Thursday, September 24, 2009


I am OK. I just came from my oncologist and my tests confirm that I am officially "disease free". My blood count is now at 14.3 - up from 4 in mid July. I am told it may take a year to be 100% and that I should not be so hard on myself, or impatient. OK. I was also told that this mood swinging malaise bordering on full blown depression is actually a result of coming off 2 months of mega doses of steroids - with the optimum word being OFF! Yea. I just need to find happy buttons like my art or some other creative outlet, and use them before I hurt someone at work. Hee heehee.
I am OK, and I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Emotional sit-ups

Rather than be hard on myself (my natural reaction) I have got to be a little more realistic, and therefor forgiving. I keep assuming that my present physical condition-or state of mind-or work status is something that I have full control over and that if I were a stronger person, a wiser or more spiritual person, a better worker, everything would be great, right now!

Well, I am not in control and it is unrealistic to assume it could or should be fixed instantly. Besides, what is fixed, or even normal? It is this kind of skewed thinking that made me, an intelligent and self sufficient woman, become ensnared in an abusive relationship years ago and I should know better as a result.

The reality is - I am a woman, with all of the wonderful pros and cons of an earth bound biological creature ranging from physical maladies to emotional imbalances. Oh, sometimes I do it better - much like being more fit when I have been doing sit-ups or riding my bike. Other times I am out of shape because it is late winter and the holiday eating and the cabin-bound activities have left me that way - or I have been sick and it takes a day or a week or a month or several months to get back up to physical norms...or emotional norms. It takes time ... and discipline ... and patience ... and self forgiveness.

I am battling depression. I read the articles that told me that this weaning process from the medicines will cause depression but I still internalized the emotion. And I got mad at myself for it like I had control over the effects of powerful drugs, and their withdrawals. And I expected myself to be instantly right again without the long process of getting back in shape. Somehow I forgot that I would need to build my body and my mind back by doing exercises. I would need walk and do emotional sit-ups. I would need to find a new balance and a new normal.

And I am annoyed with myself because I just realized that I had told myself that if I were a stronger person, a wiser or more spiritual person, a better worker, everything would be great, right now!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Perservere to endure ...

I am struggling to maintain my calmer and more positive, newly re-acquired emotional continence - and it scares me.

I cannot tell if the problem is that my new optimism was merely a chemical vapor built on medication that I am now being weaned off of, or a genuine flicker of my true, positive, core self that retreats when confronted by negativity. Either way, I need to get control pretty quickly or I am going to revert back to the angry and unhappy person I had become.

I want calm. I want optimism. I want balance. I realize that I should not expect either the people or the environments that are a part of my daily activities to change because I want them to. In all actuality, many do not need to change at all. Even if I could become a positive catalyst to those elements that are negative in nature, change is not fast. Leaving the negative environment is not the entire solution either because if part of the problem is my own control over how much negativity I internalize, I would only take it with me when I go and reinfect the new place. Besides, if leaving is the best plan for me, doing that would also take time and I need to stop the decline now, before it becomes entrenched again.

So I sit quietly and try to glue little handles to the good thoughts and feelings that remain from my near death euphoria so that I can hang on tight ... for dear life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


3 months. Not a long period of time but long enough to effect great change. I am different. I have evolved again. I wonder what is in store for me now and I am excited to be facing the next adventure.

I find myself thinking of the chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly. Unlike many other butterflies, the monarch caterpillar creates a marvelous lime green shell with gold dots that masks and contains the incredible transformation that it makes as it becomes a wondrous butterfly - an amazing butterfly capable of migrations over thousands of miles.

As I reread my last post I realize how frightened and desperate I was to leave a record in case I did not emerge from my chrysalis. But I did emerge. What I went through was as close to death as you can get without actually seeing tunnels of light and watching paddle dances from 6 feet over your own body. Close enough for me.

I won't relate it all here because I have told my story to friends and family in a variety of venues over the past several months of recovery. Most times the telling was done as much for me as for them. I am celebratory as I think of what I have experienced and have found clarity and order in the oratorical process, giving it credibility and structure like some Homeric adventure.

My perspectives have changed. My priorities have changed. I have changed.

Every sunrise reminds me of a statement one doctor said,

"If you had stayed home a couple more days, you probably just would have gone to sleep and not woke up. I don't know how you went this long. My thinking is that you were just too stubborn to lay down and die."

What if I had died in my sleep--in Chicago 3 days before--or at home the night before we went to the ER? What a selfish and stubborn thing to do to people I love.

If I had died ... if the music had stopped suddenly... that would have been the end to painting, music, colors, light, flowers, embraces, smiles, etc. in my life. Yes, I do believe in eternal life but to shortchange this life in some kind of complacent 'betting-on-the-come' attitude must surely be an affront to God since he has supplied us with abundant blessings and talents to use in this one. Suffice to say I am embarrassed and humbled and determined to do a better job with NOW - this earthly life. I do not want to get caught with regrets of the undone, or regrets for the unsaid, or regrets for the wrongs done to others.

In this process, I was reminded of the woman I was in my early twenties, who was open and happy and fearless and driven to live with passion and unfettered love. My relationships reflected it and my art reflected it and my life reflected it. I was unwaveringly positive and strong. I am not so naive as to think I can be that youthful woman again, but I am determined to regain as many of those spiritual strengths and enduring qualities as I can - and live my life as it was intended ... from here on.

This is the day that the lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Absolutely. Then I will have few regrets.