Saturday, November 29, 2008
She kept asking things like, "Where are we going?" "Are we going to get something to eat?" "Who's house are we going to?" And the ever-famous, "How long until we get there?" But she rode well in the car, and had a nice dinner and though she got tired and scared some folks when we brought out her oxygen to revive her a bit, she had a great time. She kept telling us that several times in the car on the way home. I think she was pretty tuckered out by the time we dropped her off home, but she enjoyed herself.
I don't think she knew who anyone other me, Eric, Jenn and Jewel / Liam...and Carolyn, her newphew's ex-wife were. But she was gracious and didn't seem to be too nervous becuase the elephant burps are part of her nerves, and she didn't do too bad with them. Unfortunately her sister who is also medically frail, and who we hoped she'd get to see, didn't make it due to the weather. However, Betty did so good, it gives us hope that we can try to plan a day to get the two elder sisters together in the near future.
This is my ex-husband's maternal side of the family. They were always welcoming, kind and accepting of me as family, even after I became an ex-wife. It was really great to reunite with some people I haven't seen in a long time. It was fun to see Jenn's contemporaries that I knew as children, all grown up now. It was amazing to see scads of little boys (only Jewel and one other little girl) playing really well together. It was really funny in a way to see how prolific that generation has been! Holy smokes! I bet there were 25 children there under the age of 10.
I was proud of Betty for doing something that was really challenging for her, and glad that she enjoyed herself. She doesn't get out much, and Newnan is probably the farthest she's been driven in a couple years. Today was just a happy day.
God bless the McDonald household as they try valiently to "teach" Jewel to sleep in her own crib upstairs. So far, the sleep deprivation curve is getting pretty steep for everyone there. Good luck with that. For a baby she is one of the lightest sleepers I've seen in a while. She sits up every hour or so, looks around and then just lays back down and sleeps. I haven't seen a baby do that before. They're either UP or DOWN but not down, up, down. Such a sweet little individual. She has her own stylized hand movements that she's done since birth. She listens to music with her whole body. The legs wriggle and giggle and the hands move, and even her torso sways to the music. It's a delight to see her so absorbed and so unselfconscious about what she's doing.
Liam, the Star Wars fiend, found a Darth Vadar outfit at his cousin's house and I will post some pix of him shortly all decked out. He's a big fan of Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and I think likes Darth Vadar's character a lot. We are not sure why, but if you ask Liam "Where does Darth Vadar live?" He's quick to let you know, "He lives in Las Vegas." Who knew?
I hope you and those you love are safe, warm and with loved ones tonight.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Today I drove an hour north to visit with a cyberfriend closer than I imagined. Mapquest worked perfectly for once, even if it did print out in something like a 6 point font! Thankfully I'm nearsighted, not farsighted so I could see the microscopic print. I arrived at the appointed time. But being a little bit of a ditz these days, I didn't get a picture of Meta and myself. We were even color-coordinated today! I met Meta on-line via a group of folks I participate in an automated listserve with (if you don't know what it is, don't worry about it). I knew I was within driving distance, but thought she was farther away than reality. I'm sure I'll get to go back, if Meta forgives me for the one picture of her that I did take. Sorry, dear one, it's the only one I have.
Her lovely grandchild, "Boo," and her friendly husband, "Wheelie" were also there. We had a great visit and a lovely lunch of T-giving turkey sandwiches. (What else on Friday after T-giving?!) Mmmmmmm. Very nummy. I have to say that I missed one of the many turns on the way home and so took a more scenic route home, than I did going there. It's all ok. Next time I'll print out the directions in reverse! It seems like it'd be easy, but it's harder than you think, OK. No teasing allowed. Check out Calypsotown to learn more about the life and times of Meta above.
