Friday, October 28, 2011

P.S. I'm Still Alive

I had a couple of health scares recently that left me quite sick. But I've also been fortunate to participate in two writing workshops led by Pamela Des Barres.

I'll write more later. I just got back from Portland yesterday and am coming down with a cold. (HOORAY!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm Back; It's Been A While

Our friend Kirstin died just before 8 pm on July 1. I've spent the ensuing weeks alternately mourning and celebrating her life. I've also been trying to understand statistics for one of my required classes. (Failing.)

Here's a note I wrote for Kirstin:


I saw you out of the corner of my eye: something luminous dancing out near the water garden while I was outfitting my brand new study/office (yes, I finally have one). You visited as a perfect white butterfly glowing in the bright sunlight. As soon as I stopped to stare, you were gone.

Your life seems like that: 40 years, a mere blink of an eye. Yet your wings touched all of us, from Olympia to Sacramento and San Francisco, New Orleans and all over the world. You spent time in soup kitchens, ministering to the lost, the lonely, the forgotten. And you didn’t stop there. You walked the streets looking for people in need of help in alleys, under bridges and anywhere the homeless set up camp to stay safe at night. You helped rebuild homes in post-Katrina New Orleans. You lived the very essence of Jesus’ message in the Gospels: lead by example, accept nothing and go forth.

I miss you. I miss our late night, prednisone-fueled chats. Since you’ve been gone, our lives haven’t been the same, and even my beloved sun feels like an insult. Facebook and blogging seem less interesting, although Facebook does remind me now and then that you’re a fan of Pema Chodron. You always had the best taste.

Of course our greatest bond was the one that took you from us. I remember how I wept when I found out you had melanoma. At that time I was two years into my own cancer struggle. It broke my heart to see you go through surgery and interferon treatments. After all, you had bigger things to do. As you did with everything, you faced cancer with dignity, grace and brutal honesty. You didn’t sugar-coat it when it wasn’t pretty – and let’s face it, cancer’s not pretty – and you showed the strength of your faith as well as your fears when things didn’t go well.

One thing no cancer patient wants to hear is that The Beast is back. One day I was reading your posts about finding new tumors each day while you were still joking with me about my stiletto heels. I never had a sister but I felt a sisterly bond with you. The day I found out you were entering hospice, first I cried (Nehemiah 1:4), then I pulled myself together, booked airline tickets, a rental car and a hotel so I could visit you. It never occurred to me to even check to see if you had time for another visitor. As far as I was concerned, that day you were Commissioner Gordon and I was Batman, ready to fly into action.

The day you actively began to die I felt it. I was writing in my journal at the time, and right in the middle of a wholly different topic, I wrote, “K is dying.” Something akin to a chill came over me, although I wasn’t cold. It felt like a tiny earthquake only I could feel.

Although I miss you more than I can say, I imagine you in a place so beautiful that our words cannot describe it. Maybe at first its beauty even startled you and hurt your eyes. Then maybe you sat on a pillow while our Savior washed your feet – feet that had spent a lifetime dancing barefoot on holy ground.

I love you, my sister. You will never be forgotten.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dad in hospital

Please, if you have a moment, say a prayer or think positively for my dad today. We're admitting him to the hospital. He has a number of uncontrolled health conditions and really needs to be evaluated by specialists.

Oh sigh.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gumby Does Cardio

I'll just be honest: I don't have the body I used to have. I have maybe two or two-and-a-half times the body I used to have. So while I still can put my palms on the floor when I do a forward bend, two kids could probably tap dance on my ass. This is no good. Recently I signed up to be a Team Beachbody Coach (hahahahaha, I know - ME? Seriously?) and N turned out to be my first "client." Well, he just took to cardio like I take to a bag of Hershey's Kisses when I have PMS.

I was shamed. So, I thought I'd do the 10-Minute Trainer. I thought, I can do anything for 10 minutes, can't I? Yes, like DIE, or so it seems. Okay, onto Debbie Siebers's Slim in 6. Oh, wait, that's six WEEKS, not six minutes at a time. For the time, I'm sticking with Debbie, but I'm also not giving up on my bend me/shape me routine. Yoga, Pilates, BalleCore, you name it, I'll stretch it.

As soon as my hamstrings stop shaking like delicious, delicious Jell-O.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seven Years Ago Today

My life was turned upside down by a phone call. The caller ID showed up as my husband's cell phone on my phone. Obviously I assumed it was him.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I had no idea how much he was hurting, how hopeless he felt, the sense of self-loathing he had. When the sheriff's deputy told he had "passed away" it was as if the air had been sucked out of the room. I threw up my oatmeal breakfast. I'd been staying with my parents during a trial separation. I ran upstairs screaming to my parents that he was dead. I collapsed on the floor of my dad's office. Then I remember the deputy telling me that I needed to "calm down" because I had to go out to our friends' house to speak to the police. I couldn't write down the address. My dad wound up using the phone book to find the house.

I remember my dad refusing to let me go with him. My mom and I stayed behind, wondering what he'd done. Had he overdosed? That was our initial thought. Then my dad came home.

My husband of 11 years had hanged himself just 29 days shy of his 40th birthday.

My life has never been the same.

I won't lie: there was a reason (several, actually) that we were separated. Ours was not a happy marriage, particularly in the later years. But one cannot be married to another for that length of time and NOT feel something - anything - guilt, grief, rage, sorrow.

