Sunday, February 22, 2015

Silver Linings

It was going to be far too easy to make this a very whiny post. However, if I've learned one thing in the last four months through my dealings with Cousin Cancer, it's that attitude really does matter. No, it's not going to turn a horrible diagnosis into a garden party, but I need to sometimes remember that I drew the best draft number available in this war - my diagnosis was made earlyearlyearly and my treatment has (so far) been far more inconvenient than tragic. So let's look at a few weeks of silver linings here.

DOWNSIDE - as you know from my previous post, right as I started radiation treatment (I'm not quite half-way through right now), we had a bad windstorm which knocked a tree down into the fence around the dog pen, scaring all of us (especially the Spookster!) and causing quite a mess. Well, the tree is cut off the fence and we have to have fence work done. To be on the safe side, we had a friend who's a professional arborist (let's call him "Big Tree") come and inspect the rest of those ivy-covered trees. Upshot - wow! Tuesday, we're having about half a dozen trees taken out. So a hefty bill for both tree removal and fence replacement.

UPSIDE - I'd trust Big Tree if he told me to dance counter-clockwise around an oak. He inspected my trees when I first moved into this house - which was nearly ten years ago. (Side note - wow! Ten years!) And trees are beautiful, but less so when they've smashed through your roof and are in your living room. Having one tree come down prompted us to do some "what if?" work, which in the long run, is likely to save us from a much worse scenario than having a couple of bills for tree removal and fence work.

DOWNSIDE - Like all rational people, I hate Carolina ice storms. They aren't especially pretty and they cause havoc for days after the storm itself moves through. We had record low temperatures here over the last few days, which has a tendency to make me move at sloth-pace, so I got a little behind at work. Nothing bad, but we had to re-arrange our weekend a bit. Making plans is a surefire way to make God laugh - yesterday, when it finally warmed up above freezing, FryDaddy and I had to deal with our first (and please, last!) burst water pipe. Sigh.  Huge mess, and a plumbing bill on top of the other expenses.

UPSIDE - Aside from a ten-minute period during which I was a full-scale raving lunatic, we came through this one pretty well. I found the water cut-off under the house without too much trouble, although it took FryDaddy's Hulk-like strength to actually get the valve to turn. We went to my gracious mother-in-law's house for showers and laundry facilities and our faithful plumber (seriously - a great guy!), Piping Hot, had us up and running (water) within three hours. Also, it was an outside pipe leading to the washing machine, so no flooded kitchen. We got the mess dealt with toot-sweet and I just flipped over our first post-broken-pipe load of laundry, so we're all good.

ALSO UPSIDE - Being stuck in the house waiting for the Big Thaw, I moused around one of my favorite Websites and located a Little Free Library near me. (It even has dog treats!) A friend had pointed it out to me, but I couldn't remember exactly where it was - the roads get rather twisty in that area. I dropped off about ten books yesterday and picked up a light chick-lit read. Now that I know where it is (about a mile from the house and again - dog treats!), Spooky and I will visit regularly.

ALSO ALSO UPSIDE - People are kind. Coming home from radiation this week, I stopped by my favorite coffee shop in town and realized that the trees ringing the old courthouse square were festooned with scarves. Seems a local chapter of a women's service organization had done that to provide warm scarves for anyone who needed one in the bitter cold weather.

DOWNSIDE - Radiation treatments five times a week.

UPSIDE - By going to the treatment center, I learned about a great organization in my hometown called "Because We Care" that raises money for cancer patients undergoing treatment to cover the auxiliary costs, such as medications, transportation, utilities, etc. They had a big fundraiser last night and I received two tickets, so FryDaddy and I got ourselves slicked up and went out on the town. It was a New Orleans-themed masquerade party with wonderful food (avoiding the sweets table and the roving trays of beignets was hard, but Lent calls), Mardi Gras style decor, and dancing. Yes, FryDaddy and I danced - a little 80s funk, a little shag (I'm a bit short for him with that, but we still managed to twirl a little), even a touch of contemporary whatever-it-is-the-kids-are-listening-to-these-days.

