Friday, 30 January 2009

My visit to the doctor

This morning I went to the hospital to get my blood count checked and have my chemo site changed again. I've been having some problems with the site, and the nurse was able to give some relief to my arm in the way she positioned the PICC line.

I am supposed to start my second chemo on Monday morning at 9 o'clock, but my white blood cells have to be back to normal. Doug and I met with Dr. Raza, the oncologist, after I had my blood taken. He told us that my cell count is 'borderline,' and unless it comes up by Monday, my treatment will be delayed a week. This is not what we wanted to hear. So, I thought, "I'll put out the call to prayer to the people reading the blog." So, that is my request – that my cell count come back to normal by Monday morning at 8:15, when I will have another blood test. If all is well, the second chemo will begin at 9:00 a.m. Thanks for praying, everyone.

"With God all things are possible."

Thursday, 29 January 2009

What My Mother Said to Me

When my mother first saw me without hair, she exclaimed, "Oh, you're beautiful! You look like you did when you were born!" Then she kissed me on the cheek. Thanks, Mom, I love you.

My new song: "I Have a Goal"

I had a goal – work on my accounting books. I started yesterday at noon. The Monitor came to monitor my progress; to ensure that I did what I said I was going to do. She stood with an old yardstick in hand like an old school marm, gently tapping the floor. “Get to work,” she barked occasionally. I tried to work, but Mom arrived to sew me a bandana or two. The optometrist’s office called. “We have a cancellation, come on down.” So on down I went, to have an eye exam, glaucoma test and look for new glasses (I haven’t had a new eyeglass prescription in eight years). Two fashion consultants arrived, opinions in tow. I had asked them to come. I got brave and took off my head covering and wandered around the eyeglass shop, trying on whatever would fit, which was a challenge. Apparently my head is small. I didn’t know that. Doug arrived and through the process of elimination – and cost concerns, I finally held up the pair I had chosen – “This is it!” I shouted. Oh, the boldness of it all. To show your bald head in public is not easy, but hey, what is easy about life? Just another thing. It’s just my head. So what if I don’t have hair for now? Lots of people don’t have hair. Look at Doug, for instance. He’s cute.

The evening was spent eating Boston bluefish and smelts for supper at the local cookhouse, and home again to recline in the healing chair.

Today, I woke with good intentions again – work on the books. I’m tired of saying it, but will be saying it until I get them done. I have a lot to do. Started out with Pilates exercise, my new favorite love, and running up and down the stairs a few times to get the old ticker racing. Somewhere along the way of exercising (which was gentle in nature), I hurt my lower back and spent several times throughout the day lying on my back on the floor. You try to do something for your body in order to get in shape, and then you put your body back out of shape. What gives, anyway? I am determined to get in shape by the time I’m 50 in late August. “Fit at 50” is my goal and I will get there!

The Monitor came again to make sure I was working. However, she didn’t work – she went upstairs and went to sleep. What kind of a monitor is that? I worked and studied government documents for a couple of hours, in order to know how to do my books properly. I felt lawyerish and accountish, just like I used to. Lunchtime was a weird concoction of egg and cheese and English muffin. Then a most wonderful surprise came to my door….

Cousin P. and Racecar Amy had trekked from the extreme southside of the city to see me. I haven’t seen P. since the day of the Tale of Two Believes. I haven’t seen Racecar Amy for several years. She took one look at me and said, “You missed me, right?” “Yes, Amy, I did miss you. Did you miss me?” I took P. on a tour of my house. In the laundry room, she made considerable mention of the stash of towels I have acquired over the years. I gave her towels and facecloths to go. She said she only had four towels; that you only use one at a time, why would she need more? I guess she’s right. I like to give parting gifts to people – something eclectic from my house. Remember the microwave I gave to Angie?

Anyway, when we got downstairs, P. presented me with an iPod Touch! What a trade – towels for technology! Brilliant, I think. I said to P., “You’re kidding! I can’t believe this!” “Well, you said you wanted one, and I couldn’t bring you a half ton truck or a dog, even though I have three half tons in my yard,” she exclaimed. “Yes, I did want one,” I replied, “but I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously!” Eat your heart out, policeman son.


We had a wonderful visit and off they went. Amy took a picture of me on her cell phone. Probably so she won’t forget me. I forgot when I looked at it that it would be a bald picture. Sometimes I forget and then I look at myself. Oh well… Back to the books, except we needed to take a picture of the iPod Touch for the record. So I threw on a tam and the Monitor took my picture.

After I took off the cap, she noticed that I had red fuzz all over my head, which actually looked like blood. I decided to have some fun with this and try to fool Doug when he came home. By this time I was tired and my back was hurting, so I went to lie down on the hard floor. After a few minutes of non-rest, the doorbell rang. I went and opened the door, not a thing on my head, except the red fuzz, which I forgot was there, and greeted this man who was offering to remove snow from my roof. He gave me his card and looked at me strangely. I thought it was just because I had no hair. I went to lie down again. A few minutes into resting again, I started to laugh hilariously, as I realized he would have seen the ‘blood’ all over my head. He was probably wondering, “What is SHE all about? Maybe I should offer to take the ‘stuff’ off her head instead of her roof.”

Doug came home. I stood in front of him, hoping to fool him. He asked why I had red fuzz all over my head. Oh, Doug, what are you talking about?

A few more positive things about having no hair:

  • My hair isn't messed up when I get up in the morning
  • I can now apply moisturizer to my head, something I couldn't do before
  • My hair doesn't get out of place when I put my shirts on
  • I don't have to look for my hairbrush anymore


     

    Today I am going to work on my 'books' again. One of my 'careers' was in accounting, but I'm sure resisting doing my own books. I will work on anyone else's with pleasure, but my own? Not. OK, I need to pretend I'm working on The African Queen's books. There… now, get 'er done. Carolyn is also working on her books this week. We made a pact yesterday to work on our books this week. Get going, Carolyn…

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

New Cartoon Strip


Grand Manan E. is having a great time with her Mac designing head wraps for Deb Mac. And since I want a farm 'out of Africa,' the African Queen title is quite fitting, don't you think? Wow, E., so extreme, but if the shoe or the hats fits, I'll wear it!

Wild Western Woman


I've been thinking about acquiring two things -- my own half ton and a dog. Not sure whether I'll get either, because I probably can't take care of either right now. But I like thinking about it. And a farm to go with it. "I had a farm in Africa," is a line spoken by Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa," one of my favorite movies. I need a farm, too. And since Jack is going to be a farmer when he grows up... So I thought I'd post a pic of me when I was living in the wild west with both a dog and a half ton. What therapy they would be right now. (Now, no one be goin' to get me a half ton and a dawg, now)...

When I awoke this morning I was thinking about wearing a cowboy hat, so I guess I need to find one. Doug has one that Dusty bought him years ago, but it's a little large. I'm a cowgirl, not a cowboy. A cowgirl with a halfton and a dog in the back. J. & S. from Campobello now have two Australian sheepdogs. Now they just need to get some sheep so the dogs will have something to do. Perhaps I'll get a sheep, too. And a horse. Cuz Els said she'd teach me how to ride when I'm through this.

Lord, might I be but as a saw,

A plane, a chisel in thy hand.

No, Lord, I take it back in awe;

Such prayer for me is far too grand.

I pray thee, rather let me lie

As on thy bench the favored wood;

Thy saw, thy plane, thy chisel ply

And work me into something good.

…George Macdonald

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Received an email from E. today in Grand Manan. She sent me some history on African women and their head wrap. She said that perhaps I could bring the head covering for Christian women back in vogue (LOL). Well, I think maybe she's on to something. I've been invited to a luncheon on Thursday at S.'s house, and I said that we would all need to wear a hat to the luncheon. So there. Here is the history on African women:

Modesty is among a woman's attributes and the head wrap symbolizes the woman's genteel spirit. It has, for years and years, been an item inseparable from the African woman's head.

The head wrap is a piece of square or rectangular cotton material and there are various ways it can be folded or molded and tied atop the head. Each part of Africa has its own style of wearing the head wrap, some areas more flamboyant than others. One can therefore tell at a glance from which region of African the wearer or the head wrap originates. The most primary use of the head wrap is protection of the head from the sun's glare, wind, dust and cold, though in some areas, the head wrap is a part of the traditional and/or religious custom.

In all regions however, the head wrap has always been a piece of d├ęcor for the African women. The more complicated the wrap style the fancier it is. When a new garment is ordered from the tailor, there is always ample fabric allowed for the head wrap to complete the costume.

Well, I guess I am modest now; I'm wearing a head wrap. And I'm from the flamboyant region of New Brunswick – Superior City.

