dislike.. a lot

Grenade… How quaint

You know, I just saw a quick cut of a movie called “The Faults in Our Stars” about a young girl with cancer and her life story. (I have avoided it like the plague as I don’t need any more emotional roller coaster rides from hell than I already have, thank-you-very-much)

She explains to someone that she is a “grenade”, and that, my friends is a pretty good descriptor. What she missed is, that she is a faulty grenade, as the pin is pulled the the timer?

Hand-Grenade-Pin-Out-848915
has a mind of its own

Anyone who has had the word “cancer” and their name used in the same sentence understands exactly what I mean. When someone does that to you, suddenly you become a grenade. A faulty one. You may go off, you may not. The pin may get reset, or you may stand there for years, staring at that fucking pin and that damn grenade and wonder, “Exactly when are you going to explode”?

Then the clock starts. You don’t know how much time you  have. Nor does anyone else. But a lot of them step away from you pretty quick or hide behind life avoiding the blast if they can. At least limit the damage they will experience. Tick tick tick.. fucking life’s clock just keeps on going. In the meantime? You stand there staring at the pin trying to figure out exactly why it got pulled and whether or not you can put it back in.

Then the circus begins.. A true three ringed circus, clowns and all. The doctors that are looking at another grenade, working to slow the timer. Nurses poking and jabbing, they too, doing what they know how to do to slow the tick tick tick of that fucking grenade. Then you begin to wonder, what can I do? what can my spouse do? what can anyone do? and in the background of life you hear that god damned timer still ticking.

You research, study, learn things about health and life that you really wish you hadn’t. and not sure exactly what to believe as half the shit on the internet is someone trying to make a dime, and statistics are made up 73% of the time on the spot. The deeper you dig the more confusing it gets. You hope for something, anything to help silence that ticking sound that is scratching at your brain like a splinter in your hand that you can’t get out. It is maddening. And still you hold that fucking grenade and pin…

Hand-Grenade-Pin-Out-848915

 

Slowly, if you are that lucky, you realize a couple of things. While you are driving yourself mad trying to stop  that fucking ticking sound, you can forget the single most important thing that you should be doing…

Living

Each tick is a moment wasted if you aren’t doing what you truly love. Each tick is something you cannot get back. Time is a commodity that you cannot trade or earn, you get what you get. So for those of you out there reading this? If you think cancer patients are the only folks holding a grenade in their hand waiting for that horrific moment that it decides to go off?

They aren’t the only ones.. You might want to look in your hands and see that each of us have pulled that pin, and time, for all of us is winding down. Cancer patients may have a shorter run of it, they may not. After you read this, you might want to re-examine where you are and what you are doing. If you aren’t doing what you love to do and who you love to do it with?

You might wanna change that before that fricking grenade in your hands goes off.

crater

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Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Bail on facebook, Camping, Cancer, dislike.. a lot, Downhill Skiing, Facebook, Family, Friendship, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, like, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Social Media, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized, unlike | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resilience

I read a post on the New York Times today, about a lady, Lisa Boncheck, who recently died from metastatic breast cancer. In the world of cancer, this is not unusual. In fact, in almost every case, when you are diagnosed with metastatic cancer of any kind, the diagnosis is almost always fatal. In fact here is the quote that I read years ago.

“The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the five-year survival rate after diagnosis for stage 4 breast cancer patients is 22 percent.”

Other quotes are considerably less, and, as the years progress, the survival rate drops over time. It truly depends on a multitude of variables, and for some, just dumb luck seems to be the case. Each person picks their mode of therapy when first diagnosed with cancer, of any kind, and personally I do not believe there is a right or a wrong, only what works for that person.

Sometimes the patient gets lucky and they find a therapy that kills cancer outright. Others are not so fortunate. Still, others find therapies that function for a while, then, like a bad penny, the cancer re-appears and the patient is given options from everyone. I know we certainly were. And while everyone, including the health care folks, mean well, it is a very, very personal fight. I know, I have watched my mom fight lung cancer, my first wife Connie fight pancreatic cancer, and finally my high school sweetheart and my wife of almost 10 years fight breast cancer as well.

