Friday, April 25, 2008

Tanya Writes About The Last Three Months

Thinking back over the last three months, I'm still amazed at my capacity for tears and fear, for faith and unbelief, for nightmares that took my breath away and dreams that always have happy endings.

I'm grateful to God for giving us the confidence in those dark days to plan four vacations over the next six months. For giving us friends, family and neighbors who are everything good and nothing like the morons in sitcoms.

I thank God every day for giving us hope and strength, medical science and savvy doctors, nurses so tender and loving my eyelashes get wet just thinking of them...and along with my gratitude, I pray for a chain of people with dreadful needs of their own just now, the same people who prayed for my wonderful hero.

Oh goodness. It's a gorgeous spring day going on outside and I need to pick up a few groceries. The best part: my hero wants to go along, get a Coffee Bean then walk around the harbor a bit! Oh, these small mercies. I will never take our boring life for granted. Sometimes the last three months seem like a blur, other times so clear I am not in my own head but watching on some un-reality TV big-screen somewhere.

Other times, it slow-motions down undurably in my mind and I remember the sobs and the screams. Yet now he is well. I don't understand why it happened at all, other than bad things happen to good people. I know it strengthened my faith--I am sooooooooooooooooo glad I had already started going to First Church...but other times my faith went into the blackest of holes. Whew.

Well, as normal life begins to cover us like molten butter over popcorn, I mention that Midnight Bride just got two great reviews in two days, so that was feel-good. Makes a total of six. Yowza. And another project is doing well in a fiction contest after getting perfect scores in another one. Well, that's good too.

If anybody's reading this, I'll be guest-blogging at a wonderful Western romance site, next Thursday, May 1. There will be prizes. Hope to see you there.

And hey, thanks for the prayers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tanya Writes About Missing the Wedding

We'd set it as our goal, dancing at Tawan and Nicole's wedding last Friday afternoon. Over all these weeks, the harrowing days, it was The Goal. And with remission announced on the day of the very last chemo (the dreaded bleo)...we knew we would make it.

I got some new stuff to wear. Duh.

Tawan is our son's dearest frat buddy and his best man, and our son was doing the honors on Friday. Nicole's an angel who helped so much at our son's wedding four years ago. Best of all, Tawan's folks are dear friends--we met them during a college preview parent-thing before the boys even knew each other!

And to make it even more complete, Tawan is like our daughter's other big brother. The kids are all very close.

But...all the plans were set before the five-days in the hospital at the bloody end. Literally. You know, the blood transfusion, the IV's to get my hero's body and blood back to quasi-normal.

His release from hospital last Monday still held hope, with four days to go before the wedding. Particularly when my hero started staying up an entire day, sleeping well all night, getting stronger and stronger. I just figured, you know, things were kinda normal.

What we thought was a minor check-up at the doctor last Friday morning turned out to be another all-day IV infusion. Potassium, magnesium, other stuff to keep my hero well and get him on the road to full health. With the wedding two hours away, I had no chance of making it in time.

Did I cry? Yeah, but in secret like always. Just for a minute.

Thank God for small mercies, in this case the digital camera. I've already got wedding pictures, and there's more to come. And many more happy years for the newlyweds.

Not to mention many more happy years ahead for my hero and me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tanya Writes About Her Hero At Home

We checked out of hospital a while ago, and now my hero is taking a nap under the new duvet in our bedroom. I ordered it right after New Years but it took forever to arrive, so he's the first to sleep under it. Fitting somehow.

He's got some appetite back and the mouth sores are healing. The dogs are wagging their tails a mile a minute, and our daughter just sent a bouquet of cheery balloons.

Today is breezy, sunny and a million degrees cooler than the last two. Normal weather for here.

So...normal life returns. Now, I know we'll have surveillance --scans and tests-- for years yet. But it's all good.

