Today I went to renew my residency card, which included getting a fingerprint taken, and the woman at the immigration office couldn’t get the machine to “accept” my print. She said they were very faint. It was then I remembered hearing something about this while I was on chemo, that taking Xeloda could actually wipe out your fingerprints, as happened to this guy. After quite a few tries with both thumbs and a couple of fingers the machine finally gave a little “ping” and I was okay. I was beginning to worry, wondering what would happen if they couldn’t get an acceptable print. So that was a relief. Also a good thing I never tried using the fingerprint ID option on my new iPhone…
The other day I came across this post written by Pat Is this the best I can be? in which she’d linked to this post that I’d written on the same day in October 2009, and in those blog posts both of us were questioning our lives and our behaviour, ways of coping, etc. And it got me thinking…
First of all, I spent a bit of time on Pat’s blog listening to her voice again. She was such a naturally talented writer along with being wonderful in so many other ways. And I realised that it’s been almost three years since we wrote those posts. I’m still here, Pat is not. But who knows what the next PET scan in September will reveal?
And so what I mostly started thinking about was “wasting time”. It seemed that for awhile I was doing everything very intensely because it truly felt like DEATH was just around the corner. These days I am mostly aware of my condition (stage 4 cancer survivor – at least so far!) during my monthly visits to the hospital to get my chemo port cleaned out, and of course every six months when I go for my PET scan. The latter always terrifies me and I’m a mess for about a week or so before. Lucky for me that I get the results straight away and don’t have to also go through the stress of waiting a couple of weeks afterwards.
Anyhow, there are, and always have been, a lot of things I don’t like about myself, so that is a daily struggle. I mean, I think I am mostly a “good person” (whatever that means) but my days are full of self-criticism because I could always be Doing Better. And then I don’t do better because this (rather abusive) inner-dialogue tends to wear me out, though I think I still end up mostly Doing Okay. When I was going through chemo and recovering from operations I tended to cut myself some slack and not be so hard on myself and I guess that reading those blog posts made me aware that I’d slipped back into this beating-myself-up rut. Which is, frankly, a waste of time. Not to mention counter productive. And exhausting.
When Azar, the love of my life, died last September I made a promise in honour of his memory to try and be the same person I was with him when with other people. You see, he was just so easy to love and it turned out I actually really liked who I was when I was with him. Because with Azar I was always the best I could be. And well, I haven’t always remembered that promise but all this recent thinking has brought it back. So I’m going to start making that my daily goal, and I even think I’ll try to include myself along with those “other people”.
Wish me luck!
My big handsome Sunny was born twenty years ago on August 5th, sometime between 10 and 11 in the morning. I was there and held each kitten in my hands shortly after Lua had cleaned them up. Later when I was trying to decide which kitten to keep for myself (there was a queue of people waiting to take the others) Sunny made the decision for me by being the only kitten to wait by the door when I came home. So doggy. And he stayed very doggy all his life.
These days I have a splendid and equally huge orange boy who is so similar that I often end up calling him Sunny.
But Sunny will always be my big cuddly bear cat, so solid, so constant. He died in my arms sometime between 10 and 11 in the morning on November 18th 2009. I still miss the sunshine of my life.
Well, I thought it was kinda brilliant. Last week I realised that I had to get my chemo port flushed out soon and that I also had to get blood work done for my upcoming oncology appointment in February. So hey, why not get it all done at once? Especially because when I go to my neighbourhood clinic for the blood test they huff and puff and simply cannot find my veins. At leat at the hospital they can usually find veins and anyhow, they can just use the chemo port! I mean, that is in part what it’s good for.
So last week I got in touch with Dr. Ana and told her about my cunning plan. She said “no problem!” and that she would be there on Tuesday morning so I could pick up the blood test form. Of course one small glitch in the plan was that they only do chemo port cleaning between 12.00 – 1.00 pm, so I’d have to go all morning without eating or drinking (though the hardest bit for me was having NO COFFEE). No matter, it was worth saving a trip to the hospital and I planned to meet up with my friend Fourat for a nice tapas lunch after the whole ordeal.
