Day 63 – A Brave New World

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Day 63

Good evening!  It was absolutely a gorgeous day today – sunny, a bit warm, but overall my mood is elevated and I am acting a little more sane.  I have been waking up a little earlier, about 8:30 or 9:00 but have been rolling back over until my normal noon.  It is promising though and I hope that I continue to see that pattern.  My walks have been really nice, being in the sun helps and the temperatures have been tolerable.  I have to laugh at myself though heading out in a coat and toboggan with my gloves at 55 degrees – REALLY?  What can I say, it’s comfortable.  I am going to have to start scheduling some outside events because the house is driving me crazy.  Instead of being a place of comfort and retreat it is becoming a prison.  I could start some civilized projects like rearranging the panty,

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A Beautiful Day!

going through my closet and drawers and just getting rid of some of the junk that I tend to accumulate.  The other day I came across a casino chip in one of my drawers along with some Mardi Gras coins and beads – art project? junk? memorabilia? or just to lazy to throw it out?  But those tasks have absolutely zero appeal – then again, either does sitting around recovering from cancer treatment – so I will look into that after the taxes are finished.  That has been the daily effort this week.  I really envy the “organized” people of the world.  I get it into the right files and with like items, but instead of handling it daily I wait until January every year to drag it all out, put it in order and get it down on paper.  I have the best of intentions and get a little closer every year, but at the rate that I am going it will be another 10 years before my system becomes refined.

I have been spending some time on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivor Network since I started researching treatment recovery patterns last weekend.  I wish that I had know that this was here earlier.  The site allows you to go to cancer specific areas to see what other people with your type of cancer are experiencing or have experienced.  It also allows you to post questions and respond to others with tips and encouragement.  I realized very quickly how truly blessed I am.  Given the circumstances I never had to take a pain pill, never threw up, did not have to have a feeding tube and have only experienced moderate side effects.  And it has become apparent that faith in God, a positive outlook and being able to laugh at yourself is incredibly important to the process. I am amazed at the number of people who write in about their spouses and their unwillingness to treat symptoms or in some cases even try.  As much as you have heard me bitch and moan about everything that I have been through and will go through you can rest assured that I am grateful for a loving God of my understanding, for Kathy and Jan for walking with me, the people who are capable of donating to the Go -Fund-Me account, the multitudes who have penned notes and cards, the gifts, the texts, the Facebook comments, the prayers, the phone calls, the kind words and the readers of this blog.  It is reassuring that I have not had to or will have to take a step by myself unless I chose to toward the cure of this frightening, humbling and fatal disease. God is good to those who let him.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are.”

 “Atticus Finch”
Go Set a Watchman
Harper Lee

 

Day 61 – Huh?

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Day 61

2 months since the last treatment – what a blur!  I wish that I could tell you I was better, and I know that I am, I just don’t see it or feel it.  I know that I am better it is just a matter of a different set of evolving issues.  Days come and go highlighted by my time with Kat on the weekends and visits to yoga and the weird symptom of the week.  We did have a visit from my niece Abby. She was in town visiting from Oregon and came over last Wednesday to dabble in alcohol ink, do a bit of wood burning and catch up with her crazy ol’ Uncle and Aunt.  We must have been pretty intriguing because she ended up spending the night. This weekend Kat and I walked together with our buddy Finn.  Jan and Albert went with our friends Julie and Ham to go zip lining over around Ocala and left our buddy with us for the day.

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Abby at Ink Play

I know all of the reasons – cold weather, cloudy skies, rain, the need to sleep, healing, fewer daylight hours, and a propensity toward depression, but I realized that I am depressed and knowing all the reasons doesn’t change the reality.  Now I’m not in a place where I would consider harming myself, but just in a state of general funk, all that I seem to do is just sleep, eat, treat and repeat.  It is strange place for me to be, especially when I don’t feel good.  I find myself second guessing every decision.  When I roll back over in bed at 9am is it because I’m still tired or that I don’t want to get up.  Am I too tired to go to the shop or just depressed? Am I cold or feel the need to crawl under a blanket on the couch?  Now my decision is usually bolstered by my ability to go to sleep but that just makes me want to question why.  Familiarity to the disease and not willing to go there is one of my defense mechanisms and usually results in grasping for support.  1st act was reaching out to my friend Sam who went through this same cancer several years ago only to be reminded that we are all different and I am where my body is supposed to be. Friday was my monthly phone conversation with Chris, my OPTUM Health nurse.  We spent some time talking about where I was energy wise, what I can expect and how do I measure up – you know me Mr Competition.  I always struggle when we have these conversations, because it is always predicated on the premise that we are all different.  Then they tell you you are well and that some people don’t get to where you are for a year!  Sweet Jesus find me a cliff if I felt like this for a YEAR! – Enter FEAR!!  But I did buck up and told her that I was beginning to feel funky and a bit depressed. Her first question – “Are you taking your anti-depressant?”  Oh HELL YES! I would sell Sydney to make sure that I have my Pristiq.  The second was “would you like to talk to one of our counselors? Duh!  After the call I immediately scheduled an appointment with my Therapist Louise who got me through Sally’s illness and death. As a final step I logged on to the American Cancer Society’s discussion boards and chatted with people who are going through the same treatment and recovery.  And as I suspected, I am just where I am supposed to be.  There are people doing better and some not so good but we all understand the mental and physical torture that we are going through. And you can give some tips to the folks that are just starting.

