Moving again! June 06, 2014

June 06, 2014

The only advantage to the place we are living in is it’s proximity to the hospital and cancer clinic but otherwise there are so many negative things about it that it’s location is no longer enough to make it worth staying here. As a result, we and by we I mean my daughter and I, are looking to move again before my cancer treatment becomes more intense. I will still be undergoing moderate chemo where hopefully I will still have some energy to help.I have a window of about 6 weeks to find somewhere more suitable, pack, move and settle into a new place.

June 21, 2014

Yay! We found a place! Still close to the hospital and cancer clinic, in an older home with character and more room for us, our dogs and for long distance visitors. With a landlord who seems to empathize with our situation. What a relief!

Now to organize the physical part of the move and availability dates. We don`t have much, but we can`t handle the couch and beds on our own so could use some help from someone with a truck to handle that. Hopefully it can all be finished this weekend coming up, 28 & 29, mainly because I don`t want to be stuck paying additional rent on the old place by staying past the 1st.

moving day

Happy Living!
Messy Shepherdess

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MM – June 22, 2014

Well, I’ve had a nice break from Chemo the last few days, long enough to feel like a normal human being again and do a few things I have been looking forward to for awhile. But Chemo starts again tomorrow for another 3 weeks, so we’ll see what the side effects I get this time.

This month has been full of doctors and other consultants discussing how to proceed to get the best results for putting these cancer cells into remission. Since discovering that the Multiple Myeloma cells I have are a more aggressive form, the Specialists want to be able to gather stem cells from my blood as quickly as possible to have readily available and to plan a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT), sooner than later.

Top of the list for concern is my kidneys. They have improved since April, from 16% to 21%, but that is still Stage 4 and long way off from being out of danger of failure if they put too much of a load on them with various cancer treatments. So there has been considerable discussion about my kidneys and on ways to help them improve faster. The blood transfusion I had in May helped immensely. So much so, that it was decided to put a hold on giving me injections of Aranesp, which was originally in the works to assist the kidneys further in producing the blood cells needed.

At this time the tentative schedule over the summer is, after this next 3 week session of Chemo, to take a 2 week break before gathering stem cells. I’ll have to go to VGH for this procedure and it could take 2 days of being hooked up via 2 intravenous lines, one in each arm. Then another session of Chemo, only a more intensive course, in order to destroy as many of the cancer cells as possible. Meaning I will be very sick. The kind of sick where I will loose all my hair and so on. Then another 2 week break before they begin the BMT, again at VGH.

Not only is this apparently an unpleasant and painful procedure to go through, it is done entirely on an out patient basis, as there are not enough hospital beds to be able to admit BMT patients. And although they know I will have to have home support to get through this, because I will be too sick to make meals or do even the most basic things to look after myself, especially during the more intensive Chemo treatments. Plus someone needs to be available in case things go wrong, like kidney failure, where I would have to go to emergency. However, apparently there is no financial assistance for patients to get this necessary home support during the process.

In addition, there is a series of drug injections, which costs anywhere from $2,500.00 to $3,500.00, that I must have during the week before they can begin the stem cell gathering, for which the patient is expected to pay. A percentage may be covered by our Pharmacare program. Regardless, I do not have any savings left or funds from any source which would cover even a small portion of all these expenses. As a result, unless something changes, I see no way to proceed with a BMT, although that is what I require to put this into remission for approximately 3 or so years.

Having a successful BMT would put the Multiple Myeloma into recession, allowing me to return to a somewhat normal working life for those few years. Until the cancer returns again in numbers where treatment would be required again. Prognosis over the long term would be to extend my life for as much as 20 years, with intermittent courses of treatment and perhaps even longer with improved technologies over that time period.

So that’s where things are at the moment.
Happy Living!
Messy Shepherdess

Tattoo’s, Celts & Belief

Maybe someone has already done this but if not, I think someone should write a book about Tattoo’s, with big, beautiful photos illustrating the amazing work these artists do but more importantly detailing the stories behind the tattoo’s. I am sure some, maybe lots?, are frivolous expressions of a current fad and the need to “fit in” but I am confident many also reflect a special meaning to the wearers and come with interesting stories attached.

