Friday, August 31, 2012

Riding the Waves

Some days it takes a very concerted effort not to completely unfold. It can be just plain exhausting working to tame the beast that is my emotions being toyed with by hormone injection and depletion by steroids. My brain becomes disconnected with reality and the highs get very high and the lows very low.

I am a live wire and I don’t know myself when I will lash out or who or what will take the brunt. The man clothes piled on top of, rather than in, the hamper? The RNC? The husband’s crusted cereal bowl that never made it the extra foot into the dishwasher? The sound of too many electronics going at once? The nail polish that smudges with fingerprints because of my lack of patience for drying?

It takes a tremendous amount of focused effort to keep myself stable as I ease off these steroids, handle the chemo drugs, and continue to process the trauma I’ve been through and the realties of the unknown ahead.

Most days I feel balanced and whole with only forward momentum. But some mornings bring with them a heavy weight, an incessant ringing in my ears of frustrations and questions, worries about the big things (my sister is driving across the country and my brother is getting married in two weeks, oh, and that cancer thing), worries about the stupid things (what necklace will I wear, organizing the pantry, fruit flies, which vitamin brand to take).

On the tough days, a blanket of angst shrouds and suffocates me so much that it can literally be hard to see through my eyes, which are so blearily exhausted from taking it all in.

Sometimes I just can’t shut it off and it makes me want to writhe and scream.

Instead, I do my best to breathe, let go, ride the wave and hope to hell that once I can push myself back out to the break point, the next wave will be a gentler ride in. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August Status Update

With my amazing group of high school girlfriends 
at Lisa's wedding in late July, now nearly all of us 30 and 
growing even closer together with each passing year. Mer
gets married this weekend and Thea in one month!

Peripheral neuropathy has started to set in. This is an expected side effect of the SGN-35. The hope is that it doesn’t progress, as I know patients who have been on it that had to come off due to debilitating neuropathy pain. For me currently, I don’t have any pain, only numbness. I’ve had no feeling in the pads of all 10 fingertips for the past week. So far it hasn’t affected any of my abilities; it is just a strange sensation like when your fingers get cold in the winter and you can’t warm them up only it’s just a small section on each finger pad that has completely lost feeling no matter how much I rub them.

I also occasionally lose feeling or get painful tingling in my feet, especially after walking for some distance. The pressure on the pavement seems to get it going. The numbness will creep up my legs some, but so far it always resolves itself after a short period of time.

I do not want this to be the reason that I have to come off this drug, which so far has been successful for me. Tomorrow I am seeing an acupuncturist to start treatments to combat this and my doctor also recommended starting up on Vitiman B-Complex. I’ll do anything to keep the feeling in my limbs.

The Prednisone steroid taper continues. On each dose reduction day I most certainly feel the lurch even though I’m only dropping by 5mg every 5 days. I am now at 20mg (down from my original 60mg started on July 12 to treat my lung inflammation). Once I hit 10mg I have to drop even slower – by 2.5mg at a time – as there is a big risk of dependency and withdrawal symptoms if the body comes off the meds too quickly.

So, that means the bloated feelings, insatiable appetite and the ridiculously swollen moon face continue. Others “say” they don’t notice, but I don’t recognize my own face in the mirror as it’s completely changed shape with the steroid swelling. I want to eat all the time. Period. I’m doing my best to make big healthy meals so there is always something good to snack on. I’ve eaten orchards worth of fruit. I could eat anyone under the table in a contest, I promise. This pit is bot.tom.less.

As I come off the steroid I’ve been feeling some achiness in my hips and joints, but it is tough to know what is causing that. My pulmonologist tells me patients tapering off of Prednisone very commonly experience that achiness. However, it’s very hard not to get paranoid that the lymphoma is again flaring in my hips. I’m also more fatigued, but overall I really can’t complain at all.

