Friday, December 21, 2018

I'm not sure I heard you correctly

I certainly don't want to think I heard that correctly.

I have severe cancer in my right breast, again. It is in the milk ducts which obviously grow throughout the breast....so it is throughout my breast. Seriously?
But I knew it.

I found a lump about 4 months ago. I called and said I needed a mamm. although I was six months early for one. Had it. The conclusion was that there might be something there but there was also much calcification so that was the conclusion, just calcification, a result of all the previous radiation. Whatever they thought they found was too infinitesimal to actually be considered anything of any importance, and maybe it wasn't even there.  Come back in a few months and we will see if anything is actually visible.

Did that. There was some concern that it, although barely visible, might in fact be something worth looking at a little closer. When they sit you down in the dressing room and they tell you that they would like to do a biopsy.....you know.

Biopsy's are hell.  I won't bother describing it, except only to say that it is a mammogram that lasts an hour and a half. You get the picture. Even numbed up, it's not fun and I'm a bit of a bleeder so that wasn't pleasant either. The breast turns green with bruises. With this kind of probing they get a whole different view. It turns out that it was barely visible because it is in the outer lining of the duct. That needs a super magnifier because it is essentially invisible....and he hit it with a needle!! A needle that deposits tiny, tiny little pieces of metal so they can find it if they need to look again.

Then the sweet gentleman who did it also sits down with you in the dressing room. By now you really know you're screwed. Next step, a surgeon who diagnoses the situation and sets you up with a plastic surgeon (they work in tandem) and a surgery date. On January 21st,  although it's everywhere it's a slow grower, I am going to have both of my breasts cut off. Breathe, breathe. You actually forget to do that when they say double mastectomy. There's a lot of talk about implants and a drug (5 years) called Tamoxifen and counseling and nutrition classes (shouldn't have had that hamburger). I have no idea what decisions to make. My daughter says no implants. I say implants but I don't know why. A drug for 5 years? I only have weeks to decide something that will affect me for the rest of my life. And you know what bothers me the most?  The time. The time it takes to do this and the time it takes to heal. If you get implants, I think it takes 3 months from the first operation before you go back for a second to have them put in place. Time suddenly feels very precious. What do breasts mean to us? What would it feel like to have none?

I made a terrible mistake and got on Google and looked up mastectomy. Whhhhyyy did I watch that? I thought I was watching a horror film, what poor surgeons have to go through....guck!!!!!  I keep shutting off my brain. It's not even voluntarily, it's just pure instinct. Something takes over that is stronger than you. And then it doesn't. It all sneaks in through a crack and my breath wavers. What the fuck? What the fuck??!! They say things come in 3's, this is the 3rd time.

OK, I'm scared. I'm really scared. Everyone keeps saying how well I'm taking it. But I'm not. I've said so many times in my life - is this the end? Surely things will get better now. It's so embarrassing. Just one thing after another after another. And if you're thinking - bad karma - then I don't even know what to say to you. And I'm not crying. Why am I not crying?

I so wanted to write a happy post for my next one. But this is what there is, this is what you get.

Love
Liv

PS: my windshield wipers just quit working...and I live in the Pacific Northwest..............

PPS: I haven't been reading anyone elses's blog, so I really, really hope everything is alright with you. I truly do.










Monday, November 5, 2018

The River of Time

It is a river, isn't it? Floating along or caught in a snare. Metaphors on that one are endless.

I took some time off in March because of my illness. Sometimes blogging has been stressful to me. It proves that I am often times hard to understand. No need to expound on that, save to say that that is hard to carry. So being away was what was best for my health and peace of mind. And it helped. I recovered more quickly than I thought I could. Thank the powers for that, because what was waiting down the line was shattering.

On May 2nd my darling, beautiful, oh-so-smart, daughter made a very serious attempt to take her life. 60 blood pressure pills and at the last few minutes she thought of her good old mom and was able, in those short minutes, to dial 911. (Sidebar here folks, keep it on your speed dial, you just never know.) I have no way to adequately explain to you what it is like to read a 5 page suicide note. To hear suffering of that depth, which is easy to express in what one thinks are their last hours on earth, felt surreal. There is no holding back. It was so deep, so far down that hole, that I knew I was not going to be able to comfort her enough. I knew that no matter how long my arms were, they could not reach her. All that I could do was to show her that they were reaching down, knowing that she would have to do the rest. There was absolute numbness along with piercing sorrow for her.