I'm now into my second day of being bald and beautiful. I've already discovered a few things I didn't know before:

  • I am colder now, which helps out with hot flashes
  • I am using a satin pillowcase, which tends to be warmer than cotton, but good for Mrs. Baldy in keeping her head semi-warm at night
  • Hair care means swiping a facecloth over the head, which is exhilarating in itself
  • Applying moisturizer to the complete head is unusual but soothing
  • What hat do I wear today? If any, depending on whether I go out or not. Most definitely cannot go out without a head covering
  • I feel free and unencumbered without hair (OK, maybe I'm stretching it a bit)
  • I know what Doug feels like now (and Reg)
  • I don't need gel or mousse, so am having a yard sale on hair products
  • Wool hats get stuck on my stubble
  • People like my new look and think I look younger (Yes!)
  • E., my physiotherapist that I saw this morning held my bald head in her hand as she gave me treatment on my shoulders and arms
  • People are not really bothered whether they see me bald or not
  • Wondering about whether I'm brave enough to go out in public without a hat – I'll find out over time

     

    Must go – Cuz Els is coming for tea, and Cuz C brought dinner. Cousins, friends, family, mail carriers who care, the presence of God – who could ask for anything more?

"Even all the hairs on your head are numbered." (Matt 10:30)


 


 


 


 


 

Monday, 26 January 2009

Here I am

I decided to post a pic of me today so you could share in my new look. I'm getting used to it. My nurse at the hospital told me today that I looked like Demi Moore, the movie star. I told her that was a positive. I was thinking that maybe I could call myself Debi Moore. Now I'm Mary Tyler Moore (I'm gonna make it after all) AND Debi Moore (movie star). She asked me if it was harder than I thought it would be. I said, "Yes, it was; just another step in the process that you have to deal with." She let me pick out a bunch of hats, caps and scarves to take with me. People donate them to the oncology unit. I brought many home and had a fashion show tonight with D. and S. We took pictures of all of my hats. I'll show you a few. I can look different every day now. Different hat, different look. I've been told at least three times today that I look much younger. Go figure. There is always a positive in a negative situation. You just have to look for it. I can definitely feel the difference in my body temperature, however. I'm cold! Now I know what Doug feels like. I will continue to lose the rest of the hair over the next while, but may have a bit of 'stubble.' I must go call Natalie and tell her she can see me now.

The Weekend

Went to Jon and Alicia's for Saturday and Sunday. Greeted by Afton, letter in hand she made for me, and two pictures she had coloured. One a boy building a snowman, the other a gingerbreadish house. She is not yet 4, but can colour like an 8 year old. Jack immediately wanted to show us his trucks and tractors. It's all he talks about – nothing else. I asked Jack what he wants to be when he grows up. "A farmer," is his quick answer. Jack the Farmer. Two months ago I made him a truck out of a milk carton and put a sign on the top that said the same. He probably will be, and there's nothing wrong with that. We definitely need more farmers. He'll probably be an organic farmer, no doubt. Baby Ivy's smile lit up the whole room, as she kicked those dancin' feet. What a baby – so gentle and quiet and cute! She's crawling everywhere and standing up. She especially likes the hearth beneath the wood burning fireplace. She enjoys putting charcoal in her mouth, which Jon doesn't understand, considering the taste is so bitter. I told him she's probably the only baby in the world that eats charcoal.

I spent the entire two days in front of the fire, reading to babies or reading to myself. And eating when it was time to eat, of course. Very relaxing. Thanks, Jon & Alicia. Your house is a home. Afton stayed by my side for most of the time, holding my hand, body snuggled up against mine. Jack did the same to Papa Doug and they read his John Deere tractor calendar and truck books. Ivy crawled around. What could be better? I value all of our children and grandchildren. They truly are a gift from God and I cherish them. Afton looked up at me once and said, "I'm your angel because my face looks like an angel." Yes, Afton you are. Then she wrote her name in my journal, complete with upside down "N." Precious. She prays for me each night. I asked her to pray for me. She said, "No, only at supper time." I told her she could pray any time of the day. She wouldn't pray right then, but did tell me what she says when she prays (smile). "Please God, heal Gram Deb of breast cancer so she won't be sick anymore." I know He has to hear that prayer. Prayers of children are so pure before God.

On to my hair…my scalp was so tender and itchy the whole weekend, as the hair was preparing to come out. It was hard for me to sleep on Saturday night, and I got up to read before the fire. Not much of a sleep that night. We decided to call the Pirate's home (I call him Plato the Pirate now, because he is a philosopher) and see if M., his wife, would trim my hair, thinking that would help somewhat. "Yes, come on over." So Sunday afternoon, we trekked to the village of Coldstream, wherever that is. If you've never taken a trip there, you should. Driving into the village is like going into a scene from a movie. I'm writing a childrens' story based in Coldstream. Watch for it.

M. trimmed my hair and revealed my silver sides. Two colours now. I decide to buy some colour mousse on Monday to take away some of the pain of the grey, if you know what I mean. We have a good chat of serious things. Then I pick up one of the Pirate's guitars and begin to play. She asks me to sing some gospel songs. I sing to her while she closes her eyes and meditates. She helps me, I help her. That's how it's supposed to be. Doug and the Pirate are talking about machines or something, but they join us. The Pirate and I begin to play and sing together, which we so enjoy. We just started doing this together on Thanksgiving weekend. The Pirate thinks we should have a concert, a fundraiser. We'll see. I just enjoy playing and singing. One time, years ago, one of my piano students (Lianne) drew a picture of me and the caption was, "Mrs. Mac, You are music." I still have the picture. It's true. I love music – all aspects of it. Teaching it, playing it, designing it, listening to it. Thank you God, for the gift of music for us to enjoy and express ourselves.

Not too long into singing and playing, in walks Aunt H. and Uncle F., the Pirate's parents. They sit down and join us. M. goes upstairs and prepares a meal for us. We share in the communion of eating together. I consume many vegetables. Doug enjoys deer meat, which he would never get at home. M. knows how to cook it. A wonderful time together. After dinner, we retire to the music room again and the Pirate and I begin to play again, until I begin to tire. Time to leave the village and head to Superior City (what I call Fredericton).

Doug and I have conversation for a couple of hours and deal with more 'stuff.' Hard stuff. This is a stressful time for us, as we deal with this crisis. We shed some tears together. Communion of tears. He helps me deal with feelings of failure and disappointment in being in this place, of laying it all down while I take time to heal. I know one thing, though – I am a teacher and always will be. On Saturday evening, I taught Jon guitar theory (and he can play guitar), and then gave the Pirate a lesson last evening before I left his home. It's in me. Maybe I'm still teaching while in this stage of my life, I don't know. Maybe sharing this experience is a teacher to those who read it. I know it's teaching me many things. Like how to let go of what you thought you were going to accomplish, and letting God be God in your life. "Be a life long or short, its completeness depends on what it was lived for" (David Starr Jordan). What does my life stand for? I've always wanted my epitaph to read, "She loved God and others." I hope I accomplish that.

At midnight, after having shed many tears before Doug, I went to the shower, arm taped up in a splint, to protect my chemo line. I thought I would wash my hair again to see if my scalp would feel better, and to wash out the stray hairs from the haircut. But what I encountered shocked me, and I began to panic a bit. Even though I have been waiting for it to fall out, when it happened it threw me for a loop. A woman's hair is truly her crowning glory. I started to cry, and shouted for Doug to come. He was downstairs in the other bathroom trimming his beard and hair. I called again and he came to find me crying, "It's falling out!" "It's OK, Deb, we'll shave it now." I went to the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. Should I shave it now, or let it fall out gradually. I asked God, "Do you care about me?" He led me to a page in a book – He is with me and goes before me. Do not be afraid – the same Scripture I received before going to the doctor for my prognosis treatment meeting, and before mastectomy. He is with me and will help me. "OK, it's time, let's do it." Bite the bullet and get 'er done. So downstairs we went and at 12:30 a.m., Doug shaved my head as short as he could get it, which is like the closest crew cut you could ever have – as if you coloured my scalp with black and silver crayons. I stood up and looked. "I don't like that," I cried. He held me. "Your head is beautiful, Deb." I went to the shower again to wash off the hairs. I came downstairs and we went into the music room to embrace and pray together. We must praise the Lord through all things – He is here with us through this experience. He will help us deal with it.

"I hear the voice of one crying. Prepare ye the way of the Lord….lay your burdens down," we stood and hugged each other as the CD played on. Doug began to pray for me – taking care of me in prayer, just like he took care of me physically by shaving my head. He was so gentle doing that, so kind. He said I was beautiful and had a nice shaped head – a beautiful head, actually. You know your man loves you when he still says you're beautiful after having one breast removed and then no hair. Love stands the test of time, and our marriage has stood many tests. And it WILL stand this one, too.

After the prayer I said, "I need a drink. Got anything strong?" Since I'm not a drinking type, Doug poured me a glass of my drink of choice – Canada Dry Ginger Ale. He held my hand while I drank it down. "Ok, time for bed." I moisturized my head with olive butter and bag balm, believe it or not. My scalp hurts. My head feels like the skin of a newborn calf or something, or a young gosling. I lay my head down and curled up in a ball. My Father loves me. I went to sleep. He watches over me while I sleep.

