Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One leg at a time

Getting dressed this morning I realized, as I put my pants on that I had to step into them one leg at a time. I put one leg in my pants and had to pause to regain my balance before I could step into the other pant leg.

I realize that life is like this. Make a move, a decision, a step, then pause to regain my balance in life, in decisions, in feelings, in emotion, in life and then make the other move.

Only after regaining my perspective, the balance in my soul and in my heart, can I make the other move. If I don't stop to take a breath, to look at what I am doing, how it will affect me and my life, I will tumble.

We all need balance in our lives and going too fast, speeding up the process of life will not do it. We will be wobbly, uncertain, confused and make a hasty and wrong choice.

We need time and space to look at our moves, our choices, our actions, evaluate and then go on.

I am doing that right now.

It is a scary prospect, let me tell you. Sometimes I just want to move fast without thinking, go to the next step without evaluation, just on trust alone.
The trust we put, not in ourselves, but in others, people in authority, like doctors, and people that we put in charge, people that we think know better than us, we trust and we trust blindly sometimes.

I am at this point.

"You Have Cancer"

The three most frightening words anybody can hear. It puts you in a tailspin, turns your world upside down. You are faced, head on with your death.

I did what most of you would do when facing this situation, I contacted the best and most well know hospital and doctors I could, I made all my appointments and followed their every suggestion, when I questioned their methods or drugs or therapy or tests I was told, "This is the best we have at this point"
I believed them, I followed the path they set for me diligently, faithfully. They have my best interests at heart.
My feeling have not changed about that, I do think they are doing the best they can in this current "health system" we have but this pause, this break, this time I had to think while the Liver surgeon got back to me turned my mind to maybe an alternative, a different approach, a holistic approach.

I went through the drugs, the chemo twice, the nasty stuff, the radiation, the medicines that made my body sick, I still have side effects to prove it.

I want to "fix" this with less invasive measures than taking out my rectum or carving up my liver.

It is a scary decision. I want to get this right, I wish I had a crystal ball but I don't, I need to make choices based on information and gut feelings. I want to live, to survive and from what I read and hear, I can live with this.

I can't ignore it, won't go away on its on, I have to "do" something and maybe it is time to take that break between pant legs, pause, get my balance before moving on.
Is it the right decision? who knows? certainly the doctors with all their medicines and study still can't promise or guarantee anything. There are no guarantees, just mindful decisions.

So I am at the crossroads, I will give myself a few months for a "Holistic approach", alternative medicine, kinder, gentler to my body and hope for the very very best.

Saturday, September 24, 2011



A word that sings, a melodious sound, GRAZIE, a lilting beautiful word.

A joyful sound, GRAZIE, filled with vowels, in the Italian language you pronounce each vowel. So this word literally sings as you say it.

Grazie, a word you should say every day.

A simple THANK YOU for all your blessings, for all the little things in your life, for everything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste each and everyday. Grazie for all your blessings, Grazie, for all lessons in life, sometimes difficult or sometimes simple.

Grazie, a acknowledgement, a knowing, that we are where are suppose to be, that everything happens for a reason, a knowing that it will all work out, no matter what.
You are loved, you are blessed, you are lucky.

When things are going good in your life it is easy to be thankful. It is when things get hard, when the unexpected happens, the unbelievable occurs, something horrible happens, we lose a loved one, we get sick, we feel helpless, then it is hard to acknowledge all the positive that we still enjoy.

If you make time to be grateful each and every morning for all that you have, all the good in your life, the obvious and the small tiny things that we forget to notice~ sunshine, raindrops, smiles, comfort, friendship, family, support and laughter.

Be thankful, be aware, be grateful~Grazie.

No matter what, we all have things to be thankful for.

Make time in your life to be grateful, make space in your day to say thank you. It will change your perspective, allow you to see the good and know it will all be OK.

GRAZIE, say it daily, whisper it in your mind, feel it in your heart. It will help you through this journey we call life. It will ease the way, heal your soul. It is a magical word.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


OK, I finally received a call late Tuesday night after 6 PM.

My liver surgeon was on the phone all of 3 minutes.

"Your results coincide with the MRI and yes, there is a spot on your liver, right under your rib cage and it is on the surface."

ME~"OK, I want to schedule surgery, do I need an EKG? blood work? when can I have it done? what day do you do it? how long will I be in the hospital? how long will I not feel like myself?"

