Monday, February 28, 2011


   I am afraid of atrophy.  If you take a perfectly well person and put him in the hospital for a week he will become sick, weak from doing nothing.  I once broke my left hand, rather stupidly I smash it with a small heavy hammer wielded by by right hand! It was place in a cast for six weeks and everyone said when it was removed that, for a while I wouldn't be able to use it.  The inactivity makes the muscles weak, useless.
Every day, within the confines of the cast I would move my fingers a little tiny bit.  Little tiny exercises, but they grew bigger each day.  At the end of the six weeks my cast was pretty much mush, no longer the hard plaster trapping my hand into immobility.  It was easy to tear off, almost like removing a glove, and within two days I was back at work, hammering again!
     Now my hand, the right one this time, is in a cast of broken nerves.  At its worst, while in the thick of "chemo", this ABVD cocktail my Voodoo doctors so happily prescribed, my hand seemed paralyzed, no longer a hand really but a dysfunctional and deformed lump at the end of my arm.  It is actually worse than that.  I want to say "badder" so bad so you will begin to understand!  It is like stirring a bucket full of cut glass, maybe one with electrodes in it because there are about a million electrical shocks, all the time!
    I exercise it daily. Not for ten minutes but all the time, every waking hour.  It hurts a lot and I wear my rabbit fur lined gloves which softens every sensation.  Sometimes I would like to sit with my hands in my lap,
gently holding one to the other, an attempt at suspension of sensation.  This does not stop the pain and sometimes does exactly the opposite, manipulating the focus to where I don't want it.
    There is so much to do.  I am not a good member of the audience and life should not be a spectator sport.
So everyday I use this hand and it is getting stronger.  I can make a fist and pick up big things with it now.
I still can't button my shirts or pick up a quarter, but I notice improvement.  There is no improvement to the pain, that might be the gift I get to keep.  In little increments I am learning to ignore it, putting the focus on what I want to do not on what I can't.
My other blog is Here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cancer Societies...

Let me tell you what I really like about cancer!  Do you remember reading or hearing about 19th Century Artists sitting around Parisian Cafes talking art?  Those were the days and they are hard to come by now.
We are secretive and private and not willing to share.  I imagine in those Parisian Cafes talking of art, talking of who got laid, who can't describe crap, inventing new styles on napkins, sharing your innermost thoughts.
Intimacy.  And no fear of being copied, that would be the highest honor!  Good enough to copy.
People went to Paris from all over the world just to join in this experience.  Now we have no time for such.
We have the idea that if I share with you I will be subtracting from me.  Or I may be quoted or misquoted.
You may steal my idea.  Funny in this modern age of instant communication that we are more isolated than ever.  We have become "private people", alone in our self imposed exile, unwilling to move from the safety of the island that we create.  A corner cafe was traded for the convenience of fast take out.
      The exception to this is found in Cancer patients!  We tell everybody everything!  There are more blogs about Cancer than maybe even sex.  We have created a community of sharing and caring, of giving and hope.  We will tell our stories to anyone who will listen, anywhere, anytime.  We are way beyond secrets, beyond embarrassment.  We will tell you how close to the edge we got, how hot the fires were and how tired we became.  We are a society and I like that part the best.
My other blog is HERE.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer"

I see this title on everything now and wonder why I hadn't noticed it before.  I wonder if it would have made a difference?  It is on all plastic bottles yet we still deliver milk to babies that way.  Before a child reaches two years old they are full of fire retardants and god knows what else?  I couldn't weld, that warning is on all of my supplies and in big lettering on the wire I use.  I still weld, of course, and have been known to drink from plastic bottles. I like bacon and  char-broiled hamburgers.  We are optimistic in our sins and never think it is this one that will give us cancer.
     Cancer wasn't as common a hundred years ago because we didn't live long enough to get it.  Despite our lousy diets and lack of caution, we eat better diets than even Kings in the olden days.  Our bread is fortified with vitamins. 
     I would hate to live in fear, thinking this or that misstep will cause me cancer, would spell my doom.  That thinking will stop you from going for a walk because of the fear of being hit by a car.  So I have gone my entire life thinking "not me, not now."
   Then, of course, I got it.  Been there, done that, had the 12 chemos and it almost killed me and nothing has changed.  I am still welding!  My behavior has not altered but my attitude has.  I consider each day a gift and find enjoyment in the simplest things, everything is a pleasure.  Even the hardest of things gives me satisfaction that I am able to do them.
   I didn't escape scot free with no reminder of where I have been.  I have peripheral neuropathy, a little in my feet and a lot in my hands.  I can do things with pain or not do them at all.  So, I am back welding, creating art from steel and on each occasion when I open the box of welding wire I see the printed words:
"Known to the State of California to cause Cancer". Great.
My Other Blog is HERE.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Art to Napping!

