Wednesday, January 26, 2022

I've Been Deported

I was deported on Monday afternoon.

Yep! That's the way the very professional and efficient yet, cute and fun nurses (and not young teenybopper women, either) at the Winchester Medical Center add a little political humor into the procedure of removing my chemo infusion chest port. They said I was being "deported."

It was a short procedure and they put me out under a very light anesthesia. I was, more or less, awake again before they moved me out of the procedure room back to the prep/recovery room. They kept me in recovery for about another hour or so.

For those readers who have had an infusion port installed in your chest for chemotherapy treatments for cancer, you know what this port is and what it's all about. It makes the patient's life much easier because the nurses and technicians don't have to keep looking for a good vein in your hand or arm to infuse the toxic chemotherapy drugs into your circulatory system. After a while, it frequently gets hard for them to locate a good vein. It can become quite painful for many patients. But, the port is surgically (a minor procedure) installed in the patient's chest. Once installed, it produces a small lump in the chest wall. When the port is not being utilized, it must be flushed every six to eight weeks with a saline solution that must be done by a nurse. So, if it's no longer in use, it does become an inconvenience. However, the oncologists like to keep them installed, typically, for a couple of years just in case there is a recurrence and they need to go through another course of chemotherapy. Mine was in nearly 2 1/2 years. Here is what the little port device looks like. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me!

If you've never heard of this short sentence made up entirely of two letter words, it's time you did.

Over the past few weeks I've been talking about “New Beginnings” and how I'm going through this challenging phase of my life. Everyone either has, is or will go through some very difficult times. Unfortunately, some of these events and experiences are going to be traumatic.

Someone once asked Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, if there were any people who didn't face problems. He said, and I paraphrase, he knew of a place where there were a lot of people who didn't have problems. Let me take you there. So, the person went with Dr. Peale who led him to a cemetery. The person at first was stunned and then thought he was making fun of him. Dr. Peale assured him he was serious, none of the people in that cemetery or any other cemetery had any problems. The only people who have no problems reside in graves. So, if you don't want to join these people, you better get down on your knees and pray for God to give you problems.

We start having problems when we are small children. Our parents help us learn to cope with and solve our small problems. As we get older the problems get more difficult. And, of course, when we become adults, we have to deal with problems and situations that often seem insurmountable. Everybody has problems of one kind or another. I won't bore you with a list of the many kinds of problems we all face during our lifetimes. It's also said that God, or the Universe or life won't give you any problems that you can't handle. That doesn't mean they will be easy. It just means it's up to us to resolve the problems.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

New Beginnings – 2022 – Part 3

Three weeks and three new articles. I'm patting myself on the back! I hope I'm back on line again.

This is going to be a short article today. Winter has set in here in the area of West Virginia known as the Potomac Highlands. It's where I've been staying with a friend while I've been recovering from my bout with cancer. I'm very lucky to have terrific and very supportive friends in various places and, certainly, my friend Carolyn has gone way above the call to help me.

It's snowing quite hard here today and into about midday tomorrow. It's quite cold with the current temperature registering at 16 degrees and an estimated accumulation of snow between 9” to 12” and possibly as much as 18.” I grew up in northern New Jersey and we had some cold temperatures and significant snow accumulations there when I was a kid. And, then I lived in Syracuse, NY and I have to be honest, snow, lots and lots of snow was a way of life along with sub-0 temperatures. We had some serious winters when I lived in the Washington, DC area and for the ten years I lived in Annapolis, MD. About every five years or so, we would have a very serious winter in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia when I lived outside Winchester. But, while some of my friends look forward to winter and snow, I have experienced probably about 30 blizzards during my life and frankly, I'd much rather see the snow from a distance along with the cold temperatures. I'm perfectly content to watch snow in TV shows or in movies. I don't need to experience it in person any longer.

Part of my New Beginnings is to start researching and searching for a new region to base my operations from and I'd like it to be a location with a moderate or temperate climate. So, I've been looking at places around the U.S. during the last several years I was traveling, prior to being inconveniently stopped from my travels by my cancer challenge. But, I'll be looking again for the right place once I can get back on the road.

