Archive for the ‘cancer’ Category

A Comforting Ancient Story

March 25, 2009

My dear friend SanityFound sent me this ancient story to comfort and fortify me about my upcoming visit to my dying uncle. It did indeed comfort me, and it resonated with truth. I hope it helps some other reader here:

In ancient times it was believed that when someone gets an illness, someone who doesn’t die suddenly, it is God giving those that passed on a chance to be with those who visit the the ones soon to pass.  In ancient times those who loved the one who was ill would visit them, staying a while at their bedside with their eyes closed, just breathing and feeling. They said it comforted them feeling those gone already surrounding their loved one.

 God brings the angels who know the one soon passing so that they do not fear, and to give comfort to those visiting.

Advertisements

The Life Cycle

March 23, 2009

Even as I celebrate my daughter’s pregnancy and my son’s imminent marriage, I got terrible news last night. My  favorite uncle, brother to the father I’ve been grieving on this blog, has pancreatic cancer. The very same cancer that took my father’s life. Lethal and fast moving. And, even though I wasn’t present when my father died, I now know it was a very painful death. A death my uncle witnessed.   I feel sick at heart over what he has in store for him. What he knows he has in store for him. I always imagine, no matter where my illness takes me, that the doctors would give me enough painkillers that there wouldn’t be much pain. Apparently that’s not always the case.

This is the uncle who taught me to ice skate with my  beloved twin cousins, Lenny and Joe, both already dead before their time.. He took us on wild sledding rides, the three of us screeching in terrified glee.  He taught us  to dive into our pool head first, hands properly pointed above our heads. To make a game of raking autumn  leaves and watching him set fire to them…then toasting marshmallows, carefully, his hand on our wrists to be sure we were safe. He taught the twins, already raucous,  to make practical jokes at my expense. He was the one who made noise on the roof for Santa on Christmas Eve, complete with bells for sound effects. Who truly enjoyed the company of us three little rug rats. And most importantly, who took us off the hands of our stressed out parents and provided a safety haven whenever we needed it most. 

I want to run to him and see him, its been years. I will go with my aunt, his sister,when she is over the shock and ready to plan our flight. I confess I am terrified.  It already feels so like what we went through with my father. I want to be strong and supportive but I’m afraid the similarities will curl me into a useless emotional fetal position..I keep telling myself that he’s not my father. He’s my uncle. I keep telling myself that he is 75. My father was 53.  I tell myself that we all have to die of something. As he has said, he’s had a good run.

It doesn’t help.  It doesn’t help at all. My roots are dying one by one, as nature intended. Thank God a new one is sprouting in my daughter’s womb.

Doctor Knows Best

March 2, 2009

Protected: Final Words

January 24, 2009

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

If I Were to Die Today (Part 2 – Relationship With Family)

December 18, 2008

Well, I’m still here…stroke symptoms morphed into a lupus flare…ok, I can deal with that, not so scary. Bed and tea and my laptop…small price to pay for some aches and pain!

Yesterday I focused on the spiritual aspects of death…and my not being prepared in that regard.  But today I want to talk about my loved ones. Most of all my husband and children.

I can only write from a selfish point of view on this, so here goes: I don’t want to miss watching my children’s lives further unfold. I have no grandchildren yet. I want to know them. I want them to remember me. Yes…I want to live on a few years longer by having a place in their minds…. I want to see what they look like! Since both my kids are pretty much clones of their father, maybe some recessive gene somewhere would reincarnate my physical characteristics… Narcissistic, certainly. But truthfully, don’t most of us long for a genetic  replica when we, or our kids, are pregnant?

Not so selfishly, I worry about them handling their grief. Oh I know, of course, that we all manage to do it.  But…loss is not a strong point for any of us in this family.  It takes us a long, long time….and I so wish I could spare them what God has decreed to be necessary…(There I go again. God certainly seems to be talking to me…however discreetly…)

My husband? Oh…this is a man who does not know who he is if he doesn’t have someone to give his whole heart and devotion to. He cannot stand to be alone. He would have to, HAVE to, find someone else to spend the remainder of his life with…to give that to… I’ve told him I would want that for him. But just between us….I don’t!!! I can’t STAND the thought of another woman having what was mine…his love, him….the thought of him holding and hugging someone else…I feel sick as I write this…but I also know he would NEED that….its not about ME anymore….but I’m just being truthful..we can all say what sounds like the right thing…but truthfully it makes me feel slightly ill….

