Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just wandering......through life!

When I began this blog almost a year ago I had these ideas that it was my way of using a bad thing to maybe share some insights for others.  Well, I realize now that it has become a really good way of keeping myself honest about what is happening on this journey called life.  Whether it helps someone else has become secondary.  I seemed to have left the bus behind and am travelling more in my own vehicle just allowing others to wave as I drive by.   That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I think in many ways I have spent a good part of the last ten years trying to see how my journey can effect others instead of honestly looking at it and experiencing it purely from a selfish point of view.  

Well, it sucks sometimes and right now I don't really care if it helps someone else.    I am sad on many levels and I need to work things out.  I realize that cancer isn't the only thing that I have had to deal with lately.   I am starting to think that perhaps this 'empty' nest   stage is taking more of a toll on me than I have been willing to admit.   I will start working through that and see if maybe I will be feeling a bit more chipper.   So....can't write too much today because I haven't the energy nor the insight at this point but I am beginning to reflect on more of life's experiences rather than just the cancer one. 

I recently went with friends to a really pretty spot for a walk....this is the picture that I took and it helps me to reflect that life is  journey and you don't always know what awaits you just around the corner but you have to keep moving forward in order to find out.....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Good days....very good days!

Nothing to profound to write tonight.  It is almost midnight and I am sitting at the computer reading other people's blogs and realizing there is this incredibly huge world out there with people of all kinds with lives of all kinds.   Makes my life seem much smaller in the grand scheme of things.  This is a good thing because I believe it is important to remember that we are just one small piece of something much greater.   Not that what we feel or live is not worthy of our focus but that it must always be kept within the context of the greater picture.  As Desiderata says "there is no greater or lesser person than yourself",but we are only one part of the whole.

Obviously, I have moved on from my horrible day yesterday.   I decided that sleeping 12 hours was the best way to deal with it and so now I am feeling much better.   Was wakened up by a very good friend from PEI....nice way to wake up hearing a voice that is as familiar as my own....   I didn't do much with the remainder of the day but it was a good day.    I baked, which always makes me feel good and then I took my baking to my knitting group and watched other people eat it...which also makes me feel good especially around the waist!!!:}     I always love to go to the knitting group.  No matter how I feel or what is going on in my life, this is one of the constants.    Sitting and knitting, either quietly (yes sometimes I am quiet) or sharing stories and jokes, I feel like I have found a place that I can truly be myself.   I have met the most amazing women (and some neat men too) who I would probably never had the chance to cross paths with if it hadn't been for knitting.  Knitting introduced us, loving each other has made us friends.   I guess I have alot to be thankful for even if the 'lady' on the phone yesterday didn't get my life story.    Well I don't seem to have much more to write and I am getting sleepy finally....only been up for about 12 hours but tomorrow will bring more adventures so I better get some sleep.   Life can be very good some days....and today was certainly one of them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The 'real' world of disability insurance!

Just when you think things are looking up something inevitably happens to make you realize that "Murphy's law' is always in effect.  Gilda Radner called her autobiography of her journey with ovarian cancer "It's Always Something" and I think that is true .....even in a life without cancer!

Today I received a phone call from my insurance company.   Now normally, that no longer makes me sweat and gives me hives as I have been dealing with them for 10 years and have finally past the point of thinking they are out to get me.   Well, it is amazing how quickly one reverts to old feelings!    The person on the other end was very nice, but also very new at least to me.  She informed me she was my new 'case  worker'., and my previous one was no longer with the company.     The questions they ask I am sure are form questions and used as a means of extracting the same information for each person.   I am also sure that the detached, if not sometimes totally bored, attitude they project is to keep them at an arms length as well as to seem professional.    BUT, is it really possible to ask a person such personal questions and not at least seem that you have some empathy and understanding.    This woman, as nice as she was, put me into an absolute state of frustration and made me feel that perhaps I shouldn't be just sitting at home.   I mean, she wanted to know why I felt I wasn't able to work, considering I seemed to have an active life as I went to a knitting group and a book club.  This she got out of me by asking me to give her an idea of how I spent my days....I guess I should have said lying in bed!   I tried to explain that a large part of my problem was 'fatique' which I think she heard as 'tired' and wanted to know if there were any other symptoms that I was experiencing besides this fatigue.?????    Then she mentioned that although I had tried to work in the past and hadn't been able to was I willing to try it which time I informed her that it had taken me years to feel psychologically o.k with the fact that I couldn't work, considering our society sees people's value based on their productivity.   At which point she says "and what was it that you did at work that made it so difficult for you".....oh I don't know the physical, emotional, mental, psychological part of dealing with the fact that I had an incurable cancer and might die!!!!....I didn't say all of that but it was what I was thinking.

