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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002  
Reflections on 2002 ~ Year of the Neck

During this year I ....

- was thrilled to hear Brian and Melissa are having a baby boy they plan to name Brendan

- celebrated a year of being in touch with Kathy - and three grandchildren and a son-in-law!

- didn't get to spend as much time with Kathy as we wanted but we stayed in touch and feel close

- got to teach English 102 spring and summer semesters at Watkins College of Art and Design and Film School and met some great students

- taught creative writing and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did

- got a new computer

- found out I'd have to have chemo for lymphoma

- had fever for over a month and felt horrible

- didn't realize I could feel worse but did

- almost died but wasn't quite dead

- spent a week in Vanderbilt Hospital

- had a nurse named Angel who really was one

- learned how to do a wet-to-dry bandage which scared Janelle and me, but we found out we could do it - we're proud of that, too!

- got a renewed appreciation for Janelle who is already amazing

- created this blog

- heard from people I thought I'd lost touch with and many who have been in contact

- appreciated all the cards, flowers, and gifts from people - really made me feel special and cared about - Thank you!!

- felt the support, love, concern, and encouragment from so many friends - how wonderful is that!

- had a get-together with classmates and had so much fun

- watched too much TV but enjoy having the time to do it

- will still be on sick leave for the rest of the school year

- can't remember the last time I had a date or an unreasonable facsimile of one - 2000 might have marked a change in my social life with men as I used to know it

- have become a cliche - an old woman who lives alone with cats - might have something to do with the previous observation

- decorated for Christmas

- never got around to sending Christmas cards

- voted (oh well)

- made a list of celebrities around my age who are dead - some are George Harrison, Dudley Moore, Bruce Paltrow, Julia Phillips, Robert Urich, John Thaw (Inspector Morse), Jim Morrison, John Denver, Janis Joplin, Jim Croce, David Geffen, and Arthur Ashe

- made another list in case that was too morbid of some born the same year I was who are also still around - they are Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Joe Pesci, Sharon Gless, Christopher Walken, Keith Richards, Bill Bradley, Toni Tennille, Robert De Niro, Valerie Perrine, and Sam Shepard

- spent more time with Mother and had fun having lunch lots of places - she was a lifesaver in so many ways!

It's been a hard year in many ways but has definitely had its rewards. I've seen the new year in many ways with significant others, friends, family, alone and have done it dancing and partying, intimately, spiritually, and reflectively. This year I decided to treat it like Tuesday but without watching my usual TV shows (all reruns) and watched The History of Sex on The History Channel. Interesting, educational, and not something I've done before. Then I watched Tim Russert interview Yogi Berra ("I didn't really say everything I said."), Whitey Ford, and Phil Rizutto. Great fun! No movies, no countdowns, no year in review, no party. I've enjoyed the evening listening to the rain, writing this, and feeling good.

Thank you for everything you've done and for being here! Happy New Year!!

10:03:00 PM

Or Would You Rather Have a Needle in Your Throat?

There are things I'd much rather have been doing this afternoon than being stabbed in the throat with a neede many times. An attending physician instructed a resident as he probed around on his way to and inside my thyroid to extract some cells. Then he did it the last time or two. It hurts but not enough to have something for it - just mostly hurts at the time and then is sore for a while. The ultrasound technician and a cytologist were in the room, too. All I know is there is a mass in my thyroid. There are several things it could be. One of them is cancer. I have a theory I'd like to see implemented. If a person has one kind of cancer, s/he should be exempt from having any other kind. Sounds good to me. It could also be a goiter or some other growth in there. I really do believe my neck has been through enough to last the rest of my life. Enough is enough!!

8:52:00 PM

Monday, December 30, 2002  
Two Down

The worst tests are over - two to go! At least I hope this was the worst. I didn't get up early enough to eat before 6:00, I went from supper last night until 4:00, but with this sinus congestion I wasn't too hungry anyway. That barium contrast is really gaggy to drink, and I had to drink two big plastic bottles of it. Yuck! Then I went in this room where they checked my blood sugar which was fine (98) and then put an IV in of radioactive glucose. I stayed in that chair, leaned back, but couldn't stop thinking. I had to drink another half bottle of that barium. Double yuck!!

The PET and CT scans are done one after the other in the same tube. I'm not sure why it's so narrow and arms have to stay over our heads, but that's how it is. After they injected the dye, I felt warm all over and then after a little while had an allergic reaction to it. My chest felt as if something heavy was on it, and my lungs and chest were about to explode. They were definitely attentive and asked questions and checked me. Then they called in a doctor from downstairs, I think. There's a neurology group there. He asked some questions and checked me, too, and decided not to give me Benadryl just then but said to if I kept having trouble breathing. It went away after 5-10 minutes. The technician said I was very sensitive to medication. I thought, "If you only knew!"

