Friday, January 18, 2013

Riding into the sunset - not yet

Well, well, people. It has been a month of Sundays since I blogged at all. Just a few things have happened since May 2012: In 1983 I had cancer. Hodgkins Disease to be more specific. Back in the day when I was treated -- there were two choices: radiation and chemotherapy. I was lucky enough to get the worst of both worlds. Our kids were 10, 8, 7, 5, 3 and one. It was time when the rule was "kill the cancer at all costs." So they aimed a bazooka filled with radiation at my chest -- and fired. If only we had known the consequences then. During my treatment I didn't let it slow me down. I even dressed as "Baldy Smurf" for a kids show at our elementary school. I had the "scenic route to Chicago" in India Ink on my chest and back -- as I laid under the radiation machine -- holding my breath and praying for the best. I went into remission in February of 1984 -- and lived each day "like I was dying" for over 30 years. People thought that "surely the cancer will return." It didn't dare. Or they thought that I would have other issues -- which I did. Everything from "lack of venal capacity in my feet" to low thyroid -- to being thrown into menopause at 34. All bad things. I graduated from college with a degree in communication. I became a professional clown and started the OLA Rainbow Clowns -- comprised of kids ages 3 to 15. I danced with Susan from Sesame Street when she came to St. Louis. I was the editor of a children's monthly newspaper. I became a reporter. I did speaking engagements for folks with cancer -- even got to meet Patch Adams. I raised our family, with Jack's help, and began acquiring llamas -- then alpacas. In other words -- I had a life. I learned to spin fiber into yarn. I took my animals into parades -- to nursing homes -- to schools. Loved every minute. So now we're at July 2012. In the beginning of the month I was unloading and stacking hay bales 100 at a time. I was picking up 50-pound bags of grain and stacking 1500 lbs at a time. Due to the awful St. Louis heat wave -- 107 real temp for days -- I went into congestive heart failure (do ya think the radiation aimed at my chest had anything to do with that?) and went to the ER in the middle of the night. A couple of days later I had a pacemaker. I went home from the hospital STILL gasping for air. Felt like I was drowning. Read the next blog for "the rest of the story."