My New Hang-out

Pahoa, where I’m staying in Hawaii, is a very small town. Does not get much smaller than this. Does not get much more beautiful than this, either.

The Tin Shack is a local cafe, with delicious food, and the best coffee. For instance, their poached eggs, with pesto, purple potatoes, and gluten free toast is to die for. These particular purple potatoes are, I believe, what Poi is made out of. It(Poi) really isn’t as bad as you might expect, given all the rumors! I actually quite like it.

The Tin Shack is literally a tin shack, with bright blue and orange painted on the inside walls, and surfboards hanging strategically over customers heads. It sits just off the main road in Pahoa central, and is very open and breezy. I’m sitting at a table outside, covered by an overhang, as rain is no stranger to this place. In front of me are a row of parked cars. Slightly past those cars is a field made up of very long, nearly lime green grasses. It’s surrounded on one side by palm trees.

Watch out for the falling coconuts! Seriously, it can be an issue here in Hawaii. I was told by what I believe was a reliable resource, that more people on the islands are killed by falling coconuts, than by sharks. Comforting. Especially given that I grew during the ‘Jaws’ years. I was totally scarred by that movie. At least now, I’ll go into swimming a swimming pool…

They have the best coffee here, as well as homemade Kombucha-Basil flavored today. Surprisingly it is tasty, and it’s shaping up my intestinal flora, with each gulp I take.

I will later attempt to add pics. I’ve been having technical issues, and I’m certainly no Techie.

Aloha!

Minor Surgery?

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Yesterday morning, my friend dropped me off early at the surgeon’s office. They had requested that I be there 15 minutes before my appointment.

I had listened to a guided meditation for 20 minutes beforehand, and had taken a half of a Klonopin tablet. I was fairly calm, considering I’d be cut open without an I.V., or general anesthetic.

At around 10 AM, the nurse guided me into the procedure room. I don’t know about you, but anything to do with the hospital, cutting, or other means of torture, is disturbing to me.

I proceeded to wait for 10 minutes.

The door cracked open, and I thought, “Hey, not so bad, for a surgeon, anyway.”

It wasn’t the surgeon, it was the nurse, again. “He’ll be here in 5 minutes!,” she chirped.

Another 10 minutes went by. Nothing. I was starting to get nervous. Even after all of my preparations.

Finally, he entered the procedure room. At 10:30 AM. Don’t you love it when doctors tell you to come early, and then make you wait?

He handed me a gown, and left the room. When he returned, he did a drawing for me, of how he was going to cut the incision, and told me why he was doing it this way. He’s actually quite nice, for a surgeon. Bedside manner does not tend to be one of their strong points.

He had me lie down on the reclining chair, with special gadgets associated with it. This was not like an easy chair.

He is over 6 foot 4 inches. I know, because I asked him. The nurse kept raising the chair/table, so he wouldn’t have to bend over while operating on me.

He told me what he was doing every step of the way. He cleaned me off, to make me sterile. He kept underscoring that this would be a sterile procedure. Not sure why. I wasn’t thinking that he had just gone to the bathroom, without washing his hands…

He snapped on his rubber gloves. Fortunately, I was situated in a manner where I could not see what he was doing. I’m sure this was intentional.

“I’m going to give you some injections to numb you up,” he said.

What about numbing me for the numbing injections? I thought.

The 10 injections shot into the skin around the abdominal mass, were probably the worst part of the surgery.

The surgery itself felt very strange indeed. On several occasions, it hurt, and he had to inject me with more numbing gel.

He used a device to cauterize my skin, to stop the bleeding. It smelled of burning flesh. He said that he hoped I liked barbecue.

He carved all the way down to my abdominal muscles, to get under the mass. My gut started jumping and twitching like crazy. I don’t want to repeat this experience.

It took him about an hour, from start to finish. He showed me the mass he cut out. He still has no idea of what it is. He sent it off to Pathology, and will call me in the next few days or so, to share the verdict with me.

He prescribed Tylenol with Codeine to ease the pain. 10 pills. They are quite nice. It concerns me, that I am enjoying them. I’ve been much happier than usual. Even though I am feeling some pain, I am also high. I suppose this is why he only gave me 10 pills without a refill.

Building a meaningful life

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When I create a successful painting, it reminds me of building a meaningful life. Maybe that sounds strange, but there are some parallels.

As with life, when I’m working with paint on a canvas, a lot of experimentation occurs. One idea might shine, once expressed, while another can flop. I often go over and over a painting, making changes continuously, until I get things right.

Nothing stands alone in a painting, even if it appears to. Everything is relational. Different colors bounce off of the canvas based on the colors they are next to, shapes are highlighted or subdued based on whether or not you put a square next to circle, or a  more similar shape, that has soft edges next to it.

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This piece still has a long way to go. Light and dark must be utilized to make certain parts of the painting stand out, while others recede.

You’d think that yellow is yellow, regardless of what it’s next to. But if you hold up strips of painted paper, next to one another, is seems to shift magically.

When part of a painting is changed, as I have done with this owl(numerous times…), other aspects of the piece must be changed, too, to enhance what has been altered. To create something that works as a cohesive whole.

