Before we begin, I want to say a few words about a cause that I helped last year. I didn’t think I could participate this time because of voldemort, but I want to promote it. Rhonda Parrish, who is an amazing editor and writer, hosts a blog hop every time around Christmas. (Actually, the funny thing is that I wasn’t really blogging last year, but I am this year, so I could have actually participated. Then again, does anyone want Samantha’s Musings on Cancer at Christmas? Well, maybe not.)
Anywho, if you have some spare change rattling around in your pocket, consider donating to the Edmonton Food Bank through her blog hop fundraiser. (Follow the previous link, scroll to the bottom four paragraphs above the logo, and click on the link to donate.)
$1 CAD or $0.78-ish USD = 3 meals
That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
I, as much as anyone, know what it’s like to feel the warmth of friends, acquaintances, and strangers (I don’t recognize many of the names on my GoFundMe!) doing something to lift me up.
Christmas is difficult for me right now. I’m having a hard time even listening to Christmas music, and things are going well. I’m getting care packages left and right, I have prayers and emails flying all around, my chemo is working, my babies are out of the fussy stage, my parents are here, my husband is supportive, Morrigan is super cute, I get good drugs, soon I might be getting some even better ones (WHAT UP)… and it’s still hard. For people who don’t have as solid of a support system as I do, Christmas is very, very difficult. Be part of the solution?
It’s what Christmas is about–giving and loving and lending a hand to those going through a shitty time in their lives. Damn. How many times have I heard or said those words and meant it? But I hear and mean it even more now. I don’t know how to describe what’s coming over me, guys. This cancer thing is a world-changer.
Today is installation day. I will become Borg. I have an instruction manual now. Resistance is futile.
I wake up at 6 a.m. feeling pretty good. I’m a little bit uncomfortable–it’s an itchiness that isn’t an itchiness under my skin. My legs want to move. I want to roll around in bed, but moving only helps a little. I get tired. I want to lie still. But it’s better than all the other days.
I finally roll out around 6:45 when my alarm goes off. When we get to the hospital, Kevin parks the car and we lug everything in: two blankets, my coat, and my bookbag on wheels (very handy). As he walks in, I feel it. Uh-oh… Diarrhea? On operation day? Thankfully, it’s a one time deal, and we head down to Diagnostic Imaging.
After I fill out the paperwork and a nurse calls my name, she has me change into a gown. When I’m ready, she takes us into the corner of a back hallway. Kevin sits with my stuff like a pack mule, and I lay on a gurney.
A different nurse comes along and starts an IV. They’ll be giving me something to make me calm and something to make me drowsy but not put me out. She says the names, but I forget. Fentinol and ??? Maybe.
Everything is going well, but then I feel something dripping down my hand. Ohnnoohnoohno, blood. She stops it quickly. “Found a good vein!” She cleans me up.
The doctor comes out to talk to me about the procedure. “Do you have a preference for which side?”
“Then we’ll do it on the right. The right’s better.” Funny. My dad had it on the left, and he also said he had no preference, either. Doctors. Can’t live with ’em.
Just kidding, I don’t even know.
The doctor goes on about the glue adhesive they’ve started using; later in chemotherapy, I find out that it’s extremely new, and it’s the first time my nurse has seen it. It’s all very exciting, I guess. I don’t have to go in to have stitches removed because it will dissolve on its own. I had dissolvable stitches for both childbirths and my tooth extraction, so I don’t get the big deal. I’m glad my doctor is in a good mood on a Monday morning, though.
They have me walk into the operating room. It looks like NASA circa 1985, with all the equipment, although I don’t think they use any of it during my procedure. There are three computer monitors that move. The one in the middle has my name in 8-bit font.
The nurses chat with me about my kids and have me lie down on a table that’s too thin for my arms, just like the other scans. They put arm-holder-upper things next to me, L-shaped clear plastic. They attach a blood pressure cuff to my arm, a heart monitor to my finger, and an oxygen mask to my face.
I breathe slowly and evenly. The Zoloft is definitely working because the panic churning in my stomach is muffled. The nurses continue to talk to me. They fuss with my IV and move the table to the right spot. One starts to dress the area, and panic starts to rise. My heart beat beeps faster.
She explains what she’s doing and asks me to turn my head toward the left and keep it there. “This is going to be cold. I’m just putting some iodine on here. It will stain the area pink, but it’ll eventually come off.” She tucks cloth around where the procedure will be done, about 8″ by 8″ above my right breast. “I need to cover your face, but we’ll give you breathing room.”
