Thoughts From Behind the Torch (and elsewhere!)
November 5, 2011
Back to the Blog!
has been too long! My last post was more than a year ago, written in
Baltimore as we were only partway into my husband's chemo and radiation
for throat cancer. Now, 15 months later, he is feeling healthy again,
enjoying retirement, and appreciating NOT being in Baltimore at the
mercy of the radiation and chemo teams. Their care was extraordinary,
and we can now turn our attention to exploring our 'new normal'.
is newer than mine... He is now retired, and busy putting the cottage
and our main home to bed for the winter. Once that is done, it's time
to figure out what will occupy his days while I spend the bulk of mine
back in the studio. Writing is one option.
My new normal will
involve keeping my mind on glass when I know there is someone retired
down the street, who could play hooky with me at the drop of a hat. A
quick jaunt to our favorite consignment shop or a drive to see the ocean
are enough to distract me from the creative play I am now eager to
enjoy. But we have both learned, it's all a balancing act.
back to teaching, which makes me so happy. I've missed the inspiration
my students bring me, and the very act of preparing for a class keeps
me on my toes. I have new venues to round out this year and begin the
next, and a return to Penland School is planned for July.
can see in the photo, the birdhouses behind my studio are all vacant
now, the kayaks and sailboats are put away, and it's a good time to turn
that torch back on and warm up inside!
July 5, 2010
How Life Changes...
A year ago today, July 5, 2009, family and friends were gathered at
Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, on the Island of Martha's
Vineyard, to celebrate the life of my late father, who died of
Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 89.
And now, I'm in Baltimore
with my wonderful husband, 30 years younger than Dad, as we fight the
cancer that has put our lives on hold, scared the hell out of us, and
demanded our full attention. We are well into the treatment that has
been tailored for Ted by a team of doctors: three big doses of a trio of
chemos, with a period of rest after each; this being followed by daily
radiation - in the middle of which we find ourselves now.
is nothing like the immediate rush of adrenaline one feels at the onset
of such a diagnosis. Even before the diagnosis - the suspicions, the
scans, the biopsies, second opinions - at each point the jack-in-the-box
has been wound tight. Nerves are on edge, waiting for the phone call
when the jack pops out, triggering another dose from the adrenal gland,
another heart-pounding rush.
For now, those shots of adrenaline
have subsided as we fall into a routine of daily treatment, weekly
chemo, and periodic visits by other members of our supporting staff. I
call it the cadence of cancer. Can you imagine? Patients and spouses
all heading down to the cancer center like it's their day job, all used
to phlebotomy, oncology, scanning their patients' cards, buying parking
tickets at a discount. Like this is normal!
When we were coming
to grips with Ted's diagnosis, all the little scenarios we equate with
cancer - loss of hair, nausea, weight loss, fatigue, radiation burns and
worse - all these flashed through my mind. I'm sure they flashed
through Ted's too, although neither of us wanted to bring this
unpleasantness up. Sort of like the elephant in the room - the side
effects of cancer that were sure to come. Better not to dwell on them,
though. Why borrow trouble before it appears? It only mars what could
be a good day otherwise. So out of sight, out of mind. And when the
hair began to fall out and the nausea came, we were able to handle it
matter-of-factly. Maybe because you're 'eased' into these afflictions.
They didn't appear full force after the first chemo (well, nausea
began...). After the second, hair started to come out and Ted decided
to have Todd give him a short cut. Less fuzz to notice when it did fall
out. So you get used to what is happening gradually. Surprising to
me. But what can you do about it. And there are so many people in the
same boat... It's almost like a subculture. The cancer culture. So you
just deal with it all and don't bemoan it. Set your jaw and plod
Along the way, even as the caregiver and not the
patient, your sense of self changes subtly. One rarely notices the
passage from one phase to the next in this life. Aside from giving
birth, if you choose to, one usually isn't really aware of where he
lands in the timeline of his life until he's smack in the middle of the
next phase. I mean, didn't middle age creep up on us? And don't most of
us in our 50's still think we're in middle age? Ahhh - but are we
really? Nothing like cancer to remind you that AARP has relevance.
That what was normal last year is hard to remember a year later.
am feeling more introspective about everything as I deal with entering
this next phase of life. I think about my parents (especially my
mother) all the time. Trying to look with new eyes at their lives when
they were the age I am now.
And Ted. I admire him so for what
he is shouldering. I can't imagine how I'd behave if I had this fight
going on in my own body. Giving myself up to be injured - burned - on a
daily basis. I feel inadequate to help - unable to lift this burden of
pain from him right now.
I try to memorize little scenarios when
they occur - a visit to Baltimore Harbor for lunch before the first
chemo, holding hands on a bad night until one of us falls asleep. The
way the back of his head looks in his recliner, now that he has no hair -
so young and soft.
I don't know why I'm inspired now to add
something to this stale blog. Perhaps it's the irony of the date, or my
need to record these conflicted feelings. Seeing them in black and
white, reading them, might help me understand everything that's popping
into my head these days. This was the result yesterday:
his Easy Chair
The back of his head - coiffed by
didn't know his ears went quite like that
Is this what his mother saw, reading
Golden Books at 6?
Cancer pulls back curtains
Lays you bare.
March 12, 2009
Wow! It's been awhile! But I've been busy - I finished up the Commemorative Beads for Bead and Button (more on that in another blog posting) then turned my attention to cleaning the studio for Tom Holland's visit. Here are some pictures of the event: