Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31st, 2008: Whew—2008—such a year! I don’t consider it my task to summarize this eventful year, but there were three memorable happenings in my life which I expect will continue to prompt change and creativity for some time. First chronologically would be my visit to Seattle in May and realizing how much I want to include Lorenzo in my life. Given my health limits over the past several months, I think we’ve done admirably. I continue to feel close and cared for; may this relationship grow for both of us.

The next big event started with a relatively simple hip replacement in late August which revealed an unexpected health crisis: advanced sarcoma of the pelvis growing into the pubic bone and an inner thigh muscle as well as possible sites in the lungs and liver. Ouch. The cancer diagnosis was a total surprise, complicated by increasing discomfort which needed serious pain management. At the time it didn’t seem rapid, but in retrospect, organizing the medical team and decisions about treatment happened quickly. Also, the decision to create this blog has been one of the best steps I’ve taken this year. This site has become a source of information about my changing health as well as a place where each reader can participate in helping me heal. I am not kidding when I say that it’s made a difference for all of you to recite the invocation for healing during my chemo treatments. I cannot overcome cancer alone. To my surprise, the blog has become a hub of healing that I never anticipated. My original intention was to cut down on my phone calls to friends. What a wonderful surprise to have this site become interactive and communal.

And finally, the long haul of Barack Obama through the primaries and the presidential race resulting in his winning the presidency has been a big part of 2008 for me. Each of these events seem big, and there are other compelling stories as well: the damage of Prop 8 passing, the growth of my godson Willem during his first year, and all the many acts of courage and grace and creativity that each of you has shared with me during this year. My deepest thanks to all of you for being in my life. And to all of you, a very Happy and Gratifying New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 30th, 2008: It’s been several days since I’ve gone into my healing center for a visit. Today, I could feel that there were healers who wanted to make contact with me. Curious as to whom they were and what they had to teach me, I lay down on my bed, put on my Tibetan bowls CD and prepared myself to make contact. During preparation, I found it difficult to concentrate on cleaning my aura and running energy but kept moving my intention forward to prepare for entering my healing center. Finally, after some work, I entered my garden and had a good soak in my turquoise-lined tub. Then I lay on the marble slab where I present myself to the visiting healers. The garden doors opened, there were energies that came in, but I couldn’t distinguish who they were or what they were. I lay calmly, asking for clarity.

After a confusing period of time, I realized that I may have shifted into a new zone with my pain medication. For the past month and a half, I’ve used 150 mcg of Fentanyl patches and the pain management has been fine. However, with my tumor shrinking, I may need less medication. Not being able to stay alert with my imagination is a tip off to me that something has shifted. Tonight, I have no memory of who my healers were. However, the message seems to be, “Drop the medication down a level.” I’ll try it. When I change my patches on Thursday, I’m going to apply only a 100 mcg patch. If I experience pain, I can always put on more medication. If not, then I know that the diminished tumor requires fewer narcotics for comfort and a clear awareness. I’ll keep you posted.
December 28th, 2008:
I was invited to a party in Santa Cruz on Saturday evening, the seventh night of Hanukkah with the promise of plates of latkes. Since I felt fine, it seemed like a good time to leave San Francisco and journey south for an overnight stay. The trip down was an overture to the weekend: great conversation, interesting topics, beautiful scenery. When we arrived at the party, it became clear that children would be a big part of the evening. And what wonderful children! Ranging from less than a year to four, there were a dozen kiddos of remarkable sweetness and playfulness. Shoshanah, our hostess had hired a baby sitter who located herself upstairs. Through the course of the evening, the kids spent a lot of time upstairs playing dress up. Since there are two girls in the family giving the party, the extra clothes were dresses. No problema for one adventurous boy who arrived in a shirt decorated with menorahs, but quickly changed into a summer dress. And that was his outfit for the rest of the evening. Among the older adults, his ease with cross-dressing was greeted with wonder and admiration. That would not have been allowed when any of us were growing up, and we all reflected on what a happier new age seemed to be dawning in Santa Cruz.

It was a treat to see all of these people again; I haven’t been to Santa Cruz in too long. The spiritual center of the evening, lighting the menorahs and singing the prayer of thanks was wonderful. Among the adults, there was a sense of irony and poignancy that the safety and joy of the children at the party was happening a world away from the Israeli retaliation to the Hamas bombings which had started on the same day. Such a complex world with so many variables!

