Monthly Archives: July 2015

Random Thoughts #1

Update – Well, the roller coaster ride continues but we’re glad to be on the ride considering the alternatives. I spent part of the first three days of the week in the hospital receiving antibiotic IV’s for bacteria in my blood. The word Sepsis was used more than once. It may have been as a result of the previous week’s stent replacement. As a result, a picc line was placed in my right arm so Sue can give me antibiotic IV’s at home three times each day. She started her nursing career on her 75th birthday (7/23). She’s got it down to a science and it takes less than 15 minutes. Consequently, I missed my chemotherapy infusion and may miss one or two more. Also, I got behind on the blog.

This week’s blog contains the first installment of Random Thoughts. I’ve collected a number of items that don’t quite fit a particular theme and plan to insert them from time to time. Contributors include my friend Sonny and our friend Francine. FYI, I didn’t obtain a release from either of them. They’ll find out, just like you did, when they read this.

First Thought
For supplemental calories and protein, I’ve been drinking Dean’s milk’s TruMoo, recommended by my nutrition consultant, Dr. Lisa Farley. In addition to liking her recommendation, I feel like it is the only protein drink where I’m not obligated to buy a package of Depends with it.

Excellence
Excellence can be obtained if:

• You care more than others think is wise

• You risk more than others think is safe

• You dream more than others think is practical

• Expect more than others think is possible
*Anonymous

God Is

• At my lowest, God is my HOPE

• At my darkest; God is my LIGHT

• At my weakest, God is my STRENGTH

• At my saddest, God is my COMFORTER

Prayer
Always pray:
• To have eyes that see the “best” in people

• A heart that forgives the “worst”

• A mind that forgets the “bad”

• And a soul that never loses faith in God

Wisdom – In Proverbs it reads “Acquire wisdom: and with that you acquire understanding.” Also, Knowledge is to know that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is to know not to use tomatoes in a fruit salad.

SOUNDED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

Things we do for our friends
When I finished my tour in the US Navy, I came to Indianapolis where mom, dad, Colleen, Juleen, and Patrick had moved. It was a three bedroom apartment already bursting at the seams so I moved in with my friend Sonny. He taught part-time at a parochial school while attending law school. One morning, after we had been served some bad ice, he needed me to call the school and tell Sister Mary Margaret that he had the flu.

Let me digress for a moment. During catholic grade school I served mass nearly every day including funerals and weddings on Saturdays. I served hundreds of masses, never once even taking a sip of the sacramental wine. Then for high school I attended St. Lawrence Seminary during which I served more masses. Now, I’m about to lie to a nun.

Well, I called, told her that Sonny had the flu and wouldn’t be able to teach that day. She expressed concern that, since he had taught the day before (with no signs of the flu), he might be out for a few days. I assured her that it was the 24-hour flu. Not only am I his roommate, but I must be a doctor or at least a nurse. Here it is 7:00 in the morning and I’m delivering what I believe to be a completely accurate diagnosis.

Sounded like a good idea at the time.

Wrong Numbers!
The telephone number at the apartment we shared was one digit different than the Department of Parks. Consequently, we received a number of calls meant for the Parks Department. We often talked to the callers as if we “were” the Parks Department. And, often, the same people called back. Two such calls ended unfortunately.

One was a young lady who called in sick (there seems to be a theme here). She apologized for the late call, we assured her that someone would cover for her and left it at that. Well, as fate would have it, she called our number again (wrong number for the Parks Department) to ask why we hadn’t passed along her earlier call at which time she told us she and been suspended for three days. Oops!
The second call came during the worst rain storm of the summer. The caller wanted to know if the softball games were being held as scheduled at Riverside Park. We asked him if he could see how hard it was raining and he said yes. So, we told him the obvious. Yes, the games were being played as scheduled. Well, he too called back, on the wrong number, to tell us that when he got to Riverside Park it was raining as hard as it had been when he left home. The additional downside to his trip was that a tree branch had just fallen on his car. Ooops!

Sounded like a fun ideas at the time.

Stay Strong!

Don’t Take Things Personally

When you read things about a cancer diagnosis, you often read about some self doubt from the writer. I’ve written that an obvious question is, “Why did this happen to me?” The question is an obvious one. The issues that arise are in the responses to the question. What did I do to deserve this? Has God forsaken me? Weren’t my health choices good ones; reasonably healthy food, exercise, no drugs, minimal alcohol? The closing of this one way conversation is, “I must have done something wrong.” None of that applies. Cancer just isn’t fair. One example is that only about 20 percent of smokers get cancer.

