Thursday, May 01, 2014

radiation, succulents and anniversaries

Down in the bowels of Providence hospital, beyond the bounds of cell service, we arrive, one after the other, for our daily dose of cell-killing rays. We sit and wait our turns. I've been showing up earlier to grab a cup of coffee with an older couple who like to chat. We all have our stories. She got to keep her hair, I didn't. I miss my hair most of all. It hasn't really started growing back yet. I hope it will. I have lymph edema in my right arm because the lymph fluid can't find its way back to my heart since the surgery. Instead, it leaks out my eyes and I bloat up like a whale. I have physical therapy appointments, radiation appointments, and any day without one is a gift. I want to sleep, but life calls me. I have a garden, after all.

Today the physical therapist said (of the edema), "Well, since this is something you'll have to manage for the rest of your life, blah blah blah." I pretty much stopped hearing at that point. "What?" I may have yelled. "The rest of my life?" "Yes," she said, very nicely, "It is incurable." Was anyone going to tell me this? I've had it for months. Now, turns out I have to wear an arm length ace bandage-ish thing, two of them on top of each other, to get the swelling down to the point where they can make a permanent one for me. f-o-r-e-v-e-r. What a bonus, eh? And now, in addition to breast-shrivelling radiation, I get a permanent elastic sleeve to wear. Even in the sun, which has been out for two consecutive days, only to slink back to wherever it goes when it isn't in Portland.

Next topic: For ten years we have been fighting a battle to maintain a spot of lawn in our backyard. Just a little bit. Ten by ten. And each year we begin anew, sod or seed, it doesn't matter. We plant, water, baby along the soft green fuzz, and enjoy it for the summer. But each year, the encroaching moss takes more than its fair share and gobbles up the grass. This year has been darker and wetter than usual, which, for Portland, is saying something. The interminable, dreary gray of day after day after day has invited a moss revival. We finally gave up. The moss won. I wasn't sure what I would do in the absence of grass, but decided on a rock and moss-like plant garden instead. As it happens, as soon as I made this decision, my cousin, who had just moved from inner Portland out to the Sandy River (their place is lovely -- their own state park complete with waterfalls and river frontage) she no longer had a need to landscape the place, so she gave me nine flat stones, each about the size of a very large coffee-table book each. No -- they're bigger. About two of those books side by side. Anyway, they are big. So now it is a design question. I've considered placing the stones in a circle; making a path to nowhere? Well, its too late for input. Time has passed, it is now two weeks later and the path is laid. I decided to be practical for once instead of purely ornamental. I made the path to correspond where I walk when I water. That way, all of the "steppable" plants I have planted (I think I got one of everything) won't get crushed and die when "stepped" on.

So, today is our 10th Wedding Anniversary, We took a long drive through the gorge and the waterfalls and around the base of Mt. Hood. I stole a big chunk of moss from one of the waterfall parks. Horsetail Falls. It was already on the pavement and sprouting ferns. Not exactly theft, but I'm still glad we weren't accosted by the tour bus of elders from "Friends of the Gorge."

Ten years of marriage and I am so happy. This past year has been a beautiful demonstration of our commitment to each other. He kisses my bald head and tells me I'm beautiful. Always marry a liar.


nina said...

Hey, I needn't wish you a Happy Anniversary because you admitted to having taken care of that already! So, to a rocks solid next ten years. Even if it's a path leading nowhere, it really is leading somewhere after all.

(When are you all done with this crap? So I can drink in celebration of the end of your ordeal?)

Seriously, to continued happy times!

asha said...

Wow. The things they don't tell us. Damn

Anyway, looking forward to seeing you soon. Let's do lunch or some fun thing. It's along road to nowhere. Good to walk with friends along the way.

someone said...

I love you. Both. All.

greg|regan said...

So sorry to hear about the lymphedema. A cancer parting prize no one wants to receive. In an online group I'm in, someone was just raving about this 'tribute sleeve'... said it brought her arm nearly back to normal within 2 weeks and now sees a massage therapist for flare ups only.

Who knows.

Anyway, happy anniversary. Happy gardening. Happy having to move and go when you really want to sleep. Radiation is tiring, but I think the moving helps sometimes more than the rest. That was my impression anyway.

someone said...

g/r: you are so right. movement is all. I'll decorate the sleeve once I have the permanent one. My arm is responding very well to the therapy so I may be one of the lucky ones who need it only for big work.