Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relearning Object Permanence

My right eye has been finking me for about a year and a half now, because of the Whole Brain Radiation. Even though I had a fraction of the usual dose, I developed one of the possible side effects. I have to say that I am endlessly grateful that, heretofore, I seem to have held on to my smarts, including my short-term memory—the loss or waning of which is another possible side effect. My eyes did not fare so well, unfortunately. My left eye is mostly fine, mostly just nearsighted and astigmatized as before. I do have a small bit of cataract in it as well, but I usually don't notice it, as it's not in the center of my vision. I have not been able to figure out why I do sometimes notice it . . . really, it's quite strange.

My right eye, however, maintained its nearsightedness and astigmatism and added both fluid under the cornea—near the center of my focal point so therefore visible all the time as a distortion of any line I look at—any thing I look at; and a slowly growing cataract that is also virtually in the center of my lens. Combined, these issues in the right eye frequently send me unexpected data about the world around me.

Because my left eye is corrected—ignoring the tiny cataract—to 20/20 vision, and my right eye is corrected—because of the fluid and cataract—to about 20/40 or 50 (keep in mind that this is tested reading an eye chart, which is not the same as using the eye in the real world, and that changing my glasses prescription at this point, while prescription drops are slowly changing things would be . . . pointless)—I can see remarkably competently for every task I've tried to undertake, from driving to reading to riding to cooking to threading a sewing machine needle. The left eye gives me clarity; the right eye rounds out the dimensions into the three we typically see.

Nevertheless, we see in stereo, and when I happen to catch a glimpse of something obliquely with only my right eye, I usually have a moment of shock—that the woman walking around the corner is missing an eye and part of her nose. Or the seaplane coming in to land on Lake Union is miraculously aloft on only one wing. Or the photo on my friend's wall is of her as a child next to a headless baby, presumably the remains of her brother. As you might imagine, it can be alarming.

My brain knows that, for the most part, people tend to have two eyes and a nose. Planes landing calmly and smoothly tend to have two wings. Babies in pictures tend to have heads. And so, after the initial nanosecond hiccup, I'm back on track and observing the world as I learned to as a toddler.

A tiny part of me continues to wonder, though, if maybe I'm somehow seeing something more real now. Who's to say that what we learned back then was the absolute truth?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nothing Wrong With the Status Quo

I've been wondering for a while if I really am getting any benefit, anymore, from my morning 0.5mg of Clonazepam, the antianxiety drug I've been taking daily. It's such a baby dose, and I've been rebuilding my adrenals (their exhaustion being the most likely direct cause of my anxiety over the last year or so), and so this morning I thought, since I didn't have anything major planned for the day, that I'd just not take it and see what happened.


I went from feeling my usual morning self—pretty normal, alert—you know, thinking about what I was going to do with my day—to, within a couple hours, feeling really sick to my stomach, exhausted, disconnected, and able only to sit very still and focus on my Saturday NY Times crossword puzzle (which, even in my state of physical distress, I have still almost completed . . . yes, I'm bragging, execrable habit . . .). In part, I've just started Week 2 of my cycle of chemo, but that can only account for mild nausea and attendant mild disconnectedness. There was definitely more going on with me today, which I'm assuming was a combination of simple withdrawal, and the more complex physical/emotional need for the medication.

And so, I took my Clonazepam, and after about 20 minutes, had recovered enough to write this post. A repeat experiment will be put off for a time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Stuff of Life

This is really a post that belongs on both The
Dilettante Traveler and I Thought I Was Done With This. I've been thinking a lot recently about the things that I like to do with my time, with my life. I like the horses, of course. My 20-year high school reunion was just last weekend and people I haven't seen in 20 years asked what I was up to and I said horseback riding and they nodded knowingly. "You always were into horses," they said. Which is a little weird, I suppose, since my being "into" horses has never involved the insane show circuit . . . it was, I have thought, a much more low-key "into horses" . . . but nevertheless, it's true. I am and I have been, into horses.