I’ve been busy with lots of non-cancer related things like freelance writing and e-communications work, gearing up to be in one of my best friend’s weddings this weekend, spending time with Craig before he’s back full-time in the classroom tomorrow (or rather nursing him after he had an epic Superman over-the-handlebars mountain biking accident last weekend), enjoying this late summer weather celebrating, relaxing and adventuring with great friends, reading, walking, yogaing and playing with Sammy.

I will get my sixth infusion of SGN-35 on Sept. 10, just less than two weeks from now, so will be enjoying what is hopefully continued recovery from my most recent infusion until then. The good part is that Hartford Hospital is now administering the drug as it has been FDA approved, so I’ll be able to receive the infusion just 30 minutes away, rather than 3 hours away. Wonderful!

Then, I have a PET Scan scheduled for Oct. 1, marking seven months on SGN-35. Pending what the results show that day at Sloan-Kettering, I’ll either receive my seventh infusion right afterward or look at a new plan. If things are looking real good and the environment seems right, we may take the steps to move toward a DLI with some more of my sister’s natural killer cells. But let’s not get ahead of things … .

Right now I’m content, nurtured and happy and looking forward to what will surely be a beautiful weekend watching one of my favorite couples start their married life together beside the beauty of the Long Island Sound. Just hope that bridesmaid dress zips up for me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Masked Encounters

Outside a kitschy Little Italy bakery 
For 100 days I could not step into the world without slipping my hands into protective latex blue gloves and strapping a paper mask across my mouth and nose, attached uncomfortably around my ears with unforgiving elastic that would leave deep indentations in my skin.

I got used to children staring, gawking and pointing and to their parents awkwardly fumbling with how to handle the situation. Kids seemed to be the only ones who notice their surroundings. Most others either didn’t even notice me or went out of their way to avoid looking at me for fear that I would vex them or because it made them way too uncomfortable. This was the best part about recovering in Manhattan. There is so much stimulation that my little freak show was just a drop in the melting pot. Had I had to walk around like that in my rural Connecticut town where the most exciting things we see are bears knocking over garbage cans and the annual fire truck parade I imagine my experience would have been different.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Five infusions of SGN-35 down. All went fine. I feel pretty damn good for one day post-chemo. I don't know how long this will last and that is a difficult reality to wrap my brain around. Dealing with this continued treatment is a constant balance between hope and despair when looking at my "future" and whatever that means. There are no guarantees except that nothing is certain and nothing is forever – the good or the bad. 

Tonight, I'll let the Grateful Dead speak it for me. This song has been coming up an awful lot in my playlist and I like it. A long, strange trip it's been for sure, but what can I do but keep on truckin'? I know no other way. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

This is Summer. Part 2.

Captain Jack reeling in the catch on the Lulu.
From the vantage point of the Lulu lobster boat, we saw both gray and harbor seals basking on a rocky island and their little baby pups with whiskered noses splashing in the ocean waves, three bald eagles perched above, and slews of indigenous sea birds. We asked dozens of questions of Captain Jack as he educated about the Maine lobstering industry, reeled in a trap of these fascinating crustaceans and taught us about their anatomy, mating habits, incredible regeneration abilities, and Maine’s conservation efforts.

We walked with Sam Dog to Bar Island, accessible by a sweeping sandbar that is only revealed at low tide. Miss the tide change, you don’t make it back. 

Taking a biking break on the Carriage Trails.
After very active mornings of outdoor adventures, huge mid-day naps were taken sprawled across the couch or bed of the adorable downtown Bar Harbor apartment we stayed in.

We found a great dive bar with “awesome hour” where we relaxed and played Finger Ringer and Rummy 500 while snacking on shoestring French fries served in a metal dog bowl.

Our bikes took us along the miles of carriage roads that wind through Acadia, making a big loop through the mystical scenery of Witch Hole.

Our Jordan Pond table view.
We discovered Acadia hiking trails that took us along boardwalks above marshes, through knotty pines, and along cobblestone seashores, finding perfect nooks for picnic spots to eat our home-packed lunches along the way.

