Friday, April 30, 2010

God's double rainbow

My friend Tony took this shot of me skipping through a surprisingly drenching rain shower while a double rainbow arc'd at the end of the field where the sheep graze. (Yes, this could be the name of a town in Wales). It was a year ago. I wrestle to ably juxtapose a glorious double rainbow with nearly getting soaked.

As well I don't find this the most flattering shot of me, so my ego gets to squirm and step aside while I share dollops of goodness.... in fact, really awesomely cool news of YAY GOD!

Those of you praying for me while my counts sank over the months? If ever you think, "Well, this is probably useless" or wonder, "OK, God, please help Diane right now...." while you felt a bit wearied by the whole deal can just leap up and get some affirmation right here and right now. From April 5th, with the lowest of the lows white counts at zero-point-niner to April 22nd, try
this one: WBC 1.5! While I hung my head and thought, "Well, Lord, they can only go so low and then if You want me that badly, here I am," I prayed, too. I didn't do a moonlight dance or 150 affirmations a day. I didn't light candles or send money to anyone. I pondered life on life's terms and prayed. And so did you.

WBC 1.5! And those platelets? 83 to 110! And those shy little neutrophils that have been one-third of the minimum by which I was sprung from the hospital well over a year ago? 300 to 600 - they doubled!

This blood draw was for a visit with my former oncologist, Dr. Krijanovsky. I added in the fax number of a friend so that I could see the results prior to yesterday's consultation. "Is this {so-and-so} a doctor?" asked the lab tech. I paused. I'd already ruminated, "Hey. This is MY BLOOD! Don't play games with me!" After pausing, I said quietly, "Have you heard of the 5th Amendment?" She smiled. "Look. If there's any problem, call me, but please, leave the number in."

When my fax-equipped friend emailed me a PDF of the results and I opened them, I cried. He phoned me and I cried. Weeks of glum and glowering shattered. With a few lab values I could see that I was moving from possibly dying and relapsing to being SO BLESSEDLY OKAY I could almost hear Jesus say kindly, "O ye of little faith..."

Yes, it's now April 30th and I've been dancing with this for over a week. I didn't know what to say and how to say it. I still don't. And I'm saying it..... the counts moved UP. For the likes of me, this IS a MIRACLE. Today they are not what they were at the beginning of this month, in a downward trend that had been slugging on for several months.

God is in the midst of this. He will be in the midst of me when I die, as someday I shall. However it's thinking that the grim reaper is right around the corner looking at his watch that takes the wind out of my sails. And you bet your sweet bippy that this consciousness shift finds me in greater gratitude AND happiness!

Is it that vitamin IV infusion? Those Chinese herbal pills? Twenty minutes on the Rebounder? Raiding all raw organic at Whole Foods? The Presence of Christ IN the Eucharist? I'll make myself rabbit foot insane for trying to unwrap this to that degree. But Present He is. I pray that as long as I am alive, one day at a time, God shows me what He has for me to do in service.

I'll close with sharing that yesterday I had a positively lovely visit with my former oncologist, Dr. K. The possibility of a bone marrow biopsy didn't even come up. "I'll tell you why I made this appointment," I said to him. "I wanted to say hi." And it wasn't the nya-nya-nya that might've slithered in the door even a few months ago. It was a warm-hearted hello that began and ended with a hug and was a truly fun visit. I was able to be re-reminded that he was and is more than a 'part of the system' with which I have profound disagreements; he is a caring, conventional physician who had worried about me when I took off on my healing journey and was thrilled to see that after only one Induction and one Consolidation, I was well. Very well. Sixteen months after being sprung from the leukemia ward, with no further allopathic treatments, I was sitting in his office and laughing.

Julian of Norwich might be pleased, too. "…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well..."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hi. Do I look worried?

Someone in Germany may threaten me after nicking this image off the web, but can you blame me? Look at this liddul face! Look at this graceful, plump body in a ballet pose at the lapping waterfront. This is my new make-believe pet and symbol of ease today.

