Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joys of growing old

As I grow older I realize there are many joys to it. You remember so many things and they are as fresh in your memory as if they happened yesterday.

While lying on that hard table in radiation with the mask on my face pinning me down, I remember things like the way the violets looked and smelled each spring. I was raised in the country and all along the border of the front porch there were violets. Not fancy African violets, which I also love and have had great success raising in the past, but the old fashioned kind that were so pungent with their scent. And along the front and side fences there were jonquils and daffodils and in one corner of the yard there was a bush we called a burning bush as it was covered with small red flowers. And the honeysuckle along the fence. The first bouquet of the violets each spring was taken to my favorite teacher. We remained friends until her death a few years ago and each Christmas I would send her something with a violet on it in remembrance of a long ago friendship.

We all take photographs to remember but I find I don't really need a photograph to remember the look on my parents faces. Or the perfume my grandmother wore. I can still smell it now when I remember as strongly as when she was living years ago. And I can remember my father's laughter and my mother's sweet voice and southern drawl. And all my friends of childhood. I can see their faces and remember special times.

And Aubrey the first time we met and he smiled at me. He had a smile that would melt a rock and that went through his entire life with him and with me. The first thing I notice about a person is whether their mouth curves up or down and mostly I stay away from the people with the downward curve.

And cats. I always had cats. When I was a little girl I would take cardboard boxes and make castles for the kittens to play in. I like some dogs but I like all cats. I have one now and he is a very good companion for a woman growing older as he is quiet and gentle.

Another thing about growing older is that you seem to forget all the unpleasant things in your life and all the pain and remember the good times and the laughter. So I don't have to relive that part of my life, but just the good part and this is good. Long ago, I put aside anger and seldom seem to get upset about anything anymore.

I guess what I am saying is that I am trying to embrace my age with dignity and not be the wicked witch. I am not going to say I am not afraid to die. I am. I think everyone, to some degree is because we are always afraid of what we don't know or have never experienced.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Radiation Therapy

When I was 15 I had a bad case of mono caught from dirty dishes in a drugstore where all the kids hung out. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with a very high fever. And had a huge fever blister on my right lower lip from it. My doctor treated it with boric acid. He said it was either that or surgery which would be very noticeable for the rest of my life. My father begged him not to use the treatment as he was afraid of what might happen later in my life. Through the years I would have blisters in this area and then one day it didn't go away. After staying dormant about 50 years suddenly it started growing. I kept putting off having a biopsy made until it finally reached a point I no longer felt comfortable around people so I went for a biopsy. It was diagnosed as a basal cell cancer and I had two options. Either have very disfiguring surgery or radiation which would be less disfiguring or have radiation to shrink it. I chose the radiation.

I was fortunate to get the same doctor that had done radiation on Aubrey for his brain cancer about 15 years ago so I do feel comfortable with him in charge.

Daily I go for a treatment which only lasts a few minutes but is scary. The first day I was put on a table flat on my back and they put a warm mask on my whole face and shaped it to my exact face and took X-rays and marked the part that wold be treated. I am not going to deny being scared out of my wits with this. The next step was to the radiation room where I was again placed flat of my back on a table with the huge machine similar to the one that is shown in the photo at the top. The mask was placed back on my face. I can see through the mesh and can breathe and talk to them. Then they went out of the room and I was in there alone with this huge machine. It is controlled by a computer outside the room where they can watch me and hit the precise spots that are marked on the mask.

It is a terrible feeling to have your face in a mask and that mask attached to the table where you cannot move. Although the treatment each day only lasts for about 20 seconds and the whole time you are in the room is about 2 minutes it is still scary. The first couple of times when they got me up, I was very dizzy but the dizziness seems to have passed but I am still very uneasy. I will have to have about 25 more days of this. I go 5 days a week so expect to end the treatment in about 5 more weeks. It is totally painless and I am not restricted in any way in the things I can do.

If you suspect cancer, please don't wait. Go for a check-up. I surely wish I had listened to my doctor when he kept telling me to have a biopsy made. It is healing but all this could have been avoided had I not been so afraid to hear the word cancer.