Love and Confusion

Sunday November 16, 2014

Last night at around midnight she called to go to the bathroom. Adam heard her first and when I walked out she was already on her commode. “Let’s give her some privacy,” Adam said, and we walked into the kitchen. There we began a lengthy vigil. She was bent over her knees and she sounded like she was in pain. We’d pop our heads out to ask if she was done yet, if she was all right, if she needed help, and she’d wave us off.

I helped her back to bed and sat on it next to her. She put my hand against her cheek and closed her eyes.

* * *

In the morning she still has some confusion but is feisty. Adam is up early with her and gets her coffee, canned (!) peaches, tea, bone broth, and a quarter of a slice of toast. He gives her the Ativan on schedule. Muschi calls and I give the phone to Mom.

“I can’t believe this is how it ends,” she says, “after stealing potatoes and pears.” She’s referring to their poverty and starvation in late 1940s West Germany. She’s crying. Then she switches to Bavarian and I can’t really follow. When Mom gives the phone back to me, Muschi’s voice is changed.

* * *

Berle, Peggie, and Peggie’s husband Pat stop by. “We’re bringing church to you, Inge,” Peggie says. “Because church is wherever we are. We’re going to do communion, and I don’t care if I’m not a priest. This is our own communion. I don’t need somebody between me and God.” She and Pat and Berle read from Isaiah, John, and Psalms. They say prayers for my mother, and for me. Peggie finds some of her favorite praise songs on Pat’s phone and plays them for Mom. She weeps and tries not to let Mom see.

Adam and I leave the house to pick up some pizza that Mom has suddenly begun craving. When we return she tells me, referring to Peggie and Berle, “They tied me down and made me listen to stupid foreign jokes.” The women laughed at that. “Inge, you are still so funny,” Peggie says. Mom doesn’t eat more than a bite or two.

* * *

At half past noon it’s time to pick up Mieshelle. Adam offers to go with me, and at the airport he walks inside to find her.

“It’s been a long time!” she says, as we hug on the sidewalk by the car. “How are you doing? Nevermind,” she adds, “I know how you’re doing. I read your blog.” She is still beautiful, hasn’t seemed to age, and she’s very smartly dressed.

It has been about three and a half years since we last saw one another. I reminded her that we’d been in the Barnes & Noble in Bend, Oregon, negotiating our settlement agreement.

At the house she goes to Mom and hugs her. It seems they are crying. Berle, Pat, and Peggie take their leave, hugs all around. Mieshelle chats amiably with my mother. She has brought a wave of positivity into the house. I am happy to see someone, anyone, here to love my mother, but I also feel, I suppose, something related to reconciliation. They’d fallen out of touch during the divorce, though in recent years they have corresponded on Facebook. I know my mother is important to Mieshelle, and I know my mother has tender feelings and compassion for Mieshelle. I feel good that she is here, and I am relieved.

I listen in and watch them talk for a while, and then I think it would be good to let Mom sleep and let Mieshelle be alone with her. I explain to her the workings of Mom’s world – the pain pump and Ativan, her need to be on her side, her water bottle and vaporizer pen, the bed control and the marijuana salve – and Adam and I jump in Mom’s car to go to Montrose’s newly remodeled Starbucks. “Well that was sweet,” I say. “I’m glad she’s here to love my mother.”

* * *

There is a dividing line between our parents as mortals who yet breathe and our parents as legends that grow as time winds on. I have a feeling I will talk about my mother even more once she is gone.

* * *

She ate some plain yogurt earlier this evening. Several spoonsful. Spilled a good bit on her pajamas and chest, and then made it really clear she didn’t want any help with all that. Mieshelle managed to clean it up anyway, and to put a paper towel on Mom’s chest. Adam and I went to Starbucks to work and catch up on correspondence while Mieshelle gamely made entries into our log for the Ativan and pain pumps she was giving Mom. She’s a positive influence on the household. Adam and I tend to keep to ourselves, in quiet pursuits. Mieshelle, by contrast, is in full charm mode.

Adam went to bed early. Mieshelle and I watch a movie, then begin a second. She is cold so I get her the heavy Afghan blanket and drape it over her. She falls asleep and now both my ex-wife and my mother, separated by a few feet, are asleep before me. It’s an odd sensation. This is the person I shared part of a life with, have memories of traveling and parenting with, then fought and resented – and she’s right here, as if none of the unhappy stuff happened.

Monday November 17, 2014

The days wear on. Today marks three weeks since I sped from Telluride to Montrose, afraid my mother was about to die. Mieshelle and Adam are up before me, though their military maneuvers in the kitchen wake me up before I’m ready. Adam comes in to tell me my mother is alert if I want to spend some time with her.

She is concerned about what happens to some of her things. There are certain items that she wants to stay in the family. She has me take a picture down from the wall and look for the name written on the back. There is no name. She tells me to write “Inherited from Ingeborg Amanda Cheatham” on it.

