Looking For The Good Things Among The Bad

I am trying my best to not be overwhelmed by the things I have no control over. There are people I love dealing with situations that make me cry. I can’t do anything to help, but pray. So that’s what I’m doing. I have my own issues to deal with.                 

I’m grateful for the wonderful success of my chemotherapy treatments. That being said, I am unexpectedly having a strange psychological reaction to taking the pills. I’ve been sitting with my feelings trying to sort them out. I know the pills are necessary to continue fighting the cancer. I also know that I am finally feeling better every day. Taking the medication means I am going to feel bad again. It means I am walking away from feeling better. It’s a difficult thing to do to yourself.   

I resisted taking them for the first day. Now, each time I take them I need to tell myself they are necessary for me to live. Meanwhile, I wait to see how bad it is going to get. I tell myself. I might just be tired. Then, I remember the long discussion with the pharmacist. I certainly don’t want the plethora of possible ailments that could happen.

On the positive side, my daughter and grandkids came over for my birthday. I mentioned to my daughter that I need to take the pills precisely 12 hours apart. My granddaughter piped in, saying that I should use the alarm on my phone. It was a great idea. Instead of dreading the thought of taking the pills, I just wait for the alarm to go off and pop them in my mouth. It has helped me with less time dreading the thought of taking them. I am still apprehensive, but I’m doing it.

My daughter and the kids were wearing t-shirts of support. She brought my spouse and me T-shirts too. We all wore them for a group picture. 


I know this is all hard for my family. It’s good to see them acting like kids without all the drama. Z2 will be graduating from high school this week. She is graduating a year early. On Friday her mom is throwing a small BBQ celebration for her. I am hoping I will continue to feel well enough to go. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I didn’t to start my medication. I was feeling good before I started the new meds.

I had a wonderful birthday outing with my cousin. We went to a horse wellness experience. It was a long drive, but such a wonderful time. We began with some guided meditation. Then we picked a horse card and discussed what we thought it meant. The majority of the time was spent with the horses. It was wonderful. I am grateful to my cousin for taking me.

I am grateful for the wonderful people who check in with me with texts, cards, calls, messages, etc. I know I am not alone in this journey. I felt loved and cared about on my birthday. I’d like many more revolutions around the sun in my future. My job now is to do what I can to stay healthy and happy.

 

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Getting Back In The Groove – SoCS

I am a creature of habit. Every morning I get up about 6 am without an alarm. I take my meds. I feed Annie, and typically we go out back and play together. Since my chemo treatments, our playtime varies in length. When I am feeling OK, I try to do something in my yard. My routine varies very little. Most of time, I need a nap after I complete a chore. Since completing my infusions, I have been gaining a little more strength every day. 

As I have been regaining my taste buds, I have been cooking more. Typically, I am eating two meals a day now. My usual routine was to blog at night. I would try to clear my mind of my daily dramas. Blogging was an escape.

Sadly, there’s been a great deal of drama going on in my life lately. It might be, that because I am clearing out some of the chemo fog, more issues are impacting my spirits. There is no doubt that I am facing critical issues right now. The difference is how they are affecting me. I’ve not been myself

I promised myself that I’d get back to blogging by my birthday Thursday. I yearned to get back into my usual routine.  I didn’t make it though.

The emotional and financial turmoil have interrupted my ability to get back to a new normal.

I am financially responsible for all four parts of my Medicare. When I started teaching, teachers did not pay into SS. My former tax man gave me terrible advice. He told me SS was a sinking ship that would be bankrupt by the time I reached 65. On his advice, I chose not to contribute when the laws changed for teachers.

Paying for part A, Part B, Part D and part G was something I avoided as long as I could. I finally started Medicare last fall. The universe took care of me because Medicare was much better than the HMO I had been on with my spouse. My cancer treatments no longer required “approval.” My oncologist could take care of me properly without fighting the insurance system.

