Monday, December 24, 2012

Jolly Happy Very Merry

My boys returned this morning from their weekend at their dad’s. The big one is a wired, jolly, lunatic and the little one is a sweet, happy elf, although the wired lunacy seems to be infecting him and that’s fine by me. Happy house, festive house, that’s my cup of tea, soon to be a full house, as we have our annual xmas eve soiree. I’ve been enjoying every minute of every day. The past month has been a string of perfect moments, unexpected moments, blissful moments, and tired moments, but I’m able to do so much more than I could a few months ago. Business at the shop has been great, kicking last year’s ass by a mile, and I’m having a full spectrum holiday experience. Sometimes I have a moment of panic, thinking that I’m so happy because it’s going to be my last holiday, or my last healthy holiday and then I just squelch it. I refuse to have that be true, that is just not possible, this phase of life, this chapter is a beginning, not an end. If I could will Jonah into existence despite profoundly flunking the fertility tests, I can will myself into health and enduring remission.

My living room has been sans music for two years, since I let the exiting party take the stereo system and the Bose radio which was rightfully his, a gift to us both, but from his father, so certainly it was right that it go. The only part of the stereo system that was mine was the Pioneer receiver which amazingly I’ve had since my early teens {wish they still made things so well!}, so I just figured he should take the whole thing. The only realms in which I’m brand conscious, because I just believe they make superior products that are worth every penny are Apple and Bose. Sure, I could listen to a thousand sound systems and find something comparable, but nothing’s going to be better or more compact than a Bose, and who’s got the time? But damn, they are expensive and I couldn’t justify the purchase. I’m always pondering it and then backing down, but last week on my way to work, before I even realized what I was doing, I was on 95 north, en route to Wrentham, where I know there is a Bose store. I walked in and out in 10 minutes with a beautiful new Bose wave radio, no regrets, and a little bluetooth accessory from which is streaming full, rich, holiday music from my laptop. Oh heavenly sound, the difference between what comes out of the laptop and what comes from the Bose is profound. I’m in love with the thing, despite it’s temporary home due to my old outlets and the need for an adapter. I’m grateful to my bossy subconscious that just plain took over and bought me this excellent holiday gift. Thank you me.

Wishing everyone a most excellent, very merry, happy holidays and a fine and fabulous new year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

To Catch A Thief

I’m listening to the sound of little boy whistling bits of the Nutcracker while getting out his homework. Tall one at computer doing homework, tree lit and pretty, hum of gas fireplace keeping us warm. It’s been a good week, albeit an odd sleepy day. I’ve finally reached the point where I can wait for test results without anxiety, a switch has flipped. I saw the doctor I trust most, and she was baffled as to why my PCP ran a Ferritin test sans the tests that go with it. This one test alone, apparently is quite useless without the corresponding tests that give a more complete picture, additionally it doesn’t actually measure the iron content of my blood, it could just be residual wonkiness left over from chemo. This was explained to me, and it made sense at the time, although like most things, I can’t remember the details. She thinks my liver is stressed from spending a year trying to process so many vats of toxic sludge. So my levels are all out of whack and she thinks they’ll calm down. On the other hand they may not... and I may in fact be laden with heavy metals. Blood has been drawn and sent to myriad destinations, more will go on it’s way every month for the next few and we’ll see. I’m calm, I’m not placing frantic calls begging for results, when they call me, they call me, I’m not going looking for trouble. Nothing is interfering with my thus far, totally awesome, going way too fast, holiday season.

This eating thing has gotten so tricky that I just plain give up. If I have too much iron that means I shouldn’t eat meat, beans, spinach or foods with a lot of vitamin C {my beloved clementines}. My sugar is high, so I should avoid carbs and today I went for acupuncture and she told me not to eat raw fruits and vegetables because those are stressing my body, and as I don’t like cooked vegetables much, I like them cold and crunchy, that’s a problem. My liver is unhappy, so no alcohol, and after that, what is left? So I think I quit, I’m just going to eat what I want, trying to keep it within the confines of healthy and varied, unfortunately, the alcohol ban is an unfortunate no brainer, that I need to adhere to... until xmas eve.

Santa, as always is going to be far too kind to the residents of this house, but I know someone who’s getting coal, nothing but coal. That would be the person, whoever they are, who stole the bulbs right out of my xmas lights, the one’s they could reach anyway and that’s enough to keep them dark, those six empty sockets. These are the lights adorning my store’s sign, the one that juts out perpendicularly from the wall, the one that can’t be seen from the entrance of the building due to my less than optimal, far flung location, the sign that needs to be wrapped up in lights to be seen, to let people know that I’m open. Despite the countless other bulbs I have in my possession, none of them are compatible and I can’t change the whole string because I lost my ladder. Yes I lost a 6’ ladder, and I’m very sad about this because sometimes you really need a ladder and at my height it’s more often than not and additionally, I’ve had that banged up ladder a long time. All I can figure is that I left it at one of my events and it got absorbed into the maintenance room, but they’re not digging that hypothesis and are not giving up any ladders. They will also no longer lend ladders without the signing of forms and paying of a fee to the building manager and on principal, that ain’t happening. If it were left to the maintenance guys, they’d gladly help, but they fear the wrath of management and I don’t blame them. My question is “who the heck steals someone’s tiny light bulbs?” As I don’t expect an answer to that, I take solace in the big pile of coal that surely awaits them and karma.... please let karma be that bitch everyone says it is. I hate that B word, so I’m a little uncomfortable using it, but there’s really not an appropriate synonym. So go karma, go do your thing.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Green Fields & Heavy Metal

I’ve been imagining my body as a field of tall green grass, an endless field of fecund sprouts and wheatgrass below a stone still sky. This place is inconducive to cancer. Any stray adverse cell that wanders in is engulfed by my lush green grass, disintegrated and harmlessly absorbed by the soil, quietly, peacefully, easily.

