Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snore blog

It's 1:12 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22, and we've been told to go home because of the terrible weather. So sad. I took public transportation, so I'm about to pull on my snow boots and walk to the Blue Line, then transfer to the Metra and go home! I might have a nap, read a book, celebrate my upcoming holiday.

We have plans to go to Nashville and see family for a couple of days, not long, just enough time for some hugs. I hope the snow doesn't sabotage our plans. Travel seems precarious in Chicago.

Now, it's 7:46 p.m., and I ain't done nothing. I made it home by about 4. Threw some salt on our sidewalks and took a video so you could see the snow. Now you see why I don't blog much anymore.

Boring. Snoring. Worth ignoring. Speaking of snoring. I had snorers beside me both on my commute to and from work. Loud snorers. Men of course. But there was also a honker. A young woman. Who honked and honked and honked. I began to think she was a Candid Camera plant, her honking and blowing went on for so long. But when I finally looked back at her, she did look pitiful and in a lot of pain. She probably should have stayed home. Her seat mate was staring out the window, trying to look as though he did not belong to her.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Poops away

I would like to direct you to a great blog post about poop. Makes me wish I had children!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crossing over to polyester

Last year around this time I was headed to Nashville for my big birthday bash. My mother and sisters in law hosted a party for me because they didn't know if I'd be around another year. But here I am, plump and feisty.

Back then, I fit into all my pants, even ones I had stuffed in the bowels of my closet in hopes of someday getting into again (that thing women do), never thinking chemo would be the diet that worked best for me. This year, those pants and a lot more have been moved to the basement, stuffed into black plastic bags on their way to AmVets or the Salvation Army. I am 52, the age of change. THE change. The one that slows your metabolism to a trickle. The one that means apples and green beans go straight to your hips (and your new pooching belly).

I have crossed over to the world of polyester pants. Stretchy material. Elastic waistbands. I now wear sweat pants out in public because they hang loosely around my thighs. Sometimes they even make me feel skinny. Long ago, I quit tucking my shirts into my pants. I had to reassess everything I wore on the top half of my body. I had to give away the bulky, tuckable shirts and buy the fitted untuckable shirts.

Now, I've moved down to the lower part of my body. I'm tossing out the pants that no longer button; the ones that hug my butt and give me a definable crack. I've moved up a size. My older sister, Jennifer, offered me a brilliant solution. If you don't want to be reminded that you've gone up a size, just cut out the tags.

Problem solved.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let us eat cake

I had a great time in Florida. I went to an excellent development seminar on planned giving that I really enjoyed. I learned a lot. And I will share. Later. With people who care. I met my sister there who also attended the conference (and told me about it). Then we went down to my Mom & Dad's in Fort Myers.

Mom made me a birthday dinner of roast, potatoes and carrots; what we used to have after church every Sunday. And she made my favorite cake: angel food with Lackey fudge icing. I ate three pieces. And I don't plan to weigh this week.

While I was out of town, I learned Bob and my checking account had been "compromised" so we had to shut down our checking account and all of our credit cards and start all over. Because I do my banking online, that was a bit traumatic for me. We'll be straightening that out for awhile. My advice to you: Check your checking account online regularly. That's how Bob found out something was wrong. He wasn't allowed into his own checking account and the bank made him come to the local branch and shut it down.

But this post is to show you my birthday video, taken with my little camera. There is a difference in my birthday this year and my birthday last year. Last year, they threw me a real birthday round-up, and we had a hootin' tootin' time. This year's birthday party with my parents and one sister was delightful. You can see for yourself. (I even had to start my own song; the camera was rolling and I needed some action.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fabulous Fishing Weekend

Gosh. It's been a month since I posted last. Oh well.

I tried living life like I only have four and a half years to go this past weekend. I went to Kris, Denise, Becky, and Betty's River House for the weekend. Being an introvert and a grump, I find it hard to make myself go places where I will have to be around people I don't know very well for a whole weekend, making nice, smiling, you know. But I went to the River House with seven other people (Denise came up Saturday night); I slept in a tent in a big room with a guy I didn't know well (Oh, he wasn't in the tent; he was safely in another part of the great big room). But he was delightful, everybody was; the trip was a great time, and most importantly, I caught fish! Four. Three little catfish and one junk fish. But, uh. Nobody else did. Deb claims I had the best seat in the boat. OK. Whatever. I'm going to show you the trip, not write about it.