Now that I am done with my infusions I am beginning the next phase of my recovery. My heart sank when I was  told my copay for my new medication was a few thousand dollars each month. At first I was told that I would be responsible for about 60 grand for the minimum 2 years of medications. My future dreams of moving to a new house seemed crushed. My entire retirement check would be going to paying for medical responsibilities and insurance payments. I was so shocked I couldn’t think straight.  After numerous calls to the specialty prescription company and my part D insurance company, I think I have more clarity. Hopefully, I will not be required to spend thousands on my medication after this first dosage. It’s still a hit, but one that I think I can handle.

I am also speaking with the restoration company trying to get my house put back together. I want to get back to sleeping in my ground floor bedroom. I want my old routine. I want to move back downstairs where I’ve slept for 38 years.

I am anxious for a new normal. I’d like to be able to take care of myself physically and financially. My new medication has its own side effects. So far, I am feeling a little tired, but nothing I can’t handle. I expect more side effects, but I am praying that I don’t succumb to all the possibilities explained to me by the pharmacist. I won’t lie, our extended phone conversation made me nervous.

After signing for the prescription, hand delivered to my door, I was nervous about taking the pills. This new routine, that I must follow for at least two years, is daunting. I will follow the routine because it is my best hope for fighting the cancer. I will make a new normal step by step. This ship is not going to sink.

 

Written for MLMM Sunday Confessionals, hosted by Oloriel. This week, for Sunday Confessionals, we were invited to create or share a creation that delves into your personal habits and custom. Also written for Linda’s SoCS prompt.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “sink/sank/sunk.” 

 

The Truth About Cinco De Mayo

From my friend’s Facebook.

It’s your annual rant… I mean lesson on Cinco de Mayo from your friendly Spanish teacher.

1. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That’s September 16th. Which means you will have another excuse to drink Margaritas and eat Nachos in a few months. ¡Viva México!

2. Cinco de Mayo is actually celebrated more in the USA than in Mexico. American University Students from Mexican descent needed a holiday to share. (Mexico’s Independence Day was to close to the beginning of school.)

3. Nachos, hard shelled tacos, Chimichangas, Fajitas, 7 Layer Dip and Burritos were all invented in the USA! And Margaritas!

4. Cinco de Mayo is the Battle of Puebla. This little town in Mexico scared the French Army into retreating and they won the Battle on May 5th.

4. But…..on MAY 6TH- The French came back and finished the job. Mexico WON THE BATTLE, BUT LOST THE WAR!!!!. Yup Mexico became part of France. French Emperor and French Flags everywhere. It’s okay…. drink some Tequila.

6. “Remember Cinco de Mayo,” was a saying of HOPE. If they defeated the French once, they could do it again. Deciding to stand your ground and fight against immense odds Coming out victorious and inspiring hope to the oppressed. That is this holiday. (If you have read this far… you may have another shot of Tequila. Tequila is Mexican.

7. There’s lots of French culture in Mexico… like Pan Dulce!

8. If you know a Mexican with the Last name Betancourt or Perdomo, chances are a French soldier fell in love with a Mexican girl. (Also French Basque names like Navarette and Jauregui.)

Have fun. Be safe.

Thank you to my dear friend for the constant reminders enlightening the masses. Until you came into my life a few decades ago, I too was unaware of the truth. 

Love you JC. I am grateful you are in my life.

 

 

Thank you to my dear friend for trying to enlighten the masses. Until you came into mcades ago, I too, had no clue.

What’s Up In My World?

It’s almost 5:30 AM. I’ve been up for an hour and decided to come downstairs so as to not wake my spouse.

Monday was a busy day calling Medicare and their affiliates to try and resolve some issues. So far, cross my fingers, I have always been greeted with knowledgeable representatives. I was helped by two different terrific people on issues I was unable to resolve on my own. I was also helped to get my RX  meds back to being sent to the nearby pharmacy Hip, hip, hooray. 

I was feeling good enough to go outside and spend some time working in my yard. I won’t lie, that is both my happy place and my measurement of getting back to normal. Being exhausted after a short time was fine. I took a long nap. I was grateful for accomplishing both mental and physical chores.  I hoped to call and try and get in to see my pain management doctor as well as my water therapy. I didn’t have the energy though. 