Woke up late this morning because we were up past 1 o'clock. Doug went to work. He wanted me to call him when I awoke. "How are you doing?" "OK, just going through my stash to find some colourful material to make scarves." I need to add colour to my head now, with scarves and hats and perhaps some colourful earrings. I tend to wear silver hoops. Maybe it's time for a change. Today I have to go to the hospital to have my PICC line dressing changed. This will be the first day of wearing my hat everywhere. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. We trade our sorrows for garments of praise. I trade the fact that I have no hair for the fact that God is in control and He knows I have no hair. He will make my hair grow again, because he is the Gardener of my hair. Must go make some scarves.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Since this has been "Food Week," check out our website for the new "Recipes" section. You can contribute your favorite recipes to share with us all. I posted K's famous rice pudding and there are a couple of other entries. Feel free to add!

Well, must go make my gouda omelette and get ready to go "up river" to see the children. Hey, sister Jan, come and see me!

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Adventures of Pippin


Pippin. I woke up thinking of her yesterday; how I should see her on the weekend. It had been awhile. And lo and behold, later that afternoon she shows up at Mom's! Amazing. Pippin is amazing as well and she joined the OT Director and I as we built a Mrs. Frosty in Mom's yard. She's always up for an adventure. You're only as young as you feel. Pippin got right out there with the two of us and joined in the festivities, along with Dad, Mr. Corner Gas (he looks like the father off that show). Mom was inside busy making the gourmet meal, but I coerced her outside to have a photo shoot with Frostina. Frostina Frosty.


Now Frosty lives at my house and Frostina lives at Mom and Dad's. Dad asked why, and I told him it's because they didn't get along, so I had to separate them. He laughed and said, "Just like me and your mother!" Whatever you say, Dad. Snowmen mimicking life. Pippin arranged a beautiful pink scarf on Frostina. I think Frostina wants to run in The Run for the Cure in October. I hope she feels OK by then. Take a look at her: isn't she beautiful? We only had a short time with Pippin, not quite long enough, but at least I got to see her.

Speaking of the run, Natalie called today to say that Amy is busy organizing the run in The Pas, MB (northern Manitoba). Thanks, Amy for doing this on my behalf and all women who find themselves hearing the words "You have breast cancer." I hear that men and women are running. Good for them! Thank you! I feel so special. Perhaps The Pas will have a special t-shirt to wear (smile).

The website for the CIBC Run for the Cure will soon be accepted registrations. If you are interested in running in October and being on the Team Dancing Queen, email Angie at murf1@nb.sympatico.ca or me at debmac88@yahoo.ca.

Today, I woke up about 3 a.m. and wanted to get up. I was in quite a bit of pain, but lay there for awhile and went back to sleep. At 5 a.m. I was awake again and thought I might as well face it – I cannot sleep. Finally got up at 7 and went to the kitchen table to work on my 'hinge' painting again for another hour or so before breakfast. I just can't seem to get that hinge right. I'd like to put it on a door and open it, but it's not ready yet. If life was so easy – just paint what you wanted to happen.

Talked to my optometrist's office this morning. I really need to get new glasses, because your eyes get dry when on chemo, and sore. And when you lose your eyelashes, you lose the ability to filter dust. I wear contacts and find it increasingly difficult to get moisture in my eyes. I've just got to bite the bullet and get them, so am hoping for an appointment next week. I'm also going for physio on my shoulder again – one of the areas of pain is my shoulder. I've had it for a year or so, and it did show up on the bone scan, so I know I'm not crazy, just sore. I need my shoulder to work – it has a lot of years left in it, considering it has to last me until I'm 95.

I cleaned the house this morning – decluttered, dusted and vacuumed. S. and D. came for lunch. We had chicken stew and salad and tuna salad in Scoops. For dessert, bitter truffles and tea. After a walk and a ski by D., we settled down to watch a movie. D. is knitting felted slippers, and am I ever glad. She has never stopped talking about them for a month, trying to find the wool and the needles. I think I'll make some, too. S. is content to sit under a quilt and eat suckers and drink hot chocolate.

Cuz C. came over bearing chips & Laura Secord suckers. She had spent the afternoon scouring the city for satin pillowcases. She finally bought some satin fabric and we can make the pillowcases. Thanks, C., you shouldn't have, but I'm glad you did. I was going to make them tonight, but S. left with the material and is going to make them this weekend. I should have given her a sucker-to-go as payment. What was I thinking? I need to be more considerate.

I'd like to point out 'Dusty's' comments on yesterday's blog. Check it out. Dusty gives us an update on how to treat your husband, circa 1955. Very interesting. I thought I would quote a bit of it here and comment on how I treat my husband.

  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. [Well, I was sitting in the chair watching a movie for two hours, does that count?] Touch up your make-up [he doesn't like it, so didn't have to do that], put a ribbon in your hair [does hair standing up on end count; it's like a ribbon] and be fresh-looking [oh, I'm that, for sure]. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people [me, too, we don't want to work and like to watch movies on a Friday afternoon].
    Be a little gay [that's me – very happy all the time] and a little more interesting for him [well, I guess I could work on that. I'm pretty boring]. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it. [Check with me later to see if I've improved. Perhaps you could comment on this, Doug].
    Clear away the clutter. [I actually did that today! The first day I've cleaned my house myself for a long time! And I decluttered the downstairs so much that he wondered why the living room was so large]. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. [Forgot that]. Run a dust cloth over the tables. [Did that this morning].
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. [Well, I have to admit that sometimes I question his actions. Sorry, Doug. I'll try to do better. I want to be a good wife, really. Like Floss, Dusty's wife]. Remember, he is the master of the house [Yes, you are] and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness [This is true]. You have no right to question him. [Well now, that's stretching it a bit far, isn't it, Mrs. 1955?].
  • A good wife always knows her place. [Yes, in front of the TV or out walking or sewing or doing crafts or off exploring the country in her Nissan].

Well, I must sign off for today. Tomorrow we're traveling up river to the big town of Bristol to see Jon and Alicia and the three grandkids. I told Alicia I didn't know whether we would stay overnight or not; it depended on whether my hair fell out or not. That I didn't want the kids to see that. She told me it was OK, as she had already discussed it with Afton (4), and she said, "That's OK, Gram Deb is sick, and that's OK if her hair falls out." Out of the mouths of babes. It's OK.

We're awaiting a call right now from a famous cookhouse. When the pizza was ready, they said they would call. Doug is having a nap in preparation for pizza eating. I'm blogging, because I'll probably be too full later to put fingers to keyboard.

Today's quote from Managing Housework in Canada, and quite appropriate considering the amount of chicken I've consumed this week. The poultry industry is getting to be very important. Herbert Quick [I haven't yet figured out who he is] says that the poultry products of the United States are worth more than the wheat crop, and that nine-tenths of these are produced by the women on the farms. It is a very interesting subject, too, the care of poultry. You know the slogan of the Canadian Poultry Association in 1923, 'Make the useful more beautiful and the beautiful more useful.'

I thank God for chicken, for the women who produced the chicken, and for Herbert Quick, whoever he was. I thank God for food and the pleasures of eating. This verse was from my devotions today: So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God (Eccl 2:24). Right on.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Reg wins the prize for naming the band and year for Too Late to Turn Back Now. Congratulations, Reg (even though you had to look it up!). The song was performed by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose in 1972. I think that was the year I was born.

Simple Pleasures

Thinking about simple pleasures today. Things like sitting in a chair watching the snow fall softly on pines. And the beauty of exercise, especially Pilates, my new found love – breathe deeply in and out, and in and out, and gently stretch your body til it screams "STOP!" yet you push it just a bit more, gently of course. You need to be flexible. Why, you're almost 50 and you had major surgery on your chest and arm, and you need to play volleyball in August in Campobello with the island girls. And the folding of laundry – how beautiful that can be when done with the right attitude. I have a wonderful little book entitled How to Manage Housework in Canada, published by the Department of Health of Canada in 1923. You may have heard me read from it if you have suffered through one of my talks of the past. I thought perhaps I would give a daily quote from this innovative book for your reading pleasure, AND to adhere to the advice in your daily life. Men could also benefit from this book, if they choose to do housework and I know many of them do, Doug included of late. (He empties the dishwasher and empties the trash. I'm trying to teach him how to cook, but he's not that interested – YET).

Here is installment #1:

The management of the house is a most important occupation. The farm, the factory, the market, the store, the school, and other occupations exist to serve and help the home. The home does not exist for them. They exist for it. Respect and magnify your work. Managing the house is not a something to be hurried through so as to get on to something else. [I can attest to this]. It is your life-work
and your profession, and is a source of joy, comfort, usefulness, and income
[income? Huh?], as all good work should be.

Mother's house is her castle [you got that right], where all she loves are safe and happy. The Preacher has his Pulpit and the King has his Throne, but Mother does not envy them [good for you, Mother, you got the right attitude]. In her own Kingdom she is all-powerful
[pretty bold statement, I say]. Neither Church nor State could stand without the kind of home that Mother makes and manages. [you got that right].

Well, that was 1923 and I guess it still holds true today, doesn't it?