Have you heard it before?  Problem + Action + Prayer = Relief.  So simple yet so elusive, but it works if you work it.  The questions begin to disappear when I admit that I have a problem and seek to relieve it.  Yes it is too cold to go to the shop so do your tax preparation, yes you are tired from your walk take a nap. And from Kathy, a week is too long to wait between posts you do better when you talk about it.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly – spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”        Susan Taylor

 

Day 49 – The Beat Goes On

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Day 49

Happy Wednesday my friends! I hope that you all are snuggled in and warm on this blustery evening.  We are looking at overnight temperatures in the 20s and quite frankly I am not looking forward to it.  But enough of the mundane!  I took my advice and have taken a renewed interest in the healing process.  Early reports are an increased feeling of action with reduced anxiety despite a rough day.  Monday my baby was off and we celebrated MLK day with me rising early at 9 and participating in our continuing art projects.  I was holding my own until I had to succumb to a nap about 1 and two hours later I was up and ready to go again.  We had a delicious meal of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots and bedded early in anticipation of the return of the work week.  Tuesday was a beautiful day and I began my renewed battle with healing.  I have restarted my smoothie in the morning with modifications.  I use an Insure, turmeric, maca-boost, protein, hemp seeds, chia seeds, a mushroom blend and a “green” blend topped off with almond milk.  From the looks of the people that have seen me consume it, it is probably a good thing that my sense of taste is diminished. After another call to Carlene, the knowledgeable,  she recommended a dandelion detox tea to help flush my system and can report that it as satisfying as the throat coat tea.  I had no idea that the world of medicinal tea was now available at the local supermarket. She also suggested using Eucerin creme twice a day to combat the ongoing skin issues. Add to that my 10 minute walk and re-introduction to yoga and wallah! a new schedule has emerged!

And yes, I moved back to the world of yoga last night.  I had not realized that it had been 3 months since I have participated in a practice.  It was amazing to be back with friends pursuing spiritual and bodily enlightenment.  It was tough not to get caught up in that ego driven need to perform but when my leg muscles start twitching it was a gentle reminder to back off and enjoy rather than perform.  It really put me in a great frame of mind that has continued throughout today.  Today was very rough.  I woke up with a headache that required fixing hot packs and remaining in bed to relieve it.  I was a little dizzy and needed to stay there until 1.  I did get in my routines, teeth, skin, tea, walk, eat and rest and was still content when Kat got home with ribs and smoked turkey.

God is at work again in my life.  As usual, all it took was an acknowledgement of pain,  action on my part and a willingness to allow God to help me to put me back on the road again.  A prayer for the willingness to get better helped me through today and has left me resting and feeling renewed.  Instead of being defeated by the setback, I am thankful for what we accomplished today and look forward to the offerings of tomorrow. God gives me such strength and insight when I ask for His help – and you would think that I would remember that after all I have been through.  But then I remember that only God is perfect and I am but a human who is trying to remain in His light.  I feel better and improve only to start thinking that I am doing the right thing then I stumble and remember that my strength and improvement came from Him not me.  So tonight in my prayers I will ask for His continued love and acceptance of my flaws.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

 

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 43 – Ugggg

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Day 43

You are going to get tired of hearing this but I am really struggling.  I know that I have been done with treatment for 7 weeks and I’ll give in to the two weeks after treatment so we are at 5 weeks since treatment ended.  You know me, I went and did some research (this is the place where you say “Crap why did he do that?”) and the average time for return to work for my cancer and treatment is 14.5 weeks after release.  So in hard numbers that 5 weeks turns into 2 weeks and that puts me at April 23rd before I am statistically expected to be at a point where I feel good enough to return to work at a reduced rate. UGGGGGGG.  It does explain some things, but does it make me feel any better?  Not really but I will get through it, relying on God, one day at a time and with your help.

