duriyah: (Default)
It has been four weeks since my surgery. I can lift my arms over my head and do some light weight lifting. I went to a Tai Chi class today for the first time since surgery, and did pretty well. My full-time disability days are coming to a close; I go back to work on Monday.

This seems like a turning point. One chapter of the journey is over, and another is about to begin. The next step will be six weeks of radiation treatments, then after that five years of hormone therapy. I have heard from several people that the hardest part is yet to come. But to me, from my current vantage point, it feels like the most difficult hurdles are behind me. For one thing, the cancer is out of my body now, which feels huge! For another, there are far fewer needles ahead of me than behind me. I think I'll have to get blood drawn every six months, and there's always the possibility of having to go through another MRI scan or biopsy round. But neither is staring me in the face in the next few months!

I have been meaning to write about the things that have gotten me through the journey this far. Now seems like a good time.

First, the non-woo:

1. Tig Notaro. Like, big time. Tig is a stand-up comedian who performed live just days after getting a diagnosis of breast cancer. She had tumors in both breasts and has since had a double mastectomy. Her 30 minute show, called "Live" (with a short "i", as in, to stay alive), was recorded and has now been released as a CD. I bought the download for $5.

An excerpt from the show was played on a episode of This American Life. You can listen to it here.

2. My friends, students, teachers and healers. The response on my Facebook post about the diagnosis was overwhelming. I felt so much love and support, it was just amazing. I was also very lucky to have several women in my meditation and yoga classes who have experienced breast cancer first or second hand and could give me understanding and advice. I am so blessed.

3. My husband. He's been fantastic through this. He's been with me every step of the way, always telling me that everything will be fine. And only a couple of times needing to be reminded that I'm in need of more special care than usual.

4. I already listed the books I have used.

Now, the woo:

1. Prayer and meditation. I generally begin my day with yoga, followed by a few moments of prayer or meditation. But after my diagnosis through the surgery I increased my daily contemplative time to 10 minutes or so. It really helped keep me centered when I had to go to work. Here are some of my favorite prayers.

The Serenity Prayer

Goddess grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I said this one a lot in the beginning, while I was still really grappling with the diagnosis.

The Metta Prayer
May I be safe,
May I be healthy,
May I be free from suffering,
May I live with ease.

This Buddhist prayer was my go-to meditation whenever feelings of anxiety or sadness became too much. I repeated it over and over in my mind during my lunchtime walk or on my way from my car to the office before work. It always calmed me very quickly.

Humme Hum Brahm Hum

I searched hard for a mantra to chant internally during scary medical procedures, as a way to distract me, calm my mind and relax my body. It had to be short enough to repeat on one breath, easy to remember, and pleasant to my inner ear. "Om" felt too short, and Frank Herbert's "Litany Against Fear" was too long. I finally settled on "Hummee Hum Brahm Hum" (from the Kundalini Yoga tradition). The usual Sanskrit translation is "We are we, we are God". The word Hum also relates to the heart center, and one of its meanings is the grounding of Universal Form in the body. So the mantra can be translated to mean "God is in my very being," which I love.

Hummee Hum Brahm Hum also has a lovely tune, which you can hear in this YouTube video.




2. Visualization. Two visualizations came to me during the months before the surgery.

a. One was visualizing my body turned into a flock of butterflies. Most of my body was black butterflies with blue markings. The cancer cells appeared as red and black butterflies. I picked them out of my butterfly body and asked them to fly elsewhere.

Closer to the surgery, the butterflies in the visualization all turned into bright blue butterflies with black markings (think Morpho butterflies). The red cancer butterflies were absent. I took this as a very good sign.

b. The second visualization that came to me was of a sphere, a ball I could either hold or put up around me. When faced with needles of any sort, I put my fear in the ball and bounced it away from me. Or if someone irritated or stressed me when I was at work or otherwise out and about in daily life, the sphere expanded to include all of me, as a shield against the irritation. This visualization of a sphere of power has come to me several times now; I think it will stay with me.

3. Affirmation. Each week, I took a couple of hours out of my weekend for contemplation. This is when I found the mantras and prayers I wanted to work with. I would usually do some gentle grounding yoga to get in touch with me inner strength: Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Tree Pose. Some breath work to calm me.