I don’t believe that God has done this to me or forsaken me. Just like he didn’t forsake the soldier injured in combat, or the mother who lost a child, or the person who injured themselves falling from a tree. These are things life deals us. God speaks to us just as he did Jeremiah. “I have loved you with everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt.”

“God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears and He will deliver.” From the music of Henrietta Konadu (aka Herty Borngreat).

Back to parenting. Actually, parenting or having even temporary responsibility for the care of a young person prepares us for this thought that the things that happen are going to happen in spite of our best interests. Sue and I had the great, God-given, responsibility of trying to hone our parenting skills three times. Sue’s daughters, Leslie and Tracy were nine and ten years old when Sue and I got married. This was the first phase of my development as a parent. When they were 13 and 14, we had the twins, Sara and Tom and the start of phase two. While there were a few challenges (really just a few) with Leslie and Tracy, the real parenting started with Tom and Sara. I only imagine that two “handfuls” were harder than one.

Tom, at age two, trying to convince Sara that sitting in the top drawer of her dresser was safe.

Sara trying to convince Tom that the droppings from the newly acquired sheep (a 4-H project gone badly) were her mom’s coveted baking raisins.

The two of them thinking that eating their desert on the lap of a special dinner guest, who was wearing a new suit or dress, was part of the evening’s entertainment.

Then there was phase three. Sara came home from the hospital with Isaiah and they stayed with us until he was seven. There were plenty of teachable moments with Isaiah. There might have been more instances when he was teaching me than me teaching him. There was one particular time when I received a lesson that has stayed with me since.

It Isn’t About You

Not long before Sara and Isaiah moved into a home of their own, Isaiah went with me to a fundraiser held in a very large tent. While we were there, a pretty good thunderstorm settled over the area. When it finished raining, there were several large pockets of rain in the roof of the tent. Isaiah spotted one near the entrance and I could see he was taken by it. The next thing I knew was that he had a broom handle and looking out over the edge of the tent entrance, he poked the large, rain-filled pocket. I would guess that at least ten gallons of water came cascading down on his head and covered every inch of his body. While this was quite humorous to anyone who didn’t have to dry him off, I was in disbelief.

So, as I was searching for a case of paper towels, I asked him that over-used question, “Why do you do these things to me?” I then covered the back seat of the car with a trash bag, stripped him of everything that was wet (which was everything), wrapped him in paper towels and headed for home. As if my day wasn’t already going as planned, when we arrived home, he jumped out of the car, stark naked, and began to “streak” the neighborhood through every grassy area he could reach. Finally, when he decided to come into the house, I asked him, “Were you trying to embarrass your grandmother and me? If so, you did a great job.” This is when he taught me the lesson.

He said, “Papa, this wasn’t about you. I did what every kid in or around that tent wanted to do. I just got to the broom handle first. And, I wasn’t trying to embarrass you or grandma. Running naked through the neighborhood was just more fun.”

If you have a chance to share some part of this “don’t take things your children do, personally,” you will save them some of the stress brought about by always thinking that children do things to spite us or to punish us. It may just be more fun than the alternative we gave them.

UPDATE – I was not able to have my third infusion in a row on Wednesday. Sister Juleen was disappointed. She took me and was hoping to catch up on her reading. Platelets and white cell count were too low. I’m rescheduled for Monday so I won’t miss a whole week. I did have a second stent put in yesterday and I’m scheduled for an upgrade in late August. We’re going to North Judson tomorrow to visit friends and participate in a memorial service for my friends’ aunt. Going to Cedar Lake later in the day and spend the evening with my sister-in-law Dorothy. As you can see, I’m living the dream.

Stay Strong

Give It Your Best Effort – No Regrets

When this journey started, my friend Larry and others on similar journeys said there would be peaks and valleys. They encouraged me to stay strong in the face of the ups and downs of the treatments. I can honestly say that there have been far more good days than bad days. Having said that, the day I received the diagnosis was way “down there.” My sister Colleen reminded me of the expression, “God only gives us what we can handle.” With my diagnosis, apparently God thinks I’m a real bad dude.

As I’ve posted the blogs, among the responses I’ve received are questions about what I do to stay positive. In the face of all that’s going on, I keep my faith, have hope and I’ve kept my sense of humor.