In other news, I have two doctors' appointments on Tuesday, where I will have to weigh. Ack. Then I leave for a conference that evening in Florida. And I will get to see my Mom and Dad and sister, Jennifer. So I better go pack.

Take a look at my videos.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Live it up...sort of

Thanks to Leroy (see below), I have a new philosophy on life. I've decided people should live as if they have four and a half more years of life. I don't believe in "living like this is your last day" because you would do some pretty terrible stuff. Like spend a lot of money or eat a gallon of Breyer's chocolate mint ice cream (after a dozen hot wings). No, living like you have one more day is not safe.

I also don't think you should give yourself just one more year either (as my sister suggested). Because again, it's likely you would do something radical. Like quit your job and live on your savings. Then if you live for forty or fifty more years, you'd need to find another job and save up the money you just spent.

And I don't think you should give yourself five more years because that number is so banal. It doesn't feel real. It seems ignorable. "I've got five more years to live" doesn't move you like saying you have four years and six months more to spend your days on this earth. Six or seven or ten years is too long. You might remain inert (until you only had four and a half more years).

With four and a half more years (or three and a half if that moves you more), you probably wouldn't quit your job or spend all your money because you still have a ways to go. But you might travel more. Or go out with friends more. You might paint your walls bright colors (or better, pay someone to do it). You could give yourself a break and do nothing. Just stay home and read or watch a movie. You might treat people better. Call your Mom more, tell your partner you love him or her. Take your dog for a walk.

Maybe we should try it. See what happens.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm just a little freaked

Leroy Sievers died over the weekend. You probably haven't heard of him unless you listen to NPR every morning like I do. I haven't heard his voice in a long time. His commentaries were about his cancer and its progression. He also blogged almost daily about his cancer. In fact, now that I think about him, it seems I haven't heard him since before I found out I had cancer. I think I would have paid more attention to his commentaries. Or maybe I didn't know what type of cancer he had.

Nowadays, I always want to know--when I read an obit that says the person died of "cancer"--I want to know exactly what type of cancer killed them. That's far more relevant to me than it was before...

So I looked up Leroy to find out what kind of cancer he had. Turns out he died of cancer in the brain and lung. But guess where it started?

His colon.

He had a "routine colonoscopy" (sound familiar?) and the doctors found cancer. They treated it, and he was cancer-free for four and a half years. Then they discovered cancer in his brain. And two years later he's dead. He was 53.

This scares me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I am not dead

Though it may appear so by the amount of blogging I've done lately. I have been busy. I was off to Salt Lake City for a week for work, home to recuperate, and off again next week to Boston and Vermont for vacation. Charles and Nancye Willis, Nashville buddies, are coming to stay at our house and take care of the dogs. It's a great deal for me, and they get a week in Chicago with a car.

I've been trying to diet, and have found a fun (and free) site that lets me count my daily calories. So I've been trying to keep up with what I eat and my exercise. Problem is, just when I get into the groove, I go out of town again where the good food is impossible to resist. I love food so much.

But the point of this blog is to say I am not dead, in fact, I'm quite alive. I visited my oncologist yesterday for a regular check up. And it seems I'm doing G-R-E-A-T. The nurse called me yesterday with my CEA levels, and they are tip-top. Perfect. Which means there is no sign of another lurking tumor. So it looks like I will live.

I never really thought I would die, but then I imagine most people who find out they have cancer don't believe they will die. Humans do seem to have a large capacity for hope. So, why I turned out to be one of the lucky ones, I don't know. My cancer was Stage III, and I think there are only four stages. So I was on the cusp. Do I have some unseen "mission" in life? Now that puts a lot of responsibility on me. But, of course, I could get hit by a car walking across the street. Or in crossfire.

Or of a stroke because of the road rage I get when drivers fail to use their blinkers. Now, that's something I need to offer up. It really is. One of those "Don't fret what you cannot change" things.

Anyway, I see the doctor for four more years. I asked, "How long do I have to come see you?" and he says, "Five years." And I said, "But when did that five years start; not that I don't find you adorable..." And he said, "Five years from when the chemo started." So that's four years. And that's how long I need to make sure I have good health insurance. And even longer, I guess, since I'm only getting older (the result of not dying).

