May 6th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

The birds are singing and the fog is resting on the shoulder of the hill.

I am struggling with what to say this morning. Yesterday, much of the work with the horses involved the people, those who have had cancer, and so much of the day feels confidential, and yet, it had an affect on me, so how to explain my response without infringing on what others shared is with me today. Nothing was ever stated as being confidential, and, yet, perhaps the sacredness of the sharing is with me.

I will try and speak only for myself. What I see is that I got off lightly in some way as to effect. I believed and felt so strongly the love and support of my family and friends. No one could be as well supported as I. I have floated; I still float on a reservoir of love. I am engulfed in it, protected. I feel safe, both in and out of my inner circle. That is what I feel today.

It is perhaps hard for me, then, to hear the experience of others. I am with their hardship today.

Karen and I have spoken of a way to work with "cancer survivors." Perhaps, yesterday, I felt the depth of what that would be. Emotions are very close to the surface, and I sense a great deal of vulnerability underneath. On the other hand, Jim, head of our pack, spoke yesterday of learning that vulnerability is strength. This is clearly a strong group of people. That is very clear.

A horse has a brain the size of a walnut, and can run 25 to 30 miles per hour. This is a powerful animal, and though the brain may be small, the horse uses all of it, unlike most, if not all, of us.

They live in a world of prey and predator so if the herd is two, you and the horse, one is going to be boss. This is about taking the leadership role. These animals are not friends or pets. We can learn to stretch our hearts with them, but to expect some kind of return on that would lead to disappointment, and maybe that is what it is always about, this expectation we put on life and exchange.

One woman pointed out that horses do not hold grudges. They may pout for a minute, but then, they are so curious they see something else to absorb themselves in. Their attention is caught on, and in, the new moment.

We again practiced with another human. In this interaction, I really felt the energy exchange, felt how and why the horse does what it does. It is an unconscious response to our movement and I felt it when I was the horse. I responded in the only way I could. It is hypnotic in a way, and the mind must focus and flow, and, then, there it is. So easy! We all know that place, and we all know, if we try, it is not to be caught. Once again, I am blessed with lessons in presence and mindfulness, as I interact with a 1200 pound animal, with a mind and personality of its own, as a feedback device. There is great joy and pleasure in that.

Horses talk in emotions. We must stay with them until the task is accomplished. When we want the horse to come toward us, we look at the horse's feet and exhale. The horse is drawn forward, curious, and there is space for the horse. If we stand there, staring with our chest puffed out, demanding, where is the horse going to go? The other way. Wouldn't we? We learned Ask, Suggest, Promise from the horses. They tell us when we are in their space, and we do the same.

For a special treat, Jim says to head up toward Lake Lagunitas, but instead, turn right and go to Bon Tempe Dam. The lake, there, when still, reflects Mount Tam.

I am again up to S. Eliseo today. They are offering skin cancer testing, so I am signed up for that. My nurse friends will be there, and how could I resist another opportunity to see them. I am then going to celebrate Mother's Day with Chris as he will be in Mexico. Steve and I began Mother's Day celebrating last night, as it looks like he will be in Dubai. Busy times, and it is lovely to spread the celebration out. After all, we are pregnant for nine months. We should celebrate that joy for more than a day!! Joy to you, whatever, and wherever, you are celebrating today. Perhaps you celebrate the song of the birds dancing like butterflies in your ears, even if, in your moment, there are no birds.
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Checking in -

Well, I have good news and what seems to me to be bad news.

The good news is that Chris and I shared a lovely day. We had brunch at Scharffen Berger and took their chocolate tour which is fascinating and they give samples, and we bought some chocolate. I was reading that you should only use their chocolate in your baking, and that it is worth the extra cost so I have some wonderful unsweetened chocolate here that is 99% cacao.

We walked along the Berkeley Marina, an amazing place on such a day.

The disturbing news is that I went up to the Marin Cancer Center for skin cancer testing day. All my nurse friends were there, so that was fun. They loved my wig. I don't wear it to radiation, and they were thrilled to see it and thought it looked completely natural, and that I looked great. That was affirmingly pleasant.