Tuesday brought me another opportunity to go outside and work on my yard. I am the queen of recycling plants. I’ve replanted ice plant on the hill behind my house. I only own a few feet of the property. The rest is owned by the people down the hill.

In the three decades I have lived here, not once has anyone, but me, done any work on the hill. When I moved here, the hill was sloped with no slumps. I would climb down the hill and remove weeds and dead plants. I didn’t want the hill to catch fire and destroy my property. I also broke off and replanted the ice plant all over the hill. I watered it for years. Sadly, numerous places now have great slumps.

A few years ago when I re-fenced my back yard, I moved the fence back five feet to try and not lose my back yard to a slump. This meant I can work on the space behind my yard to try and save it. I removed eight large trash bins of dead plants and have been replanted the area closest to me. I’ve also added bags of nutrient rich dirt to the top area. I needed help from the neighbor across the street to take the bags from my car. I needed my spouse to take the bags to the back area for me. But, it was me that slowly emptied the bags and replanted the ground cover to try and save my hill. It’s been slow going, but I’m getting it done. I am grateful for days when I can work outside.

I also accomplished some phone chores on Tuesday. I was able to talk to the pain management doctor’s office. I made an appointment for Thursday. Now that Medicare is my primary, I didn’t have to wait forever for an approval. Such great news. I also went to the pharmacy and asked of the Medicare prescription plan had kicked in as promised. Unfortunately, it had not. The wonderful pharmacy tech called Medicare on my behalf and was put on hold. of course. She told me to do my shopping and come back. I did so, but sadly, she was still on hold. I informed her that I was exhausted and needed to go home. No sooner had I arrived home, than she called to inform that I could come get my breathing medicine. I wasn’t up to the return visit physically. Also, as my city is a cut through for freeway traffic, getting there would take at least half an hour, and not the typical five minutes. I am grateful she accomplished a core I was unable to do. 

Wednesday was more phone calls and more work in the yard. The great news was that I did household chores that were long overdue. I even cleaned out my refrigerator. It sure needed it. My usual routine, prior to all the drama since last summer, was to clean out the fridge on Wednesday. Trash day is Thursday, so the bins have to go out Wednesday night. It makes sense to me. I’ve not done this chore weekly since going through chemo. I’ve needed to wait until I hit one of the few days that I was feeling OK. I won’t lie, it needed to be done more frequently. As I was cleaning, I laughed to myself. This is one more step to normal. I am grateful for that.

Each day this week, I have felt less nausea. I have been super tired from anything I did, but that’s OK. I have taken numerous naps from sheer exhaustion, but that’s OK. I have done something in my yard each day. That’s great. I have made important phone calls each day. Every bit of normal makes me grateful and happy.   

Thursday, I was awakened by a heavy rain.That is atypical for us. Usually we get a drizzle, if anything. I looked out my window and was sad at the prospect of not being able to work in my yard. After feeding Annie, I opened the back door so she could do her business as usual. She had been in all night, and I knew she needed to go outside. She saw the heavy rain, and retreated back into the house as quickly as she could. I made her go back outside. She ran as fast as she could onto the grass and peed. That was all I was going to get from her. LOL  I let her back in and praised her for dealing with the rain. She wasn’t OK with my trying to towel her off. She did go to her bed and roll around on the soft material.

I tried to get an appointment with at my water therapy for Friday, but was unable to do so. I did a little cleaning and reading while the rain was coming down hard. After a few hours, the rain stopped and the sun was trying hard to make its way through the clouds. It was still super cold outside. I bundled up and even put on a coat and a beanie. I insisted Annie come out with me. I tossed the ball for her until she’d had enough. Then I took an outside pillow to sit on, and proceeded to dig up, and replant my society garlic plants. I managed to get quite a lot done in three different planters. My goal is to fill in all the empty spaces without having to buy more plants.