I'm pretty wiped out now and am going to go to bed early. Hope I can sleep. I didn't much last night but it's from nervousness now. Last time I had these tests I knew I had cancer. This time I want it to be gone.

7:00:00 PM

Sunday, December 29, 2002  
Stuff and Things

Teaching all those years caused "stuff" and "things" to become permanent parts of my vocabulary. The students influenced me more than I did them, I think. Brian said my sense of humor took a downward turn when I was teaching elementary school students, even though they were gifted. Young nerd humor, you know. ;-)

I have PET and CT scans tomorrow at TN Oncology's place for scans in the Baptist Hospital area. The scans themselves aren't too bad - just lie in a tube for a long time and hold your breath now and then in an uncomfortable position. Sometimes they strap down my head so it won't move. I'm not claustrophobic, so it doesn't bother me even though it's not something I want to do too often. A bad part is that I'm not supposed to eat anything after 6 AM. It's almost impossible for me to eat before then. I'm generally asleep. It almost makes me sick to think about waking up before 6:00. Ugh!! The tests are at 2:00 and no eating for eight hours before them. Wish they were at 8 or 9 AM. It takes several hours for all this to be done, and this gross contrast stuff has to be drunk around 1:00, so I have to be there around 12:30. Then they inject radioactive glucose and have me lean back in a chair in a darkened room and tell me not to read or think. This is so brain activity doesn't make the glucose go there, the technician told me. Dr. Spigel said he thought that was excessive, but that's how it is. It's almost impossible not to think, especially when all this is going on, but I try. Then I'm thinking about not thinking!

Vanderbilt wants me to wait around afterwards to get copies of the scans to take to them Tuesday when I have the ultrasound and fine-needle biopsy to find out what's going on with the enlarged thyroid or growth on it. Going this long without eating and having that glucose in my veins messes with my blood sugar. Mother's going with me to notice if I drive weird or anything.

The scans tomorrow will show if there is any cancer activity, but I won't hear the results until January 6. I believe it's all gone but want to hear it. I'm nervous about it but hope for the best. The word "remission" would be a good one to start the year off well.

Mother and I went to pick up my car yesterday. It seems to drive much better and should! We went to Bellevue and met Brian there so he could give me my cell phone I let them borrow when they did their marathon Christmas driving. Milton and Barb gave them one for Christmas and paid for a year's service. I'm so glad! Barb said they were paying for baby updates and weren't proud. They had a baby shower from Milton's family who is also really excited about the baby too. Now they need a digital camera so they can send pictures of the baby to all of us. Brian said that would be their next electronic purchase. They got a scanner and will return mine that I let them "borrow" years ago. I've never even used it and had almost forgotten about it. I'd like a digital camera too and plan to get one when I pay everyone I owe. This has been an expensive year, and I haven't had my extra jobs for a while now. Years to teachers are academic years, not calendar years. For us, it's "years" and "summers."

We ate lunch at The Corner Market and then went to Bellevue Mall - lots of sales! I hope that mall stays in business. It's close and convenient. Maybe the malls will need to get federal relief since sales are down so much this year (calendar year). It's been in trouble for a while but has managed to hang in there. Hope it can.

6:04:00 PM

Friday, December 27, 2002  

I took my car to the service department yesterday to have that groaning checked the steering was making. It was the power steering pump! Needs to be replaced since it was leaking. That plus all the other stuff that it needs is quite expensive. It was out of warranty in June and wasn't making that sound then - of course. It hasn't been serviced the way it needed to be for a while now, so that is a factor, I'm sure. At least it will be safe now. This delayed my trip to see Kathy, so I'll go tomorrow and come back Sunday.

Brian and Melissa got back late last night/early this morning. I got an email from him to let me know they had a great time but were exhausted. I know it was fun but is good to be back home.

I got All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg for Christmas and will let you know what I think of it. It was recommended to me by a few people, so I'm looking forward to reading it and plan to take it with me when I have those tests Monday and Tuesday. Any books you want to recommend?

You might have noticed that I didn't win the lottery or powerball.

