Saturday, October 31, 2015

This year, it's easy to feel sick. But I don't have to stay there.

I'm having a day that's been all over the place.  Sometimes just fine, but other times I've felt like I was driven over by a big truck.  Today I threw up twice--seems that when I eat today, my body rejects it.  And it's Halloween--and that always means I get to eat loads of chocolate.  Instead of looking forward to the candy, I've slept for most of the afternoon.  It's not a flu, it's just what happens sometimes when my body is processing things in its own mysterious way.

And that processing can suck.  Like, What the hell are you doing?  It's Halloween!  My friends should be out together taking our kids trick or treating, so that I can get eat some of what they catch.

It's easy for me to go into a sad, frightened space.  If I let myself spin, I start wondering if I'll have this Halloween experience ever again.  Is it over?  Will I be feel so dizzy that I can't participate this holiday?

It was the perfect time for Maria, a wonderful former student of mine, to send this article:

"5 Simple Ways to Fall in Love with Life during Illness."

Sometimes the "Leverage" folks come home after a big day, and
they'd like a little chocolate.  Even if it makes them vomit.
 Caryn O'Hara--like me--has had meaningful connections with Maria back when she was at CofC.  And we both have cancer.  I'm reading this, and I'm feeling a bit inspired.  I might not be up enough to be an active person for Halloween, but I could go to Netflix and watch more Leverage.

And if I have a big empty bowl in front of me, can I eat a few chocolates and be prepared?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

And there are other ways that sickness can emerge.

It's easy for me to think about myself, the chemo, the effects on my body and availability of communication, my nausea, my exhaustion.  Every two weeks I have this experience that is tricky because of how it operates--makes me ridiculously exhausted as well as needing to be filled up with various kinds of anti-nausea drugs.  After the chemo day, I have at least two days when I'm wiped out and unable to drag myself into coherence.

She's trying to be happy in the picture
with Christy.  But damn, this is NOT
Maybelle with a happy expression.
But five days before my chemo experience was in gear, we had to take Maybelle to the MUSC children's ER.  She had developed the step beyond pneumonia.  I could look up the name of this sickness, but I don't really care:  it means that her breathing wasn't working.  She couldn't breathe enough to fill her body.  At one point she required 70 percent of her oxygen provided--typically, the human body has 20 percent.

Maybelle stayed in the children's hospitals for six days.  Initially they'd her in the basic children's situation, but in the second day they moved her up to the next-to-last most important section of the children's hospital.  At that point she was connected to wires, and her machine observed her oxygen all the time, putting oxygen and liquid into her.  She screamed and cried.  She was uncomfortable and couldn't be made comfortable.

We had a powerful group who was carrying this challenging, difficult time for Maybelle.  I'm now going to offer gratitude for some of the work people have done with Maybelle.  If you'd rather not read this, then now's the time to quit reading. For those of you who care to go on:  Maybelle had loads of family vibes sending to her.  But even more helpful was the fact that Maybelle was surrounded by people who were right there with her.  Brian was crucial to me.  Walter and Karen were there.  Claire, Cindi and Lily, Conseula.  Amanda, Anthony, Chantelle.  Maybelle's principal and one of her teachers.  And of course Christy and Patricia, who were there for this process, getting food, taking care of Maybelle in and out of of the hospital.
I was reeling from chemo.  Maybelle was
reeling from having been a week in the
hospital.  And here we were--finally.
 The amount they did as they process was 1) a recovering child, 2) with a mother who wasn't fully functional, 3) when a partner was working 14 hours a day for a (terribly timed) particular professional week.

Rough, people.  

Maybelle is home, and she's so happy that we're trying to keep her energy level low so that she can go to Nativity School on Monday.  My body has been under a lot of stress for the last eight days, so I'm not at 100%, but it doesn't matter.  Maybelle is here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My mom and I are similar in so many ways.

My Mama, Maybelle, and me.  Or Nonni, Maybelle,
and the other Mama, the names from Maybelle.
My Mama and I are noticing this as I get older: she and I have the very same smiles, and the same laugher. We often say the exact same thing to the exact same person. Yesterday we both said, “Oh, Maybelle definitely needs her bath.” And then, of course, we laughed in exactly the same way.

We deal with Maybelle in almost exactly the way I do.  It's not that much of a surprise, I guess, but it's awfully comfortable when we behave the same ways.  We're not clean at all.  We have similar emotions and responses.  These days my hair is like hers: she’s chosen short hair, and mine is just what I have, but we look more and more alike.

And my Mama and I are taking on this brain tumor in similar ways. This isn’t what I would have thought: she’s the kind of religious person who believes that everything is God, and that everything will come to the best place. I, on the other hand, am trying to breathe. I’m trying to imagine myself at my imaginary table with many, many feelings, all of which are there.  But we're able to respect each other.  Neither of us is trying to make the other right.

Right now, people online are righting hundreds and hundreds of comments and checks on my mother and my Facebook. My Mama wrote an incredibly happy statement when we were at Duke and were told that my tumor has stopped, and that it’s probably shrinking a bit. It’s great news.  And when I'm feeling funky about this, Mama is there--totally there.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The most delicious bagel ever.

Ricks Floyd is such a nice guy!  He knows my name and is
ready to make me a bagel.  And it's a damn delicious
bagel.  Go give it a try!
C&B things help make the world delicious.

Yikes, that is SO goofy.  It's not what I said.  What I want to say is that C&B helps make the world delicious.

Hmm.  A trend in my assessment.

So let me tell you about C&B (which I've always called C&B since "Caviar and Bananas" sounds ridiculous and kind of gross.  What the hell brings together caviar--that fancy stuff I wouldn't even use--and bananas, which are  together?  I'm sure a million of you can explain to me why they have that name, but keep that to yourselves).

C&B is fancy.  They have expensive food for lunch.  They have the huge kale bowl so that every woman in town can eat it (does it have any calories?).  In a less frightening way, they have lines of students when they're getting ready for class.  They have blueberry muffins.  All good stuff.

Good morning, everything bagel.
But what I love there--food that is outstanding--is the world of bagels.  First of all, they greet me by name, and they know what I want.  They get me an everything bagel, they toast it, and then slather it with cream cheese.  Wow, it just knows how to start the middle of the morning.  It's breakfast number 2.  I have granola first thing in the morning, and then by 9:00, I'm hungry.  I don't necessarily eat a bagel every day, but I have one…probably at least three a week.

I want one right now.  That may be eating too many bagels.  But I love them.  Love love love.

I've tried other bagels in other places around town, and they're fine, but they aren't as satisfying as the C&B.  These days, if someone invites me to go have bagels, I'd find something else.  There's no need to try another one when I know I've got the best bagel ever.

They always say, "Good morning, Alison!" and Ricks starts the bagel.  Good morning, Ricks!  If it weren't a town that's filled with water today, I'd come get one.