Today’s Reality: 1 Year Reflection

This is the ninth and final post in a series titled, Today’s Reality. The series chronicled my first year of being diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). My outlook as I began this new phase in my life and blog series was living in the moment in mind, body, and spirit. I am still not angry. I still refuse to be sad. I am determined to live a long life with love and peace in my heart with the confidence of a better tomorrow filled with joy and humor.

September 25th is the first anniversary of my diagnosis with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. I have not written much here on The Blogging Owl this past year since my CML diagnosis. This past year has been one of constant pain, change, and renewal.

I have experienced much in mind, body, and spirit especially since the last post in this series that I have decided to end the Today’s Reality series. I have amended the above purpose of this series.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words wait another voice.” T.S. Eliot

Stearns 092021

A Reflection

God helped me this past year to fit every puzzle piece perfectly together so Vinny Sal and I can live peacefully what the world seems unable to do. But this jigsaw puzzle life that started years ago had God “taps” from the start. I only began to really notice them too late in life. For example, the decluttering in mind, body, and spirit as well as decluttering our primary home was a string of small “taps” to eventually a more urgent “TAP” to downsize and consolidate our primary residence and vacation home into one comfortable paradise.

We sold both homes in the hottest real estate market in Michigan in years each in one day, over list, and both were cash sales. The financial gains are allowing us to remodel the interior, exterior, and landscaping of a house built in 1976 that sets on beautiful corner lot 2 blocks from Lake Michigan. Our remodel will not have a HGTV designer’s must-haves but provide us with a lovely comfortable home and a retreat for our two adult sons and their future families.

What were we thinking??

The process of downsizing and preparing not one house but two houses in a fast-paced hot real estate environment was nothing short of crazy. Crazy for two healthy people but crazier for someone in their first year of cancer treatment and the other person dealing with a spine that decided that it no longer wanted to be straight but take a sharp left turn.

I remember sitting in the great room of our house that we have lived in for 28 years and where we raised our sons thinking, “I will never accomplish my life’s dream here” not knowing I said this aloud as Vinny Sal sat nearby in his recliner. My sorrow from physical pain had overwhelmed me. It was then that we made the decision to sell. We told our sons of our plan to sell and move over three hours away – both were in full support of our decision.

Reality hit us quickly, but we endured.

I am not sure how we survived those 5 months of packing, moving, packing, moving endless mountains of boxes and plastic totes… “I thought we decluttered, donated, and downsized??” even with helpers from the Task Rabbit App, Mayflower Moving & Storage, Larsen Moving & Storage, and a couple of local guys found on Facebook in our new town who needed extra bucks doing odd jobs.

CML never gave up either

I was quietly suffering with side effects from CML and daily chemotherapy. My oncologist decided to go MIA with not answering my questions on the health portal or calling me back as promised. I met with the oncology PA who said, “she went on vacation when I told her I was disappointed in my care.” I had a full cardiac workup but no answers to my abdominal pain and dizziness. I insisted on a referral to an ENT.

I was afraid to transfer to a new oncologist in my new hometown. We were moving from a mecca of highly rated medical institutions in the nation to a smaller hospital system where advanced medical care would be at least 90 minutes away. After hearing from a friend whose family also had an unpleasant experience from this same oncologist, I felt better of transferring my care to the local cancer center. The luncheon with my friend who shared this information with me drove a distance to visit me without knowing this was would be another God tap.

A pleasant surprise and relief

My first appointment with my new oncologist was this past week. I explained my expectations for care adding that I know I am not his only patient, but my concerns need addressing with no holds on the truth – meaning, I want straight, honest answers. If he tells me he is going to do something (like call me), please do so in a reasonable timeframe.

After my labs were taken and the results received in the patient portal, I received a call from his office letting me know that even though he knew I had already seen the results, he too has reviewed them. My BCR-ABL1 lab is not near where we hoped it would be at this point in my treatment, we will discuss my treatment going forward when I meet with him in October. I have seen an ENT and he has ordered an MRI which my new oncologist believes is necessary. An abdominal ultrasound will be scheduled after my next oncology visit.

Do you know the disappointing part of all this? The former oncology PA had just thrown me a prescription for dizziness. She said these will not hurt you or have an adverse effect with your chemotherapy. That was it. I never received another follow-up call or message in my patient portal. I am happy I made the switch, and I will now receive the care I deserve.

My last Today’s Reality post

Why? If my three words to live by in 2021 and T.S. Eliot have taught me anything is that I am mindful of where I am today. I am living in my happy place where I am to accomplish my life’s dream, and all by the discernment of those puzzle pieces being fitted perfectly together at the precise time. As I told a girlfriend on our last telephone call when she asked about my health, “I don’t want to be defined by CML. If there is something that I want to share with others, I will let others know. But for now, I want to enjoy this day because it is what I have in a place where I have peace.”

I am already musing on the three words I will add to the list and live by in 2022. What do you suppose they will be?

Stay tuned!

Peace,

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