Car Drive

I feel like writing again, so let’s see where it goes. It may not always be about cancer, but that is our life these days and I’m glad. That way I have more time to worry about important things like whether I poisoned my children with cantaloupe today.

I drove to work this morning. I inhabit that world twice a week, and what a world it is. Full of cubicles, colorful characters and too many rules for my taste. I got reprimanded recently for opening the windows.  “Oh, no you don’t open the windows,” I was told.  This country is obsessed with climate control and it is ridiculous. But twice a week I drive the country back roads to the state capital and try and focus.

The drive is part of my time: one of my rituals. It is usually a busy time in my head, and this morning I began by deciding that my post yesterday was bullshit. I tangled with that for a while until I became distracted by an NPR story about teachers being decapitated in Acapulco.

On the way home I had a moment of panic when I heard a story again on NPR about a Listeria outbreak caused by cantaloupe. I immediately jumped to the moment this morning when I thought-apples or cantaloupe. Crap, why had I chosen cantaloupe for their lunches. Luckily my cantaloupe checked out, but it was one of those moments, as ridiculous as it may seem that never fail to get me. I took a deep sigh, soaked in the beautiful landscape around me, and  decided that yesterday’s post wasn’t that bullshit after all.

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Fall light

The transition to fall was quick and painful in parts, but I think we have made it. Our youngest started Kindergarten and although it wasn’t his first experience with school it was a big step. Our daughter is in third grade now and at a new level of after school commitment. Our leisurely pace came to a screeching halt and we are only now getting our feet back under us.

Although, today we are home instead of at soccer where we were supposed to be. If my boy doesn’t want to go to soccer, than I am not gonna make him. After a little bit of guilt that they are now watching T.V. instead of running around outside on a beautiful day, I am deciding to trust that this quiet afternoon is needed.

I am feeling rooted and grounded right now: working at being in the now. I occasionally return to my resentment and anger that it is work, but like all work after time you improve. I think I am improving. I have cancer vision without the fear right now, and it’s a pretty good place to be. I hope I can stay here for a while.

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Cancerversary

Summer is flying by and it has been a good one. My man was diagnosed last year on May 18th and he had his surgery last year on August 17th, so here we are somewhere in between those dates and the entire summer some how feels like our “cancerversary.”

When summer began this year it was tainted with the trauma of last summer. The warm weather and green leaves transported me to last summer’s experience and I had a hard time shaking its shadow. When I mowed the lawn or went to the lake I had vivid memories of my state last year while doing those same activities. So many things were exactly the same: I led the same training this May that I was running last May when I got the call from my man’s doctor, my daughter’s school had an outbreak of lice-just like last year, (and this time we were not so lucky.) It took me a while to shake off the feeling that something terrible was about to occur, or even to realize why I was feeling that way.

But on July 15th we had another clean scan and we are on vacation visiting friends and family in Europe so life is good and I can’t complain. Well I can, but I won’t- not today anyway.

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May Day

I just returned from Zumba and drinks with a friend. The first day in many that I am feeling good. Had a dark few this past week. And then I woke up this morning and I could feel that the cloud had passed. Tomorrow I begin facilitating a training at work. The same training that I was facilitating last year when I got a call from a doctor informing me that my man had a sarcoma.

So now after two glasses of wine and an evening of venting it occurs to me that perhaps these things are linked. My dark mood and the upcoming anniversary of discovering that my husband has cancer. Or perhaps it began with the anniversary of my mother’ s death on April 21st. Or maybe it was the  fact that  a fellow sarcoma blogger died recently. She left behind two daughters. Or that my own daughter has started to have random crying attacks about death. She is afraid to die and she is afraid that I will die. “When I die there will be nothing to do,” she sobbed to me recently. It’s a tough one to handle- these fears and inquiries about death from children. “Maybe it’s beautiful and amazing and a huge relief,” I told her.  And then I laughed it off by telling her that her brother, who was whining, was likely to find out very quickly if he didn’t behave.

But enough darkness- today I woke up in a better mood. Our son began spring soccer and loved it. Our daughter is getting ready for a dance recital. So today I will focus on light, and appreciate it until things get dark again.

