Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quiet - Introverts -

I've been quiet the past several days. Too much running around in my head to really sit down and write about it all.

Writing really does take energy, and sharing my writing has been a risk I've chosen to take these past nearly 5 years. But some days, even weeks, putting my thoughts, or better yet - exposing myself, in print is pretty scary.

So occasionally I choose to be quiet - on paper. However, the writing that goes on in my head never stops.

It seems when it's the noisiest around me, I want to tuck away, leave the madness - even if the madness is only just clutter in reality, and take time to be.

And that's where I've been.

Thanks for your patience, and love.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Mom - and Change -

I received a text this morning from my mother (well, I received several, but I'll talk about one specific). She wrote, "Call me when you have a minute. I promise, it's something good."

My mother HATES change. And this year has been full of changes, and she has done a spectacular job of rolling with the newness, even when she hasn't wanted to. In fact, she's been able to make decisions on her own (tough in the past; she works by consensus); take care of insurance and money issues (she hates money issues); ask for help (where did I get my independence from?); and take a couple of road trips, all by herself.

So I wouldn't say she's embraced the changes that have come since Dad's death, but she certainly has seen that changes will happen, and she can fight them, or surrender to win.

Mom still worries, gets overwhelmed, gets overly-caught up in projects, has a tough time making some decisions, but all in all, she's doing so well!

And today, when I called her, for the good news, she said, "Oh, oops, I forgot what I was going to tell you. I'll call you when I remember." I had to laugh. Because two constants about my mom are her desire to share and her desire to keep the family informed (I wonder who else she shared the good news with, or forgot to share.)

She called me back moments later, "I remember now. You will be so proud of me. Joan and Marianne invited me to lunch with them on Wednesday. And I said Yes!"

One thing about Mom is that she doesn't like "being a burden." Like she ever could be such. And she doesn't want anyone's pity, and typically her life revolves around family. So for her to say, "Yes," is a major event, one, yes Mom, that I do consider good news.

Way to go, Mom. So proud of you. So very proud of you. Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Diamonds and Stones -

There are days when the sun shines and bird sing - however -

There are just some days, bundles of them, that feel like I am dragging a rock behind me and have boulders in front of me - that I cannot get over or around.

Since cancer I've felt like I've had more stones than diamonds, and while I'm sure that's probably not reality, these past few days, well, they've been stone and boulder days.

And I'm against a huge rock right now, not sure what to do - I wish I knew there were diamonds waiting for me on the other side.

It's just too hard to move forward into the unknown - aka crazy granite mountains. Ready for some sun - glistening, shiny, diamonds.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Cheers for Rigby High School - Reunion Time

I graduated from Rigby High School, May 1977. On June 16, we will hold our 40th class reunion. I am on the committee, as I was five years ago.

Ten years ago, newly married to Scott, I attended my 30th class reunion, held in Idaho Falls, ID. Not many folks knew I had divorced or remarried. Scott and I were still in our little love-bubble and trying to figure out our lives together, blending families, caring for parents, figuring out incomes, and I hadn't taken the time, nor did I think I needed to, to introduce him to my high school friends.

In fact, I really hadn't planned on attending the reunion. I wasn't popular in school - rather quiet and shy, although I think that often came across as "stuck-up." I didn't know how to small talk, couldn't even keep a conversation on a date (sorry, Kevin), I wasn't athletic, and I felt terribly awkward in almost any social setting. Thank heavens I had a few friends who accepted me as I was (forever grateful to you few), and I didn't feel alone. So going to a reunion to see "old" "friends" really wasn't my thing.

Yet for some reason, I have no idea why now, we went. I stressed over what to wear, and we braved the small daytime picnic and the larger evening reunion. It was fun seeing folks, and I was glad when the event was over.

Except for one thing. Allen Lofgran accepted the nomination to be over the next reunion, asking me to co-chair, and we invited all folks living in Utah to join our committee.

And those five years came - so quickly. The September before our 35th reunion, I messed up my back, had been down most of 6 months, and I really thought that had been my trial. I attended the reunion grateful to be on my feet without pain. I was invincible. I had made it through the back pain.

