Sunday, October 31, 2010

Phew!! I was getting a bit worried

On this day, God wants you to know that today you have a cause for celebration. Today, you should celebrate what an unbelievable life you have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make you stronger. Just as a gem cannot be polished without friction, nor can a life be perfected without trials. Take a time to acknowledge your life and to praise yourself.
 
If you facebook then you might want to check out these posts.  They are inspirational.  Anyhow, I especially liked this one.  It explains why this process is taking so long.  I'm a diamond.  Obviously.  ;)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

People Die From This You Know

It has been more than 365 days that I have known that I have breast cancer.  Next April, I will celebrate my 40th birthday.  There is a lot to be said for this last and most recent year.  There have been many changes.  My son is adding words to his repertoire every day and I have many words I would like to delete from mine.  Cancer, Chemotherapy and Pain Killers making my top three first words to be deleted.

There have been high highs and low lows.  I have stooped to levels I did not believe I would and torn pages out of my personal rule book without even an ounce of guilt.  Case in point, the other day my son brought me a red cherry dum dums lollipop.  I was lying in bed too sick to get up.  He held it tightly in his tiny fist and handed it to me.  He wanted me to open it up.  Four years ago my personal rule book believed it was incorrigible to give a child under three years old candy.  That day I opened it and handed it back.  He immediately whisked it from my hand and stuffed it into his mouth.  There was a recognizable look of satisfaction on his face and he trotted off to find his father. 

I tore out the rule page on red dyes, sticky fingers and giving young children candy.  I thought to myself, who gives a damn?  I can survive all day on that look of satisfaction.  In the past, I would have regarded this action as no less than criminal since they are born out of a parent's need to satisfy the parent and not out of regard for the best interests of a child.  Well I can tell you two things about that; one - I do not take myself very seriously these days and two - my child's best interest is having two parents his whole life. 

People die from cancer.  I might die from this cancer.  Suddenly the value on my minutes, hours and days has been kicked up a few notches.  I vow to do a decent job on parenting and forget about perfection.  I have already torn out the rule pages on co-sleeping, lying down with your child to get him to sleep, and giving too many kisses in the same day.

I hear about people dying from cancer every day.  I wonder if I will die.  As I contemplate these facts my rule book gets thinner and thinner.  I am certainly not militant but let me tell you that the phrase "life is too short" has taken on special meaning.  I would like to take this opportunity to make a few apologies.  If you  have called me recently and left a message but I have not called you back in a timely manner please understand that there is a lot of my plate right now.  I reserve the right to be a little lax in my responsibilities, so therefore, I will need to rely on you to call me back.  If you have done something for me lately or sent me a gift and are awaiting a thank you card, please excuse me, it might be awhile. It is on my to do list right under make my son giggle.

By now, many of you are wondering if I am ranting or just making excuses for my own rude behavior.  Frankly I am not sure which of these apply as those pages have also been torn out and shredded.  The word discipline almost makes me laugh to the point of tears coming down my face.  I believe it has it's importance, don't get me wrong, it is just that I have bigger fish to fry.  I will return to discipline and obligation as soon as I figure out how to make sure that I am going to be in my son's life.

I hear the words..."Let Go and Let God" slamming around in my head.  I take a deep breath and try to recover my patience.  Rats!!!  Now I remember that I don't have any patience.  You know, introspectively speaking, it is a difficult thing to be patient about.  I feel like I am sitting around awaiting a memo that the jury has returned and I should come and hear their decision.  I also hear the phrase, "relax because God is in charge".  Again this is much easier in theory than it is in practice.  I guess I am still a work in progress.  The last year has brought new challenges but have emphasized some points that were already there.  Mainly, I am not in control and neither are you.  Life is precious and ever too short so hug the ones you love and stop and smell the roses.

As for rule books, obligation and discipline they serve a purpose on this journey but do not let them get in the way.  Sometimes they can take over.  Be careful about that.  Sometimes we need mental health days, a little candy and fun just for the fun of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hope and Encouragement

Psalm 3:3-6  But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people. Who have set themselves against me all around.

Psalm 20:1-5  May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion; May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. May He grant you according to your heart's desire, And fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

Psalm 94:19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

Psalm 34:4  I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

There is great reason for hope.  You may not be an avid reader of the Bible but it is filled with promises, hope and encouragement.  I look into the future and see every reason to believe that all will be as it should.  I am already taken care of.  I am lifted daily by the love and regard I receive from my family and friends.