Those who have "survived suicide" know what I'm talking about. One day you're in your bright and festive kitchen making Cuban food, then all of a sudden  you take a quantum leap to a funeral home. Do you want him to be cremated in the clothes in which he died, the funeral director asks. I could not form words, I could merely nod. A man who deals with death for a living took such pity on me that he only charged the pre-paid cremation plan fee. A brief, graveside service. Cards, flowers, phone calls.

Then the emptiness. An emptiness that feels as big as the universe. I was a grain of sand, I realized, as I grocery shopped at 3 am, or as I swigged cheap Chardonnay out of the bottle. The nights were the worst. I never slept at night; instead I sang along with songs like "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" by David Bowie, or "Madman Across the Water" by Elton John.

Time has marched on. I'm remarried. I'm now a three-time cancer survivor. Since then I've lost my mom, four cats and most of my idealism. But each day I know that life is worth living, that the darkest hour is just before dawn, that time does heal a little but love heals a lot. I learned who my real friends were. His death has made me more sympathetic to people, and that little things can mean a lot.

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wherein I say no to my doctor and yes to drugs

Yesterday I was bitching and moaning blogging about waiting for my doctor or her nurse to return my call when - alack! - halfway through, my doctor called. Basically she wanted to do a sterile catheter draw, which is what she did before I had my surgery. I thought about it for a while (an hour, maybe, tops) and decided that's not what I wanted. Look, I know I have a freaking kidney infection. I've probably had more than a dozen of them. I need antibiotics and I happen to have a full bottle of Cipro from a previous run-in with bacteria.

She argued that I'd just spent a week on Levaquin, a close relative of Cipro, so I should be better. I shot back that I did feel better but that I should have had more than seven days' worth of pills.

You know what doctors hate? Being confronted by their patients and being slightly accused of making a mistake. Was I better on the Levaquin? Absolutely! Then I got sick again three days later - even sicker, in fact. At any rate, to wrap up this gross and tedious tale, I put myself on Cipro, even though it makes me sick as it makes me better (kind of like chemotherapy).

We're meeting with our priest today and I just feel like something on the bottom of my shoe. I'm sure he gets that a lot in his line of work.

Speaking of  lines of work, as I mentioned I am now an independent stylist for Stella and Dot jewelry (see Facebook badge at left). I'd love it if you checked out my page and "liked" it. Even better, go to my website and see some of their beautiful items. Right now they're running a 20%-off sale but items are limited. Please don't hesitate to ask me about the product if you have any questions. I'm personally in love with it; I've been wearing it daily for a while now, since way before it ever occurred to me to sell it. I'm also going down to San Francisco (open those Golden Gates!) next month for their convention, where they'll unveil the new fall line. I'm so excited!

And I just can't hide it!

Well, on that earworm (you're WELCOME), I'll bid you all adieu for now. Thanks for listening to me rant. I lost about 20 followers on Twitter yesterday. I guess no one wants to hear about the human bladder. I wonder why?

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm In A Phone Booth, It's The One Across The Hall

I've been waiting all freaking day for a call back from my oncology nurse. All. Day. This, after being sick as a dog since last Thursday with a kidney infection. I'd been on a really strong antibiotic since shortly after my cancer surgery but apparently it wasn't enough. Last night I was flat-out delirious and felt like I needed to go to the hospital. That's always great.

At any rate, enough of that garbage, let's talk nutrition, fashion and jewelry. How's that for a segue way? Nice, huh? Well, N is starting Beachbody's P90X today. He even ate a decent breakfast for the first time since I've known him, I swear. By the time he's done with this, he is going to be SO. HOT.  I mean, he looks great now, but this workout is super-intense. So that's a good thing.

Fashion: Oh dear, you know how I mentioned earlier that I go a little crazy on these discount websites like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, HauteLook, etc.? Well, since the surgery, the crazy seriously increased to the point where a couple of days the UPS guy actually brought his handtruck up to our door to deliver the boxes.

Breaking News: Oncologist has called, I'm going in for a cath draw tomorrow, oh joy. Bummer.

Anyway, back to fun things. I recently became a rep for Stella & Dot. It's the greatest, most affordable and cutest line out there. Do you want everything? Leave me a message & let me help you pick your summer accessories. Adorbs!!!!

All righty, well, I'm going to scream into a pillow now. Ta ta, chickadees!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random Thoughts: It's Back. (Or Maybe It Never Went Away.)

All five or so of my loyal readers know that I've been battling cancer off-and-on for 4-1/2 years and recently had my third bladder cancer surgery. This was followed by a nasty kidney infection. To be honest, I just haven't felt right since the surgery. I've been lethargic (even more so than usual) and have had a lot more pain than I've had with previous surgeries.

Last night I discovered more blood when I used the bathroom. I'm sorry for being graphic, but it's important to talk about bladder cancer, just as it's important to be honest and open about prostate cancer, or colon cancer or breast cancer. Hematuria (blood in the urine) is the main symptom of bladder cancer and should always be taken seriously and checked by a doctor. It's one of those symptoms that "could be nothing - could be cancer" that doctors love to tell us.

For someone with my history, this means a phone call to my doctor as soon as her office opens. I just finished a round of antibiotics, so it's likely that she'll put me on more. The problem is that examining the bladder with a cytoscope can actually make an infection worse, so we'll probably wait until the bleeding is gone.

In other news, I had a great long chat with K yesterday. She's on a lot of pain meds but seemed in good spirits after having a friend visit. Although she and I are not in the same boat, there is an isolating quality to cancer. Often we're too physically ill (pain, chemo side-effects, etc.) or tired to go out. And people - understandably so - have reservations about visiting someone ill with cancer. Often people are afraid they'll pass a virus or bacterial infection onto the person, but I think it's most likely that it scares people. I've been in that place. You make arrangements to see someone who was vibrant and healthy the last time you saw her two months ago. Now she has no hair and the skin tone of a starving vampire. I don't blame people; it makes me uncomfortable too.

