Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blown Away Yet Again

Yesterday, I had my second of six healing therapy sessions.
It went well... for the most part.

In case you don't remember, at the first session, I pretended to have an allergic reaction to one of the healing infusions, taxotere. At yesterday's session, I had a real allergic reaction to it. At first, I felt nauseous. Then I felt flush and warm. Then stars began to swim in front of my eyes. Then I started to have difficulty breathing - all within about 20 seconds. I signaled to my trusty sidekick, Gibbs, to go get the nurse. I couldn't even speak. She sprinted across the room. She and the nurse returned post haste and I was given a very fast and direct shot of Benadryl into my port. Within 90 seconds or so, I felt fine. But those were a very long 90 seconds. Gibbs said that even though my eyes were open the whole time, I was clearly not there. Yikes.

Twenty minutes later, they resumed that same medication and followed it with the rest of the day's regimen. By the time Gibbs and I walked out of the office, I felt fine, sleepy but fine.

I wrote about the experience briefly in a facebook status and the love and support flowed freely in my direction.

I am repeatedly being humbled by this kanswer-thing. This dis-ease is no joke. It is no respecter of persons. It touches us all in one way or another. It mercilessly reduces us all to our simplest, most essential selves. But I am determined to show this kanswer that it is not the answer. It is not going to defeat me. It will not break my spirit or my will. It will not deprive me of love, laughter, friendship, or Christmas cookies. Kanswer might change what I look like. It might cause me to change how I eat and move in the world. But kanswer will not change the woman that I have become. It will not rob me of my joy or my smile, my faith in God or my unbridled passion for life and love. No way.

One of the ways that I plan to win this battle is by holding on to who you are, the friends I love and who show me daily how much you love me. The friends who write to me, text me, and call me regularly. Those who pray for me and hold silent space not only for my healing, but also, and more importantly sometimes, my deep grief. Those who encourage me to curse the darkness and step into the light. Those who just encourage me to curse (sometimes only a four-letter word will do!). The one who practices reiki with me. The one who sends me stories and reminds me of great passion gone by. Those who write to me in English y los que me escriben en el idioma del cielo. Those who drop gifts off at my front door and text or call me after the fact. I am overcome with gratitude for the steady presence of friends and loved ones in my life these days, the offers of meals, the visits, the hats, the cards, and the list goes on and on. I am incapable of fully expressing what it all means to me - other than to keep saying thank you.

You all blow me away, again and again, day after day, hour by hour.


This evening, I have been rendered speechless yet again.
Love surrounds me and fills me on a deeper level.
I am overwhelmed, grateful, filled with unspeakable joy.
Tears flow.

Maya Stein has done it again.
I love this woman.
More than she can possibly imagine.
And today's poem is only one reason why I love her so.

Here it is -

two down, four to go
for Gail

Surely, she is made of something beyond the body, horizon line
unwavering past a sea of misbehaving cells.
I do not know her strength, exactly, only that at the same time
the first chemical feed tube went in she was already coming up with ways
to tell the story differently, shaving her dreadlocks to lay herself bare
for her unwelcome guest. “Kanswer,” she calls it, meeting its unwieldy, fibrous
question with a steady nod, even when it’s vitriol she wants to spew or call out “Liar!”
But no. “Two down, four to go,” she writes instead from a chair at the doctor’s office;
these words uncurl an ammunition and the gnawing fear briefly sours.
She is a thousand times alone, but her courage makes the battle ours.

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