Friday, February 27, 2009

happy, happy, joy, joy

this is just a whisper of a post to let you all know the good news! i have been invited to attend an interview at lewis & clark college, the next step in their graduate school admission application process.

last night, i slept like a baby. *happy sigh*

the group interview is next friday, march 6. keep those fingers crossed, my dears.

Monday, February 23, 2009

jumpy on the inside

needles and pins. i'm feeling all prickly with anticipation of a very important phone call this week. feburary has flown by in a flash, so by the end of this week i will hear if my application to graduate school has made it to the next round.

early last week, the graduate admissions folks let me know that my packet was deemed complete and had been sent on to the faculty review committee. each day, i wake up and think -today. they are reading my letters of recommendation today. the essay i labored over is being evaluated today.

i can almost hear the buzzing in my head, as part of my brain fixates on these facts 24/7. yet on the outside, i remain calm. i am staying busy in strange ways. projects on the web, research, studying the history of tequila, making collages. organizing my studio and my closets.

oh, and exercise. yes, i have been working out!

i dumped the awful gym where i held a membership (largely unused to my shame) for the past 6 months. and i started dancing on my mini trampoline, with joy, to beyonce. i also joined the Y, which is delightful and also, a very quick drive from my house. ah, the pleasure of having access to a womens only dry sauna again.

the good news i hope for with every fiber of my being is that i will be invited in for an interview with the faculty committee. i really don't know what to expect from that process, except most certainly, more needles and pins! all my hopes are actually pinned on being accepted to the program.

so of course, i am already thinking...whatever will i wear?

Monday, February 16, 2009

what's in a scar?

my nephew bemoans the fact that scars aren't as dashing as they might have been in an earlier, more romantic era. like, perhaps, the days of sword duels over fair maidens. he has quite an amazing scar from the recent thyroid cancer surgery. although unlike mine, which are hidden, my nephew's scar will tell a story to everyone he meets, whether he wants it to or not.

everyone feels differently about their scars, just as they do their bodies. how i feel is this: i am not loving the scars on my breasts. the old, old one from eight years ago is quite faded and runs along the curve of my areola. no one but me and doctors trained to see such things ever notices it. that one doesn't bother me in the least. but the frown-shaped scar from just one year ago, it floats out in the area above my areola and is impossible to miss. not as tidy and pretty as my first surgery's scar. the ends have softened, but the middle has a dent, a funny stuck place. that bothers me, and it has become even more pronounced with a 15-pound weight loss. i am sure being cut twice in rapid succession contributed to the issues.

i wonder how much worse it will get. or how much more i can accept it. i wonder if i can ever stop seeing it, or start loving it. some people claim to love their scars.

can i?

my most recent scars on the other breast are still red and grumpy looking. i fear for them, i want to protect the area in any way i can. i fret over them. i wonder if i had done more with my scar from last year...would it look better now? i feel as if i gave it my all, with months of massage. but that was after radiation treatment ended. perhaps all bets are off when you zap a tender incision with radiation.

the body can only take so much.

truly, it boggles the mind, what we can heal from. how wonderful and mysterious our systems are. i think the mind is the hardest area to heal, the slowest to bounce back. yet, the mind also shows amazing flexibility. i have seen mine grow and stretch to accept new things. i have also seen my mind hold on to hurts and raw feelings for years.

at this moment, it seems a very long stretch to look upon my scars as beautiful. true, i am obsessing over details. right now, the details really matter to me.

this healing tests my patience. i want it faster, better. i want results. but the body takes its time. the work is steady but slow. although perhaps my cells working 24-hours a day think it is all happening very quickly, that the work is looking splendid!

i stumbled on this collection called the scar project, by photographer david jay. it is both beautiful and humbling.

image by nikki farquharson. thanks to d. sharp for the link.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

fretting: worry lite

lately i've been alternating between fretting and being calm & happy. well, those two states with an ample dose of unmotivated frozen-in-place thrown in for good measure.

my energy is increasing, bit by little bit. slowly, sleep is becoming something i can count on. last week i weaned myself off the sleep meds, which was not an easy task. taking my vitamins and supplements every single day has helped in that department. especially the b-vitamins, those babies are critical.

today is seven weeks since the surgery. can you believe that my last bit of scab on the incisions came off only this morning? there is one spot that has been so very slow to heal and in fact has had a bit of a hole for weeks. a few of the so-called dissolved stitches decided to back themselves out of the body. or rather, the body decided to kick them to the curb.

poor body, it's been full-stop busy healing.

i try my best not to fret about it, i really do. but when i lay down to sleep at night, those worry ghosts float in and seem to swallow me. the scar on that part is not looking nice at all. it has widened and raised a bit and seems quite upset, quite red. i may have no choice but to take the expensive route my plastic surgeon suggested if i had any trouble with the scars - to buy these silicone scar-reducing sheets and wear them for 3 months. the only thing holding me back is cost, really. nearly $75! so far, this area is not healing or scarring as well as other places, even from the same surgery.

