Sunday, April 30, 2006

A little catch up!

Ok. I have gotten behind again. Aside from class starting and trying to run/walk daily, I have been spending some quality time trying to recruit people for the Relay for Life and sending out emails about my participation. But that is another story I will hopefully get to later.

When I returned from the visit to my parents the weekend after Easter, my computer started acting up again. One day it was shut off completely and would not come back on! Harley had to switch it around with another machine we had lying around. Then it was incredibly slow and kept locking up. Harley informed me today after tweaking it, that the memory chip had to be replaced. Then last night for some unknown reason the keyboard stopped working and my attempts to plug it back in proved futile. I still am unsure how he got the keyboard to work again.

Without my keyboard I am up a creek without a paddle as I cannot type on a laptop or standard keyboard. I use an ergonomic keyboard. So if you got a very strange email from me this week which was garbled and had numerous typos, you know the reason why. I tend not to type or email much when that happens. And yes, I have lost dexterity due to the NF2. My fingers don't function as well as they used to and my fingertips are numb. It has been posed that this may be due to some nerve damage in my brain or neuropathy as a long term side effect of the chemotherapy I had when I was 21. Today I noticed blood on various things and discovered that I had cut the tip of my thumb somehow and did not know it.

I am seriously considering auditing my final ASL class. I made the decision this week when things started becoming more frustrating for me. I am sure I could somehow muddle though it and get a decent grade but it would involve more work and time than I really want or have to commit.

I am beginning to feel kind of like the odd duck as everyone else is hearing and most are in the interpreter training program. There is one other guy who is deaf but he went to a deaf institution and is very fluent in ASL. He is taking the class because he wants to become a teacher and transfer to Galluadet (the exclusively deaf college in the US).

With my lower visual acuity, dexterity problems, and hampered memory, it is very hard to keep up with the other students. I felt like a total fool the other day in lab. We had another instructor filling in and I misunderstood what he was asking me. I was very concerned about rerecording my signed version of the pledge of allegiance. Thus I confused the sign "copy" with the sign "record". I know the signs but sometimes my brain has a hard time sorting out things if the signing is quick or I feel somewhat stressed.

I thought he asked "who needs to record still?" when he was actually asking "who needs to copy still?" I raised my hand and then turned to figure out how to turn the video camera on at the desk. I was a little frustrated because the buttons were small and I could not shove my head back there enough to read them.

Finally I figured out what must be the logical button to turn the dang thing on. I looked at the TV screen to see if it worked and I did indeed find myself on the monitor. Then I needed to angle it correctly so I was centered on the screen.

All of a sudden I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder and the person asks in sign "Why are you recording yourself?" with a very confused look. I turn to see everyone looking at me. I had a moment of confusion as I looked around and nobody else was recording themselves. Then I noticed that it appeared everyone was waiting on me.

I can't remember how, but I realized that I misunderstood and everyone was waiting for me to get my tape ready because they thought I had to copy the video that plays on everyone's tv (our assignment which is the same but there are not enough vcrs for the whole class to tape the assignment the first time through). Talk about feeling like a boob!

Anyhow, each week we watch what is called a "receptive translation" or RT where we have to interpret a story that a deaf person signs in ASL. Last quarter I could do fairly well on them after watching most videos over and over again. However, the stories have been short until now. Last Monday I watched the RT over and over again in slow motion and I was still not able to answer all the questions about the translation.

This week I felt like my eyeballs were going to fall out of my damn skull! My biggest weakness is trying to read deaf fingerspelling. I can sort of figure it out if I have lots of context, watch it repetitively, and logically figure it out using the topic and whatever letters I can read. Wouldn't you know it? The darn translation this week is about FINGERSPELLING! The lady in the video fingerspelled numerous words and of course the topic was FINGERSPELLING. We were supposed to create a mental map to have stamped but the instructor wrote on the board the only things I actually understood! Further, this seemed to be the longest signed story we ever had to watch. I just could not handle watching someone fingerspell things for that long. To watch it in slow motion over and over again would take up hours! I did not have that kind of time to figure it out and make a map in the last few 10-15 minutes of class.

Other people can watch it once and pretty much get the gist of most of it. I on the otherhand, have to watch it again and again and for each fingerspelled word I have to keep repeating the video in slow motion.

