Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nagging Fears

Some people seem to know what's bothering them right when the issues crop up.

Not me; not if whatever it is relates back to my childhood.  My subconscious tends to chew on such things for a week or two or three before they surface.  In the meantime, I find myself wondering why I feel as I do about some things.

Such has been the case these past few weeks.  My job feels temporary; like I don't need to worry about what's going to happen there in the long term.  I haven't even thought about looking for a house; I want to hold tight to my down payment nest egg, and not tie it up in property.

The reason finally surfaced the other day.  Sure enough, it dates back to Mom's experience with cancer.  Even though I think and hope and pray my story will have a different ending, and even have good reasons to think it will; medical care has advanced leagues since her illness, there are some frightening statistics out there.

I've had to dig for the numbers.  One thing that hasn't changed since Mom died is that people still don't like to contemplate death and recurring illness.  Even on the web, they don't like to talk about recurrence rates.

Even with first stage, seemingly easily cured cancers like mine, the relapse rate in the first five years following surgery is between 10 and 20%.  (The chances for mine to recur are closer to the 10% range, per the predictions of the tumor's genetic testing.)  The longer I can make it without the cancer coming back, the better the chances I've beaten the demon.  If it recurs within the first two years, chances are good I won't make it another four.  And, if it returns at any time, since I have no more breast tissue for the cancer to lurk within, that means it will have metastasized, and if I don't die from the disease, I will die with it.

sobering statistics.

Yet, now I've been able to name the fears, I'm not paralyzed by them.

Life is risk.  It doesn't come with guarantees. 

No, I probably won't buy a house any time soon.  (I do believe in hedging my bets.)  But, neither do I intend to live in fear. 

The trust thing again.  It's still hard for me.  But I'm going to do my best.  I'm going to try to remember and follow the words in one of my favorite prayers, from St. Theresa of Avila:

May today I find peace within.
May I trust my highest power that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
May I not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May I use those gifts that I have received, and pass on the love that has been given to me.
May I be content knowing I am a child of God.
May this presence settle into my bones, and allow my soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass:
Yet God does not change.
Patience wins all that it seeks,
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

It's the Weekend!

I miss not missing weekends.

It was one of my favorite parts of living in the camper van.  The only reason I cared about the day of the week was that the state campgrounds fill up on the weekends, and I needed to check more carefully, to make sure there was space available where I wanted to stay.

I got to sleep in every morning.  I didn't have to set the alarm. 

Ah, the good 'ol days.

Back to reality, I am getting better.  I went out two nights in a row last week, and wasn't trashed by the end of the second evening.  It felt like a major accomplishment.  Of course, I was home by nine each night, but it's still a major improvement over where I was just a few weeks ago.

I'm feeling good this morning.  I got my pseudo-ladies pumped up again yesterday, which means I took a valium when I got home.  (It helps the muscles relax, so I don't end up with knots of pain.)  The drugs aren't picky about which muscles they help to relax - and I slept like a baby.  Straight through from 9:30 PM to just before 7 this morning.  I don't know if it's age or surgery, but I rarely sleep like that any more.  I woke up feeling MUCH better - energized and ready to face the day.  Given what I was able to do last week, the energy may even last for much of the day.  I can hope.

As a bonus, today is Saturday, and I have it planned as a play day.  It's spring and it's sunny and it's 70 and it's a great day to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  Heck, I'll go all out and bring my camera, and maybe even take a picture or two.

As energy returns, so returns the capacity to enjoy the beauty and the blessings surrounding me.  God Is. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

So Glad You're Here

They're really glad to have me there at work.  This much, they have made clear. 

What exactly it is they want me there to do, I've been largely left to figure out on my own.  Get the iPads in the hands of the staff and GarageBand students; that one was clear.  But I've been left to set my own direction for much of what I do.

I have very little tolerance for piles of unused stuff.  I have even lower tolerance for piles of unused and dated electronics piled in storage rooms and hallways.  So, I've been taking advantage of this start up time, when things are still relatively slow, and getting things cleaned up.  Last week was especially quiet because the school was on spring break, and there were only about ten people in the building.