Well, I comfort myself with the thought that if I were to die today, I would pass on to paradise, to the place where dreams are made…and later, my husband and kids would follow, and however they’ve gotten through their journey without me, none of it would matter in the WAY BIGGER scheme of things.

Well, I’m realizing that in both these posts I’ve pondered dying in terms of my relationship with others.  Not a word about my relationship with myself. Guess there will be a part 3 coming….

Psychscribe Quote # 48

December 16, 2008

 

Image from www.globalcollage.com

rain

 

“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.” Author unknown.

Homeopathic Medicine? or Scam?

November 28, 2008

Here are the facts of my recent consult. I would really like to know what you think or have experienced, positive or negative, in this area of medicine.

I wanted to try alternative medicine for my lupus since there doesn’t seem to be anything else to try except for chemo which I don’t want to do. I can still function and work and don’t want to live my life around that. I called this particular doctor of osteopathy because I heard he’d really helped a women with lupus for the past 20 years. He’s  in practice with his son,  a tech. First I met with the doctor, who spent over an hour taking a very comprehensive history.  He said traditional medicine teaches doctors to start with the symptoms, come to a diagnosis, and then treat the symptoms.  He explained that what he does is different in that he looks further back to the causes of the disease and starts his treatment there. Ok….sounded reasonable. He took quite a few vials of blood.

The next step was to go downstairs to his son and get tested for the causes. With blind faith I went, not even asking about what the procedure entailed. What it turned out to be was three hours of testing using some kind of probe on the meridians of my fingers which produced computerized data for his father. (For the uninitiated, meridians are the energy fields used in accupuncture.) This cost $550. and was not covered by insurance.

I then went back to the doctor at a later date for the results. The blood tests were unremarkable. But  the computerized meridian tests indicated all sorts of parasites, bacteria, viruses, low functioning adrenals, and lymes disease which I have apparently had for at least 8 years. I have been tested many times by my rheumatologist for lymes and adrenal functioning but he and his son explained the test was for “stealth” organisms which hide by embedding in the organs and escaping detection of traditional medical tests….He said that the hidden stealth organisms are what cause the autoimmune system to attack the body. 

He offered an eight month treatment plan, to the tune of several thousand dollars, none of which is covered by insurance. To start with, animal stem cell injections. Then various kits from his son with herbal remedies which would definitely help my immune system. I reminded him I’d come in for help with lupus and he said, “Oh? IS it lupus?” He suggested I not tell my regular medical doctor about the treatment since they’re so skeptical of alternative medicine, and then let him be surprised after the treatment with the improvement in my health and THEN tell him how I’d gotten better. (Ok, even as I write that I am embarrassed…what BAD medicine it is to NOT practice coordination of care!)

So now I finally decided to do some research (duh) and I find out that homeopathic remedies are so diluted that basically there is nothing of the original “essence” left by they time you take it. Lots of talk by traditional medicine of no research, just placebo effect. 

Responses, anyone? I would so appreciate them….

Cross

November 25, 2008

att00000att00001att000021att000033att000041att000051att000061att000071att000081att000101att000111att000121

Being Thankful for Chronic Illness

November 4, 2008

I am rushing off to work right now, so thankful to be in remission these last few weeks. But I read an essay called Being Thankful at But You Don’t Look Sick  which I’d really like to share.  Enjoy your day.

The Present for You

October 17, 2008

 

Here is a present for you:

Focus solely on the present below, thinking of nothing else but the image of that present…the colors….the shapes…focus for as long as you can…and then, when you’re ready, open the present and see what you find…

 

 

In  doing this exercise you are already practicing being present…experiencing peace and release from worries about tomorrow.

What did you find when you opened your present?