We had a marvelous time - although our assigned seats were purloined by several women who apparently are still stuck in junior high. Ladies - all the sequins in the world can't cover up that type of ugly. I suppose I should thank them, as we wound up at the table with the band, who were undoubtedly more fun anyway. It was huge fun to dress up and see other people all gussied up - I learned that my college president is a huge Dexter fan (hmm??), his wife goes all out for the Oscars, and my oncologist can well and truly bust a move.

It really is all in how you look at things. And my overarching resolution to "be kinder to myself" seems to be intact and even growing!


Monday, February 2, 2015

Bzzzz - Zap!

I waited until today to post so I could give you the Very Latest. Today was not only Punxsutawney Phil's big day, it also marked the beginning of my six-and-a-half week journey through radiation treatment. Over the last couple of weeks, everything has been done to get me ready for today - sample films were taken, a personally-molded headrest was made, and I've even gotten three teensy "triangulation" tattoos that are used by the radiation techs to make sure that I'm properly aligned for each treatment. After all, radiation is useful stuff, but it's also very strong stuff and you want to focus the beam as narrowly as possible. After all of that, today was actually a little anti-climatic. It's not like Steve Rogers getting bombarded by Vita-Rays and screaming as he transforms from a skinny Brooklyn underdog into Captain America - instead, it's actually a lot of lying still on a VERY hard table while a couple of techs fuss over getting you into position and then a machine moves around you and you hear some buzzing sounds.

Then you're done for the day!

Seriously, I know it's a cumulative thing and that I'm likely to experience some slight sunburn-like effects and some fatigue, but if this is anything to go by, it's not bad. It certainly doesn't hurt (aside from the tattooing, which isn't awful, but definitely stings) and it's fairly quick.

Then I came home to this. It's been very windy here today and a mature, covered-in-ivy pine tree couldn't take it. It smashed down across the back fence of the outdoor pen (if you look hard, you can see bits of the chain link peeking through the branches), no doubt scaring the bejeezus out of Spooky-the-Delightful. We're working on how to get it cut up and removed - it's a BIG tree - and we'll probably have to replace at least the back part of the fence, but no one got hurt. It's solvable.

I'm learning that phrase - "It's solvable" - can be applied to a number of things in my everyday life. I'm still working on my yearly resolution to "be gentle with myself," and I can report some progress in that area. FryDaddy and I are still working the fine details, but if we organize our time and work (and I mean work HARD!) six days a week, we can actually have a real, non-working Sabbath. We've done it for two weeks now and it seems to be something that we both really want to continue. Honestly, it's not easy. We've gotten these great opportunities outside of "regular" work and those involve us coming home and/or starting on those projects extra early in the day, but again, it's solvable and we really enjoy having one day that's ours to do with as we see fit. So we'll keep working at it.

Now, about that tree . . .


Sunday, January 18, 2015

In Praise of Sabbath

Instead of taking on huge resolutions as I did with last year's mania, I boiled things down to their essence this year and resolved to "be kind to myself." (You can read about what that means in this post.) It turns out that this isn't quite as simple as it first appears, but hope springs eternal. My approach to this umbrella goal, which I hope will eventually include changes in my diet, exercise, work, and home habits, is to start slow and go slow, but keep progressing.  With that in mind, since I've last checked in here, I've done three things:

  1. Worked to incorporate waterwaterwater into each day. I hadn't swapped water out for soft drinks; I just wasn't hydrating much at all. Drinking plain ol', life-sustaining water isn't actually that hard once you commit to carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go. I use a 24 oz. one I picked up at Connemara, which was the home of the magnificent poet Carl Sandburg. It's not that far from where I live and it's well worth the drive (and hey - they have the descendants of his wife's prize-winning dairy goat herd!), but you can, of course, use anything you want. 
  2. Tried to expand my diet by including new foods. I've never been much of one for eggs, so I started with that. They're not expensive, can be fixed in a hundred ways, and are chock-full of nutrition, so it seemed like a sensible starting place. I found a frittata recipe and discovered that adding salsa - YUM! I can make a batch and eat off of it all week, thus guaranteeing to start the day with protein.
  3. I've gotten serious about keeping a "Sabbath day." Traditionally, Sabbath is a rest day, generally used for worship. Denominations get (to go Southern on you) "all tore up" about what day Sabbath should properly be and there can be all sorts of rules and regs about just what's okay to do on that day. I cut through all of that, although I respect the conclusions others come to in that regard. FryDaddy and I talked this one over and what we're striving for is a day during which we do not work, beyond simple household chores. "Simple" being the key here - a load of laundry and making the bed is fine; raking the yard is not. Puttering around with flowers would be fine for me, since I enjoy that, but digging a new flower bed is BSS ("beyond the scope of Sabbath"). If we manage to pull this off consistently, I'll rank it among the highest achievements of my adult life - thanks to electricity and computers, it's far too easy to blur work and home. I have to actually make an effort to NOT check work messages from home and with a new book project, I constantly feel like I should be getting more done. But I've seen the results of regular breaks and I'm determined to do this. In fact, the reason I didn't post yesterday was because it was Sabbath for us this week and blog posts are BSS.

