. And then I have you, my loving and faithful friends who check on me daily and cheer me on toward healing.  I love you and appreciate you.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”   William James

Day 98 – Let’s Chat

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Day 98

Pretty decent day, a little chilly, but I made it to the shop again!  Working on Christmas presents that I haven’t been able to get to before now.  I also have a table base that Eric is chomping at the bit for me to get done, but it is labor intensive and I cannot work on it long.  Yesterday was a busy one.  I had the appointment with Dr. Moy, the ENT and his Audiologist, Angela.  Well she delivered the bad news first – 1. I need hearing aids and 2. That they are $5,200.  It is not as daunting as it seems, the insurance covers 80% and that only leaves $1,000 but they don’t file the insurance.  So we need to come up with the total to28660595_10156225959864310_3026021416681906478_n get the bill so we can file the insurance and get the money back DRAMA! But we will get it handled like we always do.  I know it sounds flippant but God always steps in when we need Him and that is why they call it faith.  Next up was Dr. Moy who was just pleased with the recent findings and the scope that he did looked great.  I will continue to see him every 3 months this year.  From there I delivered the “ball cap” job to ScoDon, hit the bank and collected the movie tickets that I won from SymPortico Realty. And the bonus was getting to visit with my sweet friend Laurel Black.  If you need a premium realtor you cannot go wrong with Laurel and her group. Here is their Facebook page take a look! SymPortico Realty  The downside to the day was not being able to get to yoga, but I get to do that Thursday.

Now for the chat, I haven’t talked much about what is going on with recovery other than the ever present tiredness.  Things are pretty good – fantastic to where we were last month, but there are some issues.  My “jack-in-the-box” skin conditions seem to have settled down to the occasional rash of pimples.  These are little red dots that look like a fire ant bites.  For those of you up north a fire ant bite is a swollen spot about as big around as a pencil eraser that is angry red and has a tiny puss spot in the middle.  These can appear quickly and can be as few as one and as many as 20.  They typically show up on my cheeks, chest, back and arms and with a treatment they go away in about a day.  They are not typically painful, unless they show up in my armpits, but it is just another curious part of recovery that no one can seem to explain. Next up is the ever present cold.  Kid’s I am freezing my butt off.  It is 71 in the house tonight and I need a blanket.  This week I have slept with the mattress heater on and my legs and arms at Dr. Moy’s office yesterday were purple.  The good news is that clothes and blankets are readily available. Next up is the tooth and gum treatments needed due to lack of saliva.  I am supposed to put a thin layer of a special toothpaste into fitted trays and wear those trays while I sleep, but I just can’t wear them.  The answer, I have to brush with the toothpaste and not rinse or drink all night.  This stuff is weird tasting  and without additional water I wake up with this goo in my mouth and throat in the morning, but with a good scrubbing and a drink it is okay.  I will wrap up with the hardest one.  My brain is not quite working right – chemo brain. For me it is the well known feeling of not being able to recall something.  You know what I mean, you’re talking to someone and you can’t think of what something is called or somebody’s name. Last Saturday Kat and I were sitting on the porch and I was trying to tell her something and it took 5 minutes for me to finish a sentence.  It shows up in my spelling and typing too.  If it wasn;t for speel check my sentences would read like this. My fingers just won’t type what I want if I am not looking at them. Another thing is remembering what I am doing.  I have tried 3 times tonight to remember to turn on the bed but to no avail.  But please, don’t get me wrong.  Like I said earlier, this stuff is just a bump in the road.  All of these annoyances will hopefully go away in time or can be remedied and they don’t hurt or affect my daily life.  It is my daily life and I am OK with it.  I feel better than I have in months.  My beard is coming back, my taste is coming back, I am getting some energy back, they are fixing my hearing and my turkey waddle – and don’t forget I am cancer free!  Modern medicine and the God of my understanding is good.  I am blessed to be living.