Father, forgive me for the sobs in my throat that should have been psalms, for the demons inside my head where I should have let Your angels in. For screams instead of prayers. It isn't easy being a weak human, but I thank you for Your strength and compassion, for Your healing love.

Anybody out there who actually read this blog, thanks for the prayers you sent upward and the good wishes you sent our way. It all worked.

Live. Live your life.

Live strong.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tanya Writes About Today, Sunny and Almost Summer

When this all started, the mountains were covered in snow. Of course it melted and nourished the earth. Now the hills look like Na Pali, only swathed with acres and acres of bright yellow mustard flowers, and the sea daisies I love so much. They bloom in April and how bright they shine!

Today was hot even here in our little beach town. I could almost touch the sun. Summer weather for sure, since June through August is almost always foggy.

Life is lovely. In the dark times, I wondered if I would ever write those words again, but my hero's getting well. Even though he's in hospital, he'll be home soon. Despite the gorgeous scans, the BEP took its toll, and my little vampire needed a blood transfusion and tons more potassium and magnesium. It's something called neutropenia, meaning there's not enough white cells to fight infection, so he's in a room all alone. At least he gets to keep the door shut, keep it quiet.

Doctor Schwartz said he's on the mend, getting stronger every day. "Congrats on the remission," he said. My hero asked what to do next.

"Live. Live your life," our wonderful oncologist said with a big bright sea daisy smile.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tanya Writes About Using Your Words

Some words I hate:

There's something growing in there and it's not an infection.

It's highly suspicious. We must be aggressive.

Surgery. Removal. CT Scan.

It's malignant.

Let's get chemo started Monday. Sorry, it's gonna kick your ass.

Blood count is so low. No being around small children.

Here's Zofran for the nausea.

Bleomycin. It's the gnarliest one of all.

Words I Love:

I love you, Daddy.

I love you, dude. (son)

Grmdplzdra. (grandson)

We'll get this cured. (Dr. Schwartz)

I will life up mine eyes until the hills from whence cometh my help. (Psalm 121)

I survived cancer. I know what you're going through. (Abby and Linda)

You look sexy bald. (Heather)

Live strong. (Lance Armstrong)

You're gonna make it. (Everybody who loves him.)

The scans look great. You're in remission. (Dr. Schwartz, April 8, 2008)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tanya Writes About Today, Sunny but Definitely Not Summer

We slept in. He curled against me and said it felt good. Then he said, I wish I could sleep through one night. And eat one real meal. And have just a normal day.

The wonderful new friends on the T.C e-loop tell us to hang in, that it'll be over soon. And that he'll be well. That the mental part is hard too, just as hard as the physical.

Our daughter is here now, so that makes things easier. For a while we sat outside by the fountain for a picnic, but the day grew cool. Sunny but definitely not summer.

Tomorrow is the last bleo. Let the reports be good ones. Let the nurses have remedies just to give him basic comfort.

Kyrie eleison.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tanya Writes About Testicular Cancer #4

Today has been a pretty good day. My hero got plenty of rest and ate a tad. Now, someday we're gonna laugh, him and me, about these days and weeks of him not eating. Normally we both need to shed a few pounds...

Which of course he's done. Not me though. Stress eating they call it. Although I have abstained from wine, my favorite thing. It's the least I can do. The scent of it makes him gag.

At church, Pastor Walt asked how things were going. He was gone last Sunday so I mentioned the last two weeks had been pretty rough. His reply: Hey, you guys got a great diagnosis. He's gonna be fine. Save the depression for when things are truly bad.

How right he is. I recently joined a T.C. list-serve and have been getting e-mails from guys who are going through or already gone through just what my hero's going through. They all tell us to hang in and assure us he'll be fine. Tonight a wife wrote me, said to keep in touch.

How good not to be alone!

Not that we've been alone. All those near and dear to us have pulled through like you can't believe. My friend Karen fixed a ton of meals. Maxine and Jerry left a picnic basket full of goodies on the porch. Betty and Blake next door cook extra. Charlene met me for lunch during our long, five-day chemo weeks.

