Finally!

More waiting! Our flight keeps getting delayed. The 10:30pm flight turns into an almost midnight flight. If that would have happened this morning we wouldn’t have missed our first plane! There’s nothing we can do but wait. We board the plane and off we go!

We started Wednesday, it is now Thursday. It’s almost 3:00 am when we finally get to our hotel. We have been awake for almost 24 hours. I am beyond tired. The hotel is beautiful, clean, comfortable, a Hyatt House Hotel in San Juan. I notice lots of tropical vegetation and hear the little Ko-Kee frogs singing as we walk to the hotel, they sound like birds. I hit the bed and pass out. When we finally wake up we realize…we are finally here, we are in Puerto Rico! I am still really tired. We go hang out by the pool for a while. I do a little swimming, it feels good. I decide to try and swim every day while I am here to try and help work out the pain that I have been dealing with in my shoulder. I think it’s a damaged nerve. I dry off and soak up a little sun for awhile, it feels so comforting. Nothing to do but pamper myself!

We take a little walk and soak in some of the Puerto Rican flavor. Everyone is so friendly and eager to offer directions or advice. I am amazed that almost everyone here speaks english easily and fluently. They can switch back and forth from spanish to english effortlessly. We head to the Metro and have some amazing local cuisine. I had the Montuno Cubano, which has diced pork which is boiled then fried and sautéed in onions, a tamale, congri rice, and casava. Scott had a wonderful dish, Lomillo A Caballo,  beef steak and eggs. It was delicious and there was so much, we took some home for later.

Late afternoon we drove to La Torre, a cool little town, where we got to watch some filming of the movie that Jerry has been working on. A colorful patchwork of little buildings and restaurants lined the streets. All the sights and sounds were intoxicating. Pigs on spits, pallets for firewood, fried foods, hanging coconuts and plantains. Stray dogs, cats, and wandering chickens everywhere! We went to the Waterfront restaurant to pick up some food for the actors, it was on the Loiza boardwalk. The ocean was beautiful!

We had dinner with the filming crew. The caterers were set up in the middle of a field under a tent. The food was delicious. I was still kinda full from our late lunch, so I ate light. Scott had what he thought was a pile of mashed potatoes, turns out it was mashed plantains and they were delicious, way better than potatoes! We met some interesting people and had some good conversations. As night fell we started to get bitten by no see ums, it was time to go. We were still pretty tired.

Today was a day to relax, unwind, and depressurize from the last few weeks. I am amazed, we are finally here, in Puerto Rico!

Let’s get outta here!

Ok we are as prepared as we can be. Our flight leaves from Tampa at 7:30am. We will get up at 4:00am to catch our plane. We are packed, the alarm is set. We should be in Puerto Rico by noon! It is starting to sink in, we are going to Puerto Rico! 4:00am comes early. We put the dogs in their lovely kennel. I hope they appreciate all the time and attention we put into it. We put our suitcases in the truck. As we pull away from the house, I feel a sense of relief, we got it all done. I am starting to get excited about our trip!

It was a nice drive contemplating all we might do in Puerto Rico. Anticipating seeing Jerry for the first time in 6 weeks. We check the clock in the truck, all is well, we have plenty of time. We run into a little traffic in Tampa but it’s not a big deal. We have some trouble finding a long term parking spot. After searching 3 levels we go to the roof and park. We find our way to the terminal, it looks empty, but it is early in the morning. We get to the check in…our plane left 10 minutes ago…WHAT? WHAT did you say? Our plane left? We missed our flight? You must be wrong, check again!

Ok regroup. What the heck just happened? And what do we do now? The next flight to Puerto Rico is at 10:30, no not in three hours, it’s at 10:30 tonight. So…it is 7:30 am. I certainly don’t want to drive all the way back home just to turn around and drive back. What should we do? Where did the time go? How did we lose so much time? On further inspection we realized we were watching the clock in the truck which was almost exactly an hour behind! I fixed that right away. We are tired and maybe a little grumpy from the crazy busy week we had leading up to this. What are we gonna do now. Maybe we should just go home and forget about this trip. I call Jerry and he finds us a hotel close to the airport that we can check into. Maybe we can just relax, catch some TV, doze awhile until this evening when we go back to the airport. Sounds good.

Turns out it is a Super 8 Motel. Omg, it is really nasty! It looks rundown, the walls are dirty, it looks old. There are burn holes in the bed sheets, in a non smoking room! I am too tired to care. I have to lay down. At least the sheets smell clean. I don’t want to touch anything. I lay perfectly still and don’t let the sheets touch my face. I hope I don’t catch anything! I think I may have fallen asleep for a few minutes. The remote for the TV is nowhere to be found. Lets go find something to eat. I find a little Peruvian restaurant that has 5 stars. So we try it. Scott doesn’t like anything. I think it tastes pretty good. I have never eaten Peruvian food before. Apparently something did not agree with my stomach. So back to the motel we go.

Ok well what else can go wrong? So I use the bathroom…go to flush the toilet and…well…it overflows!