I also looked for the perfect affirmations for my healing. I will end with a page from my notebook of my favorite affirmations. The symbol at the bottom is the Sanskrit symbol for Hum.



duriyah: (Default)
Rob and I spent last Saturday at the OSU Medieval and Renaissance Faire, held on the South Oval of OSU's campus. We go every year, where my dance troupe performs and Rob helps out by running the music for the show. OSU has gone to the semester system from quarters this year, which I assume was why the Faire was held a month earlier than normal. It was a chilly day, but the weather certainly could have been worse. At least there was no rain or snow.

One of the other dancer’s husbands was in the audience and got some good pics. Here I am, dancing balanced on water goblets. (You can see [personal profile] rfunk behind me, at the boom box.)

2013 glass dance

My performances went well, but I really need to find another piece of music. I’ve been performing to the same music for too many years, and I’m just about sick of it! I’ll be auditioning some new music soon.

The glass dance is killer on my legs and hips. I got massages a week before the performance and the day after the performance that really helped. I always imagine the dance is hardest on my left leg, the leg that is taking most of my body weight. But it’s the right leg, where I’m balancing just on the ball of the foot and not the heel, that appears to hurt worse. The right tensor fascia latae was especially PAINFULLY tight the day after the performance. Maybe because it is taking most of the undulating movement for the entire body. Of course, I realize now that I never stretched after either or our two performances, so that might be a factor. Yeah. Maybe I should stretch…ya think?!?
duriyah: (winter)
I just placed a Sock Dreams order for warm winter socks. What I do for fun on a Saturday night!

When life gets hard, wear cashmere socks and the world feels just a bit better. That's my motto!

Bracelets

Jul. 29th, 2012 05:31 pm
duriyah: (Default)
My new thing is making bracelets for myself by stringing beads on stretchy cord. So far I have made three: one brown, one gray, and one blue & green. One each to go with my three primary outfit colors.

bracelets
They take very little time to make and, if I hit Michael's sales right, pretty inexpensive.

Ki is gone

Mar. 25th, 2012 12:09 pm
duriyah: (Ki)
Eleven days ago, my kitty Ki ate a light breakfast, then turned and trotted off past the barn and toward the pasture. He had a faraway look in his eye and a purposeful air, an air that said "I'm going for an adventure!"

Ki

He never came back.

He's not coming back.

Most likely he was killed by coyotes. Or maybe he found another family to adopt. Certainly, he found adventure, whatever happened.

Ki_bed

I adopted Ki when my neighbors abandoned him when they moved away. I reluctantly rescued him and took him in. I'm glad I did; he he probably wouldn't have lived long in the city.

He was a outdoor cat when I took him in. When we moved to the farm, I let him roam outdoors again. He was a good hunter, and loved living here. If the hunter became the hunted, well, all I can say is he lived the life he wanted.

I am sad, and I miss him. But I am glad that I knew him, loved him, and gave him a home.

Ki_basket
duriyah: (winter)
My holiday card from me to you!

earth wreath


May the joy and warmth of the season stay with you all year long.

As the wreath is (supposed to be) mistletoe, the unofficial title of the drawing is, "Snogs the world 'round!"


Many holiday blessings, whatever you celebrate!
duriyah: (Default)
Apparently Discover Card now gives you the option of getting a card with a picture on it. When I called Discover to report my card stolen, the very kind woman suggested I get one of the fancy cards with a picture on it.

I was not prepared for this question. The conversation went like this.

Nice customer service lady: "What do you like to do?"

"I do yoga," I suggested.

"Yoga. No, we don't have any yoga designs. Do you have any pets?"

"Yes, I have a cat."

"What color?"

"Black," was my answer. But then I realized I actually have two cats, one black and one tawny. I bet they don't have a picture of one black and one tan cat. I'd feel like I was betraying Barney every time I used the card. This is a bad idea.

"Actually," I said out loud, "Let's just go with a plain card. No picture."

"Just a plain card?" asked the customer service lady.

"Yes, plain."

"You don't want a beagle, do you?"

What??? "No, I don't want a beagle."

"Okay. Just a plain card," she confirmed.


I just got my new replacement card. Guess what picture is on it. Just guess! That's right...A BEAGLE!

I can't have a card with a picture of a beagle. I don't have a beagle. If I ever did get a dog, I can tell you it wouldn't be a beagle. (Not that I dislike beagles, they are fine dogs. But I would get a border collie or sheltie if I were to get a dog).

So now I have to call Discover Card back and order another card. And continue to not have a working credit card.

Argh!
duriyah: (Default)
I am now the proud owner of a new library card. I marched to the library with courage and cash, prepared to pay the fine from mumblemumble years ago. As it turns out, they couldn't even find my old account in the system, so I didn't have to pay the fine.

