Saturday, June 16, 2018

Worst Day

When I can't sleep, I think of horrible things. I don't really intend to--they just pop into my mind and I'm stuck reliving horrors for long hours.
Last night, I struggled with what was the worst thing to happen to me in my life.
I came up with a huge list.  Self-pity played a part, but some crappy things have happened to me and I remembered them all. Every horrific one of them.
But, I did come up with the absolute worst day in my life. It lasted eight hours, but they were eight hours of terror and tears.
Nine years ago, I was told early in the morning that I had pancreatic cancer.
My husband was with me, we both were shocked and scared. I felt myself fold if all the fire and outrage and happiness just died or folded down like a paper fan. It was over. My life, my loves, my reason to go on, collapsed. Patrick Swayze had just died from pancreatic cancer. I knew it was a death sentence.
I thought about where I would be buried, after I sobbed about my kids and how I wouldn't be around for them, and for my Herb and how I didn't know how he would handle it. My mother...God, how could she handle it?
Then the pain doctor came to see me. I wanted to punch him in the face. He smiled as he told me that he would make sure I felt no pain in the end, but that wouldn't be for months, perhaps.
I couldn't believe his attitude and told him so.
He didn't understand that I didn't appreciate him smiling!
Then some young woman came through the doorway, She looked at me, but that pain guy was still there and he got all huffy and told her to "get out of the room, can't you see I'm with my patient?"
She slid out of the room.
Hell, I thought she was a candy striper or something, she looked so  young.
He left, pretty much still bent out of shape.
About eight hours had passed by this time. Eight hours of death.
Re-enter young woman,
"It isn't pancreatic cancer, Mrs. Peterson. It is lymphoma, and we can treat that with an excellent chance of complete remission."
This was after 11 days in the hospital in horrific pain, being tested and prodded and biopsied and no shower and a phone bill of about $400.
I cried again. Herb was with me this time, also, and we cried in each others' arms.
But, yes, dying for eight hours has to be the worst day of my life.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

I'm not good with surprises

Surprises scare me.
I don't like people jumping out of the dark at me. I don't like "fun" houses. I am not fond of buzzing noises that turn out to be bees or mosquitos.
Getting mail in my name scares me.
Getting bills scare me.
My husband's health scares me, even though everything seems to be okay.
I had some horrible thoughts earlier and I am scared.
How do I make them go away?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Darius Rucker has a new album out. The title song is "When was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?"
I had to think about that.
I've been doing a little traveling lately, not too far away, just Lancaster PA and Mystic CN, but I'd been to both places before. I did see and do some things like look at model trains and see some Viking artifacts, but when it comes right down to it, I had done similar things previously.
Hell, I've put together model train sets, though I saw lots more, but in fact, they were new but not new.
Okay, I saw lots more Viking stuff in NY a long time ago...many more on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. These were different, and lots fewer than the Met, but in essence, quite the same.
So, what have I done that I'd never done before?
I had shepherd's pie in PA.
I had lobster roll in CN.
It has come to this.
Is it time to step out of my comfort zone and actually try something I've never done before?
We shall see. Should the opportunity come up, I will seize it.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Irene the Athlete

We were away over the past four days. I must have come up with four blog ideas during that time, yet I cannot remember any of them.
What I do remember was the fact that I am not an outdoor person.
I am not a vigorously active person.
I actually don't like to overexert myself in any way other than mentally.
Hey, I can't feel my feet, thank you CHEMO, so walking is a task most of the time. Forget about dancing or jumping up or taking stairs two at a time.
Anyway, there are several people that I know who are (were) real athletes. They play organized sports, they run, they jog, they walk everywhere, they spend hours on their feet doing whatever it is that they do. But not me.
It bothers me sometimes that I am rather limited. I frequently have to rest, I stumble on uneven pavement...forget about walking alone on macadam. My fear of falling is accentuated by the roughness under my feet.
If I fall, I'll probably break something.
I've already done that and am messed up because of falling off a curb.
Anyway, going back to my childhood, I remember not being able to run fast. I always got caught playing tag. I couldn't throw a ball far. I could kick, but running to the base during kickball usually didn't accomplish much for my team.
I couldn't figure out how to twirl a baton.
Well, I got some moves down, but nothing that would get me to be a majorette.
Turns out, there were two things I really could do.
I could dance to popular music. Came in handy often.
My crowning achievement, however, was that I could walk on stilts while no one else I knew could. They tried, but they failed.
For some reason, I figured out how to do it and did it all the time to show my ability.
What a big deal! I must have hung around with very supple, athletic people. But I wasn't one of them. Elementary school friends were faster, more capable on the field, more likely to finish first in games. I would have liked to be among them, sometimes.
But I could walk on stilts!!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Thinking Pleasant Thoughts

