Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spring Break

I'll be gone for a few days, running away to a beautiful little place in the Drakensberg mountains called Engogo Riverside Lodge.

It belongs to my sister and her husband, so family stays for free.

Actually, BIL promised I can go there for free for the rest of my life as payment for the website -
Yippeee! Check it out, I'm rather proud of it!

My parents, youngest sister Wilma, her hubby and 2 boys are going to drive down tomorrow, and Linda and her family will join us on Thursday.

Thinking of all of you: those in the middle of new cycles, those of you in the early/middle/late days of pregnancy, and those of you in limbo. Please don't get up to any mischief or do things I wouldn't do. *grin* See you all next Sunday!

PS: Thanks for being patient with me while I wrote out the hurt in the previous post. I'm doing OK: tears are a wonderful way of cleansing the soul.

Still waiting for the rain...

The tears came yesterday afternoon. About nothing, and about everything. I’ve been crying since then.

I cried about winter that left without as much as a goodbye. About spring that came during the night, left its fresh green colors and crispy, sweet smell, but disappeared before the morning broke. And about summer that made everything hot before I was ready to shed my winter disguise.

I cried about the children running in the mall, clutching balloons and eating ice cream, because I’ll never feel little arms creeping around my neck, nor a sweet, whispery voice breathing “I love you mom” into my ear.

I cried about the baby geckos scattering up against the wall, because I’ll never have the chance to call out “Come look my love!” and teach my child the wonders of nature.

I cried when my mom phoned, because I’ll never be able to see the wondrous joy on my parents’ faces when I tell them I’m expecting their grandchild. I cried because I’ll never see my dad on his knees next to my child, teaching him how to put the bait on the hook. I cried because I’ll never see my mom with my child on her lap, holding her close while reading about the love of Jesus.

I cried about my sister’s phone ringing, hearing her say something to her son, knowing no child of mine would ever ask my advice, need my teaching, my consolation when heartbroken, or share their joy when happy.

I cried when I smelled the Yesterday-today-tomorrow flower because it reminded me of my grandmother. And I cried when I realized there will never be a grandchild of mine remembering me in the smell and colors of a flower, or anything else.

I cried when I smelled the earth when I watered the garden, missing the rain with an ache in my heart, as much as I miss the children that are there, rather than in my arms.

I cried about my forever empty womb, my empty heart, and my child-empty future.

I’m still crying about my broken dreams. About unanswered prayers, those who were answered differently from what I begged of the Lord.

I’m crying for me, for the woman that buried her grief for so many years, trying to be strong, trying to be positive, trying to put Infertility behind her, not realizing it’s not something you can move from one place to another. Once it’s part of your life, you might be lucky enough some days to just remember the pain when you see the scars.

But then you might be one of the unlucky ones that are beaten down and left standing naked and alone, when everyone around them is clothed in parenthood.

I’m crying because I know I have to. It’s time to wash away the cobwebs that grew over the hurt I buried deep inside. I know the tears will cleanse my soul, and I know I will be even stronger when this too has passed.

Maybe I’ll cry for another hour, maybe till tomorrow or the day after. Maybe I’ll stop when I’m tired and weary and carry on in a week’s time. Maybe this time it will be enough.

For every beginning there always is an ending, and like the song says: “...the sun doesn't go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round”.

I'll find different clothes, different than what I longed for; different clothes to hide my shame and grief. I will not be beaten down by Infertility. I will not be humiliated by the way it stripped me from my most precious of dreams.

I will wear my new clothes with pride, lift my face up into the light, and start dreaming different dreams...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Do you realize?

My words are few and far between these days. But so you've noticed. Schools closed yesterday for a much needed spring break. Even though it's short I'm going to try my best to make it sweet too. Starting by sharing this video clip with you. (Received the link twice in my inbox today, so you might already have seen it somewhere else!)

The second thing I'm going to do is to visit all my dear blogfriends again. I've missed coming to say hello on your blogs, so be on the lookout for more than one comment from me!

You know by now that I'm a quote-aholic, so let me share todays special one with you as well:

Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye, and say, "I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me." -Ann Landers

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

About healing & eye-candy

I found this quote a few days ago, and it's been growing on me ever since.
“Paradoxically, a group of humans becomes healing and converting only after its members have learned to stop trying to heal and convert. Community is a safe place precisely because no one is attempting to heal or convert you, to fix you, to change you. Instead, the members accept you as you are. You are free to be you. And being so free, you are free to discard defenses, masks, disguises; free to seek your own psychological and spiritual health; free to become your whole and holy self.” Scott Peck

The community I landed in whilst trying to sort through the jumbled chaos of emotions I had (still have!) about Infertility and my divorce, is such a safe place. It allows me to become more whole and even though it rolls a bit strange from my fingers onto the page, more holy too. Thanks for being part of this special community, without you it wouldn't have been the same.