So with that my friends I am going to bed with a smile and joy in my heart.  Have a great couple of days and we will chat soon.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

C. S. Lewis

 

Day 95 – Trudging

2018-03-03 17.51.36Hey what is with this weather??? Come on I was really digging this heat, but it’s still another day in paradise! Typical of the recovery it has been another “pay to play” week.  After the 12 hour day and sharing the good news with you Tuesday I slept until about 2 on Wednesday and picked Ms Kathy up from the airport about 7.  Her trip and my activities had us both in bed by 9 that night.  Thursday I got up to go see the crew at Dr Breitmoser’s and get my teeth cleaned.  I was feeling pretty good and had scheduled a meeting and lunch with my friend Peter to catch up, but by the time Kim finished cleaning my teeth and I caught up with Jan I had to get in the bed.  I called Peter and canceled and was in the bed by 11:20 and did not get up until 4.  I did go to yoga but was back asleep by 9 that night.  Friday I had to cancel on Peter again because I couldn’t get up until 2 but I was able to change the sheets, gather up the laundry  and pick up the house a little bit so by Saturday I was feeling pretty good again.  I felt so good that I hit the shop and finished that “ball cap” job!

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Finished! and still have it!

Turned 3 more of them and was so happy the only problem was cleaning up all that PVC.  It was stuck to every tool I used, my lathe was white and I know there will be white streamers out there for weeks.  But it was so cool to be there and get something done.

Poor Kat had to catch up on her Alcohol Ink class this weekend because of her traveling  and spent 7 hours on the computer Saturday – needless to say we went to bed by nine last night!  Today was pretty nice too, we started the day having brunch with Jan and Albert and Will and Jessa.

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Sunday Brunch Bunch!

We all met at the Uptown in Springfield and enjoyed a meal and some catching up.  It had been so long since we had seen them that we finally gave Jan her birthday present – it was only 3 weeks late.  Next stop was the Jacksonville Gem Society to pick up our glass projects from last week.  Not only did we get to do that, Heather was teaching a silver class on making fidget rings. They started from flat sheet silver and silver wire and it was pretty cool. I think that this membership is going to be interesting.  We finished the afternoon with Bernard and Susie.  Kat had made

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Fused Glass

pot roast and we took them over some dinner.  Susie is doing better with her shingles, but she still needs prayers – she has been at this for 5 months.

So that gets you up to date.  I can tell you that I am really doing much better.  The little successes have helped me to come to a peace with the rest.  If I have to sleep – I have to sleep.  It is just a part of the recovery.  Do I want to do it?  Oh no – I would rather be spending my days in the shop and catching up with all of you that I haven’t seen for months, but I’ll take it today.  The good days are better and the down days are predictable. And with yours and God’s backing I am golden.  The post that I made Tuesday saying that we got this had 139 likes and 90 comments and that does not include the blog comments and likes.  I keep telling you that God loves me and I’m blessed with wonderful friends and family!  Thank you for being by my side.  Next week – follow up with the ENT, Dr Moy that did the biopsies that found the cancer in the throat.  Yippee – another scope through the nose and hearing tests.  The chemo and radiation have effected my hearing and he is going to check that out.  I have an appointment with Louise to check my mental well being and finally a gender reveal party for Will and Jessa’s baby.   It’s going to be another great week!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”       Marie Curie

 

Day 90 Grateful!

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Day 90 – Cancer Free!

Okay I won’t even beat around the bush – WE DID IT!  I scanned cancer free!  There are some spots that we are going to watch, but Dr Dagan believes that they are probably not anything.  I will have another CT Scan and Pet scan in 3 months just to be sure.   The swelling he saw when he scoped me  in January is completely down  – yes another scope through the nose.   It must have been a tough day there.  Dr Dagan said if it wasn’t for me coming in, he would have gone home – but he thanked me for being so cooperative and told me that I was high point of his day. I was humbled and proud.

Next stop was Tubel’s to get Kat’s oil changed and tires rotated.  See, she had me take her to the airport this morning because she is attending meetings in Tampa until tomorrow night. So I had to get up at 6:15 to get her there and I didn’t have time to get back home before my appointment.  I had another at 3:45 with Dr Ilene and would have gotten back to the house just in time to leave again so I had the esteemed privilege of doing something nice for my wonderful wife and had her oil changed.  Dr Ilene was pleased with progress and couldn’t find anything else wrong.  After that yoga and here I am with you. Exausted!

