Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Role reversal….This past week the “patient” has become the “nurse” and vice versa. On Saturday, in a rush to finish our chores, Bob slipped and fell while coming down the ladder after cleaning the gutters in a slight drizzle which made the deck slippery and caused the ladder to skid out from under him. We are so lucky that he didn’t hit his head or back, but unfortunately he came down hard on his ankle, breaking 3 bones, two of which (the lateral malleolus and the talus) were quite fragmented. Since they couldn’t do such a complicated repair in the ER, poor Bob had to suffer through 5 days of pain and swelling before the surgical repair on Thursday. Then the surgeon had to break yet another bone (the medial malleolus) to access the talus. Bob will not be allowed to put any weight on the foot or to drive for 2 months! His foot is now held together by 9 screws and one plate. Won’t that be a picnic in clearing the metal detectors? We are slowly adapting. After almost 41 years of marriage, we have both learned a lot about each other in the past week. I have been running around so fast trying to keep him comfortable with ice packs, drinks, computer hookups, etc that at times I was hoping that it was the urinal that I emptied and the ginger ale that I refilled and not vice versa. And I’m learning all kinds of new skills like how to check out videos – believe it or not I had never made a purchase in a video store and I thought that the ones you rented were the ones with the picture fronts on them! The good news is that Bob is confined to two rooms downstairs so that he can’t see if I delay doing the dishes or don’t make my bed. I’m going to have to revise my modus operandi when he gets a little more mobile.

Sadly we had to cancel a planned trip to the beach last weekend as well as our scuba diving trip to Cayman Brac in August. So now I’m just going to have to live for another summer so that we can go! There is one Life Cycle exercise that we do at the YMCA in which I always close my eyes and dream that I am swimming and seeing turtles and my beloved triggerfish. Someday…. But we are going to try our best to load Bob into the car on Thursday and go to the beach to meet Karl and Stacy and Stacy’s parents and brothers. I really crave swimming in the ocean - it makes me feel so good.

But we consider ourselves very fortunate in all of this – fortunate that Bob wasn’t injured more critically and fortunate that I am strong enough to take care of him. We are a great team, even if hobbled. Yesterday I had to go back to Georgetown because my 5-FU pump shut down with an air bubble. We had little time to get to the infusion unit before they closed and my favorite route was not available. So Bob “hopped” in the car with me and guided me through the streets of Washington so I wouldn’t end up like “Johnny and the MTA”. It’s simply a matter of adapting to make the best of the situation and getting on with some intense living!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Am I in a remission?? Whatever, I feel completely “normal”, able to run on the beach, to play in the ocean with my grandchildren, to paddle a canoe, and to cook for the hoard of 17 (plus 6 dogs) at the family reunion in our houses in Bethany Beach. I’ve watched the grandchildren ride their decorated bikes in the 4th of July parade, seen the fireworks on the beach, gardened to my heart’s content, had long walk/jogs and invigorating swims in the surf, eaten a lot of crabs, and drunk a lot of beer- just a great “4th” celebration. Today, I even rode the waves on a boogie board – the first time in about two years.
Mikey (just turned 6) thinks that I now look “better” with my short cropped hair (than when I was bald), though he keeps asking me how much longer my hair will be when he visits again in about 3 weeks. The funny thing is that every time I dive under a wave I instinctively attempt to push the hair out of my face, only to find out that there is none! Actually my present ¾“ hair length is truly ideal for the beach - although it is not my "style" of choice.
How long will this last? Right now I’m content with the present and the unexpected pleasure of another summer, though admittedly I am beginning to think beyond that. I will get back to reality on Tuesday with another round of chemo, but I remain optimistic about the future. There is no acceptable alternative.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I feel so incredibly alive! I sense that all of my neurons are firing with the joy of living. Sometimes I think that my difficulties in sleeping are rooted in my brain’s cognizance of my fragile lease on life and my intense awareness that having conscious thought is the essence of being alive. I feel like I am a sponge that is sucking in life and its experiences with an unquenchable thirst – a thirst for interactions with family, with colleagues, and simply for observing the beauty of life. I just spent 5 days in Snowmass, Colorado at a conference and had some time to reflect on the intensity of my present existence. I took special joy at observing the vast variety of flowers of every color and variety and the rapidly changing weather patterns of the high mountain environment. I loved the stimulation of the science and of my scientific “family”. And, for the first time in my life, I went on a whitewater raft trip. For two hours I laughed or screamed with the thrill of the rapids and of the shock of the ice cold (40 degrees) water drenching my head or trickling into my jacket. For two hours I had no perception of my being other than the excitement of the next wave or the simple feeling of unity with my colleagues in the raft. Such fun. Such living!

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