In Very Fetching Hat news, I've been cleared by the oncologist to begin radiation treatments, which will be followed by a five-year course of tamoxifen (that treatment may, of course, be altered once we see how I tolerate the drug). Later this week, I'll go for my "simulation" - I won't actually receive radiation therapy on this visit, but will get measured and prepped and even tattooed so the radiation can be very narrowly targeted. It's actually a fascinating thing - my medical team will now include a physicist! So at the moment, I'm post-surgery, pre-radiation, but this will shift in the next two weeks. It's not as scary as I thought it would be, no doubt due to the marvelous care I've been received and the outpouring of love, concern, and well wishes I continue to receive. I'm interested in making some dietary changes to increase my energy level and keep my mood stable as I go through this next stage and I've gotten some excellent advice on how to do that without totally breaking the bank. (Oddly enough, molasses is strongly suggested.) So it's "Onward Sloth!" at this point!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Forward!

Here it is - the end of 2014. A traditional time to reflect and resolve. I did that this year and - scratch that. What I did was OVERdo that this year! Well, no sense pummeling myself about that. Instead, I've been using that experience as a means to figure out what is to be gleaned from that experience.

Mind you, I had some incredible successes this past year and some wonderful "mountaintop moments," including the publication of Wanna Cook? and seeing FryDaddy complete his graduate studies and come home to live with me and be my love full-time. I reached my goal of competing in a 5K race and, along the way, discovered that I like my version of jobbling. I attended my college reunion and caught up with a number of women who helped form me into the person I turned into. Likewise, I attended the Whedon-based Slayage conference and connected with an amazing circle of scholars who helped shape me professionally. Honestly, it was a very good year in many, many respects.

But the ending needed work. I took on too many challenges, both personally and professionally, and I buckled under the weight of all those obligations. That would have been fine, but I refused to admit that I am not Supergirl and that led to some long, dark nights of the soul. And - oh yeah - cancer diagnosis.* So in some ways it was a pretty lousy year.

Therefore, the key question was what to do, what to do?

Colanders & sloths. It's a thing.
Then I had an epiphany. (Not the Epiphany party I've thrown for years, though. That's one of the things going by the wayside this year as a concession to December's surgery.) I don't want this coming year to be about outside things as much as I want to make it about inside things. Yes, I hope that side effects of that will be a return to healthier habits, but my focus this next year is going to be just on being kinder to myself. As corny as it may sound, the cancer diagnosis, with all its attendant fear, uncertainty, and occasional moments of actual terror, has been a bizarre sort of gift. I've had to slow down. I've had to let others take care of me and no one wanted to hear me apologize for it. I honestly can't list all the kindnesses that have been shown to me during this ordeal, nor can I list all the people who have been so joyous when I had good news to share at different stages of this misadventure.

So - my resolution for 2015 is simple - be kind to myself. Instead of crash dieting and setting checklist and checklist for myself, I want this year to include changes such as:

  • Not eating lunch at my desk while I check e-mail every workday
  • Eating a lunch that consists of real food, not just a meal shake and a granola bar
  • Building breaks into my day instead of having meeting after appointment after conference
  • Making time off a requirement instead of a "wow, wouldn't that be nice?" Seriously, religions that observe a Sabbath are on to something in this regard.

Oh, there's plenty more I'd like to do, but it's a very, very good start that will already require me to make some real changes in order for me to put my own well being at the top of the list in ink instead of tentatively writing my name lightly in pencil at the very bottom of the page.

It sounds so simple, but I think it might be harder than it looks.

Onward!