So an online chat or phone call is nice. I also don't want to be known forever as That Woman With Cancer. I'd like to be acknowledged for my other qualities too, y'know? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. But no matter what happens, I keep on fighting.  There's just too much to see,  do and experience in this amazing world.

Love to you all!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I love my niece and nephew

Our niece is the happy, ladylike Southerner. She's 8 months old and already has manners. Totally precious. Our nephew is a perfectionist. He separates his food. I'm not going to label him Mini Adrian Monk quite yet, but I'm  keeping my eye on him.

Because I love them, and because I love to shop (naturally), I've outfitted her in the cutest stuff, if I do say so myself. She has two Lillys, and I just ordered her the most adorable Freckles & Kitty playsuit that would have been perfect for our wedding reception (except she hadn't been born yet)! Bummer that I don't have any pictures or links - HauteLook for some reason doesn't let you download their photos. But you'll just have to take my word for it - it's very sweet.

I bought N a new laptop today to replace the one that one of our dogs spilled diet Coke all over on Saturday night (we're cutting HIM off for sure). We tried taking it apart and drying it, but the screen is shot. Ooh, he's going down now to get the info off the printer! YAY!

Gotta go! He loves it!!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Monday, May 30, 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole & Meeting the Mad Hatter

I have to get used to it, so I'm going to be blunt and say it:

My friend is dying.

Slowly, by inches, painfully and mercilessly, of this horrible disease. Cancer, oh, how I despise you. How can you take such a bright, generous and caring young life? I know that this is part of the cycle of life. We're born, we age, things change, we die. Consciously I know all of this but my heart doesn't and it is breaking.

I have my own health problems so I'm unable to go see her, which also breaks my heart. We rely on Facebook and emails. A while back I downloaded several of her profile pictures to my computer so I can remember her happier and healthier. She's done so much good in the world and that is her legacy. I know she will be remembered for generations.

It's made me think about my own legacy. How will people remember me? How will people remember you? I hope to be remembered as a generous, irreverent, spontaneously goofy person. Oh, and well-dressed (ha ha).

If you hear a soft crackling sound, that's my heart breaking into a million pieces.

May you always walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I love handbags. And shoes.

Maybe a little too much. Closet reorganization still in progress - will keep you posted and will post pics when we're done. I of course was useless and looped out on percocet. But as they say, tomorrow's gonna be another day...

Cleaning Cinderella's Closet

This is not my closet, but it's not too far off either. The funny thing is that I'm totally OCD about things out in the open and about studying, etc., but for some reason, if I can stash a mess behind a closed door, I will. So N and I will be spending the day (and possibly part of tomorrow) organizing the closets. I need to color coordinate my shoes and outfits (see "I'm totally OCD," above) and get rid of clothing from the '90s. Lurking in there somewhere is likely something totally frightening with - gasp - shoulder pads, even. No matter what, I'm not ditching my Chanel blouse. They'll have to pry that out of  my cold, dead hands.

When we're all done, I'll take a picture. Also, I have a new job, which I can't wait to tell y'all about, but it'll have to wait until next week. Let's just say, you're going to LOVE it.

Love to you all on this long weekend for Americans. Please remember those who gave their lives for this country, and also take time to remember your own loved ones who've gone to their reward. Our family has always decorated our ancestors' graves. It's important to remember where we came from and honor the people who sacrificed so that I can have clothes literally falling out of my closet. Thanks to my grandparents and great-grandparents, in particular. My great-grandmother Alice was the original Martha Stewart. That woman could make, grow, cook and sew anything. She looked fabulous until the day she died. So remember those folks with love.
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I willl follow you

Ooh la la, I love those shoes. Wait, I think I have them! Anyway, just getting an early start on Follow Friday. Welcome!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

More discounts - this time for my fellow veg*ns

The superb Alternative Outfitters is offering 15 percent off this weekend. Simply enter:
15memorial11
when you go to check out. Also, they offer free shipping over $100 and some of the cutest vegan shoes around!!
Mwah!!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella
xoxo

Be kind to animals - adopt don't shop

What's REALLY inside Cinderella's Closet (AKA big news)

Surprise! It's a discount! I'm so excited to announce a partnership with the FABULOUS Clothes Hound!!

Bryce offers an amazing and affordable wardrobe, including French Connection and Free People clothing. Her goodies are fashion forward without busting your budget, so have fun shopping her site. The best news? Because you're awesome and you're reading this blog, you can get a TWENTY percent discount just by using the discount code CINDERELLA20 when you check out.We hope you'll find all the lust worthy clothes your heart desires.

I'm thrilled and honored to partner with Clothes Hound and can't wait to hear about all your new goodies when you shop!!!

Walk in GORGEOUSNESS!!!
Cinderella xoxo

I'm back and I have news!

Breaking news coming later today!! It involves two of our favorite words: FASHION and DISCOUNT. Now, this is probably an apocryphal tale, but I'm told that those were two of the first words I spoke, along with FOOD and NOW.

Some of you have noticed (really, it's true, people have noticed) that I've been posting a bit sporadically lately. The main reason is that I'm having a difficult recovery from my cancer surgery two weeks ago. I'm on horse pill antibiotics and percocet to treat a nasty kidney infection. I'm miserable, but thanks to the pain killers, I feel I care a whole lot less.