I like the fiber arts, if you will. Knitting hats and sweaters, most recently getting myself into the Fair Isle designs—which take a lot more time than the simple hats I've been doing for the past several years. I've also been sewing a lot—glitter bags for everyone I can think of (if I haven't thought of you and you'd like one, drop me a line)—and recently, crazy-patterned pillowcases because we've started using more than two pillows on our bed—hence, more than the number of cases that came with our sheet sets. Also, we like to have our pillowcases hold our down pillows together a bit—and so we only want them to be 18 inches wide. I've already had to alter most of our existing cases. I also bought some fabric just the other day to make some scrub-like lounge pants—much prettier, of course, than scrubs (particularly Dr Jason's black, Grim Reaper ones), but the same basic, loose-fitting drawstring design.

I've been finding it satisfying to keep the yard moderately tidy as well; it's been quite the season for lawn growth—particularly if your lawn consists primarily of dandelions—and twice I've had to do an entire sweep with the weedwacker before I could even begin to make any headway with our rotary mower.

As for the less domestic pleasures, well, travel. What can I say—I find it exhilarating to visit new cultures and new locations. The ability to fly around the world, observing people in all their natural habitats, and immersing myself in those habitats—I love that. And so, while I've been reveling in domesticity, I've also been making plans for World Domination. To that end, friend MS and I (you may remember her from the most recent day of lostness in Jerome Creek) are going to be taking an Equitours trip in Australia in November—horseback riding (with guides!) for a week from inn to inn along the Sunshine Coast. We're then going to pop over to New Zealand's South Island and add some more rides—in this case following in the footsteps of Strider and the Hobbits— and visit my friend C in Wellington (and, in fact, actually get to visit the place where I "moved" in 2007 when Ian and I sold our cars and rented our house and left town for several months). And I can't help being excited about this part: it will be my 6th continent within a year. I love my life.

And then, in April, KENYA! Ian and I have been wanting to go back to Africa for years—well, East Africa, since Cabo Verde last January certainly counts as Africa—and we've managed to finagle an unbelievable plane trip: two BA tickets in Club World, Seattle to Nairobi and back, for the price of only one set of airline miles. I tell you, if you can figure out how to work the system, the system REALLY works for you.

So . . . I'm happy. I'm still feeling a little anxiety associated with things that I commit to doing for other people . . . or even mention I may be interested in thinking about doing for other people (the problem seems to be my personal definition of "commitment," rather than any external expectations). I'm slowly, as well, figuring out the benefits of a life of scheduled days off (I have chosen to "work through" my day off this week, in the interests of, well, horses), and I'm learning to stop feeling guilty about enjoying the path I am so fortunate to have been given.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

No News Can Be Good News

My brother once informed my mother that no news was never good news—that people want to share good news and so they tell it—but I am here to say that my two-week radio silence and generally sparse recent posting is because I have been learning to employ my 80% rule, and I've pretty much been enjoying myself in this nascent Seattle summer.

The Xeloda, since my ER trip in June, hasn't been finking me very much. I feel perhaps a bit more fatigue (although not consistently, and hardly ever when I'm doing something really fun) and a little nausea (which is dealt with alacritously by Compazine). My palms and soles are slightly sensitive during the weeks that I'm taking the pills, but not so much on the weeks off. I have not lost any hair (I'm not expecting to). My mouth is not, in fact, developing sores; at least not yet. I am not noticeably more prone to sunburn than usual, which is not very. It's not the end of the world to drive to Capitol Hill once every three weeks. This evening, in fact, Ian and I turned it into a date complete with dinner at the Kingfish and two dog walks.

I did just spend last weekend in New York City, mostly the Brooklyn part, and I suppose a mention of that belongs in DT, but I'm not going to write anything there. Suffice it to say that 7-year-olds can be unbelievably bossy . . . perhaps because it turns out that 30-somethings are unbelievably (embarrassingly) easy to boss.

Anyway, temperatures at least in the 70s are here, and life—and news—is good.