Thursday, October 17, 2013

Old Friends

It’s no secret that on most days I really love my job.  I’m aware that many people can’t say the same, so I know I’m very lucky.  I can live without the extra hours of paperwork or preparation for my next day, but I REALLY miss my retailers and my co-workers.  I long for my life before D-day.  Although I’ve been off ten weeks since my surgery, it seems like an eternity. 

On most days, I get my energy from interaction with people. For those of us with this personality type, isolation can be intolerable.   According to the oncologist, chemo patients' white blood cell count begins to plummet day 10 after an infusion.    I'm no longer on Neulasta (which stimulates white blood cell count) and am on Cipro (an antibiotic) instead.  Of course, antibiotics are great at killing infections, but won't help you if you get a virus like the flu. It's important that I stay away from public places. I've been to the grocery on a few occasions and use hand sanitizer every few minutes.  I'm constantly amazed at the people who cough and sneeze and don't cover their mouths. I've always despised grocery shopping, but now..I'm just relieved to get out among the living.  

I know that there are probably many of you who would welcome some time off from the daily grind.  I've been there.  Before D-day there have been days when I just needed a "mental health day" and wanted nothing more than to stay in bed in my pajamas with a good book and the TV remote control.

Be careful what you wish for.

I can hardly stand to watch TV, especially the week following chemo.  I read sometimes, but find that it’s hard to concentrate (chemo brain).  Besides, most of the books I like to read (about homeopathy, natural living, and health) make me feel like a failure.  Of course, there’s always the internet, where the kind words and overwhelming support help me make it through the day.   I'm now more careful with my Google searches as the information can either empower or debilitate me.   So often, however, I'm blindsided by information in links sent to me by well intended friends. 

I have gotten dozens of messages from friends of friends on Facebook.  Each of them has an experience with breast cancer and so many want to share their stories.  I used to click on them immediately and read every word. Now, I have Jeff screen them first and delete if necessary.  I’m amazed at the people who want to tell you all the gory details about what chemo and radiation did to them (fingernails and toenails falling off, blistering burns in their mouth, esophagus, and colon….I could write a whole page of these comments…).  However, one thoughtful woman named Pat sent me a link to a very inspiring blog by a woman with breast cancer.  Due to my unforeseen fragility, I’m limiting my internet stories/blogs/messages to this one for now. 

For my next chemo infusion, Sylvia will be driving from Indiana and Carol is taking the day off to sit with me.  I'm so lucky to have friends who for 21 years (Liz), 25 years (Carol), and 40 years (Sylvia), have been there for all the good, bad, and ugly times in my life.   Sylvia is my childhood friend whom I met in 3rd grade.  We were quite the trouble makers in school (pretty harmless but incredibly annoying to all adults, especially teachers).  From 3rd grade through college, it was an ongoing, unspoken contest to make each other laugh.  The biggest reward was when we made the other one burst out laughing in class or in church.  It happened every day. 

Senior prom 1982-Left to right-Pam and Sam, Walter and me, Missy and Joe,  
Sylvia and Randy

Sylvia (left), Pam, and me

Maid of  Honor in my wedding, 1986

Lauren's wedding 2012, a reunion of sorts. :)
Me, Pam, Sylvia, and Missy

  Look what Sylvia just sent me!  This will come in handy to carry books and files to doctors        appointments!

Carol used to be my neighbor in Lexington.  I'll never forget the day we met. I was 24 and Jeff and I had recently bought a house in Wyndham Hills subdivision.  Lauren was two.  I was working thirty hours a week, taking two classes at UK, and well...had a toddler.  I was overwhelmed to say the least. Despite the fact that we had been settled in our new home for a few months, I hadn't met any of our neighbors....until Carol rang the doorbell.  I had left the door ajar so I knew whoever was there knew I was home.   Wearing my pajamas and robe, I was changing Lauren's diaper on the living room floor. 

My house looked like Toys R Us exploded.  I thought...Oh Lord, I can't answer the door. Look at this house and I, no doubt, looked like I'd been hit by a train.  "Hellooooo!!!!" She peeked her head in the door.  "Hi! I'm Carol. I live across the street and just wanted to come by and introduce myself."  She had her daughter Shelley with her, who was just six months older than Lauren. Lauren was two. Shelley was 2 1/2.  Embarrassed at the time, I picked up some of the toys, ran a brush through my hair, and tried to be a cordial neighbor. Carol introduced her daughter Shelley to Lauren.   I said, "Hi Shelley.  This is Lauren."  Shelley said, in the most perfectly, clear voice..."Hi Lauren.  I'm going to Cincinnati this weekend. What are you doing?"  Lauren, looked up and pointed to the ceiling fan and grunted. Now, when you're 24, and this is your first child, you constantly worry that they're keeping up with the norm when it comes to physical and developmental growth.  At that age, Lauren just didn't have much to say. She waited until she was three and surprised us all by singing every last lyric to "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel.  

Jeff and I lived in that home for 10 years. During that time, I think Carol and I talked almost every day.  After we moved to eastern Kentucky, she comes every summer to float with me in my hillbilly pool.  

It will be so good to see them both next week.  I'm guessing there will be lots of laughter. 
Look at the picture that Carol sent me.  It says, "Dear You. May you give yourself permission to trust your voice, step into your power and know that what you're doing matters."  Perfect!
Carol and Shelley (left), about a year before we met and at Shelley's graduation

Carol and Lauren (almost three)

Lauren's first friend

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