Monday, January 10, 2022

New Beginnings – 2022 – Part 2

This is my second article of 2022 and you'll notice it has the same title as the first article, except I extended it as Part 2. I've been thinking, researching and contemplating this entire past week about what I said last week. Something sparked in my mind and heart about my thoughts and feelings. But, to start things off, let me give you a long quote I discovered during my research.

When someone you love dies, you are given the gift of "second chances". Their eulogy is a reminder that the living can turn their lives around at any point. You’re not bound by the past; that is who you used to be. You’re reminded that your feelings are not who you are, but how you felt at that moment. Your bad choices defined you yesterday, but they are not who you are today. Your future doesn’t have to travel the same path with the same people. You can start over. You don’t have to apologize to people that won’t listen. You don’t have to justify your feelings or actions, during a difficult time in your life. You don’t have to put up with people that are insecure and want you to fail. All you have to do is walk forward with a positive outlook, and trust that God has a plan that is greater than the sorrow you left behind. The people of quality that were meant to be in your life won’t need you to explain the beauty of your heart. They already understand what being human is----a roller coaster ride of emotions during rainstorms and sunshine, sprinkled with moments when you can almost reach the stars.

Shannon L. Alder

Substitute the first and second sentence with, When you die and are reborn, you are given the gift of new beginnings. Your eulogy is a reminder that the living (you in your rebirth), can turn your life around at any point. With those two changed sentences, this quote is exactly what I'm feeling as I leave the past behind after being stricken down by my cancer experience and the ensuing battle. I don't know if I can describe what happened the morning of August 18, 2019 as having experienced death and coming back. I know there is a short period of time that I have no recollection of. I don't know if it was seconds or minutes. I don't recall seeing my life pass before me. I don't recall seeing a long tunnel with a white light at the end. I just don't remember anything for that brief period of time. And, of course, I was completely disoriented when I regained consciousness or grasped life again, whichever the case may have been.

What I do know is that a lot of things changed. To be perfectly honest, if friends, family, business associates or new people see me today, the only thing they will likely notice is that I'm slimmer because I lost about 20% of my weight (and, unfortunately, muscle mass). Otherwise, externally, there is little about the changes I described in the previous article that one can see. The voice I've used to speak and to provide voice-overs for numerous clients is still the same. I still have the knowledge, creativity, any talent I may have been blessed with and the skills I've learned and honed through over 60 years of adolescent and adult experiences. For all practical intents and purposes, externally and experientially, I'm still me. But, as I described, there is a new persona residing inside this older and, now, somewhat modified body.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

New Beginnings – 2022

I'm writing this on January 1, 2022. As you can see, if you look at my last blog article, this is my first new article in a year. The year 2021 was very similar to 2020. They were both years that weren't. I mean, for me, they weren't noteworthy. Many things happened during 2021, but from my perspective, they were mainly negative things. But, I really don't want to focus and dwell on the negative. A few years ago, after writing this blog for about ten years, I began facing writers block. My articles became fewer and far between. I picked up again for a short time in 2019 when I was stricken down with my battle with cancer and I wrote almost daily for a few months about my experiences.

Let me be clear, I'm 76 years old. I'll be 77 years old in a few months. I try to not dwell on my age, however, due to many things that have occurred over the past couple of years, most notably, my battle and, so far, my victory over a near fatal bout with a pretty rare form of cancer, I have begun to accept my aging reality. You may have heard older people express the aging process as experiencing all kinds of aches, pains, physical changes, lower levels of energy and stamina. But, at the same time, they say their minds are acting like they are still in their 30s or 40s. I can relate to that.

