Monday, December 03, 2012

The stuff that doesn't show up in facebook feeds...

It's not that I lie on Facebook. I don't. It's just that a facebook status box isn't big enough to tell the whole story. Here, I can go into more detail. (A writer I love wrote a little bit about the difference between real life and facebook here. She's truly a writing heroine of mine.)

So what are a few of the things I haven't I said there?

1. I've gotta buy storage space on Google before I can post more photos here. Apparently, there's a limit to the number of photos I can post here on blogger. Apparently, I've reached that limit. So give me a few days to get that taken care of. Or check out my haircut photos on facebook - I'm at Gail NHB if you wanna find me there.

2. Even though I've gotten several compliments on the shape of my head and my new short hairdo, I would love to be able to rewind the clock, delete the kanswer from my left breast and lymph node, and still be swinging my dreadlocs in my children's faces and over my shoulders. Having said that, it is a whole lot easier to wash, dry, and "style" my hair now that there's so little of it. I expect that I will keep my hair short and sweet once it grows back next summer.

3. Healing therapy week, last week, was THE TOUGHEST WEEK OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. I hurt in places that aren't supposed to hurt. I felt like I'd been flattened by a freight train which was followed closely by a commuter express train. I alternately had the chills and then hot flashes (apparently healing therapy sometimes puts women into instant menopause), sometimes within minutes of each other. I started waking up in the middle of the night to pee (I'm supposed to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. I have been closer to a gallon most days) and then found it nearly impossible to fall back to sleep. After tossing and turning for far too long, I'd drift back to sleep. Then I'd wake up a few hours later feeling dehydrated, with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, and start the crazy cycle all over again.

4. By Saturday morning, I felt sooooooo much better. Well enough to bake my son his favorite butterscotch squares. He and his two best friends sat on the couch in the family room, ate them quietly, and expressed thanks not easily or normally expressed by 16, 17, and 18 year olds, all while we watched college football together. Plus they each complimented me on my haircut. Nice boys. They can come back anytime.

5. This morning, I felt completely human again, except for the burning sensation I have gotten used to in my tongue. Ever drink a gallon of boiling water? Me, neither. But that's what it feels like. This afternoon the oncologist told me that I can make a baking soda-salt water rinse and that should help. It should go away on its own within the next day or two, he said, but is likely to return in two weeks when I have my next session. Great! He also dangled a tantalizing temptation: "magic mouthwash," he called it. A prescription rinse that would numb my tongue, but then I'd have to be careful not to bite my tongue. Anybody who knows me well knows that I have had many dental challenges in my lifetime, so biting my tongue isn't something I will embrace lightly.

Did I mention the fact that on the weekend after Thanksgiving, just days before my first healing therapy, I flossed a filling out of one of my molars??????? How hard must I have been flossing to work a filling loose? So now I have to have that tooth refilled next week. Is this sister falling apart or WHAT???

6. Incredibly, gratefully, mercifully, my spirits are high. I've been loved and supported by friends and family in tangible and intangible ways. Meals, cards, flowers, books, music, sermons on tape, journals, treats of all kinds, breakfast jars, soup in jars. bread, cookies, curries, packs of printer paper, booklets, visits, hugs, baby snuggles, recipes, phone calls, text messages, hand-drawn hearts, artwork, hats, scarves, a nightgown, lotion, socks, foot scrubs, candles, a wish tree kit, a gorgeous Edible Arrangement, and more have all been gratefully, tearfully received by yours truly.

But beyond that, I have been reminded over and over that this current trial, this most unexpected challenge will serve a greater purpose in my life and in the lives of others. Some women have been motivated to get their mammograms taken care of. Some friends have rethought other health decisions they need to make. Take care of yourselves, my friends. There are no guarantees that you will escape all harm and danger, but it's far better to enter a serious health-related battle fit and healthy than out of shape and chronically ill.

7. At the end of a video I have mentioned before, Crazy Sexy Cancer, the narrator said, "Cancer isn't a gift because I wouldn't give it to you. But cancer can be a catalyst, a teacher." I am beginning to learn many lessons from this kanswer I've been visited by. I am learning to listen to myself and to my body.  I am learning to speak up for myself. I am learning how to ask for and accept help. That's very, very hard. I'm learning that my children and my husband can do a helluva lot more than I gave them space, time, and credit for. I'm learning that it's okay to not do everything I have always done. I'm learning who is truly on my team, in my tribe, and who isn't up to the task. I'm learning to love those people, forgive them, and release them.  I'm learning who is willing to step out of the shadows and silence to offer me support, love, advice, suggestions, challenges, encouragement, a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold - even across many miles, oceans, and continents. I am learning to lean on them, to rely on them in new ways, and to thank them. And this is only the beginning of week 5 of my ordeal - I began to count on the week I had the mammogram. The Associate's Degree Program in Kanswer Science has only just begun.

8. There were moments last week when I wasn't sure I'd be able to survive 18 weeks of this, if they were all going to feel like last week felt. I spent nearly many hours sitting in bed or sitting on the couch downstairs hoping, wishing, praying for relief, for something, for anything to make me feel even marginally better. Fortunately, a few people "felt" my pain, felt my darkness, and reached out to me at just the right times. Encouraging me to hang on to hope, to believe that it would get better, to remind me that they themselves had walked a very similar road and had emerged safely on the other end of the tunnel. I called a couple of people and just wept on the phone. They held me up. They were truly the wind beneath my very achy, very tired wings. Like Moses' right hand men in the book of Exodus, they held up my arms so that I could continue to fight the good fight. Finally, on Friday and again yesterday, I began to feel surges of strength, of courage, and of life again. I was able to laugh again. I was able to raise my head and my heart above the water line, and I was able to stand again. In body, mind, and soul.

Now I have a better idea of what to expect on the first week of each cycle. I have tips on how to prepare myself and how to take better care of myself on those painful days. And if any of you have good chicken noodle or miso style soup recipes that you would like to share, please inbox me. Better yet, if you live close enough to make those soups and don't mind bringing them our way during the week of December 17th, then by all means, feel free to do so! You can check out our meal calendar at Carecalendar.org. Calendar ID Code: 131973. Login code - 7292. 

9. There are a couple of Bible verses that I have been sent via text or email several times each over the past week by people who don't know each other. I have received each of these verses in English and Spanish. Plus, I was watching an episode of Glee with my daughter the other night. I don't like Glee and don't usually watch it, but she asked me to watch a bit of it with her. In one scene, the verse from Isaiah was quoted - on Glee!!!

With each repeated reading, I have been struck by the depth and beauty of these verses.
Here they are -

Isaiah 41:10 - So do not fear, for I am with you; 
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 130:5 and 6 - I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope. 
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
morn that watchmen wait for the morning. 

Here's to strength and to fearless, un-dismayed, peaceful waiting.

See? This would have been way too long for a facebook status.

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