Monday, May 19, 2014

Chicken Dinner

I made the right at the end of route 12 in Frenchtown and headed up the hill. There was a kid walking along the side of the road and as I approached, he turned and flashed a thumb, hitching a ride. I know that boy, I thought, and pulled over. " Hey Andy, what are you doing hitching? Don't you know there's weirdos out there waiting to kidnap kids like you?" He gave me the teen-aged eye roll as I laughed and he climbed in my old tan VW Beetle....I mean literally: the door did not open meaning all passengers had to get in through the window and he knew this since I had given him rides before. " Hi Peg! You always come along at the right time...I have a wicked bad blister on my heel." So instead of dropping him off at the end of his long driveway, I went all the way down the lane and pulled up to the barn. His dad came to the gate . "Look who I found out wanderin" I said, as Andy climbed back out of my car, his tall lanky frame folding up like an accordion. His  father laughed at the sight, saying "Thanks Peg....I guess someone was dodging chores this morning." "No trouble,  I was just out garage sale-ing and he was in my way." "Well, would you like a chicken for your trouble?" Thoughts of a nice oven stuffer roasting in my kitchen popped into my head. "Sure, thanks, Bob!"

He went into the barn as I started thinking about who to invite to dinner . I heard a bunch of squawking coming from the barn.  Much to my surprise and dismay, he came walking out carrying a live flapping chicken, holding it by it's tied-together feet. "Where do you want her?" I looked at him and tried to be casual. "Oh, just toss her in the back seat." So that's what he did. I gave them a weak smile and with a wave of thanks, drove off with the pissed off chicken.

I knew right then who was having supper with me, the only person I knew who could butcher and dress out a chicken, Dock Sharp. He was an old gent from West Virginia who lived next door to me. He'd be happy to oblige in exchange for a chicken dinner. Problem solved.

I continued on down the road, heading back to town. I saw the cars parked along the street across from a yard sale I had passed by after picking Andy up, and thought I'd stop for a look. By this time, the chicken had seemed to resign herself to her fate and had settled down nicely in the back seat. The yard sale was crowded with shoppers and I thought of skipping it when a car pulled out right there and I was able to grab a spot front and center. I parked, grabbed my bag, opened my door and Pandemonium broke out! The chicken, seeing a chance to make a break for it started up squawking and flapping , and flung herself right out of my car onto the pavement. Every head turned my way as I stood for a moment looking in disbelief at this noisy bitch of a hen, wings a- flapping, feathers flying, screeching bloody murder at my feet. I looked at the crowd, looked back at my car, bent over, grabbed the chicken up by her legs (no easy task, mind you) and flipped her back onto the rear seat, shut the door and calmly, and without a twitch crossed the street, ignoring the raucous clucking and cawing coming from my vehicle.

I nonchalantly walked through the crowd, pretending that having a chicken trussed up and flapping loose in my car was just another work-a-day occurrence. I looked an old guy and said one word. "Supper". I picked up a couple of items just to put a point on it, then just as casually strolled back to my car to the screeching hen. I carefully opened the door, blocking her way out and got in, slamming the door shut. I drove off, head held high, ignoring the snickering laughter and shaking heads.

I have to say, after Dock did his job and that damned hen was simmering on my stove, he and I had a huge laugh over a couple of beers as I told him what had happened.  Pandemonium was a tasty bird, and the freshest chicken I have ever eaten.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


This time I was afraid. I felt a fear that seemed out of proportion with the procedure for which I was scheduled, but I could not shake it.On the ride to the hospital, tears would slip from my eyes, and my stomach would give a sickening roll. I am familiar with dread. I have faced it many times over the years. But this was different:I wasn't filled with dread, I was filled with fear. Of what, specifically, I had no idea. I was looking forward to having this procedure done and over with, parting with yet another chunk of my body in the war on cancer, a fairly routine surgery. I trusted my doctors, I trusted the hospital, and yet I was afraid.

We arrived on time, I was prepped and all of the pre-op tests were performed. I was ready and waiting. For 5 hours we sat waiting. My surgeon was having a tough time with the person ahead of me and they were taking a long time. The nurse kept apologizing and coming in with heated blankets until I was under a huge stack, which made me feel safe....a place to hide, a cave, a lair to keep me safe from whatever was lurking around the corner.

Finally, I was taken in and the last thing I remember was being put under, that lovely, luscious feeling of finally falling into the deepest sleep, knowing that a second later your eyes will open and it will all be over.

I awoke to a whole lot of confusion and hubbub. I was not in a good place in my mind, still half unconscious, feeling suffocated and in pain. What I saw in my dream-state was a nightmarish metal room, dark and threatening. My lungs hurt and I was choking and I heard someone say something about getting it out. My mouth was opened and a scaly wriggling creature was pulled from my body, scraping my throat, gagging me. If I could have I would have shrieked in pain as this thing was removed; I have never felt such pain in my life. I  passed out and  awoke in ICU with Greg by my side. There was a really big clock that read 9:30pm. 5 hours after my 45 minute surgery began. I asked what happened and Greg said there were complications, but that I was all right. I was hooked up to an IV and catheterized and had pain in my throat that was beyond any sore throat I have ever experienced. They put something in the IV and the pain subsided. My lungs were so congested, when I coughed I sounded like a 5 pack a day smoker.

