Explaining cancer to a three-year-old is, well, not easy. Maxton knows Grandma is sick and that her chest hurts right now. Early last night, Mom made the mistake of telling him she’d show him her drainage bag (hand grenade, as she would call it). I can’t remember why she said she’d show him–it might have been to explain to him why he couldn’t roughhouse around her.
Later, as we were sitting on the back porch, he came up to me and said, “I have to ask Grandma something.” I told him to go ahead. He climbed up behind her and said, “Grandma, what about the bag?” For a while we couldn’t figure out what he was talking about–we were celebrating Carter’s birthday, and he was a little bummed that his brother got a lot of presents–maybe that was it.
Maxton was getting frustrated because we didn’t know what he meant. Finally, he lifted up his shirt and said, “Grandma, you know the bag? You said you’d show me.” We laughed, and Mom showed him the bag. “I want one,” was his response. We smiled and told him he didn’t really want one, but my mom, being the giving Grandma that she is, promised to make him a bag of his own.
I just hope that my son doesn’t want to walk around all summer with a “bag” under his shirt so he can be like Grandma.
Thank you, Grandma for being so giving. If you can’t muster up the energy to make him a “bag”, I promise I will forgive you 😉
Laughter, the best medicine
I have been waiting for a certain group of neighborhood ladies to come visit me. They all live in the east end of the cul-de-sac and my home sits on the corner. We don’t visit each other every week however we do get together several times throughout the year to do something fun as a group. I am the baby of this special group of ladies. We are all in our 60’s and do not like the term, “elderly” for obvious reasons. Yet I am looking forward to being called elderly when I enter my 80’s. That will mean I have beaten this cancer. They brought delicious raspberry/white chocolate scones, cinnamon rolls, hot coffee with flavored creamer and half and half. Yummy! The plan was to sit outside in my newly finished courtyard and have our coffee and treats. The weather did not co-operate and we sat instead at the dining room table with sunshine pouring through the east window. These ladies understand that I do not want to talk about my cancer all of the time and they know how to make me laugh. I never remember to bring a camera as that was my husband‘s job but Carole always has hers handy. She wanted to take a picture of Doris, Judy and I. I jokingly ask “Carole does my chest look too flat? Do I need to re-arrange my shirt?” My dear friend, Judy reaches for her napkin, wads it up handing it to me saying, “Here put this inside of your shirt.” We laugh uproariously as I wad up my own napkin to insert and make a matching pair of “things”. Carole snaps the picture. Laughter is such good medicine and these ladies make me laugh. Cancer is a serious thing and some would not appreciate my sense of humor but I have always laughed and smiled. Cancer may have taken my breasts but I will not allow it to take away my laughter. I know my nephew will be laughing with me as he reads this post.
Today’s blessing: Life, Laughter and Good Friends
My neighbor, Carole picked me up and drove me to my follow-up appointment with the surgeon yesterday. Todd and Kristy met me there. The wounds look good and Dr. Getz is pleased with my progress. He looks a little puzzled when I ask, “When can I get off the pain pills?” He answers,”Probably another 2-3 weeks.” Now I am the one with the puzzled look. The orders were; take 2 pain pills every 6 hours but I take 1 pill every 4 hours instead. I did seek the doctor’s approval first. This week I tried to stretch the pain medicine to every five hours. The doctor asked how that went for me. I laugh saying, “Not so good. “ He reminds me that my chest was laid open, both breasts and a cluster of lymph nodes removed. In other words, I had major, major surgery. I explain that I have never had anything done like this and I don’t know what is normal. I am normal. The drain tube that now hangs at my waist accompanied me home from the doctor’s office. I was really hoping to lose my “constant companion” but that did not happen. The tissue on my right side is absorbing all of the fluid that once drained into hand grenade #1 and #2. Therefore, there is swelling on the right side of my body. It is uncomfortable. There is a large pocket of fluid under my left arm and thus the reason for not removing grenade #3.