After enjoying some quiet reading once I got home, Jenn and I made plans for tomorrow. We have undertaken to take Betty to see her Sister and her Sister's family in Peachtree City. This is a trip of about 65-70 miles. This does not sound like a big deal, but keep in mind that (a) she is impatient going 15 minutes to Carrollton. (b) Her breathing is more labored and difficult in the cooler weather, (c) she won't be allowed to smoke in the van, and (d) it means she has to take a shower tomorrow morning. I have been delegated with the honor of "encouraging" her to take a shower in the morning. She knows that taking showers is important and she lies and says she takes one everyday, but the nose, knows. I also buy all her soap and shampoo products, and I know things no other person should know about how often these products are (or are not) used. Jenn said I can threaten her by saying, "If you don't take a shower I'll call Jenny," and ultimately, "If you don't take a shower, we won't take you." Although, we probably would. The last shower intervention I participated in was.....lengthy, made Betty angry because she wasn't allowed to escape the shower torture, and also made her embarassed. She has enough mind there that she does feel embarassed still. So, tomorrow will be an adventure! No matter what happens, it will be an adventure.
I am looking forward to seeing family I haven't seen in ages. Betty's sister is frail, has alzheimer's also, and this might be their last chance to see one another in this life. Maybe tomorrow I won't be such a ditz, and will remember to take more pictures!
So tomorrow when you get up, say a short prayer for me and for Betty. I don't know why she feels insecure, or resentful, or if she's as hydrophobic as a cat, but she is, and so it will be an interesting day tomorrow!
Currently watching The Polar Express on TV. I've never seen it, and so far it's rather interesting. Reminds me of a 1940's musical, except that instead of Fred Astair or Danny Kaye doing a song and dance, it's cartoonish type characters.
OK, alarm set. and here I come Betty. You better rest well tonight, because the steamroller woman is coming tomorrow and you're going to be squeeky clean on the way to Peachtree City. You may have to breathe oxygen there and back, but you're going to be clean!
After posting to the blog I looked back at our T-giving pix and found this precious one of Jewel playing the piano yesterday. She found out at my house that she could reach the keyboard, and so at home she's taken to some impromptu concerts. Obviously she does all hers on tip toes though! Too cute!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Blessings to you and those you love. I hope your hearts were as full as aour bellies were tonight!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Still a little stuffy, but on the whole, I'm healed from the dang rhinovirus that someone shared with me. Mucinex is still a big help though.
The cleaning diva came today, god bless her, and so my place is a much nicer place to be in.
The nurse at the doc's office used to work where I got my chemo, and she remembered me because of the newspaper article that came out telling about the raffle last year. The school raised $521 for Relay for Life by raffling off the chance to cut off my hair and the nurse remembered that. Hope she remembers that the focus of the article was "Get your mammogram on time."
I hope all my readers have had their mammogram or PSA testing done recently. Much of what we have learned about treating breast cancer came from the research done on prostate cancer. So, ladies or gentlemen, look at the calendar and make sure you're up-to-date on your annual exams.
Travel safely. Be well. I hope you and those you love are blessed with enough food and someone/something to cherish you this night. (My two kitties are all curled up into a yin/yang symbol of cat fur. It's cute to see them like that.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I've been being creative at work by doing the web pages at school. I'm fumbling through it so, I'm not sure if I'm improving things or screwing stuff up. I like doing it though. The funny thing is that I can't seem to fix my own web page. Go figure.
Must sleep. Increasing sleep deficit.Tired. Glad to have my phone back, even though I don't use it much.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This artist is giving me a great gift. I'm ever so appreciative.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I may ask our JROTC at school if they want to participate as well. It might be a good opportunity for them to touch base with real soldiers.
Hope that you and those you love are safe, and warm this chilly night.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I've been teasing Liam that I'm going to start calling
him "Booger." You can see why.
Camels above and pony ride below. Yes, I can do the video right sometimes.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
He seemed to genuinely be happy with the amount of energy I'm able to scare up these days. I always thought that he felt I was weak and a bit of a wuss about chemo, but when I was leaving, he made a remark about how I wasn't a winer and that I was doing well considering all he'd done to me. It makes me feel a little less like a noodle to have some respect from this man.
