Archive | July, 2010

Looking forward to tonight’s gig . . .

30 Jul

So tonight I am playing with Huge Blues again. It is the first time since April, since surgery. I am looking forward to it. This past month has been pretty great and playing tonight will be a nice way to finish out July 2010 . . . which has been a far cry from July 2009!

I am tired, but, good. I just need to get through this weekend and find some time to rest a bit. I probably took on too much yesterday . . . laundry is not the most important thing. But, when it has been piling up for a long time, along with everything else, I get impatient. So, I am going to be more patient about it, about getting things done and give myself some breathing room.

I need to just enjoy what is in front of me right now and worry about some of the rest later. Laundry will get done, eventually, work will get done, money will come in eventually and I just have to have more realistic expectations of myself for each day. Somehow I plan on getting x amount of things done and end up getting very little done. I think I need to simply focus on one thing at a time, even if it is just getting one thing done that day.

I took this approach when I studied for the bar exam . . . I didn’t try to tackle it all at once, I simply took one piece at a time and worked on it . . . thinking about the whole thing and what I had to get done to pass was too overwhelming. Instead, I took bite size pieces. I think I need to employ that same method now. I am still just figuring out how to get back into work. Fortunately, I have work waiting for me, that is a good thing. Now I just need to take it on in a realistic way.

I can’t wait to play tonight.

Love and peace,


I guess I have to find my new normal . . .

30 Jul

I read an article today called “Back to Normal

It was about strategies to help patients adjust to life after cancer treatment. The article referred to the period of time after treatment as the “re-entry” period and how patients unexpectedly struggle after completing cancer treatment and have a difficult time getting back to normal.

The article referred to a cancer survivor, Jen Singer who was successful in her battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Singer said, “I was in fight mode. Now I’m in I-hope-it-doesn’t-come-back mode. I’m a doer. It’s easier for me to fight than it is for me to hold my breath.”

I can relate to that some. Although, I can say, happily, that I am not consumed with thoughts of having a cancer recurrence. Not after what my oncologist told me . . . that I am cured. However, I can most definitely relate to the I was in fight mode and now I am just somewhere else . . . kind of a limbo mode, I guess. I still have this next surgery to get through and I know how much pain it causes and that frightens me to think about – about having to go through it again – about having to put my family and friends through it again and wondering how it will affect new friendships.

So I am feeling kind of weird these days.

On the one hand, I am thrilled to be where I am. But, at the same time, I am devastated to be where I am (devastated only sometimes). Today was kind of one of those days. I was cleaning my house . . . did some laundry, dishes, etc. . . . you know, the normal stuff. But, so exhausted from it. My right arm – completely numb. The more work I did, the more the numbness traveled and the more I wondered whether I should stop what I was doing and just rest.

But, I am sick of resting and sick of needing so much help. It seems ridiculous, really.

I have been doing pretty well lately. But, the past couple of weeks have been more hectic than usual and it has definitely taken a toll on me. I feel overwhelmed and tired and . . . I hate to admit it, but, physically weak.

I guess what amazes me is how suddenly I can be hit with the full weight of it, as if I haven’t made the progress that I have made . . . it is a bit much. And, since I don’t look sick, people around me are often unaware of how weak or tired I am feeling, how I desperately need to just lie down. I hate that feeling and so I have been pushing through that feeling whenever possible these past few weeks. But, it has caught up with me.

Today I was tired and just overwhelmed by everything I think.

Maybe it was trying to find clothes to wear for the gig tomorrow night . . . trying to find something to wear that will not draw attention to the disparity between my left and right breast. It seems so petty to be bothered by it, but, I am really, really bothered by it now . . . by the disfigurement of my body and by the physical limitations that I still experience. But, maybe that is a sign that I truly am doing well . . . because I am for the first time a little angry about it. And, sad.

I got stuck in a dress today . . . yep, was able to put it on, but, not able to get it off . . . not without quite a bit of doing, that is. This living alone thing is a pain in the rear. I just couldn’t get it off, it is hard to explain, but, I was simply trapped in it. This happens sometimes, and, it is hard to tell which dress or article of clothing is going to be impossible to get off until I simply put it on and discover this. I don’t know why it is so annoying to me when this happens, but, it just is.