11:11:00 AM

Wednesday, December 25, 2002  
Christmas Day

I hope all of you had a good Christmas. We went to Mother's yesterday to exchange gifts, eat, play games, and spend time together. We played the 20th Anniversary Trivial Pursuit but some of us didn't like it. Sally and I are usually partners and realized that we haven't been aware during the last twenty years. Is anyone surprised? Then we played Cranium which was better. I really like that game. Amy and Chris flew back to Kansas this morning. Janelle took them to the airport. Brian and Melissa didn't spend the night last night so they could go to Atlanta for Christmas with her father and brother. Brian's cousin also lives in Atlanta, so they're going there to celebrate with the Cookseys. Then they are off to Alabama to be with her mother. This is a lot of driving for them and tiring for Melissa.

I called Kathy today and am going there to see them Friday if all goes well with the car and weather. I'm getting the car worked on tomorrow. They had a good Christmas and all sounded really great. They are a sweet family, and it's so good to know them now.

8:38:00 PM

Monday, December 23, 2002  
Christmas Card to You from Me

Merry Christmas!

Be sure to put the cursor on the angel and snowman. Speaking of cards, I haven't sent mine yet. I haven't sent Christmas cards for years but thought I would this time. No reason really and no excuse for this procrastination, except habit and practice. This is why I choose to call them Holiday cards! Possibly they'll arrive sometime during the holidays. If not, they'll be the earliest ones for next year.

Seriously, I wish all of you a warm and happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous, and wonderful New Year!!

12:08:00 PM

The Ultimate Toys (Parenthetically Speaking)

Yesterday when Brian, Melissa, and I were shopping we went to The Game Keep. You will not believe what they have there! I didn't even know they existed. Official Monty Python toys! Giant Killer Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth (Run away! Run away!) and The Black Knight with detachable arms and legs (It's only a flesh wound!). Isn't this great? Those were the only two he had in stock, but I saw others on the box. Those are The Penguin on the Television (Brian and I memorized that routine when he was around 11 or so), Live Parrot (sleeping) (perhaps he's pining for the fjords), and Bloody Rabbit. I found a website that sells them, so you can see the pictures. I couldn't wait to tell some of you about this. If any of those had been on my desk, I'd have complained even more when you touched my stuff! I know, it would have been hard to complain more than I did about that, but why did you have to touch everything? Why? Why?

11:01:00 AM

End-of-Year Testing

I'm dealing with tests differently from the way I usually do this year. No grammar & literature tests, mid-term and final exams, Gateway tests, grading final essays, averaging grades, entering them in the computer, and hearing complaints and relief from students. Last school year I didn't have to have meetings with parents to discuss and sign IEP's, coordinate screening, and do the mountains of paperwork required by special ed for teaching gifted students. Being judged by your students' scores has become too large a part of teaching now. I'm all for accountability, but some of this goes too far and is really stressful. I haven't had to be concerned about it personally this term, though. Now as the end of the year gets closer, I will have CT and PET scans at TN Oncology December 30, to be sure the cancer is gone, and an ultrasound and fine-needle biopsy at Vanderbilt December 31, to show what's going on with my thyroid. My appointment with Dr. Spigel is January 6 and with Dr. Burkey January 20 to get the results. This has been quite a year with a different kind of stress!

10:47:00 AM

Sunday, December 22, 2002  
New Stuff

I changed the template of Around the Bend and lost the customizations, just as they said I would, so your comments are gone. Interestingly, when the date or comment is clicked, it takes you to the old one. Necessity might be the mother of invention, but curiosity is in the running.

Brian, Melissa, and I are meeting for brunch at Ellendale's. My friend Charlie said our family was keeping them in business. Then we're going to get out among the shoppers. Brian said we hadn't done any frantic Christmas shopping together since he was in college. He's one of the rare men who knows how to shop and doesn't mind it. In fact one year after he was home from college and we were doing our Christmas shopping (I had to wait until I got my Career Ladder check to be able to do most of it), we were looking for some things when he reminded me, "Mom, Mom! You're in browsing mode! Get in shopping mode! We don't have much time!"

Since it was just the two of us since he was five, he went most places with me and was my running buddy. We had a good time and enjoyed exploring and being together. He's such a good son and will soon experience the delight of having his own son. He and Melissa will be great parents. They love each other and already love Brendan. That's the greatest gift they can give their children.

8:49:00 AM

Saturday, December 21, 2002  
MLD and Other Transformations

Yesterday I went to the high school faculty breakfast and enjoyed seeing people. Hugs and some catching up! Fun!! Some of the teachers I hoped to see weren't there, but maybe I'll catch them later. I'm going to try to go by the day they go back from vacation since it's an administrative day and go through my stuff I left there. DJ said it wasn't in the way, and I hope it isn't but feel I should be sure. He asked if I were coming back, and I told him I was working on that. I haven't felt like thinking about it and decided I would wait until after the first of the year to check into possibilities. Chemohead is a reality. I can tell my memory and thinking aren't like they have been, which was bad enough, I know!! So let's hope I will be mentally competent to figure this out and to get a job.