And what would healing be without some eye-candy? I saw the movie "One night with the King" with my mom yesterday. It's the story about Queen Esther and how she saved the Jews. It was beautiful! The music, the set, the costumes... and then that man. (Insert a picture of me salivating, tongue hanging on the floor, blushed, flushed etc!)

Before I go on, you need to understand something first. I'm not the type of woman that swoons easily over a man's looks. Dominic Purcell of Prison Break fame got my knees weak, and John Travolta always had a sweet spot in my heart, but Luke Goss, especially in this movie, had me breathless more than once!

He plays King Xerxes, and I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I was sincerely jealous (for a whole bunch of minutes) of the beautiful Queen Esther. But only till I went to sleep last night - then my subconscious turned me into the queen, and someone looking exactly like Luke Goss played my king!

Ok, back to earth. I can't believe I'm gushing about this man, it's actually very embarrassing admitting it when I always thought that other women doing the same were really totally silly! But between us, if I had to choose between Dominic Purcell (having just seen a yummy photo of him to refresh my memory) and Luke Goss, poor King Xerxes would lose out big time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Weeding around my dreams

This post doesn't have much to do with Infertility, or those tests, or sadness, or worry, or anything else you might've come to expect from me the past few months. It does have a little bit to do with me having (for the very first time mind you!) heart palpitations and shortness of breath about a certain not-so-well-known actor. It has more to do with what might seem like something really small, which actually is quite bigger when you start thinking about it.

There I was today: still very much in the aftermath of a just-saw-a-great-movie-high-feeling, busy drawing money from the ATM. I just had a nice chat with my mom over a cup of coffee, discussing our family's plans for the Spring break next week.

Just as I entered my pin, it was there. Slightly to my left in the music shop. Sitting serenely between a few guitar like instruments. I only had eyes for that one, beautiful, breathtaking, chestnut brown dream.

The ATM prompted me to finish my transaction, and the next moment I found myself inside the shop asking:

"How much is that cello in the window?"

The guy behind the counter smiled just slightly, and without missing a beat he said:

"R4 500. But if you want, we have cheaper ones available." (R4 500 = $625)

"It's OK, I'm still dreaming about it."

With a smile I turned and walked out the door, having lost my heart on that beautiful instrument.

It's something I've been dreaming about since I was a little girl. Picture this: a big, empty room with a shiny, golden brown wooden floor. The tall windows on 3 sides of the room are open, and the late afternoon breeze is billowing the sheer white curtains inward. I'm sitting in the middle on a chair, wearing a long, flowing white dress, playing a haunting melody on the cello between my legs.

This picture I found is minus the white dress, but it's the closest to the image in my heart and mind.

So why is asking about the price of a cello in a shop window so important? Because it brought me one step (a giant one!) closer to actually signing up for cello lessons. Right now I'm only dreaming about being able to afford a cello, not to even mention the lessons, but it's not that far out of reach at all.

I have enough of a musical background to be able to master the lessons quite easily, then it will just be lots and lots of practice. Having studied the piano for 11 years in school (and playing exams up to grade 6 level) and being a member of an orchestra for 4 years from grade 4 to 7, I might just be able to handle the little black notes on the musical stand.

Now I just have to adjust my dream a little bit to include those very sexy shoes - the rest is about to become a reality. Well, soon, I'm sure! If you wondered where I got the topic from - there is this little plaque on my computer screen: "Don't let weeds grow around your dreams." So I engaged in a bit of gardening today!

Will be back tomorrow to tell you more about that scrumptious actor I "discovered". He is worth the wait, I promise!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Limited perspectives

Just when I thought I'm seriously suffering from mental constipation (sorry for the gross image - it was the best way to try and describe what's going on in my mind lately), along comes an email from one of my favorite websites. I've quoted from it often in the past, so you know it by now.

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.” Marcus Aurelius

We never have enough information to enable us to fully understand the truth of the reality around us. And there is never only one correct perspective about anything.

Knowing this helps me let go of my tendency to label things as good or bad. I suffer least when I can accept reality just as it is. And I benefit most when I open my heart and mind in appreciation.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Angela Monet

It explains my see-saw emotions somewhat. I feel real crazy some days; not that it's strange, I'm a bit wacko most of the time! *wink*

We haven't heard back from the clinic about the tests yet, and even though the results are in the back of my mind all the time, we're doing OK. My youngest sister Wilma isn't talking much about the results, which bothers me a bit. Linda (she's the one who had cancer) is expecting a positive result, meaning that she has the BRCA2 mutation. We might hear something within the next 10 days, will keep you updated.