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Good News

Back from Boston where we had good news, and a wonderful weekend. My man’s scans were clean. We received this news at the brand new Yawkey Center where the sarcoma floor is still the 9th, but everything else is new and sleek: Better parking, bigger elevators, ipads to use while you wait.  It’s a good thing too.  The wait times remain long despite the misleading fact that we were led into a physicians room not 2 minutes after arriving. I wish they wouldn’t do that: I fall for it every time. And on scan visits my confidence begins to wear thin the longer we wait. It becomes a bad sign instead of the natural consequence of being Dr. Butrynski’s last patient on a Friday. I had almost convinced myself that the results were bad when Burtynski came in with a smile on his face and announced, “the scans look good.” We had very few questions-we’ve asked them all-and the answers never satisfy us anyway. We continued to pry for some sort of guarantee that this is over but had to content ourselves with, “everyday this thing doesn’t come back is great.” We couldn’t agree more.

So after the good news we left our kiddos with their great aunt and went off for a night on our own in the big city. We went shopping, to the movies and out to dinner and cancer is off our radar again until July 28th. Such a strange phenomenon how it’s here and then gone again.

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Blue

I’m so tired of suspicious bumps. I had a little lesion removed from my lower eye lid yesterday ( so much fun) and am waiting for the report. “It isn’t a cyst,” said the opthamologist as he tugged at the thing with his surgical scissors, “it’s solid.” “Is that bad,” I inquired. “Well, it means it isn’t a cyst”, was his cryptic reply. He thinks it is a hema-something or rather- a tumor of the blood vessel, but not malignant.  But he also mentioned skin cancer.

I was always a hypochondriac, but having a  husband diagnosed with cancer has switched my neurosis to hyper speed. Needless to say my mind arrived very quickly at the image of our orphaned children visiting our matching headstones and from there spiraled down to even darker places.

I am sure I am also taking on some of the worry about my man’s upcoming 2nd scan. Poor guy spent close to 3 hours trapped in a MRI machine last Thursday. “I chose Joni Mitchell’s Blue, thinking it would be nice and relaxing, but I had to listen to it 4 times,” was his report on the afternoon.

So needless to say we came back from Costa Rica right back into cancer, work, real life -with no buffer at all. But , I think we are handling it well.

And what a trip we had! I haven’t been that relaxed in along time, and the sun and warmth did us all wonders. Here are a few pics to make you jealous :) .

Scan results (3/18) and pathology reports  to follow.

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Fun in the sun

Old habits die hard. We are leaving on our vacation in 3 days and I am stressed and am not handling it well. I have spent the entire day hiding out on the computer playing around with Photshop Elements and Flickr- my new hobby/way I don’t deal with my life. I was once told I am a double Taurus: both my moon and sun are Taurus- I think. Anyway, it means I have a whole lot of Taurus- and Taurus’s are big nesters- they sow deep roots etc. But I also have some astrological design that makes we want to travel- which I think is as good an explanation as any as to why I love to travel but find it hard to go. But I am just keeping myself focused on the warm weather, the feel of the sun on my face, and having our first real family vacation.

I have been feeling particularly at home in my life these days and conscious of what a nice little community we have become part of and perhaps this is making it harder. But I’m taking it with me. I acquired almost a whole new summer wardrobe last night at a clothes swap. We ate, we drank, we tried on each others rejects and everyone gained some new items and we donated the left overs to charity. Really a fun thing to do.

So just debunking some of my pre-holiday jitters here. And sharing a few scenes from last night. happy fun in the sun.

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Mid-Winter

I hauled wood the other day and I enjoyed it. It was harder than usual because of all the snow- we are having a ‘real’ winter this year and most of me loves it. As I was carrying in wood I thought, “I really enjoy living in a place where hauling wood is a ritual and I am glad my kids are growing up in a place that requires one to haul wood.” Of course my kids were no where in sight, but oh well. And when I shared this sentiment with my man I could tell he didn’t agree: maybe it is a New England thing. There was just something about bringing in wood for the wood stove that made me feel grateful. Grateful and capable. I tapped my inner pioneer woman for a few brief moments. Of course if I were a real pioneer woman I would certainly be dead by now.