This is what it is like: pretend you are listening to a cellphone message from someone who speaks German. You only know German you learned in high school which is not the fluent use of the language. Then the person on the other end is not only fluent in German but speaks at the speed of lighting! Ah but that is not all! Your further complication is that you have a bad cellphone connection and pieces of your conversation keep getting cut out. Your job is to decipher what the German person is saying (and NO you cannot speak to the person on the other end. You can only listen to the recorded message over and over again).

I still want to stay in the class I just do not want to stress over the competition of a grade. The frustration of worrying over a grade and comparing myself to the other students I think will make me resentful of my deafness. To be honest I sometimes pity myself or get angry that this is not my choice. All the other people taking it (for the most part) still have their hearing, have an absolute love of the language, and posess very good receptive skill and dexterity. I don't have any of those. If I was hearing I would not be going to school to become an interpreter (not because I don't like the language but because it is not my forte). People who become interpreters SHOULD be very good at it as interpreting is a VERY important job.

I don't want to have a negative attitude about it or to start getting in a mood of feeling sorry for myself. That is my main reason for wanting to audit. In addition, with spring here, I have several things that I need or want to commit to (keeping myself healthy with daily exercise, running or walking in what I see as good causes in the community, helping Harley with priorities we need to accomplish, helping with our remodeling and yard projects, and of course all the things that I was responsible or did before these new tasks).

That is what is on my mind right now.

What does adaptation mean to you?

I just finished watching the movie "Murderball" which is a true documentary about the wheelchair rugby competition in the world paralympics. If you are feeling down and out for whatever reason (even albeit trivial) I highly recommend you watch this inspirational film. Heck, even if you are as happy as a tart and everything is going just grand, I still think everyone should watch this movie to get a better perspective on life.

I have to admit at times the language can be harsh (sensor children) but it is definitely real. People who have character, perserverence, and endure hardship are only human afterall.

One particular narration touched my heart and I could very distantly relate to his experience in my own way. The man lost his limbs (arms, hands, and legs) at about the age of 9 due to a very rare form of early meningitis infection. He describes a dream he was having where he was flying all over like a bird. In his dream, he could see himself with real limbs (arms, legs, hands and all). He said the dream was so real that he did not want to wake up from it. After his statement I could read the slight reminisce of grief and sadness in his eyes. He is happy and functions better than probably most able bodied people. Yet there are still moments of reflecting back over the person before his illness.

I too have had dreams about who I was before but I dreamed that I was doing those things now. The dreams were fantastic and I did not want to wake either. I have had many dreams but a few that were most vivid were of driving my motorcycle (which sits in the garage) along a long stretch of beach, rollerblading for miles, and returning to where I grew up in Michigan and riding against the sunset on my 10 speed bike like I often did as a teen.

I have also had dreams of listening to music that I swear was real if I had not been in a state of unconsciousness. It is funny also because I have dreams where I tell people that I am deaf, yet in my dream I am still able to hear sounds.

There was another player who described when he first came home from the hospital as a quadriplegic. He had played soccer for a college team and had been a very active person. At home he would look at pictures of himself playing sports and able bodied. It was then that the reality started to set in for him that things were going to be different. He was not going to go back to same person he was before.

I too looked and still look at photos of things I used to be able to do. Back in October I saw a picture of myself skipping from rock to rock (large ones) over a river in the Alps of Italy. It was horrifying and surreal to realize that was me just a couple years ago. It is a stunning realization that I am changed and cannot go back.

I think all people who suddenly endure a physical or mental challenge such as NF2, losing a sensation, or losing full physical ability have moments of being human. It is only natural to feel that way.

In the documentary, each of the athletes who had been subjected to a spinal cord injury, made a conscious choice to continue on and develop a quality life. They are not able to do the same things the same way as before but they have learned to adapt and survive.

I have read of different celebrities who have undergone their own burdens (Christopher Reeve with spinal cord injury, Michael J Fox with Parkinson's disease, and Melissa Etheridge with Breast Cancer just to name a few). I have come to find a common connection between these athletes and the above mentioned celebrities. Although they have openly admitted that their circumstance was not choosen nor a walk in the park , they have all felt they became better people and their lives have been enhanced because of it. They all made a conscious decision, to pick themselves up from their wallow and to continue making the best of what they have.

