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.


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.


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.


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 90 Grateful!

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.


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 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.


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


Day 84 – Cruising

Day 84 Gratitude!

My life is so incredible – what more could I ask for?  Sure there is plenty but what I have is just right.  This morning I woke up with a headache that was bad enough to make me nauseous, so I stayed in bed until 12:45.  Was I happy about it – no, did I have to let it ruin my day – no so I choose to not let it.  So I prioritized the day and got started.  No rushing no fussing just trying to make the best of it.  I choose the shop instead of walking and that makes the second day in a row that I was out there.  Now it took me 2 days to turn a ball cap  that normally takes me an hour, but it is the 1st time that I have turned since the week before Christmas and it is all to spec!

Monday Kat was off and we had lunch at Hawker’s Asian Streetfare.  We love that place.  I had the presence of mind to ask if my favorite, Kim Che Fried Rice, could be fixed with less heat and low and behold they could.  What a difference it was enjoyable – I guess I’ll start asking more…LOL   Next we were off to the tax guy and got 2017 filed then decided to check out IKEA.  We really had a great day for her last day of vacation I was really sad to see it end. 2018-02-09 08.25.07 We did get some cool kitchen ideas for the future.  But as usual, I paid for the day out on Tuesday and that is just a cost of doing business.  What are the choices again?  I have decided that my life is too short to be pissed off or miserable.  I have wasted enough days fighting things not in my control and I hope that I am done.

I finished the day by running over to Susie’s and Bernard’s to check in.  I love spending time with those guys – they are really important to Kat and I. We are blessed by wonderful friends – I could not imagine life without them.  Finally, home to see my wife and hopefully get to bed early.  I wish you all a wonderful night.



LESSON OF THE DAY – “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.”

 Winston Churchill

Day 81 – The Beat Goes On

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Heading out for a walk

Sunday night the weather is glorious and the smell of alcohol ink is in the air!  The past 4 days have been spent in repair mode after the 5 day push last week.  I have consistently been sleeping 12 hours, but I have been going to sleep and staying asleep so it has been much better.  It is amazing how letting go and not getting hung up on what you should be doing eases your mind at bedtime.  I have also been taking a nap each day so I guess the symposium and testing was harder on me than I realized.  Today was the first day that I felt like walking this week, 2 nights of yoga was enough extracurricular activity.  My activity with Louise, the weather, prayer and personal work have eased the depression to barely negligible.  I even did okay with Kat spending 3 days cleaning the shop, I worked inside on the taxes and got them ready to submit.  It was probably a good thing I didn’t go out before yesterday.  I went out to help for about 3 hours at the end and wore myself out.  After the group left I could not move or keep my eyes open so I took a nap at 4 and still went to bed by 10:30.

Amy, Keoni and the crowd surprised us with lunch from Fire House and a birthday party for our great niece Baylie.  She doesn’t turn 3 until February 28th but she wanted to make sure that she celebrated with Grandma and Grandpa and we were blessed to be included. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed a beautiful day.  The only downside was when Baylie’s 5 year old sister Rylie wanted to go out to the shop and turn tops.  They spent a day with Kat and I about a year ago and we spent the day in the shop turning tops and making wooden boats. I had to tell her next visit but we did get out the tops and had spinning competitions to her delight.

Today we got up with aspirations of attacking the world with gusto but settled for another quiet day at home together.  Kathy worked on her alcohol ink class and homework and I went out for a long walk.  I was so struck by the colors and flowers and how fast that they are showing up – God’s palate!

We had an excellent steak dinner and enjoyed a nap together.  I am consistently amazed at my life when I do the things that I am supposed to do.  Of course you have to trust God, set aside your ego, try and help others and take particularly good care of yourself – and we can all read through the history to see how well I do with that…LOL  The good news is that I seem to be getting there more quickly anymore. They keep telling me “Progress not Perfection” and it is starting to maybe sink in.


LESSON OF THE DAY -Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.  Charles R. Swindoll