Being Human

Being Human 1

Being Human

I just came from a WordPress site of someone who is facing the diagnosis of terminal/incurable cancer.  It was quite an emotional, heart felt expression of how it feels to live with such thoughts inside you.  In the comments below of what appeared to be this person’s first post, was a comment from someone who referred to themselves as “Pops”.  He indicated that he didn’t know what to do… that he had read the blog and understands… but was lost.  Isn’t that true of all of us who care deeply about someone having to face such finality?  We’re just lost.  What ‘can’ we do?  Everything we may think of to do for them… seems so insignificant.  I think what most of us actually feel… is helpless!  In this case, I not only feel helpless toward the person with cancer… I feel helpless toward Pops.  What can one say to help him feel better about his own emotions, his own response to the one he loves?

Inside that same post, the writer mentioned the fact that some of those around you cannot handle the situation and their way of dealing with it is to just disappear.  Wow… is that ever a true statement… and it might not be just friends that walk away… it might be family.

So… I’ve been on both sides of this conversation.  What’s the solution?  I’m not sure.  Here’s what I do know.  If we could engage in pure honest conversation about our emotions on both sides of the situation… the distance between us just might be a bit less if we were to truly understand one another’s feelings.  There are so many that are afraid to express those emotions to another… especially to one who is facing terminal illness.  Sometimes it is just so much easier to distance yourself from them.  I think that what the real problem may be… is that those who distance themselves are afraid of causing the one suffering… any additional stress or negative emotions.  Perhaps they become distant to protect themselves from stress and negative emotions.  What at least some of them are failing to see is that those of us facing terminal illness just want to live as much of a normal life as we can… including the interactions of friends and family that we care about.  So just being who you are… who you’ve always been before the illness came to be… is what is most important.

Perhaps I could best express how I feel by saying this:  “Being human”… is not always easy.  Defining humanity includes compassion, kindness, understanding, tolerance, goodness and brotherly love.  Are these too difficult for some humans to deal with?  Loving someone should always be easy, but standing with them through the brume may prove to be far too difficult for some to bear.  Borrowing a couple of lines from “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer,  might best describe how I feel about the interactions between friends, family… and the one whom they care about…  facing the finality of death from illness.

“It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back.”
 
Well… when you find out you have terminal cancer… the fire is lit.  If standing in that fire with me is something that you cannot do for whatever reason… then please… distance yourself from me.  You must do what is best for your own spirit.  I will understand.  I will still love you… but the truth is… there will be an emptiness within my life without you in it.

There are no real answers as to what one should do… how one should act toward someone that is special to them, who is face to face with terminal illness.  We’re all different.  The only thing I can do is to be myself and do whatever my heart and soul tell me to do.  That’s the only thing I would ever expect from anyone else toward me.  Just be you!  Love cannot be diminished by cancer.  True love, in whatever form it takes… is forever.  I guess, what I am trying to say… to “Pops”… and to anyone finding themselves in this ‘being human is not always easy’ position… the love you feel is most obvious… so what you can do that would help your loved one the very most… is to just be you… and never stop loving.

A most beautiful day to you all…

Namasté

Michael33

My most humble appreciation to the one who inspired this post… and to “Pops”.  Their most beautiful example of “Being Human” may be experienced at:

https://terminallydetermined.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/in-my-time-of-dying/

 

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Stop and smell the flowers

Stop and Smell the Flowers

The above pic is of the flowers presented to me from the radiation clinic to celebrate the completion of this therapy session… and its healing.  As you can see… Sophie is definitely taking the time to smell the flowers.  Perhaps we should all do that very thing.