I was grateful for this reunion. We were missing two stalwarts of our class, and some of us had aged more than others, sickness had crept into a couple of lives, and I was grateful to see these classmates. Our old high school was being torn down, so we reunited at the high school cafeteria, one last time. And I was grateful I made the time to attend, even if planning was a pain. Thank you Allen, Dirk, Tammy, Sanette, Renea, Trudy, Diane, Gary, Kevin, LaRae.

Who knew that just one week after this reunion I would find a lump in my breast. Here I was congratulating myself on conquering back issues, and cancer jumped at me. Dare I say it's F'd up my life? Yeah, it has. At times these 5 years have been nearly more than I can handle. Scott and I, and family have not only lost the life we'd planned, but three parents have died, we've had a bundle more grandkids born, and even when I thought my life was really truly over, life continued to happen. Nothing could have prepared me, no one could have told me, and yet, time marched on, as I marched on.

And here it is, time for the 40th reunion, this week. And I'm scared - I weigh more, I have aged, I'm more cynical, more introverted, tired, and honestly - I still feel as I did when I graduated all those years ago - shy, quiet, not-belonging, and not sure if this group of people really need me at the reunion. I won't be missed. But I'm going - I'm on the committee! We volunteered to organize it one more time - we had the spreadsheets, the Facebook group, the contacts, the knowledge, why not. And talk about a wonderful committee - the same folks, a few rotating out, some in - Dirk, Gary, Allen, Sally, Sally, Renea, Trudy, Jean. I'm grateful for these folks. Good people.

So we'll dine, visit, rodeo, visit, crack jokes about age, wrinkles, hair, life, visit. And we'll remember the few who have died these past 5 years, and I'll be grateful I'm able to attend the reunion.

But what I want to say is this - you know during that year of surgeries, chemo, radiation, healing - where did I go? What did I do while just surviving? Remember. My memories were sometimes all I could pick up. And those included my years with my friends in grade school, junior high, high school. So even in my not-belonging, I went to where I did belong - to friendships made years ago, and the memories that accompanied those relationships.

Our class song, for graduation was Seals and Crofts, "We May Never Pass This Way Again." And I've thought of those lyrics so many times over these 40 years. You see - while my classmates may not need to see me, may not need to spend time with me, I need to at least be that fly on the wall to see them - to let them know they kept me alive, even when I wanted to die, was dying, those memories, their faces, were with me. And those who won't be at the reunion - don't you think for one moment that I won't miss you. You mattered; you matter.

I won't be on the committee for the 45th reunion, and although that's 5 years down the road, who knows what will happen - who will die, who will live, whose lives will be dramatically altered.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I Don't Know - And Snails -

I Don't Know - these 3/4 words are really quite powerful. As a young mother I thought I had to know everything. From what was for dinner to who the Interior Secretary was, and I had an answer. This was before the days of Google, so this meant I was constantly on my toes, listening, reading, planning, gaining knowledge. And with this came a certain amount of satisfaction for having an answer to just about anything, and a huge sense of responsibility to be in the know, to have an answer, and to be ready to reply with correct information any time a question was asked.

These days - I Don't Know brings me much satisfaction! I mean, I like to have answers, and I do draw from a lifetime of experiences and knowledge, but I don't feel bad if I have to shrug my shoulders and listen to some else's answer or calmly state, I Don't Know.

With the phrase, I Don't Know, comes a certain amount of freedom! Having answers means accepting responsibility for being correct, and that means truly Knowing, not just blowing smoke or talking off the cuff. And I'm not really a fan of someone who has all the answers - that leaves very little room for conversation and discovery. I'm also not a fan of someone who thinks they have all the answers.

I'm finding that more and more, as I say, I Don't Know, I'm reminded of what I do know. I do know how to do research, I do know how to ask questions, I do know how to back off and listen to others. I do know it's okay to not know.

On Tuesday at work, a patient's stress was pretty high. Why? He had snails in his garden, and he couldn't get rid of them! And if you're a gardener, you understand that pests among growing baby plants is just terror. I knew about snail bait - but that's poisonous, non-organic. That's it. But as we conversed, it really was apparent  this was a true concern. So - finding the answer became my quest, as opposed to having the answer. It's fine and dandy to have an answer (Zinke), but the hunt and collaboration that comes with looking for an answer can be fun and enlightening! Out came my phone, I searched, "Organic ways of getting rid of garden snails," and up popped the best article. As I shared, we laughed, we weighed the options, and we enjoyed the discovery of the answers, together.

