Saturday, 17 March 2018

I had a young man as a patient yesterday.  He was not quite thirty.  He has Burkitt's lymphoma;  it is one of the fastest growing cancers and has a special fondness for the central nervous system.  He's partially paralyzed as a result of the cancer.

He came down to have a new central line put in and his old line pulled out.  He was a terrified little boy in the body of a heavily tattooed ex-con/drug addict.  It took a long time to get everything sorted out.  His platelets were low, there were questions that needed to be answered but we finally got him in the room.

I was ready not to like him.  When he first came to us another nurse had said he was kind of an ass.  But then I met him.  I talked to him.  I listened to him.  He wasn't an ass, he was just scared.  I imagine when he was first admitted he was pretty angry.  Nobody would believe him when he was complaining of symptoms while he was in jail.  Burkitt's lymphoma is a rare cancer, only 1-2% of all adult lymphomas.  Then he had severe back pain and partial paralysis.  And now he is with us.  We have three young men right now with Burkitt's and all are either partially or completely paralyzed.  They come to us and stay with us for months on end while they receive treatment.

I told him yesterday that this will be the hardest thing he will ever go through.  He is terrified of needles, terrified of pain.  I don't know what he's been through in his life but I'm guessing it can't have been good.  The last young man who was terrified of needles like that had found the body of his best friend's dad with a needle still hanging out of his arm.  That image has stayed with him his whole life.

Yesterday reminded me to not prejudge people.  I try and I fail and then I try some more.  We are such a messy species, us humans.  Perhaps wolves and elk are just as judgmental as us but they just don't beat themselves up over it.  Or maybe they do.  Who knows.  It's one of my traits that I most dislike about myself.  I know it's part of being human.  That judging is probably an old trait that helped keep us safe and probably still does but it's also a very poisonous trait that keeps us from truly seeing each other as the same.  Because we are all the same really.  We all have fears, pasts, wounds.  We all suffer, we just express it differently.  We all carry our past on our backs with us and it colors everything we say and do.

It's hard being human.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

I'm liking my counselor.  She's older than me, a cancer survivor: she's also kind and wise.  We're talking about my childhood now which makes me cry.  I've always felt like a disappointment to my family, to my ex-husband, to my children, just kind of a failure in general.  I've made lots of mistakes in life, as have we all but I have defined myself by those mistakes instead of my accomplishments or strengths.

My counselor asked me a question on Wednesday which I had never asked myself before.  What do you like about yourself?

Here goes.

I have a very good sense of humor, all kinds of humor.
I'm hard working.
I'm willing to look at myself and my flaws.
I'm smart.
I love word play.
I love play in general, especially the kind little kids enjoy.
I'm compassionate.
I'm empathetic.
I'm loyal.
I love looking at the world.  My memory is all visual and I love just looking, soaking the world in.
I'm a good baker.
I'm a hugger.  The world always needs more huggers.
I love learning new skills.
I'm love to read and learn.
I'm quite willing to look foolish to make others more comfortable.  At work I often play the fool for my patients, to make them laugh.
I tend to love hard, if that makes any sense.  It does to me.  Fiercely might be a better word.

What do you like about yourself?  Please tell me.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Today is not a good day.  I don't know why but I'm sad again, the darkness threatens to pull me under again.  I'm just so tired.

So, things I'm thankful for today.

The county cleared our street yesterday, no more ice or snow.  It's lovely.
The big guy fixed my stove.
I'm getting a massage today for my sore back.
And I'm seeing my counselor today for my sore soul.
I don't have to work today.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, 2 March 2018

I'm having a hard time with world right now.  There is so much hatred, so much anger, so much antipathy.  It seems that Trump has unleashed all of the nastiness in the world.  He has given people free rein to be their very worst selves.  Social media allows people to spew their vile words everywhere, contaminating everything with meanness and rancor.  It is contagious and as dangerous as any virus.  It pulls the whole world down.

Today I am off so I will work towards bringing light back into my life.  Goodness.  Compassion.  Kindness.  I forget these sometimes in everyday life when I look at Facebook.  Forget that there are kind, good people everywhere.  That as a whole humans are better than we are awful.

I saw these mitts on Kitsilano Beach.  Someone had taken the time to pick them up and leave them in plain sight in hopes that the owner might find them.  There is kindness.

Yesterday a MRI tech talked a terrified, yelling young man into having his scan.  She was patient and no nonsense with him.  He was twice her size and she calmed him.  He had his scan and as he left you could see how light he was.  There is kindness.