I had planned to stay overnight with Wendy Ostrow and her husband, Dan Arias. After the party, we stayed up and were talking about the rest of the weekend. Usually on Sunday morning in Santa Cruz, I join them for a trip to yoga class. This time, Wendy surprised me by asking if I would like to go with them to the Inner Light Ministry for services. The word “ministry” sent me into an assumption that this was a Christian church of some sort, so I declined. No, no, they assured me. This group certainly focused on a connection with God, but not based on any conventional religion. Curious, I decided to go.

At 11:00 on Sunday morning, we arrived at a sizeable building with seating for some 400 to 500. The founding minister was on vacation and the robust choir was not singing that day, so it was a relatively quiet introduction to this congregation. However, I was really impressed by what I experienced. The music was very good, coming mostly from gospel roots with seven or so instrumentalists and two very fine vocalists. But the big event was the underlying philosophy that we all have a yearning to connect with God and that this community offers tools and support for that connection. I could not have been more surprised at how much I enjoyed being with this group. A consequence for me of having cancer is a slow and thorough reexamination of God in my life. As I said earlier, I have no desire to join a church nor am I interested in pursuing Judaism, Islam, Buddhism. I feel like I’ve had more than enough organized religion for several lifetimes. However, I also know that I am spiritually vital and have been neglecting that part of my self. What a surprise to find, in Santa Cruz, such an interesting answer to what I’ve been searching for. As I told Wendy after the service, “If I lived here, I’d come here on Sunday for renewal and insight.”

As a finale, we drove back to San Francisco on Route 1 with high clouds and quiet surf. What a surprising and invigorating weekend!

Friday, December 26, 2008

December 26th, 2008: One of the unexpected features of feeling well—and I have been feeling very well all week—is that I don’t write in the blog as much. However, there are still many issues that are mixing and emerging through the progress of my illness. For one thing, the cancer itself is still definitely alive. It may have retracted dramatically, but it has not disappeared. Similarly, I have many thoughts and assumptions that I've lived with for many years, and they are undergoing as much change as the cancer. A couple of entries ago, I mentioned that it was a big shift for me to realize how much people loved me. The cancer has helped me understand that I've kept myself hidden inappropriately for much of my life because I didn’t think that it was safe to be loved. More of that as I go forward. In short, there is still a lot to discover and express through the forward course of my healing.

For tonight, I’d like to add a second reason for more life. The first reason was to have time for a deep romantic relationship with Lorenzo. The next reason is less huge, but has great meaning for me. Since the onset of my illness I have come to face the truth that I have a lifetime yearning to visit China. This goal is certainly easier in some ways than the risks and lessons of love. On the surface, it’s as simple as buying a plane ticket and booking a three to four week tour. But beneath the ease of travel, there’s a profound desire on my part to go back to China and look around as I ask myself, “What does it look like now?”

A couple of years ago, when I was doing past life regressions under the capable guidance of Marilyn Zschau, one hypnosis session uncovered my experiences during the Southern Song dynasty, around 1100 CE. To summarize that life: I was a bureaucrat with a beautiful home centered around a courtyard and garden. I was married with several children. A key member of our household was my boyfriend with whom I took most of my meals. We spent a great deal of time together enjoying our interests in aesthetics as well as having a deep erotic connection.

Then, in the big event of my life, a plague or viral epidemic started to sweep through the country, originating in the southwestern provinces and advancing into northeast territories. I was one of the couriers responsible for riding north to warn unsuspecting cities about this pestilence. I had official seals and documents that described the symptoms of the illness as well as recommendations for protection and public safety. I rode across a huge swath of terrain for over two years. During this time, my skill on horseback became so pronounced that in this life I am still able to ride with ease and enjoyment even though I’ve had little equestrian training. In this life, when I approach a horse, swing myself into the saddle and make my agreements with the horse about how we will ride well together, all of that ability is sourced from my Chinese lifetime. I rode and rode, visiting cities that we new or legendary to me. It was a time of great urgency and a pressing sense of failure. Although I told people about the plague, I could not prevent it from infecting and decimating many thousands of my beloved Chinese citizens. The worst experience of my own helplessness occurred when I returned home after my diplomatic work had ended, only to find that my cherished youngest daughter had died from the great disease while I was gone. My grief that I would not have the pleasure of watching her grow into adulthood was immense. This grief was followed by the dissolution of affection from my boyfriend who had become lonely and insecure during my long absence. Although he lived at a different social level than my family, he still had the ability to move, so he relocated many hundreds of miles away from our city. After the limelight of non-stop travel and the sustained fear of the plague, I aged dramatically when I came home to my reduced household. The unexpected surprise of my final years was that my wife, a woman who I neglected without remorse during my mid-life became a great comfort and focus of my later years. Much to my surprise, I came to love her and find her fascinating, virtuous, heroic and the real center of my home. She was the person who constellated our family.