If my two traumatic births hadn’t killed me, the two severe colds I have had this year surely would have done me in. I am usually the last one in our family to get sick and I usually get a milder version than everyone else. But not this year. At the beginning of the week I could hardly breathe and my man moved out of our bedroom for the second time in 6 weeks. It gave me a good excuse to stay close to home all week and most people have appreciated me not coughing germs all over them.

I did have an information session on Wednesday morning. One poor man showed up and patiently dealt with my coughing, sneezing and constant nose blowing. At the end of the session he wanted to shake my hand. As I reached out my hand I couldn’t help thinking, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” My hot sweaty hand had been gripping a balled up tissue most of the morning and in my mind it pulsed red with teeming bacteria. I probably shouldn’t have shaken his hand.

I am feeling better now and am still grateful for the cozy winter and gradually feeling capable again. And Costa Rica is only a bit over two weeks away. I can always cheer my man’s distress at this ‘real’ winter by pointing out that we picked a good year to get away.

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Having a spurt

I seem to have found a good balance. It isn’t perfect but I feel like I’m off to a good start. I am getting the groove of my job- I think. Slowly gaining confidence and also figuring out how to manage it and not have my usual push and pull between stress and guilt. I am enjoying working, but I really want to maintain a strong boundary between work and family life. My body can do it- wants to do it- the trick is getting my mind to follow suit. Instead of stressing I have been trying to really immerse myself in work when I am working and really soak up family when I am with them and never the two shall meet.

Having a good week so far: working, being with my kids, and finding time to Zumba (with a very sassy instructor). Yesterday I watched a movie with my man, and played with my new camera and today I ‘m writing here.  I’ll gloat- I feel pretty proud. I am having a good spurt- hope you are too.

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Out of my Head

I had a girl’s night out the other day. We went for delicious sushi and to see the film Black Swan. At one point in the evening’s conversation my blog came up and I mentioned that I haven’t had much to say lately- which got me thinking about how much time I used to spend inside my head burrowing and scratching around and how it took it me out of my life.

I even had a moment of nostalgia for those days recently. I was driving along thinking about tasks that I needed to accomplish in my new job and like a flash I was returned to all those times when driving provided the perfect environment for me to check out of my life and fret and worry and fantasize about things beyond my control and outside the realm of reality. And although I don’t miss the death fantasies (which by the way still pop up now and again) some of my fantasies were pretty amazing: winning the Oscar for best documentary or screenplay depending on the day, moving to Africa, designing a board game and making millions of dollars etc, etc. And I had a small moment of panic as I worried that giving up these fantasies is in some way giving up on my dreams.

But if I’m completely honest my fantasies always centered on the end result of some amazing thing I had done or accomplished- the fame, the recognition, the money. If I had many lives perhaps I would have been a documentary maker or screenplay writer (and maybe I still will be.) But for now it’s probably a safer bet to look for my ‘fame’ with my family and friends and in my day to day life.

Last Wednesday we had a snowstorm. Everything was cancelled, and we were all in the house together for the day. At about 5 p.m. the kiddos started to fall apart. As I tried to gently push everyone towards dinner and bed my man pointed out how uncharacteristically patient I was being. “You’re right,” I observed and continued to try and figure out what magic configuration of happenings had resulted in me being patient. And this is what I came up with: I had spent several hours working at my job that day facilitating a conference call. As simple as that. I had put time and effort into something real of my own and had done it well. Something new and a little bit challenging- and so what critical voice- if it is only at the Department of Education- maybe some day I’ll take it over.

For now I will try and keep things simple and real. And I am branching out and exploring new hobbies in my real life: playing a bit of pond hockey with my daughter, sewing my first tunic with the help of Rhea at Alewives, curing diseases with my man playing Pandemic, and aspiring to be a better photographer with my new fancy camera. So if I occasionally fantasize about fame and fortune in one of these areas at least it is loosely based in reality. And some day we will at least travel to Africa but first comes Costa Rica.

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