*By the way - surgery was a few days before Christmas, which made for an interesting holiday, but I was so glad to get it done! And - calloo, callay! - the pathology report came back excellentwonderful with a report of clean margins on the excised tissue, which translates into "we got it all." You'll hear more about continued treatment for the next few months (radiation is coming and I doubt it gives me superpowers), but things look good, good, great on that front!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hurry, Hurry - Now Wait!

I've been putting off drafting this post, hoping a few things would snap into focus and I could write definitively about them, but that's just not happening, so let me get you up to speed as best as I can.

The fall semester is over. Grades are turned in and there was the usual gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and marking in red. Some students pulled things together and amazed me and some - well, some just didn't, or they misread the syllabus, or, or, or. At any rate, it's done and in the record books at this point, which means it's time to get ready for the holidays, right?

Well . . .

Even by my standards, Dec. 19th is a little late to be getting a tree, but that's how the Casa de Guffey rolled this year. On the plus side, waiting until the 19th means you get a really, really cheap tree.  On the minus side, it's a little on the funky side from being cut and tied up for so long.  We now have our second year of learning "just how much tree will fit in a sedan?"  (The answer for a Ford Focus is "about seven feet," by the way. Just drive carefully and stay on the back roads.) A good friend brought his sons over and he gave the trunk a fresh cut, we wrestled it into the stand and it's now slurping up water and letting its branches relax and hang out.  Hopefully, we'll decorate it (and get the last few thingamabobs up in the house) tomorrow, which is also a major family feed day. Yum!

As you know from this blog, the main reason the holidays are so discombobulated this year has to do with my introduction into the Pink Ribbon Club. That's kept me (and FryDaddy, as my personal chauffeur) hopping lately, with consultations and appointments galore.  Let's see - among the things I've learned would be:
  • I don't have a genetic predisposition towards cancer - it's just one of those things that could (and apparently, often does) happen. That's not nice, but it's good to know that I'm not at a high-risk for recurrence.
  • Surgery is expected to be a "lumpectomy," although I don't actually have a lump. On the day of surgery, they'll insert teensy guide wires to tell the surgeon "start here!" and "stop here!" I'd think a felt-tip marker could do the same thing, but no. When I whined about this, FryDaddy reminded me that, yes, I have many accomplishments, but going to med school isn't one of them, so maybe (just maybe) I could hush up about this part. I hate that he's right.
  • Surgery will be outpatient, which thrills me to no end. Get me home, please! We've got comfort food in the kitchen and I hope to have a few hot meals lined up before we leave on Monday.
  • When you remove tissue, the body doesn't like it much and wants very much to fill that void with fluid, which is bad and can be painful. To avoid that, the idea is to compress everything and hold everything very, very still. So I'll be wearing a garment I've spent my entire life avoiding - oh, it may be medically-indicated, but it's still essentially a tube top. I want sequins and blue eyeshadow to go with it, but apparently that's not an option.  At least not one covered by insurance.
  • Due to the (still fingers crossed here) change in date, Christmas is going to be very interesting. But honestly, I want this done.  As in DONE. So I jumped at the date change. Looks like the 23rd of December for me. I'm scheduled to go first that day, so we've booked a hotel room close to the hospital rather than make the hour-long drive at 4 AM.
  • The date was switched because a pathologist managed to get the slides from my biopsy, examine them, and say, "By George, the doctor's right in her surgical plan!" With that done (they weren't expecting the pathologist to get the slides so quickly, but that Very Fetching Hat seems to have some magical powers), there was a slot on the 23rd, so the hospital called me, and I began a whirlwind of phone calls to schedule what felt like thirty-seven separate appointments. While not physically exhausting, it's been a draining day.
  • The 23rd of December. That's sort of funny in the "non ha ha" way - a year ago, I began jobbling as part of my "I'm going to take better care of myself" pledge.  (My first jobble was on Christmas Eve, I believe.) Now this.
I am amazed beyond belief at the kindness and gentleness of people during this stressful, weird time. (And judging from the quote in the picture, I know a LOT of very, very strong people.) It's nearly overwhelming what friends will do for you in times of trouble. With cancer, maybe it's a little of that primitive lizard-brain at work - "If I do this, the Angel of Pink Ribbons will fly over my house;" I don't know. What I do know is that my yard and gutters are leaf-free, I have a Christmas tree with a fresh cut, my workplace is being beyond understanding, I have the promise of fresh homemade food, and dozens of friends have given/are giving us gifts of time, talents, kind thoughts, and errand-running so my house can get through this rough patch with as little disruption as possible.