“Who do you want to give it to?” I ask.

“You!” she says. She looks up at the shelves to her left. “If Oma’s Madonna doesn’t stay in the family,” she says, “you’ll all be cursed.” She looks at another figurine below it. “That black Madonna,” she murmurs, “pretty much the same.” Adam laughs at this. “Giving away, losing, stealing, nothing bad should happen to those Madonnas.”

She points to the armoire housing the TV in front of her. It’s neither an antique nor particularly attractive. “My son hates that, but I like it.” She starts crying as she mentions an aunt of hers who had a similar armoire “that stood there right when you walked in,” and concludes, wiping her eyes, “That’s why I can’t die. I’m too attached.”

* * *

When we ask her to turn over on her side to get off her bedsore, she asks, innocently, “Which way?”

* * *

Tanya, my sister’s best friend, writes me a long text of encouragement and love. I get a Facebook IM from one Karin van Deyk, who writes:

Hi Cameron,

I don´t know you personally, I am a Facebook Friend of your mother – I’ve never met her, but she touched me very deeply – we often talked about cancer – I myself had breast Cancer 13 years ago, so we had something in Common and we shared hope, Inge is that kind of woman I always wanted to be – always open minded, always kind and helping others – even her words always are kind.

* * *

I am reading and answering emails. She lifts her head from dozing and says, “We don’t have a dog, do we?”

* * *

Mieshelle is washing dishes in the kitchen. I find her presence surprisingly comforting, and I feel myself not wanting her to leave so soon.

* * *

“They say there will be four more days of this,” she says to me.

“Four more days of what, Mom?”

“Of this. Illness.”

“Who told you that?” The hospice assistant who was just here?

She waves her hand vaguely. “Somebody.”

“Nobody has said it will last four days, Mom.”

* * *

Sometimes she says things that are somewhere between an attempt at a joke and a slippery grip on reality. A cat with shiny pajamas – who turns out to be Adam in his silk robe — promised her a bon-bon. The cat also told her to take oolong tea into the garden, where waterfalls sing.

I watch her as she falls asleep. I notice that I’m numb to the enormity of her imminent non-existence. I kiss her forehead and smell her hair and skin, and then some tears come.

I am mostly numb from this waiting game. I did struggle not to cry at the funeral home. The woman handed me the cremation contract and I found myself shaking from the war between the impulse to cry and my efforts to hold it in. I was surprised to find Adam teary as well.

* * *

I told Mieshelle I was glad she came out here and it’s been nice to have her here. She agreed. It’s both strange and very familiar. I’m glad this happened.

* * *

We increased Mom’s basal dose from .15ml per hour to .25. The hospice nurse said Mom  would probably sleep more, though it’s hard to imagine how she could sleep more than she has been. On the other hand, she seems to be dozing less and really sleeping more.
Mieshelle leaves tomorrow and Adam leaves on Thursday. Linda will come tomorrow for a short time. I like not being alone. I like visitors coming here.

I am grateful for Adam’s three-week stay. He’s been invaluable in the kitchen and at night, and has helped me with hosting when people visit. On their way out, he thanks them for coming. I’m grateful that Mieshelle’s visit turned out so well. She’s been great with Mom, pleasant with Adam and everyone else, and I’ve felt a sweet affection for her.

I’m grateful for Berle and Silke and Peggie, for Karla and Monika and Inge, for Jayne and Will Kay and Lynn, for Gregory and Annika, for all the people who comment on Facebook.

Tuesday  November 18, 2014

Mom does seem to have been sleeping a lot since her base dose of the painkiller was increased. This is a mixed blessing. She may be in less pain in spite of being unable to remember how to use her bolus to deliver painkiller, but she is not conscious to us. Her ability to perform that most basic of human tasks, that of being present, has been taken away from her, and from those who love her.

I have been grieving this for some time, but I can also tell that I’m just a bit numbed by it all. How else to explain that I’m reacting as if my mother not being present, and dying, is just the way things are. This is what I mean by having settled into a rhythm. There is nothing else to do when you’re waiting.

* * *

Carrie and Laurel arrive from Grand Junction. Carrie has impulsively moved to Nebraska and is back in the area for a few weeks.

“That’s where Mom and Muschi got their start,” I say. “One of the first places they lived in the early 1960s was Omaha.”

“Don’t tell them that!” Mom says, coming to life. “That shows them how stupid I can be.”

“What’s stupid about that?” Mieshelle asks.

“That really changed my life,” Mom says.

* * *

“Is that your ring? Let me see it.” Laurel was married recently.

Laurel shows her the ring.

“Tell him you lost it,” Mom murmurs, “and to buy you a bigger one.”