Yes, although I am only human and do have moments of swearing out of frustration and self pity, I too choose to have a quality life. While I may not be able to go back to the same things I had before (good balance, nondistorted vision, hearing and very good memory), I am finding ways to adjust and do things differently. I have learned that life is about adaptation if ones seeks out happiness and contentment. One must learn to change with the ebb and flood of the tides.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Other things I want to talk about but don't have time right now.

There are some other things I want to post about but I am leaving to my parents home in Central Washington tomorrow.

  • My reason for my recent absence of posts the last week is that I have been working on my latest project. I will be participating in the Relay for Life event for the first time to raise awareness and support for the American Cancer Society. I have been trying to recruit people and running more often.
  • For me and others with NF2 or who may be going through some type of treatment for an illness, it is important to exercise everyday. The diseases or treatments can have a degenerative effect on the body. If I miss more than a day of walking, it becomes hard for me to maintain a sense of balance and I stumble more.
  • Leg cramps and riding on the train.

Mental Blocks and Other Notes

I have read of others with brain tumors, surgery, or head trama as having memory problems. Yes sometimes I have those now which I never had before (seems to be with short term memory loss).

Maybe I will write more about it later. For now I just want to make a small note to remember to tell the doctor.

Over the past week or two simple little things I would get stuck on or could not remember. For example, in a couple incidences I could not remember someone's last name when it was somebody I knew. I had a sort of brain block and then it came to me like hours or a day later. The most signifcant this week however is that I had difficulty with the multiplication tables.

For the life of me, I struggled one day to figure out the answer to 7 times 9. I could not figure it out! I had to think of the answers to 8*9, 7*8, 6*9, etc. to figure out the answer! And no I am not a mathematically challenged person who never made it past algebra. I have a science degree and had to take chemistry and physics! I can still remember my locker combination from junior high school but the other day I could not remember 7*9!

I have made a habit to use my dictionary regularily since treatment and it appears now that a calculator needs to be part of my everyday repetoire.

I did notice more of a challenge with math while grocery shopping over the last year.

Another recent oddity that I forgot to mention:

I am uncertain to decribe it but the best I can relate it to is when a flashbulb goes off in your eye when you are unprepared or when you get up too fast and become lightheaded and nearly blackout. Hmnn, that sounds kind of extreme. What I am trying to describe are moments when I get up and I feel almost blinded in the one eye. I was feeling weird when this happened and started closing my left eye and noticed my field of vision in the right becoming narrowed or momentarily blinded as if I had stared into the flash of a camera. It does not last long (few seconds) and seems to happen when I get up from a sitting position.

Okay I have to say goodbye to the blog tonight because I am way too tired.

Tomorrow's Visit with Dr. V

As you know, my recent MRI was on April 10th. The one prior to that was October 25th. Unexpectedly, I got the MRI report/results in the mail on Saturday. I wish I had my scanner hooked up so I could just post it on here for you. Basically in a nutshell it said there was no change. Things seem stable yet I have to admit that I sometimes block out or get carried away on a fantasty and forget what is going on in my head.

I have a small confession: Last week (maybe Wednesday) I peaked at the few films I managed to talk the tech into making for me. The first ones seemed not bad but then I got into the nit and grit of it. For some reason I had forgotten about the other tumors and was just thinking I had one. Maybe because we are just focusing on one. I mean of course I knew there were more but I was only thinking of two others. When I looked at the film, the image of my brain looked as if someone dropped blotches of white paint all over it (some of them looking rather large). I saw my distorted brainstem and the tumors mushroomed out around it.

Now this is nothing new, but I just forgot how it looked and was expecting to see a near clean brain. I have to admit the image sent a shiver of horror down my spine and I had to quickly put it away and try to forget it. You know the say "Curiousity killed the cat". Well I did not want to be THAT cat!

Even though my brain is a scary site it is all good.

I saw the eye doctor in March and he said my optic nerves are now stable and not swelling. Thus he took me off of the Diamox medication that I have been on for a year. I recall going off just before my trip to Michigan. My instructions were to monitor my condition. If I had really bad headaches I would need to start the medicine again.

While I may have had a mild headache the first day or two, I don't recall having any on my trip. However, last friday the headaches began. It is hard for me to monitor and know what would be a headache due to the brain tumors or something like an allergy. I had one every morning which generally came between the hours of 4 and 5 am. Thinking back now, I guess they were pretty bad and interupted my sleep. I have been nursing them with IB profen thinking it is just and adjustment period off the medication.