How Hospitals Can Kill You

October 7, 2008

I read a really scary article in Live Science that is hardly comforting to people with chronic illness. I mean really scary, at least to me. Every time I’ve been rushed to the hospital I’ve felt safer the minute I was triaged into the noisy, flourescent, bustling emergency room. So many people watching you, sticking you, taking your body fluids and analyzing them. They’re not gonna let you die, right?

Wrong. I mean, we’ve all heard that hospitals screw up sometimes, but this article put it all together into one punch in the stomach whole.

The article How Hospitals Can Turn Deadly by Robert Roy Britt

mentions, in part,  the following:

Superbugs – staph infections which apparently thrive in hospitals, increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and according to the CDC responsible for 99,000 deaths in 2002. If you’re young, not to worry.  Most younger people survive such infections, its the elderly who die. People like your grandparents.

Noise – causes staff stress and more errors.

Exhaustion – overworked residents and other staff are sleep deprived. A study showed that they were three times more likely to report a fatigue related “significant medical error.” I have always wondered about that when I watch Grey’s Anatomy. Not to mention all the doctors missing in action in the on call rooms. (Those scenes are accurately depicted, by the way. I used to be married to a medical resident.)

Bad timing- Whatever you do, don’t have an emergency during off hours or on the weekend. You’re more likely to wait longer for help and at a higher risk of death. This is cited in a JAMA published study on heart attack victims.

Really scary,  but along the same lines, the article statees that “babies born at night are at least 12 percent more likely to die within 28 days, according to a different 2005 study. The reasons are thought to include fatigue and inattention related to shift changes.”

Really getting burned- This one freaked me out, I’d never heard of such a thing. Apparently, in Pennsylvania,  “every year about 28 patients are burned during surgery by fires, such as when oxygen inside a mask ignited. Extrapolated nationwide, the data suggests 550 to 650 surgical burns occur nationwide each year, including one or two deaths, according to a recentMSNBC analysis. Cathy Lake, the daughter of a surgical burn victim, createdwww.surgicalfire.org to highlight the problem.”

Medication mistakes-    A 2006 study found that medication mistakes injure more than 1.5 million Americans every year.

In all fairness none of these things has ever happened to me, and I’m a frequent flier to hospital staff in the various states I have called home.  But in all fairness, shouldn’t hospitals be more closely monitored for careless mistakes?? Research and exposure to the pubic about these things is one thing. But how about consequenses? We all know that in medicine, like anything other business, money is the bottom line. How about the government fining hospitals for careless mistakes? I’ll bet you that would decrease those stats.

OK, I’ll give them a break on the resistant staph thing. Who knows? Maybe its extra-terrestial or something.

Knowledge is Power

September 30, 2008

I liked this article about being an empowered patient in today’s New York Times. Its nice to know that times are changing, where the “good patient” is not necessarily the passive, compliant one

 

 

Psychscribe Quote #41

September 28, 2008

Copyright Jupiter Images 2008

 

“We are not human beings having a
spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a 
human
experience
” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).

Psychscribe Quote #39

July 27, 2008

Perhaps we are like race horses – one of the old traditions was to ‘handicap’ the greatest horses so that they would not run away from the pack. They would pile on lead weights, whatever was needed to get up to the amount of weight the handicapper said they should carry. We’re handicapped because otherwise the world could not keep up with us.” Anonymous

No Posts Lately – Sorry

July 27, 2008

 

Copyright 2008 Jupiter Images

Copyright 2008 Jupiter Images

Chronic illness can have an effect on even the strongest relationships…So Alph and I are going through some tough times right now…causing me to be too depressed to write…anyway, thanks for still checking in and I will be back soon I hope….

When Mother of the Bride is Ill

July 18, 2008

Yup, that’s been my title for the past year or so, since we began planning my daughter’s wedding. We’ve been planning the fairy tale since she was a little girl, and so excited to get started once she got engaged. Also, for the past year, my lupus has been getting worse. More work obligations cancelled. More social plans cancelled. More pain. More bed.  I cannot make any commitments. Everything is tentative. Living a tentative life is stressful, and stress makes lupus worse.