Friday, July 4, 2008

My sister-in-law, the hero

Mom and Dad were staying at my brother's house a few days. They've been in Nashville a month or so, visiting around with my siblings. They are waiting for a new great-grandson, but he hasn't come yet. So they were planning to head back to Fort Myers on Monday.

Daddy was watching a tennis match at Jimmy and Phyllis' house but wasn't feeling well. He had quadruple bypass surgery a few years ago, so you might think he would know the signs of a heart attack. He and Mom hemmed and hawed about going to the hospital, until Phyllis (who luckily was at home) said, Get in the car, we're going. Dad, like me (or me, like him) is a cheapskate, and will do anything to avoid hospital costs. (Even, incur funeral costs instead, it seems.)

They got to the emergency room, and Phyllis called Jimmy, my brother, from work to come on over. He got there and they all were talking to Dad, doctors in the room, when Jimmy said Daddy jerked and his eyes rolled back in his head. The doctors escorted (shoved) them out of the room quickly. Jimmy said he told Mom, I don't know, I'm not expert, but that might have been it.

A few minutes later, the docs came out and said he's fine and responding well. It seems he flat-lined and they brought him out of it. They said if Dad had been at Jimmy's (who lives very close to the hospital), an ambulance might have been there in time to save him, but chances are he would be "mentally slow" as a result of the loss of oxygen to the brain.

The stars aligned (or however you would like to explain it) and he was in the midst of doctors when he had a heart attack. They took him to the operating room, cleaned out an artery that was filled with "toothpaste-like" substance and put in two stents. And he's OK. Almost good as new.

Jimmy said the first thing Dad said when he woke up out of surgery was: Did I miss the tennis match? And Eric, my nephew, who is expecting a new (Mason) James Lackey at any time, in that very same hospital, wondered aloud if he could sneak the baby's hospital bill onto Daddy's (because their names are nearly the same). A family of cheapskates, God love us.

Thanks Phyllis. Looks like you'll have house guests for a while longer!

(P.S. I'm off to Salt Lake City for the Women of the ELCA's seventh triennial convention and gathering.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Painful disbelief

I was distressed greatly by an entry I read on my nephew's blog this morning. From it, I gather that he feels there is no shortage of oil, and that the rise in oil costs is a big game that oil speculators (whoever they are) are playing to . . . what? He doesn't say. Scare Americans? (Can you say Code Orange?) Line their pockets? What?

An articulate writer, my nephew believes that these "artificially inflated" prices will eventually correct themselves, and living in America will be a Utopian experience. (As long as you don't charge anything on your credit cards; he works for the financial counselor Dave Ramsey.)

An actual quote from his blog is: "In the meantime, don't fall victim to the fuel efficient car trap."

I don't know if my nephew has ever driven in Europe where gas is sold by the liter (about a quart) because that makes the prices look lower. You don't see many SUVs in Europe because they've been paying exorbitant fuel costs for years and years. The cars are tiny over there as they should be. I'm sure Europeans would be delighted to learn that when they wake up tomorrow, fuel prices will have plummeted (because the economy has corrected itself).

From a May 2008 Time magazine article:
"Across the European Union, the average cost of a gallon of gas runs to about $8.70 — more than twice what Americans are shelling out to fill up. And Europe's dizzying fuel costs would be even worse if it weren't for the considerable appreciation of the euro and the British pound against the dollar over the past year, which has partially offset the price escalation in dollar-traded oil." [That $8.70 would be about $17 out of our pocket if we visited Europe today.]

I am appalled that anyone would believe that we have an unlimited supply of natural resources on this earth and that we can use them up without regard for future generations. Maybe my nephew believes that Jesus will come again before we have to worry about our fuel supplies, but he has a baby on the way and I can't imagine that he doesn't consider the future of his child.

One of the points he makes is that he doesn't think people should rush out and buy fuel efficient cars just because of the current oil crisis, thereby sustaining new debt. Because he works for Ramsey, I would expect him to say that. Fine, don't rush out and get into debt buying a fuel efficient car. If you don't already own one (and why wouldn't you?), make a small or hybrid or clean diesel car your next purchase. When you buy a new car, buy one that doesn't guzzle this earth's natural resources.