I was protected last night when I made what could have been a fatal mistake.  I have joint pain and heat eases that pain.  Since my recent radiation treatments I have been advised not to use a heating pad on that area.  I feel asleep last night on an old heating pad (no automatic shut off like my over sized new heating pad).  I awoke in the night feeling too warm and pushed it aside.  There was a funny smell and I looked to see if the heating pad light was on and it was not.  In the morning, I saw that my pillow was scorched, the pillow case browned, the heating pad burned, melted and ruined.  I inspected the t-shirt I was wearing and it was fine.  My skin was not burned though I was lying on the heating pad.  I felt a bit shaken but thankful that no serious damage was done to me or to my husband.

I am working on trust and on hope.  I feel good.  Some days I move slower than other days but I am determined to keep moving.  In the last week, I have personally been involved in triumph and have helped lead others out of a dark and scary place.  It is an honor. 

I have fallen in love with my son and my husband all over again.  I plan to repeat this exercise as many times as possible.  I stare at my son's face in wonder and love every feature and facial expression. It feels good to fall in love.  I make a mental note to dwell in that place of love as often as I can. 

If I wanted to I could ruminate on all the scary things that I could be facing in the next few months.  I could go back to the negative noticing that I engaged in some time back.  I could mull over all that is wrong with the world and how terrifying it is.  I could or I could focus instead on hope.  When I look at Pikes Peak, which is hard to miss, I nearly always remember the words of Psalm 121.  It has comforted in me in times of sadness and fear over the years that I have lived in Colorado Springs.  I have copied them here for you.

Psalm 121
 1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
         From whence comes my help?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
         Who made heaven and earth.
 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
         He who keeps you will not slumber.
 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
         Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
 5 The LORD is your keeper;
         The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
 6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
         Nor the moon by night.
 7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
         He shall preserve your soul.
 8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
         From this time forth, and even forevermore.

My Turkey Roasting Pan

For those of you who do not know I have to confess that I am a Craigslist aficionado.  I could entertain you all day with stories of purchases made or things I have sold using Craigslist.  [Note: I live in a big military area so people come and go frequently and there are safety measures I follow that I would be happy to share.]

On Sunday, I was poking around and saw an advertisement for a stainless steel turkey roasting pan for $15.  It reminded me that the holidays are nearly upon us and I felt a little rush of excitement.  I quickly emailed the kind lady posting the ad and we exchanged a volley of emails.  I met her yesterday outside of the county clerks office and after we exchanged cash for goods we exchanged stories.

Her mother had just died, being advanced in age, and she and her husband had been left with the task of figuring out what to do with all her things.  She, herself had been married, probably well over 45 years, and they had come to the conclusion that they had too much stuff.  I had been inquiring what else she had to offer and her reply was too much to even begin offering a list.  An entire storage shed, in fact, and she had no idea what was in it.  I think she was overwhelmed with the enormity of this task.

I shared with her my health struggles and I saw her shudder.  She confessed that she had some close calls but so far she continued to be healthy.  She promised to pray for me and add me to her church's prayer list.  I smiled to myself as I got in the car.  I don't know what is more fun about Craigslist.  The fabulous finds or the interesting people I would otherwise never have had the privilege of meeting.

The holidays are coming.  I am looking forward to them with a zest I have not had in years.  I am hoping that this Thanksgiving we can skip the hair shaving portion but truthfully, it is looking iffy.  I am reasonably sure that I will be able to sit at the table and share in the bounty without difficulty.  Last year holding myself upright for more than 10-15 minutes was almost out of the question.

The roasting pan is beautiful and will aid in providing me with the Thanksgiving dinner I look forward to all year.  Mom will be here and we will make all the family favorites.  Last year the baby sat in his walker and had just begun eating solid food.  We gave him a bite of squash and he immediately rejected it.  This year he will sit and feed himself with his little fork and spoon, which I have to say, he is pretty skilled at.

Sadly, not all the family will be here.  As we are from Maine, my extended family will be there gathering and celebrating and spending time together.  We are growing in number and being in one house on Thanksgiving day is becoming harder and harder.  I wish that I could be there too, but I will have to make due with my own scaled down version here in Colorado.  I want to embrace each of them and tell them how much I love them and how important family is.  We need to make time for each other.  I can see that now so clearly, even when it seems difficult or like too much trouble.  I wish that I had visited more often when I was healthy and traveling was easy.  Hopefully, I will get a second chance to strengthen those relationships and shore them up before they slip away.  This can happen when a family begins to get really big.

