I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Another routine Sunday post

Summer sky
After spending more time than I'd like to find a picture to put at the front of this post, I finally just gave up and put up a picture of the beautiful sky I can see from my back yard. I've been spending a fair amount of time watering and weeding my little garden patch, and it gives me such pleasure. Who would ever have guessed that I would get so much satisfaction from digging in the ground? Certainly not me: my gardening days only began five years ago. Before that, I was more than a neophyte: I simply didn't care. Anyone can change and grow, even me.

I've had illness on my mind for weeks now, ever since I learned that my blogging friend Ronni has pancreatic cancer and had to undergo a very long surgery, with only a small chance for recovery in any event. It makes me very glad for the relative health I enjoy. Of course, that's what she was thinking when she was my age (she's two years older than me) and now she's fighting for her life. There are so many things that can go wrong with these bodies of ours, and eventually something or other will fail. It's the way things work, but we forget that inconvenient fact, acting as though everything will continue as it is today. I've been learning from her as I imagine myself in her shoes.

It does make me wonder what I would have done in her place: if I were given a diagnosis of the possibility to recover after surgery and chemotherapy being only 25-30 percent, would I do it? Or would I opt to let the cancer take over and make the most of the few months I would have left? It's something I don't think anybody knows until one is faced with it. My friend Lily says her aunt died of pancreatic cancer and it was painful and horrifying. Nobody wants to suffer, but we don't always have a choice. In any event, Ronni is already suffering as she faces a long recovery, at best. The Whipple procedure they performed removes the cancerous part of the pancreas, her gallbladder, part of her stomach, and a few other body parts. They found two of the 17 lymph nodes they removed tested positive for cancer cells, which means that it has probably spread to other parts of her body. That means she must make a decision about whether to have chemotherapy and we all know how difficult that road will be. Take a look over at her blog if you want to learn more, at Time Goes By.

Last Thursday the Senior Trailblazers went up Welcome Pass, one of the harder hikes we do every summer, and it was really hard work to navigate the 67 steep switchbacks that take you to the pass, climbing 3,000 feet (900+ meters). Even today, three days later, my quads are sore from the hike. I don't know how many times I've made it to the top in the past, but this year I realized that there are not too many more of these difficult hikes in my future. My body is in good shape, and my knees seem to be holding out just fine, but the desire to push myself to the absolute limit is beginning to fade. Although I was really happy to be there, and it was a perfect day with great company, it was also a reminder that expending all that effort was not without a price.

One person in our group really struggled with the steep downhill and his legs began to cramp. Fortunately for him, we had four hikers who stayed with him and helped him down the trail. The rest of us would stop every once in awhile until they caught up with us, but it made for a very long day. Once you're in the wilderness, there's no way to get back to safety except deal with whatever happens and hope that you can manage. It made me realize that it could happen to any one of us. Once we were down the final switchback and we were all together again, I saw that he was not looking well and seemed on the verge of collapse. Fortunately, he made it back to the trailhead, and we drove to Grahams where we all treated ourselves to ice cream or cold drinks. It's enough to make one wonder about the wisdom of old folks doing such difficult hikes. That doesn't mean we'll stop, though, because one day we'll be forced to leave that part of our lives behind anyway. But not today.

Today the sun is shining, again, and I'll be heading out to the coffee shop once I finish this post, and I am continually grateful for the opportunity I have for enjoyment. I might even treat myself to another ice cream cone today, although it depends entirely on what the scale says when I step on it soon. My daily routine also includes a weigh-in, which helps me decide how to spend my calories for the day. If the number is good, I'll let myself enjoy a small treat or two, but if not, I'll spend them more carefully. It works for me. The other day I didn't want to step on the scales because I knew I had overeaten the day before, but I made myself do it anyway. It would have felt like cheating if I had skipped it.

Some people don't like routine, but I seem to slip into different routines without difficulty. In fact, I have the opposite problem: if I don't get to perform my usual regimen, I feel like the day has begun badly and then everything will be off track. Although it doesn't make the slightest difference to anybody but me, these routines become well-worn ruts that give me some sort of comfort. Am I just weird or do other people do this, too? I have no idea. You don't get to observe that part of another person's life, except for perhaps your mate. And I do know that my guy actively avoids routine, because it makes him feel constrained. For me, it helps to give my day structure. It's a good thing we are not all the same.

Speaking of routine, it's just about time for me to have finished my Sunday post. This was another of those posts that felt like I have been wrestling around for focus, because my mind is pretty much unfocused. I slept well last night, but when I woke, nothing emerged from either my dreams or my mental processes to help me find that focus. The only thing that has been constantly on my mind is illness, and I sure didn't want to have that become my post. It pretty much has, though. I guess I should just give up and start the rest of my day.

