Sunday, 6 December 2015
I never thought much about the opportunity I have of being a mom, but yesterday Aaron, our smart and witty one, looked at me after I admonished him about showering or something similar and he looked at me and said, "Even though I have gay dads there always has to be a mom somewhere".
I never thought I was the mom but on reflection I guess I am. I tell the kids to shower, brush their teeth, not eat cookies too close to dinner, be a peace maker with squabbles. I'm not saying these tasks are all on my shoulders. Joseph is a major player as well. He cooks all their meals. Gives tenderness or discipline where it's needed. Takes them to movies.
The reality is, and I think gay parents exemplify this, there is less of a boundary when it comes to the mom versus dad thing. At that time and place I just happened to be the mom.
But being the mom! I'm indignant! (But Joseph just pointed out to me that the kids would never dare call him the mom. That made me feel better.)
I met a beautiful man on Little Beach last year. He was Haitian and a wise man. He lived there on the beach and gave massages for a living. He was there for a number of months and we saw him on 3 separate occasions. He even got to meet Nathan on one of those trips.
His life was simple. He ate fruits and vegetables and did yoga every morning before doing a massage or 2 in the afternoon. We became Facebook friends and he posted this this morning.
It's words like these that are great support and comfort me.
i'am an old bird that never flew ...when i will spread my wings ill be an angel infinitly ...are you cosmic powered or worldly powered ? the latter is a free training for insanity ...the former a manual hidden in your breath...BREATHE!
Aloe Antinous Aquila
Thursday, 3 December 2015
|Left Rebecca, Deb middle, Sarah right|
There was a lot of great food. My sister Deb and her husband Neil are pros in the kitchen and on the grill. But the real thanks goes to how much love was released by everyone. Politics and religion were left at the door although on occasion Neil couldn't help himself.
There was laughter, reminiscing, playing with grand nieces and nephews, and showing love and concern for each other and for gently discovering truths about our mother who recently moved from independent living to assisted living.
My siblings and I haven't spend much of our adult lives being very close to each other physically or emotionally. Everyone was busy with family and careers and we all lived far apart in our own worlds. Being together wasn't a priority and it seemed when we were together there was an underlying uneasiness propagated by differing opinions.
We are close now. There is a respect for each other born from a fresh acceptance. Not one of obligation because we are family but one from resting our differences. It opens a huge space for love that feels joyful.
Our next visit will be for Christmas. We will arrive bright and early on Christmas morning. Can't wait.
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
What I first noticed was having some indigestion after meals - some nausea and generalized discomfort. Mild. Nothing horrendous. I chalked it up to the amount of Ibuprofen I've been taking - mind you I'm not exceeding 800mg in 24 hours. So I did all the precautionary things. Took them with food. Took an acid reducer. And in the last 4 days switched to Tylenol. Nothing.
The big blow is how profoundly not only the taste but the smell gin has on creating nausea. I just can't drink it anymore.
On the tragedy scale this is huge for me. I've been a gin and tonic guy for decades. At first, as would any connoisseur would do, I resorted to forcing myself to drink it but it's became like getting medicine down a 2 year old.
I had planned that up until I leave I'd at least get to enjoy my evening cocktail sitting in my easy chair by the fire. Every day it seems like something that I thought I'd be able to hang onto gets lost.
This is really unfair.
Tuesday, 24 November 2015
He was uncomfortable asking me if it was okay to ask me about the cancer. I said sure you can. I don't get very emotional about it anymore. It's probably because I write about how I'm doing in my journal everyday and discuss it with Joseph when we check in with each other as to how we are doing physically and emotionally. Now I have this blog that I get to chronicle my story. So I talk or write about it with regularity.
It's only lately - since my visit with my oncologist - that the idea that this is really happening is coming into focus for me. It means I'll be getting more and more people interested in being around me and seeing what they can do for me.
There is no protocol or guide book for this kind of thing. Everybody who goes through this is different. I like my alone time, and being the center of attention, small talk, or reminiscing is not something I'm good at. It feels like an obligation for me to go out and accept invitations to "be" with people. However I do understand that I need to talk about it and that people need to talk to me about it and I'm okay with that.
And of course some people are much better at talking about weighty things then others. They are good listeners: able to intuit what makes someone comfortable and what doesn't, how long to stay or linger on a topic, to understand that because I don't accept invitations it doesn't mean that I don't feel close to them or love them.
It's another part of the path.
Now I have kids (not biologic) of my own and it feels good. When I went to pick them up for the weekend, Esther was in the driveway waiting for me and ran into the house yelling "Dad's here". It was a simple and natural thing for her. For me it was huge and reassuring that I'm doing the right thing.
Monday, 23 November 2015
Joseph and I are spending some time grieving. Grieving has many different meanings and forms. It can be constructive or destructive but the core is a lose of something to which a bond or affection has formed.
I have to this point worked on grieving the loss of something physical. My inability to ride my bike, go to yoga, and now with the coming of winter skiing. All things that have brought me so much happiness and contentment throughout my life. I've remarked many times how there is no problem that a good climb on a bike or a walk on fresh snow up a mountain didn't take care of.
