Monday, July 21, 2014

How I deal with it.

I do most of my communicating about my journey with cancer on Facebook and I have a tone of voice there that is lighthearted and humorous because that is how I deal with all of this in real life. I can't seem to find that tone of voice here in this blog and I have been more and more reluctant to sit down and write anything about what I am going through. 

I do not want to rehash every detail of every test and treatment and procedure in this blog when the people who are interested already are reading about them on Facebook. There are maybe a few of you that I am not Facebook friends with, but that is easily solved by getting in contact with me and exchanging names. Not many people leave comments on my posts, so I can only assume that there is not enough interest to want to know how the rest of the story unfolds. 

If you only want to exchange email addresses, than that is fine too. I'd be happy to start up a correspondence that way. As long as I have the time and energy, I am willing to spend them on a good cause. 

For now, I am saying goodbye to this blog, but if I survive my bout with cancer, I may some day come back to it. The future is too uncertain for me to predict. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An honest attempt

I will try to write a blog post but you will only know about that fact if you find something written here in the morning. I am awfully tired and it is in the middle of the night, but I am not in the mood to go to bed. I am forcing myself to stay awake, not by drinking cups of coffee, because they don't agree much with me anymore, but by drinking tall glasses of lemonade and having some small snacks to eat every once in a while. I am trying to get my energy out of small sources of sustenance like cup of soup. These agree with me most these days. 

Between the Exfactor and the Cowboy I have been eating a lot of sweets lately in the form of cake and pie and chocolate and I have had more than my share of them and , besides, I think they are not good for me to eat. I think these two men had the silent agreement to try to make my life as pleasant as possible by feeding me junk food, but I have to tell you that this idea backfired and I now can not see another piece of chocolate. I am dying to eat healthy foods in the form of whole wheat sandwiches and fruit. It is a good thing that the Cowboy is leaving to go back to the States this weekend, because my digestive system would not survive anymore of this onslaught. 

The Cowboy has come down with a cold and is trying very hard not to contaminate me. We have disinfecting hand gel and Dettol tissues and wash our hands often. We are also keeping at a healthy distance from each other. In another week, my immune system will be at its weakest, but he will be gone by then, It will be a time when I will have to be careful. I am still clearing my throat a lot and am still very hoarse. That has not improved. I suppose I will have to be patient. 

I will go to bed now simply because I have to be sensible. I do need to get some sleep if I am going to function tomorrow. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Got that done too

I successfully rounded off the first set of chemotherapy yesterday morning without getting sick from it at all, so I am much relieved about that. Whatever medicines I got to prevent that from happening, worked and now I can only hope that they will keep working for the two remaining sets that I have coming up. I have been told that every experience is different and to not count my blessings ahead of time. You know, of course, that I will do that anyway being the optimist that I am. 

I was called yesterday and told that the preamble to my radiation therapy is starting this coming monday with an interview and another pet scan to establish the exact location of the tumors in my lymph system.  Measurements will be made so that the radiation can be directed exactly at these locations and not a millimeter away from them so as to spare as much healthy tissue. Each time I get radiated, I will have to be in the same position that I was in before. 

The radiation starts on the 28th of July and will take place in the morning and the evening and itself only lasts a few minutes. It is getting into the right position that is crucial. I will go home between these two sessions. I have transportation arranged that is paid for by my health insurance company. I have been told that the radiation therapy with zap my energy and I am getting 39 days of it. That, along with the chemo, will have me worn out in no time, I think. 

Because the weather has been so hot, it has been uncomfortable to wear scarfs, and at home I walk around with a bare head. When I go out, I wear a cap, but yesterday I ordered some light weight knit hats that should get here today.  They were on sale and come in very bright colors like apple green and orange-pink. I think I will be happy with them for every day use and leave the scarfs for special occasions when I want to get dressed up. Having a bare head feels the best, but I realize I have to keep it covered up a bit so as to not be too confronting. The Cowboy did discover a widow's peak yesterday and told me that was something special. 

I have to enjoy these three days that I have coming up that are going to be relatively quiet and uneventful and then all hell breaks loose. I am going to have to be ready as I will ever be.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And so I arrive on day two

I think it is more than time to write a post that informs you about how things are going with me right now. I had been so dreading the chemotherapy, that I did not feel up to writing much at all. I would start to write a post, but then get stuck for the right words about one third of the way down and end up deleting it. I was worried that the chemo was going to make me feel very sick, having been warned by the chemo nurse that this could very well happen. Actually, I was prepared for it to and was not very excited about going into the hospital.

Imagine my surprise when I did not get sick at all! When that overnight stay at the hospital turned into a little holiday. It was like staying at a luxury hotel and I have to find out where to get a bed as comfortable. I got my three square meals a day and for hospital food, they tasted fine. The nurses were very friendly and were very competent at their job.

Of course, I was there to be treated for cancer, so it really was not like a holiday. But at least it was not the traumatic experience it could have been and I am grateful for that. I am home again now, after also having the MRI scan made of my brain today, and I am in good shape. Tomorrow morning I have to go get one more chemo treatment and then I have to wait eighteen days until the next ones. All my blood levels will have to be good for me to be able to do the next series. During the second ones, the radiation therapy will start.

I really am in fairly good shape, mentally as well. I have physical pain, but the pain medication works pretty good. There usually is some blessing to count and as a rule I feel real good at the end of the day. I make sure that I take advantage of that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

On an unstoppable train

It has been decided by the team of specialists that the very huge enlarged lymph node by my left lung, is really the primary tumor and is actually in my lung. I will be getting the treatment assuming that this is the case, because any less would soon mean the end of me. I will start the first set of chemotherapy this coming Tuesday and will have three days of it with one night in the hospital. Then I will have eighteen days off while my blood count goes back to normal. When it is, I will have another three days of chemotherapy and at that time the radiation therapy will also start. 

I will have three sets of chemotherapy and thirty days of radiation therapy when I will have to go into the hospital in the morning and in the evening to get a dose. Then I will have nine days when I will get a single dose every day. This is providing that I react well to everything and that it can all go according to schedule. Nobody said that this is going to cure me and I think I have to assume that it will possibly not. My survival chance is 25%. That is not very high.

The specialist in charge of my case is very good and she gives me a lot of confidence. I think I am in good hands. Yesterday, I also met the chemo nurse and the radiologist and I am equally impressed with them. Everything that is going to happen has been explained to me and also what the effects of the two therapies are going to be on my body besides hopefully destroying the cancer. It certainly is not going to be a party and I am in for some interesting times. I am, however, not scared and I know that this needs to be done. There is no other choice. 

Next week there is also going to be an MRI scan made of my brain to see if there is metastasis there. I am very much afraid that there is and that this is what the problem was with my eye. I see on photos of myself that my right eye droops a bit. All I can do is hope that this is not true and that nothing will be found. 

My sister was on a mission, and that was to find a few scarves for me for when the chemotherapy started and my hair would fall out. I was thinking of some plain square scarves, but she came over today with two large beautiful square ones that have the most wonderful colors. I took one and without looking in a mirror, tied it very elegantly around my head. It was such a success that I decided that I would not wait for my hair to fall out in bits and pieces, but that we should shave it off then and there. The Cowboy and my sister shaved it off in two stages (the Cowboy did the precision work) and now I have a bald head that is nicely wrapped in a beautiful scarf. 

Today was an exhausting day because I had to process so much information and make note of so many dates and details. It is a good thing that I am not trying to do this all by myself. I am using my very large coffee table as a work surface to keep all my papers pertaining to the cancer organized on. I still think that I am forgetting things and have to keep checking them. 

