A quick update on the health of the writer

Panama Rose
This week I saw the surgeon for a post-op appointment. He called me the patient with the small cancer.

I will admit loudly and proudly that I have a great imagination. I can imagine scenarios using full senses with a full emotional spectrum. It gets me into trouble when I am sick.

So while I was waiting impatiently for my surgery, I was imagining the cancer slyly putting tendrils throughout my thyroid and into my lymph nodes.

I had a happy shock when the cancer was confined to one nodule.

When I talked to the surgeon, I was told that I had been very lucky. I wouldn’t need radiation or chemo. All good news because I wasn’t happy with the thought of being even more isolated for days.

One of the hardest things I have done before my illness was to become socialized. I would rather sit at home or under the stars alone. So illness has strengthened my inner tendency to leave social situations. It is one of the reasons I miss Otto terribly. He was the only one that could sit with me and watch the stars. It’s hard to describe the emotion because it is deeper than love and comfort. There is no words for this type of companionship.

Last night I watched “No Batteries included.” Otto introduced me to that movie. I see myself in the little old lady who lost her mind through dementia. When I was extremely ill one year, Otto watched me like the old man watched his wife in the movie. I would wander off.

The movie hit so many buttons for me.

Still I can see that Otto socialized me to companionship. I was a bitter young woman. It wasn’t meeting Otto that was so pivotal to my life now. No, it was when I decided he was the man for me. It was another twist that brought me a good twenty-two years. He made me a better person and grounded my wild imagination.

So I noticed one thing about the surgery. My emotional instability stopped. That little cancer had been causing my emotions to swing from one extreme to another. It is such a relief to be able to think and feel on a normal level again. One nodule. One cancer.

There will be other challenges. I wouldn’t be this person without them. I’m hoping that the drama will be less though.

Also I will have to pull myself out of this self-imposed shell. It is time for me to be social again. I feel excited and scared all at once.

Last night I dreamt of Manderley again

Last night I dreamed of sitting at a table in a dining area. We were sitting close together once again and I felt him beside me. His presence is huge and undeniable. I could close my eyes and feel him when he was alive.

We sat like we have done for so many years. My shoulder against his. We were one again.

I can’t describe that feeling. It is safety, love, and loyalty. It is comfort. We had the ability to communicate without talking. He saw me. I think I was there for hours and then he said, “It’s time to go.”

I had to check out in this hotel lobby. No one would check me out and the line kept moving. Just when I was getting frustrated, a guide came for me–an older woman that reminded me of my great grandmother Jane. She was very business like and expected me to follow her as we rushed through several rooms and hallways. “You don’t want to be late.”

Of course the dream degenerated to looking for a bathroom. That need was the reason I woke up.

Since I started on this new journey of thyroid cancer, I’ve been dreaming of him and even seeing him in my daily life. Sometimes the people around me will use one of his mannerisms. I will do a double-take and realize it is not him.

The last time I was really sick, I quit dreaming. I think the dreams are a good sign. To me it means that it will be hard, but I will survive.

I have been on the brink of death before. The last time it was a slow descent into sleep. I clawed out of that hole until some doctor could help me to survive. I did it for Otto then. I do it for him now. On his deathbed he needed to hear the promise that I would stay alive until my natural end.

So I accept his comfort in my dreams. It is a precious gift that I dreamt of Otto again.

A time for headaches

img_0111 “For everything there is a season” and since my last post, it has been the a time for headaches–literally and figuratively.

If you have been reading my facebook page, on September 20, 2016 I was involved in a rear-end accident. I came out of it with a lump on my head, a headache, and strained neck muscles. The pressure on my head during the next few days was enough that I couldn’t thing clearly for a long time. I’m pretty sure I am still not thinking clearly, but that is another issue.

At this time, I am seeing a physical therapist. I am hoping that all the other issues will eventually resolve as I do the exercises, and have traction. Many of the issues come and go except for the headache.

So two issues– when I read for a period of time or stare at the monitor screen–for for instance when I am writing a blog post– the headache gets worse. I have problems with in close stuff which includes knitting and crocheting. Each day I feel better, but each day brings new challenges. Even though I don’t want to admit it, I am in pain. Even worse, I do this cold turkey without OTC painkillers.

The foundation of my life is crumbling again. At least it is not as bad as when I lost my late-husband. I am having problems planning for the next steps. So the cryptic note, one project, one day, one exhaustion at a time.

Life has once more landed on top of me and smashed me flat.

The one good thing this month is that my kidneys stabilized again. I am at Stage IV kidney disease and I am forever walking the line between bad and worse. Filtering my water, taking Omega 3s, and turmeric seems to be helping my kidneys. I am also eating more fish. I’m eating less beef, pork, and chicken. I would love to be a carnivore, but life has once again made me conform.

Epictetus, a former slave turned philosopher said “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”

So today I will choose to respond with patience and kindness as I traverse whatever legal, physical, or spiritual challenges in front of me.

A candle for health

candle-1health
Last week my nephrologist started to prepare me for dialysis. She said that I needed to be ready when my kidneys failed. The kidneys had lasted a very long time. They had started to slide.

Part of the preparation for dialysis would be to have a stent made. Apparently it takes one month to get the appointment for the stent, and then it takes three months for the stent to mature so it can be used.

In the beginning days of my disease, (you can find the book here), the doctor put a heart catheter into my neck. My late-hubby held my hand, while the nurse put a shot in my neck, and then the doctor slit my throat and pushed in the plastic tubing.

I don’t want to go through that again. First it was scary. Second it hurt. Third my neck rubbed raw from the tubing after over four weeks of use. My late-hubby told me he didn’t want to go through it again either. He watched the entire procedure and almost fainted. It wasn’t because of the blood, (there was very little). It was because they were cutting into his wife– me– and he was watching.

