Having My Head Examined – Part 1

So, you know that 10-day trailer holiday we just had? … well, I came home to a way too long list of friends who were at the very dire end of cancer diagnoses. This, as you might’ve guessed was firmly in the ‘not fun’ category of ‘things to learn immediately after one returns home from holidays’.

However, this sort of thing gets one to contemplating Mortality and the Universe, and Everything … especially when one has a CT scan scheduled a mere ten days later.

Migraines and vertigo do not friendly bedfellows make, and my GP and I, (said in a very proper British accent) … my GP and I, had decided that an elimination process was in order, so off to hospital I headed last Saturday (10th) for a CT scan of my noggin.

I’d like to think the inside of my brain looks something like this …

An Owl-ish laser-like focus

An Owl-ish laser-like focus

… but it probably looks like this …

Demented flea, on speed

Demented flea, on speed

… back to my story …

The last time I had a scan of a part of my body, a mere ultrasound of my shoulder, I ended up discovering I had cancer. (in my case, thanks to that non-related shoulder scan, my cancer was caught early, surgically removed, and with a hefty dose of radiation, never-no-more was see  again)

That series of fortuitous events, combined with my friend’s recent dire news got me to wondering … in just a little hyperactive (and somewhat hypochondriac-al) part of my mind … what else, completely unrelated to those migraine/vertigo bedfellows, my CT scan might reveal.

After restraining the urge to roll my eyes, I tried to calm that wee bit of my psyche down by telling it that all the scan will show is what’s already there, or not there, as the case may be … which didn’t help … so we overindulged in Mrs Widds absolutely most fabulous pumpkin pie … which did.

So, my friends, in these times of momentous (some good, some not-so-good, and some terrible) changes, when all else fails to soothe the savage psyche, eat pumpkin pie.

-oOo-

If there was something serious I would’ve heard from my GP by now so I’m not too concerned.

-oOo-

As always the images I use are my own, or are clipart, are otherwise attributed, or are artist unknown. These ones are ‘artist unknown’.

A Perfect Ten – 2013

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

Today we land precisely on the 27th of September 2013, wherein I bemoan my fate at losing the threads of a story I began the previous year which suffered from cancerous interruptous.

I had thyroid cancer. In July of 2013 I had surgery to remove my entire thyroid. (and thereafter had radiation therapy to destroy the rest of those nasty little immortal cells – they can be killed, they just refuse to die on their own – who escaped the scalpel)

So, by the end of September I was starting to feel like I could pick up the threads of my life again.

But, after such a momentous interlude the pieces of my life were scattered hither, thither and yon. (the irony of currently searching hither, thither, and you, for bits and pieces of my dreams and plans here in 2020 is not lost on me either)

Back then, it was a bit of an excruciating joust between my brain, exhaustion, my computer, and the very sparse notes I’d made prior to my interlude.

Today, I’m jousting with drills and wood-stain, and hammers and foam underlay, screws and staple-guns, as I work on finishing up the renovations to our travel trailer that we started … hmm … probably they had their genesis after our 2015 cross-Canada trip.

Storage and ventilation and paneling, oh my!

Storage and ventilation and paneling, oh my!

We’re planning on having a bit of a holiday (more like a Retreat for me, really) at a campground not far away from here, in the very, very near future – hence my jousting to get everything, if not finished, then at least travel-worthy and livable.

I’m looking at it as a trial run for next year, when we really get going with our plans.

Covid-19 may have cost us a year, (which at our age feels a whole lot more important than it might’ve when we were in the first few decades of our lives) but I’ll be damned if it costs us more than that.

The world, most of the world, has a handle on how to live with this virus now, (we certainly do) and within this new paradigm, barring the Unforeseen, we’ll be able to move ahead with a new-and-improved version of our Dream.

Dream Machine

Dream Machine

Slippers, Wheezing, and Solar Powered Cats

Not being able to get enough air into our lungs taps into the worst primal fears us ‘oomins have.

My cancer treatments from 2013, whilst saving my life, also screwed up my immune system. I admit I’d rather have the flu/bronchitis/flu again/head cold, than be dead, (although at the time it didn’t feel like it) however, a compromised immune system is not to be sneezed at. (I can’t believe I wrote that without even realising the pun until I was editing) One of my tasks this year is to build my immune system up so that come the next Dreaded Lurgy Season I’ll sail through with nary a snuffle, sneeze, or wheeze.