Yesterday I got a really bad one that was one heck of a migrane! (The others I thought might have been because it was dry in the house and I got too dried out while I was sleeping.) It happened after my run. I ran the furthest I have fun since before my treatment in 2004. I just felt like running. It was really hard because I was kind of stiff but I just kept going.

Originally I was thinking that I would run out far and walk back. Yet when I got to the turning point, I realized I was going to have to run back in order to get the truck home in time for Harley to go to work. I ran nearly the whole distance but allowed myself enough time for a 10-15 minute cool down walk. The total time I was gone was for an hour. When I jumped in my truck and started driving home, a searing pain jabbed at my sinus cavity, then the back of my head, and then behind my right eye. It was so bad that when I stopped at the mailbox, I threw up black puke which scared me even more!

I had not eaten in 6 hours and only had one meal. Thus I scarfed a couple large spoonfuls of cottage cheese so I could down some excedrin and get relief. While going to the bathroom, I burped black barf and cottage cheese on myself again. I spoke to my mom on the computer and within a half hour the headache seemed to dissipate and the odd black vomit no longer returned.

For my appointment tomorrow I need to remember these incidences so that I can inform the doctor. For most of the week I had headaches that occured in the early morning. I have also had nose bleeds (had one today) which I thought was attributed to the dryness in the house. On the flipside, my nose runs like a dang sieve while outside running or walking. It actually started to drip Tuesday at class and I could not feel it. A classmate pointed it out to me and I was unsure if it had started bleeding again. I also had a mild headache and felt somewhat nauseated and uncomfortable as a passenger in the carpool ride to Seattle on Tuesday. Yet it was a warm day and the sun was bearing down on me (I used to get carsick as a kid in the same scenario).

Thursday, April 20, 2006


BAUK! BAUK! (that is supposed to be the sound of a kid in a chicken costume.....remember that commerical for some type of candy like m&ms or Cadbury eggs where that little boy is dressed in a chicken suit and says "Thanks Easter Bunny! Bauk! Bauk!) LOL anyway I always think of that during Easter.)

I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend. Harley was working but I did manage to have a nice weekend. When I walked the dogs at the park on Saturday it started pouring. However, when I drove down Ames Lake to the main highway (or is it a road?), the sun came bursting out and I was treated to a nice rainbow.

On Easter I did not color any eggs but I had a beautiful assortment of fake eggs that I hid around the house with little messages inside. Each message was a clue to where the next one would be hidden (leading up to Harley's basket of fudge eggs and a chocolate bunny that I bought at Saykllys candy store in Escanaba, MI) and most dealt with some aspect of our travels, wedding, and relationship together. Harley was so surprised! He was like a big kid! LOL It was so much fun to think of good hiding places and remember things about our journey together. We have been together for 11 years and this was the 5th Easter since we were married.

I must confess that my idea was not original. Back on Valentine's day of 1997, Harley made a scavenger hunt for me. He had written in calligraphy on lace paper hearts little poems and clues about our good times together. Each clue leaded me to where the next hiding space would be and finally lead me up to the big surprise which was a ruby and diamond promise ring.

It was the best scavenger hunt I ever had and the sweetest thing anyone had ever done. I will never forget it. While I could certainly not outdo that, I did want to do something fun and special.

Just because you get older does not mean you ever have to stop being a kid....young at heart!

Later after Harley had gone to work, the dogs and I went for our run'walk. I was focusing so much on my balance and running that I did not notice anything in the pond the trail. (when I run I cannot look at the scenery without losing balance or make out still images such as wildlife) The dogs tugged at the leash and I thought they wanted to sniff out something or relieve themselves. I turned to see what was going on (if there was a biker behind me; the dogs tug at the leash when there is a person behind me as I cannot hear). There was not anyone behind me so I tried to get them back on track but they tugged again.

This time I stopped and saw them looking out at the pond. They saw the Great Blue Herring that I am always looking for. I have not seen it in this spot for over a month! If it were not for my dogs, I would have totally missed it! I could not believe it! It was as if they knew it was something I wanted to see and they did not want me to keep going oblivious to the giant wonder standing there.