And being the “support guy” I could not, cannot tell you how crazy that battle is. I have watched each of those ladies fight the most personal war of their lives. Each trying to find a way to come to grips that this mortal conflict was both private as hell and as public as it can be. Everyone wants to know how you are doing. Privately each of these ladies could bare their emotions to me. At least to some degree, each holding back what they feared would topple my sanity. On the other hand I was also the sounding board for the fear that held them in a lover’s embrace. Fear of life, fear of death.

On one hand no one wishes to die, to throw off these mortal coils and see what happens next. On the other hand, to live in constant misery of chemotherapy and radiation, each a miserable wreck on the body, in the far reaching hope that somehow this might be the answer to a cure. That by some miracle, walking through this physical hell you might obtain the brass ring in the merry go round of life and get to stay for just a bit longer. And in all honesty?

That is one fuck of a long shot.

Then there are friends that try to help, and like me, find that there is a serious lack of words and honesty. You can’t allow the elephant in the room to grow any larger, but day by day, bit by bit, that elephant fills the room. Until it is much to late to even acknowledge it, and suddenly that elephant is gone, as well as the person that was hiding it.

The lady that wrote her blog and had a lot of followers was brutally honest and descriptive of her experience with breast cancer. I have read only bits and pieces of it, as I find it much too easy to let my mind revisit days of lying with Connie as her cancer marched on with the sounds of gestapo boot heels in the corridors of my mind. It is all too familiar to allow myself to re-visit, so to me, it is something to avoid. Her words and her actions were much the same for my ladies, painful, loving, and honest. An honesty that escaped my Connie.

My mom was beyond forthright, she tackled death with as much energy as she tackled life. When she realized that time was rapidly fading (and long before the movie “Bucket List” came out)

bucket-list-quote1

She determined that she would take care of her “final arrangements” and was calling all the funeral homes in Albuquerque. She finally called one who explained to her that it would cost about nine hundred dollars to cremate her, then there was the container which would vary in cost from three hundred to several thousand. She popped off “Why can’t I just come out in whatever box I am in”? and the response from the curator was “That would hardly be appropriate”.

She laughed and told him, “I am gonna be dead, I could care less what I come out in”. “In fact, hell, you could take me out in a coffee can”. then she summarily hung up the phone and turned to my younger sister and told her “That’s it!” “You can put me in a Folgers Coffee can”.. “Just make it Gourmet Blend” and off she went.. laughing the entire way. And, what remains of her ashes are in a Gourmet Folgers coffee can to this day.

Mom and Halibut

 

My Connie did not have such  a sense of humor. Her defense was denial. While she went through chemotherapy (what little she could tolerate) she simply would not speak of the finality of her disease. The cancer she had was pancreatic, and it was easier to say where the cancer was not, than it was to say where the cancer was. They had missed the diagnosis for probably five years or better. By the time they found the cancer, it was everywhere.

The oncologists were truthful, Dr Stewart informed here there was little they could do. Connie insisted on trying. and after repeating that comment several times to the doctor, I finally pulled the oncologist off to the side and explained to her that while I knew there was little she could do, “by god she would get on board and do something, if nothing else to give Connie peace of mind”. When she saw the anger in my eyes and my clenched fist, she got on board.

One hundred and sixty three days, and my girl was gone. We did all that western medicine could do for both Connie and my mom, but the hard fought battles were lost. In both cases, I closed off those last days in a very tightly sealed corner of my brain, only to revisit them in times of sorrowful loss and woeful memory. Something I do not allow myself to experience any more than I absolutely have to.

Connie

Then in 2006 Lynda’s mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. and shortly after that? Lynda was diagnosed with stage 3a breast cancer. My absolute worst fears had just returned. Understand this, there is little, if anything that I truly fear in this world. The last man I ever feared was my Marine Drill Instructor and during that training, I learned that there was no longer any reason for that trepidation ever again. Until I was faced with a demon I could not wrap my hands around.

Cancer is that devil. No person in this world can hold that emotive response over me. I either lose or I win in combat, but there is no need to dread it. But when there is a disease that threatens the one thing that you hold most dear and you discover that you cannot grapple with the bastard? That is the feeling of someone walking over your grave, and you are aware of it. To sit back and be able to do nothing is the hardest single thing in your life you will ever do as a caregiver.

