Monthly Archives: May 2012

Half full

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I am concerned that I have offended some when I said my original blog was intended for my family. I hope that I am wrong. I want to share and I know others (besides family) want to walk this journey with me. If they want to walk this road along side of me then they must share in the emotions as well. I willingly give my blog address to anyone who wants it. If someone can be blessed by reading the emotional roller coaster this disease can cause then let it go viral. Well, perhaps not viral!  Smiling here. I do believe in that old saying, “Behind each cloud is a silver lining.” I sometimes just fail to look for it. I have always told my children, “Life can make you bitter or better. The only difference is the letter “i.” I, me, myself; I am the only one who can choose to make that difference. I have used that phrase so many times. I jokingly suspect; my children may engrave “Mom chose BETTER” on my head stone. If that should happen I would know my only two real desires in life; being a good wife and mother had been achieved.

I end this work week pooped. I could only muster working part days. Physically I feel exhausted but mentally it was good for me to back at my desk amongst my co-workers. Several gather in the front office to visit with me about my treatment and I feel guilty when I realize how long I visit with them before logging on to my computer. As my co-workers wish me well on the next treatment I share my secret desire; to take a trip to the east coast in September to see the fall colors. Months before my cancer was diagnosed my good friends, Al and Diane gave me an all expense paid trip to tour the east coast in September. All I need to supply is spending money. I’ve never had anyone be so extremely generous and I am more than overwhelmed. Diane is the sister of my dear friend, Kathy. Kathy worked for Lolly and I before her husband was transferred to the Sun Valley area where they currently reside. I absolutely love Diane and Kathy. I always introduce myself at their family functions as a “Geisler wannabe.” The only way I can complete this trip is; every chemo treatment scheduled must stay on track, no deviations.

I visit later in the day with my financial advisor, chat with my accountant and my spirits are buoyed by both.

I come home, change my clothes. Brittle hair clings to my clothing like cheat grass does to socks. I listen to a message from another dear friend, Vicki.  Like many others she too is overly generous. The message was, “I am coming over to bring you something. If you are not up to company, I will hang it on the door.” I smile. She has not listened to my chastising of “No gifts except your friendship!” She brings me several different types of head coverings knowing; at this time I choose not to wear a wig. She dabs the corners of her eyes crying because her big girl panties are too tight and they are just squeezing the tears of out her. Again, she blesses me.

Round two of chemo is tomorrow and I am digging for courage once again. I know both my church families in Parma and Eagle are bathing me in prayer as well as many, many others. It comforts me. My other daughter, Kristy will take me to round two and I will be with Paige after treatment. The exclusive melt down I had earlier fled and I feel blessed. I end the day thinking, “Half empty or half full?” I say out loud, “Definitely, HALF FULL!”

Aside

I awake at 4 a.m. again. Fearing what is left of the hair upon my head, I choose not to lie in bed until 5 a.m. I arise to look in the mirror. My hair was totally flat but otherwise not too bad. I think, “If people did not know me, it would just appear as thin hair.”Truly, I still have more hair on my head than most people. However, I know after this next round of chemo that will no longer be true. The night before I turn off the bedroom light and crawl inside my bed. In the darkness, I did not like the silence. I reach over, hit the snooze button for music to play a short while and lull me into sleep. I only listen to one radio station, KTSY in my car and my home. The station plays contemporary Christian music and keeps my mind focused on what is good. I have listened to this station for many, many years. I have a hard time listening to the lyrics of other types of music. A song called Blessings by Laura Story began to play and I am comforted.

Blessings

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

I think, “Yes what if?”

What if?

My hair

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I work for a half a day. Although my shoulder hurts I try to keep both feet on the floor and my back against the chair. I work straight through from 12-5 and leave feeling very tired but happy I made it through another day. I enter my home; fix dinner and text Candy Silveria to check on my friend, Jack. He had a hip replacement and I wonder how he is doing. I am told, “Sleepy, nauseous but otherwise okay”. I pray again for Jack and Pam then fall asleep on the sofa only to be awakened by the phone. It was my sister inquiring about shaving my head on Friday. Paige had called her to ask if she could shave my head on Friday after chemo. I tell her I cannot plan that far in advance and said I would call Paige and talk to her. I call my daughter to discuss the hair issue and she said, “Whatever you want, Mom. We will work around you. I’ll call Todd and tell him we have a change in plans.” I love her for accommodating me. I know that I cannot put off washing my hair another day so I jump in the shower, close my eyes to begin the delicate process of shampooing my hair. I did not need to open my eyes to know that massive amounts of my precious hair were being sucked down the drain. So much hair clung to my wet fingers that I could not even shake the hairs off. I step out of the shower to towel dry and a large amount my brown hair clings to the white towel. I take a picture of the amount of hair in the bottom of the shower, emailing it to my children with a message, “Plan B, shave my head on Friday after chemo.” I gingerly blow dry the remaining hair crying; realizing my prayer request to have hair until Friday was being honored.