* * *

 

Mieshelle and I talked quite a bit this morning. I hung out at the bathroom door while she

Mom Applies Lipstick

Mom Applies Lipstick

 

put on makeup. I thought of telling her that I missed having a connection with her, but I didn’t see the right opportunity and figured I’d do it at the airport. In the living room, Mieshelle wanted pictures of herself with Mom and of herself, Adam, and I with Mom. She applied makeup and lipstick to Mom. Mom wanted to put a different lipstick on, and to put it on herself. “It’s a girl thing,” she said. She looked at herself in the smartphone Mieshelle was holding out for her. Mom took the phone.2014-11-19 08.35.59

“My God,” she said. “ Who is that person?”

Before she left, Mieshelle went to hug Mom. Mieshelle was crying a little.2014-11-19 00.25.52

“It’s not over,” Mom said.

I couldn’t see Mom’s face, but as Mieshelle continued to say goodbye Mom said, as she had with Muschi, “Just go.”

* * *

Mieshelle and I got in Mom’s car and drove toward the airport. On the way there, I said to her, “It was really comforting and healing to have you around.”

“Oh, really?” she said. “That’s so nice. I’m glad.”

“I think I re-remembered how much it hurt me not to have any kind of relationship with you, and I feel like I want to keep some connection.”

“I feel the same way,” she said.

I ordered some chai latte that was light on the real chai and had no latte. To be candid, it was the worst chai that has ever been made on this planet in the history of humankind. We sat and talked for a bit and then we hugged in front of the security ropes. I kissed her on the cheek.

“I’m serious,” she said. “If you want to talk to anyone, you just have to say so.”

As I drove out, I felt the bittersweetness of spending positive, caring, affectionate time with her, and feeling supported in my journey with my mom, as well as sadness about the losses we both endured when we split up.

* * *

Carrie was asked what were the best things about the Camino for her. She thought for a second. “Inge, of course,” she said. “That woman has just inspired me so much.” Her eyes were red. At one point I saw her and Mom both gazing into each other’s eyes, and caressing each other’s faces.2014-11-18 11.28.37

 

 

 

 

 

2014-11-18 11.35.23I do some work and then come out to kiss her head and stroke her hair. “My cousin!” she says, maybe trying to make a joke. “My son,” she says more softly. She pulls me down into a hug.

I see her smile again. “You’re really smiling a lot more these days,” I say.

She begins to cry.

“What? What is it?”

She waves her hand in front of her mouth as if to dissipate the tears from her tight throat. At length she says, “I have such good friends.”

“Awww, of course you do. And you have friends who live in other places and have never met you who would love to be here with you. All kinds of people on Facebook saying Inge has been an inspiration to me and Inge helped me immensely when I lost my parent or was diagnosed and I always loved Inge for her posts with beautiful photos of nature first thing in the morning.”

“When you haven’t been worth anything,” she says quietly, “it’s really hard to believe.”

“Believe it, Mom. This is who you really are. It’s your old way of thinking of yourself versus how everyone else does. And you know they’re the ones who are right, don’t you?”

I tell her she’s so loved.

“It’s weird,” she says. “It feels fake.”

* * *

“This nice gentleman comes in every morning and says, ‘Coffee or tea, madam?’” She explains this to Linda, just arrived. She is probably talking about Adam, but I can’t be sure. Linda has called to check on my mother every day since her visit a week ago.

“Love you, Mom.”

She begins to cry.

“What’s wrong, Mom?”

“I just love you so much.”

cancer, marijuana and no GPS

What a month it has been.  I had problems with ingesting the cannabis ‘paste.’ Just the smell or the taste had me gagging. Peanut butter nor Nutella worked. Now I am only having it with applesauce, that way I don’t need to chew, just swallow.

The same ritual applied. I take my ‘paste’ and then I have to sit on the couch. I have all necessary things close by. Remote control, water, meds. Since I don’t function well in this state, cooking and eating have become a challenge. But more so, is not having an appetite. No matter what I look at to eat, I lose all interest. Some foods ‘gag’ me. NOT the food itself, just whatever causes this. (Went to my regular Doc here who then says:’ Well, it’s the cancer’.) We are both very pleased how my leg is doing. I am getting closer to ‘speed walking.’ Friends and my neighbor bring food. Sometimes, they even attempt conversation but most of the time, after 2 words I lose the continuing thread and have to ask constantly:’ What were we talking about?’

Each night, for about two hours I wake up from a sound sleep because of abdominal pains. When I asked my local doc about it, he said: “Well, it’s the cancer.’