With the sweet scents of the cherry trees and the buds of spring, our trail experience was a great close to the day!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring Break Vacation - A Return to Michigan

Over my spring break from ASL classes, my father and I decided to take a trip back to the Midwest to visit my grandparents and see our relatives, old friends, and neighbors. My finals finished on March 20th and we left March 23rd and returned April 2nd.

The trip was very surreal. I had not been there since my 10 year class reunion in 1999. Back then I was still hearing and it was when I returned from the Midwest that my MRI revealed I had brain tumors which was diagnosed as NF2. So not only was I returning as an adult, but I was also returning as a deaf person. In some ways it felt like the old person who I was died and I was returning as a different or reborn person. I have often felt like my body carries a symbiant (referring to lieutenant Dax off of Star Trek Deep Space Nine). A symbiant was an 0rganism passed on fron person to person when they died. Even though the symbiant was in a new body and person, it carried with it all the memories, knowledge and experience from it's previous hosts. Like the symbiant, I carry all the memories of the hearing person I was and thus people remember me as the hearing person I was before.

It was odd to see all these old places I used to go and have memories from when I was hearing. For example, on the mudlakes at my grandfather's I reminsced back to the voices of laughter as we skated on the ponds, the sounds of skates burrowing into the ice, the crunch of snow under our feet, the roar of snowmobiles, the flutter of a partridge, the hum of a four wheeler, the lap of the waves against the shore of the lake, and my grandfather's voice.

At the church where I grew up, I was disappointed to find it all boarded up and condemned. Looking at the grounds and the outside the the building brought back many memories. I could see and hear the country music festival and picnic, the screams and laughter when we sprayed each other with the hose at our car wash fundraisers, and the chatter of folk outside the church. Peering in through the doorways, I heard the hymns that our good friend and neighbor Cathy led as the morning sunshine poured through the beautiful stained glass windows. Now I could see the church was all dark as the stained glass was gone and replaced with wooden boards. The pews were strown about and some of them overturned. Near the door was a rope leading to the the bell in the tower above. I pictured the altar boys pulling eagerly on the rope to sound the bell as mass was soon to begin and father Dan in his white robe and green sash with a gentle smile to greet all the parishiners. Now the foyer was empty, the rope was still, and the altar beyond was dim.

I ran to look into the basement windows. The afternoon sunlight still warmed the cream colored walls and a myriad of ghosts of memories past appeared. I envisioned myself back when I was a teen with my friends at our youth group events. I could see the cheerful grin of our leader Ken and everyone dancing around. I could hear the music of the time that we played at our lockins and youth group dances. I also saw long tables of a community bonded together and their chatter while they waited for a hearty meal at our pancake breakfast fundraisers. In the kitchen I could see several neighbors/community members rustling about over the sink and stove at our spagetti dinners. I could hear the bang of pots, the spash of water in the big sink, and the hustle of foot steps while the church woman chatted away (and men and kids too).

It was a very foreign experiene. In many of these memories I felt as though I was a giant on the outside of a bubble of life and looking in (like a scientist peering in on the zeal of pond life through a microscope).

It was a very good visit but strange to have all these memories that were forgotten until I visited the places of my past.

We took a train to Milwaukee so our first and last stops originated in that city where I was born. Upon arrival and picking up our car, we drove past the two houses I grew up in (from birth to 7 years old). The first house looked exactly the same except it was more tattered now. It was almost like looking at the photo of me when I was a baby with my young parents.

We then drove by the house were we lived when I was ages 3 through 7. It was still white but they painted the shutters and trim black and changed the vegetation around the house. I remembered walking to school which was nearby so I wanted to drive by that too. Ironically my old elementary school is no longer a public school for hearing students. To our disbelief of the irony, it is now an Amercian Sign Language school! Wow!

Some things are still the same and still there (such as the junior high my parents and I went to and the high school). The lake (water in Lake Michigan) has receded an incredible amount and there have been many business changes within the town.

We enjoyed seeing our family and friends. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write to me and use whatever sign you know for our communication. I greatly appreciate it and cherished your company during my brief visit!

Oh yeah, before we left we went to the Milwaukee museum which was always one of my favorites places of exploration as a kid. It was fun to see it again and I recall the exhibits that I liked the most. They had not changed and it was interesting to see them now years later. My all time favorite was the living sea exhibit with a great white shark. When I looked through the window into the exhibit of the underwater world I remembered how much I desired to jump in there and be a part of it when I was a kid. Seeing it now, I had an interesting realization of how I pursued my dreams to make them come true. It was funny to look in the window and think "yeah I have been there and done that". I have not dove with a great white shark yet but have dove with sharks and the many other creatures I saw in the exhibit.

