Wednesday, July 23, 2014
..... wonderful visits and a CT scan......
My family is away at the cottage and I am staying at home. The phone began to ring on Monday from friends wondering how my week was unfolding. My first visitor of the week arrives for lunch. I was fortunate to be helping and eventually teaching for Karin at the local high school. She wanders through my urban garden and is wowed by my garden and often asks how I manage to find the time and how she wishes she did. I tell her that I make the time to do things that bring me happiness and things that fill my soul. We part with a hug and a promise to see each other soon.
Later in the afternoon, Mauricia arrives. She has been a friend since September 2009 from my early days at Wellspring (cancer support). She is a two time survivor and at 71, she is super young at heart. We sit on the back deck chairs and share a bottle of red wine. We talk about what's important and laugh at the craziness of our lives. We have a wonderful time and I look forward to seeing her soon. I love you. I will be participating in the walk for Wellspring in September.
Tuesday brings Brayden, Lisa and Kelly to my backyard in the high heat of mid-July. I went to school with Brayden and Lisa a few years ago at Western University and Kelly graduated from the same course a decade before. Kelly wasn't sure she should join us as she had texted me earlier in the day to ask if she could pop by since she would be in the neighborhood. She fit right in and we all spent a wonderful afternoon talking about what we all have in common - teaching!!! Lisa is heading back to Sweden to teach for one more year in early August and the rest of us will return in September to our respective schools.
Wednesday brings Elaine to my front door to accompany me to my CT scan at Victoria Hospital. It is
7am and I am glad I set my alarm to get me up... I am usually up early but Laidee was freaking out with each roll of thunder over night. She was jumping in and out of the bathtub and in my shower.... I was too tired to get out of bed other than to go to the washroom. I am sore in my left thigh and left hip... likely caused from trying to balance my way around the garden but I am not sure and I am already feeling anxious about the CT scan. We arrive early and find a parking spot easily. With a quick trip to the Tim Horton's on the main floor, we then continue on to the CT/MRI unit.
I know the routine after so many scans..... first the contrast liquid - 1.5 litres of orange flavoured 'juice' sipped over an hour and then off to the change room to put on hospital clothes. I always cringe at the prospect of yet another I.V needle shoved into an already impossible vein. I let the tech know when I get comfortable in the chair that the main vein in my elbow is not a viable choice. She prods and decides that it is soft enough to give it a go. I knew what would happen but often, its just easier to allow the tech to find out for themselves..... she struggles, tries to push the tube in with saline and then finally calls it... she has to remove it and try another vein but not without apologizing profusely. She finds another vein, selects the smallest gauge needle she can use and has success but not without blood beginning to run out of the tube and on to the hospital gown. "This never happens".... she is perplexed and I just calmly tell her its OK..... after letting her know that I was in my happy place at the beach. She continues to apologize as she wipes up the blood .... so I do what I know will help out the situation - I give her a hug. She thanks me for making her feel better and then leads me to the scan. I note that the waiting room is getting busy at 9 am due to a trauma being brought in to the other suite. The preliminary scan is done and then the i.V is hooked up and the contrast courses through my veins giving a very warm sensation and a need to pee. "Hold your breath" drones an electronic male voice as the table I am laying on pulls me into the 'donut' that contains the scanner and then moves slowly back to its start position as I continue to hold my breath. You have to hold your breath to keep the liver from moving as the scanner scans it. A few scans later and another tech comes in to help me while the first one prepares for the next patient... She tells me to have a good day as I move out of the automatic doors. The man in the wheelchair from the waiting room rolls into the suite - he is missing half of his left leg and a number of the ends of his fingers at the first joint. His right leg is wrapped except for the toes sticking out that look grotesque... It is likely this is someone who has diabetes. It reminds me of how fortunate I am despite the cancer.
Elaine and I head out of the hospital and I take her out to Angel's for breakfast. We both enjoyed our meal and were fortunate to speak to the owner about my illness... I have known her since I used to go there for breakfast with the survivor group I paddled with in 2010.... we discussed, of all things, symbols of our passed loved ones. Butterflies, dimes, pennies found and more.... and also our thoughts on our lives and its meanings... I will leave this private as it reflects thoughts from others whom I do not have permission to share. We hug and as she moves off, she calls over her shoulder... see me next time you are in for breakfast. I will head there after my appointment next week with the oncologist. It will be a time for Max and I to talk about what our next steps are depending on what we are told. Elaine and I head back to the house and we meander through my garden. She will take a carrot home with her and as she puts it in the car, she finds a penny on the ground.... another symbol. Hugs and love... thank you for being here for me today.
