Look them in the eye; they may just be your kindred spirit

I recently blazed through two articles on the importance of eye contact … I don’t remember all the specifics because I fancy myself to be Evelyn Wood speed reader … born after 1972 and you’ll likely have no idea who I speak of … this Evelyn Wood.  She was da bomb diggity … taught people how to speed read … rabbit hole alert …  down I spiral but, she is back …

What I took away from the articles was how important … and humanizing eye contact can be… so today as I was out and about … going back to the doctor to get the results of my MRI from last Saturday, I decided to well … look people straight in the eye … the 4 second stare … 4 seconds feels much longer than one might imagine.

I got my MRI results – inconclusive … nothing drastically wrong but not quite text-book either – arthritis is rampant but I am told we all have it after a certain age … my posture is deplorable – curvature of the spine is more than it should be … this was told to the trailing doctor in training.  Injections will serve no purpose … duh?  I could have told you that … So what’s next?  Dr. L’s recommended course of action – physical therapy – already started and maybe try a chiropractor … not her field of expertise but has another physician friend who swears by them.  And in comes an image bubble – Jon Cryer aka Alan Harper – chiropractor extraordinaire. Something about a “real” doctor.  Lol :).  On my own I might just try acupuncture, healing crystals, meditation and/or Airrosti.  A girl’s got to do, what a girl has got to do.  Am I right?  RIGHT!

So back to eye contact … I am getting in the elevator on 2 – trying to get down to 1 but elevator is actually going up to 3.  Cute elderly couple are with me and I look them both right in the eye and say “oh well I guess I am going for a ride” to which the gentleman replies “oh but it’s a nice ride if you have to take one” When they got out, both of them looked me right in the eye and told me “have a blessed day!”

Before the door could close, a women with a cast on her arm jumps in … I looked her right in the eye.  She says “I pushed SL, not sure if you’re going there”.  I said “no, I need 1 but I am out of it today” She replies, “it’ll get better” I push 1, elevator starts to move but then we stop on 2.  In rolls a lady with her walker.  Her eyes, they just sparkle.  She says “look at us, what a bunch we are but we’ll all be ok, at least I think I will be”  She proceeds to tell us how one doctor botched her surgery, one leg was made much shorter than the other … so much so that her hip collapsed.  Said she was unconscious at the time or she never would have picked “him” to be her surgeon.  Her words do not match her attitude.  Her manner is jovial; she is happy.  She proceeds, “attitude is everything, we will ALL be ok!”

The two of us get off on 1, said goodbye to the cast lady going to sub level.  We continue talking and I get her to tell me who … so I can avoid that doctor … she said who but quickly added “you know, I don’t hold a grudge.  My current doctors are fantastic … this is as it should be” and WOW … my mind is blown … AS IT SHOULD BE.  Hey, that’s my mantra … all the crap that happens … sucky stuff too and in hindsight, when the dust settles, the life lessons are always it happened for a reason (mostly unknown at the time) and everything is as it should be.  I held the door for her, so she could more easily push her walker through.  We parted ways and for the 2nd time today, I was told to have a blessed day.

So now, I am just passing along that sunshine.  Blessings of the 4 second stare.  When you are out and about … look them in the eye.  Who knows, you too may find your own sparkling eyed kindred spirit.

As always, more to come …

J-Dub’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events #7 Cancer SUCKS

I will go out of chronological order again for just a bit.  This blog is about cancer.  I have known that ugly word my whole life.  One of my earliest recollections is a green oxygen tank next to a night stand.  Cancer … affecting immediate family members and friends alike.  Lung cancer, brain tumor, breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer …  The disease that does not discriminate. Family history, no family history.  Unfortunately no one is immune.  Like Russian roulette … fate … chance … unnerving.  Not if … but when?

Today I will share a few personal stories in a series of unfortunate events.  These are not even all of them.  Sadly, I could write a novel on this topic.  I feel that some tales are not my stories to tell, so I leave them off this list.  Not because they are any less noteworthy, simply out of respect.  Respect for a life lesson that even in the face of one’s mortality, your one ask is to pay it forward. Who does that??  Only the most wonderful role model in the world.

So let’s get started shall we …

In August of 2004, the summer between 1st and 2nd grade, our niece HB was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma.  She was age six about to turn seven that October.  Kids play getting bumps and bruises but that summer, her MoMo found a knot on HB’s leg that would not go away.  If not for the persistence of G’ma, mom & dad may not have taken HB to her pediatrician.  I mean HB was an active little girl … always on the go.  Surely that knot was nothing … Good thing G’ma kept pushing.  HB had surgery to remove the tumor in her leg followed by radiation with special attention to miss the growth plates and the most aggressive chemo treatments for anyone, especially for someone so young BUT it was necessary because of the insidiousness of the cancer with a tendency to re-occur had to be attacked head on!