Oh, e-mails, inspirational forwards. Cards. Hugs and yes, even tears once in a while.

I just meant that now, we're taking the journey with other T.C. heroes whom I can whine to, cry with --rejoice.

But the best are our kids. My hero and I feel so bad they have to go through this, but in spite of their busy lives, they put us first. Our beautiful girl will be here tomorrow for two days. Her boss, the best boss ever, has told her to be with her parents whenever she can. Wow.

Every Saturday, our beautiful son brings his baby boy to spend time with Grampa. (We adore our DIL too but she has a few faithful clients on Saturday mornings.) Yesterday he brought breakfast, and that sweet little boy showed us how he's learned to climb. On anything and everything.

...when we first learned that this ugly thing had came to live with us, my hero held me tight and said, oh, I want to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding. I want to watch that little guy grow up.

I can't deny that moment brought us both to tears. Manly hero misting on his part. But he's gonna get his wish.

God is great. God is good.

All the time.

(I just need to remember it a hundred million more times a day.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tanya Writes About Her Sister

I just finished a good cry. It's dark and lonely. Now, I know I mentioned once that it's sunny here, but I lied a bit. We live on the coast and fog and gloomy clouds are quite the norm.

And that's what's going on right now. Deep gray gloom. And with the mood I'm in, the gloom seems palpable. I just went outside, like I do each morning, to fill the bird feeder and pause at the crucifixes, St. Francis statue, and fountain we've used as patio decor. Then I beseech heaven.

Oh today I yelled! Inside my head of course. We have great neighbors and it's too early for a rant on a Saturday morning. I want so bad to be a person of faith and I'm just so darn weak.

My hero sleeps and sleeps...ate a yummy dinner our precious neighbor brought over last night. He actually enjoyed it and couldn't keep it down! First time in eight weeks.

I just don't get any of this.

But my sister and her husband are on the way! Now, anybody who knows me knows I don't have a sister. I was born inbetween two brothers. While we had a happy childhood, we grew up definitely NOT into a Norman Rockwell painting. No John-Boy and Jim-Bob and Shish-ka-Bob around the picnic table for us.

Better, I have Roberta. My heroe's sister. And mine. Truer than any blood connection. We've always been good buds, maid of honor for each other. She's our daughter's godmother. And now in this deep crisis, she's here for us--for me--every step of the way despite the two-hours that separate us in distance. (In Southern California you don't talk distance in miles. It's freeway hours.) Cards. E-mails. Phone calls. Presents. Visits almost every weekend.

And best of all, she brings along her husband. Our true brother. His love for us is completely unconditional.

So the gloom lightens a bit as I count the blessing God has given us in Roberta and Timmy. I couldn't be making it without either of them.

They are two of the sweetest of all my hearts.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Tanya Writes About Walden Pond

Last night I went to Walden Pond.

I couldn't think of any other place I wanted to be. To get the screams out of my head and have prayers inside instead. For to me, Walden is a cathedral. Like Yosemite Valley.

Like Alder Creek where the Donners spent that awful winter.

But there wasn't any gentle autumn drizzle landing on my cheeks this visit, for my body was in an ER room at my hero's side. We'd gone to hospital for the CT scans and while taking a stroll down the hall to ease that sore hip, he fainted.

And I wasn't even with him!
He doesn't like me to hover, so I stayed in the waiting room until I heard a lady call out, somebody fell.

At the doorway, the first thing I saw was his hand, the hand whose wrist wears the yellow Livestrong bracelet. My heart broke one more time.

The doc figured it was because chemo weakens even a hale man. Indeed, after hydration and potassium and iron --and about a gallon of my tears-- he got to go home.

I hated to weep in front of him, but seeing him lying there...I just had no choice.