Tea is gone, partner is awake for a change and just laying quietly next to me as I write. The next part of my routine is to get out of bed, get dressed (after the weigh-in) and do my exercises on the front porch in the sunshine, then drive to the coffee shop to meet John and share a bagel with him as we drink coffee together. He's been there for awhile when I arrive, but he's ready with his garlic salt for his half of the bagel. He's another one of those people who must like routine as much as I do.

And I do hope that you have a wonderful week, free of encumbrances and filled with joy and love. That's what I want for myself, too! Be well until we meet again next Sunday, dear friend.


Linda Reeder said...

We have some hard work and some good fun ahead of us this week. We hope to get the work done first, so we can enjoy the fun stuff. That's pretty much my pattern for living.
Thanks for another interesting post. Be well. Compassion for others is good, but dwelling on their suffering might not be.

Marie Smith said...

I like routine too but I am not as restricted by it as my husband. He is a creature of habit for sure. It's a good thing we are a bit different that way.

Have a wonderful week, healthy and joyful, Jan.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I hear and feel your concern about illness and aging.
I was faced with stage 3 colon cancer 9 years ago. Before surgery I read a lot for daus at the libaraybas the books were not allowed out. I learned that very few people actually survive the chemo itself. Itbwas a choice of death by chemo or cancer. Either way I might get two more years to live. I refised chemo. My mother died within four months of that option. I went home and began reading what success stories I could find using alternative ways. Three clear ones came across. Change the diet to plant based and restrict from starched and sugary fruits, no breads, rice, etc. Blueberries and raspberries daily but in moderation were added to my Dr.Budwig's diet, a cottage cheese mixed with flaxseed oil and stirred till the oil was gone visually. It was to be eaten two to three times daily alomg with greens or carrots. The second thing I used was ESSIAC TEA thatbI brewed as instructed and drank twice daily. I had heard it had helped others including a distant friend/s dadwho was sent home to die. He didn't. The tea changed his longevity. The third change for me was to go outdoors daily rain or shine and walk ay least 20 to 30 minutes. After two years there was no sign of cancer spreading and my doctor was surprised. I was not. I had faith in the alternative. Our body heals if we feed it what it needs.
But our aging is inevitable. That we must one day pass is tough yet I have opted to like the change when it will happen. After Buddy's birth I had an out of body experience as I bled out from post partum. I was on the OR stretcher watching a team of doc etv try to stop my bleeding. I had been put to sleep. I had slipped from alive and looked down on myself and the team. At that time I forced myself to recall a baby needed me. I just had to live. Miracles happen. Hours later I was in ICU still struggling. I am here today sharing with you who has aslo had very hard times.
Funny you reminded me that I used to weigh myself daily. I stopped when I changed my diet. These days I eat foods I had to stop but in moderation. And I am currently back on Essiac tea in capsule form just to remind my cells to behave. This is practically a post. Have a super week.
BTW it was 9 years ago today I got home from the surgery in time to celebrate my 62 BD and today it's 71😀

Arkansas Patti said...

Our mortality is always tough to face. Somehow, we just think the end happens to the other guy as we feel well and go on each day. Somehow I am feeling quite positive about Ronnie. I had a friend who had the same condition and surgery and she lived quite comfortably for years afterwards. No tomorrow can come at any time and sometimes with out warning. A diagnosis like Ronnie's gives her the opportunity to really take advantage of the time she has left and not squander a day.
Sadly our bodies do eventually restrict our activities but there are so many alternatives that if one pleasure slips away thanks to age, there are many more waiting to be tried that age can handle.

Elephant's Child said...

I am definitely a creature of habit. And feel uncomfortable if those habits are disrupted.
And yes, none of us know what is round the corner which is simultanously good and bad. I wonder how I would face an illness like that of your friend and can only hope with grace.
Sending healing wishes through cyber space to her - and hugs to you.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, like you, I need a routine. Like you also, I find it comforting. But recently I decided to just truly "go with flow" and let the day unfold before me. I've never really done that, and I'm finding it a little difficult to do. My body is responding by demanding more naps so I conclude I'm still in the recuperation phase. Also, I might be being called to enter into a meditation on the meaning of my life today. I'm feeling that more strongly as these un-routined days pass.

Thank you for introducing us to Ronni several weeks ago. I've been following her since. She is an admirable woman going through the hardest of times. As you say, no one knows what choice she or he would make in a similar situation. Life is all we know and it is dear. What is beyond is mystery and to explore mystery is a risk we ultimately must all make.

I see Ronni each day surrounded by healing white light. That picture of her is with me whenever I come to the computer to begin to blog. Thank you again for letting us know of her illness. Peace.

Red said...

I like the term " leaving that part of life behind." I'm ready to do that with cycling.I have trouble reaching a level where cycling is pleasant. I haven't weighed for 2 years. I've been weighed at my check ups and the weight is roughly the same. I'm bad with routines. I'm a rather random chaotic type.

The Furry Gnome said...