Yes, I can research, I can study, I can chase down all the potential therapies day and night. I can discuss those until the cows come home, but other than that? There is nothing to kill that enemy, no way I can plunge a knife into it, wrap my hands around its throat and choke the life out of it. I can do nothing but be there. It is a sense of foreboding that I do not wish on anyone.

I also determined that if that is all I can do? Then perform that duty as best I can. Be the support, be that rock that my wife can depend on.. at all times. I think that for those that have played this role? you will understand more than most. It was an honor to escort my mom and my first wife to their next lives. and an absolute nightmare as the person being left behind at the door to that life.

Lynda chose a different modality. She felt that chemo and radiation were a bad idea. We went through a boatload of cash, a few friends, and drove some of our family nuts. She stuck with the concept that something was out of balance, and once discovered and corrected, that her body would heal itself. My skepticism was tempered by the fact that most who had chosen standard western medicine were dead. So to quote Albert Einstein, “Insanity: to do the same thing over and over and expect different results” echoed in my head. So I shut my trap and got on board. I researched we researched. We had trials and tribulations we had success and failure. But at the end of the day?

Lynda is healthy and still by my side.

Colorado Mesas

Coming back around to the start of this post. Some choice news editors had unfriendly or misplaced words for the lady who has just passed. Those posts seem to have been taken down due to the lack of civility or perhaps crass nature, I am unsure. But to those that criticize the writers of this new epidemic, and yes, cancer truly is an epidemic, I say this. Before you lash out with uncivil comments or some incredible argument against those that are fighting and are leaving their thoughts and hearts for posterity.

Try having someone use your name and the word “cancer” in the same sentence. It will change your life forever.

For you critics out there, that feel the need to hassle this gal at the last day of her life?

 

I leave this:

monkey 1

Namaste…

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Bail on facebook, Camping, Cancer, dislike.. a lot, Downhill Skiing, Facebook, Family, Friendship, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, Social Media, Spiritual, unlike | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Break Time

Over the past few years I have joined Facebook with a passion. A place to post funny cat pictures, make a political rant, and with any luck at least get people to think about some political issue. If I was passionate about it, smart about it, or had a fancy meme, maybe I could change some minds and attitudes. In fact, in a small way, I could change the fricking world!

I was wrong

Hes right

It turned out to be a place to spew my opinion and any one who dared question it I would launch with hastily looked up data from dubious sources and convince them (or me) otherwise. What a waste of time.. I mean that. I have spent countless hours wailing away on cyberspace where most folks, like me, toss out their opinion based on what they have derived from whatever sources and then argue to the nth degree over essentially this point.

It is totally out of our control. I can’t change the political winds of this world anymore than I can change the time of the tide. and the same goes for just about everyone on the other side. We rant, we rave, we point fingers and accomplish nothing. Not one single problem the world is facing is being solved by arguing on Facebook. I manage to alienate people, piss them off, or just get a LOL and off they go. and nothing was gained. This should not be my focus, yet like a deer to a set of headlights, off I ride tilting wind mills again.

I won’t be solving the problem in fukushima, or the dog fighting in Detroit.  I can’t stop the cat killings in China or change the heading of our country. I sit and watch what I consider an irrational fear of everything that this country has become. We bounce from one emergency to the next. Gun control because of the gun nuts, no gun control because of the bad guys. Ebola in Africa coming to kill us all, some Haji in Iraq gonna shoot us all dead, School shootings, dog shootings animal rapings, in fact, words in cyber space are easily ignored, or liked and life goes on.

I understand that as I am as guilty as the next person. I try to stay above the fray, to focus on the good things, the up-worthy posts, or the cute advertisements about some guy making a difference while still remaining anonymous. you know the one, the guy who gets soaked by a water spout and  moves the plant under the water, rescues the dog and the beggars that he is giving money to, the little girl ends up in school. The ad is referred to as the “unsung hero”.