And now I, we, are grieving the loss of a life we could have had. Being together for many years. Watching the children and grandchildren grow up. Seeing their failures and successes. Both of us having fulfilling jobs where we contribute to our family and community. Learning to paint. Learning to balance life.
It's important for us to do this now so that when it gets down to crunch time we have completed for the most part being tossed around by emotions that seem overwhelming and beyond our ability to control. To leave the space huge and open for love and celebration of all things beautiful rather than the small and confined space of grief and sorrow.
I get to go to lovely places in that space thats just on the verge of a deep sleep. They aren't geological spaces but spaces that are occupied by big objects that are smooth, neutral in color, and very light. On occasion there is an incident on the periphery - a human figure or an event that I don't recognize - and then it's gone because I so much want to be back to the shapes. In that space of neutrality I find a great amount of contentment and peace. There is no story. There is no angst. There is no striving. No judgement.
Typically I wake from the nap because I have to shift position to avoid one kind of pain or another. That requires big movement of the dogs and blankets and time for the dogs to resettle. As desperately as I try to get back I can't and I know nap time is over. Other times I startle to a noise and then I'm up.
I'm sure where I go in my naps will become my jumping off point as I leave this physical incarnation. It is so peaceful and without fear or distress of any kind.
I understand now how important it is for there to be such a space when someone dies. Not a place of pushing, pulling, turning, poking, prodding - vital signs, blood work, pain scales. Not a place where there is emotional and physical distress - loud voices, crying, story telling, bickering. A place of quiet and peaceful energy - unconditional love - compassion. When I leave I hope for silence, warmth, cuddling with Joseph, and no pain either physical or emotional.
Friday, 20 November 2015
Thursday, 19 November 2015
I can't live without pain medication anymore. It used to be an occasional 400mg of Motrin but now it's straight up 800mg 3 times a day with several oxycodones thrown in to cut the pain breaking through and then morphine at night.
It leads me to ask the question what will happen next and when. Prostate cancer metastasizes to bone (already have that), liver, lung, and brain. My decision still stands to not do chemo or radiation and let things progress naturally and to treat symptoms aggressively. So I imagine that when something else shows up my time will be sharply reduced. Weeks. Months at the most.
I can do this.
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
The general feedback is that people enjoyed reading about our adventures. I got over the shyness of it if you will.
Now I want to share my next trip. I want to share my experience and keep it as a lasting record. I write in my journal everyday but of course a lot of that is chit chat with myself and personal to me - trying to figure out how my thoughts and emotions drag me around. Giving me some help with what to let go of and what to hang on to. Essentially don't hang on to everything but thats the path isn't it.
I'm not going to post my blog on Facebook or via email. I just want to write of another journey. Something that may or may not help others going through struggles wether it be cancer or some other bump in the road and in the process help me to let go.
I was sitting in our den this last weekend watching the world go by. I could hear the kids shouting and laughing on the playground on the other side of the park. I told Joseph how thankful I was that they put the playground on the other side of the park because even over there we can plainly hear the kids.
The cyclists were rolling by having their conversations. We live on a cyclist thoroughfare to the canyons. People out walking their dogs. Running.
The sensation I had was one of being stationary. Maybe moving backwards some as the rest of the world marched on to the future. I have had the future taken away from me.
As the sages have taught the future is an illusion. It has no solidity. It's this very moment that matters; yet when the future is removed from the equation it creates a noticeable void.
I'm whittling myself down both emotionally and physically as I prepare to leave.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
I'm not sure I'm trying hard enough. With minimal exertion I tire. With small pieces of physical activity I hurt. Many people have the same problem yet they go on and endure most of the time because they have to.
Is there ever a place for suffering just for the sake of suffering? Does it add to the experience in a positive way? I heard a friend describe cycling as a sport of suffering. It's a true statement - if you want to ride seriously you must be willing to suffer mentally and physically. Cycling and I were meant for each other.
For most of my life I've felt that for anything to be worth anything one needs to suffer. It's part of my Lutheran upbringing. Am I not trying hard enough with this cancer journey. Does it require suffering to somehow make it "worth it".
For the longest time I had difficulty connecting to the cancer. I got to go to the gym. I participated vigorously in yoga. I could ski and ride my bike. All as if nothing had happened. Not even a blip on the radar to let me know I had cancer.
There were changes related to the medication or more specifically the dwindling away of testosterone. Most of the time, short of a monthly reminder - visiting my oncologist - I questioned if they had the right person. How could I be this healthy and vigorous with a terminal diagnosis.
I dreaded the monthly PSA test. It was like a test score. A test I had to pass. At first I would be anxious at least a week before the blood draw. Unable to sleep. Poor appetite. Difficulty paying attention. Most of the time there was celebration or sense of reprieve. Yes. I'm going to make it at least another 6 months.
When I started Xtandia (androgen blocker) I knew it was the last step for me. Making the decision to forego radiation and chemotherapy left me with this one last medicine to try. With my oncologist's and husband's agreement, we decided a few months ago to stop doing the monthly PSA test. No need to mentally torture myself if there was nothing we were going to do differently with the results. It was a good move.
