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We encourage you to find more of  Teisha’s writing at the blog http://betterthansleepingalone.typepad.com/my_weblog/

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Please note, I have cataracts

iphone 3g 916 iphone 3g 917 iphone 3g 918Please note, I have cataracts. Damn. It is from the prednisone. My ass. It could be worse. I know this. But still, I had at least 90 seconds of wondering what the hell has happened to me. Why me? My eyes two and a half years ago were, “pristine”.

“I love glasses!” said Shelly. “The guy at the eye glass store said he thought of them as an accessory,” I replied.

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That is the truth, be that as it may

computer 020An honest description of the past several days does not make for an inspiring or even interesting message. Still, it will rest here where I can look back on it and remember through dowdy drug infested memories what it was like to watch the body fight against itself. The GVHD which rose up because we tapered the immuno-suppressants in order to have the new immune system kick some cancer ass was indiscriminate and started a fiery surge against my skin. My vanity rose up loud and proud as I watched the lines on my skin bubble and turn dry and unforgiving all over my body. I looked like I’d aged about 10 traumatic years. My hair has started to fall out and the two bald spots at the front of my head bare witness to the conflict going on inside of me. I wake up during the night and in the morning with sheets of skin having sluffed off onto the sheets and into my pajamas. I know this is gross and an unsightly image to convey but it happens and I’m going to allow myself to write it down.  If you decide to stop reading at any time, I completely understand.

Yesterday was the start of chemotherapy and my nurse and friend Jana moved us into a private room where, gladly there was a bed for me to lay my sleepy, uncomfortable, vain ass down. She wanted to keep a close eye on me in case (as sometimes happens) I had a bad reaction to the treatment. I did not. I slept through the whole last half of it after a visit from my first real boyfriend in life, Buggy. He came with the same head of hair he’s had since we was seventeen in a dapper suit and clean shoes and shared a plate of fries with mom while a stuffed a toasted cheese sandwich down my throat. We talked about family and friends and when Bug left he kissed me on the lips and said if mom wasn’t there he would have asked to see my left boob. Even though he didn’t really mean it (he has a happy life with his girlfriend and a bunch of kids) those were kind words to the newly middle aged woman on the bed in the hospital hoping that not only will she recover from the latest bought of unexpected leukemia, that someday, someone will find her attractive. That is the truth, be that as it may.

Today is day two of chemotherapy and then I have a month off where we hope, in the back of your minds, that this treatment is working. This morning I woke up to skin that looked more normal than in recent days past and it served as a gentle reminder that skin, the largest organ of the body, regenerates itself throughout life. At least, I’m pretty sure it does. One nice thing about feeling really down like I did yesterday morning, in anticipation of a day at the clinic, is that when you really feel a moment of hopeless despair and you breath your way through it and you don’t have that heaviness in your body and mind, it feels soooooo good to feel better.

Written 5/18/2010

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Dear Donor

August 25, 2010

Dear Donor,

I don’t know what to say.

The donor program has asked that I remain anonymous, if I write something inappropriate, they will block it out so I won’t worry too much about what is and isn’t okay to tell you. I live in a beautiful little city an hour and a half from the beach and an hour from skiing. I live in my hometown. I come from a big family. I am a high school and college graduate; I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree. I bought my first house with the gift money my mom gave me for graduating from college. The woman who owned the real estate agency who worked for me when I bought my first home later hired me as a Realtor. I love houses and people and driving around listening to the radio. I am also a musician in a band. I sing and play the drums and I’ve been learning how to play the guitar for many years.

That said, please let me tell you a little bit about myself. I live in my hometown. I come from a big and happy family where our Christmas celebration includes at least 45 people.  My family is very musical. I live in a beautiful city close to the beach and the mountains. I have two gregarious and beautiful dogs and we live just a short walk to a park overlooking the city.

What made you decide to be a donor?

Where do you live?

What do you look like?

What was it like letting them take the blood cells out of you?

How did they notify you that you were a candidate to donate?

Did it hurt?

I know you don’t know me but know that I try to be a good person that I love life and feel like I still have a lot to learn and your donation has given me time I would not have had. I wish you could see the happy and hopeful faces of my family and friends as they watch me recover and work on making the best out of my new normal so that you could see that what you gave didn’t just have a massive and important affect on my life, you touched many people who (despite my various idiosyncrasys) like me better alive than not!

If you ever want to talk please feel free to call or email me and if not, that is okay too of course. Either way, I hope you take time to consider what a huge difference you made in the life of someone who hopes she can live the rest of her life in a way that illustrates she deserved it! You have shown by your actions what it is to reach out into the world to try to help someone who needs it.

Sincerely,

Anonymous ohsuseptember 004

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The First Day of the Year

Today is the first day of the year.  There’s only one first day of the year.  It is an annual event and it is not a matter of what you  know or who you are or where you are or even (thankfully) why you are. Today is everyone’s first day of the year. Well maybe not this very instant but  in certain time zones, for sure. This morning I have taken my medication, eaten a baked potato, let the dogs outside, twice.   Luna barks every time someone comes to the front door and I yell at her to stop. Mom said “when Luna barks at the door, that’s her job, she’s a DOG.” Live and let live. I’d like to write a song today, I’d like him to come over to watch the game, I’d like to go for a walk and all of that makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.  And I might.  Why, you may ask, am I  99.7% cancer free AND  nauseous?  Thank God for my counselor Sara because there is a shit load of processing I have to go through. 