The Cowboy makes sure that there are always fresh flowers around which cheer up the living room tremendously. It is such a nice space to be in. We really do take our rest there when we get a break. I suppose I ought to go to bed now, but I like this bit of time by myself late at night. Outside there is a thunderstorm and it is very cozy in here. Regardless, I will say goodnight. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

The tricky parts

I am becoming familiar with more of the different emotional stages of living with cancer and today it was the sad, grieving stage while I have already had an angry one. No doubt these will repeat themselves and there will be others I go through. I can not yet imagine what they will be, but I am not that curious that I let loose my imagination to try to figure them out ahead of time. I can wait until they happen naturally. 

I must say, though, that while I go through such a stage, I do work out some problem or other that needs to get solved, so they can be productive as well as bothersome. It isn't all bad. But don't ask me to repeat that while I am in the depths of one, because I will deny it. The good thing is that I am not on my own, but that I have the Cowboy's shoulder to cry on and that he very willingly let's me. I have told him that he doesn't need to solve anything for me, but just listen to me go on and on and so he does. 

Tyke becomes confused and tries to find comfort also, but doesn't quite know where to find it, so I have to make sure that at some point I pay attention to him and reassure him. He is more than willing to let that happen to him and have his belly rubbed. The poor animal didn't sign up for any of this to happen to him. But then again, neither did I. 

We haven't seen Gandhi since early this afternoon when my sister's dog scared the living daylights out of her and she disappeared outside somewhere. The dog has been gone for hours, but Gandhi has not yet come back. It may take a while before she does. 

When the pain medication wears off in the afternoon before it is time to take the next dose, I have discovered that I can take 1,000 mg of paracetamol and that will help in the meantime. I will discuss this with my GP when he next comes over, which should be at the end of this week. I will call the practice in the morning and make the appointment. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Where the best people go

I had a less terrific day than I did yesterday and I am glad that I have this blog to complain about it in, because in real life I don't. I had more pain and was more tired, and I choked on whatever I had to drink more often. That has left me somewhat frustrated, but I was able to solve the resulting low spot in the late afternoon very adequately and for that I am proud of myself. I took all my medications a lot sooner and I ate a lot earlier and I recovered and felt better quicker. 

I felt so good, that after the rainstorm, I took Tyke for a walk and it felt good to be out there in the much cooler world, The mugginess was gone and it was actually kind of chilly outside. I wore my leather jacket and that was not a luxury, but it was the kind of temperature that I am comfortable with. I always think that it kills whatever germs float around and because I am going to have chemotherapy, I am going to be especially aware of those. Chemotherapy plays havoc with your immune system, so you have to avoid coming in contact with sick people specifically and bacteria and viruses in general. 

I think I got through to the Cowboy how much his presence here means to me and what a difference it makes in me being able to accept the fact that I have cancer. I have short periods of time when the sheer horror of it stares me right in the face and it scares the hell out of me. I am sure that if the Cowboy were not around, I would have many more of those moments. It is his sanity that keeps me sane. I am not surrounded by people who have their shit together and I would be faced with their issues also if it were not for him. I think he appreciates that fact because he is witness to it. 

I know that I am a tough broad, and that as a rule I can reason my way through my problems, but that does not mean that I do not also feel my emotions very intensely. I have to deal with them in a rational way and not let them get the better of me. I have all sorts of tricks to make it through the day when it gets rough, so things don't always come easy, although it looks that way. I can have the outward appearance of total calm and be inwardly boiling like a hot kettle. Maybe it would be a good idea to take the lid off every once in a while. Probably nothing really too awful would happen. 

I have turned analytical and that was not my intention. I wanted to keep it light, but there you have it. And now we await Monday and the new week when everything will start up again. It is as if duty calls us and we have to get back to our jobs. The weekend was the interlude we needed.

On the opposite side of life

I want to live on the opposite side of my cancer and not embrace the fact that I have it at all. I will acknowledge it, but not identify with it and and become one with it like some self help books suggest that you do. And even if I say I acknowledge it, I only do so barely with hardly an introduction at all. I will keep myself busy with it on the days that I have appointments and treatments, but the rest of the time, I will try to put it out of my mind. Except for when I sit down to write about it here, of course. I do need to vent about it now and then. 

I am not planning on having long discussions about my cancer with other people or to bring it up in a conversation unless there is no other way around it. I will not choose it as a subject to talk about. There are several other things I do as a rule not talk about, so I do have some practice at this. You would be surprised at how easy it is not to talk about things. 

I am so sure about this because this is my state of mind now, but it could change, of course. That is still a woman's prerogative the last time I looked. Maybe that is a prejudiced point of view and it is a man's prerogative also. 

In the morning I want to wake up and get out of bed and think about my first cup of coffee. That's what  I want to be on my mind and I am going to make damn sure that it is. I want to enjoy all the good days that I have and especially every moment that is pain free and I am not going to waste my time sitting around moping because I have cancer. It is just like any other illness nowadays and it doesn't necessarily have to kill me. It is possible that I am in denial, but I would not be better of if I were not. 

Besides, I promise not to be in denial on the days that I have the appointments and the treatments. I will be as engaged as I can be and ask questions and look things up. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Walking to which beat?

I am trying to live my life in a more normal manner as if I only have cancer part time on the days that I have appointments. I am getting fed up with having cancer and I don't like to be reminded of it too much. It is bad enough that it is almost the first thing that I think of in the morning when I wake up, because I do have to remind myself initially of what is wrong. 

I have grown tired of having to tell people what is wrong with me and have developed a very shortened version of how to explain it. Nobody listens well in the first place and usually I have to repeat myself, so it is better if I do that in as short a manner as possible. It is also strange how everyone wants to have an opinion on it, as if cancer is something you can critique. 

The oddest thing is, how people want to own my cancer as if it belongs to them and it is afflicting them.  I don't even get to own my own cancer and decide how I feel about it. Everybody else wants to decide that for me. The only person who does not waltz over me like that is the Cowboy. He has the most delicate and sensible way of letting me deal with it myself.

I have a heck of a hard time in the late afternoon and early evening and have decided that I need to move up the time when I take all my medicines by an hour. I start feeling very low around 4 pm, so that is when I need to take my regular medicines from now on. This is also when the pain medication starts to wear off, but I have to wait a couple of more hours to take the next pills. I also have to make the time when I take them an hour earlier at least. 

The Cowboy buys interesting food for me so that I will be excited about eating and so that my stomach will not protest. He reminded me that the reason I am losing weight is because I am feeding a cancer at the same time. I have to think about nutrition especially now. I have to eat dinner earlier in the day and not wait for the conventional time to come around. There are all of these little rules that I have to break. I have to reinvent my day. 

I am sure that everyone with cancer has their own unique experience and that everyone has to invent their own way of how to deal with it. I am by no means an expert. I have only known for a short time that I have it, but I am learning an awful lot in that very short time. So far, they are only wisdoms that apply to me and maybe they will always be. I can only write down what I feel as it happens to me. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Let me think about that

Although I disagree with the diagnosis, I was told that I have non small cell lung cancer in the lymph nodes around my lungs, but not in the lungs themselves. I may also have the same type of cancer in the lymph nodes of my thyroid, or it could be a different type of cancer all together. The oncologists are going to debate about this a bit more. Depending on that outcome, I have either stage 3 or stage 4 cancer, but it is called adenocarcinoma. The primary tumor was not found, but that happens sometimes. 

As far as I am concerned, I have lymph node cancer and I will put it to the specialist on Wednesday when my next appointment is. It may not change the treatment, which will consist of chemotherapy and radiation, but I would like for things to be called by their proper names. My lung specialist is in training and being guided by well educated and experienced oncologists, so I am sure I am in good hands, but I do want to have something to say about what is taking place myself. 

I have been known to be a stubborn Dutch woman and one has to come with good arguments and solid facts to convince me of something before I will stake a claim on it. I do good research myself and talk with other people who also may know a lot. 

After I had the appointment this afternoon, I was very angry at the world in general while I tried to give a place to everything I had heard. I am over that now and feel back to my old self who is more in charge again. I don't feel so helpless anymore. I don't feel that something is happening to me outside of my control, but I always feel better at night and maybe in the morning I will be angry again.