Once, long ago, while riding in the back seat of my parents' car through either NY or PA, I saw a wondrously beautiful thing.
We were looking for a place to stay (never had reservations because we didn't know where we would be going); we drove down a lonely road with hills on the north side for the most part, and farmland on the south side.
I remember passing a white and blue cabin type motel.
On the other side of the road was a small farmhouse and barn, also blue and white, with a fenced in paddock. In the paddock, a young girl rode a white pony, complete with flying mane and gorgeous white flying tail...looking like something from a magical fairy story.
I was enthralled.
We drove further on, then backtracked to stop at the motel. I guess we got a room there. Wasn't my five year old business.
Along with the room came a boy about Jack's age. He lived on the farm and came out to see the new guests.
I asked him about the pony...he was vague about it, but offered to take us into the barn to see some animals.
It was in there, in a stall. It was small and gleamingly white and I loved it instantly. It was being boarded there.
Right next to that stall was a huge bull, complete with nose ring and horns. The kid told us not to go too near the door as the bull did not like people.
Yesterday, while watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Bottoms, he worked on a white miniature horse. It ran away from him, and I saw its long white mane flying high and its tail waving as it escaped and I remembered that long ago white pony in some place that probably doesn't exist any more, but the magic returned.
I live for the magic.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Facing Facebook

2009 was not a very good year for me or my family.
I started the year, literally started the year, receiving my first 13 hours of chemotherapy in hospital. It didn't initially bother me because I was in a comfy bed with a flat screen television and nurses and aides at my beck and call (they were truly there when I needed them, I wasn't saying that they existed on the holiday just to respond to my whims.)
Still, my body was being filled with poison.
As good as it was supposed to be for me, well, I was being poisoned.
After the treatment, I thought I'd stay in the hospital for a few days to see what would happen. No, my husband insisted I come home immediately because "you never know what can happen in the hospital...germs, diseases (like the skin rotting thing") so I went home. I'd been in the hospital for 9 days.
I thought I was okay, that I wasn't going to undergo the horrors of puking my guts out constantly as so many people (Charlie Dalton, R.I.P.) Back in the early 70s, Charlie had testicular cancer. He was treated somewhere in NYC, Sloan Kettering, I believe, and he puked for days afterwards.
There were homebound kids I taught who had cancer.  They were mostly over their chemo, but they were out of it and really didn't care about what I had to teach them. They all eventually died, bald and sadly left everyone miserable.
The day after I got home, I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor, emptying the contents of my digestive system. Constantly. I don't know where all that stuff came from, but I was in bad shape. Considering I rarely toss my cookies at all, like registering 4 times since I was 9 years old, this was horrifying.
From January 1, 2009 until May 30, 2009, I had chemo. Lost 70 pounds.
The oncologist prescribed some very expensive drug for me to take and once it was in my system, I never found myself on the bathroom floor again.
The chemo stopped the lymphoma. It also probably destroyed some important parts of my body, but I am here and though tired all the time, I'm alive.
I forgot why I started writing this post. I was interrupted twice and my reasons vanished. This is one of the "benefits" of chemotherapy.
But I am alive. I'm working toward 70 and I am alive. I can enjoy the breath of Spring, I can hear the songbirds and the grackles fighting over the feeders in my backyard. I can look at my kids and husband and love them intensely. I can spend time with my friends and they give back to me the strength I need.
Oh, I just remembered why I started this. When I was in my bed, I had the computer, this computer, on all the time. It would ping when I got an email or a message on Facebook and I would rally and find out what was going on in the outside world.
It meant so much to me, to be sort of connected while I was in bed, barely able to move or even sit up.
So, if Facebook shared my personal information with some dark web, I hope somebody enjoyed whatever it was, whatever information they garnered from me. No bank accounts, no social security number, not even my telephone number though they've requested it many times.
Here I am, a woman approaching OLD AGE, who lost her mother recently, whose father was in the Army, whose husband is a Viking, whose daughters are brilliant, who votes regularly.
Eat it raw.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Because I could not stop for Death

Mortality is not infinite.
We won't live forever, even if we believe in an Afterlife where everything is peachy if we have been good while on Earth.
We're going to die.
We will cease to exist and those we leave behind will put our remains in a box and forget all the bad things we have done and say nice things about us if they can remember anything.
I've come close to death many times so far.
I've been scared every single time.
The thought of not being around confounds me and hurts me and scares me. I don't want to be nothing.
Have I left behind anything good?
My husband and children sure are good. But what would he do without me? How would the girls feel?
Would they cry or just be glad I was out of the picture?
Not saying they feel that way...but a long, slow death makes people wish for the end to come. No matter how much you are loved, if you are slowly, very slowly dying and exhausting your loved ones and worrying them and causing them great pain, they will wish for you to pass as soon as possible, with their permission.
Given gladly.
Every little pain, every pinch, every headache, every sore, every hiccup makes me worry about dying.
If I do not accomplish all I am supposed to do on Earth, I guess I will come back to haunt my house.
Oh, I am not on the verge...just thinking about it and THE END.
I'm not relishing the idea one bit.