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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just rambling......

So we are arriving at the end of October and I am still waiting for a surgery date.   That in some ways is my own fault as I had a very important engagement on October 26th and was adamant that I was not going in until after.   So here I wait.....

The engagement was the Christening of my beautiful granddaughter.    I never believed that I would be around to see her let alone be at her Christening.   I sat there in tears almost the whole service and thanked God for the privilege of being alive and healthy enough to enjoy every moment.  

My life over the past 13 and a half years has been anything but predictable.   Not that any one's life is actually predictable but when dealing with serious illness the probability of not feeling good or something going wrong rises somewhat dramatically.   So to have been feeling well on this particular day was definitely a blessing.    I couldn't have been prouder!    My little angel was so happy and smiley it was wonderful.    The dress she wore was made by my sister from my wedding dress.   Thank goodness she had the foresight to save the dress.   I had thrown it in a pile to go to Goodwill many years ago and she saved it saying "one day I will make a christening gown for your grandchild out of this"......yea yea I thought.  Well true to her word she did.    And my little one looked beautiful with all that satin, lace and crinoline.   The parents looked so proud and I think are still trying to wipe the smiles off their faces.    Nothing like the world looking at your child and thinking she is the most beautiful baby every created!!!!!!

So, now that has passed and we wait for the date.   On Friday I had an MRI.     Those are the kind of tests that we all hope to avoid.   Whoever invented this contraption either had a sick sense of humour or wanted to see what it was like to be buried alive.    I hate enclosed spaces so you can imagine how I felt as they slid me into this large metal tube.   I know  'its open at both ends'....only you are lying down and can't turn your head so you can't see the end .....    The worst part is that they say " now try and just keep you eyes closed while you are in there."   Well, as I have mentioned many times I am a control freak.   When you tell a control freak not to open their eyes, they spend the entire time wanting to open their eyes.    Also, they put earphones on me so I could listen to music while the test was going on.....only the machine is so noisy that you can't hear the music anyways.    Finally, there came a point in the one hour and ten minutes I was encased in the tube that the operator asked me to hold my breath.    So I did.....only there was so much noise I never heard her tell me to 'breathe again" so I almost passed out from lack of oxygen!!!!!    As much as I hated the test I kept reminding myself that having cancer and going through all the b....sh.... that entails this was minor detail.    My mind had no problem with that by somehow it never actually related that to my body.   After a while I felt very warm and suffocating and was very relived when the voice said "are you ok in there"  "only five more minutes'......I wonder what they do if you say NO, or don't answer....might have to try that next time for a laugh:)

So the journey of tests etc has begun in earnest.    Next week I get the results which I already know....I have a tumour that is 7 cm in diameter that needs to be removed.    I will hopefully also get the date of my surgery.    So till then I have parked the bus and am resting up for the next step.....

Friday, October 17, 2014

A new career..........

So, maybe I haven't learnt how to take it easy!   I recently went to the doctors and mentioned that I was having a lot of pain, especially at night.   She asked what I was doing?   Well, after I told her she said:   "I have three kinds of patients with pain.    The ones who are in pain and sit home and do nothing and are very unhappy, the ones who do way too much and aggravate the pain and are very happy, and a very few who have actually found the middle ground".   Then she prescribed me T3 and said to go and enjoy life.

Well, I took her at her word.    I have taken on a very interesting new job - doing school tours at a local apple farm!  The farm is owned by a former student and her husband, and my daughter worked there previously.    Since she is not able to this fall due to motherhood, I volunteered to help with the tours.    Now, lets be clear.    I know very little about apples so it has been a huge learning curve.   I didn't know there were so many varieties and that each was better for one thing or another.   The good thing is these children are very young and know less!!!! :)

So last week I did my first tour and I think it went very well.    We learnt about apples, we sang a song about apples, we picked apples and we ate apples and we even had a tractor drive!!!!!......then we went in the corn maze......not so good.   I was feeling pretty confident at this point and decided I would lead.   Well I got us lost and had to have one of the five year olds lead us out!!!!!   A little scary...especially when I am slightly claustrophobic :)   So yesterday was my second day.    I was a little nervous because I was going to be doing a pumpkin tour.   If I know little about apples, I know nothing about pumpkins except how to carve them.   As an aside I love carving them.  Used to do three or four every year when my daughter was young!!!!
So, I arrive early to teach myself about pumpkins (did you know they have 'brains' neither did I) and find out that I am not just doing pumpkins but apples too!!!    60 kids and they are there all day!!!!!!!    Ohhhhhh my goodness what have I done!

Weeks away from surgery on my hip area and now I will be walking around a farm for four hours.  Hmmm thinking I know which category I fit into for the doctor .  Well I did it!!!!   We learnt about apples in the morning, and pumpkins in the afternoon.  We picked apples and we picked pumpkins.    We did the tractor ride and the corn maze (I stayed outside and let the teachers and parents go with the kids).    It was such a great day.    I was exhausted but pumped!