I'm working hard to make myself useful at work. Missed a couple of steps though this week and got my name noticed as a bad girl at work. Not good.
My current inadequacies focus on my art class. Sometimes I surprise myself at what I can do, and other times I feel like a 3rd grader in graduate school. The challenge intrigues me though. I may not ever be able to do anything truly special in an artistic format, but I like trying. My art instructor has started work on the mold of my breasts. I'm excited. It will be nice to see them again. ;)
Time to lay my head on my pillow. Peace and love to you and those who love you.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The first unknown soldier to be honored in Arlington Cemetery was from World War I. As of THIS article, it appears there is only one living WWI veteran left.
I can remember my Great Uncle Fred (Vatter -- my paternal grandmother's brother) who stood a really tall 5'3" and born in Germany, telling of his experiences in The Great War. He had to censor what he said with children around, I'm sure, but he was really frustrated by several things. He talked about the lack of sanitation in the trenches, and how the constant filth and rain made the trenches sewers that never drained away or dried out. Thus, the feet of the soldiers, his feet, never dried out. A disease called Trenchfoot resulted from this. All the years after the war, he couldn't stand for long periods because of the after effects of trenchfoot.
He also talked about the masses and masses of men that were effected by mustard gas. He was one of them. As the trench warfare made thousands and thousands of wounded who took precedent with the surgeons and doctors, the men effected by the mustard gas just stumbled around blind with no hope of medical attention. Uncle Freddy told how the men would put one hand on the shoulder of the soldier in front of him and then they would march blind from the gas, and no hope of recovery. Rumors and rumors of rumors ran through the ranks, of "cures" for the blindness caused by the mustard gas. In such terrible circumstances, who is to say what might be tried by anyone to cure themselves? He attributed his vision to the "cure" he heard about. He was told to urinate into his helmet and then wash his eyes with his urine. It worked, so it was better than doing nothing -- or perhaps even if he'd done nothing he still would have recovered his sight. He was always angry though, that there weren't enough doctors to be able to attend to the wounded. I also got the feeling that there was something mystical and reverential about his cure. I'd pray for my sight to return. I suspect he did too, though the family wasn't overtly religious.
I also remember him talking about the stink of the dead horses. The bodies of the horses would serve as food when they were fresh, but after days of rotting in the field, especially in the warm weather, their bodies became a plague of flies and odor. No MRE's back then. And, it wouldn't be until WW II and Patton that the Army acknowledged the importance of warm meals for the troops. I think it's important for those of us who have any memories of our relatives' stories from the past, to pass them along for this generation. Perhaps you have a story about a relative of yours from The War to End all Wars.
No matter what, however, thank a veteran tomorrow. It can't be said enough.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I cleaned the refrigerator and freezer today and did grocery shopping and laundry. How ho-hum. Nice to be able to do it though. Tomorrow it's back to school.
I learned while I was sick, how very important cards are. I never really knew that. I've never been decent or ever even adequate at being a card person. I've been working harder lately at doing that. My chemoangels and one really special friend showered me with cards and it really made a difference in my life. I may never be really good at cards, but I'm trying to get better.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I'm calling Monday to make an appointment with the skin doc. The itching has gotten crazy, insane and compulsive all over.
My Lord, but will the political commercials never end?! Why? Why did Georgia have to vote so, so split down the middle for our Congressman? They are now progressing from ugly accusations to totally fiendish nastiness. It does not help dinner digestion, and it makes me want to vomit that we have to listen to this for even longer time. Gag!
And now for a slight rant on classroom management in rural Georgia. What do you do with young, testosterone-filled MEN that are 13 or 14 years old, big, drama-diva's and want to bait and bother the female teacher with every bit of atrociousness they can muster? As one has said to me, "I'm not afraid of a piece of paper!" so writing them up is pretty useless. Their parents claim they don't know what to do with them either. The male teacher walks in, and they settle immediately. Damnit! I want a penis so I can have that kind of power! These young men are making the choice to be crass, rude, and dramatic. Grrrrr.
