Monthly Archives: October 2014

Day 26 – 40 days of writing – oh, the indignities…

Aside from the obvious, which is having a shocking number of medical personnel have access and *ahem* viewing rights to my girly bits…

There is also this:
Of all things, this is called “THE BOWEL PREP” and it merits all caps because it’s all about prepping my bowels.
And that’s just BOWEL PREPPING… For surgery… that is NOT on my bowels.
Puchicas
To make matters ever so slightly more dramatic, I decided to delay my last ingestion of solid food for a while because my breakfast was a bit on the pitiful side when one considers that I won’t get to eat until fucking Tuesday (pardon my French, but it just seems cruel to wait that long when gluttony is my favorite sin). THEN (all caps for continued dramatic effect) I chose McDonalds (of all things wrong and awful on this planet) because I didn’t want to delay it too much (as I was violating a strict interpretation of my pre-op orders already) and I was in a small town but needed to head home and there was no way in hell I was taking magnesium citrate at the start of a 90 minute road trip because the thought  of forced roadside stops with or without the benefit of a toilet (and more importantly soft toilet paper) seemed like torture.
So, I waited until I was within a 20 minute drive home and drank my cherry flavored liquid (from hell).
That being said, the version of “BOWEL PREP” that I get to do for this operation is so much nicer than what I got to do for my colonoscopy.
Small blessings.
Now please excuse me, I need to powder my nose.

Day 25 – 40 days of writing – small things and gentleness

It is amazingly easy for me to love.

Being loved is ever so much harder.
Emails, texts, phone calls and conversations with loving support.
Prayers, whispers, meditations, sending of light, energy, vibes… all in my name.
A bouquet of flowers at my doorway.

A tin of gingerbread cookies

I sit in a whirlwind of these expressions of love and am so humbled.
It’s hard, I am not one to depend on the kindnesses of others.
I was chatting with my mentor, an allomother. 
Strangely, it is (at this moment) much easier to let go, to give in to this process. Gratitude is just so much more deeply felt, I find that in order to respect it, I need to let go of my deeply ingrained habits of not wanting to inconvenience people I care about.
So, this is about a lot of letting go…
 and wearing my pj’s for a while.

Day 22 – 40 days of writing – wings

“ You strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do,

determined to save

the only life you could save.”

~ Mary Oliver, from “The Journey”, in Dream Work (1986)


So very true. that poem above.

A poem. Ironic, isn’t it?

The waiting is over. 

My surgery is scheduled. 

I really like my oncologist. He is a gentle man with a mysterious air of steel reserves that make letting him work with my choices a dream.

I have power over this process, power that the oncologist has given me. This is special.

I have received so many gentle gifts in the words of people I know.

It is so hard to be humble when one feels so betrayed by their body.

I recall the days when I worked to help get Arizona to use the funds allowed to states through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000. There was a community lobby day where people went to speak to legislators about the importance of these services.  One of our FEMALE state legislators listened to the impassioned plea of several women who were lobbying that day, many of whom were cancer survivors. The FEMALE (in caps because I am still incredulous) told them that she was unable to support the legislation they were requesting for her to support because “only women who are loose and get abortions will get breast and cervical cancer”.

Thankfully, we were able to pass this locally. 

Like my life right now, there is nothing coherent about this post. 


The Bloggess pinned it to her Pinterest account

I miss my old life. I miss the tendency towards being boldly dangerous and striving to do noble things. I miss my light, my ability to frolic. I miss being fanciful, and feeling beautiful, and also of being fearless. 

I miss my wings.


Day 18 – 40 days of writing- The long, slow, walk to the guillotine.

My paperwork is filled out.
And I sit here, today, tonight, feeling like I am awaiting an execution.
There is such an ominous feeling in knowing that tomorrow all this becomes so much more real. There are conversations I have to have…   decisions I have to make… all of which feel overwhelming to me now, even before they are completely and specifically known.
And as I contemplate them… the ones that are somewhat known, they feel so bitter.
I can’t ask “Why me?” because this is a product of life; choices that I made and that have brought me to this junction. It is futile to wonder the why, but in my most self pitying moments I wish I could scream this into the abyss… and then reason takes over and answers me gently.
Nature is so cruel. I was brought up with that in my every day life. And yet, I want to scream… “why do this to me, why take the one thing that is a symbol of being a mother and obliterate the last few years of my chances at having more children”. “I wanted six”, I want to add to my scream, and in the end I feel weighed down by this incredible failure of aspiration.
And perhaps it is this failure that makes things in this situation so damn hard, because it is just that. A failure.
I look at the exotic eyes of my beautiful son, and choke up at how much I love him and how profoundly lucky I am that he came in to my life, and feeling that the intense lamentations of the ones who were never to be born are equally lost to him.
Couple that with the idea that I should be grateful that I do have him, creates a whirlwind of emotions as intense as they are complex. 
That which I have held most sacred, motherhood, will be denied me (in this way) much earlier than I am ready for.
The rituals of this disease are subtle and fierce. My physician turned my care over to the oncologist. I do not get to return to him until I am released back… much like a prison sentence.
And so, I feel like my dinner tonight was a last meal… and tomorrow will begin the long, slow walk to my own personal guillotine.

