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September 12, 2016

Fondant make-up, to missing squatty pottys...

Well as it goes, I continue to work on finding a balance between living a fulfilled life with adequate pain medication on board – this is not an easy task. Of course with the use of pain medication comes bowel issues. If you have been keeping up with my Blog entries, you will appreciate, my desire to never return to near bowl obstruction land ever again! I have been faithfully taking my Senna prescription – 12 pills per day and drinking my SmoothMove tea. I too have embraced the side effects of Senna; for example, I have what I call the walking grandma swirl that booty fart generator going. That’s right, it does not matter where I am, if I am walking and need to release gas from my body, I turn that swirl that boot fart generator on straight-away! I was walking with Curtis’ cousin Courtney during a recent shopping trip – oh I had to let her in on what was going on with my body; at every turn, my body is becoming quite the traveling carnival of sorts. As I began to tell her about what was going on, the generator started to fire up and there was no stopping it. Here we go… with shopping buggy in hand, I swiftly turned the the buggy the other direction as I was frantically waving Courtney to come my way. Secretly I was willing her to follow me without asking questions. Nestled safely at the end of an aisle, I explained the new medical development of fun in my life. Her and I were laughing so hard in the middle of the store. This only promoted additional movement in my bowels; which is a good thing although a bit problematic. Her and I went flying through the store to find the restrooms – yep, they were locate at the opposite end of the store.  When I finally located the restrooms, got settled down on the toilet, I went to raise my legs and feet – but there was no squatty potty.   WHAT no Squatty Pooty -  how is this going to work? Despite not having the proper accoutrements to release one bowels, as I like to say, I was successfully able to do so.

It is quite delightful and wonderful that hospice comes to your home, there is no waiting in line with individuals coughing all over you, doctors running late, or nurses wanting to take your weight! My RN and I talked extensively about pain management and how to mitigate the pain. For example, I am running at a 9/10 right now, which if pretty high especially with all the medications I am currently taking. I have allergies to several typical pain medications, leaving us with Morphine as the best choice. We talked about adding another medication traditionally used to treat anxiety called Ativan to the mix in order to boost the effects of Morphine – the end goal find comfort. I am an anxious person by nature and have taken Ativan previously and thought it was okay to try it again– what is that saying: kill two birds with one stone. I was agreeable and added Ativan to the mix. No sooner did I get used to the possibility of the Ativan, when the RN mentioned Methadone. Well, that me stopped in my tracks. As a clinical mental health counselor, I am aware that methadone in given to those trying to get off of heroin – well, I am not a heroin addict. Although I understand the medication has multiple uses, I needed to process this addition a bit more. I asked if I did start taking methadone, does that mean we are going to be able to reduce down the morphine? The RN looked deep into my eyes, paused, and then said so tenderly, at this juncture we do not typically remove medication, we add. And there it was…I had forgot, I am on hospice. I am on hospice because the collective “they” believe I will die within 6-months’ time – I have been on hospice for nearly 1 month now. That conversation was pretty humbling. I am still processing and thinking about the methadone. Thinking about the fact that I am 45yrs old and on hospice. I am processing…… and it hurts.

The one medication that I did add was the Ativan. Now it is difficult to tell which medication is contributing to this piece of the carnival I have going on, nevertheless, it does add unending moments of levity as you see, I nod off a lot during the day while resting, while in bed, or riding in the car. The beach car ride was littered with such shows. Curtis and I were able to sneak away to the beach for the day this week; It was beautiful. We went to Cape Perpetua, we married there back in 2004. Cape Perpetua is the highest peak on the Oregon Coast. Curtis and I stood there overlooking the majestic ocean coast line, it reminded me of how quickly our love developed – we were meant to be together, and we both knew it. Everything we had been searching for all our lives, we found in each other and more importantly we had awakened the better version of ourselves. It was not that he completed me or that I completed him but rather, it was that this person knew how to pour into the very essence of who the other was, thus making us better more whole people. It was quite magical; at that moment, I knew I had found my soul mate, my partner in life, the person who would chose to love me, quirks and all. There we stood, I watched him looking around and taking in the beauty. As I watched him I experienced his joy and I too experienced his sadness. For if my life is to be ending, Cutis believes a piece of him will have has slipped away. But this this not true my darling Curtis – you will continue to live a joyful life, you see, you will allow me to continue to live on through you. Our hopes and dreams shall not fade; we will continue to make these come true. Our quest to find internal peace, to be grounded, and to become a better versions of ourselves each day. Yes, this is what lay ahead. We shall do this together whether I am here in my physical body or not.