At this tender age of seven is when Lulu decided she wanted to become a nurse.  She grew up with her cousin (just two months apart in age).  As HB went through the treatments, Lulu was there … always … they still played together like nothing had changed.  Some people kept their distance.  Kids at school were afraid.  Understandable, not knowing how to act or what to say.  With the girls though, it was just different.  Two peas in a pod, more like twins.  Lulu often held the “throw up bucket” and she watched as HB pulled out clumps of hair, asking Lulu to “help” … and she did.  Nothing was too gross.  HB wanted to, needed to, share with someone and Lulu was always the willing accomplice.  But this story has a silver lining, HB made it to her five-year mark and just this past August of 2016 she is 12 years cancer free.

On July 2nd of 2006, Billy Bob’s brother (D) died.  Outlying cause of death non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  A mass in an unfortunate spot in the neck area pressed on an artery and over time, as the mass grew, this caused the artery to weaken.  In a coughing fit, the weakened artery ruptured.  D bled to death in his father’s arms.  This happened on a Sunday and D had been scheduled for the following Thursday to begin treatment to attempt to shrink the growth.

The following reads like a public service announcement:    D had trouble finding out what was wrong … misdiagnosed with scabies and other dermatological conditions.  Who knew a nagging cough that would not stop and a rash that would not heal could signal lymphoma?? … Well now you all DO! Share this tidbit.  It’s more common that you think but still not widely known.  Of course, don’t go all hypochondriac like me … a nagging cough and a rash might be symptoms of other conditions … entirely benign conditions but, you never know.  So ask … maybe find out sooner rather than later.  And also, make sure you have health insurance – D didn’t … his insurance had lapsed.  One cannot help but wonder how differently things would have played out if he had insurance.

In August of 2012, HB’s mom, former spouse of D was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  So yes – two parents had cancer, their first-born did too.  Three in a family of four.  Genetic link … just maybe.  Here are some other familial ties – D’s first cousin on mother’s side – at only 20 years old had Hodgkin’s lymphoma (different lymphoma than D but still cancer).  He is 52 today and after a relapse in his 40s, he is consider in remission.  Another first cousin (sister of the Hodgkin’s patient), had an aggressive form of breast cancer.  Now several years later, she too is cancer free.  Something my kids will always have mark on their patient histories.

The unfortunate events continue and we lost HB’s mom on March 1, 2016 after battling for three plus years.  I sort of hate saying we ‘lost’ her.  You see, we didn’t lose her … not really.  We know where she is and what happened.  She died.  F*cK this sH*t!  She died!!!!  And she was only 51 years young.  As I write this, it still does not feel real.  I keep thinking, she’s just on vacation.  She’ll be back.  We’ll wake up and all will be right with the world. I wish we had more time, I wish things had been different.

I will always remember that last Christmas Eve … 2015 … spent together – the family tradition.  Small and quaint, just eight of us.  And you could tell, she was in pain but trying to keep things the same for her kids.  She put on her bravest face.  She gave personal gifts that she could not afford but insisted, she had come into some money and this is what she wanted to do.  Tokens chosen specially for the receivers because she knew us so well.  And beyond the gifts, there was the laughter – the snort through your nose kind of laughter.  It was always like that when she was around.  Rest in peace dear sister, may the perpetual light shine upon her.

Life is short.  This you all know.  Life is not fair.  Truth! But I won’t belabor the point – simply for me … I will act now, be kind, and love you all.  Even in the pain and suffering, life is beautiful and life goes on.

As always, more to come …

Traveling On

The year we got married we were supposed to honeymoon on the Texas coast but there was a hurricane so we didn’t go.   We stayed one night at the Embassy Suites hotel in northwest San Antonio.   Right next door to Castle Golf and Games. The next day we went to Comanche Park … our place … awe…  It was the St. Margaret Mary fall festival.

For our second anniversary, we planned a trip to Bastrop State Park which was a disaster. Who knew the state park and the lake campground were two different places?    Not us!  We booked a canopy at the lake campground.  Yes I said canopy … which we thought was a cabin. This place was really was meant for people with trailers.  The state park across the road was booked solid so with no place to sleep, we ate at Pizza Hut then went home.  That’s one for the memory books I tell ya.

On Our third anniversary we were going to go to the Texas coast … Try that again but nope, it was not to be … another hurricane.

On Our fourth anniversary we had a little present  … Mr. Pony Boy so we just hung around the house.

Our fifth anniversary was spent in Las Vegas.  Good time all around.

After that we quit trying to celebrate our  anniversaries  with vacations.  It was also about this time where we quit giving each other gifts.  For all occasions … Just done.  Instead the world revolved around the sun … our literal son.   I was working only part time and money was tight.  And if I had it to do over again I would do exactly the same.    You see the material stuff really doesn’t matter.    It took some pretty sucky events before we realized that but now we do.

20 more years would pass before we took another trip for our anniversary … It was a milestone after all.  Happy 25 with a trip to Alaska.   Love love loved it!   We joked about moving there … spending half the year.  Billy Bob would take people on the nature trek  and explain all the flora and fauna while I would shuttle vacationers back-and-forth from the ships to the hotel.   You see we had met a couple from Illinois who was doing just that.

Ah to live at the Windsong, Seward AK.  It could still happen … One day.

As always, more to come …