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

August 26,2008

Filed under: — Constance at 1:32 pm on Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Last Friday’s meeting with the oncologist did not provide us with any new revelations. “Suspended animation” was one term the doctor used, though that does bring up images of God pushing the cosmic “Pause” button. There are three markers in the blood that give on-going information concerning the status of the MDS. They are the levels of white blood cells (providing immunities), red blood cells (carrying oxygen about the system and giving energy for living) and platelets (keeping the blood from seeping out of the cells and also clotting as needed). In my case, both the red blood cells and the platelets are holding right inside the normal ranges, while the white blood cells are very slowly decreasing. In discussing another course of chemotherapy, the doctor said that it wouldn’t change much from the status quo, since the best it could do would be possibly increasing the red cell count and the platelets, neither of which are in need of increasing, and it would completely wipe out the few white blood cells that I presently have.

I have mentioned before that the state of one’s immunities is measured by computing the ANC, or Absolute Neutraphil Count, derived by multiplying the number of white blood cells by the percentage of neutraphils present in the blood. These numbers are in the thousands, but for practical purposes, they are recorded in accessible numbers, i.e., my white blood count is at 1.47 (normal for women begins at 4.5) and the percentage of neutraphils is 27% (normal begins at 40%). This results in an ANC of 400, with anything below 500 considered not good at all. This means that ultimately, there will be a germ or virus that will enter my system and wreak havoc without any defenses available. We discussed my fatigue, aches and pains, and it was determined that some of that could be the result of depression caused by facing this unknown and living in a constant state of anxiety. (One could leave the world of people, I suppose, and become like Howard Hughes, with all the weirdness of that, but to what end?)

So I will go on with a plan. It will be to conquer the depression and anxiety bit. I wash my hands constantly, and today I am off to see a physical therapist who works with cancer victims in hopes of developing more strengths in the physical self than those that I have have from walking Alphie every day. I ask myself, “What are you afraid of?” and the answer is “Being sick”.

A little story – I asked John-paul if he remembered when he thought Alphie was a bit crazed because of the wildness in his creaturely behavior. “Just look at him now”, I remarked, looking at the great rug of a dog lying in front of the kitchen sink, “talk about mellow!” “Yes”, said John-paul, “he has been lobotimized by love”. I say, “Not a bad way to go”.

August 19, 2008

Filed under: My New Life — Constance at 6:40 pm on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

meadowlark by Jeope Wolfe
This morning a heavy mist gave the sunrise a wonderful appearance, and sounds were magnified all around. We heard the rooster that lives several neighbors away crowing into the morning, and Alphie seemed to be listening with extra care. The meadow lark was singing, as was the field sparrow, but otherwise the birds of Sanctuary were mostly silent . . . I was reminded that they really do have a purpose in their song other than providing us with delight, and in this season, territories are not an issue for many species. Now the meadow and forest belong to the spiders with hundreds of webs woven over and between the grasses and appearing unexpectedly across the path between the trees. I carry a small branches which I hold in front of my face or I must deal with spider threads in eyebrows and teeth. As I near the road, I make sure that others do not see me so equipped because I would not wish passersby to conclude that I am going “funny”.

My energy has begun to sag in recent days; moving my body through space feels as though the molecules around me are heavy and there is no lightness in my being. “Up, get up!” instructs the mind, and the physical self reluctantly moves. We meet with the oncologist on Friday of this week. How life proceeds is much on my mind – hopefully information and wisdom will meet and the direction will be clear . . . it seems that there are two options available – more Chemotherapy or let life go on to its conclusion without attempting another intervention.

God who made the earth and heaven, darkness and light:
you the day for work have given, for rest the night.
May your angel guards defend us, slumber sweet your mercy send us,
holy dreams and hopes attend us all through the night.

And when morn again shall call us to run life’s way,
may we still, what-e’er befall us, your will obey.

Guard us waking, guard us sleeping, and, when we die,
may we in your mighty keeping all peaceful lie.

— text: Reginald Heber
— tune: All Through The Night “Ar Hyd Y Nos” (Welsh)

Life Lines. . . . . . . .

Filed under: Life Lines... — Constance at 9:09 am on Monday, August 18, 2008

Many people from many places have repeatedly told me that I am in their thoughts and prayers. I have been aware of this support that cannot be seen, and it does provide me with a shield and cushion. If people tell you that they pray for you, or send you good energy, believe it and be thankful. . . it is another powerful weapon in the battle that requires everything that you have.

August 12, 2008

Filed under: My New Life — Constance at 1:53 pm on Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In two days, Charles and I will remember our wedding on the 48th anniversary of that summer day at Hanover Church in the Iowa countryside. It is a thing of amazement how life goes so quickly, how it spins out. . . certainly not in a way predicted by anyone here. We smile this year and say we give each other the paint on the front of the house and the roofing repairs along with a few other domestic things.

As the warm days continue, Alphie has become mellow, so his ambition toward catching creatures has waned. Sunday afternoon was an exception. We spotted an otter moving between the stream on the west side of Sanctuary to the pond at our neighbor’s house, and Alphie gave chase at his highest speed. He trapped the otter under a wheelbarrow leaning against the barn and barked loudly while the otter screamed back with its most fervent threatening hisses and warning sounds. I finally convinced Alphie that we should go on, which we did, and the otter presumably decided to return from whence it came. By the time we got to the house, Alphie was panting very loudly and his tongue appeared to nearly touch the floor.

Today I visit the gastroenterologist for a review of my digestive systems. It is timely since spasms of the esophagus returned toward the end of my walk yesterday morning. These mimic heart attacks with pain down the arms and into my back teeth, and there is something about that feeling that tends to scatter my defenses. I told Charles that the last one continued through two recitations of the 23rd Psalm and one extended Kyrie; now all is calm again, but I was very tired for the rest of the day.

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