What would Jesus do? He would walk.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Meat and three

Saturday, Bob and I flew into Nashville for one day to attend St. Ann's 150th anniversary celebration. As a priest that "came out" of that parish, Bob was invited to process. I found a Southwest ticket for $49 each way and decided to go with him. We woke at 4:30 a.m. to make our 7:30 a.m. flight. Got there, rented a car, and just made it in time for the 10 a.m. service. Which was held in a tent on the parking lot. It was hot as hell. At least 95 degrees and sweltering. A normal Nashville day. It was a nostalgic event. We saw a lot of our old friends and reminisced about the 1998 tornado that destroyed the church.

We ate lunch at the Gerst Haus where they serve beer in frozen "fishbowls." Yum, I needed that.

We drove around our old East Nashville neighborhood and by our old house on Russell Street, my dog park, and then headed toward the airport. The Nashville airport has been renovated. You actually wouldn't even have to leave the airport to "see" Nashville. It has a Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Swett's restaurant--a meat and three.

The whole point of this blog is to show my friends a photo of a meat and three. They just don't seem to understand what a meat and three is. When I tell them what I miss most about Nashville (besides my friends, of course), it is the restaurant that offers a meat and three vegetables (or two or four). You don't even have to get the meat, you can just order the vegetables. And you can add a good ole Southern dessert to that too.

Chicago has no vegetables. You can't walk into a restaurant and sit down for a good home (like) cooked meal. I miss my Southern vegetables. No wonder I never learned to cook. I grew up in Nashville where you could get a great meal for under $5. (It might be about $7 or $8 now.)

Speaking of tornadoes, our flight was diverted because of them. We were expected to be home about 6 p.m., but we didn't make it until 9. Luckily, our neighbor was home when I called her and she gave our dogs a bite to eat.

Click on those photos if you want your mouth to water.

Regardless of what I said in my previous post, you just can't take the Southern out of the gal.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Elevator speech

I’ve decided today (or really a week or so ago) that my Southern-ness is slowly oozing out of me. When I get in an elevator with just one other person now, I no longer feel that I must carry on a conversation with him/her. I just stand there, staring at the buttons or the door or the floor. If they start the conversation, then I will happily join in. I have no trouble holding my own. But my compulsion toward idle chat seems no longer necessary. At least in an elevator.

Is that good?

Midwesterners, though not Southerners, are actually quite pleasant. I was surprised about that when I moved here. I expected them to be like New Yorkers (or at least like how people say New Yorkers are). I thought that if I asked a silly question (something I’m full of) they would slap me. Or worse: give me that “You’re so stupid” look. So I was thrilled when I found everybody (ok, most everybody) here is very agreeable.

But Southerners are so accommodating. If they meet your eye on the street, they say hello. And they try to meet your eye. They do not look down or up or around just so they don’t have to say hello. They (we) have a cultural rule that if someone doesn’t return your greeting, well that person is just plain rude. Or at best, in a really bad mood.

I guess since I am thinking about finding it unnecessary to chat in an elevator, then I have not quite shaken off my Southern roots. When I no longer think about it, that’s when I’ll be integrated into the new culture. But how I am going to know? If I don’t notice.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Annoying hairs

Not only have I gained about 10 (to 15) pounds since stopping chemo, which makes my pants very hard to pull up over my thighs and button around my middle, I seem to be growing hairs on my face. I add the weight and the face hair to my growing list of either chemo or age-related side effects, which includes a new and severe curl on the right side of my head.

I have long reveled in the joy of not really having to trim a mustache like my sister (I won't say which one) has to do. She says she has to; I never really see hair growing out of her face, but that's probably because she catches it before it's braid-able. As we age, women have to use magnifying mirrors to put on our makeup, penciling the eyeliner straight across our wrinkly eyelids, hoping the amount of blush we put on does not make people want to honk our noses.

This magnifying mirror comes with many disadvantages. It shows all. I have a large magnifying mirror and a tiny 10X one suctioned to it for the above stated purposes. The large 5X one merely allows me to apply base makeup. The 10X is for details. I had laser surgery (lasik) on my eyeballs several years ago, which makes the seeing up close problem even worse. Blind people can take off their glasses and see fine up close. I, however, am up to about 225 on the reading glasses scale.

