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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bridges, Locks, and melanoma

The shot above is the pedestrian bridge at the James River in Bedford County of Virginia (U.S.). The bridge leads to the side of the park where the Battery Creek Lock (built in the mid 1880's) has been restored.
The shot above was taken facing the bridge once I was standing near the Lock. I couldn't decide if the bridge framed the mountains, in terms of the photograph, or was an obstruction. I suppose a little of both.The little bridge above which was on the Cascade Falls trail is more my style. I can appreciate all kinds of bridges but there is something more romantic to me about small ones.
I didn't get any particularly good pictures of the Battery Creek Lock but I found it pretty interesting. I've always had a weakness for old structures that are restored for historical purposes.
I also have a weakness for ruins so I'm never quite sure which way to go. By that, I like the idea of setting aside places that won't get torn apart and replaced by something modern. Depending on what it is, leaving it in ruins is almost as appealing to me as restoring it.
The bridge above is just a bridge I snapped a picture of in Bedford County on the way to the James River Park. Nothing particularly unique about it but it caught my eye. When I started this post my intention was to include some of the photographs which I haven't posted yet from my recent weekend in the mountains, and to write about some of the lingering worries I have about cancer (specifically melanoma). Here I am seven pictures later and I still haven't mentioned melanoma. That's good if it wasn't still simmering beneath the surface of my thoughts. It's better for me to focus on bridges and locks and such. So far as I know, I don't have any active cancer. Considering the fact that I just got finished with my follow up intensive months and have had 5 doctors in various specialties look and listen and poke and prod, I'm sure if anything big was going on that one or the other of them would have tripped over it.
I guess that new normal, I've been looking for, still eludes me and it makes it hard not to have that nagging little voice whispering into my ear. The part I find annoying is that I can't listen to my body. The changes continue. Not all of the changes are worse but they are different. I'm sure most cancer survivors have to deal with that to varying degrees even when the cancer doesn't recur. Side effects from surgery that can mimic more troublesome symptoms. Autoimmune response which can actually aid in the fight against the cancer but muddies the waters in terms of listening to your body.
One thing that helps is enough time has elapsed for me to see patterns. I went through something similar last fall after my string of follow up appointments. That was almost worse because I had scans last fall with some small issues which they didn't think related to cancer but they showed up. I was vastly relieved in March of this year when I had the first unequivocal scans with those all important words: no evidence of metastatic or recurrent disease. The pattern I'm seeing though is after all these appointments, I am not feeling great and that worry meter is bouncing. Part of it may be nerves but I think there is another factor. I don't do great in the summer as the heat aggravates a variety of issues so I don't walk as much. Then the weather cools down and I get more active again and it's an adjustment. It's good for lymphedema to walk but I have a lot of issues that come into play. By increasing my activity level a lot, I set off some of my other issues.
It really boils down to the fact that I can't keep listening to my body. I don't mean that I'd ignore something big and dangerous. I just have to keep bending and swaying and if I do that I may be slightly bent but I'll be less likely to break. Reminds me of a line from an old song, Well I ain't broke but I'm badly bent. I think the song was about finances not health but it works a lot of ways. In the scheme of things I'm not even badly bent.I can fake it well enough with help from prescription medications. That's a whole other issue. I hate the fact that I've needed pain management now for two years but it could be a whole lot worse. I am a little low because I thought if I could get past the string of appointments I have in September and the beginning of October, I would be free of it. Sort of silly. It starts again in December with my 3 month cycle of follow up appointments and before that I have a routine colonoscopy. I fee like a jerk for complaining. I think of people without health insurance or the quality of care I have. On a lighter subject, I couldn't believe all the trick or treaters last night.
I knew we had more children in my neighborhood this year. I bought 4 big bags of candy and still had to turn off my porch lights at 8:00 pm because I was almost out of candy. The children had great costumes too. The didn't look like the store bought ones but many looked like they were made by parents who get into it. I always did that for my daughter when she was young (made her costume). One of my neighbors had a bonfire and invited anyone over who wanted to pass out candy from their yard and hang out. I felt anti social for not joining them but the fire made me nervous. I'm no fun. Although rain and cooler weather stopped all the warnings about outside fire we were getting, it still made me nervous. Besides, I'm lazy. I preferred kicking back at home and letting the children come to me.

18 comments:

King (Kathie) said...

Carver,

I love your pics, as usual. I, also, love your voice - wow!

I don't know if we will ever feel 100% comfortable with our new normal. And do NOT feel like a jerk. I didn't think you were complaining at all - just explaining.

Hoping that you feel better and more confident soon. Many times I have to remind myself of just living one day at a time.

Stay Strong
Kathie

Carver said...

Thanks Kathie, You are always so supportive and such an inspiration to me and so many others. I admire your ability to keep moving forward after dealing with stage IV melanoma. As ever, Carver

Gledwood said...

Those are great photos.

That bridge at the top: how come it has a "lid" on it?

Gledwood said...

Talking about American healthcare, have you heard about the new MichaelMoore film? In it this guy has to choose which one of 2 fingers to have sewn back on as his insurance will not cover them both...

I mean... well, surely that speaks for itself!

Carver said...

Hi Gledwood,

I haven't seen Sicko, Michael Moore's film, yet but I have heard a lot about it and have meant to see it. I've read a some of Michael Moore's books and have seen Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11.

As far as the bridge top, I may get it wrong so I'll have to see if I can find out later. Take care, Carver

AscenderRisesAbove said...

I can certainly understand the reluctance to start the round of medical testing again. I don't have cancer but I see a lot of doctors like you do and for me it will never get to the point that I wont see a doctor; so it makes me happy when I can forget that any of it is going on. no news is good news.
i really like the way that you layout the photos and text on your blogs; saying a heavy thought and then giving the mind something lighter to think on - so healthy!

