Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

March 31, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 4:03 pm on Saturday, March 31, 2007

alphieTickJacket_sm.jpgSanctuary’s plant life is hurtling onward into spring led onward by the greening of the willows and the budding wild plums. We have had slow rains and warm temperatures to encourage this early start – and since we do stop a step or two short of perfection, the season’s first tick arrived on Alphie’s coat yesterday afternoon as well.

This eleventh course of Chemotherapy has returned me to the contemplation of ultimate verities. Holy Week brings one to that review anyway, and my mind has been invoking images of a warm day with many palms and people gathering and shouting their approval at the sight of Jesus of Nazareth riding past. At the same moment in history the leaders of the time were meeting and planning and plotting; likely well aware of the weakness of Judas and determining how to use it to their purposes.
judasTakesSilver.jpg What a strange and portentous gathering of events – even after years of consideration, its manifestation of deity/flesh, death/life, wages of sin/payment achieved and life extended into eternity remains a mystery that can only be addressed by simple faith. Today, the boxes of palm fronds shipped up from warmer climes are standing in coolers awaiting the transport of children’s hands at tomorrow morning’s processions to the sounds of “All Glory, Laud and Honor” played in various degrees of grandness by musicians everywhere. Thus Holy Week begins to take us through the dark and solemn days of remembering pain and death and sacrifice to conclude with the grandeur of Easter Sunday’s joy and delight.

palmSunday.gifNext Tuesday morning we approach the Medical Center in Omaha with many questions in hand concerning the Vidaza, the course of the disease, and the possible options available to us. We are ever optimistic – this season of new life everywhere, bearing fresh and new color and energy after a winter’s time of darkness and rest cannot help but beckon us onward into good days ahead.

(Next entry: April 4)

March 26, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 7:51 pm on Monday, March 26, 2007

alphieMonster.jpgAlphie stands and waits for me at the edge of the forest as I come puffing up the hill so I tell him that the round of Chemotherapy just about did me in this time, and I am walking as fast as I can. He looks pretty noncommittal at that information, but the books say that he understands at some level. We make it around Sanctuary on this very warm spring day and he concludes his walk by leaping happily into the water in the stream nearest our house. It is not clear and lovely as one might hope, but rather, it carries in it all manner of agricultural debris from the fields to the east, so when he comes out he bears a scent which can be most kindly described as “earthy”. I suspect that he would describe it as “lovely”. All this takes place to a cacophony of bird song coming from every corner of the property and of course, the frogs’ chorus goes on.

bedridden.jpgI have been reading information again about MDS because I can’t understand why the side effects of the seven days of injections of Vidaza vary so greatly from one time to the next. This session was nasty – was it the temperature? The winds from the south? The time of the moon? The blood readings were very nearly identical to those of the last time, and I felt well going in. So far, I haven’t found any words addressing this, but rather have seen lists of side effects that let me know that I haven’t experienced nearly everything possible. (The list from Mayo Clinic runs an entire page – alas.) I have an appointment at the Medical Center next week to ask about this and more. Even though we have great gratitude for the days already lived, there is still a need to seek out information about the future.

(Next entry: March 31)

March 21, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 6:26 pm on Wednesday, March 21, 2007

After three days of the seven in this round of Chemotherapy, the treatment has taken my body of last week and replaced it with an old, tired, aching model complete with sore mouth, stomach cramps and nausea. As I have mentioned, each round affects me differently, and this one is fierce. Because of bleeding at the injection sites, I have already moved from the arms to the abdomen. I am always studying the information available about MDS, and wondering how I can avoid all of the above; the oncologist patiently explained once again that the treatment deals only with the condition since its cause is still a complete mystery. He said that in his entire time of practice, this is the first therapy (other than the stem cell transplant which is not an option for me) that has stopped the progression of the disease for any length of time. Then I inquired if perhaps the Vidaza had moved me from the initial diagnosis of MDS, RAEB-T (the most severe classification of the five levels of the illness) to level four perhaps, since the cells no longer appear to be in transition. He determined that I should gather my questions and see the doctor at the Med Center in Omaha and visit about the future and the options there. He said that while he studied all of the forms of cancer that he dealt with in his practice, he was seeing patients throughout the spectrum and at the Med Center I would be visiting with someone whose focus was just MDS.

frogs singingsMeanwhile, spring arrived at around 8:00 PM last night, and sure enough, a south wind came up after midnight and we awakened to 56 degree temperatures before sunrise. The entire day before had been cold and gray so at this hour, we are about thirty degrees warmer than yesterday at the same time. The plants in the ground must surely be confused. “Up!” “No, wait, too cold.” “Hurry, it’s summer. . . and so forth” The frogs are singing in the wetland bog down by the big cottonwood tree and the robins have started their morning chorus in earnest, so winter is certainly over; now we will see if hot dry days will come too soon. I can easily imagine the ticks and mosquitoes and gnats stirring from within their secret winter hideouts and preparing for a long and lovely feast of summer. The little wood violets should be appearing any day and daffodils and crocus will be showing up as well. This time of awakening is always such a joy to behold – it almost compensates for living in a place sans the extravagant beauty of oceans, mountains, palm and hibiscus trees and other lovely things in far away places.

(Next entry: March 26)

March 17, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 1:37 pm on Saturday, March 17, 2007

cranes_real.jpgWe have just returned from a lovely interlude in Sarasota, Florida where the developments have gone out in ever widening circles from the coastal city and into the swamplands. We stayed at a gated golfing community in a lovely condo as guests of friends who are staying there for the month of March. Waterways (which were really drainage ditches taking the water out of the wetlands) were running through the development with golf courses planned next to them; there were screens on the windows and doors and the insects meant that even in this very sanitized community, there was a lively presence of bird life. Our favorite sights were the sand hill cranes that elected to remain in Florida instead of joining the thousands now congregating on the Platte River here in Nebraska. They strolled along right next to us on the sidewalks, using their very long beaks to dig trenches in the grass as they sought out the grubs there. It was a fine experience to stay a little distance inland from the Gulf waters because there one could sense the land – if the humans would leave the space for even a short time, I am certain the swamp flora and fauna would come forth again and reclaim their spaces.

RinglingJohn.jpgSarasota proper was a delight to visit with expanses of beautiful water and incredibly fine white sand beaches to walk upon. We spent time at the John and Mabel Ringling estate that featured a large museum of art and buildings displaying circus memorabilia in addition to the original home. The house faced out over the bay, and its finest feature was the terrace between the structure and the water; the interior and its contents were marvels of lavish bad taste, but the place was definitely a “must see” because John Ringling was so central to the development of the community. Now this Florida city is a center of culture and fine arts with first class theatre, opera and concerts of all kinds.

compass.jpgHere at Sanctuary we find upon our return that in this short time there has been a greening of the land. Spring is approaching through weather that resembles a wildly swinging compass needle. . . there will be a day or two of 70 degree temperatures, then cold weather with a bit of snow, then back again to summer like weather. A nice, lengthy and gentle spring is a rare gift and so far, it hasn’t settled into anything of the sort.

I begin the next round of Chemo on Monday if the schedule is as it has been laid out, and we will visit with the oncologist to see how to go forward. Once again, I am just at the point where I feel really well, and it is very difficult to imagine that I have an illness that requires such draconian measures. The fantasy is that this is all a terrible mistake and I will walk away, and just keep walking because I will stay well and life will go on just as it did before December 16, 2006.

(Next entry: March 21, 2007)

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