Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nesting Syndrome

I remember when I went into a cleaning frenzy just before my son was born 27 years ago, they called it the 'nesting syndrome'. I should have recognized the sign when I cleaned nearly every evening during the week and all day long on Saturday .. I started into labor on Sunday morning. That Friday was my last day at work for maternity leave; I was looking forward to two weeks of resting before my due date. He came two weeks early.

I've been in the same mood for the last few weeks .. trying to get everything cleaned and all my 'loose ends' caught up. I have more I'd really like to get done, but have run out of funds for anymore special projects. I've already started on my list of things I want to do while I'm off work 'recuperating'.

At the top of the list is to catch up on filing. The next item is to clean out the chest & dresser in my guest room. Those are things I'm hoping I can do without too much exertion or lifting. I've wanted to clean out the furniture in my guest room for a very long time so
I'll have a separate place for guest linens, and if I actually have 'guests' they'll have somewhere to put their things. That would have been a good thing to have gotten done *before* my son comes down to help me post-surgery. Also on that list is to catch up on all the movies I've had recorded for months but haven't had time to watch. I'll have to figure out a way to transport the drawers into the living room so I can watch movies while I clean. And then I'll have to figure out a way to put all the stuff that gets tossed into the trash .. all without lifting .. hmmmm. There's stuff in those drawers that's older than my son .. there's gonna be a lot that's tossed!

But for tonight, the regular cleaning is done, wonderful fresh sheets on my bed, my house is smelling like lavender-vanilla .. life is good.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quick Update - Busy Week !

This has been a verrrry busy week ! Trying to get much done before vacation and surgery. Carpet has been cleaned, car has been waxed, kitty groomed, crickets who had taken up residence in my lawn-storage room exterminated .. no, I didn't do any of these things myself, but setting up appointments is exhausting ! Even worked in an impromptu dental appt for a crown. Hoping to do major housecleaning and some shopping this weekend. Other than being exceptionally busy, I'm doing well .. except for nearly having a coronary over the crickets.

I was hoping hospitals had a new policy about nail polish .. nope .. I'll have to have 'nekkid' toes during surgery. You would think they would leave you a tiny bit of dignity. I understand about making sure you're getting enough oxygen and all that, but really ... no polish on my toes ???? The wonderful lady who does my pedicures says as soon as I feel up to it, she'll come to my house & re-polish. Now that's a friend !

A new lesson learned .. when you are truly in need is when real friends shine ! Another new lesson learned .. it'
s not a 'weakness' to let them help.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Best Buddy

Today my best buddy & I celebrated a new litter box. Yep, you read that right. Seemed like a 'splurge', but some things just need to be replaced on a regular basis. This one is fancy, with a larger clear swinging door that lets more light in and hopefully will seem less confining.

My kitty, Badajan, celebrated his 17th birthday this past Mothers' Day. He was born in this house, downstairs, under the ping-pong table (which is long-since gone). His mother, Gweneviere, was a previously outdoor kitty that someone dropped off at the animal shelter when she came home pregnant. Gwen was a beautiful black & white cat who stood at the door and cried to be outside. After having her litter of five kittens, she retired to a co-workers farm and was much happier. Three of the kitties moved to other homes, and two stayed here with us.

Michaelangelo was a classic short-haired tiger-striped tabby who followed after Deacon (my son), and wasn't especially affectionate with anyone else. He had a penchant for sitting behind you and playing in your hair. He suffered occasional seizures and died about five years ago.

Badajan is a medium-haired, black & white kitty who shows evidence of being part Maine Coon.
In his youth, he weighed about 13 pounds, but over the past few years has lost considerable weight. Once an amazingly beautiful cat, he has begun to show his age with little hip-bones protruding, and coat losing its lustre. He's still beautiful to me.

What's still incredible about this cat is his intense affection. He brings new meaning to the term 'lap cat'. Wherever I am, he wants to be close by, sitting or lying on top of me. At night he often sleeps fully stretched out the length of my back. It feels like he's trying to cover as much of me as possible to protect me. He likes to be cuddled and rocked. He likes when I sing to him. (His favorite is 'Jesus Loves Us'. He comes to bed when I say 'It's bedtime for kitty-cats and little girls !'.

Somewhere around six or eight months ago, he abruptly started insisting he lie across my chest. If I'm sitting, he walks up to my shoulder and drapes himself over my chest. If I'm lying down, he lies completely across my chest, just inches from my face. When I try to make him move, he protests loudly and comes right back. I have to wonder if he's known about my breast cancer long before I had any suspicions.

I also wonder how I'm going to deal with that when I get home from surgery. I've started luring him away from lying on top of me at night with a heating pad. He loves the heating pad. He cuddles with me for a few minutes, then heads for the warm spot. As annoying as it seemed at times though, I miss my bed-buddy. Maybe somehow he will understand that it's not ok to lie on top of Mommy when she has stitches.

I love this cat. He's my best friend. He loves me back. I know the time I have left with him may be short, and the thoughts of not having this incredible creature close to me are devastating. He has to stay with me at least during my recovery. He just has to.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Clearer Head

Message this morning .. surgery has been rescheduled for Thursday, June 25th 5:00 am. Son will be home the day before & he'll be there a full week after I go home on Friday. Panic over. I called the nurse back and told her to please thank the surgeon for being willing to schedule early on his 'office' day. And then I sincerely apologized for my 'meltdown' with her yesterday. She says not to worry .. that's normal. Normal ???? It's normal ???? I explained that I simply didn't understand why all thru this experience I've been uncannily calm and then I lost it over a two-day change in surgery dates. She said it was good that I did that. Good that I was quite seriously thinking about canceling surgery altogether ? Hmmm .. I'll have to think about that one.