Another simple pleasure: brushing one's hair. My scalp has been very tender since yesterday and I feel like I want to pull my hair out (smile). I finally went on-line to see if it had anything to do with the condition I'm in, and yes, it does. I found this on the Breast Cancer Network Australia website (why I picked Australia, I have no idea; perhaps I'll go there sometime): Hair usually starts to fall out about two to three weeks after the first treatment, and it generally happens quickly (I'm on day 10). First, your scalp may become tender or itchy (got that). The tenderness may cause discomfort when you're resting your head on a pillow or against a hard surface (how about just the fact that it's on your shoulders?). Julie, from the site, found that a satin pillow-case was more comfortable to sleep on, so now I'm on the hunt for that. Well, that solves this mystery, so I went to the bathroom and plastered my scalp and very, very thick long hair with olive butter. I look like something out of Vogue magazine. Received an email from D. who said, Hair today, gone tomorrow? She thinks she's funny. She is.

Another simple pleasure: tuna melts. I suddenly became very hungry while giving my scalp an olive butter massage, and thought, "Hmm, what for lunch today?" Tuna melt came to mind. Here's the creative recipe I came up with:

  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • Mayo to taste
  • 2 Bread & Butter deli-sliced pickles (President's Choice brand), cut up fine
  • ¼ tsp savory
  • Lots of pepper
  • No-salt seasoned herb medley (I used McCormick's)
  • Lightly toasted English muffin
  • Thinly sliced Gouda
  • Thinly sliced Dofino Havarti Dill

    Preheat oven to 300. Spread the mixture on the open-faced muffins. Top with cheese. Wrap in an aluminum 'tent' and place on rack in oven. Heat til cheese melted. ENJOY!
    If you wish, you could add chips or fries with this delicacy. I had neither today.
     

    Another simple pleasure: words from the lips of children. I have a young girl (5 or 6), named Luca, who is praying for me every day. Luca asked her grandmother, J. what 'treatments' meant, and J. gave her a brief idea. J. sent me a card with the prayer that Luca prays for me every day. Here it is:
    Dear God,
    Debbie MacDonald is going for treatments and you have to go in the room with her. Stay with her and protect her. We don't want her to be sick so make sure she doesn't get sick. You have healed a lot of people God, so please heal Debbie so she won't have to have all the treatments the doctor says she has to have. Thank you God in Jesus' name.


    Thank you, Luca. Thank you, J. for sharing it with me. It is on my table before me. We need to have the faith of a little child.

    Afton, my granddaughter, also prays for me every day. She told me herself she does, plus she prays that her food won't be rotten! She's a girl after my own heart.

I woke up this morning and said to Doug, "I wish I could get a massage every day. Not a rough massage, but a gentle one." Later on in the morning, I received an email from M. who is in Florida soaking up the rays. It was a video of a cat massaging a dog. It is extremely funny, and it must be a sign that either I'm to get a cat (since cats are so prevalent in my life lately), or bring in a cat to give me a massage. Email me if you want the link and I'll send it to you. Natalie, I can't remember whether I sent it to you or not. Let me know.

Simple pleasure: Afternoon activities. The OT Director picked me up for the afternoon's activity: go to Mom's for my famous hamburger request night. I told Mom that I was going to walk down to her house and she threatened me with my life so to speak. So we thought it would be fun if I 'pretended' that I walked. So, the OT let me out at the end of the street and I strolled in to her driveway to find her in the picture window standing with arms folded, frowning at me, as if to say, "You didn't." I went in the house and got the third degree – "You didn't walk!" I never replied but smirked and hung up my coat. I turned around and threw a clementine at her, as if to say, "Here, something for you, I brought it for energy on the trip." Pippin was visiting Mom, and she said disbelievingly, "You never walked," and came towards me like a customs officer, laying hold of my face to see if it was cold. I forgot to rough up my face with snow to make it seem like I had walked. They found me out. We had a great laugh. I woke up this morning thinkin' about Pippin and how nice it would be to see her again, and Voila, there she was, just after I was a'walkin' down the street.

Well, I have reached my quota of words for the day, so will not tell about the adventures of Pippin and a new addition to our family that occurred today. I will wait until tomorrow, and post a pic of the new baby.

BTW, the hamburgers were absolutely fantastic, MOM. I had two, which is almost unheard of – plus potatoes, turnip and green beans, topped off with low fat ice cream and gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. Laid out in the chair for the rest of the evening and pulled on my aching scalp, contorting my hair into all sorts of weird and vogueish shapes. Should have taken pictures. I have so much olive butter in it that I can form it into a Mohawk. I need to go now and wash it again. I'm trying to make light of it, in preparation for losing it, but I don't know whether anything really prepares you for that initial shock – just like when I finally looked at my mastectomy site. But, I'll get over it. Just like everything else – one step at a time.

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Cor 5:2-4).

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The ‘Rest’ of the Story

This is a rather long post, but it’s the rest of the story from yesterday and today. I’ll start with yesterday -- Inauguration Tuesday. An historic moment in our world, as the first African-American was sworn in as President of the United States. A sense of excitement about the day overshadowed any visit I could have with any radiation oncologist. A sense of hope was in the air all over the world. And it was with me. Just another day in paradise. Got up at 5:45 a.m., and we left the house at 6:45. Had a fun trip down with much bantering with the travel director and arguing with the GPS (not that we don’t know where we’re going; we just like to fight with the non-woman). I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just speak out whatever I’m thinking to Doug. I’m bold and funny, but it can be taken the wrong way, and I have to remind him that I’m teasing, but later on in the day I realized it’s my way of dealing with the ‘stress’ of this new ‘career’ I’m in – health and wellness and all the visits, pin pricks, tests, drugs, people, doctors, hospitals, etc. I take it out on him a bit – perhaps criticizing his driving or something like that. (He is an awesome driver, BTW, having been a truck driver for years). We laughed quite a bit – we’ve been through a lot, and if we get through this – NO, we WILL get through this – with a sense of humour and with extreme love for each other. He is my sounding board and he has strong shoulders.

Arrived a few minutes late for our appointment, after trying to orient to the new entrance at the Saint John Regional. The girl at the registration desk asked if I was married. I replied, “Yes, right now that is,” and looked at Doug…. We got her laughing. If we survive this….Yes, we will and YES WE CAN! We’ve been through too much in our life to go back now. It’s too late to turn back now – I believe, I believe, I believe I’m fallin’ in love. (Who can guess that song and what year?)

So on to the radiation oncology unit to meet Dr. Nancy Grant. A sign on the wall greeted me with: I can be changed by what happens to me, but I don’t have to be reduced by it. YES I CAN be changed, and I WILL NOT be reduced (other than weight, which is OK with me). Then, later in the examining room while waiting to be examined (AGAIN): We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Yes, I HAVE accepted finite disappointment, but I HAVE NOT lost my hope – my eternal hope. Thanks, Martin Luther King Jr.

You know, doctors are realists. They tell you everything that “might” occur. The doctor went over my tests, prognosis, every side effect known to man for radiation, stage of the cancer, recurrence rate, etc. etc. til I just didn’t want to listen anymore. But doctors have to tell you everything so that you have informed consent and they are not liable, I guess. I just don’t want to hear anymore negative stuff – I just want to get on with treatment and be a long-term survivor. It’s like I’ve shut myself off from what ‘may be’ – I know that God wants me to live, and I’m going to live.

After meeting with Dr. Grant, we went upstairs to 5BSouth, which is the hostel within the hospital. We had a tour and talked to the clerk there about the possibility of me staying there in June when I get radiation. Our original plan was to take the motorhome and stay in St. Martins and travel to Saint John each day for treatment, but we decided that I will stay at the hospital and Doug will work. That way, he can take the whole month of July off and we can use the RV as our vacation. Linda from Century Farm, if you’re reading the blog from your sunny place in Florida, I want to reserve a couple of weeks in July – the front lot with the ocean view that everyone fights over. I love the Village of St. Martins. I even have a library card!

At 9:50 AM we were done and ready to leave for Fredericton. You want fries with that? I was craving Wendy’s, so we programmed the GPS to find the closest Wendy’s, which just happened to be at the end of the street! Doug questioned me: “Do you really want fries at 10 in the morning?” “Oh, I suppose it’s too early – let’s go to the Wendy’s at Simms Corner.” So we programmed the GPS again (even though we knew how to get there; we just like to argue with the GPS and defy its instructions), and drove by Wendy’s after I said it was too busy there, I wanted to go to McDonald’s for fries. It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. By this time I’m still having one of my many hot flashes that day, plus nausea because my blood sugar was wacky. I have already scarfed down a gluten-free donut and a plum after coming out of the hospital, but still need more to eat! Chemo does strange things to your body, I’ve come to find out. One of them is strange cravings at strange times of the day. Like cold green beans and Brussels sprouts at midnight.

