Impatiently Recovering

Walking the Beach-Helps in Healing

It has been a week since I had the other half of my thyroid removed. I am recovering well. I tend to overdo it a bit, then I have to rest up for a day and try again. Sitting still or lounging around has never been me. I like to hike. I like to bike. I like to walk on the beaches. I like to be busy.

Today I went over to my storage unit, yes I do have one of those, and by the time I got there, I did not feel so well. I sat inside my storage unit and pondered why I felt so awful. Oh right, I had major surgery a week ago. Oh right, I have not been drinking enough liquids. Catching a ride with Lyft, I found my way back to the RV park I am staying in and have been lounging the afternoon away and drinking lots of fluids.

The really, really, really good news is that I am cancer-free. The biopsy came in at the end of the week with no trace of cancer. Yes!!! I immediately felt a bit lighter on all levels of my being. The decisions are not done as I have to decide whether I will do the radioactive iodine treatment. I will see both doctors over the next few weeks and will listen to their advice, yet this is a decision I will need to make for myself.

One of the phrases that has been a part of my life since I was diagnosed with breast cancer is “Get all the input you can, make your decisions and then don’t look back”. With that in mind, I am researching radioactive iodine.

Elsie and I moved back into our home on wheels on Tuesday. I am hidden at the back of the campground at Santee Lakes. Although the water is a distance away, I am enjoying the low visitor impact in the back. Each night I hear the coyotes, so you know that Miss Elsie is in before dark.

I am feeling very grateful for my friends, Cynthia, and Ward (who took care of me) and Nancy (who took care of El). Because of their caring and support, I believe that everything went much smoother. My recovery would be flawless if I had remained at my friend’s home. I may not have found myself pushing too far too quickly. That is a lesson that I continue to need to learn.

My friends have been calling and reaching out. I am glad to be remembered. It reminds me, that even at my lowest moments, I am loved and supported by many. I am remaining grateful and thankful for such good friends.

I am so thankful for a No Cancer Moment.

 

My Summer Vacation by Elsie the Cat

After a long, long summer break I am back in my home on wheels and heading into the sunset. As usual, I am riding shot gun while Janet drives. I am not sure where we are heading, and it doesn’t matter, as long as I am going along for the ride. Janet and I, we are a team.

Three months ago, that is what Janet says, she left me and my tiny home at her sister’s in Northern New Jersey. I really don’t know where she went but I was left in this cushy home and gradually as I became braver I was able to explore the whole house. This house is a lot bigger than my tiny home on wheels. There was so much to explore.

At first I was timid and would come down the stairs and peer into the living area. There is a rug in that room that smells like catnip. It was the first thing that pulled me further into the living space. I loved rolling on that rug. If someone paid too much attention to me, I would run back upstairs to the safety of my room. I know it was my room because my toys, litter pan, food and water was there. Every kitty needs a safe place, a place to call home.

My Summer Home

After a few weeks I discovered that Ginny and Frank were really nice people and they welcomed me into their lives. I would sit on Ginny’s lap sometimes. It was warm and fuzzy place to sleep. When Frank would take naps I laid on his side or next to him. They often had the heating blanket on and it became a favorite place for me to nap.  I soon found that the blanket at the end of their bed was another great place to snooze. Us kitty’s nap often.

Ginny served me my food on blue depression glass plates. I felt very special. She gave them to Janet to take with us. I get served my meals in elegance and style, wherever I go.

They have a kitty, Kitty Lepore, who ignored me most of the time. As I got braver I would run up to her and we would both hiss and then I would run away. I don’t think she ever really liked me a whole lot. I am not sure I liked her either, but life with her was bearable. I have had some other encounters with kitties that were not so pleasant as Kitty L’s and mine. I will take her over other cats, any day.

When Janet and her friend, Phyllis (she has shoes and purses that I love to rub on) returned, the balance in the house changed. I had to get used to Janet being back in my life. She says she was gone for two months. For a little cat like me it felt like an eternity. I was just beginning to think that this house was going to be a forever home when Janet returned. As soon as I saw my little home on wheels, I was ready to get on board and travel once more.

Mid-September, Janet and I stepped into our RV and began to head west. I am back to being an adventuresome kitty. We stopped in Ohio to visit with more family. They have a kitty, Callie, we have never formally met, just stared at each other from across the room. Then we went to Chicago to visit good friends of Janet. While we were there I introduced Charlie and Thuey (more cats) to rabbit pate. It was a big hit.