At the center of all this travel and the dramatic relationships that surged and ebbed, the deepest experience from this hypnosis session was the honor I felt at being Chinese. Within that lifetime, it was a cosmic joy to be of the Han people. We were the most cultured, the most civilized, the most inventive, etc. people on the planet. And we knew it. Regardless of the varied social positions or life circumstances, to be Chinese was the greatest privilege. I felt that in my bones. In fact, I felt it so strongly, that now, in a very different culture and time, I can still feel the honor of being Chinese even though I no longer embody that culture. I want to go back and see what the current Chinese populace looks like and to experience their remarkable achievements of social and industrial growth. I want to see the new places—Shanghai and the other enormous cities—and the timeless places like the reflecting mountains and rice fields of Guilin.

Although this reason to live may not seem as huge as romantic love, it’s actually another facet of love. In my heart and soul, I have an affection for China that overrides that country’s politics or struggles to provide a safe life of its billion plus inhabitants. Now that it’s possible to visit there again, I yearn to go. Back in late October, when I was wrestling with how to organize treatments to stay alive, I realized that at least one trip to China was a deep wish I have for this life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22nd, 2008: Today was another great doctor visit, this time with Dr. Jahan, my lead strategist and head oncologist. Eileen Lemus was with me, and we were both thrilled by Dr. Jahan’s assessment about the amount that my tumor has shrunk. Of course, the specific amount can’t be known until the next scans are done. That will happen on Jan. 7th or 8th when I go back into the hospital for my third round of chemo. The idea is that while I am being hydrated right after checking onto the ward, they will do an MRI of my pelvis as well as a CT scan of my chest and abdomen. The latter scans will measure the lung and liver lesions. The MRI scan will give details of the main tumor in my pelvis. Dr. Jahan said that he hopes that the large pelvic tumor will be shown to have “peeled away” from its invasion of the inner thigh muscle and the pubic bone. That’s the new vocabulary term for today: peeled away. Apparently, as tumors shrink in response to chemo, they retract from their previous extension, retreating from involvement with nearby tissues. Everyone out there, please imagine that my tumor has peeled away from all surrounding bones and soft tissues.

A word of caution: we won’t know about the results for sure until the scans have been taken and studied, however, as he was ending the clinic visit, Dr. Jahan, said, “This is the best results from chemo that I’ve seen in a long time.” To which I responded, “Yippppppieee!!” This was a clinic visit to remember for a long time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December 21st, 2008: Over a month ago, I mentioned that having cancer brings up the question: “Why live?” Or, perhaps better said: “What’s to live for?” At the time, I didn’t offer any conclusions that were surfacing for me, but today, I’m going to start with my wish list of why I’d like more time and more life. In many ways, this question and its answers are the soul of this blog. More to the point, they are the soul of me. So I’ll start with the goal that has emerged with the greatest clarity and fervor in the past months: Love. Specifically, love with another person.

A quote from Rilke about love: “For one human being to love another that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”

In my first blog entry I told about visiting with my friend Lorenzo in Seattle this past May, and realizing how much I cared for him. Our connection has grown steadily and happily as we stay in touch by phone. It’s been our voices that have linked us for the past seven months. Now, as we start to plan when we can visit in person, the hope to build a loving relationship increases. It looks like we’ll get together during a pause between chemo treatments. These pauses, from the perspective of today are as much normalcy as I can imagine at this time. Today, between my second and third treatments I have a good appetite, I am not facing fatigue (although I do like an afternoon nap) and I walk better than any other time in the past two years. This is a solid foundation, I think, for a visit.

The other foundation that probably would not have happened without this illness is that I have dropped some layers of defense from the rest of the world. I started this entry saying that my emerging goal was create love with another person. That goal is built on a foundation of deepening my love of myself. I don’t mean this in a narcissistic way. Rather, over the past three months, I have been hearing from many people that they love me. Increasingly, I’m able to hear this with a fullness that just wasn’t available to me before this illness.