It’s hard to know where to begin on this update.  I’ve finished the 30 sessions of radiation and now entering the waiting period.  That is good news.  I’m very grateful to be here this morning to experience the dawn… to see the beautiful sky above me.  This week, however, has been… well… terrible.  Excuse me… but I felt like shit.  My pain levels were soaring.  I was close to heading for the E.R. several times but have talked myself out of it each time.  The main reason is that I have so many things going on in this moment health wise… that the hospital would have to keep me there for an extended period of time just to check out all the variables.  I have things that have to be taken care of.  Things that must be done… animals that depend on me… and to answer your next question… No… there is no one that is able and/or willing to take care of them.  So… I must endure.  Now… thank you for allowing me to vent.

I am celebrating the completion of this round of radiation… at least in my mind.  I just have to celebrate a bit reserved.  Personally… I’d like to drink too much and raise a little hell… but it would probably kill me… so I’ll wait awhile before I do that… Okay… I haven’t done that in a hundred years… but I still think about it.  How much hell can an old man raise any way?  I’d probably just bore myself… or hurt myself.

Why do we fight what life throws in front of us anyway?  Do you know?  I’m sure that a number of you have had some very large boulders thrown right in front of you.  I know I’ve tripped over a number of them myself.  Sometimes it’s really hard to pick yourself up, dust off your intimates, climb over the rocks and face life head on… with an attitude… but if we don’t… what’s the alternative?  Personally… I still have things to do here on earth… a purpose that perhaps I’m not sure I understand… but a purpose none the less.  Maybe it is merely this journal to share with others… perhaps it is the poetry shared on my other site.  Perhaps it is the love and light that we share with one another.  Maybe it is the smile we share in the parking lot of the grocery store with one who has lingered in sadness… aloneness… far too long.  Whatever that purpose may be… I am willing to face the suffering… the pain… the cancer… the heart disease… the radiation… the side effects… just to share with one who is searching… a smile… a hug… a simple expression of love.  Is that not the truest meaning of being human?

Perhaps there is a lot for all of us to celebrate on this beautiful morning.  Maybe we often fail to recognize all what is beautiful that surrounds us every single day.  Just look into the mirror.  Oh, I know…. you’re all frowning and hesitant to look into the mirror at your own reflection.  Don’t look at yourself with critical eyes… look at yourself as a beautiful creation of our universe… placed upon this earth to share your love… your light… with those who are suffering… who feel pain, both physically and mentally… with those who have been abused… with those who do not know love.  Every one of us is here to ‘know’ love… to share our love with another.  That is all it takes to be a beautiful human being.  I promise… you will feel the enlightenment.

I wish you all wellness… happiness… peace… and love… a beautiful day… and a beautiful reflection.

Namasté

Michael33

Twenty-seven sessions completed

Just a short update to let everyone know that I’m… okay.  It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in the southern plains and I am extremely fortunate and full of gratitude that I am here to experience all the beautiful that lingers in this very moment.  Okay… so after a day in the mid ninety’s yesterday it is thirty degrees cooler and raining… but it is all quite beautiful to me.

There is not a lot of new to report.  The skin on my back and chest have become quite sore from the burn, but aloe vera gel is easing that pain considerably.  I’m a bit too dehydrated today and very weak with the same complaints as last reported… especially lower esophageal pain.  I’ve found nothing that really relieves it… although the aloe vera juice does help a bit… so I guess it is just a ‘live with it’ situation until the burned tissue on the inside has the opportunity to heal.  That should start about Thursday of next week.  Only three more sessions of radiation remain.  I suppose you all know how I feel about that.

I’m fully aware that the side effects of radiation often worsen after treatment is over and some linger for months… and obviously from my own experiences… sometimes linger for years.  The cough has worsened over the past week… not sure as to why… perhaps more lung damage from the radiation.  There really isn’t a lot of that lung left to damage so I’m hopeful the upper lobe stays functional.  Maybe it’s just irritated.  Time will tell on that one.  Chest pain continues to be fairly constant… sometimes worse than others.

I know you’ll all be pleasantly surprised that I didn’t post a book length update today… but I’ll probably make up for it in the next post.