“I’m right here,” he says. He’s standing right in front of me about a pace out. “You’re doing great. Just be patient, and they’ll give you something to calm you down.”
I breathe evenly again. No deep breathing. I learned that during childbirth. When I was having contractions, I would concentrate on taking regular breaths and count each one. 25-30 for every contraction with Morrigan, 35-40 for every contraction with the twins. (Yeah, fantastic, longer contractions.) That worked while I was in pain, and I still use it for pain now, but counting doesn’t do anything for me if I’m not in pain. So no counting.
The doctor comes in, and a medical student arrives. Fourth year. This is her first procedure like this. “Is it ok if she watches?” I like being able to help out with learning, so I agree. For all I know, he has her do it herself, but that’s fine.
“We’re going to give you some sedation now,” says the nurse. She finds my IV and pushes something in.
The doctor explains things to the medical student. The sedation nurse talks to me some more about the babies. I’m starting to feel floaty and happy. I could get used to this. The doctor interrupts and says, “Are you taking anything to calm you down or for pain management?”
I spent ten minutes putting the details of the eight thousand medications I’m taking on the damn paper, and nobody bothered to read it. *insert rolling eyes emoji* “Yes, I’m taking Zoloft and percocets… Ummm.”
“Anything else to relax?”
“Ativan, but I haven’t had it in a few days.”
“Good to know.”
The nurse pushes more into my IV. I feel even more floaty.
“There you go,” says Herman. “You’re all set.”
If this damn paper wasn’t in my way, maybe I could open my eyes and see him now. I do it anyway. It’s just blue in front of my face.
The doctor gives me two shots of numbing agent. When he starts the first incision, it hurts a little bit, but then it fades. He told me to say something if it hurts, but it isn’t unbearable and I always have the option of screaming. I recall this Scrubs episode where some woman decided to try a major surgical procedure using only hypnotism. It did not turn out well. I attempt not to giggle.
The doctor and med student talk. “Do you see? We have a vein and an artery. Which is which?”
The med student answers with the correct answer and reasoning; it goes over my head. He tells her about a time with he did the procedure and it went really badly because the port collapsed inside and they had to fish it out. Behold! the field in which I grow my fucks. Lay thine eyes upon it, and see that it is barren.
I’m floating. I’m happy. I think about shooting up hard drugs and getting high like this for recreation. I decide that’s probably a bad idea. I wonder if I can get marijuana. I wonder if I can just ask for some and they’ll give it to me, or if I have to justify it. I remember that it’s going to be legal in January in Canada, so they probably would. I decide that I have three small children and getting high around my parents probably isn’t something I feel like doing at the present moment in time.
The procedure is done. They pull the thing off my face. One of the nurses wheels in my gurney, although I’m not sure when or how or how long between when they finished and when she comes back. Kevin is beyond the door and I wave. She has me scoot over onto it and wheels me into the hall.
As we’re waiting for someone to take me to the post-operating room, Kevin comments that I’m giggly. I’m not giggly, I think indignantly. I’m always like this.
I spend an hour having my blood pressure taken and my heart beat monitored. Everything goes well. Katy, the nurse from last week, comes in and says they’re going to move my chemo earlier. I’ll be done at 10, but I’m not scheduled until 11:45. So that’s nice of her.
I get up to the use the bathroom, and the post-OR nurse chastises me for walking around in my socks. My feet aren’t bare, at least! I’d do it, though. I’d walk around barefoot. If any place is going to be clean and sterile, isn’t it a hospital? Yeah, I know, glass or medical crap on the floor, I get it. Next week, I’ll bring slippers.
Chemo flies by. The counselor from last week comes in, and we talk for almost an hour. She tells me I have good self-awareness. I do, I know this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety or whatever. I just need some techniques for managing it, and someone to talk it through. She uses the phrase, “How’s that working out for you?” and when I snicker, she laments Dr. Phil’s usage of the term. We laugh about it.
The big topic of discussion is how I’m happy right now, everything is going well, and I’m waiting and waiting and waiting anxiously for the other shoe to drop. She gives me some breathing techniques, which are good. I’ve never been able to do the ones I’ve read about in meditation books (in for four, out for four or three or five, maybe?). She says in for four through the nose, hold for seven, and then out for eight.
That works perfectly.
Later, when I get home, there’s a care package from my cousin with all sorts of goodies. One of them is “Angel Meditation cards” which have “An Angel of…” on each one. Patience is the first one I pull out. The example on the back is “Purpose.”
