What good has worry done me, or you? Not one damn bit: what’ s coming is coming and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Sure, you can study books, save money, watch tv shows about what foods to eat (then eat those foods), you can watch the TV news (and go insane), you can vote, get politically active, smell the flowers, meditate, have coffee with friends, have dinner with family; but, nothing is going to change the fact that one morning you’re going to pull up your pants and put your shirt over your head and you are NOT going to repeat the proscess at the end of that same day. Someone else is going to pull them off for you—poof that’s it.
So why worry? I learned this lesson from a someone I read about named Bobby Jo Dennison. He holed up in a local hotel room with his girlfriend or whore or whatever she was. He decided he wasn’t coming out. You think he was worried about retirement, his 401k, or his health insurance? Hell no, he wasn’t worried ’bout nothin’ —his life goes on as carefree as the lilies of the field, or the birds of the air, which Jesus talked about in the New Testament. Now, I don’t plan on threatening to cut off anyone’s toes or wear big jewelry, or my hat on backward, or have a teardrop tattoo, but I can try, just like Bobby Jo (and Jesus) not to worry.
Douggie Jo and Timmy Jo ain’t gonna worry ’bout nothin’ this week, as an experiment. We’ll see what happens.
10 minutes after I posted this we got a call from Doug’s doctor’s office that his PET scan is scheduled for March, 12th…a month to the day after he was laid off. This scan is to look to see the status of whether or not the cancer is gone.
Cancer treatment is a roller coaster ride. You have to live in bits: bits of hours, bits of days…little tiny bits. You don’t dare look ahead too far; life is micro not macro.
Doug got a call from his nurse the other day:
“We want you to come in early for a blood test.”
“Is it anything I need to be concerned about?” he asked, near panic.
“It’s your liver enzymes.” the nurse flatly explained.
Anyone that knows cancer knows that it loves to spread to the liver. When it spreads to the liver it often becomes deadly. The familiar, cold-sweat panic sets in, you take a deep breath and the internal dialogue kicks in like a silent auction of life versus death. The liver: we don’t want to visit the liver.
After three days of nail-biting, praying and waking in the middle of the night Doug got the word. I heard the now ominous creak of the front door. I was sitting in the same place I had been when he originally announced the unfathomable cancer diagnosis—the toilet.
I shouted, “Don’t tell me while I’m sitting here!”
My hand shook as it reached for the toilet paper, heart racing, sweat beading. I tidied myself and emerged from the bathroom.
“My liver’s so fine, I can drink a glass of wine.”, he smiled, we hugged, I cried and I felt deep inside the first bit of hope I’ve felt through this entire hideous misadventure.
Today is Valentine’s. We have no wine, but we have some time yet to celebrate. Who wants to try to get into a restaurant on Valentine’s day anyway??? I will post our first toast.
Thanks to all of you! We extend our love on this special “day of the liver”, more often associated with the heart, otherwise known as Valentine’s day.
Still, in the hospital…everything is vague. Doug is half out of it with morphine and never asks any straightforward questions like: “What exactly is going on with my health status?” or “Why am I running an intermittent fever?” or “What is my prognosis of getting out of here?” His appetite is almost non-existent today, has a fever of 101 (the highest it has been), still going to the bathroom every two hours, all day and all night.
I finally asked to talk to someone so that we all could have an idea of what is going on with him.
His potassium keeps dropping because of constant diarrhea, they seem to be very concerned about this and are giving him a lot of supplements. Doug thinks he should just be able to eat a banana but he would have to eat about 40 bananas a day to replace what they are giving him in pill form. The fever is just part of how the chemotherapy and radiation attack the body. The body thinks it is under attack so it reacts as if it were with a fever: even though there is no infection. He is not losing any blood in his stool so his hemoglobin levels are fine.
I think what happened here is he waited too long to express how bad he was really feeling to the doctor over the phone. Now one can’t fault him for being the person he is; Doug is just him. He is stoic, outwardly calm (though he might inwardly be in turmoil), and especially hesitant to be any trouble to anyone.