Just to be clear, I returned those books years ago, but didn't have the courage to face up to the fine, which in my imagination was ginormous by then. Until today. Now I am a free woman! With a library card!

I also now--for the first time in three years--have a new, crack-free windshield. Huzzah!

Look at me, clearing out old debts and should-have-dones!

Art fail!

Nov. 12th, 2011 07:57 pm
duriyah: (Default)
I was all set to paint a pen and ink drawing with watercolors, when I discovered that the ink I was using is water soluble! D'oh! I guess I'll have to color it in with colored pencils. Which is fine, I was just looking forward to seeing what I could do with the water colors.
duriyah: (Default)
1. I rode a Segway!
Last weekend Rob and I rode Segways for the first time! This was Rob's birthday gift to me from last year (after much hinting on my part): Segway tours of downtown Columbus, provided by a company called Segaway Tours.

We were part of a group: 8 customers and one tour guide. It was a real tour; the guide was miked and we each had a little speaker in our helmets, so I actually learned a few things about Columbus, as well. We had fantastic weather for the tour, too. Brisk, but sunny and not too cold.

Riding the Segway was actually pretty easy. It took about five or 10 minutes to get comfortable enough to ride out among other people on the sidewalk. By the end of the two hour tour I felt like an expert on the thing.

I have been fascinated with the Segway since it came out. Getting to ride one has been something of a bucket list item for me. I was thrilled that we were able to do this. It was just as cool as I imagined it would be. :-)


I may look goofy, but I'm having a ball!


2. I switched Amandas
Rob introduced me to the writing of Amanda Marcot, a feminist blogger at Pandagon. At some point I added her feed to my LJ Friends page. Her writing is pointed, and I have learned much about modern feminism and the constraints that our culture puts on women in the years that I have been following her blogging. It has been good and eye-opening for me.

But she is also judgmental and snobbish. She's an admitted music snob whose tastes I mostly don't share. I'm even turned off by her posts on buying local organic food and simple home cooking, which is surprising, because I love both those things. Lately I have been more and more annoyed by her, and feeling like the time had come for us to part ways.

So last week I dropped the feed. But in the spirit of the conservation of energy (or something like that), I added another Amanda to my LJ feed: Amanda Palmer.

I doubt that anyone on my F-list is unfamiliar with Amanda Palmer, lead singer of the Dresden Dolls and wife of writer Neil Gaiman. She is bold, full of life, intensely creative, and amazingly positive.

I am not a fan of the Dresden Dolls, but I think AFP is just wonderful. And I am learning to love her newer music. I was rewarded this week by this clip on her blog, where she is singing her brand new song "The Ukulele Anthem" at Occupy Wall Street. This song, with Twitter-crowd-sourced lyrics, makes me want to buy a ukulele as a revolutionary act.




And her blog post about writing the song (including lyrics).

3. And finally, socks. And arm warmers.
I just spent $90 at Sock Dreams. I bought warm knee-highs, thigh-highs, and arm warmers in readiness for winter. Also a pair of Van Gogh "Starry Night". Socks. Oh, yes I did!
duriyah: (Default)
Last night Rob and I went to see British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson in concert at Columbus's oldest surviving theater. It's a fabulous space, and we had good center seats. Richard played solo, on a single Lowden acoustic guitar, for over an hour and a half. It was phenomenal. His virtuoso guitar playing takes me breath away. He has a technique of both strumming and picking simultaniously that fills he room with sound and often sounds like several guitars playing at once. He loves throwing in blues riffs, which gives his more rocking songs an early rock-n-roll feel, which I love. He was also a member of the seminal folk-rock band Fairport Convention, and definitely keeps a folk sound on many of his slower songs.

It was an amazing concert. If you like guitar at all, if youever get the chance to see this man perform, with or without his band, take it! Acoustic or electric, solo or backed by his band, Richard Thompson is just fabulous!
duriyah: (Me and Rob)
For the past two or three weeks, Rob has been complaining of back pain in the mornings. Sometimes it wakes him up in the middle of the night. I have not dealt well with this role reversal, especially when he wakes me up in the middle of the night trying to get comfortable. I'm the one with insomnia and back pain, dammit!