I also found Mom a Creme Brulee set that included a torch from a delightful family from India.  They are selling everything because they are returning to India.  Her Creme Brulee desserts are really something and we are going to have fun learning how to make the crunchy top coat that is the crowning glory of this delicious treat.  Sigh.  We are quite committed to this field of research, so if you are in Colorado and stop in for a visit, you might find yourself employed as a taster.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New / Old Post MRI findings from 10-12-09

To view this post you will need to look under the heading 2009 and then under the October heading.  You will need to scroll down the list until you find the post entitled MRI FINDINGS OF THE LUMBAR SPINE. 

I had picked up this report which was folded in half and stapled once on my way to see the orthopedic surgeon.  I opened it in the car and attempted to read it.  You can see from reading it yourself how difficult it is to understand.  When I came to the part regarding possible reasons for my fracture I freaked out and called Mom.  I was pretty stunned that different types of cancer where suggested. 

I did not realize that this was the beginning of a big journey.

The Spirit Is Willing But The Body Is Weak

This week I received radiation every day.  My right hip was giving me pretty constant pain and I have developed weakness.  Weakness to the point where I need to assist my right leg in and out of the car and up into bed.

I tolerated the radiation very well, in fact, I felt nothing during the treatments and suffered little side effects during the week.  These treatments should eliminate the pain and help with the weakness.  As my cancer have moved into my bone marrow using radiation is not a great idea and in fact these treatments probably negatively affected about 5% of my bone marrow.  This is why it has not been part of my ongoing treatment regimen.

I get worn out from working but there is also an initial energizing effect so it can sneak up on me.  I enjoyed my work week despite the toll these extra appointments took on my time.  I was really feeling like I got away with it pretty well until Saturday morning hit.  I awoke with extreme exhaustion and great difficulty moving around.  It was tough to turn over in bed and to get in and out of bed.

I heard my son laughing and playing with his father and I wanted to join in.  It can be a difficult thing to want to participate in the activities that have brought me joy in the past and be physically unable.  I slept like a log last night but woke with the same difficulties as yesterday along with a headache and some nausea.  This can be crushing both physically and emotionally.  I am growing tired of this situation and wish that I could return to "normal".  I continue to have great hope that I can beat this and resume part if not all of what I desire to do.

For those of you that have checked this blog this week and wondered why there were no new posts I can tell you it was because this week was filled to the brim.  I confess that I am pretty worn out.  It would also be helpful to hear from you all with suggestions on posting material.  I seem to be suffering from some writers block. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beautiful Bar Harbor


6-15-2010
We went to Bar Harbor while on vacation in Maine.  It is a beautiful place to visit.  It has all of the New England charm with the hustle and bustle of an active Harbor.  It offers shopping, restaurants, a beautiful walk around the rocky beach and a small strip of sandy beach, which my son loves. 

One of the best parts about going on vacation is the creation of memories to enjoy for the rest of your life.  When you go on vacation with loved ones it can be fun to reminisce about what you did, the things you saw and the great time you had.  We visited Bar Harbor in June and the 30 minutes spent on the beach with my son, his first time seeing a beach and the ocean, were about the most memorable parts of that trip.  This time around we were anxious to repeat this experience and it proved to be as much fun.

video
This was a beautiful fall day in late September and the temperature was about 75 degrees.  The temperature of the water was probably about 50 degrees but as you can see that didn't stop him.  He loves it.  After about 20 minutes we peeled off his wet clothes and dressed him in fresh warm clothes and jacket.  We actually drew a crowd who watched this fearless baby playing in the ocean.

Creating special memories does not require that you travel to some far off place or spend a bunch of money.  My favorite childhood memories are from holiday activities that we did at home as a family.  So whether you travel or stay at home I hope that you will take a little "holiday" with your loved ones and make some memories.  These memories will sustain and entertain you when times get tough or find yourself unable to get out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On This Day God Wants You To Know

God wants you to know that circumstances don't make you, they reveal you. How you respond to the life God offers you is what makes you.  How are you handling the life that you have been given?

My friend Roxanne has signed up to receive these little God wants you to know notices on Facebook.  I confess that I have not signed up for them, though I am often uplifted by the messages that I read on her profile.  This particular one gives me pause for reflection.  How have I handled this circumstance of cancer and what has this part of my journey revealed about my character?