So we go in to McDonald’s at 10:15 or so, me with no coat and short sleeve shirt, PICC line hanging out, hospital bracelet still on. “My wife wants fries,” Doug orders (I have retreated to the bathroom). The cashier looks at the manager – “he wants fries.” The manager hesitates for a moment, then, “Yes, I can put a batch on for you.” The cashier looks at Doug with bewilderment – “You must be something special for him to put fries on an hour and a half before he normally would.” I come out of the washroom and order apple juice, another strange thing for me to order. We sit down and read the paper, waiting for the fries to come to our table. By the time I’m finished the fries, I’ve had Doug up three or four times for salt, pepper, more ketchup, more apple juice (which I voraciously swilled). What a man. What a servant. What he has to put up with, I said to the man behind me who just smiled. Doug said that men always have to put up with women. You know, a couple of weeks ago, the dietician told me to eat whatever I wanted, even if it was fries. So, I had no guilt in eating fries at 10:30 in the morning. I knew God had provided manna for my morning in the form of fries. I would have eaten another order, but felt it was excess, so contained myself. Must not be greedy or gluttonous.

Chicken Run… On to Fredericton, feeling I might be filled up and not have to eat again til noon (although I think I had three clementines on the way). We drive in silence as Doug thinks and I do a word search from the paper. We arrive at Mom & Dad’s just in time to watch the inauguration with them, but by this time, I’m hungry again with that nauseated feeling. “Doug – can you bring me some chicken?” He brings me a couple of huge pieces of chicken and I eat them like a cavewoman would. Chicken and inauguration. I’m normally not a meat person, but lately I feel like I’m on the Survivor show. Gimme the meat! I guess protein is good for someone on chemo. I scared Mom today in the kitchen by suddenly blurting out, “MOM!” “What?” “I want you to make me one of your great hamburgers and I could have it on a toasted English muffin!” She laughed and agreed. I’m going to ask her to make it for tomorrow night’s supper. I’m looking forward to it. I never really looked forward to food before; it was just a means to an end or something. Anyway, then I had a banana with peanut butter on it, which again is strange for me to eat together. And clementines.

We made it home after 2 pm, and I really need a nap. I go to bed but cannot shut my mind off, so to the couch to watch more of the day in Washington. About 4 o’clock I get hungry again. “Doug, can you take out the Pad Thai from the freezer.” Done and thawing. “Well, I need to have a chicken sandwich,” because I didn’t really have a sandwich at lunch (3 hours ago). So, great big English Muffin chicken sandwich with mayo and cheese. But Doug is hungry, so I said, “put a cookie sheet of those frozen fries in the oven.” Done. So, more chicken and then a dinner-size plate of fries again! Want fries with that? Chicken? Aren’t you getting sick of these foods today? Isn’t it bordering on insanity?

I roll off the couch and go to church to play the piano. I am so tired and sigh throughout the evening, so much so that everyone in the church can hear me yawning and sighing. Might have something to do with all the FOOD I have consumed! We come home to be greeted with various boxes of puzzles and a container of spare ribs. No note was left, so I’m not sure who made these tasty morsels. Does anyone know? Puzzles and spareribs. If I hadn’t been so full, I would have consumed them as well. I stayed up for awhile and then ate some more – toast and cheese at midnight, before going upstairs to bed. Help me Rhonda, I can’t get into bed, I’m so full.

What a day – too many fries and too much chicken. Tomorrow will be better.

Well, today I didn’t have any fries, but did have chicken in two forms – eggs for breakfast and chicken stew that S. made for supper. You just can’t get away from chicken, I find. It’s everywhere.

Mom came up after 10 and found me not dressed, as usual. She brought a box with her because she thought perhaps I would like to take my tree down and she was willing to help. “Oh, Mom, not yet! I love it so much. OK, you can just take off the ornaments, but leave the ribbons and the beads.” She laughed and complied while I tried to get ready for the day. We went for a brisk Winter Wonderland walk and stopped in to Cuz C’s to see if she was the sparerib chef. No, not her and she didn’t see anyone drop off puzzles and spareribs in the evening. It’s a mystery. I have received several mystery gifts over the past couple of months – perhaps it’s the same person. The mystery gift giver – perhaps it’s Mysterio Man! I bet it is! (Only a select few will know what this means).

Back for lunch – chicken and tomato sandwiches and homemade applesauce. I’m in love with food this week – last week I was NOT in love with food, not sure why. I’m also in love with life and in love with my husband, even though he may not think so by times. Mom & I got the watercolour paints and pencils out, and I went to work at my OT project for the day. She gave me some pointers, and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on a painting of a hinge. Yes, a hinge. But a difficult hinge. You have to see it in order to understand. Perhaps when it’s finished, I’ll post my artwork. I really can paint, I’m just in the early stages.

The OT Director came by and used our area to get in her exercise for the day – cross country skiing. I should charge her land rent. Then she decided to make me a snowman, using a garbage can and pails of water. It’s outside my window. I love snowmen. We took pictures with it. I think I’ll call it Frosty, not sure why. My activity was to arrange his body parts, purchased by Natalie in December. Thanks, OT Director – he makes me happy. We’re thinking of doing some drive-by snowman building on people’s lawns. Stay tuned.





I continued to paint in the warm hues of my summer kitchen. A. dropped by to get some music from my office for a church service. S. came by with supper and to watch me trim up flower arrangements. Doug came home and we ate again. And that’s my two days. Sorry for the length, but hey, I feel like writing today. Now we’re going to watch some form of television. Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll get some work done on the books, and then have a respite in the afternoon for the day’s craft. Perhaps start a wall quilt, or make some cards that I will send out in later months. You’ll probably get one, so be on the lookout for DebMacCreations2009. I’m sure I’ll be contacted by Hallmark or American Greetings soon.

Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste. --- Charlotte Bronte

You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. Haggai 1:6b
You got that right….

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

You Want Fries With That?


You want fries with that? More details tomorrow… what a day – Saint John trip and the inauguration…. I'm beat. Nothing that a good night's sleep can't fix. Toodles.

Monday, 19 January 2009

YouTube - Carol Burnett & Harvey Korman....Problems EVERYWHERE!

YouTube - Carol Burnett & Harvey Korman....Problems EVERYWHERE!

YouTube - The Carol Burnett Show - Harvey Korman & Tim Conway

YouTube - The Carol Burnett Show - Harvey Korman & Tim Conway
Want to laugh? I did. Thanks, Lin..... (I watched the Carol Burnett Show faithfully in the 70's. I wanted to be like her, too).

Manic Monday


I got my fill of football yesterday – what a great day it was. And both my teams won – Arizona Cardinals (I love Kurt Warner), and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now to wait til Feb. 1st for the Superbowl. That will be a good day, too.

I've had a good day today. Just another Manic Monday. (Manic – "extremely excited or energetic; frenzied").

Interested in just about anything and excited about everything – snow, food, quilting, shopping (is this me talking?), and ironing. Yes, ironing. I absolutely LOVE to iron. My mom gave me a new T-FAL iron for Christmas; she's a beauty. This morning I found some things to iron. Man, can that thing press. Called up the OT Director to see if she had any of her husband's shirts for me to press. I used to iron for that family in the old days. All she could conjure up was a tablecloth and two shirts. I had this manic thought that perhaps I could take in ironing, like people used to do in days of old – charge $1.00 a shirt or something. Doug begs to differ, and made me look up the kilowatt per hour use for operating an iron. He said it would cost $4.00/hour to run the iron. I told him that I could net $8.00 per hour, and that's better than nothing! He said he didn't want the house filling up with loads of people's laundry that I could never get to. He's such a realist, but I think it would work.

Cleaned out the fridge this morning, too, as Doug read in my cancer booklet that I shouldn't eat food older than three days. I think that would hold true for any person, would it not?

The OT Director picked me up and we went to the oncology ward for my weekly PICC line flushing treatment. Karen doctored me up today, and Charline assisted with comments. I had a good time. Never thought I would say that. Is this me talking? It was just one week ago that I didn't think I could enter the chemo unit, and now I'm joking and laughing? Go figure. I guess I am more courageous and more soulful. They didn't have a lot of business today because of the snowstorm. I offered to give Karen a Clementine for payment, but she already had one. I'm getting low on clementines. I had 7 or 8 yesterday, PLUS a Florida orange that Doug's mom gave me. I'm addicted to clementines right now. I told Natalie in November that she should be thankful this thing happened to me in the winter because clementines are not so readily available in the summertime.

We went from there to one of my favorite stores – Zellers in the Brookside Mall. I needed to find some slippers for Doug, a couple of short-sleeved shirts for me (PICC line friendly), a sled for Suzy, skates for Bobby, and a picture book for Nellie, yellow, blue and red. (Do you know what song that's from?). Met one of my students and her mother. We went to school together. She said she has a picture of me on a horse. I asked her to send it to me, and that is another thing I want to accomplish – horsewomanship (is that a word?). I told you I was manic. Yesterday, I decided I would go back and get my business degree and teach accounting. Last week, I decided to be a mathematics professor, because the majority of the time, you come up with answers. Be interesting to see what tomorrow's career of the day will be. Back to the horsemanship – Cousin Els told me that when I get better that she will train me to ride and groom a horse. Something to look forward to. I'm holding you to it, Els.