After one bike ride we snuggled onto an outdoor table bench at the Jordan Pond House where we indulged in their famed hot popovers with homemade strawberry jam, decadent sandwiches, and fresh squeezed lemonade and blueberry herbal iced tea while taking in the beauty of the pond, Bubble mountains and surrounding forests.

The crisp, fresh water of Echo Lake reflecting the astounding green covered mountains that hug it turned a tootsie dip to test the water into a swim in my clothes I just couldn’t resist. I dried by the wind and the sun of the topless Jeep while we explored surrounding harbor villages.

An unplanned, irresistible dip in Echo Lake.
I abandoned all my anti-inflammatory, no sugar, no dairy diet restrictions for the week and indulged in wild Maine blueberry pie and more ice cream. The second ice cream night was shared scoops of the flavor “I Haven’t Decided Yet …” from CJ’s Scoop Shop made with Reese’s peanut butter cups, Oreos, cookie dough, chocolate chips, chocolate swirl, ya know, everything but the kitchen sink. I went all in.

One solid rainy day met a patio breakfast of berry muffins and crab and cheese omelet with our feet in a flood puddle but our heads dry from the rain. With full bellies the rest of the day was spent reading, writing, and napping inside to the soundtrack of the raindrops and thunder. We capped the night with pizza and a showing of the new Ferrell/Galifianakas flick The Campaign in the historic, though musty, Criterion Theatre.

Boardwalk trail near Sieur de Monts Springs.
I tried to catch another sunrise, leaving Sammy and Craig to sleep as I ventured out to Cadillac Mountain at 4:30 a.m. However, the dense fog made it impossible to see much of anything at all. The higher I drove, the denser it got, so instead I took a walk around the summit through misty clouds and whipping wind with the hundreds of others who had come out in hopes of seeing the sun rise from ocean to sky. Though there was no spectacular sun display, on the drive I did spy a family of deer – a buck with a full set of antlers and his posse peering at me through the forest.

Our bags are packed and early tomorrow we will be on our way home to Connecticut. First will be a stop at Sammy’s now favorite Maine spot: Little Long Pond where she can run free, off-leash bounding through this little piece of doggy heaven where there’s forest and water and mud and lots of other dog butts to sniff hello at.

Happy explorers.
To break up the 8-hour trip, we’ll stop half-way to reminisce around the old stomping grounds of my (and Craig’s honorary) alma mater: the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Kittery, ME and neighboring Porstmouth, NH are on the itinerary.

This summer getaway has been no less than perfect, a far cry from where we were last summer. What’s even more wonderful is that we’re eager to return home to a place that we love just as much and to the people that we miss. What a fortunate situation to be in. We’ve been humbled by the beauty, relaxed by the ocean air, and sated by all the exploration.

Monday brings us back to New York City for another SGN-35 infusion. I’m not exactly looking forward to that, but if it’s that drug that is allowing me to be this active and making me feel this amazing then it’s worth the few days of crumminess it will cause.

To balance the treatment trip, Craig and I are both looking forward to delivering the heaping amounts of donated goods we collected from our generous community of loved ones into the hands of those who need them at American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge NYC – last year’s summer vacation spot. 

Our "Downtown Dog Friendly" apartment on the second floor of the Acadia Veterinary Hospital.  Random, but ideal!             
Looking back from Bar Island to downtown Bar Harbor across the sandbar. 

“Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This is Summer.

We saw the sun rise over the Atlantic from the 1,500-foot summit of Cadillac Mountain. It was one of the most peaceful and serene things I have ever witnessed.

I surgically opened a full lobster requiring a slew of wet naps and specialized tools used to extract then savor its sweet meat.

We spent hours reading on a blanket by the harbor watching sail boats, whale watches, and sea kayakers roll in.

We’ve been weaving in and out of cute little shops and artist stands with fun things to look at, touch and awe at. Even Sammy did some shopping with Craig in Patagonia and Bark Harbor.