Yesterday after MLD, Debbie said I didn't need any more since the lymphedema is gone and the fibrosis is much better. MLD makes the lymph fluid move ten times faster which makes healing faster too. All this in two months!! The month and a half before I went to her didn't show much improvement. The wound was smaller and not quite as deep, but it has healed completely now! Real skin has grown over it and layers have filled in. There is a scar and scar tissue, but Debbie said massage can help break up the scar tissue. I had no idea it could do that. I also had no idea this could heal so quickly. What took two months with MLD would have taken over a year without it (probably longer), and there could have been problems with muscles becoming atrophied because of severely limited range of motion in my neck from all this. It's like magic!! Doctors told me there would probably always be swelling and that some of this would never go away. We'll see. I wish everyone knew about MLD and what it can do.

Debbie told me about someone who had sinus surgery that she treated once a day two days before his surgery. Most people who have this surgery have major swelling and black eyes. His doctor told him he didn't lose but a tablespoon of blood and that he couldn't believe how well he did. He came to see Debbie the next day after his surgery and had no swelling or discoloration around his eyes. He healed really well, too. This stuff works!! It's not just for cancer-related lymphedema but for any swelling and bruising from injury and pre-surgery. By doing it before or as soon after as possible, MLD helps the body heal itself.

Insurance won't pay for it in TN unless physical therapists do it in the hospital and the doctors order it. Only a few hospitals provide it though. Apparently, they don't realize that in order for massage therapists to be certified in MLD, they have to have graduated from an accredited massage school before they can take the classes. Don't go to anyone who hasn't been properly trained in MLD. Some therapists can take a short seminar, which doesn't really prepare them. They need to go four weeks to Vodder training. He's the founder of it and trained the instructors. It's a rigorous and expensive four weeks. Debbie went to Austria where this originated for the last two weeks of her classes. They are required to update with continuing education as well. Debbie was instrumental in having massage therapists licensed by the state and is still on the board to approve and monitor licenses and education. This is not "alternative medicine" but based on physiology and anatomy. MLD is a complex therapy because the lymphatic system is complicated. Some insurance companies and some states recognize this and act accordingly. If more doctors see the results, they will want their patients to benefit from this therapy and heal faster. Until then, it's out of our pockets.

10:26:00 AM

Thursday, December 19, 2002  

I failed to mention meeting friends for breakfast Tuesday morning. Emma, Gwynn, Nancy, and I had breakfast with Dave who's in town for Christmas visiting. We laughed and told stories and laughed more. It was fun. I enjoy the retired life and look forward to being able to do it full-time. It's great getting out and doing things while others are at work, and when I'd ordinarily be there. It's also convenient to be able to make appointments at any time. I've only recently begun to enjoy this time off from work since it is in fact sick leave. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the scans give good news and no more chemo is in store. Then I can finish getting over the effects of the treatment. All good things come to an end, and this will, too. After the first of the year, I need to beging the process to retire and find another job. I think I mentioned that state teacher retirement isn't but around half of my inadequate salary, so I'll have to do something. Jobs aren't exactly plentiful now since the economy is so bad, but surely I can find something. If not, I'll have to teach half-time.

12:45:00 PM

Wednesday, December 18, 2002  
Gratuity Not Included

After decades of shopping at the same grocery and not tipping, I was involved in a conversation recently about tipping the sackers who take the groceries to our cars. I suppose I'm known by reputation there and didn't realize it. Now I'm not sure what to do. That branched out to all the others people generally tip. In restaurants it's standard, and I must admit that I've been judgmental about how generous or cheap others are when tipping. When service is poor, it does send a message, but there should be ways to avoid all this math and angst. Unless it's an urban legend, TIPS originally stood for To Insure Prompt Service. I'm not sure how that evolved into what goes on now, which seems to be To Increase Poor Salary. In that case, why don't teachers get tips? Former students could send money when something we taught them is of benefit. I like this idea!!

Patio update: The leaves I so arduously raked and swept are being blown back on from the roof and yard. (well, probably not the same leaves) I called the guy who mows my yard to do whatever he does with his riding mower to get rid of them since I really don't want to rake the whole yard. That's real work!! Now, however, I have to go sweep the patio again. I like chores that only have to be done once but don't believe there are any. Do I sense some commitment issues here or laziness and a short attention span? Hmm, I have admitted to being a relationship sprinter instead of marathon runner. (not proud of it) It's like those flowers that come back every year are hopeful while those that die and have to be replaced are sort of sad. A pattern emerges.