Meanwhile I've been working my butt off, just wish it would get a bit smaller to show something for all my hard work! Our schools close this Friday for a week long Spring break, and I can't wait. I'm up to my ears (and deeper!) in assessment, reports and planning for next term. Keeps me out of trouble and from thinking too much, but then again it keeps me away from my favorite pastime too: visiting your blogs!

We've (my cousin A and I) submitted the first module of the course we're developing to teach barely literate rural women how to sew garments. (Have I told you guys about this yet? Can't remember!) I'm just sooooo proud of what we've accomplished so far. Even though we get paid for it, I feel it's my little part in doing something for the community. There is a very remote chance that I get the opportunity to facilitate this course as well, IF they can schedule it during the school holidays.

Some great news regarding school this week: my principal told me he decided that he wants me in the Computer Lab full time next year (yessssss!!!) and that means no extra curriculum subjects. It means more time to concentrate on teaching the kids what I'm dreaming of doing. Even though I love teaching Natural Science, my energy is divided too much, and I cannot concentrate enough on what I really want to do.

On Thursday he asked me if I would like to take on the task of the library as well and I'm just thrilled about it. After Tuesday we won't have any books left in what is currently called our media center. We've donated most of the books (that are so old that my parents used to read them when they were children!) to a neighboring Afrikaans school. During the last 4 years our school changed from having mainly white children to 100% black children from Tswana, Bapedi, Xhosa and about 50 refugee children from Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Malawi. (A few other cultures are represented too) So the books which are 95% Afrikaans totally unsuitable. We need a brand new library.

Ok, you might think I'm totally crazy. But this is a wonderful challenge, and since the new library/reading lab is going to be right next door to the Computer lab, (connected by a door on the inside, having separate entrances) this is going to be heaven for me! It's not going to be accomplished within a few months, but maybe in 2 years time, the picture in my head will be a reality. I'll post a "before" photo in a few weeks' time just to show you what we have to perform miracles with.

Last but not least, Pamela Jeanne is celebrating her 100th post - congratulations my friend! May the next 100 include telling us about the runaway success of your book and lots more accolades about your wonderful writing ability.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chicken soup is not enough

Wow, you're incredible. You wouldn't know quite how much your overwhelming support means to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Some people say the internet is a cold, heartless place - it's everything but that! Thanks for making me feel cared for - each and every one of you made a difference in my life with your heartfelt comments.

I haven't been posting much the past 2 weeks even though I had much to say and talk about. But since it wasn't positive and upbeat, my posts never got past the first 2 paragraphs. Thank goodness blogging is paper friendly - I would've had a forest worth of wasted paper from all the restarts!

Why I didn't just write what I felt and get over with it? Well, you might have realized that I have this thing about trying to be positive, seeing the bright side of every trying situation, to keep my chin up, look for the silver lining on the dark cloud, pull a stiff upper lip, let it go off me like water off a duck's back - I can go on almost forever using the phrases we have, but I'm pretty sure you get the message.

Growing up in a family of strong people (maybe it's part of being human, not just an Afrikaner thing) we were taught from a very young age not to bend under pressure, but to be tough, get up and go on. No matter what. So that's what I've been trying to do.

"It's not all that bad." OR "I'm stronger than this, there are worse thing that can happen." OR "Tomorrow the sun will shine again." OR "There is a lesson somewhere in this, I just have to keep on looking for it." Phrases like these have been part of my artillery of bounce backs whenever something upset me. All of the above mentioned phrases have truth in them, and yes, they have their own respective place in self-motivation. Sometimes they work, but sometimes they backfire terribly.

I've always thought that I have some kind of personality flaw when no amount of positive self-talk worked to keep the sadness and heartache away. Or that the black dog of depression was scratching on the door, looking for the smallest of openings to force himself into my life again.

And then I found this book on my brother in law's office desk when I was baby-sitting their kids earlier this week. We were playing "Prime Suspects" on his pc, and I had to be close-by to translate the difficult English words so their bright little eyes could find the hidden objects. At first I thought it was a new edition of the very successful "Chicken Soup" books, but "When Chicken soup is not Enough" proved to be something totally different.

"When Chicken Soup is Not Enough is a down-to-earth, bottom-line look at how our thoughts, emotions and attitudes affect our health, sometimes dramatically. This book demystifies the mind-body connection. It will empower anyone seeking higher levels of health and fulfillment in their life." Dr. Larry Dossey on Ralph E. Retherford's book.

