This is my blog to share my adventures, misadventures, exploration, and experimentation with fibre- and as it turns out, with life as well. There is some of both. One thing leads to another. Collecting, spinning, weaving, dying, learning, building a web of relationships. Here we are: welcome.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Not completely idle all this time...

Appoaching Glacier Park, MT near sunset, May 2014
Remember that old saying from way back when?  This one:  "Life is what happens after you make other plans."  Well, that pretty much describes the last year or so.  My brother thoughtlessly had emergency brain surgery while I was waiting to be scheduled to have my gall bladder out.  If this were sibling rivalry, he wins, hands down.

I'm glad to say there's no rivalry involved, but it was unnerving to have to wait several months 3000 miles away while he went through the hole-in-the-head kind of surgery and had his brain remodeled, followed by the nifty sci-fi movie kind of laser surgery with a custom-fit medieval-torture-looking helmet, followed by radiation therapy on the tumors in his head and in his lung , followed by months and months of chemo-therapy.  Which will go on for life.  Life, of course, is the point. I really wanted to be there, getting in the way, demanding answers, making his wife nuts, and fussing over my little brother (who is a foot taller than I am, but ten years younger, so is still my baby brother).

The good news is he made it, has regained all his function, and is just as ornery as he ever was, which is a relief.  He's a good guy, and I like him a lot. Most of the time.  He's still a brat sometimes.  After a year and a half, the scans show no sign of tumor activity.  The treatments sort of ate up his energy, and he ended up retiring early.  So now he goes fishing, and gets on his wife's nerves.  And sits in the sun or under the apple tree with his dog and a cup of coffee and rejoices.  From that I get great joy.

When I recovered enough from my own surgery, I took the train out to visit. It was good to just hang out with him.  I got to visit with a cousin I haven't seen in a long time, too, and that was great.  Then I took the train to visit my aunt in the Oregon valley where I grew up.  I got there just in time for her 97th birthday!  I spent a week with her, visiting her everyday, and collecting more stories about her childhood growing up in the mountains of eastern Idaho and as a young woman working for the railroad in WW2.  She is alone now and I am her only known living relative, and she is the last living member of the generation before mine. Even though we aren't related by blood, but by marriage, she was my second mother when I was growing up, and still is.  I cherish her. She is nearing 98 this year, and I hope I can make it out to be with her.

Then I took the train back across the country and collapsed.  Which one would do, but in this case I mean it literally.  I had been feeling tired, and having spells of light-headedness, which I attributed to over-doing.  Then one day, I passed out and went down while talking to a friend at our village farmers' market.  I was trying to sit down, but did a faceplant instead.  Came to with my friend in a panic and trying to call an ambulance.  I can't believe I did this: I told her it was okay, and that I'd just drive myself to the doctor about half a mile away.  Which I did.  I tell you, I was not thinking clearly.

At the clinic, when I told them what happened, they took my vitals. My pulse was 32.  Well, that would do it.  So ensued an afternoon of tests. I got sent home with a list of things, all of which started "DO NOT....".  I spent the weekend thinking "heart disease".  On the Tuesday, my doctor called me to tell me I am hypothyroid.  I had no idea that hypothyroidism could do that to a person.  I am slender, but every cell in my body was struggling to do what it needed to do, including pump blood to my brain, and digest my food, and breathe, and think. No wonder I hadn't been thinking clearly.  She had called a prescription in to my pharmacy, who were going to mail it to me.  She told me to start it immediately.  She added emphatically, "You will have to take this for the rest of your life." 

I was just relieved that all it was going to take was some pills every day for the rest of my life to replace a hormone that my body had decided not to make anymore.  What is this, compared to emergency brain surgery and lifelong chemotherapy and the enormous courage shown by my brother and others like him? 

In the meantime, I'm still spinning.  More to come on that.

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