She also asked if the next appointment with my doctor would include a scan.  I just had one in August and had told her that so it surprised me when she asked.   I very quietly but forcefully informed her that I didn't have a scan at each appt (which she knew at this point was every two months) because the scans themselves have the possibility of giving you cancer!!!!!   DUH   Also, we already know the cancer is there so it isn't necessary.   Well when are you starting treatment she wanted to which time I said when I am not feeling well.   She grabbed that line and said 'so at this time you are feeling fine, right?"   Yes I said except for the fact that I have extreme fatigue and my legs hurt from the neuropathy.   How bad do your legs hurt she said.....UGH  how I wanted to hang up...its like you are on a wall being hung by your toes and each time you answer another question they find away to tightened the screws......

Anyways, suffice it to say that I got off the phone feeling like crap.  I wondered if perhaps I should consider going back to work.....etc etc etc....then thought it is amazing how because I didn't die as scheduled people seem to think my life should just revert back to the good old days BC (remember before cancer).....I feel like just crawling into a hole and dying then maybe all these insurance  people will finally be happy that I am off the pay role. Makes you wonder if they get a bonus for each person they are able to get off disability!!!!!!   Oh what I would give to have my life back and not have to be so vulnerable to people on the end of the phone who will never know me except by name and policy number!!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dark vs light

I have been receiving some comments lately that I think are worth commenting on myself.  One of the things people have been saying to me is that my posts seem a little dark.   Yes they are a little dark.  As most people know the way I deal with anything really serious in my life is to be funny...I think it is the Irish in me...they have a very dark humour.    I haven't been my best lately and I have been putting down what is really going on in this brain of mine, in a serious way which may take some by surprise...I have always been dark but tried to be funny too.  I find it very cathartic and usually once I have put it into words I actually feel much better emotionally.   I am not a person who likes to wear my true feelings on my sleeve....I have a tendency to put on a happy face and look like I am always feeling good.  Usually, this type of behaviour really does help to make me feel good because I believe very strongly that what you put out into the universe you get back ten fold.   So even if I am not feeling as chipper as I may appear by the end of the day I  have often received so much positive energy that  spirit is almost the same on the inside as it appeared on the outside.

Long before I became ill I had been trying really hard to match my inside with the outside.   I have always been a very upbeat person but there was a time that that was more of a public persona than a personal one.   Over the years, through much reflection and 'therapy', I have come to really like who I am and so the person you see is most probably the person that I am that day.   If I am not feeling great I choose to stay away from others....I have a 'pity' party but I don't invite anyone else mainly b/c I don't want to be cheered up.

Over the past few months I have learned alot about myself and life in general.   I have been given moments of great sadness and great gladness....what I guess is the reality of life in general.  Yesterday, I had a day where I was able to see that life really is a character building event and one must choose how one is to negotiate it.   There are people that I know have gone through some very trying moments (or years) and yet are able to enjoy those times that have been good with gratitude and joy.    I met one such person yesterday.  I hadn't seen him in years and know that he was having a difficult time the last time I did talk to him.  He looked so happy and content that I just had to find out how things really were in his life.   He was able to tell me that at the moment things were good, he was really enjoying himself (he is recently retired) and that he just focuses on this time.   We talked about how some people just don't know what to do with themselves when they retire...but neither he nor I seemed to have that problem.  It was very refreshing to 'chin wag' with someone who lives in the moment and appreciates the good things that are happening rather than focusing on the past.

I have decided that I am very blessed and grateful for my life...although as I have said many times I really could have lived without the drama of Cancer.  It has taught me to appreciate just moments like yesterday and not get to wrapped up in the details.   So, today will be a good day no matter what it brings, although my plans are made and am looking forward to them.    I wish in some ways I could pass this wisdom on to many many people......whatever you must endure today do it with a song in your heart and do it with joy because the alternative to being here really stinks!!!!!!    Happy day everyone...and yes sometimes I am dark.....but that is the balance we need to enjoy the light.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Change is as good as a rest!!!!!