So ... y'all, come back and check this space in a couple of hours for the news and the link. In the meantime, I'm going to sort through my closet. I need to make room for new stuff!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm off to see the doctor!

She may not have a magic wand (or a magic fish!), but my urologist/oncologist is pretty darned amazing. I get my biopsy results, along with my post-op check up, in a couple of hours. And so begins a new chapter in my life: The Healthy Years. I know I'm excited!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday morning apology

I decided to take the plunge and get my very own domain  name for my blog. For some reason (most likely because I'm a nerd) this idea was very exciting. What I didn't know was that in doing so I'd lose a lot of my content and links. So if I linked to you before, please leave a comment (or even if I didn't but you read this blog) with your blog name and link. I'm so sorry, I just haven't had the time or patience to try to remember the insanely long list of very cool blogs I had. I wish I'd known this in advance, but what's done is done. The Blogger link will still get you here, by the way.

Not much is new here. We listened to the Seattle Opera's production of The Magic Flute broadcast last night and it was fantastic. Tomorrow I go in for my check-up with my doctor. I'll get my biopsy results, etc. And N is absolutely miserable with foot/ankle/Achilles tendon pain. He has an appointment with one of the best orthopedists around, but he can't get in until June 15. I'm trying to get him to see our primary doctor in the meantime, and maybe he can get some help there. He's not a complainer at all, so I know he must be in terrible pain. He didn't even go to church, which is a bad sign for him. So that's what's new. I don't think there will be any issues with my appointment tomorrow, at least.

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whooooo Do I Love?

Lately I've embraced my childhood love of owls, and lucky for me there seem to be quite a few kitschy ones on the market. You can get aprons, bedding, towels, shirts, jewelry, vases, pillows, you name it. The Chi Omega gift shop (which is open to the public; you don't have to be a member) has a fantastic selection of  owl things.

David & Goliath Queen Sheet Set, Amazon.com
I wanted to find some bed sheets along those lines, but so far I've failed. But I did settle on these sheets and on this duvet ensemble:

Kind of fun and something different for summer. We spent winter with glow-in-the-dark outer space flannel sheets that we bought from Garnet Hill. I have to say, I never got tired of seeing the stars after turning off the light each night. Oddly, I'd already bought a throw pillow and bolster that matches this through HauteLook a few weeks ago. So this will be a change and will be kind of fun. I wanted something new in honor of us both having to use CPAP machines for sleep apnea. We may look silly, but we're getting better sleep than about 85 percent of Americans.

We've got so many to-do projects around the house, starting with a major reorganization of our bedroom and closets. I need to sort through and give away about half of my clothes, I swear! Then we need to redo what we thought was going to be our baby's nursery and turn that into an exercise studio. My dad is going to give us his treadmill, we have a TV down there, we're putting up a ballet barre and we'll still have room for mats. Right now it's my silent film library (that will stay), an ironing room and a repository of stuff that also needs to be sorted, although that's a much smaller project than the clothes. I'm SO excited to have an at-home gym,  especially one with so many treats!

I'm still resting from last Thursday's surgery but I'm coming along nicely. I go in for my follow-up appointment on Monday to discuss the tumor and our plan of action from here. I'm not worried and I trust my doctor implicitly. That's all for now, hope today's a hoot! (Anyone? Anyone? /crickets)
xoxo Cinderella

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hola, Zumba DVD set!!

So excited!! My brand-new 7-disc Zumba DVD set arrived today! (It's actually cheaper through that link than it is on Amazon.) I cannot wait to give it a try as soon as I'm cleared by my doctor on Monday. I've been battling a fever and some weird cold symptoms off-and-on but overall I'm feeling better. Tonight I found out that one of our friends has had strep throat and pretty much exposed all of us to it.

I'm still super tired and not feeling especially creative, but wanted to give you a heads up about the Zumba set if you do Zumba. It's great for dancers - very little choreography to remember since you can pretty much dance around doing what you want!

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On the Bright Side

I woke up too sick and sore to sit through church, so N went without me. Clearly, my expectations for healing after this surgery were way out of line with reality. The fact is, I need to rest, and that's that.

My favorite resting activity is reading, and I've mentioned before that I'm addicted to my Amazon Kindle 3G device. In addition to the fabulous aspect of being able to carry your library with you everywhere you go, it's also a lot easier on sore hands and wrists than a printed book is. The muscle relaxants and restveratrol seem to be helping a bit, but my progress has been slow.

So here are a few books that are on my Kindle now and being read in no particular order:

Prayers and Lies by Sherri Wood Emmons: A great debut novel. I'm only about 1/3 of the way into it but love it.

Blood Work: A Tale of Murder and Medicine in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker (just downloaded this morning). Looks good.

Forever Queen by Helen Hollick: A long historical fiction piece set in Anglo Saxon England in the 11th century. I love  medieval novels, and this is right up my alley. Well-written and well-paced, I'm taking my time with this one.

So that's about it for now. Until the painkillers wear off...
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Still recovering

I don't know what I expected.

Hmm, no, wait, I do.

I expected to have surgery Thursday, rest on Friday and then bound out of bed today with energy I haven't had in years.

Naturally, my body has rebelled, and I wound up with a case of post-operative myalgia, which is most common among fibromyalgia patients like myself. Fibromyalgia is part of my life, but I try not to let it define who I am. It does, however, keep me from doing a lot of things I wish I could do. It's a big reason why I study online instead of in a classroom. I don't like it when it interferes with my plans, even if plans are as mundane as cleaning out my closet, a task that is long overdue in this house.

