Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Small Life

I was talking to my sister yesterday and mentioned I felt my life had become very small. I'm glad it's only for a season that the walls in my (small) apartment encompass 99% of my life. I'd probably go crazy if I thought this was a situation that went on indefinitely. So I'm focusing on getting through the next two months, after which chemo will end, and life will go back to "normal". Until surgery that is...and then radiation. Pretty sure recovering from surgery will involve more of this small life as I heal from a bilateral mastectomy. I've heard radiation can be exhausting (and painful) but with both surgery and radiation, I should have far fewer side effects that I'm struggling with now.

I might be having fewer side effects even sooner. Despite the tweaks this last time, I was still slammed with chronic diarrhea and the Taxotere rash. Because of that, it's highly likely that my oncologist will eliminate Taxotere from my regime entirely. Since Taxotere is responsible for the majority of my side effects (we think), the final two rounds of chemo might be much more manageable. I'm on board with that!

From what I understand, the oncologist will be making a decision about the Taxotere based on two things: the way my body has been reacting to it (badly), and the results of the PET scan I'll be having next Monday. Praying the scan shows the chemo has been effective in minimizing both the cancer activity and area!

We were pretty shocked that the PET scan was approved...and so quickly! Definitely a first with this insurance company. What's funny is that such an expensive procedure was approved in less than a week, while approval for a simple prescription drug to help with the chronic diarrhea took 10 days. Go figure.  I'll be going in tomorrow for that injection.

I've pretty much lived in my pajamas for a week (not the same ones. ha!), only getting dressed to go for blood work the other day and when Tina and the grands came over for supper last night. Tina and Kyle are doing the Whole 30 this month so she made supper: a yummy zoodle dish with chicken sausage and a red sauce. We also had a delicious caprese salad made with heirloom tomatoes, basil Ivan's growing on our tiny patio, and goat cheese (well, Tina didn't get the goat cheese because no dairy on the Whole 30). I'm doing very little cooking these days, so that meal was a real treat!

I've heard a lot about Whole 30 but I'm pretty sure I could not live without cheese for a month. I've had an internal debate about which would be harder to give up: chocolate or cheese, and although they run neck and neck, I think I'd give up chocolate before I gave up cheese. So glad I don't have to give up either!

Back in March I wrote about grieving all the small losses, and that still holds true. I'd like to say I've risen above that, but the truth is I haven't and probably won't. And I'm okay with that, because hey!, I'm human. Right now I'm feeling a little blue about what I consider my small life: being limited in what I can eat (my body doesn't seem to like a lot of things these days), or do (because of side effects and serious lack of energy), and spending 99% of my time in a small apartment. But that's offset by the fact that I really love my small apartment. Ivan and Tina have helped me make it a home, and for the first time in years we have art on our walls. And while it's small, it's the perfect size for us right now.

Our art is very personal. We decided years ago to collect art prints whenever we traveled. Prints weigh practically nothing and can be packed flat in a suitcase. And early on we decided we'd focus on what I'd call architectural art, because we both really love that kind of thing. So we have prints of buildings and structures from Uruguay, Ireland, Argentina, and various places here in the U.S. We just bought cheap white frames from IKEA and Walmart, so although they're different sizes and styles, somehow they work together. I did notice after we'd put them up, they all have a little red in them; in some it's a bright red, others more muted, but I think that helps too. Each print carries with it a memory of a place and time, a story...part of our story.

I can sit on my couch and see our only original oil paintings directly opposite, all by a dear friend, Juan Colle, who was an artist and pastor in Argentina. He died the year after we moved to Argentina and we still feel his loss. I'm so grateful we have these paintings. They remind us not only of him and his family, but also our life in Argentina.  Two of the paintings are of the Plaza San Martin in Córdoba capital, one in summer and one in late fall/winter...a place we walked through numerous times over the years. Another is the lane going to the camp Ivan attended every year growing up, and visited a few times while we lived in Argentina. And finally, a church in the province of Córdoba, that we gave to friends many years ago and they just re-gifted back to us to fill the blank spot on our wall. It goes so perfectly with the others!

Also from my couch, if I look left to the built-in shelves, I can enjoy the original acrylic painting done by our precious friend, Magdalena, who used a photo we'd taken of the river by our house to create a landscape that never ceases to cause my heart to constrict just a little.

Hanging beside is a metal sign we had commissioned for our little casita. We met the sign maker at the big artisan feria in Córdoba our very first year in Argentina, and loved his work so much we ended up buying signs to give as gifts to a lot of our family and friends back in the states. His style is very traditional Argentine. Before we returned to the states we bought another one: "Buen Provecho" ("may it profit you", meaning the meal) that I knew I wanted to hang in our dining area. Below it we put one of the few non-architectural art prints we have, of a man drinking máte because that seemed to fit the space so well.

Across from that is a print that Ivan's mom owned for many years, and I told her I wanted it when she was done with it. That happened when she moved into medical care after breaking her hip. I think she likes knowing it's well loved and used by someone in the family. Betsy calls it "the food picture".

Although I love all our art, my favorite wall is the one in our bedroom where Tina helped me create a whole gallery of family photos. I have space for one more frame in the upper left corner. My plan is to have large prints of Jon's family, Tina's family, the grands all together, along with the canvas print from the family photo shoot the kids gifted us in 2016, and then 8x10s of the grands. I'd like to always keep one of their baby pictures on display (there's an empty one waiting for Eisley's picture), along with a current one.

Still to be hung are three original pen and inks, which I plan to put over the bed... but not until we finish making a fabric headboard (partially done) and get that in place. Once those are up, I'll be sure to take a photo of that wall. Two of the pictures are by a friend we've known for many years. The other is by the brother of another friend, and has a funny story to go with it (but I'll wait to share that when I share a picture of them hanging above our new headboard). 

So while my life may seem small right now, confined by the walls of my apartment, those same walls bring great joy as I gaze at dear faces, or pictures that bring back precious memories. 


Betty W said...

Praying for you as you are going through the next months. I love the picture walls, I' sure they make the place feel homeyer.
And so glad you are keeping us all informed through your blog!

Mari said...

Praying for good results on that scan and as you go through these next month.
I love your art, and it's a good idea to collect art from the places you visited.

rita said...

Luv, luv, luv the art walls. And more to come.