I have not learned the art to napping.  I haven't been able to nap since I was a very small child and forced to take a nap.  At my worst with thee chemo and all I fell asleep all the time, but mostly while sitting upright attempting to read or watch television.  Bed to me has always been the end of the day, tired, go to sleep until I wake up kind of thing.  In my recovery of this chemo, in the process of healing and oh so slowly getting stronger. this is creating some problems for me.  I am "turning the day around".
   It is now 2:30 A.M. and I am wide awake!  Yesterday was a pretty good day although not perfect.  I made a slight (I hope) mistake in an installation art piece that I made and will have to correct today, so there was a little stress there.  But I got other things done and on another job did a perfect installation.  I am working again and so very thankful.
   My problem is at the end of the day I am extremely tired.  So I go to bed!  I sleep well and have no problem falling asleep.  From 5 P.M. until 2 A.M. is NINE hours sleep, and that is what I did.  If I start grinding and welding in my shop my neighbors would kill me!  I would lose all sympathy immediately!
These are really quiet hours and I have grown to enjoy them, even my dog prefers to sleep.  I have taken up reading again, an activity I had abandoned while in years of construction.  A friend I went to High School is a very successful author and I began by reading all seven of her books!  That was fun!  and now I am in the process of reading and in some cases rereading books from my own vast library.
     I like turning the pages.  I like the slight "old library smell" to them.
My Other Blog is HERE.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Death Panels

   Yes, I would want to know.  I used to think that the best way to go would be an unfortunate encounter with a cement truck.  Lights out.  Suddenly over.  I don't think that any more.  My dad died a horrible and protracted death by cancer and it seemed as if it took a year.  He was on powerful painkillers and morphine for much of that time, until the last week.  Between fogged moments of dying he told me he wanted off the morphine.  He wanted to die with a clear mind.
    I remember one year ago when I began my 12 sessions of the voodoo ABVD chemo-cocktail. I remember telling my doctor that I didn't want to go through what my father did, that I couldn't. Didn't have it in me.  One try was all I could do.  "Give it your best shot," I remember telling my doctor.
    During this time, this six month train ride to hell, I am sure I did what my dad did when he was off his morphine.  I thought.  My life didn't flash before my eyes, I painstakingly dug up the most minute details and relived almost every single moment, the good, the bad, everything.
   It is all a math game, percentages, chances, roulette.  Odds.  At some point you are "betting the farm".
I suspect when the last hand is played that we know this.  Accepting it is another story.  We so want to cling to life.  Survival, it is in our DNA.
   I had great odds.  Much better than the lottery, there was a fifty percent chance of winning the jackpot!
That makes everything that I am saying theoretical.  I don't know what I would do.  I don't know.  For sure I would want to know the rules and regulations, what game I was playing.  The chance of winning and the penalties of losing.  I would want someone to explain the situation I was in.  Then, if I were strong like my father, maybe I would chose at that last moment to see clearly for one last time, one more sunset and to know what I was looking at.  Maybe.  I don't know.
My Other Blog is Here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"The Cancer Card"

   Have you played it yet?  You will; we all do. 

