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, June 25, 2017

Beautiful sun days

Trillium at the end of their blooms
On Thursday, I saw this wonderful group of trillium that have gone from early white petals to ones that have turned purple and ready to curl up prior to falling off. Those are some big leaves, too. Sometimes things that have grown old are still beautiful, and these flowers remind me of the truth of this. Since it's been three days since I took the picture, there are probably now just big green leaves in that cluster.

I have continued to remind myself of the Five Buddhist Remembrances every day, and I find that I look at the world around me with different eyes. My coffee shop friend John also reminds me every time I see him that he wants a three-breath hug, and we share one together. I realize that, living alone with only his cat, he doesn't get many hugs, and it's enjoyable to share a hug with a good friend. John is 77 years old, and it's good to mark these days and give thanks for each other. Of course, I hug SG on a regular basis, but it's made me aware of how often other people seem to be starved for physical contact. The hour-long massage I receive every three weeks is an essential part of my health regimen.

My friend Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By had a 14-hour-long surgery on Thursday, removing part of her pancreas and the adjacent gall bladder and part of the stomach, called the Whipple procedure, and is the only treatment around for pancreatic cancer. Not everyone is a candidate; you must have no obvious metastatic lesions into the surrounding tissue, which she didn't, but I'm sure they sliced up what they removed to see how advanced the cancer was. Even going through this surgery, the doctors told her she only has a 25-30% chance of surviving the next five years. She watched her father die of it 35 years ago.

She has made good progress. She's got a friend who is blogging for her and as of Friday she had been moved from the ICU (intensive care unit) to a regular room, off the ventilator and the feeding tube and is sitting up and even going for short walks. Ever since I have been following her blog, she's put up a Saturday compilation of "Interesting Things," and I found myself missing it very much yesterday. She's got a whole posse of followers who are hanging on every word that Autumn (her friend) is posting, and I'm one. She might even put up a blog post herself from the hospital if all goes well. I cannot imagine how it must be for her right now.

The only thing I have to compare it to is the three-week stay I had in the hospital, starting with the ICU after they repaired my fractured hip and eventually being moved to a regular room. Then I was sent to a rehab hospital so I could learn to use a walker and get around by myself with an external fixator holding my pelvis together. There are moments that stand out during that period, but mostly that time is gone from my memory. I was on heavy narcotics, which obviously didn't help with my ability to recall those times. I made it through, however, and it's been eighteen years. I hope there will come a time when Ronni can look back and remember having survived this. She is 76 and probably won't be around in eighteen years, but you just never know.

All any of us can do is live our lives one day at a time. Getting up after a good night's sleep and rolling out of bed to stand on these well-worn legs (which take a moment or two to decide whether to work right) and going through my morning routine doesn't vary much from day to day. On Sunday mornings I write this blog post, and sometimes I'm very focused and know what I'm going to create, and others (like today) I only have a vague idea of a direction. The beautiful day we had on Thursday still lingers with me, and today's visit to the coffee shop to see John and enjoy a shared bagel and good coffee makes me smile to think of it. Gene is off in Alaska on his annual fishing expedition, which lasts around six weeks. He has declared this is his last year, but he said the same thing before and still continues to return to his boat and crew in Alaska for the salmon fishing he's done since he was sixteen.

Sunday is also the one day during the week when I don't have exercise built in. Everybody needs a day off now and then, right? Sometimes I'll walk from the coffee shop down to Bellingham Bay, a short mile, just to get a few steps on my iPhone. I'm addicted to seeing that number every day, and this past week I've been a little more active than usual, with 15,000 steps as my weekly average. Usually it's around 12-13,000. Yesterday we ladies walked around five miles, with our leader missing we just went on the walk and never regrouped, with the fast ones zipping off into the distance immediately, and the rest of us enjoying a more leisurely pace. We still went pretty fast, and it helped my legs get rid of some of Thursday's soreness. Today is a new beginning, and I feel great, looking forward to enjoying this summer day. There's work in the garden, and a couple of shows to watch on Netflix or Amazon, and keeping myself and my flowers well hydrated in the heat (it was in the high 80s here yesterday, which is about as hot as I can stand). I know some people are really baking in blistering temperatures, but there is a reason I don't live elsewhere: I can't function when it's so hot. I just read that Phoenix is getting some relief from the incredible highs they reached recently. This article states that 113 degrees is a relief, with 92 being the LOW temperature at night. Yikes!

