Cancer

The Concentric Circles of Life and Death

Well it should come as no surprise that things here on the mountain are changing again. The spiritual head of our family is making the slow transition from the world of the here and now to the land of forever. It is a shaking off of the old skin and the trying on of the new freedom of the spirit that we are watching. It is emotionally stretching everyone in the family to the limit. This transition into the concentric circles of life and death, where there is no beginning or end.twirl-bluegrey-web The cancer has moved to the bones and a hip fracture has made her bedridden. So with other complications to her overall health the Dr’s know that she will not recover. The body worn out and now only a cocoon for the vibrant, fiery, giving, helpful, spirit that is still very much alive. It is a slow and often painful process to see the soul finally be released from the body. Yet, as amazing to watching as a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This experience has only one drawback, this butterfly will one day fly off with out me……

There is no time line of events. It is day by day, hour by hour,breath by breath. It is ups and downs and moments of clarity and others of total delusion. The pain comes, then the drugs, then the weakening of the vale between the worlds. She talks with those she loves who have departed, she sees them and knows they are close. The chorus of angels then fades and the drugs wear off, she is with us, clear, focused and even agitated with us. She is happy to see the men of faith that come to pray with her. They remind her that it is only for a little while and she will be healed. Healed and free from pain…. free from being trapped in a broken body…….. Ahhhh the final release.

She is my best friend, she is my spiritual rock, and the cancer is taking her away from me. I find some comfort in the words of the great writers, thinkers and spiritual believers.For generations we have survived this awkward step in understanding and some have left words for us to fallow.This is just one of many quotes that I have found some comfort in:

“The Prophet” by   Kahlil Gibran

from the section on friendship,

“And let your best be for your friend.”

“If he must know the ebb of your tide,

let him know its flood also.”

“For what is your friend that you should

seek him with hours to kill?

“Seek him always with hours to live”

“For it is his to fill your need, but not

your emptiness.”

“And in the sweetness of friendship let

there be laughter,and sharing of pleasures.”

“For in the dew of little things the heart

finds its morning and is refreshed.”

 

Our relationship has always been more than “married into the family” we have always been friends. So as I finish this post I am waiting on word that she is released from the hospital to go home. To spend her final days in the place she feels most comfortable and safe. I will sit with her when she settles in and read to her while the hours pass. So I can share the last few days or months that we have together, before she flies away.

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, family health, Friendship, grandma, poem | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Beginning and the End

As the truth of the news sets in I fill with a choking pain. I do not know what to say and I have no idea what is going to happen in our families future. They don’t give instructions on how to deal with the cancer process. The results from Grandma chemo are the worst you can get. The Dr.’s see no improvement from the 6 Chemo treatments that she has received. There is nothing left that they can do.

As we hear this my husband and I look at each other with eyes that are wide open. The future was never a proven fact, only a glimmering hope on the horizon and try as we (the whole family) might the fact is that we had one good year and maybe a few more months before the cancer starts to change our lives again. I got word from the Dr that we would see the cancer return in about a year and we would be lucky to have Grandma here with us at the three-year mark. That seems all seem like a dream now as the tumors have doubled in a matter of 6 weeks. The first year is already gone and we are now looking at maybe having months with her not years.

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

She has gone and made her funeral plans and picked out the casket and song that need played. Her plot has been saved and the final paper work is almost in order. The fact is that she is going about this transition in the most honorable way possible. She is thanking everyone and saying the words that need said to make everything “Right” before it is too late.  It is an important time for my family and I hope all of you understand that in the coming months I may or may not write my weekly post. I will try to share things I love when I can and when the mood strikes but not unless it feels right.

We are about finished with the remodel just in time for all of this to happen. The Barn Wood Builders are coming back to finish up the filming of the house the 28th of Aug so we have time to get all the details done by then. At some point around that time I will be getting Grandmas room ready and she will move back in with us at some point in the future. I am ready and willing to make her last days as comfortable as possible with Gods help.

So as Grandma always tells us this is really not an Ending but only the Beginning. That death is not the worst part,it  is being trapped in a broken body that is terrible, that the spirit is free at death and can finally return to the unending love of our creator. She is so wise in all of her 78 years that I must believe that what she says is true. That death will only be a better beginning for all of us. That her freedom from pain and suffering will also release the rest of us from our suffering also. That somewhere in the future I will be able to breathe freely again but this time it will be for her.

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virigina  The old and the new

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virgina The old and the new

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Death, family health, grandma, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The Results are In and I am Not Sure How to Write About It.