I thought you might enjoy this post I stole from my poetry site.  It just seems to fit the day.  Please visit me at The Vision of Poets…

Whenitallgoeswrong 3

When It All Goes Wrong

Perhaps it was I who strayed from the course
Or maybe consulted a misguided source
I mixed up my potion a little too strong
What else can you do when it all goes wrong

The reports arrived in bold black and white
An omen in crystal with darkness of night
Singing an ode with an out of tune song
What else can you do when it all goes wrong

What does one do with such heartbreaking news
Should you start smoking weed or turn to the booze
Or should you just face it determined and strong
Whenever you find that your world’s gone wrong

Perhaps it is I who longs for the place
Where life’s simple pleasures come all wrapped in lace
To forget about time when the day is too long
What else can you do when it all goes wrong

The reports arrived in fluorescent hues
Perhaps it’s all there in the choices we choose
When white ravens rise, you just ride along
What else can you do when things are all wrong

Perhaps it is I who bides in a dream
Where all is not nearly as bad as it seems
Sweet Irish Cream, hot coffee… a song
What else can you do when it all goes wrong

Namasté

Have a most beautiful day

Michael33

Update… 22 sessions completed

As of Friday, twenty-two sessions of radiation have been completed.  Only eight more remaining before the long wait begins till we find out how successful they have been.  I am of course expecting complete obliteration of both tumors… and of anything else that’s lurking in there that shouldn’t be.

As far as side effects and symptoms go, they have remained mostly constant.  No better… no worse than last posted with only a couple of exception.  The esophageal contractions and pain have become worse at times.  There is a constant burning pain which covers a third to one half of the lower portion.  It feels like badly burned skin… the kind of burn severe enough to blister and expose the lower layers.  I suppose that is exactly the cause.  I’ve been drinking aloe vera mixed with juice to help soothe the burn.  It helps quite a bit but never alleviates it completely.  I do believe that it is helping to heal the burned areas that it can reach.  I have become a firm believer in aloe vera.  The juice is helping soothe the inside burn while the gel is helping the burn on the skin.  It also is quite affective against many other skin irritations and infections including fungal and yeast infections that can be caused by radiation.  If you have any kind of skin irritation, give aloe vera gel a try.  I have found it to be quite amazing where even prescription creams and powders have been ineffective.

The other increased symptom is an uncomfortable pressure feeling in the chest with addition pain on deep breaths or coughing.  I’m not sure what it is all about or what is causing it to be worse this morning.  Shortness of breath has accompanied this uncomfortable pressure like feeling.  Low body temperature with waves of chills up and down the body isn’t making me feel much better either. Hopefully it will improve as the morning progresses.

Other than the above and all the things that seem to annoy an old man… I am doing okay.  Of course that depends on one’s definition of okay and what you may be comparing it to.  Okay for me is most likely not okay for many others.

Tomorrow is treatment number 23.  That’s a good number… the number of pairs of chromosomes in the human body.  Of course… some of my chromosomes may be a bit distorted now from so much radiation.  In total of all three sessions of radiation therapy… I have received somewhere in the area of 80 radiation treatments.  “80”.  That’s a lot of radiation.  In addition to the treatments… they do anywhere from 2 to 5 xrays every day of treatment… depending on how things line up and on how many times I end up coughing.  Every time I cough they have to stop the procedure and realign me with the machine.  In order to do that… additional xrays are required.  So far in at least 2 to 3 sessions per week… I have had some serious coughing spells.  It makes me feel very bad because the techs have to redo everything alignment wise… but after all… I have a collapsed lung… radiation pneumonitis… fibrosis of the right lung… and cancer in the lymph nodes in the hilum of the lung and attached to the windpipe leading into the right lung.  It only stands to reason that I’m going to cough… a lot.

I’m sitting here at this antediluvian kitchen table with an outside temperature of 58 degrees F… heading for a high around 88.  The temp inside is a warm 75… yet… I am dressed in warm pants, tee shirt and flannel shirt… and still cold.  I’m not looking forward to winter or even to the cold front that is supposed to come through later in the week.  I’ll be outside in the sunshine in a little while toasting myself to warmth.