It started to drizzle a couple of times while I was working.  Annie came over to me to nudge me to go back in the house. But I was determined to keep working unless the real rain came. It was a true struggle between the forces of nature, my body’s exhaustion, Annie’s desire to go back inside, and my desire to get a goal accomplished. I finished the three planters, and gave in. The front yard planters would just have to wait.

Annie was thrilled to be back inside with the warmth and comforts of her beds. I showered off my morning dirt. I decided I needed a good soak though. My tailbone was hurting a great deal. I didn’t use my Epsom salts because I believed too much of a good thing has been irritating my skin. I received yet another spam call while soaking. I did NOT answer it.

As soon as I was out and dressed, my daughter called. I was grateful for her good timing. We had a long chat while she was driving home. I thanked her for sending the beautiful pictures she had taken of my granddaughter for her upcoming graduation. Z2 is graduating a year early. I am grateful she has wonderful plans for her future.

   

While we were chatting, my spouse arrived home. I got off the phone with my daughter.  I needed to get ready for my pain management doctor appointment. We hoped we might have time to stop off at Goldsteins for a bagel.

We made good time because traffic in the car pool wasn’t too bad. Sadly, when we arrived at Goldsteins, it was all locked up. I’m talking about chains on the door and padlocks. That was certainly foreboding.

We continued to my doctors office. Again, this doctor is connected with Keck medicine. Everyone there is helpful and hopeful. They remembered me from my visit post surgery in December. All my vital information was taken. I saw one doctor and we went over the reason for my visit. I explained that my tailbone had been between a 3/4 since my last injection. However, ever since my spouse and I went to the restaurant and sat outside on the patio (without my cushion) my tailbone pain jumped to a 7/8. The second doctor came in after reviewing the notes. He too, remembered me. The wanted to know if I wanted the injections right away or of I wanted to come back. Of course, I wanted them right away.

They asked about my chemo symptoms. I mentioned that most were getting better. My neuropathy is getting worse though. They glanced at each other and then explained, that they also treated neuropathy. I was surprised to say the least. They explained a variety of treatments that they could employ. I was both hopeful and grateful.   

I walked over to the mini-operating room and was prepped for the procedure. I didn’t recall being hooked up to an EKG, a blood pressure cup, and a blood oxygen counter the last time. Truth be told, the last time I was there I was pretty out of it. I was just a couple of weeks post surgery. I was beyond a 9 on the pain scale.  This time I was post all my infusions and on the road to normal.

The doctor complimented my head tattoos. I told him they were provided by Amazon. He said they looked real and were beautiful. I explained that I am embracing the bald head as part of my journey. I at least want it to look pretty. Throughout the procedure, the doctors explain what they are doing and what to expect. I practiced my deep breathing techniques throughout the treatment. I think they were a little shocked when they repeatedly told me there would be stinging and burning from the numbing needles, and I just breathed through them. They kept telling me I was doing great. When it came to the needles for the pain, there was deep pressure, but no pain. I honestly don’t know how long it took. One thing they told me that I hadn’t remembered . I was told no submerging my body for 2 days. Showers are OK but no baths and no water therapy. I guess the universe knew. 

When the doctors left the nurse informed me that I would have to lie there for 10 minutes. Then I moved to a chair. She kept asking me if I was dizzy, I was not. She asked me if I could walk to the reception area where my spouse was waiting. I was fine to do so, but she was standing right beside me. I guess she thought I would not be OK.   

We drove home after my procedure. I felt no pain in my tailbone. I did feel pain from the multiple needle jabs. After dinner my pain had subsided. I fell asleep after a few episode of mindless TV. I went upstairs to bed with no tailbone pain.   

It took way too long to write this post. My fingers don’t work well. I am grateful for getting it done though. Now, I have to get dressed because my spouse is driving me to Pasadena for my checkup with my surgeon. Another day, another doctor visit.

May be an image of text that says "The biggest lesson I learned this year is to to not force anything; conversations, friendships, relationships, attention, love. Anything forced is just not worth fighting for, whatever flows flows, what crashes crashes. It is what it is. POSITIVE"

Look What I Found

I found this in an old folder of my writings in 2019. It made me smile.