I like teaching, but I like teaching to people who want to learn, not people who just want to be a disruption and center of attention.
And on the latest front of the news of the boobs: I am BRCA1 and BRCA2 negative. That means I have no genetic heritage to pass down, that I don't have to look forward to further surgery, and Jenn and Jewel and Liam don't have to worry about astronomically high risks for cancer. Very good news indeed. I would have been very surprised if I did have either of the BRCA mutations, but stranger things have happened. What I appear to have passed down the genetic pipeline is eczema. While I have not had problems with it for years, it's currently a HUGE issue for me, and it's been a life-long issue for Jenn and even little Jewel and Liam have it. So, so sorry folks.
Lastly, this is my special find for the day! I fold fitted sheets with all the adeptness of a farm hand. Look at this demo! It's awesome! I mean, really.....this is fabulous.
I hope you and those you love are well this evening.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
I love learning and want to do some extra things. I added doing ONE thing to work, by adding the art class. It's too much. I'm just dead on my feet.
The woman that could go like the Energizer Bunny for days (yes, really) on end and sleep just a few hours and keep on going, now goes to bed at 9PM.
The person that used to be very low maintenance, now is a high maintenance woman.
The control-freak-planner is now a woman that lives with ambiguity in so many ways.
The lifetime insomniac is now a nap-fiend.
The perfectionist aspires for adequacy...might I say mediocrity.
My steel trap brain, is now a sieve.
I mean, the surgery and chemo killed the old me. Whoever this is that I am now, I'm learning who this is and figuring out how to live in this body. It's like I crawled back into the womb and have been reborn as a different person, but with my life experience and expectations, I'm also frustrated. I'm not sure where the old me went, but whoever this cold woman is that is learning patience and loving naps.....I guess I better get used to her!
Better to be an ambivilant noodlehead and alive than have all my previous characteristics and be wonding which outfit to wear to my funeral.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
My hope is that everyone, no matter who they supported, can now turn around and support the man that will become President, and help him make our country better, help him heal some of the wounds, and to set aside partisan politics to solve problems. Big problems.
This January will bring change to all of America. Let's all pray that there is a way out of this mess we're in. Let's hope our President, Congress and Supreme Court can work in such a way that we can recapture the greatness our land once had. If nothing else, it's going to be very interesting for many ambasadors to present their official letters to a US President named Obama.
The election and all the tension leading up to it tired me out. I want to see hope for good in the change that is coming. We voted for change. I hope it's good change.
God bless our new President-elect, and God bless John McCain for his hard work and sacrifice. He is a hero and has put himself up to be a servant of the people for many years. I wish him well. No matter what happens, I hope America is the winner.
Monday, November 03, 2008
I got a letter from the genetic testing folks at Emory. It was just a basic confirmation of what information had taken place last week. I suspect that it shall be a week or more before I hear back from them again. It makes me a tad anxious after all this time. All the treatments are done, and I'm sure done with them, but if it should come back I have the BRCA gene(s) then there would be more surgery ahead for me and likely for my loved ones. How much grief can be visited on me and my house by this cancer? I hope the fates do not answer demanding more.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Last night Liam came and spent the night with his Grammy. Of course the time changed and so when he was up at 6, it was really 5. I convinced him to rest and watch some cartoons for a bit, but by the real 7am he wnated to go HOME and he wanted to go NOW.
So we walked to his house. Well, I walked, he ran. He told me to run. He was very disappointed that I could only walk a little faster. He finally said, "My mom can run faster than you!" Yup. She sure can. He got to his house about a minute and a half before me.
In an effort to give the folks some relief, I took Jewel back with me so that today at any time, they only had one kid. Jewel and I had a lovely day together playing and napping. About 6 I took her home though, because of the laundry crisis I knew was sitting and waiting for me at home.
Jewel can now wave to someone and is so adorable doing it. Her daddy was mowing grass as we walked up, and she was excitedly waving at him so that he had to stop the mower and come cuddle her.