Back to my “shows” as Curtis calls them. When I am in a dream like state I speak aloud often and traveling home from the beach I did not disappoint. It was quite riveting; I was a bride’s maid in a wedding with people I did not know. I was in this big room getting my hair and make-up done. The thing is…the make-up was cake fondant that had been prepared for each bridesmaid – they were laying it over our faces and somehow making it stick. Seriously WTF?!?!?!!?!?!?! Um yep, it was extremely strange. The next dream included my husband making a snack for himself in a large ramekin and then he squirted a whole bunch of mustard on the side. When I asked what that was for, he said for Junior, our dog. Wait, what, he wants our white dog to start eating mustard… weird on many levels. I forced myself to wake up – or perhaps it was the laughter that awoke me. Nevertheless, it was hilarious!

I am getting tired so I am going to finish up here. My week ended on a high note, a friend from graduate school Angie, took a few professional senior photos of my son Jackson, i still cannot believe he is a senior! Then over the weekend, my friend Lene’ drove from Salem to pick me up (I can’t drive due to all the medications I am on) to take to her house. She recently purchased a home and we were going to do a little shifting around of pieces to balance things out and generate some ideas for new pieces. It was so much fun. We always have such a good time when we are together. It nice. It is easy. I always feel love. She is a sister to me. While at Lene’s house I received a text from my friend Candice who said she had just dropped off a surprise on my door. When I arrived home there was a beautiful flower, which I immediately planted in my front yard, along with several food gift cards for the kids. What a blessing today was! How can I not be filled with gratitude? Living in the moment is amazingly cool. When you choose this life, you choose happiness at a level many think is not possible to achieve, but it is. It is actually closer then you can imagine. Although this past week has been interesting, we thrived and had fun!

Many have asked how they can help our family. One of the easiest most helpful ways is to send gift cards to stores such as: Safeway, McDonalds, Subway, or Panda Express and mail to either my home address or to PO Box 192 Philomath, Oregon 97370. The gift cards make it easy for the kids to go grab a quick bite or pick-up groceries for the family. 

Thank you to everyone that continues to pray, send healing thoughts, and positive energy our direction. Although I am unable to respond to every email, text, phone message, FB message etc. please know that I am reading and listening to each one and appreciate the continued support. I really enjoy opening the mail box to find up lifting letters, I thank you all for these words that are enormous gifts to my heart and soul.

Today, I am hopeful~

September 4, 2016

Embracing each day...

I can tell you that I know today is Sunday, this a good start as time escapes me often which in turn is a blessing and a curse. The highlight of the week, hands down, was Jacksons first football game of the season – he is a senior this year so every game is a huge deal. Thanks to my special angel Elaine Markley, that takes care of my family and I on many levels, Curtis and I were extended superior seating accommodations; we parked at the east end of the football field and watched the game from the comfort of our vehicle. Elaine greeted us with a bag of popcorn, a program, and in true cheerleader fashion she was bubbly and bouncy as ever. An added bonus of the night was getting a “hi mom” from Jackson as he ran past the car at half-time. I do not recall much of the actual football game – I am living in the moment on just about every level, but I do remember a few things: the sweet visit from my friend Becky whose southern accent and words of encouragement makes you smile leaving you feeling like a million bucks! My friend Jenny who is always filled with surprises and a willingness to lend a helping hand whenever needed. She ordered t-shirts, with Jacksons #53 printed on them for Curtis, Winston, and I along with a pink Spartan hat for me to wear when the weather turns cold. As the 3rd quarter began, I quickly started to fade, the Spartans were having a great game and Jackson was playing the line like a beast, but it was time for me to go home. Friends Elaine and Mindi met Curtis and I at the gate with encouraging words of support and guided us off the field. Friday was a spectacular evening.

Have I resorted to highlights & low lights, well perhaps after all this is about real talk. It was a rough week, yet upon reflection, I need to consider if this was a rough week or the experiences of this week are quickly becoming the typical week. Pain control continues to be a moving target; I remain eternally surprised that anything on my body would hurt at all based on the amount of pain medication I am taking. With the help of Curtis and hospice, we are becoming increasingly savvy at tracking the pain and knocking it back before it gets too far ahead of us. Concurrently with pain control, I am managing wound care with the assistance of my dutiful, ever so loving husband Curtis. Each day in the afternoon it is shower and wound bandage change time. We are both getting used to the yuck that comes along with changing bandages and cleaning out ulcerated areas of the mass – it is not fun and sometimes requires a couple Xanax for me to get through the process. For a while now, I have been using fresh neem leaves, made into a paste by Curtis, to place on the ulcerated mass. My Ayurvedic practitioner Sharon is sending me fresh picked plants and shipping them from Texas to Oregon. I have been told by the hospice RN’s that my wound will not heal it will continue to get worse as my body will not have the resources to heal. My thought on this matter is that anything is possible and I am all about producing the impossible! Watch me heal. I remain open to a healing miracle. 