This 10X mirror is showing me that I am growing a beard and mustache. Now it's not a heavy black beard, but that's only a matter of time, I'm sure. My biggest fear is when I'm in the nursing home and my long hairs grow and grow because I have no children to diligently pluck them out every week. Having children might have advantages when you reach a certain old age. My other nursing home fear is, of course, about the bathroom. The aides will either set me down and watch and wait, in which case, I'll never be able to go. Or they will leave me there for hours, forgetting about me through breakfast and lunch. I think I would prefer that. At least I would be on the toilet as my diuretics take effect.

Back to the hairs. These hairs are also growing out of my nose. (Am I making myself sound attractive?) I'm plucking and cutting now, but I guess I'll have to move to waxing. Does this mean that I will forever be in the clutches of a waxing parlor, always looking for one when I'm on international trips or long domestic vacations. You've heard of the new Web site for locating bathrooms? I might start one for waxing parlors.

The question is: is this all about menopause? My mother can't remember much about it so I have no one to inform me about its perils.

Aren't women lucky? No wonder we ate the damn apple. We deserved it. (And we were Starving!)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's May Day

in Chicago, and around the world, for that matter. I'm not sure what May Day means in most places, but in Chicago it means: MAYbe it won't snow anymore after today. Please God, don't let it snow anymore here until November at least. It snowed here earlier this week, on Monday. It didn't stick, of course, but here I was, at work, and I looked out my window and the snow was coming down furiously. I had to write my family about that, since all of them live south of here. It makes them think twice before coming to visit.

Oh. My colonoscopy was clear. Nothing there. I was (sort of) awake and was able to watch for the most part. First time I had one, I was totally out. Maybe they gassed me good when they saw cancer so they could talk about it without me hearing. But this time I watched as they traveled down my colon. I think I heard them trying to find the suture lines from my surgery when my colon was cut apart and stapled back together. But as far as I can tell in my foggy state, they never found it. So I'd say that was good.

And for my fat report: I'm gaining about a pound a day. No matter if I only have soup. Every day, I get on the scale, and I weigh a pound more than the day before. I'm freaking out about that. I've been starving to death lately. Every two hours my stomach trumpets: feed me. Feed me! FEED ME!! And so I do. I drink plenty of water, all day long, so it's not just thirst like some of the fat journals claim. I think it might be a hormonal spike or something menopausal. I'm not sure. I think the hourly hunger pains are beginning to subside. If anyone has any insight, please give it to me. The fun part of cancer was being skinny (relatively speaking) for a while. But that's over and I love food again.

Love, love, love it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Cup of Salvation

I guess the colonoscopy preparation drink really was the cup of salvation for me last year. It was around this time in 2007 that I had my first colonoscopy and discovered I had cancer. But now I'm all better. They're going to look inside my colon Monday to be sure. I'm pretty hungry right now and my test isn't until 11:30 a.m. I'm going to go and have some chicken granules. Yum.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I got my port out today

Here's the hole it came out of, and here's the port. I asked them if I could bring it home, and they said yes! I'm a little sore. I didn't go under sedation because I really hate that. I usually come out of it hurling, so if I can avoid it, I do.

After I got the port out (about 10:15; I got there at 7 a.m.), Bob and I went to Alexander's where I slugged down three cups of coffee (I would have had more if they would have come by and offered) and ham, hashbrowns and poached eggs.

Then I came home and felt a little sleepy, so I went to bed at about 11:30 and didn't wake up until 1:30. So I guess I was sleepy.

Today is Becky's birthday. Happy birthday to her! And happy port out day to me!
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The sun is out in Chicago today

I walked into the clinic for my doctor's appointment today--the same clinic where I went to get my chemo treatments every two weeks--and had quite an emotional experience. It rushed upon me as soon as I walked through the automatic doors; this is where I spent some very unpleasant Fridays. But it was more than that; it was also that I seemed to have beaten the cancer, and that I was walking through the halls like a survivor. I wouldn't have to go again to that place for chemo treatments. Stooped, bald-headed people were going to appointments, their green-pale faces held the tell-tale signs of chemotherapy. I, too, had that green color once. But friends and family had the grace not to tell me about it until my cheeks turned a normal hue again. Until I again had the body of a plump medieval nymph.

Today the doctor said: You did good. I answered, You did good too. I told him I planned to live to age 86. He chuckled and asked why not longer. That seems long enough, I answered. You know, if you live to be 100, you get a card from the president, he said. Well, I wouldn't want to live until 100 just for that. What if I wouldn't want a card from the president in office. Everybody nodded.

