Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thank You For Coming

Thank you for coming.
You've been a great addition to our family.
Your sacrificial giving of your time and energy have been without question - an invaluable asset.
You've held our food so carefully and given us hours of science projects.
Whether full to the brim, or not even a tablespoon's worth, you've been faithful.
There's only two things we can fault you for.
You've lost your lid on several occasions. We know its not your fault. Between owner error and those nasty little gremlins that sneak in during the night and plunder, its totally out of your control. Thankfully we know all those missing lids are frolicking with the missing socks in that alternative universe zone.
Our second issue is on a more serious note, however.
We've found out your little secret. You might not be safe. You might make us sick.
Again, we know its not your fault. You were created that way. You live with the hand you're dealt. But we had to draw the line.
We discovered the numbers on your little undersides.

#1 PET - Polyethylene terephthalate.
#2 HDPE - High density polyethylene.
#3 PVC
#4 LDPE -Low Density Polyethylene.
#5 Polystyrene.
#7 Other
BPA - Bisphenol-A.

#2 and #4 are the safest. All the rest are bad news. They cause a world of hurt and illness.
Unfortunately, #2 and #4 were not your numbers. In fact, most of you had no numbers at all. And sad to say, you've been part of our family for years - before they made your kind identify themselves.
So it is with sadness and fond memories we must say, au revoir, arrivedercishalom, dasvidaniya, toodles, - bye bye.
Yes, we see it in your plastic eyes. You feel we've dumped you for someone better.
You watched from your exile bags as we brought in your replacements. It must be painful for you.

Bright, shiny, new glass.

  Although you've multiplied through all these years, we decided it was time to scale down. We've streamlined. We only need a few to replace the many.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Aunt Cora

Don't let that smile fool you, she was a tough cookie - Aunt Cora Jaynes.
My dad was in the Air Force, in Goose Bay, Labrador when I was born. Mom lived in Colorado. Aunt Cora came from North Salem, Indiana to care for my mother and me. My birth was quite traumatic. The doctor couldn't find my heartbeat at one point and my foot was caught on my mother's pubic bone. She was in excruciating pain. So they knocked her out and did who knows what to get me out. It wasn't a c-section. Think military doctors in the early 1950s. She recovered slowly.
Aunt Cora was my father's half-sister/1st cousin. She was old school - very strict. She had one son who she doted on. Her husband came back from WW1 shell shocked. Now they'd call it extreme PTSD. He was locked away in an institution in Kentucky.
Her philosophy on raising children was - spare the rod, spoil the child, give a baby too much attention, spoil the child.

My father was able to return to Colorado to be with us not long after I was born. Aunt Cora went home to Indiana.

Every few years we'd make the trek to Indiana to visit family and friends. Aunt Cora's house was our home base. It smelled musty with a hint of Chihuahua. Skeeter ruled the roost. Nasty little dog that shook when you looked at him, and nipped your nose if you got too close. When I was older, I had to give up the comfort of the double bed I shared with my parents in the spare room for the couch in her compact living room - with a fine layer of dog hair.

Sounds like a miserable time doesn't it? I had a love hate relationship with Aunt Cora and her house.
I looked forward to spending time there. In spite of the irritations, I developed lots of happy memories.
Aunt Cora was the head cafeteria cook at the North Salem elementary school. Their menu
consisted of home made food - home canned fruit and veggies and baked goods to die for. Aunt Cora made it all. During the summer, Mom, Dad and I were the recipients of her cooking TLC.
She had a small mud room in the back of the house with a work bench. That's where my cousins and I cleaned our fish. We'd all line up with knives and buckets of water. If we wanted dinner, we cleaned our own fish. Mind you, we did this at the ripe old age of 7 and 8.
After dinner, we'd eat watermelon on the grass. The adults sat on the front porch swing and various metal chairs in the vast yard, drinking ice tea from metal tumblers or tall, thin rubber spaghetti string glasses while we kids ventured in the back 40 near the apple orchard to catch our nightly firefly allotment. It was dark and spooky back there, but the little lightning bugs thrived among all the trees. Easy pickins'. After a rain storm, it smelled of over ripe apples and wet grass.
On Fridays we'd all venture out in her pink rambler that she affectionately named, Rose Bud. Small neighboring towns held Friday Fish Frys. You could always find one. Fresh fish, greens, potato salad, corn bread and baked beans. And for dessert - an array of hot out of the oven pies made by the local ladies.
Life didn't get much better.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Author Author