Ollie says to tell everyone good morning.  He’s busy helping me stay warm by laying on my chest and giving me these silly Ollie looks…

Ollie 1

Hope you all have a beautiful Sunday…

Namasté

Michael33

The Crap of it All

The crap of it all…

Let’s get the crap out of the way first.  I feel like $#!+… What in the world have I ever done to bring this wrath of the universe upon myself?  Oh, yeah… birth.  If we plan our lives before we are born like some people and books have suggested… were we in our right mind when we did so?  Life has so many beautiful moments… and several thousand pounds of crap.  Does all the manure we wade through without galoshes somehow enlighten our soul?  Well… my answer might surprise you.  I do believe that it is all the crap we endure throughout our lives that helps to make us… a better human being… to bring elightenment to our souls.  It all boils down to how we handle all that crap.

Have you ever spent a day in a room where chemotherapy is being administered to a large group of people attempting to survive various forms of cancer?  Have you lived with or been close to someone who is dealing with serious side effects of radiation therapy?  Have you lingered in the waiting room with those just trying to find a way to still be here tomorrow?  If you have, then you have seen their lights shining.  I have met some very personable, caring, compassionate souls along my journey through cancer… some of them patients… some of them the people who care about those patients… some of them those taking care of those patients.  They cast a beautiful light into the world and eagerly share that light with others who are wandering in the darkness.  When you see them… don’t just pass them by… take just a moment to let them know that you care.  You’ll be surprised how many candles you may light along the way… and in return… brighten your own light.

Okay… the update… I have completed twelve sessions of radiation.  Much of my “innards” feel burned.  The cough has worsened but the tightness of that cough is not quite as bad.  The infection… well… it seems to be lingering a bit.  I feel a tiny bit better but still running fever mostly from early afternoon throughout the evening… with a very low grade in the early morning.  The doc is not sure why it goes up around the same time of day… every day.  As for changing antibiotics… she wants me to finish the one I am taking and then we will determine whether to extend this antibiotic or change to another.  I have three doses remaining so that will be determined on Monday… Maybe.

The skin on the back is well sunburned but not too sore as yet.  When I swallow… the esophagus feels as though something is scraping against raw tissue.  I suppose it feels that way because… it ‘is’ that way.  When I try to eat… I get an unusual pain that shoots from the stomach up into the esophagus to about mid chest level.  I haven’t ever experienced this type of pain in that area so I’m not sure why it is happening… but I am certain that it is radiation related.  It’s a hard pain… like a heart attack… but in a different location.  Luckily… it only lasts seconds at a time… but happens several times during each meal… no matter what I am eating.

I am somewhat dehydrated.  I’m drinking lots of liquids… mostly water and those drinks that replenish electrolytes.  I don’t like the taste, but they do seem to help the situation… so I’ll drink them.

I’m looking forward to the two days off from the zapper.  Last weekend was not pleasant due to various reasons, so I am hopeful for a better weekend this time around.

Miracle3

I think I am just going to join Miracle relaxing on a beautiful September morn on the sunporch and relax… ponder philosophically about life and love… and drink… ummm… responsibly of course.

Wishing you a most beautiful weekend as well…

Namasté

Michael33

A New Surprize…

As it seems to be of normality for me… there has been a bit of a technicality thrown into the fire that surrounds me.  A new surprize.  An infection.  Apparently a serious one. 

Yesterday’s treatment went okay… with one exception.  The doc didn’t like the unusual sound coming from me when I coughed… the fact that I was running fever… and the swollen lymph nodes in my neck, under my chin and jaw… and on each side of the chest.  She said I had an infection that was restricting my air ways.  When I asked… which you would think by now that I would have known better than to ask… what kind of infection?  She rattled off… most likely… “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus”.  Huh?  Well doc… that sounds kind of serious, I stated.  She said that it ‘is’ serious because this type of infection is immune to many of the regular antibiotics.  I asked if it was caused by the radiation therapy.  She replied that in a sense it was… but not directly.  It seems that those of us with cancer and undergoing treatment are victims of a compromised immune system… (which I was well aware of having already from previous crap) making us vulnerable to infections such as these.  The risk of this infection is highest in individuals with chronic lung disease.  Well… that’s me.  I only have one lung and a small piece of the other that function at all.