However, some of us are dealt a variety of challenges. Some of those challenges result with life ending. During the past couple of years I've lost at least 12 friends from various facets of my life. Some of these friends were considerably older than me. Some were around my age. Still others were younger than me. Meanwhile, some of us survive after being dealt strokes, heart attacks, hip, knee and other joint replacements. Others have to deal with issues like diabetes, MS, Lupis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other chronic and autoimmune diseases. And, some, like me, must face the “Big C,” cancers of all kinds. I'm actually a two time cancer survivor, but I'm still going. In many cases, probably most cases, these medical issues are surprises. They blind-side us and, like it or not, we must deal with them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A PUBLIC LYNCHING

 I just posted the following article on Facebook today, January 13, 2021. It's one week after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a bunch of organized, trained thugs, extremists and domestic terrorists supposedly incited by the outgoing President Donald Trump. NOT! These people acted on their own volition and need to be held accountable for their actions. Trump did not lead them. He did not tell them to storm the Capitol. He did not instruct or command them to break in, cause damage, steal anything or intimidate or attack any people. He simply indicated they should march down to the Capitol where the vice-president was counting and confirming the electoral college ballots with the House of Representatives and the Senate for the next president of the United States.

I was working on something else and the TV was on in the other room and I was listening to the proceedings going on in the House of Representatives to impeach President Trump for the second time when he only has seven days left in office. I got very sick listening to these people as you'll read below. I couldn't hold back. I had to shut the puke coming out of these people's mouths out of my mind. So, I turned off the TV and sat down and wrote this article for Facebook. Perhaps you've already read it there. I have no plans to follow up on it, but I'm expecting to be brutally attacked by a large number of people. And, I fully expect that these cretins in Washington, DC are going to succeed in destroying many lifelong friendships. I don't plan to end any friendships. However, if others decide to end our friendships, that will be by their choice, not mine. And, obviously, I guess politics is more important than friendship in those cases. So, here's what I said on Facebook.

                                                                                     ***********

This is a one-time post from me on this subject! I'll probably be banned from Facebook - and so be it! And, it will be just one more knife in the back of freedom of speech in this country!

I NEVER thought I'd be witness to a public lynching. I just had to turn off the live news feed of the biggest lynch mob I've ever heard of. It's called the United States Congress. I now know that in order to become a "so-called" elected representative of the people of this country you have to have an IQ that exceeds 12 but does not surpass 50. I had to turn it off because I was literally about to vomit my guts out listening to these imbeciles.

People are suffering and dying of Covid-19. Our military men and women are spread all over the world, millions have died over the years (and I'm a veteran myself) - supposedly defending our freedom and Constitution - and meanwhile - the people in the (supposedly) People's House are defiling that Constitution and tearing it apart. And, there are dozens, if not hundreds of real-world, important issues for the US citizens that should be the real business of the Congress. They have ignored most of them for the past four years because they were too busy trying to lynch the president - and have continuously failed.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude – Welcome 2021

 The year 2020 will surely go down in our personal history books as the year that wasn't. Wasn't what? Wasn't a good year for most of the world. Sure, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer for the most part. But, that seems to be the trend and has been for the last several years. But, don't worry. This is not going to be a political statement. It's simply a commentary on how I view it.

Today is, in fact, another anniversary for me. One year ago today I spent the entire day on an operating table at the Winchester (VA) Medical Center having half of my stomach and three-quarters of my esophagus removed. The surgery was the third and final course of treatment for the cancer fireball that struck me down on August 18, 2019.

I found out some time after the first two courses of treatment, chemotherapy and radiation, that my survival prospects were quite a bit less than optimal. As a matter of fact, just a couple weeks before I had the surgery I asked my surgeon point-blank, what my survival chances were if I opted out of having the surgery. He replied, just as point-blank. NONE!

So, here I am, one year later, a very different person physically, psychologically and emotionally. The dream team of cancer specialists who worked on me destroyed the cancer and removed all the damage it had done to my body. I am, as of the latest round of CT scans one month ago, cancer-free.

Those of you who have followed my progress since I was stricken, know I've been through quite a course of treatment. And, I'm still recovering from the ordeal. But, believe me, despite how bad the overall year of 2020 was for me, with respect to my medical crisis, I am one happy camper (no pun intended) to be writing this article today.