The following paragraph struck me full force:

"Often, experts tell us that all we have to do is think positively. They tell us that emotions like anger, grief, and shame are harmful to our health. They aren't. These emotions are harmful only if they are denied, minimized, or suppressed into our unconscious. There, the energy persists and builds unseen until it becomes powerful enough to wreak mischief on our bodies.

If you try to use positive thinking to avoid bad feelings, you risk pushing the feelings into your subconscious. If you permit them to surface and can work through them, in time they disappear. Joys are short-lived, and so are negative emotions, as long as you are willing to feel them and let them go."

Now I know why my mom has been suffering from terribly painful, itchy hands that look very much like chilblains, except that she has now developed big blisters all over her knuckles and fingers too. She is the text-book version of positivity and strength - smiling, laughing - being super-positive despite being very, very sick from the chemo therapy she has been receiving. Her oncologist says it might be from the cortisone and chemo combined, and maybe just an allergic reaction towards the drugs she is receiving. No ointment has helped, and believe me has tried many! (She needs to read this book too!)

I also understand why I've been suffering from blinding migraines and other unrelated health issues lately - and here I was blaming everything on spring. Actually, our winter disappeared overnight and it's hot, hot HOT - very suddenly. So forget about spring, we skipped that - summer is here to stay. (Ok, I just did it again, changed the subject when I try to face the facts!)

*Sigh* - I'm sorry for not being happy and smiling and upbeat. Sometimes we can handle reading about other people's sorrow and grief because it helps us in understanding our own emotions. And sometimes it's just too hard to handle. I'll try my best to get this out of my system as soon as possible, but until then I need to write about it.

I also need to cry. LOTS. It is sitting there just behind my eyelids, high up in my throat too. I'm scared to give in to the emotion, but I know it will be better to work this through. You have to fill the bath before you can pull the plug to let the water out... maybe I just won't plug it to start with. *wink*

Thanks for being there, and thanks for listening - you're very special to me!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Waiting to Exhale

Yes, I’ve been quiet for a while. School has been very busy, but then I was also occupied with worry that changed into feeling a bit shell-shocked at the moment.

I’ve told you before that my mom had breast cancer 10 years ago, and that it returned in February this year. My sister L had breast cancer 5 years ago when she was 34. To complete the genealogical picture, my maternal grandmother died of breast cancer when she was 54.

The scare we got when my mom’s cancer returned prompted L to ask her oncologist about genetic testing because of the family history. He thought it a good idea, and so the wheels started rolling.

On Tuesday we got the results of my mom’s blood tests. She has the BRCA2 mutation. This means that my two sisters and I each have a 50% chance of having the gene as well. We had our blood drawn for the (very expensive!) blood tests, and so the 2nd part of this waiting game began. Within the next 3 weeks we’ll know if we inherited something we’d rather not have.

No matter how positive I try to be, the reality is very, very scary.

My mom’s cancer will definitely return. Her treatment will determine the time it takes to start out again. L’s cancer might return, all depending on the result of the blood test. W & me are worried that one of us is next in line.

These are the facts: women with the BRCA2 mutation, has an 80% chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer in their lifetime. These women also have an increased risk of developing colon cancer. If you do have the gene mutation, it’s not a given that you’ll get breast cancer, but taking preventative measurements will decrease your risk.

It’s these measures that scares me, even though the choice will be mine in the end. A preventative mastectomy reduces your chances of breast cancer by 90%. Having a salpingo-oophorectomy – the big word for having your ovaries and tubes removed – is another option. And when you have that done, it’s better to have a histerectomy as well since the hormone therapy you have to take because of the lack of ovaries causes heavy bleeding.

The oncologist in charge of our tests said that she strongly recommends that I go for the salpingo-oophorectomy in the light of the fact that I have PCOS, and seeing that I don’t have much use (or planned use!) for my ovaries and uterus. Even if my tests results are negative for BRCA2. So much for having a few more years to decide if I still want to try to have my own children.

All in all I’m OK, no panic rising in my throat, no bad nightmares, just a bit shell-shocked. I know it’s no use being over emotional and worried about it, and losing sleep stressing about the results of the test won’t help either. If it’s positive and my gene at position 12.3 on the long arm of chromosome 13 has a mutation where it’s not supposed to have one, I’ll deal with it as needed.

Until then my ovaries, my uterus and I will have a nice long talk to decide if and when we want to part. But in the small hours of the night I will fervently hope and pray that the decision won’t be taken for me.