My mouth tastes even more salty, almost like a burn. You know when you eat pistachios, and you’ve had too many, and your mouth feels abraded? That’s how my mouth feels.
It’s actually almost all my mucus membranes. My ears itch inside, my vagina feels scratchy, and my anus hurts like I’m getting hemorrhoids. I poke around back there (You know what? If you don’t like it, you can hie your way out of my blog, IS ALL I’M SAYING), and I can’t tell. I think I might be. I have a brainchild, and I use the salt/baking soda/water mixture I use on my mouth back there on my caboose. A&D ointment also seems to help.
My gums where my tooth was extracted are almost healed. The two pieces are growing together and it feels like just a tiny slit now. Within a few days (or less), I think it’ll be closed. It actually feels to be healing very rapidly these past couple weeks, even before I started chemo–more now that I started.
My head has been itchy for a few days. Last night, Mom let me use some new shampoo she got, some tea tree oil that’s supposed to be good for dry scalp. I also put some conditioner on and let it set for several minutes. The itchiness has faded.
I shaved my legs last night because about a week ago, Kevin said, “You gonna get rid of that, or are you waiting it to fall out?” Apparently it wasn’t going to shave itself.
After chemo, my jaw tumor feels a ton better again. It’s getting on toward painkiller time, and I’m not glancing at the clock every minute to decide if I want to take them early. Yesterday, it was uncomfortable, not painful, but a week ago, I was thinking about begging the doctor to take my five of my teeth. Two treatments, and the pain is virtually gone (with 5 percocet and 3 ibuprofen a day, lol).
Slight nausea. I had some peach and ginger tea, and that seems to have settled. I’m getting used to these ginger chews. I stick them in the corner of my mouth and suck on them. They actually work, but once they’re done, the nausea comes back.
I’m bracing myself for the onslaught tomorrow.
*Samual L. Jackson voice*: Fucking bring it, motherfucka.
And now, onto gentle meditations regarding patience and my life’s purpose.
The “Angel Meditations” cards that my cousin sent me have an example on back. It reads:
“The Angel of Purpose: I cooperate joyfully with the purpose of my life. When we have a purpose, our Soul’s work is accomplished in the best way possible through our bodies and personalities. A clear purpose gives no room for doubt because we identify immediately with all that leads us toward our goal. We become aware of all that would turn us away from it. The flow of energies in our lives is immense when a clear purpose is always present. Do you know what is your purpose in life?”
Guys, I’m gonna be real here. Telling you that I know what my purpose is and what I know scares the fucking shit out of me. I’ll tell you about my butt problems all day long, and I won’t get embarrassed. In fact, I have these dreams sometimes where I take off my clothes and fly around naked, and the only thing I think is, “People gonna be scandalized. Maybe I shouldn’t, so I don’t make anyone clutch their pearls.”
But talking about spiritual things? Herman? My life’s purpose that I know very deeply? Like, who am I to actually say that this stuff is real? I am a logical, scientific person. I believe in evidence. So how–HOW–can I believe that I know anything spiritually? That we aren’t just bags of meat, a happy accident due to a collision of all the correct universal constants at the same point in space?
So, deep breath.
I’ve said before that my Fallen Redemption series grew from my own beliefs. In the book, humans work with angels to create Incarnation Plans before reincarnating on Earth, where they determine Choice Points and Incarnation Themes. I first read about those ideas from world-renowned psychic and spiritual teacher Sylvia Browne, but at the time of publishing, I was afraid of getting sued for copyright infringement, so I changed her “Life” to “Incarnation.” I still don’t know if that’s copacetic, but I guess I’ll deal with it if she ever decides to take issue with me. (I’m not that worried about it because I don’t think she invented it. She says herself in her books that she’s taken the idea from Gnosticism, plus this has a lot of Buddhist and other influences.)
The book itself is literal. Humans go into a bright, white Foresight Room to sit with Engineer angels who write all the plans in their Books of Life. Every person chooses a spiritual growth goal, which they call an Incarnation Theme. The Guardian angels sit through these sessions, and when both proceed to Earth, the angels work to keep the person following the best outcomes of their Incarnation Plans. Guarding Angel starts off following angel Enael, who struggles to keep her Ward, Daniel, from cheating on his wife. It’s a possibility in his Incarnation Plan, but it’s not the one that will benefit him the most spiritually. She thinks it should be easy, and she finds out otherwise.
I don’t know that we literally go into the bright, white Foresight Room and sit with angels to plan our lives. Then again, maybe we do; I’m just saying I don’t know. But I believe every person has an Incarnation Theme, an Incarnation Plan, and optimal Choice Points. And usually? Usually? The hardest paths to walk are the “correct” Choice.