I want to mention that Doug’s deceased father Wally keeps giving us signs that he is here watching:
Yesterday, Doug’s mom was here visiting and was looking for something that would help her find some sporting event on the television. She was shuffling through hospital brochures and by pure coincidence (NOT!) she found a picture of Wally in a hospital brochure which had been taken a few years ago, with his permission, for a pamphlet about “options for pain control”. He had a glowing smile on his face just to remind us all that he is still around, working to heal Doug from the “other side.” There have been other incidents which I have personally had; but, nothing as obvious as this event.
Please take the time to watch this short video; it changed my mind about Facebook. It was alarming to hear people this young talking about the dangers of social media, literally describing it as a “threat to the social fabric of society”…and these people helped develop Facebook! Just have a look and decide for yourself–they used to call that critical thinking. Social media does not support critical thinking.
I had already decided to move Doug’s battle with cancer off of Facebook before watching this video, which I stumbled onto by chance. I just had a gut feeling something was wrong; now I know something was wrong.
So cold my breath turned to snow and sprinkled in the footstep of a sparrow who, unwittingly, had crossed my path before the last sun had set; he wasn’t singing now, too dark too cold–and I was not too bold to venture out before a warming dawn, an icy mouth full of yawn. Slate gray it was with a border of dark pink–it rose like a broken window shade on my left: quiet, frosty, still: the night was slithering away, it’s belly nearly froze in place had she not been so sleek to slip away. She was meek, the night because she was the last one of the year. She had no fear of father sun for he was sure to return; she knew in calmness there is a strength. The yellow moon emblazoned on my right broke through the blackness of the night and hovered near my every move as I made my way. The yellow moon, so full and bright, hung like an anchor on a new day full of hope and promise of rebirth and joy. I followed the yellow moon–it was his noon—for he marked every step in my path, otherwise, I would not have known he took with him the pain of ice cold nights, and pointless, frigid fights against his will. He was pulling down all the darkness with him into his pit; and so, I knew, it was time to rest a bit and rise again without the frozen fear of pain.
I am currently reading one of the most amazing books I have ever read entitled “Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing” by Anita Moorjani and wanted to share this quote with you.
“Problems and strife come as a result of our not knowing who we are and not being able to show our inner beauty. We’ve created so much judgment about what’s “perfect,” which leads to doubt and competitiveness. Since we feel as though we’re not good enough, we go around acting out. However, if each of us became aware of our magnificence and felt good about ourselves, it seems to me the only thing we’d have to share is our unique nature, expressed outwardly in a loving manner that reflects our self-care.”
It is never dangerous to be happy. I thought I had learned this in the last year but I had not. We lost both of our dogs within five weeks of each other. Then, Doug was diagnosed with this awful cancer. Prior to these events of seemingly pointless cruelty and suffering, I had learned a phrase which I was beginning to use with increasing frequency.
“I am really happy right now.”
It was as if I had finally learned the true path to happiness. Without looking back, or forward, without the qualification of my perceived lack, or my history of pain, or my fear of death, or my inability to see with clarity…I am right now, in this very moment, happy. I could smile.
Now, it is time to learn again that, despite the current external events, I can rediscover the infinite moment of happiness during which God and I laugh together.
My page a day calendar gives me a dose of wisdom every morning. More often than not, it tells me exactly what I need to here.
“We tend to imagine negative thoughts and emotions to be an integral part of our mind about which we can do very little. Far from recognizing their destructive potential and challenging them, we often nurture and reinforce them. But their nature is wholly destructive. They are the very source of unethical conduct. They are also the basis of the worry, depression, confusion, and stress which are such a feature of modern society.” – Dalai Lama
You can’t live forever right? But, you can minimize the horror. And by not focusing on the horror all around you: spouted from negative people’s mouths, broadcast on nearly every television commercial, on billboards, magazine covers, news websites…omg the horror is everywhere if you pay attention! They remind you: you’re gonna die! (not to mention live through an awful set of bizarre side effects along the way.)
Let me give you an example of how to fight the horror.
After having been coughed on at work for an entire week, my body began succumbing to an horrific virus which had been making the rounds at work for what seems like a year.