My friend Ellen was visiting earlier this week and she ventured to describe my adult life as being much in the pattern of a secular monk. She saw me in the world and able to care for many people because of my interest in them and also because I was not linked to a family, a primary relationship or a religious dogma. This pattern needn’t preclude falling in love and building a partnership with a person who I admire and am attracted to. However, to date my friends were my primary relationships. By sharing an aesthetic connection with many of my intimates and operating primarily on the feeling level, I’ve been able to connect with many people.

That love is certainly coming back to me now. Many friends have been very specific about how much they care for me. Maybe it’s the repetition or a shift in me due to having cancer, but I am aware of how much more I let in the love of others. It’s huge. Earlier, I had confessed to being gushy with others. Now, there's more reciprocity, more energetic bounce.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 16th, 2008: I had a great visit today with Dr. O’Donnell. He’s the orthopedic surgeon who performed the open biopsy on me to help determine what sort of tumor I am hosting. He probably knows the tumor better than anyone since he has seen it visually, taken a chunk of it for the pathology lab to study, plus he has examined the PET and MRI scans very carefully. He asked me to walk. When I got up and headed for the door, he got very excited since I wasn’t doing my “rotate around the tumor” where my right leg would swing out to circumvent the cancerous mass. Also, I am able to sit without being immediately uncomfortable. He palpated the site and kept exclaiming, “The chemo is really working for you. Wow, this is great! The shrinkage is dramatic.” Finally, he finished with a burst of enthusiasm, “I can’t wait to see your scans!”

Of course, I was very happy with his examination as well. He did caution that in the next month or two, it would be important to keep the original surgical team closely informed about the progress of the chemo and the results of the scans. If there is to be surgery, then the team would need to be lined up six weeks or so ahead of the date, and the operating room would need to be booked as well. Like planning ahead for an opera, the big star surgeons need to be in the same operating theatre at the same time. Dr. O’Donnell wanted to make sure that the success of the chemo doesn’t cause the future stages of my healing to be forgotten. It would be a real setback to have three or four courses of chemo and then have to wait six or eight weeks for a surgery just because it wasn’t scheduled early enough. That could give the tumor a chance to regain some bulk. Don’t want that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 15th, 2008: It amazes me that a week ago I had just been released from the hospital after my second chemo session. Although I watch myself carefully to not overextend, my energy in the past days has felt steady and reliable. Nausea has backed off, although I have an eye to its possible return.

Today, Dr. Jahan returned from his holiday and it was decided that I would have a third round of chemo in the first full week of January. After that, we’ll scan me from every possible direction to see how much the cancer has diminished. To me, this is great news because it means that I have some four weeks between chemo round two and round three. I am so glad to have the extra week for my body to stabilize and re-energize. Also, I’m very hopeful about the results of the scans; it feels like the main, pelvic tumor has shrunk dramatically. I base this feeling being much less encumbered by having to “walk around” the tumor.

My trip to my healing center last night involved a long rest on the marble slab where I await and receive my healing visitors. I am happy to announce that this rock, which is soft and yielding to lie on, also has on-request heating, a real virtue when the weather turns cold. And it’s been cold. My healers this time were two Polynesians of monumental stature. I’d say the woman was easily 350 lbs and the man maybe 425 to 450 lbs. Their weight isn't about obesity; it’s fully functional flesh. These healers are from a community that specializes in clearing out fear and confusion from people around the world. They do this work on the dream level, so if someone is undergoing a lot of stress and physical challenge, they can dream travel to the Polynesians’ home base where a group of these healers work on the person, then send them back home and into their bodies with a sense of relief and renewal. It was a special gift that they traveled to my healing center and stood over me. There was no touching. After rubbing their hands together and standing on either side of my marble bench, they faced their palms toward each other and created a force field just like a magnetic field. The sensations of being inside that force field were very cleansing. I was awed by their commitment to helping others and the level of their skills. Eventually, the slowly lowered their hands, smiled and left the garden.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11th, 2008: I’ve had two days of available energy; enough strength to go to work for a few hours, to enjoy the play of cooking and to emerge slowly and steadily from the nausea of earlier in the week. It’s hard for me to remember that I am feeling good in a larger context of having a lot of chemo activity in my body. I forget that the chemo keeps rippling through my cells even after I am unhooked from the infusion bags and discharged from the hospital. But it very much continues.