I did it!

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Whew, I did it! I was able to work a portion of the day. My original plan was work from 11-5, working through the lunch hour stopping only for a quick bite to eat. I had just finished eating when a co-worker poked her head in the door saying, “Excuse me for interrupting, Nicki but there are two little people out front who wish to see you.” I told her it was okay. I took longer than I had planned anyway. I walk to the front to be greeted by Hannah and Eddy, children of my friends, Greg and Pam. In her hands Hannah held a vase filled with two highly fragrant roses plucked from their garden. They each tightly hug me and I feel so blessed. Precious is the only word to describe them. I adopted them as my own grandchildren years ago. When Eddy was maybe two or three he mistakenly called me Miss Piggy instead of Miss Nicki. His mother almost died of embarrassment as she corrected him, “Miss NICKI, Eddy not Miss Piggy.” From that moment on that child had my heart. Hannah reminds me of my own daughter when she was young both physically and intellectually. Their father, Greg had rescued me the week before; I had a gopher in my yard!

I did not have any teary meltdowns as I had feared and it felt good to be back to some normalcy. My left shoulder however ached painfully and I only could last until 4 o’clock. I was going to try to tough it out until 5 but Marion and Linda encourage me not to push myself. I realize the ache was caused by my reaching on the right for the computer mouse. Tomorrow I will adjust my keyboard area and see if it helps. I heed their advice and head home. I ponder about a pain pill but instead opt for Two Aleve, a glass of milk with half an oatmeal cookie. The painful shoulder forces me to lie down for an hour and a half.

The prior night around 9 PM a knock sounded at my door. I was video chatting with my oldest grandchildren. I hesitantly answer the door and there stands Travis, my neighbor across the street with a plateful of warm oatmeal cookies. I was impressed with his culinary skills. He had baked for me and my heart was deeply touched.

After resting I fix myself chicken and an ear of corn for dinner. Feeling satiated both physically and emotionally I end the day.

Aside

I awake at my usual time 5:30 A.M. but do not get out of bed until 6. I have resorted to sleeping pills to help me rest. Without rest my body cannot heal so I begrudgingly take a tiny tablet each night to lull me into REM sleep. I have always had difficulty sleeping and was given a prescription for sleep aids after my husband died. I tried that for about 3 days and threw them away. This time however, sleep is not optional but necessary and so I follow the doctor’s orders. My plan was to shower and wash my hair but upon running my hands through my “bed head” of hair and seeing the amount of dark brown hair in my hands and on the counter I decide to go to work with dirty hair. My hair always cooperates better when it is slightly dirty anyway. I debate; do I dare touch my hair with a curling iron, will it break off at the touch of heat? I pray asking God to help me keep my hair until Friday. I am vain. I take the chance. Surprisingly, the iron doesn’t remove too many of my precious hairs. I whisper, “Thank you, God. Please help me keep it until Friday?” I starch it with hairspray so nothing will move. The plan is to shave my head this coming weekend after my second round of chemo. My eyes have dark purplish rings and bags underneath of them. I carefully dot makeup concealer to camouflage and apply the rest of my makeup. I finish and smile broadly satisfied with the way I look.

I am anxious to return to work for several reasons.  I miss the customers and my household is single income. I am the source of it. I worry about the amount of time I have already taken for sick leave and am hoping the next round of chemo won’t be as difficult as the first and I can return to work sooner. I am employed by a large financial institution. We are not a bank however. We are an agriculture lender; loaning to ranchers, dairymen, farmers and country home buyers. We have some of the finest customer base and I unashamedly admit that I am friends with them. I care about their world and they care about mine. The outpouring of love our customers have sent my way since the announcement of my cancer has been extraordinary. My heart is deeply touched and I worry that I will be teary when I greet them. I fatigue easily and do not plan to work a complete day. I check my bag for the noontime pills, juice and food that I need and eagerly head out the door to work.