Instructions on how to enjoy a visit with a 15 1/2 year-old grandson. 

First thing in the morning let him sleep in. Unless you have urgent or pressing things to do, it is summer so let him catch lots of sleep. He is a growing boy. I swear I can almost see growth each morning. I am grateful he is a healthy young man.

Second, don’t try to feed him first thing in the morning. He is just like me and can’t stomach eating right away. I’d rather he listen to his body than be forced to eat. I am grateful for his healthy eating habits.

Third always ask if he showered last night. Explain to him that showering at night or in the morning is his option, but the act of showering is not an option. I am grateful he will listen to my advice/rules.

Fourth, when he is hungry offer him many options. His usual answer will be yes to all of them. Understand that he is a growing boy and needs lots of sustenance. I am grateful he loves a variety of foods.

Fifth, offer him IKEA for breakfast numerous times. It is a win win situation. He gets his favorite treat Swedish pancakes with lingonberries. Also you can feed him for a very low cost. I am grateful he also enjoys IKEA.

Sixth, have a chore for him to do every day. It can be simple or difficult. Offer a remuneration for a difficult task. It gives him spending money and pride of accomplishment. I am grateful he never sulks when asked to help around the house.

Seventh, do the chore alongside him if possible. It gives you both time to talk and show that working on things is valuable. I am grateful for our conversations.

Eighth, offer lots of healthy snacks. He will finish an entire basket of blueberries or strawberries at a time and that is OK. Go to the store and get more fruit as needed. I am grateful he enjoys fruit. I am grateful I have him in summer because summer time has the best selection.

Ninth, have a huge variety of things to add to salads. Allow him the options of what he likes. Usually the answer will be all of them. He will eat a salad as an appetizer or meal depending on what is added. I am grateful he experiments with new foods.

Tenth, have him help in the kitchen. He is capable of getting things, making things, and cleaning things as appropriate.  Keep the conversation going as tasks are completed. I am grateful he often steps up and helps with out asking.

Eleventh, feed him often. He may say he is not hungry but he usually is. I am grateful he knows he is welcome to anything/everything in my house.

Twelfth, let him know you are taking a nap and it his choice if he would like to do the same. He will say he is not tired but will fall asleep on the couch, on a chair, or on the floor rather than admit he is tired.  I am grateful he will nap even if he seems allergic to a bed.

Thirteenth, go about your daily chores and errands all the while talking to him about whatever he feels like talking about. Some of the most amazing conversations have been held while driving to and fro doing errands.   I am grateful for his vast knowledge and that when he doesn’t understand a concept, he asks. 

Fourteenth, set up the kids blow up pool. Even though it is only a foot and a half deep and 4 feet by seven feet long he will get in. He will become that little boy from ten years ago and splash about in the water.  I am grateful to have shared so many memories with him. 

Fifteenth, give him lots of options for dinner. Tell him what you are having and see if he requires something different or more. Again, talk during the prep and the meal.  I am grateful he is not a picky eater. 

Sixteenth, play board games. Let him choose the game but try and play something every day. Play Monopoly Fortnite, chess, checkers, and Sequence. He could play those forever.   I am grateful he likes to play games with his Nana and Grandpa.

Eighteenth, have him play fetch with the dog. It is wonderful exercise for both of them. I smiled and smiled at all the times he told the dog he loved her.  Offer snacks after playtime. I am grateful his family had to give up Annie to us and we adore her too.

Nineteenth, watch a movie of his choice. You may need some discretion for this activity. If he wisely chooses, make sure everyone joins in. Offer snacks again as he remembers just as I do all the special movie nights at Nana’s house when he was little. I am grateful to no longer have to watch anything Sponge Bob. 

Twentieth, and most important, make sure you tell him you love him. He may respond with a quick “love you too” but as long as he knows you mean it, nothing else matters. I am grateful for having this amazing young man in my life.