Day +4

The big news of the day – I am #1 on the list for a room with shower!

The more time I spend here the more conversations with staff become personal. The day nurse I have had for a few days is a widow with a 28 yo living at home and a terrier/pug mix dog. The PCA (personal care assistant), the one who got me the reiki session, wears wigs, has no hair and loves my buffs so I’ve pointed her in the right direction for purchasing some. Another nurse has an 8 month old bulldog. Another one has a sister who recently came out to her family as a lesbian. And yet another is at wedding in South Carolina this weekend. They are old, young, born and raised anywhere from Boise, ID to CT to right around the corner. We’re one big healing family 🙂

I’ve come up with a new side effect just now as I try and get this blog out – mucositis. For me it fells like a little bit of an air bubble about midway down my esophagus and then a stabbing pain right underneath my ribcage on the right side. Apparently, this is treated with oxycodone. It only hurts when I drink or eat, each swallow of beverage and/or bite of food.

It is very complicated managing the side effects and treatment of same side effects. For instance, I am losing weight (although  I was up 2 lbs. today) and not drinking enough. But I have to do this mouth care which includes 2 different preparations, one a rinse and spit, and the other a rinse and swallow. They are to be taken one hour apart and you cannot eat or drink anything half an hour after you take each one. And now eating and drinking is giving me a stabbing pain in my gut. Alas and alack…

But I digress, today was really a pretty good day, nausea held at bay, Scot is here, brought me up a new hoodie (the room can get cold, in between my hot flashes) and we had a good nap (the “mens” know how to sleep during visitations, the women, not so much). Kyle treks back up here tomorrow for the day, Father’s Day was a tough one to fill.

Maybe I just need a belly rub like the lion above in Zimbabwe, 2012.

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I never thought I’d be writing a blog, and certainly not one that is all about me, and yet, here I am. For me life has always been interesting, not mundane, not always exciting per se, but hardly ever the norm. When I say “It’s always something…” I don’t hear it as my life is a mess, it;s always something. It’s more of life is challenging and evolving and messy and inspiring and wondrous, it’s always something. I grew up in suburbia, buy my grandfather was the head of the Communist Party in the U.S. I was raised keeping that a secret, so that was something. I am tall, always have been, really tall (6’1″), I was taller than every human being in my elementary school when I was in 6th grade, that is still something. My parents divorced in my teens. I got a full basketball scholarship to Duke University. I married my high school basketball coach, 18 years my senior. I raised a stepson. I had two amazing kids of my own. We had a multicultural household, secular christian (I guess that’s what I would call it, you know Santa and the Easter Bunny) and Judaism, I used to say if it was a holiday – we celebrated it! We were uber involved in our community, mostly through youth athletics, coaching, managing and spectating. Our kids grew up, I started a photography business on the side (I hope to share some photos here) and we planned to travel a bit together, went to Portugal for our 25th anniversary and then my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, initially they gave him 5 years, but he only survived for a little over two. I was going to say lived, but really, it was more like surviving. That, indeed, was something. I became a widow at 49. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. But, then it was something in another way. I relearned who I was. You don’t realize how much of you becomes a combination of you and another person in a relationship. And not in a bad way, it is essential, and you don’t lose yourself, you just evolve. And I found myself suddenly alone, and learning about myself and who I had become over the years, what was just me, and what was part of who we were together. Which in retrospect, was probably hardest on those around me who had gotten used to the old me, or never even knew the original me. A year later I found love again. Sold my home of 31 years and moved closer to work. I became more fit, ate more healthfully and was amazed that I could be happy, truly happy, in the wake, no not wake, but the shadow of such profound grief. And that is truly something, something amazing and unexpected. And then, through some routine blood work in April 2014, and a visit to a hematologist and bone marrow biopsy in May, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. And so, yes, for me right now it’s multiple myeloma, but that is not all, there are still highs and joys, and the mundane and the rest, but something like cancer does cast a pretty long shadow.

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