It’s like a dance. Add more color to one area, gray another. Sharpen the edges of one shape, while softening the edges of another. Deciding where the focus should be. On the face? The wings? The eyes? Painting in a way that draws your attention to the area that you wish to be central to the entire piece.

Can you see the parallels? Or am I being too obtuse. Aren’t we always working in this way with our lives?

It Seems I’m Not Dying(yet)

I saw my surgeon yesterday. Just had to share the news.

While he doesn’t know what the lump is-quite rare for a doc to admit, he doesn’t believe that it’s cancer!

Even if it is, it’s well encapsulated, which means it will be removed with ease, and has not spread to other parts of my body.

I’m having it cut out, in his office, on Monday. Not looking forward to that, exactly, but I’ll be glad to have ‘IT’ out of my body.

Slightly embarrassed by my hysteria, but as I said to my friend who went to the surgeon’s office with me, “I’d rather feel stupid, than be dead.”

I’m going to Hawaii, to swim with the dolphins and sea turtles, on the 27th of November. Can’t wait. So glad that I have time left to do the things in my life that fulfill me. We never know when our last breath will be, but at least in my case, I won’t be dying shortly from cancer.

It is funny

It is funny how it seems there will always be time left,

to write that book,

or plant those Peonies,

or publish the children’s book.

 

The one that you’ve written,

and rewritten,

dozens of times, but

are still not happy with.

 

It’s funny how everything

appears much crisper,

the beauty jumping out at you,

Making you want to cry,

when you finally understand.

 

That though you’ve suffered,

so much, it does not

exclude you from more

suffering.

 

Weary as you are,

even the pain is something

of value, that you wish

to hold onto, if

it means you can

capture more life.

Waiting Is the Worst

It’s amazing how nonchalant a doctor can be, when you discover that a lump is growing inside of your body, and that you are developing new symptoms.

You have a lump on your abdomen? You are experiencing feelings of pressure and discomfort across the left side of your ribs? Don’t you worry about it, my dear. You know, if you die, at least you made it to 50…

Okay, maybe my doctor isn’t quite that bad, but rather than get an MRI done, as I suggested, she’s interested in looking at a CAT scan that I had nearly 7 months ago. And, I never get to see her personally, as she is with more important patients. I am handed off to her nurse practitioner constantly, who is very nice, and seems fairly thorough, but isn’t a DOCTOR!

I’ve been trying very hard not to freak out here. Some moments I am successful, others I am not.

I’ve been listening to guided meditations. Making plans with friends. Doing art work, when I feel up to it. I’ve been attempting to distract myself in a myriad of ways, but can’t manage to sustain the level of distraction needed in this case.

I’m dying! I’m dying! I’m dying! Keeps running through my head at remarkable speeds. I cannot catch it, and tame my thinking.

I feel a great deal of frustration, too, because I believe that my diagnosis of depression/anxiety is looked at first, before anything else. And, my concern is not taken as seriously as it might be, were I a NORMAL human being. Of course the fact that I have had decades living with Crohn’s disease doesn’t seem to factor into this.

It’s like, how weird and maladjusted Wendy is. What is her problem, I wonder? Why doesn’t she just relax, and take a chill pill…

It’s just so strange, how getting turned away at 22, when I had a complete intestinal blockage, by my doctor at the time, affected my trust level when it comes to doctors! Or, the fact that when I went into this very doctor’s office that I am still(why?) seeing, I had a partial intestinal blockage which was not correctly diagnosed.

I’d see another doctor, but it seems that no one who is good has any room in their busy schedules, for new patients.

It’s amazing how nervous I feel, thinking that I might have CANCER! Again, the sensitivity of my doctor is really lacking in this department. My request for an MRI, my shared concerns, my frustration-all has been received by the office staff at Dr. C….’s practice. The idea that she might consider calling me, and attempting to calm me down has not occurred to her. If it did, she went, Nah, let’s forget about that one.

Yes, I am ranting. I am well aware of this. Sometimes, I need to rant, and to be sarcastic, to get out all of the pent up emotions that build up and up and up in my gut, until they are spilling out of my mouth. Filling up my brain. Until my head is ready to explode, or ignite, like a tree hit by lightning.

Worrisome Thoughts

I can’t sleep. It’s after 3 AM. I got a call from my doctors office yesterday, soon after I had the ultrasound done. Apparently, the radiologist doesn’t know what my lump is. He suggested a biopsy.

I just have this strong sense that the results of the biopsy are not going to be good. I have not been feeling well recently, and I have not been my usual self.

I have been thinking about what I will do, if things are as I imagine with my health.

I definitely want to go back to Hawaii, while I’m still able to manage the trip. I found a beautiful room for rent in Captain Cook, which is South of Kona, and much less touristy.

Kealakekua Bay is a gorgeous snorkeling spot. Clear aqua waters that shimmer in the sun. The room that I’m looking into, is right by there. Spinner dolphins frequent the Bay.

I’ve realized that snorkeling is one of my favorite things to do. It is so relaxing, and makes me feel vibrant, and connected to all of life. I hope I have the opportunity to do it again.

