Friday, December 25, 2009

On to the Next Year

Times are changing and flying by fast.  Life has not allowed for traditional cards this year, but I think of you all and wanted to send a holiday message, this year on the computer.  My computer has been my regular companion even more so through this past year.  It has allowed me to keep in touch with everyone easily.  First, thank you so much for all of your emails, notes, thoughts and well wishes this past year.  They have been very encouraging and meaningful.  Life is going on as normal as possible considering all the new things that have become a part of our lives.  The boys have adjusted well and are in very good spirits.  While school is in, they have not come to treatments with me, but do on occasion.  They are not fearful, but rather bring smiles to the hospital staff and other patients.  They are very positive and have really "stepped up" this year.  We are very proud of them in all they do. 
I continue with my treatments and it has become my "job" as it consumes much of my life now.  I am gaining strength and some energy back and I have been handling my treatments fairly well.  We have a great support system which remains steadfast.  We are fortunate.  Bob has been able to find extreme latitude and support from work and at this point is returning to some travels as his job demands.  We are remaining positive and looking forward to a new year of life and health.  It's all about attitude!  Here's to you and yours! May next year be a GOOD one!


Ralph Waldo Emerson - “a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Robe of Color

Well, here I go. Finished my first week, well, half week of radiation treatments. Okay, 3 days anyway. Starting the routine of things. A friend came with me the first time, but I drove myself the rest of the week. I realized it's the first time since May or June that I've driven anywhere myself. It feels good to have some energy back. When I show up, my buddy, the valet manager, is glad to see me. He shouts in fondness, "she's my favorite one" and gives me a giant bear sized hug as he momentarily neglects his work. He treats me with respect and we have a good time teasing and joking. It's good to come into the front door of the hospital with a smile. They do their jobs well, it makes showing up pleasant. I have an ugly "job" to do and the staff cause me to look forward to coming to the hospital. The valet manager is happy to see me driving myself. "You look good kiddo". Ironically, my father says the same thing when he sees me. "I'm just so happy to see you, I mean I'm not happy to see you here, but I'm happy to see you doing better". He stumbles to simply say he is glad to see me but not for why I am there. He takes good care of me in and out the front door. I could not simply park in the lot anymore, as showing up like a sort of celebrity begins the day with a brighter side.

I walk in quick stride down to the Center. I have not had a good pace or upright posture in a long time. It feels good. I feel stronger. I'm working hard on what health I have control over. I walk, I lift weights, I stretch. I brought my own robe today. I just decided I'm going to go in with some style and comfort. I spent two days in the oversized ugly hospital gowns. Today I showed up in my old Victoria's Secret cotton robe with bright bold red poppies. Of course I was greeted with smiles and surprise. "Well, look at you, fashion plate!" "Are we going to be seeing more of this or is this just a Friday special?" The technicians support me and we all agree, "why not?" Might as well be comfortable and have some fun. They seem surprised though and admit to me that I'm the first one they've seen to bring my own attire. "You may start a trend!" I figure, I just don't care and I'm going to do it my way. I may stand out, but it will be for all the right reasons!

The treatments are going quickly now. Getting the measurements done was grueling. It was long and difficult to hold such uncomfortable positions. My range of motion is extremely poor and I can barely lift things with my left arm. I ache now, but I will manage. I need to continue working out. The stronger I am, the better I can deal with the radiation and chemo. Someone is coming with me one day next week. She insists I cannot do that much by myself.  I have both chemo and radiation in one day. This weekend, I hope to forget for a moment. Holiday baking is planned. I had hoped to be finished by now, but I ended up at the hospital instead. I became so sick from the treatments I needed to go back to the hospital. It will be nice to spend some time doing normal things that don't revolve around being at the hospital. It is so much. This is the long haul. Some have slowly fallen away. Neighbors caring efforts and attentions have quieted. My husband remains by my side. A few close friends are still here. My family is still here. I am tired, but I am still fighting. I'm trying to find my smile. I'm trying to find my strength. Just getting up and getting dressed and putting make up on helps me feel alive; a bit of myself. I don't honestly feel beautiful anymore, but I feel like if I go through the motions of putting myself together with clothes and make up, I might feel more dignity.  It was my routine before.  If I put sweat pants on and don't bother with a little make up, I feel like I'm giving up.

I can't let it take over. It tries. It tries. That's why I bring my own robe to treatment. It puts a bright side on something so depressing. I will find a way to put a little class to this experience. Why wait for the party? I will make it a party now. I go into this knowing that looking back is just as much a part of life as looking forward. My robe of color represents both.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Beginning Radiation

I thought I had a week off from going down to the hospital. The radiation department called me yesterday with the news they needed me for further measurement so I went down today. It was grueling to lay perfectly still on a hard tray with my arms above my head. Unbelievably, lying perfectly motionless in an unnatural position is quite painful and difficult. I have not yet recovered enough from surgery and my arm is in pain. It is still atrophied somewhat. I took medication before heading to the hospital. It enabled me to endure the half hour on the table. It's tough because I have a long drive to the hospital which is about an hour away, so I really can't take the pain medication I need to, so I have to just tough it out. I'm hoping to be able to drive to my treatments as I need to go daily. I'm still doing chemo which will overlap a few times. I think on those days I will need to have my husband take the day off of work. I am in pain and I'm tired now as I write this, so I will keep it short. Others say that doing this part of the treatment will be much easier, but I have my doubts. Already I know it feels like this part will indeed be hard for me personally. I will be awake, aware of my surroundings and in pain. I will be going daily without company and it is a long drive. It will be a long day, everyday. I will drive down to the hospital as soon as my kids go off to school, and I will be getting home just before they return. I must start next week. No breaks for 6 or 7 weeks. I'm already tired before I begin. I have been doing everything back to back and I'm loosing steam. I'm loosing momentum. I need encouragement. Winter is dark and cold.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Next steps

The days are getting shorter, the weather is turning cold and the holidays are here.  It's time to get the decorations out and pump up the kids excitement.  We will soon climb the hill and pick out a tree to cut down and bring home.  I look forward to the smells of baking and extra time with my family.  It has been a good time of rest, but it will soon become busy again.
I continue to recover from surgery and gain some energy and strength back.  There is still a bit to go to gain all my strength back, but it will take time.  I have returned to my chemotherapy treatments, but now I will go once or twice a month instead of weekly.  This will continue for a year.  These treatments may be tough on my heart, but otherwise they will be less harsh than before.  My hair is growing back.  My fingernails are growing back.  I am feeling better.
My newest commitment will be my daily radiation treatments for about 6 weeks.  I will begin with these in about two weeks.  I have this much time to continue recovering from surgery and work on getting movement back in my arm.  Time to get on the treadmill!

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