The Automatic Shutoff Gift


After years of killing innocent pots, pans, and kettles with the flames of distracted cooking, I finally wised up and bought myself an electric kettle and electric rice cooker, both with automatic shut off features. Now, when the water is boiled, or the rice cooked, these devices quietly shut themselves off and patiently wait for me to remember that I was at one time interested in what they were cooking or heating up. This patience is needed, as sometimes the black hole of Facebook or some similar, terribly important and vital, internet offerings will have sucked my mind and soul into a place where time passes slowly there, but quickly back in the real world. This is similar to one of those planets they visit in the movie Interstellar.

What does any of this have to do with bad monkeys or my health and healing?

Well, I was thinking about it this morning – we ALL have that automatic off feature in us. At some point in time we will be, shall we say, cooked, and a switch with control over our fates will flip and that will be that.

And, in a way, that is comforting for me to think about. When one hears dire news of ones health, and graven faced doctors deliver you the news that you are just a bad monkey or two away from absolute ruin, it is natural we get scared and feel panic. We want to fight for our very lives. Which is good. It is important to want to fight. But it can also set you up for the feeling that you are failing in that fight, and if you start judging it too much that can cause depression, more panic, confusion, anger, etc… a lot of emotions that might actually interfere with not only your healing energy, but your ability to enjoy the time you do have remaining,

We all have a switch that will turn the process off, so worrying about when that is going to happen or how, is not going to change anything, except make you feel more anxious and unable to enjoy that very process.

Our egos think very highly of themselves. They think they are the centre of the universe and, thus, they MUST stay alive to keep all matter existent! Which is true in a sense. But also an illusion, ignorant of a greater reality. It is my ego which veers out of control when faced with the idea of being switched off one day. How dare they! Don’t they know who I am?

There are many ways to learn to accept and embrace your automatic shutoff switch. And doing so will allow you to accept the inevitable and allow you to enjoy the process of cooking through life without worrying about whether you will burst into smoke and flames. You won’t. When your time comes, the switch will flip, and you’ll be ready for your next adventure.

(image from dzdrawz on tumblr)

Bad Monkeys In The Falling Temple.


Since all has been quiet on the bad monkey front since the removal of half my calf muscle in my right leg, which has recovered very well thank you, I haven’t really felt a need to post here. My new health problems, because I get bored easily and am always looking for the next new thing, aren’t really in the monkey category. Having a wonky heart that likely nurtured a lovely little blood clot and then sent it out into the bloodstream in the midst of life chaos, is more a structural problem than an insurrection action.
It is possible that the bad monkeys damaged the very temple they seek to hide out in, but that’s how them monkeys roll. I think, really though, they just choose a not so well-built temple to start with. That’s what happens when your temple is built with 1950’s building codes, when alcohol and cigarette smoke was commonplace on the work site. From the start I kind of knew I had a lemon. I’m actually surprised to have gotten this far, especially since I maintain this place the same way I maintain my house, and my cars. In other words, with a prayer my luck doesn’t run out.
I could see the stroke as a sign my luck ran out, but in another light it is that I got very lucky. First, I escaped it without any serious damage – only a highly sensitive reaction to loud clanging noises and bright lights, so no work in kitchens for me! And I probably should steer clear of firefighting and police work.
And in the course of trying to locate the home of the little clot that could, they noticed my heart just wasn’t what it could be. That’s for sure! I was told by a heart technician that heart-break is a real thing, and I suspect it is partly behind the damage to my heart. But I have also had heart issues in the past, related to anxiety, because to me the world always seemed too loud and clangy, and too bright and harsh.
And then there’s the lifetime of using asthma inhalers, since I was about 5. I had heard they will enlarge your heart. I thought that meant I would be more loving, and maybe that is true. But it also meant modifications were made over time that may have subverted the stability of the structure.
So all in all, it’s a shambles, this temple of mine. I could clean it up, and I am trying. Some days. Some days I just sit around, waiting for the monkeys, leaving my junk food wrappers and empty bottles. Those are the not so good days, and I am trying to make sure I have less and less of them. As one gets older one needs to simplify one’s space. It is easier to trip over the junk and I am reminded of how close I came to konking myself right out of the human race when I plummeted in late April.
So the plan is to clean the place up, make it less inviting for bad monkeys and their ilk, and try to shore up the structure. I have had to chase around some “experts” in doing this, as they seem to be avoiding me. Right now I am trying to chase down these guys, electrical physiologists they call themselves, who suggested we install a failsafe in case my heart decides to take the day off. I don’t really like the idea, but I do need to know my heart won’t play hooky in the future as it kind of runs the place. Don’t tell my brain. It thinks it does, but without the heart, my brain isn’t going to be at work either.
As for the bad monkeys, well…. the CT scan I had done the night of my stroke, showed SOMETHING in my right lung (only took them 5 months to tell me that). That is where my oncologist (chief monkey hunter) suspects the monkeys will turn up if they come back. So I am having another MRI of the leg and then a CT chest scan in December, right in time for Christmas!
A nice Christmas present for me this year would be NO BAD MONKEYS!!!!
I’ve had a hard year, and I try to be (mostly) a good girl, so it would be nice of Santa to gift me that. 🙂

santa-orangutan_68_1425952a

Speaking of Bad Monkeys….. from a sad monkey….


I’ve been a very bad monkey! I haven’t updated here since March, when I was recovering from my cancer surgery. Wait until you hear why.