Nothing is more revealing, challenging, and demonstrative of character than crisis.  Cancer is certainly a crisis that effects an entire family.  It holds a magnifying glass to any cracks or defects and can exploit any weakness that exists.  We, as a family, are being tested in this portion of the journey as a result of this cancer.  Our loyalty, faith and commitment to each other, as a family, is being brought into question and challenged by the stress of this situation.

I have learned things about myself that I do not think I would otherwise have learned.  I didn't realize how strong my commitment was to my work.  There have been days when I practically had to crawl up the stairs to my office and I was grateful that I could still get up there.  I am surprised at how much this portion of my life means to me and how strong the drive is in me to be who I am.

My desire to remain a mother to my child and member of my family has quadrupled.  Life is so precious and every minute I have with my son and my family is treasured.  I love my family both my immediate and my extended.  Do we get along all of the time.  Most assuredly not. Past slights, eccentricities and annoying mannerisms certainly do not weigh more important than the ties that bind, especially now.

Pain and fatigue has also brought negative traits out in me.  I am guilty of being grouchy, irritable and snarly at times with those that I love.  My ability to be patient has been significantly reduced.  My willingness to go out and go shopping, out to restaurants and seek entertainment outside of the home has been reduced to practically nil.  As a result, my husband and friends have been neglected.  I almost have a full plate with appointments and work and there is not much energy left over, even for talking on the phone.  Many evenings I am in bed at 6 pm..

Having cancer has encouraged me to consider my character and work on the weak spots.  It is a good idea for everyone to take a little self-inventory now and then.  It is much more fun to do voluntarily, when things are going well, than when a little crisis is sprinkled into your life.  I think it is important to mention, here, that crisis is part of the human condition and does not mean you are being punished or you have done something to deserve it.  I hope that you will take a look at your character and see what God may want to reveal to you.

Susan

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Special Gift

I was blessed this week with a prayer shawl, as seen in photo, that someone has hand knit as part of a ministry.  Have you heard about the Shawl Ministry?

The ministry folks make these "prayer shawls" for those suffering through a time of transition, crisis or need.  The shawls are often made with a specific friend in mind and are either knit or crocheted.  As they are made, the maker holds that person in his or her thoughts, according to her spiritual traditions.

I received this beautiful shawl from Barbara Browd who included a card that informed me that I have been in her thoughts and prayers.  Included in the card was a beautiful poem that I will include here below.  This shawl is soft and the colors are very pretty.  Thank you so much Barbara for thinking of me and sending me this gift. 

A Prayer Of Blessing by Janet Bristow

May God's grace be on this shawl - warming, comforting and enfolding.
May this mantle be a safe haven
sustaining and embracing in
good times as well as
difficult ones.
May the one who receives this
shawl - be cradled in hope -
kept in joy - graced with peace

You can find out more at http://www.shawlministry.com/ and in the book Knitting Into The Ministry
and wrapped in love.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hope Renewed, Faith Restored, Kitchen Saved

A lot has happened since that last post, complete with my Victorian-Era hysteria, regarding my kitchen remodeling project and my work.  I can tell  you, knowing you will keep this in confidence, that I had just heard that the granite would be $3,500.  This was after hearing that the cabinets would nearly be taking up my entire budget of $5,000 which had seemed generous for the itty, bitty kitchen I have to work with.

I thought for sure that this granite pricing would mean that the entire project would be canceled at the time and I was more than just a little sad about things.  It is one thing to go into a project with a budget and the understanding that things happen and you may exceed your budget.  It is another thing entirely to go into a project with the budget already doubled from what you agreed upon with your husband at the onset.

I was in the middle of my hissy fit victorian style when my client called upon me for help.  I saw him today at 3 p.m..  God blessed me incredibly and in that short amount of time I was able to work through my grouchiness, depression and misery (over my trivial kitchen project) and become inspired once again.

He was pretty beat up and had yet another story of being stomped on by life, in addition to being fired, from his most recent job.  I listened, from my freshly earned good place, and as he spoke to me he wiped countless tears from his face.  When we were midway through our session I said this to him:  "Friend (in lieu of his name) I want to tell you a story about God and how God loves us so much and cares about what we care about.  He cares about my kitchen and if He cares about my kitchen I can tell you that He cares about your future."