I must have been bored one afternoon in my teen years - either that or my mom challenged me with consequences to clean out my bedroom closet. I rummaged through the collection of boxes that housed keepsakes and other useless stuff of childhood. And yes, I still have a penchant for collecting things in boxes. And yes, I know some call it a sickness...
Layered among report cards and papers was a yellow folder. On the cover I'd glued a picture of a hand drawn set of large footprints and a title - The Mystery of the Giant Footprince.
My first attempt at a novel.
I laughed.
It was supposed to have been, The Mystery of the Giant Footprints. I think I was around 8 or 9 when I wrote the beginning of my literary masterpiece. I guess I lost interest, or found it too hard, because it was only a few pages long. And to be honest, I haven't a clue what I wrote. That's how engaging it must have been.
I've always loved to write. I treasured my diary, complete with lock and key. My most secret admissions were tucked safely away from prying eyes. Saucy entries like, "Johnny looked at me today." And, "I hope Jimmy notices me tomorrow in my new skirt."
In high school I took creative writing classes.
In college, my major and double minors took me away from journalism, but I continued to keep a journal. Oh, the angst of those early young adult years.
In the summer, I devoured fiction books, staying up half the night to read, "just one more chapter".
And then life ramped up into full gear - marriage and children.
Except for an occasional season of journaling, my writing took a back seat.
When the life dust settled some, and I had time to think for myself again, I entertained the idea of writing a book.
Then I laughed. Well, that mixed with a tummy flip flop. Too much work. I wouldn't know where to start. Impossible.

God smiled - and planted a story, and characters in my mind one night while I was trying to sleep.
Then He gave me another one, and another.
He reminded me that nothing is impossible with Him in charge.

I'm launching a new page. Story Time
When you enter, you'll notice my published writings and where to purchase them. Check back from time to time - there may be new stories added.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trailer Days

There's nothing quite like being an only child on a road trip in a station wagon in the 50s. The back end was my playground. And when my dad pulled down the back seats, I had a bedroom.
Before we had our trailer, the suitcases were lined around the sides of the trunk area. But the middle was mine, all mine. I was surrounded by my dolls, picture books, coloring books, crayons...anything a little girl could want for entertainment.
 Oh my, "how did you get by without a DVD player or iPad," they ask.
And when I got tired, I had room to lay down and sleep.
Was I spoiled? Um - yeah.
Dad bought a trailer in the 60s. That took our summertime adventures and fun to a whole new level.
For my mom, I'm pretty sure it was a mixed blessing.
No more eating out and sleeping in motels where she'd walk out of the room without a glance back to the unmade beds and used towels.
Our first trailer was small and basic. It came with a double bed tucked in the back. The only way you could make it was to crawl around on top and tuck in sheets and blankets. My bed was a cot sort of thing above.
We had an ice box, pump faucet, propane stove and one or two gas lights that had to be lit with a match.  Camping out in a metal box.
Our next trailer afforded us more room. It had a real refrigerator, electric lights, hot and cold running water and my bed, still above my parents, was plywood with a foam rubber mattress. An added bonus was two tiny windows, one at my head and one at my feet. Fresh air! We traveled in luxury now.
There was nothing better than sitting at our table for an evening meal - canned green beans and whole potatoes with spam cooked in pineapple on melmac plates. Seriously, I looked forward to it.
Another treat for me - fireflies.
I counted the days until we crossed the border into Missouri and stopped overnight at Our Lady of the Road park. It was nothing to write home about. Not much more than a place off the highway for a few trailers and cars. I remember a statue of whatever saint or Mary that "guarded" the highway and a swing set. And every once in awhile, other children to play with. But the highlight...
Lightning bugs.
Those of us who live on the West Coast can only read about or dream of fireflies, or lightning bugs.
I'd wait on pins and needles until dusk, clutching my glass jar, it's lid poked full of holes.
And then I'd see my first one tucked in a bush. Before long the sky would twinkle with tiny dancing fairies, and I'd chase them until I had a jar full.
I'd tuck the jar in a corner of my bed and fall asleep to the flash, flash, flash of my nightlight. In the morning, I'd release them into the air.
Although I enjoyed various aspects of our trip up to this point, I knew within a day or two, my nieces, nephews, cousins and I would spend our evenings collecting lightning bugs in jars. Now this is what I called - summer vacation.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Time

Summertime...and the livin' is easy. Janis Joplin belts out her invitation to grab a mason jar of sweet tea, and laze around the water hole on a sweltering afternoon.
In this case, come along as I ponder and reminisce my childhood memories of summer.

Mom's with kids love it. No school, no packing lunches, no alarm clocks. That is until a week later when everyone is bored, bored, bored and bickering non-stop.

My summers as a kid were a mixture of the best of times...the worst of times.
Trips back to Indiana in our trailer.
Early morning swim lessons at the Plunge.
Hide and seek with the neighbor kids until it got dark.
Rolling around in the grass and finding all the little bug bites that itched like crazy.
Playing "Mermaids" in the backyard above ground pool - with the middle a little deeper.
Two weeks in the Santa Cruz mountains for summer camp.
Summer school.