While I waited to get my next appointments--my port removed, my colonoscopy--I saw a daughter walk out of an office where her mother was in with my doctor. She was crying, so I knew the news they got wasn't as good as what I heard.

I asked him about my curls. How did this happen, I didn't lose my hair. Some people get curly hair, he said. But mine didn't fall out, I said. He shrugged. The nurse said later that hers started getting curly with age. And she's about 15 years younger than I am.

So the plan is: colonoscopy within a year of my surgery, which is now. Port removed! Symbolic to me, like the clanging of the bell at the end of a boxing match. The referee has counted to 10 and it's my hand he's holding up. Visits to the doctor every four months for blood work and check ups. CT scan every six to eight months.

I do feel great. I'm a little hungry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The doc called yesterday

Well, actually the nurse, but I thought writing the doc called would be more dramatic. I got my CAT scan yesterday, so they were calling to report. Seems to be


Ha! I don't know the details yet, like if I can get my port out or how often I have to have a CAT scan or do I have to have a colonoscopy every three days for five years; I'll learn that next week when I meet with the doc. But I guess he doesn't get to deliver good news every day and maybe he was excited to get to do that. Or maybe he thought I would be worried about the results and he wanted to ease my mind. (The more likely scenario.) I waited this long; I didn't mind waiting another week, but it's really nice to know.

I think I'll celebrate this weekend. I'm taking Friday off to go to see Othello. We might go downtown early and play around, maybe go to the Art Institute. Depends on the weather, I guess. It was supposed to be sunny and 50, but the weather forecast has changed, and now it looks like it's going to be cold and wet. Quite a turn around.

Anyway, I thought I would give my CAT scan report. I don't know how I got to be one of the lucky survivors. But I'm glad I am. Exclamation mark.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Last year at this time

I was oblivious to what my upcoming year would hold. Surgery to remove a golf-ball-sized cancerous tumor in my colon; six months of chemo. My discovery fell during Holy Week last year, which happened to be a couple weeks later than it is this year. I had my first colonoscopy on Maundy Thursday 2007 and that's when one doctor proclaimed that whatever was inside of me "was not good." Good Friday was not that great.

So I have an anniversary coming up: April 5, discovery; April 12, surgery. This week I get a CAT scan and next week my oncologist will read it. Hopefully, the spot he discovered on my lung last CAT scan will turn out to be nothing, and I can get this port out of my body. Once the port is gone, I think I will feel like I have conquered. But now that I have written this, have I jinxed myself? No, this post is just to let my friends and family know what's going on. I don't think I'm scared or apprehensive. I just want to enjoy my summer this year (if, indeed, it ever comes), so I would prefer no surprises. I know that doesn't mean I won't get any.

But, really. I'm kind of tired of doctors.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm poo-phoric!

Deb sent me this link today to a Salon story. It almost makes me feel normal. Everybody's talking about Poo. The book I list in the left on my blog, What's Your Poo Telling You, is being discussed. You really need to look at the video for a good smile.

This just makes me so happy. (Kate just sent me another bathroom story today. You just have to read this. It's about a woman who sat on a toilet seat for two years--so long her skin grew around the seat. Kate is the queen of finding bizarre stories.)

On an unrelated note. My hair is sitting on top of my head like Marge Simpson's. I need to just go ahead and get it all cut off. It's gotten really wavy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My trip to the Chicago dog show

Here's my video from the dog show, which I went to all by myself. All my friends at work are cat-lovers. One loves guinea pigs. And another--when she was a kid--drowned her pet hamster because she didn't want it anymore. Woof!

Friday, February 22, 2008

There's a sewer

swirling around in my body. Don't sit next to me. Or do so at your own risk. I'm not sure what's happening. I realize my descending colon is seven inches shorter than it used to be. And that must create activity at a quicker rate. There is less space for the bacteria to bang around like bumper cars, and so the sparks are more frequent and more severe.

I read a story recently in the Chicago Tribune about how to clear a room. You guessed it; a story about flatulence. "Gastroenterologists say most people pass gas about 10 to 20 times a day," according to the story. I exceed that quota by 10 a.m. It also says women "break wind" fewer times a day than men. That may be true, generally, unless you are a woman with a short colon.