Where is my printer? When will my puppy be potty trained? Maybe he just doesn’t love me., That can’t be true. That makes me cry.  Like talking to the Dad who told you he loved you, but you knew, he didn’t know you. A gentle reminder to you, gentle reader, I am writing for my own good. I’m not trying to tell or teach you any single thing. I show up here on Day One of the New Year, 2010. Sometimes I cry. This may really be it. I need something I’m not getting. period. Time to make a change.  I just can’t really LIVE like this. My life feels worse and better than it ever has, on the same day. Day One. Today is the day to live up to my resolution to write 500 words a day and I’m only halfway done with today’s post? Eke. Faster, faster, faster it goes. Go, Go, Go.

Now I know why real writers don’t want you to see any shitty first draft they ever wrote.  Goddamn. I have 147 more words to go.  I almost flunked out of high school geometry and were it not for the balding, pudgy, commandeer Mr. Casey who worked all afternoon, the last day of school, so that I could actually “Graduate” who for heaven sakes knows what turn life would have taken. I feel like we’ve already broken up but I’m the last to know. Is it time to reevaluate our relationship? Do you miss me? Are you seeing someone else? Do you still love me? I’m sorry for how hard it was.

Chrimson Cloverinteresting 051

in the shed

tackled to the hill

where you’ll be buried

when you’re dead

with no more time to kill.

my stomach really hurts and it’s hard to see and I’m afraid.

 

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“I have what I need, I need what I have”

It is Christmas Eve day. I am at mom’s and her house looks out on her small field full of large animals including two not enormous Nubian goats, a chicken, two emu’s, five or so Llamas and several other goats. It is 2:15pm in the afternoon and the sunlight filters through the branches of the cedar tree next to the field. The sky is bright blue and the air is crisp and cold. I just spent some time looking through the many cards I’ve been given over the last year and I got choked up, as I sometimes do, when I think about life and the living of it. I told me with a teary face that I needed to go take a nap, came up to her room where she lets me sleep and she hugged me so tight and I don’t know how she does it but she does. She gives me strength when it shows on my face that living with illness kind of hurts. It doesn’t always hurt and it is true that it could almost always be worse, that we live and we learn, that “attitude determines latitude” as some wise folks have shown. I am 99.7% cancer free. Moving in the right direction, toward being cured and while it is not a perfect picture and a rather bitter pill, I am alive and kicking.

6:14 am Christmas morning. Seems like I have been waking up early morning every year of Christmas and again, this year I feel the inner elation of the anticipation of getting and, even better, giving. Good news. My dream last night was about a place where people were staying and going to (I think Australia). Mom has a house full of pets this Christmas. Three cats, one dog and a puppy roam around her house happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. I love Christmas.

It is 8am on Christmas morning. Daisy, mom’s light cream kitty is lying next to me in mom’s bed purring licking her legs and the tips of her feet. Rusty who is Daisy’s brother is sort of rust color with stately patches of fluffy white. He was a regular sweet kitty and now he is Huge. He is also giving his belly a bath on the left corner of the bed. I said a prayer out loud to whom I’ve always prayed. I felt the presence. I felt grateful for the sky and trees and warm blankets. I felt inspired at the world we live in and the lives that we live through. I’m not sure any of us have the absolute answer but we are supplied with the endless push and pull where the ocean meets the sand. My hope for this day today is just that I spend today in today. Daisy 013

Written Christmas 2009

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One Day At A Time

Today is Saturday the 3rd and Gia asked me to come over. Liz asked if she could come over. The Music room needs work. It is only 8:45 a.m. and I’m already dreading the day. Why? Because I don’t feel great? Because I’m lonely? Maybe it is because I am ashamed of having cancer. Of being ill. But then, what are you going to do?

It is 7 a.m. or so in the morning of the 4th, that leaves me a little under a thousand words to fill in yesterday and today, daunting but doable. Yesterday I woke up feeling tired still and slightly lonely. My stomach was queasy. I called Thorne Ann and she agreed to come help with the house. I went back to bed. Some parts of me felt depressed. It seems the most reasonable approach to dealing with a dark day is to just take it one day at a time. One second, one minute. It doesn’t all have to feel exciting and bright and it doesn’t all have to feel like the end of the world. There is mystery in love and there is love and the more you know the more you know you don’t know anything. I think my dreams last night were not horrible. My mind is going at one speed and my body at another. The importance of hope but not be understood by those of us who’ve never not had it. Although it seems that culturally, it is part of our design. As the story goes, they live happily ever after. When the end of life has come for ourselves or someone we love, we hope for heaven, for peace of mind or, for some of us, just a change from what we’ve experienced in this life.

January 2010

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Diagnosis “Favorable”

She woke up early, it was going to be a long day. By 8am her mom was there, cooking in the kitchen, keeping her hands busy. Together, they waited through a cold December morning and into the early afternoon. Finally, sometime in the very middle of the day she just decided it would be better to call than to be called and when she did, after being put on hold by a well meaning and totally unhelpful administrative assistant, the Pathologist picked up the phone at a desk somewhere she would never see and he called the diagnosis “favorable” and this was immediately incomprehensible to her. It would never have occurred to her to characterize any sort of cancerous- ness as favorable and so, she hung up the phone where she sat up in bed still achy from the biopsy stitches and the world fell away and she wasn’t stoned anymore so if fell away hard and fast.  And after 33 years of working on it, she had completely lost who she thought she had become and she did not understand life even a little and, despite the sickening diagnosis of a life threatening illness which saddened her in a places heretofore hidden away- she wished for a moment she were dead. It was simply a very, very sad afternoon. A total disappointment.

Earlier in the week, as they anticipated the results with hopeful abandon, she had called it “the friendliest case of cancer” that ever was- if it was at all. It hadn’t let on a bit. No weight loss. No unusual infections, illnesses. Successful yearly check ups, hours at the gym, no significant family history of illness. Not a whisper of what was to come.

 

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