I told him the story about what was happening to me when he contacted me and all that transpired between then and the time of our appointment.  About how the $3,500 quote was wrong and that it was actually $2,100 for the counter tops and that after speaking with the carpenter it was currently down to $1500 and now included the back splashes that I wanted.  He raised his eyebrows at this and at me when I told him that God cares about my dreams, all the details of those dreams and He cares about my feelings.  This is not to say that God is at our beck and call to deliver up said dreams but His caring for us, His children, is so complete that He cares about what we are interested in.

He opened up about His faith that has been lost after being rejected by his priest recently over needed assistance.  I shared with Him that we are God's children and have a direct line of communication with Him that was restored when Jesus died on the cross.  The more we talked the more my Friend's hope and faith were restored.  We spoke about the power of God.  We talked about things always seem the darkest right before the dawn.  I encouraged him to hang on because I believe that help is coming.  He asked me to pray for him and stated that he could feel the Holy Spirit.  I promised him that I would pray for him.

Would you say a little prayer for him?  You can just tell God it is Susan's friend because He knows who you are referring to.

Thank you for all the support, prayers and encouragement that I received during my time of drama and crisis.  I want everyone to know that I am human all the way through and behave like one day in and day out.  I make mistakes.  I say the wrong thing...often and have an entire list of my own personal flaws and defects.

Susan

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giving Up

I am holding a dream. It is tightly clutched in my hands and cradled against my chest. This dream has been dealt a near fatal blow. Ok, I am being overly dramatic with those opening sentences but then again I feel that way about my dreams.  Whether it be something "important" or something less serious like the dream of how I will like my next Coach purse.  I feel that intimate about my dreams.

A dream of mine has received a blow. I am contemplating giving up.  I feel the edges unraveling around me, my arms feel heavy and I almost hear a whisper to let go.  A few tears slide down my cheeks. I feel as though I am standing on a cliff and the wind is whipping around me and I can see nothing as it is pitch black.  I question myself and analyze if I am being ridiculous and over the top. My mind tells me to be reasonable.

In the midst of all of this I am contacted by a client.  He is in emotional pain.  He has been falsely accused of something terrible.  He has spent ten months in a military jail without pay and continues to receive none while he waits for his reinstatement or retirement from military service.  He is the custodial parent of three children.  He has recently found a job and learned today that he lost it.  He has lost his car and is in peril of losing his home.  He is awaiting the news of his appeal in a higher court on the false charges but they take their time in D.C. and he will have to wait months more.  He didn't take their deal.  He stood on principal and didn't care what it might cost him.  He is barely hanging on now. He needs me.

I am having one of those moments where though I just want to lay helpless on the floor in a depressed heap  my spirit rises in me like a lioness.  I see myself in the scene where Frodo has fallen over the edge of the ravine and Sam grabs him from the movie Return of the King (Lord of the Rings).  I am Sam, of course, and he is Frodo.  A strength rises up in me and I believe that there is something greater, something worth fighting for, and I believe I must save him because this situation is only temporary.

There is a belief inside me that says you never give up.  You never give up.  The very core of my being believes that it is darkest right before the dawn and that things look really, really bad right as you are about to receive breakthrough.  A moment ago, I was ready to give up.  Ready to give in.  Now I see that I cannot.  If I must assist him and his dreams that I cannot let go of my own.  Even if they would seem trivial. 

I have no idea what will happen.  I don't know if I will have to modify or scale back on my dream.  I don't see how the realization of it in it's current form is possible.  I will see him on Wednesday.  He will need me to be strong and he will need me to inspire him to keep going.  I will have to find all of this within myself first before I can help him.  It is a daunting task.  My reality is squaring off with my belief system.  It will be interesting to see who will reign victorious.

Obviously I have been watching too many movies.  I will have to keep you posted on this one.  I would love to hear your comments on giving up.  It will help me as I prepare to face him and as I face my own struggle.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Remodel Update


While I was in Maine my husband worked night and day to begin making my dreams a reality.  He painted and installed our hardwood floors.  We chose a natural bamboo color which brightened up our living room fantastically and looks incredible.  It was a labor of love and he worked hard to accomplish it.  
Before -Tan with puppets "Orange" and "Purple"

If you are wondering about the lack of furniture I can tell you that I sold everything on Craigslist so that he would not have to put it in storage or move it while trying to tackle this job of installation on his own.  We added a new buttery beige wall color and the bamboo hardwood floors that were pre-finished in a natural finish.

