March 22nd, 2006

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Good Morning!!

The moon is shining in the morning sky, and it looks like a clear day. I am excited about meeting the radiation machine and getting on with this next step. I truly feel a difference in my step, a belief that this will end. Dr. Halberg said yesterday that my full energy will not return for a year, but each day I feel a little more spring.

Martin Buber said, "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."

What a lovely thought to carry through this day.
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Hermann Hesse!

Petra has an exciting new job and sends this poem as her farewell to the old one.  It is a good reminder that there are many farewells before the final one, many ways to feel the joy of opening and moving through doors, of flying on carpets, and stroking the moon like a harp. 

STEPS  -  Hermann Hesse

As every blossom fades
and all youth sinks
into old age,
so every life's design,
each flower of wisdom,
every good attains its prime
and cannot last forever.
In life, each call the heart
must be prepared courageously
without a hint of grief,
submit itself to other new ties.
A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us
tells us how to live.

High purposed we must traverse
realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit
wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher,
step by step.
Scarce in some safe
accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house,
then we grow lax;
only he who is ready
to journey forth
can throw old habits off.
Maybe death's hour too
will send us out new-born
towards undreamed-lands,
maybe life's call to us
will never find an end.
Courage my heart,
take leave and fare thee well

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Medical care!

There is an op-ed piece in the NY Times by Peter Salgo today. He says that HMO's give doctors seven minutes with a "customer." He says patients became consumers and then customers in the medical world. This has not been my experience at Marin Cancer Care. The doctor spent at least 45 minutes with me yesterday, answering every type of question and reassuring me. I realize that this is not the experience of many, if not most, in this country right now.

Salgo says this:

"This may seem a trivial matter, but it is not. You treat "patients" as if they were members of your family. You talk to them. You comfort them. You take time to explain to them what the future may hold in store. Sometimes, that future will be bleak. But you assure them you will be there to help them face it."

"You treat "customers" quite differently. Customers are in your place of business to purchase health care. You complete the transaction such a relationship suggests: health care for money. And then they aren't your customers any more. Taken a step further, you can make the case that the less time you spend with your customers, the better your bottom line will be. This gets everyone's attention."

The issue of medical care in this country is immense. Bill and Hillary failed in their attempt to reform. I don't know where it will end, but I am grateful for the health care I am receiving. The woman who will work with me today is coming back from her lunch fifteen minutes early, so I won't have to make two trips up and can fit in both medical appointments I need today. Now, that is health care! She has not yet met me, but, when the doctor spoke to her, she did not want me to have to drive up there two days in a row. I am touched, and I haven't even met her. What a spirit, and what a spiritual way to meet the profession she has chosen or been given. What a way to honor the Hippocratic oath!
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Morning flow -

I had thought I might get a poem, but this is what comes.

Monkeys and rats love mazes and toys, so, this morning, I am excited about meeting the radiation machine.

I might wonder at my sanity. Once again, the idea is to destroy everything.  Good guys come back, and cancer cells cannot.  They just die.  There is no resurrection for the mutated.  Of course, we are sure the cancer guys are gone, but, just in case, let’s burn from the outside in, a few more cells.  Quite a few, it seems.  The breast tissue goes all the way up to the collarbone.  How can I be excited about this?  Well, I thought today I would buy new camisoles, as I can’t wear a bra, and beautiful tops that skim the edge of my collarbone.  That will be sexy, I’m sure,  especially along with my newly reddened skin.  Because I am so fair, she says I will have a hard time, but I can rub my breast with Lanolin.  She asks if I am allergic to wool.  I wonder if I am going to smell like a sheep on top of everything else.

So, why am I excited?  I see how I welcome the new, a change, and, of course, the sooner begun, the sooner done, and today, I may see the fish tank I have heard about, which is in the inner sanctum of the radiation waiting room.  They have two waiting rooms, one in the center of the building, and another more intimate.  I enter there, today.  I’ve seen people going in and out,  but now, I, too, won’t wait, like a potted plant, in a giant atrium. 

Yesterday waiting for my appointment I read 85 pages in High Fidelity, a rather odd book perhaps for waiting for a medical appointment, rather sad, but it has a happy ending, and that’s what counts.  The guy grows up after many disappointments with women, and, this book is billed as a chance to learn how hard the male mind works, and how hard it is to be male.  I had some clue as to male worries on sexual performance, but this book gives a huge dose of the  angst.  It is perhaps much easier to be female, except when it comes to breast cancer, which seems to be hitting the female population with a harder hammer than I would prefer. 

Anyway, in my excitement, I am, of course, practicing being in the moment, this moment, seat on chair, back erect, but not too erect.  After all, there is a curve to the spine.  Feet are resting on the floor, still asking when the tingling is going to stop.  I have no answers, and maybe in this moment, not even a question.  I am excited in my day. 