Now, this girl who had this killer cold, caught it from a baby; and we all know kid germs are some of the most potent and virulent in nature. (A medical team went so far as to tell Doug to stay away from kids after his third week of his chemotherapy and radiation treatment.)
The way these germs were sprayed on me was more thorough than a crop dusting plane. I mean, this coworker of mine is six feet tall, and rarely made the effort to cover her frequent expurgations of, snot, mucous and aerosolized clouds of disease. She would turn her head away from her cubicle, dangle a tissue in front of her face (like an old time actress in distress) then cough in these spasms, like semi-automatic fire from a germ-gun. “Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh”…”Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh”. I’m sure even wearing a mask wouldn’t have helped to protect me; the fine mist of baby germs would have floated into my eyes between blinks.
Not only did I feel depleted, my voice was croaky as this virus had lodged itself deep in my chest, where opera singers sing from. I was sweating, in my sweater, as I drove home in the car with the air conditioning on in December! I knew this bug had the potential to be bad. I’ve had bronchitis in the past: coughed so hard ribs seem to rip and my nights were broken into small chunks of sleep interspersed with ceaseless fits of dry hacking. Oh, and there’s this: people love to tell horror stories. I made the mistake of mentioning to a work acquaintance: “I think I’m getting sick.” I knew this guy’s life and been full of harrowing events, which I had heard first hand. His version of what he had immediately diagnosed as my malady was, well, quite frankly, deadly.
There are two people in my office who had walking pneumonia. I had the same symptoms but knocked it out myself…blah, blah, blah…
I was sufficiently horrified after hearing his shocking story which he rattled off at the speed of an auctioneer; we went our separate ways in the hall, quite purposefully on my part, and he kept chanting his evil mantra, even at a range of ten yards, which helped to spread the fear to five or so innocent victims who had wandered into the scary story danger zone. At this point, I was simply just terrified: thinking I would be hospitalized with walking pneumonia because I had become so sick that I was unable to walk, making it lying down pneumonia which leads to dead pneumonia; and more frighteningly, I had spread the disease to Doug who, weakened by chemotherapy, was put on a respirator and near death himself.
WAIT! STOP THE HORROR!
I took a deep breath and reminded myself: “My thoughts are very powerful”. I didn’t need to let this crazy crap penetrate my safe thought bubble of happy endings! “Hey buddy, you take your walking pneumonia and walk right out of my life into your little tunnel of terror…and stay there! I can beat this cold even if it came from a baby!”: the timing couldn’t have been better, it was the weekend, Doug hadn’t started his chemotherapy, and there was a natural foods store on my way home from work. I bought a small vat of chicken soup, homemade, all organic and quite tasty (expensive). I found this stuff called “Counter Attack“, man that is just what I needed, full of vitamins and other immune system boosting, natural stuff and even the name suggested to my imagination, “I was going to win this war.” I bought Echinacea, an immune system booster from the root of coneflowers, and some ginger tea.
When I got home, I started pounding down all the cold killing stuff previously mentioned (fifty dollars worth), covered myself up with a heavy blanket, drank ginger tea and sweated. Throughout the evening, I continued to drink plenty of fluids (so many I was up every fifteen minutes) , took supplements, ate chicken soup and focus my mind on healing every atom in my body.
So how do you suppose i feel this morning? Better, I’m not completely well, but don’t feel as if I am descending into the pit of death hand in hand with walking pneumonia. My voice is still hoarse, but I don’t feel the burn in my chest which was there yesterday…no sweating. I’ll rest today, keep up the regimen of supplements and send these baby germs back to where they belong, to some imaginary baby in the sky!
We thought all of Doug’s treatments were starting this week but…no, waiting until next week. Little miracles keep happening along the way: Doug went to school with one of the chemotherapy nurses. Doug had another visit with the oncologist who said the tumor is “really small”. (more good news) I will be attempting to completely pray the cancer away over the weekend. I really believe all the prayers from everyone have been working miracles.
Unfortunately, someone has coughed on me all week at work and I finally caught what she had! I hate to be around Doug as his immune system will be reduced by all these treatments. He says not to worry about it.