I awoke at 5:30 A.M. this morning, turned on my music, opened up the windows and sat down to read my devotional. I believe this book was written just for me (I have said that before so insert smiley face here). Here is what I read today:
“Welcome problems as perspective-lifters. My children tend to sleepwalk through their days until they bump into an obstacle that stymies them. If you encounter a problem with no immediate solution, your response to that situation will take you either up or down. You can lash out at the difficulty, resenting it and feeling sorry for yourself. This will take you down into a pit of self-pity. Alternatively, the problem can be a ladder, enabling you to climb up and see your life from My perspective. Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you is only a light and momentary trouble. Once your perspective has been heightened, you can look away from the problem altogether. Turn toward Me, and see the Light of My Presence shining upon you.”
What more can I say?
April 24, 2012
I went for a walk today with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. The physical therapist said I was doing so well she would discontinue her home visits. Yeah!!!! Perhaps I was a bit harsh when I called her, the “physical terrorist”. Now that she is not coming back, I like her. (Insert smiley face here) I asked if I got an “A” on my report card, she just smiled. I said;”OK, how about a B+?” I have been faithful to the exercise routines even though they hurt. I may have lost my “things” as Lance calls my breasts but I do not want to lose the mobility on my left side. I will make every effort to keep the exercises up. It will be harder to do them when I return to work but I will remind myself to take a break, lock myself in a room and complete the afternoon set. I don’t want adhesions or the loss of range of motion. I am right handed but I am now forcing myself to open cupboard doors with my left hand instead. It stretches and strengthens that side of my body. I discovered I could not reach the bottom of the washing machine to retrieve the clothes. My friend bought me a gripper arm. One more problem solved.
I don’t cry over the loss of my “things” but my eyes well with tears when I think of all of the love my family has been shown this past month. We cannot believe the outpouring of compassion, the thoughtful gifts, and the offers of help and prayers that have been sent our way. I am not certain what we ever did to deserve all of this but my heart is overwhelmed and this is what makes me cry. Trust me when I say “I Will Pay This Forward!”
I have made progress this week. Two of the three drain tubes have been removed. Only one lone “hand grenade” remains. I will feel like a free woman; unencumbered when bag #3 leaves my side. I am anxious for the last one to go. My left angel wing has not progressed as well as I had hoped and the “physical terrorist” comes next Tuesday.
My sister has also left my side. It was time for Glenda to return to her own home. I was given the very best of care while she was here. I worked her hard. She set her alarm for my 2 A.M. pill regiment; then would bring me a ½ glass of milk and ½ a banana to take with the pill. I am not afraid to ask my sister to pull a weed, vacuum or dust. Nor am I afraid to let her know if she doesn’t do it the way I DO. I smile because both of us have certain ways of doing certain things. We know, of course, when to push and when to let them slide; when to talk and when to just sit together in silence. After all; we are sisters and best friends. I will miss my good cook. Food always tastes better when shared with another and I have always loved eating with my sister. Perhaps I should rephrase that; I have always loved EATING with anyone.
I was able to see all four of my grandsons this weekend. Maxton and Carter are my little live pistols. Carter gave me his “gentle hug and kiss” then proceeded to tell me “Up, up, Boppa”. Boppa is what Carter calls me and it tugs at my heartstrings that I could not lift him as he requested. Maxton says, “Grandma, you feel icky and go auck, auck?” He sticks out his tongue and pretends he is throwing up while saying, “Auck, auck”. I laugh and say, “No, Grandma’s tummy didn’t hurt, her chest did and she had to have surgery; that is why you have to give me gentle hugs and kisses.” He looks at me and replies, “My leg hurts, I need sug-ree too.” I laugh and it feels good. My older grandchildren come later in the afternoon and are glued to my side. I choose the leather chair because it is firmer and more comfortable when I sit. Lance sits on the edge of the chair beside me and Ethan perches on the arm of it. Normally, I do not allow the boys to sit on the arms of the chairs as it weakens them but today Grandma holds her tongue as I rub each of their backs and talk about their week. Ethan and Lance really miss spending the night with me. I am a firm grandma and sometimes I even make them do work for me. However, we also have fun when they stay overnight as well. They love me to tell them stories when I tuck them into bed at night. Some of the stories I make up and some are of naughty things that I did as a child. I always add a moral to those stories. They love hearing my childhood stories the most. Lance starts talking about the next time they come and what project he wants us to do. This blog and my little boys are some of the best medicine I have.
