Friday, September 20, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – Serendipity – September 20, 2019 – Day 20

The coincidences of little miracles that happen every day of your life are hints that the universe has much bigger plans for you than you ever dreamed of for yourself. - Deepak Chopra

Yes! I definitely believe in serendipity. I often speak of pivotal people, pivotal events and pivotal times that have entered my life at just the right moment and changed the course of my destiny. I'm sure a lot of people believe life is random. Stuff just happens. But, I believe that in some, perhaps, mystical way we seek out these pivotal people, events and times. We don't know who, what or when they will appear. This, I believe, is the essence of serendipity. There are some things that are incomprehensible to us as mere mortals.

I have a list of all the people, events and times during my life when these serendipitous things have occurred. We might refer to them as God's will or plan for our lives. That means we believe in some manner of predestination. Or, perhaps, we just want to believe that the universe, something we can't truly comprehend, provides doors and windows for us to pass through. Yet, scientists, mathematicians, astronomers and astrologers continue to study and explore it. 

Personally, I just believe we are each a miracle and there are things that just come together for most people. Those who realize and accept serendipities will most likely have an amazing life. Those who reject them sadly may have sad and, perhaps, troubled lives.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – 15 Minutes – September 19, 2019 – Day 19

I firmly believe that if we all just took a little time – like 10 or 15 minutes a day – to do nothing but sit calmly with our thoughts, this world would be a much better place. - Michael Finkel

I have no idea who Michael Finkel is, but I am now embracing his idea, not by choice, but by necessity. Fifteen minutes is how long the entire radiation treatment takes from the time I scan my bar code until I leave the radiation treatment center. And, about 10 minutes of that time is spent prone, on a table, carefully positioned inside a mold made specifically for my body. The mold holds me in a precise position so when this massive machine is rotating around my body, it directs beams of radiation into me at precise points indicated by the tiny tattoos they placed on me a week or so ago. Refer to Day 4.

Michelle & Colleen, they beam me up!
I had radiation treatment #2 this morning. I have to say that it is one of the most efficient operations I've encountered. In and out in 15 minutes. And, believe it or not, it even includes time for a little kibitzing and some chuckles.

So, today Carolyn drove me for approximately 1½ hours from the West Virginia base to the Winchester, Virginia Cancer Treatment Center. We arrived on time. Within two minutes I was in the treatment room. Carolyn went to use the restroom. Within minutes of her sitting in the waiting area of the lobby playing a mind improving word game on her phone, I came walking out of the treatment center. She hardly had a chance to get warmed up with the game.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – Surprise! Surprise! – September 18, 2019 – Day 18

How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life. - Marcus Aurelius

Yes, indeed! Today was a terrific day and it presented a real surprise. My expectations were different than the end result. It started with getting up a bit earlier than usual this morning, getting ready and driving to the Winchester Oncology Center. Yes, over the mountains and through the valleys. My buddy, Dave, drove the round trip once again. This time there were three passengers, me, Carolyn and Dave handling the driving chore.

We arrived early for my second chemotherapy treatment. I received smiles and handed out smiles to everyone I encountered. It took only a few minutes before they called my name and ushered me into the large treatment room. It was quite full, I may have been placed in the last treatment chair available. By the way, the treatment chairs are extremely comfortable. I didn't have a great view today, but I was surrounded by a wonderful, uplifting, positive and inspiring 84-year-old woman from another small town in West Virginia. Her name was Barbara. She was a delight and quickly engaged Dave, Carolyn and me in conversation that continually erupted into laughter.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – Disappointed – September 17, 2019 – Day 17

My long-time friend, Dave, from our Air Force days 50 years ago, spelled Carolyn today and drove me over the mountains and through the valleys to the Winchester Oncology Center this morning. I had to go in to have some lab work done. They do lab work before each chemotherapy treatment.