"You have to call the scheduler, here is her number she will take care of everything." OK

Next day bright and early I call the person who schedules the surgery, the one with the answers, guess what? she is on vacation this week UGH!!!!!!! Her message on the phone said~
"I will be out of the office Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Do not leave a message, call back Monday. 

On hold once again!

My lesson is to breath right through this and cook.
Lots of food around here lately!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just another liver

It is Tuesday morning and my test was last Thursday, despite several phone calls to the office I still have not heard back from my doctor or even just someone in the doctors office.

I am not sure what is going on and several scenarios are going through my head ~ is it good news so he doesn't have to call me right away? is he too busy with sicker patients then me? if I call and get mad will he not be nice to my liver when he does operate? although irrational, this is what is in my mind.

What I can say, is that I was pretty worked up yesterday and all through the weekend, today I am calmer. Why? I haven't a clue other to to say~ maybe I am not a person to him but just another liver!

I am sure he is an excellent surgeon, that is why I went there in the first place, maybe he is just not a people person, can't put himself in my place, or maybe he feels this news isn't relative to me. This test was scheduled to give him a "roadmap" of my liver so he knows where to go when he operates. Maybe the "roadmap" is none of my business, maybe maybe maybe, who knows. Since I haven't talked to him this is all speculation on my part.

So today I am choosing, after another call to the office this morning, to just breath and forget about it, can't be too serious if he hasn't called? right?

I am writing this to get my feeling out, that always helps me and now I will go and cook up a storm, when he calls~ he calls, in the meantime I'll have some good food to eat in just a while!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

There should be a law

This past year and a half have been full of tests, which translates to a waiting game.

It makes me anxious to say the least. Try as I might I am nervous before and after. I keep busy, I breath, I read, I do other things to keep my mind from going back over and over again to what ifs and why, along with could and should and would, running different scenarios in my head like a broken record.

The doctors that schedule these tests know I am getting them, have the results on their desk in record time, promise to call and seldom get back in a timely manner.

If I sound frustrated that is because I am.

I had an ultrasound of the liver scheduled on Thursday morning, first thing at 9AM. We left the house at 7AM, sure to get there in plenty of time, nothing to eat or drink after midnight, God only knows why, it is my liver after all. When we arrived, the first ones there, I was told, Oh no, you could have eaten ~ they made a mistake. OK no coffee for me which was not a good thing.

After waiting at least an hour, I was taken into the room. They did the test,"wait here the doctor will be right in to go over your findings" good, I thought. Half an hour of waiting the girl was back in, "sorry, the doctor was called away, can you come back at 1 o'clock?"~are you kidding me, kill 3 hours? I had a cooking class that night and did not have time to wait around.
"No problem she said, doctor will call you at 1 PM to discuss the results."

1PM came and went and so did all day the next day, still no call, still no results.

I try to stay calm, I try to stay optimistic but I do think there should be a rule, a law, a common courtesy~ people who get tests and waiting for results are on edge, it consumes you, you have a hard time thinking of anything else. A whole weekend will go by with me being crabby, grumpy, teary, and short tempered and not sleeping particularly well. Not the way I want to feel.

There should be a law! Doctors, try to put yourself in our place, to you it is routine, to us it is our lives.

Sorry ~had to get that off my chest!!!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


When you hear the word clutter you immediately think of piles of stuff stashed in corners, on chairs and exercise equipment and in closets. Stuff hidden away, no longer in use but hard to give up.

The thought of "you may need it someday" is ever present.

As this past week brought rains and cooler temperatures I decided to declutter my house.

I started one room, one pile at a time.
I went through closets and drawers. I thinned out my clothes, my dishes, my old pots and pans, I cleaned out my fridge and kitchen cabinets.
I hauled trash bags up from the basement and down from the attic.
I organized and took stock, realizing that I have a lot more stuff than I could ever imagine.

Along the way, while my hands and body were busy my mind was a busy cluttered place too.

I had one of those "off" days yesterday when everyone I met was in my way. I was annoyed by the slightest little things, a car pulling in front of me, an elderly lady driving a car that could not back up, a phone call that made no sense, I was inpatient and grumpy. I was short tempered and mad. At everyone including myself.

All sorts of thoughts have been creeping in my mind and this morning as I sat in the quiet darkness I realized that I needed to declutter my mind, my head, my thoughts.

I needed to get rid of the words that float through my consciousness that do not serve me.
The messages I send myself that do me no good.
It was time to clean out the closet of my heart, mind and soul.