I spent 6 days and nights with her in ICU watching her every reaction and every machine hooked to her. There was no brain or nerve damage, but they discovered that she has congenital heart disease.  There is no way to tell if it was the affect of the pills that damaged her heart or if it has been lingering there all along, which would make it even more miraculous that she survived.

There was a stint in the mental health ward at Kaiser and then straight to Rehab. Three trips to emergency, lock down and a lot of heart crushing screaming. Then another stint in the mental health ward.  To say she has been through hell...you would not want to see this kind of hell. What we've both learned over long, hard years is that our country does not have adequate training to really help alcoholics except to say, "will yourself not to drink and say your affirmations". AA just doesn't work for a lot of people, actually for the majority of people. If it did,  addiction in all it's guises would not be savaging our country.  So saying this was her third go at it can't even get close to how devastating and frustrating it is. Try, try and try again. What that insures is that suffering is going to be a constant road without a map. Some of the people going through this with her have been through it 9/10 times, one even 16. It's mind blowing. She finally got the help she needed from a 10 page letter to Kaiser assessing their program and telling them what she actually needed from them and how to really help her. Things changed immediately (this girl is gifted, she would make a phenomenal lawyer!). They brought in a psychiatrist just out of Boston University who literally saved her life. Kaiser does NOT want to be sued. Success can be possible, IF the knowledge of this young and brilliant man, and others, is respected and shared. He would not give up, just try to imagine how very rare that is.

Addiction is not a disease, it is not the result of weak character or a self indulgent nature. It is brain damage. I could expound on that, but not now.

She has now had 6 months of fairly effortless sobriety. I say effortless, because she isn't going mad with cravings, but it's still there...the desire, only now, controllable. Brain damage can only be treated with medication. We can't will brain damage away.  No amount of affirmations is going to heal the brain. Finding the right combination of medication is what her psychiatrist was committed to doing and he got it. There has been a bit of tweeking, but she's doing great and will start back to work in the next couple of weeks. Unaltered. How incredible is that? She is her same sassy, silly and brilliant self and I, well, I am a mom taking a long, relieving breath and getting back to work, too - with eyes wide open, ever vigilant. There are no cures, no miracles but there is hope.

Love, Liv

Friday, March 23, 2018

The best of ordinary days

                                                                               
                            'Woman Waiting for the Moon to Rise' by Shoen Uemura (1944)

Actually, there are no ordinary days. Every day is extraordinary. I am glad for each one that I encounter when I wake, whether gray or sunny it really doesn't matter to me. I get another chance and that is all that matters.

Today

My roommate brought home a begonia with the palest peach blossoms.

My daughter sent me a sweet letter heavy with her golden heart.

I listened to the downstairs tenant tell me all about the new exercise pants that he got on line and he was smiling and happy because I listened with genuine interest.

My sister called with some sad news and we shared a moment of tenderness that we don't always get to experience.

I brought home Paul Newman's pizza and shared it with my roommate and she actually liked it. It was so good to see her enjoy something American.

I was sick last night, but it's gone today.

Yesterday I built a planter for the strawberries that I will plant on the deck and admired it's perfect imperfection  each time I walked past the window.


An ordinary life, in an ordinary, extraordinary day.






Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I'm in Thailand

                                                                                  
Ha! There is a a lot I don't need to know! Perhaps I should stay away from Bangkok.

Obviously I am not there. If I was, I would be sitting on warm sand at the edge of the ocean and not writing this. I would be sending you gorgeous pictures of beaches and lusty food.

My roommate is Thai. A culture that I've never known anything about. Lovely people, lovely land.
We get along pretty well. She is nice and and I am learning to eat and cook Thai foods. I like most of the food, but dessert's, no no no! (crisco and sugar !) And I've learned to say: Sa wad dee ka, hello and goodbye. Sa bai dee mai ka, how are you and Kab koon ka, thank you. Ka is how you end a sentence if you are female.... Men don't have an ending.