11:24:00 AM

Monday, December 16, 2002  
Turned A Corner, I Hope!

Still feeling better and having more energy. So far, so good! This feels so hopeful! I can't believe how much I've enjoyed working outside since I never really understood what people got out of it. Maybe all those episodes of Ground Force I've been watching helped program me. It really does clear the mind and provides a sense of accomplishment. How about that? Now perhaps I'll have that feeling from working inside the house. This I've experienced though!

There were some problems with Blogger yesterday. It took trying off and on for hours to post my update, but it finally did it. Not sure what was going on but glad it was fixed. I've considered upgrading so I can post pictures and have other features on here now that I am in the habit of keeping up with this. I enjoy doing it and reading other ones as well. If any of you start one, please let me know, so I can keep up with yours, too. This is free. Just click the icon for blogger at the bottom of this page and read about it. If you find another one you like better, let me know. What I like about it is that it provides an easy way to get information to people even though others can read it if they search or whatever. I think it really came in handy during treatment, surgery, and all this I've been through. Many of you have told me how glad you are that you could read about it from me and know what's going on. Let's remember how helpful Brian was when I was in the hospital, too. Thanks, Brian! Thanks again to all of you for everything!

5:20:00 PM

Sunday, December 15, 2002  

Since it was a sunny day in the 50's and my energy level is increasing, I actually got outside and worked. I even enjoyed it! There were millions of leaves on the patio, and the ones on the bottom were wet and trying to become compost. I raked them off and relocated some in the yard and swept the patio. Then I cleaned the table and chairs and washed some windows. Amazing, isn't it? Even when I feel good, I don't really like to do all that, but it felt good to be able to and feel like doing it.

Have any of you heard any predictions for weather this winter? For some reason, I think it will snow a few times.

11:12:00 PM

Saturday, December 14, 2002  
Deck the Tables

I compromised with myself and bought small table-top trees that already have lights and decorations. Both are two feet tall. One is in the living room and has gold decorations on it and blinking white lights. The other one in the den is fiber optic. I like the way the colors change and are festive. I'd like to keep it out all year. I also have a wreath on the door and couldn't resist getting a sign post with a deer and "Yuletide Joy" on it which is outside now. Other decorations I've had for ages have joined them, so I have decorated for Christmas. It feels good, too. The cats are fascinated but don't think of these little trees as cat toys and knock the decorations off the bottom branches of the tree the way they did with my large one. Decorating a tree with cats in the house becomes their play time anyway and makes it take twice as long to check the lights. Anything that can be dragged or rolled around the floor is fair game for them.

When I'm not feeling that great, my tree decorating phobia comes back. For some reason, it just seems overwhelming to get out the tree, lights, decorations, and take all that time putting them on the tree only to have to take it all back down again. These little trees are manageable and easier to deal with. Some things are more fun to do with and for someone, like cooking.

People said to go to those discount places to find a tree like I wanted, so I went to Big Lots, Fred's, Dollar General, and other places that I don't go to regularly. After seeing some of the prices, I need to though! The real reason I don't shop there is that the conversations I overhear aren't as interesting as the ones yuppies have, but either way I think of it as gathering material. The first conversation I heard was to a young redneckish guy from a girl who asked him, "Are you a daddy yet?" He told her he had been for four months now and that "he'd growed real big now." Next a man growled to his wife, "I never heard of mirror tiles before," to which she explained, "They go on the wall." Then as I checked out, the woman with bleached hair in need of retouching and bad teeth asked me if I'd "ever had strawberry cream cheese on them ginger snaps - it's real good." I told her it sounded good and did they sell it there. She said unfortunately no and then added, "You don't have to get Philadelphia's - you can get a cheaper kind. It's still good, Sweetheart." Then when I left, "Merry Christmas, Hon."

Admit it, we're all snobs about something. I am about education, which should make you feel better since that's my career. I've tried to help stomp out ignorance, but some of those conversations make me think I needed clown shoes.

11:57:00 AM

Netiquette in Blog World

Just thought I'd mention that it's proper netiquette to comment on the comments others make on blogs. In fact, some of the commenters have discussions with each other separate from the one who wrote the blog. They begin by commenting on what was posted and carry on from there. Some of them even become angry and resort to name-calling and tackiness. We're above that kind of behavior, of course. (well, some are) So all comments don't have to be directed to me but can respond to what others wrote as well. It would be entertaining to me, which is all that's really important anyway! Just a reminder from your friendly neighborhood guide to trivia.

