TICKETS

TICKETS
Announcement of Life

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Last entry

After an incredible battle, fought with epic courage and dignity, Janice succumbed to her disease this morning.  It was not unexpected and her family was with her.

Those readers who knew Janice personally will understand what a monumental loss occurred today.  Those who did not have that privilege can only get a hint from her writings in this blog.

--Dave

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Hospital Visit Again



One more week in the hospital. I’m a bit tired of it all. This time I got a contrast MRI, contrast Bone Scan and a few other delightful tests. The main problem was pain and the doctors focused on that problem. After we picked up all of our medicine a huge delivery truck pulled up to restock the pharmacy. Liquid morphine is a frightening thing to have in the house.

A new tumor was found on the spine so I’m now back in radiation for 12 treatments. That is not a tough saga and it really helps with the back pain. And the main problem with all of the pain medicine is that I make up strange stories in my mind. The family had a problem keeping up yet I was truly ‘out-there.’

My love to all of you and soon I hope to have some strength. I did get some benefit from the ice cream and root beer soda.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Mommies love their children so
To watch them laugh and cry and grow.

My mommy loved me very much
And I so enjoyed her gentle touch.
Now I’ve grown quite big and tall
In fact, I’m not a child at all.
I have a family of my very own
And in a few years they’ll all be grown.
I wish them happiness from this point on

Even after the day I’m gone.
I hope they don’t cry when I go away

For they talk to me each time they pray. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Mental Moment


A doctor’s visit means so much to so many. For instance, today I see the surgeon who repaired my right leg with a titanium rod. He did his job and without ceremony today he will say good-bye. I’ve only seen him eye-to-eye on one occasion, a moment prior to unconscious, as I was then promptly put to sleep. Since the day of that surgery I have seen the x-ray of the orthoscopic operation. A mere view of the implant weakens my knees. Shelby refuses to view the image and Paige says, “Thanks mom” after I sent the email. I will never put it in the blog as leg x-rays aren’t supposed to look like that image. Non the less, I’ll thank and say good bye to a very important member of my medical recovery team.

My oncologist has a ‘happy face’ view for my recovery. The CEA blood count is 0.8 - that’s very good. My request to travel to Hawaii was met with a, “can I go too.” For just a moment I thought, ‘good idea.’  The chemo treatments are about to end for this period and I will switch to a oral pill form of treatment. Regular blood work will mandate the future treatment. It was discussed that my personal recovery is charting a new course and we can probably keep my health on this steady course. I’m already healthily outside the realm of probable recovery. That we will let my body mandate my awesome stabilization and treatment. Doctor Nishimoto commented on how one of his colleagues, who treated me back in my hospital days, remarked on how great I looked that he couldn’t have recognized me on his own outside the office.

My mind bounces back and forth between a ‘long future’ and ‘rap it up.’ Both are true. Don’t delay adventures and don’t delay mindfulness. This Saturday I’m spending a couple of hours with my cousin Sue who will be with her husband John for a modest visit at Long Beach Airport. From Long Beach they will return to Seattle to get on with their lives. I’m discovering just how important it is to look into the eyes and soul of someone you’ve known your whole life. Hey, Susie and I spent many hours sharing a playpen and toys. My mind and body know her as love and safety. We were only 2 months apart in age from birth. I didn’t become the bully until around age four, maybe five. I’m going to figure out a comfort plan for Skype and FaceTime.

Family, friends and future all seem to be connected as is finality. Today seems good, and I think that I’ll clean out part of my closet as well as part of my mind. I’ll also put up a scrolling photo image of my brother, sister and cousins into my mental iPhoto, album ‘family - old pictures.’ The family that gathered near while a grew up all learned the outer limits of grammar, words and punctuation. Yet they still love me. Dyslexic’s Welcome in Pop’s World. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love Thy Neighbor


Yesterday I was speaking with my cousin, who is 2 months younger than myself. We grew up 2 of 6 cousins in the wilderness of northwest Washington state. Ferries were required to travel off of the Olympic Penninsula and our Main Street town was often named after the fishermen or the owner of our main market and a founding father. Sheldon Stutz owner of the Shell Oil distributorship. My father, Ralph Johnson, owned Johnson Motors and most outboard motors were “Johnson Outboard Motors.” Our grandfather ‘Pop’ run the only movie theater. My uncle Bob was the editor of the Tacoma News Tribune. The women (Aunt Carol and Mom) were happy housewives and busy with the local women’s clubs. 
Janice, Sheldon, Dad
Every Sunday both families would gather for a picnic, dinner, birthdays and all holidays. The six cousins (Jim, Susanne, Janice, Bob, Jack and Jill) would always find a mutual activity. The Christmas plays were the most detailed. Yet the grand usual Sunday evening was a simple dinner followed by a pipe and coffee event for the men and the women got the community gossip, Sorella Club news with dishes to be replaced in the cupboard. The fresh home made pie was served as the women joined the men.

Our mental and social leader was Pop. None of us knew just how much this lone man would develop all of our live. Politics was the primary focus for the after dinner discussion with classical music playing on the old record player.
For all of us, we would have been gathered last night for the election results, we would have been near a radio as soon as they were widely in use.  It’s my belief and memory that no one would take delight in the painful loss for half of this country.  It’s with that grace, I so fully wish comfort in the hearts of all who did not get the voted outcome that they desired.
A full country where 50% of all citizens greatly dislike the other 50%. That just isn’t the best feeling for all of us. From my family of origin we would most appreciate a supportive and co-operative endeavor for all. And we quietly thank Pop who taught us to be mindful for the feelings of others.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm quite alive .......


Between every sunrise and avery sunset a full day flies by. When putting a group of days together you for a week then lifetime. I’m hearing a rumble that if I don’t blog with some regularity I might appear dead. If you know me my passing would be with great grandeur. Yet it truly brought to ming that I ought to keep friends informed.
I last left you with the red cell problem. Yet the depth of the issues was my white blood cell count was down to 1.1, and that is too low for chemotherapy. So doctor ordered me to stay away from any germs and live a quiet life. The white grew and the medicine was back.
The good news is also that I have a trip to Waikiki in front of me. Paige has offered a week long adventure to the warm Pacific shore. We’ll soak and float in the ocean. We’ve made three trips with them before so it’s very friendly. Having an adventure to plan might get me out of bed..

