Monday, December 26, 2011

Marvelous Error!

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! -
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Antonio Machado

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holidaze Reminder

“Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing – peace is the measure.”  ~ George Melton 

I love this quote.  It rings true, and I'd never seen it before.  So, I read the rest of the article and I liked it, too!  Here is an excerpt from Traditions of Healing Rituals, Wendy Stargr,

"Training one’s mind in gratitude is perhaps one’s most worthy pursuit and guaranteed to heal one’s holiday emptiness. In fact, there is no other single human emotional quality that has the power to completely reinvent how you perceive your life and open a door to contentment and abundance. Many of the oldest secret societies in the world have gratitude built into their foundational belief systems. It takes practice if you are not accustomed, but gratitude is how happiness feels when it is imbued with wonder.
The most meaningful gifts at this time of year can’t be bought or even given; they are the transformation that happens in us when we are open to receiving. As a chronic giver, this ability to receive is a fledgling chick just learning to fly in me, but I now understand that letting go of how I think things should be and listening deeply to what is right in front of me is almost always a gift that I would have entirely missed in the past. When we get stuck on how life’s offerings (and you can expand that to include people and stuff) don’t match our expectations, we literally turn away from the love and pleasure that is ours. I see it happen every day; we refuse to be loved when it doesn’t look the way we want it to. Celebrate life this holiday season by allowing and receiving life’s gifts in front of you. Practice releasing your thoughts and preconceived ideas when you open a gift and listen for what might be deeply hidden in the gift in front of you.
All of this healing might make you bold enough to attempt the deepest giving of all- Forgiving.   This is when we accept that we won’t get a better past and when we finally understand that the only one being harmed by the grudges we hold are ourselves. Forgiveness, in many ways, is the ultimate act of receiving. You finally free yourself from carrying around the baggage of emptiness filled with justifiable injury and disrespect that might never get proper acknowledgement. Forgiveness is a chance to see beyond what we have always known and create room to get a glimpse of a universe still unknown to us. In these moments, we can drop the stories that have defined our holiday memories for so long."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Of Platelets and Glad Tidings

I do NOT have to go in for another blood draw today! Yay!

Did I mention they took a second draw last week while I still had the infusion line in?  Well, they did.  It was the end of a long day and I left before the results came back.   Then Dr L and I played phone tag:  He left a message that he wanted to talk to me about my second blood draw, and that it was not an emergency.  In return, I left him a message giving him permission to leave a more thorough message on my voicemail.  That did not happen.

I called this morning, and he got back to me.  The second platelet count was much improved-- not perfect but closer to the low-normal range where I have been hanging out for sometime.  (Turns out platelets can do a little trick called "clumping"  where they hide out in clusters, which makes the count look lower then it is.)  

Initially, he advocated for going ahead with another blood draw today, just to see where things stand.  I told him that I was not sure if he knew that I tend to be an extremely difficult poke, that my arm was black and blue from last week's attempt, and that while I would certainly do it if he thought it was necessary, I would prefer to save myself and everyone else the trauma if it was not.   He was glad I brought it up and said in that case, we could let it go until my next visit to Celilo, the first week of January.

To my mind, the best news is this:  I am getting better at respectfully standing my ground and asking for what I want from my medical team without working myself into a snit because they do not remember or already know what I know about my body, my situation,  and my preferences.  I am able to be a more competent member of my own team, in a way-- to be more responsible about how I participate and less panic-y and judgmental about how others participate.

I suspect the flip-side of the coin of old-fashioned blind-trust in doctors is this:  the desire that one could or should be able to have such trust.  We invest them with such authority in part because we wish their expertise gave them the ability to give black and white answers to our urgent health questions.  Yeah, that would be nice, but that just ain't the way things really work.  That's not anybody's fault.  That is just how things are.

When we don't like something, we look around for some one to blame.  That's kinda how we humans  are built.  But we don't have to play out that scenario.  And if we look more deeply, we might be able to see that every one of us has to deal with things-as-they-are and not  things-as-we-wish-they-were.