Every two or three years my parents would make the trek across country with our small
blue and white Shasta trailer - destination, Indianapolis, Indiana. Sometimes we'd head out the last of May, a week or so before school was out. I'd have my packet of schoolwork in tow.
My dad was a leisurely traveler. He'd plan for a week travel. That meant stops along the way.
It went something like this:
Our first day included all of Nevada and an overnight stop in Salt Lake City, Utah. Back then, it was safe to park at rest stops, filling station parking lots; even along the side of the road with a wide turnout. More than once, we'd be the only ones parked in the gravel. Come morning, though, we'd smell coffee, bacon, burnt toast and step out of the trailer to find a wagon train of other campers and trailers. There were always "good mornings," and, "so where did you come from and where are you heading?"
One year, it was a dark and stormy night when we found a turn out in the road somewhere just outside of Salt Lake City. I was around 10. It was late and my dad was tired. He was the only driver then. We dashed out of our car and into the trailer as sheets of rain, thunder and lighting assailed us. The wind rocked our small metal container throughout the night. Needless to say, none of us slept much.
In the morning, the storm had passed over, the sun shone bright and it was warm. My father stepped out of the trailer. We were parked close to the edge of a cliff. The drop off a few feet from our car and trailer.

Little America, Wyoming was a highlight of our trip. For miles and miles we passed through dry, brown, flat land. Every once and awhile, we'd see a herd of antelope or buffalo, but for the most part it was BORING. And then... we'd begin seeing signs for Little America. Each time Mom, Dad and I would comment that they moved it further away. It seemed to take forever to get there. Out of nowhere, it seemed, there would be an oasis of a few buildings and cars. We'd safely made it once again.
 What was the draw? Soft serve chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream cones!
I lived for the experience. All that driving through desolate wilderness for a soft serve chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream. It was cool, creamy - a long awaited treat for the palate. I was in heaven.
Oh, and the bathroom. All that driving with no towns in between - the bathroom was a close second to the ice cream.
Next: Fireflys

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Makeover

Hubster and I live in a small post WWII house. It was built in 1948.
Back then, most middle class folks didn't have a bunch of stuff.
There are two little closets in both bedrooms - a his and hers thing. He had a few slacks, a few shirts, a few suits, a few pair of shoes...  She had a few dresses, skirts, blouses, shoes... you get the picture.
The kitchen accommodated a modest collection of plates, cups, bowls - enough for a small family. Because appliances and gadgets were just gaining popularity, all one needed was perhaps a coffee maker and mixer. Thus, three electrical plugs were plenty.
My parents bought this house in 1967. The only change they made was to add more juice to the electrical circuits to accommodate a dryer and freezer.
I began high school in this house.
Each winter I got dressed in front of the wall heater. Each summer we switched on the swamp cooler with it's moist air filling the living room. We lived with our bedroom doors open because if we didn't, we'd freeze or swelter.
Mom, dad and I shared one bathroom - and I don't remember ever fighting over it.
My mom willed the house to me after her death. It was a blessing. Hubster, our 2 kids and I lived in a rented house and we were living paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes the money stretched and sometimes, it didn't.
When we acquired the house, our daughter was married and on her own. Our son lived with us for awhile and after that, we had a boarder for awhile. But now it's just Hubster and myself.
We did some upgrades to the insides - a kitchen and bathroom remodel, new carpet, central air and heat and new paint for the living room and 2 bedrooms. Sad to say, though, our money ran out before our plans did. The second bathroom, laundry room and family room are still bumping around in our dreams.
Now, 12 years later, the outside of the house is jealous and wanting attention. I guess that's fair. Thankfully, my dad put on aluminum siding, so it doesn't need paint. But the garage door... Now that's another story.
"Honeyyyyy," I whined. "I want a garage door for my birthday." After all, at my age, I really don't need anything else.
Honey obliged. He ordered the door (which had to be special ordered because our house is oooold).
Now, however the porch posts and window shutters are demanding attention.
The ol' 1948 gal is going to look pretty good when she gets her makeover.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Beginnings

My thoughts go back to May 4th.
I'm sitting in my car, summoning my courage to kick in.
"I can do this..."
Three weeks ahead of me. How will I react to the IV chemo? Will I fly by or be one of the "problem children"?
Lots of questions. Lots of unknown.

Fast forward. As is the case every time, each day happened. Morning - evening. A new day. Every day.

I did fly by. My body responded to the IV nutrients and chemo without incident. My blood test results caused my doctors to smile. I met new friends - compatriots on the same journey of healing.