So what do we do?  Antibiotics.  I started them yesterday.  I also Googled affective antibiotics for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (of course he did)… and found that the antibiotic prescribed is not particularly affective… yet other antibiotics of the same type… are a bit more affective. 

So what do I do?  Do I say… “Hey doc… that antibiotic you gave me to attempt to get rid of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isn’t affective.”  Hmmm… that doesn’t really sound like a good idea.  I like this doctor… we have been through a lot together and she has done a rather miraculous job saving my ass.  She knows I google everything… so surely she would naturally expect me to come home and look up the information to see if the prescribed antibiotic was affective for this supposed infection. 

I’m in another dilemma… what to do or how to go about doing it without sounding like Mr. Know it All… questioning her professional opinion.  I would appreciate any and all ideas of how to approach this with a doctor that I truly want on my side… one that I have placed my full trust in and respect her opinions.  That’s a rare thing for me with doctors.  No offense to the medical professionals that do attempt to always do what is best for the patient.

Help… Please!

The last few days have been the very worst of this ordeal so far.  I feel like $#!+.  But one thing is for sure… it can’t take my attitude down the drain with it… as I cough myself purple.  I like purple… it just doesn’t always look good on one’s face.

I’m beginning to gather a lot of entries into this journal, so I don’t always remember what I have mentioned and what I have not. I may have mentioned in a previous post about the crinkling sound in my ear.  Here is a bit of further information.  

I found something to be incredibly interesting to me that came from my dear doctor after she did some research on one of my questions.  I asked her about the rattle in my right ear.  The sound is like crinkling plastic wrappers in my ear with every inhale and exhale.  Yes… every breath… both in and out.  It is very annoying.  It doesn’t hurt… just drives me a bit crazier than I already am.  My first thought was that it had something to do with a damaged ear drum… so of course… I started my own Google research investigation.  I read that a sound like that with both inhale and exhale can be related to lung disease.  Okay… that makes sense considering a large portion of my lung is suffering from radiation fibrosis and has collapse both the lower lobe and most of the middle section of the right lung.  I asked the doc if she had ever heard of that.  Of course… I got one of those looks… with a response that no… she had never heard of that.  Then she indicated that she would do some research on it for me and see what she could find out.  Yesterday… she shared what she had found with me.  She said that from her investigation of everything she could find on the subject… that the constant crinkling sound in my ear was actually… me hearing my ‘lung’ crackle.  Wow… that was profound.  I can hear my own lung crackle without even a stethoscope.  If it weren’t so annoying… it would be really cool.  Well… except for the fact that it is not necessarily a good thing that my lung is crackling like that.  That’s definitely a bad thing. 

I realize that this information may not fall within the interest of most of my readers, but I found it to be most enlightening.  The mystery of “why” it is crackling has been solved.  Knowing why it crackles however, hasn’t made it any less annoying.  At least maybe I have a good excuse for being nuts.

Isn’t it interesting how we interact with people about our health?  With severe heart disease, cancer in the fourth and fifth place… severe infection… those who pass me by… strangers… neighbors… acquaintances… that inquire… “How are you?”  I most always respond with “Fine… How are you?”  I mean… really… who truly means for you answer that question in detail anyway?  Maybe the world would be a bit different if people asked of another… those types of questions and actually… wanted to know… caringly… compassionately… How are You?

I suppose I can’t change the world… but that probably won’t stop me from trying.  When I ask you “How are you?”… I truly want to know… how you are. 