Headed over to my other favorite store – Nashwaaksis Superstore for groceries. It was like a grocery ghost town today, and it was so relaxing to be there. Saw a couple of friends there and spent way too much money to fill up my clean fridge (must have been the massive amount of chicken I purchased). I guess I really do need to take in ironing, Doug – I forgot to tell you just HOW much I spent on groceries today. Mostly healthy stuff other than a new chef's knife (or could one call a knife 'healthy?'). Picked up what I thought was a spaghetti squash, and considering I was planning on having donated spaghetti sauce for dinner, thought I would try out this new culinary delight, even though it looked like something out of Veggie Tales. Well, after considerable time putting the groceries away and researching just how to cook a spaghetti squash (even though I think I knew how instinctively), I discovered that the Veggie Tale squash did not have spaghetti straps after all, but mush – it was a BUTTERNUT squash, similar to a buttercup squash. If you know anything about me, you know that I love squash. So does my daughter, although I think she is more obsessed with it than I am.

By this time it is 6:30 pm. What to do? Will the dinner preparations ever end? I throw a pot of water on the stove to boil some rice pasta. I wait for the water to boil by filling out a survey I received in the mail on what type of products you use etc. Again, another example of how much my life has slowed down. I would NEVER have filled one of these things out in my previous life. I'm hoping I'll win a prize or two or get a lifetime supply of shampoo or something. I'll need it for all the new curls I'm going to grow.

The pot boils and boils over and boils down over the cupboard as I try to drain it into the colander. Cuz C. comes over with my present for the day – pink M & M's for our trip to Saint John tomorrow. She finds me on the floor mopping up the pasta juice, as it streams down the front of the cupboard doors. "You look more like yourself today, Deb." "Thanks. I feel like I'm manic today, though, but having a great day." C. points out that Janet White #2 put Christmas lights back on her outside tree for me to enjoy. Thanks, Janet! Now I can see Willard's lighted wreath, Janet's outside tree, my outside tree and my indoor Christmas tree. Lights all around (yes, my tree is STILL up). I LOVE these neighbors! They are so supportive. We're one big happy family here in the corner of Claremont. Our across the street neighbour, Sid, who is 91, calls every week to see how I'm doing. He likes to come over in the summertime and sit on our lawn with us, under the breeze of the cool pine trees. I make him coffee or tea and serve him apricot shortbreads. Sometimes when I play the guitar on the verandah, Sid comes over and we sing together. He's got a brilliant memory. Sid is from England originally and came over when he was 16 – he is a British Home child and his story is told in the book Middlemore Memories: Tales of the British Home Children by M. Staples, a Fredericton author. A sad thing that I meant to report on a couple of weeks ago: C.'s cat, Patty Rufus, who I call Fat Cat, is not doing so well. She has breast cancer, believe it or not. My grandson, Jack, absolutely LOVES Fat Cat. C. says she doesn't have much longer. Well, I think that I need to start praying for Patty Rufus Fat Cat, and if you're the praying type, could you start too? This cat is part of C & W's life and part of my life now. Well, we can pray about anything, can't we? And a couple of years ago, I prayed for Crow, a student's cat – right during a lesson. Crow was on his last legs, so to speak. And guess what? Crow got better and is still living, probably chasing crows. Natalie also has an affinity for cats, so I'm sure she'll be praying. I'll have to ask Jack to pray. Jack loves Fat Cat.

I finally ate dinner at 7:30 and watched the Obama coverage. It is an exciting day for America, for Canada, and I think the whole world. Tomorrow is history in the making. I wish I had a portable TV to take with me to the hospital. This would be about the time one would want an IPod Touch, so one could watch live internet coverage of tomorrow's events. Perhaps my son-in-law will buy me an IPod Touch.

Well, I believe that I've rambled on just about enough for one day. I must go clean up the kitchen and wash the walls while I'm at it. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Tomorrow we go to Saint John to meet with the radiation oncologist. My appointment is for 8:45 a.m., so Doug, the travel director says we need to leave by 6:45 a.m.! Why, I'll have to go to bed now in order to get up 5:30 in order to get myself put together. It takes a lot of time and preparation to put me together these days.

Here's the quote of the day from a calendar the Flick Flack Girls gave me: Our duty is not to see through one another, but to see one another through. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2). Thanks everyone, for seeing me through. You really ARE helping to carry my burden. Love to all…


 

'Awakening the Beautiful"


Power and strength can separate people; whereas weakness and recognition of weakness and the cry for help brings people together. When you are weak, you need people. It's very easy. When you are strong you don't need people, you can do everything on your own. So, somewhere the weak person calls people together. And when the weak call forth the strong, what happens is they awaken what is most beautiful in a human person--compassion, goodness, openness to another and so on. Our weakness brings people together.

- Jean Vanier

Saturday, 17 January 2009

You say, "But He has not answered." He has. He is so

    near to you that His silence is the answer. His silence

    is big with terrific meaning that you cannot understand yet,

    but presently you will.

   O, Chambers

Bald and Beautiful

I have many thoughts running around my brain lately. This song was just going through my head – "Be Bold, Be Strong, for the Lord your God is with you." Then I decided to sing it this way: "Be Bald, be Strong, for the Lord your God is with you." Why not, I say? Why not be bald and beautiful? There is a soap opera called "The Bold and the Beautiful." Well, Deborah is going to be "The Bald and the Beautiful." Why not, I say?

"Be more courageous; Be more soulful," I saw on Public Television this morning. I asked myself, "Am I more courageous than when I started this process?" YES, I decided. "Am I more soulful than when I started?" Definition of 'soulful': Full of or expressing deep emotion. Again, YES, I am more soulful. Most definitely. I'm a 'soul woman.' I should write a song about that.

I had a hard night's sleep last night. Couldn't sleep, so got up at 12:30 a.m. to knit. When all else fails, knit. Then I got up this morning and knit some more. Had a sabbatical kind of day. I went outside in the frigid temperature around 2 pm for an hour's walk. I heard birds singing, so I think spring is on the way. Made some cornmeal muffins and threw in way too many blueberries, but they are definitely tasty. R. came over for dinner. Doug is doing a word search puzzle; we're getting old, I think. Word searches. Who would ever think life would have slowed down enough to do word searches? My pace of life has slowed down so much that I'm pedaling about 5 km/hour. Never before in my life have I been so slow. I was thinking today that there used to be a movie called "Year of Living Dangerously." I think I'll call this year "The Year of Living Quietly and in the Slow Lane." Perhaps that should be the name of the book. I even did my nails tonight, and I NEVER take the time to do my nails properly. What is happening?

Looking forward to the NFL games tomorrow: Philadelphia Eagles
vs
Arizona Cardinals @ 3:00 E.T.; Baltimore Ravens
vs
Pittsburgh Steelers @ 6:30 E.T. Check out your local listings. Have I mentioned that I love football?

C. sent me this little factoid about Egyptian women I would like to share with all you trivia buffs:

    In Egypt around 1500 BC, a shaved head was considered the ultimate in feminine beauty. 

    Egyptian women removed every hair from their heads with special gold tweezers and polished their scalps to a high sheen with buffing cloths.  

OK – a shaved head was considered the 'ultimate in feminine beauty!' And they had special gold tweezers and special buffing cloths to polish their heads! Can you imagine! Me polishing my head to a high sheen. BALD and BEAUTIFUL I will be…. I must go see if I have any buffing cloths in stock….

Friday, 16 January 2009

It is blessed to know of a place where we can lay our tired head and heart,

in our Father's arms, and say to Him, "I can do no more. And I have nothing to tell

you. May I lay here a while and rest? Everything will soon be well again if I can

only rest in Your arms a while" Max Lucado

YouTube - He Knows My Name by Maranatha Singers

YouTube - He Knows My Name by Maranatha Singers

I haven't written for a day or so, because I've been in too much of a fog. Tired and foggy. Today I am better. Woke up this morning wanting a coffee, so knew that I was feeling better. Made a cup of hazelnut vanilla. Had a great morning, reading, a bit of light exercise (as much as I am capable of), playing the guitar to worship music, even played the tin flute and worked on a couple of Irish tunes. I believe music is therapy for my soul. Mom and the OT Director came up after lunch and wallpapered a section over my countertop. Does it ever look great. They worked so quietly that you wouldn't even know they were here. Pastor Patrick, Mercy and young Grace dropped by for a visit and left a wonderful salmon dinner. They are such wonderful people to know; I am blessed. Doug and I are going to watch a movie that M. said I should watch – "The Last Holiday" with Queen Latifah. I think it might be fitting, since Doug calls me the Queen. Looking forward to a good Saturday, and looking forward to football this weekend again. Yes!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

It's been a good day and a hard day of sorts. I had energy for the morning, but not for the afternoon and evening. Went for a walk before lunch in the snow, sun and wind. Felt good to get outside and push through the 'storm' of sorts. P. came over for a couple of hours for a chat and prayer. Had a sleep in the chair for an hour. D. came over and we watched a Dick Van Dyke episode (thanks to whoever left it in my mailbox). D. brought chicken stew and rice pudding for supper, which we enjoyed. Then I had another sleep on the couch. Doug and I watched "Remember the Titans," a football movie (of course). Trying to pass the time til I can go to bed and get up again. Tomorrow will be better. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Maybe I'll have more energy tomorrow, and the sun will come out again tomorrow, Annie.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Dr. Doug





My husband is an amazing man. He can make anything – even a prosthesis for an old doll. The doll’s name is Patty Kay and she is owned by Sandra Piercy of Fredericton. She and Carol (my doll) joined us on my 49th birthday adventures. Perhaps I’ll post some pics. Hey, Doug – make me a prosthesis? I need one…. Dancing Queen


This morning I opened up my 'Personalized Promise Bible," to this entry:

Daughter of God, you are going to live forever! The very life of God has regenerated your spirit, and he has secured your position in heaven for all of eternity. One hundred billion years from now you will still be enjoying fellowship with your heavenly Father. You need never fear death again. Cancer, AIDS, and unexpected disasters cannot cause you to fear. For you, death no longer has any sting and the grave no longer has any victory.