Maybe it is because it reminds me of everything. I don’t know. I just want to hop back onto that merry-go-round of a life again.  And, in many respects, I have done just that. BUT, it has a cost . . . it is like I am withdrawing energy from a bank and there aren’t any deposits being made . . . or at least not quickly enough.

I am looking forward to playing the bass tomorrow night. But, I know that I will be completely drained by it. And, that is something I really hope will not always be the case. I am a bit worried about playing tomorrow night, actually. I am worried because it is different now with my latissimus muscle no longer in my back . . . it is somewhat painful and it takes more energy somehow to play.

But, I know that with time it will get better. I am determined to play the bass better than ever, that is my goal. It seems to be one of the easier things for me to handle mentally – I just need to get past the physical stuff.

Say some prayers that I am able to keep up tomorrow. I guess I should be sleeping right now, that would be a big help. 🙂

Love and peace,


Playing at the Bistro this Friday . . .

27 Jul

Tonight my Dad and I are going to play some music, practice a little bit. It will be the first time I have picked up the bass since before my surgery. Hopefully it will go well. I have two gigs this weekend . . . one is on Friday night at Bistro 400 and the other is playing at the Art Affair in Laguna Beach on Sunday. Both should be fun. The latter is outdoors, still don’t know the time – it is either from 4 pm to 7 pm or from 5 pm to 8 pm. I guess someone will let me know . . . 🙂

I am looking forward to playing, but, it has been a while and it is a lot of hours of playing time in just a few days. So we shall see how it goes.

I have my next expansion this Thursday – just one day before playing on Friday night. I wish it were not so close to the gig, but, it is what it is.

I am excited to be able to play and hope that it goes well.

We received some great news: my Dad’s test came back normal, so nothing to worry about . . . that was a nice birthday present for him . . . he turns 81 this Thursday 🙂

Love and peace,


It’s the little things . . .

23 Jul

Today my hair is long enough to clip back. Okay, so it is not really very long, but, I can actually pin back my hair so that it is off of my face . . . progress . . . nice.

Here comes the sun . . .

23 Jul

The sun has finally come out today. And, even though it was still gray outside until just a few minutes ago, it was already less gray on the inside today . . . thanks to those who love and care for me. I am so blessed to be surrounded by so much love. So, I need to just get over this crap. Yesterday I went to dinner with my Dad who is having a medical test right now (please say some prayers for my Dad). After dinner we went to see my sister-in-law’s father who is in a cardiac care unit after having suffered a heart attack.

I think he is going to be fine, but, please keep him in your prayers too. They did an angioplasty and successfully placed a stint where he needed one and is expected to do well. He looked well, but, has clearly been through a lot. I got to see him on Wednesday too . . . someone very dear to me drove quite a ways to take me to see him (you’ll recall that I no longer have a car to drive). Having spent so much time in hospitals in the past year and a half, I know how much it means to have someone take the time to visit. Anyway, that is love, dropping what you are doing, what you would rather be doing, to drive someone – me – to see a friend in the hospital. So thank you . . . you know who you are 🙂

During our visit last night, he was telling stories, talking about some of his family history . . . great grandparents and relatives who had fought in the civil war, connections to Buffalo Bill Cody (one of his family names is Cody) and telling my Dad that he shouldn’t forget to put the names of family members on the backs of photos from the past . . . or else our history will be lost one day. Clearly thinking about mortality . . . something I know a bit about.

I really think he is going to be fine. I certainly pray for that. But, I know that he has had a life changing experience. I could tell that he was thinking about death, about what his daughter would never know of their family history if he were not to make it home and about his only grandson, my nephew . . . what he would never know. So, he told these stories and told my Dad he needs to go home and identify the relatives in a photo from a family reunion that took place when my Dad was 17 years old.

On the way home, my Dad talked about old family pictures and that he wanted to go through these photos with me. I hope we will. I will make the time. I remember old pictures of my Dad with army buddies and pictures of him with family members who passed long before I was born . . . family members and friends whose names I would not know.

