Thursday, January 24, 2013


Yesterday, my mid-week day-off from the clinic, was a very emotional day. I'm still struggling with a few issues aside from just trying to be in the moment, survive, the basics...I have continued to try to find the answer to this persistant hip pain, swallowing dysfunction and voice changes that I have been going through. And to step on the anxiety that arises as I wonder what the source of these issues may be, and what it could mean, and remind myself that I have had a myriad of work-ups showing no reason to assume any dire diagnosis surrounding them, so it makes most sense to simply move forward with life and practice the action that I preach to myself and others constantly-enjoy this moment, this one beautiful moment.

Tuesday one of my colleagues performed an adjustment on my hips and noted that they are out of alignment; between her care and the use of a light therapy wand, I felt MUCH better thereafter that day and night but the experience reminded me-I HAVE A CHIROPRACTER! I realized that I had not been to see him in over a year and was happy to be able to get a last minute appointment on Wednesday.

(finishing up on Friday) I walked into the chiropractors office and felt a sense of being in the right place, the kind of touchy-feel-y happy goodness like returning to summer camp and being in a place of love that I used to want to just say "Shut Up!" when people would talk like that around me. I was laughing and crying at the same time as my doc assessed the misalignment of my pelvis and tested me for the need to supplement my emotional health with Bach Flowers and I began to feel as though I was bursting though a layer of sediment that has been lying over me the last year, maybe longer, as I have dealt with my mother's illness then death, pushing my own health to the back burner, trying to maintain career momentum and not lose my artist's soul in the middle of it all... shoot listen to me...I have been feeling MUCH better since that visit and my hip, though not pain free, is feeling more like it's old self.

Later, I went to singing class. The experience of being a singing student, feeling myself a professional among dedicated amateurs, has been humbling and also revealing of my own ego as I don't truly know anything about the backgrounds of my classmates. All have nice voices but I make assumptions based on my impressions...anyway, they are a sweet and lovely group and have been very kind to me, and their kindness was tested as I struggled to graciously accept the vocal coaching that is part of the course, and in that room of love, had a tearful melt down as I finally reconnected with my voice and hit the lick I'd been looking for. One thing to be directed when recording a song as a voice for hire, another to be directed while try to let loose my inner jazz "artiste". From having been the original vocalist of The Time Jumpers to a former chick singer with an out of shape voice struggling to make the song "swing", it's been a hard road toward renewing my connection with the songs. I had a breakthrough; suddenly felt the sense of inspiration, my voice spiraling almost without my guidance, and the cushion of the band behind me as if I could fall back on it like a rock star crowd surfing. That sensation carried me through my days with Sam Moore, singing duets on "When Something is Wrong with My Baby" on so many nights including in the Lionel Hampton Jazz Club at Le Meridian in Paris in 2002 for New Years Eve, the whole band jumping up and down with inability to control our excitement and enthusiasm and me counting down the last seconds in French, Merci Boucoup! Dave just newly up from major surgery, not yet struck by lung cancer... that person is me too, not just the cancer survivor/therapist at Vanderbilt. Oh Yes! that is me too and I felt it again for a second. Despite the sense of awkwardness I initially felt at paying to sing rather than being paid, that's part of this transition, to study and be coached and to be humble and yes, I'm there for it, I have had an adjustment and am realigning myself with me and yes I am going to keep going there!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Mommy; Wish you Were Here

Yesterday was an auspicious day: the inauguration, Martin Luther King day, and the 75th anniversary of the birth of CL, my mother, who passed away last spring. I could not help but think throughout the day how she would have loved sharing a special day with the pres and Dr. King. I had to work and so saw very little of the Washington festivities, but caught our good looking president and his lovely wife in the parade walking along waving to the crowd and thought that despite so many ills and sorrows in the world at this time, it is a lovely thing to have a first family that I throughly like. Don't always agree with the politics, but I like them, they are nice and smart and strike me as sincere. My mother, while I did not always share her interests or her point of view, was also nice and smart and sincere and gave me many of the qualities that I like most about myself, and although I feel an odd closeness with her now, I wish like heck that I could talk to her, call her to tell her of my successes to hear her delight and praise, visit and get a warm hug. Those days were gone before she died so that longing is older than the grief, but all of it comes to the surface on such a day as yesterday. Happy Birthday, Mommy; wish you were here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Woke at 4:30 or so in lots of pain; left shoulder, neck, head especially around the left eye and above. I thought I was having a stroke-that is an indication of my anxiety level. It's probably sinus irritation from being cooped up in this house with the cold weather and not having had a massage in over a month, my spoiled body protesting. Also, have gone back to drinking Chinese tea on days off of work and probably was low on caffeine yesterday so up at 5 for coffee and hopefully not waking my husband who has really been challenged by my new schedule of usual 6 am wake ups.