I awake at my u…

New revelations

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I have had new revelations. Some of what was predicted did not occur like I was told before my first chemo treatment. For instance, the doctor said I would feel icky the first week, better the second week and feel human by the third week. For me week one and week two reversed themselves. I felt horrible the second week not all due to chemo however but bad enough I was ready to ask my sister to take me to the ER. I am predicting round two will go smoother since one issue is being resolved.  The other day my friend Jack called to check on me. It bothers Pam and Jack that I am here by myself. Jack knows how difficult this road has been for his wife Pam and it tugs at his heart that I am alone. She has cancer also. Pam is my “C sista” and my icon of courage, grit and determination. Those two have given me valuable advice; all of which I adhere to. Jack asks how I am doing and laughingly I say, “Like crap but I still have my hair.” He chuckles and replies, “Well that’s good but I wouldn’t count on that if I were you.” Once again he is right on target. Yesterday after using the squeegee on my shower I had to wipe up hair from the bottom of it with a paper towel. It was too much to let go down the pipes. I never realized how often I fiddled with my hair. Each time I touch it several remain it inside my hand. This morning my pillow had threads of dark brown and grey hair all over it. Darn it! I was hoping that I would be like Lolly; one of those who didn’t lose their hair but the inevitable is coming. Even the hairs inside my nose is going! I only hope I have hair until Friday. I am returning to work tomorrow and don’t have any head covering yet.  My head is super sensitive. It feels scalded as though I am sunburned and it is tender to the touch. I am careful not to scrape my scalp when I comb my hair.  At this moment I am opting not to wear a wig. I originally thought I would but too many have shared how hot and uncomfortable they are not to mention expensive and ugly. My friend Gerry came from Donnelly to take me shopping for a wig. It was a day that I was not feeling particularly well and it was emotional and exhausting for me. I tried on dozens of wigs at several different shops and they all looked horrible. We laughed and finally I said, “Gerry, I just cannot do this. They are too shiny, look synthetic and cost a fortune.”  I say smiling; “Besides they make me look like a hooker!” We both laugh heartily and she takes me home.

Emotions

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My blog was intended to keep Lolly’s families and mine up to date on my health issues but it has grown beyond. I do not expect comments after each post and I don’t wish to be placed on any pedestal. I am concerned people are doing just that. I am one in millions who have cancer. People and things placed on pedestals usually fall off. I am only human not super human. Writing has become therapeutic for me. My therapy of choice during my husband’s illness was gardening.  Not all of what I write is published. The unpublished words will be a legacy for my children and grandchildren’s eyes someday.

This has been an emotional week. Although I have always had a tender heart and my eyes prone to mist; it is happening more and more. I said goodbye to my neighbor Don on Friday. Attended my great niece, Rilee’s high school graduation; placed flowers on the graves of my husband, his family and mine on Saturday. I came home and crashed.

Rilee is my sister’s first born grandchild and she has always been mine as well. All of my sister’s grandchildren are like my own.  We have an extremely close relationship. Rilee is absolutely gorgeous with eyes the size of silver dollars and a smile that could be in a tooth paste commercial. It was a big accomplishment for her and I cried at graduation.

Memorial Day weekend is always a time of emotional reflection for me; as it is for my friend, Nancy. It will be 11 years on July 13th that my husband passed away. Even after all of this time, there are days that I genuinely miss him.  You cannot be married to someone for years and not long for them. Yesterday I cleaned the upper portion of the china cabinet and held a silver tray in my hands given to us by his family on our 25th wedding anniversary. Lolly thought it was much to do about nothing. He didn’t quite get the message. I am smiling here. In today’s world, it is a big deal to be married that long. I think back on our wedding day when anything that could go wrong did! The wedding day started out badly but the marriage lasted 31 years. I consider that an accomplishment.

I went to church for the first time in over two months today. I attend a big church in Eagle with great music and the sermons touch my heart. I comment on the music because I do not have a musical gene in my body. I must have step out of line to attend the bathroom when God passed out music genes because my portion was given to my younger brother Johnny. He can thank me for that. Smile again here. I arrive at the church at my usual time only to be shocked for the lack of cars parked in the parking lot. I realize we have probably switched to summer hours. Sure enough my suspicion was confirmed when I enter the building and ask what time services start. I made the same mistake the year before. You would think I would remember. I cannot. I drove to Albertson’s for a few items and then ended up being late. I dislike lateness. Every part of today’s service blessed me.