Two of my friends from Baker City, Oregon come to visit me also. I think Nancy needed to see me to make sure I was not lying through my teeth on this blog. She believes I am doing okay now. I am ready for visitors. However, I need to remember to pace myself and to take my nap. For two days I did not get enough rest and I suffered for it. It is difficult for me to be this pampered but I am trying hard to listen to the body when it speaks. However, I DO wear hearing aids in both ears and I don’t always hear well. Is this what they refer to when they speak of selective hearing?
Today’s blessings: CD music from 4 different friends that soothes my soul, the sunshine and my yard. It is in full glory this week. Spring has sprung.
Two of my dear friends, Pam and Jack came yesterday and brought Chinese takeout. Pam and I are dealing with similar issues; cancer. We enjoyed lunch and visiting then Pam and I both started to fade a little. It was time for us to rest. It has been a month since I had last seen her at the hospital. It was good for each of our hearts to physically SEE each other. I love her and Jackie so much and they love me back. They are more of my childhood friends.
My friend, Gerry came from Donnelly to spend the night with me. Talk about two peas in a pod; Gerry and my sister, Glenda. They both love me so much that they just want to do everything for me. I dropped the tennis ball that I use to squeeze and strengthen my muscles. Gerry immediately jumps up to retrieve it for me. I gently caution her; “Gerry, let me do the things that I can for myself. Please don’t baby me. I live alone and someone will not always be here to wait on me. Besides they want me to use my arms.” I smile; she tears up. Gerry is my tenderhearted, bawl baby friend! She and I have shed many a tears together since our childhood years and I love her like a sister. We talk late into the night and she worries that I am up too late. I have to keep assuring her; I am fine.
I wake at 5:30 A.M. and fix myself something to eat in order to stay on schedule with the medication. Around 6:30 A.M. Gerry peeks her head through my bedroom door and smiles. I am sitting up in bed reading emails. I pat the other side of my bed and invite her to join me. She crawls in beside me smiling just like when we were teenagers. I ask her to read aloud our devotional. She reads the same two devotionals that I do. She reads the first two sentences “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Hear Me saying ; Peace, be still to your restless heart. No matter what happens, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Remember, this is God speaking to me. She starts to cry and says, “I think I need a tissue.” I roll out of bed and jokingly say to my dear friend, “Oh, you just stay in bed, honey. Let me get that tissue for you.” We laugh like school girls as I get a box of tissues and settle back into my bed beside her. She continues to read and we are both blessed.
My blessing for today; my many friends who love me and are not afraid to cry even when I tell them not to.
I was given a set of exercises to do 3-4 times each day when I left the hospital. Some are easy; like sitting in a chair and stretching your neck from a forward position to laying your head on your shoulder. Easy, peasy; I like that one. Then I have to pull back my shoulders and squeeze the shoulder blades together. I like that one too. I thought the exercises I have to do lying on my bed would be easy also. They sure looked simple on the sheet of paper. Wrong, oh so wrong! I never imagined lifting my arms above my head would be so difficult. I deep breathe with these exercises but the one that hurts the most is making angel wings; angel wings of all things. This angel can make a good wing on her right side; all the way from my side to above my head but the left wing is not so good. I fail to complete the whole arch on that side and tears smart at my eyes. I am told to only reach until I feel a gentle stretch but the arch is far from complete on the left. This angel now has one broken wing. However, she will fly again.