There is the point. He didn’t take a dozen pics of the little kid and post them on Facebook, he went home with a smile. What he did required action, not words. (Sounds like a song from Def Leppard)He didn’t go toot his horn about how great he was or what a good thing he did, he just did it. (and of course this is an advertisement, it is not real life). But the point has been made

But people do this all the time, take on a cause. Sometimes with success, sometimes not. I have taken on a couple, with mixed success. But each one had an effect on someone’s life. So, having some success has given me the desire to have a little more.. To help someone who can use it. To be “mindful” of other’s problems and do what I can to assist. I am not a world changer, not out to create a new order. Just out to make someone’s life a little easier. Give them a break, and maybe they will pay it forward. Maybe not.

I have become stunned at the amount of negativity on Facebook and the news in general. I know I shouldn’t be, as that is what sells. The next big drama, the next war, the next scary thing. Examples of that would be the following, you can pick your poison

  1. Global Warming
  2. Terrorists
  3. Anti-vaccines
  4. Ebola
  5. Russia
  6. China
  7. Syria
  8. Pot smokers
  9. Gay lifestyle
  10. American Taliban (hard core religious folks in the US)
  11. Cancer
  12. Venereal Disease (in any form)

facepalm1

All this negativity sells. The crap that the news agencies spew gets everyone in a panic for a couple of months, then it is on to the next made up disaster. I have tried to watch this without over (or under) judging. I have come to the conclusion that the news agencies rule the hell out of this country. They can start a panic, or create an issue where there isn’t one. Does anyone remember President Obama not wearing an american flag pin label on his jacket? The right would have hung him for being a subversive terrorist… oh, wait, they did that.

obamaflagpin

Back to my point. Somehow some obscure issue becomes front page news overnight with all the headlines screaming how we in the US are ALL about to die from Ebola! Measles! Terrorists! Bad Hair!

States-Seeking-CDC-Help-with-Potential-Ebola-Cases-640x480jpg

The part that I just find disappointing is that today? America has become paranoid and ripe with absolute chicken shits with zero spine. A group of people that get crazy about our politicians but never once have called their elected leader, or ever even sent them an email. I suppose that in addition to being a convict, a politician should have taken mind-reading 101. and THAT folks, is pointed directly at ME as well as anyone else that has this hanging over them. If we spent half the time writing our congressmen about our bitches and complaints, maybe something would actually CHANGE? So a new goal for me.. bitch as much to the politicians through their email as I did on Facebook.. (this should prove to be interesting) Make your congresspersons email as busy as your Facebook page.

On with the rant

A group of people that can go absolutely ballistic on another poster on Facebook, and god forbid that you agree with the one being targeted. I have seen people immediately stoop to cursing, ranting wildly, and in a sense, just lose their minds for a short while. Then I wonder what they are like in the real world. Is Facebook a place to put all civility aside and just run off until you spew out all your toxic garbage?

rant-and-repent

I have concluded that as much as I hate to admit it, I too have zinged those that disagree, after all, they dared to disagree with all the facts that I hastily looked up on the web, and since they are on the web, they MUST be TRUE!!!!! whoops, maybe not… dammit they were wrong.

In the meantime, the “shots across the bow” then label me as liberal, or right winger, or something else I can’t repeat here, after all this is a G rated site. Then everything goes up a notch as I am none of the above. My ideals have changed as the winds do, as the tide does. With experience and knowledge my opinions and actions have changed accordingly, and will do so again, I am sure.

So two weeks out and I don’t seem to miss the forray as much as I thought I would. In fact, I am finding less mental stress, more time to do things than bitch, and… working towards making my life better in hopes that others may follow. Will see what it all becomes. For those out there still pushing the envelope on social communication, a friend of mine, John Eberst, made a couple of suggestions should I ever decide to return to the social media world.

John, thanks for the quote: “What I decided to do is just not pay attention to any (most) conversation(s) that looked troublesome.  I turn notifications off on posts if they degrade and I stopped a lot of the group feeds that I was getting.  I miss some of the fun but I would get pissed off when people revert to name calling or some smug sophomoric argument.  The FB algorithms seem to be good and now I rarely see things that make me lose faith in our species”.

Well said my friend, well said.

Hippiness

 

Categories: Bail on facebook, dislike.. a lot, Facebook, Family, Friendship, like, Reconnection, Social Media, unlike | 2 Comments

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