After a long train ride I returned to the glorious signs of spring here. Below is an email I wrote about my return on April 2nd to my grandmother:

Hey we made it back! We had a nice trip out there.

I am awake right now because I fell asleep earlier and just woke up. I did not get much sleep on the train.

My train arrived Seattle about 10:45 am. A friend who I have met through learning sign language picked me up. On the way back we stopped at one of my places of mental refuge.....the volunteer park conservatory in Seattle.

The outside of the conservatory was lined with white daffodils, pastel purplish pink hyacinths, and various shades of purple pansies. The sweet scent of the hyacinths at the entrance was hypnotic! It is one of my favorite flowering scents! I also like jasmine, gardenia, and freesia.

Inside we found many flowers in bloom. The first room houses lovely and sweetly scented orchids from all over the world with many tall tropical plants such as Bird of Paradise. Continuing on to the temperate room (my favorite) on the right, bright yellow daffodils, purple and pink shades of Cineria as well as Lace Cap and pom forms of hydrangea, various species of delicate lilies, maiden hair fern, and a few later flowering camelia trees are in bloom. Through the next door in the cactus room, several species were in the flowering stage in hues of pink, orange, yellow, red, and white.

We looped back through the three rooms to the final two rooms on the left (the cycad room and the bromelaid room). In the cycad room they had various species of begonia in bloom as well as other flowering plants. The tradtional begonias blooming were pink and a coral orange. Within the two rooms were the most beautiful flowering lily cactuses I have ever seen. The flowers were perfect. Also, many bromelaids were just starting to flower.

The day was beautiful, sunny, and warm (60s). Upon arriving home Harley was excited to see me and awoke when he heard the dogs bark. I made french toast for my friend, Harley and I so we could sample the real maple syrup my former neighbor in "Riverland" had made. We also munched on some cheese curds that I brought back.

After all the excitement and a hot shower, I napped with Harley before he had to go to work.

In the evening (after taking a nap and eating half of my chicken pasty), it was time to take the dogs for a walk. About 6:30 pm we strolled along our "magic trail" in Carnation. I wore my old tattered NMU sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. Today we only saw a few birds and some mallard ducks but the scents of spring were marvelous! The sweet aroma of cherry trees and new budding trees permeated the air. In addition, the smell of earth and water was strong near the ponds beckoning the new life bursting forth.

The mountains still have snow at their peaks around the 3000 feet and above. Yet, down at sea level everything is lush, green, and budding. All the cherry trees are in bloom or just finishing. There are leaflettes on most trees, and everything is brilliant shades of green! My daffodils and hyacinths have started to bloom and in Seattle where it is warmer all the early spring flowers have arrived. Later in the month the tulips will bloom.

Again, thank you for the wonderful time. It was a lovely visit!

Love always, Becky

MRI Day - April 10th, 2006

Monday it was time to go back in for another scan of the brain. Unlike some of the other MRIs I have had over the past 2 years, I really was not anxious or worrisome. Even though I take naps quite often during my scans, this MRI was quite comfortable. It was probably the best MRI experience I have had.

First I got there early and I did not even have to wait at all. Just as I opened my book and started to read, a woman came to tell me it was timed to get changed. After I changed I had just sat down to puruse a magazine and the radiology tech came to take me to the MRI machine! We started to venture down the wrong way and I inquired where he was taking me (I had my paperpad with so he could write). Due to the almost complete remodel the MRI machine is located in a new section.

When I entered the room, I was surprised to find a new sleek machine! The head rest was more form fitting with a comfy little cushion pad for my knoggin. Then when he put the other part of the head contraption on (sort of like a cage or helmet), I noticed it had a really cool mirror. With the new mirror I could totally see the window and the technicians running behind it and also my body! Before I could not see them until I was pulled out of the tube. There also seemed to be more ambient light in the entire room and space.

When I arrived I made sure to inform the front desk people about my tricky veins and the proper procedure to follow to insert the IV (use a very small butterfly needle, only the veins in the hand work, and to apply a hot compress to the hands to get the veins to come out). Last time I was poked 6 or 7 times before an IV was run! This time however, it only took one poke and I did not feel it much at all!