Last week I did negotiate with the nephrologist. If my kidneys didn’t stabilize, then she would order the stent in September. I know most of you know this from a post on Facebook. When I came home that day, after the news, I cried. The well-wishes and prayers were a blessing to my aching soul.

It felt like I was starting down this road again. Two years ago it was with my late hubby, and now it is the same road I started in 2003.

So I am eating more cabbage and less protein. I got rid of corn syrup, processed products, and sodas almost a decade ago. I added turmeric and more omega 3s. I am more diligent at drinking large quantities of water. Still it feels like there isn’t much I can do to stop the slide this time. There are no drastic changes to make to my eating and drinking habits. I will NOT give up coffee.

The only real change I can make is to meditate. It helps to put my mind in the present moment and not into the future of pain, kidney failure, and dialysis. Yes, I am noticing more pain. Yes, my muscles are less forgiving than they have ever been. And yes, I am cramping more.

But all of these symptoms can be caused by taking chemo. I can even blame my age.

Today I asked for health and lit a candle. For a moment my brain quit thinking and I felt peace.

When the lines in our head crash

Are we golems? Do we following the coding in our heads (or the genetic codes in our bodies) exactly? What happens when the lines crash in our heads and we have to rewrite?

Sarah Hoyt has compared us with Terry Pratchett’s golems in that we have certain lines in our heads and in our bodies that we “must not cross.” Plus when we go through extreme physical, mental, and/or spiritual trauma, we have the chance to rewrite our lines, whether for good or ill.

It is a rare person who doesn’t go through some trauma. But, I had a small epiphany– To completely change my life track in my twenties, I had to be broken and then I had to pick up the pieces and glue myself together. It wasn’t easy. I needed help. My life view completely changed. I knew that if I wanted any bit of happiness in my life, I would have to take charge of it. I would have to be so independent that I didn’t need anyone. Glad to say that when I met my late-hubby, he caught me before the “I don’t need anyone” had completely solidified. We needed each other, but we were a complete unit.

Now I am back under the blood sun and my lines need to be re-written again. I know that I am broken because I can feel where I cracked the first time. I went to one grief group and found that the break is pretty common with those folks who have lost a vital portion of their life. (I lost a vital portion from disease and now from losing him.)

Every one knows the five stages of grief. What they don’t tell you is that you cycle through it over and over – sometimes several times a day. And that when the grief becomes easier to bear, you wonder why you were left without him. Then comes the despair.

Words are inadequate to explain how there is a real hole in your being in the center of your chest, how the pain radiates out and taints your perspective, and how the blood sun sits in your head and asks you “why are you still here? Why haven’t you committed Sati?”

Otto wouldn’t leave until I promised him that I wouldn’t follow him. I am holding on with all ten fingers–scratched, bleeding, and fighting. Without that promise, I would not have my Foxy. Without that promise, I might have walked into the blood sun.

One of the lines in my head is that I am loyal and that I would follow him and stand with him forever. That line has been obliterated.

One of the lines in my head was that I would do anything to save him and heal him. That line is obliterated.

One line that is thin and fraying is that I am a protector. I keep that one by caring for Foxy. She has saved me when the blood sun’s voice was strong.

There are other lines that are so deep that they can’t be broken even though I have done my best to bend them. Always care for your family was beaten in my head. I was able to change the meaning of family to mean those that were made-family.

There are only two roads for me… Despair and die, or live and one day be happy. Foxy makes me happy.

 

 

Goodbye Spock

It was another shock to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy yesterday. Another icon of SF&F has gone to the Great Beyond. I am not a cosplay or con rat. I spent most of my adult life either in the Navy, following the military, or recovering from a disease that could have been caused by my service. However, when I was a child, I saw the landing on the moon.

Plus when we lived near my grandparents, the entire family including aunts, uncles, and cousins would come together to eat dinner and watch TV shows like Star Trek and Mission Impossible. While the others in the family cheered on Kirk and his solutions, I privately enjoyed the logic of the half-human Spock.

He played the outsider, the observer of humans and human nature, while not quite being one of them. I knew then that Spock was a representative of me. I didn’t feel alone anymore.

So long, and thanks for all the fish. (Douglas Adams)

The first anniversary since his death

So he is gone.  I can say those words, roll them in my mouth, and loose them off my tongue without the stabbing through the center of my chest. He is gone.

I did a few things yesterday to remember him and to form new habits. I found a gun instructor. Otto was my range master. He took care of my guns, loaded them, and played spotter when I shot. I was a better shooter with him around. So I want to continue shooting.

Since we married twenty-two years ago, Otto and I used to go out to eat. For me that was just too much. I am still finding it hard to go out to eat as a single person. Before I met him, I used to go to restaurants by myself and watch the folks around me. I am an outsider in many respects. Plus people watching helps with my writing. Now, I am too self-conscious. I get nervous, watching people watch me.

So I ate at home, lit a candle to his picture, and talked to him like I used to do as we sat together in the restaurant. This might not become a thing. It was comforting this time around.

I have said before that the internet is a boon to introvert outsiders like myself. It is really hard to meet new people or to go to new places. To even find the shooting instructor, I had to stir up my courage for half a day before I drove to her place of business. She wasn’t there. I then had to stir up my courage for an hour, just to dial her number. I miss Otto. He was my courage.

My late-hubby told his co-worker that I was a warrior babe. That I had the courage of ten men. Well, I don’t. I just have the stubbornness. When I decide to do something, neither the nausea caused by nerves, or my introversion will stop me. I power through it. Sometimes it even becomes a great experience. Sometimes, not.

Yesterday, I survived my first anniversary alone.