Friday, April 28, 2006


This last chemo hit me hard, which is why I have not blogged for awhile. Had problems with stomach pain and nausea and increased dizziness or vertigo. Went to the ER Sunday evening and was treated for dehydration – they gave me 2 liters of fluid IV and the same anti-nausea medicine they give me before chemo. Felt better after that but still had problems with vertigo. My doc suggested I try Dramamine. I took some Tuesday without any change so I tried the max recommended dose Wednesday morning. Within an hour or two it was worse, which was quite alarming to me. I didn’t connect it with the Dramamine, though. I called and left a message for my doc, then called the advice nurse as to whether I should head for the ER. She checked with a doc and said yes.

They did a CAT scan, EKG and lab, all of which checked out OK. My doc thought the dizziness was from the chemo – dizziness is a potential side effect of cytoxan and also prednisone -- , though I will see her Monday and there may be more tests if the vertigo has not abated significantly. It’s not as bad as Wednesday and I do think the Dramamine made the dizziness worse. Dizziness is a less common side effect of Dramamine.

We are stopping the Chemo treatments and this is a big relief to me. My kidney function labs have been normal for a couple of months now, except for one. That one is trending toward normal. Two years ago when I had kidney failure it was also the last one to go to normal. I will be seeing my doc on Monday and we will discuss next steps in treatment then.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chemo round 3

Tomorrow, Thursday the 20th is my next chemo. I do have mixed feelings about this. I look forward to dropping my prednisone dose another 20 mg. to 20 mg a day. I'm going into this round stronger than I went into the last month’s, which is good. Nonetheless, it still means I'm going to feel sick Friday. How sick, I don't know. Most likely not as sick as last month, given I'm stronger but … don't know.

Now that I'm starting to feel better, though still not up to pre-chemo levels, I just don't want get knocked down again, to feel worse, even though I have a reasonable expectation that I will continue to build strength over the next month. And, of course, it is natural to not want to feel bad. I try to go into my chemo session as positive as possible, knowing that that helps the process. And being honest about my feelings is also important.

So I've been working with my mixed feelings.

I bought 3 guided imagery CD’s from
Health Journey's
. Teresa had brought home from Kaiser a CD on guided imagery for depression which Health Journeys published. I figured if Kaiser thought it was good, the company might be worth looking into. They have CD’s for all sorts of conditions, including sleep, chemo therapy, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. The web site had pretty good, standard information on heath and guided imagery so I ordered those three CD’s. Belleruth Naperstek does a great job with the CD’s. On the first track she gives good information about guided imagery and that it is not a substitute for treatment, but an aid to treatment. She is very sound in what she says. I have found the CD’s very helpful.

I think it was on the Lupus CD’s she talked about being honest about one’s emotions, which was a good reminder to me this morning. It’s OK for me to have mixed feelings about chemo, to acknowledge them, allow them to just be. I don't have to reject them, push them away, try to change them, just let them be. Then they will follow their own right and proper process. So I'm at peace with that, most the time. The prednisone is making me somewhat more emotional so I take that into account also.

And I know God is in all of this. The Kingdom of God is now. All I have to do is accept it as a little child and I know more about how to do that. So I find myself coming back to simple acceptance of what is, of my Beloved God, my Beloved Jesus right with me now, healing me, caring for me and gently asking me to pray for those who this very minute are facing chemo tomorrow. This helps. It really helps.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday Reflections

It is Holy Saturday morning. Jesus is in His tomb, resting, Or is he Harrowing Hell ?

In some ways I like the image of Jesus just resting on this day. He has worked very, very hard all his life and he deserves a rest, a chance to just lay still for awhile. It is a comfort to me to think he is resting now, peaceable, his suffering and sorrow over.

Yet would he not be thinking of all those souls in hell, waiting for release? Would he not, after that stone had been rolled across the tomb, jump up from where they lay him, thinking, “Man, let’s go free those souls!”? Would he not leap with joy at the chance to bring salvation to all those people, to go find Judas, forgive him and bring him home?

Maybe he is doing both, resting inside and freeing others. Maybe he rested awhile, to share in the rest of the dead, and then rose to set all people, all creation free.

I reflect today on the service to come, the Great Vigil. I remember Holy Saturday Night services I have attended. Tonight I will be at All Souls hunkering down for the duration – I know it will be a long service – this parish does everything, they take their time, give each service its due. Last night’s Good Friday service lasted 1 hour and forty-five minutes. I knew it would be long one when the choir started to sing -- sing! The Passion. It was long and beautiful and God gave me a great blessing at the end of service, one I won’t forget.

But my heart tonight will also be at St. Michael’s , my home parish. I will not hear Deacon Mary Lou sing the Exultet. In fact I will hear no deacon sing the Exultet. All Souls does not have a deacon right now, though they do have a gentleman studying for the deaconate at the School of Deacons. I think deacons are cool, and a very, very, important part of the church. They lifted up the servant ministry that all of us are called to. They bring the concerns and needs of the world to the church, and the church into the world – again something we are all called to do. I think of the deacons who touch my life and bless me, which would be a long list if I named them all, and pray that all parishes everywhere may have the blessing of at least one deacon serving them.

So a blessed Easter to you all. May the grace of this Holy Season bring the whole Earth closer to peace.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Holy Week

This Holy Week marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most profound healings in my life. 25 years ago I was in the fourth year of clinical major depression. There were times during this depression, that I was very suicidal. At one point I literally had the gun in my hand and only by a sheer act of will returned it to the good priest who had give it to me to protect myself from an anal orifice that was at that time breaking into women’s apartments and raping them . These were the most painful and difficult years of my life – nothing since has been as bad.

During those years I was in counseling, trying to figure why I was depressed, trying to get healed. My sexual orientation was coming to consciousness but I didn’t connect it with the depression. I had lots of reasons for being depressed. However, an amazing thing happened Holy Week 1981.

Holy Wednesday I was listening carefully to the Old Testament lesson:

The Lord God has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse themt.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting
the Lord God is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord god is my help.

Isaiah 50:4 – 9a

What I heard say to me was, "you can look at your sexuality and it will be OK." Well, I knew what my sexuality was. At that moment I felt such joy and peace. On Easter Sunday morning I felt the depression lift completely. It has never returned.

One may wonder how I got that out of the passage. A big part was I knew that if I accepted my sexuality I would face opposition. God though, would be my help. In this confidence and trust I could except my sexuality, and be healed

So I rejoice in remembering that time. Now I face a different healing challenge. I don't know if God will zap me on Easter like God did 25 years ago. Healing comes at many levels and in many different ways. In today's Old Testament lesson God says, "See, the former things have come to pass and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them." Isaiah 42: 9.

I am still weaker than I was before chemo, but at a greater level of strength and endurance than last month. I have a reasonable hope that I will continue to build strength and endurance as I continue with my treatments and great hope for putting this disease in remission. I greatly look forward for this Lent to be over with and an Easter to come, which to me as a sign I did Lent well.

Wishing you all a blessed and holy Holy Week.