I do not know how many of you have remodeled with your husbands but it is not a peace and harmony inducing experience.  Especially with a couple of independent, stubborn, knuckleheads like ourselves.  We were attracted to the fierce independent nature we found in each other but have discovered at times it doesn't exactly produce the best results.  Especially when we have opposing ideas about how we would like things to look or how to have things arranged.  Alas, that is a story best reserved for it's own blog and I will have to tell it another day. 

We are just completing the planning and design stages for the kitchen.  I can hardly contain my excitement over this portion of the project.  I think it will be gorgeous.  There will be a lot of details and help needed from a variety of people but I think the end results will be magnificent.  We have design drawings of the cabinets and they are so beautiful I am considering have them framed and hanging them so I can see them all the time.

See for yourself!!

Dreaming Big

When you dream what do you dream about?  When you are sitting and waiting and have time to muse what do you think about.  Some people call it day dreaming, this thing you do when you spend some time visualizing your wishes.  It is the very content of your goal poster that you craft with magazine cutouts and descriptive words.

I know what I dream about.  I dream about big houses mostly.  I like to dream as if there were no limitations.  It is better that way because the scope of our imagination is so limited.  It is the reason when we pray that we say, "Thy will be done" because all that God would dream for us is better than what we would have for ourselves.

My favorite house design, oh yes there are many, is a huge two story home  that is set like a rectangle except that in the inside there is a garden.  There are many entrances to the center garden from the ground level and many patios overlooking the garden on the second level.  I am sure that this home would be large and rather inconvenient but the garden would be fabulous.  I would have every color of rose, lilacs and every type of berry growing there.  It would be a safe place for my children to play as it would be shielded on every side by the home that they live in.

I did say children because in my dreams I raise a son and a daughter.  We would play there in the garden and it would be wonderful.  My home would include many guest rooms being as large as it is and they would always be full.  All of the people that I love would come often to visit us and it would be so much fun.  We would eat at tables adorned with fresh flowers as my garden is so plentiful.

In my dreams, I see a home filled with the items from my life that I love.  Relics from my childhood, prized possessions gathered while traveling and family heirlooms passed down from generations. I see a home filled with the people that I love.  I see my husband happy, attentive and hopelessly romantic while together we raise our two rascals and have a lot of fun doing it.

Since this is my dream I want you to know that I have fabulous long hair that flows and catches the sun.  Though I am turning 40 soon, no one in my dreams, would ever guess that number.  My cheeks would be radiant and pink from the play and the sun and the enjoyment of my life and health.  While I am at it my figure would be svelte and I could eat without thought of my hips. Even my play clothes would be stylish and I would be known for both my looks and my charming personality.

When I review my dreams I know that I may never own a home like this one.  I may never own a home.  However, there are elements of my dreams that can be possible now.  I can have a home filled with love. I can invite others, whom I love, to spend time with me there.  I can make the home that I live in a beautiful, eye appealing place. I can keep a supply of fresh flowers and berries in my home even if I am unable to grow them myself.

Things are so uncertain now.  I do not know what I will be able to have and what I will not. I believe that dreams are worth fighting for.  I have no intention of giving up on my dreams.  Any of them.  There is nothing sweeter in this life than the realization of a dream. 

It is like the day my son was born, confirming that I would be a mother.  It was a dream come true and I was so grateful for him and to him the day he was born.

We had a home birth.  When he arrived we sat there and admired him.  Not being in a hospital setting, I was able to rest and snuggle and spend the first few hours with him quietly.  One of my lifelong dreams had been granted.  Nothing feels better than this.  Because that is true, regardless of what lies ahead, I plan to dream big impossible dreams and find little ways to make them true.

I will continue to pray that God's will be done as I bring to him the desires of my heart and He listens and He cares.  He has a plan for my life and I do not know all of what it is but I know that it will be beautiful.  It may be so big that it escapes the reach of my imagination.  Until more of it is revealed to me I will be left to my own day dreams.  There is a lot that I want to do.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Small ER visit

I was running a temperature yesterday and feeling very run down.  In my condition, a temperature could be dangerous so I was asked to go to the Emergency Room.  After hanging out with them for a few hours and having blood drawn I was released to go home without even antibiotics.

I know that everyone was worried but my blood work did not show any anemia or problems that were serious.  I was accompanied by my father and then went to his house and put to bed. 