So while the IV's dripped and he napped, I went to Walden inside my head to quiet things down. Just like last October, my hero was with me, walking down the asphalt path through the trees. The anticipation was like, walking up the aisle or something. And there it was, Walden wearing a necklace of trees just starting to turn.

Oh, it was lovely, so lovely. I've wanted to visit Walden for so, so long. We walked the pathway Henry David once trod, to his homestead where I built a rock sculpture. I can still feel the rocks in my hand.

My hero found a tiny pinecone under a tree and handed it to me. My best souvenir ever.

And he took my picture at the sign bearing my most favorite HDT quote, about not getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn't lived. Only my hero cut off my head.


And while there, I thanked God. If my hero had to faint, at least it was in a hospital with smart, caring professionals. Instead of on the staircase at home or something with only his wuss of a wife around.

But it was still another uneasy night because of this ugly thing that has come to life with us.

Kyrie eleison.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tanya Writes About Sleeping, and perchance, To Dream

My hero sleeps and sleeps.

He said two days ago that he woke in the middle of the night and thought it had all been one long, ugly dream. Then he rubbed his head, and then he knew.

There's still baby hairs there, like peachfuzz. But it's nothing like the pewter-colored hair that I could really run my fingers through. He's still got his moustache, although it's thinner. I haven't seen him without that facial hair since we were high school kids.

Oh, did I ever tell you we went to high school together? It was no sweetheart deal. In fact, he was Captain of the Football Team/Boyfriend of the Homecoming Queen/Head cheerleader. I, well, I was a dork.

But four years later, after college, we did that "across a crowded room" eye-contact movie moment thing at a Christmas party, and we've been together ever since.

Now, any guy who would stick with a girl who picks DELIVERANCE as their first-date movie is definitely a hero!

Last night, he stayed awake to watch American Idol with me. When Dolly's "Jolene" was performed, I misted up. For something other than my hero for a change. For that's the name of my dear Darlene's precious daughter who now lives with God.

A place of course where we all want to go.

Just not now. Please, God?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tanya Writes About Bigstix, Birdseed, and Vicodin

Last night I cried in the car all the way to get him a chocolate milk shake. I think he knew, but by this time, I think he understands when I can't help it or hide it. The hip pain I wrote about the other day got worse and worse, so "worse" he said he almost cried.

Now, this is a guy who fought a forest fire in Big Sur for fourteen straight days a while back. Who sandbagged the Pacific Ocean for the big babies in Malibu who consider themselves too special to live among the rest of us. Who revels in home improvements and yardwork to keep his homestead tidy. Who worked his buns off to pay college tuition.

This is a strong guy. It's just the chemo brings him so damn low. Today the doc and the nurses, those angels Abby and Linda who have survived this scourge from the Devil, told him the pain is part of it. His BEP is the most brutal protocol of all and it's accumulated now, and while it's helping him, it hurts, too. While we had some good-ish days with the first two rounds, those days are over. We're in the homestretch and this stuff--literally poison--has built up. They're easing the pain with vicodin, but he's gotta keep a stiff upper lip.

Then I remember my friend Darlene whose pretty girl has died. Whose voice she'll never hear again. Who won't hunt another Easter egg. Darlene's blogging about her pain and most of all her faith, and she helps get my own unbelief in check, resurrecting it back to that amazing grace I need so bad.

My hero and I will be able to talk to our pretty girl tonight. We are blessed. We are blessed for the miracles of medical science, for a brave waste-no-time doctor. For nurses whose special place in heaven won't be special enough.

We're blessed for the heroes that have gone before to prove to us It Can Be Done. Abby told us today we gotta read Lance Armstrong's book, so I'll pick it up tomorrow.

Right now, I've got to check my sleeping hero. Then it's off to the grocery store to buy the popsicles he loves, and seed to fill the birdfeeder he built for me himself. Soon it'll be time for the dozen doves to pop in for their dinner.

Live strong!