 

Maybe

All week it has been work, work, work. I am exhausted. Just gathering all the supplies and building materials, trying to keep everything organized, lists upon lists of stuff to get done before we leave. This is the most I have done in a while. Not to mention the heat, the heat is stifling here at this time of the year. I have been slowly recovering, but I’m not sure how hard to push myself? I am consumed with getting things done. Can’t even think about or anticipate actually going away. Work, work, work!

Tickets are purchased. We will be leaving this week! Can we do it? Can we get all this stuff accomplished in a few short days? Two days before we leave the dog kennel is not finished but serviceable. We can use it. We will have to run hoses and extension cords out to it but it will work! Will the dogs be ok in it? Did I mention these are our beloved house pets(aka spoiled!)? I don’t want them to be distressed. So we put a little window unit ac in the enclosed 6×10′ room to keep them cool. They have a doggie door (which they don’t know how to use) to get out on the porch area which is 10×14′. They have an automatic waterer. I even got them doggie hammocks to snooze in! We have no time to let them get used to it or how it will work. It is amazing! It’s not totally finished but it looks great! I wouldn’t mind moving in there myself! We test it out on a few short trips into town. It works! They seem ok!

Day before we leave. The well is acting up, our water has a disgusting red tint to it, lots of air in the pipes. I hope it will hold out until we get back. Everything seems to be taking longer, I am so tired and just want to sit down. I am constantly cleaning up one mess after another. Muddy feet, wet floors, spilled milk. Will I ever be able to pack? Maybe I should just stay home?

Everything seems to be done. I must focus on packing. I actually start to get excited about going! Tomorrow we are going to Puerto Rico! My weary mind and aching body need this!

First Adventure

IMG_2422So…last Wednesday I set off on my first adventure in quite awhile and the first adventure since my diagnosis and all that. I wasn’t even sure it was going to happen. There was so much preparation to do at the farm. I knew that I traveled often, when I got my puppy, Tallulah, I just figured that I would “man up” and board her at a local kennel while I was away. Well at least until she became a little more manageable! Right now she is still kind of a maniac and can’t be left unsupervised. And precisely two weeks after I brought her home I hear about all this terrible dog flu thing spreading across the nation. What? I never heard of such a thing?! Dogs are dying. Keep your dogs at home. Dog parks are closing. Dog shows are on hold. You’ve got to be kidding me? I had planned all these great socializing doggie outings for her. I was going to take my dogs everywhere with me. What about puppy kindergarten? Showing her off at PetSmart. Hiking in the forest. Great!

So…there is no way I want to expose her or any of my other dogs to that, so I try to find a baby sitter, or someone to stay at my house while I’m away. Not much luck. Maybe I will just have to stay home until she has some manners. Dang it! I have the opportunity to go to Puerto Rico. I don’t know if I will ever have this opportunity again. Right now my life is all about living life to the fullest, taking risks, and not passing up opportunities. But my critters are my family and they come first. I don’t want to endanger them in any way.

So…about 10 days before I would be trying to leave for Puerto Rico we come up with this great idea. How about we build an outdoor kennel for the dogs? Make it comfortable for them to stay in while we are out of town. Like a little doggie playhouse. Wow what a great idea. It will pay for itself, boarding is very costly, and our dogs will be safe, and close to home!

So…I get right to work designing this doggie playhouse! And off to gather supplies we go! So now we add dog house shopping and building to the already crazy task of getting ready to go away. Line up the pet sitter, get all the horse feed and dog food, and small animal supplies. Line up back up help just in case. Organizing and cleaning bowls and cages and coops and the barn. Make sure the grass is mowed and the place is at least halfway in order so it looks like someone actually lives here! This is way more than I feel like I can handle…maybe I should just stay home?

Feelin’ Froggie

IMG_2291We have been in a drought for quite some time but finally, we have been getting some much needed rain. Just wondering, do we have to get it all at once? This is frog weather! It is smoldering here and the rain just seems to make it worse, feels like a steam room. And this year it’s extra “special” because the estrogen blocker I am on gives me hot flashes. So now I’m hot on the inside as well as hot on the outside! Everything is moldy and damp including me! And since Tallulah, the puppy, will not allow any throw rugs in the house (she seems to think they are possessed and it is her job to destroy them) the floor is in a constant state of mud. The heat makes her drink a lot of water and her lovely beard holds about a gallon, and she likes to share it with everyone! It is true when they say “When it rains, it pours!”

We travel often for work. We live on a small farm and have some wonderful animals, they are family. Little Tallulah is doing great! We call her Lulu for short. She is growing so fast, I swear you can almost see her growing! It is like having a toddler in the house. She believes that everything and everyone is hers. She does not believe in rules. And she has lots and lots of energy! She plays ball and frisbee. We go on long walks and car rides. She loves toys. Right now I am obsessed with dog toys! Well she loves them, all kinds. And it seems like every time I go out I find another toy I just have to get her! She has so many, I have to rotate them. But I must say she does really seem to enjoy them all. Sometimes she will pile them up all around her in the middle of the living room floor!

