Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Cancer Journey ~ Hugs, Not Drugs

My sense of smell has been affected by chemotherapy. Things that used to smell good now make me queasy. Pizza, bean burritos, marinara, chile verde, and sweet fragrances. The last is particularly bothersome because most fragrances come attached to people in the form of cologne, perfume, hair products, and even deodorant. Loving, kind, and gracious people who express their support in hugs.

So I am really looking forward to the day when I can accept hugs without any drugs messing with my sense of smell.

I am thankful that I could eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, and gravy. But I could not manage the pumpkin pie; it just tasted too strange. When I am all done with chemo, I think I will go hug a pumpkin.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Cancer Journey ~ Berried Secret

I decided to repost a story because I think it's funny. I need something funny today. This story was inspired by The Music Man and a picture I took at the berry farm.

Mrs. White waited nervously for the others to arrive.  Although she knew the meeting was necessary, she dreaded it.  She would not have even called the meeting, but her character demanded it of her, and Mrs. White was not one to shirk her duty.  She touched her hat to reassure herself just as Mrs. Blue entered the room, followed by her daughter Miss Adeline.

“Mrs. Blue,” said Mrs. White, “how lovely to see you, my dear.  Dear Miss Adeline, what a pleasure!”

“Oh, what a lovely hat,” said Mrs. Blue.  “The basket is a delicious touch–and so daring.  Don’t you think so, Adeline?”

“Yes, Mama,” said Adeline, echoing her mother’s words.  “It’s a lovely hat, delicious and daring.”

“Thank you, ladies,” said Mrs. White.  “I appreciate your responding so promptly to my invitation, especially as it is not our usual meeting day.  But there is something I must discuss with you–a very serious matter.  You see…”

“Oh, I knew it!” twittered Mrs. Blue.  “Adeline, didn’t I tell you that Mrs. White had a serious matter to discuss?  Otherwise, why would she call a meeting for today when we just met last Monday?”

“Yes, mama, it is a serious matter even though we met last Monday.”

“Is it about Mr. Green?” asked Mrs. Blue.  “Oh, say it isn’t so?  Or is it Miss Yellow?  No, it can’t be her because Adeline and I had the book drive with her only yesterday.  If it was about her, I am sure I would have noticed it.  There is always something about the eyes that gives it away.  Don’t you think so, Adeline?”

“No, Mama; I mean yes, we would have noticed her eyes.”

“Ladies, please!” said Mrs. White.  “The matter I wish to discuss with you concerns me.  The issue is–and here I must demand your fullest assurance, your most solemn promise that you will keep what I say in strictest confidence, no matter how sorely you are tempted to repeat the matter to others–my drawers.”

“Your drawers!” said Mrs. Blue and Miss Adeline in unison.  

Mrs. White sighed.  It was out now, and there was no getting around it.  She straightened her spine and looked directly at her guests.
“My drawers are stuck,” she said.  “They have been for several years.”

“Oh, Mrs. White!  How dreadful!  But…but how could such a thing have happened?”

“How could it not happen?  My drawers have not been opened for a long time.  And what is worse…”

“There is something worse?  Oh, how can we endure it?”

“Mrs. Blue, please.  Your interruptions only make this more difficult.  Yes, it’s worse.  My drawers are not only stuck, but they are full of bottles.  What’s more, some of the bottles are so old their contents are beginning to smell.”

“Mama, remember you said something about…”

“Never mind, dear,” said Mrs. Blue, looking uncomfortable.   She turned to Mrs. White.  “Oh, Mrs. White, words cannot express how deeply I feel for you.  Full drawers that are stuck are so…so…well, full!  If there is anything I can do, just name it.”

“Yes, there is,” said Mrs. White.  “You can help me get them unstuck and emptied.  I need my drawers emptied immediately.  Now pull.  You, too, Adeline.”