Me and Percy

A few days ago we left Helen, Dave, Percy (I don’t want to even go there), and Oreo (another kitty) behind and are now heading west. They live in Lincoln, NE. I love visiting with Helen and Dave. When I arrive there is my very own personal guest basket. It has treats and toys to play with. I feel very welcomed there. I am so glad Janet has such good and kind friends. It makes life a bit easier for this little cat.

Now we are going to Flagstaff. More good friends live there and I think we might spend a few days there before departing for San Diego. Janet says I have been to this friend’s home before. I am not sure, I will have to wait and see. Having friends is a good thing.

Well the hour is getting late for this little kitty. I need to give myself a bath  before going to sleep again. You can never get enough of a good thing.

I will wake in the morning to new adventures. Bring them on.

 

 

The Adventure of the Anxious Traveler

Navajo National Monument

Since leaving San Diego, I have had a beautiful ride and some nice hikes in my favorite parts of the United States. I have visited friends and helped out where I can. It has been a relaxing and easy time.

As I was crossing the Navajo Reservation, I found, although I was enjoying the scenery, I was anxious. The closer I got to Durango, CO the more my anxiety increased. I tried breathing. I tried diverting my thoughts. And finally I took a Xanax.

Rafting the Animas, Durango

The big question, why was I so anxious? I love this area of Colorado. It has a bit of a feeling of coming home. Why the anxiety?

  • Jim and I bought 45 acres of property here, in 1999. It was going to be our retirement home. We have upgraded the property. For the first couple of years after Jim died I was unable to come to Durango, much less visit the property. Last year I realized that 45 acres was more than I wanted to manage on my own and I put it on the market.
  • I have a good realtor. I have a lawyer that is making sure all my paperwork is in order. I have good friends here who offer to help me any way they can. Yet I find it is hard to let go. I try to keep the emotions out of this sale. It is, at times, hard to do.
  • As I drive across this great country I have a lot of time to think. If I focus too much on the issues with my thyroid and cancer I get a little anxious. Have I made the right choice to wait until fall? How long do I have to live? How long do any of us have to live? Why does the diagnosis of cancer create all these mixed up emotions in anyone? Well aren’t these just a bunch of loaded questions.

Very good friends

What surprises me about anxiety is that it shows up suddenly. I have done little to precipitate it. I would like to tell it to go away. If only it was that easy. On the drive into Durango, I diverted my attention with a qood audio-book. This technique helps a lot. It has to be a captivating book. Stopping to take photos also helps me refocus (sic). I know I can reach out to friends as well. Not that afternoon as I was driving in and out of cell range.

I have been in Durango for two days now. I have had a chance to visit with friends, meet my realtor, and take care of some business. I have gotten one good bike ride in and I am doing better. The anxiety is less, yet I still feel it simmering in the deep backgrounds of my being. I am breathing more, throwing in a little meditation and reminding myself that this is just property and as others have said to me, “it is just business”.

I am choosing to find things to do that bring me joy. That has helped lessen the anxiety a lot. If you have never been to this country, joy to me, is being outside and in nature. I can hike, bike, walk and more. There are lovely stores in town that cry out to be explored. The art galleries are my favorite. I may even go off to the hot springs and soak. There is a lot to do in Durango.

I am more than coping. I am being adult when I need to be and then I can drop that and go off and explore and enjoy my day. I am remembering to breath. It is good to inhale spring at elevation. The sky is clearer and bluer. The mountains are an amazing backdrop. I think I will kick anxiety out the door and go and enjoy my day.

 

 

 

Friends

I wasn’t planning to post again until after my Wednesday visit but….this will be short.

I have all kinds of friends in my life. Long term ones, short term ones, ones who are occasionally there and ones I can rely on through thick and thin. I love them all. Sometimes I mistake what one friend can or cannot do. This is often my assessment of a situation that turns out incorrect. Mistakes can also come as lessons I need to learn.

This morning I am sitting at this lovely campsite and trying to figure out where to stay in San Diego. Yvonne is a friend who has surfaced since Jim’s death. She worked for him at the college. She is a fellow tour guide. When I asked her to accompany me to my appointment on Wednesday, she said yes. She is going to get off work early so she can be my second set of ears, a very important role.

Today, Yvonne offered me her driveway to camp in. Oh my goodness this is exactly what I needed. I don’t need to ponder and think alone in a campground for the next few days. She and her home, at the moment, are a gift to me. I am feeling blessed and overwhelmed and oh so grateful. It will be fun to catch up with her and Elsie will enjoy her backyard.

Today I am feeling grateful for all my friends in whatever form they take.

Today I am feeling so grateful for Yvonne.