Okay… I know folks don’t like to read long posts so I’ll shut up… even though it’s not really my nature to do so in these posts.

Say hello to my newest friend… Isn’t she amazing?

Butterfly 4

Have a most beautiful day!

Namasté

Michael33

How to Know when You’ve Been Fried

Question:  How to know when you’ve been fried

Answer:  When you’ve had nothing for breakfast…  And burp bacon…

I know… that’s a strange way to start a post to this journal… but it is true. 

Perhaps there is more of a link than we realize between humans and pigs.  Perhaps the cannibals were right… humans taste like pork.  Perhaps… one who has been fried and still alive can verify that claim… by burping bacon.  Oh… come on… laugh… it’s funny.  After all, they take the valves from pigs’ hearts and place them into human hearts and save our human lives.

Some of us are even born with pig snouts… and still adorable…

Baby with pig nose   Pig nose 1

Come on now… where’s that sense of humor?  Trust me… sometimes I know exactly how hard it is to find that sense of humor… like every morning when I voluntarily go to the clinic and jump into the frying pan.  Kind of reminds me of that old song… “What Kind of Fool am I”…

Okay… enough of this rather… ummm… un-normal humor.  On with the update. 

This morning I will be receiving my sixth treatment.  They are zapping me quite strongly this time but I don’t meet with the doc until Friday (maybe) so I’m not sure why.  She originally said that we would take it slowly to keep down the collateral damage.  However, that damage has already started, though most reports state that they normally don’t start for a couple of weeks of treatment.  I know… I’m weird.  The same thing happened the first time around on the neck and throat. 

Perhaps I am getting the negative benefits so quickly because my system was so badly damaged from the first two rounds of treatments and the fact that I started this procedure in a much weaker state than before.

This is my experience so far…

One of the worst effects so far is the swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and beneath the jaw… from the tender areas beneath the chin and radiating out both directions to the end of the jaw bone beneath the ears.  The lymphs in the neck have been somewhat painful since radiation treatment of cancer in that area in 2014.  They have worsened since beginning this treatment.   It is very painful and I can’t sleep in my usual positions because it puts pressure on that area and causes too much pain.  I try to sleep sitting straight up, but as most of you know… that ain’t always easy.  It really didn’t make much sense to me until I considered the fact that they are radiating the lymph nodes in other areas and… well… they’re all rather connected.  If they are clogged up or swollen in one are, they are likely to cause similar problems in other areas.

The other worst effect is a terrible cough that is hard, dry and persistent.  I did have a cough before going for treatment, but two nights ago, the cough suddenly worsened and changed completely in sound.  That one’s hard to explain with words.  The cough hurts the chest area and sends a severe burning feeling into the larynx… probably because it was also damaged from previous radiation and because it is once again receiving part of the current zapping.

The larynx has pain all the time.  The burning pain from coughing just makes it much worse.

The esophagus evidently has swollen a bit because it is a little harder to swallow food.  Everything seems to catch in the throat near the larynx.  It may be that the larynx is actually what is swollen and causing that to happen instead.

My voice comes and goes.  One minute I can talk fine and the next I can hardly talk at all.  I choke and cough if I say anything in even a slightly louder than normal voice.  I cannot laugh for the same reason… choking and coughing.  I like to laugh.  I’m kind of sad about that one.

The persistent pain in the mid-section, just beneath the bottom of the sternum has worsened, but only slightly so far.

I have a bit of trouble functioning early in the morning which is usually my best time of day.  After being up for a while I improve.  Mid-morning seems to be my best time of day at this moment.  Early afternoon I begin getting tired.  Early evening I start falling apart and by bed time… well… I really don’t have a choice but to go “crawl” into the bed.

There you have it.  The five day radiation update.

I hope I didn’t offend anyone with the cannibals and the reference to pigs.  My best recommendation is this…

Don’t visit areas that may have cannibals living nearby… if you burp bacon.

More updates after the visit with the Doc…

Namasté

Michael33