Wow, how long has it been? Was I hanging with Angelina?

Hey, I originally wrote this in March but wasn’t ready to get back in the saddle. My hands are completely numb most of the time, so I’d say traction is calling!

NOT! Sorry if you only clicked to read about her, you know, Angelina Jolie. She’s been in the news a lot lately, AH-gain, but this time she hasn’t adopted anyone, she’s tried to avoid getting ovarian cancer. Something I wasn’t able to do.

In case you’ve wandered, that’s where I’ve been, not with Angelina, but on a journey she can now avoid. I was diagnosed last July. Did the whole chemo thing and now I’m in remission. And yes, I know the stats, 20,000 a year diagnosed, 14,500 die, so about 30 percent make it. Not odds I’d take to the casino but when those are the only odds you get, you take them. And, as my doc says, “somebody has to be the 30 percent!” I’m fine being in that group.

Yet as I’ve learned some wisdom from others fighting the cancer battle, folks in late stages of the shitty disease, nobody has a lock on time, you could die today, it’s just with cancer you often know the time frame a bit better. They also tell me everyone should have a bucket list, write your dreams down, then do it.

Once again it’s all about perspective. I thought I’d have a crappy spinal column as my life challenge, not feeling my foot for the last 25 years was my cross, but life has other plans, I’m a person that got to hear those dreaded words, “you have cancer”. AND I’m still living, every morning when my feet hit the floor I remember what a lucky girl I am.

As for Angelina, it will be good if she can bring some attention to the cause, especially if she can bring money to it. Most of the treatments are 30 years old, not a lot is new in ovarian cancer, unlike breast cancer, with research and new treatments, outcomes get better. There’s still way too many women dying from both but ovarian deserves some more attention.

It’s good to be back, thanks for reading.

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Q and A

For some people so much of life is hard. People who don’t know that first hand should be on their knees saying thank you. So much of life is something we can’t comprehend, are we meant to ever understand. Are all the mysteries answered in the end? Is there a big question and answer session after we die, or is there more mystery, more discovery, more waiting to understand?

Some days, some times life is very predictable and simple, get up, go to work, come home, do what you need to do for the next day, be with family and go to bed and do it all over again the next day if you are lucky enough to do so. Other days your life experiences its own collapse, its own tsunami, its own personal September 11th. Your life blows up, maybe it just starts out as an ordinary Wednesday but by the end of it your life feels gutted, gone forever what ever you held most dear. Every day someone somewhere experiences that kind of pain, that kind of fear, that kind of despair. If you don’t know that, start counting your lucky days.

Just been thinking how much we all take for granted or how some folks just don’t seem to get it. They seem careless, not care free. They don’t seem to cherish the moments, the people who matter….maybe they don’t ever think about it….but some day their life will implode and they will be left on the side of the road wondering what the heck just happened. Hold tight to what you have, look up and say thanks to what ever you believe in and love more, do more, be more….we only go around once and the clock is ticking.

Did you ever leave early and regret it?

Did you ever notice the people who leave the baseball game in the top of the ninth or the basketball game with two minutes to go or leave church before the last prayer? Where do you think they are going? I know I’ve been tempted to leave things early because sometimes in a crowd folks don’t have a lot a patience for the chick walking with a limp. If I’m using a cane it’s amazing how many times it has been kicked out from under me or the back of my shoe has been stepped into causing it to come off, literally folks at my heels.

As I “celebrate” the second year of this blog, third year of traction, I think back about all the times I did want to quit. All the times I left traction early or cut out on some exercises, but just as many or more did I stick with it, I’m still here. Although I clearly understand my reasons for wanting to leave traction early, even leave it in the dust, I also know I’d be missing out on something. It’s so tempting to not finish something that is so not fun, so not entertaining, so not pretty, so not anything I’d ever wish on you or anyone. But it’s not a sporting event or chosen event and as a result, I won’t beat the traffic, I won’t get home in time for my favorite TV show, or make my dinner reservation. Life isn’t always a simple, neat little package you can plan and organize.

Sitting in traction and writing this blog is for me, I benefit most, I suffer most when I don’t do it, when I leave early, when I stop caring. Many of the subjects of these blogs have been about mind over matter. In these few years I’ve not found a trick or a secret or a magic wand, I’ve just hung in there, some days more gracefully than others, some days more painfully than others, some days wanting to scream or cry or laugh my self silly at this gizmo and the tediousness of it all.

Is that why people leave the game early, are they bored, are they in a hurry, or are they a control freak like me that wants to be in charge of everything? You will not find the answer here but you will have time to think about it. I’m taking what this experience is offering, sometimes that doesn’t feel like much but it is SOMETHING and when I forget that, I’m in trouble. So for now, I’m watching the last pitch, listening to the sound of the buzzer and saying Amen with the few stragglers left in the pew because I don’t want to miss a minute of this thing called my life.

