Day 173 – Life goes on!

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Day 173

Hello friends!  Monday night and another wonderful day.  If we could just get over this rain – I don’t think that it is ever going to stop!  We have been just plugging along trying to do as much as we can do while living life on life’s terms.  Two weeks ago I worked for Eric as normal, but as healing seems to go, after yoga that Thursday night I hit the wall and was not able to get up on Friday so Ms Kathy did not get a clean house for Mother’s Day.  She was fine with it and we piddled around the house and shop on Saturday.  Sunday we took a trip to Ft Clinch Park in Fernandina to enjoy Mother’s Day at the beach.  Albert, Jan, Will and Jessa joined us and we celebrated with lunch, shark tooth and shell hunting. The cool thing about the beach at Ft Clinch is that it is at the mouth of the St Mary’s river and with the jetties

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Happy Mother’s Day!

you can have either an ocean or sound experience depending on which side of the jetties you go. Needless to say, we had a wonderful day.  Monday I had my 6 month labs, CT and PET scan and followed that up with a customer visit, a stop at the store and our monthly wood turner meeting.  I left the house about 8:30 in the morning and we didn’t get home until about 9:45 that night.  Between a day at the beach and running around all day I had to call in dead Tuesday because I

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Test Day!

could not get out of bed again!  The not getting out of bed is not getting any prettier, I rolled out about 11:30 to eat, take my meds and get some water down.  I was back in bed by 12:30 and slept until about 5 when I got up to eat again and was back in bed by 8:30.  Wednesday I went to St Augustine to pick up a project, Gate Parkway to deliver a finished job and finally hit the shop for an hour or two to finish up a couple of wine stands for a customer and his dad.  I just just haven’t figured out how to effectively plan my days.  I try to plan for 4 to 6 hour days, but when I lose one or two days it just snowballs. It is a good thing that I am still telling my customers that it may take awhile to get their jobs finished.

We ended up the week Saturday with our bi-monthly SoMMA meeting.  This meeting we had Joyce Gabiou who shared her techniques for collage. You can see Joyce’s work by clicking here Joyce Gabiou Artist.

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Joyce Gabiou

As I was laying around Sunday recuperating it dawned on me that we began this cancer adventure a year ago this month.  We had dinner with Amy and Keoni and I started to feel puny the week after.  We went to Louisville the following week and Kat got sick on the plane and I thought that I picked it up because my lymph nodes had begun to really swell.  After a bought with pneumonia those nodes stayed around and the rest is history.  It is really hard for me to believe that it has already been a year –  diagnosed, treated and getting my 6 month post treatment check on the 30th. What a year it has been, fear, happiness, love, faith, pain, hope, reliance on self and others. My reliance on God has grown 10 fold as well as my reliance on others.  I have had to

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The Daring Duo!

learn to trust that God has a plan and have faith to do my best to accept and implement that plan with humility and grace.  I have had to learn to tell the truth when it comes to my needs and capabilities.  I have had to learn to reach out and ask for help when I need it and to fearlessly share all my feelings with you.  Tonight we share our 103rd chapter so far and I need to thank you for sharing them with me.  I could not have made it this far without you and your support.

Don

Quote of the day – Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Helen Keller

Day 116 – Coming up for air

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Day 117 Compression Mask

This week I have been trying to get on a schedule – ugh I know – it sucks.  My goal was to get up Monday through Friday at 8:30.  Friday morning I woke up in a daze about 8 and I didn’t know what day it was or if Kathy was home.  For the most part it has been very successful and exhausting.  I have worked in the shop 6 days this week and have some progress to show on Eric’s project.  A bunch of rest breaks and slow progress, but I am grateful.  Now I can’t tell you that I actually made it up at 8:30 but 9:15 was the latest and I am okay with that. I made it to

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Chilly in the Shop

yoga 3 times this week but the downfall was when it came time to share with you – there just was nothing left.  I think the latest that I was up was 10 and that was yoga night. On yoga nights I do not get home until 8 and after I eat and sit down it is all over and when Saturday rolled around I did not get up until almost

2.  I barely had time to eat and take a shower before it was time to go celebrate a friend’s life at a memorial yoga practice.  My friend and yoga instructor Tricia lost her son Max to addiction and each year holds a practice to raise money for Gateway Community Services in honor of Max.  We had 85 people show

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4th Annual Practice in memory of Max

up to support her and it was awesome to see some old friends that I had not seen in awhile.  I was in bed by 10 and got up about 9:30 had breakfast and spent wonderful Sunday in the shop and hanging around with Kat.  She worked on “special projects” doing epoxy pours and alcohol ink and started to clean out the flower beds.  She finished off the weekend grilling a rack of lamb and preparing rice, field peas, corn and tomatoes.  I am really glad my taste is coming back!

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New Style Table

I am feeling pretty good!  Like I said tired but it is a good tired and I’m pretty sore.  The taste is still coming back slowly and the saliva glands are working better.  The only time that I have trouble with that is if I talk too much or try to eat to fast.  We grilled hamburgers Saturday night and I ate a whole burger, but it took me an hour to eat it.  I ended up cutting it in bite sized cubes so that I could chew it thoroughly enough to swallow it.  Any bites bigger than that I could not swallow unless I sectioned

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Beautiful Sunday

off my mouth like a squirrel and chewed smaller portions before swallowing.  Yeah I know  – you really needed that picture. I am still drinking the dandelion detox tea at night and have been able to start drinking my normal morning smoothie except I am substituting Ensure instead of coconut milk. I continue to do the daily lymphodema exercises and have been wearing my compression bandage at night.  I am up to keeping it on for 6 hours but it is a struggle.  Because of the toothpaste I have to use at night I cannot drink so at some point I end up with this “paste” in my mouth that I cannot swallow because of the bandage.  That and the itch it puts on the beard I have to get it off.  Weight is holding at 160, but if I keep eating like I am that will be short lived.  I still love the hearing aids and look forward to finding out what else they do next week – who knew!

So next week is another return to doctors appointments.  I have at least one scheduled for each day.  Mostly follow-ups but I do have an eye check-up and I think that I am going to have to buck up and have my prescription changed – ahh the joys of aging and treatment!  I still say both are definitely worth the effort because we have been so blessed by the experience that it is almost indescribable and it has been easier for me to see it especially when I feel better.   All of the efforts are beginning to pay off. I have so much more to say, but it is almost 8 o’clock and I need to still call my Mom and get into bed.  I will try to get with you more this week, but no promises!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY –  “Thank You” is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”

Alice Walker

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 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 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