Having an answer can be a very solitary position. I Know, no one else does. Finding an answer can bring folks together. And not having an answer means being vulnerable - and I'm enjoying being here.

I'll let you know how the snail removal process goes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quotes - Christopher Reeve, Dory -

Positive sayings and affirmations keep me going. There's something about an inspirational thought that speaks to me. I love words - so this is one reason; I can always glean from the written word - there's another reason. And it seems that others have a way of speaking my thoughts better than I can. Reason three.

I'm getting restless; summer does that to me, before I calm down; just in time for fall! And I'm a little down. So Dory and Christopher are where I'm finding some solace -

Monday, June 5, 2017

Letting Go - Of Some Pride -

One of the brain functions I've lost, since cancer, is the ability to sequence anything with more than 3 numbers or 3 steps. So - remembering the class room numbers for my classes; remembering phone numbers; remembering appointments; remembering orders of tasks - first this then this.  And one of the places this is most apparent is in logging my time for work at the hospital. I work for 2-4 different departments, and I have to report my time to each perspective department. But - this is gruesome - this job is more difficult for me than being in a room full of people I don't know (and for an introvert that sucks).

And the toughest part of this is I make mistakes, all the time, and these mistakes affect other people. And when I try to cover up, they just get worse, because I panic! So then my mistake is compounded, and I'm constantly fishing myself out of my errors - my truly innocent, almost unseen errors.

But I made a big mistake 2 weeks ago, and then in my trying to fix it, I made another mistake. And I didn't notice either until I was attempting to report my hours, looking for the department number, and realized this mistake.

So I took a chance - a huge risk, swallowed my pride, and I wrote this:

OK, so I mess this up, ALL THE TIME, and I need to come clean to you! When I had cancer (4 years ago), chemo really messed me up - and my memory and logical thinking were terribly impaired. I've been able to get most of my skills back, but numbers and number sequences are still difficult for me to remember, recall, and reproduce. 
I do my best to double-check everything before I send it to you, but even then my cautiousness does not reveal my mistakes. Just as below - even repeating what you wrote, I still have the wrong set and sequence of numbers. 
I've tried so hard to be competent, but honestly, even a telephone number is something I have to triple check before dialing. I am so sorry you have to be the one dealing with this, and if you have any suggestions for how I can make my reporting to you not so cumbersome and time-intensive, I'd be happy to do it! 
I can think critically, write without a problem, present my thoughts clearly, but numbers - just not there anymore, and for that, and to you, I apologize. 

Happy Friday, and thank you for your patience, Ronda 

And I didn't hear back, and I was embarrassed for exposing myself. But in a sense, there was some relief, because I had acknowledged this weakness - this disability. And today I received this: 


I meant to reply sooner and wanted to tell you I appreciate you sending me this email.  We will both work together to make sure your timecard is correct.

Thank you!

I so wanted to cry. Cry tears of appreciation for sympathy and tears of sorrow for something truly lost. 

Thank you, Liz. We will work together. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Breast Cancer Applause Moments -

Twice this week, twice, I had "Thank you, breast cancer" moments.

The first - explaining to a patient, and our medical team, what lymphedema is, and the need for a lymphedema sleeve for traveling, particularly airline and higher altitudes. Although - I forgot to take mine with me both times traveling this spring.

The second - a patient asked me if I would spend some time with her discussing hair loss and head covering options, as she is beginning another series of chemo treatments, and this time she will lose her hair.

Both times I could answer the questions with solid experience and a clear "Yes."

I'm reminded, again, of the man conducting a worship service, asking the congregation if there was a pianist in the chapel, and a woman raising her hand to volunteer, grateful she had continued with her piano lessons through her young years.

And while I'm not a magnificent pianist, a know-it-all cancer specialist, I have experiences that give me the ability to share.

So this week - clap clap clap, thank you for the experience that allows me to help others.

Happy Friday -