I nearly took a nap in my fluffy stack of wild Maine blueberry pancakes I was so deliriously indulged.

We toured and tasted the creations of two local microbreweries getting just a little tipsy on True Blue blueberry beer and an IPA that tasted like biting directly into a hop-soaked grapefruit. We followed that up with some magnificently moist BBQ from the smoking pit on site.

We’ve hiked through just a taste of Acadia National Park’s beauty so far, Sam sniffing wildly at each evergreen, jumping in and out of lake, pond and ocean water, tongue hanging heavy in happiness from her canine smile, accepting pets from every kid that wants to say hello to her (and there are many).

I ate a waffle cone full of so much coconut and Irish mudslide ice cream that my belt literally busted open as my belly grew to happy Buddha size. Still tapering off those steroids ... Prednisone makes me a swollen fatty. 

I’m writing this from a couch in an open-air café in downtown Bar Harbor – iced Oregon Chai latté in hand. Songs from Rent and Les Mis have come over the speakers in the “Opera House Listening Room” and the sun is peeking in just enough from the cascading awnings above me.

Tonight we go out with a lobster fisherman to learn about the trade and maybe see some seals honking at each other.

And, it’s only day 4.

We’re sun kissed, sore muscled and schedule-free. This is summer vacation.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Guru in the Elevator

It was this time a year ago. I was in the thick of allo transplant recovery, meaning I was tired, uncomfortable, irritable, frustrated, nauseous and in pain – a regular emotional biatch.

This particular morning I was particularly tired, swollen, hot and weak and was not at all eager to make the trek from Hope Lodge in midtown to Sloan-Kettering on the Upper East Side for a 9 a.m. clinic appointment. At that point the clinic appointments were essentially daily, and it was getting old and exhausting.

Every couple has their sticking point and ours for the summer of 2011 was cab hailing. A certain woman begged every night to call ahead to schedule a cab for door-to-door service. It would be a bit more expensive, but would save a whole lot of headache. A certain man with his certain manly stubbornness was confident that every morning getting a cab would be a breeze. He wanted to walk a block to the commuter epicenter of Herald Square and stick his hand out amid the chaos.

We woke and got dressed. Though it was already 80 degrees and humid at 8 a.m., as usual I was wrapped in jeans and a sweater trying to combat my lack of warming red blood cells, hair and body fat. I was a chilled waif.

The tension was already starting to seethe between us as I absently ate my toasted waffle with a side of six pills and a gagging spoonful of chalky anti-fungal rinse to wash it down.

I covered my face and nose with my requisite yellow mask and snapped my fingers into my germ protective blue latex-free plastic gloves – the picture of fashion. Shuffling on my stick-thin legs Craig and I made our way out of the Hope Lodge building and up 32nd street to Broadway, eyes peeled for an open yellow cab.

Finding an open yellow cab at 8 a.m. on a weekday right at the hub where the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and a slew of subway stops dump is like finding sea glass in desert sand. It’s a fierce competition among people stepping into the street with fingers extended into the air, legs poised in a stance of arrogance and urgency. The available cabs are few and far between, most already occupied, and getting one to stop for someone who looks like they’re carrying a communicable disease makes the challenge damn near impossible.

I was quickly losing patience and energy was fading. Craig stood there tirelessly on the corner with his arm out as cab after cab whizzed by or as others cut right in front of us just 10 feet ahead and weaseled their asses into a ride.

“This isn’t going to work,” I said. Time was ticking and we were losing our traffic buffer that would get us to my appointment on time. I loathed being late. The later I got to clinic, the later I got out. 

“We should have called ahead for a cab, ” I rubbed in to add salt to the already pulsing wound. “I told you we should have called last night. We’re never going to get a fucking cab here.”

Craig stood stoically, arm outstretched and unwavering as I danced around him like a nagging bumblebee. He wouldn’t even acknowledge me. My angst and frustration were getting to dangerous levels.

10 minutes passed.