I'm off on Wednesdays now, a workday change that I anticipated gleefully and which is not making me as happy as I thought it would. With my full time 32-hour job, 2 on 1 off, 2 on, 2 off, is sort of like having 2 Mondays in the work week, rather than just an easier week, and it is clinically difficult for the schedulers to book patients for me when many of them should be coming 3 x per week. So I may rethink that one, but haven't had the heart to broach the subject with my husband just yet-he is a night creature who has already adapted to rising early, but needs more sleep than I do, and it's asking a lot to include that 5th day of 6 am get-ups, although with my forgetfulness about resetting the alarm, it may not make a difference!

Another challenge with Wednesday off is keeping the commitment to daily exercise. I have a stationary bike at home now, so that should not be an issue, but there is something soothing about a routine like driving to the clinic, going to the gym there for an hour, then crossing the street to my office and working all day. The workout wakes me and makes me feel that I'm following doctors orders for longevity and avoidance of recurrence, and that in itself is soothing, an anxiety reducer. And of course with the bike at home, this concern should not require me to alter my work schedule, but somehow, I don't know-I may have to do it for peace, for routine, to get back to that feeling I had a few months ago when I was working out 4 - 5 mornings a week regularly and having a sense of return to my old well self. The constant evolution of a life demands constant adaptation, something I feel I should be good at by now, but with which I still struggle.

I lost my keys yesterday; came home Tuesday night with ice storm threatening and a state of emergency declared and dropped my purse and coat on the chair in the living room as usual; I remember having my keys in my hand as I went to some other part of the house but thought that I had gone back and put them in my purse, but they are nowhere to be found and after both of us searching as I tried to leave early for my jazz singing class last night, I eventually borrowed D's and came home later, breaking down in tears, feeling like a failure, my world falling apart. My spouse, with his usual laser-like ability to come to the point, asked what happened to the Zen person I strive to be with my activities. In an attempt to find her, I got up this morning and meditated. Not sure if it was that or the coffee that has backed the headache from a 9 to a 2, but either way, today will be a better day and I recommit to joy.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


written 1/13/13

I finally figured out how to do this on the ipad...I think. It's an app...duh. I have been a slow learner with the ipad, feeling overwhelmed with technology. It get's depressing sometimes trying to stay on top of "upgrades" in modern life. I no longer make resolutions, but do make plans and set goals for the new year, among them to write this blog at least once a week, and already am unsuccessful in keeping this goal, but perhaps can succeed with once monthly? A friend gave me a good review on this blog and encouraged me to return to my writing, which helped spur this note, and as I have all kinds of book-writing urges lately, I guess I better practice some composition.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oncologist visit-it's all good

Every survivor knows the butterflies that occur in the days and nights leading up to the quarterly then semi-annual and later annual visits with the oncologist. The what-ifs and the listing of abnormalities that precede the appointment. I knew that I must be coming on to good news, as I really feel great despite the phenomenal stress that I'm under at the moment. But it was elating to hear Dr. M say, "You look great; you've lost weight" and "Perfect blood work", and to congratulate me for being wise enough to implement her most important survival advice, "Three hours of sweaty exercise a week", by going in to work early each day and pounding it out on the stationary bike. "You work in a fitness center; you have no excuse!" she told me when I whined about it at the previous visit. She also said that my recent loss of the need to nap frequently could be attributed to those morning rides. But then she told me something I didn't expect, that as a participant in a clinical trial, one that has now been unblinded and for which I know I was not a recipient of the experimental drug, I will need to have follow up visits every 3 months, despite also showing a continued relationship with Ned (No Evidence of Disease). I have to admit as she was apologizing for the disruption this will cause, I found myself feeling pleased with the news. I hope the pre-visit trepidation I experienced this time will decrease as time goes on with future sessions, but I like getting to see the doc frequently.