We are coming down the wire here and I only pray that I will get a remission in time for the September wedding.  I’ve already had to disappoint her, and me, by  canceling some plans with her. It looks like today will be another one, since I’m in a lot of pain though fighting it. We are supposed to go for her first bridal fitting, and also to a make up trial. This is supposed to be a fun  thing that moms and daughters do together.  I feel so terrible, terrible, terrible to have to disappoint her (and me) again.

I try to tell myself its all in my mind, but its not. Its in my bones and in my foggy brain. Yesterday, I had to ask my sister to drive me to the pharmacy and to the lab for a blood draw. I NEVER ask people for help…yet today I am actually considering driving up to my daughter’s to do what we had planned. I simply cannot bear to disappoint her…

But then I think, I almost died four years ago when I had my stroke. And  I think, one of her oldest friends lost her mother to cancer just two months before the wedding. Can you imagine how sad that was? So then I think, we’re fortunate that I’m alive and able to share the wedding experience with her, albeit at a distance.  And as my father used to say, you have to roll with the punches….

Save Money on Rx Drugs

May 7, 2008

I just read an article on abc news that is worth looking at. They talk about a Consumer Reports analysis of the huge differences in prices for the same rx drugs in different states and even in different pharmacies within your state. Overall they found Costco to be the least expensive, and Rite Aid to be the most expensive. They also recommend independent pharmacies, which I was pleased to see since my sister owns one! Also, if you can’t afford your meds, or are strapped, most pharmaceutical companies have programs to help. All you have to do is call and ask if you qualify. Anyway, I hope this helps someone.

Why the Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

April 15, 2008

I had a major stroke in Dec. 2004 at the age of 52.  I could, should have died or been severely impaired. Instead, I have all of my functioning intact except for occaisional glitches finding words.  It was truly a miracle. There were so many people praying for me.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me because:

1. Eventually they figured out that I had lupus, which caused the stroke, and I am now being closely monitored and treated.

2. My husband and I decided that it was time to stop putting off my life’s dreams because if you wait too long you may never realize them. So since my dream was to go into private practice (psychotherapy) with my daughter, we left a state we hated living in and moved  two states away to be near her to open the practice. Working with my daughter is one of the biggest joys of my life.

3. We then, most unexpectedly, bought a lovely, perfect for us weekend/retirement house around the corner from my sister (who found it for us). My only sister and I had always had a conflicted relationship. But after the stroke, and moving near her, she is now my dearest friend and I love her with all my heart. Actually, it wasn’t until the stroke that I understood how much she loved me.

4. I have reconnected with other dear friends who live in this area.

5. I learned the true character of the man that I love, which I’ve also learned you only really know when the chips are REALLY down.

6. I’ve learned to allow myself play time.  Doing something for the process, not the result. Enjoying being in the moment of creation. For me that is decoupage. Sometimes the products are lovely, sometimes not. Doesn’t matter! Also have allowed myself to read novels, which don’t teach me anything but which I thoroughly enjoy. I guess you could say basically I’m allowing myself to enjoy.

7. I’ve learned that it is really quite lovely to feel so nurtured and cared for by so many people in my life…that used to be my job…

I’m sure there is more, but you get the idea.  Enjoy your day! Well, actually that is one more. I’ve learned to enjoy every moment of work and play because I appreciate that I’m here to do so!

Blessings to all,

Psychscribe

Medical Cannabis? YouTube

April 7, 2008

I personally agree with this doctor. What do you think?

From CannabisPatientNet

Pancreatic Cancer – hope for early detection

March 19, 2008

My father died of pancreatic cancer. Six weeks from diagnosis (Christmas Eve, thank you very much) to death two months later. The thing of it is, its so hard to detect. What I did not know, until reading this article, is that pancreatic cancer can run in families and be detected with the test this doctor has discovered:

\http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/science/18conv.html?ex=1363665600&en=4fcb4a86ba280b17&ei=5089&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss

Psychscribe Quote #24

March 18, 2008

“Perhaps strength doesn’t reside in having never been broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places.” Author Unknown

Grand Rounds- Best of the Medical Blogosphere

February 27, 2008

I came across this resource which looks really great (I found it, of course, on www.butyoudontlooksick.com ) It’s called Blogborygmi described as “the weekly rotating carnival of the best of the medical blogosphere”.  I have not had time to fully explore it, but if anyone wants to check it out and get back to us, that would be great. I feel very comfortable posting the link considering its source.  Enjoy!