This glorious truth is worthy of daily meditation. Think about it; even if all of God's protection was removed from you, you still could not be destroyed. When this life ends, a new life begins. The Bible says that precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. The Lord longs for the day when He gets to walk hand in hand with you on streets of gold. This life is but a vapor, but eternity is forever.

What a great word for me to read today. I found out yesterday that I DON'T have AIDS (which I knew I didn't!). I was only tested because someone got a needlestick injury while they were inserted my PICC line last week. But I had cancer, and chemo and radiation are great friends of mine – killing all those rogue cells that may be roaming around. Thank you, Lord, for medical science.

Today I have been tired and listless, although I went out for a short walk in the snow; that felt nice. I was in the chair most of the day. Hard to concentrate right now, and not enough energy to do really anything but sit. I knit a few rows on a new pink striped dishcloth. Mom came this morning to 'work' a little bit and get out of the house. The OT director came after lunch and stayed for most of the rest of the day, as Doug had to work late. She made me supper. I had an appetite tonight. Doug still isn't home, and it's almost 9. He will be tired, I suppose, although he IS a workhorse, also.

Here are the names I have for the bear with the tam: Mannie Bear (short for Emmanuel Bear), Tam Bear, Believe Bear, Joy Bear, Princess Bear, Prince Bear, Mary Bear, Prayer Bear, Faithful Bear, Braveheart Bear, and two votes for Hope Bear. I will post a picture of him/her soon.

Another day is completed, and tomorrow will be better…..

I'm back, sitting in my new chair again. Had my first round of chemo yesterday. Oh, the emotions of taking that next step. But I received a word from a friend in the early morning which I knew to be from God, and it gave me complete reassurance that God was on the OTHER side of the chemo door, and that I had nothing to fear.

I could feel the prayers of all the people praying throughout the day. I will never say prayer doesn't work – it truly does and I have been a major recipient of it these past couple of months. I remained calm throughout yesterday. I didn't get to have a private room, but had a private alcove by the window with a curtain, and God was gracious enough to send Charline to be my nurse again. She is awesome. She cleaned up my PICC line and applied a new dressing, and explained everything to us. Doug and Janet White #1 sat with me the whole time, and we had tea and muffins while the bags of saline and chemo drained into my body. We left after 2 pm. I was sleepy due to one of the drugs.

Came home and tried to have a sleep on the bed, but alas, none came. J., my newly appointed knitting director, came with a rose and more yarn for me to craft. Janet White #1 came back with groceries and did kitchen duty, and prepared food for supper. B. arrived with my a new huggie bear, complete with red tam (it matches the tam C. gave me a few weeks ago). B. said he is to go on the walk with me. I'm thinking up a good name for him – any suggestions? L. & B. arrived with flowers and goodies. Cuz C. came over with more books and movies to watch. People are just too darned good to me. I feel so special.

I was very nauseated all day and it was difficult for me to eat. And tired. I sat in the chair for the early evening. Doug Skyped Jon & Alicia and the grandkids, and I talked to them. They are so cute. Afton actually had a crown on, with jewels, which confirmed what my friend had said to me that morning. Jack said he wanted my new bear for Christmas. Afton & Jack spoke French to me – 'pere' and 'mere'; they are 4 and 2 ½. Alicia is teaching them French in her little home school. She is a good mother. I love her. She's the best daughter-in-law I will ever have (smile).

I went to bed at 8:30 and slept in a gravol-induced sleep til 10:30. Then to sleep again for the night. Got up this morning at 8:30. Doug went to work. My mother arrived and is here with me now. She's a workhorse, you know. I decided I'm going to start a "Society for Workhorses," and I will appoint people to it. I've got a few names now on my list: Natalie, Mom, K. Mason, and Cuz C. Well, I must go and do something or nothing at all. No nausea yet, and I pray I will have no more. Or ANY side effects. Pray to that end, if you're a praying person. Love to all.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

'If it's not one arm, it's another,' I decided this morning. For two months it was my right arm which was a bit incapacitated due to the mastectomy, now it's the left. I have to keep my PICC line site water-free for the next few months. Dr. Doug saran-wrapped my left arm this morning, securing it with that fabulous multi-use painters tape, so that I could have a shower before going to church. I had one VERY straight arm and one arm which struggled, a good pair they are.

I played guitar and piano in church this morning and left before the last hymn. Made my traditional Sunday omelette and waited for Dr. Doug to get home. Settled down in the Laz-y-Boy chair with my Laurie lap quilt, to enjoy a football game: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles. Philly won. Aunt H. and Uncle F. came from Coldstream, wherever that is. They picked up the invention that Dr. Invention has been working on for the past couple of months. Got a cup of tea and settled down for another football game. This time, the San Diego Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm watching it now. They are playing in the snow. Wish I was playing football in the snow. Doug is reading to me out of the material we received from the oncology unit. He's reading about food now. Apparently my tastes will change for a time, and food won't taste right to me. D. thinks I'm going to like lobster. I think not.

I have what I call 'bits of anxiety' welling up in my chest about tomorrow. I keep pushing them down – go away, go away! Must read Scripture – the Lord is with me. Remind myself again. Wrote Scripture in my journal. Here's a couple:

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned (Ps 34:18-22).

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again
bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again
(Ps 71:20,21). I don't care if you increase my honor, Lord – just bring me up and restore me, I pray.

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comfort delights my soul (Ps 94:19).

Pastor Patrick spoke this morning about having a successful 2009. I definitely need a successful 2009, and it will be made up of successful minutes, hours, days, weeks and months (thanks, P.). It fits in nicely with my 'Day Box' theory – about staying in the day and seeing what good can come out of each day. And Doug's H.O.P.E. – He Offers Purpose Everyday; He Offers Promise Everyday; and He Offers Provision Everyday. I've been thinking about a verse Pastor P. spoke on: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding (Prov 3:5-6). I wrote it on a sticky and it's posted on the back door – I will take it with me to the hospital. This time in my life is a time when I HAVE to trust in God with all that is within me, for I do not have ANY understanding about this. Teach me to trust, Lord. It's You – all You or nothing, for I have nothing to offer.

R. just called to tell us about beams of light in the sky, all coming together in a point. I told him maybe it was a sign. This shall be a sign unto you, in the city of Fredericton, that you will be all right, Deb – God is in the heavens and here you are on earth. Doug and I went outside to look up to the heavens. It was true. Let it be a sign unto me.

Early this morning I started singing     Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

                    The medicine go down, medicine go down

                    Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

                    In a most delightful way.

Must go pack a bag of sugar in my hospital pack.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

YouTube - Our Hope Endures - Natalie Grant (Illustrated)

Q said she thinks of me whenever she hears this song. Thanks, Q.

YouTube - Our Hope Endures - Natalie Grant (Illustrated)

Our Hope Endures

You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume that this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here

Sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear
But our hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our hope is unchanged

How do we comprehend peace within pain
Our joy at a good man's wake
Walk a mile with a woman whose body is torn
With illness but she marches on

Sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear
But our hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our hope is unchanged

Emanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
Emanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
Emanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient

We never walk alone
This is our hope
Our hope endures, the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
let the earth quake
let the earth quake
let the earth quake
Our hope is unchanged

Copyright Natalie Grant

Today has been spent in the living room trying to work on the books again. Slow process. The OT director came around lunchtime, and we had a little fashion show with Carol, my doll. She's an assignment I'm working on. Actually, she sits in the music room and watches me. I talk to her every so often; I tell her things like 'calm down,' 'do your work now,' or 'dry your tears,' or some such thing. She doesn't talk back much, though; she's rather silent. Today, she wanted to be in my fashion show, so I took a picture of her wearing my 'hope cap.' She thinks she looks better than I do in it, but I don't. Perhaps we'll take a poll of the readership to see who wins. Perhaps Natalie could give me her opinion. I know that she loves Carol, and is proud to call her family.

Received a beautiful bouquet from Trites Flower Shop today, sent to me by Bre, who lives in Alberta. Thanks, Bre. The arrangement is beautiful and sits in my living room. You shouldn't have, but I'm glad you did. I always take pictures of my flowers so they live on…


C. from SJ sent me football paraphernalia in the mail yesterday – a giant football magnet for the fridge and football stickers. Have I mentioned I LOVE football? The whole pushing through the enemy line, the team work, the touchdowns. I feel like a football player now. If I had been born a boy, I think I would have been a football player. The quote on one of the stickers: Football is a game of tackles, bruises, scuffed helmets, and the sheer determination to win. Sounds like what I'm going through in this game of cancer, doesn't it? The other one says, Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a DESIRE, a DREAM, a VISION. Hey, I want to be a champion! I have a desire, a dream, a vision! And it wasn't for this! But I'm sure God knows that, and will work good out of this time out in my life. HUT! HUT!