10:38:00 AM

Thursday, December 12, 2002  

Mother and I went to Sister's for lunch and then shopped. Neither of us was too focused but managed to get things done. I still have some more to do before I'm finished. Some shopping I did online which I usually do. Dickson has some neat shops with quite a bit of variety.

11:32:00 PM

Wednesday, December 11, 2002  

I found this quote and like it:

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.

- Clementine Paddleford

Then I thought who is Clementine Paddleford and why am I quoting someone I haven't heard of, so I googled her and found out she was a food editor. Now we know!

I also have a new question on the guest book. In the spirit of fairness, I'll answer it as well. My family I grew up in is most like a combination of those 50's TV families. Yes, really, we were a lot like Donna Reed, Father Knows Best, and Leave it to Beaver. Mother didn't wear pearls and heels while cleaning the way "June Dear" did though. Don't let this deter you from commenting. Be funny! Be proud! It's what helped make us who we are!

Perhaps Brian can describe what kind of family he grew up in better than I can. I'm trying to think if there was one on TV like ours. Not that many single-mother shows on except for One Day at a Time and Julia that I can remember. We'd have to make up something, like Bernice (from Designing Women) Brings up Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes but who looks like Harry Potter). It's an unwieldy title but gets the point across. I always thought I was more like Mary Jo in personality (and wish I looked like Annie Potts), but Brian made a good case for Bernice, much as I hate to admit it.

1:23:00 PM

How are you feeling? How are you REALLY feeling?

Last night was fun. The food was good and the company even better. It was nice to meet some of the husbands of the women in the support group. Men rarely come to the meetings for some reason. Support groups are great because the members really do understand what each other is going through. People mean well but too often just don't know what to say to someone with cancer or other life-threatening diseases. It doesn't help when people minimize feelings or the experience or try to cheer us up when we need to say how scared we are or how bad we feel. Just nodding your head, hugging, agreeing with us, or saying that it sucks or you are sorry we feel bad is more validating. Letting us know you're thinking about and/or praying for us is a help. I think I'm on just about all the prayer lists around here and some other states as well. I've been at a loss many times when someone dies and I didn't know what to say to the family or how to comfort someone sick, so I know they have good intentions. I've said the wrong things and have made mistakes and probably will again. We're human. We do that.

At support groups or with other people who have gone through experiences we have, we do know how it feels. We can ask questions, compare notes, and help each other. Almost everyone has been touched by cancer. Dr. Phil (ok, I have to quote him sometime LOL) said when people have cancer, it affects their whole family, friends, and others who care about them. This is so true, isn't it? Once again, thanks to all of you! It helps knowing you're keeping up with me, that you care, and having a sounding board. (this sentence is not parallel - oops) So thanks again for all you've written, said, and done!! Thanks for reading and being here with me. I need and appreciate you all!

9:53:00 AM

Tuesday, December 10, 2002  

The cancer support group here in Dickson is having dinner together at The Front Porch tonight. Emma is coming by to drive us there. It should be fun. We're taking $10 gifts to play dirty Christmas. That reminds me of the Vanleer Elementary School Christmas parties I was fortunate enough to be invited to when Janey Thomas was principal. We went somewhere in Clarksville and had a great time. That's when Cindy Draper made so much fun of me for my giftwrapping, so I kept making it worse. Comments were made about my teaching the gifted but not doing so well with wrapping gifts. Ah, the jokes and remarks over the years! I've been given mugs with that Gary Larson cartoon about the Midvale School for the Gifted, and I have pushed doors supposed to be pulled. I guess they rubbed off on me some. Yeah, that's it. The gift I'm taking tonight has its own wrapping. I'm learning!

11:19:00 AM

Monday, December 09, 2002  
A Better Day

Maybe it's my imagination but I seem to feel more energetic today (more being a relative term) than I did this weekend. I happened on another funny and entertaining site Things my girlfriend and I argue about written by Mil Millington. He writes a column in The Guardian and now has a book based on all this. Funny stuff!! The site gives links to the book, reviews, and other interesting things. I'd like to have a British guy of my own. Anyone know a brave and foolish non-smoking one who might be interested in being with me? If not British, then that sense of humor (extra or different letters in words optional).

11:21:00 AM

Sunday, December 08, 2002  
Bone Tired

It doesn't seem to matter whether I sleep, rest, get out in the fresh air, walk, sit, or whatever, I stay tired. It's in-my-bones tired like I felt during the hormone-less days. I'm sure part of it is chemo and recovering from surgery and bedrest. I'll be glad when this phase is over though.