Last week, as I put my measured amount on the spoon and looked at the syringe, I noticed how little was left. Cameron had just brought it to me, 2 days prior and here it’s already low. I dashed off a spirited message to call the supplier and tell them they shortened me. He replied right away, ‘Mom, you are taking a lot more than in the first month. That’s why it’s less. ‘ I was a little chagrined at that. Had not thought of the doubling every 4 days. (Well, at least until you take as much as you can. ) The closer time came to have the blood work done, the antsier I got. New Lab person. (Would that interferr with result? )  What if he drew it wrong? And then we wait……

Yesterday, was the appointment. I didn’t take the ‘paste’ so I could drive. Met with my Carrie for Lunch and she went with me to Cancer center.  Finally time to go in and see Oncologist. She came in with her papers, asked how I was doing, etc. Then I said:’ What are my numbers? I’m not saying another word until I know my numbers. ‘

Didn’t I give those to you , yet? She smiled. I shook my head as my heart started to hammer. What would the answer be? What if this stopped working too? What will I do? Should I start give away my worldly goods? Make a will? (Of course I am sure that MJ had a play in that mental conversation. )

IT’S 99 !! she said. OHHH, Oh, YAY, YAY a 99 a 99 a 99!!! We hollered and danced and my nurses teared up. (I suddenly remembered the German song about : ’99 Luftbalons’. The number 9 is the highest number in Numerology. Someone said, this was an excellent number. 🙂

THIS IS HUGE! Imagine. A little plant. Natural. NO side effects. NO trauma. Just a little, woozy feeling. “THE NEW CANNABIS CHEMO”.

My Oncologist said, ‘One more test, next month and if that’s lower too, I’ll change everyone’s treatment option.’

I asked for direction to their MJ Dispensary  and was told that in Grand Junction, the ‘Powers that be’ reneged on their voting MJ in and brought Authorities in and raided the dispensaries. WTH?? Now, these people, who so desperately need it, have to go out of town. (Come to Montrose. We’ll help you.)

Shall we compare?   1 chemo- $5000.00 (Ins pays, medicare pays 80%.  Blood tests, scans, appointments, etc. The effectiveness of chemo, questionable now.  1- month of Cannabis Treatment  $1,200 and it WORKS but no one pays, except me. Wonderful  ‘Tears of Phoenix’. THANK you to Rick Simpson to have fought the fight. I was so worried and stressed to figure out, how I would pay for this. I put a wedding ring set up for sale (for half its worth) and posted it on FB. No one wants to buy it. They all want me to keep it and are outraged that I’d have to resort to this. I told them, it didn’t ‘mean’ anything’.

Enter the ‘German Cavalry’. These women got busy and immediately went about to set up for donations. I cannot tell you ‘Girls’ how very, very grateful I am because in essence, ALL of YOU are saving my life. DANKE.

To my son, my daughter, grandson,  granddaughter, BFF Irene, and all my wonderful, beloved friends “THANK YOU FOR HANGING IN THERE WITH ME.

Meanwhile, getting now ready for Christmas. A friend is coming today and we’re baking Stollen. We will have a wonderful Christmas. In January, next test. Then I’ll go on a Road trip to spread cannabis miracle. 🙂

 

 

….the envelope goes to???

How different time seems when you have different things to do. Like, trying to figure out how to get the ‘canabis oil’ past my tastebuds? This is what I have the most problem with, the taste. I have hidden it under Nutella, butter and peanut butter as well as applesauce. But, I always said I would eat dirt if it would help.

Finally the day approached when I was to go and have my CA 125 (cancer blood test marker). I had the whole CBC panel done as well. Just to see how I functioned without chemo.  I tried to stay busy but with taking this ‘oil’ I was un-busy most of the day.

I was having doubt-thoughts too. ‘What if? what if this does not work? what if there’s no other chemo? what if …..

Meanwhile, what with absence from chemo, my body is feeling much relief. My leg is so much better.

Finally Monday was here and my grandson went with me. When I was called into Dr. M’s office, I chatted with her for just a minute and then said: ‘Well?’ What are my numbers?? She smiled and said, ‘I don’t know what happened but it went down 28 points . (I say 30 as no one was quite sure of the previous number.) WOW. Lovely surprise. I twirled just a little down the hallway. NO chemo this month, either. Another month off and keep taking this cannabis oil. Took my grandson to Telluride as he found a job and staying with Cameron. 

Bought some more oil and sure hope the numbers keep tumbeling down.

My main goal is to sit on the couch and not fall off. What I like about it, is, that there’s no ‘Hangover’ feeling. Dreamless, restful sleep.

Gearing up for Thanksgiving. Whether there are just the three of us, or we end up with half the neighborhood for ‘Thanksgiving’, I have LOTS to be thankful about and for, and I am. Very much so. I want to thank ‘YOU” for hanging in there with me. For all of your support, encouragement and prayers as well as the recent generosity with donations. Received a beautiful ‘care package’ from an anominous ‘German Lady’.  THANK YOU>

Great Kindness at the POW WOW

For the past 15 years I have visited the annual POW WOW, which was only 30 min away. I may have missed one or two when I went on the Camino and once when I went to Germany when my brother died.

Always loved the colorful Ragalia. (I was told by one Native American whom I’d asked a few questions that these were NOT called ‘costumes.’ It takes a very long time and skill to sew them and especially all that wonderful bead work.