The disease will progress onward but there is one less test I need to pass.
Monday, 16 November 2015
My mom is pretty stubborn and when you add onto that a bit of dementia exacerbated by the stroke we, her family, were expecting a fight. But then it didn't happen. She went along willingly.
Most of her children live far away and for a decade now Deb and her husband Neil have been looking in on at first both of my parents and then my mom alone because we can't. Not entirely true. We could have but it would have required a full transplanting of our lives to be close to her and taking our turn.
Deb and Neil have been steadfast and diligent in taking care of her. Slowly and methodically they took her from this stroke, it's rehab, and by far the biggest hurdle convincing her a move to assisted living was for the best. They also got the important things moved to her apartment and made it familiar to her and now will continue to work at dismantling her condo one memory at a time.
My mom sounded happy and relieved when I talked to her from her new apartment.
Thanks Deb and Neil for your hard work.
The previews before the movie were significant because I was more interested in the release dates, wondering if I'd still be here when they came out. It felt unfair to be enticed by a movie and it crossed my mind several times wondering if there was a way I could get an early screening so I wouldn't miss it before I have to leave.
We are having the Utah Thanksgiving here next Saturday because we will be going to Portland to spend it with my side of the family. Last night we were finalizing those plans. You know, who was all coming, what the menu will look like, and what people will be bringing.
The Christmas holiday was also discussed. Since we will be leaving Christmas morning - again to spend the holiday with my family in Portland after an early celebration in Utah and going directly from there to Florida, we wondered about the value of putting up a tree here in Utah. Ive been advocating against a tree but last night I changed my mind.
At the current trajectory in my health, it is highly unlikely that I will get to celebrate another holiday season. I've been trying to come up with a word that describes how I feel about that. I don't think sad is the word I'd use. It's more a feeling of inevitability that carries heaviness with it and leads to a melancholy.
So let's put up the tree. It's Joseph's act of love and it seems silly to deprive him of that.
Saturday, 14 November 2015
My work as a physician was void of creativity as were all the other physical pursuits. At the time I would lament the fact that there was such little creativity in my life. That's how things go.
One thing I l've learned is not to abandon projects too quickly. Although they may not turn out precisely as I had imagined they do teach me something and by persisting there comes a sense of satisfaction.
Monday, 12 October 2015
Despite no lay overs and plenty of room in economy plus bulkhead seats I was exhausted. The kids came over for a couple of hours and by 5 I was sound asleep in bed.
Reportedly the smallest house in Amsterdam.
Tomorrow we are off for home. No more pictures of buildings, mountains, countryside or food. I'm ambivalent about returning home. Except for hanging out with the kids and walking the dogs which I've missed a lot I think I'd prefer to continue to travel. In the past I would be anxious about doing things like going back to the gym and yoga. The upcoming ski season. Now I have my walking stick and escalating doses of medication.
I'm going to reiterate what I've said before. I am so appreciative of my husband who has been amazing at organizing this trip. From the big things like hotel and cruise reservations to the small where he is frequently checking in with me, taking care of the boarding passes and pass ports. Asking me how I'm doing and adjusting outings accordingly. All I have to do is follow along and enjoy my self. I love you Joseph Broom.
Friday, 9 October 2015
The Cologne Cathedral was of the gothic style of architecture (between medieval and Renaissance period). Construction started in 1240 and completed in 1880 - over 600 years. The building halted because of finances until the 19th century. It was largely left intact during the war despite a devastated city around it some think to serve as a navigational point.
love being walked.
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
We took a trip to the music museum. It was surprisingly very nice and interesting. Not a museum of particular of instruments but more the machines that play themselves. Something you would find on a carousel and some organ grinders. The ones with collared monkeys that in movies always get in some kind of mischief. When I posed the question which came first the monkey or the organ he thought the monkey. People would often display exotic animals in the markets. Google says the monkey was added to hold the tin cup for donations freeing up both hands for the organ grinder.
Then it was up to Koblenz. The stretch between Redenshiem and Koblenz is essentially what the Rhine River tour is about. It is one medieval castle after another tucked up in the hills surrounded by vineyards and stands of trees with the brilliance of fall colors. Most of the structures have been restored from previous conflicts. When first entertaining the idea of a river cruise I imagined it would be 7 days of castles perched on hillsides. It's certainly been beautiful and relaxing. The reality is that there is one stretch of castles all destroyed and rebuilt - turned into hotels and youth hostels and towns that thrives on tourist trade.
I'm pretty sure I prefer the cycling way of seeing Europe. Out of the way back roads with great views, crazy ascents and descents, small and uncomfortable rooms,mediocre food and not another foreigner encountered in days.
But I'm grateful that I get to do what I get to do with my husband - making memories.
Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Most of you probably know that Joseph is a great collector of Christmas ornaments which is perfectly fine by me. It's a creative outlet for him plus it gives him a chance to reminisce about past Christmases and past travels. The rest of the year he is like me and not prone to having knick knacks and clutter around the house. For some reason the spirit didn't move him and he only bought one ornament.