Day 17 – 40 days of writing – procrastination, anger, and trying to let go

I have had my paperwork to fill out for my upcoming oncology appointment for over a week.


It was on the floor for several days, then I put it in my work bag to take and complete on a break, but it still is in there. It is not filled out.

I have to fill it out this weekend. 

I want to avoid this whole thing. It is all encompassing. It permeates so many things.

***

An email sent to explain why I have to turn over some of my volunteer efforts and how I would like to see them handled gets forwarded without thought to the information contained within. People   who see that email decide it is OK to come up to me and tell me the email has been forward and mentions of things like “your condition” and “your health issues” permeate the conversation that she thinks is acceptable to have in front of my son. 

I want to know why everyone thinks it is appropriate to think it is a good think to talk about this in front of a child. 

Others have done this, talking about my cancer in front of my son.

And they can frolic away thinking they have been so good and noble and all because they got to tell me they are concerned while I am left with a concerned son, who has since started throwing up at school (again)… something I believe is tied to stress and concern.

And I want to yell at these well meaning but stupid people; “Why the fuck have you decided you can make this more complicated for me and then think you are so dammed just and gracious?”.

They are so blissfully unaware. I have to let go but as I deal with a son who I am trying to convince that I will be fine and nothing is wrong and because he dwells in silence from not understanding what is going on has no idea of what questions he needs to ask and I can’t know what I need to address.

I don’t know how to tell these people that they have been wrong in how they handled this. I am not even sure that I should. I know that if I would do something so thoughtless that I would want to know. but I don’t know how to be gentle about it.

I wonder if this is about displacing the anger at the way my body has betrayed me towards others. It is hard, and confusing, and ever so extremely frustrating.


I recognize it goes both ways, allowing what will continue I mean. Do I allow myself to dwell in my reactions or do I allow them a lesson learned so that they can learn from their experiences. 

Who needs the most of my energy?



How do I travel this road gently and with grace?

Day 16 – 40 days of writing – cosmos and faith

A conversation I had about faith.

Link


This assignment is due by Sunday night, but I certainly hope to have a nice “dent” in its completion by Friday, if possible. I truly appreciate your help on this. Would you mind telling me your age, where you are from, and if you followed your worldview since your youth or did something influence a change?
I am 45 years old. I was born in Bogota, Colombia to American parents, though we did not often socialize with other expatriates. I also lived in Spain, Ecuador, and Mexico before moving to the USA.  I think it was this experience that led me to my world view. I am an agnostic, but specifically a theistic one; meaning I believe in a supreme power/being, I just feel that knowing who or what that is lies outside of the purview of human understanding… and since faith is outside of the realm of scientific understanding I do not hold it to the rigors of scientific research.  I do however, approach my faith with a deep curiosity and search for more knowledge and insight.
 
The required elements are outlined below:
1)      For this assignment, you will interview two people with different worldviews. One will have the Christian worldview and the other will be one of the following:

a)      Atheist/Naturalist
b)      Secular Humanism
c)      Pantheistic
d)     New Age

I do not consider myself to be any of these, I consider myself to be a theistic agnostic. 

2)       Include in your interview, the following prompts:

a)      What does it mean to be human?

I see humans as part of a cosmos. We are on this planet/universe and part of a whole ecosystem of things that evolve and works both for and against each other.  I am seeking to understand why there is a need to see how we separate humans from the rest of living things as I am not convinced this is an appropriate means of thought.  I tend to eschew thinking that humans are any more special that other living beings, but get uncomfortable at the use of the word special here… perhaps it might be a word like meaningful. I think that since we seem to have things that we call “reason” and “thought” that using those involves a certain responsibility (and should add that each living organism has the responsibility to act according to its make-up; so a cell must do what cells do and a fish must do what fish do and thus a human must do what a human does).       


b)      What happens after death?

As I assume that this questions seeks to discover my thoughts on the concept of an after life, I would have to say that I don’t know, but I am OK with this uncertainty. I tend towards falling back on certain principles in the hard sciences in that our afterlife continues in forms of energy, quarks and strings. I do know that ancestors carry on an important legacy and perhaps that their roles and stories being carried down in various forms (traditions for example) might be the most beautiful thing that happens after death. 


c)      Elaborate on who Jesus Christ is according to your worldview.