This year I had also fully intended to go but I had also had painful ‘issues’, again after chemo. But, I thought this may distract me. So, I took my umbrella as it looked very much like rain and walked the 5-6 blocks to our  Fairgrounds where the Pow Wow was held the last couple of years.

I was a little early and so walked around the huge hall and looked at all the beautiful jewelry, paintings, blankets, good smelling grasses and sage bundles. I picked out 2 necklaces for my granddaughter and her beloved. I went to the kitchen section and was greeted by one Native American woman, whom I’ve known for years. She came out the side door, beaming and enfolded me in a big hug. “How are you?” she asked. I pointed to my blond wig and said, ‘I’m surprised you recognized me with this on.’ She answered, ‘I would recognize your beautiful smile anywhere. ‘ She gave me a cup of mint tea, from leaves she had grown herself. After a few minutes conversation I moved on.

I had not gone the whole perimeter as I had leg pain and sat on the bottom step. As I looked around I saw some more booths against the back wall and since I still had time before the Grand Entrance, I got up and went there to see their wares. A friendly Native American came toward me with a beautiful necklace but I held my hand up, smiled and said that I was sorry but simply could not afford one since I had lots of medical bills.

He asked me, what was wrong? I told him that I have cancer, now the second time. He nodded and told me, somberly that his wife too, had breast cancer and died 5 year ago. He said it was the worst but also awesome experience he’d ever had. (Awesome???) He said with their ritual and her grace, how she dealt with it. He turned and picked up something and then handed it to me. I was a long, gray feather with two smaller feathers, one yellow and one green bundled and fastened with a leather strap. He said that this was his gift to me. It was a “smudging Feather” and meant to heal. I immediately became emotional, and tears ran down my face. He took a step toward me with wide open arms and said, ‘ Come here, sister.’ Made cry more and I was so embarrassed. Here came a younger woman, also hugging me from the side, and a third one and she said, ‘this is a healing circle.’ I had told them that I had wanted to go to Santa Fe (weekend before) to try to find a Shaman. That I had wanted to visit Santa Fe for a long time and that it almost felt like a ‘pull’.

After a few minutes I had myself in better control again and he handed me a napkin. I smiled and thanked him. We exchanged a few more words and as I turned to leave, the younger woman approached me, with a Native American man in tow and told me that he was a Shaman and that he would take care of me. I said, that I had no money. ( Because I’d read in my Santa Fe research, that they could demand $300-450.00 for a session.) He shook his head and took my hand and sat me into a chair, at a little more private area.

He told me that he could see my aura, the rainbow colors and black spots which were blocking me. He took my newly acquired ‘Smudging Feather’ and waved it up and down my body, chanting in his native tongue. He stopped one time, looked at me and said, ‘your chakra is way out of line on your right side and it has been that way for quite awhile. I will try to align it.’ On went the chanting as he moved the feather from head to knees. He said, ‘oh, there is a big blockage in your leg. ‘ I said, yes, this where I have blood clots. ‘ (How could he know?) He told me he would now ‘give me over to the ‘Great Spirit’, to heal me.’ That’s when I started crying again. He too, had tears in his eyes as he looked at me and said, ‘if the Great Spirit would not be filled with love for you he would have not put you in his (Shaman’s) path.’ He told me, what a beautiful spirit I had. He asked me, if I felt the heat of his hands (which never touched me) and indeed I had. He apologized as he had had many sessions the day before and was thus weakened. I told him, that I was grateful for anything he could give me.

After about 30 min he got off his knees and asked me, if he could hug me. I totally said yes. I took the only $20.00 bill I had and handed it to him, saying that this was all I had but wanted him to have it. He thanked me big time and said, that most people didn’t even say Thank-You and that I was only the second person within those past  days that had given him a GIFT. He also gave me his phone number, in case I wanted to have another session. Imagine my delight to see that he only lived 30 minutes away, and I was prepared to travel 700 miles.

I sat on the bleachers and enjoyed the rest of the program and felt very much at peace, marveling at the set of many ‘coincidences’ which had brought me there that Sunday.

 

 

Yellow Love and 2nd ‘new’ chemo

After my ‘new’ chemo, I was trying to be as ‘normal’ as I could. Doxil, the charmer had different ideas. The depression and deep, spiral to darkness had me scared and overwhelmed. I absolutely can understand when people, who hurt like this, committ suicide. Even though a tiny part of my brain did whisper that this is ‘chemo effect’, and interlectually I understood, it is very hard to deal with it. I’d go to the store and as I stood before the pasta a wave of such sadness came over me, I started weeping. I ran to the bathroom to control myself.

It also happens while watching T.V., going for a walk. Even in the tub and the howling that was produced scared even more. I definitely need to ask what is available to help. (Probably Xanax or another drug which will have its own side effects. Maybe hash oil would work, if I took a larger amount to put me to sleep.