A prescription for a muscle relaxant is helping, as is a daily dose of resveratrol. I think that for two days out from cancer surgery, though, I'm probably doing pretty well. Next goal: attend church tomorrow. I feel confident I can do that, even if I can only stand for a little while. Then on Monday we register for fall quarter (!!! I know !!!) classes. I start summer quarter in late June, so I still have a break after dropping my spring quarter classes.

I'm grateful for the followers I've gained in the past couple of days, and I really look forward to getting to know you. I try to follow back, but if I missed you, please give me a shout and remind me. I am, after all, on pain killers and muscle relaxants! hee hee

Seriously, it's great to be back blogging, even if I feel like a newbie all over again! Thank you all for your good wishes. Wishing you a wonderful Sunday.

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Friday, May 13, 2011

Welcome back, Blogger

Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out ...

Sorry! Quoting the "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme song is downright cruel! But I did miss being able to post yesterday, and I especially missed sharing the good news that my cancer surgery went very well! She got all of the tumor and I just need to be monitored for the potential of scar tissue growth. I was glad to have it at the surgery center instead of in a hospital. It was much more low-key and took less time. We were in and out of there in about three hours. Plus, it was a lot less stressful in general to be in a small clinic. It's funny, my whole body aches from the anesthesia but my bladder and kidney feel a whole lot better! It was a relatively small tumor that just happened to be in a bad place. Today's activities include: sitting, light walking around the house, icing, taking pain meds, reading and possible naps.

I have had so many messages on Twitter, Facebook, via email, I can't even keep up, and I'm so grateful to all of you who took the time to reach out to me. It's made such a difference in my outlook and in my recovery, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Love you all! Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Just a quick note

A hacking cough + unclear cancer diagnosis = a rather uncomfortable level of stress.

I'm sitting in the family room, early in the morning, listening to the dogs in their crates as they snooze away without a care. Admittedly, I'm a bit jealous. Since we adopted our little pack I've discovered the true meaning of the phrase, "it's a dog's life." It's a pretty darn good one!

I'm trying to move forward mentally: trips to SF and Texas are in the works to see friends and family (K is in SF, N's family is in Texas). I have a burning desire to play with our niece and nephew and to spoil them rotten! Well, we already do the latter from a distance, but I think it's much better in person.

Lord, grant me patience, and right now, please!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Being Held and Holding Up

Today N and I went to a private Paraklesis service at our church to ask for intercession from Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, The Wonderworker. It was an amazing experience on several levels. First, it highlighted just how incredibly exhausted I am (ha ha). Just showering, putting on my "church clothes," make-up, et al., used up about all of my energy. But once we talked, then went into the church for the service and the anointing, everything was forgotten with regard to my energy. I sat during the majority of the service, except for during the reading of the Holy Gospel, but N was a trouper and stood during the whole thing, despite his bad foot.

Mystical things often occur to me at church, and today was no exception. St. John is an interesting character, to say the least. He died in Seattle, at a Russian Orthodox Church not far from our home.

Tomorrow I have one more doctor's appointment, then in for the surgery on Thursday morning. I'll be glad to have it over, that's for sure, but I feel tremendous support from friends both old and new.

A couple of friends have big issues this week: K is waiting to hear about her clinical trial and if she's qualified for it. M is having scans tomorrow. If you're inclined, please remember both in your prayers. Thank you again for your help for all of your support, prayers, good vibes and thoughts. xoxo - Cinderella

Monday, May 9, 2011

Support

We hear the word a lot, from bras to shoe insoles. But we truly rely on it when we need people around us to give us a hand: a phone call, an email, a message on Twitter or FB. THAT kind of support means so much, it's hard to put it into words.

N and I are blessed and overwhelmed by everyone who has offered help. It has really shown the character of our friends. We know wonderful people and we love you all.

N has found a new hobby, and he's quite talented at it: beadwork! He made me a set of prayer beads last night and presented them to me. I couldn't believe it - first off, that he was making prayer beads and that they were so gorgeous! He's taken them back to tweak them and make them a bit more secure, but I told him that, aside from his hands, they'll be the last thing I touch before going into the operating room on Thursday.

I've been loving this evening, just sitting and laughing - the best times, IMHO. Stay happy, everyone - and don't forget, you always have a choice!

The Longest Day

It's when you're told you can't eat after midnight and you don't have surgery until almost noon the next day. /sad face

Well,  we're set for the cancer surgery on Thursday, all will be well, I'm sure. Mostly at this point, I'm just looking forward to having it be over. I saw  my sleep doctor and got a good report there, at least, so I'm grateful for that and am especially grateful that the cancer didn't spread to my kidney. What I don't know is what treatment regimen she'll want me to undergo afterward. There are three initial responses: chemo wash post-op (unpleasant); series of 6-8 chemo sessions (worse); or immunotherapy (worst).

These are the hardest days for me to accept that It Is What It Is and keep my faith in the Lord strong. Tomorrow we're having a private prayer service with our priest, something he generously offered N last week. We are eternally grateful for our Orthodox faith and for all of the graces in our life, particularly our church and our priest. He visited me when I was in the hospital for a week in December, bringing me more comfort than you can imagine. After three days in ICU, just talking to someone was a joy.

So I Let Go and Let God. Not all of my friends are religious or spiritual, I realize, so you can skip these posts if you wish. :)

I n the meantime, I'll go back to waiting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Losing Mom

I was three years old the first time I lost my mother.

We were shopping for fall clothes at Nordstrom at Northgate (back then it was still called Nordstrom Best). Somehow we were separated and I couldn't find her. I was scared and crawled under a clothing rack until my panicked mother and a helpful saleswoman tracked me down.