As some of you already my Mother In Law was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer last year at this very same time. I was a long road for her with surgery, radiation, and months of recovery time over the summer and fall of last year. Things were looking great back in Nov. She was free from any Cancer and ready to get back to her normal life at her home and enjoying the holidays even if she still was not eating well. This spring things were still looking bright when she just kept telling me she was so tired and run down after a move to a new apartment.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I think we all just thought that the move had worn her 77-year-old body down and that she would rebound. She was not sleeping well and seemed to have some sort of UTI infection that would not go away. Finally we talked about when she was going to see her Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist again. The appointment was in about ten days and she did not want togo any sooner than need be. So we waited until the appointed date to get her check up and what did they find but that a tumor had returned. Holy Crap! NO NO NO ! Seated there in the chair across from the monitor of her scope, I watched as the scope slowly went through the nose to the throat to the voice box. Their on the wall of her throat,just above her voice box sat a lumpy mass of almost white speckled tissue shaped like a Lima bean. The Dr looked me in the eye and said “This does not look good” and I knew then and their the situation of her recovery was over.

The Dr went on to let us know that we needed to plan for a CT scan of her neck and a biopsy of the tumor. As we sat in the office getting those appointment made a nursed asked if she would like to just get the pre-operation testing done this day and not have to drive the 1:30 back the following day. She agreed and we spent a few more hours getting blood drawn, a chest x-ray and EKG done to make sure all was well for her Biopsy.

Well the results showed a spot on her lungs, and the CT scan was then cancelled as they now wanted to get a full PET scan with the Biopsy. Her Daughter and Son spent two days with her while all the tests got finished, a long couple of days of driving and waiting for everyone.

Well the results are in and it is not what anyone every wanted to hear, the Cancer is back, it has also moved to the lungs. Disappointment fills my heart to over flowing. The families hopes are devastated. The dreaded cancer is back and now spreading. With Wanda reaching her life time limit of radiation treatments it looks as though the main treatment now will be Chemo Therapy. What kind and if their will be surgery to combat the lung issue is still up of discussion. The next couple of months will be more trips to seem more Dr’s  and Surgeons. Then a trip to see a panel of Doctors who review her treatment plan. Then a time for prayer….and reflections for Grandma.

At 77 she has total control of her mind and body and this comes as a major set back for her. She has expressed that she is ready to met her “Lord and Savor”, “that it is His plan that we all fallow” and that she will need time to pray about her future choices.

Many times while driving Grandma to do weekly chores, I have witnessed her strength, courage and love. She never complains, she never shy’s away from the pain she experiences. She never blames God for the situation. She instead glorifies what she believes by witnessing to everyone around her. Grandma says to every person she talks to that “This is not the end, but only the beginning.” ” That life here on earth is really the hard part, that death is finally freedom from pain and suffering”. She glows with knowing that her freedom is real and that she has time to remind people that death is only a simple transition from body to spirit and nothing more.

It is in my saddest moments that I think of what she has allowed me to share in. Much like the movie ” Driving Miss Daisy” I am not the real person in charge in our relationship, she is. I am a humble driver, medication giver, house keeper, that is her friend and family. I would not say that I am in any way  religious, I have to many misgivings about any group doctrine. But I am a deeply spiritual person, that knows what she says is true. With her kind and loving wisdom she has brought comfort to hundreds of people across our area. She reminds them to “Trust in a power greater than ourselves and know that we are not alone”. That statement gives me and hundreds of others the comfort we need to get through another day with Cancer.

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

photo clip from the movie Driving Miss Daisy

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Family, grandma, health | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blog anniversary… Who knew this would lead to T.V.

I have written my way through 2 years so far. For a person with a frustrating learning disability like Dyslexia this is HUGE! I have taken on my weakness and confronted it, pushed through it and in some way over come it. Well maybe just worked around it, but because all of you are here it means that some thing in the last two years is working.

anniversary 2x

anniversary 2x

I took on writing a blog for a couple of reasons. The first was I  needed a creative outlet that I could do while at home with a 5-year-old and with a mother in law who was very ill. I also needed all of you, I needed to think about things other than the pile of toys on the floor and the trips to the cancer Dr’s office. My home was not a place to make crafts or paint large paintings at the time. So I wrote about who I love,what I love to do and some how you all found some thing here that spoke to you. Maybe it was the stories about cooking wild game and maybe it was that we love to garden and do canning, maybe the battle I fought to make sure my mother in law stayed well through her cancer treatments made you stay. Who really knows why you all have been here for this bumpy ride, but it is wonderful and has been one of the best hobbies that I have ever attempted.