Like my daughter said to me so wisely today, there has to be room for all of my feelings and all of them are valid. I should not try to push one of them away in favor of another. That is not how it works. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

So, what's next?

I have started eating very uncomplicated food in smaller portions because that is what my stomach likes better. It wouldn't surprise if there was something wrong with it or my esophagus. Maybe I have metastases there as well, or maybe that is even where the primary tumor is. I will know on Thursday when I will get the results of the PET scan that was made this morning. I know nothing about it at this point, although everyone keeps asking me about it. The radiologist did not sit and discuss it with me afterwards!

The first thing I did when I came home, was make a pot of coffee because I was dying for a cup (no pun intended). I was not really hungry until much later and tried to eat two small wheat rolls with ham and cheese, but my eyes turned out to be bigger than my stomach and I had to give one roll to Tyke, cut up in bite sized pieces. He sure as heck was happy with that. I figured that he deserved something special too. So much is going on here lately and it is a lot to deal with for him too. 

Tomorrow the Cowboy is coming back from Rome and we all will be happy to see him, including Tyke. It feels like he has been gone for ages and I have missed him and his helping hands. Tyke will be thrilled because the Cowboy has become his real buddy and Tyke loves him as much as he loves me. 

It is now very quiet here after a very busy day of people coming and going. I did manage to take a one hour nap in the afternoon and find that I need more and more of them as I physically don't last as well as I used to. I am not that physically active now, but I do wear out quickly. I am also losing weight, but I have not been on the bathroom scale in a while. I will do that in the morning if I remember to. 

I suppose you could call this another one of those happy moments that I regularly have and they usually happen when everyone is gone and I am on my own with the animals and all is peaceful and quiet. If I were religious, I guess you could say that I was with God and maybe I am with my higher being now and that is where the sense of tranquility comes from. Maybe I do know God after all. It is here.

The PET scan

The PET scan is being done this morning at 10:15. For three hours beforehand, I can't eat or drink anything so that is going to be a bit tough. I will miss having my morning cup of coffee and the tall glass of ice cold lemonade that I always drink. But it is a small price to pay for the sake of finding out where the primary tumor is located and in how many places there are metastases. The scan will take about two hours and I will be more than ready for a cup of coffee after that. 

My GP came to visit me yesterday and we had a good conversation about everything a person with cancer should talk about. I had no problem speaking openly to him about what my prognosis could possibly be because I have metastases and the sort of treatment I could possibly expect. We also talked about euthanasia, which I don't want, and palliative care, which he provides. He and his colleague will be closely involved in my future life with cancer and it is good that he knows all my wishes. He is an amiable man and I think our co-operation will be fine. 

My daughter called and we talked about the fact that the primary tumor could be found some place other than in my lungs because nothing showed up there in the CT scan and it is strange that it didn't. It only showed tumors in the lymph glands and around the windpipe. Well, it is all speculation and the PET scan will tell the real story so I have to wait for the results of it. On Thursday I have an appointment with the lung specialist at the oncology center of the hospital. 

Although the pain medication works for the most part, I do have some pain now, but I don't care because it makes me feel alive. I would rather not be in a near coma from the medication. I prefer to feel some pain as long as it is not overwhelming. That makes sense, doesn't it? 

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I had a miserable afternoon of pain and nausea, but it is behind me now and after taking my pain medication, I can only say that I feel pretty darn good. It takes about an hour for it to work, but then it really does and I can be guaranteed to feel so much better. It is a difference between day and night and I would hate to do without it. God forbid that I should ever have to. 

I had a very nice morning because my sister took me for a drive in the nicest part of the province and when we got to the prettiest village, we parked the car and had coffee and pie on the terrace of a restaurant in the sunshine that just happened to be out. That was just before it started raining, so we were very lucky. The pie tasted homemade and was not too sweet and the serving was huge. 

For some reason, I got sick in the afternoon and I still have not worked out why that was. I was unable to use the iPad because every time I tried, I got sicker and a huge headache. I shut it off and have not used it since. I always sit in my big red armchair when I use it and maybe that is a problem. Maybe I hold my head at such an angle that a nerve is being pinched. I do not have that problem sitting here with the iMac at the computer table. 

The Exfactor treated me in the evening to Indonesian take out. By that time I was feeling better and in the mood for it. I had nasi goreng and pork satay and it tasted pretty darn good, although I could only eat half of it. I had no stomach problems afterwards, although I had been a bit afraid of that. Like I said, I feel good now and like I never felt any different. I am new to this disease called cancer and do not know all the ins and outs of it yet. 

I try to stay up later at night so that I do not go to sleep too early. I do not want to get up at all in the middle of the night but sleep through it. I get the best night rest that way than when it is broken up into halves. Who would have thought that I would ever sound so sensible? 

Sometimes you just feel that way

It is in the middle of the night and a while ago I talked to my daughter over the phone. Because of the time difference, and because she had been working all day long, this was the first opportunity we could talk in the last few days and I had been looking forward to it. We had a long conversation in which we talked about a lot of things that we found important now that I have lung cancer and my time is probably limited. 

We both wanted to say a lot of things to each other that we had not yet got around to and it was like we were in a rush to say them now. We actually will have all sorts of time to do that still, but it feels like we will run out of it. They were things that neither one of us had said to the other before and it is a shame that it has come to this before we do. But I am not complaining because it is good that we say them now. I am sure that we are going to do much more of this and I look forward to that. 

I am very proud of my daughter because she is the first woman in my family who has achieved full emancipation all on her own power. The place that she has reached in this world, she has reached by herself without anybody's help and I stand in full admiration of her. I am, without outwardly bragging about it, enormously proud of her and I told her so tonight. I do not know why this came as a surprise to her because it seems so matter of fact that I am. I hold her in very high regard. 

I now have to try to get some sleep or I will not be worth anything during the day. My sister and I are supposed to go for a ride with the car and have a coffee somewhere nice. She does take good care of me. I am not sleepy, but hopefully once I lie down in bed, sleep will come. I just took a paracetamol because my chest hurts. Maybe it will work in a little while. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A nap would be good...

I was drinking coffee, but it wasn't doing me any good, so I switched to lemonade. We will see if that sparkling cold drink will make me more alert than I am now. I also had to take a paracetamol because I had a headache. This in spite of the fact that I had already taken my pain medicine. I think it is all in my head, no pun intended. 

For someone with what I assume is lung cancer, I am not doing too badly right now, but that is exactly because I have taken my pain medicine. Before I took it, I was not such a happy camper. I think the fact that it has a narcotic in it makes me all the more happy, and there is a heck of a difference after I have taken it. 

I get a real dip at the end of the afternoon and that is because the medicine has worn off and I need to take the next dose, but it is not time yet. I really have to wait twelve hours before I take it. I can't cheat. All of me suffers when it has worn off and my whole body hurts. 

My sister was over here twice today, once to do some cleaning, and a second time with some delicious take out food as a treat for us. She knows what I need and how to keep my mind distracted. She has enough energy for the both of us, so I don't have to feel bad for having so little. When it comes to that, I am going downhill. 

The Exfactor also came over and brought chocolate croissants again. I seem to do well on sweet food because it always peps me up a lot. I think the cancer drains my body of energy and the sugar resupplies it. I do also eat complex carbohydrates. A glass of lemonade does wonders for me, though, and I drink it ice cold very often. I may yet regain the weight that I lost. Coffee only does me good in the morning. The rest of the day it doesn't seem to do much for me. 

As soon as we have worked things out concerning my treatment plan and the prognosis, my daughter wants to come see me. In the meantime, she wants me to keep her informed down to the tiniest detail about how I am. I am doing my best to do that without making things sound dramatic. I try to be matter of fact about them and call everything by its right name. Cancer is cancer and pain is pain. I can't make it any nicer than that. I do use a somewhat cheerful tone of voice. If I can fool her with that.