This all started, like I told you, Monday when I slept until my normal noon and called Carlene and she told me I was doing really well.  So, after doing the meeting Monday night and doctors appointments Tuesday, I was going to meet Tina on Wednesday for lunch. With the most noble of intentions, I set my alarm for 9, and after 2 hits on the snooze button remembered Tina was going to call when she left St Augustine, so I turned off the alarm and dozed until she called about 10:15.  Well, I immediately fell back to sleep and woke up at 11:15 – the time I was supposed to meet her.  Much to my dismay, I called and canceled because I could not get up, rolled over, and went back to bed until 2:30.  I finally got up, moved to the couch until Kat got home, ate dinner, soaked in the tub and was back in bed by 8:30. I was totally wiped out, I know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again expecting different results, but it has been 4 days since my birthday – come on I should be over that!

I am human, I need time to repair from chemicals and radiation that have been pumped into my body over a 6 week period. Cancer, lack of sleep, modified diet, loss of hair and beard, change of appetite and taste, having to treat a changing myriad of shifting ailments, loss of physical and mental stamina and yes this is normal, but I don’t have to like it.  But I do have to accept it and live it with the dignity and grace I ask God to show me. And I can do that by remembering that you are out there rooting for me, that Kathy loves me and sees the “big picture” better than me, that Jan and my family are here for my help and most of all that God loves me and will take care of all my needs.  I am human therefore imperfect and every emotion that I feel and situation I encounter is a part of this thing called life given to me by God.  I must learn from my shortcomings and share my good fortune and from that comes contentment, acceptance and happiness.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY-

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.

 

 

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 33 – Happy New Year!

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Day 33 – Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2018!  I hope that your holidays filled you with love and gratitude for all that you have.  I know it did for me.  Being slowed down gave me the chance to spend time with Kathy.  We have been hunkered down in the house in our pajamas in front of the fire since Friday night.  Sure there have been the occasional getting showered, dressed and out in the world missions but they did not come without discussion.  Do we need it?  Does someone else need it? AND can we get back home in under 2 hours?  Last night we took some white bean chicken chili down to Bernard and Susie and set down with them for a couple of hours only to dash back, stoke the fire and change back into our pajamas! Now there was some

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The hangout

productive time, but more on Kathy’s part than mine.  Yesterday we made designer paper.  I will say up front that I was more technical and moral support, but we started by shredding white paper in the paper shredder.  Next, we pulverized the shredded paper, water and colored thread that Kat’s mom had collected in a blender to make a slurry .  Kat’s mom was a quilter and when she cut away frayed ends of fabric she collected them in a piece of Tupperware.  I made a deckle which is a frame that has stretched screen and a raise top that you pour the slurry onto to form your sheet.  Then you let it dry.  We hurried that process by setting it next to the fireplace.

Today’s adventure was alcohol ink pictures.  I can really see potential projects with both projects.  Tonight we are just pretending that tomorrow isn’t coming because the holiday’s officially end tonight.  At least there aren’t a lot of decorations to put up!  There

is a God!

2017 has taught me quite a bit about myself – again.  I am grateful that God gives me the chance to go through the process of introspection every so often.  Getting sober, losing Sally and finding Kathy, 3 months in Maine and this bought with cancer,  each one has taught me so much about myself.   The magic really happened when I started writing it down in Maine – it has been so impactful and I do appreciate your comments and interaction.  Some don’t sound like a trip that we would like to take, but they have shaped me into the person that I am today and I would not trade them for anything. As I look back on these adventures the thing that stands out is that in each case I walk away with a stronger relationship with God and a better understanding of my role in the relationship.  As I have said over and over during the last 2 1/2 months, do the next right thing, follow instructions, live one day at a time, forgive, love and trust that God’s plan is better than mine.  My life is so gratifying and easy when I live this way, it’s not always fun, comfortable, easy or desirable, but each of those conditions become tolerable when I do. So my resolution for 2018 is to do my best to continue this process. Instead of the Lesson Of The Day tonight I would like to leave you with a prayer that was shared with me by my father during early sobriety:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
-Thomas Merton