Earl stopped by on his was from Nashville back to South Fulton, and we went to Cracker Barrel and compared symptoms. We're already crotchety old people!! I asked him what the female counterpart for a curmudgeon is. I'm going to the cemetery for the candle lighting they have there with Mother, Butch, and Janelle.

I realize this isn't a cheery holiday post, so I'll try to perk up.

2:38:00 PM

Saturday, December 07, 2002  
Good Day

It was Sally and Janelle, not Mother, too. She stayed there at her house with Mae. We had lots of fun and got some Christmas shopping done. I'm not into full shopping mode yet but did get a few things and some firm ideas for others. Sally and Janelle did quite well with their shopping. I consulted and tried to be helpful. It gives meaning to my life to be of service. (I almost typed that with a staight face)

I can't believe how tired I got again. It felt good to get home and relax.

5:31:00 PM

Shopping Season

I had reflexology and MLD today. Then I went to Mother's to visit and eat. Sally and Mae are spending the night there, and Butch and Janelle came too. It was fun watching Providence after we ate and commenting on the characters we don't like and what we hope happens. We like Mike Farrell the most on there and the one who plays Sydney. I've like him since he was B. J. Hunnicut on M*A*S*H. It has only two more episodes because it's been cancelled. The writing isn't as good on there as some others. The characters don't change and grow enough. Judging Amy and West Wing keep giving more information about the characters and let them have many layers. Complex characters that give the actors something to work with, good casting, and plot twists definitely help!

Sally, Janelle, Mother, and I are meeting at House Blend tomorrow and then on to shopping. I'd better get to bed since I have to get up earlier than usual to be there!

Thanks for the comments and email! As much as I used to complain about not getting to finish sentences and being interrupted by students, it's good to hear from people this way! (does this sentence even make sense?)

12:02:00 AM

Thursday, December 05, 2002  

OK, so maybe I'm needy. I want feedback. Please comment here or on Around the Bend occasionally. I'd like to read your exchanges and see what you think. Others might comment on your comments. Who knows? You can be as anonymous or known as you choose. It's fun to lurk and sometimes there's nothing to say. Sort of like I am today. :-) Don't get me wrong. I appreciate your even reading this and enjoy it when I see you somewhere and you mention things I've written and comment then, but what about those of you I don't see or hear from otherwise? No mail, no calls, no comments, no feedback. How sad. (let's see if this works - pretty pitiful, right?) Yes, I know I'm not good a being a martyr, but I had to try!!

12:01:00 PM

Wednesday, December 04, 2002  
New Post

I've written a new post on Around the Bend. I'm not sure it has a point or ending, but it brought back some memories.

7:59:00 PM

Frosted Trees

The icy rain did happen on schedule and there's no school, no school! (old Snow Bird voice) Mother called to ask if it were as exciting as it used to be. I told her all my days were snow days now but that after all these years of conditioning, there's still something exciting about it. I did keep looking out to check the progress of the weather. Some things don't change so quickly.

As usual, I'm concerned about the trees in my yard. Since I live in a bowl, trees loom over the house on the hill in the back yard. Some others seem to have problems, so I guess I need to get someone over here to check them out. When they are laden with ice, it seems possible they could fall over and crash onto my house. Having money helps to get things done when we don't know how to do it ourselves. I'd like to contribute to the economy by hiring as much done as possible, but alas that's not how it works out. The barter system would be good if I had any skills that could lend themselves to bartering. Oh well. Again, we are back to the lottery!

It seems as if we might have some snows this winter. As long as there's no ice, that will be fine. Ice is bad!! Those of us who have endured ice storms know this.

11:11:00 AM

Tuesday, December 03, 2002  
No Title

I've been sleepy and non-energetic today. It doesn't even seem as if I did that much yesterday but enough to make me go back to bed this morning and sleep some more. I had an MLD treatment this afternoon with Lana and will probably just go once a week and have that tape on between times. It was the return of the tape during Thanksgiving which looks weird but works. We're all amazed by how much progress has been made, and the tape did a lot.

For the first time in over 30 years, I won't get up during the night to check to see if it's snowing, sleeting, or any ice is forming. I also won't turn on the tv when I wake up to see if there's a Snow Bird report; however, I will be excited to have a couple of good snows this winter. All my days are snow days now - at least until I go back to work. It's going to be really odd when I have a job that isn't teaching and have to work when it snows as well as all year long with only a few days off. I really do need to win the lottery before May. I'll be generous so you can wish me luck on it. I'll do the same for you the next time.