It is difficult living with strangers all the time, especially when you know they are transient. She is young and as a lot of young people are, she must be right all the time. I mean all the time. I think that might just be a personality thing. She and her uncle own several restaurants here so there is a lot of security about money and she is a world wide traveler. No exag. I think she said she has been to 30 countries and is going to Hawaii in the next two weeks (she's been there twice) and will go to Argentina this summer. It is a little tough for me because essentially she also thinks there is nothing good about America, except for, shopping, traffic (Thailand doesn't have the infrastructure that we do), the fact that people let you go in front of them in the grocery store if you only have a couple of things, and the pastries. Seriously, that's about all. She thinks American food is bland and disgusting, although she loves McDonalds and eats there at least twice a week. Go figure! I wanted to say that perhaps she could also like the fact that we let her in and she earns more money here than she probably could in any other part of the world. But I didn't. I let her be right and I don't challenge her negative views. Because I need her to stay here !  Even though I have given her the master suite, and for $200 less than I pay for my 10 x 10 foot room, it is still $$ and it helps to pay the rent, good enough. And in spite of everything, I do like her and enjoy her company and we laugh a lot, she has a very sweet side - when she isn't criticising, it's just a winding road to keep things smooth.

There have been some sad goings on with a sort of distant member of the family. Alcoholic families are very complicated. It's hard to extract yourself from that, especially when you love the other person who is suffering. This is a particularly sweet and good hearted young man, so kind, so endearing and he just cannot make healthy decisions, for a lot of sad reasons. My heart is breaking for him and there is pretty much nothing I can do, except tell him I am here, if and when he can ever accept love and help. He really is the jewel of the family. And no matter what, he remains so.

It's made me think about the concept of opportunities and how we see them in regards to those who have them and those who don't. Everyone has opportunities, "New Age" cheering tells me that. I see  it, but I do not always believe it. I also see something else that I do believe. People who have opportunities and have seized them, often times do not understand those who have very little, or none. It doesn't happen so much in America, we are the "Land of Opportunities". But the world is full of those without a chance, or very little. It makes me very upset when people say that those suffering during the Holocaust had choices. Some did, of course, but there were others........

 I'm thinking of war zones, in particular, Syria comes to mind. Where are all the choices there? I can think of a few examples to illustrate what I mean but it's all so heartbreaking.
 
I hope this darling young man see's the opportunities that are being extended toward him. But he is very broken. It is possible that he is so far down that he can not see them. And it is possible that he may never. I just love him, that's all I really know.

 In regards to my thinking about choices and opp's, it's complicated, I am complicated, so is America.  Like Marco  say's, I'm just talking to the trees.

Other than that, I am doing just fine. We've had a ton of sun here.
Lord what would we do without sun?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Cheap canvas. I love cheap canvas

                                                                                  
                                                                             

r.h.sin is a feminist poet and writer. You can find his work on Instagram.

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. I knew perfectly well the cars were making a noise, and the people in them and behind the lit windows of the buildings were making a noise, and the river was making a noise, but I couldn’t hear a thing. The city hung in my window, flat as a poster, glittering and blinking, but it might just as well not have been there at all, for the good it did me.”
The Bell Jar

I thought I would post two of them to, well, because I just did.

I haven't posted for awhile because I am just "tired", the nomenclature for depressed.  I'm actually not usually this way. My medication keeps that in bay a bit. But lately I've been just as Plath puts it. There is a silence. Life is in slow motion. Neither blogger nor facebook seem like appropriate places to reveal. Every one seems to be coping and more. And it's nice to look through the window and watch. I feel kind of proud that I have such as you - that I've chosen you. It must mean that in a lot of ways I am just like you, coping and sometimes more. So why do I get so tired?

I have things to talk about so I'm pissed that it's getting in my way.  Get the fuck out! You're in my way!

I'm eating way too much. A healthy meal, a shit meal. I'm actually not a drinker at all. But I've been having a glass of wine about every 2/3 days. God, why do people drink wine? Unless you can buy the best, it's just shit sour pop. I mock it.  - Good God, you're worthless. You're a pretty color but you do not bring the advertised freedom that you subtlety suggest in your ad, you're a tease. -  So it sits in the cupboard until it is vinegar. If I am eating pasta, or maybe pizza, or, ahh...eggplant, I think, well aren't you supposed to drink wine with this? But the plate is empty, the glass is half full and what was on the plate seems to have done what the crimson liquid was supposed to do. See, you're useless and you cost me $6.

I'm am painting and enjoying it. But that's all I want to do. Just stand at the table and play with color and water on cheap canvas. It's practice though, so cheap canvas is a brilliant invention, those little cardboard things with the canvas glued on. I love them.