I am not half asleep anymore and now I can stay up until it really is time to go to bed. I will be able to sleep until it is morning and not get up in the middle of the night. I like that so much better.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Not quite what I thought...

I called back the ENT specialist today because she had said that I could always call her if I had any questions. My calling her resulted in clearing up a major misunderstanding that I had. It turns out that I don't have a tumor by my thyroid but that all the tumors are in my lymph glands by my lungs and around my windpipe, and that they expect to find the primary tumor in my lungs. What that means, in other words, is that they think I have lung cancer. 

Considering that I already have metastasis, I know that makes the prognosis not so good, but I suppose I will not get ahead of things and wait until I have seen the lung specialist on Thursday. The PET scan is being done on Tuesday and that is when I will also have the blood work done. I think I am in stage IV, but I don't know the exact gradation. Only the specialist will be able to tell me after he has seen the PET scan and has talked to me. 

I went into mourning this afternoon and called my sister so I could cry on her shoulder. She very patiently let me. It was as though the gravity of the situation finally dawned on me. What a rude awakening that was. It sure hit me hard. By now I am okay again and know how to deal with it. I am over the shock. I realize that I will not have a long time to live and that I have to get out of life what I can while I can. It is as simple as that. 

I had a lot of pain in my back today and the pain medication was not working. In the afternoon I called the GP's office and asked for their help. The assistant called me back a while later to say that she had faxed a prescription for a stronger medication to the pharmacy and my sister picked it up. I took it in the early evening after the other medicine was out of my system. To my great relief, this new pain medication works much better and I am now almost without pain. I am ever so grateful for this. 

I am not going to have any wine tonight. I don't know if it is a good idea to drink alcohol at all. I use so much medicine and now with this new medication, that is so strong, it may not be the right thing to do. I am going to stay up as long as I can, and then take my sleeping pill and hopefully get a good night's sleep. I was lazy and rested for most of the day after it was such a busy day the day before. It did me a lot of good, because I feel much better now. 

Hanging in there

I get worn out quicker than I used to and especially at the end of the day that can be a problem. By that time, I have been visiting with people, and talking a lot, and generally up and about and moving around, so when the evening comes along, I start to feel very tired and quickly out of breath. I really ought to go to bed at that point and sleep for a couple of hours, but I am also still too wound up to do so. 

Yesterday evening, I had two glasses of white wine first to help me relax, and I then fell into a sound sleep which was wonderful. I woke up about three hours later completely refreshed and in much better shape mentally too. Life with cancer does get a bit overwhelming at times. My body does not co-operate as well anymore. It wants to do everything at a much slower pace. It does not like for me to do a lot of things in a hurry. I am simply incapable of that.

I did not expect ever to slow down like this and to really feel so impeded, but I have to face reality and pace myself. It is in a very short time that this has happened. I can still take Tyke for his walks so I am glad about that and as a rule Tyke is not in a hurry, but dawdles a lot. I must keep taking him for walks even when the Cowboy is back from Rome because I am sure that it is good for me. Maybe we can go together because I know that the Cowboy likes to go for walks also. 

I realize that I must adjust my habits and my schedule if I am successfully going to live with cancer. I will be a trial and error process while I find the best way. I do have to remember that I am very new at this. I have been practicing not feeling well for a while, but I didn't get it right then because I didn't know what was the matter. 

The Exfactor surprised me with chocolate croissants this morning and they were so fresh and good. He had bought extra so there was another one for my sister to have with her tea later. There is one left to have tomorrow morning and I think he is bringing over more. He had already brought over a very pure chocolate bar earlier in the week and my friend M. brought over another one in the afternoon. I share them with my sister and we try to make them last as long as possible. Chocolate is the food of the gods. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Not such good news...

To make a long story short, I have a malignant tumor on my thyroid and tumors in my lymph glands by my lungs. A PET scan will show if they have metastasized to other places in my body, but they probably have already to my spine and that is why I have such pain there. The pain medicine I am taking is the right kind and is also keeping the pain from the other places in check, beside the pain in my back. The reason my voice is so hoarse is because the tumor is pressing on a nerve that is going right by my vocal chord. 

Until the PET scan is made, I don't know what my prognosis is or what the treatment plan is going to be, but the circus will start next week and blood work will first be done. I am patient and will be ready when the time comes for whatever comes. I have had a good cry, but I am mostly alright and well put together considering the circumstances. I am having a stiff drink right now, but I thought I could allow myself one. I did want to take the edge of and feel a bit more mellow. I think I deserve that.

I wanted to allow my sister to take care of me, but I have changed my mind about that and think (considering her personality) that this is not such a good idea. I have asked the Cowboy to do this instead because I think he would do a much more proficient job. He has now changed his plans and is only going to Rome for a few days and is returning here on Tuesday. He is not going to Naples and Corfu. I am so grateful for that and am enormously relieved. I realized that I was in a jam otherwise. 

The Cowboy has a lot of experience with cancer and the treatment and the whole process because of our son who had cancer of a rare kind. He got treatment and went into remission and then, in the end, died of it anyway. The Cowboy was his mainstay through the whole thing and I know that he can do a competent job and is very knowledgeable. 

I have never had anything this seriously wrong with me, so this is a whole new experience for me and I don't know what to expect either. I will live from one day to the next and take it as it comes. I am planning on putting up a good fight and prolonging my life as much as is possible, I am a tough broad, after all. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

What we wish for

I am allowed to, beside the opiate, also take big doses of paracetamol for the pain in my back. My GP gave me the permission to today. He does not want to prescribe a stronger pain medication until he knows what the real problem is and we won't know that most likely until Wednesday. 

At the moment I have gotten very lucky because both of them are working well and my back is not giving me too much trouble and that is almost cause for a celebration. It is too bad that I do not drink or I would finish up the vodka that is still on the shelf in the kitchen. It would be nice to get a bit tipsy, but I dare not. 

I do know that I am going to stay up for a long while because I want to enjoy every moment that I am not in a lot of pain. It will be time to go to bed when I start feeling uncomfortable. I remember to sit up straight so I don't put a lot of stress on my back and if it is at all possible, to lean back in a pillow for a bit. I am learning all the little tricks as I go along. 

The Exfactor was visiting me this afternoon and just as he was getting ready to leave, the Cowboy came home from Amsterdam so I was not alone for a minute. Isn't it nice how they don't leave me unattended? Tyke was so happy to see the Cowboy that he almost climbed on top of him. 

The Cowboy thinks that Amsterdam and San Francisco are the two best cities on earth and he would like to spend equal portions of the year in them. In Amsterdam, he tried to find out how much it would cost to live there for six months. I hope he can make his dream come true. 

My dream is to spend time on one of the islands on the north coast with a few of the people I love. I want to walk on the windblown beach and smell the sea. I would like to sit in the tall grassy dunes and look into the far horizon and not think about anything but how pleasant it is to be there. I do hope that my dream comes true also. 

The apple that falls from the tree

It is now officially Monday and only two more days (if I push my luck a little) until I hear the results from the CT-scan with contrast fluid and the echo with biopsy. To say that this is making me anxious, would be an understatement, but to all outward appearances I am very calm. It is just possible that I am more calm than I give myself credit for. I am anxious to know what is wrong with me, because I hate to walk around feeling so sick without knowing what the cause is (although I have my suspicions). 

I wake up every morning convincing myself that I am doing much better, only to be proved wrong after I have been up for about two minutes (if it takes that long at all). I try to suppress each symptom and prove to myself that I do not have any at all and that each one is a figment of my imagination. I repeat that process regularly throughout the day and I hope I get it right some time. You know how they always say that the mind is stronger than the body? Well, I am trying to prove that fact (if it is indeed a fact and not an old wife's tale). 