Sorry for being gone so long and as of today I’m actually feeling better. Adding iron has been a great idea. To Helen, Ginger and Patti - I’ll do much better with the news.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Getting My Ducks in a Row


Sometimes the blog thought comes right along with the photograph. Just like today. The image of getting ones ducks in a row helps merely by trying to line things up. 

Just like the oncologist canceling my chemotherapy for tomorrow because my red blood count is too low. Aha, my iron deficiency is producing my low red blood cell situation.

Doesn’t it just seem sensible that we take on one slice of pie at a time. The low red blood configuration allows, and encourages a very early bedtime and energy level. This presents the delay in the evening blog-update. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Now what will the doctor order with this chemical dilemma? I only know that Dr. had his nurse ask if I knew when I last had a transfusion. I did know, late August and receiving 2 pints of blood. Now, is ‘one of my ducks’ a pint of blood? ‘One’ a packet chemotherapy medication. Or ‘several weeks’ of iron supplementation. I think I’ll just worry about it all. To get ones Ducks in a Row takes real know-how and Greenwich timing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This might mean that I am back in the publishing business. I’m promising to return to the information mode of communication. For the past two weeks I’ve been hiding in my own mind again. The news about my cancer health is remarkable. So I shall remark. There is a cancer marker regarding the protein cell growth of cancer. My numbers of growth are dropping rapidly. The true term is remission. My oncologist has added iron to my treatment. I’ve been forbidden from iron for a year because of it’s ‘blood growth’ properties. I’m learning as fast as I am healing. I have so many amazing people with prayers and my health that I am certain about that truth.

Secondly, with laughter being the best medicine I did have a day of laughter last week. There was a day last week that could have brought rain. For Shelby and Janice that means fun. We headed out toward the dark clouds above Glendale.  On approaching our target we redirected the mission toward the Los Angeles Zoo.  My walker would have to be changed into a wheelchair and off we went.  The hills and trails of the zoo are mighty challenging. Our primary goal was to find the new elephant habitat.

We stopped by the Flamingo Pond where I had to be helped up to get a good view over the hedge. The Gorilla Camp is forever a treat as they have so much determination to remain unique. I especially enjoyed the female who enjoyed being wrapped in her blanket.

Out trek toward the elephants led us to a mighty ramp with a ‘must have’ speedy adventure downhill with dangerous speed. That was where the laughter fell into place. It was also where LIFE fell into place. I’m so pleased to be able to see and experience the pleasant aspect that my choice to live is completely probable. I need my children and they need me. So it shall be - we’ll all grow up through this together. Shelby is quite good for sudden adventures and ‘let’s go’.  She’ll probably never take off with me for Nepal like her sister Paige yet the “Let’s Go” is my favorite expression.


Believe in whatever is best for you and have the wisdom to know the difference. To my main and brave ‘health team’: Helen, Patti and Jackie I owe you my life because I was always jealous of your connection. Now I belong to you. And we belong in the zoo.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Grow Up!


You start out giving your hat, then you give your coat, then your shirt, then your skin and finally your soul. 

My worst problem is my worst problem. I am thin skinned. Now was I thin skinned by nature or is it the nature of my soul. Then I have a feline with sharp claws. Or the nightstand with raw wood corners. Sometimes pulling on a shirt with any strength of force.

I am looking down my arm at five fabric bandaids with Neosporin. The same white cat is still living and breathing. My chins are down to gauze bandages and soon to be flesh free. Mummies had a great plan against thin skin.  Yet the truth be known, the thin skin is all part of the past two months of reconstruction. Radiation, chemotherapy, major surgery, minor surgery, biopsy, radiation scans and pain. With oodles of pain medication.

My skin holds it all together. All of the chemicals and cell development or destruction impact the cells exposed to the outside world of shape and shiny objects. It is quite possible that healthy food, soft edges and smooth emotions will heal the feel. ‘Time’ would make sense that the skin would be a bit behind the rest of the body in recovery. 

I constructed a planter last Sunday to signify the health and growth of my healthy flourishing flesh. The shaded sunlight with mineral water will force the drive to thrive and develop the strength to grow.

Every problem must have a solution. Just find it and ‘grow with it.’

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mental-Alert


When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, 'Oh yes - I already have everything that I really need.' 

My mind just ran away. That’s why for years we’ve called it the “Runaway-Brain”. I simply refused to mind myself. The physical therapist Marsha yesterday, for our final visit, heard that I refused to get out of bed. I plainly looked at her with a smile and a nod. “I’m just too tired to get up and my primary doctor just told me that I’m well ahead in recovery.” So Marsha asked, “Can I at least take your blood pressure since I’m here and you won’t have to get out of bed?” I flung my right arm off in the direction of open space. She pumped the bulb. “Since you really have done remarkable work in you current recovery I’ll agree with you. You know your body and it needs rest more than a workout. I’ll just give you an outline of recovery and please call if you ever need more help.” 

My thoughts immediately went to ‘no’ - no more medical appointments. Wednesday was a doc-free-day and I called a doctor for an appointment that day for information and direction. And when Marsha asked me to journal about my recovery I said no. I promised her a blog-report so: In the past two weeks I used the walker 90%, wheelchair, 8% and free flight 2% of the time. I have an appointment with the surgeon who placed the steel rod along my femur and gave me a low grade pain recovery from a broken leg.

Why would I stoop to a low where I could tell a fair minded and accurate member of my recovery team that I wasn’t getting out of bed. I was raised differently, manners. This time I dropped to ‘want’ and ‘need’. I knew what was the best physical therapy. Food and rest. We eventually all came to the same reasoning. I was re-praised for my hard work and strength of motion. I planned to ask the surgeon if I’m preparing a 14,000 foot climb might I need further or different therapy. I hope that he will see the value in that thought.

Even though I didn’t get up for Marsha, I did have plans for Pizza Party Friday night with my son and his babies Zoe and Stella. The endless laughter, the pizza, the apple juice and fish crackers of color. Strawberries and whipped cream were wonderful. The movie with “Tinker Bell” was merely in the background. The ‘Best of Show’ went to the iPads. We are ver fortunate that we have 2 iPads, and lucky we have two little girls.

