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 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

 

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 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 24 – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Day 24

Hey guys sorry I missed you last night, but Kathy, Will and I shared the evening together chatting and binge watching Stranger Things.  The three of us together eating gummie bears and just enjoying the time made all the guilt of not writing melt away.  I preach about living the small stuff and it was nice to take my own advice.  Friday was an excellent day with Dr. Dagan.  He numbed my sinuses and  went in through the nostril and down my throat with a scope to inspect the progress.  He was very pleased with the healing and discussed what he saw with Jan and I – Kathy had to work.  He thinks that everything is going as planned and will see me in 2 months with a cat scan, MRI and blood work.  He did say before we left that I was probably his best patient and thanked Jan and I for all the work that we had done to make it go so well – talk about humbled and proud. It was wonderful to be back at the center.  I got to spend some time with Barbara and her son at the art table, I got to wish all my techs a merry Christmas and share a hug.  It was like coming home to family after you have been gone for awhile, I really could have stayed there all day. But with things to do I kissed Jan goodbye, did some shopping on the way home and headed directly to bed! Our appointment Thursday was 9:30, Friday was 8:30 and I picked William up form the airport at midnight Thursday night – I was worn out.  I turned on the electric blanket and slept until 5.  But don’t you worry your little heads one bit, I was still ready for bed at 10:30 and they woke me up at 11 this morning!

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Kathy showing Will some of her favorite artists

Today was another exceptional day.  The three of us headed out for some good old family fun.  We started out at the UPS store mailing off Christmas presents to my Mom, Brother Joe and Nancy – sorry guys but we are just behind!  Next was a stop at one of our favorites restaurants Hawker’s.  As always, the food was excellent and I could almost taste most of it!  My kimchee fried rice was a bit on the spicy side for me because the spices burned my mouth, but it was nice that I could taste the spices and it burned.  I am finding that if I eat something the instant it touches my tongue I can taste it for about  2 seconds, but as it spreads across the tongue the taste fades.  I find that reassuring because I really believe that taste is coming back slowly but surely.  After lunch we headed over to an open house at Burnt Glassworks.  It is a hot glass shop that is owned by Andy Peters and his wife.  I met Andy’s mom Ruby at yoga and Kat and I did a show with Andy in the next booth.  Today they had workshops to blow your own ornament, great food and wonderful gifts that they made. Check out their Facebook page Burnt Glassworks it’s not to late for that perfect present!  Pictures below After all the excitement I had to have a nap.  Kat has gone to Zoo Lights and Will and I are in our own corners.  I hated to send Kathy on her own, but tomorrow night we have Christmas with the family at Jan’s and I really don’t want to miss that.

It feels good to be me right now.  Heading into Christmas with no expectations or stress.  I am surrounded by family and friends that love me and care for me.  Just knowing that you all are out there fills my heart with joy.  That people really understand how I feel and are getting something out of this selfish effort to get me through this overwhelms me. Seeing Kathy and Will smile, calls from my nephews to invite us to their houses, sharing calls with friends to wish merry Christmas.  Presents will get done when they do, Christmas cards returned will get there – sharing this time with the ones that you love, doing what you can for others with no expectations, celebrating God sharing His son with us is magical. I urge you to slow down, look around, tell someone you love them, call someone that needs a call, spend some quality time talking to God thanking Him for all you do have.  Don’t push to do something that you don’t have to do.  Much as it pains me, you will probably not hear from me tomorrow.  So on that note I wish for you and yours a Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate.  I hope your holiday is filled with all the good stuff and if you want it to be it will.  Love You

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY –  “If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.”   Zen Proverb