It is strange thinking of these things. It was sad to see my sister-in-law’s dad confronting thoughts of death. I remember just weeks after my diagnosis and realizing there was the potential that someday my family and friends would be going through my things . . . and I was struck by what they would find . . . and what I would want them to find or not find. I think we all think that way when we are facing the possibility of dying. And, I think to face that and to live past it is truly a gift . . . and, maybe, it is also just a little, tiny bit of a curse as well.

Mostly it is a gift though because you have the opportunity to take steps to change the direction of your life if you want to.

I did hide something before I started treatment . . . I hid lyrics to songs I wrote over the years. I don’t know why that was the thing that I did not want anyone to see in the event that someone were to be going through my things . .. but, it just was. And, now? Now, my chemo brain doesn’t remember where I stashed those songs. Funny. I am sure it will surface . . . and now, I am fairly certain that I will be the one to find it 🙂

Life is good.

Much love and peace,


A gray day . . .

21 Jul

It is gray today. Kind of how I feel a little bit right now . . . gray. I colored my hair the other day . . . I am now a red head. Not sure if I like it or not, but, it is different and that suits me just fine these days because I am different.

Cancer changes things. It changes your body, it changes your mind and it changes how you view yourself and the world. Some days I want to do something extraordinary and then on other days I just want to crawl into bed. Then there are the days in between. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy most of the time. But, I do feel out of place quite a bit. Is this the life I have fought so hard for? Is this it? A year ago I would have been happy to just be able to get back on my normal rollercoaster of running my business and living my life. But, now, it doesn’t seem to be enough . . . not that I would know because I do not have that life back yet. But, I don’t think I even want it anymore.

After the battle I have been through, shouldn’t there be something extraordinary that was worth that fight? Will I measure up? I don’t know. And, do I sound selfish to presume that I should be special, that I should have more than what I had before? It isn’t even about having more . . . it is about having something different.

Cancer robs you of normalcy and it robs you of complacency too. I guess the latter part is a good thing. But, it makes me impatient . . . mostly with myself, but, also sometimes, with others. I find myself less tolerant of things. I seem to have lost that laissez faire attitude that I think I once had. I never had it with respect to myself, my work, or business. But, I had it towards others. I don’t know. Maybe I am just being a whiner. But, I do know this, I haven’t found my place yet.

I so naively thought that once this was all over with that I would simply go back to my normal life. Well, that doesn’t happen. And, I am not done with this yet . . . there is that next surgery looming overhead. But, I will get past it. I know this. I just need to figure out what I am getting back to when I do . . . that is the hard part, because it is not, and will not be my old life.

Love and peace,


Very, very sad news . . .

19 Jul

A very dear friend of mine’s sister lost her battle with breast cancer yesterday.

Please say prayers for my friend and for her family. I am so sad for her loss. I can’t imagine the pain and sadness she must feel.

First Expansion Went Well . . .

19 Jul

So, today I saw my surgeon for my first re-expansion of my right side (or, what I can now begin to call – again – my right “boob-like” structure). It wasn’t too bad. But, I can see that it is coming in higher, by quite a bit, than the left side. My surgeon discussed this with me, the possibility that the radiated skin just will not allow for tissue expansion where we originally hoped . . .

Not that I will have some weird placement of the new breast, but, there will perhaps be issues with how high the right breast will be in relation to the left. My surgeon said that she may need to move the left one up to more closely match the placement of the right one. So, we shall see about that. I really like how the left one turned out, so changing it is not what I had in mind. But, I don’t want to be dramatically lopsided either . . . and right now . . . that is how it looks like it will go unless she makes adjustments to the left breast.

I go back in next week . . . and every week thereafter . . . for additional expansions . . . perhaps six or seven more to go. My surgeon says it just all depends on how long it takes to get the size she is looking for . . .

I am sore. I pressed them to use lydocaine or some type of numbing stuff on my skin before jabbing in the needle that is used to inject the saline. Whatever they did, it was less painful going through the skin this time (maybe I just have less feeling there than I used to). She also used a smaller needle. It was much better going in this time than when I went through this last year.