Monday, July 23, 2012


written late at night 4/28/12-I couldn't get it to publish, I don't know why, and it's been gone when I've looked for it her over the past couple of months, but here it is again...funny....

The past few months have been a whirlwind. Moving Mom here from California in October, trying to get her hooked up into the Vanderbilt medical system as I know it is the best and she has had such fragmented care in CA. I thought I had time, I thought the surgery to revise her ventriculo-peritoneal shunt on Thursday was the right thing to do and although I know that ALL surgery holds the risk of death, she seemed so vital, so tenacious, that I never even pondered that she would die of this experience. She seemed appropriately groggy after the surgery, a little less oriented the next day but I really never even thought that this could be her end. Ah always kept me on my toes. You gave me gifts that I love about myself and you allowed me to see shining examples of what and who I do and do not wish to be. I am in shock. I miss my mother, but I have been missing her for months now...missing the phone calls that used to be sure to irritate me. Missing the over-identification with my life and the over-enthusiasm for my activities that freaked me out. Her insatiable desire to surround herself with the things she loved even as she become more and more isolated from people. I have given a large portion of myself to trying to champion her needs and on attempting to intervene in situations that so frequently left her in need of assistance, unable to help herself out of a tight spot. Heck, I'm sure that's something that can happen to anyone but it started happening to me when I was a little kid and there was no other adult in the house so I felt it my duty to try to grow up fast. I've never been able to shake it. And now, I will have to reinvent myself as a girl who does not have an ill mother who is also a force of nature, a creative dervish and a magnetic spirit. I'm on my own now as far as that goes. Lucky to still have my other mother to comfort me, my father to counsel and console me. My sister to share my grief, my dear husband to shepherd me and commiserate. My friends to gather round me. I'm a sad and lucky girl in mourning for Charmaine. 1/21/38-4/28/12.

Last Friday

I am writing practically nonstop these days, but obviously not much of it here. I have so many projects on my plate-too many! I'm managing to stay fairly calm behind all of it, and remind myself of the need for inner peace every day. Forgoing yoga at the moment to avoid public emotional evisceration, I have found a wonderful QiGong/Tai Chi class at the local YMCA, taught by an acupuncturist who discusses the traditional Chinese Medicine aspects of our activities during the exercises; right up my alley! That will help me on the way to becoming ready to return to yoga, and I hope I will continue with both.

Last Friday was a very nice day, hectic but rewarding at work and then I met up for dinner with a fascinating woman I met at a breast cancer support group. I don't do much of that support group thing, but this one, for the ABC program which stands for After Breast Cancer at the YMCA is one that I support in my work and I have been the beneficiary of for its free personal training and nutritional counseling, and the meeting that I attended when I met my new friend was "spa night" and well worth going. The best part though was S. who is a woman in the middle of her journey through treatment, a physician herself, beautiful, fit, smart, and with basically the very same diagnosis as I had. Triple negative, early stage, left sided. So much in common although so far apart culturally. She a Caribbean, I a California Jew. It was gratifying to me to have some opportunity to offer some experience, to hopefully smooth some of the challenges facing my new friend. It's amazing how soothing it is to be able to, from time to time, offer someone a tip that makes their experience just a tiny bit easier. And when it's a person that you really want to get to know, it's that much better. It didn't even occur to me to suggest that she might want to read this blog, but I will next time I talk to her. That was the impetus for starting this anyway, the idea that someone sometime might have a similar path to walk and need a bit of a road map. I wish I could have found one when I was initially facing my health challenges. 

Later on Friday night, we went to a birthday party at the home of a friend who travels so much that we never get to see her. Lots of our old pals were in attendance, and it was amazing to meet up with the crew, and sadly unsurprising to hear of many newly diagnosed cancer survivors among them, and to hear of those who have not made it while we have been busy working on our own survival. Every day another miracle; waking up is one.