I say “correct” because I don’t believe in Hell as a punishment, either. You either learn the lesson that you decided for yourself, or guess what. You don’t. And if you don’t, well, maybe next life, you try again. Or maybe you take a break. This is all up to you, and God (what I call the Source in my book) is a gentle, loving push Who helps you along your way if you want it. Hey, you don’t want it? You want to choose shitty decisions? You, man.
(As a side note: For the sake of simplicity in Fallen Redemption’s world-building, I didn’t include Spirit Guides, who are humans who help us along our journey. And actually, my ruminations of late have led me to conclude that there’s probably no distinction between humans and angels. All beings incarnate. There are no angels whose sole purpose is to hang out on the ephemeral plane and chill. But that’s a philosophical discussion for another time.)
What the hell does this have to do with me?
In the book, I have a type of Incarnation Theme and a type of human called a Catalyst. I describe the Catalyst like this: “Humans with the Incarnation Theme of Catalyst [spark] growth in others.”
And why am I scared shitless? It’s because I… I’m a Catalyst. Why is that scary? Well, fuck, I don’t know, it just is, ok?
Here goes another tangent.
The other day, a friend DMed me on Twitter. It was kind of odd. The message said it was sent around 5:30 a.m., but I didn’t get a notification. I’ve since went in and checked, and my notifications are working, so I think Twitter was just being derp. I didn’t ask her if she sent it at 5:30 a.m., but I think she probably did, which meant she was up early. And I do think there’s something about the early morning that attunes someone spiritually.
Anyway, I noticed I had a message, so I looked. I haven’t been always messaging people back; most of the time, if you want to talk to me, you can send me a DM or a Facebook messenger message and I’ll respond, but if you email, I have a pile I’m planning on getting to one of these downtime days. So it’s not that odd that I saw it and texted her back. But I just had this urge to call her and talk to her on the phone. Again, not that odd because I’ve been feeling less introvert-y lately, and phoning people I know doesn’t give me anxiety (although I still can’t handle phoning strangers for appointments–I think even less so than before).
ANYWAY. I called her. And I’m not going to tell the conversation because the contents are very personal to her, but I will tell you that I was meant to call her and she really needed to hear from me and I didn’t even know why I was calling. But Herman was probably all, “K, time for a phone call,” and because I’m in a place where I’m open spiritually, I could really hear it. But I didn’t even really know it, I just listened and did it. Afterward is when I found out I was supposed to.
I will say (for context; I hope she doesn’t mind) that she’s not well either, and she’s struggling with being open to accepting help, and she said to me, “You’re a really good role model for me.”
Inside, I’m like, NO, I’M NOT A ROLE MODEL. DON’T BE TELLING ME THAT I’M SUPPOSED TO BE SOME SORT OF SPIRITUAL GURU LEADER HERE OR SOME SHIT BECAUSE I DON’T WANT THAT. *pouty face and look away with arms crossed*
And the absolute irony of it is that the advice I was giving her was that all the shit we don’t want to be doing, all the shit that’s the hardest for us, all the lessons we don’t want to learn… are probably the ones that we decided we’re supposed to be learning back in the Foresight Room. And here I am going, “No, I shall NOT embrace my destiny. I shall instead make a brooding face and let my hair blow in the wind as I stare out over a cliff.”
I was about to type something else snarky here, and Herman said I shouldn’t, and I was like, *finger in the air* “FINE,” and I feel half-deranged because I’m talking with my guardian angel. And I honestly, guys, I don’t know what. I don’t. I don’t know what.
What is next? Am I going to go back to before? Can I go back to before? Am I looking my mothafucking mind? It feels a little like that. But if I am, then I lost it on October 27, 2017, when I got this diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. For a bit, I’ve felt normal (if a bit floaty… percocets! *fist bump*), but on that day, my world turned into something that feels like I’m dreaming and it’s never 100% been the same since.
I don’t want this. I don’t want to talk to angels. Because I feel like I am crazy.
I feel extremely exposed writing this, more than my naked dream, because I wanted to open this blog up to the world and here you are, reading it. I knew I was supposed to be saying something that any of the seven billion people on this planet could meander into read, which is why I did it. But even telling you that I was screaming and clutching Morrigan while weeping over dying doesn’t make me feel as exposed as this does.
Why? Why? Why?
I think I’m ending now.
Yes. I’m ending now.
Give some money to the Edmonton Food Bank, please.
Thank you for reading.