Stella with Zoe make everyone smile and tonight it was my turn. So they brought me back - listening to my brain. My brain has listened to my body. My body listens to the cells and each cell tells the story. My brain can also tell each cell what they might do in this process. My brain tells each cell to remove each weak cell and strengthen each developing cell. Healing and cleaning and deigning is my constant job. Everything I do every day is one of the items. But always do the big stuff before 2:30 PM. That’s “Body Speak”.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Care

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.
Edna St. Vincent Millay 


Yesterday I got a text message from a former client. The only reason he is ‘former’ is because I retired and became somewhat ill. When I told him of of condition I surprised him and myself. The cause of his surprise is somewhat obvious, mine was else clear to me in the moment. After a few moments of reflection I was aware of my emotional discomfort at not fully knowing why he wanted to talk to me.

I’d known him for nearly 20 years. My home overlooks his former stomping grounds. I remember when he announced his engagement. I’d just seen him 18 months ago when his life changed again. I felt like I wasn’t done with the story or the support. To know so much and care so much about the life and liberty of another puts them into your head and heart forever.

I don’t like this part of retirement. It’s like reading a good book and not being able to finish it. I still want to advise and confirm the actions and movements of those people that I’ve grown to love. I must find a way to finish the good book. I do miss my clients and I will be in touch.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Happy Birthday Baby


This afternoon the family-extended gathering for a birthday Linner (4PM) for Shelby. Her dad and stepmother drove out from Texas. Lizzy drove out from Chino Hills. Two from Redondo Beach, four from Hermosa and one from Manhattan Beach. The destination was Islands in Manhattan. Now what could go wrong? For me, it was the three people who might be expecting me to in a wheelchair followed by a death bed. Wrong! The bright colors and special occasion won the day.

Shelby’s birthday gift will take a year of my life to thank her for her duty fulfilled. And I must complete its design prior to midnight. The may arrive late but not completed late. She got Truffles and Tea Cups as gifts and I’m giving her Hope.

A family gathering this year is mighty special and enjoyable. We all want to thank each member of my ‘family team” along with Captain Shelby. Happy Birthday Baby.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Week of Life


Here is a weekend and medical appointments are completed. Chemotherapy was this morning and radiation this afternoon. It’s a bit out of my normal zone. Yet I find myself quite normal and customary to be seeing this group as “my people.” In chemotherapy I recognized the napping young lady, the cranky brother-in-law, the weak kneed grandma and the two middle-aged moms. In radiation it seemed as many were friends. They all loved the employees and the entire medical staff. Some stayed longer than others and some were return visitors.

It’s rare to find a whole new world of experience and friendship. I wasn’t so surprised to find a world of friends in the Himalayas near Namcee Bazaar. I’d read all about Mt. Everest and people of Nepal. The community of Pucallpa in the Amazon Rain Forrest was most interesting, yet few friends were collected. It must take at lease a month of time to develop something long lasting like college, organizations, employment or a community.

I wonder about this journey into the world of cancer. Had I avoided the communication or did the knowledge flash past like becoming an astronaut or bounty hunter. In so many ways I sought out my future one step at a time. The neighborhood, clubs, hobbies, school district and education.

I can now see just how fluid life becomes beyond family. That is the one thing that I did not choose beyond a spouse. The lesson for me is that the blessings come in the gifts rather than the choices. For my children and their children are by fondest possessions. Then comes brother, sister and awesome cousins, and their children. Nature flows a mighty third with music, color and words. A field of golden poppies, the sound of the wind and a story told about them.

I’m enjoying this adventure as all others before them. Learning about all things ‘new’ is the pride of life and longing. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hair She Goes


Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. 
Mark Twain

Today I got to go to the dentist. Your pretty sure that if the dentist has more fear about your being there than do you, this is unique. Since the dentist needed approval from the Oncologist before he could clean my teeth. Having ones teeth cleaned must be edgy. It was smooth as butter. Shelby was in the waiting room and came back for a ‘look-see.’ “All is well Shelby,” says Dr. Jay. (Her family dentist also.) Look, no blood. She might have needed one of her special pills. Due to my first aide adventure yesterday Shelby had the full medical kit and drove like a great grandmother. That might be partly because when she got to my house I was trying to wrap a new wound with my left hand.

All done, your mom is fine and she can leave now, please. We headed down the hill back to where I had no access to by own bed because of the carper cleaners. Never mind, it’s time ti go to radiation. Today I’ll arrive with my walker and ditch the wheelchair.  As expected that effort was met by applause. Any improvement by a cancer patient is close to a miracle. I only have 4 more days of radiation - I might go all out with some eye makeup. After 11 minutes I’m all done a strolling back to the family car that will take me for my haircut. Yes, the hair cut that I’ve waited 6 months for it to happen. Grateful that my hair did not fall out I will cut it.

When the hairs were trimmed we headed home with all of the trappings of a great dinner and a full night of great television - if you like Survivor and other A- programing. I’m pleased that today was not a train wreck but more like a smooth flight. I have no fear yet the people around sure have my share. “Knock it off - worry about yourself.”  Not really - kisses to all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boats and Trains and Planes


Season number seven! It's been so exciting for us. When we first began, we were like the little train that could... and we did! We're terribly excited! It will be an interesting season for us, I think. 


Somedays I fly through the sky with delight. Somedays I just stare at a sleek boat. And today I tumbled on a moving train. Jennifer, thank you for your nursing skills. You were perfect until the first aide kit arrived. And your flowers are beautiful. We will meet for tea again and now we have a story too.

When I got home my oldest cat gave me a matching wound on the left leg. My physical therapist told me to keep my legs up today. Okay.

Nothing was more fun than playing nurse and spending the day in bed. Tomorrow I’m getting my hair cut. I hope he stops at the neck. Love to all and now go ‘light up my life.’

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Don't Change the Spark Plugs


Whenever you would change the spark plugs on my old ’55 Chevy some things worked much better, like the starter. And some things suddenly failed like head lamps. My body is like that now. All of the excellent vitamins and medicine are improving my energy and wellbeing. That led me to believe that I could lift my broken leg into bed from the right and from the left side. Yet to-date, I’d only done it from the right side. OUCH! So today I lift my leg from neither side. And await my physical therapist’s arrival on Tuesday. In many ways ‘what I don’t know’ is far more dangerous than ‘what I do know’.

It was also a smooth move to schedule having my bedroom carpet cleaned while merely walker-able. Yet I hate seeing a dirty floor and I’m stuck at home having to see it all of the time. I can’t pick anything up off the floor and I keep dropping things. 