picture an anchor shape, coming down from the nipple. the problem area is that 't' spot where the long curved incision under the breast meets the vertical one. very tricky place, that.

i will also admit, i have been struggling with diet recently. perhaps that has held up my healing? not eating as healthy as i was prior to surgery, that is for certain. re-introducing just a few starches has put me back into a carb-craving cycle that is hard to break. actually, it's a classic salty-sweet cycle. i have taken to eating raisins with sea salt -a good trick that often works. (really, you should try it - sounds weird but is delicious) oh, and water. i have been getting a gallon a day down consistently, but really i know i need another couple of liters.

so this healthy eating isn't an exact science! not a huge surprise there. i find when i am tired or crabby, i just don't turn to salad for comfort. and i don't fancy cold food at all in the winter, honestly. which my chinese medicine doctor would say is absolutely fine and good. then the raw food alkaline camp will rebut and i'm so overwhelmed with what to eat that i end up eating nothing from breakfast until i am starving at 6pm.

funny how easily one can get thrown off course when a few elements (that taken one at a time might be managed without wavering) come all together in a bunch. let's see...well, in my self-declared 'year without cancer', my nephew and a dear friend are both in the thick of cancer surgery & treatment. cancer seems to be in my life, even though i have banished it from my body. i simply do not want that to be true. i want to relax into life and forget about cancer for a while. a year or two, at least. is that too much to ask?

then my luck with avocados has been total crap for weeks (i depend on them for my breakfast smoothie) and my close-by asian grocery stopped stocking young coconuts (back up plan if avocados are not ripe) and what else? well, i think i just fell out of my good groove a couple of weeks ago and i have been floundering around since.

i am getting things sorted out, however. each day is a fresh start.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

living is the most precious thing

today i am a like a limp rag doll with a stiff neck. the essay, it is finished. in fact, my whole huge application to graduate school is done and turned in. i drove over to lewis & clark on friday late morning. the air was foggy and the graduate school of education was set back into a beautiful mossy forest. i must say, it felt a bit like a mythic quest.

this part of the future is out of my hands now. it will likely be weeks before i hear if i am accepted into the program. so this coming week, i refocus my energies on making jewelry, *ahem*, making a living.

since my job search of the past few months has yielded disappointing results, i am hoping that somehow, the universe will conspire to make my own business thrive until a) school begins, and b)financial aid arrives.

valentine's day is coming after all. and sweethearts need trinkets, do they not?

i can barely stomach the marketing, truth be told. how happy i will be to someday no longer care if people buy or not. to let the sales fall where they may. and to return to my heart, making exquisite one-of-kind objects and to hell with watching my price points!

but truly, these are minor concerns. hardly worth a mention. this past week brought deathly serious concerns that pushed everything else to the side. i didn't really even have the spirit to celebrate getting my application package completed.

back in michigan, my nephew, who is just 21, was very recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. a very bright kid, he's due to graduate from college with a degree in philosophy this spring. the whole situation has been heartbreaking and even though he and i are not close ( i moved away when he was in his surly teenage years and we saw each other infrequently) it all has been hitting me hard. his mom, my step-sister, is the most wonderful woman. i have always admired her, looked up to her. i think my heart has been breaking for her most of all.

i can only imagine how it would be as a mother to see your child struck with cancer. it has helped me appreciate even more fully how brave my mom has been these past 15 months with me. how difficult to see your child suffer, to be wheeled into surgery.

personally, each time i have been most afraid of not living through the surgery. i have never asked my mom what she was most afraid of, seeing it all happen to her daughter.

last friday was his surgery to remove the thyroid and the cancer. based on a needle biopsy the week before, it was supposed to be just five hours, we all thought. when my family posse arrived in the early morning hours to check him into the hospital, they learned it would be an eight hours surgery.

life gets complicated in the blink of an eye.

eight hours came and went, then ten. i was at ikea when my mom called to say that the cancer was more widespread than predicted and he would be another three or four hours in surgery. driving home from my errands, i couldn't stop crying. the longer it went on, the more afraid i became for his life. finally, after nearly fifteen hours, the surgeons finished and declared that they believed all the cancer was out.

can you believe this? he is being treated at a major cancer center at the university of michigan and his case was the worst thyroid cancer the surgeons had ever seen!

there is treatment ahead, but his prognosis is good.
he has a 'u' shaped incision that literally goes from ear to ear. emotionally, our family is all a little wrung out. but my nephew? well, i saw him on the webcam today in his hospital room. smiling, a little hoarse, but much more chipper than one could have imagined.

whew. deep exhale.