He was one in a series of people who have served as messengers regarding valuable lesson in human cooperation. 


d)     How does your worldview deal with the concepts of evil and suffering in the world?

Nature is cruel and has no remorse. I don’t think there is evil. Things that tend to be associated with evil in terms of humans are aspects of human behavior. I think that this is where things like religion are important (I tend to tell people that I am religious and not spiritual) as they serve as guides to encourage cooperative behavior and perhaps to curb tendencies that might not be as socially productive.

Thank you again for your time!!

No, problem. It was very delightful trying to get my thoughts on paper though I do feel like I did not do them justice. 

Day 15 – 40 Days of Writing – Poetry

“but in the end

if we’re lucky

we’ll have the love 

of a precious few

maybe the ability to stare

death in the eye”


I am not shy to say that I loathe / hate / dislike  am ambivalent about poetry. OK, OK… Most of it. I love Yeats, and Keats. And Robert Burns. and a few isolated bits and pieces from others… I love the poems that Doralice puts on her blog… they are pretty [insert expletive] awesome… but really not much more. I only own poetry books that people give me. I have never purchased a book of poems.

If you navigate to my previous posts from 2011 you will see my desperate and unsuccessful attempt to try and find the magic in poetry that so many postulate that it has… (the posts start with “My favorite Line is..” if you are curious).

I even took a Coursera course to try and get it, figuring that I was reading them wrong or something along those lines. But, I found so much of it to be sad and pretentious and boring and far too much work to enjoy.

Maybe it is that I prefer Hemingway like poets, meaning that they use simple images, words, phrases, and images that make conjuring up the magic story that poetry can be, so seamless and easy.


Is this really true?


Anyway, that line above appeared in my feed on “The Facebook”. 

The whole poem can be found here.

So, I know now that what it is is that I am not a fan of most of the post modern poetry, I love the romantics, the ones who use and understand words with so much more grace, who don’t try to fray you out of feeling a place in our world, I don’t like the ones that push you into spending hours trying to decode what in the hell they mean, that make you feel like you are sitting an a very uncomfortable perch as you try to find meaning in them, that seem haughty and petulant with words meant to tease the reader. Those, I find difficult. I can’t read them without wanting to throw the book they are written in across the room.

I don’t need a poem to make me feel good, I can be pushed to sadness, and anger, and any other emotion but I need to connect to the words. I fight bitterly to do that in those times when I have sought to read poetry.

But that makes me ask, what makes you tick when it comes to poetry? What poems do you love? what poets have inspired you enough to purchase a book of their poems? If you write poetry, what inspires you? Do you feel ridiculous (exposed, vulnerable) when you do?

I am just trying to understand.

Day 14 – 40 days of Writing – Colour

A family friend keeps crossing my mind these days.

Her name was Ilza Hahlo. She was born in Vienna in or around 1908. She grew up to be a textile designer and designed costumes and sets for the opera there. She came from, what I assume to be, an affluent family. She had access to resources many did not. As a young girl she and her sisters had some warts on their hands treated by radium, by the infamous Madame Curie herself, I was told.

Of course, it must have been so exciting to be treated by someone who was revolutionizing the world. There was no way of knowing, I am sure, what the after effects of such a procedure might be.

Ilza eventually moved to New York and tried her hand at textile design stateside. She really did make beautiful textiles.

One of Ilza’s textile designs

Somehow she ended up in Arizona, which was our luck. She was a beautiful woman when I met her. We also knew that she had cancer when she came into the family friendship fold. It is assumed that her cancer was the result from the radium exposure she had as a young girl.

I recall one time, as she and my grandmother visited each other one bright Arizona afternoon, hearing Ilza tell my grandmother that as her illness got worse, her colours got brighter as if she was trying to bring all the goodness in light in and shut the darkness and pain out,

This has been running through my mind a lot these past 13 days. There is a darkness that descends and while the pain I currently feel is the result of the last biopsy procedure, there is something else there. It has hints of so many things, despair, anger, fright… to name but a few.

Managing those emotions on a daily basis is very new to me, I have been made aware of just how happy I was/will be. What an unspeakable privilege this happiness is. It weathered through me through a serious chronic illness (valley fever that symptomatically lasted one over year) and the darkness of being on bed rest for a great amount of my pregnancy.

What is so different now. I think it may be that my own mortality is coming to rear it head in front of me. Suddenly beautiful things mean so much more;  the goofy faces my son makes as his face matures from little boy to what it is now, the bright colors sweeping across the sky of a morning sunrise.

Subtle changes in myself too. The other day I ran across a nail polish set my mother had given me with wild and bright colors as I tend to prefer for my pedicures. I pulled the light teal color bottle out from the set and painted just one finger nail with its bright pastel hue.  I can’t stand to have my nails painted, but some how this one in bright green, seems to be less of a bother. I smile when it catches my eye as my hands wave about as I talk during the day.