There's an interesting blog about a group in Antarctica tagging seals and observing penguins I happened to find. Thought you might like to look at it. The writer of it is a PhD candidate. Life in the Freezer has amazing photos of the area, where they're staying, the group, penguins, seals, and scenery. It's neat.

An online friend last from the Pacific Northwest and I were discussing how y'all when used correctly is plural and you is the singular form of y'all. He argued with me that y'all could be used as both singular and plural. This is a misconception many non-Southerners have and then use the word improperly when trying to imitate a Southern accent There are a few times when it is intentionally singular. One of these is when it means the same as "you people" as in, "Y'all call it pop?" or varous accusations I won't go into now. Then there is the, "Y'all come back now, y'hear?" which is an often said tongue-in-cheek because it's expected or is a sometimes insincere thing to say when people are leaving, especially if they are going back home to the North.

9:18:00 PM

Monday, December 02, 2002  
Another Day, Another Doctor

Dr. Burkey said my neck is doing really well and that it looks perfect. I don't have to bandage it anymore and can use a band-aid on it until I feel comfortable letting it go without anything. I told him it was going to be hard to go from being so careful with it to doing nothing. It will be good to take a shower without worrying about bandages that got wet anyway. He said it would have a scab and then heal with just skin there. Then he put something on it that cauterized it and hurt - it still hurts and looks gray and weird. I'm going back to see him Jan. 20. When I had scans before, they noticed an enlargement or growth on my thyroid. Dr. Burkey wanted to wait until my neck healed more to do anything about it, so now I'm supposed to have an ultrasound and fine-needle biopsy on it. As Roseanne Rosanna Danna said, "It just goes to show. It's always something!" So I'll end this year with tests and scans and get results in January.

Mother and I had lunch at Calypso before and then went to Bellevue Mall after the appointment and did some shopping. I asked her if she had any hats I might be able to wear and she brought me a couple that were Mae's. I wore a felt one with a brim and band around it that is a sort of burnt orange or pimento color. I'm almost like a man when it comes to names of colors. I need Paige to describe them for me. The point though is that I felt better wearing the hat than I have for a while. With the hat, I didn't feel like I look sick now that my hair has gotten even thinner. Mother also brought a red felt one with a black band that was Mae's and another knit one that was Aunt Ruth's. It feels like having them with me a little.

It's been brought to my attention that I credited the "retroactive chemohead" remark to the wrong person. It was Brian who said it and not Sally. I changed it on Friday's post. My apologies, Brian! So many people pick on me that it's hard to keep it straight! I don't understand why either. I'm so sweet to them all - just a bit of smicking now and then, that's all!

8:27:00 PM

Sunday, December 01, 2002  
Richard Marius

While listening to NPR again this morning, the commentary on music reminded me of a post I am writing in my head for Around the Bend. Look for it soon. In the meantime, I found something I wrote at the Institute for Writing Tennessee History where 25 of us went to UT and learned about oral history. It was led by Richard Marius who also organized the Governor's Academy for Teachers of Writing which I attended in 1989. This was special because we got to work with Richard every day. He led plenary sessions at the Academy (also held at UT for two weeks) and dropped in on some of our smaller groups. Many more attended the Academy - 220. We were divided into core groups, had guest speakers, got extra attention at the writing lab with instructors, and had so much fun! Wilma Dykeman and Nikki Giovanni read from their work for us, too. The History Institute was special in that we were a smaller group and enjoyed Richard's full attention. There were field trips to libraries, the Bount House, archives, and a special visit to Alex Haley's farm in Norris. We had dinner there after he greeted us and then spoke after dinner. What a gracious host and kind man he was!

Richard Marius and Alex Haley had plans for a series of books on oral history similar to The Foxfire Books. Part of the purpose of our being there was to work with our students and contribute to the books. Some of you Challenge students might remember the family history project we did and some of those memorable family stories. What was that one about the needle's eye? There were wonderful projects through the years! This was one of my favorites. Unfortunately, Alex Haley died the February after we were with him that summer. His death ended plans for the books and was a loss for the writing world and humanity.

My next post on Around the Bend that I plan to type later on today was assigned that summer. We were supposed to interview another participant for only one hour and then write a biographical sketch about them as a teacher. All those years as an English teacher reminding students that without conflict there is no story caused me to volunteer when Richard asked after hearing most of the stories if anyone didn't write about something that wasn't about happiness and good experiences.

10:13:00 AM

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