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 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.

Don

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

Day 77 – WoooooHooooo!

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Day 77

I know, I know where the HELL have I been??? Dancing with angels that’s where!  What a great week – thank you for helping me get here. Thursday I saw my therapist, who to my dismay just got done with her round of cancer treatment.  Talk about being able to empathize and help me out.  Again it is miraculous  what God puts in my life when I get out of the way and ask for help.  I had not seen Louise in a year and a half and it was like we never missed a beat and I came away recharged.  Of course she wanted to see me again yesterday – but I had improved enough that she unchained me for 3 weeks.  After I left her office Thursday I picked up Sydney and Finn and delivered them to my nephew and niece Will and Jessa so we could go to the Symposium.  Friday morning Kat and I were on the road by 8:30am for our next big adventure.  We drove to Lake Yale Baptist Center for the Florida Woodturning

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Don & Kat’s Excellent Adventure # 2134

Symposium and my 1st venture into the world. Lake Yale is in the Eustis, FL area and is a beautiful drive 21/2 hours away from Jacksonville.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I was scared to death but excited at the same time, but I had a plan to escape to a quiet place if I needed to and was surrounded by understanding and supportive friends so that fear had melted by the time that we finished lunch.  There were 250 turners, and 8 rotations of classes in which you got to choose one of 4 to see.  So I saw 8 different national and local turners who came to share their projects and techniques.  It is an awesome opportunity to learn. There is also a Vendor area to see and buy all the new and trusted goodies available and two evening programs. The attendees are encouraged to bring finished work for the instant gallery to share with the participants. Friday night we had a critique of the instant gallery by the nationals  and a drawing for a 6 $250 shopping sprees with the

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$250 to Spend!

vendors and I won one of the shopping sprees!  OK I’ll wrap up the symposium with one story.  Kat and I shared a room with our friend Tina, because she is so kind and the 3 of us have a freaking blast together.  Friday night we all settled in for quick nights sleep and 1st off a previous occupant had set the alarm and it went off about 1:30 in the morning.  I was slapping the clock radio turning on the radio and finally got it off, then Tina spit out her snore guard and poor Kat was up all night while Tina and I slept like bricks.  After a grumpy Kat start to the day I got some earplugs for her from a friend who is a vendor, Paula, and Kathy slept like a baby Saturday night.  For as much as I was worried I made it each day until midnight and was up at 6:15.  Now I won’t tell you that I was not worn out – We got home about 3:30 on Sunday and I was asleep on the couch by 4, but It really gave me the confidence that I am capable of pushing it if I need to.

This week hasn’t been any better.  Monday I had to be at UF at 9am for a blood test and you know how that goes.  I showed up and signed in then parked it in the waiting room until it was my turn to register.  After I settled in and handed the woman my ID and insurance card she quickly apologized and told me because of my insurance I had to go to LabCorp and oh and you need to go to the Proton Therapy Center to get your orders so they can do the draw. It was alright, but I felt sorry for the tech who had to stick me 3 times to find a vein.  Next was running by Jan’s to pick up Sydney and home for a nap before we headed out to the Woodturners meeting.  Kat was our demonstrator sharing how she makes her amazing rain-stick.

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Dazzling Execution

Tuesday was a 9am meeting for my CT scan and PET scan.  These are the 2 tests that will show us if we got the cancer.  They get read on the 27th at 10am and I am a little nervous but like Kat said to me -“If we didn’t get it we will go at it again.” (Easy for her to say!)  They took about 3 hours and I was back home to eat and catch a nap before an appointment with Louise and yoga.  Today I slept until noon and took a nap at 3, I just couldn’t go anymore.  But today it was okay.  I could take solace in the fact that I knew it was time to lay down and I don’t feel bad about the need to do it.  I asked God for the willingness to face my fears, held my breath and took the plunge.  It helped that I was surrounded by people to watch me and give me guidance and I will not do it every week……..yet, but damn I’m a lot more confident and secure than I was. Tonight my beautiful bride and I went out for dinner to celebrate Valentines Day.  I really love this woman it was so nice to spend the evening with each other, as a matter of fact this week has been amazing.  We have shared our versions of the journey and I have been able to walk her through my feelings as they occurred.

So tonight I sit ready to retire with my confidence back, my mood better than it has been in weeks and not constricted by my perceived limitations.  Life is good and I am blessed by God, friends and a wonderful life – what more could I ask for.  Happy Valentines Day my friends, good night.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “We should not judge people by the peak of their excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”

Henry Ward Beecher

 

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

 

Day 46 – Straight and Narrow

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

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

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

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Warm and content

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

Don

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

Project time!