It'll make you pause.

And maybe that's the lesson in all of this.

Be safe. And don't wait to tell those you love that you love them. If you get another chance to do it, tell them again. Won't hurt.  Might help.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November - Checking In!

Poet Thomas Hood didn't really care for November, once writing:
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
November! 

Right there with you, Tommy.

All throughout 2014, I've been "checking in" on the resolutions I made in January. Back then, I set five challenges for myself and all year, I've been reporting in my progress, setbacks, and "ack!" moments. To review - I picked six classic books I hadn't read to complete this year, I picked 24 "good movies" I'd never seen to watch this year, I determined to keep a household budget and tame the credit card monster while I was at it, I said I'd take the FlyLady system further into homecare, and I said I'd train to run a 5K race before the New Year's Eve.

OK. No one ever had me stand on a stage to receive the "Sanest Woman Alive" medal. There's been progress, sure - I've read three of my six classic books (along with a slew of other books that weren't on the list), seen 12 of my classic movies (again, along with a slew of classics that weren't on the list [I especially recommend Fritz Lang's M, by the way]), the budget comes and goes although we've done very well on keeping credit cards in a drawer, the basics of the FlyLady system are in place, although my zones are hit-and-miss, and - my big triumph - I've run 3 official 5K races, along with several "virtual" ones where you run and post your time online.

In the meantime, work has been driving me into a state of frantic "I can't get caught up," I feel like organizations I deeply care about are getting about 70% of me and that's squeezed in, my writing projects feel like chores rather than opportunities, and my beloved husband, who took me 40 years to find, feels a lot like an amiable roommate some days.

Clearly, something had to give.

I was not expecting it to be a diagnosis of cancer, although that'll pull you up right short in a hurry.

Cornhole - lot of missed shots there!
I wrote about this in my last post, but a quick recap and the latest news. I have been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS"), which is both good news - it's not life-threatening in and of itself; it's what it can turn into that's worrisome and bad news - it's gorram cancer. I've had two biopsies done and am scheduled for a third Monday morning. OK, now for the funny.  400 years of the scientific method and the best position for a patient to be in for a breast biopsy is to lie flat on a table, with the (ahem) body part in question stuck through a hole as if a backyard game of cornhole has gone dreadfully wrong. There's clamping and needles, and bandages, and teensy portable ice packs and uncomfortable sleeping for a few days and a day or two of sharpening your sponge bath skills.  In short, while not nearly as bad as any other number of medical procedures (at least you get to go home), it's not a barrel of monkeys, either.

After Monday's "third time's the charm" procedure, it's time to pick a surgeon (I'll be a patient of this doctor for a number of years, so we need to get along and also, how far do I want to have to travel for check-ups? These questions, along with, "You received your Board certification when?" and "You've performed this exact operation how many times in the last year?" are ones that will need be asked.) Hos much tissue will need to be removed (lumpectomy or full-on mastectomy), what sort of surgical follow-up (radiation, chemotherapy, both, or neither) and what kind of recovery time is expected - these are questions that cannot yet be answered.

Part of the Colander Commandoes
I've had what I'm being told is a very human reaction to all of this - and the first person to quote Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to me gets strangled with a pink ribbon. I see the massive "bummerocity" in dedicating this year to getting my diet and exercise habits in better order only to be hit by a cancer diagnosis. I am grateful for medical technology that found the "bad spots" years before a traditional mammogram could've picked up on them. I'm profoundly humbled by the kindness of friends and complete strangers who have come to my aid during a time when a certain slant of light makes me tear up. I have cards, presents, prayer shawls, silly pictures, and a list of names as long as my arm of people who are willing to help out. (Need your leaves raked? Dog need some attention and a place to romp? How about some casseroles and soup so you don't have to fret about cooking?) You learn that you're sick even if you don't exactly feel sick. And you learn that life keeps spinning and that it's not all going to break your way just because you're sick - we had to put our young gray cat down due to (you guessed it) cancer this past week and that was a Very Bad Day.

