Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No. 78

It's not #87. It's #78. Get it straight.

small victory only a 2 hour wait till they stick me. or stuck me. i clutch my shiny red number. it's like a lottery ticket. shiny red lottery ticket. can you see the irony of it all in my tired half smile? barf. "Anticipatory nausea" is what they call it. if i weren't so sick and tired and sick of all of this waiting and vomit creeping slowly up my esophagus i might see the humour in it. i observe the man and his son across from me in the waiting room. i've seen them twice before. they are on my "shift". They always wait as long or longer than i do, they seem to have a quiet but close relationship....and the father seems somehow "resigned" to this process that he is undergoing. they talk "car talk". the father looks to be in his earlier sixties. they eat potato soup from the cafeteria and i like the smell. they're relaxed. I like them. who am I kidding though - I'm totally grasping at straws. It's a good past-time while my hands sweat and leave moisture spots on my lottery ticket. My number is called. No. 78. "that's me!!" i half yell and jump up waving my card. I head to the "Chemo suite" and leave the my jealous seatmates behind in the waiting room fog.

as soon as i get in the room i feel it. i feel the waves of nausea get bigger and bigger and loom larger and larger. And i am frustrated. and angry. and sad. i'm ashamed of myself for feeling nauseous and frustrated and angry and sad. I want to be strong. I want to be a warrior and a "fighter" and all that shit. I do not want to show any weakness in this room...but I can feel the vomit just sitting in my throat and I hear the machine that is filling me with poison/healing agents (?!) and feel it going through the needle into my vein...and i feel weak. very very weak. i feel the weight of the entire thing. the entire fucked up situation i am in. and it sucks. and i can't cry here. not now. not in this room around these people who may or may not be way worse off than I am. i can't do it. so i try so hard to think of something else. to repress it. but the tears start to come anyway. I try to hide behind the hanky and I feel like a bigger idiot. i feel like a coward. i wish i was stronger. oh the smell almost does me in - the putrid acrid smell of this room. I hate it. I'm such a baby.

it's finally over. No. 78 piles her shit in the car and goes home - barf bag in hand.
at this moment the remaining 2 feel like mount Fuji. God help me be strong.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A guide to killing time...

Welcome to a day in the life of "Yours truly" while I am undergoing treatment. I will now take you through a photo play-by-play of some activities I might engage in on a cold and snowy day such as this one. As you will see there is a whole lot time killing going on! BTW - the pill box you see above is the actual pill box that I now have to use due to the myriad of pills I now have to take. Talk about feeling 85!

This beauty will eventually become a shawl for my mom. Knitting is something I've been doing waaaay too much of lately. It is the perfect killing time activity as you end up with something soft and comfy afterwards. If you need anything knit for yourself, a relative, a friend, a pet etc... let me know. Seriously....

God Bless the BBC.
If you feel yourself a sloth consider this and feel better: yesterday I watched 5 and 1/2 hours of this BBC series. Whats worse - it was made in 1976!!! That is the year I was born!!! You would think the "Duchess of Duke St" made in the late 70's would be intolerable on the boredom front...but I'm totally digging it. I find this both quite amusing and extremely scary.

Breaking out the tunes.
Alright - so I now have to admit that this photo was taken and nary a string was plucked. I have been ignoring this poor little instrument lately (it's that dang knitting I tell you!). Anyway, hopefully some day soon I will play a tune or two on the geeeetar, or Uke, or accordion, or something.

The super huge garden gnome puzzle.
This bad boy is a thousand teeny tiny brain numbing pieces. I didn't really grow up doing puzzles so this was a bit of a random purchase but it is amazing how completely engrossing and obsessive this can get. I'd highly recommend it! (Thanks for the inspiration, Kate!)

Reading, reading, reading...
In this case it is the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. My favorite. For the main-landers who are reading this - yes this is an actual dictionary. Look into it!

Lately they seem to be the same thing. Ah well. I try.

Tormenting the geriatric cat
Poor Kitty. These days she is often the target of my cabin fever. You can see it in the somewhat terrorized look in her tired old eyes. And yes, she does have seven toes. Poor old gal.


So there you have it folks. It's been a challenge trying to fill my days with "low impact" things and not pluck my eyes out in sheer frustration in the process. Slowly but surely, though, I am surrendering to the process which, in this case, means giving up on doing many things knowing/trusting that soon enough I will be well enough to do them. This is an intense exercise in patience on many different areas: patience with my body and it's ability to heal, patience with myself and my racing sometimes out-of-control mind, patience with the discomfort and pain my body sometimes experiences, patience with the medical process and "system".

I think the hardest thing has been not having the energy to do the things I normally enjoy. Especially the small things I never paid much or any attention to before. I am finding that the farther I get in the treatments the bigger toll it takes on my body and I am forced to resign myself to at least a week of being house bound. It definitely gives me a new appreciation for people who experience chronic pain of any kind, or things that totally impede enjoyment of life. it is hard for me to believe now that some people go for many many years never having true relief! It is truly mind boggling.

