Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lenten lessons and posh jeans

Oh, the rigors of unwellness to amuse, educate and humble. Possibly edify. Depends on my attitude and how much of it, willingly with soft YES, I give to the Lord. "Take my weakness, take all of me." As well it's almost amusing how a very old paradigm towards God remains: When things are purring along, I'm chipper and exuberantly grateful. When the chips are down, I slither into a back closet, yearn for chocolate and scowl. "You meanie!" I harrumph. "If You really loved me I wouldn't BE in this mess!" How many more Warner Brothers cartoons stock lines can you come up with? I could readily load 'em up under 'garden variety abandonment issues'. A few sniffles and aches are all it takes.

I suspect this is ADD of the soul, a massive schism of disorganized focus. In my weakness I am readily blown about by winds. I've checked off my To Do List - score! I made it to the gym, to the hills, to 15,285 websites this hour scouring the baffling wails in my trade, to that phone call, even to the Eucharist - score! When I was little I always handed my elementary school report cards to my Dad. Obviously my mom read them too but what remains is the pat-pat-patter of my heart memory handing them to Dad. I was a little kid in a tumultuous household and had a patchwork array of grades: 1-2 C's (math!), a glob of B's, a few pristine A's. "If you can turn the C's into B's and B's into A's, that would be much better," my father told me.

A half century later I look back and see that I live my life never acing it and never experiencing profound satisfaction save when I am kneeling at the foot of the Cross. Many of my hours include the tiny daggers of "just a little more." Fathers and mothers, be aware of the seemingly idle words you say to your sensitive children!

Side-stepping others' sniffles gets old. Most people step out into the world unwell - it's the American Way. Well, unless I wear a sandwich board proclaiming my undercut of neutrophils, eventually a stray germ will slither through. Tuesday it began; a sore throat. You know how AWFUL those feel! I scoured the web for folk remedies and found a doozy site, then began pounding back the hot water and herbal teas with organic apple cider vinegar, honey and a brash sprinkling of cayenne. Down the hatch! My brain fogged. My body ached. Drink açai juice with aloe vera and 3-5 drops of grapefruit seed extract. Wednesday I had a mild (100.2º) fever - akk! help! - yet that lasted only a few hours. Thursday whispered a turnaround and still I gave choir practice a miss with achiness, self-pity and a Greta Garbo voice. Today I'm savoring more hours without lunging for a Kleenix every 15 minutes. Cold or severe allergies? I have a funkomatic immune system and I am not sure.

I am healing. And I am nervous. I have weeks' old petechiae on my lower extremities and will get another blood test Monday rather than cower and think, "Oh no, my platelets, OH NO……." There's faith and then there's foolish denial. I need to look.

I am still waiting for the ultrasound results.

So when the going gets tough…. let's shop! Two years (can you believe it!?) after being sprung skinny from the half-million dollar chemo diet, twigs here got curves, 8 lbs. worth. After bludgeoning myself for in-denial gluttony and then setting aside sugar, chocolate and wheat for Lent, I still need more than 2 pairs of trousers to live in, the remaining laughing at me from the nether reaches of my closet. As I allow the Lord to reshape me - versus the I'm gonna kick some ass! battle cries at the gym, which resulted in NADA after 6 months save for a few tighter muscles - I wanted a few more pairs of slacks. I lumbered down Hwy. 101 to a local mall and raided Chico's. I bought two: Dandy petite khaki's on sale for $29.99, and a new pair of jeans at full fat retail. $79.99 PLUS TAX. I'd already scoured the sale racks but found no $30 jeans that appealed - they all had that "we shop at K-Mart!" veneer. These rocked.

I have never before paid nearly eighty bucks for a pair of jeans. Even though I see ads all the time (when I stray from online Scriptural studies or my market research) for posh jeans from $100-200 and up which of course I would NEVER PAY. I am consignment store girl! I took a recent old fave pair to the tailor's for gosh sakes! "Sale" is one of my favorite 4-letter words.

I just paid eighty bucks for a pair of jeans; Thank You, GOD. They are soft, beautiful and fit me. I took one little side-step out of a very old paradigm and sighed a sweeter smile.

I love letting The Lord nuzzle me through the ordinary.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Waiting on God and a few doctors

Bless you curious ones! Of course in spite of my gross impatience, most test results take time. A week. Two. More. (Unless I'm getting my OWN blood draws via a handy place called Direct Labs; then it's often the next day).

I endeavor to wait with patience, living and breathing and giving thanks today.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Don't worry," said the doctor.

That is about as clear and concise as I am able to share, to those quietly as well as noticeably eager to hear my news!

The doc left me with his own repeated beliefs that this was probably a small benign ovarian cyst. I have the requisition forms to get another appointment, this one to tango with a hospital-based ultrasound team (hotter gear), a mammogram and a CA-125 blood test. The older ultrasound gear he had in the office, he said, would tell him no more than he learned by examining me manually; pressing here, pushing there. He explained a number of things: One, 2.5cm is not a size to be concerned about. "Many menopausal women can have 5cm cysts. The important thing is that after your hospital ultrasound with 'doppler studies', to repeat these tests every 6 months. We want to watch you." I kept pressing him with my need to walk out of his office TODAY knowing FOR SURE whether this little thing was cancerous or not. He said fairly straightforwardly, "I cannot tell you that for sure today, neither can the equipment that I have. What I can tell you is that I am not worried. And I don't want YOU to worry. Now these are our next steps...."

