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.

Grace under pressure

otto-tune
Since I was given my diagnosis of thyroid cancer (papillary thyroid carcinoma) on Tuesday, the stress has been building because I haven’t received any phone calls from the surgeon so that I can get an appointment. It blows my mind that the word “cancer” means something to me, but not to the doctors that should be treating me. Plus with the thyroid out-of-whack, the stress builds quicker and more forcefully.

I was thinking of how I should deal with the doctors when I remembered the few months we dealt with Otto’s diagnosis of cancer. At least in my case, we know where my cancer is located. I became more and more angry and he became more and more polite and kind to the nurses and doctors around him.

It was a scary time. I am now feeling some of the same pressures even though I have been assured by a couple of people including my primary care doctor that this is one of the most survivable cancers. It is also the easiest to treat. Except even with all this going for me, if I am not treated early, I end up like the five percent who don’t survive. What makes me anxious and ultimately angry is that I am seeing no forward momentum in eradicating this problem.

When I go to sleep at night, I feel this huge lump in my throat and I am now sleeping in a reclining position because I can’t swallow well while I am sleeping. Now that I know what is in that lump, I feel it every day. I felt it before, but I thought I could trust the doctors. If I hadn’t pitched a fit about not feeling good– and that I needed to be checked (I went to the ER, I had labs and fecal tests, and I had a sonogram). I would still have this thing in my neck, ready to spew cancer cells to other parts of my body.

It doesn’t help that my thyroid is releasing hormones erratically. It doesn’t help that I feel this lump whenever I swallow. It doesn’t help that I want to scream at someone–

So how did my late-husband stay kind under that kind of pressure. Part of it was that he really cared about my emotional state. He would diminish his pain a little so that I wouldn’t worry as much. Plus he was kind. He really was kind underneath.

I learned a lot of my coping skills from him. He used to tell me that I needed to hold a good memory close so that I could remember it when I was unhappy. Plus I needed to visualize it as clearly as I could. When he was close to dying and needed help to remember his good memory–I recreated the beach for him. I told him about the water washing up onto the sand. About the colorful fishes swimming around his feet. I described the women in bikinis walking hand in hand and splashing water.

I want to borrow his “grace.”

I’m alive and kicking

I belong to the over fifty post-menopausal group, so when I started having problems of a female nature, I was scheduled for surgery. Tuesday I was in the “Same Day Surgery” at the VA Medical Center in Las Vegas. The cast was the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and his assistant, and several nurses.

I was bagged, tagged, and readied while these various characters told jokes and one said they should have a stand-up comedy day at the surgery center. The jokes were just enough to keep me from being anxious.

After I was tagged with the label “uterus,” I was wheeled into surgery for the final countdown. I had told the anesthesiologist and each of his assistants that I was an early to go under and late to come back. I was given the option to take the Valium. I refused it. I was awake as they made sure I was laid out on the table, then a mask was put over my face and nose.

“Breathe,” I was told. So I took a couple of breaths. Then I was asked my favorite vacation spot. I talked about the beach and the waves. The last words I said were, “there are colored fishes swimming around my to—-”

The next thing I heard was “CYNTHIA” and felt air on my face. I woke up and was wheeled out of surgery. I did get some good news– the surgeon didn’t see cancer. They are sending samples to the lab to make sure.

As for post-recovery, I was pretty alert, but extremely tired. Yesterday I took several naps. It seems that the anesthesia lingered until today. Now I am feeling pain almost two days later. Not bad– although I finally took a half a Tylenol.

As for the rest– well, it has been the first day since I was wheeled into surgery that I even felt clear enough to write words. I knew that I would feel this way so I wrote my weekly word quota before the surgery.

So if you ever need some same day surgery help, and are a vet, go to the VA medical center. You go in laughing– and you are in good hands.

 

Life and the usual foibles

IMG_0055 It was a rough day yesterday, Foxy was at the vet for her yearly exam. Normally I don’t worry about her except to remember that she has had pancreatitis. That was not fun.

But this time the vet wanted more of her teeth even though she is not in pain. I decided no, because I just can’t afford it now. For that matter, I haven’t been able to take care of my teeth for awhile. So we muddle along with what we have.

The other problem is that her liver is enlarged. I was assured that she she wasn’t in pain and that her liver proteins were in range. He wanted me to go get a sonogram for her. It would cost another 5-6 hundred dollars and my “plan” would not cover it. So instead I am feeding her some pills. She is too smart to gobble the peanut butter so I have to crush them. Plus I am keeping her on a liver diet. Oh yea, she needs to lose weight. I saw a really fat chihuahua yesterday and Foxy actually looks slender compared to the other dog. I think the liver diet has caused her to gain weight. So that is the pain involved in dog-keeping. Still I will do what I can with the resources I have.

On the other hand, while she was at the vet, I missed her badly. I felt her in all the rooms. Plus she is a stabilizing influence on me. She is the adult in this family.