Joe helped haul stuff up from the basement into what will be a new technology classroom and sorted it into usable / not piles when he was home on break in mid-March.    Last week I took time to test the PCs in the usable equipment pile to see if they'd actually come up.  It was a more exciting exercise than I'd thought it would be - about one in four blew its power supply when I plugged it in.  Even when I was expecting the crackle as I started to plug the boxes in, it still made me jump.  (You all DO know that machines run on smoke, don't you?  Once you let the smoke out, they don't work any more.  -- wisdom courtesy of my dad.)

The company one of the students works for offered to take everything we didn't want off our hands.  The building manager hauled it all over there.  He dislikes piles of stuff as much or more than I do and is my new best friend because I got it sorted out so he could clear it out.

The end result is a good ten truckloads of old equipment hauled out of the building for recycle / reuse, thirty-some PCs that will be usable once they get an operating system and Open Office installed on them (these will be offered to staff and students to take home), and about sixty usable flat-screen monitors (ditto).

** dusts off hands **  Feels good to have most of it cleaned up! (sadly, there's still one storage room left to go - I ran out of time...)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Work, Sleep, Repeat.

Work.  Sleep.  Repeat.

That's about all I do these days.

I guess I'm pushing it just a bit, but I don't know how else to build my endurance, except to find the edges of my energy and give them a little nudge.

Work leaves leave me tired.  I'm back to it full time.   After work, I figure I'm good if I make it home and manage to eat a more-or-less healthy dinner before I collapse on my comfy chair and pretend to read until bedtime.  (No books that actually require thought allowed; my mind is generally mush by that time of day.)

I don't mind the tired so much.  It keeps me from dwelling on the abrupt turn my plans have made.  It's not that I hate where I am.  It's just that I was having so much fun where I was.  (she writes, wistfully...)

I'm still not reconciled to the reality that my breasts are gone and are not coming back.  I don't care for the breast reconstruction process at all. 

I guess, in my mind, that since the rest of me feels almost back to normal, my chest should, too.  Never mind that I still have a month or two of every-other-week visits to the doctor to get the expanders filled to where I have something sorta resembling my old chest back.  The hoopla is done, I don't have to do chemo; I think this other part should be instantaneous. 

At least, I think that until I actually get the pseudo-girls pumped up a bit.  Then I think we should just take our time on this fill business.  The doctor tells me this is where my being in shape works against me - if my muscles weren't so well developed, they wouldn't mind stretching as much.  As it is, my muscles object and jump and twitch after he injects the additional solution.  I've been taking valium to help me get through the first evening after the injections.  It helps the muscles relax, and if there's some tension left, well, I don't care.

I'm still coping with my side-effects.  The rubber-band sensation is alive and well, though I have found it  goes away some if I wear a jog bra all day.  (Since the bras are tight and a bit restricting, I don't notice the front part binding so much because my back is bound up, too.)  And, I still don't have full range of motion back on my right arm.  I saw a physical therapist last week; she showed me how to stretch the remaining cords.  I've been following her instructions, and they do seem to be helping. 

One day at a time, I'm getting there....

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Faith Is...

My daughter attended a Catholic high school.  There, she had some wonderful theology teachers; women who taught faith more than dogma.  One day she came home with a novel assignment.  Fill in the following:

My faith is a(n):  (type of plant)

Now, I have no idea what answer Kate came up with, but I remember my answer well.  It took me a week or so of pondering before I came up with it, and it comes back to mind each spring as the flowers bloom.

My faith is a dandelion.

I've always rather liked dandelions.  I realize this is not the world's most popular stance.  When I had my house, mine was one of the few in the neighborhood where the lawn would be brightly spotted yellow in the springtime.  (For a couple of years I had a sign in the yard when they bloomed:  "Dandelion Refuge".)

Like my faith, they pop up where they're least expected, whether or not they've been invited in.  They're a little raggedy around the edges. 

My head knows they're pesky weeds.  My heart doesn't agree in the slightest (even as I pull them up when they grow where I don't want them to be).  They're bright and cheerful.  They provide food for bees and bunnies - and people, if you pick the greens when they're young and tender.  They grow in the concrete desert of the city, poking their heads up through the cracks, defiantly yellow, proclaiming to the world, "I am here!".

Like the dandelions, my faith is a bit unconventional; even unwelcome in some circles.  But it persists in spite of 'them'.  It sprouts even as I fear I am alone and lost and there is no reason for anything in this world.  "I am here - you are NOT alone!"

Happy Easter!