Those windows sure need washing yet don’t get out of bed. The cat did what, again? I’m not really a ’55 Chevy. I’m a ’45 Plymouth. Dad was a Plymouth and Desoto Dealer in our hometown. I was raised in an automotive world of wonder. I pumped gas at age 11 and did a complete forensic dissection of every wrecked car. Strands of hair in a shattered windshield was a clue, as was the empty bottle of beer on the floorboard. I often wondered was that the preceding guide to becoming a therapist. 

Your “comments” back to me are like those ‘spark plugs’, each words alters my mind. And I thank you. I save every comment in a special place and reread them often. I can’t see you yet with your words let me know that you are there. Thanks you so much for caring and sharing. When you speak to me you make my head lights glow brighter.  This beautiful Hibiscus is in my garden right now and this one is for you.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Spacey Day


Never mind that I chased the Shuttle to the San Pedro Lookout Point and waited 2.5 hours in the sun with three hundred of my new friends. I did enjoy the gathering and yet it was my first crowd in a wheelchair. Usually I can work my way up to a premium spot. Today I slid into a space and stayed there. I couldn’t see the shuttle until moments after everyone else. Dang, everything is slower and older. But there it was right up there in the big blue sky. The crowd roared and the dogs barked.

I wanted chills and goosebumps. I got yep and done. My video will remain in the can. Yet the memory of being in Florida with Ginger on July, 8 of 2011 was a goose bumper. We were a Space Park in Florida having slept in our car all night. Many generators were keeping the television stations aware of the launch and the rain. Since I did yet to see the first Shuttle Columbia launch as well as the last I ought not have been so surprised that this day did not bring to me a ‘shock’ and ‘aw’. Seeing the last Shuttle soar into space was purely amazing.

While Shelby stayed home today to run errands and to watch the Shuttle on television. She kept me informed by text how long it would be for the aircraft to reach my location. And she did just that. Then she noticed on television that the Shuttle did a slow and low approach over LAX before heading out to sea for a go around. She grabbed her trusty iPhone and ran up to her deck. YES, the Shuttle flew south and turned east right over her house. So you will get to see my happy face in San Pedro and Shelby perfect video over Hermosa Beach. Good work Shelby!


After my afternoon adventure I headed off to my Friday radiation and I'm now ready for my “I did too much” nap. The weekend is a blessing and I plan to use it well.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's My Job


In the next 7 days I have 13 medical appointments. Most are in the same zip code and many are a close call from blending appointments. I wonder how I am supposed to rest my way into health with all of this activity. When I was in the hospital they all came to me. Alas, now I go to them. Physical therapy (2), Oncologist (2), radiology (5), Primary doctor (1), Dentist (1), Home Health Care nurse (1) and lab work for blood (1). Getting well is a full time job.

Today I feel like I need to go to bed around 8:00 PM and sleep for 11 hours. But no, tomorrow is the day that the Space Shuttle is flying across our sky. Today at 11:45 AM a military helicopter flew low and slow along the coast. I’m betting that to get from the Venice Pier to the Queen Mary we will have a secret front row seat at the Coastline of Redondo Beach. I’ll be on the patio with my camera fully charged. If I’m right you’ll get a video tomorrow night.

There is so much to look forward to my future that I enjoy having a full calendar. So much of ‘future days’ requires thought and planning. I’m currently planning a mental adventure up Mount Whitney and a fictional trip back in time to neolithic Britain circa 2,000 BC. Both require mental as well as physical exercise. This is much more fun than any form of worry or despair. The busier that I keep my mind the busier my feet follow.

I sure hope my feet are ready for ice cream and Jeopardy right now. Enjoy the Shuttle fly-over wherever you are tomorrow (Friday).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Short And So Sweet


According to Dr. Nishimoto, Dr. Ru and Dr. Simco all believe that I just look too healthy. So the short and sweet of it all is I’m clearly on the mend. We are waiting for the bones to begin rebuilding and healthy cells to rule the body. No more fatigue and I’ve finally gained four pounds. It’s the prayers and fairy dust so I send you all my love and thank you.And these special flowers arrived yesterday, what a blessing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All Grown Up


Yesterday i mailed a package of art etchings done by my grandfather 100 years ago. He kept them for much of his life and I’ve had them with me for over 50 years. I decided that his namesake, my 1st cousin once removed, deserved the third shift of custody. Our grandfather and great grandfather was a man that every child ought have in their life. He was self made, self disciplined, self educated and a self determined man. We had no idea as children that grandpa “Pop” was special. He was just safe, fun, comfortable and our haven who ran the only movie theater in our small scandinavian fishing village in the Pacific Northwest. 

Pop also taught himself to play the violin and to draw. He built one of his homes on a modest part of his 40 plus acres in the woods. The out house was still most operative as we were children as was the Sears catalog for reading and disposing. An indoor bathroom with plumbing was completed in 1960.

His newly plowed fields of corn would become our training ground for learning to drive. Fast and furious was my plan for his ’34 Ford pickup truck. We were country folk and driving was learned before much of anything. After all, someone had to drive the tractor to get the work done.

Beyond the milestones of memories he left his art. The one thing that faded slower than memories was his etchings. Few photographs exist yet we will forever know our heritage of art, wisdom and honor. My mother followed in the pattern of artistic DNA as have I in my own development.

Our ancestors have given so much and I often fail to remember that I am merely the sum total of all of my ancestors. I am but a conduit and a messenger. I am forever grateful for all who walked before me. And to those who taught me how to walk. We are never alone and/or lonely.

As I now reflect on who I am and where I’m going - I’m just afloat in the family stream.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Secrets


I’ve walked past this ‘Secret Garden’ at least 20 times without seeing this view. Now I’m paying a little more attention to what else I’ve looked at and not seen. Along with things I’ve listened to and not heard. Not to mention all of the things I’ve heard just because I’ve wanted to hear it in a particular way. This little Secret Garden is mighty special as it belongs to a Secret Friend and myself. Not an imaginary friend but a secret friend. A friend that never would have been selected for me. Nor one that my mind selected due to fashion or flare.

It just happened that due to a chance meeting and with a synchronized method. I did not have cancer when we met and she was a seventeen year survivor from breast cancer. Early this spring she informed a few friends that her cancer has returned. I followed her quest for a medical team and her devout search for treatment. I was earnestly impressed with her robust conquering approach toward health.

Then one day Shelby called her in a sincerely distressed mode to tell her I had cancer. My friend immediately placed Shelby under her wing and added me to her prayers. She visited me daily in the hospital when all others were denied. Then I was introduced to my new radiologist. It was also her long sought radiologist. Then I was discharged from the hospital and given 2:30 PM as my out-patient appointment time for radiation. Yes, that is also the exact time for my twin cancer traveler. So today we both had radiation at 230 PM, same place, same medical team and same doctor.