During the MRI I felt very relaxed and at peace. I did not quite fall asleep but I was in a very meditative state. Throughout the MRI I kept thinking positive thoughts that the treated tumor was now dead and done with. I also tried to focus on the other tumors and think of them not growing further and all these fantastic positive things I wanted to accomplish.

Before I knew it, I was pulled out into the brightness of the world as if being born. The light of the world was so strong that I could barely open my eyes at first!

Normally I get a packet of films to take with me to the doctors. With the new machine however, they are able to take more accurate scans. The technician told me that there were hundreds of scans and that they would put them on a CD. I still pleaded for a few film images so that I could review them with my radiologist next week. She usually does a measurement check with me present so that we can compare with the last films to double check if there was any new growth.

After my MRI, I picked up my friend from SCCC and we went to my favorite Teriyaki restaurant on Capital Hill. As usual, I ordered the Teriyaki Chicken breast with the cucumber salad. LOL It has sort of been tradition now since I was diagnosed in 1999. The old place (HMO) were I had my MRI scans taken is right across from the Teriyaki Madness. That is how I came to find it. I only ate there after my scans and it is one of two Teriyaki restaurtants that I eat at in Seattle (those who know me well, know that I am picky about my teriyaki).

Following lunch, we visited my one of my sanctuaries and other traditions on MRI day. Most often, (unless I visit the doctor in North Seattle immediately after the MRI) I go to the Volunteer Park Conservatory to reflect, pray, ponder life, and enjoy the beauitful nature that God has created. In the greenhouse, the flowers and plants are so perfectly designed in symmetry and delicateness. The creations are too perfect to be random happenings. Rather than a church, it is there were I feel the closeness of God and appreciate his intricate patterns of life.

I enjoy bringing friends there to share this amazing paradise!

Diana and I also climbed the old water tower which is circular and affords views of Seattle, the Space Needle, the mountains, the sound, Lake Washington, Bellevue and Kirkland, and Mount Rainier on a clear day as well as some popular cathedrals. The top of the tower is so unique and reminds me of a carosel in shape. The tower is brick the top is lined with windows 360 degrees.

Spring is definately here which is my favorite season because it is bursting with the sights and smells of new life. We walked near the water reservoir across from the asian museum where we discovered a round pond. Upon closer inspection we spotted 6 Koi and a male and female mallard resting on the side. Along the path I spotted many aromatic shrubs and flowers that I pointed out to Diana. The scents were absolutely hypnotic and if it was not for the constraint of time, I would stay and become lost in them.

It was a good day for an MRI. I felt energetic and full of life!

13 years and still kicking!

I realized last night while reading a calendar of events in my latest US News magazine that I have been alive for 13 more years! My last chemotherapy treatment was on April 9th of 1993 which landed on a Good Friday (pun intended) of that year.

Between the date, the holiday, and my followup radiation treatments for cancer which ended in mid May of 1993, it is hard to decide which date to celebrate my remission. For me it has always been April 9th or Good Friday which represents a day of rebirth (rising from the dead).

I had really forgotten about it this year but looking back we had a really nice time last Sunday on April 9th. We went down to our old house and I visited with our lovely friend and former neighbor Irene. Afterward, we went to Seahurst Park on Puget Sound to walk the dogs. Low and behold and to our utlimate surprise, we ran into our friends Pat and Angela. Pat is one of the first friends that Harley made out here when we moved to Washington. Recently Pat just moved back to the area from Spokane so it was a total fluke that we happened to be at the same park at the same time (especially seeing as we live an hour or more from the park!)

The weather was fantastic and we saw a beautiful sunset. After the walk we dined with our friends at our favorite Thai restaurant in South Center.

Even though the significance of the date left my mind at the time, it was a great way to celebrate the anniversary of another 13 years of life! It is good to be alive.

One of my favorite quotes as of recently reads: "Fear not that life should come to an end, but that it should never have a beginning."

I can honestly say that I am very proud of the things I have overcome and feel satisfied by the things that I have done. I do feel that I have lived a pretty full life and I plan to continue to do so! Perhaps I would not be who I am or experiened life the same way if it had not been for my battle and survival with cancer.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Magic Trail

Today was another glorious and beautiful day. As such, I had to take the opportunity to visit the "magic trail". Today the dogs and I ran the whole length of our regular walking route on the trail. I don't know the exact distance but we were gone for almost an hour. When I walk the same distance it takes us maybe an hour and a half.

