Sunday, May 22, 2016

Life

Despite how relaxed and laid back we look over here,
we've been busy.
The guest room has been used
which came as rude awakening for 'the girls'
who consider it theirs.
When not busy exploring new careers,
the cousins visited old favorites
and new houses. 
Friends from CA visited too
bringing their sweet baby and news of my son.

There's been a trip out of town 
to a home where the door is always open
 and 'the Zen room' is waiting.
There were celebratory flowers
 
  
 family
 
 and 'fine art"that made me smile
 
 
 
and gave me ideas.

 
 
 There's been no part of the past few days
I haven't enjoyed.
Summer is off to a terrific start!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Update

Thanks to all those who have written and asked for an update on my health.

To sum up...
it's as good as it's gonna get! 

I am fully cognizant of the fact that 
at my age 
I won't be getting healthier
younger
more fit
less stiff, crunchy 
or stronger.

So I've learned to appreciate the days when I'm relatively pain free,
can move through all my obligations and make it home 
before I take off my bra, collapse in a heap 
and rot my mind while watching TLC
or fall asleep during Masterpiece - 

clearly I still aspire to be smarter!
I continue to make the rounds every two months 
of my Internist, Rheumatologist and Oncologist.

I get monthly blood work (vials and vials worth);
now that I think of it, 
maybe that's why I'm tired!
The diagnosis the docs have settled on is that I have
severe Rheumatoid arthritis and smoldering myeloma -
who knew 'smoldering' anything
was even a legitimate thing?

It means I have a malignant process going on in my bone marrow,
the manufacturing of an extra type of protein,
but I have none of the end stage organ failure that goes along with multiple myeloma.

All multiple myelomas begin as smoldering myeloma
but not all smoldering myelomas go on to develop to multiple myeloma;
does that make sense?

If you're from St Louis, 
the analogy that fits best is that I'm the human equivalent of

You know there's dangerous shit going on just below the surface,
so you constantly monitor everything you can
 in order to try to predict when all hell's going to break loose -
while you figure out how to head it off if and when it does.

Chances are good nothing will ever come of all the smoldering; 
that I'll die while on a Mission trip or coming home from Schnucks...

and that's when it hit me.

This diagnosis doesn't mean anything - 
except that it makes me exactly like everyone else.

All kinds of dangerous, life threatening stuff could happen
 anytime,
without warning.

No amount of monitoring 
or self care
 is going to change the outcome.
There's no supplement that can prevent our inevitable end.

Yet I take some supplements that can't hurt
and the medication the doctors say WILL help

And
I'm living each day as fully as I can.
Laughing, loving, working, worrying, 
looking forward to future travels, new family members,
exciting changes in the lives of people I love 
and in the communities to which I belong.

Despite what the arrow says on the diagram above,
I'm here,
right here,
right now,
actively looking for
and finding 
beauty
every day.
Life is good.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Diving

 
Nope, not that kind.

Nope, not this kind either  ...
it's an exercise I undertook last night
during a wonderful writers workshop
at a nearby conference center;
led by folk singer/songwriter, poet,
Indiana born Quaker and
"prairie mystic",
Carrie Newcomer
A woman with a soulful voice and a spirit that sees the sacred in the ordinary .

Maybe some of you heard her being interviewed by Krista Tippet
for her NPR series, On Being.
If not, go listen now!

I'm late to the party of becoming familiar with her talents,
but it won't take me long to catch up!
I'm a fan,
eager to hear her again at a concert tonight.

I'm sure the purchase of CD's will be involved.

Anyway, at this workshop
we started out by writing a short observation,
a description of something we'd seen during the week
that had stayed with us.

The room descended into near silence,
the only sound was of pens traveling across paper.

Minutes later, as others around the room shared their sentences,
I knew my 'inner ER' was showing and I'd need to tuck it back in!

While men and women bravely shared their descriptions of
peonies with the centers held tightly in bud or
red-winged hawks and the grooved pits of peaches,
my descriptor
"Purple, white and red loops marks on chocolate colored skin 
creating maps in bas relief 
with highways of pain 
all leading to despair
and no relief at all."
beat a hasty retreat to the primordial ooze from whence it came.

Our next exercise was 'diving';
the practice of using a 'prompt' and then writing longhand without stopping
until given a signal from the leader;
not letting our inner critic judge, exhort or even speak,
just writing and letting it flow.

Here's what followed.
The prompt:
 I KEPT IT ALL THESE YEARS

because i couldn't believe that she'd kept it at all. a black, mini tray, no bigger than a large index card, painted with blue and pink flowers, with a crooked pink zigzag border; made at the 'sleep away camp' to which i was exiled each summer for 6 weeks. i was 9 when i made it. a token, an offering that i gave her on Parents Day midway through - a bribe so she'd remember to come back and pick me up again after the last interminable 3 weeks; an unspoken plea so as not to be forgotten. i found it after her death, wrapped in a silk slip in her 'unmentionables' drawer. it traveled from her house in new jersey to missouri, from assisted living to skilled nursing care; a companion on her journey through dementia, declining vocabulary and awareness and total physical and mental deterioration. did she even know what it was and who had made it for her? why had she kept it all those years? what memories and feelings did it evoke for her? i found no childhood tchotchke from either my sister or my brother; had they not made them? was their faith in her love that secure? few objects from the past accompanied her on the road through old age - she proudly proclaimed to all in hearing that she wasn't a sentimentalist. my suspicion and ongoing curiosity about this object and its

several minutes had passed when we were interrupted by another prompt:
BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO SAY IS

i hope she kept it because she knew i loved her -  even when her brokenness and mine formed mountains we weren't strong enough, or courageous enough, to scale. i hope she kept it because she knew i poured all of my love into a shitty piece of metal covered with craft paint, putting my inadequacies on display along with a total lack of artistic ability; i hope she kept it knowing it stood for all my fears while in exile and that i wasn't as afraid of losing her love as of never having had it in the first place.  i hope she kept it because of the love it contained and not because she was haunted by the accusation and the anger that was painted there too. i remember the pain and longing in every brush stroke. i hope she knows - now that she's safely on the other side - that i put down the 'blaming' brush several years ago.
i hope she knows i'm sorry i never told her i loved her  -
and felt like i meant it.
 I was crying and gasping for breath when I came back to the surface;
who knew writers got the bends?
 who knew you could be both spent and energized at the same time?

Who knew Mothers Day is still a trigger for me?

I learned a lot at the writers workshop last night.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Ditch Day

 Because sometimes, 
even in the middle of the week,
you need to remember who you are 
away from work;
away from the drama of mean girls and oblivious bosses.

Sometimes
you need a mini road trip -
if only for a day.
 
 
 
 Yes, you've read about my friends farm before
but it's been years since I visited. 

Life threatening illnesses
and a sad, bitter divorce 
have happened in the meantime.
 
 It's powerful to see how both objects and relationships 
can go from charmingly shabby chic
to decaying
in what feels like the blink of an eye.
 
 
 
A day to remember that everyone is doing the best they can
under whatever circumstances they're given.

It was a gorgeous day;
it was a sad day.

Another day in all our lives.