Thank God, thank Kathy, thank Jan, thank each and every one of you for helping me get this far.  Don’t worry,  I know it is not over, this story is not done.  I was told by more than one person today to not expect to get back to work for awhile and that I would probably feel pretty close to normal by the first of next year.  But I have seen the light on the way to the mountain! Hallelujah!  Prayer works! I am blessed and grateful for my life, God loves me and you.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.”    Wendell Berry

 

Day 89 – Nervous

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Day 90

It was a pretty awesome weekend!  Saturday Kat woke me up about 7:30 and we showed up at the Jacksonville Gem Society about 9:15 for a fun filled play day under the tutelage of Heather Furman.  We explored the world of glass and heat.  The class was an introduction to fused glass and anything else we could think of.  We designed, cut glass, used torches to make spirals, dots and beads, sluff with a kiln and a bunch of stuff that I have already forgotten.  We did not finish up until 5 and we will get the finished product soon.  There were 7 of us in the class and we had a ball! We came home and Kat fixed this wild Chicken Parmesan Pizza – great stuff!  We can talk about taste and appetite for a minute.  I am have a small appetite and am currently at 162 lbs. My taste is about 80

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Chicken parm pizza

percent there some things are closer than others. Peanut butter and grits are still my favorites.  I have been consistent in my weight for awhile and still drinking Ensure, protein and herb smoothies (mushroom blend, green blend, turmeric, hemp seed, chia seeds, egg white protein and macaboost) and getting in 2000 calories a day and I’ve been experimenting.  I bought some Publix spicy wings today and baby they lit me up!  I was washing them down with milk and my head was sweating, sweet Jesus heat is magnified!  I ate 4 and that’s all I can take, I’ll have to take the rest down to Uncle Tom and Aunt Pie.

The downside to the great day Saturday was a lost Sunday.  We went to bed early and I slept until 1:00pm, ate lunch with Kat, read on the patio for a 1/2 hour before napping, until 5:00, ate and we were in bed by 9:00.  Today I slept until one, but was able to run some errands and feel pretty good tonight.  I did get out for a walk and the blooms are gorgeous.  When you are grateful for your day it is so much nicer and easier to see the world around you. I am so blessed, a God of my understanding, wife, family, friends, life there is nothing else I need.  There is some goofy stuff I want but if I’m supposed to have it  – it will show up.

The nervous part – tomorrow is the big reveal.  I see Dr. Dagan at 10:00 to find out if we

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The love of my life!

got this on the first shot, then I see Dr Ilene for my 1st physical in the afternoon.  It has already been 3 months since the last treatment.  Lots of bitching, sleeping, weird experiences, but I have been carried and loved like I never expected.  The real thing is that I’m curious, I know that whatever the news is it will be what it is supposed to be.  God has a plan and the outcome is really unimportant, what is important is my reaction  to the news.  As my lovely, but smart-ass, wife responded to my inquiry – “What if we didn’t get it? “You go back to treatment – duh”

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY –  “We can easily forgive the child who is afraid of the dark, the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”   Plato

 

Day 86 – Ups and Downs

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Day 86

It’s Friday and I think that I just heard the chirp of Kathy’s car in the driveway…YEA! It has been a long day.  Thursday was incredible.  I went over to Farmtastic Creations to help my friend Eric work on some barn doors then came home and ran the vacuum and cleaned the bathrooms and felt great. I made some overdue phone calls and tied up some junk that had been hanging out there, Kat and I joked around and it was just as close to normal as I have felt in months.  Then came the morning, or more real, afternoon! Every bone in my body aches, my eyes won’t stay open and I have all the motivation of a slug. But today it is all okay. I just got up and did what I could.  That consisted of some emails, laundry and the couch.

I know that someone watching from the outside would think that it is a total hoax.  How does a guy go from normal to stop in a 24 hour period.  Hell I wonder that myself, but I am not going down that rabbit hole again.  My life is to short to waste my days, no matter how I feel, on a sick mind.  Yes depression will happen but with awareness, treatment and prayer I don’t have to let it take me to places I don’t want to go.  The committees have been dismissed and the squirrel cage has been greased – what a relief.  My thoughts this morning were “Isn’t this curious – I felt so good yesterday, so we have this all day class on Saturday you better relax and make plans for a soak before an early bedtime.”  And the simple act of being proactive rather that reactive has made today tolerable. Yes I wanted to do more, yes I wanted to feel better but because of the work I am OK and that is good enough today.

Tomorrow we have an all day class with Heather Furman. Heather is a glass artist and is going to take use on a trip through glass fusing and planets unknown.  It starts at 9:30 and runs until 5 so I better get some dinner and work my way to bed.  Don’t worry I’ll take pictures.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it. “        John F. Kennedy