So I was there at Oncology just before noon, foolishly thinking my blood test form would be there ready to be picked up. HA! Of course it wasn’t. I had to speak to three different nurses who got in touch with Dr. Ana, who then said I’d have to wait for her to squeeze me in between appointments. Huh? Well, after a fretful 45 minute wait I got in to see Dr. Ana, got my form, raced over to The Lab and said I was there to get my port cleaned and blood drawn for these tests. The receptionist told me I couldn’t get blood work done without a special appointment. I told her it was fine, that I’d had it all cleared over in Oncology (lies, lies…). Then when I showed the port-cleaning nurse my blood test form she said “I can’t do that now, it’s too late!” while she started taking out the vials needed to store my blood. You see, the bureaucracy here works in mysterious ways. Sometimes “you can’t do that” means that the person who can make it happen simply can’t be bothered, and other times it means that you just need to be gently chastised but of course it’s going to get done.
Turned out the lunch was more of an ordeal than the whole hospital visit. Both Fourat and I were appalled by the rude service, mediocre food and crazy high prices. Afterwards she had to go home as she’s fighting an infection, so I popped over to Bodeguita Romero to see if Peter was still there with his walking tour couple. And they were. So I had a proper glass of wine there and a fabulous tapa of grilled bacalao, which was a wonderful antidote to all the gastrobar bullshit. And later the icing on today’s cake was that I met with my landlords and they were willing to renegotiate my contract – so it looks like I may not have to move after all!
I honestly hadn’t expected so much to happen today. Really love it when days turn out like that. How was your Tuesday?
It’s funny how chance encounters can make such a difference. The other day I stopped by my friend Maria’s shop and found her chatting with a rather exotic looking woman called Fourat. A few minutes later all three of us were sitting at La Azotea up the street ordering wine and tapas, and an hour or so later I was over at Fourat’s house (turned out she lives on the same street) setting up a Twitter account for her and talking about our various projects.
One of the many things that came up was my now sadly abandoned clothing biz and I mentioned how I hadn’t sewn anything in ages although I still had TONS of fabric. And so this morning Peter and I cleared off one of the tables upstairs and set up my sewing machines so that they are there and ready to go whenever I feel inspired, as one thing that always puts me off sewing is having to set everything up and tear it all down again afterwards. The other thing is that I don’t actually like sewing, but that’s partly to do with the first thing.
Anyhow… it’s such a perfect room for sewing because of the lovely natural light and it’ll be great to actually be using that room. Until now it’s mostly just been Peter’s classroom for the couple of students that come to the house, even though there’s a comfy chair for reading and a music system set up. I’m sure that once I’m spending more time up there it will also inspire me to start doing more with the terraza. And all because of one chance meeting. Fourat (who gives classes in Lebanese and Mediterranean cooking) and I are also planning a project or two together, so stay tuned for that…
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
I knew immediately. I’d be 42 3/4, the age I was when this photo was taken . That is to say, aside from an extra 11+ years and many extra kilos, this is how old I actually feel.
This was also just before my hysterectomy, when my body started to go wonky, and so was probably the last time I ever felt “healthy & whole”. But my mind and my heart still feel as alive and vibrant as that colourful “sangria dress”.
Oh, and this pic was taken at my friend Pablo’s house – there’s no way I’d have those awful gold curtains at casa az! ;)
So, how about you?
… my life changed forever.
On May 5th 2007 I woke up with serious abdominal pains that got worse as the day went on. By the end of the week I’d been sent home twice by the emergency doctors at the private hospital I’d gone to, with them refusing to do the ultrasound I’d asked for, telling me I just had gas pains. But when I went back on Saturday evening they finally realised it wasn’t a hairball and admitted me for observation and further testing. On Sunday around midnight I was transferred to the general hospital for an emergency operation. And a couple of weeks after that I was given the diagnosis – stage IV colon cancer with metastasis to the liver (later they discovered it had also spread to the peritoneum).
So it’s been a week of retrospection and introspection, but mostly it’s been a good week of being alive and feeling healthy. Unlike my friend Gaelen, I have yet to “beat the odds”. I was given a 50/50 chance of surviving for five years and I have to say that it feels pretty damned good to have reached the two-year mark. Meanwhile, the next PET scan is coming up next month and it always feels … well, scary as hell. But today the sun is shining and I am busy working on projects at home. Just letting you know where I am. And reminding myself to enjoy every moment as much as I can.
How are you enjoying today?