I have recently been contacted by the DIY Network about my blog, yea shocked me too! They have a show called  “Barnwood Builders”  filmed in West Virginia and they are filming a barn in my local area. They found my little ( less than a thousand followers) blog and want Mountain Mama and the family in an episode of their show. So I am in total shock and over joyed that some where out in cyber space I have left an impression about who and what I am. At the current time it looks like we will be working together on the home we just purchased with some reclaimed barn wood. They also wanted to see my husband working with some of the horses he is responsible for as a farrier. They loved that we lived in a style that is already present in the show. We share a love for West Virginia history, working with our hands, seeing the beauty of our state and trying to live more simply.

I will write more later about the filming and when the episode should air… sometime next year for season two. But for now I have a few more topics to write about before the crew arrive here March 11th and we get to get dusty and dirty making my 60′ ranch feel more like the home of a county family. So hang in their if you love old barns, wood working, home improvement and decor because this spring should make for some great stories.

 

 

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson's Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson’s Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Categories: blacksmith work, blogging, cancer treatment, canning, country cooking, dyslexia, Farrier work., furniture, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, recycling, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Count Down Begins, The Future With Out My Cast

Many of you already know that I have spent most of the last 12 months in a cast on my left leg. I was actually placed in the cast on Dec 9th of last year do to a tiny bone being fractured in the bottom of my foot. I started out being told it was 8 weeks in the cast and then that turned into 13 weeks and then surgery and then recovery. So all of this added up being 5 days short of a year for the recovery from a fractured bone that is the size of a dime.

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

So as I write this, I am days from finally being free from a 5 pound weight that I have drug around, walked around, stumbled over and fallen with for so long that I have almost forgotten what it is not to have it. I have actually walked through three casts in this time period. I some how just walk the rubber off the bottom and get a new one and keep on moving along.

Some how even with my limited mobility and at times high levels of pain. I knew that their was some lesson  that would be learned from my prolonged disability. I would emerge with some sort of insight that I did not have before. I have spent more time at home over the last year than in all my life. I have felt more crippling pain than I would wish on anyone.  I have gained more weight than with both of my pregnancy’s and am still gaining. But in truth I have learned and gained from being unable to live my normal life but it is not what I thought I would find at the end of this year.

Over this year of healing and being home, I learned about empathy, sympathy and love. I spent my time caring for some one who was suffering more than me. I spent much of my recovery helping my mother-in-law in her transition from cancer patent, to a weak woman in rehab, to a woman who is slowly taking back her life. I found that setting aside my pain and trying to ease the pain of someone else was a gratifying way to spend the long months that I was not able to work due to my own broken bone.Even just days after my surgery, while still on crutches, I got a call to please “help”. Somehow the two of us managed, sometimes with her courage and some times with mine,but always with the strength of some power greater than us both.

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

Grandma Wanda Powers with Christopher

So as my health returns and my healing is about finished I watch as my Mother-in-laws health is also returning. We are both less dependent on each other and of those around us. She will be losing  her home health nurse in a few weeks because of her recovery and I will be returning to work soon. It is as if their was some divine reason that I had limited mobility, that I had the time to take care of her and that we could support each other through these difficult times.

I am looking forward to life with out my cast. I should be able to return to a life that  I love and be as active and healthy as I once was. The first step is only a couple of days away and I am so excited to take my first walk around the park in my brand new Tennis shoes( after wearing only one shoe for a year… I needed to buy new ones that I had not worn the sole off one shoe). I am looking forward to walking safely  through the snow this winter.

It is with new eyes that I look at recovery from any kind of health issue. It has made me thankful for the people who dedicate their lives to restoring us to health once again.I am blessed to know nurses, home health aides, physical therapist, occupational therapists and the volunteers who spend countless hours doing chores and running out to stores for those in need. It has made me rethink my career goals. In the next few months as my foot regains the strength I may discover that I am not able to return to the work that I have done for years,  a retail store merchandise auditor. I may need to think about the life experience that I have just gone through and see if my feet lead me down a new path?  Hopefully down one that supports both my Mother-in-Law and my recovery.

Air cast with other shoes

Air cast with other shoes

Categories: Cancer, Family, foot pain, foot surgery, grandma, Healing, health | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My 1ooth post mile stone!

It is hard to believe that I have actually posted a 100 times since starting this adventure. Blogging is one of the best things I have tried to do as an adult and I am really enjoying it. I have learned so much over the last couple of years and can only say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply with a comment or a “like” to my posts. I am thankful that all of you just take the time to stop in a read once in a while. It is amazing how many wonderful people I have met through this adventure. I am lucky to call people from all over the world my friends, from several  down under in Australians to a hard-working Canadian, a few transplanted Americans who are in Bosnia and Chile and people from all over the USA who share my interests. It is a wide wonderful world and I am soooo glad I write with all of you!.