So, today I am off to do another tour.     I may have to up my pain meds for the next week or so, but let me tell you it is worth it.     I enjoyed those children so much.    They had so much fun and were so excited to be on a farm and to do all these things.    Life is about living and this week I am living it to the fullest.    So, I may be a little tired (read a lot) and not do much else, but I tell you the doctor was right......I am very very happy.

P.S.    And I know more than I every thought I would about apples.......did you know there are 13 varieties, at least at this particular farm?    Oh and the stuff you can make with them is really yummy too....I sampled a few things between tours!!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Counting blessings.......

Today is a day to reflect on our blessings.....it is Canadian Thanksgiving.   Personally, I love this time of year.    The crispness of the air, the swishing of the leaves underfoot, the startle you get when a leaf falls right in front of you.    It is a beautiful time to reflect on the changes that have taken place in your life, just like the changes that are taking place in nature.    All around it looks like things are dying, but in reality they are preparing for the hardship of winter that is to come.    It is in the preparing that they are able to be sure of making it through the cold and dark months ahead, and coming out into the springtime and newness that brings.

This is how I see life too!    Although at times lately I feel anxious of the difficult times that lie ahead, I know that by preparing myself I have a better chance of coming out the other end too.   I mean that both figuratively and literally.   I have this strange superstition that if you prepare for the worst then it doesn't happen.   Needless to say I have been busy preparing for the very worst in the hope that my superstition is correct.    But I have also been reflecting on the incredible blessings that I have been given in my life.    There are the practical ones such as I have always had a roof over my head, enough to eat in the cupboards, a car that may run rough but seems to keep on going like the ever-ready battery, and a few dollars to continue with my addiction to knitting and buying yarn.   But more importantly, I have been blessed with family and friends who I know genuinely love me, but more importantly actually like me too.    That has been my greatest gift in this life. 

As human beings we are by nature relational, but that doesn't always mean we have an easy time of it.   Some people have great difficulty with being in relationship, and often feel isolated and alone.   I have been very fortunate that I enjoy people, and have great fun meeting and engaging in new and old relationships.   For that I am thankful.   There can be no greater gift than to look back on a life filled with good friends, and family you enjoy.     Not always an easy feat.    |So this year I will prepare for a long and scary journey ahead, but I know that I will have the love, support, and help of many on that journey.   Now, if I can just work on how to ask for the help and support I need!!!!!!!  

I will begin here......food, cleaning, and dog walking great fully accepted over the next few months.   Don't wait to be asked, just come by and visit and pick up a broom, a pot, or a leash and make yourself at home.   Much easier to do in writing than in person :)   

It is also a time to be thankful and to thank others.   So from my heart to your heart I thank each and everyone of my friends and family (you know who you are) and give thanks for each one of you everyday of my life.      My life has been blessed in more ways than I can count, and by that I mean the people who have entered my life, the ones who have left, and those who have chosen to stay.

Most of all I am thankful today for my daughter and my granddaughter......I am one of the happiest people in the world knowing that I had some part in bringing these two beautiful women into the world.......if I do nothing else in my life I have succeeded in my purpose and God's plan!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone......and be sure to count your blessings today!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The journey has begun.........

So we are on our way.   The journey into the world of medicine as a regular part of life has begun in earnest.     Yesterday I had the first of a couple of tests that will determine the course of the next few months.   I think I had forgot how overwhelming the whole process can be.    Not that I haven't been periodically having tests over the past few years, but in those instances I knew they were just precautionary and not leading to something else.   Or at least I was able to convince myself of such.

I began yesterday by going to a hospital that I wasn't familiar with.  Always a bit daunting, but fortunately I had the company of someone who was familiar with it moreso than me.    We parked, on the sixth floor, again noticing that the staff seemed to have the best spots closest to the main hospital.   Maybe I should drop a note to the hospital about them encouraging more of a 'participaction' attitude......they could walk each day to and from their cars for exercise.    On an aside, ever notice the people that park the closest to stores all have gym memberships!!!   Just saying :)

So we got into the hospital on the main floor, took the elevator up to the second floor, wound our way around the corridors to the reception area and signed in.   Receive a small map to direct us to the next spot, and realize it takes us all the way back to where we started. All this walking can't be easy for people who are sick.   A bit of an oxy moron guys !  This hospital is huge, and the area for the scan is about 9'x9' and that includes the sign in area.   So we are all squished together waiting our turn.    My friend and I notice a container of liquid sitting on the table.    Yellow liquid.   So of course we figure it must be someone's sample right?   No it is the wonderful drink they give you for the test.    Great....no breakfast, and now I get to drink something that resembles PEE!!!!!   Off to a great start!  Well we finished there after a long wait and 5 minutes to do the test.   I have no complaints though because I have learnt years ago that it takes as long as it takes and the staff are usually very busy.....and they were very busy.     It is a little scary that so many people are ill and in need of such medical treatment.    Another reason to be thankful we live in this country.