Carver said...

Thanks Ascender, I started this blog as a way of dealing with medical stuff but I doubt I would have continued if I hadn't ended up using it as a way to post photographs and get beyond the health issues. Sometimes I almost forget the health stuff. I'm sorry you also have to deal with a lot of doctor's appointments but as you said no news is good news in a situation where it's part of life. Take care, Carver

Theresa said...

I can see how all that testing can get one down. You want to be done with it, and the testing keeps it on the front burner.

I get annoyed when I just have to make time in my day for my yearly visits to the doctors- such a hassle in the day- It is good to write it down to get it out-not healthy to keep stuff inside.

I am sorry you are not feeling better- I hope this cooler fall weather will help.

Great pictures, I did like the framing one- my husband and I always look to take those "natural" frame pictures.

Guess you could of used some of the candy we bought, we only bought 3 bags, but had only about 10 kids. I think they do not like walking up the hill we live on.

SabineM said...

Carver
Lovely pictures as always. And I found your post very interesting, because I NEVER thought of all these after effects that a cancer Survivor has to deal with. I learn alot from you.
And I am with you with getting more active as it gets cooler and I have no excuse. I just hate the heat. I THINK my DNA is meant to flourish at 75 degrees or less. I feel like I can breath and do anything below 75 degrees, above 75 degrees I feel like I am suffocating and lethargic. I HAVE always been like that.
Stay Strong, Carver!!!
and thank you for sharing

Carver said...

Hi Theresa,
I definitely could have used some of your candy. I think it's Murphy's law that no matter which way you go you either have too much or too little candy. I also know what you mean about the annual appointments. I was always like that too. I'm sure most people don't exactly like going to the doctor and no matter how often or infrequent it is, it's always too much. I'm doing fine. I just had a low minute and felt like spilling it out.

Hi Sabine,
I think it would be particularly hard for you in terms of physical adjustments to live somewhere so different from where you're from. I'm at least from where I live so it's not as big of an adjustment. I have noticed that we seem to get more extremes here than when I was younger. It's certainly hotter but sometimes the winter has even colder spells. I don't mind that at all as long as I bundle up.

Thanks so much for the encouragement.

jmb said...

Beautiful photos Carver as usual. I hope it helps to write all this down as sometimes just verbalizing it takes away some of the fear, which never leaves a person who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Take care
jmb

Carver said...

Hi JMB,

It does help me to write it down. I am surprised in a way that I can write in a blog but not in a handwritten journal like I used to do. For some odd reason, after my cancer diagnosis I couldn't write in a journal anymore although I'd kept a journal all my adult life. My blog has replaced that and in some ways it's good because it's a creative outlet for me in terms of the photography. Also, I've enjoyed finding blogs like yours which take me places I haven't been or haven't been in a long time. Take care, Carver

Ah Bong said...

Carver,
I am so sorry to hear about this cancer thingy. I hope things will get better for u soon n u get the emotional support u will b needing in facing treatments.

I am a nobody from the other side of the world. But I hope u receive my 'hug'. God bless.

Carver said...

Hi Ah Bong,

Thank you so much. You are not a nobody and your comment means a lot. I'm doing well. I haven't had a recurrence since my lymph node dissection for cancer (stage III metastatic melanoma) in 2005. I have a lot of side effects and issues and I am followed closely by a bunch of doctors but so far so good. Thank you so much for your hug and kind words. Take care, Carver

karoline said...

((((carver))))

>I can appreciate all kinds of bridges but there is something more romantic to me about small ones.

this is a perfect metaphor for you, dear girl. little bridges, little bites. a day at a time. enjoy each day to the max, carver, worry not for tomorrow. you're doing well, capturing your days on film and that's a beautiful positive thing for you to do.

if you ever get the chance, to watch the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, watch it, take hope, and use your experiences to live, really live. that is the take home message.

i think of you daily and send all positive thoughts to you...

hugz again to you sweet carver
k:)

Carver said...

Thanks Karoline,

That means a lot to me. I haven't seen Crazy, Sexy, Cancer yet but I've been to the website and saw parts of it on there. From there I went to the blog which the amazing young woman keeps. She is so inspiring. Take care, Carver

Andrée said...

Hi Carver. Thank you so much for continuing to visit even tho I visited nobody. This post struck me so strongly tonight. You are brave enough to post your demons; I posted mine.

I understand what you are saying about not trusting your body. But if I may suggest: some of your symptoms and nagging feelings may be anxiety. My anxiety symptoms at times like this override my intuitions; in fact, the anxiety BECOMES my intuition, so that I think the worst.

You are with me in my thoughts and prayers. You don't have to be strong all the time. Perhaps if we talk more we wouldn't have to be stoic? Well, that is my route this month, anyhow.

Hugs, Andree
PS I love the new e-mail checkbox to follow comments and I am putting it to great use all the time now to listen to your responses and to your other commenters.

Carver said...

Hi Andree,

Thank you so much for your insightful comment. I've never thought about it like that before. I've thought about the role anxiety may play but I've never thought about how anxiety can become intuition until right now as I was reading your comment. For some reason that is comforting in an odd way.

In the past, I always felt like I was pretty good at telling if something was seriously wrong with me but I no longer feel that way. I think it will help me to think about the nagging little voice as being anxiety and perhaps if I do that I can have better luck telling it to be quiet.

There really isn't any reason for me to listen to the anxious thoughts because I am followed by so many doctors that there is rarely a month when I'm not seeing at least one MD. The point is if something new was happening with me, one of my doctors would probably spot it before I would anyway.

As things stand, from the cancer angle I'm doing great. The more time I go without a recurrence the better my odds become. In March it will be 3 years since my lymph node dissection so logically I know my odds are improving all the time.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. As ever, Carver