Christopher and I out mushroom hunting in my cast... life really slowed down with it

Christopher and I out mushroom hunting in my cast… life really slowed down with it

This year has seen much less travel, hunting and fishing then I had hoped to write about here at Mountain Mama. Things here have changed as things always do. I have had a broken bone in my foot for 12 months and when every thing is done I will have been in a cast 14 months. Who in the world would have thought that a bone around the size of a dime would cause this much pain and hassle. Then we were informed that my mother in law has throat cancer and we have gone through treatment and she is now living with my family. The cancer alone has changed our whole family and all of our lives. It is a constant struggle to maintain her health at this point and I spend much of my day waiting on her needs and wants. It is worth every struggle to see her regain her health and independence over the next few months. I have gone from a career woman and mom, to a full-time care giver, house wife and homestead gardener over these last 100 posts.

I had high hopes when I started blogging that in some way I would find a way to make an income from my posts and be one of those bloggers who travels the world for free with their blog. I was thinking that blogging would some day be my work but instead it is my love. I would not want to get payed and sponsored into some kind of box. I love that this is a limitless space where I am free to share things with like-minded friends. I love to share my failures and gains with all of you. I love that like a stone thrown into a clam water the ripples that my words create flow away in never-ending rings…. that some where in cyberspace I have found all of you and you have sent your ring of words back to me.

Reflection of Stone Bridge on lake at Black Water Falls State Park. Wv

Reflection of Stone Bridge on lake at Black Water Falls State Park. WV

 

So as I look back over the last 100 times that I have sent messages out in to the Cyber Universe I can see so much improvement in my blog and my posts. It has been a great therapy for me and my creative soul and I just hope to keep sharing, learning.

Faerie mushtrooms

Faerie mushrooms

~THANK YOU FROM WILD WONDERFUL WEST VIRGINIA~

Categories: blogging, Cancer, Family, friends, Friendship, gardening, Healing, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Need for Quite

I am guessing that anyone who has had young children or has been around them knows that they are noisy. They own the world that they live in and take command of that space anytime they feel the urge. Laughter and screams fill my home along with the train whistle sounds that my 5-year-old son makes.  We also live on the corner of a main two lane road and a country side road where our house is really to close to the road so it is a noisy location.We own three TV’s and it seems that someone is always watching one of the them, they provide a constant stream of back ground noise. So in all of this chaos I have discovered my desperate need for quite.

quietly floating on a boat at the base of this bridge

quietly floating on a boat at the base of this bridge

While taking care of my mother in law, who is still recovering from a major surgery and throat cancer I have discovered our need for quite is more than most. She needs peace and quite to fight off secondary infections, to combat the cancer and to process the emotions that go along with healing. No wonder why hospitals try very hard to keep things quite.

quietly looking at the ground

quietly looking at the ground

I have always been able to escape into the quite and now I need it more than ever. I would say that in general I am an extrovert and love people and social activities, talking on the phone,my book club, family dinners, parties are always activities that I love. But I have discovered that with my reduced time in the garden, on the porch reading, and time to just rest,I have lost myself and my happiness.

So over the last week I have made an effort to reduce the noise and stress I  am feeling. My home should feel like a place of rest and recovery. I have even read a few articles about the importance of quite in hospitals and in our homes.  This article talks more about the problem of “Noise, Health and Wellness” and suggests we all need more quite time. This article is just one observation  that links noise to longer recovery times in hospitals.

quietly walking through a Poplar grove.

quietly walking through a Poplar grove.

So how do you remind children that a house is a quite place? How do I reduce the amount of traffic going by my house all day? How do I find more quite time? How do I turn the day-to-day noise into a peaceful, restful place? I know there are limits to what I can do but I can remember that when no one is watching TV to turn it OFF. I can remember to take the kids outside to play. I can ask that Grandma only have a few guests a day instead of a large group where no one can hear her( she is still having some speaking issues do to the cancer and has a very quite voice). I can take her for time on the porch in the sun shine to watch the birds and feel the breeze. I can go to bed earlier making a nice quite routine happen every night so that we all fall peacefully asleep with out a rush or fight from the children.  I can take time everyday to read and pray.

quietly feeding the geese on the pond

quietly feeding the geese on the pond

It is wonderful with age that you start to understand the real importance and restorative power of Peace and Quite. My mother always tried to teach me about rest and quite. That everyone in the world would be so much better off if they could only find a few minutes everyday where they had peace and quite. I hear her voice now and understand that healing the body and the mind sometimes just needs some quite time.

quietly reading a book

quietly reading a book

 

Maybe with a little effort on my part over the next few weeks I will feel like I am getting enough quite time and will be able to take on the challenges of this life a little better and will find some more peace at the same time….. wish me luck!

Categories: About me, Cancer, cancer treatment, family health, grandma, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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