Spent a few days in the big city.   You don't have to go very far from home in order to take a break from reality and enjoy the moment as if nothing in the world was wrong.   I forgot how much energy the city sends out and how much of it is so positive and uplifting.   Walked miles and miles and got the endorphins charging.   Felt so alive and happy.   Haven't felt so good in a very long time.   Mostly windowed shopped and investigated new and interesting stores.  Met new people and was made to realize the networks that exist within the inner communities of the big city.   Found stores that sent us to other stores to people who introduced us to amazing restaurants.   Eat.....ate the most amazing food and shared good times with both old and new friends.  Watched people take advantage of moments, listened to fun stories and good music....   I had the best time and I was only 2 hours from home.   It was a time of rest and relaxation....maybe not rest.....and much needed new environments with no memories or old stories attached...everything was new and eye opening.  We all need to take these times away to recharge and open our eyes to the world that exists in the midst of our lives.......

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another death another lesson!

Seems that there is more time between postings as time goes on.  I have been sleeping alot lately which in my mind is a good thing.   I think I am catching up on 10 years of exhaustion and finally feeling o.k. about accepting the fact that I am truly 'sick and tired' of being 'sick and tired'.

Yesterday was a very difficult day on many levels though.   I had to attend a funeral and it was one of mammoth proportions.   A woman who was very active and well known  died very suddenly.   Again, a lesson in how precious this thing called life is.   Each day is a gift and we, esp here in North American, rarely realize that until something like this happens.  I know in some ways I have been blessed with the knowledge of this fact, but even so I often live like tomorrow is a guarantee and don't say the things that should be said or do the things that should be done.   Anyways, her funeral was absolutely a tribute to her and to her works.   It was a real reminder of what is important in life, love and good deeds...that is all that we are asked of....nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

It was also very hard because her beautiful daughter was so close to her mother.  It reminded me very much of the relationship that I have been very blessed to have with my own.   They talked every day and were very much a part of each others lives.   Meaning, that this is going to be very difficult for her daughter....but in the long term it is this closeness that will give her the most comfort.   What made it so hard for me is to see how upset and sad she was.....knowing that too would be mine.   As she walked up the aisle in the church she and her Dad just held onto each other, holding each other up.  My heart broke but then all I could think of was 'who will hold my daughter up'.    It hit me like a brick and I just started to sob.   Not something that I am accustomed to doing even at a funeral.  I mean it is what I do for a living.....hatch, match and dispatch!....but it was good for me.  I cried,held a friend's hand and after answered my own question....all those who I know love her.

Life can throw many punches at you, but each one is an opportunity to deal with and learn something new.  Today I know that even though it will be difficult when my time comes that she will survive if a little more sad and lonely.   Those around will gather and love her....just as we all did yesterday for this young woman and her Dad.    Love is an amazing thing, it doesn't cost us anything, it is so simple to give, and in most cases it is accepted without any live each day and love and all will be well in our world........

P.S. Off to the Toronto International Film Festival today.....maybe I will see Brad Pitt:}   even people with cancer still get excited about the silly things in life....YEA

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stages of Grief.....or LIfe?

Stages of Grief...or life?

Interesting how the mind continues to work even when you are trying to take a break.  I can't stop thinking about the 'stages of grief'.  I have decided that perhaps to limit them simply to grief is to deny (1st stage) that they are actually the functions of life.

Denial - This stage which often begins the process is seen in almost every aspect of our lives.   It is a period of time that seems to allow the brain to adjust to changes in our lives that perhaps we are not so happy about.  It offers that, albeit incorrect, belief that somehow life is controllable. Hopefully, only for a period of time in order to come to terms with the changes.  Scott Peck believes the state of denial when taken too far, the refusal to change ones map of life even when faced with the reality of the changes, is actually the road to insanity.  So maybe it is a good thing that I have  stopped driving the denial bus.....don't want to appear insane.

Depression - the second stage is often the attempt to return to the past.   There are certain emotions that can actually tell you where you are living, future, present or past.  Depression is the state where one is not willing to accept the changes, you are still in the past, and is a wishful thinking of better times.  (I am not talking about clinical depression here ...purely situation!)    So, the brain moves from the ability to totally deny what is happening to a place where it 'wishes' things where different.   A normal human response given that it is our natural state of being to want to control our lives.   So, I dont' feel so bad about having entered this stage as I do 'wish' things were different.  How long I will wish this is to be seen.