Today is also the day that the Cowboy returns from his little sojourn to Amsterdam and I have to say that I am glad about that. It will be good to see him because I did miss him. It was quiet without him here, although having my little sister around did make up for some of that. The Cowboy posted a few of the photos that he took in Amsterdam on Facebook, but I can't wait to see the rest. He will have taken them with the eye of a typical American who sees things that we Dutch people don't even notice anymore. And that is what makes for such surprising shots. 

I have an appointment with my therapist this morning, but because I will not be able to ride my bike over there, my little sister is taken me there with her car. Isn't that the cat's pajamas? What luxury. Everybody needs a little sister like that, but they do not come a dime a dozen. They are very rare. I sure as heck am holding on tight to mine. She is still in the process of cleaning the doors and the woodwork and gets a bit done every day in between other things she has to take care of. 

I have got the nicest glass of ice cold lemonade. The best things in life are (almost) free.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

With a sister like that...

I sure am lucky to have a baby sister who makes up her mind to do something and then goes ahead and takes care of it. I will never have to worry that I will have to face anything on my own or have to carry any burden that is too heavy for me singlehandedly to bear. She just observes the situation quickly and steps in and takes control of things. I hardly have to worry about anything after that. She is worth her weight in gold and how many people are there these days like that? 

I do have to make sure that the burden does not become too heavy for her so, if at all possible, I want to carry as much of it as I can myself. And always be loving and grateful to her because she deserves it and no, she is not at all a martyr. She has a heart of gold too and can do the job of two people. For some reason she was created that way. 

Yesterday evening I took Tyke for his regular walk, but it was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated and it took me a while to recover from the effort. It seems that my physical condition is going backwards and that does concern me. You would think that I was a very old and out of shape woman. I do want to keep going for this same walk and not reduce the distance because I will be darned if I am forced to. Besides that, Tyke needs to set the boundaries of his territory three times a day. Somehow I have to stay in good enough shape to be able to walk that far. Come hell or high water. 

I will accept any reality that I am faced with, but I am also stubborn and will fight for the cause and go the extra mile. My god, I sound just like a politician. I sure as heck don't want to. I will set a goal for myself every day and somehow achieve it even if it is not a real big one. I will let them vary in size depending on how good a day I am having. And now I am out of breath. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

What I do this for

The Cowboy caught the train this morning for Amsterdam and is going to be gone for a couple of days. I have to be honest with you and tell you that I miss him and that it is going to be tough when he goes on his vacation to Rome and Corfu. He is such good company and takes care of things so well, that it would be hard not to miss him, especially once he goes back to California. I try not to think that far ahead and enjoy the moments that he is here. It also helps that I know that he is having a good time here and that it really is a break from his regular life at home, which mainly takes place in the suburbs. 

I look forward to the time that my sister will live here and take care of me, although it is not at all sure if that is going to happen. It depends on if I do indeed have cancer and we won't know the answer to that until Wednesday. Very often, I feel so wretched that I am sure that I do and I am only waiting for the specialist to confirm it. There is something the matter with me anyway and my sister's help will be very welcome. In the meantime, I take the pain medication, or am impatiently waiting for it to do its job, and try to remember to take naps on time because they help a lot. 

The Exfactor was here this afternoon and had a beer and we had the kind of conversation that we used to have way back when. And that seems like ages ago too. Tomorrow morning he is going to do some groceries and bring chocolate croissants to have with our coffee. I am looking forward to that. As ex-husbands go, he is not a bad one and I do enjoy his company. He is much more an introvert, but he does have his good points. 

Things happen for a reason and I think there must be a method to this madness. There is a lesson to be learned out of all of this that I had not learned yet. More than one lesson, really. Once this is all over, I could probably write a text book about it (providing I survive it). I am already not getting excited about so many things that do not seem important any longer and I wonder what everyone is getting all worked up about. So many people have such short fuses and waste their time being angry about nothing at all. I am looking high and low for tolerance and forgiveness. None of us are getting hurt as much as we think we are. 

I have had my cups of black coffee and feel very much well put together. I thought coffee gave me heart palpitations, but I realize now that they must come from my thyroid problems. And so the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Worried? Who, me?

I am a bit late with taking my pain medication because I had fallen asleep after a copious spaghetti dinner and just woke up, several hours later. It was wonderful to take that long nap, but it did upset my schedule a bit, not that it actually matters that much. I am a free agent, after all. I just have to wait for the pain medication to start working now and it make take a while. But I am not a wimp, mind you. I can take a lickin' and keep on tickin', as the once so famous commercial said. 

It seems ages ago since I had the echo and the biopsy done, but it was really only this morning. I had a very competent radiologist do them and I had much more faith in her than I did in the one who earlier had only done the echo. She seemed so much more sure of herself and thorough. There were two areas of concern. One was on the right side of what is left of my thyroid and where the ENT specialist had suspected there to be something. The other place was on the left side of my throat under my jaw in my lymph gland. There was a bigger nodule there surrounded by smaller ones. The radiologist only took a biopsy of the one in my thyroid, but noted the position and the size of the other ones. 

My sister had gone with me and was already planning ahead. If I have cancer, and if it has metastasized, she will move in with me and take care of me. Since she is a very competent woman, I have no doubt that she will do a very good job at that. It will solve all kinds of problems for me as well as for her, so we kill two flies with one stone. Not to be morbid or anything.

Much to my relief, the pain medication has started to work and I am beginning to feel better. I can not tell you how much that helps me and I would hate to have to do without. I am so glad that my GP sees the importance of it and allows me to use this strength. Pain does not make a good bed partner, as they say. It does not make a good partner period. 

My friend M has a cyst on her pancreas and as far as I know, there are going to be some more tests, although I could not get a very clear answer on this from her. She seemed to think it was the result of a medication that she was taking and that it would be taken care of with other medicines and a diet. I owe you a better explanation than this, so I will let you know when I have it. 

And many others...

If God exists the way we imagine him to in the western world, he has a wicked sense of humor because something is the matter with the pancreas of my friend M. The values that measure if there is, are way too high and she is having an echo done today. Of course, one thinks of the worst without actually mentioning it. Let's hope it is just an acute case of pancreatitis and not something more malignant. I am keeping my fingers crossed, for her more than me, because somehow this seems more severe. More than anything I want this outcome to be good. I can handle whatever is wrong with me, but not what may be wrong with her. And that is not because I am such a Pollyanna. 

I would light multiple candles in the Our Dear Lady Chapel if I had any faith in it, but because I am not a true believer, I think our dear lady will see through my scheme and not grant my wishes. I remember well the one time that I fervently prayed in a little church and that (to my horror later on) my wish was granted, and ever since then I know you should be careful of what you wish for. It may not always be the best thing in the scheme of things and be a terrible upset in the larger plan of your life. If it is not supposed to be, do not wish for it wholeheartedly. It is better to leave things up to fate. 

I am having my own echo and biopsy done today, but it hardly seems important, although I know it is. When I got up out of bed, I tried to pretend that nothing was the matter with me and that I had no symptoms at all. I acted like everything was a figment of my imagination and that it had merely gotten out of hand. If I keep convincing myself of that, I bet I will be as good as new in no time. The mind is stronger than the body, after all. Maybe I can talk myself into being healthy again and not be in need of any medical care and tests at all. I will tell myself that we are all lost souls on the wrong path and that we will soon find our way again. 

What excellent ideas I have sometimes. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Would you believe that?

Would you believe that with every cup of coffee I drink, I am getting more and more sleepy? I don't know how that is possible either, but there you have it. I will have to stop drinking it if this is the case. I can hardly keep my eyes open now and I am not planning on going to sleep yet. I really hope that if I ingest enough caffeine, the effects will cancel each other out and that I will be perfectly fit in a while. That could be so much wishful thinking, however. I am not so good at chemistry. 