I was surrounded by supportive love after my last posting about those Damn White Counts. While their verity presumably remains, my angst has shifted. What good is that going to do? I was able to share my frightened demeanor, feel supported and then.... breathe. Breathe more deeply. And look to other things to capture my attention, many of which remain painful and involve the messiness, even darkness of humanity. My soul is heavy with the suffering of some of my dear friends. My anger is stoked by life's sheer unfairness at times. God loves me bratty while I moan, wave my arms and sometimes holler loudly.

Sometimes I sit in a 12-Step meeting next to another cancer- ..... what are we? Sufferers? Survivors? It's almost a demeaning label, that - for we are so much more than warriors against that which wants to kill us. So much more. But we have that connection and it's a bond, even a small one. "You're looking great!" We say it to one another and mean it. We compare notes, drugs, lack of drugs, near-misses, and then gratitude for this day. I still haven't nailed the heights of present-moments consciousness but I remember sometimes to savor the goldfinches stuffing their faces at my bird feeders or knowing that, sluggish as it may be, I'm heading out soon for a 20-minute jog. Not an hour? It's oxygen and life, still.

This little seal reminds me of my inner lightheartedness and grace which even when veiled are never wholly banished from my life.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Giddyup. Life is now!

Six years before I was born, my father David Luboff co-produced a Hollywood B-movie called Buffalo Bill in Tomahawk Territory. I have a copy of it as a VHS. When the credits roll, I cry. I miss my Dad something fierce.

This morning I was again struck by the disconnect between the cowboy at far left holding a gun to my Dad while smiling for the camera. (And go ahead, have fun with the costume-i-ness of it all.... it was Hollywood then!). Something's not on - the gun, the intention or the smile. We know what it is, but do I always know what's off? No. Not always.

During Holy Week I fasted from all emails and Facebook chatter. At the beginning of the week, I had suddenly felt imprisoned by every little red plop! that landed in my Inbox. My friends disappeared. My love for them had evaporated. There was simply..... all this EMAIL with no precious soul of substance at the other end of it all. And so I crafted an Auto-Reply that said, I'm not responding. And if you need to reach me, please phone.

No one did. But I did. The land of oh, I don't have the time! became reignited as intimacy caressing. I needed a break from emails and I took it. Doesn't mean they're bad. But enough already. Enough.

I also got to see my knee-jerk in action and make a conscious decision about it. I felt liberated for those six days.

I'm wrestling with thoughts and fears about the numbers again - my blood counts. After CLAIMING a complete healing IN JESUS' NAME, after eating one of the purest diets I have in decades, after.... you know, the whole health thing, really ramping it up, I wanted those numbers to RISE. Go! Giddyup! Reflect the Glory of God!

A recent blood draw showed the lowest white blood count I've ever had. I was crushed emotionally. And very, very angry.

White blood cells fight infection. Their lack doesn't leave one exhausted such as say with the red counts. And those reds, for which one can see I fail to thank God, are almost at normal levels. They seem to respond well to diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation. But whoa, the whites, my chemo-embittered, bone marrow-compromised whites. I've even talked to them, patting my legs. C'mon, kids. We can do it. Get your little asses UP there! And in came the numbers: .9. Zero-point-nine.

I wailed in the office of one of my practitioners who is actually more of a 2nd Spiritual Director to me, "How can I feel so good and HAVE THIS COUNT???" And one of the many aspects of her responses included the word "supernatural." I won't unpack everything here, but my idea of a miracle (the white counts being NORMAL and HEALTHY) and perhaps another way of seeing a miracle (shitty counts but otherwise abundant well-being) are having a meltdown at the Not Quite OK Corral. Hey God! I want it MY WAY! I want to be healed the way I WANT IT! And today, the numbers don't reflect that.

So I've been wrestling and not writing here. I remain neither "praise God, all is fabulous!" nor "oh no, it's wretched." I feel unnerved and vulnerable to share this here, but my fingers are tapping and my willingness is almost present. Regardless of what this means, I awoke this morning as I have many others. The moody clouds are overhead, which I love so much. I'll see my childhood pal Stacey later on. I'll worship the Lord tomorrow. And I'll continue to suffer with many CLOSE friends who are struggling with serious health ills.

I ain't smilin' with a fake gun pointed at my gut and I ain't dead yet, either. I'm poised at praising God. If His love is indeed unconditional, He'll love me bratty.

I think I need Him to.