Three weeks.
And then - it was over. Graduation day, we called it. As each one finished their last IV and their PICC line was removed, pictures were taken, contact information exchanged, hugs and, yes, a few tears were shed. Back to Colorado, California, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Hawaii...

Hubster came to help me pack up. It's amazing how one can accumulate so much extra in just three weeks.
One last trek down the mountain, and just for good measure to remind me that I'm glad I don't have to make the trip again, it rained. In the middle of a rain cloud rain. The kind that makes you wonder if they should install turbo drive on the windshield wipers. That kind of rain.

So now I'm home with my new best friends for 3 months. These guys pretty much took over the house...and my life. Some I swallow before a meal, some with a meal and some - after. Yellow ones, brown ones, white ones.
But lets face it, the alternative - you know - eight hours per day hooked up to poisons dripping into my defenseless body for 6 to 8 months...
This is a picnic at the park.
My tumor is located in a spot that makes it uncomfortable to stand and walk at times. As the treatment hits its mark, the tumor will expand and shrink. This is the nature of the beastie.
I just began my low dose oral chemo. 3 times a day for a week, and then a week off. This continues with all my BFF supplements for 3 months. Then...
Cancer free?
That's what the doctor ordered. That's what we're all hoping and praying and working for.
Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Hope and a Future.

Stage 4.
Breast cancer
Lung cancer
Rectal cancer
Prostate cancer
Brain cancer

Makes you want to stop reading, doesn't it? So depressing. Hopeless. Edge of death.

There are six black recliners on one side of the room and six on the other - side by side with a small glass top table between. We're close enough for conversation. Close enough to hear each other's business. But then, it doesn't matter. We're all fighting the same battle. We're all comrades on the front lines up against the same foe. We watch each other's back. Care about each other's outcome, test results, setbacks and victories.
Some of us have been together from the beginning of the 3 week cycle. Others, we say good-bye to after only a few days. Some will say farewell to us and continue on to fight for another week or two.

Let me share a few of their stories.

Betty started out with lung cancer, which moved into her brain. She went the conventional way. She's undergone different chemos and treatments. All of them made her sick. All of them came with the price of side effects. She's from Wyoming.
Berry, also, started out with lung cancer which moved into his liver and brain. Conventional treatment - side effects. The day after his last radiation, against his doctor's advice, he and his wife hopped a plane so he could begin treatment at Century Wellness on Monday. They came from Massachusetts.

Jerry has prostrate cancer. He also did the conventional treatment. Same story. Sickness and side effects. He still has cancer. An avid golfer, he now has a hard time walking around. He's from Southern Nevada.

Mel is from California. He's in advanced stage stomach cancer, and has to carry around his stomach feeding tube machine. As all the others, he tried the conventional approach. Same song, different verse. Side effects. Some days are better than others for him. He's determined to kick the disease. Seriously, he should be dead by now, but he's not.

Aaron has rectal cancer - again. After the full round of conventional - chemo, radiation and surgery, he was given the "in remission" title. However, that didn't last. It came back. All within a year. He's from So Cal.

Each person speaks about the living hell they went through with their treatments. Not one of them speaks highly of their journey. They all dealt with doctors who considered any other alternative something only witch doctors dabbled in. They were all categorized, staged, given the dreaded countdown to eternity numbers and sent on to the infusion rooms and radiation rooms.
"This is how we do things. There is no other viable way. No studies to prove any other approach."
And in the immortal words of my dear ol' surgeon, "when are you going to use real medicine?"
But each of my comrade's stories don't end on a sour note.
They've all survivors. Not of their cancer. No, they are survivors of conventional methods that did not work, or caused more issues.
Each one of them walk in to the center every morning with hope and a future. They all look pretty good. Sure, there are red light and green light days. A little nausea; looking forward to an afternoon nap. Let's face it, we're still doing chemo - albeit in small doses. But the chemo is sandwiched between layers of nutrients, vitamins, minerals which repair and protect the healthy cells. Our bodies are fortified with life and energy to fight the good fight.
And along with that - something that I feel is the yummy sauce which holds the fixins' in place - we are given hope, encouragement, laughter, joy, peace, kindness...
We're told every day by the staff, whether in word or deed that we're important and cared for. They are on our sides. They want us to thrive - not because that's what pays their bills, but because they see on a regular basis the results of love and compassion and G~d given tools to repair and restore our bodies.
Combining science, nature, hope and prayer in the treatment of cancer.
Yes, this about sums it up.
(I've changed names to protect privacy)

Next - Graduation Day

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week One. It's a Wrap

"You're in the front row of the chorus line."
I like these words.
At the end of my first week, Dr F gives me the low-down on my blood tests.
They look good. Very good.
I leave the Center with a spring in my step and a big smile on my face. My first week - in the can. My body is responding, G~d is on His throne, and all's right with the world.