Our lives have become parallel and/or would they have been anyway if we had not met some 3 years ago by our own means? Life certainly has a path and I never know when I’m on the right path or not. As my life is completely wrapping around itself I am so impressed with what I learn with each moment that passes my way.  One minute is just one secret after another. Today is full of energy and amazement.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Too Pooped Too Pop


Easy does it with radiation therapy. Since being tired and feeling exhausted is a symptom of treatment. It's like I’ve caught some illness. Shirley, you sure called it and thanks for the ‘heads up.’ I want to nap yet I can’t sleep. Please tell me that the head ache is all in the same. It’s like staying up all night while on an airplane crossing the Pacific Ocean. I’ll just focus on the 49ers football and recline.

Being home is wonderful. I keep seeing all of the ‘stuff’ I need to do but it will wait as I’m too tired to get up. I’ve had zero negative reaction from the chemotherapy so I gladly accept being tired. I went to bed last night at 8:00 PM and had two good hours of energy this morning. Enough complaining!

Since I have nothing good to say I won’t say anything at all - except - “Goodnight Gracie”.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Road Trip


All is said and done here at the hospital. It is quite rare for me to leave this establishment actually feeling better than when I arrived. Yet today I have a new leg with a steel rod and bionic elements according to Ginger. Dave has already cleaned the house and stocked the kitchen at home.

My spiritual leader of misadventure has a plan to climb Mt. Whitney next August. Why not? It’s just a plan. I’ll sure benefit from a lofty goal. The dream, the training, the positive plan and a group of people all wondering “what the hell were we thinking.” Of course Shelby will not be pleased as she believes these adventures are just as dangerous as surviving cancer. Life is a risk - take it.

I also have a new imaginary friend from a past life. The era is of 2400 BC and we were two little girls born to the local stone masons. This story developed out of a desire to explain a relationship. Sometimes the truth is just too bland. So now I’m mentally prepared to engulf my mind in merry ole Britain. Actually, beyond the ‘past life’ part my grandmother, Nelly Bibby, was from that neck of Wiltshire.

Putting both feet back into reality I am about to pack and toss. The packing will look a great deal like tossing and the tossing will not look at all like packing. I have two award notices to write. Joanna and Alacia will get a written commendation, the Daisy Award is the prize if either of these nurses are recognized for their talents. I’ve just been here way too long so - GET ME OUT!  I have even had so much ‘lazy brain time that I decorated my water pitcher. Again I whisper - get me out of here, please.

The next entries of the story might take a completely different path. On my own with recovery, exercise, cooking and managing the home will have a completely different tone. Adding daily outpatient adventures for radiation along with the market and the visits from the home healthcare nurse might strain my magical thinking. Keep that ‘fairy dust’ flying.

Right now ‘it’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood.’

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another Night of Sleep

Depression sometimes floats quickly down a stream as opposed to a swirling golden leaf endlessly twisting in a whirlpool among a rock outcropping. My depression and sadness abated when I challenged my physical therapist into showing me how to climb a flight a stairs. A real flight of stairs - not just the little mock flight they have set-up in their gym. This flight of stairs belonged to the actual hospital with a wide staircase reaching up to the fourth floor. I took on one floor and gained a Mastery Badge. Both Joy and Dave had a "No way!" for me. Yet I know that my manicurist is at the top of a flight of stairs. Motivation is the highest form of vanity.

Then I got to spend from 10:30 until 4:15 in chemotherapy. The chemo nurse often asked, "Are you still okay?" what might happen if I weren't okay? I do know that many people with cancer have all sorts of trouble in all sorts of ways. I just don't fly from that tree. I'm never ill. I still have all of my thin scrawny hair (she said gratefully). And my intestines are awaiting the next meal.

So promptly at 4:15 I'm off in the corridor within the bowels of this huge hospital pushed along by our trusty Brian. The radiation took 12 minutes and Brian returned me to my room where I needed to get ready for a 5:00 PM "Iced Tea Party" in the cafeteria. Two grandchildren from New York and Santa Cruz are visiting. Aly is Paige's youngest and NYC Matt is her oldest. Matt is our HBO whiz kid and Aly just scored a new job as a retail store manager in San Jose. That hour went by fast but we all had a great visit.

Back to my room, exhausted and hungry. Both have been satisfied. I do feel that some candy must be found and that might require a road trip. Translated: wheelchair to gift shop. Since, I am a half day ahead in my blogging I am posting two blogs today just to catch up with myself.

Depression is replaced by exhaustion. Once again, a good nights sleep ought to reframe the day.

Just Sleep On It

I just had my first moment of apprehension about leaving the hospital Saturday. I will have been here 24 days. I know the routine. I push a button and a person arrives asking, "Can I help you?" My leg was healed by a stranger in a dark green smock. Brian takes me for radiation everyday. Helen drops by daily for laughs and grins. Joy makes me exercise. My bed has buttons for up, down and sideways.

I can order any food I want. In fact, I've eaten everything everyday and gained 1/10 of a pound. I have seven items of clothing which is plenty for a month. No makeup and horrible hair. And then I look 80 and just like my mother. (No one wants to look like their 80 year old mother.) I'm just not sure about change. I do have 4 hours of chemotherapy tomorrow morning. That often brings a prestressed attitude. I've never had a bad experience so what's up.

Oh, and Shelby and Paige have normal days out in the real world tomorrow. A raw waft of depression must have just come sweeping through the room. Being home will be different and quiet. Cats and naps. The Pacific Ocean just out the window. The real world with challenges and uncertainties. Hmmm, depression has been a friend of mine for many years, maybe it missed me too. If I feed it then a 'heavy attitudinal weight' is certainly pumped up by all of the attention. Therefore, by looking forward to depression and fear I might reroute the flow of that river of tears.

Having something to look forward to is the usual medicine. The only blockage is that when depressed you don't really want to make yourself happy. Shucks, there is a trick move in here somewhere and "Checkmate" is proclaimed.  Or do I declare, yippee a trip to Trader Joe's. Maybe the cuddle nap with two white cats. Actually, my Tempur-Pedic mattress is number one in the running at the moment. Over the next 36 hours I will ponder wants and wishes with some sorrow. Hell, I don't even want a new iPhone.