Thank you everyone for praying for me.  I think your vigilance paid off.  I would not want to hang out there for another week.  I would much prefer working with my clients and making progress on my remodel project.

MRI OF THE RIGHT AND LEFT HIP AND PELVIS 9/16/10

There is diffuse heterogeneous increased T2 and intermediate decreased T1 bone marrow signal.  Considering the history of breast cancer, this is consistent with diffuse infiltration of metastatic bone marrow disease.  There is no cortical defect.  The different diagnosis includes advanced osteopenia versus osteoporosis; however, clinical correlation is advised.

The right and left hip joints are normal.  There is no evidence of osteoarthritis or joint effusion.  There are small geographic-shaped areas of heterogeneous decreased T1/T2 signal involving the subchondral bones of the femoral heads consistent with avascular necrosis/bone infarct, without evidence of collapse or fracture.  The subcutaneous and deep soft tissues are normal, without evidence of muscle strain or tear.  There is no evidence of bursitis.

PELVIS:

Small foci of subchondral avascular necrosis involving the hips, without associated subchondral fracture or collapse of the heads of the femurs.

An Email from a Doting Father

10pm MST

"Susan fed, pampered, asleep in our bed. Love you.  She is tired, temp is normal, no antibiotics needed...."

This was after Paul spent his evening sitting in the ER with Susan, entertaining her with stories, sharing perspectives, and answering my scores of phone calls.  If love could totally cure in the way we want it to, she'd be walking in the Race for the Cure this year too. 

There is much comfort in the knowledge that God is in control, loved first and best, and is our heavenly Father.   John 3:16 tells us that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life".   Have you ever injected a name there?  God so loved Susan that He gave..........  Our travail in this earthly life does not begin to compare to the riches of an eternity in paradise without pain or suffering, or time, or crime, or bills.  Romans 8:18 says it like this "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us".   2 Cor 4:7-18 has a wonderful perspective on present suffering and eternity too.  Check it out. 

Even so, we cry out for her to be physically healed.  "Father God, we implore that it would please you to heal Susan of this cancer that has afflicted her.  We ask that you would move in her body as the Great Physician and in your miraculous way cast the cancer aside".  

Even so, we cry real tears.  But we are comforted by the assurance of the love of our heavenly Father, and able to rest in the ministering of an earthly father who would move heaven and earth, were it possible, for his little girl.  "Fed, pampered, and asleep in our bed", in other words, "protected, comforted, and safe".    Dad is on duty. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Home Again...Home Again

Truth be told, traveling this time around was very hard on me.  It took me a few days to recover upon arrival in beautiful Maine and some time, though less, upon return.  With fatigue comes increased pain and it landed me flat on my back coming and going.

As I was lying on my back I began noticing the extreme pain that I was in.  My hip hurt.  I then noticed the burning sensation that moved down my leg.  I felt emotionally stressed as my husband and I have not exactly been getting along over the last few weeks.  I thought about this.  I reviewed the comments that had been flung back and forth between us.  I rehearsed a few choice words that I wanted to say to him.  I felt grumpy and sorry for myself and rather exhausted.

I took my time stewing in my juices and feeling rather unhappy.  When it finally reached its crescendo I realized that I had completely missed the fork in the road and had chosen a rather unpleasant road.  You saw the fork in the road, didn't you?  It has been awhile since I had chosen the miserable road and I had to kick myself because I thought I had learned my lesson on that.

The fork in the road lay there in front of me when I was on my back and then began "my noticing."  I didn't notice the beautiful day.  I didn't notice how pleasant and cool the temperature was.  I began noticing my pain, emotional and physical, and kept on trucking from there.  Being additionally tired and physically drained left me more vulnerable to this road of misery.  Once on the road it was easy to notice all sorts of things that went along with the journey down this path.

Once feeling completely miserable, tired and upset I lingered on this path and wasted a couple of days on this venture.  As I slowly came to my senses I pondered how long it had been since I had felt so much despair, so much pain and so completely devastated.  I am pretty good at making better choices and better at spotting these forks and far better at choosing the positive road over the road of misery. 

You probably think I am being too hard on myself.  After all, I do have cancer, I am in legitimate pain and stress can take a bigger toll on me, right now, than your average person.  You might think that but then you would be wrong.  If I had spent my time on the positive road I could have been "noticing" positive things and pleasant things.  This would have put me in a positive state of mind and my suffering would have been greatly decreased.