Now I'm 40 and have really lost my mom. The bond between a mother and child is unbreakable, so watching her suffer through the last weeks of her life was like having my heart ripped out. I would have traded places with her if only she could have gotten better. But alas, it was not to be.

My mother was more than just a mom to me. She was my best friend, my confidante, my fun girlfriend and a encyclopedia of knowledge, all wrapped up into one stylish and humorous package. I cherish the memories of our phone calls. We spoke almost daily and I loved hearing her rant about politics and especially about the responsibility we all have to take care of the most needy. We were not a churchgoing family by any means, but we always had a family Bible handy. And one verse was drilled into me ever since I was a small child. The last sentence of Luke 12:48 reads, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." She lived by those words and expected me to do so also. She also embodied the spirit of the Beatitudes, words that have given me great comfort over these past few weeks:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mom was selfless, so much so that she once ran into a burning apartment building, knocking on doors and trying to get everyone out. Her knuckles were bleeding but she didn't stop until the firemen basically dragged her out. She always put everyone's needs before her own, regardless if they were family, friends or even complete strangers. She cared for our entire family and loved each of us with all of her heart. Mom especially loved Neil and thought of him as a son. She believed in justice and equality and spent much of her life working on behalf of the most vulnerable members of society.

Growing up, I watched my mom do everything: sew amazing Christmas decorations, do needlepoint, oil paint, but most of all, she cooked like a shorter Julia Child, with whom she was friends. On the other hand, she loved to laugh and goof around and was known to listen to The Rolling Stones while decorating the Christmas tree.

I've been told all of my life how lucky I am to have had a "cool mom." She was all of that and then some. If I could be half the person my mom was I would be satisfied, but even doing that is a tall order. There will never be a statue erected in her honor or a holiday named for her, but to me she was and always will be my hero. I'm so grateful for the times we had together, for the summer we spent reading "To Kill A Mockingbird" together when I was young. I loved that she never failed to cry while watching the film. Mom taught me to read by the time I was two and was quite the taskmaster. Did anyone else's mother give spelling tests? Well, mine did and now I'm grateful for it. She loved her country and believed that anything was possible.

So much of what is good about me came from my mother. I owe her everything and I will miss her until I take my last breath.

Sunday, Sunday

I'm too sick to go to church. I've been sitting here (WARNING: gross medical condition ahead)



...coughing up blood for the past hour or so. Um, what the heck? I've never had asthma do that to me before, but I have been coughing really hard. And I had a CT/IVP that was clear, but it was only of my urinary system, not my lungs, and I'm.not.going.to.go.there.

So I'm sitting here on the couch with two of our rescue mommy dogs, Bambina and Tabitha, and listening to the gorgeous music on The Rudder, from the Orthodox Christian Network. I love this so much when I'm studying or when I'm just trying to relax and not freak out from, say, disturbing thoughts about my health! N went to church and looked so nice in his suit.

I slept great last night and managed to wear the CPAP mask all night, so I got about 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which may be a new record for me.Yet I still feel tired, but that's just the cancer and low kidney function. That will turn anyone into a slug.

And there I go ... managed to tire myself already! Talk at you soon, reader.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

They say you’ve never known a deeper love than when you become a mother; likewise, you’ve never known a deeper sorrow than when you wanted to be a mother but couldn’t, or were a mother and suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage, death or other circumstances. May God bless and bring peace to those who are suffering the silent sorrow of infertility or painful loss of a child on this Mother’s Day 2011, and may you celebrate the wonderful woman that you still are! 
In memory of Baby W, at rest 4/9/96
Baby Agnes 12/30/08
 Baby Henry 3/12/09

Early in the morning and I ain't got nothin' but the blues

I've actually been awake for a while now. I cannot get used to my CPAP mask for my sleep apnea. Here's the biggest issue: I usually stay up late reading and/or studying (when I'm in school). Hence, I often fall asleep while reading and especially while studying. (Microeconomics? Snore city.) So, let's see: I went upstairs with my baby/dog and fell asleep WITH my CPAP for about 3 hrs. N came in to take the dogs out for a walk and I woke up and watched Jimmy Fallon with him. Then of course I was wide awake, despite a dose of Excedrin PM. So, I thought I'd read and, well, I fell asleep with my beloved Kindle 3G on my lap, then woke up again shortly after 5. The odd thing is that I feel somewhat rested. Maybe this wacko sleep cycle works for me after all.

The pain in my pelvis and lower back is unbearable due to my bladder tumor. I'm just miserable beyond belief. I could make something up and tell you that I'm fine and hanging in there, etc., but why lie about it? Cancer hurts - not always, mind you - but often enough.

It's kind of funny that today is Bladder Cancer Awareness Day. I'm aware of it, already! I even have my T-shirt, which is the color of urine after taking pyridium (bright orange). Not sure who came up with that color, but I do love orange.

Last night the weirdest thing happened. I'd been thinking about another blogger, someone from the days when I blogged about religious issues, and wondered how she was doing since being diagnosed with brain cancer several years ago. She and her husband also had a daughter who had a myriad of health problems. It turns out that their daughter passed away on Good Friday (see link to "Emma Grace's Story" below). How heartbreaking. I can't get them out of my mind. Tomorrow I'm investing in the Big Candle at church for them. And I've said a lot of prayers.

Speaking of prayers, N went to meet with our priest the other day, not long after I received my latest cancer diagnosis, and he recommended that we pray the Akathist Hymn to the Holy Virgin Theotokos, and he's been reading it to me right before bed. It's on page 231 of A Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians from Holy Transfiguration Monastery. This book is a  must-have for any Orthodox home, but I prefer the more accessible Orthodox Prayer Book from St. Anthony's Monastery, which has all the basics plus extra prayers for particular needs.