I can become excruciatingly AR wanting to KNOW! Just hand me the damn certificate stating without a question of a doubt that Everything Is Great! This reminds me of a poignant scene from the movie Ghost Town where the lead character survives a near death experience (following a colonoscopy which I am also being advised to arrange, akk akk!), against all odds, miracle of miracles... only to step in front of a bus. So I didn't leave the doc's office today knowing with unerring certainty that I was 150% as fit as a fiddle. This doctor is not a kid (which I prefer in a physician - a kindly demeanor, intelligence - genius, in fact, warm heartedness and gray hair). My insides say that I can walk away with FAR more hope than the curt wording on the CT report which made for just a FEW nerves....

"Don't worry," he said after explaining next steps once again to my prodding. "Don't worry. Go home and have a good night's sleep."

Sunset was near as I drove north over the Golden Gate Bridge from the City. I exited at Sausalito and took the winding road to the Marin Headlands. I wanted to SEE the ocean. Not the bay, not a stream - the expanse of the sea, oddly calm. I thought of my Dad and growing up in Venice Beach. I thought of the devastation in Japan and sighed another prayer.

I needed to breathe the ocean air.

Contrasted with oncologists who exhaled muted doom, this physician was almost reassuring. I will know more after more tests. Yes, I know that the CA-125 - a blood test for ovarian cancer - is riddled with falsehoods and inaccuracies. "Benign tumors or cysts of the ovaries can also cause an abnormal test result." Yeah, check THAT out! Warning to worrisome self: Do it and don't freak.

"Don't worry," he said.

Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray for Japan

First - please stop for a moment now and pray for Japan. I cannot get my head around the unearthly devastation and ongoing hell following an 8.9 earthquake. It's a tiny country with real people dying and suffering.

Yes, I think of Biblical prophecy such as Matthew 24:6-8,

6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Was there ever such a time until now? I don't know.

I ponder the voice and messages to which I listen. I'd spent the better part of almost an hour combing the most up-to-the-minute websites that I could, including USGS on Twitter. Shifting from care for others to concern for my own behind, I have tried to discern what was the real MESSAGE regarding the tsunami waves heading towards the west coast of the USA. I looked, scoured, read. Real danger! Oh they're now hitting Crescent City! Are my friends there alright?

To what do I pay attention? And what action do I take?

Finally I found the local radio station on the internet. It was playing classical music. And when the announcer's voice came on, there was no panic. There is awareness. The waves are beginning to hit the West Coast NOW! And.... they are 2- to 5-ft. in height.

I'm calmer knowing that my own flesh is seemingly safe for now; may I still pray for the hundreds dead and thousands hurt in Japan! The aftershocks continue.

Pain and suffering are in so many places.

Sometimes I listen to fear and purported reason in potentially alarming situations. The waves rock the small boat and o, where IS the Lord? I get an ultrasound today, in a few hours. It will discover what is already inside of me, this mysterious "2.5cm mass." Benign or malignant? I don't know now; I will by this evening, most likely.

"Be not afraid," said Jesus to the cowering fishermen, "It is I." (John 6:16-21).

The storm was real. So was Jesus.

"Be not afraid."

"Be not afraid."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent begins

"You're my..... Night Light."

I love this group. I listened to them in the 70's when I loved the Lord, before I wandered away for over 20 years. I refound them recently. It's a static photo but a stellar recording.

"You're my...... Night..... LIGHT."

It's late right now. Ash Wednesday begins in 5 minutes - it will already have begun by the time I hit the "Publish Post" button. I'm typing quickly because I'm tired and I yearn for sleep soon.

I'm seeing doctors quite a bit lately! Yeah right, I couldn't fool you. I'd rather be at the gym frowning at my butt or hanging with my Sunday Night Liturgy and Bible Study Group. However things must be sorted and I doth proceed to sort.

This Friday I'm getting an ultrasound (woo!) to get a closer look at a "questionable 2.5cm mass in the right adnexa." Yeah, that's what I said, too! What the hell is that? It's down around my girly bits. Vaguely. A recent set of low-radiation full-body CT scans showed some utterly awesome results - heart, check! Bone mineral density, check! (Now that's an irony altogether, wouldn't you say?). Lymph glands, check (THANK YOU GOD). But there's this schmutz down below.

Are you a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?

We'll find out. I'm rooting for words like "benign cyst."

And if it's not, then it will be dealt with.

Preceding the scans were some mild dips in platelets again. It's been an eventful couple o' months for things bumping into me on the health front. I fell on my butt 2+ weeks ago! At least my tailbone and back are healing.

So Friday - ultrasound. What are you, little bump? (No pregnancy jokes, please - that's impossible for at LEAST 2 good reasons!).

I have the most AWESOME people praying for and with me. You might be one of them reading this now. I feel so held, so not alone.