                             I can't do that, I have cancer.
                             Be nice to ME, I have cancer.
                             Help me, I have cancer.
                             You CAN'T understand, I have cancer.
Cancer wants to change your focus, take over your life and even knowing it will die, it wants to kill you in the process. The cancer wants to become you.  Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to sit back, feel sorry for ourselves and let others do things for us.  Finally we deserve the attention.  After all, we have cancer.

I admit that I have played this card.  Whenever I played it I knew I was giving in to this cancer, allowing it to win, to dominate my life, my thoughts, my very being.  I was becoming the cancer!

It cannot be a great experience to be the caretaker of a cancer patient or to be around them at all. Our illness becomes their focus too and cancer can control more than one.  They think of mortality, yours and theirs and have their own frustrations when they can't wave a magic wand and make us all better!  We leave them to pick up the pieces if we should die, pick up the pieces if we should live, continue about life, their worries and yours.  Yet, we still play that cancer card: "carry this and yours too!"
     Mostly that is not me and I kept the deck close at hand while dealing cards.  The cancer card is bad, not like the joker that can be anything, not like the ace that offers a winning hand.  The cancer card is a losing hand; it would be "checkmate" in chess, game over.
    Luckily, for me, I would offer  the opportunity to redeal, shuffle again, find new cards.  I learned the cards were marked.  Each one transparent, I could see which ones I was dealt and it became my choice to turn them over or not.  I grew to hate the cancer card and chose the humor card, the joker.  The one that could be anything that I wanted it to be.  I became quick to ask others of their day, how they were, before they could ask about mine.  My abilities, of course, were drastically slowed, but where I could once take the heavy pots to the table, now I could take the silverware!
      The world does not revolve around me and I do not not revolve around this cancer.  It is not what I choose to be and it is not a card I enjoyed playing.
My Original Blog, all the day to day skirmishes with this battle is on the top of this site. Scroll to the end and read it backwards!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hands Down!

 My right "bad" hand

Where did that expression come from?  Hands down?  Anyway, on a good day my hands are pretty bad.
My right hand got the worst of it and slowly I am learning to become left handed!  I just changed the bandages on my left hand and the fingers decided to bleed again, self cleaning of the wound I suppose!

 My left "good" hand with bandages!

I can't do what I used to be able to do and I am sure we all complain about that!  But I can still do things, just a bit slower, with a little more deliberation, yeah, and with some pain.  I force myself.  "Just do this," I tell myself, "for ten minutes."  Sometimes at the end of ten minutes, that is all I can take and other times it will stretch to 15 or 30 minutes, or longer, for hours.  If I am liking what I am doing the pain is sufferable, almost forgetting it at times.  Creating "Art" does this for me more than anything.  It is a huge satisfaction just getting dressed in the morning. I still can't button buttons!  I can't zip the zipper on my pants and I am waiting patiently for the fun in that!
I need "art".  I need the satisfaction of implementing my dreams, to create something that was just a thought.
I can do it in many forms.  On really good days, in my shop, working with metal.
When my hands are in rebellion I can paint, maybe
put on canvas what should have been steel.  I am a good
cook and on bad days I create art in the kitchen, if only
a breakfast for one!  The point is, art takes me outside of myself
and away from any pain and into another world.  It alters
my focus.  Focus is everything in life.  If you believe you
can't, soon enough you won't be able to.  I believe that
with all my heart. So I move forward because I believe I can.

 Here I am this morning!
My Other Blog is  HERE.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cuts and Bruizes

Well, crap!  I just cut my fingers pretty bad so I am taking a break from welding!  Bandaged up and, of course, there is no pain at all.  That is part of the problem with neuropathy, can't feel anything but cut glass and electrical shocks in my hands and my feet are just plain numb.  It is my fault.  I knew better.  I should have done a better job clamping the metal to my work table.  I didn't and the grinding made it go flying and it smashed into my fingers!  I didn't even feel it, just noticed the blood everywhere!  First I found the piece on the floor and then I went into the house for clean up and bandages.
     This is a downside to neuropathy.  I haven't found the upside yet but I am still searching for it.  I think I will go have some breakfast and then back to work!  I am happy that I can do it at all.
My other blog is Here.