(ps, I should run thru this entry again to make sure it makes sense but again, that’s not what this is about, I need this blog to be here for me just as it is, to ramble, to whine, to laugh, to be. To help me get thru and today I don’t feel like making sure it all makes sense, does that make sense 😉

Summer skiing

As I was sitting in traction this morning pulling my neck with a ten pound bag of water I was watching a video on YouTube. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that I’ve done a lot of things to distract myself while I’m sitting there passing the time. My neck hurts today, my fingers are numb and when I finished traction my back wanted to punish me. As far as life goes I had a good weekend, as far as my spine is concerned just seeing a snow less ski slope invokes a feeling of cruel and unusual treatment. Although I enjoyed time with family and watching my niece graduate surrounded by the Green Mountains of Vermont I also knew what was ahead for the week, recuperation from the travel, i.e., many hours lying flat on my back.

For me the ordinary things require a lot of me, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just the way it is. From walking across the room to pulling laundry out of the washer, any activity that requires standing, holding a pen or even the telephone these days for more than a few minutes leads to my arm feeling numb and painful. Things aren’t going in the right direction for me in terms of my cervical and spinal conditions, but I’m trying, I’m not giving up. I’ve written before about the importance of that, how in moments that seems like victory enough. I’m ready for things to get better for me physically but unless I experience a miracle they probably won’t. I’m losing ground and sometimes that feels frightening, sad and frustrating but after watching a video of others experiencing their own challenges, surviving to tell their stories, I feel better. We aren’t alone in this fight, that gives us courage, it gives us the freedom to tell the truth. I’ve said this before and it’s worth stating again, life stinks, more than stinks and pushing forward a second at a time is a freaking victory.

Let’s do this thing people.

No dessert in the desert

Here we are as February is coming to a fast end, two months will soon be over in 2012. I’m going to sound old, heck, I feel old while I’m sitting here hanging in traction but time always marches on, ready or not. It seems I just decided what I was giving up last year for Lent and now I’m in the midst of another. Last year I tried this sort of funky thing where instead of giving up something I told myself I’d do more. I tried to study more, pray more, give more, do more, you get the idea, the things that were difficult I tried more, not less. It sort of fundamentally sounded like it went against the sacrificial aspect of Lent but it truly was supposed to be a penance to do “more of” the things I didn’t like or at least, felt like the things that didn’t like me.

That was too complicated in the end so I’m going traditional this year, I’m just trying to show up for Lent, I’m going to try to remember it’s Lent. When I want to go to the drive thru to pick up something quick and easy to eat I’m going to try to remember I do have food at home and I can eat that when I get there. When I want something I’m going to try to remember my little girl friend in the orphanage in Port-au-Prince that would literally find a crumb on the floor and instead of gobbling it down she would divide by however many others were in the room. A small child and she knew more about sharing and giving of herself than I’ll ever know. This might sound selfish and delusional but traction it seems to me is like Lent, it is about showing up, remembering, completing the task at hand, no room for BS, no forgetting, no I’m too tired, no I don’t feel like it, no, it’s not fair. In addition, Lent is doing what you said you’d do but not making a big deal about it, or as my Mom would say, “no broadcasting it.” There’s no need to go on about saying no thanks to dessert, passing on seconds or giving up the fancy morning coffee. Lent is being out there on your own, no fuss, no frills, no extras, no pity parties, real life stuff, just you and God. AND, the last time I checked there wasn’t any chocolate growing in the desert.

Yep, I’ve not found sacrifice a bowl full of fun but if you stick with it you do find something new. I owe Lent for any ability I have to sit here in traction, the more I grow to understand Lent the easier the traction gig is for me. When it comes down to it really, isn’t it just about taking away life’s distractions and excuses, learning more about your true self, therefore, knowing more about God.

Action Traction

I’m sitting here thinking that I’m 2 plus years into the cervical traction gig and I wonder how many times that actually translates into sitting here. When I started in July of ’09 I was told to do traction five times a week, more if needed. Then I was dropped down to three times a week and now I maintain a two-day a week schedule, but if my symptoms return I bump it up one or two times more a week. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ve done traction 300 times or 30 times, it’s a routine now and even though it has its moments where it’s uncomfortable and even painful you do what you have to do to maintain feeling in your arms and hands, right people! It’s such a simple thing without much work involved but the results produce much action. A day or two of tingling fingers, arms that feel like they are two pieces of string blowing in the wind, that motivates me, or probably would anyone, to get back to traction pronto.

So here I am on Labor day when we celebrate those that work and I’m trying to do my part to keep active, to keep moving, to keep working because that’s what us humans do best. We labor, we move, we produce, we manage, we provide, we are action. Even in the slightest ways of moving, an infant in a car seat doing their job by wiggling their toes and flailing their arms and smiling their toothless grins, a person left to a nursing home bed can move mountains with their courage and the compassion they bring out in others……I gotta remember even if I’m not skydiving I’m working, I’m living, I’m in action, I’m alive and well.