The Cowboy and I watched the Netherlands beat Australia in a World Cup match, but only barely so because they did not play a good game and I thought they were going to lose. The score was 3-2, so you see it was close. The Cowboy had on an orange t-shirt and an orange hat, so was completely dressed for it and loudly cheered on the Dutch team. I was a bit more cynical than that, but then the Dutch always are about themselves. We did not deserve to win it, that's how badly we played. 

I saw the physiotherapist this morning and he manhandled both the sore spots in my back which felt real great while he was doing it. Of course, that good feeling did not last long and by the time I was home, the pain had returned. Luckily by then, the pain medication was working, so not all was bad. I do have to keep seeing the silver lining. 

The flower shop is beside the physiotherapy clinic and when I was done, I bought a big primula in a pot for one of the windowsills in the living room. I wanted something cheerful there right beside my armchair, so I had to get something that flowered. It gets enough sunlight there, so it ought to do well. That, along with the sunflowers that the Cowboy bought, make the living room look like the outdoors. 

I have to stop sitting here now as this position is not that comfortable. Maybe I will go to bed now and get up later in the night again. I do look forward to the quiet hours on my own, as usual. 

Freshly brewed coffee

I think sometimes I am going slightly mad, but I may be forgiven because I have a lot on my plate right now. I am assuming a lot without actually knowing anything and preparing myself for the worst. What sort of condition is that to live under? I wish I could turn back time and start with a clean slate, but if I could do that, I would wish for my body to be clean and whole again. And so I would end up infinitely wishing for something, until I had gone back in time far enough and became unborn, and that is the same thing as dying. Isn't that everyone's final destination? Why should I be different? 

The new pain medication is not working as well as I had hoped and that is a bit of a disappointment. I think I am just going to have to get used to the fact that I have pain. I will always be in search of the most comfortable position, but not be able to find it. That is an excellent metaphor for life. Looking for comfort and never being able to quite find it for a long enough time, but being awfully happy for those short times when I do. That is the the way I have experienced life anyway. Life has been lived on a slant with many ups and downs. I will make sure I sit on top of the hill at the end. 

I am speaking prematurely again and have no business to. It is like I am full of premonitions. The potential outcome would be easier to ignore if it were not for the pain. That is the thing that is hardest to ignore. 

I suppose that I feel the urge to write a lot in order to share my thoughts because there is comfort in that. Especially when I sit here in the middle of the night and all is quiet. I still am ready for whatever kind of day is ahead and have not stopped feeling the excitement that comes with that. Everything is still possible and the possibilities are still (in a way) endless. The fat lady has not sung yet. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Too short for my chair

This morning I called the doctor's office because my back was bothering me too much to wait until the afternoon. I have found out that in order to get what you want, you have to be assertive and go after it, even if it means making a pest of yourself. I ended up getting an appointment almost immediately and this way I could inform my GP about what I had been up to this past week. He would have gotten a report at some later stage but now he knows a bit sooner. He showed great concern and entered all the information into my dossier and then we got down to the business I had , come for.

I asked him for stronger pain medication for my back and he did take that seriously. He found one that is an opiate, but one that will not interfere too much with the other medications that I take. I took a pill this afternoon and after having had to wait some time, it does seem to be doing the job now without making me feel drowsy. Of course we were both thinking the same thing and that is, that if I do have thyroid cancer, that this pain could be due to metastasis. But that is thinking way ahead of things, although it is the thought that is crossing everyone's mind.

The biopsy is going to be done this Thursday morning, and because of that, I had to reschedule the follow up appointment to Wednesday next week when the outcome will be known. It doesn't really matter anymore to me when what happens, as long as I know that something does. I hate being idle and not knowing what the plan is. I have to have the feeling that there is movement in the situation and that everybody is on the ball.

I often have a hard time eating and drinking because of choking problems. I don't think I will be going to any restaurants now. I do like to eat and I do get hungry, so it is not as if I reject food. And lord knows that I am always thirsty. I just have to do these activities at home only with the greatest of care, and even then.

Fare thee well

The radiologist who made the echo, wants to compare the results of it with the results of the CT-scan and make a decision about where the best spot is to do a biopsy. This will take place Tuesday or Wednesday, before my follow up appointment on Thursday anyway. So you see, I have to be patient just a bit longer, while I thought I would have all the tests behind me by now. And so it is, I hurry up and wait, but isn't that the way life goes? I shouldn't complain too much, though, because so far, everything is going fairly smoothly and all my appointments happen on time.  The system is kind and efficient, as it should be. We are all very Dutch in this.

The Cowboy gets to see how the health care system works here and so far he is impressed with it and it will give him a good idea of how the Affordable Care Act would work in his country because it is very similar. He was somewhat negative about it when he first got here, but I think he may have changed his mind now. 

I called the GP's office yesterday afternoon for stronger painkillers for my back, but the assistant sounded very doubtful about that possibility. She said that I would be moving into the opiates then and, of course, I know nothing about that as I am not the doctor. I am merely asking for help. The painkiller I have now works insufficiently, that is all I know. The assistant asked me what was wrong with my back and all I could tell her was that this was something I would like to know too. The doctor is supposed to solve that mystery. It is very strange sometimes how the medical world works. They want the patient to come up with the answers. I am supposed to diagnose myself?

What I appreciate more than anything is competence so I don't have to do any guess work myself. I want to feel that I am in safe hands with someone who is much more knowledgeable than I am. If I could be granted that wish, I would be much contented. No matter what the outcome. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Shit happens too

It has not been the greatest of days, but I will blame it on the fact that initially I had a shortage of sleep and a very sore back. I got up early in the morning and had not really slept enough, but because I worry about things, I was unable to get enough rest. On top of that, my back was bothering me something awful no matter what I did, and the only way I could get comfortable was to lie down on my right side on the sofa. I should be glad that there is a comfortable position at least, so I do get some relief.

I dragged myself through the day, but could not get over the lack of sleep until later this evening when I lied down on the sofa and fell into a deep sleep for at least two hours. The Cowboy made sure that Tyke did not bother me, because he tried to keep wanting to wake me up by licking my face. I felt so much better after that long nap and emotionally I was in much better shape too. Just before I lied down, I had been about to become depressed. Things were to the point that they overwhelmed me. 

Sleep is always very restorative and just the thing that I need many times to keep me from going off the deep end. Many a good nap saves my sanity. When in doubt, go to sleep. 

I have ordered a taxi to take the Cowboy and me to the hospital for the tests tomorrow, as I will be unable to ride my bike there and my sister is tied up all day. I very much want to get the tests over and done with because it will be several more steps closer to solving the mystery of what is the matter with me. After that will come three days of waiting for the appointment to hear the outcome, but I will have to be patient. I am a bit of a nervous wreck while trying to maintain my composure at the same time. 

The Cowboy is a huge help and automatically steps in wherever I drop the ball. I don't have to worry about a thing. Everything gets taken care of and he tells me to take advantage of the fact that he is staying with me right now. Fate would have it that he is here at this time. The planning could not have been better. It is really serendipitous how life works out. 

Whatever happens, I will not have a defeatist attitude, unless I am really wrong about myself. 

The spirit of the moment

I have decided to only smoke outside anymore, thereby cutting down drastically on the amount of cigarettes I smoke. I started this yesterday morning and it is working out well. I don't have to keep the windows wide open anymore, which is good, because the weather has cooled down a bit and it was getting a bit nippy in here. We also don't have to keep the little fan blowing and that is a bit of a relief too, because it was giving the Cowboy chilled legs (he did insist on wearing shorts). 

Smoking much less has not made me cough less, but I think that is because of what is the matter with my throat, and I do still keep choking on the liquids I drink. It has now become a predictable part of my routine and I am fully prepared for it and always have a towel handy for spillage. I have found out that it is better if I do not drink anything carbonated, so cola light is off the menu. Cold lemonade with ice cubes however is on it, but I did have to find that out the hard way. 