What comes to mind is that fear is excitement without the breath.  I think I have that right.  Yes.  Well, I have been practicing holding my breath for 15-20 seconds so my heart is in the right place when the rays from the technological marvel of a machine cross through.  No wonder I am excited.  I have the most incredible breath.  It comes in quite nicely, like a big cabin cruiser, and then, it rests there at the dock, while people sip margaritas and tequila sunrises, and then, it softly swooshes out, as people go to dinner in white slacks and topsiders.  

And sometimes, it comes in like the sea, nestles in an anemone, and swoops back out, happy to leave the inner behind and extend tentacles like braids in the waves.  

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from Jane this morning!!

I asked Jane to give the story behind her beautiful poem of this morning.  The story and the poem are wonderful.  What a lovely treat!


And here's the story: When I first came to California my son and I lived on a small dirt road in Palo Alto that had five  little orchard houses on it, which have, sadly,  long since been torn down for new condos. Our house had four rooms. Most of the other houses only had three. One of our neighbors was a musician who, in addition to composing music, collected instruments from all over the world. His grand piano filled his one front room. All the other instruments filled the other rooms. I was working on an animation at the time. It was nearly complete, but needed a sound track. He volunteered to compose a piece for it. I put it on video and we set the tv monitor up on his piano. He watched the film once, sitting at his piano bench. Then he rewound it and as it started playing the second time he started composing.  There was no place to sit so I lay under the piano to record him. Just when he started playing, the rain began.

The grand piano filled his one front room.

Rain had started when I went to visit.

We were neighbors, not close friends.

He was shy and I was awkward.

He asked me in, began to play.

I lay down under the piano

The rain and music falling like wet stars.
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Sleeping well tonight -

It was quite the day. I believe I will have to miss The History of Sake at the MV Library tonight, even though it is complete with refreshments and Sake tasting. I am tired. The medical world is wearing for me, even though they all are as sweet as can be. I have a list of more appointments to make, and things to do, and I feel a bit overwhelmed, and all is fine. When my chemo oncologist checked in with me today, I told her chemo was worth it, and it seemed to have gone quickly, and I was glad I did it. I was perky as could be then, but the drive home was heavy traffic, and then, stopping for food, and now, I feel like I've been on a merry-go-round.

I was a bit thrown by the radiation world. Some people look pretty sick, and I like to do everything well, so, of course, focused intensely during my training. I will come in, go in a room, and put on my little gown, and sit out in the waiting room in my little gown with a bunch of other people. That feels a bit weird, though I'm sure I'll get used to it, like I've gotten used to everything else. Oddly, it seemed to me very few people were wearing the gown. Most seemed to be fully dressed.

The CT/simulator took a long time and also seemed strange. I felt I was in a science fiction movie. I watch a pac man to know when to breathe and when to hold my breath. The pacman seemed from the past. There are palm trees on the ceiling and Hawaiian music is put on to add to the experience. I tried to image myself in Hawaii on the beach. Elaine, the wonderful woman, who set that part up, said her husband was just in Hawaii and it rained the whole time. Sound familiar? Then, he went to Phoenix and it rained there too. That is good because they have been in drought. He is heading next to the northwest so we'll see what he does there.

So, this morning, I went to my local shopping center. It has changed since I last was there. There are fountains with frogs and ducks. The food court is gone. I saw the back of my head when I went to try things on. That was a shock. Everyone says I have a nicely shaped head, and I have gotten used to the front of it, but I have not had the opportunity to see the back until today. The back of the head is very large with no hair. Now, I am trying to imagine hair growing in on the back of my head. I had been imaging it coming in on the top, but I see there are a lot of hair follicles that have been waiting to kick into gear, and some of them are in the back. I never realized how much room there is for hair. Ironically, at the shopping center, I passed a place offering a 40% discount on laser hair removal. It is a very funny world.

I also discovered that most tops are cut below the collar bone. It seems I am getting radiated in a wider area than most, since the nurse was surprised at the size of the area that will be targeted on me, and yes, it seems that lanolin does have the smell of sheep. She says I will get used to it. I'm sure I will. Again, I can only laugh at it all. It is amazing what we can get used to. So, I will start radiation next Thursday. Ah, I should count out the days until I am finished. I think I will be done May 17 or 18. Thursday doesn't count in the 33 times. Ah, breathe!! It is a blessed world, filled with most unusual things.
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Fonts -

I noticed that Vanessa uses Verdana. I like Trebuchet. I've always wondered if I would choose a pen name. We are now thinking that Catherine Trebuchet sounds quite French and just right for a pen name. What font do you choose and does it go with your name?
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If you haven't yet seen this, Beware!!

New Terrorists

At New York's Kennedy Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Condoleeza Rice said she believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged, by the FBI, with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," Rice said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns,' but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the Axis of Medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer, Iscoseles, used to say, 'there are three sides to every triangle'."

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction he'd have given us more fingers and toes."