My schlep down the hill is uneventful. Two hours later, I pull into my driveway.
I'm home. My house, my family, my bed. Ahhhhhh.
From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, I can relax. No infusions.

Hubster and One and Only Son prepare Shabbat dinner while I hang out on the couch. You know, I could get used to this. Costco rotisserie chicken and artichokes hit the spot. Yes, I'm a blessed woman.
 And there's more.
On Saturday evening, after a restful Shabbat day of napping, I'm treated to dinner, gifts and lots of love from Lovely Daughter, Son-In-Love, a pile of Grands (count them...5), Hubster and One and Only Son. Pre-Mother's Day, don't you know.
And there's more.
On Sunday, I'm loved on by 3 more Grands.

But now, I must pack up and take my leave. It's been a delightful weekend - too short.
Time to return to Century Wellness Center for my second week.

On Monday, the routine begins again. I meet with Dr I for an exam. All my innards are good and healthy. Recovery is progressing as planned.
As I enter the infusion room, my IV friends are there too. We've all survived our weekend, and we greet each other like college buddies returning from our weekends. We catch each other up with our stories.
Back to the business of healing.

On Tuesday, I meet with Dr M. Such a treat. His upbeat manner is good for the body and soul.
We talk about the weekend and he gives me the blood report from the test taken on Monday.
Yup, my little blood soldiers are doing their job - everyone from the Lieutenants to the Special Forces. All are carrying out their duties.
It's chemo day. Finger pokes and orange juice. Within 2 hours, I'm done.
It's a windy day. I'm ready for a little nap before I venture out to Whole Foods.

My mind goes back to the infusion room at the hospital and I can't help but become sad. Very sick people, curled up in blankets, alone and silent, enduring yet more bags of chemotherapy. Most will be there for 6 to 8 hours. And then there are the ones confined to beds in the cancer ward. Hair gone, strength gone; and many with no hope of recovery. They've given up, biding their time until their bodies can't take the stress of more poison.
Is conventional Western medicine really in the business to save lives...
I wonder.
Next: My friends and their stories.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Healing Cruise

Century Wellness Center cruise.  At least so far, that's what it feels like.

Hubster and I took an Alaskan cruise several years back. We boarded a ship, set sail, met
new people - all headed for the same destination. The ship staff's main goal was to insure that we were happy, pampered and had our needs met.
We hobb knobbed with people from all walks of life, of varied ages and from all parts of the US. Some were wealthy and the trip didn't even dent their bank accounts while others no doubt mortgaged the farm to fulfill their dream. But as we sat together in the dining room, we were all on equal ground. It didn't matter. We were living the high life.

And now, I'm experiencing somewhat the same thing.

As I sat in the parking lot on Monday morning, allowing myself a few final moments of thought...
What's it going to be like? Will my body respond to the treatments? Can I chicken out and go home?
I received a phone call from my son telling me he loved me. It was quite unexpected and very serendipitous. I'm sure the L~rd planned that one. I breathed a last prayer and made my way into the waiting room to begin the new adventure.

After waiting awhile I was ushered into the back room by the nurse with an apology for the wait. There were quite a few others who were newbies ahead of me. The first day takes a little longer.
I met with Dr I who went over my chart and our consultation meeting. We discussed my present health. Then I was ushered into the infusion room to begin my first bag o' gold.
What a difference from the hospital infusion room where I had my PICC line inserted. Night and day!
The atmosphere was cheerful and hopeful. Conversations filtered around me. Already, the meet and greet was in gear.
I was prepped and attached to my first infusion. The cruise was on. Within minutes, I was included in the introductions. We were all first timers. The two hours passed quickly and friendships blossomed. We're all on the same journey and we want to do it together. As others finished their treatment, we'd all wish them a pleasant day.
"See you tomorrow."
"Let's do this again."

Yes. I made the right decision. This is a place of healing. With every drop of liquid in my veins, every swallowed capsule, every smile, every conversation, new friend, touch - my body, my soul and my spirit are being renewed, restored, refreshed.
I'm on a journey of recovery. I'm on a cruise.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Time Has Come

The day has arrived. Chaim is ready. Hubster and Lovely Daughter will join me on the trip to settle me in.
"Are you nervous?" asks Lovely Daughter.
"Yes. But I'm also excited."
 So much prayer and preparation has gone into this adventure. I know the L~rd has arranged it to happen. And I know there has been opposition from the enemy of our souls. I've had a few melt downs as I second guessed, wondered how it would all work out - worried how we'd finance it all. Things are still up in the air, but it's time to take that walk of faith. Here we are. Ready to go.