 

Day 35 – Geez!

2018-01-03 16.15.13What a short, long 2 days.  I’m still in a down cycle and slept until 2 pm yesterday then until about 10:30 this morning.  The only saving grace is that it is so nasty outside that I am kinda afraid to go out.  Everybody seems to have the post holiday crud and I don’t think that I want to get involved with that so I have been doing laundry, picking up, getting firewood and anything else that you can squeeze into a couple of hours.  I finally had to make a trip to WalMart today because I haven’t I been out of the house since we went to see Bernard and Susie on New Years Eve and I was going bonkers. AAARGGGGGG, the worst thing was that I had to use William’s car because the truck is still at the shop from last Thursday.  I can’t wait to get the bill for that one.  Those of you that have older vehicles know the drill.  You take it in for an innocent oil change and tire rotation, well I have a conscientious mechanic who checks everything because he has the identical vehicle.  Turns out I had a leak in one of the fuel injector gaskets and as long as you are pulling the manifold you  might as well do them all! Next, 2 of the manifold bolts were frozen and had to be drilled out – then to finish the deal, after they got it together they found a leak in the water pump seal.  Well you have to replace that but you have to take most of the front end off.  So your innocent preventative $35, 30 minute oil change turns into a $2,600 five day adventure.  God has a plan, His will be done.

So tonight I made some bean soup, sat and watched Kat do another epoxy pour and enjoyed the warmth of the fire.  I told Kat that I am as much fun as a turd in a  punch bowl, but I know that is going to change soon.  One day at a time and God is in control, so I am going to hit the sack and do what I supposed to.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “We take our relationship with God to a deeper level as we learn to live with our vulnerabilities what ever they may be…. You can throw up your hands in despair from the word go and be overwhelmed. ‘What can I do?’ Or you can recognize that, no matter how difficult your challenge, help will come from somewhere and do your darndest.” E. Glenn Hinson A Miracle of Grace (362, 363)

 

 

Day 31 – How Did I Get Here?

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Day 31!

Okay, okay it’s three days, not 2, but I am really having a difficult time remembering what I have been up to.  Oh yes, nothing but sleep.  After we went to Keoni’s and Amy’s Wednesday night I was hoping that I would be getting my wind back – Wrong answer.  Thursday was another day on the couch doing laundry and Friday I had to go back to bed after getting up at 11:30 to talk to my United Health Care Nurse Advocate.  It is a service provided by the Insurance company to follow my progress, make suggestions on care and help me navigate the insurance maze. So after we finished I had a quick breakfast moved back to the bedroom, turned on the bed warmer and slept until 5.  William went to Tallahassee Friday to spend some time with his grandparents so Kathy and I enjoyed a quiet evening at home together.  We haven’t done that in forever, it seems like, and the two of us really enjoyed watching Planet Earth and taking turns stoking the fireplace.

Kathy’s Dad Larry and his wife Dyanne came over from Ocala to eat lunch with us, then head downtown to the Hyatt.   Their plan is to watch the Lighted Boat Parade and fireworks tonight downtown.  They are staying at the Hyatt downtown in hopes of getting a room that overlooks the river so they won’t have to face the cold tonight.  Kat fixed white bean chili for lunch for the four of us and we caught up, feasted and set by the fire until about 3 o’clock.  They headed downtown and Kat and I ran out to do a little shopping to wrap up 2017.  Guess what we are doing tonight?  Yep, sitting on the couch, in front of the fire and watching TV – Party Animals!

This week at rest has given me some time to think and take a look at what is going on. Since all of this holiday fun I have been letting my treatment regime slack.  Sleeping until noon I have been missing a meal a day.  I used to get up, eat breakfast, go to treatment, come home and eat lunch, go to bed, get up for dinner and the evening. Now I get up at noon, eat lunch, afternoon activity followed dinner and evening fun.  I have not been as diligent in my hydrating, moisturizing and food selection.  I have been feeling pretty good and just not paying attention to what has gotten me this far.  I am down to 163 pounds, so I need to get that meal back in, I seem to be more tired, maybe I could go back to getting up and taking a nap in the afternoon.  OR, even better, talk to Carlene, at Shands and see what she has to say – novel idea huh?  I just have to get my mind wrapped back around the fact that my body has been brutalized and I still have to take care of myself.  I have only been done with treatment for 4 weeks and two of those four weeks were the worst that I had.  I am just tired of feeling tired, don’t like not pulling my weight and we have been at this 10 weeks now.  So, back to what always works.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Theodore Roosevelt