A couple of people have asked recently about pain; as in, does the cancer hurt throughout my body? Happily, the pain has been managed well for the past several weeks. However, I do have four possible pain sites, three associated with the tumor and the forth is nausea-driven. My pelvis is the canary in the mine. It can be uncomfortable to sit because I’m resting on the tumor, and I’ve felt hobbled walking because I put weight on my pubic bone—part of the pelvic architecture—which has been invaded by the tumor. There’s also a metastasis from the tumor into a muscle inside my thigh which can hurt when I walk. When I feel nauseated, then my stomach is doing the talking. Otherwise, no headaches, no chest pains, arms and legs are good. No neuropathy, tingling (well, sometimes there’s tingling, but that’s a good thing) or numbness. Point of going through all of this is that since the second round of chemo, the pains that I used to feel have diminished considerably. I think this is due to the tumor shrinking and taking up less pelvic space. Also, the anti-nausea meds have worked better, faster this time.

My hair continues to fall out, but I still have a see-through covering over my head. Each day, I consider: should I wear a cap all day? Just for transportation? So far I have backed off and I go out in public and to work with my thinning scalp. The increasingly chilly weather may change my mind.

Dr. Jahan is out of the country right now. I imagine him in Paris, indulging his gourmand self. Lunch at Taillevent; dinner at Guy Savoy. I’ll get a report from him when we meet on Dec. 22nd for our next check in. Hopefully, I will have had new PET, CT and MRI scans by then. The initial plan was to do two rounds of chemo and then restage the scans to measure changes wrought by the two treatments. The results of the scans would tell us how to move forward. More chemo of the same type? Different chemo? These are big decisions and they will be resolved in the next couple of weeks.

I am a very lucky guy to be in this position: I’ve been given treatment and I have responded well. That’s another thing that it’s hard for me to realize: I am doing very well with the chemo. There’s a lot for me to be grateful for, and believe me, I do give thanks. That includes thanks to all of you who have helped so much by telling my body that it’s OK to take in the chemo and let the treatments occur with minimal struggle.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December 8th, 2008: I had misgivings when I left the hospital with a high level of nausea. But I did not live out my greatest fear which was a recurrence of the misery I experienced after my initial chemo discharge. That was truly dreadful. This time I had an array of anti-nausea pills. And I took them. And they worked!!! Not to say that I was comfortable and totally oriented, but I rested quietly for most of the day. I started eating again (watermelon first, then, a few hours later my homemade chicken soup with wild rice and barley). Most of my first meals stayed down. A couple didn’t. With every hour of rest, I felt like I was moving forward to more stability.

Ideally, I would have stayed home and drifted all day. But destiny had scheduled me a clinic appointment for an injection that would support my white blood cell production. It seemed a bit much to get out of bed and schlep to the clinic to get a shot (which is given a day or two after discharge), but I also didn’t want to sabotage my white blood cells. When I arrived, I looked at myself reflected in the big clinic windows. I thought, “Yes. This is how I look right now: a thin corona of hair left on my head, pale skin, major facial wrinkles from weight loss (about 15 lbs.). I look like someone with cancer. I look like someone who has been given chemo. It’s true. It’s all happening and now you can see it visually, and that’s OK.

Once home, I was grateful to be down for the night at 4:30 in the afternoon. I had a brief but heartfelt and comforting talk with Lorenzo. Then, after feeling out of my body for almost a week, I listened to my Tibetan bowls CD and ran my energy, grounded, cleaned out my aura and went to my healing center. This time, I soaked in my turquoise pool for a long time. I’ve added a temperature switch that modulates the water’s warmth from 100 degrees to 110. This soak was followed by a rest on my marble mattress and then I heard a growling behind the garden gate. After being reassured that it was a healing growl, the gates opened and a mid-sized bear ambled into my garden. It circled around me several times, slowing as it moved. Finally, it put one arm over my chest in a friendly way, cupped me with it’s paw and rested it’s muzzle against the side of my head. “Dream,” it said. “Dream. Dream now. This is your dream time. Allow dreaming. Go into dreaming.” Then, after a long time of resting together, the bear removed his arm. “Eat lots of salmon,” were the final words as it shuffled out through the garden gates.
December 3rd to 7th, 2008: My second stay in the hospital was much easier than the first round of chemo, but still, it wasn’t easy. The pattern this time was that for the first three days I had a fine appetite which then abruptly flipped into nausea. For my last two days in the hospital, I ate nothing. Believe me, this was the best response. In spite of all the anti-nausea medication I received via my IV line, it didn’t overcome my aversion to food. By the forth day, food aromas were close to intolerable. My ability to concentrate conformed to the food curve; high cognitive ability for the first three days followed by no thought, no mind, no plans. All I could do was I was be in bed, and fortunately, that’s all I had to do as the chemo seeped into my body. I was aware of people reading my chemo invocation and helping my body work with the medicine. What you do really helps, and I thank you for all your efforts.