*** ***

So, I’m officially almost-healthy, and back at my desk doing more than obits and comments on my favourite blogs.

Without further ado:

… welcome to the people who have started following my blog recently. Pleased to meet’cha! 😀

… I cleared the dross off my desk yesterday and found, wonder of wonders, my writing schedule … a strange desiccated creature I’m hoping to rehydrate with the sweat of my brow. Stay tuned for updates.

… I also came across the pics I took of a project that saved my sanity during my tribulations. Herewith be the Slipper Chronicles:

A ball of wool, a crochet hook, and a PLAN

A ball of wool, a crochet hook, and a PLAN

More wool and an amended plan, same crochet hook

More wool and an amended plan, same crochet hook

Bits and scissors

Bits and scissors

 

A VERY BIG needle - and believe me it hurts when you jam it into your finger

A VERY BIG needle – and believe me it hurts when you jam it into your finger

A perfect fit!

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Because tomorrow is the first day of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s STILL raining on Widder Island, in the middle of Widder Lake, in the middle of Widder Rainforest, I thought it would be nice to watch some cats … in the sun.

I am not Just a Cancer Survivor

I am a cancer destroyer.

I am a cancer obliterator.

I am the Cancer-nator!!!

I am Cancer-free!

Another Day, Another Scan …

… and another polite euphemism.

This one is ‘a shadow’ … where no shadows ought to be.

It could be something.

It could be nothing at all.

I have wrestled since coming home,

To find an emotion that rings true.

Then I watched this video.

It makes sense now.

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“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language”Lucille Clifton, 1936-1010, writer, educator, poet.

Isolation

The last phase of my cancer treatment is over. Everything is looking good, but I’m not really going to celebrate until I see the results of the final scan, which won’t be until 4th December – talk about your hurry-up-and-wait!

It’s been a very interesting and intense week-and-a-half for all three of us here on Widder Island. First came daily visits to the hospital for shots and tests to prepare my body for ‘the deed’, then the ‘deed’ itself, wherein I voluntarily ingest poison.

Segue: When I was growing up and as a young adult, the world shivered on the brink of nuclear annihilation. It’s a daunting thought even now to remember that many of us didn’t think we would live through those times. That U.S. and U.S.S.R’s pissing contest prompted my younger self to learn about nuclear radiation and what, if anything, she could do about it. Turned out, not a lot, but she did gain a very vivid understanding of the effects of radiation on the human body.

Fast forward to last Friday: I’m looking at this plastic cup encased in layers of lead sheeting with a huge white pill in it. This is my radiated iodine. This is what will kill any last remaining cancerous thyroid cells in my body. The irony does not escape me.

Nor did the fact that the technician who delivered this contraption backed off almost to the other side of the room once he’d put it in front of me. A slight exaggeration, the room was small. I felt like saying, “Yeah, this stuff is poisonous to healthy people, what do you think it’s gonna do to me!” But I didn’t. I swallowed my horse pill and got out of there too.

Then we came home to our separated life. Separate bathroom, separate bedroom, separate food. Separated from any contact by a 1 meter buffer zone between me and all that I am used to touching. We knew it would be an inconvenience, possibly a logistical conundrum, and Widdercat would certainly not approve.

But it turned out to be more than that. It challenged how we, I, lived.

Try this for a moment. Everything you touch or come near will be poisoned by your presence. You must pay attention to how far away you are from your family, and it is your responsibility to keep that distance. Flip a light switch. Turn on a tap. Open the door to go outside. Do you do these things, knowing your touch is poisonous, or ask someone to do them for you? Or don’t do them at all? – also a choice.

By late Saturday my tongue felt like it’d been scorched, and my throat, in the empty place where my thyroid gland used to reside, felt swollen and sore to touch.

My stomach wasn’t too happy either. In fact my entire digestive system … well, you can imagine the rest of that sentence. I was surrounded by my life, but almost completely isolated from it.

Thankfully I could use my computer (the radioactive isotope used has a very short half life) so long as no-one else (of any species) used it, but I had the attention span of a gnat on speed, so I read a lot (my TBR pile is significantly smaller) and slept in three-hour bursts.

Now I’m trying to get my brain out of neutral and engage the think gears. I have high hopes that tomorrow I’ll be able to NaNo my allotted span of words. With what I’ve already written I’ll need to hit 2500+ words per day to make the finish line on time.

And Widdercat? … She didn’t come near me. It was only last night (Wednesday) that she approached me for cuddles. Try and tell me she didn’t know what was what!