This is tougher than it sounds. When you do a physical cleanup, you take out the trash, put it by the curb and it disappears. Your mind has a tendency to let bad and unsettling thoughts back in! I want to put them in a trash bag and take them to the curb with my unwanted stuff!

Even with the best intentions an off day can be just that. Each and every circumstance I was in yesterday brought me turmoil. I was aware of it and tried my best to turn it around, to think of something good, something useful. At the end of the day I realized that although I fended off most of the bad feelings~ I was still not myself and everybody had better watch out! what did I do? I went to bed at 8:30 hoping that when I woke up I would be back to my old cheery self.
It worked, sort of.

I woke up to a new day, a fresh start but I still needed to declutter my mind, get rid of those thoughts that were bringing me down.
I sat in silence, concentrating on my breathing and nothing else. If my mind wandered I listened to the sounds of the trees, the patter of the rain drops, trying to empty my mind, clear my head and feel good again.

We all have these days, the times when nothing seems right, when everything bothers you, when you feel down and gloomy.

It is OK because as we know, not everyday will be perfect.

Realizing this is half the battle. Give yourself some time each day to take out your mental garbage.

Lighten your load, take a deep breath and let all the bad out with the air!
Change your thoughts~one corner of your mind at a time. You will feel lighter, happier and soon you will be smiling, I hope!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What I know for sure!~ maybe!

I can wish it away, I can meditate it away, I can ignore it, but it always sneaks into my consciousness. Stress, that dramatic, nagging, good for nothing feeling of stress.

Two weeks worth of doctors visits and tests and more tests. Waking up at 3 AM, eyes wide open, heart beating fast, wondering what the heck is going on. Breathing my way to a peaceful place each and every chance I get.

Friday was my last follow up. I can now let out a sigh of relief.

A visit with the colon surgeon was everything I expected and more. (Remind me to pick a colon surgeon with small hands next time! he has hands like a catcher's mitt!) He did manage to sit and talk to me before and after his extensive exam, but the man wants to cut. He actually said "I am a surgeon, that is what I do."
As he was looking feeling and probing, he kept saying "Susan, you are a problem"

My problem being that there was nothing there, nothing to see, nothing to feel and let me tell you, it was not from NOT TRYING! He was on a treasure hunt! (sorry~ humor helps me!)

When all was said and done and I was upright again, he said "I can take out your rectum" WHAT!!!???

First time I heard that, before it was just a piece of my colon, now he wants the whole sha-bang! For the life of me I can't understand why he would want to do that and I asked him point blank." I want to be aggressive, you are young, you are healthy and you responded wonderful to chemo, this would be an aggressive approach."
When asked if it were his wife instead of me, he said he would do the same thing but "boy would she be mad if the pathology report can back negative."

I'd bet she would be! So would I!!!!

I was so flustered when I left I forgot to ask him if he would replace my rectum with a new model, or don't I need one or what!?!!?

My other option would be just to keep an eye out, meaning coming back for tests every 3 to 4 months, which is what I have to do anyway for the rest of my life. He doesn't suggest a biopsy to confirm if there is Cancer there, he wouldn't know what to biopsy because he can't see anything there anymore.

My next visit was to the liver surgeon. He was a little more direct in outlining my choices and there was no exam so I wasn't so stressed.

Once again, he gave me choices. Let both liver & colon be and just keep an eye out, go in a take out the spots on the liver or have the major operation with both surgeons there at the same time to take their turn. He defended taking out my rectum, stating that it is the most direct and aggressive approach I can take. Although he agreed that it is major surgery with risks involved and a colostomy, which may or may not be reversible. (What fun!)
He told me to enjoy my holiday weekend. Yea, bring on the vodka and cranberry!

If I decide to take care of the spot on my liver I need to get an ultrasound to give him a map of my liver, this will determine how he goes in, whether lapriscopically or with a larger incision.

Although, they both suggested I take my time in making my decision, before I left the office I knew what I wanted to do. I go with my gut (is that a pun or what?)

I feel great, I feel like myself, I have my energy, my ambition, my enthusiasm for life is in full swing. I feel too good to be sick.
So I am going with just the liver, door number one please.
In two weeks I will go for the ultrasound of the liver, my operation will be minor instead of major. I will be back on my feet in days not months. I feel at peace with my choice.

I am living my life one moment at a time. One glorious day at a time. Enjoying every second, every task, every smile. I savor and relish my home, my friendships, my family, my cooking, my work. I love my life. I am optimistic always, this is a good thing!

Thank you for all the wishes and thoughts and prayers.You are on this journey with me and I am so happy I am not alone.