He only gets the pain in the night and morning; later on in the day it dissipates. That points to the bed as the problem. Earlier this week we took off the memory foam topper, which is about 5 years old and not all that supportive anymore. Or as Rob now calls it, "senile foam". Get it? That made an instant difference to me. The neck stiffness, which has been bothering me quite a bit of late, is much less now. I wake up more refreshed than I have in months. I thought it was because I'd quit getting regular acupuncture treatments, but it looks like it was the old memory foam!

He is still having back pain now, though he says it might be a little less. He figures his mattress is about 11 years old. Must be time to get a new mattress!

We stopped at The Original Mattress Factory yesterday, which still makes the same model he bought before, the Orthopedic Pillow Top mattress. He pointed out to me some time ago, while flipping through a Consumer Reports magazine, that mattress being one of CU's top rated mattresses.

We ordered a new one, exactly the same as the old. Plus new box springs, which are also recommended to be replaced when you replace the mattress. Actually, there is one difference in the new mattress. They now offer the option of making the mattress with a hinge in the middle, so it is easier to get around narrow staircases, as well as easier to flip. No extra charge, and they say there is no disadvantage to the hinged mattress. Sounds almost too good to be true.

The new mattress will be delivered on Wednesday. We plat to give the old one away to charity.

Earthquake

Aug. 24th, 2011 08:53 pm
duriyah: The Lady of Challotte (stressed)
I have never been so happy that the yoga ball I use as my desk chair sits in a frame to keep it from rolling around as I was yesterday at 1:50pm. Not everyone in Ohio felt the earthquake. It was more apparent for those of us in taller office buildings. At first I felt a little dizzy, like I was having vertigo. I had trouble focusing on the computer screen. Then my body seemed to pulse, as if my heart was beating hard and I could feel the pulse throughout my body. I looked up and saw the leaves of my plant quiver. Was there construction going on somewhere in the building? A canon fired at the statehouse across the street? Or did I just eat something that raised my blood pressure?

Things settled down, and I wandered out of my cube to see if anyone else felt it, too. Half a dozen people were telling each other that yes, they'd felt it, too. A few minutes later the word came: an earthquake, epicenter in Virginia.

I tried to settle back into work, but I still felt a lingering vertigo and nausea. I was finally got back into my work about half an hour later.

When I got home around 6:30pm the power was out at the farmhouse. I don't know how wide an area was effected, but it was at least my neighborhood. The refrigerator felt...not exactly warm, but not cool either, when I opened it to put my food away.

My plans for the evening had included a load of laundry and a hot bath, both of which had to be abandoned, as we have no running water in a power outage because we're on well water.

I have no idea whether the power outage had any connection to the earthquake. Rob did say he saw a power truck in the neighborhood, likely searching for the cause of the outage. The power came back on about 8pm.

It was a weird and slightly unsettling day.

Blink

Aug. 23rd, 2011 11:27 am
duriyah: (Default)
Rob has tried his best to get me into the new Dr. Who and thus help to mitigate my uncoolness. But after I watched three or four (Rob says three, it seemed more like five to me) annoyingly bad episodes, I finally told him he was not allowed to show me any more episodes. No matter how clever he thought they were. UNLESS, that is, the episode was written by either Stephen Moffatt or Neil Gaiman.

So last Saturday night we watched the "Blink" episode, written by Stephen Moffatt. I thought it was good. Fun in a Halloween-scary kind of way.

So yeah. Maybe now I'm just a little less uncool.
duriyah: (Default)
Last weekend, I continued my project of managing the non-grass plants in the shady side yard. As a result of Rob’s herbicide adventure a year ago, there’s almost no grass there at all this year. Instead, it’s all weeds of one sort or another. I decided the best way to manage it would be, instead of mowing there, to pull up the weeds I don't want and encourage others to thrive.

Specifically, I pulled up poison ivy, Virginia creeper, garlic mustard, ironweed, pokeweed, thistle, and another prickly plant whose name I forget. I am encouraging chickweed and moss, and of course the early blooming (and now dormant) endangered spring beauties.

I love the chickweed. It’s fast-growing, creates a soft springy mat, and it isn’t a vine so it won’t climb up the trees or house walls. I am ambivalent on the presence of broadleaf plantain, which is plentiful. On the one hand, it's not attractive, but on the other hand, it's not prickly or rash-inducing. So I leave it. A little research tells me that both chickweed and plantain are medicinal herbs, which is cool!

In about two hours I completed probably 3/4 to 4/5 of the yard. I had hoped to transplant more moss over to the moss and step stone walk area that I'm constructing, but I ran out of steam before I got there. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do it this weekend, either. Maybe the following weekend. I’m fast running out of growing season!

