An unconventional Valentine’s Day

Today is our one-year anniversary. Most people speak of this in terms of relationship status. But today marks a very different anniversary for Entrepreneur and me. It was one year ago today, Valentine’s Day, when he went into surgery to remove a cancer mass in his brain.  Not exactly what you would put in a Hallmark card.

One year ago today, we were waiting for him to get out of post-op recovery. With my support system at my side, the minutes drug into hours until I could lay eyes on him.

And then next 10 days in the hospital were spent getting him stable enough to begin the long, hard road to recovery. I can say, without a doubt, these were the scariest days of my life. The cognitive deficit due to post surgery swelling was disturbingly real. And there were very few reassurances those first crucial days.

Looking back, 2017 sucked. This event forever changed our lives and derailed many of the the plans we’d been formulating for our retirement years. The surgery was difficult enough, but the aftermath has presented challenges that have left me with a loss as to how to overcome.

Targeted radiation to the area of his brain affected by the tumor gave way to 6 months of Bell’s Palsy. Oral chemotherapy is taking its toll with the challenge of providing nutrition to combat the fatigue. He left the hospital with high expectations to rehab and regain his strength and abilities. And he was on track for a remarkable recovery. One year later, he most definitely has impressed his physicians and surgeons, but when the oral chemo is actively destroying any gains, being optimistic and proactive becomes harder and harder. It grates on us mentally, psychologically, physically and spiritually.

Our support group is awesome. These people are the shining light in the middle of this dark journey.

I admit, I took for granted this would simply be a bump in the road. I expected him to rally and overcome obstacles like he’s always done in the past. But, nothing is a given anymore.

One year out…..he’s still part of our lives. He’s trying hard to push through the destructive effects of chemo so he can spend as much time as possible with his daughters and granddaughters. There is so much to live for.

But, there’s been a shift in perspectives. Gone are the aspirations of us having an active, retirement lifestyle. Every day is a struggle. Every day is a gift. Many cancers can be put into remission or destroyed completely. Not renal cell cancer. There is treatment, but no cure or remission. His scans have been clear over the past year, which is a blessing and cause for hope.

Entrepreneur would like to engage and live whatever is left of his life to the fullest. I’d like to say we’re not letting this get in the way, but that would be a lie. No matter how much we say this condition is not going to get in the way of living life to the fullest, the reality is….it’s in the way. If fact, it’s set up a roadblock that seems awfully difficult to get around. As long as he’s on oral chemo, his stamina is reduced and the usual effects of the drug are ever present.

The new normal.

Entrepreneur does not like his “new normal.” This type of chronic cancer steals joy and steals hope. And I’m not sure how to deal with these feelings or help him to overcome the feelings of loss of a meaningful life. I would love nothing more than to focus on enjoying whatever life is left….it’s just so much harder to live it to rather than to say it. I pray for an advancement in the treatment of renal cell cancer…..an immunotherapy treatment that would help combat the relentless destruction of the body from oral chemo. Clinical trials are underway for new ways to manage this cancer…but….and this is the cynic in me….when the chemo pills cost the insurance company upwards of $5K per month, where exactly is the incentive to find a cure?

So, today, Valentine’s Day, is especially poignant this year. It not only marks the one-year anniversary of brain surgery (two thoughts that should never, ever be combined), but also serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a given. Stop letting trivial arguments get in the way of spending time with those you love. Put aside those family disagreements and ask yourself….if you were in my shoes…just how important those petty irritations and grudges really are.

Happy Heart Day and may those your love know how much you care about them today and always.

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February Photo Challenge: Love

photo blog challenge

Well, I had visions of wonderful “Love” photos for February’s photo challenge from our winter vacay to Mexico. They were going to be fabulous. And then this happened. 

The month became a blur and now it’s time to share……and I’m literally putting this together the afternoon of February 28th. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my five for Love.

