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

May 24, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 6:48 pm on Thursday, May 24, 2007

On Wednesday, I had the surgery to remove the cataract and have the lens implant in my right eye. The left eye was done in early March, and this now completes the pair. All went perfectly, and the delight of fine vision and brighter colors in both eyes is huge. The surgeon who did the work is the most detached doctor I have ever dealt with. He is very good at his craft, and he does many like operations every day – by the time he sees a patient prior to the procedure, that person has been reduced to a single eye. There is a blue covering over the entire body with the exception of a circle around the area to be worked upon. Most of the interaction occurs with the staff as the preparations are made and these are people who are very friendly and efficient. Anyway, when the doctor came in to check the eye this morning, he completed that in about a minute, looking at it through the device that eye doctors have where you put your chin on the little cup and look into open circles suspended in large black holders like a mask for a giant’s face. He was able to do this without ever looking at my person or making eye contact and when he declared that all was very good it was with a satisfied air that said in unspoken words, “I did it again.” I don’t think he would have recognized me in the hallway two minutes later. . . but then, in reflection, I would choose this fellow over a warm and kindly sort with shaky hands any day. With just the two eyes, the relationship is naturally limited anyway.

Sanctuary had wet and humid days this week, when the trees met over the forest paths in dark and secret ways. Then the rains came, bringing us moisture that has resulted in today’s new and bright greens under a lovely sky. On the morning walk, Alphie and I observed the unusual sight of three owls flying out together from their hidden spot in the Austrian pines. Usually, the owl is alone, so perhaps this was a family. They were immediately set upon by a flock of blue jays. . .in this nesting time, all the predator birds have smaller bird escorts everywhere they fly. Right now, I am battling raccoons who come in at night and remove suet holders from the bird feeding stations and drag them into the bushes to remove the contents at their leisure. Two nights ago, a costly bird seed feeder with a screen around the tube was pulled down and dragged away – it was too much. I put on old clothes and crawled under the cedar trees until I found all the feeders, empty, but undamaged. I asked Charles for assistance in wiring them into place – after we completed the project, he said that if anything wanted to get those items, it would have to take the stands along as well, and if that happened, we should probably move back into town.

May 17, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 10:43 am on Thursday, May 17, 2007

NZ_map.jpgLast Monday was the scheduled day for a return to Chemotherapy; all three children were present with Charles and myself for the visit with the oncologist because of the concerns about the 11th round of therapy. My tongue still had not returned to normal taste capacity, and my energy had just begun to return five days prior to the visit. I was told that the possibility of nerve damage to the taste buds did exist, since the tests for other causes had not turned up anything unusual, however, there was no prior mention of this happening as a side effect of the Vidaza. As I have mentioned previously, there are no records since only a few people have been as blessed as myself with continued life. We discussed the summer plans of a trip to New Zealand in July and the cataract removal and lens implant which has to take place when the blood readings are good.

Always, the medical community seems to be interested in helping one to achieve the best possible quality of life, and to this end, the Chemotherapy was delayed until the first of June to give the nerve endings a bit more time to possibly recover, and the cataract surgery was moved up to next week so that it could occur while the blood was strong. After the June round, there will be no more chemo until returning from New Zealand in August. A bone marrow aspiration will be done to read where everything stands at that time; the specter of a disease trying to escape the confines of the medicine and to return with intent to kill hangs in the background. From what is known, if it does come back, the chances of beating it back again are far more difficult. In spite of this rather grim “battle” aspect, our meeting with the doctor was cheerful and included laughter and delight at the respite from treatment.

NebraskaTreasureHunt.jpgHaving the entire clan present across the Mother’s Day weekend was pure pleasure; the granddaughters had grown in stature and spirit, and our children appear to be doing “life” with creativity and élan. Janna and family stayed at the Guest House at Concordia University – this place had been our home for the first ten years of our living in Seward. They were the only occupants and were given the master key so that all rooms could be thrown open and toured. This not only opened the physical doors, but also the doors to many memories – the footed bathtub painted purple and filled with a red bean bag chair to make a TV viewing spot, the pets, games, parties and fun of family growing up were reviewed. Old picture albums were found and stories were told, events were trimmed or embellished according to the remembering mind. At the end of a wonderful day and after the supper together, the children were off on a treasure hunt, running headlong into the evening. I started treasure hunts a long time ago, and this time, I had the treasure all assembled, but John-paul had to plant the clues

alphie_fiona_ursula.jpgAnd Alphie was in the midst of it all. One of the six year old twins astonished all of us by walking up to the dog, reaching past his huge mouth and taking him by the collar. “Come with me, Alphie” she instructed, and led him into the next room where she pushed him down. Alphie was totally compliant and appeared to delight in the attention showered upon him; he lay down flat and sighed hugely. We were in awe of Fiona’s mastering of this creature who is over twice her size – she does not have a dog of her own because of allergies to pet hair in the family, but her instinctual dealing with Alphie had us thinking “Dog Whisperer II” right here in our own house.
To Life! Hallelujah!