As I said, depression is an old friend of mine.

After a full night sleep the choice is a 'full hair color and style change'. The fact that I'm not losing my hair was the 'checkmate' moment. "Just sleep on it," is often still the wisest solution.

Sadness is a wall between two gardens. Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Mom, A Son and A Dog


I have no idea how I'm going to keep up the entertainment pace when I go home Saturday. A simple and infrequent cat fight just doesn't have the same spirit as it formerly sparked. Yet last night, in the middle of the night, my sickroom, bed A, companion asked a most interesting question of our nurse. I guess it merely informs me of my shallow level of current creativity. Her question was simple and urgent. "Would you please check my blood and my heart to see if I'm still alive."  They did and she was.

Now, on to sons and dogs. They both visit patients in the hospital. The dogs truly seem to enjoy the act of service and being groomed with loving hands. "Molly" was such a lovely lady and posed perfectly for her photo shoot. Being a feline female I prefer a cuddle kitty.l


My son dropped by and meeting him near the gift shop is a pleasure for both. A baby boy is always a baby boy. Knowing that neither Paige nor Shelby would become nurses, David is an unlikely paramedic. Now he can rescue an entangled seagull at the waterline in great distress from a nasty knot of nylon fishing line. He also saves grommets (youthful beginning surfers) from getting caught in rip tides. Any animal or child in danger is saved by my sweetest son. Now truly, is that the definition of a 'baby boy'. Don't worry her won't read this message and he's over forty with twin daughters who make me smile just by standing still.

Today is radiation #2 and physical therapy #2much. Tomorrow is chemotherapy #8 and Saturday is departure day. I could go home earlier but I'm just waiting until I am fully able. I can walk again which is mighty helpful. And with a broken leg you get to take home a wheel chair. This reminds me of the "Fishing" booth at the Harbor Intermediate Halloween Carnival where with one ticket you could win 'anything'. Today with one ticket I get  brand new wheel chair with removable wheels and a folding carriage. It's a slick black and shiny mobil device. Any seventh grade young lass would revel at this grand prize.

The best part of any day here are the messages from all of you. Patti's fairy dust causes me to get into more trouble than usual but I love it. Ivy, your surprise is so you! Malia, I love you too. Mary, don't be shocked. Cousin Jack, just stay close. Helen, keep the counter ban coming. Dana, your support of Shelby is grand. Shirley, I need your email address. Ashley, I know you're there! Matt told me. Ginger, the saga continues. Anonymous, you're wonderful. I need all medical and emotional and family members. Some Higher Power is wrapping my body with Power and Grace. To the I bow.

Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't.
Richard Bach

Monday, September 10, 2012

Leftovers


6:30 AM - Quietly the nurse states, “Janice needs to have the staples removed from her leg now.”  No, she’s still sleeping. “Okay, I’ll tell the day nurse.”  Let us not fail to mention that Janice didn’t know that she had staples in her leg. I mean that I didn’t know that I had staples in my leg. Now removing staples can never be a good, painless event. This is taking place all down the outer right thigh where the steel rod was placed to secure the broken bone. Why can’t we just leave the staples right where they are? Oh, we just can’t as the flesh just merely grows around the staple. Dang me.

Then the oncologist shows up ordering the removal of the original PICC line. Removal of 12 - 18 inches of tubing just under the skin. Oh, this is too much information for you. Well, let me tell you that Shelby also felt that it was just too much information. When the nurse took out the staples Shelby found a nice quiet place somewhere within a 50 yard safety zone outside the dangerous removal episode.

Saved by physical therapist Jody. “Let’s go for our exercise, and today we’ll go without the walker and just work with a cane.”  Come on gang, this is just pure bullying. I just mastered the walker and it’s never good enough for you guys. So off I head down the hall with my right hand grasping the cane and my left hand flapping in the wind like a blind man reaching for a wall. “It’s a lot to learn,” Jody reassures me. Just make sure that we aren’t late for our 11 AM arm exercise class I proclaim. Shelby and I are certain of the importance of remaining fully involved in all treatment and recovery.

After our exercise class and a boring lunch it was time for the PICC removal. Two pain pills and one final infusion of Ativan in the old PICC line was just for good measure. Shelby climbed up near the top of my bed, I put my head inside a pillowcase and the nurse began removing the line. I always hated and revered that ‘life line’. The nurse pulls at the tape making certain not to tear the skin. That was certainly the most difficult part and then within moments she proclaimed, “All done - it’s all out.” I’m blind and Shelby is passing out. Thirty minutes later we decided that we didn’t like that at all. Shelby said, “You know I never woke up and thought that when I grow up I want to be a nurse.”

Shelby headed home into the safety of motherhood and Paige rolled in for her afternoon visit following my Helen-Update. Paige got the second PT round and I had a modest tearful breakdown at what a setback it felt like to go from the skill level of the walker into the full fear level of the cane. Progress is slow and emotionally painful. Today ran the full range of gain and glory along with pain and worry. There is a slight rumor that I might head home within a week. Radiation begins tomorrow and chemotherapy resumes on Thursday. One foot in front of the other will get me forward - I just keep walking - and now it’s no longer on a broken leg. And at home are my two cats and the Pacific Ocean.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Keep Trying

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
John Muir

Today was journey for beauty. I had my trusty cellphone (well iPhone) and first of all headed out with Shelby in search of a bright, probably yellow, local flower. But it's been so hot that most of the flower beds are dry and wilted. Not much different than how we felt after a 20 minute outdoor quest. Then we headed directly for the electronic sliding door and the air conditioned corridor leading back to my bed. Oh, the physical therapist had a different plan. The nap will wait. Since I'd been lolly gagging I failed to reach my pillow and fall asleep fast enough.

One lap around the quad and a quick visit to the pt room. "Let's practice climbing steps!". No, let's practice climbing one step. At home I have one step. So, I only truly need to know about 'one' step. Then she believed that getting near the parallel bars while facing the mirror would be a grand idea. I get the parallel bar yet the mirror is just cruel. Okay, turn your back on yourself if you must. I must, make-up, hair brush, blush, colorful tank top, and lip gloss are never suggested before leaving the hospital bed.

After the physical therapy has completed itself I did head for that nap. There I rest without a beautiful flower or a fancy face. Aha, I actually had planned ahead. Maybe not fully, as I was caught wandering way out near the North Tower. When told that area was off limits by a nurse returning from lunch, I said, "I know." I'm not certain if being told what to do bothered me the more or getting caught. I'm pretty sure it was getting caught.