Toward the end of my stay, there was a bit of confusion. I’d be discharged on Monday morning. No, Sunday early afternoon. Finally, it was Sunday evening when Gaetano came to pick me up to take me home. Harder than navigating the shifting times for leaving the hospital was the disappointment and resentment I felt at leaving with such a lot of nausea. Finally, I understood. I had wanted my second course of chemo to be relatively painless. But it was not so for me. I had to remind myself that I am getting very powerful drugs. I am having totally appropriate physical and psychological reactions and I can endure a couple of uncomfortable days. Plus, it was good to be home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 2nd, 2008: I received the awaited call from the hospital: they have a bed for me today! I’ll go to the hospital later this afternoon. I am excited about getting more treatment to end the cancer’s life in my body. After being admitted, I’ll be hooked up to fluids for the next several hours and then the chemo should start tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 2nd.

I would really appreciate if you would read or recite the invocation that was used four weeks ago. When you recite this text, it gives my body confidence that it can contain and manage this treatment. Here is the text again, so that you don’t have to scroll back through the blog. Thank you in advance for every time you say these lines and every time you think of me having successful chemotherapy. Dah, dah, da da….

I welcome two elixirs into my body.
They swim into my body’s river systems.
They insinuate through cell walls.
They’ve been chosen for their willingness to kill.
They are poisons with a longer purpose.
My body will hold their heat.
They will burn my cancer into the bone.
My body understands this.
Each atom, cell and organ knows its destiny.
The mix of health and contagion will end.
Welcome Ifosfamide
Welcome Doxorubicin
Welcome to my body.
Find your way through me.
You have been invited.
Finally, you are here.

From now through my discharge day, Saturday, Dec. 6th, I’ll be in the hospital getting treatments. This is the primo time to recite the invocation. Also, during this time, I’ll be away from my computer, so I won’t be posting any additions to the blog. They take good care of me in the hospital, and I’d appreciate it if you would not call me in the hospital. I’ll be fine. As soon as I’m out, I’ll post a summary of my hospital stay.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December 1st, 2008: I called the hospital this morning to verify that I would have a bed available so that I could be admitted and start my second course of chemo today. “Oh, yes,” the charge nurse assured me, “there should be a bed for you later in the day.” I was startled when I got a call mid-afternoon from Evelyn, one of Dr. Jahan’s nurses telling me that I would be going into the hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd. “No, Evelyn,” I insisted. “I’ve been planning to go into the hospital today—Dec. 1st—since my last visit with Dr. Jahan two weeks ago.” It seems that the paper work of my request for treatment to my insurance company hadn’t been submitted until today. No insurance agreement, no treatment. After strongly expressing that I should have been told about the change of date, we hung up. A half hour later, the call came from the hospital telling me that a bed was ready for me. I summarized the conversation I’d had with Evelyn and told them that I would be coming in on Dec. 3rd. “Oh, no,” the floor nurse said, “We won’t have any beds available on Wednesday.” The hospital charge nurse agreed to call Evelyn. No word from Evelyn to anyone. Finally, at 5:00 I called the hospital for a status and they said, “Don’t plan on coming in tonight. We’ll get you in here as quickly as possible.”

My upset is that I am totally ready for another round of chemo. Now, I’m facing a double bind of being scheduled for the hospital on a day when there won’t be any beds. This will delay my treatments an unknown number of days. This is not good. It’s now 8:30 in the evening, and clearly I am not going into the hospital today. As soon as I hear that I’m cleared to enter the hospital, I’ll post that information on the blog.
November 30th, 2008: I awoke on Sunday feeling refreshed and energetic. The sun was out, and I realized that I had enough stamina to drive up to Glen Ellen for the day. I called Ann who lives on our property full time and said, “I’m on my way.” My poor car, Bianca, had only been out for a drive once since my hip surgery and on that occasion, we also drove up to Glen Ellen. Today, I put the key in the ignition and her old, German engine turned over immediately and happily. The drive up was warm, with vineyards golden and garnet. When I arrived, I saw that recent rains had filled the meadow with bright green grass. Ann and I had a long visit at our favorite place: her deck. Later in the afternoon, we went out into the meadow and planted wild mustard. Ann scattered the pods, and I sifted a layer of soil over the seeds. We zig-zagged through the back of the meadow, sending out vibes that the rains would cause the seeds to germinate and in late January the mustard would start to grow. Through February and March, we hope that tall, canary yellow mustard flowers will fill the outer section of our meadow.

