Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Thankfuls

I got in the car this morning and thought about Tom. Tears started to well up. The emotional pain I went through when Tom died is resurfacing as I think about what lies ahead for a Facebook friend who lost her husband recently. We share the same birthday and his death will forever be linked to it and to Thanksgiving for her. Once again I am reminded how quickly life can change. Change being the only constant in life.

My husband has been posting daily "what I am thankful fors" on Facebook for the entire month. He is not thinking of them ahead of time. He is waiting to be inspired by something that has occurred that day. Many of them have centered around me. For that I am thankful. He doesn't live in my body and can't truly experience my illnesses, but they certainly impact him and I worry from time to time that it will drive him away. That I bring him happiness is still a concept that amazes me. That I found love again also amazes me. That I am able to be happy at all amazes me. Learn from change. Adapt to the changes. 

I've lost physical abilities and I've lost people that I can never get back, but I have gained so much more in wisdom, gained the ability to appreciate what I have left and what I can still do. Living is very much worth the price I have paid and continue to pay to remain here. I make a difference by being here. We all do. We impact family members, friends even strangers. Hopefully for the betterment of us all. There is power in this. Use it wisely. 

I dropped my hearing aid, for the good ear of course, on the stone floor one cold morning last week and parts of it shattered. I managed to get an appointment at the ENT doctor's office yesterday and asked to get my hearing checked at the same time. They were completely swamped and I spent the better part of the day there. Though I had other things I planned to get done, it wasn't worth getting angry over. By the profuseness of the apologies and being told that no one had even taken a lunch break, I think other patients weren't so patient. Initially, they thought they would be able to fix the hearing aid while I waited, so after the hearing test I was put in an exam room rather than the waiting room. The door was open and the Physician's Assistant came in and sat down and introduced himself. Thinking he had some information to share, I waited expectantly. He finally said, "I just needed to take a break." I laughed and replied, "Just needed to get out of the main flow, huh?" "Yeah…so where are you from?" At that moment a favorite quote from the television show "House" popped into my head, "It's what life is. It's a series of rooms and who we get stuck in those rooms with adds up to what our lives are." I decided to take it literally. What ensued was an amusing conversation about the difference between living in Dallas versus Ft. Worth, other states he had lived in and later that his daughter was an artist living in Oklahoma City. I also learned that the power was out at their other office due to the sleet and they were funneling people here. That's why it was so crazy. They were trying to accommodate everyone they could. I hope our conversation was the break he needed. Before I left, I was talking with the audiologist and the P.A. came in, pointed at me and said, "she's really nice." Well, at the very least, I didn't make anything worse for them and I saved myself the energy it would take to get angry at the long wait. Let go of what you can't control.

I'm not sure where I had intended to go with this blog entry. It turned into a stream of consciousness kinda thing. Ultimately I guess it's about what I'm thankful for (it is Thanksgiving after all)…my husband who I appreciate dearly, my painting and writing abilities that allow me to share pieces of myself with the rest of the world, that I am still able to work and to have a job that makes use of my creative talents, my pets that bring laughter into my life, the friends and family that have been so supportive, medical technological advances that caught my breast cancer early enough to consider me cured and of course all the plasma donors who I truly couldn't live without. I am warm, safe and happy and that is so much more than many people have. It's not worth lamenting what is gone. No regrets. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

At a Loss for Words

"Sunlit Lake Fog" • 6"x6" • Acrylic on Masonite

"Sparrow, get off of those clean pillows!"
I was in the laundry room which has shelving for clean linens, bulk item storage and a place to hang clothes temporarily as they come out of the drier–except it's become more of a second closet for me. My clothes just don't seem to make it to the bedroom.

Ed walked in and heard me chastising our cat. "Uh sweetheart, what pillows? I don't see any pillows." He's teasing me. They were in fact several stacks of towels. In my head I said towels, but that's not what came out of my mouth. I wonder if I'm losing my mind. I had already forgotten my hearing aids twice. I never forget them. I have to reread anything I write 3 or 4 times to catch mistakes. Such as typing 'booth' instead of 'books.' On multiple occasions, instead of speaking the word that I have in my head, I say one that sounds very similar, but likely does not have the same meaning. Better yet, I can't find the word I want at all until 5 minutes later when it suddenly pops into my head at which point I speak it aloud completely out of context.

So when I saw the Physician's Assistant for my oncologist on Tuesday before my infusion and he asked how I was, the first words out of my mouth were, "I'm okay, but Tamoxifen is making me stupid…(long pause)…and forgetful." He laughed and asked why I thought that. So I added "As an example, I forgot my hearing aids, so I may have trouble understanding you today." 

I had done a little research already of course and ran across a few forums where other breast cancer patients were discussing a similar experience with Tamoxifen. I never gave birth to children, so I don't have any personal experience with the "Mommy Brain" that is blamed on hormone fluctuations post birth, but I figured if this drug's job is to block hormones, then I'm likely finding myself in a similar predicament. I also keep calling our new cat she instead of he. Frankly, I doubt he cares and is just happy to be off the mean streets of Granbury and in a loving home with regular meals, but my mistake seems to bother Ed a bit, since he corrects me every time. Then I think of the TV show "The Closer." If you were a fan, you'll know why.

Josh, the P.A., is nodding his head and has a slight bemused smile on his face as he's listening to me detail my answer to the "why I think that" question. I'm trying to decide if I should be annoyed that he's finding this amusing, but determine that it actually is, a little. Until he calls me, M'aam, which does annoy me because in my head I'm still in my mid-20s. Then he confirms it. "Yeah, it's likely the Tamoxifen." The Tamoxifen that I'm supposed to take for the next 5 years! It's only been a month and I already feel like I'm going insane. FIVE YEARS…or until I go into menopause naturally. "But my job is to be creative on demand. That's a little hard to do when one's brain is in apparent hormone withdrawal," I implored. "And my obsessively detail oriented nature is one of my strongest assets." There are other drugs, but they are usually given to post menopausal women he tells me and suggests I speak with the oncologist at my next appointment with her. He actually stated another oncologist's name and I said that's not right and my brain decided for dramatic effect to completely lose the name of my actual oncologist. 

So until this gets sorted out please avoid going grammar nazi on me. Forgive me if I put my glasses in the refrigerator or if I stop in mid-sentence at a complete loss for words. If I call towels pillows and pillows towels, or if I forget something I'm supposed to do for you, a gentle reminder would be appreciated. Now I'm going to go reacquaint myself with writing lists and the wonder of post-it-notes.