Well, today I'm continuing to take it easy. I don't have any energy anyway. Heck, I may even blog again. This is getting fun. Until later! Toodles!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Love American Style

Well, after my earlier meltdown, I took my "baby" (dog) up to the bedroom, we shut the door and snuggled, then I read a bit (emphasis on "bit," I don't even recall what I was reading), and I quickly fell asleep. I apparently was like a cranky toddler who just needed her nap.

PREDNISONE! I have prednisone now! Soon I should be breathing relatively normally. I'd jump up and down, squealing uncontrollably, but, you know, the asthma. Breathing during surgery will be a major positive.

N is making dinner, his special black bean soup. Soup? In May? Yes! And I'm wearing a sweatshirt! And I'm still cold! No, I don't understand it either.

This weekend I'm going to try to keep N off of his feet so his plantar fasciiits gets a rest. He's really been miserable; I feel for him.

Wherein I become enraged over a Mother's Day offer

Just saw this Tweet from @PureBarreWA: Moms take class FREE at PB Bellevue!

So guess what? If you've spent your entire life savings on fertility treatments and haven't managed to spurt out offspring, you get to pay full price! Oh, but don't worry, you can just use your tax credit for your chil.... oh wait, you don't GET a tax credit if you don't have kids.

We are the childless and the childfree. We're the people who work late because little Emily has a piano recital or Jacob stuck a thumbtack up his nose. We're the people who listen patiently while you describe your "birth experience" in gruesome, bloody detail over lunch and manage to not vomit all over the table. Do you really want to "go green"? Then stop having so *&%#W$# many kids and while you're at it, shut up about them for five minutes and try to have an adult conversation with someone who may be grieving.

AUGH!!!

Rock BOTTOM! Down ... down ... down ...

Holy Dolce & Gabbana, folks, yesterday I pulled the rip cords on both chutes and neither worked. In non-metaphorical terms (I know, get to the point already), I completely freaked out over my cancer being back and over my upcoming surgery.

Having a weird phone conversation with an old (and I'm pretty sure now-former) friend didn't help, I have to say. We're urban and childfree. She has a Omen-esque offspring and can't wait to move to the suburbs. She couldn't stop raving about the cutest things little Damien was doing and saying.

She advised me to relax after my surgery by watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Okay, so we haven't spoken in a long time,  so I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that. "They're just so funny and sweet!" Wow ... who are you and what did you do with  my friend? At that point in the call I had some theories, some of which involved alien abduction and the largest mirror in the state of Texas.

In the meantime, my asthma has ramped up to 11. On the upside, this gives me an opportunity to practice my audition for Camille. "I always look well when I'm near death ..." (hand splayed over forehead) I'm trying to get some prednisone I can take before my surgery so I can, well, breathe.  Breathing is good.

Despite (or perhaps because of) my lack of oxygen to the brain, I've been shopping online like a madwoman, addicted to HauteLook, Gilt Groupe, Sole Society, ideeli, Swirl by Daily Candy, and especially to Rue La La. The UPS man just asked my husband if I was getting married. Um, probably more like getting divorced. With chronic illness and fatigue and now cancer, I get depressed. I like it when people send me presents, even if they're technically from myself and I'm paying for them. But that's beside the point.

The new spring shoes are to.die.for. I'm in love with ballet flats, first off. You probably guessed this by looking here in the first place. So many textures and colors, with bows and buttons and jewels, oh my! Lots and lots of vegan options, thankfully. And we also celebrate the full-on return of the outfits the scary older girls wore when I was growing up in the '70s: chunky platforms, cork soles, flowing tunics, showy jewelry. I guess it's called Boho Chic, technically, but to me, the look will always belong to The Girls on 92nd Street.

Sure, call it an addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, whatever. I call it wanting to look good when (if?) I go out again. What's so wrong with that? I'm reminded of the Imelda Marcos quote when asked why she had 3,000 pairs of shoes, "That's not true! I only have 1,750!" Or something like that - I can't remember the exact number. You get the picture. Shoes have their own personalities. My mom was the same way and she too drove my dad crazy with all the boxes and packaging materials. Good: there's my excuse, I inherited the shopping gene. Did you know that there are people out there who don't like to shop? It's true!

Well, I should go. As long as I'm breathing, I have a date with a box cutter. Ciao for now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Luck Be A Lady

The results are in and the news is good: no tumors in my ureters or kidneys. No kidney stones either! Just a bad infection and the malignant tumor in my bladder. Now, that latter part might sound scary to some of you, but I've had two of these surgeries thus far. While they're not fun, they're a heck of a lot better than what could have been a lot worse.

I know that some of my Twitter friends read my blog, and I'm so grateful for your support. Sending love to you!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tom Petty was right

The waiting is truly the hardest part. I was hoping that my doctor would get my CT/IVP results tonight. She works late and has been known to call me well into the evening. I'm hoping that I'll hear from her office tomorrow. She was kind enough to write a letter to my university stating that I had cancer and that I could be eligible for a tuition credit. I'm hoping that between my two doctors, they will apply my tuition to future quarters.

Again - more waiting about that, although they "welcome" my inquiries about it! Ha ha ha!

We finally signed up for Netflix and watched our first film tonight. Lots of good stuff can be streamed through our Wii too. Pretty cool. Yeah, I know we're the last people on earth to get Netflix!

I'm hoping to sleep tonight. I'm really congested, not helpful with my CPAP mask. Oh well well!

