Thursday, March 02, 2006

Carpe Diem!

Which, as we all know, means "Seize the day!" and not "Dead fish!"

No commentary on the writing life today. Just a short comment on life in general:

I'm off to Los Angeles for a conference that runs through Sunday. Last time I visited, about a year ago, I swore that if I never returned, it would be too soon. Never say never -- you gotta go where life takes you.

Last year this time, my life (and the lives of my family members) was in an uproar. We had been home in Michigan from L.A. less than a month, after improperly prescribed and monitored medication sent my husband into uncontrollable seizures and a full-blown, hallucinogen-filled joy ride of a psychotic break. He'd been diagnosed with a recurrence of the brain tumor that he'd had removed in 1996. He had no short-term memory, no cause-and-effect reasoning skills to speak of, and had lost 15 pounds in a little over a month.

Since then, we've consulted with countless specialists and taken a cross-country trip from Michigan to San Francisco for brain surgery that at the eleventh hour was deemed unnecessary. We watched my husband's job, his career, and our insurance disappear.

But we've also weathered the storm, enjoyed another year together as a family, and seen many of his symptoms recede as the drug toxicity wore off.

When life doesn't go as planned, you can sit around and carp about it. Or you can seize the day and make the most of it.

One of my good friends recently found out that for her, 2006 is going to be much like 2005 was for us. She's in her mid-30's and was recently diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. She underwent a radical mastectomy on Valentine's Day, and -- now that the immediate scare is over -- has the long row of recovery to hoe.

I received this very up-beat note from her today:

First off, can you believe it's March already and so nice out? All of you that had to go to work, I wore shorts, t-shirt and flip flops to the doctor appointments today!! Hey, had to rub it in. Oh, and I sat out on the deck and read for a good hour this morning!!

Ok results from surgery.

No cancer at all on the left side -- yippee. The tumor was a bit bigger on the right side. I should know tomorrow when I have an appointment with the oncologist -- everyone has said she is the best! Umm... out of the 18 lymph nodes, 3 had cancer in them. Hopefully it hasn't spread anywhere else.

I will have a CAT or PET scan to check to see if the cancer has spread anywhere.

I may get some gentic testing done, since this doesn't run in my family, there is a risk of this possibly turning up in my ovaries -- yippee, one more thing to worry about. Jeez, they say God gives only what you can handle; what is He thinking lately!!!

Asking the doc what your chances are is such a rude awaking to life and how you live it. Let me just say, say hello to everyone you meet and love the people around you and be thankful for them.

Oh, another good thing is I probably won't have to have radiation -- another yippee of no sunburn on the armpit!! AND I finally get to shave and use deo!!! Oh, how sad the simple things in life can be so exciting!!! Enjoy all the simple things, they are wonderful!!!

I love the "yippee's." And I love her for being so positive and finding the things to celebrate in her situation. We've been there, done that -- and, chances are, we'll be there again at some point. I think some of the worst possible sins in this world are complacency, a sense of entitlement, and taking what you've been given for granted.

Life is not easy. No one escapes from life unscathed. But if you're lucky, you'll realize that your friends and family are pulling for you every step of the way.