Very Fetching Hat
And you know what one of the most profound lessons in all this has been?  Yes. 

Yes, I do have time to be sick. Yes, I am far, FAR stronger than a half-teaspoon of malignant tissue. And yes, I am worth being loved and being taken care of. (There was a time I wasn't too sure about that part.  Really wasn't too sure about that part!) Yes, deadlines can be re-negotiated without the person on the other end thinking you're some sort of couch slacker. And yes, you can fight with a Very Fetching Hat and dozens of friends who are willing to wear colanders for the battle. 

I have cancer, yes, but that's far from all there is to me. Going into December, I figure my final challenge for 2014 is going to be one that I maybe should have put first - every day, I'm doing something nice for me. Maybe I'll bake something to share (hey, nice to me can also be nice to others, you know!), maybe I'll make time for a manicure (waiting in doctor's offices leads to me picking obsessively at my cuticles), maybe I'll take a half-hour and read for fun. At any rate - it's the Season for Being Nice - and yes, that should count me.

Be well.  And to quote those grand philosophers Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S. Preston, "Be excellent to each other."




Monday, November 17, 2014

So You Think You Had Plans . . .

As I wrote in my last post, my regular, run-of-the-mill mammogram didn't look so good, so other tests were ordered. Then an ultrasound. Then a biopsy. OK, at this point, it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar (which I'm not) to figure out that sumpin just ain't right in Boobtown. And true enough, the biopsy was clear as dawn - ductal carcinoma in situ ("DCIS") which translates into "yay! you've got the very least bad form of breast cancer!" What I've got hasn't invaded beyond the duct into surrounding tissue or into the lymph nodes, but let's not kid ourselves, this is still Pink Ribbon territory.

And I'm scared.

Friends and family have been great and things are chugging along - I have an MRI scheduled for first thing Wednesday morning and after that, I'll pick a surgeon (think of it as a really bad game show, probably airing on Fox until public outcry becomes too much to ignore) and we figure out how much of me is left and how much of my Amazonian cosplay takes on an air of true authenticity.

Time does funny things at this point. I want everything to just stop. Just. Stop. I want to curl up into a very small ball and hide under the covers, not even coming out for comfort food like pie or Chicken 'n' Stars. I just want things to stop. But things, of course, don't stop, not least of which is because I have attained the status of a Grown-Up and am expected to carry on with things. There is work to be done - papers to grade, laundry to fold, writing to do, pets to care for, errands to run - all the things that go into creating a modern life and yes, they have to be done. And they have to be done even when you're feeling weak, and fragile, and impostor-ish because with DCIS, you just barely have cancer at all, and so many other people have it so much worse, so for God's sake, buck up, girl! (You think this because your brain is certifiably crazy, by the way.) And someone gives you a hug or buys you a cup of tea and you just collapse into a shallow puddle. If you're lucky, you choke out, "Excuse me" and get to the bathroom before you begin sobbing and no mascara is really that waterproof. Screaming seems like a logical course of action, but it would scare spouses, co-workers, small children and/or pets, so that's out, unless you make an excuse and go for a drive. Then, make sure the windows are tightly rolled up and have at it.

And then there are the times where you're okay and you can fret over everyday things, like not being able to go for a jobble because it's raining too hard and you're pretty sure you could've made good time today. And you make jokes and wisecracks because it's what you know how to do and it feels normal and you want to feel normal but damn, this is weird. People in nurse's uniforms and sensible shoes are treating you like you're a chart, so you take to wearing a ridiculous hat just so they stop for a split second and look you in the eye.

You try not to worry people around you, but you just don't know how to answer when someone asks you, "How are you?" That simple question becomes a big, honking deal. You just get through the day as best you can with lists running through your head as you pigeonhole your life - medical stuff, insurance stuff, work stuff, family stuff - and invariably you drop something.

And you just want to curl up into that very small ball - all from a microscopic cluster of cells that don't belong there. Roller coaster of emotions? Hell, that's easy. Try a gorram Tilt-A-Whirl. But I keep being told to "feel what you're feeling" and right now, I feel overwhelmed. People are thinking about me, and praying for me, and making me gifts (gorgeous, gorgeous gifts) and being so kind to me that I feel so crappy about feeling crappy.

But I am assured that this, too, shall pass.

Leaving what in its wake, I have no idea.