I think my roommate may be adding to the depression. She is a type A. And pretty much wears it like a badge. But she is only a part, I can't seem to nail the others. I have a wonderful new therapist. Got lucky on that one. She asked me a question the other day and I said, "Come on, that is a woowoo question and we are both better than that." We both had a lovely belly laugh and I am proud of her that she got it right away. She's almost as smart as me - I have had more than my fair share, of - consultants..haha - so it is great that she can keep up and give me one better, a lot.

I wish I could write more poetically about this state of being. Like Plath. But then if I could, I might be in big trouble. I wish someone could have saved her.

If there is anyone still out there and you feel like commenting, please do. But don't give me any woowoo. You know I am laughing. Depressed people do laugh, a lot in fact.
I could NOT resist this!!!!!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Never a dull moment

I'm taking a break from painting, I stand to draw and paint and my back gets really tired after a while.   Actually I've only done the under drawing. For me, it takes about 2 hrs to get an under drawing balanced.  (I've still not moved on to abstract yet) But it's turned out good and now I'm contemplating colors.

So I'm taking a break and sitting down and low and behold, here is the keyboard. I've picked the radiation story to tell. God, I am slow at posting.

After the lumpectomy and the ensuing lymph node surgery, which is actually much worse, they put a draining tube in your arm for fluid that might accumulate - it's really gross - but the worst part is that that tube has to stay in for about 5 days and it actually grows scar tissue around it in that short amount of time. They don't give you an anesthetic when they take rip it out of your arm. It hurts like Hell! I actually screamed. It was the worst part of the whole ordeal.
After all of that is over, then you get radiation, 6 weeks, 5 days a week. I don't really know why it takes so long, because my tumor was very small, but that's the way it was. I have never experienced much in the way of side effects.Actually, for me, radiation is not so bad. Well, except for the part where it kills a whole bunch of cells you don't really want to get rid of.  You get to park in a lot reserved for oncology patients. The lot has a machine at the entrance and you have to put your special code in so that all the podiatry patients don't park there. 3 to 4 out of 5 days, I couldn't get my code in. I just could not hit the right buttons, so I'd have to call the nurse on the little speaker thing and ask for help. They can do it from inside, but every time there is a big sigh on the other end of the line. My brain just doesn't work when I am under a lot of stress. I get really disoriented.

You go in and change and have to sit in the waiting room .... with no bra under your gown, and a lot of women bring their husbands, just a wee bit uncomfortable.  When your name is called, you go into a large room that has an enormous machine.
                                                                              
It feels a bit Star Treky.  You get tattooed so that they know exactly were the beam is going to hit. The lights go out except for the one that is in the machine. It swivels around so that the big round thing is on top of you and as it does it makes this quiet sound, very Star Treky again. But it's actually kind of soothing. At my hospital there is a big picture of the galaxy on the ceiling and a soft light that illuminates it. It's very warm in the room and the whole things feels rather like a cocoon. I felt very safe and relaxed in there.

Here is the interesting part. As soon as the light went out and the soft noise of the machine began, I would close my eyes and see a very clear vision of a couch floating over my head. At one end sat a little bare footed girl and at the other, a woman. She looked very calm and centered, for lack of a better word, and they both were wearing lovely dresses.  Each day I would completely forget that this was going to happen. I swear, every single day I would be surprised when the vision came up.You wouldn't think that was possible because it happened every day, but as I said, things become very disorienting as you weave your way through this process. Each day the woman would turn and smile at the little girl who was not having any of that. She wasn't mad or shy, she just didn't trust even the kind faced woman at the other end of the couch.  Day by day the woman would gently beckon the little girl to scoot over towards her. She would smile and nod her head that it was ok and sometimes she would reach across and tickle the girls feet. We had six weeks to go, so this was a long, drawn out process, but slowly, slowly the gap would get shorter. The little girl began to relax a bit at about the midway point, but she never let that guard go all the way down and she never gave up. Again, incredibly, I forgot every, every day that this was going to happen. But when it did there would be a fraction of a second of surprise and enjoyment as it popped up. I don't think the beam lasted more than 4 minutes, if even that, so the whole of this little play carried out in that short amount of time. But it didn't feel short.