I also chose to wear a pair of red pumps, though I am not wearing a stitch of red clothing. I am wearing blacks and browns, but on my feet are these bright red shoes. They invoke my grandmother, as if I am asking her to guide me as I walk this new path.

So colour has taken on new meaning, bright patches of it to cross my path, much like a brightly plumed parrot stands out as one walks through the mass of greens that are everywhere under Amazonian jungle canopy.

Day thirteen – 40 Days of Writing – Obsession

I loved the way Obsession for Men smelled (when I was a teenager).

Yesterday, I obsessively read my pathology report. And by obsessively I mean that I read it repeatedly for a 5 or 6 hour stretch of time. I read this two page report and felt so much that it was as if my life depended on it. I would focus on one part of it, set it down, ponder it, and then come back to it and re-read that section. I would then set it down. Then pick it up and read the whole thing again. Focus on another section and repeat this process all while watching the utterly mindless and unbelievably mind-numbing Vampire Diaries on Netflix as background noise. 

Thankfully, I am done. I think. I don’t really want to read it any more. My medical school stint reared its virtual head and I gained that understanding that I was looking for, picturing in my head the sizes of the different samples, trying to picture them as I read the descriptions. These three dimensional images rotating in my brain and looking at them from all directions. My brain would form these hologram like images as I studied each section of the report and the three samples in question and I could twist them to try to better understand the height and width and depth in hi-fidelity color based on the descriptions of the stains they used. My brain hadn’t thought this way for a while, it was both exhilarating and exhausting…. and all while not focusing on the screaming absence of the words “clear and present margins” and breathing deeply and heavily at the places that stated that the “extend … to the margin”. Wondering then, how much further they could have gone in order for me to be able to read those words I kept hoping to find.


That those two black and white pages that my GYN faxed to me contain the key information about what is going to happen to my life for the next few months (years, too) is a bit mind blowing. It is like the home pregnancy test I took when I was pregnant with Squink, something so small serves as such a huge symbol of GIGANTIC changes that are about to come.

It just seems, in a weird way, that these symbols of huge life changing moments should be different somehow. Maybe. It is also just amazing how simple things reveal so much. I wonder what the pathology report would look like if I painted it, applied rhinestones… or gave it a tiara?

As I woke up today and wondered what inspiration might come my way in terms of what to write for this round of 40 Days Of Writing… all while pondering how I spent my day yesterday – and hoping that I wouldn’t be so stuck on the diagnosis and the “C” word…  when, I thought that part of this process of managing a diagnosis like this is that there is an element (or time period) of obsessing about it. Trying to get into its skin, wearing it and figuring it out… especially in those times of waiting (which frankly sucks the most of anything so far).

It all makes perfect sense, in a way. Today is another day.



Day 12 – 40 days of writing – managing vulnerability

Vulnerable

I am feeling so very vulnerable.


vulnerable
/ˈvʌlnərəbəl/
adjective 
1. capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt
2. open to temptation, persuasion, censure, etc
3. liable or exposed to disease, disaster, etc



Let me be very clear. I don’t do vulnerable. Rather, I don’t like to do vulnerable myself. Support vulnerable I am pretty good at. 

This is vulnerable:



I am not that.

But yet, I feel so exposed.

I suppose there is this thing about letting go. My whole life I have loved fiercely, family, friends, the underserved among so many other things. And there is something, with a couple of rare exceptions, that is very one sided. In most of the cases (outside of family) love not expected to be reciprocated. In terms of friends; I can love them as much as I need to but since I know how variances are in the complexities of human relationships, I haven’t really expected or even needed them to love me back.

Until now, I suppose.

I received an email from someone I think is wonderful and call a very dear friend and in her email she said she had called me a best friend. Oh, I was struck by that. I hadn’t known that she had classified me in that category, and I was deeply, deeply touched and very grateful. I am better at the subtleties of friendships with men, and not so good at them with a grand preponderance of women.

But, it feels so vulnerable to allow oneself to be loved in this kind of situation. At least, for me, in terms of relationships outside of marriage and genetics.

As an aside, I made a variation of this Ayurvedic Dal recipe, it is a family favorite that is rich and complex in flavor but so hearty and filling. I even quadrupled the basic recipe (only one can of coconut soup, and some other changes). The way the currants plump up and complement the curry power is like a bit of food heaven.

Normally, I make brown rice but for some reason I bought some jasmine rice. In an attempt to make rice Ecuadorean style I followed the way Carloti (our live in maid/nanny) showed me…something like this recipe, but letting it sit longer so you get a crispy bottom.

There is so much comfort in comfort food.