I keep saying that I need to start writing little notes about events that occur during the week because if you have not picked up on it by now, my memory is not the best – which is completely okay with me, I accepted this stepdown a while ago. This actually enables me to live in the moment on an entirely new level than ever before. Each moment and interaction so precious, incredibly authentic, and filled with rich deepened love.

As I sit here typing at my large kitchen island, I look to my right and see the most glorious blue sky, speckled with white clouds and think, what a delightfully blessed life it is that I lead. On January 1, 2016 I chose a word that was to define this year, that word was gratitude. This word is the best one to describe where I am at in my life – the essence of my life in the year 2016. I rest nicely and quite lovely in gratitude in large part because of the amazing people I have in my life. I am surrounded by family and friends that love and adore me – they see the best parts of me and cultivate these parts. I have the most loving and dedicated husband, this man loves me and when I say he loves me, it is a love that I don’t think most people experience. He loves me: even though, even when. It doesn’t faze him that my body and beauty have faded over the years, what he sees and experiences is the most perfect and beautiful wife. He sees his best friend, wife, lover, his everything. It does not matter that I am bald. It does not faze him that I walk around the house passing gas at will, because I need to. He does not care that I peed the bed this week – he just got out the carpet cleaner and started cleaning it up. When he finds me emotionally broken, confused, and in pain; he simply embraces me. This man LOVES me; he does not see me as broken or damaged, he sees me as perfectly imperfect – the beauty he calls Sweet Pea.

I have been blessed with amazing individuals in my life – it is all of you that make it easy for me to walk this journey filled with positivity, grace, and peace. I am forever grateful for this as it makes this journey one of beauty. I love the angels that walk this earth, that are here to lift me up and help me be a better version of myself. My acupuncturist Mandi that comes to my house to provide treatments. My friend Rita that provides her healing touch through massage. My friend Belinda that will drop everything to come be with me, clean my bathrooms, and either brings me nuts or a fresh baked pie. My friend Elaine that has continued to bring over dinner once a week for over a year and when I say she brings over dinner I mean it. She brings all the fix’ns from napkins, desert, main dish, sides, drinks, bouquets of fresh flowers, plants flowers in my planter boxes outside the house…I could go on and on. My friend Candice who I worked with years ago, decided to surprise me and dropped off the most amazing jasmine plant along with a lovely card and gift cards for my boys – the plant is in my bedroom and it is remarkably beautiful! I just have good people in my life that care about me and my family. This is just a few examples of the love I have from others in my life. Oh how I am blessed.

I was saddened to learn that a land mark along the Oregon Coast at Kape Kiwanda known as “duckbill” was naturally destroyed by the weather. Not to worry though, I have a photo of me siting upon this glorious structure; Curtis hoisted me up there during a visit a couple years ago so I will forever have this memory. I love that in one of the photo’s I am throwing up my beloved peace sign – something that I experience nearly all the time, peace. *UPDATE: it turns out that there was a group of people who destroyed this structure by rocking it back and forth until it loosened and tumbled down the hill. What a disappointing situation.  

Please do not forget that I would love to hear from you – please write me letters. I am doing my best to respond to each of you, but know that it lifts my spirits to read your words, reading that you are thinking of me, and that we have shared something special during this life journey – it is such a gift. Although I am not really having visitors to the house, I love to get texts, emails, but hand written letters are my favorite. I appreciate the level of privacy and respect we are receiving as a family and I thank you.

Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, OR 97370

There you have it, a little update. I am not sure how much time I have left but I sure am trying to make the most of it. I am thankful for the care hospice is providing; to think that a few weeks ago I was in such pain and so ill that I thought my journey was ending. Each extra day I get here, I am embracing.

Many have asked how they can help our family. One of the easiest most helpful ways is to send gift cards to stores such as: Safeway, McDonalds, Subway, or Panda Express and mail to either my home address or to PO Box 192 Philomath, Oregon 97370. The gift cards make it easy for the kids to go grab a quick bite or pick-up groceries for the family. Thank you to everyone that continues to pray, send healing thoughts, and positive energy our direction. Although I am unable to respond to every email, text, phone message, FB message etc. please know that I am reading and listening to each one and appreciate the continued support. 

#duckbill #CapeKiwanda #hospice

Today, I am hopeful~