I'm sure you can guess the outcome of this story, but here's the twist. On the very last day, predictably, the little girl made it to within a couple of inchs of the woman who was smiling with a smile that said "yes, we got it!". She reached down for her, the child didn't resist, but just as she got her in midair over her lap....bing. The whole thing was over. The machine was done for the last time and the lights came on. The image of her hovering just above the woman's lap is not troubling. Everything was so calm and the experience was like those hours when you are painting and you loose all awareness of your surroundings. What happened at the end, was just the way it happened.

I don't want to put too much into it and the whole "inner child" thing doesn't seem quite right to me. Been there, done that. It feels cliched. What I took away was that it's never over. Nothing is ever over. And nothing is easy. We are always a little thing working towards benevolence never quite knowing if we're safe or not, never really knowing if it's ok to surrender to the process. We get pretty close, we can even get damn close, but it is perfectly ok if we are near. Near is good and I am quite happy with that and very, very happy that benevolence never gives up on us.



Saturday, January 20, 2018

So much to say...

I've been wanting to write one of those posts like I used to write. The ones where I ramble on about something that I know absolutely nothing about. But I can't choose.

1.  Leggings                                                            
2.  Oprah                                                                   
3.  Roommates                                                         .
4.  Women
5. Solitude                                                            
6.  Friendship                                                          
7.  Men in leggings                                                      
     (I can probably combine that with #1)
8.  God, I'm not smart enough for this one.
9.  Politics, ditto                                    
                                                            
  
                                                                                      
10.  Mystical experiences while under the radiation machine
11.  Where to begin life - and where to end it.
12.  Body shaming and Melania/Donald Trump
13. #Me too, sex, prostitution, provocativeness (and anything else you're not supposed to talk about because you're getting off track) - probably would have to be divided into 2 post's and would more than likely get me into trouble.
14. Volleyball uniforms for women and men --- oh yes, gymnastics too. (probably fit with #1)
 15. Modesty what the heck is that for?  (probably goes with #1, #7, #12, #13?, #14).
 
16.  People who are smarter than me and why I love them.
17. Korea/China and my obsession with them.
18. My day, hour by hour......god no.
                                                                                       
                                                                                  
                                                                                        
                                                                        
Writing about any one of these could probably wind up embarrassing the heck out of me. But on the other hand, I kind of really like being "wrong".  There is always so much opportunity for expanding your perceptions and growing in awareness, knowledge and humility.  Ohhh, that's a good one, humility. Consider that to be #19.

Which one?  Got any to add?
I am ready to rumble ramble.
                                                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Begin as you mean to go on

What a year that was.  It was full of things that I hope to never revisit. And several that made it worthwhile.
                                                                          
Hedy says it well, tough roses.

I lost a couple of friendships, but I reconnected with one of the best I've ever had.

An operation on my face, and it worked out great.

 
A crazy roommate, and a great new one - makes up for it all.

My daughter left home, in a not so good way. But she's settled and happy so the first part doesn't count anymore. 

1/2 dozen things went wrong with the car. But most of them weren't very expensive (meaning - there was one whopper) but that dear old girl keeps going along. Sadly she's beginning to look her age but so am I. As long as she hangs in there for me, I'll do the same for her.

The rent got raised stupid high. But by the grace of my mother, her passing gift will get me through.

I had a painter's block (well actually, for the last 8 years...). But it broke just in time. That might have been the best one of all.  

And fuck, of course, there was the whole nightmare of trump. But I have not succumbed to panic and deadly depression. 
                                                                               
I'm approaching this one like Maud (Maud Wagner, pioneering first female tattooist, 1911), fresh roses, head held high and I'm going to do even more to be the me that I really am - brave.

I'm going to sell some of my art. I'm going to get out of the house more. I think I will have to do the latter to accomplish the former.
I'm going to learn enough Korean to be able to be gracious to the couple that own the Korean restaurant. And I'm going to eat there. 
I'm going to resist even harder, against the maniac with the button.
I'm going to create even more than painting. I have more tricks in my bag.
I'm going to fucking change my name!!
I'm going to try to let go of more of the anger and rampaging resentment towards my family...don't expect miracles.
And I'm going to do a lot more things, but I can't remember what they are right now, and several that I haven't even thought of yet.

Let this new one be filled with opportunity and revelation, comfort and clarity, accomplishments, fun and victory for all of us.

And love, lots and lots of love.