The Race of Purple Toes

This past year has felt like running a race in a rainstorm, in deep mud, up a hill with large family on my back, wearing shoes loosing their souls, kind of half way attached and flapping.  It started out with determination.  We had completely rid ourselves of consumer credit debt, and somehow managed to hunt it back down and take it on.  While taking on more shifts than I should have taken on, between the two of us, my husband and I cleared the debt just in time for me to get breast cancer.  Then a year after breast cancer and changing my career for health reasons, our debt doubled as we had two kids in college, and I was diagnosed with cancer again, thyroid this time.

Today my drummer friend stopped by.  We had worked with the same band a few years back.  He had left his music stand behind, and was finally stopping to pick it up.  His booming voice greeted me.  I was able just barely to scratch out his name.  Throat lump, memories of the last time we worked together.  No cancer then, singing jazz standards for the big band he played for.   Singing.  Can’t even speak a solid word.  

Today the sun shines warm, an early springtime day. The kind of day I would have loved to hit the trail with bike and trailer, kids and husband, lunch and water and …. a day to track miles and sweat.  And I walk across the floor, heart races, pains at too fast a movement.  Limbs jiggle, all tone gone, and ache.

Today All Mr. Business is sick.  He’s been fevered.  He lays around listless.  Cheeks pink, eyes glazed, and miserable.  I know the past couple weeks has taken a tole on my kids.  Our dear friends have worked hard to love our children.  Regardless of the loving care from others, the kids stress level and health has been harmed from the angst brought on by my surgery, then the emergency surgery hours after.

In dozens of ways, life is not the same.

And so I paint my toes purple.  That’s the color Little Miss chooses for my toes.  I make a smoothie.  The kids ask for one. I’m the designated smoothie maker, and feel strong enough to stand in the morning kitchen to make sweet and fluffy.  I sit on couch and watch the kids play Sequence and argue over rules.  I visit with my Mom awhile.  And think about what I miss out on when my voice is strong.  When my biking legs are able.  When I can work shift after shift, clocking 60 hours in a week, can hurry scurry about the house to do the the things the kids need of a Momma.  And purple toes get another coat.  A deeper purple.  And the rainstorm race is calming down for now.  I plod with purple toes and give thanks. 

The Hunt for A Perfect Valentine Gift

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Valentines Weekend.  I can’t find the right gift for Adored Husband.  He’s the friend I’ve been married to almost 25 years now.  Can’t come up with the very thing that would let him know how much he means to me.  It’s not that it’s been perfect between us.  No that’s not it at all.  But when I really need him, all that’s put aside.

Thyroid cancer has been the latest bump in our road.  Just stabilized from the breast cancer that threw our world a year ago.  Right when I’m getting my new line of work in place. When our 6th grader is trying hard not to bomb classes.  When so much is happening for Adored Husband at work he needs to be there 24/7.  When his health is not that great, and needs extra exercise and rest and….

And he takes me to the dozens of appointments, rough edges and all.  Grills the Dr’s to make sure they haven’t missed something.  He can’t bear to have me cut up for no good reason.  He kisses me goodbye as they move stretcher down hall to tiny surgical room where everyone is joking and I’m just the thing on the bed to work on, but to the guy they left down the hall, I’m the pain in his chest, the hot tears moving down his face.  I’m out, and when I wake up, am sick and he’s there. 

He’s there when behind the surgical site I hemorrhage and swell huge, pain surging from a controlled 4 to a 9, passing out they tilt head back fast, throbbing.  Calls are made to contact the surgeon.  After a time he leans down and whispers a prayer in my ear and they rush me off to yet another surgery. 

He’s there again when I’m taken back.  I’m groggy and sick and vomiting.  I don’t remember much but him being there beside me.  He sleeps with me in bed, propped up high, no way for his comfort – the hospital has no cot, no recliner – is on stand by, every space and bed filled to the gills and so he sleeps beside me. 

Days and nights they blend together.  Feeling brave decide to walk.  I walk, my hand holds on to his arm.  He walks too fast, and then slows down.  Making jokes that I will be taking Mt. Hood soon. 

Another day another night, he stays close by.  An allergic reaction to Morphine.  White cold warning that I will soon be passing out, I throw up and he is there. 

IV sites they blow, one by one… and finally a pic line that hurts deep every time they pump me with more, he stays near by, and believes me when I say it hurts.

The throbbing shocks… feels like I’m hooked up to electric chair.  I ask him if he can feel the shock too, when he holds my hand.  He can’t. 

Some days, when I get stronger, I talk him into going for the children, napping at home a bit, collecting his strength, and each time he returns, even late enough a security guard has to let him in.  Nights of little sleeping, and still he stays.

He falls apart first day back, at nothing that mattered at all.  He is sorry.  It takes me a while to remind myself he’s worn under and needs to recuperate. It’s his turn to know I’m close by.

Strength returns, and Valentines Day approaches, I think cards are not the best representation.  Neither are flowers. Because no gift is messy, not raw enough to symbolize real love.  I think I’ll give him a kiss.