Today her mom spent time making a doll Luke Skywalker for Liam to have to cuddle. Liam who is madly into Star Wars looked at it and went, "Yeah, ok." It was a hard moment for a mom that had spent the better part of severla hours making it for him. It was a practice effort to see how she might approach making a cuddly doll for Jewel. Something soft and cuddly to hold at night when she soon moves to her own bed. I get the feeling that mom and dad area more than ready for Jewel to sleep in her own bed so they can sleep better themselves. Napping here today, Jewel sat up and looked around, smiled at me and looked like she was awake about three times, then layed down and went back to sleep for another hour! I'm glad I don't have to try and sleep with her night after night!
I'm going to work on my art homework while waiting for the machines to do their work. It's messy but fun to do the drawings. There is a part of me that wnnts some sign from the instructor about the advisability of me continuing to work on the art or if I just suck so bad I should just surrender. At 56, almost 57, I still am a child seeking "approval." However, there is a part of me also, that just says, "Srew it! I will just do it because I like it, and that is enough!"
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Eric droped me at the camp. I went and got my lunch and driver's lunch and hiked back up the hill to catch my bus. I turned out that all the bus liaison people met. There were perhaps 40 or 50 buses lined up because ALL the people in camp would be picked up after breakfast and taken to a start point that would allow them to end up at the World Congress Center later in the day with the appropriate milage. How could we tell our 7 buses from the 30 or 40 lined up? We cheered walkers while we waited. Helped get folks lined up and on the buses as efficiently as possible and I made a special effort to thank all the men who walked, "Thank you sir, for embracing the pink!" I used my pink flowers like the septer they had become and made a swirling motion and bowed deeply to the men who were gracious enough to walk and be emersed in a sea of pink. It takes CAHONES to be able to handle that!
Finally my bus came along, and guess who's driving it? Yup, Mr. Clueless from day 1. We were dispatched to several places and bused people to several locations. Lunch on Day 3 was at Piedmont Park. The weather was lovely, and the sun was shining bright. It was beautiful and enjoyable. I had on my comfy shoes and was a happy girl. We had an awkward parking spot at the park and I wasn't letting people board the bus becuase we were only supposed to be there something like 15 minutes. I wasn't letting people on the bus until we got orders where to go since it was kind of dangerous slipery and we didn't know where we'd be going. Some self-appointed supervisor got all mad about me not letting people on the bus without scoping things out. She was very unpleasant with me. I got to meet my mail lady at this stop about this time. I was able to give my mail lady, Shirley, a card I'd made for her and was carrying around. I never found the post office, so I was graced with handling it to her in person. She knocked on my door a year ago, and gave me the credentials she'd used to walk one day of the walk last year. She was recovering from having broken her back earlier in the year so it was pretty impressive that she walked any of the walk in a full torso cast. Her walk in my honor last year was so very touching. It was like a circular bit of good that the following year Jenn and I were able to contribute to the event.
Bus man and I were dispatched, but not after I took the self-appointed supervisor who'd been truly ugly to me.....a gift. I took her one of the necklasses I'd made and pressed it into her hand. I told her I'd made it for her. That the work she was doing now was important to helping me live longer and to potentially having a cure for my kind of cancer. I hoped she had a better day. She fell all over herself apologizing for being such a b*tch, Claimed she didn't mean to be so assertive / aggressive. But I dropped it. Others had told me that she'd bene difficult with them too. Her problem, not mine. I sure wouldn't want to work with her!
Only person on the whole walk that I felt was unpleasant. One out of over 4,000 isn't too bad.