I am now sitting up in the middle of the night the way I used to and have not for a while. It is nice to be back to my old routine and have this little bit of time on my own without any interruptions. Not that I am complaining about the Cowboy's presence because I am more than happy with it. But sometimes it is pleasant to sit by yourself for a while and be alone with your own thoughts. I have a lot on my mind right now and need the silence to let things settle in and the space to think about everything. I may be worrying for nought, but I want to be prepared for whatever may come. 

One thing I am not doing is artificially altering my state of mind by drinking a lot of coffee and getting a high out of it. I also take a very low dose sleeping pill so I am not very drowsy when I get up from bed. I am not going from one extreme to another, although I have to admit that last night when I wrote my last post, I was under the influence of the sleeping pill, but I had gotten up way too soon. I was in a bit of a tizzy and could not sleep at all having just heard the news about my health. Whatever that encompasses, because I really know very little as of yet. 

I think I will do something as mundane as think about what I am going to wear tomorrow and let that be my greatest concern. That will be my outfit for the day after it too. It has to be something that is comfortable and easy to get in and out of and not too bright of color because I feel kind of muted. I have been veering towards more muted colors lately and they fit my state of mind better. Not that I am down in the dumps, not at all. I just don't feel that it is necessary to stand out and make a statement. I don't actually have one to make. Blending into the background is more my style right now. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What I do for now.

I thought I was awfully tired at about ten pm and lied down in my bed with the light turned off, but once I was lying there, all sorts of scenarios about what might be the cause of the trouble with my vocal chord and my larynx started spooking through my head and I could not get any rest. Because of that, I got up again,l despite the fact that Im had taken a low dose sleeping pill  and I am somewhat drowsily sitting here. That is nothing a cup of coffee won't fix, however. There is always a solution for everything.

And by stating that, I have joust soothed my own mind. I should not have to worry anymore tonight and maybe I will not. A lot depends on the cup of coffee I am about to have and how well it straightens my mind. The way I believe in the restoring powers of coffee, I should be doing great real soon.

I know one thing, when I am worried about something, I want to reach out and connect to as many people as I can to get comforted, but also to share my thoughts in order to organize them and get them clear for myself . I think that if I talk about my worries, I will take the spell off them and reduce them to a more manageable size. I am a great one for baring my soul and making details visible so they will no longer hold sway over me. In many ways, I use my audience as my therapist, except that I get no instant feedback. I have to fill in the immediate silence myself.

I am less often reminded of fictional situations in literature nowadays because I read so few novels anymore. I can not compare myself to characters in books anymore and situations they encounter. These days, all my wisdom has to come from real life experience and real people I encounter in my life. Possibly this is a more realistic approach because life is stranger than fiction, but I can only draw lessons from it because I have been so well prepared. People in fiction are much more noble and heroic than people are in real life. Dirt and dishonor clings to them and you have to accept them along with that as well. You cannot reject people because they are human.

I know there are people who are in the pursuit of happiness who reject everyone who is not "perfectly" well put together and whom they consider as a threat to their carefully balanced  "serene" state of mind. I am not one of them. I take on everybody with their own unique faults and everything, because everybody is an evolving entity and they change in their ever evolving relationship with you. It would be strange if the involvement with you did not in some way change them. You can always measure out in what sort of doses you want to allow that person to be part of your life.

Enough of my deep thoughts. They are the effects of the caffeine working. Maybe I should have been a philosophy major who drank a lot of coffee and smoked a lot of cigarettes. I possibly missed my real calling. It is all about where your passion lies. It is a terrible thing to waste.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Just another day on earth

This morning I very innocently went to see the female GP, and before I knew it, she was on the phone  with the ENT specialist and had made an appointment for me with him this afternoon. In the end, I was glad about that because I did not get the chance to sit around a whole weekend and worry about things. As it is after all, I am doing some of that anyway because I have to go back to the hospital on Monday to have a CT-scan and an Echo made, and if it is necessary, a biopsy will also be done.

Suddenly, everything is taking place in a big hurry so I hardly have time to think and that is for the best. My sister went with me to the appointment and that is a good thing because two people remember more details than one. She was also sharp enough to ask questions that I did not think of asking.

It seems that my right vocal chord and my larynx are paralyzed, but the reason why that is so needs to be investigated because it could be because of any number of things. In the end, it may all come down to my thyroid which I was operated on forty years ago. It is possible that my vocal chords were damaged then, and that I am now suffering from the results of that. It is also possible that there is a tumor there and that it is the cause. Another cause may be that a major nerve is somehow compromised by a virus. Blood work to detect this is being done.

Sometimes, the specialist said, the cause is not found and it's just something you have, and then all you can do is take therapy for your voice so you will learn to talk better.

I usually have the weirdest things go wrong with me. When it comes to my physical health, I have bad luck. That my thyroid would haunt me after all these years is not something I had expected. I thought it had been behaving well these past years. Maybe I am not living a healthy enough life. If the specialist had told me to stop smoking today, I would have seriously tried it. Possibly,, I would have been scared enough. It may come to that yet.

Tonight , the Cowboy and I are watching the soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain. We will be on the edge of our seats. I will not be able to shout.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Life meanders along

The Cowboy is making downtown unsafe, or so he may be, but I think he is just sitting on the outdoor patio of his favorite cafe having a good glass of beer and watching the world walk by. It's his favorite pastime at the end of the afternoon and only the thought of dinner makes him point the bike in the direction of the apartment again. We usually eat dinner late, so I never have to rush, and we never eat anything complicated, so I am done quickly. Tonight we are eating pasta with asparagus and a baguette, although the baguette may be a bit stale by now. We may be able to hit each other over the head with it if we feel so inclined. 

The weather was lovely today after we had a night of rain and thunder. It didn't get too hot outside and I have managed to keep it cool inside the apartment. Tyke has been able to do more than just lie in front of the fan and keep himself from being overheated anyway. Gandhi is smart and sleeps in the guest room where it is always much cooler, but of course, Tyke wants to stick close to us. 

I saw the manual therapist this morning and he manhandled my back quite good and it hurt. But when I got home, I immediately took a painkiller and anti-inflammatory medicine and have felt pretty good since then. I am going to run out of them, of course, and not get any new pills from my GP and then we will have to really try to figure out what is the matter with my back. I have two more sessions of physiotherapy left that are covered by my insurance and after that I would have to pay for them myself. Being the less financially comfortable person that I am, I don't think I will do that.

I have been instructed not to do any bending or lifting and to be careful and I am really trying to remember that, but it is tough because I am so used to taking care of everything. I automatically start to do all sorts of things and take the pain for granted. The Cowboy now has started to reprimand me when he catches me doing that. 

The Exfactor comes by every once in a while and I can't believe what two different people he and the Cowboy are. They are as opposite as black and white in all ways and really represent two totally different sides of me. I prefer one to the other, but can live without either one. I disagree with both of them on lots of issues. I think men are strange creatures and nothing much more than big boys emotionally. It is amazing what they will do to please a woman. I always hope to see them grow out of that behavior, but it runs deep. 

I have gotten so used to sitting in my easy chair with the iPad, that sitting at the computer table is hurting my back, so I have to cease writing this immediately. At least I have gotten you up to date a bit. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Come rain or shine

We have had some, should I call them, outstanding thunderstorms, one of which the Cowboy and I were caught in on our bikes and I really thought that we were going to get hit by lightening out on the open road. I later heard on the news that the chance of that happening had actually been great, so I guess we had taken our lives in our own hands. I was smart enough, when I could, to lead us into the smaller streets to make the chance of it happening as little as possible. I wasn't even worried about getting wet from the rain because we were dressed for that. It was the lightening that concerned me. 

