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 . . .