In any event, I still wanted to find a beautiful flower. Paige had texted me from CVS, "Anything else, mom." My cheating brain is just a tiny bit smaller than my cheating crossword pen. Paige says, sure mom, I'll get it. Now my visual art project is most likely to become at one with my mind.

Back to bed. Rest my soul and the soles of my new shoes. Pull up the lightweight blanket and watch the rip roaring end of the PGA Golf Tournament from Crooked Stick. Think about it, when walking is a task, then golf is rip roaring. With the golf rolling it's final credits I got to speak with son-in-law Roger and my HBO employed awesome grandson Matt. Matt was working in Oakland last night on some boxing big event at the Oracle Arena. Ward v. Dawson, the best fight ever, according to a loyal HBO employee who travels the country for the love of his company. I know nothing about the WWE, but bragging about my eldest grandson Matthew is easy.

Now, back to the perfect plant picture for this article. Alas, a miracle. I owe my thanks to Mr. Muir for the quote. To Paige, CVS and to page 77 of this months Sunset magazine. And once again to to Paige and Shelby for my Sunday adventure.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Very First Week

Yesterday the surgeon put in a permanent Port-A-Cath (a permanent port under the skin for chemotherapy and injections ). I really didn't like it at all. If I repeat that last sentence three times and click my heals would you believe me more. Done!

Today Paige babysat me and brought (and bought) me some easy going 'street clothes' for wearing in the Transitional Care Unit. Encouraged for the transition home. "A place requiring a personal shopper." 

Beside Paige as a vital member of the team - Shelby has been here every day I'm here with one exception or two. Her get-up-and-go gets her here after she gets up and dressed and goes back as school lets out. She's had the front row seat without denial.

I asked Shelby last week if she could remember what had happened that very first week. This morning I once again ran across her notes. It meant so much more to me than I had imagined that I'm pleased to share this with all of you.

SUN July 1
MOM MADE IT THROUGH THE NIGHT! Dr. Khaja tells Shelby in the hall again! Sorry to give you it's bad news but we think your mom has cancer. We see spots on her lungs, liver and spleen. Dr. Khaja waits for me to tell mom, but I can't. So he comes back in her room and begins to tell her how sorry he is. She looks at me like, "What is he talking about?" You have cancer, mom. We start crying. Shelby has her first "meltdown." Just then David Lloyd walks into the room.

MON July 2

TUE July 3
Moved to cancer floor.

WED July 4
Quiet day

THUR July 5
Biopsy? Yes, your mom has stage 4 cancer. ((Matthew is in town and comes by for a visit))

FRI July 6
First Chemo
Doctor thinks it's a good time for the family to come. Paige, Roger and Bri fly down.

SAT July 7
Whole family visits: Paige, Roger, Bri, David Lloyd, David William, Jim, Sam, Shelby and of course, Dave.

Back to me (Janice) ---- I still had no idea what all of this meant, especially that new word 'cancer'. Those first seven days belonged to everyone else but me. I just wanted to sleep. But this is my support system and I've not spent a moment. The one breakthrough moment for my brain was when my extremely loving and quiet 13 year-old grandson walked up to my bed, leaned over close to my ear and quietly uttered, "I love you Grandma." 

That's it - this is serious! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Don't sweat the small stuff

When my blog is missing I am usually too busy to blog. All blogged out. Yesterday was moving day from one unit to another. And chemotherapy late afternoon before the move. My new room has a bed by a window and plenty of sunshine. That is just the best. Imagine standing up and eating lunch in a wheel chair are both terrific things.

One thought I'm dancing with is, what did I ever imagine about cancer a year ago. Three years ago and before. Yikes, something unwanted was in my body eating me up in an unwanted fashion. Yet, the entire process is quite natural according to the cancer. We just have very different opinions from this time in space. So great medical people are saying that they are going to delay the growth of some cells and they have tools. Radiation starts Tuesday and is going to be Monday through Friday for some number of weeks. And the chemotherapy is still completely without difficulty - I guess it's a good time to have cancer.

After physical therapy today, lunch and  a bold geriatric political discussion about Bill Clinton and the DNC (with other inmates), I'm pretending that I'm doing an undercover senior citizen political piece for CNN's iReport. I probably ought to be a little more undercover so I'll now return to my electrical bed.

It is virtually impossible to get a full grasp of where I am and what I'm doing here. One moment I'm with a brilliant doctor mapping out the radiation site. And that's followed up by lunch sitting next to a poor old soul without a lucid thought in his head. I'm somewhere in the middle. In listening to the doctors telling me that I'm in town for the long haul. I believe that's good. At least it will keep the powerless story going along for quite some time. I rarely ask "why" as that would quickly turn to "what". What am I supposed to be learning? What honest degree of rough, hard core education is within this maze of mystical medicine? I'll find out and learn more about life and most certainly the people whose life I impacted.

The hardest part of all of this is communicating the full measure of my illness to people that I love and miss dearly. There are helpful strangers who suggest planning out a funeral. Okay, one massive beach party, a paddle out, steel drum band and plenty of Hawaiian food. That didn't take long. The long part is to "Feel the Heal".

A man long ago and very far away would gather townsmen from far and wide to teach them the art of believing in success. They gathered while sitting upon tree stumps and clumps of straw. As he began his mentoring he asked them all to repeat after him in saying, "Day by day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." That continued for four or five louder to loudest rounds. At the conclusion of the loudest round the man walked away. The crowd was puzzled, picked up their belongings and wandered off toward their distant dwellings. Just mumbling the steadfast mantra, and wondering why they had paid a hefty farthing. So I lovingly state, "Day by day, in every way, I'm getting better and better."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another Good Day

The radiologist came by this morning with plans to map out the treatment area for the thigh, at the bones breaking point. That's the good news because we can then get back to chemotherapy. I certainly never imagined 'looking forward' to chemotherapy. I now bloom where I am planted and right now I'm in good garden. 

I've gotten so many tearful comments and emails. I'm reminded of an old television icon who would hold up a magical mirror while she was speaking out names of 'special' viewers as we all kept waiting to hear our name called out. I so want to hold up that mirror and claim; I see you Mary, Bobbie, Joanie, Lizzy, Helen, Patti, and everyone else out in 'Blogland'. I feel that love to tears.