We picked up a couple people at pit stop 4, and then proceeded to the World Congress Center about 4pm. I had to drop the bus at the Marshaling Yard, make my way on foot to the WCC and then go to a 4:30 meeting. I was late. I got to the meeting, found a backpack that Jenn had lost track of on her travels, and I claimed my finishline tee-shirt. They had a very nice closing ceremony. What I remember from it the most is that it was long and I had to stand for a long time. I had my bus materials over my shoulder and between holding my jacket, Jenn's backpack, my closing tee-shirt, and so forth, I was too hot, too tired, and too everything. The closing ceremony was emotional. I stood with the survivors. I wanted to see a sea of thousands, but there were maybe 400 or so. I wanted to see lots of folks who'd survived cancer and won....but it wasn't to be. They paraded us through the walkers who took off their shoes in homage to our hard work. When that happened, I just totally lost it and cried and cried. I was hot, tired, and emotional and I had been standing for way too long. A staff member saw me crying and realized I was in distress, not just emotional. He very graciously got a chair for me. I don't know where frm, but he did. And I gratefully sat on it. After the ceremony, I followed the teaming hoards out to the elevators up to street level, and caught my transfer bus back to my original hotel. Somehow I managed to get home.
The walk was so many things for me. So many things that were good, that were affirming, that were positive, that helped me see beyond myself and my own wounds. The one-legged man who helped me on the first night, helped me see that while wounded, I surely didn't have to walk on my lack of breasts. The struggle two out of three days to find my way using maps and a broken sense of direction, yet always getting to my destination was a nice metephore for so much in my life. Facing the fear of a woman with caustic ways and words, helped me to get past other fears. And yes, even getting to the closing ceremoneis and nearling (but not) falling over from exhaustion, was a great metaphore for endurance.
Will I do this again? I don't know today. Maybe another day. It is a week now since this all happened, and I'm resting and coming back from exhaustion. I found out last night that over $8 MILLION dollars was raised as a result of our efforts last weekend. It's a staggering sum, but something small in the research world. Maybe though, it will buy enough naked mice and enough lab coats (for the researchers, not the mice) and enough chemicals and test tubes and fancy machines, that if not me, maybe the next generation of triple negative women will get to live longer. The walk is the outward expression of my HOPE for the future.
Thousands of walkers parading in front of the walker/crew survivors. Each row is 10-a-breast. It was like some kind of military parade past the old soldiers of previous wars. To get the pink shirts, you had to defy death. The pink shirts were our ribbons on the uniform of our war.
Here is the pit crew all dressed up!
Cheerleaders! They stayed for hours and cheered for hours until all the walkers had come through this pitstop.
It was inspiring to drive down the route and see hundreds, and thousands of people walking. The commitment to the process was truly inspirational.
Saturday I was finished earlier and I went and got my luggage, and god bless him, Eric came and picked me up. I was not going to have to spend the night in a tent on a COLD night in the mud!
While waiting for Eric I spoke to a lady who just came up and asked me, "Is that part of that cancer walk thing?" Well yeah. With great suspicion in her voice she said, "My neighbor came to me about that. She claimed she was going to walk 60 miles. How do you do that?" Well, I said, "She walked 20 miles yesterday, 20 today and she'll walk 20 tomorrow." "Well, that just seems impossible to me." "Look around you" I said, "There were 3,700 people who left yesterday morning to do the 60 mile walk." "So," she said, "Are you a survivor?" I told her I hoped so. "Well have you had a FULL mastectomy?" Stunned, I replied, "Well I think they were pretty full mastectomies. You want to see?" And I put my hands down to my shirt and made like I'd pull it up upon request. She turned around to go to dinner with her husband, and clearly was startled. So was I. How do you look at my flat chest and wonder such a rude thing, and then give voice to it? I can't figure that out.
I got to spend the night in a nice hotel room and it was fabulous to take a warm shower and eat something and even get some Biofreeze to put on sore muscles.
The only catch was that I had to get up early and so did Eric. He had to drive me back to camp.
The alarm clocks at the hotel were automatically fixed to roll back an hour for the daylight savings hour, but as of last years' Presidential order, it would be this weekend! By the grace of god, I woke up in time, and got ready. Eric's body woke him in time but he was confused by the clock. I was going by my watch, so we made it in time to the camp after I knocked softly on their door and we ZOOMED to camp. He had my luggage and at the end of day three, I'd be able to just get on the shuttle to my hotel in Alpharetta, and go.