Love #1
Twix turned three years old earlier this month….back when life was more normal than it is now. As tough as it sometimes is to keep her mind stimulated, she’s such a delight to have around every day. It goes without saying that the grand girls are right at the top of the Love List.
twix-3yrs

Love #2
Along those lines, Twix loved getting a birthday phone call from a set of great-grandparents who sang happy birthday to her. When asked how old she was, she was happy to show them.
twix-bday-phone-call

Love #3
In this part of the state, everyone LUVS Central Dairy ice cream…from a local dairy that made its mark in middle Missouri back in 1920. A second location was established in 1934 and included an ice cream parlor, which is still in operation today.
central-dairy

Love #4
I love it when our family is all together…wherever it may be. This is a feeble attempt to maneuver a selfie-stick at a local restaurant to commemorate the occasion.
family-2-2017

Love #5
And why, you may ask, was everyone together in middle Missouri in the middle of February and not on a Caribbean beach? Well, in case you missed the link at the beginning of the post, it was because of Entrepreneur’s recent brain surgery…on the day we are suppose to celebrate Love….February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Not exactly the way I’d intended to spend the day, but there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned crisis to bring together those you love most. And it drives home the importance of those Love vows we took 36+ years ago.
entrepreneur-surgery

There’s my February Five. I hope you find time to make your way over to PJ’s place to share in some more blogging love. 

February Photo Challenge: Red

photo blog challenge

 

Here it is the end of February. Can you believe it? Bring on Spring!!! What? Not yet? Boo.

PJ over at A ‘lil HooHaa hosts a photo challenge every month. February’s theme is, of course, Red, and most of my selections will be self-explanatory. Since Twix was born on February 3rd and the weather has been so lousy, we’ve been staying inside a lot.

Here’s my two funny Valentines.V-day peanut twix

Continuing with the Happy Heart Day theme, here are my girls…minus one.
me and girls

Did I mention the weather was lousy for most of February? I spent a lot of time filling bird feeders and watching the snow/rain ice pellets. Thankfully, the cardinals are always good for a photo opp.
cardinal 2014

I know this little bluebird’s tummy is more orange…but one needs red to make orange, so it counts.
bluebird 2014

And this one really does fall within the rules too, because pink is a hue of red. pink rose

 

But since I played a bit fast and loose with these last two, here’s a bonus one. I took it on one of the rare 50F days last week when I took a break from work and went walking.

This pretty much sums up my attitude about winter….Stop…please…stop.
stop

Bam. Done.

Check out what others saw during the month of Red.

 

Just because

Roses 2013-72Texture by Kim Klassen: Cora
Screen Blending Mode at 80% with selected areas erased.

They were on my desk when I got to work yesterday. Yes, they were for Valentine’s Day. Yes, they’re from Entrepreneur (how could you even ask such a question?) And, of course, I did what any pseudo photography addict would do. I shot them with my camera phone, uploaded them to Dropbox, downloaded them to my computer and promptly into PhotoShop!

I really like how this turned out. So many times I try and emulate Lisa Gordon and her photography. I might have come close with this one. 🙂

And I wanted to share them with you.

Just because.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. xoxo

Texture Tuesday: the love edition

redbud-heart-Texture Tuesday

Textures by Kim Klassen: Cora and Sybil

Only in love are unity and duality not in conflict.
~Rabindranath Tagore

Happy Heart Week! Whether you observe Valentine’s Day or not, I’m sure there is someone in your life that loves you, and you love them in return. Hold on to that thought this week.

Entrepreneur and I have been together for 36 Valentine’s Days (married for almost 33 of those). We don’t really go all out for the Hallmark Holiday, but I think it is worth a mention.

Has the quote above sunk in yet? Did it create an epiphany moment? So many people think it’s mandatory to lose themselves in order to be in love. It’s like their individuality up and disappears, and is replaced with the likes/dislikes of their partner. They become little clones of each other.

We didn’t go that route. In fact, there may be few people more opposite in nature! He’s a left-braned, list-type person; I’m a right-brained, mind-mapping sort. He played sports; I can’t throw or catch to save my soul. He is a morning person; I prefer not to rise before 8am. I love to read; I can’t remember the last book he read. He’s a minimalist; I like my stuff around me. He can purge a room/closet without any hesitation; I tend to hang on to things that are sentimental to me. I can shop for hours; he’s in and out of the store in record time. We like different foods. We have different styles. The list goes on and on…..you get the picture. And sometimes these differences cause more than a few fights yelling matches disagreements.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not in unity with each other. We have our own dual identities, yet are connected together as one in heart. Opposites attract? Perhaps.

But I think it’ primarily because we hold the same core values. We hold the same truths. We have the same tenants of faith. So, when life gets really tough, I go shopping we have the ability to set aside our differences and face the future with one mindset…one goal. With the same core beliefs, we can steer each other back on track when the other temporarily loses their common sense way.

So Happy Heart Week! Hope you take time to celebrate the delicious duality…and unity…of love!

Linking up with Texture Tuesday
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