I do remain in my 'Secret Undisclosed Location' where I'm unknown by nearly everyone. I spend every moment, without thought, in a healing mode. The only person I'm taking care of these days is myself. I have a "Meditation" selection on my iPhone and just feel the heal. So from now on when you go outside throw a handful of fairy dust into the air and I will catch it from wherever your feet are planted.

Today I stood up, had a shower and washed my hair. It only took three of us to do that project. And I say, Amazing Grace. Go ahead, count MY blessings. We are all going to have an interesting journey as I learn about the width of life. So say, Goodnight, Gracie! "Goodnight Gracie."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One of the best!

Sunday on a three day weekend is mighty quiet. Laying in bed all day. Watching .a great golf game and having one of 'Shelby's Special Roast Beef Sandwich'. The best part of the day was finding my earphones that were lost for 12 hours (lost in bed where no human has gone before).

The next best event was a very positive visit from my primary Oncologist. Dr. Ru spoke of the long-term plans for treatment. Anytime the conversation goes into "long term" that discussion could be a good day. Each second breeds change. It might be to change my room, physical therapist, medications, menu or any small detail of the moment. The truth being that the illusion of control has always been an illusion.

I did hear a comforting element yesterday from someone who hasn't known me very long at all yet quite briefed on my history. She pondered that it might be that my 'life's lessons' for this time and space may be complete. In other words a "passing grade". Now the only way that squares with me is if I have truly taught my children to be strong, moral, independent, creative, kind, faithful, supportive and full of love for their own children.

I would also like to believe that in my lifetime I've followed the ever present words of my father, who died when I was sixteen. "Always be honest and be good. And the most important element of your life is to be good to your friends". Dad also taught me how to repair cars, drive at age 11 and to catch a few fish. I could never take them off the hook so he helped me out with that dilemma (and hurry daddy).

Day is ending and time for rest - let's make tomorrow one of the best!

Friday, August 31, 2012

One day this week


I truly believed that I would be home safe and sound while launching this blog. One broken leg and cancer throughout my body has changed my entire life. Last week on the 24th of August I was brought to the hospital by ambulance. My doctor thought that I might have a blood clot in my right thigh. Wow, this also happened to be the one day my dear friend Ginger flew out from Florida for a quick a special visit. But that 'one' day ended up in the Emergency Room at Torrance Memorial Hospital. The blood clot turned in to a broken leg brought about by the cancer having spread throughout my body and eating straight through the bone in my right thigh.

The cancer is old news for my family, at least four weeks old. With all of my life moving rapidly, I've accepted all news via lightning speed and morbid haste. My family is taking this within my usual thought that "it isn't good, it isn't bad, it just is". Rarely has anything changed my thinking as quickly as facing an 'end of life' tour. The best plan is to have no plan. Take each thought, each event, and each bit of news with one bit of salt.

I couldn't go to the Neil Diamond Concert last night, I gave those tickets to Shelby. I couldn't visit that 'one day' with Ginger except to invite her to a very exciting day at the hospital. Her entire day was to obtain the full information program of my medical distress. She flew back to Florida Saturday morning with her mission complete without a special visit and lunch. Just taking life as it "is".

I'll move right along to September 31, 2012 as this is the day I hoped to launch this blog. I figured it would be a promise worth keeping. Since I doubt if anyone imagined this news at this time in this way I honor my unique personality. With this writing I will be able to begin regular and irregular postings. I am only communicating via the blog through your comments. My staying quiet and much to myself I know you will all understand.

Be well, stay well and stay close.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


“Shelby, it's probably time to bring in your brother and sister home. Your mother might not make it through the night. Your mother appears very ill and her fever is not subsiding. It’s just to be safe.” The doctors agreed that medically we might be near an end of life event.

I couldn't understand one word. I just wanted to go back to sleep. "Janice, Mom - wake up!" No - Sleep! I just want that warm soft sleep. And could someone turn off those bright lights. Dave was just as shocked, what could they be talking about? Janice just has a high fever, an upset stomach and couldn’t wake up.

Mom, David is in Arrowhead, and Paige and Roger will here tomorrow along with Brianne. What? I’m just sleepy, why are coming here? Just let me go to sleep.

Mom, here is the doctor. "Janice, how're you feeling? Your fever seems to be remaining high. We have to do a biopsy on some spots on your liver. Will that be okay?"

All my mind could hear was "La la la la - sure!" "Mom, you must try to listen and try to understand. You have some unusual spots on your liver and it's probably cancer.  We must know for sure and you must understand this process completely for the doctors. Can you understand and sign this authorization form?”

All this time I'm looking over Shelby’s shoulder to the nodding head of Dave, whose word and approval I always took when I had no idea of what to do or say, even when partly unconscious. His full brain had the ability to run all of my essential subroutines. When I'm this off-track I just surrender by default. Thirty-six years of marriage does allow that form of mind meld. And I didn’t care about anything - sure a biopsy that’s a new one. I’ll sign the authorization and yes I’d need another pain injection.

The whole room, hall, surgical center, bed, stomach felt warm and rough. I just went from one place to always returning to a family face of Dave or Shelby.

Eventually, I would be moved out of the ER into a private room. A private Cancer Room on the 2nd floor, just down the hall from the cafeteria. Then struck with, “What?  Chest xray and brain MRI would follo. Shelby went home for the night and Dave could sleep in my room.

I still had no recognition of any of my regular doctors. The morning of day two brought the family. Two daughters, one son, two sons-in-law, one granddaughter and two grandsons. Oh My GOD -this is serious.  It’s Friday the 13th of July. The first cognition of serious distress was the “Friday” part, my son and sons-in-law needed to be at work.

My grandchildren need not be at the hospital. Such a sad and somber group. I still had no clue that they had been informed that I might be dying. I felt fine - of course I was getting ample pain medication through my new picc line, a rather permanent IV port. As they needed that access path for my chemotherapy. I’m still not locked into a cancer diagnosis.

At one point I became the mom again and told everyone to “stand-down” and go back to work.  I’ll be fine. So they all began to look puzzled and readied to say good- bye. When my quiet 12 year-old number one grandson leaned over to whisper directly into my ear, “Grandma, I really love you!”  I got it - I got it ALL. I still lock up with that memory. Neither a grandson or a grandmother ought ever have that living and loving experience. The verbal words continued around the room as will this tale next week. “I love you”, can end any story for that moment. The next ‘Ticket to ride’ will be out of the hamlet of denial.