5 more minutes passed.

No cab possibilities.

“We should just start walking,” I yelled through my mask, which muffled the severity of my tone. “This is the worst place to get a cab. It’s never going to happen.”

Craig quipped back at me telling me to be patient and that we had plenty of time.

Patient? I thought. Things didn’t have to be this difficult if somebody wasn’t so stubborn and we could have just planned ahead.

“Why wouldn’t you just call the cab company like I asked?” I yelled as I started to roll into temper tantrum mode right there amid the suited businesspeople all around us. The question was rhetorical at this point. I was just feeding fuel to a fiery situation.

Five more minutes passed with no signs of a ride. The frustration was escalating. I was hot and then cold and then nauseous and then woozy. I was still getting transfusions of nutrients at this point, functioning (barely) with scant potassium and magnesium, never mind a body wrecked by chemo and not enough blood cells to sneeze at. I hadn’t taken a normal shit in days and was unstable and getting angry.

“I’m going to the Penn Station cab line,” I announced to Craig. Penn Station was a long avenue block from where we were standing, but I knew that there were guaranteed cabs there. There would also be a guaranteed line of people waiting to get into those cabs, but at least it was a sure bet.

“That’s ridiculous, Karin,” Craig said, his voice now escalating. “Just wait.”

My mind was made up. Now my stubbornness had set in.

“I don’t know what the F you’re doing, but I’m going to get a cab to get to my appointment,” I bomb dropped and started on my way. Ooooh, this is a good way to get him back, I thought evilly, because obviously the whole New York City cab inefficiency problem was Craig’s fault.

Now it was a competition of who was going to get in a cab first. I didn’t give a damn if we took separate cabs up Manhattan: that would make my original idea of door-to-door service be the much more economical choice.

I was on my way, weaving through the throngs of people pouring out of Penn Station going against the grain at a real fast clip. I had only recently found my legs again and hadn’t walked much more than the minimal steps required to get through the day. But that morning I got my sprint back, spurred solely by determination to prove a point.

My sunglasses were steaming from the forced air coming up through my mask as I choked on its staleness and my hands began to moisten with sweat and itch within their plastic encasements. I pushed on, fast walking my bony little ass to the corner opposite the cab line – which was about 30 people deep – when my cell phone rang.

What?!” I angrily breathed into the phone at Craig.

“Where are you?” he asked. “I have a cab. You need to get here.”

I could hear the cab driver in the background yelling at Craig to get in amid the honks and hollers of drivers trying to get around him.

“I’m already at Penn Station,” I quipped, which wasn’t entirely true.

He couldn’t believe that I had made it that far that fast. I turned around to head back to him and the cab he had snagged, but of course didn’t tell him that. I thought it would be more emotionally effective to hang up on him.

I shuffled up the street dodging people with rolling suitcases and men hocking over their tables of framed Justin Bieber photo prints, bootleg movies, peace pipes, chinsy phone cases and plastic Empire State Building replicas.

It only took a few yards before I started seeing stars and thought I might damn pass out in a puddle of street piss. My cell phone rang again, echoing violently through my throbbing head.

“What?!” I quipped again. I knew damn well what.

Where the hell are you? I can’t hold this cab for long; the guy is screaming at me,” Craig pleaded.

“I’m coming!” I spat into the phone, this time keeping our connection open so that he could hear my labored breathing as I lumbered the rest of the way up the block – good dramatic effect.

The cab driver was off his rocker in anger, yelling: “Get out of my car! This is not your cab to hold!”

Craig was holding the back seat door open, totally manipulating the situation. I heard him pleading with the driver saying that I was just a few yards away, that I’d be right there.

Other cabs were driving by slapping their hands on “our” cab yelling in anger at this driver who was holding up traffic in a no-stopping zone. But Craig held strong and didn’t let go of that door.

I could see him in the distance in steamy chaos and I started to feel a little bit bad for taking off – just a little bit though. Even so, hell no was I going to admit it then.