On the other hand, however excrutiatingly real this feels, it is NOT a reliable emotion. The brain has been altered by chemo and therefor we need ‘sound minded’ family and friends to help differentiate. Those people who know me best and can sort through this mental mess.

On the tail of this darkness comes paranoia. ‘I’ll probably die. I won’t be able to get well, this time.. and other, similar thoughts. I think of my daughter, grand daughter, grand sons and my son. And I weep because I already miss them so much. I weep because, well, because. A song, a bird, a flower, a word, blue sky, rain, the mountains , because I have cancer, because I have blood clots, because I feel sorry for myself and because of no reason. My emotional equilibrium is way off. Its pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other. Friends call and ask ‘how are you?’ I don’t know what to say anymore. This has been going on for sooo long. I want it to be over. I want some semblance of my life back. I want to walk and just enjoy nature around me. I definitely want the pain to stop. Backache, abdominal pain, constipation, heart burn , on and on and on. I am exhausted by it. And now the question remains whether this chemo would work. I have no date scheduled for the nextinfusion, since we don’t know. Added stress. (What do you mean, it may not work?? What is in that bag? Sugar water?)

I get so tired of people complaining about such small and crazy ‘problems’. I know it is not their fault that I am in this situation and I really don’t blame them for getting tired of this long journey. Not as much as I am.

So. My wonderful friend, Bonnie came last week, holding out a plastic container with paper towel cover. I asked what was in it? She told me that her 2 grandsons (9 and 5)  Harrison and Mason (whom I know and love) had gone mushroom hunting with their dad. They remembered that I LOVE chanterelles. They had walked 8 miles ( 4 in and 4 out) to find these for me. Imagine. Walking that far and that age. I was in tears from this gift of LOVE. Impressed and proud as well. You can’t PAY for this sort of thing. I cooked them the next day and ate them with great appreciation.

 Then, it was time for my 2nd Doxil. Short check up: Heart, lungs, prodding and pushing on abdomen, blood tests (which were ‘excellent’.) Then, off to Infusion room. After the pre-meds, here came Hawaiian Punch colored Doxil. It woud not go in. Something wrong with the tubes. After a while, new tubes were attached and then it flowed pretty quickly. Had another CA 125 drawn to check whether cancer marker went up? Oncologist told me ‘not to freak out, if it went up because usually it take the 2nd one to bring marker down.

Meanwhile, I saw on my support group posting, that 2 more ‘Teal Warriors’ had died. Had me very upset as I had just ‘conversed’ with them, not so long ago.

Then there’s my friend Sue, who has a recurrence. Shout out to you Sue. Fight like Hell. If you want to know other and or additional information, call or come.

After the 2nd chemo, Cameron had to leave for a couple of days and invited me to come along to Silverton, where he had an offer, for the free work he had done, to stay in this B&B.

A very nice, Victorian house, blue and white trim. Lots of flowers and gorgeous views. Since this was short notice, the owner had previous engagement and so we had the whole house to ourselves. My room was lovely and next to it a huge bathroom with BIG tub and jets. I was (what else?) in a lot of pain and so Cameron got some Eucalyptus Epsom salt and I took a hot bath and felt some better. We took a couple of drives around the area and we saw just the most gorgeous surrounding. (We are on the ‘Western Slope which is many hours away from the devastating flood zone.) We went to the grocery store and I fixed our supper. I tried to go into a couple of stors but my back was killing me and so, frustrated and upset that I simply cannot DO anything, we went back.

I believe now, that this has to do with high altitude. Silverton is nearly 10,000 feet. My veines are compromised due to blood clots and the thin oxygen may deprive organs and extremeties of needed blood flow and thus cause pain. (Right? Dr. Inge??)

My Bonnie came Tuesday, punctually as always and for so long now. She took me to diner and then a movie. “The Butler”. Except for Eisenhower, the rest of the presidents is the same time I have been living in U.S.A . September 16th marked my 50th year. I went through all those growing pains and historical times of this country.

One week after chemo, the horrid depression has disappeared. THANK GOD. I have not called for my cancer marker result. Same reason as before. IF it went up, nothing I can do (except get upset). On Sept 30th when they draw new test, THIS one will show what has, or has not, happened.

 

New Chemo… and no Germany

I had 2 weeks in between being thrown out the ‘carbo/toxil’ chemo club and had to wait to set up the new ‘Doxil.’ Had to have a heart test prior to receiving this new one. Tech said, I had a good heart.

So. Tuesday, August 13th Cameron drove me to Grand Junction. I was pretty anxious. How would I react to this? What side effects would it give out? What IF this one does not work either?