Well, off we went and had a wonderful lunch at my cousin's which I wolfed it down because I was starving and the liquid had begun to harden  yet in my tummy.   Then home.   Now is when I realized the toll it takes on me.   I felt tired but decided to go to knitting.   My stomach was a little upset to no need for supper.  After that I took the dog to the park.   So about 5:30 I decided to lie down for a 'quick' nap.   Well at 11:45 pm I awoke!   Guess it took more out of me than I realized lol.

It is the emotional strain that always seems to surprise me.   I think in many ways that it is at a very unconscious level that I recognize the seriousness of this disease.    I was able to recognize that I slept for so long for a couple of reasons.   One, I was drained from the day at the hospital but two, it allowed me the ability to retreat from the real world and go to a place of peace.     When I woke, I was startled that it was late but I took advantage of the late hour to just be.   I took the dog for a walk around 1:00 am and enjoyed the silence and lack of people.   It was very relaxing and rejuvenating.   Then I read for a while and finally went back to sleep till about 6:30 a.m.   

Today, I feel great!    I am not tired.   The yukky stomach  after that 'yellow' drink is gone....I don't know how others feel but it always makes me feel like I have a cement block in my stomach for about 12 hours.    So, yesterday is over, I have slept enough for two people, and the sun is shining.     The journey has begun but for now there is nothing I can do so I will park the bus and get off until I need to drive to another appointment.

Happy Thanksgiving and this year I have much to be thankful for...........

Friday, October 3, 2014

Universal Medical Care.......God bless Canada!!!!!

I am trying to remind myself that I am lucky to live in a country that has universal medical.   I believe in our system and am the first one to defend it.   It is not perfect by any means, but it is better than a large part of the world and I am grateful.    The problem is as a human I want everything to be focused on me and only me, and our medical system does not do that.....it has thousands of others who want the same thing.

Before we can book a date for surgery there are tests that need to be done.    Therein is where the delay exists.    I am in a line of many others who are just as in need as myself and therefore we wait!
My first test is to be next Wednesday and then not again until the end of October.    Then I have to have an appointment to discuss the results of the tests that I am waiting to have.   So at this point  the bus is just circling in the parking lot waiting to know when to go.

I will sit and remind myself that in many parts of the world, the medical treatment I am receiving is not even available.   As humans we tend to become very insular and myopic and forget that we are a small part of a larger organism .      I know that I will receive excellent care.  M doctor is one of, if not the best, in his field and the hospital is top notch.   So, if I have to wait a bit it is not such a big deal.

Now, don't think that if I needed surgery immediately that I would have the same waiting period.   My experience in that area is very positive.   When one goes to the Emergency Department for an emergency the care is usually very good and very fast. I have been on the receiving end of such care and was very impressed.   Actually, when they rush you through the Emergency area it can be scary cause you know it is serious!  I am always surprised when I hear someone complain about the long wait they had at an Emergency department, after they waited days at home before going to have whatever ails them seen.   Being in pain, doesn't necessarily constitute an emergency!    Although, telling them you are not in pain, may delay your attention lol!    I often think of my daughter and how she responded to aches and pains.   I figured that if it hurt bad enough that she didn't want to do something she liked, it was probably serious.   If it didn't prevent her from doing things I figured it probably wasn't. That monitor usually worked pretty well...although sometimes it took a bit of time to figure it out!    One time she hurt her wrist playing with the dog.   She came to me and told me and so I put ice on it.    A few hours later, she was still sitting on the couch holding ice on her wrist.    That in itself wasn't the surprising part.  The fact that it was Friday night and she wasn't getting ready to  go somewhere was!!!!    I decided maybe this injury needed more than ice.
Off we went to Emerg and low and behold she had a broken wrist :0     Yes, I felt bad and she has never let me forget it.   Sort of like that negative experience we have all had at Emergency rooms that we continue to re-live.    

I know there are serious situations that arise at hospitals and terrible mistakes are made.   I have experienced such things too.    I don't dismiss these but I also realize that we do not live in a perfect world and human beings really do try to do their best.    Maybe I am  na├»ve or maybe just overly optimistic, but I choose to see the positive side and be grateful that I live in a country with universal medical coverage.    I wouldn't want to be an American citizen at the mercy of an insurance company on whether or not I could afford to have surgery and treatment.....it doesn't even enter into my field of vision.....I know that I will get help for my cancer regardless of my income level, amount of insurance, or employment status.   As a human being, I am entitled to decent medical care regardless of who I am or where I live and work.   That to me is a blessing......and it is at this time of my life one less thing to worry about.......God bless this country