I went to have a spot checked that showed up on my head when my hair fell out. We have all been politely ignoring it, but when I saw my doctor two weeks ago, she said I needed to get it checked out before my hair grew back in and covered it up. Since this was coming up, I figured it was the easy way to do it. It seems they are going for a Guiness world record around the country for the number of people checked today so I filled out a form for that.

Anyway, the doctor said I need to have it biopsied. When I asked what that involved, his response was "There are no minor surgeries, only minor surgeons." That was not exactly comforting. I will make an appointment with my regular dermatologist on Monday. Perhaps, I was prepared, but it didn't feel like it. I cried, and I feel very tired, and very discouraged. I really see that we need to enjoy each day and not put anything off we want to do. Do it now! You truly do not know. I want to say I am sure it will be fine, but in light of my last seven months, I really can't put my heart into saying that.

When I was driving over to Berkeley, I remembered the words of Anne Lamott's friend who was dying of cancer and when Anne asked her if she looked fat in her skirt she told her she didn't have time for that. Oddly, driving home, the traffic was stopped getting to the Richmond Bridge. It was a long, slow trip home, but amazingly after they squeezed us all into one lane to cross the bridge, it turned out everything was cleaned up and there was no reason not to have both lanes open. There was no sign of anything at all. I found myself angry and ready to write letters, so my peaceful mood of the morning and declaration that I would never get angry at anything again was gone. I was ready to slam the dim-wits of Cal Trans. Anyway, serenity as much as possible, and acceptance when I can.

It has been a long day, bittersweet, and I choose Scharffen Berger bittersweet so I am cacao rich.

I guess I need to say it again. Enjoy your moments. Do what you want to do now. You just don't know what is around the corner, so don't put anything off you want to do. I feel like a broken record, but, truly, truly do, do, do it now. Savor each moment like fine chocolate. Taste fully and suck, lick, and chew with gusto. Chow down on the life that is now.
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more comment -

When my doctor said to see a dermatologist because she felt concern, I said wouldn't the chemo I have just been through have taken care of anything and everything. It seems it would not. There are different kinds of chemo for different kinds of things, so there is no guarantee that I would not need chemo again for a different kind of cancer. Of course, I don't know that this is anything, but it is very hard not to feel discouraged, and I turn it all over. What else can one do? I really see that. One continues to want life, and the beauty of night and day, the wonder of that exchange.
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Important Blood Pressure Information!

Chris sent this to me and I find it fascinating because when I go to my regular doctor my blood pressure is high, but it has been fine all through chemo and radiation. They took it every 15 minutes when I was having a chemo treatment and it was always fine. How could there be such a difference? Well, this article offers an explanation.

Vital Signs
Recommendations: The 5-Minute Guide for Lower Blood Pressure

By ERIC NAGOURNEY
Published: May 2, 2006

Want lower blood pressure? Ask your doctor to let you sit quietly for five minutes before it's taken — on a regular chair, not on an examining table, with your feet on the floor.

The result can be a systolic blood pressure reading about 14 points lower, potentially a big enough difference to avoid a diagnosis of hypertension, a new study reports.

The study, by a team of nurses from the University of Virginia Health System, was presented at a conference of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

Guidelines from the American Heart Association and the federal government already recommend that patients sit for five minutes before having their blood pressure taken, and that they not be on an examining table.

But Melly Turner, a registered nurse who helped lead the study, said evidence showed that the guidelines were not always followed, especially in medical settings that do not specialize in treating high blood pressure. When the researchers examined the practices at Ms. Turner's hospital, for example, they found that blood pressure was routinely taken while patients were on examining tables, she said.

"With your legs dangling without any support, it's going to be higher," she said.

When the researchers took readings from 100 elderly patients on either chairs or examining tables and with and without a wait, they found a 14-point average difference in the systolic reading, the upper number.

The difference is significant enough that a patient whose blood pressure is fine could walk away from a doctor's office with a misdiagnosis, the researchers said. Those patients may be placed on diets or prescribed medicines that cause side effects.