Friday, August 31, 2012

The choice is yours

As I was getting ready to go to chemo yesterday, I came upon this quote:

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."

I thought, "Wow, I love that sentiment. The idea that each day is a chance to start everything over, and that we have the power to decide if it's going to be a typical, ho-hum day, or if we will choose to elevate it into an extraordinary day. And by "extraordinary", it doesn't have to be flashy, it could be a day of restful, simple, pure happiness."

Then I thought about the fact that I was leaving for chemo in 10 minutes. "But how can I truly apply it to today, of all days? I'm headed to the slaughterhouse. To chemo. Come on. Best day of the year? Bit of a stretch there."

But then I thought about it more. "Sure, it's a suckass day. In some ways. But think about life outside the hospital doors. I have a new, beautiful home. My daughter is in an excellent school. I have a happy, wonderful marriage. I have loads of family and friends to help us with childcare and other things. All my bases are covered. The weather is sunny. And ok, YES, I will be in chemo, true. But, I'm pretty lucky I have access to this amazing doctor and to these medicines that are ultimately making me get better." It's kind of my choice to view chemo and this day as a burden or as an opportunity.

So I headed off to to chemo not with the usual grey-cloud feeling, but instead with this feeling of sun poking through the clouds. There were still clouds. But also the sense of possibility.

And I don't know if it was my improved attitude, or the acupuncture, or both, but today (Friday), as I lie in bed with my chemo infuser pumping poison into me, I don't feel as sick as usual, and I've even been eating today. No barfing at all yet.

Who knows what it is, precisely, that makes a person better? I do know this:  Your state-of-mind and your attitude are hugely important in keeping you well. And you can control that.

The past 7 days

It's Friday. In the last week, we:
-packed up and moved out of Issaquah
-moved in to Mercer Island and unpacked
-sent a child to kindergarten (looooove her school)
-did acupuncture again (which seems to be helping mimimize my crappy symptoms)
-did chemo
-and today, we celebrate our 9th anniversary. (and to mark the occasion, we are taking me to Swedish Hospital to get some fluids! Not champagne, sadly.)

I love this island. We are really settling in and it's taking no time to feel like home. Everyone has been so warm and friendly to us. Our yard is full of flowers and trees--the kids go out and run and roam and play, and they are totally safe.

Betty's school has been a great surprise. Tons of parental involvement. Great teachers. Lots of enthusiasm. Loads of bonus programs. We hit the jackpot. She's in her second day, but she loves it. PHEW.

I feel like everything has fallen into place. I feel really lucky.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Focus, Shelly

In two days, we will leave Issaquah and move into our new home on Mercer Island. Today it occurred to me that I should start packing. So I did, although packing is incredibly tedious. It requires focus and follow-through, neither of which are technically my "strong points". So, mid-box, I took a brief foray to the mall to get the kids' hair cut. We had a nice lunch. Ran around. Now we're back. And look at me. I'm online. Laying in my bed, chomping on Bubble Yum, listening to The Smiths. Writing to you. HI! In some ways, my life hasn't changed much since I was 15. All this youthful radiance! It's blinding!

Betty begins kindergarten in one week. The day after that, I have chemo. I'll be more or less MIA for 3 days. Not exactly how I had envisioned ringing in my child's elementary school experience. Alas.

One other thing I want to share before I return to my backbreaking day. I saw an acupuncturist yesterday. She was referred to my by my friend, a fellow colon rockstar, so I knew visiting this woman would be worthwhile. She doesn't just stick needles in you, though, she's got all these strategies for healing. Big-picture stuff. Too much to go into at this moment (can't you see I'm BUSY, PEOPLE?!), but I think it's going to be really cool and interesting. I'll be sure to keep you in the loop, of course. I'm seeing her again on Tuesday night, and our hope is all this will help me get through the next round of chemo with less side effects.

I wish someone would come over and sit on my bed while I fill boxes. We could gossip, drink Coke and watch TV, too. If this sounds like your thing, call me. 555-DORK. We'll have a big ol' time.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Feeling human again. Calm. Content, even. Just a little tired. I'm so glad to return to my "happy girl" default setting. I'm even gladder that that's my default setting. Glad, glad, glad. Egad, I'm glad.

Being alive and feeling normal is so delicious.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I'm in a bit of a mood tonight.

The past few weeks have been utterly gorgeous here in Seattle. Every single day has delivered fun, in one form or another. Beach time. Friends. Creeks. Ripe tomatoes and peaches. Sprinklers. Hammocks. Barbeques. Forts. Naps.

To put it another way, it's felt like a NORMAL LIFE in summertime. Not the life of a chemo patient. It's simply been happy. Blissfully, unremarkably happy.

And now it's the eve of yet another chemo session. The clock soon strikes 12. I will turn into a pumpkin again. As I lie here in bed, curtains blowing in the night breeze, I'm steeling myself for the next 3-4 days of the same old hell. Of long hours in darkened, Purell-scented rooms, monitors beeping, while they pile bag after bag of medicine to my stand. The pain. The vomiting. I won't eat or drink. I simply have to endure that plasticky, inorganic feeling of being poisoned for 72 hours.

It's a stark contrast to the normal summer life I've been leading. The hammock- and barbeque- and ripe tomato-life.

It's difficult to express what a luxury it would be to pass through this night and wake up, laze around in bed with my sleepy kids, and spend another regular day here. To not have to wave goodbye to my daughter as she stands, waving, from the driveway in her jammies saying, "Bye, Mommy! Have fun at chemo. I love you! Come home soon." (She really does tell me to have fun at chemo. Every time. Her heart is so generous.) If I had a normal Thursday headed my way tomorrow, I would not take a minute of it for granted. I so badly want to end this 11+ month cycle of bi-weekly chemical interruptions.

I feel like I should declare a lesson here, something along the lines of, "SO, GET OUT THERE AND LIVE THIS DAY TO THE FULLEST, FRIENDS!" But, no--that's the sublime thing about NOT being sick. Of not having this perspective I have. You get the lovely luxury of taking it all for granted. And I don't begrudge you that one bit. It's truly a wonderful thing. I miss it.