Everyday at work volunteers make my hospital a better place.  Virtually all of the volunteers have been touched by cancer.  One volunteer has a permanent trach.  Another wears a lymphedema sleeve on her arm.  Another is missing one ear.  They show up every week.  They hand out coffee and juice and cookies.  They push wheelchairs.  They teach women how to wear wigs and put on makeup.   There is kindness.

Apparently there is even a World Kindness Movement.   It gives me hope.

Spring comes late to Northern Alberta.  It's the beginning of March.  It's -11C outside.  The wind is blowing, everything is still covered with snow and ice and another blizzard is due to arrive shortly.  At this time of the year it can be hard to feel hope.  But as I sit here writing this, a flock of cedar waxwings flew by my window, a hundred birds moving in unison across the sky, searching for berries as they do every spring.   They are my harbingers of spring.  They give me hope.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Both photos were taken on Kitsilano beach in Vancouver last week.

I was reading through old posts this morning.  Two things struck me.  One is that I need to proof read better and two I am often depressed, or at least, often write about my depression.  I find writing very helpful when I am depressed.  When things are good I tend not to write about it because, well, things are good.

Last week I visited my daughter in Vancouver.  She graduated with her Bachelor of Business Degree.  I'm very proud of her.  She worked  the whole time she went to school and graduated with virtually no debt.  It took her six years to get her degree which included an internship in Zambia.  Africa was difficult for her.  It was a huge culture shock, she did without, she was harassed for being so pale skinned and ended up contracting malaria.  She also grew up a lot and realizes how entitled she was growing up.

We had a wonderful visit.  The first time in years and years that we had spent so much time together.  We talked and talked and talked.  One morning she asked me what I thought about god and we had an hour long conversation about everything.  No surprise, we're pretty much both on the same page.  We shopped, a lot.  She and her boyfriend are moving and needed furniture, they had lived in a furnished house.  We talked a little about her father and her brother.  We went to the gym and she designed a workout for my older, out of shape body.  She's also a personal trainer.

She's happy enough and she likes the person she has become which makes me happy.  I miss her but I am thankful she has built a life for herself that includes a good man, also a big guy, and a job she likes.

Last week while I was Vancouver I received a text message that my girlfriend with metastatic breast cancer had been admitted to the hospital and was given only days to live.  She defied the docs and was discharged home on the day they expected her to die.  She's at home quilting and going for short walks.  We're driving up to Jasper this weekend to visit her and I am so thankful I will get a chance to see her again.  She inspires me so much.  She doesn't suffer.  She lives her life.  Perhaps she can teach me how to do this.

The sun is shining today.  It's warming up.  I'm baking cookies and made a Shepard's pie to take to my girlfriend on the weekend. I feel good.  I am thankful.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Things I'm thankful for today.

My girlfriend had her stem cell harvest today and it was successful.
Bad jokes, actually all jokes and humor in general.
Flying to Vancouver tomorrow to visit my middle daughter.
The weather warmed up today.
Time to sit with a patient's family and answer all of their questions.
The big guy.
Homemade cookies.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, 9 February 2018

My beautiful son, thirty-four years ago.  I was far too young to be a mom but that's how things happened.  When he was two weeks old I applied for nursing school and was accepted.  I knew that his father would never be able to care for us;  I would need a good job to support us.  When he was ten months old I broke up with his father but never stopped either his father or his grandparents from seeing him.  He was always a part of their family too.  I still talk to his grandmother on a regular basis.

I left his father because of lies and alcohol.  I didn't want my son growing up with a father who lied about everything.  I thought I could protect my son.  Turns out I couldn't and it breaks my heart.

My son was in jail last summer for domestic violence.  He and his girlfriend were drunk and he hit her.  This happened twice, once in February and once in June.  Both times there was a no contact order and he violated those no contact orders four times.  He spent 100 days in jail and was released last September.  He is on probation for one year with the requirement that he not drink alcohol and not contact his ex girlfriend.  He did both.  He's still in contact with her, he still drinks himself into oblivion.

He has texted me twice in the last two weeks telling me he wants to die and is surprised he's still here.  He asks for money, begs for money.  He tells me he will end up on the street.  He's hungry.  He pulls every string he can think of to get what he wants which is just money.  More money to drink or buy drugs or fuck women.

And I tell him no.  What he doesn't understand, couldn't possibly understand is the price it costs me to say no to my son.  It's painful and always drags me under a little.  Eventually the drag that is only a little adds up and I'm drowning again.

The big guy says my son needs to hit rock bottom.  I know this.  I get it but it's awful to watch.  He is a part of my heart.  I don't even like him anymore but he still lives in my heart.  And oh my god it hurts.

And the worst part is the knowledge that I couldn't protect him from his father, from his genes, from his fate.  He is his father's son.