Saw my Oncologist and we took blood tests to see what happened in the 2 ‘off” weeks. Then on to the chemo room. Sat in a recliner and waited to be attached. The chemo nurse wanted to tell me all the things and side effects that ‘could’ happen. I told her, I did NOT want to know. She said, ‘really’? I nodded and said, well, if it’s not in my head then I can’t wait for it to happen. Otherwise every twitch or sudden cramp will mean ‘is this it?’ I knew one of the side effects. Painful, swollen red hands which will crack open. (Of course, my old chemo companion ‘constipation’.)

Here came the nurse and she hung the clear, liquid bag with pre-meds. Saline and other things which I can’t remember because I have also ‘chemo-fuzzy brain’. (Oh, yes, there it is.. Benedryl.)

Soon after, here came a bag with red liquid in it. Leaning way back in my chair, I asked “what the hell is that?’ They should have told me that the chemo would be red. Just like ‘Hawaiian Punch.’ I had to really breath and work on my psyche to allow it in. Even to bless it.

We went home and then worked the next few days on loosening up  constipation. I am soooo tired of that. It’s painful and uncomfortable.

We had also drawn the CA 125 cancer marker. I did not call to ask what that number was. Usually, I’m on the numbers like a tick on a dog but not this time. If it’s up, I reasoned, there’s nothing I can do, if it’s down, goody. (They did not call me either, following my lead.)

As always, there are my good friends (Bonnie, Silke, Monika, Inge and more) as well as my Support Group ‘Teal Warriors’. Then, lots and lots of cheerful messages and support from ‘German Girls in America’ group. It sure helps a lot keeping some of the fears in check.

But, I had a real strange feeling as if something had shifted, internally, irrevocably. As though, all my cells ‘moved’. I can’t explain it any better. But, it had given me night mares. (No, no drugs, pills or whatever.) I have also had two dreams of my own funeral. THAT was weird! And upsetting. It occured to me, that ‘this’ could get me. Maybe I can’t outrun it. Maybe it’s nipping at my heels and I can’t run any faster. Premonition? I don’t believe so. Hopefully, just a strange time. Oh, I know. Let’s blame it on the chemo.

I had asked about Germany trip. She said, you have 28 days in between chemo. At first I was happy that I could still go but then, abdominal pain started again and every night, pain would wake me about the same time. I got my beanie bag and heated it, or when it is particularily worse, a hot epsom salt bath. I had asked my local doc for pain med. By the time I picked it up, 3 days went by and then they had ordered the wrong pills. I decided not to do anything as I remembered that any of these ‘stronger pills’ also caused constipation. So I would have to take one due to the pain of that source, just to have the same problem. I asked about Ibuprofen. Not really allowed on my regiment with Werferin, as Ibuprofen would also be blood thinning. But, perhaps I could take a half one? they allowed. Sure enough half a one helped.

When I gave up being worried about eating this or avoiding that because of the blood clot and vitamin K, my test for that improved as well. I eat what I want but careful about K and so now my number is ‘excellent’.

After figuring out that I would NOT have 28 days to go to Germany. I called and heavy hearted canceled. I could not have chemo and run to the plane and leave. The same on the return. I would need a few days either way to feel up to it. That way I would only have 2 and half weeks. Not enough to do what I wanted. Then too, I do NOT want to come back to chemo. I want to be DONE. This is now the 3rd time I have to postpone. Hopefully I’ll get there in May.

A new friend, Michele was coming all the way from Abu Dhabi to meet in person and visit for a week. I got things ready and was going to pick her up on Monday, then spend the night with the Lane ‘girls’ as I had an appointment with Oncologist, last Tuesday, early morning.  Saturday, I went shopping so I would have a few things and finished Cameron’s frozen meals as we were going to Telluride Wednesday. As I left the store, I thought perhaps, I should get chicken, in case we needed some more food. Back I went and bought organic chicken. Got home unloaded groceries and then did not go anywhere the whole weekend. Monday morning I got ready to pick up Michele. As I walked to the car, (wanted to clean it out a bit) I was assaulted by this horrid smell. Well, it was Garbage pick-up day and I hollered to the neighbor, ‘ man, it stinks like something died’. I looked in my shed, worried an animal got in there and couldn’t get out. Nothing there. We decided it was the grbage because it had been hot.

I walked to my car and opened it and LORD have mercy!! I got so nauseous, that I was worried I would vomit my toenails. Not sick from chemo but .. chicken. There it was, the plastic bag, laying on the front seat, forgotten to bring it in. I rushed to the grocery store to buy ‘Febreze’. You’ve seen the commercials? Blind folded people being put into raunchy, dirty, smelling cars or kitchens. They all exclaim how wonderful and spring like it smelled. Blind fold off, BIG surprise. Yes? Well, NO!! This is not true.  I emptied half a can till I was sick from the mixture of rotten chicken and Febreze. But, I had to leave for the airport.  I turned on the air conditioner, all the windows and as I drove, sprayed some more. OH, I thought, to be a dog and hang your head out the window. Luckily, by the time I arrived, it was not so bad.