To stay positive, I remind myself that in daily interactions, I get back what I give. If you ask how I’m doing and I respond, “Well, not all that great and I can only take one day at a time,” you might just be joining the pity party and that wouldn’t be good. If I respond with, “I’m doing good and every day is a blessing,” you might get a good vibe and give me a jelly donut (future blog) and wouldn’t that be great.

My faith foundation comes from eight years of being influenced by the Sisters of Saint Francis. The fact that my good friend Dale and I successfully completed all eight years consecutively should give anyone hope. Grade school was followed by two years of studying with the Capuchin Fathers and Brothers at St. Lawrence Seminary. I experienced many faith-forming opportunities and grew from each experience.

My sense of humor comes from my mother, who held both indoor and outdoor records for sense of humor. She made more humorous comments while she was in hospice than I could fit into several blogs.

Well, all of this reflection reminds me of my first Edgar Guest poem. It has been the only poem of his that I actually memorized. I like to think of it in terms of, No Regrets! Remember, no regrets.

Myself
Edgar Guest

I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand, with the setting sun,
And hate myself for things of done.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself, as I come and go,
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of a man that I really am;
I don’t want to dress myself in a sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s (and women’s) respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know
That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.

I can never hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself and know
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

It would be rather self-serving to say that I’ve reached more than a few of these lofty goals. I’ve certainly missed the mark a few times but I’ve had the good fortune to know many of you who have aspired to being this person.

UPDATE – Infusion yesterday was the most efficient to date. I had a big lunch after the infusion and still no negative effects. I went to the Kiwanis meeting this morning and I’m still feeling good. Also, each day since returning from “the trip,” I’ve laughed out loud when remembering something that was said or something that happened. Plan your “siblings trip” soon.

Stay Strong!!!

The Trip Was A Success

Food and lodging $1,000, gasoline $150, extra food and drink $300 (whoa), morale building, priceless. No sales were made. No deals were made. No promotions were handed out but I promise you, the trip was a success by every other measure. In my higher education parlance a form of team building was held.

We all had plenty to say. Then when someone started with, “Remember the time . . . ,” you knew that the remembrance had a 50/50 chance of pointing out something from the past that might be less than flattering. Well, each sibling handled whatever was said in their own particular way. These are my opinions and not necessarily shared by management or the siblings. I think that Jane, the second oldest, is the most serious of the siblings. For one thing, she is a serious person and, at times, she can be a little naïve. But for me, I don’t usually pick on a person who has caught more crappies in one day than I ever have. Colleen, the next oldest, is the toughest. She is a nurturing person with skills. She is a nurse and a self-taught plumber and handyman from the days after our dad died. I’ve rarely seen anyone really get to her. Juleen who is next, has the best sense of humor. She can tell a joke but for sure she gets a joke. That causes her to laugh easily (at Patrick’s stupid/silly jokes) which usually ends with a laugh snort which causes Patrick to tell more jokes. Then there is Patrick, the youngest (17 years between me and him). He’s the most talented; graphic artist, plays guitar, engineer’s mind and entertainer. He also can be annoying, maddening, exasperating (you get it). His humor is usually at the expense of one of us which is usually laughed at by at least one of us (Juleen) which encourages him. But, he’s the baby and we love him.

I think they went a little easy on the oldest, me, because I’m the sick guy. Lest you think that they are close to being anointed, they took their shots. Just not as many. They didn’t fail to mention the various dirty tricks that I tried to play on most, if not all, of sisters’ boyfriends. In the later years, Patrick helped. They owe us big time for that. The three that we didn’t try to chase away, are now our brother-in-laws and they are the best.

The moral of the story is that the time is now. Gather your siblings, parent(s) if you are an only child and one or both of them are still with you or your best friend(s) and start the planning process for a weekend of family/friend renewal. I’m not a travel agent nor do I receive any kick backs, but this is one long weekend that should not be put off. If desperate, you can call me. My bucket list isn’t so long that it can’t include a trip to reminisce about the times we’ve spent together. For that matter, you can bring your family or friend trip to Indianapolis and I can entertain you here.

When we were planning the trip, we heard people say that their group would not be able to make it work logistically. It can be done if you work at it. We also heard people say that their siblings don’t all get along well enough to be together for a long weekend. To that I say, “You need a long weekend to fix that.” If you need advice on either of these, let me know.

Update – Infusion yesterday, Kiwanis today, golf tomorrow, dinner out tomorrow night. I’m trying to “Keep on keeping on.” Ya’ll stay strong with me!