I'm at home getting ready for work, so I thought I would post this quick note. I have a long day ahead me, I have to work late. And I'll be irritable because I'll be around people and I'll need to be polite. And being polite means you cannot do anything that might clear the room.

Recently, someone asked me why I haven't been posting lately. Clearly, I have nothing much to say.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I should not read about cancer

if I don't want to pop an anxiety pill. So here's the way I got to the cancer Web site. An author of a book called Compassionate Caregiving wants our magazine to review her book or let her write an article about caregiving. So I was looking through the book, and the Caregiving Web sites chapter caught my eye. I turned to those pages. There I saw the reference to cancer.org. I logged on and saw Cancer Facts and Figures 2007. Well, of course I'm going to look at that.

I scroll down to the section on colon cancer (naturally). I looked at the survival rate (and the fact that eating a lot of red or processed meats [I AM a member of the SPAM fan club] can cause colon cancer). The one and five year survival rates for colon (and rectal) cancer are 84 percent and 64 percent, respectively. OK, that's respectable. Detected at an early, localized stage, the five year survival rate is 90 percent. Really good. However, when it is discovered in the lymph nodes (me) or adjacent organs, the five-year rate drops back to 68 percent. OK OK, that's better than half, I guess. But if it has a distant metastases (I'm not sure how distant, preferably in a nearby swine), the five-year survival rate drops to 10 percent. Really bad.

You see, an acquaintance in Nashville has just died of colorectal cancer, and she was only 41. I've been keeping up with her on her Caring Bridge Web site. One month, she was back teaching school and the next month (or so) she was dead. I didn't know her well, but her death has really affected me. I don't think it's because she also had colon cancer, but maybe. It's just that she was so loved and seemed to be a happy person. She was not going to let this cancer get her. And yet it did.

I was looking at the photos of her they used at her memorial service and tears came to my eyes. I prayed for her a lot. Lots of people did. Once when I was praying for her complete healing, the question popped into my head (from God?), "But would you trade your life for hers?" And guiltily I must admit, the answer was no.

I'm no Jesus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What a great holiday

I spent a wonderful two weeks away from the office. We had a nice Christmas, then my sister and her partner (my sister in law) Jana came to visit. We ate and ate and drank and drank and visited downtown Chicago. They saw the ice skaters and we even got some snow. Jana got to build a snowman. For Decatur, Alabamians, snow is rare.

In addition to their visit, my favorite part of time off was sleeping until 7:30. That's late! Then ambling downstairs to the living room to get my coffee (with a squirt of holiday whip cream in it) and reading the paper. Puttering around the house (learning a new video program) and then taking a nap around 1 or 2. Man, that's the life. I hate to add years to my age, but retirement looks pretty good. A couple of times I got bored, so when I do get to retire, I'll have to have some daily goals, I guess. But for now, I think resting and taking it easy is just fine.

I sure am back to eating. I knew this would happen of course. I can taste food again and it is heaven. We blew our dining budget in December. And the numbers on my scales are rising (I have to put my body on it first, of course). But it's the new year, so I can make some resolutions. Like eating my fruits and vegetables and staying away from all the sweets that tasted so good during chemo. And going back to the gym with a vengeance.

My aunt Margene died over the holidays. She was my mother's younger sister. (She was in her mid 70s.) She got pneumonia and never recovered. Terrible. She was part of the reason I like cowgirls. When I was a kid, I used to visit her family on the "farm" in Oklahoma. That's where I rode (and fell off) my first horse. What was that white horse's name....I can't remember. Anyway, Margene, I hope you're having a great time. It's really cold here.

I'm still racking in the presents. Bob got me a computer, which I didn't expect!, and a DVD recorder, among lots of other things. My friend Teresa from Nashville sent me an unexpected gift she picked up at a yard sale. A Kate Spade cowgirl purse!

The photo above is Bob and me wishing you a happy 2008. We've taken this picture every year since 2000, when it was easy to hold up our fingers. One of us would hold up a two and zero; the other would do two zeros, forming an "O" with our fingers. But as we moved into 2006, we didn't have enough fingers. So we had to move to the Roman numeral system. That's me holding up two "M"s for 2000 and Bob holding up two and three fingers for "eight." That makes 2008, right?

Happy New Year!