The expander expanded does hurt, my skin is sore and my arm is sore. But, it is just the way it goes. I won’t be working out at the gym tonight or tomorrow, or jogging for that matter either. I had wanted to go for a run today, but, I got side tracked by a phone call. Now, I wish that I had gone ahead on that run.

Hopefully I can go in a few days, especially if I were to do it on the sand.

Well, I am sore, but, I am excited to be started on this process . . . getting this nonsense done with . . . being closer to being done with the “in-between-surgeries” part of things and moving on with the rest of my life.

Now, I just have to get everything I can fit into the next few months, including physical therapy (have to get my right arm in shape or they won’t even do the surgery) and work, I desperately need to finish a book before surgery so that I can start selling it next year. Hopefully, that will all work out.

I need to get busy and stay focused.

Much love and peace,


Surgery Date . . .

16 Jul

My next reconstructive surgery is scheduled for September 9th. I am very pleased (and, anxious). The date is good for me because I will have time to recover before my next busy season with my work, so that is really great! I am very, very happy about it.

Now it is just a matter of getting ready for the next surgery. This will require weekly expansions by my surgeon – she will inject saline into the expander in my right side (breast area) to gradually expand the tissue there to allow for an implant to be placed during surgery.

Because this is the radiated side, there are some concerns over how much she will be able to expand this side.

It is a painful process and will take somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks.

Hopefully it won’t be too bad. I have been through it before. But, not with radiated skin. That concerns me. So, lots of prayers on that if you don’t mind, I could really use it.

I also have to get my right arm back into some kind of shape . . . I have this “frozen shoulder” thing going on (have had it since radiation – the radiation caused my pectoral muscle to shrink and that limited my range of motion). So, I have to be pretty aggressive with physical therapy – starting now – in order to get that arm more mobile, able to straighten out, etc., before surgery.

So, I have some work to do. But, overall, I am really pleased to have that surgery date . . . it means I will get to go back to work, so excited about that!!!

Much love and peace,


Saw my surgeon today . . .

15 Jul

Today I saw my reconstructive surgeon. She believes that there is no damage to my implant from the accident. Fortunately, I was far enough out from surgery, healed enough, that the accident didn’t have a bad impact (no pun intended). I am still pretty sore and it definitely caused soreness around the areas where muscle was taken from my back and moved to the front (places that had been painful after surgery, but, had since felt fine, now hurt again . . . but, the good news is that my surgeon is not concerned about that, she says that everything looks fine).

The meeting went well, she was pleased with how everything is healing (scar wise, etc.).

We discussed a possible surgery date of September 9th, although, she told me not to get attached to that date as she would have to see if it was available or not. I sure hope it is. I desperately need to get back to work and can only do so if I am healed up from this next surgery in time for the next bar round . . . I fully intend to work the next bar round. So, if I can not get the surgery date by the middle of September (or, maybe even a little further into September), then I will have to postpone surgery for March of 2011.

I really do not want to postpone. BUT, I am not going to sit out another busy season.

Today I was able to make progress on a book I am working on. So that was good. It is slow, but, at least I am beginning to be able to do something with this brain of mine . . . besides cutting fingers and crashing cars . . . ugh.

Last weekend I got to see my friend Janice. She was visiting her son in San Diego and made the trip North to Orange County so that we were able to have a visit. It was great to see her and her son. We grew up together and I always thought of her as a sister. I will post some pictures from our visit soon.

Oh, the other update from my doctor’s visit is that my surgeon will start the expansion process this coming Monday . . . of course I have no car to drive now, but, will figure that out somehow . . .

I will go in every week for an expansion (saline injected into my expander in my right side of my chest). I have not had this done on the radiated side . . . not since I was radiated. I was expanded before radiation, but, then had to be deflated. So, now we start all over again, but, with radiated skin. There is no way to know right now how I will do with that. It is a bit painful and gets uncomfortable . . . changes my mobility in my right arm . . . but, it should go fine. It better, as I have two gigs coming up in a couple of weeks . . . need my arm to be working that bass!

Well, enough on all of that.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers . . . I thought by now I would not need it anymore, but, I was wrong . . . 🙂

Much love to all,