Rob and I also finally got around to mowing the rest of the yard this weekend, too. It seriously needed it. For the time being, anyway, I feel good about my yard.
duriyah: (Default)
By Thursday morning, Ki still hadn't pooped, making at least 4 days without a bowel movement. I made an appointment with our regular vet to get him checked out that morning.

The vet took an x-ray, to see if anything was wrong. We were able to see on the x-ray that there were no obstructions. His colon was full and ready to go. He was just probably constipated from being dehydrated as a result of not eating. The vet and I also agreed that Ki may actually have been holding because he prefers to do his thing outside. And he's not allowed to go outside until his incision heals.

They gave him subcutaneous fluids to help hydrate him and move things along. They also gave me a laxative to give him at home. I was so relieved that everything seemed normal.

I gave him the laxative (Laculose, I think) as soon as we got home. He visited the litterbox about 10 minutes later.

By that time it was 1:30 and I hadn't eaten lunch yet. I probably would have taken the rest of the day off work, except that my boss asked me to do some specific things before the next day. So I grabbed my already-packed lunch and headed back to town.

Such drama this week! I am just emotionally fatigued by it all. And I still don't know what was wrong with him. Maybe he got into some trash or ate a mouse that had been sitting in the sun too long.

At least now he's eating, NOT vomiting, peeing, and pooping. Everything going in one end and out the other. Just like it's s'posed to!
duriyah: (Default)
Ki seems to be comfortable, and happy to be home. He has to wear a collar to keep him from licking the incision. It's flexible, made of Tyvek or a similar synthetic material, rather than one of the rigid plastic cones. While he appeared to be somewhat annoyed by it at first, he seems to have gotten used to it, for which I am grateful.

He is eating, though not as voraciously as usual. He is pee'ing too, which is good. As of this morning, though, he has yet to have a bowel movement. He should have had one by now. I will skip Tai Chi class tonight and go straight home to check on him. If he hasn't had a bowel movement during the day, I will have to take him back to the vet.

He really wants to go outside. We're supposed to keep him inside for two weeks while the incision heals. It's going to be a long two weeks for all of us.

But overall he seems comfortable and fairly happy, so that's good.

Ki's home!

Jul. 4th, 2011 11:02 pm
duriyah: (Ki)
Rob called the emergency vet clinic shortly after I posted. Apparently he had eaten a little bit of food earlier in the day and hadn't vomited. Good news. They said he was okay to come home. We went and got him, and just now got back home. He is very happy to be home.
duriyah: (Ki)
Ki had exploratory surgery last night, but they found no obstruction in his GI tract. They did find a calcified nodule in free-floating in his abdomen, and removed it. It's about the size of a large lima bean. Ir certainly could have made him uncomfortable.

He wasn't hungry when they fed him this morning. We went over to visit him around 1pm. I took a can of tuna to see if that would entice him. He completely refused it. He wouldn't even lick it off my fingers. He didn't seem to be in pain, but he was obviously unhappy. We gave him lots of pets, and he liked that. But clearly wasn't happy with the situation.

They're supposed to call when he has eaten and been able to keep the food down. It is 8pm now and they haven't called. Rob was thinking about visiting him but to be honest I think it would just depress me more...and I have cried a couple of times today.

To be honest, I don't think the nodule they removed is the cause of him not eating. I think it's something else, but I haven't a clue as to what it could be.

If he isn't eating tomorrow morning, I am thinking about transferring him to our normal vet, who will be open by then. They might be better equipped to deal with figuring out what's wrong. And they have his past medical records.
duriyah: (Default)
For the past few days, my cat Ki has been refusing to eat. He'll ask for food as usual, then sniff at it and walk away. Or take just a few bites. Then he throws up what food he did eat.

As this has been going on at least three days, we decided it was time to take him to the vet. Our normal vet is closed on Sundays, so we took him to an emergency vet. They're pretty sure he has an obstruction in his digestive tract. X-rays showed an animal skull in his intestines. They want to do a barium scan to make sure then know exactly where the obstruction is. I just got a call that the vet just did the barium scan. The obstruction seems to be in his duodenum, the first section of the small intestine right off the stomach. He vomited up the barium, which indicates it's a pretty large obstruction.

He'll be getting surgery tonight to remove the obstruction. They'll keep him overnight and until they know he can eat safely.

Poor thing. I'm glad we went ahead and took him today. His blood work is fine and he doesn't have a fever. If we had waited longer he could be in worse trouble.

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