Psychscribe Quote #8

December 29, 2007

“Do not go gently into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light!”

Dylan Thomas

Dying: A Family Rite of Passage

November 29, 2007

When my mother lost her father it was sad, but not unexpected. He was 80 years old, had had that lingering kind of cancer that old men often get, and there was plenty of time to prepare for his death.

Not that any of us ever acknowledged his demise or named the dread disease he lived with for so long. Until the day he died he spoke of getting well, would not reveal his feelings or let us tell him ours, and we all aided and abetted his fantasy.

He hid behind the wall of an impossible dream because he needed to, but that wall troubled my mother long after he was gone. It’s not just that I miss him, she would say. It’s not that I haven’t accepted his death. But it feels like there was unfinished business. Something left undone.

How well I remember the false gaiety of those last visits with him, the strain of false smiles and tears held in check. It seemed so unnatural not to acknowledge the obvious. The natural. But what else could we do? In a society in which every other bodily function is treated as a group rite of passage, from christening to wedding to baby showers and on again, the last one of all is oddly ignored, considering its inevitability.

We are taught to live well and love well, to birth well and parent well. No one teaches us to die well, or help another person to do it. When death finally comes we are poorly prepared.

Two years after my grandfather died, my own father was struck with a lethal, untreatable form of cancer. The doctors could offer us no type of therapy, no extra time, no hope at all. Here was the inevitable. Here was the shock. But here also was tragedy. My father was only 53 years old.

At first I wished it could be any other way. Why not a heart attack, an accident, something sudden? What could be worse than the horror of having to just sit there and watch him die?

We had so many questions.

Should we tell him, and if so, when? Might it not be kinder to protect him until the last possible moment from the anguish we already suffered?

And how would we handle him? We worried less over his imminent death than over the helplessness which must precede it. How would such a bull of a man, who hated hospitals and even aspirin all his life, handle such an indignity? He was not the kind of person who would allow you to feel sorry for him. He was a giver all his life who didn’t know how to take. Gifts embarrassed him and so did thank you’s.

What would become of our family without our hub, our rock, our peacemaker who held us all together? It was he we turned to with all our problems.

The answers, though painful as all growing is, turned out to be simple. We called a secret, emergency powwow of his brothers and sisters. It was the last family gathering from which he was excluded. A very wise uncle settled the hotly debated issue of whether he should be told by saying: “He’ll be leaving you soon enough. Why put a distance between you even sooner by pretending? You can put all that energy into helping each other get through this.” Once my father was told we decided together, with him, to treat his passing as the natural though untimely event that it was. He would do it at home, among his loved ones. Just as birth is no longer something that happens to women but a process they participate in, my father’s death did not happen to him. He died.

We never pretended that he would get well, or treated him suddenly differently because he was dying. More often than not it was he who comforted us, retaining to the end the identity of the father we’d known and loved.

This was a family that never learned to say good-bye. Anyone going away on a long trip would find, at the door, that everyone had suddenly disappeared. It hurt too much to take leave of each other.

Now, of course, we had to.

We wanted to. Each of us spent private time with him saying all the things you always mean to say to someone you love and somehow never do. And in those quiet, solemn talks, mostly filled with affirmations, he launched us. We flew.

My young brother came forward with a strength we had not known was there because we had not needed to look. Two grown daughters and a wife stopped being girls at last because the man who had always sheltered them needed women now. We learned to give, and he to receive.

His relinquishment of the outer cares freed him to undergo a long overdue spiritual journey, a journey he shared every step of the way. He groped for, wrestled with, and found his God, and left us with his finger pointed in the right direction.

We didn’t just sit and watch him die. We all participated. It was intensely painful, but intensely intimate. I learned more about my father in those last few weeks than I had in 32 years, or might have in another 32. There was a feeling of wholeness in his passing with, rather than from, us. It was as if old age and the wisdom that accompany it had been condensed, but not lost. I miss him, but not who he would have been. It could have been worse.