“The Power to Rise Again”

There are times in my life when I can use encouragement, support and more from known and unknown sources. When life gives me a hard push or I am struggling with indecision or fear, encouragement in positive outcome helps me so much.  The known sources are my friends or people I know through social media, like those of you who follow this blog. The unknown sources may be inspirational books, poems, and news articles.

About four months ago a good friend of mine, Pat, introduced me to the “Sunday Paper“. The Sunday Paper is Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter publication that offers news and views for a meaningful life.  This newsletter is one I quickly began to look forward to receiving each week. I like to go to my inbox before I even get out of bed to read the inspirational message at the beginning of the Paper. Each week there is usually something in this message that resonates with me and gives me courage when I need it most. I feel like each week there is something in these messages that speaks directly to me.

Now before, you of different political beliefs begin to think, “Here is that liberal Janet speaking out” or “Maria Shriver-just another Kennedy” I encourage you to go to the web site and have a look around. It is amazing what she comes up with week after week. She posts you-tube videos that are pertinent to the weekly theme. There are interviews with authors. There is so much in this paper, that I rarely read or listen to everything before the next week’s paper appears in my in-box. Some weeks I just read the inspirational message and short prayer at the end of the message.

This morning’s delivery in my inbox is titled The Power to Rise Again. If you click on this title it will take you directly to her page.

I have considered and thought about this article of inspiration often through out my day. I needed to read or hear what she had to say. At times it is hard to deal with other human beings. I am dealing with some issues with another human being at the moment. It feels unfair how I am being treated and even though I know “this too shall pass”, well right now I am in the middle of it all and it is a struggle.

Here are some of the quotes that I have found encouraging in Maria Shriver’s message this morning.

These days when I go to church on Palm Sunday, though, I find myself really thinking about the significance of the day. I also find myself thinking about how fast the court of public opinion can change someone’s life, just as it did for Jesus Christ.

On Sunday, he was met with adoration. By Friday, he was dead on the cross. I mention this because if we spend our whole lives working for other people’s admiration and validation, it’s worth remembering that external validation can change on a moment’s notice.

“The game is going to test you, never fold. Stay ten toes down. It’s not on you, it’s in you. And what’s in you, they can’t take away.”

He was right. Life is a test. It was for Jesus Christ, it was for his mother Mary, and it is for each and every one of us.

Life will always test us. I know it has tested me, and I know it has tested you. On many occasions, I have found myself saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” Or, “Wow, I have no experience for how to deal with that.”

But over the years, I have also found great moments of awe and wonder and joy in life’s surprises. Time and again, these surprises have led to me discover strength within myself that I never knew existed.

I say all this to remind you that if your week starts out great, but hits a bump along the way, you can still rise again by the following Sunday.

Life will test you and it will surprise you, but you have everything you need to rise up and move forward with strength and courage. I love knowing this to be true. I love believing it.

I have found such support in these words today. I will spend the rest of the week digging deeper into the Sunday paper for joy and enlightenment and support.

And then next Sunday….a new edition will be there to greet me.

 

 

Tis the Season

“Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thanks or acknowledgement.”

Christmas is arriving very soon, five days to be precise. I chose, years ago to forgo giving presents to my family. The reaction from my family members was across the board. Some were upset. Others seemed relieved. I got tired of sending gift cards to people because I did not know what they wanted.

No gift giving has giving me a freedom to enjoy the holidays a bit more. I don’t have to try to find a place to park at the mall. I don’t have to deal with tired children and weary parents. I am content to stay away from the craziness this season often causes in all of us. It has allowed me some simpler pleasures.

This year for the first time since Jim died I decorated my little home on wheels. It makes it feel warm and cozy. I feel like I have taken a step forward in the “who I am now” process. I did not go all out but a few small battery run tiny trees with lights and lights around my kitchen window have made me feel like I am celebrating grandly.

Recently I read an article about a little boy being told the truth about Santa. The sentence at the top of this post, is what stuck in my head regarding how the father explained to his son what Santa really means. I like to think I can be Santa Claus all year long. I like the idea of giving for the sake of giving. Instead of doing it now I like to give when I find the perfect little item or card. I hope people enjoy the fact that I think of them and care for them all the time. Sometimes giving means that I hand my spare change or few dollars to the homeless. Giving from the heart, in the moment, is the true freedom of giving without expectation.

I treasure phone  calls from friends and family or when someone sends me an e-mail. It is personal and makes me feel special. Often phone calls come just when I need them. This coming year I would like to commit myself to calling my friends and family more often. They feel cared about and I feel less alone. It may even deepen our relationship. How much fun would that be.