I recognized Michele right away and was teary when I hugged her. We met up with Laurel, Carrie, and her new boyfriend and precious Hayden. We had a lovely visit with the girls and nice dinner.

Next morning, cancer center. I told Michele, I only take her to fun places. I did ask, this time what my numbers were. Sure enough, during the 2 chemo free weeks, they had doubled. After the first Doxil, no change. But, it was too soon. Maybe test after 2-3chemo’s. My blood test were ‘excellent’. Right to the pint of where my bone marrow is still producing red blood cells. I am grateful that inspite of everything, my body/Immune system is trying to help.

I took Michele to the Black Canyon and next day to Telluride. Went to Karaoke and watched as Cameron (and others) sang. Lots of wolf whistles and female appreciation.  He’s got good moves, my son. (Of course this is from me.)

Cooked a nice dinner for the gang but after 2+ days and the altitude and not being able to hike, etc. I needed to come home.

Cameron brought Michele back on Saturday and I took her to the airport Sunday. Sure glad she was here. House is empty and still.

Meanwhile, my son’s and (ex) wife’s book came out in German  “Die Katzenfluesterin”.  The Cat Whisperer. I am so excited and tickeled. I am going to order it in German.

Next chemo, September 10th. I have all this time to spoil my body and be gentle and kind.

 

 

BIG Rollercoaster ride…

As I was envisioning the end of chemo, other forces were hiding, internally and getting ready for a big surprise. 

Oncologist had ordered a CT scan to find out why cancer markers are going up. (In the middle of treatment!) My friend Inge B. drove me to Grand Junction last Monday, to do just that. I put enough Lidocane cream on the port side to last a week. I don’t like the needles. It sure works. After that, she treated me for lunch and then we drove home.

Chemo Tuesday, my friend Lynne took me, dropped me off while she ran some errands. Nurse came to prep for chemo, when Oncologist came in with paper in hand. I looked at her face and my heart started pounding. She shook her head just a fraction but enough to have icy cold fingers grab my heart.

What is it?’ I asked. ‘Seems that there is a new lesion on the liver. It was there prior but now it is 10 mm and positive for cancer, she said.

“LIVER??” What the hell happened there? I had problems assimilating the words in their proper order. But as if that wasn’t enough, she also told me that chemo quit working. We took another CA 125  test and it came back, again elevated. So. That means, that the 6 rounds of chemo (18 in all) stopped working because the cancer cells are ‘getting smarter’, she said. I told her, that if this Crap wasn’t inside me, I would definitely be in awe of so much brilliance.

I was absolutely stunned. Shocked. Scared. What to do? Well, she said, we’re going to have to use a different chemo-DOXIL. Once a month. Your hands may get red (inflammed) and skin peels off but you won’t lose your hair! HA  I was silent. Just thinking of the misery and wasted MONEY of these chemo’s.

She gave orders to stop the chemo as there was no use putting me through it, when it’s not working. So. I left the chemo ward and felt like I had been thrown out of this ‘exclusive club’. All others were getting their (workable) infusion, except me. I just didn’t know what to do. I called Cameron and told him. I called Bonnie and Monika. Each time it felt more unreal.

Back home, I just wandered around the house, trying to absorb the shock. I had asked about Germany. The whole six month of mental preparation and Joy of being able to go. She said, I could still go, if I can handle new chemo. I would have 28 days before the next chemo and have to be back. We’ll see.

My childhood friend, Irene would also go and that would be the first time in many years we’d be there together, revisiting all the places we played at as children.

I was not thrilled having the whole week and week end looming before me, waiting for new instructions. I did not want to think about, research nor deal with it. My friend Lynne was going to Salt Lake City to visit her parents and she invited me to come along. So I did. Forgot how long a drive this is, for nearly 6 hrs. But, it was nice. We went to Cosco and next day, to the German Deli.

Back home, I was still waiting. So I called them, left a message and Oncologist called back and told me Tuesday- 13th we start. I feel like I got a big chink in my Armor. Things don’t fall together as well as they did. I feel that my body betrayed me. No matter how good I treated ‘it’. I am getting so exhausted by this whole thing. It’s over 3 years now and people are getting bored by it, too. It’s a though I have a whole sack full of rocks and must climb the mountain, only to slide more than half way down and have to repeat, repeat, repeat.

I need to go ‘somewhere’ and regroup. Be still, think and refill my ‘fighter tanks.’ That would be the Black Canyon. I’ll get off the beaten path and sit and look at the awesome surroundings. I will do the best I can.. the rest is up to bigger sources.

Yesterday, my Sydney came and worked in the wild looking yard. She also took me to Dispensary as I needed more Hash oil for this pain in my pelvis and couldn’t drive. (What’s that all about?) Peggie brought me some fruit and other goodies. My Teal sisters surround me with their love and support as do the ‘German Girls’ and my FB friends. Huge support and I am so very grateful.