I rolled into the back seat somersault style and the cab driver sped off with us plastered by momentum to the back headrests, yelling incessantly. It was probably a dangerous choice to get behind the wheel with him, but we were finally on our way still with the potential to make it on time if the 5th Avenue traffic cooperated.

Not a word was spoken between Craig and me but a whole lot was said. We were each seething and leaning against our respective windows to get the absolute greatest distance between us possible. I really didn’t feel well but admit that I amped up my labored breathing and moaning for further dramatic effect, grumbling frustrations and ‘told-you-sos’ under my breath just barely loud enough for Craig to hear.

He said nothing, but his eyebrows were so furrowed their centers were touching and his back was as rigid as a plank, neck arteries pulsing.

The cab driver let us out at the hospital entrance and peeled away leaving us in a cloud of city smog.

Craig walked about 10 feet ahead of me. It was as if we were to be too close we would each implode in anger. I labored behind, super slow for effect, so that he would have to hold the elevator door open for me.

A man stepped in the elevator car with us for the ride to the fourth floor. He was in his mid-fifties, easy, breezy and relaxed looking. I wanted to bite and hiss at him.

He looked at me in my mask and gloves and said: “I used to be like you,” and proceeded to tell me that he was a transplant patient 15 years ago.

Last year's anniversary on a rickshaw ride
through Central Park and Times Square.
La dee fucking dah, I thought to myself and gave him a half sneer, which he couldn’t see through my facemask anyway.

He looked at Craig and said: “You want to smack her yet?”

What? Who is this guy? I thought totally shocked at his remark.

The elevator door opened on the clinic floor and the three of us stood in the vestibule.

“A year from now she needs to take you on a vacation for having to put up with all her crap,” the man said to Craig.

I stood there like a doofus knowing full well that this man remembered the many days on his own drug-fueled post-transplant emotional crazy train and could tell I was conducting my own engine that day.

“Do you know what happened today?” Craig asked, breaking into a smile.

“Yes; yes I do,” the man replied and walked away down the clinic corridor.

It broke the spell and we both took our guards down and actually looked each other in the eye and smiled – kind of.

A year later we’re taking that vacation, celebrating our 5-year anniversary today on our way to Bar Harbor, Maine, with Sam Dog in the back of the Jeep, for a week of playing at Acadia National Park – the land of no cabs, no traffic and no stress, but rather lobsters, ocean, trails and sunrises.

For all the crap I gave him last year, Craig never did smack me. I guess that man in the elevator was right. He damn well deserves this vacation – and then some.   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Like Spokes In A Wheel

I always harp on the point that I don’t want to give the cancer credit for anything. If cancer is a gift, I don’t know who is dolling that out, but he or she or it needs to rethink their choice of presents. A gift is something that you give to someone to brighten their day. I wouldn’t give this to anyone; no one deserves it. It’d be nice if my cancer came with a gift receipt because I’d take that shit back. I’d even settle for a store credit.

However, it can’t be denied that the circumstances living with cancer has dealt me have opened up many worlds – the biggest reward being the people that it has brought into my life. Craig and I spent the weekend on Cape Cod with one of those incredibly special people, our friend Lulu, the mother of my transplant cam padre, Matt (who turned 50 this year and was declared cancer-free from his Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, his transplant from an unrelated donor a great success after a tough road!).

Matt and me sporting our floppy hats that Lulu gave us. 
We rocked them with the tags on trying to start a new trend. 
Lulu was his primary caregiver at Hope Lodge last summer and the four of us spent many hours together sleeping, reading, chatting and (believe it or not) doing lots of laughing on the roof deck of The Lodge. They were both tremendously integral to my survival while living there and rebuilding.

Matt has been my rock, sounding board, bitching partner, and inspiration. We call each other jamokes and laugh at the absurdity of circumstances together like when I fell on my ass and broke my foot and he fell off his bike and broke his shoulder. His mom Lulu is one of the most interesting people we know and has brought so much positive perspective and life lessons. She’s been so helpful to Craig and to my mother, with whom she’s also forged a close relationship, as they all navigate how to deal with us crazy transplant patients and all of our baggage.