After unloading the car into my spacious studio Residence Inn room, we were off to a Sunday buffet. The food was abundant. As you can see, Chaim approved of my first course.

On the way back we hit up the local Trader Joe's to fill my kitchen.

The afternoon went by fast. It was time for Hubster and Lovely Daughter to return home. Although I knew I would make the trek back down the hill on Friday for the weekend, it was hard to say good-bye.
Although I've gone solo in Israel on several occasions, this would be different. Time to be brave and all that...
And besides, I wouldn't be alone. The G~d of angel armies had His hand on my shoulder. One last, "I love you". One more hug. The door closed.

Time to settle in.
Chaim and I pulled up a pillow. Turkey BLT and a cup of tea while watching Call The Midwife.

Next time:
A new day is a dawnin'.
You Can Help!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PICCn' and Grinnin'

My new BFF.
We're growing quite attached.

Because my veins don't take kindly to being poked on a regular basis, it was determined that a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) be inserted.
I schlepped to the hospital yesterday, took the elevator to the lower level - aka basement and found the infusion center. It's a large room. In the center were recliner chairs where those getting IV therapy could relax while their "liquid gold" dripped slowly in their veins. Around the center are bays separated by curtains with beds. Quite comfortable, I might add.
This is where my procedure took place.
My specially trained nurse M invited me to sit on the bed while she positioned herself next to me. We went over the dreaded, but required list of, "this is what could go wrong". This is where I took the deep breath and summoned my courage to keep from shaking her hand and very politely thank her for her time, but I'd changed my mind and would be leaving now...thank you very much. At least she was slow and caring about the whole thing, unlike the bullet speed voice over at the end of a drug commercial on TV.
It was now time for the production to begin. Lots of blue paper drapes, tubes, syringes and other paraphernalia to be revealed and positioned.
To be honest, the whole thing was relatively painless. Yes, the initial poke required some birth coach breathing, but it only lasted seconds. Then the second poke was the magic lidocaine which kicked any discomfort to the curb.

However... oh yes, there was a however.
The guide wire wouldn't advance to where it was suppose to. M pulled it out a little and tried again, and remember, no pain, so all I knew that something wasn't working was her vocalizations. Sill no dice. So much for my left arm.
Another unpacking of sterile equipment and... lets try the other arm. Once again,the ultrasound showed a luscious, round, ready for action vein.
The wire slid in and kept going. She was pleased.
Now it was time for the x-ray tech to arrive with his machine to snap a glossy 8X10 to make sure the tube was where it was meant to be.
 The wait wasn't long and the picture popped up on M's computer.
Houston, we have a problem.
The tube slid up into my juggler vein in my neck instead of down toward my heart.
Try again. She pulled the tube out to the junction point and gave it another go. We waited for Mr. X-ray again. Smile for the camera...
Results? Even after turning my head and tilting my chin as instructed, it wanted to slide up again. Bad, bad tube!
By now, I'm worried, and frustrated and M is more than frustrated. This twirnt spose to happen. I'm quietly praying, I can tell she's praying and we give it the third time's a charm. But this time M has requested help from the other PICC nurse, C. She pushes my head over and down - not quite into an exorcist position, but let's just say, your nose can touch the pillow when you lay on your back. She also pushed on my juggler vein to discourage the tube from entering. She told me to tell her if I started to feel my brain turn to mush. Now, how am I suppose to know that... I gave my brain cells to my kids at birth.
One more wait, one more visit from THE MACHINE, and...
High fives all around. It worked. She finished the procedure, taped my new jewelry in place and I was good to go.
What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
I was sent home with my "care and feeding of your new PICC line" paper.

See how much fun you can have at a hospital?
Next time: Hi Ho Hi Ho, it's off to the cancer center I go. It's Not To Late To Help 

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Stats Are In

The stats are in.
My blood was separated, isolated and amalgamated. The cancer cells received chemotherapies and nutrients to see which ones responded. Imagine that, all done in little glass tubes without touching my healthy cells. Instead of bombarding my body with a huge dose of what may or may not work and hoping for the best, it was all done in the comfort of a lab.

Now the battle plan is in order. Time to prepare the arsenal.
2 chemos and and 17 nutrients.
Because cancer feeds on sugar, my body will be denied the pleasure. The cancer cells will cry out for food - aka sugar and the little receptors will be like baby birds with their tiny beaks wide open. Insulin will be infused with chemo and like a trojan horse the cancer cells will greedily open their doors wide when they see the "food" a-comin'. Ka-blam! All my other cells will be doing what they normally do, thriving and living while the cancer cells are filled full of the tiny warriors with one purpose - death and destruction.
Only around 10% of chemo is needed because they are targeting only cancer cells. I won't be plagued with side effects. And that's not all... I'll have the 17 nutrients acting as the repair and rebuild crew to shore up the walls. l have a 90% chance of full recovery. Now that's a good deal!
My little explanation of treatment is very elementary, but I think you get the point. Lots of bang for my buck. Lots of hope for the future. I have much living yet to do!