A friend the other day asked if I was back to working a lot. I answered -- well, I could be working a lot, I’m just choosing not to. She asked what I was doing and I told her I didn’t really know... bopping around, visiting with people, doing whatever the heck I feel like. Actually, I have been at work a good bit, just not every minute like I would normally do and I confess to spending a good bit of my time there wandering around talking to whoever I run into and probably chatting my poor studio-mate to death.

I’m starting to cook again, I’m listening to music instead of the news, watching movies and being cozy by our xmas tree. I’m happy, I’m watching Dr. Who with my little buddy I’m living in the moment. The tall one is now 6’ 3 & 3/4”, I am 5’ 3 & 3/4” so I think he will stop growing now and be exactly a foot taller than I, there’s something poetic about that. When you look at a ruler, a foot is substantial, but not overwhelming, but when you stand next to someone a whole foot taller, a foot is huge, and when it’s your baby, well, that is something. We are making college lists... well, talking about making college lists and procrastinating the actual list making. Dude rocked the PSAT, I just found that out a few minutes ago, my guys are both in good places, happy campers.

I’ve been feeling great, I finished radiation barely two months ago, but it feels like two years, I’ve so enjoyed my furlough back into real life, my stint on the sunny side. I saw my surgeon for a follow up a couple of weeks ago and she urged me to see my primary care doctor for a check up, to get all my blood levels checked. I was so surprised when I finished chemo, that they just sent me on my way. I asked if they were going to check all my levels and see if everything was working as it should, and I was told “no, you’re done, see you in three months” which struck me as odd, but a lot of how the practice of medicine is done strikes me as odd.

So I went, gave some blood and got the results back in the mail yesterday and well, I hate to say it, but all I can say is holy shit, they didn't look good, they were not what I was expecting. Levels are high, levels are low, but most glaringly, my Ferritin level, which is the amount of iron in my blood is off the charts. I’ve been googling like crazy and what I’ve learned is that high iron levels are called Hemochromatosis. There are two kinds of this condition, Hereditary and Acquired. Hereditary, as you would assume, is caused by a defective gene and these folks keep their iron level down by essentially, regular blood letting. They get a jug of blood drained out every few weeks or months to get rid of the excess iron, excess iron is dangerous, it can kill you. The other kind of Hemochromatosis is caused by an underlying condition or very often {most often} caused by having excessive blood transfusions. I had six transfusions within a three month period, not so very long ago, so which do you think I have? No brainer, right? Sorry, not if you’re my oncologist, I was told through the nurse intermediary because god forbid he actually gets on the phone with me, that he wants to run the gene test because he suspects I have Hereditary Hemochromatosis despite there being absolutely no instances of it in my family and I’ve had not only normal, but low iron in the past and I had six blood transfusions, I know I’m not a doctor, but please! Regardless of cause, I'm a heavy metal chic for the first time ever... literally, and yes, I might do a little head banging, albeit, up against a wall.

So while I’m reading that Hemochromatosis causes organ damage, heart failure and all sorts of other undesirable things when left untreated and my levels are definitely in the need-treatment-zone, I am expected to wait a month until my genetic tests come back before we discuss it. Are you screaming in your head too? My glucose was also high and do you want to know what cancer likes? What cancer’s favorite tasty treat to snack on and thrive is? Sugar and Iron. I’m starting to think I need more than tranquil green grass. I Might have to arm that grass with laser guns or poison darts.

I have loved, loved, loved every minute of my parole, but I know what’s coming, tests, biopsies, mysteries, another odyssey through the medical industrial complex, chewed up and spit out. I felt so healthy before opening that envelope, but now my liver hurts, my heart hurts, I know it’s psychosomatic and yes, I knew that cancer treatment is not benign, but I’ve got to admit to being mightily disappointed in, and surprised by this development. I was much enjoying my recent trajectory and most definitely did not want to veer off back in the direction of hospitals and terror, I was feeling more and more optimistic the further away I got. Yeah, yeah, I’ll be a good sport, but do I keep having to develop the maladies that require abstinence from alcohol? Because I could use a drink or two, three, four, five.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Best Ever

Well gosh darn it, I had the best birthday ever, and having turned 49, I’m entering the last year of my first half century. I have a completely different perspective on getting older these days, I can’t think of anything better than living to be old. Every year is a gift and an accomplishment. I celebrated my birthday for a good four days. Things began well on the actual day, with an unexpected card slid under my studio door. That night big stayed home to watch little so I could go out. I went with friends to the Craftland Holiday Party, so much fun and then for a lovely dinner. I, who am camera shy actually forced other people to have their picture taken with me.

Next day, while I was at work, the guys cleaned up the house, they actually did, I am a witness. Vacuuming happened, trash went out, books and things went back to rooms, the kitchen floor even got swept. My son’s friend-who-is-a-girl picked up my giant “happy birthday to ME” cake because she is swell, and by 5p.m. the house was festive, happy and swimming with friends, wine and food. One of the nicest nights I’ve ever had, and the first time in a long time, I’ve had a house full of people. After everyone left, the girl, my two boys and their new older brother a.k.a. the tenant and I watched a Saturday Night Live Holiday Special and laughed like mad and I danced in my head, because my feet were too tired.

This is going to be a good year!