Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Full of Grace

March came in like a lion and is going out like a lion.  Apparently it has been an historic month for us because it is the first time that we never got to 50 degrees.  Not once during the whole month.

This is my vegetable garden.   Obviously peas were not planted on St. Patrick’s Day. They will not be planted by Easter. The ground is still frozen solid. And you can see in the picture where high gusty winds ripped the siding right off my neighbor’s house.  We in the northeast are hungry for Spring.  But there are still lots and lots of things to be grateful for:

  • Cinderella.  Yes, I did wait a week to see it so that I was not surrounded by hundreds of 7 year old girls.  It was hard to see Cate play such an evil character but, oh, those close ups.

  • I really like my new urologist.  He totally agreed with my concerns the connection between my cancer meds and bone loss and kidney problems and spent a lot of time with me discussing them.  He has ordered a full metabolic workup so that we can determine exactly what chemical changes are happening and how we might counteract them.  I really appreciate when I feel “heard” by a doctor.

  • Having my phone say “you have no appointments scheduled for today.”

  • We went to the NCAA women’s basketball semi-finals.  I am not that big of a basketball fan but since both my girls played I have sat at the games of 3rd graders through varsity and regional All-Star levels.  But what a joy (and difference) to watch the UConn women play the game.  Such power and grace and skill.  

  • Black jelly beans, which I'm pretty sure are healthy for me.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Over Exposed

March has traditionally been a difficult month for me.  The 1st was Daphne’s birthday.  There was a time that I would retreat from the world, wallow in traumatic memories and tremble in it for days.  As I healed the day became more of a day of sadness and quiet reflection.  Then years ago I learned where she was buried and I would commemorate the day by making the trip to visit her grave. This year the date came and went and I didn't even notice.  

Three years ago on March 4th my mother died. I miss my mother terribly. I think of her everyday. And yet March 4th passed and I never felt the significance.  

Last week I had an appointment with my new urologist at a new location.  The address didn't ring any bells and when I got there I wandered into the medical arts building looking for his office. It wasn't until I walked down one hall that I realized that the office I had just passed was once Lauren’s office, my dear friend and therapist who saw me through the worst of it and then died suddenly.  I had been in this building hundreds of times.

I’m not sure what this even means.  

When I started the exposure therapy I was afraid that the process would severely desensitize my emotions to a point where I was so exposed to intense feelings that I wouldn't be able to feel anymore.  I don’t know if this is what’s happening. Maybe I have just moved on with my life to such a point that the past is not clinging to me like a ball and chain. Maybe March has been a month filled with such fun, non-medical things that I just breezed through it?  

Still, how could I forget Daphne’s birthday?  My mother’s passing?  Lauren?

I am feeling extremely disloyal to these women who have been the very foundation of all that is good in my life.   

I am more than just a little concerned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Enjoying a book so much I started to read slower just because I didn't want it to end

  • Meeting some incredibly strong and very positive people in my Livestrong cancer survivors’ class.  Some of these people have had very recent surgery, are currently going through radiation and chemo and still come to exercise as much as they are able and be support to someone else.  

  • The maple sap is flowing.  It does amaze me that the earth continues to give us such heavenly things as maple syrup when we have done so much damage to her.   

  • Feeling very fortunate to have a grand historic theater near us where we get to enjoy touring Broadway shows.  

  • Basement plants are mostly thriving and giving me great joy watching them grow, although I fear with temperatures still in the 20s they may not ever see real sunshine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Somebody flipped the weather switch to spring.  We went from sub zero to almost 50 degrees literally overnight.  It’s amazing how the warmth, sunshine and longer days change people’s moods.  Fortunately the temps have dropped some again, otherwise we would have had massive flooding.  

  • The sidewalks have melted enough to start walking to work again.  Oh how I love that brisk morning walk to start my day.

  • Having the honor of awarding the Daphne scholarship.   Those who have read this blog for a while know that I started a small scholarship in honor of Daphne for a high school senior going to college for science.  Then her mother made the scholarship amount quite significant and created a fund to keep it funded after her death.  I know how much even small scholarships helped my daughters so it is a real joy (although difficult choice) to gift this money to a promising scientist.

  • I surprised Martha with tickets to the women’s NCAA regional semi final basketball games.  I am not so grateful for getting the tickets as I am for her very enthusiastic response.   It’s nice to be able to make someone so happy.

  • Peachie home safely from her cross country travels.   I will sleep much better tonight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Sending in our deposit for a family vacation at the beach.

  • Dropping my phone and watching it fall, in slow motion, and NOTHING broke!

  • A dear friend who has been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer has been accepted into a promising clinical trial program with the Mayo Clinic.   Unfortunately she will not know if she will be part of the actual medicated group or the placebo group, which sucks, but it has given her hope.  And hope is a powerful medicine.