“Oh, dear,” said Mrs. Blue, “pulling one’s drawers is such a delicate matter.  Are you certain it’s appropriate–I mean, with Adeline present.”

“Adeline is well over forty so I should think it’s appropriate.  Now pull!”

The three ladies commenced pulling at Mrs. White drawers.  They pulled and strained and groaned and grunted until finally Mrs. White’s drawers popped open.  A dreadful odor filled the room.

“Oh, dear,” said Mrs. Blue.  

Mrs. White was fierce in her embarrassment.  She immediately began emptying her drawers; Mrs. Blue and Miss Adeline followed suit.  In minutes a pile of old bottles lay on the floor at Mrs. White’s feet.

“There,” she said, “that’s the last one.  I can finish the rest of this on my own.  Thank you, ladies, and remember that not one word of this must be spoken.  It must forever be our secret.  I am only sorry that I kept it to myself for so long.”

“We will be silent as the grave,” said Mrs. Blue.  “Isn’t that right, Adeline?”

“Yes, Mama, silent as the grave.  And, Mama, is this what you mean when you say better out than in?”

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Cancer Journey ~ Third Chemo Session

If all goes according to plan, I am halfway done with chemotherapy. So far, my journey is fitting the healing pattern. Just call me "Mitchio", which is Japanese for man on a path. Being a math person, I always notice patterns. The pattern I tracked after my first two sessions was the following: The first five days after the infusion, I felt full of drugs but tolerable. The next seven to eight days, I descended into extreme discomfort as my blood counts lowered, and my body went into BATTLE! Then I turned a corner and began to feel tolerable again.

My oncologist said that the pattern was normal and that I am doing great. I'll take that. If I know that better is on the other side of worse, then worse is not so bad. It's the Law of Undulation that C.S. Lewis writes about in The Screwtape Letters. It's like a sine wave describing the seasons of our lives traveling between peaks and valleys.

Here is a graph of a typical sine wave.

Since I am a cheerful soul, my sine wave is somewhat elevated (the blue one.)

But since the cancer ordeal started, my blue sine waves have shifted south.

I hope you enjoyed my illustrated math lesson and the Law of Undulation. If it weren't for the prayers and support of so many loving family and friends, the valleys would be even more extreme. I love you all. Many blessings.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Cancer Journey ~ Now Girl

To quote Monty Python, "I ain't dead yet!" I am not Gone Girl. I am Now Girl.

I decided that if I am going through the hassle of cancer, I may as well learn a thing or three from the experience. (These are things that strike me all o' a heap.) One of those things is that I am Now Girl, as in when a friend calls and tells me that she would like to visit me.

"When would be a good time to come over." she asks.

I do a quick check of how I am feeling at the moment. I feel pretty good.

"Now," I answer.

The reason I call myself a Now Girl is that I never know from one day to the other, one hour to the other, how I am going to feel. Some of the time, I really feel awful–just plain pooky. Other times I feel okay. I barely feel like I am surviving during the awful times, so I want to live Life during the okay times. If Life comes knocking when I feel okay, I open the door NOW.

In the afternoon, Jack asks, "What would you like for dinner?"


An hour or so later, he asks, "What sounds good for dinner?"


At dinnertime, he tries one more time, "Well, how about dinner? What would you like?"

"I want a bacon cheeseburger with fries from Stacked, and I want it now, please."

Alas, not everyone is on my Now time. Last Saturday, Jack and my sister arrived at Stacked to place my order just as it was closing for a private party. I learned another lesson that day about being a Now Girl; when my Now is denied, it makes me grouchy. Obviously, this is something I must work on.

Overall, I think being a Now Girl is a good thing. It is a very Present sort of thing, what C. S. Lewis described in The Screwtape Letters.

"The Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience which (God) has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."

So right now, I don't want anything for dinner. I am very much hoping in an hour or so, I will want to go to Fugazzi's now, please!

Here is my Now Girl painting.  (I don't know why–it just struck me all o' a heap.)