We had met my niece and her boyfriend for dinner at a nice enough restaurant that I had picked out myself because it also served vegetarian food. My niece is strictly vegetarian and those dishes looked very appealing on the menu. I had not seen my niece and her boyfriend since Christmas and they both looked their same youthful, beautiful selves. Besides being full-time students,  they also do modeling work and their photos can be seen in the latest fashion magazines. Needless to say, they are a sight for sore eyes besides just being very agreeable people who also speak English very well, which is nice for the Cowboy.

I ate everything on my plate, despite the duck breast being too tough and the vegetables being undercooked, but that was because I was hungry. I think everyone else's food was alright because I heard no complaints. I think now that I should also have picked a vegetarian dish and I will the next time. The Cowboy had the menu that was translated into English in the most hilarious way by the chef himself and he had to ask me for an explanation several times. The chef apparently did not have a good grasp of the English language and had translated too literal. This was very amusing.

I still have a sore throat and still talk funny and can't make myself understood well, which is very frustrating. I also still have a cough and this hurts my back when I get a spell. The best thing I can do is not talk too much, but that is difficult when you are around people. I have been drinking a lot of cola light because it feels good to my throat to drink it, but because my throat is swollen, I also choke on it regularly and spray cola all over the place. I am a regular circus act. 

Morning has broken like the first morning, and I have to get the show on the road.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

All about food

The Cowboy is going to Rotterdam today with my sister to see the sights and to visit my nephew who goes to university there. I will not be tagging along because of my bad back, but it will be nice to have a day all to myself, and I will be looking forward to the stories they have to tell when they get back and to seeing the photos. Downtown Rotterdam was heavily bombed during WWII and this area has been rebuilt in many innovative ways with all sorts of interesting architectural highlights and objects of art. So there really is something to see there. I will have to tag along with my sister some other time when my back is better. 

Yesterday, after another trip to the grocery store, the Cowboy realized how much money he had spent on food shopping over the past week and was a bit surprised, to say the least. Of course he had been buying things indiscriminately of price and by whatever took his fancy, which is not the best way to shop. I am making him smart about store brands and pointing out to him that we don't always have to have an overabundance of food and that some things do go to waste. I think he will be more frugal now, but I do have to help him be so. He is a typical American when it comes to buying food and thinks that buying a lot of it is the same as eating well. I do hate to throw things out and very seldom do so myself.

We will be taking out my niece and her boyfriend for dinner on Monday evening at a restaurant that serves the most interesting dishes, including vegetarian ones. I have looked at the menu online several times and am still undecided about what I am going to order because everything looks so appealing. I suppose I will know at the "moment supreme" what I will really want to eat. My niece has been to this restaurant before and really wanted to go to it, but had not let me know that, and I picked it out because it looked like a place that I thought we would all enjoy. So it is serendipitous that we end up going there.

We had hamburgers yesterday evening on freshly baked buns from the "warm baker" with responsibly raised beef. The tomatoes we added to them had been sitting on the kitchen counter in the afternoon sunlight and were ripened just perfectly. We had slices of Gouda cheese on them and the Cowboy added everything but the kitchen sink to his. To say that one hamburger made a meal would be an understatement. It had been ages since I had one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For once I did not feel bad about the cows. Hanging around with the cowboy relieves my over exaggerated sense of responsibility. 

It is early in the morning and the sun is about to come up. The birds are already giving quite a concert. I do love this time of day. I think I will open the blinds and sit in my armchair to watch it become a new day. 

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Preventing sleep from happening

In order not to go back to sleep prematurely, I have had two cups of coffee and two rolls with Gouda cheese. I thought they would pep me up enough to be able to sit here and enjoy the wee hours of the night, but I am having a hard time not drowsing off over the keyboard. I know that an intellectual pursuit always revives me, so that is why I am now writing this blog post. I am not making the claim that this is like literature or anything, but it is sort of a literary challenge for me. Especially if I have mind fog and am about to keel over from lack of sleep. 

I do pick and choose my challenges and I like to live on edge only within certain boundaries of safety. I don't make it so hair raising that my life is on the line. I am not really that brave and foolish to create chaos and irreversible damage. I may have done that unwittingly in the past, but I am a wiser woman today. A wiser woman makes for a dull woman, I realize that because a lot of the drama is missing in my life nowadays. 

I say, thank goodness for that, but I still have the automatic habit when I just wake up, to quickly check with myself to make sure that I have not done anything foolish in the last 24 hours. Like a drunk trying to remember his behavior when he was under the influence of alcohol. 

I saw the manual therapist yesterday and because my back was not in too bad a shape, he managed to get it pretty lose and it felt fairly good after the session. We both were under the impression that we were making progress and I made a new appointment for next Wednesday. Everything went well until I had been home for an hour and slightly bent my back to look at something that was lying on the sofa. I heard a crack in my back and felt a bad pain, and knew I was back to the very beginning and would have to start over again from scratch. 

I now think, though, that the manual therapy may not in fact be helping and that we still need to find out what exactly is wrong with my back. I am now undecided what to do. Should I go to the next therapy session, or should I go back to my GP? Should I be referred to an orthopedic specialist? 

It is a problem that I really don't want to be faced with, but it is the reality. More than anything I am ticked off that this is happening and I feel frustrated. I don't deal well with my body letting me down. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Getting the show on the road

Except for the after effects, I have made the decision to declare myself fit enough to be able to start up physiotherapy again and I have my first session in the morning. I am good and well tired of being sick and want to be done with it. I may still talk funny, and have a cough now and then, but that is no reason not to start up my life again. I look forward to the physiotherapy and hopefully the good it will do my back. I will ask for a good massage because that is what I feel I need. Everything needs to get loosened up and relaxed. I hope to feel like a new woman afterwards. 

Yesterday was a day that revolved around food and the goodness of it. Since the Cowboy has been doing the grocery shopping, the shelves in the kitchen are stocked with good things to eat. He buys the kind of things I never do for myself, simply because I can't afford them, and it sure is a joy to be able to eat them now. He buys food abundantly and thinks that there should always be more than enough so that we never run out. Whatever happens, we will have food. 

We had vegetable soup for lunch and spaghetti for dinner with a bolognese sauce with sun dried tomatoes in it. Talk about enjoying the food. It was delicious. I do enjoy eating spaghetti and wrapping it around my fork while also trying to get as much of the sauce on it as possible. It is a fun food to eat. The Cowboy has also bought asparagus and Brussels sprouts and I will fix those with sauteed potatoes and applesauce. Not all at once, of course. 

Every morning we do the International Times crossword puzzle together and do a pretty good job. I am surprised at how well I still do after all these years. I usually know the ones that have all the foreign clues. Yes, there is life after retirement providing you keep good company. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Like a broken record

Yesterday I called in sick and didn't get out of my bathrobe at all. I decided to take advantage of the presence of the Cowboy and let him take care of everything, which he gladly did. I wanted one day to recuperate as much as I could and take a general inventory of how things really are with me, being under the weather as I am. 

My back is not in the greatest of shapes and I called the doctor's office to find out if I could also take the anti-inflammatory medicine along with the painkiller. The doctor agreed to this somewhat reluctantly, although there is no real medical reason that says it can't be done. He just thinks that I already take a lot of medicines and wants to keep it to a minimum. I hope the combination of the two gives me some relief. I will be moving around more today and possibly that will help also. 

I am still hoarse and coughing, but it is getting a bit better. I do have the strange problem that I can't drink anything cold. I choke on it and spray liquid all over the place and it is not a very pleasant experience. I don't have this happen when I drink hot things, so I have been drinking more green tea with lemon and coffee. I do always seem to have some odd problem. 

I have the windows open and a very pleasant cool breeze is blowing through the apartment. It rained quite a bit last night and things cooled off a lot, but I do appreciate this weather. It is supposed to get much warmer over the next couple of days and will be like summertime. 

I want to walk Tyke in the morning and see how well that goes. Hopefully he will not pull at the leash too much like he does when he is onto the scent of something. I always hope that he would have enough sense to know when I am not in any shape to be dragged around, but his empathy for me does not quite go that far.