  • Peachie has been accepted into the graduate program of her choice.  Which means she will also be coming home to live for 2 years.  Grateful for the first part.  A little eye twitch is developing about the second : )

  • Choosing the next mountain to climb.  Literally.  It feels so good to finally feel good enough to plan another backtracking trip.  Training has begun.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vanderbilt Reflections

This post generically discusses rape and rape culture.  It may be triggering for some, however, there are no graphic details.  It is intended to be more of a journal entry to document my present feelings and questions so that I eventually have a full story of my own healing journey from traumatic, violent rape.

The headlines were hard to avoid.   Four men accused of gang rape at Vanderbilt College.

The headlines themselves would have been enough of a trigger for me in the past to reduce me to a cowering anxiety riddled mess for days.  But I have read the story and I have found myself with more and more questions about rape.

Years of therapy seem to have gotten me over the debilitating reaction.  It still amazes me - knowing how devastating my reaction to this event would have been just a few years ago and how my emotions have changed.  No, emotions is the wrong word.  More like how much more control I have over staying in the present.  

In some weird way, I like these “tests” that continue to give me confidence that I have conquered the demons that haunted me for so long.

And so I was able to read some of the details of what happened at Vanderbilt and I was horrified, as I’m sure everyone was.  

Sometimes I think I understand rape, and then something like this happens and the I once again realize that is is beyond my comprehension.

How does anyone treat another living thing so horrifically?  I have lived through it and still can’t get my head around it.

And to abuse another human and record it?  What is the psychology of that?

I sort of understand the academic opinion that rape is about power but where is the power in dehumanizing an unconscious body?   I always thought that rapists got off on the struggle.  But where is the struggle here?   

Sometimes I think rape is more about a feeling of ownership or entitlement  - that these men felt that they owned this woman and could do whatever they wanted.  Much like I think how slave owners felt they could treat their slaves.  But I own animals and would never think to mistreat them. (although I know some people do)   What is it that  give some people license to do horrendous things to other souls?   I’m not sure if my question is more about the what gives people license, or more about how/why people can do such horrendous things to other people.  

Somewhere deep inside me I think I need an answer to this question before I can find a final peace.  Or maybe there is no peace.

Are rapists always rapists like pedophiles are always pedophiles just waiting for an opportunity?  Or can rape be a one time event triggered by some demon inside the rapist?   Having just written that I realize that it is probably the same thing.   But I look at  these 4 very privileged, well-educated men, and I assume they were brought up in somewhat loving homes and wonder why?   What makes them think this is okay behavior?   Not only okay at the time, but to record to brag about later? Wouldn’t anyone seeing that video look at it and see these men as perverted monsters?

I can’t imagine what his woman must be going through.  She states she doesn’t remember what happened that night but I know that somewhere, deep down, her body remembers.   I know that my body still reacts reflectively to certain actions.  My brain may now be able to understand and calm triggers, but my body will defend itself from them automatically.  It took me a long time to even understand why these reflexes were happening.  Now I understand them, but I can’t stop them.  Nor do I want to.  I appreciate that they are there to protect me.

I still can’t get past a general relief that camera phones were not  around during our assault.  I can’t even imagine what that must feel like.  That people recorded these perverted actions so that  . . .  so that why?  Why would someone do that?  That they could share it with others?  My stomach still churns at the remembrance of men laughing and jeering at us.  That these humiliations could then be seen by countless others to also jeer at?   I don’t know how this woman will ever overcome it.   I hope she gets help a lot sooner than I did.

And so I just realized as I wrote this that the next step in my journey is to better understand the other side of the equation.  I have learned to accept and cope with what happened to me and Daphne.  I have done a lot of important healing.   Now I want to understand the *why* of rape happens at all.   

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Full of Grace

1. Only needing sedation instead general anesthesia for my last surgery which made recovery a breeze. My surgery was at 9 am and I left the hospital at 11:30. What a difference and what a relief.

2. I’ve been selected to participate in an Livestrong at the Y program for cancer survivors. It’s a 12 week program “ to help participants build muscle mass and muscle strength, increase flexibility and endurance and improve functional ability. Additional goals include reducing the severity of therapy side effects, preventing unwanted weight changes and improving energy levels and self esteem. A final goal of the program is to assist participants in developing their own physical fitness program so they can continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, not only as part of their recovery, but as a way of life.” Sounds good to me. I’ve been in the hospital 3 times in the last 3 months, each requiring time to rest and recuperate. I have become soft and lazy and sluggish. I am excited about this.

3. Woke to an abnormally cold house with the furnace clicking on, but mostly off in 10 below weather.  Called the repair place at 6:00 am.  At 5:00 pm the repairman finally showed up my now freezing home and knocked a piece of ice off the outside intake pipe which solved the problem.  Gave me the bill for $176 for
a total of 7 minutes labor and no parts.  (there may be a bit of sarcasm in that gratitude)  Still, I was very grateful to have heat again.

4. The light is changing. Our temperatures are still way below normal and there is still a lot of snow of the ground, but the mornings are bright and sunny and it is staying light longer into the evening. March came in like a lion so it will go out like a lamb. Right????

5. This little guy/girl suddenly appeared with my seedlings. A good omen, I think.