J & S from Campobello sent me a 'miracle DVD' and a book of Scripture to read out loud. I read it out loud this morning, during my prayer dancing queen exercises, and we plan on watching the DVD tonight. I'm looking for a miracle and perhaps I've already received one.

I received an assignment from my newly appointed food director, cousin C. next door – she brought me gluten-free cookies from the market this morning and said I had to eat them all by Monday morning. Said I needed to be "fattened up" before I start chemo on Monday. OK, C., I'm up to four today, but getting a bit of a sugar high.

Well, must go eat some of Mom's chicken soup, work a bit more on the 'books,' and watch the NFL game that's on: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennesse Titans. I think I'll be rooting for the Titans.

Friday, 9 January 2009

"Faith is the assurance of things not seen but hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

My exercise program this morning consisted of what I'm calling 'prayer exercise' and interpretive dance to a Hillsongs CD. If you haven't listened to Hillsongs (from Australia), you are missing something. Sometimes when you can't pray like you used to, you can 'pray dance.' It came to me this morning – since I love to dance, why not dance every morning that I'm able? So, I did – in the music room, in front of the Christmas tree, with all the lights. I took my glasses off because I was crying and it was even more beautiful; if you're myopic, you'll know what I mean.

What a sense of freedom I had, slowly exercising my temporarily disabled arms (one with a PICC line, one attached to a mastectomy). I danced, I cried out to God to help me through this pain and this process – "Don't leave me, don't leave me!" I know He won't, but I needed to say it. I am so weak apart from His strength. I can do all things through Christ who will strengthen me. He loves me forever; that I know. Then I decided that I better start getting in shape if I'm going to run in The Run for the Cure with the Team Dancing Queen in October. (Did you know it's going National?). So, I ran up and down the stairs six times before my legs gave out and I thought I should stop – no one here to pick me should I find myself in a heap at the bottom of the staircase. I'll try and increase that personal best over time.

Well, I became radioactive once again this afternoon. That's twice this week. Too bad there wasn't a Shoppers Drug Mart in the hospital, perhaps I could set off an alarm or two. Had lunch with Doug in the Rehab dining room (very romantic), then had a wee rest in a chair. Went over to visit K., a co-worker from the past, while waiting for the dye to run through my precious veins. We had a wonderful chat. She encouraged me so much when I worked with her years ago. I was going through 'stuff' then, major 'stuff,' and she was there for me. She's still here for me now, still encouraging me. I love her and thank God for her. Everyone should have their own "K."

Down to Nuclear Medicine at 2:30 for bone scan – no moving for half an hour, in very tight quarters. X-ray machine parts within 3 inches of your face and body. Breathe, breathe – not claustrophobic are we? No…. just pray and sing songs in your mind and try to nap. Results in a week to 10 days. OK, you prayin' people out there – pray – no cancer anywhere, right? There, tests are done for the week – now I'm all ready for chemo. I was thinking of the hospital this afternoon as the "Big Ship Lollipop" for some reason. Am I Shirley Temple? Perhaps. And that when I go in for chemo on Monday, that li'l Shirley Mac is going in to get some 'candy' in the Big Ship Lollipop. What are the rest of the words of that song, anyway? I have strange ideas come into my mind, I know. God has wired me strangely.

Doug and I went to Sobeys to get some strange foodstuffs for next week – Skittles (green ones are good for nausea), Pepsi (let it go flat), candied ginger slices, papaya, apricots, etc. I feel like I'm going on an odd vacation and packing odd things to take with me.

Now we're off to see the OT Director and husband. She is serving us dinner this evening. I wonder if she'll serve roast beef.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Received an email from A. today. She saw a wall hanging at a friend's house today and thought of me:

    Sometimes God calms the storm

    Other times God lets the storm rage

    And calms the child.

Once again, God calmed the child today. This morning, I found myself once again in the hospital (every day this week except for Wednesday). In the radiology department, nurses prepped me as if I was in the OR, draping my whole body. The doctor froze my arm, then inserted a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) in my upper arm. I was hot because of all the draping, so asked for a cold facecloth for my head. I love cold facecloths; they work wonders when you're not feeling so 'hot' (like my pun?). My heart started to palpitate during the procedure, as the catheter was inserted, but I advised the doc and he did something to calm it down. Another storm pushed through. You know, I have always loved to walk outside during rain storms and snow storms, because I know that if I can get through those storms, I can get through anything. I always put my hood up and my head down, and plow through it. That's what I'm doing now in this storm. So, God calmed the child through this medical procedure.

After that pin-cushion procedure, I trekked upstairs to the oncology unit to try and arrange my blood tests to be done on that unit, as the regular blood collectors did not collect blood from PICC lines. I was supposed to have the blood test tomorrow, but conveniently, one of the nurses on oncology said, "I can take your blood right now." So, I took a seat inside the chemo room with all the other patients receiving chemo. I didn't think I would go in this room and socialize until after the second or third chemo treatment, having already asked the resource nurse for a private room for Monday. But, God always prepares me bit by bit for things, the weak child that I am, and I was in there today for about 40 minutes. Clark, a man from our church happened to be the volunteer for the day – only works there on Thursdays. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, on with the story. My nurse turned to us, AS we're entering the chemo room, and said, "Hi, my name is Charlene." Doug and I burst out laughing. She said, "What?" "Oh, we'll tell you the story," I replied." Now this is the second nurse I've had named Charlene. The first one was the day of surgery. Today's 'Charlene' just happened to be a francophone Charlene, just the way I like it. Now, for some of you, this may be a strange entry and not funny, but for people like Natalie, Linda H, Shelly, Sue, Max, Laurie, Doris, Carolyn, Cheryl, Becky, etc. this should be hilarious. She sat down and we told her the story. I told her that it was God's payback for a funny experience I had years ago. Mary Poppins said there needed to be an element of fun in everything, didn't she? And just as I'm entering the room that I'm scared to go into, God showed me His sense of humour with "Hi, my name is Charlene." If you want to know the details, email me privately and I'll tell you.

There's more. I'm in this chemo room longer than Charlene expected, because she got a phone call from radiology. Apparently, one of the nurses got a needle stick injury either while the procedure was going on, or during clean-up, so standard procedure is that the patient be given an HIV blood test. So, on top of all the blood I was to give (including a pregnancy test!), I had to given written consent for an HIV test! Dr. Raza came and explained this to me. I signed the form. Another form. He asked me with a smile on his face, "Are you ready for chemo?" "No!" I smiled back. Then I drank some ice water, sipped some coffee and ate a blueberry muffin. Charlene came back and drew eight vials of blood from the PICC line. Good old PICC line; already my li'l buddy. Thanks for the laughs, Charlene. I really like you.

Home again, home again. Not for roast beef this time, but to see my mom cleaning my house. I'm so glad that I have a healthy, workhorse mother. She is great. She brought me her homemade chicken soup for lunch. I tried to have a short nap, but no sleep would come. It's physically and emotionally draining to go through this process, but God calmed the child today.

Received a delivery from Scott's Nursery – a beautiful plant arrangement of all these living plants and flowers that can be repotted later. 'My friends at Edith Lank Camp in Campobello Island" sent it to me. Thank you – it is beautiful. Here is a picture…. It gives me hope – so alive and green – just like me! I'll be going there the week of August 10th to lead "Mothers' Camp," a week long camp for kids and their mothers. We have a serious volleyball challenge going on and this will be the second season. I'm on the Mustangs. We won the tournament this past summer. And I think we'll win again. The girls on the island are busy making our team uniforms. I can't wait to see them. Talk about competition – girls from the island are competitive. Grand Manan girls seem to be that way, too, especially Q. She's all that and a bag of chips, I say.


Later this afternoon, the OT director took me to Brookside Mall to check out hats. She bought me two hats: a navy wool hat for outdoors, and a baby blue 'hope' cap, a snug fitting cap, which can be worn inside the house, under an outside hat, or to bed (www.hopecaps.com). We went to Lawton's Drugs and I picked out the hope cap. I also found out that I can go there for a prosthesis fitting when I'm ready. Every step of the way, He is leading me. Now to get some scarves. You know, this past week, I have really loved my hair. I brush it and brush it, and feel it and look at it. I've had some really good hair days these past few days. I'll never take my hair for granted again, nor complain about it. "Oh, where is my hairbrush?" is the song I want to be singin'.

Our neighbour cousins, C & W, decided last evening to put their Christmas lights back up on their deck so I could see them. I am so touched. Thank you, C & W; how thoughtful! I love lights. They comfort me. I still have my Christmas tree decorated by the OT director outside my front window. I'm leaving it there all winter. It never goes out. My light will never go out, either. Father of lights, light my way tonight.