A fantastic Cape Cod weekend with Lulu. 
To be able to spend time together at her beloved cottage, in the ocean and on the sand that we all pined for last summer from the hot city concrete was a little bit surreal and a whole lot beautiful. We talked about how going through the adversity that we have can carry so many positives with it and how grateful we are were that our circumstances brought us into each other’s lives, no matter how crappy those circumstances were.

I am so fortunate to have many relationships like this, people in my life that I never would have known had it not been for our cancer journeys intersecting. These relationships are so important to me, built upon a deep love and appreciation. To be able to tap the support of these friends that can relate on a whole different level is invaluable. I truly believe that people are brought together for a greater reason and that the connectedness between humans is a bond stronger than anything.

However, it doesn’t mean that just because people share a disease that the commonality makes them instant friends. I’ve also run into people that I have not aligned with at all and whose energy was not something I needed in my realm. Those that I’ve grown close with are kindred spirits that I thrive with. This would have happened with or without the whole cancer thing – that just happened to be the catalyst that brought us together. We have way more in common than that.

Steve, Jen and me - our first time meeting 
outside the 
virtual world. 
Our friends Steve and Jen are two of the coolest, smartest, chillest, determined, kind, openhearted people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. He is recovering from his donor transplant right now, far from home and grappling with some difficult Graft vs. Host Disease manifestations. I think of them both multiple times a day every single day. We’ve spent time together in LA and NYC and have shared so many intimate conversations over e-mail and texts, conversations that I often look back at to make me laugh or help me cope.

I love swapping stories with my buddy Ethan, checking in with Tiff and Bekah. We can talk to each other without filters. Our connections are immediately from heart to heart without all of the bullshit in between. We can be real and open and comfortable, a level of intimacy that’s refreshing and easy.

In The Book of Awakenings by Mark Nepo, one passage compares humans to spokes on a wheel.  “What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach is the same,” it reads. Each spoke is essential to keeping the wheel whole, but no two spokes are the same. Every spoke offers some different type of energy to draw from. 

I’m so incredibly fortunate to have such strong spokes spinning in my wheel, propelling me forward.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Drive

My longtime girl crushes Misty and Kerri.
Photo credit:
The Olympics get me all jacked up, maybe even more than the steroids I’m on. I love everything about them: the competition, the team spirit, the physical endurance, the goals accomplished, the camaraderie, the back stories, the proud parents, the upsets and underdogs, the rewards reaped for hard work. I am a Summer 2012 Olympics junkie. I’m one of those people who was counting down to their start all summer and now that they’re here – at a time when insomnia has been at a peak for me – they make for the perfect late-night television viewing and article reading.

I love watching these incredible athletes in their pique physical form. Their strong, sculpted bodies and determined focuses give me so much drive in my own pursuits. Minus my couple of chemo recovery days, I’ve been wildly productive on many fronts over the past two weeks, and I give a lot of that credit to Olympic inspiration. I’m a sucker for great sporting moments. If they can pinpoint quadruple somersault dives in sync with a partner, back flip off of a 4-inch-wide beam, and make the most impossible digs in beach sand, then I can handle whatever measly thing I’m dealing with. Hell, they’re shattering World Records.

Nothing is more attractive to me then a svelte, sculpted athletic body. Watching the Olympics makes me ache for the health and endurance they have and long for my high school “glory days” on the volleyball court and sprinting for the track and field team. I yell at the television and sit back in awe that the competitors we get to watch are the best in the world at what they do. Talk about an accomplishment to be there to compete, never mind win. It must be such a high for these athletes who have devoted their lives to their sport. There’s a lot to be said for and learned from that type of commitment.

The games are a good reminder of the power of the human spirit and the capabilities of the human body: one hell of a machine.