I also came to the realization recently that for the past 4 plus months I have been basically in a survival mode. I'm not sure why or how this fact just struck me, but in realizing this I also realized that there will be an awful lot of processing going on when this is over. As I look ahead into the not too distant future it is hard for me to conceive of life going "back to normal". I have a hard tome remembering what normal is/was for me. Anyway - these are some things I've been thinking about as well.

The light at the end of this tunnel rests in the fact that hopefully I will be done my chemo treatments very soon! My last one should be on the 28th of Feb depending on the results of the PET scan and the CAT scan. Man - so many acronyms!! If these scans some back negative, meaning - the cancer is gone - this means my treatment will be totally finished!! I hope and pray that this is the case.

Last thing - for those f-book folks who have been asking me about good books I have been reading: my favorite series right now is a 4 book fantasy series called "Game of Thrones". I'm usually a Can-lit kindof girl so this is way off what I would normally read - but these are amazing and totally great for escape.

That's it that's all.

Again - many thanks again for all the amazing messages I've been getting. I've been so blown away by all of the people who have been getting in touch with me...thank you for all your thoughts.

much love and peace - julia

Thursday, January 12, 2012

remaining vulnerable

It's a grey and rainy evening here in Guelph town and I am yearning to see the blinding whiteness of sunny, snowy, crisp days that are the usual for mid-January.

I miss winter.

Anyway, with all the spare time I have these days I happened upon an old journal entry from 2009. I was shocked at how appropriate it is for me at this point in my life.

Here it is:

Remaining vulnerable

Try not to harden against that soft spot inside.
Let it grow.
Don't be afraid.
Cultivate the feelings of rejoicing
both for yourself and for others.
Try to catch when you are closing down on yourself.
Stay with the vulnerability in whatever kind of feeling you are experiencing.
Trust in the fundamental openness which is your true nature.
Train yourself to stay in the present... where the joy is.
It holds the root of your happiness.

So there is my contribution for the day.
Peace out,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On Baldness, and Christmas and stuff...

I'm Bald!!!!!

So now that I have your undivided attention....Happy New year!!!

It's 2012. Hard to believe. I have mixed feelings about saying good-bye to 2011. It was an amazing year for me in many ways. I got to do what I love to do for an absolutely amazing theatre company with people whom I truly love and respect. I couldn't have asked for more. Here is a plug for the most beautiful show that, fortunately, I was well enough to attend in December: http://www.jumbliestheatre.org/upcoming/like-an-old-tale/ Unfortunately the show is now over, but check out this amazing site anyway...it represents the culmination of almost 3 years of work for me and my beautiful and talented colleagues, as well as so many beautiful and inspiring community members.

The end of 2011, however, was obviously much more difficult, and I have to say that it won't be hard to to 'bid adieu' to the past few months of the "cancer grind" (with the knowledge that I still have half a mountain to climb). Please, 2012...be kind.

So the latest on the treatment front:

-This Tuesday I finished my 4th chemotherapy treatment which means I am officially half way through!!!! HOORAY!!!! This is a pretty major milestone...just knowing I am over the hump is a big deal.

-I have a first radiology consultation next week in the case that I need to have radiation after the chemo. I am crossing all fingers and toes that this is not the case. But "Que sera, sera".

-My P.E.T scan is scheduled for Feb. 6 which will basically tell me exactly how my progress is going, whether the chemo is doing it's job and whether I will need radiation as well. Quite a lot hinges on these results, but I am more than ready to get whatever news and get on with it....as they say.

In other news, I was overjoyed to have been able to spend Christmas with my family in Ottawa. It was looking a little precarious there for awhile, but thankfully all worked out and I had an amazing 2 weeks being pampered by my parents and friends. And to top it all off, my cousin had her beautiful baby girl while I was in Ottawa...Isabella Jean. What a perfect gift for the holidays!

Speaking of perfect gifts....I bought myself a sweet little parlour acoustic guitar as a gift to myself this year. I'll post a pic sometime soon.

One other major highlight for me was making up impromptu songs (complete with actions) with my niece and nephew. My 3 year old nephew decided the first song would be called "Kitty pooped her pants" (Kitty is the name of my cat), and the other song he decided would be called "Big Bald Head" (of course referring to mine!). So we had a concert where we sang them both...to a somewhat astonished little crowd. In a word: Hilarity.

Anyway, I truly hope this year holds wonder, excitement, deep fulfillment and is 100% Cancer free for all of you!!! I'm learning a whole heck of a lot right now, but one of the major things is: Enjoy the moment. It really is all we have. The "right now". Make it count.

I also just wanted to say thank you again to all of you for everything, and bear with me if I haven't gotten back to you. I guarantee your name is written down in my planner...too many lists!! ;)

Big Love, Julia