Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Waiting Room

 But in my mind I keep returning to something, something that gives me hope - 
 that the grace of ADONAI is not exhausted, that his compassion has not ended. 
 [On the contrary,] they are new every morning! How great your faithfulness! 
 "ADONAI is all I have," I say; "therefore I will put my hope in him. 
 ADONAI is good to those waiting for him, to those who are seeking him out. 
 It is good to wait patiently for the saving help of ADONAI.
  Lamentations 3:21-26

I'm not much good at waiting. And I prefer the easy way. That's why I love writing. I can create a character, give them conflict and then - just like that - give them solutions. And they live happily ever after.
I woke up on Monday morning, after a weekend of denial and acceptance and denial and acceptance to realize, it wasn't a bad dream. I now had a frenemy to live with. THE DIAGNOSIS. 

Every time the phone rang, adrenaline shot through my body. Fight or flight. I could just not answer the phone if it was from the GI department, or radiology or the surgeon's office - flight. Or I could face it headlong and make appointments. I made appointments. Fight. In the next few weeks I was poked and prodded - white gloves and white coats. Every time I met with a medical provider, I wanted someone to say, "I can't find anything. You don't have cancer." I needed someone to give me hope.
 It was there - hope, small, but it was there. No doctor whisked me away to ICU saying I would die without immediate care. In fact, they all made it clear that although it was serious, very serious, and I shouldn't put off treatment - the sooner the better, and no one came out and said, "you have time to process this before making decisions", but I felt at peace with waiting. Okay I could live with that. I had time. Time to think, pray, straegise. Hope. 
Of course, dealing with a large HMO, they have their protocol. They offer you what they've been trained to do. Dealing with cancer, your only option is the BIG 3. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Red flags began to unfurl. Did I want to give my body over to something that would destroy so much just to (hopefully) cure me?
I finished the battery of tests. Hubster and I knew there was only one thing to do...
L~rd help!! Where do we go from here??
Next: Who do I believe?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Uncharted Territory

 You know when I sit and when I stand up, you discern my inclinations from afar,
 you scrutinize my daily activities. You are so familiar with all my ways 
 that before I speak even a word, ADONAI, you know all about it already. 
 You have hemmed me in both behind and in front and laid your hand on me. 
 Such wonderful knowledge is beyond me, far too high for me to reach. 
 Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 
 If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I lie down in Sh'ol, you are there. 
 If I fly away with the wings of the dawn and land beyond the sea, 
 even there your hand would lead me, your right hand would hold me fast. 
 If I say, "Let darkness surround me, let the light around me be night, 
even darkness like this is not too dark for you; rather, night is as clear as day, darkness and light are the same.
Psalm 139:2-12

"We have a problem, you have cancer."
Those words echoed over and over in my mind. I'm a looper. It can be a curse.
Some people take bad news, store it away in a mind box and pull it out only when needed. They don't feel it necessary to think about it until it's time. That's not me. I take a phrase or memory and put it in a mind hamster wheel. Then I throw in the little beastie and watch it run...and run...and run. 

By the time the sun arose the morning after "the news", I'd gone through all five stages of grief - several times. I denied it. Maybe Dr P spoke out of turn and only thought she saw something wrong. Next came anger. How dare she destroy my life in a few moments. How cruel can someone be? Followed by the "if only" game. If only I'd had this checked out sooner. If only I'd chosen another doctor to run the test. If only... Depression sunk me into another period of fitful tossing and turning. I have cancer. Will I die? Does G~d even hear me when I cry out to Him?
Then after a mostly sleepless night, I came to the conclusion that I could handle this. G~d is with me and will see me through. I'll just take one step at a time. Acceptance.
It was Shabbat. A day of rest for body, mind and soul. I determined to get up and try to be strong and brave. 
I knew I was now thrust on a new journey. Uncharted territory. Huge overwhelming mountains, deep valleys. I can do this. I can do this. I. Can. Do. This. 
Throughout the day I flopped between courage and fear. Like I said. I'm a looper.
Next: Tools for the battle.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Mitford Life

 Marta's Journey. I've ambled here and there in my posts. A little commentary, a recipe or two, day to day happenings... For the most part it reads like a Jan Karon Mitford book. For those not familiar with the Mitford series, which by the way I highly recommend, Father Tim is an Episcopal priest and lives in a small bucolic town in North Carolina. That about sums it up. He has adventures, a small crisis or two, a few highlights, but overall, his life is pretty level. That's why I love reading these books.
What I see on TV, or scroll through on my Facebook page can turn a fairly decent day into a death spiral in a matter of minutes. I get weary of angst and carnage bombarding my eyes and ears, especially when I don't seek it out. So, yes, call me Pollyanna and I enjoy wearing rose colored glasses, thank you very much.

However, I've now been torn out of Mitford, North Carolina and plopped smack dab in New York City - the bad side, during a blizzard and garbage strike.