We left the West Virginia base about 8 AM and arrived at the oncology center by sometime before 9:30. I was at least an hour early. They took me right in and drew the blood and said, “See you tomorrow.” I told them I'd see them then. Then came the disappointment.

I walked across the lobby to the Radiology facilities and announced I was there for the radiology education class. And, just like the day after Labor Day, I was informed the class had been canceled due to lack of interest. Sigh! A long trip for just a 5-minute encounter with a very skilled phlebotomist. It was probably only about 9:45 AM. So, Dave and I went out to the very beautiful and peaceful patio that overlooked the pond I used to walk around some 12 or 15 years earlier. We chatted about all kinds of subjects. We watched some walkers. And, we enjoyed following the activities of a family of ducks and ducklings.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – The Eyes Have It – September 16, 2019 – Day 16

Indeed, the eyes have it, today, Day 16, in my adventure. I had an appointment scheduled with my ophthalmologist for today. I made this appointment weeks before the, now, infamous Fireball struck me. I have the best, or at the very least, one of the very best eye docs in the region. It typically takes two to three months to get on his appointment calendar. So, you can bet I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of making this date. 

The good news is that my eyes are doing great (thankfully that's better news than the news of my gastric cavity). The nerves are good, no signs of glaucoma, my peripheral vision is very good and the one long term challenge to my eye health has not changed any. It was exactly two years ago this month when I had cataract surgery to both eyes (one week apart). And, while I still see everything fantastically, I have noticed a slight deterioration and, what I call, some flaring, especially in my left eye.

My doc said this is normal for just about everyone with cataract surgery and replacement lenses. It's caused by some cellular growth around the lenses that can spread into the visual area of the lenses. He said, at my convenience (and had his assistant make a note in my records), I can call and come in for laser treatments that will eliminate those cells. It's a simple procedure and once done, I'll never have to have it repeated. Great news. Of course, he asked about my health other than my eyes and was really set back on his heels when I told him the story of the Fireball and my current treatment routine for the Stage III cancer I'm diagnosed with.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – The Fireball – September 15, 2019 – Day 15

Today, on Day 15 of chronicling this new “adventure,” I'm going to spill the beans. Until now I've mainly been relating the events beginning on and since September 1st. I mentioned the real adventure began on August 18th with my first experience with being cared for by EMTs, riding in an ambulance being rushed to the hospital and experiencing an ER as a patient for the first time. It's been 28 days since the “Fireball” from the universe randomly struck me.

Let me begin by saying, my story is unique to me. However, every one of us can go back through our personal histories and relate stories about all kinds of fireballs each of us has experienced. This isn't my first. However, it may be, to date, the most dramatic, with the potential for being devastating in several ways. But, we've all had them. They might be medical, as mine currently is. They could have been physical, psychological, emotional, relational or financial. No one is immune.

So, I'm not setting myself up as being unique in this regard. I'm simply relating my unique story so that others may relate to it. Perhaps, and even better yet, hopefully, others will be uplifted, inspired and encouraged as they travel through their own life experiences.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – A Refreshing Downpour Followed By Sunshine – September 14, 2019 – Day 14

Day 14 has arrived and is drawing to a close. It's been a very nice day. I've felt good all day. I had a couple of extremely enjoyable and uplifting phone calls. I've taken care of a little business. I've responded to some emails. And, Carolyn and I went for a drive to a couple nearby towns (nearby in this region is typically about 25 miles away).

It has now been 27 days since the “Fireball” struck me. It's hard to believe it's been nearly a month already. So, much has happened so rapidly. Of course, the first thing I have to mention is how thankful I am to have survived the “Fireball” that turned out to be a Stage III cancer. Second, I'm thankful to be cared about by so many people who have been so supportive beginning with my friend Carolyn. I'm not sure where I'd be without her support. And, of course, there are the friends and family who know of my situation. Even today, that is only a minimal number of people. I'll let others know in the near future. Of course, there is the crack team of medical professionals who are treating me.