By noon, I am feeling very tired and head upstairs for a nap which lasts 3 hours. Today my bowel is bothering me and I am bloating. I am not able to go anywhere and choose to just blog and snack on the couch. The dark chocolate I am sucking on finally settles the stomach. The fatigue of not having a good sleep because of the dog.... the worry of the CT and a late afternoon nap all added up to a quiet evening.
My lovely daughter starts texting me through FB this evening.... oh how I miss her. She will be back soon and I hope she is enjoying her time away. We have a few more days apart which we will both make the most of.
Thursday brings a road trip with my crazy gal pal Kirsten, whom I absolutely adore!!! I am not feeling well as we start out the trip.... my gut has been upset now for days and I am just trying to stay the course. Miss Regan, her daughter joins us on our trip as we head towards Sarnia. We chat about the funny quirks and sayings I say.... just sayin'..... and note that for the second trip in as many weeks along the 402 that the wind turbines are not moving... OK 1 in about 40 are turning. It's a beautiful summer day with a breeze as we get closer to the ferry and the trip across the river to the cottage. Pat is grinning from ear to ear as we approach the dock. A few minutes later we jump up to the dock and help the elderly couple on the boat with their groceries. Despite the strong breeze along the river, it is a warm day with clouds building in the bright blue sky.
We arrive at the cottage along a path. It is amongst the trees that cast a cooling shadow from a canopy of ancient trees well above the second story roof. The cottage is reflective of what it looked like in the 50's..... stepping back into a different era. We drop off our bags and head out to walk the the island before lunch. We are a mere 100 yards down our chosen path when I see a profile I easily recognize.... I am not a hollywood fan, I do not care much for the glitz and shallowness of famous people.... but Chris Hadfield is not like anyone out of Hollywood. He is an incredible adventurer as an Astronaut and Pilot and a rare man of multi-talents who is humble and engaging in a soft spoken manner. Last summer, Max was able to water ski with the family but I had to stay back because I was on chemo. Pat, his sister and one of a few of my best friends walks us over to meet him. I introduce myself and play with the pug who has accompanied him. I do not like to intrude but ask him for a photo and he obliges us as he guides us up his boat dock. We pick up the puppies to get our photos taken. Wow. Thank you so much!! Pat tells me that he was not supposed to be at the cottage until later in the week and for some reason, I'll call it a wish... he was there for only a few hours before heading back out. Later we had a fabulous lunch and headed for another walk around the island in the opposite direction. There is something about being at a cottage. Thank you Pat for inviting us. xoxo
Here is Chris Hadfield and myself on the dock.
Friday I head out to help out a friend with her garden.....only I pulled on some vines wrapped in the trees ahead and the pain in my side came as a warning too late.... I would spend the remainder of the day in spasms and pain.... and into the night of sheer agony. It felt like my belly was on fire and the bloating extended the abdomen while the sharper pain radiated into the liver and through the kidney. I couldn't get comfortable and ended up in the kitchen leaning into the counter and jogging my feet in place... much like I did while in labour with my children. Deep belly breathing..... calming down slowly. The tears dried up. More tums and two glasses of warm boiled water and continual visits to the washroom finally helped to relieve the pain enough to sit upright in bed and fall asleep.... at around 3:45am. I call it my night in hell.... alone for the exception of the pets who just watched me move from room to room clutching my side and expanding belly. I am not easily frightened....this was one of those moments where I can honestly say I was terrified...
Saturday has started slowly with puttering to clean up the house. Mitchel has texted to tell me they are on their way home. They should be home by dinner. I am just finishing up the laundry and cleaning up while blogging. I am still really tired but OK. So this was my week by myself.
WELLSPRING - is a free support service for cancer patients and their supporters. Yoga, Art Therapy and many other services to give women and men an opportunity to connect with others and take time out for themselves.