As the season comes to a culmination I am celebrating in my own way, enjoying dinners with friends, wandering the San Diego Zoo during Jungle Nights, attending the Nutcracker, and even watching a live performance of La Traviata from the New York Met at a nearby movie theater with a friend. It is varied and such a lovely way to catch up with friends.

My birth family is approximately 3000 miles away. This year I will have to wave at them across the miles, enjoy their phone calls and watch for their posts on Facebook. Often this is how my family and I have celebrated many Christmases since I headed west in my mid-twenties. Ah this is the price of the adventurer in the family. Although I miss them, I have no regrets about exploring this huge and grand country and stretching my wings.

Christmas this year is in the home stretch. Hopefully most gifts are obtained and wrapped and ready to go. Dinners are planned and celebrations are near the grand finale. I know that I will contemplate a warm and wonderful day with friends. I look forward to enjoying the laughter and joy with Pat and her family. It is good to have good friends. It is even better when good friends are near by and want to include me in their holiday fun.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Whatever you celebrate. Embrace your family and friends and enjoy the day the week.

Miss Elsie says Meow.

 

 

 

 

Birthdays, Breast Cancer, & This Time of the Year

As October winds down, I am feeling relief. Relief that this month is done.

Every year since I had breast cancer (I was diagnosed February 2010), this month has been a bit hard for me. I don’t like pink, never have and never will. I feel kind support for those who walk for breast cancer, who shout about being a survivor, however I am not one of those people. I have found nothing to be grateful for, for having been through the experience of a breast cancer diagnosis. Mostly I find I have residual anger, residual PTSD, and residual everything surrounding this diagnosis. I am grateful to be alive and I would like to see this event take its place in the far reaches of my memory. As you might tell, I am still working on it.

Each year at this time I worry a little bit. Is my mammogram going to be normal? Will my surgeon and oncologist find anything? Is that weird pain in my hip cancer? Ay Yi Yi Yi.

Jim

Jim, my husband, died from cancer 6 years ago on October 17. Shall I mention that this is the day after my birthday? He went into the hospital the day before his 60th birthday (October 10) and died the day after mine. Well there is something to get through. I have not enjoyed celebrating my birthday in big bang up way. I like to be quiet now and contemplative.

I describe those three and half years between my diagnosis and his death, like a deck of cards. They were thrown up in the air the day of my diagnosis. Just as I was beginning to pick up the cards, boom, the next event happened and the cards flew into the air again. I have been slowly picking up the cards ever since. I still can’t find some of them, ergo, I remain living in my RV and drive to the next destination hoping to find another card. This has been an adventure, a painful process, a lonely one too, times of great fun and exploration and everything in between.

Here is what I am appreciative today.

  • My kind and wonderful friends from all over the world who call, email, text and contact me through social media. When I need someone to talk to, out of the blue one of these friends will call. They have saved my day, my life, my moment more often than I acknowledge.
  • I am financially comfortable. I could buy a cute and fancy RV and move in. I can afford the repairs (they don’t come often), the gas and everything that supports this nomadic lifestyle.
  • I am alive and able to go on grand adventures, both small and large.
  • Elsie the cat-what would I do without her? She is one of the most adaptable and loving companions I could have. We are into our fourth year of adventures together. She remains a delight.
  • I am glad to be able to see the sunrises and sunsets. Each day I wake, is another day to be grateful for everything.
  • The doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturist, massage therapist, myofascial release practitioner, and all those other health care workers on the broad holistic spectrum that keep me tuned up and moving.
  • My friends and acquaintances that offer me a bed in their home, whether it is a visit or house sitting. Sometimes I need a respite from my little living space.
  • I appreciate everyone waiting and giving me room to figure out what is next? No-one else is judging me. I need to stop judging and being hard on myself. You know that saying, “It is all about the journey, not the destination”-I still need to learn this.

    Jim & I flying to Baja for a week on a deserted beach.

There are three days left in this month. I don’t count them down anymore. I feel I have made progress in acknowledging this month and not feeling quite as sad or out of sorts. One of my friends asked me this month, how I felt about the “whole Jim thing”. Well there is a loaded question. Each moment of the day the answer could be different. I believe I have come to a softer acceptance of this month, of the events that transpired six years ago and I still miss by dearest and best friend. Jim saw things in me that no one else has ever seen and I will always miss this about his love for me and mine for him.

I bid farewell to October, thankfully doing a bit more than just getting through the month. I embrace and welcome November. I embrace and welcome each day I wake up in the morning and am able to figure out what small adventure I will take myself on that day.

Today I am grateful for all of my friends, acquaintances and all of the followers of my blog,  who send me messages of support and encouragement. Today I am grateful for people.