Anger - is the 3rd stage (realizing of course that we don't go through these stages so succinctly and probably toggle back and forth between them) which is the movement from the state of depression, and wishing, to actually glimpsing the reality but still not liking what is being seen.  A fighting mode that sees the reality, the change, as an enemy.  This stage in our grieving  is absolutely necessary in order to move the brain to a place that perhaps reality begins to sink in.   I can see myself in many instances in life having been angry about situations before I ever came  to a place of moving into those realities. In addition to cancer diagnosis,  my divorce stands out very significantly at that point.  Long before I ended my marriage I was angry both at my ex as well as myself for not being able to fix the problem.    I am also beginning to realize that although it may not seem to be a grieving process as we understand grieving...almost all change is a loss of something or someone so no wonder the process fits all aspects of our life......hmmmmm

Bargaining - this is the stage were we still haven't accepted the fact that life is not necessarily in our control.   We figure we can bargain our way out of the change by doing something different.   If I just change the way I eat (this was me when first diagnosed with cancer), or change the way I deal with people, or change the job I have all will be well.  I think maybe bargaining could be the road to insanity rather than denial.  It is here that one risks  staying too long because of the refusal to give up control of one's environment, life whatever.   Many people have spent their whole lives bargaining with life in order to not have to face the changes that have taken example of this that seems to come to mind is the recent increase in plastic surgery, and all these things that promise 'eternal youth'.   Boy if that ain't bargaining I don't what is.    We are all going to grow old it is just how soon we accept that fact that will determine if we do so in a state of happiness or not.

Which of course brings us to the final stage ACCEPTANCE!!!!!   This is the stage that we all hope to arrive  at sooner or later no matter what occurs in our lives.   The changes that we face are much better dealt with once we have arrived here.   Not that they will be easier to deal with or that they will not seem so huge, it is just that we will adjust our behaviour to incorporate the changes into our lives, thus not giving change the power over us to make our lives unhappy.  So no matter who we are, or what we are going through, we are all somewhere on the continuum  of the stages of grief.   At any point in our life we are dealing with some type of loss, be it our health, a loved one, our youth, our children leaving home, our inability to remember all that unimportant trivia, whatever.  We are always somewhere on this journey called life dealing  with the different things in our lives, each at a different stage depending on the loss and our willingness to accept that the only constant in life is 'change'.

For now, at this moment in my life, I am dealing with depression (the wish it was different stage)......what stage are you in???????     .....and what loss are you grieving???

Monday, September 5, 2011

Holidays...more than just from work!

Last weekend of the summer and it was actually a very nice one.   The weather was hotter than hades, which always reminds me why I must be a good person so that I don't have to spend eternity in that kind of heat.   But at least the sun was shining and everyone around seemed to be in a good mood despite the heat.

Performed a wedding ceremony on Saturday and it was lovely.   Not too serious but very classy.  Had a great time at the reception catching up with people I hadn't seen in awhile.   Then taking it easy, sleeping lots without feeling guilty and celebrating Labour Day with friends and great food.   So, today I am going to just enjoy the day, and worry about nothing.  Its a holiday and I have decided to take a holiday from my feelings....and maybe I will even sleep again today.......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moving to the next stage of grief....depression!

I don't know why the very first post I ever made found its way to the recent posts but maybe there is more going on here than we know about.   It is a new chapter in my journey and maybe it is good to review the initial post and the purpose of this medium for my sanity.  I have moved from driving the denial bus to the depression cab.....smaller, more maneuverable, and much less room for passengers.

This will be difficult for me because I am not very good at exposing my real emotional feelings.  I don't like telling people things that they might decide becomes their job to make me feel better.   I don't want to feel  better!  I want to sulk, feel like crap, sleep too many hours and be just whatever this time brings.  It has been a very long journey and I think in many ways I have gone from denial over the years directly to acceptance.   Well, after 10 years I think my soul has decided it is time to feel depressed, angry and even very very selfish.   I will try really hard to be honest, mainly in order to work through this period and come out the other end a more stable and maybe even wiser person than the one that entered the 'dark night of the soul'.   I have lots of spiritual literature that tells me that this is an amazing time to grow spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.  Whether or not that is true I have no choice but to work my way through it.   I have tried very hard to put this off, and I think I am finally have physical difficulties because of that denial.  There are more than one stage of grief obviously for a very good reason.....

So, all you on the bus, line up and take a number for a ride in the cab.   We aren't going very far for the next while, if we even end up leaving the lane.   I will of course be driving, as might have to wake me periodically so that we don't run off the road.   The only time anyone is allowed to talk is to remind me, or wake me, to go to knitting.   That is the one thing in my life I am not prepared to give up no matter what.    So, here we go........thanks in advance for your patience, your support and your love......