Monday, January 30, 2012

Living stories

Thank you for your continued prayers and positive thoughts. It really is amazing to feel their impact, and I feel so blessed to have your support. I go into chemo again tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. The ball starts rolling around 7:30 a.m. and I should be hooked up around 9:45 - I would love your prayers for a good chemo session, successfully treating the tumors and no nausea or other side effects.

There were a few great things in this two-week block.

During chemo, I get a drug called Irinotecan. Some people, including me, have a reaction to that drug. Shortly after they give it to me, I become panicky and want to pace and crawl out of my skin. Soon after that, I get intense vomiting. So, there is an drug they can inject (called Atropine) that is supposed to counteract that response. However, Atropine makes my heart race and it, too, makes me vomit. The trick, it seems, is in the timing. If we can time it so that they two hit each other at the right time, no vomiting. 

This last chemo cycle, we got the timing right and they gave me an additional anti-nausea drug that knocks me out. Being out of it doesn't help me when I need to leave the building, but, hey, everything has its price. I was so glad not to get sick.

AND, I didn't throw up for the next few days. I did spend those days in bed, but not by the toilet. Woo hoo!

I rebounded well enough to be able to travel with Tiron and the kids (and a friend) to Disney World, which was  a real upper. 

And, best of all, I didn't get my usual debilitating stomach pains. THAT was awesome!!! 

So, two whole weeks with no vomiting and no hospitalizations. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. And because those stomach pains are so regular, and no one can figure out what causes them, I have to assume that all your positive energy and prayers are helping enormously. Thank you.

Tonight, I will participate in a panel discussion, sponsored by the WBUR CommonHealth blog, focusing on patient stories. For a long time now, I've thought about the stories that I hold of our children, like their birth stories, the kinds of babies they were, the cute things they did as they grew. I worry how they will know those stories if I am not around. There must be a way to keep those stories alive and vibrant. I considered videotaping them, but that just isn't my style, plus I can't imagine doing it without crying. I try to write them down, but the words feel two-dimensional on paper.  

Noodling on all this, I started to notice the stories around me. 

For example, we recently had dinner with a group of seven couples and their 20 children. At one point, I sat back and watched the dynamic among all the people there, and listened to several conversations.

In one group, a couple told a funny story about their day and connected it back to how they originally met. Clearly, their friends were already familiar with the story of how they met, and everyone laughed at the connection between the stories.

In another group, one friend asked a husband and wife about their weight-loss challenge. Apparently, everyone there already knew that the challenge started with the wife wanting to lose weight, and the husband joining to support her, then actually losing more.

In another circle, a mom settled an upset among a group of the kids by saying, "Ben is just like that. Go and play with Phoebe instead." 

All these interactions showed how they were familiar with each others' stories and used that knowledge in their interactions. These folks live in the same community, their children go to the same schools, and they participate together in sports and other activities. The families carpool and the children have sleepovers and are as comfortable at their friends' homes as they are in their own. They all vacation together as well. This is a tight-knit group.

As I listened, I thought that if something (God forbid) happened to one of the parents in that group, any of the others could fill in the stories for the children in a way that would keep it alive and give it depth. Even without that, they are keeping each others' stories alive.

I don't exactly live in that kind of community. But I do encounter people every day, and am suddenly aware that, every time I interact with someone, they are telling me a piece of their story, through their words and actions. As I look at the communities I am part of, I am struck by the bonds of our shared stories: the parties we hold in our own little neighborhood; school events; the births, deaths and celebrations through our church; the annual celebrations of our families; regular dinners with friends. The list goes on.

It is an incredible privilege to hold these stories. I hope that when I re-tell their stories, it is with warmth, love and good humor. 

And then, I have to trust that, when someone tells my story, or my children's stories, they will do the same.

Many blessings for your week ahead, as your personal stories unfold. Thank you for sharing them with me, and for being part of mine.

With love,

1 comment:

Alternative cancer treatment said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it. My alternative cancer treatments center is glad that you have shared this to us. Thanks.