On May 3rd, Hubster and darling daughter will load up the covered wagon and ship me and Chaim across the mountain pass to my new digs.
But first...
PICCn' and grinnin'.  Somebody Help the Girl GiveForward Fundraiser

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Let the Party Begin

I made the phone call and set up an appointment with the cancer center. The consultation appointment and blood test was going to cost a chunk of change, but after prayer and ponder, Hubster and I knew it was the way to go.
Chaim was on board.
Our trek began at 8am. My appointment was scheduled for 11am.

Over the river and through the woods to the cancer center we go.
We settled in the office and filled out the paper work. As with all medical waiting rooms - we waited.
But the atmosphere was very pleasant and comfortable. I noticed several greeting others as they came in, like a small family sort of thing. I guess when you hang out in the waiting room or IV suite with the same people for 3 weeks, you begin to connect. Nice.
It was my turn.
Three doctors, one blood test, one hair analysis - four hours.
I was getting my money's worth. And this is a good thing.
Dr. F greeted Hubster and I warmly and then took the time to go over his treatment plan, my records that I'd sent ahead and answer mine and Hubster's questions. It was not rushed. He listened to my concerns and took the time to address them.
Doctor #2 - Dr. M
He enveloped my hand in his large beefy one. I felt the passing of welcoming energy.
His expertise is two fold - nutrition and emotional/mental care.
He spent the time discussing in detail - pulling out the white paper on his exam table and drawing diagrams of cancer cells and how the protocol would destroy the little buggers. Go get um!!! Kill em daid!!!
He also spent time showing me how much my attitude and how I see myself, works in tandem with the chemo and nutrients in the healing process. He'll be my "life coach" as well as my nutritionist, helping me to plan the diet my body needs.
Dr. I was third in the trio.
He's an oncologist and the "hands on" doctor, doing the physical exams. He also explained the treatment plan as well as doing a mini exam to check vitals and such. His pronouncement was encouraging. For someone with cancer, I'm in good health.
Now for the blood test.
Only 2 pokes and 2 vials of blood. Not bad. To Greece it goes. This will determine the exact chemotherapy and nutrients my cancer cells respond to. Taylor made treatment, just for me.
It's been a full and fulfilling day. Hubster and I are hungry. We decide that since we're in casino country, we want to take advantage of a buffet and maybe a quarter or two into the ol' one arm bandit. Lets see if we can hit that jackpot and pay for the treatment here and now...
Chaim enjoyed his chow and watched me down a few sweet, plump strawberries. Yes, they were good!
As for our wild gambling extravaganza...?

Next: Blood test results and strategy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

One Thing Leads to Another

Time for the end of treatment pow-wow with Doctor Y.
We go over the new blood test results. They look good. My body has responded well to the treatments. But...
Cancer markers still indicate bad boy cells are lurking, like a criminal hiding in the closet waiting to attack when the guard is down.
We talk about my options. I still need a second opinion and a repeat CT scan from the HMO provider. I'm under the impression that surgery is my first course of action now that my immune system is in tip top shape.
She mentions a doctor she'd met at a naturopathic cancer convention she recently attended. She's impressed with what she hears. His treatments sound promising. His patients are getting well. I take down his name so I can research. I know it will be pricey, and my HMO will not cover it, but it won't hurt to check it out. After all, once the surgery is completed I'll be "strongly encouraged" to follow through with the chemo/radiation protocol.
It's December. Not only is Chanukkah around the corner, but I'm dealing with my bout of tonsillitis. I decide to wait until January to continue the cancer battle.