I’m realizing that if I do have cancer, many people around me, especially my parents, will have very strong ideas of what must be done. I also know, that if I am dying, I am going to do things my way. No compromises.

This will be hard, as my parents worry about me, normally, when everything is going well. They subscribe purely to Western Medicine, and give it a great deal of stock. I’m not saying that if I needed radiation, or more, I would refuse it. But it would be my decision, based on research I do, and weighing all the options.

Death doesn’t scare me that much. It’s the process of dying, and especially of dying in pain and discomfort that disturbs me. I am quite certain, from some profound experiences that I’ve had, which I won’t go into, that death is only a doorway. Not an ending.

I would refuse to be in the hospital at the end, regardless of when that is. In 6 months, one year, or twenty. I’d want to die at home, with my friends and family around me.

I’m sure that some people reading this are thinking I’m being morbid, and jumping to conclusions without evidence. I hope that I’m wrong about this. At the same time, I’ve always had a strong intuitive sense, and I know my body well.

I will not spend my time seeking out miracle cures, or seeing alternative doctors, or shamans. Though I believe that it’s good to be hopeful, I also refuse to waste my time there. I would want to live as fully as possible before I die, if that is what my prognosis is. Not shelling out cash to individuals who claim they can cure me.

I think some of my friends will also have a difficult time respecting my wishes, and leaving my decisions to me. I’m not interested in engaging in behaviors to soothe other’s psyches, rather than my own. If I am dying, this is about me. I refuse to put myself in the role of comforting others, rather than focusing on my own needs.

I feel like I’ve spent a good part of my life taking care of people emotionally. It’s been rewarding in ways, but also very draining. I will need all of the energy I have in the coming months, I will not accept meddling in what my choices are.

As I said earlier, I could be wrong about this. I of course hope I am wrong. But the nausea, and increasing fatigue has me worried.

I suppose I will know soon enough what the truth of the matter is.

Living and Dying Together

It’s interesting how my perspective has been shifting, since I found that lump in my abdomen. Things that I didn’t give much thought or attention before, have burst out into the forefront. Some things that I thought were of utmost importance, don’t seem all that key in my life, now.

I’ve thought a lot, about how from the day we are born, we are living, but we are dying, too. We’re on this path that can only end in one place, no matter who we are. How rich, or poor, self-satisfied, or meed, kind, or cruel.

Even someone like myself, who has dealt with serious illness for most of my life, forgets that Wendy Bloom isn’t going to be here forever. Not at an intellectual level, so much, but at a deeper level than that. Perhaps we must have some level of amnesia, to survive.

I don’t really know what this lump will mean to me in the future. If it will be something that can easily be removed, or if it will be cancer. I’ve been feeling nauseous, more tired than usual, and have been experiencing strange and uncomfortable pressure on my abdomen.

It’s hard to say how many of my symptoms are from worry, and how many are connected to that big lump growing out of my side. I suppose I will know soon enough.

There are moments, where I feel almost physically punched by the beauty around me. The view of the mountains from my deck inspires a sort of sweet sadness in me, that I don’t recall having felt before.

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I’m paying more attention to what’s around me. What I’ve accomplished in my life, and what I haven’t. Thoughts of what I’ll do if this is serious, or if it isn’t, have also been flitting through my brain.

I’ve been visualizing images from my time in Hawai’i, a great deal lately. I wanted to access the iCloud with my computer, but don’t have the proper system. Since I have over 3,000 photos in my phone, it’s hard to go through them and pick out the ones that I like.

I know I’m jumping the gun here, and thinking of things that I need not think about, but I’ve realized that when I die, I want to be cremated, and sprinkled into the ocean, by where I swam with the dolphins. Kealakekua Bay, is where I swam, and where people see dolphins all the time.

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If I don’t have anything seriously wrong with me, I’d like to go back there-walking off the plane, rather than being carried in an Urn. I’d like to return as soon as possible. I feel so much more alive when I’m in Hawai’i, than when I’m anywhere else. I also feel connected to the earth in a way that I hadn’t ever before, in my past.

Being sick from 10 years old, and having a brother who was also physically limited, meant that we did not get outdoors a lot, while I was growing up. We never went camping, or to nature camp away from home. I remember lying on the couch and watching t.v. a lot, while I was young, because that was all I could find the energy to do.

I’ve made many mistakes in this life, and I haven’t always learned my lesson. I hope that I am given the opportunity to make the changes in myself that I’d like to make, that need to be made for me to be happy, and to be in relationships with friends and family that flourish.

Life seems very precious right now. As do the people I know and love. My cat Priscilla has been a real sweetheart. I know that she senses that everything isn’t right with me(though, really, it never is…)

I’ve been buoyed by the encouragement and support that I’ve been receiving from friends and family. I reached out with my concerns, and they met me with kindness and caring, which is such a great gift.

My parents are very private people. Somehow, they gave birth to me! I need to express my feelings and who I am in a volume of different ways. Including blogging about my most personal issues.

So, even if no one is reading my writing, I know that getting it out there helps me to feel stronger. Helps me to cope. Clears my thinking, and makes everything dark and ambiguous come out into the light.

 

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