I have been trying to socialize her, by getting her used to all kinds of stuff. It’s really kinda fun. The other night we sat out in the backyard with her while neighbors were shooting off fireworks. At first she was a little nervous but once she saw we liked them and the treats started coming she was fine with them. I had anticipated taking her everywhere with me for her socialization but of course, about two weeks after I got her this canine flu thing broke out. So I am doing what I can to expose her to as much stuff as possible right here on the farm. And believe me there’s plenty of crazy stuff she has already gotten used to. Tractors and horses and saws and thunder, lots of thunder! I am hoping she will be a very well adjusted dog.

She is potty trained but…last week she had a little tummy trouble. And had me up all night every two hours to take her out for about 4 nights. Ugh! We seem to have gotten all that under control now. She has been sleeping through the night again. I need my beauty rest! So this got me thinking… how in the heck am I gonna be able to go out of town? My plan was to board her when I was away until she got a little more settled. But now with this canine flu thing there is no way!  And I won’t leave her in a crate for that many hours. So…on to the next project. A beautiful little outdoor kennel. I will keep you posted!

Relax

Today is a good day. I am happy to say I am feeling really good in a kinda relaxed familiar way. I have been very busy to say the least. I think I may have been over compensating for what I perceived as lost time during the active phase of my illness. I felt kind of “out of control” wanting to get back to “normal” and do all the things I hadn’t been doing for the last 8 months. I have a bad habit of forcing things, making stuff happen! But sometimes, as I am learning, you just have to let things run their course. So in the last few weeks I have been going like crazy, doing this and that. Go, go, go! The puppy keeps me busy, in, out, in, out, play, play, play!  Jerry left for Puerto Rico, so everything is my responsibility, yikes! I have started painting again, with many more cool projects piling up. I have been yard saleing. I have been playing my cello, even jammed with some friends! I have been cleaning and organizing my house and getting back into doing some much needed yard work. It has been crazy steamy hot here, of course it is summertime in Florida! I have been walking and doing Tai Chi. Promoting my artwork again. I have been eating healthy and taking care of myself. Researching all kinds of stuff. Back to doing farm chores and horses. Wow!

Don’t get me wrong I am thoroughly enjoying myself! I oftentimes look back and think I couldn’t have done this six months ago. Just walking to the barn was all I could muster! I am beginning to recognize myself again. I feel more like the old familiar me! My strength is coming back, my hair is coming back, I think it’s actually thicker than it was before! I now have eyebrows and lashes! I have researched, got approval from my doctor, and have started taking a supplement called Turkey Tail Mushroom. It has had some very promising results in supporting the immune system in post chemo patients. I am still dealing with some side effects like this crazy burning in my thighs if I stand up for too long and hot flashes and night sweats from the hormone therapy. Bone and muscle aches and pains, some mornings I’m not sure if I can get out of bed! But these things are getting better and I can live with them.  And I am finding that the better I take care of myself, eating clean and gentle exercise, the better I feel, mentally and physically, surprise!

So now I am beginning to feel like I can calm down, rope myself in a little bit and find some balance. Work, play, RELAX, repeat!

 

Make It Good

What a difference a day makes. So funny how good news can cheer you up. There is waaay too much gripeing, complaining and negativity out there. We do it to ourselves. We are force fed it by the media. Our closest friends and relatives can push it on us. We must not give in! Our time on this earth is limited and precious and we need to start living and loving more. Sure bad stuff happens and we will certainly have bad days but it just seems that negativity and drama are so rampant in our society right now. I have decided to avoid the news for awhile. I want to focus on me and what makes me happy. That may sound selfish but I am not buying into all of this craziness. I have enough trouble just taking care of me right now!

It has taken a while, much longer than I thought, to get back to feeling like myself again. I have started painting again and walking more. I just ordered some Tai Chi DVD’s and I am trying to eat clean. I am going to start taking a supplement called Turkey Tail Mushrooms, it is supposed to help boost your immunity. A very trusted and knowledgable friend told me about this. I did some research and my doctor said it was okay, so I ordered some last night. I like taking care of myself, it is something I have always tried to do. Until this cancer thing tried to take me down, which makes you feel helpless and out of control. I am taking my control back! It is empowering to feel like you are helping, supporting your body to heal itself. It is amazing the abuse our bodies can take and if only given a chance they work so hard to repair the damage. I had a wonderful visit with my doctor yesterday. My PET Scan results were great! REMISSION! I do feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was a little anxious leading up to the test results, everything seemed to be hurting a little more and I felt a bit more tired. I think it is a mental thing, you start worrying and your mind takes over and fills in the blanks!

My doctors visit yesterday proved what I really already knew, I am so much better. My tumor markers have gone from 145 at the beginning of my treatment to 30, which my doctor says is normal. My blood work looks great and I am getting stronger. I could focus on the negative. I am still not allowed to ride, bummer! I am getting Xgeeva shots because my bones are still fragile. I will never be considered cancer free. I still have lots of aches and pains. I have this annoying neuropathy in my thighs. Night sweats and hot flashes. But I don’t want to live like that! So I will put my attention into what is good and makes me happy. I am still here. I have so much more living to do. I am thankful everyday. I have an awesome husband and great friends. I have a wonderful place to live with amazing animals. I feel so lucky, life is what you make of it…make it good!