Today is Ash Wednesday, well, at least it still is in the Central Time zone. Ash Wednesday, having grown up Roman Catholic, is one of the few holy days that I have nearly always observed. I can count on one hand the number of times I haven't received my ashes and maybe attended mass on this day. Today, P and I both recieved ashes at the chapel at MD Anderson.
As I have mentioned before, I have a very complicated spiritual life, one which I don't fully understand and one which evolves and changes. This is not to say that I am lazy in my spiritual beliefs, I feel strongly spiritual, however I do not, or have not yet, found a doctrine or organized religion that completely satisfies my needs. Though I do not identify completely as a Catholic, or completely with any single religion, there are a few staples, completely unrelated to doctrine of any sort: yes, I do believe there is something greater than we, a something that has no defined form but can be called by various names, God/ the Universe, even various gods, goddesses and saints (which I view as good and desirable traits or even needs, personified) are often where I go. I also believe that there is a life after death. Is that a clouded, blue heaven? I don't know. That image is comforting. Does it mean that those we lose are with us in some breathe of air or tingle down the spine. I still don't know, but that image too is comforting. Maybe we even just become absorbed back into the energetic fabric of the Universe and our real life after death is that we live on in the impressions, the ripples, we make during our living days. If we are horrible to others, do we go to a blazing inferno? No idea, kinda scary, or is there even a punative nature to the universe? I believe that we are given the gift of both free will and the consequence of a conscience. That goodness is in all of us. That bad things happen because, well, bad things happen. Chaos and order rule our movements and that we are all, beyond a shadow of a doubt, connected.
Why do I say all of this? Well, coming back down here dropped me square in the middle of the dark nightmares that have haunted my nights for the last three months. I am reminded of my fears in a very real way. I am also reminded how god damn mother fucking LUCKY I am to be alive. And doing so bloody well. This is the ultimate reality check. Yo, Laur, you can sit on the floor of your bedroom, crying your eyes out with two very concerned cats, because you gain a couple of pounds from the steriods and your stupid jeans don't fit correctly. OR you can look at and REALLY reflect on how trivial that meltdown is compared to the tears being shed by other patients here. Other friends. Nothing like coming to a cancer center to get a better perspective on life, no? I'll answer that for you: no. Except maybe if you visited as some of our armed forces say goodbye to their families before being sent for war. That's a damn good example as well.
At any rate, receiving my ashes today, hearing those words "from ash we came and to ash we shall return" and wearing that symbol of remembered mortality, felt correct. Felt healing. This is divine and temporary. It can be very easy to spiral upwards into the 'rah rah cancer survivor/warrior/battle' mentality. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a little cancer war (been there, NOT going back), but a reminder, a grounding, reminder of humility and humanity was...well, perfect.
Aside from my ramble on ashes and my spiritual voodoo, my testing today went well.
7:30 am (yeauuuuggghhhhhhh) Bone Density Scan: apparently I have exceptionally strong bones, which is highly shocking considering how hard these doctors have tried to bust 'em up (chemo, sterioids, etc)
9 am blood draw: 13 vials. 'nuff said
10 am Pulmonary Function Test: not a damn change in that 'Hospital Pranayama Test' since last May. I got's me some big ole honkin' lungs
Ashes and a prayer
1:30 Survivorship Nurse: made me wait 2 hours (in the meantime I had a real panic attack in the waiting area listening to the horrors of another patient, I had to excuse myself, take a pill and return to the opposite side of the room), then pretended like she had been looking for me. I was sitting in front of the access doors the whole time. MMkay. In a nutshell: my PTSD-like feelings are quite common keep handling it as I have but don't be afraid to ask for more assistance if I'm really losing it, I need to see an OBGYN about my ::ahem:: fucking menopause, aaand I got a shiny new booklet on how to eat like a normal human (i.e. did you know they have this thing called a food pyramid?! that fruits and veggies are GOOD for me? seriously?).
P and I just returned from dinner with my dear, dear friend Sarah Doyle and her family. Sarah has been such a light in this journey, I am so proud to call her friend. We went to Rodeo Houston last night, my lord I can't wait to post pictures. There were belt buckles and hats a'flyin:)
Well, dear friends, or those of you who didn't jump-ship as soon as I started babbling about religion, thank you for the support these last few days. I can't wait to blow this taco truck and head on home tomorrow night, but not after checking in with Dr. De Lima first!
Anyway, much love y'all