Then, off to dinner at our local favorite restaurant in Glen Ellen. As we walked into the restaurant, there was our friend Francine, just starting her meal with a pal visiting from Chicago. We joined them and had a terrific visit for a couple of hours. Then, more visiting with Ann, and I headed back to San Francisco. It had been a wonderful, renewing day. It was just the sort of day I needed prior to checking into the hospital on Dec. 1st for my second five day course of chemo.
November 29th, 2008: After a couple of exuberant days including Thanksgiving, today was quiet. I was tired. Mid-afternoon, a deep nap was followed by listening to the Tibetan bowls CD and a trip to my healing center. This visit started with a long soak in the turquoise-lined pool. I could feel my body relax in long, slow pulses. With each breath I became more comfortable in the warm water. Then, a loud whinny from a horse on the other side of the gate let me know that healing energy had arrived and was impatient for entry. Once I was positioned on my marble recliner, the gates opened and a very excitable pony bounded into the garden. It examined me very curiously with it’s velvety and scratchy nose, nudging me to get more information. I enjoyed it’s unstoppable, animal energy. Then, it pushed under my shoulder which caused me to sit up. Next thing I knew, I was on horseback holding onto handfuls of mane as the animal vaulted into the air and took me on a gallop at many hundreds of feet over the inland hills and canyons of the “Lost Coast.” Trees were everywhere. As I looked down, I was stunned by the amount of organic growth that stretched for miles in all directions. At first I wondered how this animal could run with such assurance in mid-air. Then, the horse and the endless forest became extensions of my own animal energy and my strength of growth that’s in my body. I felt a huge wonder at that amount of life, whether it was the diversity of cells in my body or the complex eco-systems on the ground below. I let myself merge into this landscape of life and vitality. I was this landscape of life and vitality. The, with another loud whinny, the horse turned, brought me home, gently deposited me on my marble bed, bounded through the gates and disappeared.

A bit of backtracking; while in the turquoise tub today, I remembered two earlier visits from animal healers that I haven’t documented in this blog. They happened on the same day, shortly after I crafted my healing center, so that would have been October 25th or so. Again, I am in my healing center on my marble chaise. There’s an energy on the other side of the garden door. After the requisite “Are you here to heal me?” question and answer, the doors opened. Much to my shock, a huge cobra rose up in the open door way and moved directly toward me. In the first moments, shock dominated me. This snake extended some twelve feet in length and was probably six to eight inches in width. It looked directly at me as it came up onto my healing marble recliner. We looked at each other eye-to-eye and my first thoughts were, “Please don’t bite me!” The cobra had other plans. To my surprise, it moved its body under one leg, curled over my other leg and then rose between my legs so that it faced me, head in the air and mantle extended outward. I am not terrified of snakes, but I do not seek them out. The cobra held this posture, wrapped around both of my legs and looking directly at me. Suddenly I shifted into a new reality with this snake: I felt its vast, healing strength. I literally experienced why snakes were given the honor of embodying kundalini energy. The cobra stayed upright, looking at me with deep intensity. Then, it slowly uncoiled from me, slipped over the edge of the healing marble bed and left the garden with the doors closing behind it.

That seemed like enough healing for one day, but no. After a time, there was a funny snuffling sound that comically counterbalanced the total silence of the snake. The garden doors opened and a funny, piggish tapir sauntered into my healing space. Its snout was in the air, gathering information like an antenna. I was so surprised to see this unexpected critter that I asked, “What are you doing here?” The tapir communicated telepathically and said, “When I have a baby, I nurse the baby by curling around it, pulling it close. While it’s feeding, I send loops of love around both of us. We nurse in the womb of my love and care. We are wrapped in love. We are wrapped in love.” This final phrase was repeated many times. It moved me that this funny shaped animal had such a powerful ability to give the birthright of love to its baby.