I use comedy to help me through life. I tend to not take myself or life too seriously, as it all seems over serious to start with. If that makes any sense. But you can see for yourself how I handle hard things, by how I wrote about my cancer diagnosis and treatment in this blog.

But what has happened this year has made it pretty hard to laugh, or even smile. So, warning… this thing is going to get tragic for a bit now.

In April of this year, my beautiful partner, Carol, began having more difficulty with the effects from her recurrence of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Carol had been originally diagnosed in 2006, had 6 weeks of extensive radiation in the spring of 2007, and was diagnosed with a recurrence of the tumour in the original site, in the summer of 2012. She underwent surgery that fall, suffered mightily from side effects of the surgery and then underwent what radiation treatment was available to her without causing too much damage. ACC is a recurrent cancer. We knew it would come back, but it can take decades and sometimes people can live with it. Her prognosis was always poorer than mine, but we always held out hope she would dodge the bullet. Her attitude was great, she did her best to educate herself and make lifestyle changes and she strengthened her spiritual beliefs.

But the radiation treatments in the spring of 2013 only caused more side effects and struggles and when she began having balance issues we knew that was game changer. She hung in as long as she could, and then one day told me she felt she needed more care. We saw the doctor, he admitted her to hospital and they did a CT scan of her head again. This time the scan showed the tumour very aggressively growing. Suddenly the jokes of bad monkeys we had both been making about our own cancers seemed like a poor joke. These were deadly monkeys, evil monkeys. And they were out of control and the doctors out of options.

Still we held out hope she could find a new normal and manage ok.

A week into her hospital stay, I was visiting her when I suddenly felt my ears plug up, my head and shoulders felt heavy and I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. I thought it was an anxiety attack, as I had earlier been told by Carol’s oncologist that her time might be limited.

Then my vision became slightly blurred, my speech slurred and I could not control my extremities properly. The idea I might be having a stroke crossed my mind, but seemed too ludicrous. One of those “can’t happen to me! not now!” things. Carol kept asking me if she should push the nurse’s button but I kept wanting it not to be happening. When I realized I could not move, and the symptons were getting worse quickly I told her to call the nurses. They rushed me to ER and diagnosed me with a stroke. I was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in the nearby city.

The whole time I kept trying to tell them I had to go back to be with my dying partner. They made it clear I wasn’t in a much different space.

I suffered a basilar thrombosis stroke that the neurosurgeon who treated me that night said could have been “catastrophic” to me. They were sure that if I survived the night I would be left with permanent damage, but apparently I got very very lucky. The blood clot that had stopped the flow of blood to my brain broke enough that not only did I have all my functions back within 24 hours, I seem to have no lasting long term effects. I am more sensitive to loud noises and bright light, and for some reason I am now a morning person instead of a night owl as I have been my whole life.

They kept me a week in ICU, on IV bloodthinners and heart medications as they determined that the clot did not come from my leg surgery site, the most likely scenario, but rather because my heart has a poor ejection fraction, and does not pump enough blood back out. That could cause pooling in the heart chamber, leading to a clot, and the stress of my life probably helped kick that clot into my bloodstream.

Just a reminder folks… STRESS KILLS. Do not underestimate the effect it has on you. It’s like the sneaky thief who steals into the zoo and opens the cage for the bad monkeys to run riot. And they will.

I was able to recover enough to be with my partner in her final weeks. She was moved into hospice care in May and passed away in June, a week after her birthday, with me holding her hand. It was as horrible as it sounds, although I am grateful it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. She did suffer some but not as badly as they warned me she could. It broke my already wounded heart though.

So I have been trying to recover and find myself again. It’s been very hard because Carol was not only my partner but my best friend in all things. I have no immediate family where I live, and my friends have done their best but everyone has their own things to deal with. I have never lived alone as an adult so this is new for me.

And I have no idea where my health is at. I am on heart medications of all sorts, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, blood thinners, statins. I was taken off my HRT. I am off work, so I have lost all my anchors and truly am trying to find my way back to life again. Some days I feel stronger and determined. Other days I am just fatigued and feel defeated. I feel like I was hit by that frickin banana truck… driven by crazy monkeys, not just bad monkeys.

The good news is my leg has healed better than I expected. I have quite a bit of strength back in it now, thanks in large part to the physiotherapist my insurance company connected me with. They also helped me with a gym pass and I’ve been working hard to strengthen the leg again there, and to try and get some of my strength and stamina back. That’s a harder fight, esp the stamina. I do well and then seem to fade for awhile. I have more testing of the heart and the artery later this month so hopefully we can get some better answers. I sometimes feel like I danced away from the bad monkeys of cancer only to get smucked by something much larger and more dangerous.

The MRI I had done of the leg in August showed no new bad monkeys so that is a good thing.

What’s funny is how quickly this cancer became a little thing to me. Perhaps one day it won’t be again – they don’t know a lot about Fibromyxoid Sarcoma but some of the things I have read suggested it has a propensity to come back later. I try not to believe that as I feel that can invite it.

But I am trying hard now not to invite my own demise. It’s hard because I feel so empty and wounded inside. So utterly devastated. Carol and I were together 30 years. Her passing has left a huge hole in my life, in my soul. And I’m sure one gets a kind of PTSD from going through something like that with a loved one. I was her only person. It was just her and I. I am grateful I was able to be with her through her journey.

Creatively I feel dead inside but maybe this blog will help me get my mojo back. I need to because one needs to WANT to live to survive bad monkeys, evil monkeys or crazy monkeys. I intend to do just that and to kick their asses. It’s the least I can do after what they did to me and my beautiful Carolka. ❤