I also have some health problems that my insurance doesn’t want to cover and to add to the grief yesterday, my internet service raised their rates.

So where is this economic recovery that we are in? Seriously when I hear that come out of certain Senators’ mouths, I wonder if they are living in the real world or an imaginary world just for them.

Now for the good news-– I am on my third WIP this year–Diamond Butterfly. This has been the best writing year …EVER.

I will be starting the second draft– for Dragon Boy — this afternoon. I am hoping to have it ready for Beta readers in March sometime. Then it will be publishing preparation time.

Thanks for listening to me… and thanks for all the fish. (Douglas Adams)

Out of the Fog and into the Light

double rainbowSo finally today, I woke up without that lingering brain fog I get when I am sick and taking meds to make the symptoms better. You know what I mean– the brain just doesn’t work well. You stare off in space or the TV and don’t know what you watched or even if you liked it.

I have experienced brain fog many times since I was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis. When I was first ill with the disease, I was put on IV Cytoxan and very high dosage of prednisone. Both of these meds can cause brain fog so in combination the brain, in self-defense, completely quits working. I was basically a vegetable for almost six months. My late-hubby would ask me if I had taken my pills, if I were hungry, or if I needed to go to the bathroom.

I lost connection to both my short term and long term memory. It was the most frightening experience of my life. At my worst I was too fogged up to be frightened. As I was weaned off the prednisone and changed to a different chemo-therapy, my brain came back and I went through shock, grief, and worry. I still worry that I will once again lose that part of me that makes me intelligent and creative.

So staring into the void, unable to think is frightening. No wonder those folks who have severe chronic illnesses are also on anti-anxiety meds.

I can look at this bout with the flu and say, “It was hard for about three days, but not like when I was first diagnosed. I can live through it.”

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to write stories. I have two novels sitting there and waiting for me to come back to them. I just can’t work through brain fog. But it is lifting. Plus my brain isn’t stuttering as much.

I made a conscious decision when I put up the holly and tinsel tree this year that I need to do things that make me happy. So now that I am feeling much much better (only coughing once or twice a day now and usually in the evening), I am dancing with the doggy. I made her a red sweater for the season.

She is now sleeping at my feet as I once again start the habit of writing again.

May your Christmas, Hanukkah,  and Yule season be full of family and happiness.

It’s been an emergency week here

IMG_0055Foxy my little chihuahua-terrier mix was sick on Wednesday. She was vomiting yellow foam and then couldn’t keep anything down–food or water.

I called my vet, wrapped her up, and took her down to be looked at. After x-rays and blood tests, the doc told me that my poor doggy had pancreatitis.

Then came the questions – What did I feed her? Did I feed her human food? Did she get into anything poisonous. Since the answers were all no, the nurse asked me the same questions two hours later. Finally I told her that I checked the house and anything dangerous to the doggy was above her reach–even jumping reach.

Then I explained that Foxy was a rescue dog and had been living on the street when she was found. When I got her I had to have her washed a couple of times to get that black oil out of her fur. She had found a way to keep her smell from attracting the coyotes in the area.

So they gave her a shot to stop the vomiting, they started her on an IV to flush the toxins out, and they gave me a prescription on food she could eat. It is a liver diet.

I picked her up in the evening and took her back the next day.

Needless to say, the entire thing screwed up my writing and my mind. Thankfully, Foxy is getting her energy back. I have to give her a daily pill and also some type of liquid to put in her mouth.

Two days I have used guile to get the liquid in her mouth (a treat). It didn’t work this morning. I actually had to open her mouth. So I have a genius dog– go figure.

Anyway I have been doing a lot of cuddling with her for my health and hers.

I couldn’t lose her this month. September 19th will be the day I lost my late hubby –one year ago.

Writing Rituals

This morning, I made coffee, walked the dog, and sat down in front of the computer for a facebook binge. Part of the problem that I have lately is that I escape into facebook and talk to other people who are writing or having problems. I use social networking instead of writing. I need to change that.

In my most productive writing period. I had a whiteboard with the name of the novel and the chapters. I would write down what came next etc, etc. Then I had my rituals to get me into the trance-like state that I called writing.

These were my writing rituals–

1. Have a cup of coffee where I could sip

2. Light a candle, preferably one with scent

3. Turn on some writing music

4. Do a ten minutes clean out my mind by writing. Usually using a pen and paper. I can complain and bellyache all I want. These pieces of paper can be shredded later.

5. I check over what I wrote last and then start writing. Usually by this time I can see, feel, smell, and sometimes taste the story.

6. After an hour, I would come back from the story and do something around the house.

7. Sometimes I would go back to the story, but other times I would do other jobs that were piling up.

 

It’s been hard to get back into a daily routine where my writing is concerned. I have had two appointments a week (including blood work, doctor’s appointments, X-rays, physical therapy, etc. etc) for a few months. They become distractions after awhile even though I need to stay well. They also interrupt my writing.

So time to go back to one day at a time and one step at a time.