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 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 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 84 – Cruising

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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.

Don

 

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

 Winston Churchill

Day 70 – Proceed With Caution

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Day 70 – Eating good in the neighborhood!

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I know that it is supposed to be a busy day tomorrow so put down the book and roll over. 1:45 “I’ve had the time of my life” plays in my subconscious and I am worrying whether to go to the shop or work on the taxes tomorrow.  Shut up Don and go to sleep – just clear your mid and relax. 2:30 I really need to pee, but I can do that when I wake up later, I’ve had the time of my life, stop it with the damn song.  Where did I get that? Oh yeah the damn Superbowl commercial.  Go to sleep -3:00 are you really going to read again – it’s 3:00 o’clock and you will probably wake Kat – oh what the hell.  3:30 turn off the book and go to sleep.  6:15 Kat’s alarm goes off – I wish she didn’t have to go to work. 7:15 wake up to her getting dressed – I’m such a slug she doesn’t want to go anymore than you want to get up. 9:00 crap I feel like shit but I really need to get up and get on with it – well just pull the covers over your head to block the light and roll over until 10.  1:30 dammit I can’t believe you slept this late again get your lazy ass up and get at it.  2:00 dressed and through the routine take Finn out and fix breakfast the get to your email.  2:45 take your walk with Finn. 3:15 lunch while you make some phone calls.  3:45 taxes I have all day tomorrow to get to the shop -hahahahahahaha.  4:15 crap it’s already time to take a shower and get to yoga.  You know that you could miss it tonight but that would be really giving in plus Trisha counts on you to get the room set up and God knows you aren’t getting anything else done. Shit it’s 4:30 get in the shower.  4:50 in the truck and off to San Marco call Tina on the way.  5:35 Arrive and start setting up – put on positive happy face to encourage others and let them know how “good” you are doing. 7:10 head home thinking about all you didn’t get done today what a complete slug you are – how the hell are you going to make it through the Symposium this weekend? 7:50 arrive home and starting to get worn out.  Eat dinner that Kat brought home along with the grocery shopping – you lazy ass what did you do today?  Phone calls from my brother and nephew while I’m eating  and watching Kat relax from her 12 hour day before starting her Alcohol Ink online class.  Go to the couch and check the message board to see if anybody else is going through this.  You really are depressed Don it sure is a good thing that you made an appointment with Louise for Thursday.  Wait dummy you just said it you are depressed and in a rut, I know but I’ve talked about it on the blog and made a post on the discussion board isn’t that it? No dummy remember relief = problem+prayer+action+time not relief = admitting.  Okay so you have identified the problem what are you doing about it?  You did make the appointment, you discussed it with your peers, you admitted it to Kat, you have started to get outside walking, you  are practicing yoga.  You are working on the taxes and have talked to the people who need work done and God knows you are praying for the willingness – so how about a break and let the action start to work superman?  You know you are right dummy ease up on yourself. 11:00 brush teeth and get in bed, 11:45 turn off book, 9:45 get up.

Today Finn and I got in a walk, then I made some real tax progress and did not once call myself a slug or lazy ass.  I have eaten 3 meals and a snack and I made some appointments – Guess what? I feel pretty good about myself. Yes I’m still depressed but I don’t have to feed into it. Some of us are blessed with depression and God knows I come from a gene pool that is swimming with it but I have people to talk to, a God to pray to, someone to hold me when I get down and a place to tell on myself. Just because you are depressed you have options once you realize it and get some help.  God knows that I am not perfect, but I’m trying and that I know pleases Him and helps me.  My prayer is still to give me the willingness to walk with grace through this process so that my successes will show others Your power to hold and heal if I truly have faith in your plan and do my absolute best to try and follow the instructions provided by those you put in my path to help me.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13

Day 68 – Not a Good One

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Day 68

Monday evening sitting in the couch watching the sun set on a gorgeous day.  I wish that I had been able to take more advantage of it but I am thankful for the temperature hike and the sunshine that came with it. Before I forget – Happy Birthday Susie Ross!  I hope your day is better than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow! We love you!  Now with that done I probably should go back to last Thursday and Friday to get you caught up.  They were great days with some promising activity.  I walked both days, practiced yoga Thursday night and got the laundry done and most of the house cleaned on Friday. But, you’ve been there with me before, Saturday decided to be the the spoiler of the week and I didn’t roll out until 1:30.  Now the problem with getting up at 1:30 is that you don’t get done with mouth-care, dressing and breakfast until 2:30. Then add a chore and a giggle or two and you have pretty much shot your day because you still have 2 meals to eat AND just because you slept all day doesn’t mean you go to bed any later.  Kathy tried to boost my spirits with the promise of a trip to Redi Arts and Eco Relics on Sunday but I got up fatigued and moved straight to the couch for a day of napping, TV and couch surfing. I just didn’t have it in me.  We had Superbowl and birthday party invites but, to be quite frank, I am freaked out by the flu scare and didn’t really have the energy to go.  I can credit Mrs Fantastic for a succulent roast pork dinner with butter beans and roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and Parmesan cheese. Quite tasty and easy on the taste buds and the Eagles for an exciting Superbowl so I really had a pretty nice day.  Not what I planned but perfect none-the-less.

Today was a total disaster.  I  finally fell asleep last night sometime after 3:30 and was up about 6:30.  I did not feel good so I got up and got dressed because Jan and Albert were dropping Finn off early this morning for their birthday trip to Louisville.  I ended up throwing up and could never go back to sleep so Finn and I laid around and ate simple food all morning together.  Feeling guilty we got up and went for a short walk followed by emptying the dishwasher, doing some tax work and hitting the couch until Kat got home.  Tomorrow will be better, or it won’t and either way I am OK with the process.

As I mentioned Wednesday, the American Cancer Society discussion board has been a God send. It has really taken a lot of the guesswork out of this  time of healing.  If nothing else it has reassured me that there is no normal in this phase of our treatment and nothing going on with me hasn’t been experienced by somebody else who can give me tips on how to deal with it.  My only complaint is the negative people who can’t seem to get over the fact that these are side effects of being cured of a potentially fatal disease.  They complain about the physicians, the treatment, the lack of definitive timelines. Sometimes to the point  that I wonder if they would not have been happier if they had gone undiagnosed. Thank goodness they are in the minority and most are as grateful as I am to be given this chance.  The only thing you do not see much of is the power of prayer and the belief in a Higher Power so my job, it seems, is to start interjecting some faith to the board.

Alright, that is my story for the day and I am sticking to it….well kinda…I am going to depart with a request for a prayer for continued acceptance and health – Thank You.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” Paul Sweeney