My new journey began a year ago in January. I've had issues down in the south end of my body for quite awhile. Diagnosed with the dreaded hemorrhoid, I figured this was my cross to bear and moved on with life. Come January, I had to endure the even more dreaded (cue da-da da dah music) colonoscopy. Yes, sends shivers down the spine of even the most hardy soul. I'll spare you the details of it all (and the collective "thank you" was heard 'round the world). But suffice it to say, the prep is worse than the procedure (well kind of).
I had one of those comedy of error moments going into the procedure, though. About a half hour before I scheduled myself to leave for the hospital, which thank goodness is only about a fourth mile from our house, I got a frantic call from the GI department.
"Where are you?"
"Um, at home?"
"You are suppose to have been here a half hour ago! Your procedure is scheduled to begin in fifteen minutes. We need to prep you."
There we go with that prep thing again. Not good. Not good at all.
Hubster and I dash out the door, arrive in record time, check in at the GI desk and I'm met by Frantic Nurse. I throw my purse at Hubster and am whisked away down the hall and through the "not for public" doors into the pre/post op ward for a quickie prep (vitals, IV and disclosure of any information needed to insure I don't flat line on the table). At this point, I don't have time to worry or panic, which was probably a G~d send.

Fast forward about one hour later (give or take because they drugged me), I emerge from quasi la la land and my gastroenterologist is looking down upon me. Now, I haven't watched many episodes of House, but I know Dr House has a reputation for being blunt, irreverent and a bit rude.
 I met his sister.
I'm not sure if she asked how I was, I don't think so, but her pronouncement was, well, a bit blunt, irreverent and rude.
"We have a problem. You have cancer."
Just like that. No beating around the bush with this one. No, "I saw something suspicious and want you to get further testing". Not even a "why don't you go home a sit on it for a day, we'll get to the bottom of this soon". She gave me the usual post-procedure pep talk, encouraged me to get a CT scan and ultrasound mass measurement, an oncologist and surgeon, shook mine and Hubster's hand and wished us luck.

Next: Now What? or I Think I'd Like to Wake Up From This Nightmare Now, Thank You.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Teach Me to Pray, to Praise

 Teach me G~d to pray  

to praise

The splendor of ripe fruit 

   the wonder of an autumn leaf

the freedom to see

to feel

to breathe

   to know hope
      and even to know grief.

Teach my lips blessing
   and praise

when You renew Your time
   each night
   each dawn

so that my days will not repeat my yesterdays
to save my life from mere routine
   of all days gone.

We are in the grips of winter. Although some parts of the globe reward us with warmth and sunshine, others places are covered in snow and ice, rain and fog - it's grouchy and gray. Dark days find us wanting to stow away under our fears, uncertainties and worries. It's in times like these, we need to dig deep and remember. Remember that God is on our side. He hasn't abandoned us to our own selves. Even when we can't see Him, or even feel His presence, He's still watching, caring, loving. He will never leave us.

We have a weapon against these winter days. Prayer and praise.

Give it a try.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Boots and Cats

Did you know that if you say "boots 'n cats" over and over - fast, you're on your way to learning beat box? And what is beat box? According to Wikipedia it's "...a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue, and voice".  So next time you're listening to your radio, find a song that works and repeat "boots 'n cats..." Hours of entertainment!

Speaking of boots and cats...

I like boots. They are so versatile, come in many colors and go with just about everything. And I had a cat named Boots. Orange tabby. The only cat Hubster tolerated. Frankly, I think they had a bond. Ice cream. Hubster would come home from work, get himself a bowl of ice cream and a small dish for Bootsie. If that isn't bonding, I don't know what is.
I like cats. They are so versatile, come in many colors and plop down on just about anything.

My latest kitty - our only child now, is Kleinah. She's a tuxedo cat. Black and white. She tolerates Hubster. I think she was abused by a male when younger because she freaks anytime one comes near her. She's lived around Hubster long enough to decide he isn't out to get her. She stays her distance though, which is fine with Hubster. 

She adopted us. It was a dark and stormy night... No, really. I heard her crying on our front porch. She was wet and scared, but needed a family and somehow figured our house took in strays. I had to talk like an auctioneer to convince Hubster that she needed help. He let her stay in the garage. But it was dark and lonely and she'd cry at the door. Then she got sick. Although my husband's dislike for cats is strong, he isn't up to animal cruelty either and let me take her to the vet. Cha'ching. Now that I spent cash on her, she had a paw in the door. Our vet gave me a dismal report. She thought it might be intestinal, and looked like she wouldn't survive. Without x-rays and such, which were too expensive for a stray that Hubster hoped would move on and not in, all I could do was take her home and wait. And so I did. I prayed too. Why not. God loves His creations - all of them. 

Without going into detail which you wouldn't want anyway, she had a good productive "moment of meditation" a few days later, began eating and... we've had her now for several years. 
She's allergic to fish and fleas, follows me around and makes me smile. 
I'm pretty sure she knows I'm a sucker for hard luck stories. Because she's such a scared-e-cat, she removed the "for cats only" vacancy sign. 
She and she alone is here to stay.

She doesn't like ice cream though, so I don't think there will be kitty/Hubster bonding any time soon.