Recognizing that feels kind of grown-up to me.  As we grow up we have to give up some of the magical thinking that someone else has all the answers and can swoop in and save us.  That can be hard to give up on--- especially when we are faced with large, complex, scary issues like life and death.  But the more we can do that-- give up the us-v.-them attitude-- the more we can base our understanding on reality itself-- rather then on the reality we wish we had.

All this talk of reality is making my head spin.  Think I'll take a break and put some lights on the Christmas tree.  Best wishes, everyone.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Day at the Ol' Cancer Center.

Today Lori came with me to hear what Dr L had to say about switching me from Arimidex to a new hormone drug... What is it they say about best laid plans?

Yesterday I noticed that my appointment card listed Dr L at 10:00 and then chemo.  I don't have chemo.  My infusion, Zometa, is not a chemotherapy drug.  I figured it was just a mistake--but it is the kind of mistake that could really freak some people out!

Plus, I need to arrive about an hour before my Dr appointment so the nursing staff can insert my IV and draw blood for labs.  If I show up at the time listed  as my "Dr appointment" on the card,  it can really mess up every one's schedule for the day. (I know, because it has happened.)

I point these things out the the receptionist when we arrive (a little after 9 am).   She asks to keep the card to show to the director, saying they hope to find a better solution for these kind of mix-ups between the front desk and the treatment areas.

I go on into the infusion room, set up my ipod, earbuds and laptop and do my best to zone out while the poking ensues.  It is a tough one this morning.  I have not found any sure fire way to make it easier.  Being hydrated helps, having a puff right before helps (but I don't want to do that if I plan on any medical discussions with the doc!), but nothing helps every time.  One just does the best one can before during and after the ordeal.   I can tell you it is not easy on anyone.

Lori joins me in the exam room and meets Dr L (aka Doogie Howser) who tells us that since I am tolerating the current med (Arimidex) so well,  and it has had such impressive results on my liver lesions, he now thinks we should stay the course --at least until we get the next set of scans (in January-- they happen about every 3 months) before we look at switching to the new med (Aromasin). 

Well, there's a surprise.  But OK.

Back out to the infusion room.  We must wait while they finish running my labs before they can give me the Zometa.  A couple of  staff people stop by to ask about my getting Reiki today.  (I had stopped at the downstairs information desk on my way in and requested a Reiki practitioner come up to the infusion room to treat me whenever one arrived.  I don't know if this new notoriety is because of that or from my phone calls to the Director and the Spiritual Care people after last month's Reiki fiasco.)

Lynn, the Director-- with whom I had a conversation last month about creating the possibility of quiet in the infusion room-- tells me they have ordered noise canceling head phones.  A good start.  Not one but TWO Reiki practitioners come by to work on me-- one before the infusion arrives, one after.   The Reiki people thank me for  raising a squawk.  It seems it was helpful.

Nina comes by at the end to say hello and we talk again about the work we imagine being part of together, exploring pyscho-spiritual-social approaches to healing-- methods that focus not so much on "cure" per se,  as on finding meaningfulness with whatever circumstances life throws our way, including illness and loss.  The current model of battle for victory over disease can prevent us from being present to the life we have right now.  I do not know that either Nina or myself are patient people by nature, but we are learning.  Slow, patient, steady.  It is a long slog, but it is good to have partners in this endeavor.

One step at a time, baby, one step at a time.

My blood work comes back showing my platelets are low.  My white and red blood count is fine.  Maybe this is some freaky occurrence?    The Dr wants me to get another blood draw next week just to keep an eye on things.  Maybe this is why I am especially bleed-y when they take out the IV today?  Maybe it explains my tiredness the last couple of days?  I do not know.  I need to do a little more research on this low platelet phenomenon.

But I do know that after a bowl of Tom Kah soup and a whirl around K-Mart and Home Depot (Need new curtain rod!) Lori and I both arrive back in Hood River, about seven and a half hours after we left, totally pooped.  One step at a time, people.

My (mostly) remodeled house is (mostly) painted (interiors, anyway)-- but there is plenty left to clean/recycle/toss/re-arrange /etc before my holiday company arrives, and I am just going to have to pace myself.  Do not hurry, do not tarry.  Tomorrow is another day.