Upon realizing my error, I was able to back track and begin making forward progress once again.  I worked on "noticing" how good it feels to sleep in my own bed especially when completely worn out from traveling.  I rejoiced at the long day of travel being over and being able to rest.  I began to give thanks for my husband and all the assistance he provides in my care and with the baby.

The further along this road I got the better I felt.  The more I moved and rested the better my body felt.  As I noticed that I could still drive and work and how much I enjoyed both, the better I continued to feel.  This positive road, otherwise known as the road to recovery, has a beautiful scenic quality to it.  It is a much easier road to travel.  It is not always well marked so you have to watch for it.  If you realize you have taken the wrong road quickly self-correct your course.  Be especially wary when you are over tired or physically unwell because it puts you at risk of a missed turn.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Family Photo 9/26/10

3rd row:  Tom Audet, Noah Audet, Scott Comeau, Matt & Jen Meader, Andy Audet, Spencer DeWitt, Alex DeWitt, John & Sarah DeWitt, Becky Comeau
2nd row:  Tracey McAllian, Tan Nguyen, Susan Comeau-Nguyen, Amanda Meader, Paul & Lucille Audet, Eve Foley
Front row:  Elijah Audet, Adam DeWitt

Milestones and Touchstones

Reading Susan's blog about Diane Greenlaw and her home has set me to musing.  Diane has been a treasured friend of mine and our family for about 15 years now.  There are enough stories there to write 20 blogs.  Diane is the sort of person who always makes a house a home, as Susan said.   She is the kind who not only have seasonal decorations, she can actually find them year after year and get them out on time.  She has attempted to assist me from time-to-time, but I find the Halloween decorations at Thanksgiving and locate the Easter ones around the 4th of July.  They are just a total waste with me and I have given up.  I do know WHERE the Christmas decorations are, especially the manger set that Paul and I bought in 1970 at W.T Grants.  But knowing where it is and actually getting it out are two different things and I usually fall down on the latter. 

But as I write this, I am sitting in my Surry kitchen on one of the chairs that Mom and Dad gave me last year when they downsized.  It is a rattan chair that Aunt Yvonne gave them when they got married in 1948.  They they went ahead and bought another one and a matching  table which was a sizeable investment for newlyweds who sold their car to buy a home for $3000.  We had the chairs reupholstered this winter and they are now part of our kitchen decor.  They sit a little low, I suppose furniture design has changed a little (or people had shorter legs then) but I am very proud of them and happy to have them.  The chairs were first part of my mother's beauty shop that she opened in 1949 and then moved to the family room at 37 Military Avenue in Fairfield and stayed there for 50 years.  They are there amidst the family Christmas tree photos all those years.  Our grandson easily climbs up on them, he's proud of himself for accomplishing such a feat, I'm proud of the fact that he's included in generations of family history and heritage.

The Bible talks about such things as these.  In Joshua 4, the people were instructed by the Lord to take 12 stones and place them as markers and symbols of what God did for them.  God's exact words were "when your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’  then you shall tell them.........".   Milestones and touchstones are symbols of where we came from, what matters, and what we stand for.  They give us direction much like a road sign does, milestones look forward and backward, markers along the journey to keep us going.  The touchstones themselves don't necessarily have alot of value.  A pile of stones isn't worth much, but oh, the significance of what they mean is priceless.

Being here in Surry, amidst the material treasures of my life that live here, it seems good to reflect on these milestones and touchstones.  When my children ask in 'time to come', "what do these chairs mean to you'?, my answer is ready.  

These chairs mean the continuity of a family steeped in love and rich in heritage.  They reflect a people who have respect for the things of life and the life of things.  I think this is an important value in a society that often values what is new, best, and up-to-date where the clothes of last year are too outdated to wear today and when the computer you bought last week is already obsolete. 

To me, the objects that sustained generations of family are real and tangible touchstones of our lives together.  My grandfather who died before I was born sat on these chairs, as did other beloved aunts and uncles.  These chairs witnessed countless birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, and family get-togethers.  These chairs say to me "you come from good stock", and "continue to teach your children well".   To be able to say that we treasure family, heritage, values, tradition, and each other is vitally important.  I don't worship these chairs, but I hold them up as touchstones and use them to measure the milestones of life.  I pray that this can be part of the heritage of living well that is passed along to Tan Nguyen and the others that follow in our footsteps.