I know my own personal tat is exactly that… It was during a phase of my life where I felt I needed some big personal changes to take place and I had some time to do some research into my families surnames and their origins. I wasn’t so interested in a genealogy tree as I was in where the names came from and the history behind them. Thinking I would find out something like for example, the ‘Belanger’ name comes from the french word for baker and obviously reflects the profession of someone long ago who adopted that name and it has been passed down for ages since.

However, what I found out was far more interesting (to me at least). My fathers surname goes so far back in history that it predates actual written documentation. The area of the world that it comes from is steeped in history surrounding the name, there are towns and landmarks using the name, and the name has never lost it’s meaning over the ages, even though there are not many people who carry it as a surname, so it is somewhat unique.

I didn’t do as much research into my mothers maiden surname but, like my fathers surname, it goes way back in time in a region of the world not that far from my fathers surname origin, although it did see a few variations over time in spelling and a meaning was never clearly defined as far as I could find out. Still it is a very old name.

All of this exploration lead me to think about those long ago deep roots of my families. The history of the region they came from is very old indeed, traveling well into the original areas where the Celts prospered and populated. So I can only imagine that my genetics and roots go back somehow to those that lived long ago as Celts. Which gave me a profound sense of belonging since I have always felt a deep connection to the earth and no matter where my life has taken me I have always had that connection to draw on, more so than any religion or other spiritual calling could ever do.

The Celts were an artistic people who created intricate art in any form they could with the materials they had to hand. One of those expressions took place as body art and tattooing was common. This inspired me to design a tattoo of my own. I felt that a permanent artistic expression of my roots would be the change or anchor I was looking for.

It took me months to research the symbols that I wanted to incorporate into the design, during which I discovered that in the Celtic Zodiac I am under the Rowan tree. Then I had to create a layout that could include all the symbols in one design and convey their deep meaning in a way that would last over time and as I aged.

My tattoo, an original design, using ancient Celtic symbols.

My tattoo, an original design, using ancient Celtic symbols.

The symbols incorporated are…
– a spring budding Rowan Tree (sorbus aucuparia) the tree of life and mother of all plants on earth, providing protection for all life against wickedness, enhancing strength and courage, transformation and regeneration, quickening new birth…
– the Pentagram, a strong symbol of protection, also represents the exact image found within the flowers and berries produced by the Rowan tree …
– the Twin Green Dragons guard the Rowan Tree and in concert provide the spark needed to regenerate the flames of eternal life …
– the Triquetra binds the image together, encourages balance of the body, the mind and the soul …
– while the Triskele provides the roots for life, death and rebirth…a never ending cycle.

I feel that my tattoo helps to ground and balance me as a person, an affirmation of who I am, stablises me in this current life no matter how convoluted or topsy turvy things get. Believe me when I say I have had many people in and around my life who have tried to unnerve and upset my balance but their success has always been limited and only temporary because I have come to believe my connection or roots in this earth go so deep they cannot be truly uprooted or destroyed.

This belief has allowed me to be more assertive and vocal in expressing things that I feel are important in this world. Things that I believe in, such as the importance of a supportive, loving community for raising children, growing/raising food that is healthy, nurturing and naturally in harmony with the earth, that learning is something that everyone should do for all of their lives. Just to name a few. I have been accused of being idealistic, but to me these sound like simple, natural ways to live a fulfilling life and that everyone would/could embrace them. But I have found that not to be the case.

Many people feel these things are ideal ways to live life but are so caught up in the material world, the drive to climb that corporate ladder, accumulate wealth, that they compromise these ideals constantly in their daily lives, often to the determent of those around them. As the more compromising that is done, the more and more difficult it is for our youth to get a foothold on their futures. It saddens me greatly but I am only one voice and can only do so much. I will continue to support any movement I see towards those ideals but my focus now is on helping my children cope with this world, while I am now faced with the greatest challenge of my life so far and that is trying to survive as long as possible against this disease of cancer that has infected me.

So, you can see this tattoo of mine unfolds into a story that reaches back into the ages and expresses a lot of personal exploration, deep thought and is a creative, artistic, permanent representation of my own personal beliefs about myself, life and living.

Happy Living!

Messy Shepherdess