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“There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses it’s wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention” Chris Baty, accidental founder of NaNoWriMo

Coming Back To Zero – The Convoluted Path to Starting a Project

I actually woke up with some energy this morning. I was so shocked I had to lay down and rest for half an hour!

A while ago I decided to use this years NaNoWriMo to kick my brain/Muse/typing skillz, back into high gear, then, last week I get news that my radiation therapy is scheduled for the first week of … you guessed it … November!

I won’t be able to go anywhere near short people, pregnant people and four-legged people for about two weeks, or touch anything that isn’t disposable or washable. I don’t think my keyboard is included in either of those categories, but pen and paper might.

This reduces my NaNo time down to two weeks-ish and a daily word count of 3500.

So, all this is a convoluted reference to the topic at hand. The things we have to clear out of the way just to get to the starting line, which I call, getting back to zero.

Sometimes it’s something as simple as wanting to go for a walk in this chilly Autumn afternoon. first I have to stick my nose out of my Hobbit House in order to determine how many layers to put on, find my shoes, keys, notepad and pen in case I get an ‘idea.’ etc, etc, just to get back to zero – walking out the door.

The same with writing. Because of the reduced time-frame I need to really get my outline nice and tight, check out all the shinies on the NaNo website – I’m ‘Widder’ if you’re playing there this year – then get through the fun time that is my radiation treatment (it’s called an ‘ablation’ for reasons that are unfathomable).

Yep, November’s looking like a walk in the park, once I get back to zero.

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“Two fundamental literary qualities: supernaturalism and irony”Charles Baudelaire,   1821 – 1867, poet, essayist, art critic, and translator of Edgar Allen Poe into French

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P.S. Does anyone else think of Robin Williams as Mork fromMork and Mindy whenever they say ‘NaNo’ out loud?

200

Autumn Equinox is almost upon us, and here in North America we will ‘officially’ change seasons. Out with Summer and in with Fall.

I, for one, will not be sad to see the last of these summer days. Apart from the year I spent recovering from my motorbike accident waaaay back in 1983, this summer has been the hardest, physically, I’ve ever had.

I’m thankful for our portable air conditioner, a family doctor with a sense of humour that matches mine, technological advances in the treatment of all sorts of ailments, the wisdom of hegdewives and their herbs, and the infinite patience and love of Mrs Widds and Widdercat. (both of whom knew when to hug and when to bug off)

Thanks also, to you who take the time to read my words here, for your kind thoughts, comments and emails. Never doubt the strength of a kind word.

 I know my posts have been a bit thin on the ground this last while, but there’s a wind blowing down from the North bringing with it a renewal of my energies. I’m looking forward to posting regularly again … and …

… this is my 200th post!

An excellent reason to aim for another 200.

Party Hats

 

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“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone”Gertrude Stein

 

 

Healing Woes

It’s been a busy time, this healing.

Have you ever had a major illness/accident, and it’s taken up all your energies, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, to overcome?

Then, when you’re at your lowest ebb, you catch a cold, or a paper cut gets infected, or you stub your little toe.

Or you suddenly experience menstrual cramps that you’d forgotten how bad they could be because you haven’t had a period for eighteen months and have no tampons or pads in the house because you never wanted to see one ever again … and it’s the middle of the night and you live on an island in the middle of nowhere … and your voice squeaks through at least three octaves because the swelling from your thyroid cancer surgery is still pressing on your vocal cords … and sneezing hurts … and the hottest of summer days have finally arrived and you hate the heat you came to Canada for the snow for goodness sake … and the family at the end of your road are having a family reunion and there are parties down by the lake and BBQ’s everywhere … and you have no appetite because you now have a bladder infection … and your cat bit you for no reason except that she’s very old and crabby …

July 2013 is a month that I am truly glad to see the rear end of as it heads out across the lake and disappears over the horizon, never to be heard of again.

Bring on August!

Short Update

My first post-surgery biopsy results are in and it looks like I dodged a bullet … just. The cancer cells were merely using my thyroid as a staging area. An invasion of my lymphatic system was immanent – which has now been terminated with extreme prejudice. One or two cells may have escaped into the hills, but rest assured we will flush the little buggers out and nuke ‘em.

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‘For me, writing a novel is like solving a puzzle. But I don’t intend my novels as puzzles. I intend them as invitations to dance’ Mohsin Hamid, writer.