Girl, you better hide your heart, your loving heart...

I'm back from my CT/IVP. Unremarkable experience except she took a ton of shots of not only my left ureter and kidney, but my right one as well. So that kind of freaked me out. Are both my kidneys compromised? I started on sulfa this morning. I'm just exhausted. It took all my strength to go out there, have the test, then go to the bank and stand in line forever. As a treat, we went to our local new agey shop, where I bought a couple of books on alt cancer treatments. I'm still doing chemo, but I want to make some changes in my life too. I have an eight-week series with a nutritionist that's tentatively set to begin May 20. We'll see how that all goes.

The cards say...a broken heart....

My friend K with metastatic melanoma got bad news from her brain MRI. The mets are "progressing," which means the end is in sight for her. Why her? I don't get it. God, take me instead. She has so much to offer the world. K is an amazing person who has built homes in post-Katrina NOLA, has spent nights on the streets and in shelters with the homeless and has truly been a witness for Christ (now that is not a phrase you'll see me throw around, believe me.)

Sigh.

There's a feeling I get ...

Well, it's finally happened: I've gone off the rails over my health. Granted, it's been a bit much lately. Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Severe sleep apnea is when a person's breathing pauses 30 times per hour. My score was 78, and like golf, the higher the score, the worse off you are. Now I have a mask I wear that covers my nose, attached to a series of straps designed by a sadist, all topped off by a "chin strap," which manages to cover my entire head. Long story short, I go to bed looking like the Elephant Man.

Yesterday was not a good day. I was just in horrible pain from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep. I'm here to tell you this if you don't already know: constant pain makes you batshit crazy. So, last night N very patiently wrapped up my skull and put my mask on my half-congested nose. Not 30 seconds had passed before I was screaming, "HELP ME, THIS THING IS TRYING TO STRANGLE ME!!!" *
* In my defense, I've had a few too many health issues to absorb lately.

So, I ripped everything off and decided I was going to get up and go read on the couch. And the next thing I knew, birds were chirping and it was almost 6 a.m. At least I got some sleep. It may have been panic-induced, crazy-dream sleep, but it was sleep nonetheless. Now finally - no excuses, no matter if my pain goes to 11 - I'm going in for the CT scan/IVP today at 1:30. Maybe I'll get some answers today, but probably not. At any rate, it's fair to say: this health stuff is driving me crazy.

Why do I keep looking for answers?

Today I was supposed to have my CT scan/IVP, but I was in so much pain, I had to postpone it until Tuesday. I hope to get an answer late Tuesday about my tumor, if it's grown up the ureter and if so, how far. This greatly complicates the surgery. If it's simply a small malignancy within the bladder, it's easy to remove (I say this as a veteran of two such procedures). A little Fentanyl, and the post-op chemo doesn't feel quite as bad.

At any rate, to anyone who is reading, I will keep you posted. Cheers!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Return to Cancerland: A Welcome Back

In 2006 I was diagnosed with an early form of bladder cancer. Superficial, they called it, and I kind of wore that label with sardonic pride. After the shock, the surgery and biopsy were over, I settled into a healthier lifestyle, drinking green juices, looking really stupid doing Qi Gong, and whatnot.

So imagine my surprise when not six months later IT was back. This foreign body that was actually part of me (though I'd never own it) had the gall to return. This time we brought out the big guns: mitomycin-C chemotherapy. I guess I should be proud that I managed to go four years without a recurrence.

Friday was the big day. A small part of me knew - even whispered to me - that after she had me come in for a cath sample and wanted to perform my cystoscopy two months early, that there were malignant cells in my cytology report. And we confirmed it: a tumor is growing over my left ureter. For the past few months I've been suffering with terrible pain in my back, I've been running a low-grade but consistent fever. Edema forced me to remove my wedding ring. All of these things are consistent with reduced kidney function.

Tomorrow (Monday) I go in for a CT scan/IVP to see if the tumor has invaded my ureter and if she has to remove part of that or even - God forbid - my kidney. I'll just be glad to know the answers to questions I don't have yet, if that makes sense.

I haven't danced yet, even though we're ready to set up a workout room and dance studio in what would have been our baby nursery, had things gone differently. I have a barre, some Pilates equipment, and we're going to get my dad's treadmill. We have a TV and DVD player in there. I just want to release - just dance like in Zumba class, or in Nia. It's hard to think of my body as a living thing and not a lab rat.

I'm going to post tomorrow after my scan. It's important for me to document all of this. Thank you for reading.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ssssstilllll in progress

I keep meaning to (oh, how many times have we all said that???) work on this some more, get the layout right and actually, well, WRITE SOMETHING. Every day it seems like I'm blindsided by something new. Someone said Mercury's almost out of retrograde? Not a moment too soon!

I have a dear friend,  K, who is terribly ill with cancer. I also am going in for my own cancer check-up next Friday. My head is spinning over how fast she's gone from "not that big of a deal" to "months to live." I've been living with cancer for almost five years. I just wish I could wave a magic wand for her. Sounds trite, I know, but she has so much to offer the world. The thought of losing her is heartbreaking.

Resurrection ... I'm thinking about it. Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A work in progress

Obvi.

I'm trying to figure out the best design for this blog, so if by some weird chance you keep coming back and don't recognize it, that's why!.

In the meantime, still waiting for spring in Seattle - BRRRRR!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blogging again

After a several-year break, I'm back to blogging again. Here I'll discuss my love affairs with books, music, ballet, shoes, make-up, fashion, food and animal rights.

I have a photo blog located here.

More later!
xoxo