And with that, I do hope that if you are experiencing temperatures that high, or even for my friends who are entering winter and colder temperatures, that you can stay comfortable and safe. My dear one is still sleeping next to me as I begin to enjoy the rest of my day. It's all good during these halcyon days of summer. As Joseph Campbell once said, "We must let go of the life we have planned, so we can accept the one that is waiting for us." I'll try to keep that in mind today, just in case there are some unforeseen events ahead. I wish you well and the recipient of all good things until we meet again next week.


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Beautiful Campbell quote!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, A couple of weeks ago, when I was reading your post about the Five Buddist Remembrances, my spouse saw the post on my screen and asked me to print it out for her. To make a long story short, we've started doing the 3 hug and love it! Absolutely a wonderful way to get beyond the in-an-instant nature of today's living. She asked me to Thank You in this comment and so I am doing that for both of us. I enjoyed today's post and will put Ronni on my prayer list. Have a great day and stay cool! :-)

Linda Reeder said...

This post is a good reminder to take the day as it comes. Yesterday we had a morning event in north Seattle and then an afternoon event in University Place south of Tacoma. That meant traversing the traffic messes all along the way, coming and going. We spent a long time on the road. Today we have decided to stay home!
As soon as Tom rouses from a better sleep than I just had, we'll go for a walk before it gets too hot. We'll catch up on some reading and think about how we want to tackle the list of Senators we want to contact about the health care bill. We'll stroll around the garden and see what's blooming, and what job might be next to tend too. There may be naps in the heat of the afternoon. This evening we'll watch a soccer match on TV. The Sounders vs Portland match in Portland has been moved from a 1:00 game to 7:00, when the sun will be off the field. It will still be in the 90's.
And I'll be sure to give and collect a couple of hugs. :-)

Marie Smith said...

Ronni is on my prayer list now. Take care, Jan.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I always look forward to your Sunday posting. I feel such a sense of peace within your writing. It is, I think, a virtue that is part of your essence. Peace.

Marty said...

I've also been a follower of Ronni for a while - what a wise and intelligent woman she is. I have a feeling she'd be fascinating to have a conversation with.
I'm wishing her a speedy recovery and I thank you for the reminder of the small, good things we each have in our life - like a good hug.

Elephant's Child said...

Adding my very best wishes for Ronni.
That Campbell quote is spot on - which I need to remember.
Thank you for another thought-provoking Sunday musing (for me to read on Monday).

Far Side of Fifty said...

Interesting quote. My best get well wishes to your friend Ronni. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

What a blessing Autumn is for Ronnie and us. It is so helpful getting her encouraging updates. Keeping her in my prayers.
I do hope if you all get into the 90's that you cut back on the exercise. Your body isn't use to that heat. Stay cool and hydrated.

Red said...

Your friend is very brave to face and fight what she is facing. I wish her a good recovery. I'm always amazed at what you come up with on your Sunday post to be positive and live well.

The Furry Gnome said...

I'm back to trying to walk an hour a day, but that's a very long way from 12,000 steps!

Rita said...

Prayers to Ronnie. She sounds like a great lady.
I am blessed to get good long hugs from both Dagan and Leah..especially Leah. :)
I hope you had a marvelous day. I always look forward to your Sunday posts--even if they don't show up in my inbox till Monday. :) :) Oh, and love Joseph Campbell!!

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Blessings and a great recovery to your friend