May 10, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 9:27 pm on Thursday, May 10, 2007

Soon now, in just five days, I return to the Oncologist’s office to supposedly resume the Chemotherapy. There is a level of unease about what will happen next since I am not sure about how it would be if the severity of the side effects of the therapy were to increase. Just this morning, I felt a reasonable energy to address life on a fine spring day, though my taste is still not completely functional. We hope to find out whether this has been a toxic reaction from the last round, or if perhaps the Vidaza is not working as usual, or something we haven’t thought of so far. Perhaps dosages, times, etc., will be adjusted accordingly. When the illness is there, the questions are always poking around the edges of the mind, and unfortunately, due to the nature of this disease, the answers are not forthcoming.

ORIOLE_yeah_right.jpgVarious books about birds speak to how one can keep orioles nearby, happy to be a part of the ambiance, singing their songs and showing up in orange and black splendor. Put out orange slices, and/or jelly, they instruct, so I enlisted John-paul’s aid in placing a pole with a pan hanging from one of the arms near the plum bushes on the south edge of the inside yard. We got it nicely placed, orange slices attractively arranged, when John-paul began to voice doubts that any oriole would partake. I said just you wait and see. Several days passed without a sighting, then yesterday morning when I came by on the dawn walk, the largest oriole I have ever seen was perched on the edge of the pan. It sat motionless, and as I cautiously approached, I saw that it was a faux oriole, beautifully cut out and solidly taped into place sometime between bedtime and dawn. Tsk.

Mother’s Day weekend will find all of us together – children and grandchildren from Seattle and Chicago and Lincoln. We will gather for food and singing and stories. It will be a time of celebrating the wonder of God’s gift of family – looking back at the grand times of the past and looking forward into the future to the wonders the grand daughters will bring to the planet. These are hours that grow large and long and as they are remembered, they provide color and delight for the times when life is in need of such things.

May 4, 2007

Filed under: — Constance at 8:06 pm on Friday, May 4, 2007

YoungGeekWizard2.jpgOn Wednesday, our webmaster son John-paul came home for a visit, and I think the computers breathed a sigh of relief. Charles’ machine had died after an electrical outage, and our connection to the Internet was fractious on even its’ best days. Everything was put to rights in short order, and we can return to our personal fiction of being highly computer literate.

This first week in May is always one of delight at Sanctuary because it is the time of arrival for many of our songbirds. The thrashers came first with their paired melodic offerings – some have changed a bit since last year, perhaps reflecting some nice tunes picked up in their winter home. Wrens were already here, singing loudly all day long, and the rose breasted grosbeaks, rufus sided towhees, catbirds and orioles came one after another. It is at this time that our yard sounds like an avian convention with every group vocalizing at the same time. . . the songs ring down the valley as the sun comes up in the morning and one concludes that life is good!

VinegarSaints2.jpgSeveral weeks ago, Jonathan Alter wrote, ”My Life with Cancer” for the Newsweek cover story, and this week, Leroy Sievers, a NPR reporter who has a radio blog will be featured in a documentary, “Living with Cancer” on the Discovery Channel. As I follow the stories that are told, their similarities are immediately apparent – and the experiences and emotions that are expressed are very much the same as my own. I am reminded again of the great number of people who belong to the Cancer Club. . . including friends, neighbors, relatives, and so on. It astonishes me that for 68 years of my life, this illness was never a consideration, and now it has become the framework of my days. Energy is limited after this round of chemotherapy, and with my taste buds compromised, I have gone through the first checking of throat and tongue for fungus. (“What? Fungus?” said the brain. “That is so gross!”) According to the Internet, it doesn’t appear as a green fuzzy thing in the mouth, but rather as white spots and streaks. After thinking about it for a bit, the concept had merit because then the problem could be addressed, but my own session in front of the mirror with a wide open mouth and a waving tongue didn’t reveal anything that looked at all like the illustrations shown on Google. The lab reported that nothing amiss was found, but I was told that now the swabs will be sent away and cultures will be grown to see if something less obvious is lurking. (There is someone out there who went to school for a long time getting ready for a profession doing this sort of thing.) It has made me sad; I loved my finely tuned taste buds and did much of my cooking “on the tongue” rather than by measuring. Charles assures me that the meals still taste very good, but I did note on one occasion at his first mouthful of a salad I had prepared, his eyes seemed to water a bit, and when I said, “Too much vinegar?” he replied, “Maybe just a little, but I do like vinegar.” Sainthood comes in many forms.