So, what happened? I am allergic to sulfa drugs. I have experienced anaphylaxis (throat swelling, blood pressure dropping, body shutting down) from a sulfa drug  and I told the surgeon, the anesthesiologist  and every other person who asked. It was listed on my chart, the plastic bracelet on my arm and the one on my ankle. Knowing this, the surgeon still decided to use a blue dye, a potential allergen that will cross over w/  a sulfa drug allergy, testing with a small injection first to see if there was any reaction. When nothing happened, they injected the full amount, proceeded w/ the surgery and within 15 minutes all hell broke loose. They had to intubate me as my lungs filled with fluid (I was drowning) and my throat was swelling shut, they brought in the ventilator and had me attached to that for over an hour as I could not breathe on my own, they had the dilemma of dealing w/ anaphylaxis (which involves adrenaline and epinephrine, two drugs designed to jump start the body) and a deeply sedated patient. I am still not clear on the details of how they proceeded, but eventually they drained my lungs and woke me up.

I feel like a train wreck. Everything hurts. After 2 days in hospital, not sleeping, not eating,  and feeling like crap, I am now home in my own beddy-bed. Greg brought Teddy for the ride home, which helped enormously. I slept all afternoon & all night. I spoke w/ friends & family in between, letting them know I was all right. I have a very sore throat and a nasty rumble-y cough and am spent, but I am alive to tell the tale. How often does one hear a doctor apologize? Or hear one say that they were scared by what happened to their patient? My feeling is that we are all of us only human, and none of us perfect. I lived when I could have died. They did their job and saved me and I am grateful. Now I am going back to bed.

addendum: I am cancer free and recovering nicely, thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Meeting the monster again......

Being diagnosed with cancer is like having your hair pulled out by the roots by a monster standing behind you. You can not see him, but the pain makes your eyes tear up, your fear makes your stomach churn, and that cold wash of sweat takes your breath away. Cancer is an ugly word and malignant sounds like what you'd name that monster,that hideous 
fearsome thing that hides inside, surfacing when you least expect it, usually when you are finally happy. I have read that in olden times people were afraid of too much happiness, they believed that the gods got jealous of too much joy and would send misery to take one's happiness away. I guess that could also be called life balancing itself out, taking the good with the bad, yin and yang. I personally would appreciate a little more time to be happy and content before being slammed upside the head by malignant melanoma. Just sayin'.

Friday, April 4, 2014

not there

I stand listening to the plaintive cry of the gulls,
my eyes closed, hearing the shushing of  sea on sand,
willing myself there.
The gulls cries are what carry me away,
where my heart forever bides~ by the sea.
Eyes open, I see where I am,
I hear the waves turn into wet tires on the highway;
 I am in a parking lot longing for a sandy shore,
 longing with all of my being.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


A kind word from a stranger brings on tears
The beauty of flowing water does the same
as do thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future.
There is no joy to be found in the song of the wren or the chickadee,
no joy in the snowdrop's bloom.
Empty, hollow to the core, devoid of all feeling,
my heart breaks grievously, slowly, painfully,
leaving a fragile shell ready to shatter at the slightest tremor

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


 I saw a flock of snow geese today, 
flying in a perfect W, 
white with black bands 
against the brilliant blue sky.
I stopped my car on the empty road, 
got out to watch this wondrous sight, 
expecting to hear their raucous honking ~
these geese were as silent as the snow-covered fields 
over which they flew....... 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hard days

These past few months I have had to face reliving many of the uglier aspects of my past. Things that are happening to other people are stirring many memories, all filled with pain, sorrow, disappointment, heartbreak, grief. As much as I have been trying to live in the moment and not allow these events dredge up the muckier parts of my life, I have not been able to keep my thoughts clear of the harder aspects. I can not change anything that has happened to me, nor would I, as I am who I am because of my experiences. I feel helpless in the face of the pain that my friends are enduring. so what is there to do? Acknowledge the events that haunt me, own my past actions, learn how to forgive myself and others and try to be of as much support as I can to those who are having to suffer through similar in today and not let yesterday rule. That's all easy to say, but putting it into actual practice is as big a challenge as I have faced in a long time. I am finding myself feeling worn down by  just too much of, life, illness, death. I guess growing older brings this on, my friends are growing older too and it seems to be the fate of many to be stricken- with cancer, prolonged suffering, uncertainty, and fear for the future. I have experienced all of that, both personally and through the lives of people dear to me and right now it feels never ending. I have survived much sorrow, have had hard choices thrust upon me, and felt the despair that comes with hopelessness. But I have survived and I imagine I will continue to, but it's hard right now to see beyond today's sadness.