Someone remind me later .. I owe this kind lady flowers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Way Too Much Trouble

The one thing in this adventure that I've had control over was still being able to take my vacation mid-June, and scheduling surgery the following week. I consulted with family to avoid scheduling on special days, coordinated with my supervisor, had forms filled out for my son's employer, he made flight reservations, coworkers changed vacations to accommodate my surgery date of Friday, June 26. All was set .. I felt good about it.

First thing this morning I got a call from the surgeon's office .. it seems he wants a long weekend and has decided he cannot do my surgery that Friday morning. He can do it the previous Wednesday, or the following Monday.

If I do it on Wednesday, I'll be going under general anesthesia just about the same time my son will be going down the runway .. he won't be here until almost 5 hours later. He's my strength. How can I roll off to surgery without him there to hold my hand, to hug me & tell me everything will be alright, to look in his beautiful blue eyes and tell him I love him more than anything or anyone I've loved in my lifetime. He might make it here in time to be there when I wake up.

If I wait til the following Monday, then the majority of his trip is over before I even have surgery. His main reason in coming is to assist me afterward. I would come home on Tuesday .. he would fly out on Friday.

So I asked two questions. 1) Is there any possibility he would do the surgery on Thursday morning before he goes into his office for regular appointments ? She will ask, but even if he is agreeable, he may not be able to schedule the OR .. it's not his regular day. 2) What if I just call the whole thing off ? She says she doesn't understand. I clarify .. what if I just cancel the whole damn thing and take my chances. She is speechless.

How do you go from feeling confident and positive about cancer and treatment to just saying 'forget the whole thing' in a matter of minutes ?

Damn surgeons .. damn OR schedules .. damn trying to coordinate work .. damn airlines that won't let you change flights .. damn cancer.

It just seems like way too much trouble and disruption of lives for one little girl. What if someone finally stood up to cancer and said (borrowed from 'Pretty Woman') "I say when, I say where !" ?

I'm sure by morning that cool, confident voice of reason that lives waaaayyyy back in my brain and rarely surfaces, will come screaming out and war with the voice that says, 'now close your eyes, click your heels together three times, and say 'there's no place like home .. there's no place like home'.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A New Path

You see, it’s like this: my son says I need to start a blog. He says I should just say the things I’ve expressed to him in emails. I had never really thought about having a blog, although I’ve certainly enjoyed reading his,, and that of my best friend, Not sure I have the time or energy for regular posts, but I will try very hard to post at least every couple of weeks.

I have a fairly boring life, and I’ve learned to appreciate that. Boring = quiet, peaceful, soothing, uneventful .. going to work, coming home & reading on my deck, listening to birds sing, cuddling with my cat, Badajan. Since the end of March, however, my life has taken something of a detour. Last month I learned I have ‘non-invasive breast cancer’. The best & the worst in the same phrase.

I’ve been through the gauntlet of tests, an exam by my primary doctor, a mammogram, follow-up views, an ultrasound, an MRI, and then an ultrasound-guided core-needle biopsy which rendered the diagnosis ‘ductal carcinoma in situ’. I’ve spent hours searching medical websites and personal blogs in the hopes of finding accurate information and tips/advice from those who have actually experienced breast cancer.

I’m not sure about a personal blog .. well not just for showcasing cancer anyway. Part of me wants to share my experiences in order to help the women who follow me down this path .. the information I've found from individual women has been more encouraging than the medical websites. But at the same time, I really don't want breast cancer to overshadow my entire life, to consume it. I don't feel like a 'breast cancer victim' .. I feel like a whole woman who just happens to have breast cancer. I recognize that it will definitely take precedence over everything else for a few months, but I don't want it to steal my everyday life, my interests. But it's a 'part' of my life, so perhaps I should use a blog as an outlet if nothing else. At the same time, as much as I appreciate other peoples' encouragement and concern, it forces me to focus on just the cancer .. that's why I've tried to be selective in whom I tell .. to keep my life more 'normal'. And now it’s ‘out there’.

I’ve gone through the range of emotions .. disbelief (maybe it was a mistake), panic (I can *not* do this), fear, finding courage (and losing it again), accepting what is to come.

Next month I will be having a bilateral mastectomy. How is it I can say that so calmly ?? That’s just strange. What’s even stranger is I’ve begun to look for advantages of not having breasts. I will never have to wear a bra again unless I choose to. No more intense heat underneath. No more sweating underneath. But then I find myself looking down my shirt .. beautiful, full breasts that say ‘I’m female and I love it !’. Will I still feel feminine after they’re gone ?

One thing is certain. My life has already changed. It changed the moment I heard the words 'probable malignancy'. Even before it was confirmed, I was different. Many things I had once complained about vanished. People who had once intimidated me lost their power. The sky is more intriguing .. I find myself just staring at the bright blue, fluffy clouds, dark menacing clouds, the darkness of night. Jet trails fascinate me .. I long to be going to see my son. I actually smell the fragrance of the earth after rain. I don't just 'hear', but I listen to the beautiful bird songs. I've learned to recognize those things I'm thankful for every day.

This is an unchosen path, but one I must take, at least for this space of time. My deepest wish is that I can walk with courage, grace, and dignity. And that somehow, I can make it easier for those who follow me.