I don't comment often on your Sunday posts, but I always find them comforting. It must be wondful discipline for you to do this every Sunday. But as for our old bodies and their foibles, I'm afraid That message comes very close to home!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, On the topic of routine, I'm one of those who likes the structure in daily routine. I guess it's that I'm most comfortable when I know what to expect. :-) Struggling with changes as I get older has become more of an issue. I enjoy reading your take on these things. You have a great way of looking at life! Thanks for another fine Eye on the Edge!

Rita said...

Even my routines are fluid and not on a timetable. I feel restrained by too much routine--always have. I do like just a little daily something for comfort, but if plans shift or my body is uncooperative and cranky that day I go with the flow. I think I like the adventure of wondering what a day will bring--but then, being housebound, my days look very similar...on the surface--LOL! ;)

Rian said...

DJan, I think a certain amount of routine is good. However, I tend to value my 'freedom' more than anything. Need to know that I can choose not to do something if the mood strikes me. Perhaps this is a common feeling for retirees after years of "doing what you have to do" day after day in the workforce. But I do value this new found freedom highly.

As for wondering what we would do if... there's really no telling until the day comes. Having watched my father, sister, and brother battle cancer (and lose), I still don't know what I would do. I have/had BC, and chose lumpectomy and radiation... declined mastectomy, chemo, and Tamoxifen. It seemed a good choice as it's been 17 years. But if I had to choose again at my age? I have no idea.

My thoughts: Enjoy what you enjoy... in moderation. And be grateful for everyone, everything, and every day.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Insightful post, as always!

Linda Myers said...

Wow. DJan. This is a fabulous post, and such interesting responses!

I have a routine only in the morning - computer time, with emails and Facebook and blogs, for about an hour. The rest of the day comes as it will. I am currently in the middle of week 7 of Weight Watchers, having decided that I want my body to be my friend as I age. I admire you for that. I walk most days in my neighborhood.

Yesterday, during my husband's cataract surgery, I went to a bakery and had a piece of spinach and ricotta quiche. It felt gloriously sinful - as though I'd had an enormous piece of cheesecake. I remembered later that quiche is mostly eggs, so I felt better - but still had only fruit for dinner. That is the paying attention part. It feels good.

I may volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece, but I have a feeling I will not be walking the Camino de Santiago any time soon. Not that I couldn't, but it doesn't sound as compelling as it once did. Maybe that's part of aging.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Yes you are a routine minded gal! I was sorry to hear that one of your hikers struggled last week. It sounded like a grueling hike to me.
I hope you are having a good week:)

Sally Wessely said...

I find such comfort when I read your posts because I know I can count on your routines. That may sound odd, but knowing DJan keeps on doing what DJan does makes me feel a bit more stable when I just don't seem to be able to establish routine. I never have been good at that. I've fought routine even as I've longed for it for most of my life. I doubt I'll change now.

I'm so sorry to hear about your blogging friend. What a shock. I'm also sorry to hear about your hiking friend.

One day we are out doing life and the next we fighting for it. It is sobering to think about.

C-ingspots said...

That sounds like a grueling hike and one I'm not so sure I could manage because my body isn't used to hiking much. I enjoy several walks with my dogs each week, but they're not up a mountain. :) You, my friend, amaze me! I feel so much empathy for your poor fellow hiker with the leg spasms, and having to continue down before relaxation...yow!

I'm a creature of habit because I have to be. Having always worked full-time doesn't allow me much else, but I am very much looking forward to my retirement in the next 10 years or less, and finding out who I am, and what my habits will be like when given my freedom. I envision a lot more physical activity, riding horses more, road trips, and maybe even the leisure to enjoy gardening. Which right now, I definitely do not. Gardening that is. Love the flowers and veggies, but hate the upkeep. I might even turn out to be more of a home body than I think, with the time to feather my nest and make it more truly a home where I want to spend time.

So sorry to hear of Ronnie's battle with cancer. I pray she fights it and doesn't suffer regardless of her eventual outcome. I don't think any one of us can possibly know for sure, what we'd do in that situation. I'd like to think that I'd be brave and handle my fate with grace, but I just don't know. All we can really do in this life we're given, is make the most of each day, and fill it with as much love, laughter and enjoyable activity as we possibly can.

As always, I've loved this post. Good food for thought...hope your week is wonderful.

Glenda Council Beall said...

Routine has always served me well, but in recent months I find a free day with no plans appeals to me. Although retired from an actual job, I work part time as a writing instructor and director of my writing studio. I love having work to do, but at times my body lets me down. I get tired quickly and deal with pain almost every day, but when I am in a classroom with adults who are anxious to learn what I have to offer, my pain departs and my adrenaline soars. I have learned that I can't do what I once could do physically, but I can do more than I once did mentally. That is what keeps me going. I think as we age, we just have to reinvent ourselves and become a person who does something we enjoy even if it is not what we always did in the past. I am happier than I've been in eight years, since my husband died. If only I can keep the pain at bay. Good post and I am so sorry to hear about your friend, Ronnie.