Monday we also went for a run but for the first time in a long while (I am not even sure if I ran that far since after treatment), we ran to the place where I sprained my ankle after returning from Stanford in July 2004.

I recall walking the distance with great ease prior to the radiosurgery treatment. In fact, I had even ran there on occassion and drug my poor friend for a walking journey there when she was carrying her 1 year old daughter the entire way. It did not seem too long for me at the time but now I realize she must have had incredible stamina as carrying a 15-20 pound child strapped to her chest in the heat must have been back braking work not to mention highly astute balance!

It felt good to run. I can run without a walking stick now as I am able to walk fairly well after completing the run. If you recall a year prior when I wrote about running, after running for 15 to 20 minutes I could barely walk because I was so disoriented! I stumbled all over the trail for a good 10 minutes and experienced double vision!

Thankfully that does not happen to me now but I do still have some extrene eye jiggling (Oscillopsia). I have learned to keep my focus forward and to look down at the trail about 3 to 5 feet in front of me the whole time. When I look up and straight ahead, the trail bounces around too much and I cannot make out faces or distances well.

Still it really feels nice to get to this point and I am almost addicted to challenging myself on being able to run the whole distance or as far as I can go. I can't rollerblade, ice skate, or cross country ski anymore but I can run and I am proud to have that much. God has given me my legs and I mind as well use them.

You are probably wondering why I call the trail the "magic trail". I came up with that name last fall when I returned from Arizona. I went for a walk and it was getting dark out. Despite the approaching darkness, I was still able to walk and it was exhilerating to feel the fall breeze wisk through my hair and feel the coolness on my face. All around me the dried leaves from the trees bustled in the wind and came to rest on the ground beside me. If I had not known better, I would swear that I could hear the wind. At the same time I gazed upon the stars beginning to appear, the moonlight in its glory, and the black silhouttees of the trees against the faint trace of the sun which was nearly gone. It was a very spiritual moment as I stood in comtemplation of my life. I felt like dancing for joy that I was still alive and able to savor that moment.

I have had many magical moments like that on the trail. I have seen brilliant sunsets, rainbows, the silver glinting of rain hitting the pond in the afternoon sun, majestic snow covered mountains, the full cycle of the seasons, and life bursting before my eyes over the past 2 years.

When I became deaf, when I was on the trail I had forgotten about my deafness. It seemed routine to my brain to hear sounds such as birds chirping and the ripple of the current in the creek. If I could see it I could hear it. It took several months to realize that I really was not hearing the cars that I would see pass by at the great field or the old pond.

Having NF2 has afforded me the luxury to experience the magic trail to its full capacity. The wildlife I have seen at rare opportunities include: coyotes, deer, a beaver, a bobcat, mallard ducks, wood ducks, blue herring, frogs, Baltimore Orioles, an owl, and many other birds. In addition, each season has its own distinguishing botanical scenery. It has been a delight to see this trail evolve and change. I do a great deal of thinking on the trail and it has given me a place of refuge and solace.

Time Flies!!!!

Wow! I just realized how delinquent I have become in my posting. At first I was surprised to notice yesterday that I only posted once in the month of March. It was a busy month! I was wrapping up my ASL 5 class and had 3 exams between the 13th and 20th. After I finished my class, our friend Tyler came for a visit from Alaska. We took a short day trip down to NW Trek in Enumclaw, WA (which was marvelous.....we saw 2 grizzly bears pretty close up!). Then I hopped on a train to Milwaukee on the 23rd. My dad joined me for the rest of the adventure from Ephrata, WA. In Milwaukee we rented a car and my dad drove us to Upper Michigan where we visited my grandparents and some old neighbors and friends. I returned April 2nd and of course I have had some things to catch up on here.

My ASL level 6 (the final class offered) began last night but I will be taking the class only twice a week instead of 5 days a week. Therefore, that will cut down on the commuting time and hopefully offer me some more time to dedicate to the blog this quarter.

I don't want to make any promises as sometimes life dishes you some upheavals and unexpected surprises (busyness), but one of my personal goals is to do some more writing more often in the blog and also learn some photo editing so I can share my pictures.

Thanks for sticking in there with me!