Fast forward to March.
I've met with my second opinion, Dr. S. That was a disaster.
I've had my second CT scan. Everything looks pretty good.
I've had a third opinion visit with a gastrointeroligist. He spells out the reason that I need chemo/radiation before surgery, and tells me that I might not have to have surgery at all if we can shrink the tumor. Although I'm encouraged by the news, it still boils down to my HMO wanting me to undergo their prescribed treatment.
Time to check out the doctor and clinic Dr. Y told me about.
Everything I've read sounds promising. All the reviews from past patients encourages me. But here's the catch... it will cost way more than we can afford. It seems like an impossible dream.
I'm reminded that nothing is impossible if G~d is involved, so I once again lay the "letter" before Him.
"Here it is, L~rd. These are my options. I know what I want, but it's up to You. You know what's best, no matter what."
That's a hard prayer to pray knowing that G~d might lead me to the HMO rather than the cancer center.
Waiting is not one of my strong suits. I'd much prefer one of those "ahhhhhhh" moments with ethereal music and an audible Voice. I figure, though, if I did get one, I wouldn't know what to do, so I waited.
It started with an email from a writer friend. We don't communicate very often. She told me that she "happened" to talk with an acquaintance who "happened" to mention that she just returned from this same cancer center I was interested in. I had just "happened" to send out a prayer request to a private prayer group that my friend belonged to and she knew I was interested in it. Short story long... this acquaintance of my friend contacted me. She was very impressed with her treatment and the staff and encouraged me to proceed with my inquiry into the clinic. Then a few days later, another lady in the prayer group read my request and mentioned that her son had gone to the clinic several years before and again, the report was positive.
I had my answer.

Next: Let's do this!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Onward and Upward

One year.
One year since Dr. Little Black Cloud breezed into the recovery bay and delivered her now famous line,"we have a problem, you have cancer."
I wish I could report that I am now cancer free and training for the Boston marathon. Or that I'm featured in a new book - How to Beat Cancer Without Giving Up the Foods You Love.
But I still have the nasty little beastie hanging out in my southern hemisphere. The tumor is still compromising my sphincter muscles. I haven't moved back to Mitford.

But, here's what has happened in the course of the year.

Every few months, I had follow-up full meal deal blood tests. And the results?
My body was getting healthier.
How can it do that? You still have cancer?
My cells began working together, like a herd of elephants protecting a little one. They banded together to protect and defend. Unlike conventional chemotherapy that cannot differentiate between the good, the bad and the ugly, and destroys everything in it's path, the IV therapy and supplements I received helped the healthy cells get stronger. My immune system was not compromised. On the contrary, it took on new powers to keep the cancer from spreading.
I endured the seasonal maladies - colds and such the same way I had before my diagnosis. I had the usual week of the cruds, and then it cleared up. In fact, in December I went through a bout of tonsillitis. And although it was miserable for a few weeks, I got over it without any setbacks. My immune system fought like little troupers and won.
My follow-up CT scan showed no noticeable changes. No mastitis to other organs.
For having cancer, I'm one healthy chick. Go figure.

And now? What does my future hold?
Glad you asked.
I'm embarking on a new healing journey. Or, really, not new at all, but the next phase in the adventure.
I'd like to introduce you to my new friend, Chaim.
Chaim in Hebrew means - life.
He will be joining me as I post future blogs.
I've reported on my past road trips - girl friend road trips and Israel road trips. This one is called - a healing road trip.

Next: It begins with a suggestion.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

And It's Tasty Too.

Vitameatavegamin... And it's tasty too. The next salvo in my arsenal of weaponry...
Actually, it's called PolyMVA.

 "A unique formulation contains a proprietary complex of Alpha-Lipoic Acid and the mineral palladium (which we refer to as LAPd), Vitamins
B1, B2 and B12, Formylmethionine, N-Acetyl Cystiene, and trace amounts of Molybdenum, Rhodium, and Ruthenium. It is designed to provide energy for compromised body systems by targeting the energy charge transfer mechanism of our cells (the mitochondria) while protecting them as well from free radicals." (PolyMVA website)
All those big, $5 words to say it's like re-charging your cells with energy. Makes them into mini superheros to fight the bad-guy cancer cells.

The protocol began with an oral dosage - and I will not lie, the stuff tastes nasty. Thankfully, it's only 2 teaspoons at a time, and with coconut or almond milk and a drop of stevia, it goes down better...like...like a spoon full of sugar! Or not.
I moved on to an IV bag of the stuff. Tuesday and Thursday, I'd schlep to the clinic for a 2 hour drip. It looks like Dr. Pepper or root beer in bag form. Then I did an IV chaser of Myers - or Mountain Dew. 

My body drank in the brew  and smiled. My veins, however were getting rather tired of the whole thing. By this time I'm into my ninth month of needle pokes. The ol' veins started playing a game of hide and seek or smoosh. The needle would approach, and the vein began to crawl away or scrunch down and hide. We could hear the little dudes with their tiny voices, "noooooooo. Run away, run away."
I elaborate more in this past blog, FIVE POKES AND A PUPPY

In December, the four month IV PolyMVA protocol ended. No more pokes, no more bags. I would, however continue my diet, vitamins and minerals and oral PolyMVA. Now it was time to see how my body responded to all the "real medicine". Would Dr. M and Dr. S gloat and smirk if my body didn't respond and I began to fall apart because I didn't go the conventional route? Would I be "another statistic" of holistic healing gone bad?
Next: Numbers and images tell the truth.