Ready for a New Chapter

Autumn always makes me ready for a change, a shift, a new chapter. Even though down here in the seventh level of Hell Texas, it is still in the 100’s every damn day, and even though astronomical autumn doesn’t begin for 2 1/2 weeks, I still think of the start of September as the start of fall. School buses are on the road again, crops are being harvested, the next big holiday is Halloween… Autumn also makes me short of breath. Allergies yanno. The first fall cold front is on its way, though, and everyone – especially the weather guys – are literally doing a count down until it arrives. We all feel it, that shift which signals a definite change in the air.

So what is next for me? I am nearly finished with physical therapy, and despite my initial skepticism, it actually has made a difference in my strength and range of motion, and also my residual pain levels (which are much more under control now without the constant need for narcotics). Therapy has also left me feeling more confident that I’m not going to break if I fall off my bike or try some interesting new yoga posture.[1]

Hubby and I are traveling back east at the end of September for a family thing (his folks got us plane tickets and a car rental). It’s been almost 3 years since we’ve been home, so it’ll be nice to visit; it will be much cooler there than here, and I look forward to needing a sweater in the evening. Then the week after we get home, we have to drive out to Houston for 2 days for my followups at MD Anderson. I’ll be meeting with a new surgeon, one of the fellows that assisted back in March (I’ve never met him while conscious) because my primary neurosurgeon moved back to Chicago to be near his family. But after that, I don’t think there’s much more a neuro can do. The MedOnc has scheduled a chest CT during that visit to followup on the activity in my lungs, and I meet with him the following Friday. But again, the last time I met with him, he told me there’s nothing they can do except watch for growth or increase in the number of lesions.[2]

So my husband and I talked a lot during this past 3-day weekend about our future. We just celebrated 15 years of marriage on the 30th. It seems like a sort of tradition for us to use the Labor Day weekend to take stock of things, reminisce about our years together and think about what’s in store for the future. We knew we were in a sort of holding pattern ever since my cancer came back and have been unsure whether we should make any future plans at all. Then something odd happened on Sunday morning that led us to start looking again, with seriousness, at the housing market in southeastern Pennsylvania: A woman knocked on our door and asked about the For Sale sign that has been planted in the front yard.[3] She turned out to be a Republican nominee for City Council, on the campaign trail and was likely wondering whether we were going to still be in her district this November, but she asked S “Where will you be going?” He was unprepared for the question, because we hadn’t decided yet what we would do if the house actually did sell, thinking it might takes years in this economy. But her inquiry made the possibility much more real. What if it did sell? We both suddenly had to ask ourselves, “Where ARE we going?”

Austin proper is getting far too expensive for our budget. And going the other direction (further into the country) would make my work commute ridiculous and not sustainable. We’ve known for some time now that we would like to get back home to PA one day soon, before we start getting too old to be considered in the job market. We both miss our home environment: the forests and the streams and the mountains and the rolling green hills. We’re not getting any younger, and neither are our parents. We’ve been watching from afar, unable to help while S’s parents manage taking care of his grandmother, while my parents help my younger brother try to take care of his daughter when his estranged wife goes psycho on him every other week. When I was in the hospital, S’s mom flew down to stay in our house, because we have no one here to help us in major catastrophic events. It has started to dawn on us that if anything else should happen to either of us in the future, we really would need to be near family and friends. We can’t keep doing it the way we’ve been.

We have many bills, which makes me hesitant to just leave my job. S has an interview soon for a full-time job which will help a great deal, and help us start gaining instead of continually treading water (and sometimes going under and needing assistance). My health insurance is tied to my job as well, but the law as it stands now (unless someone else gets elected pres in November and decides to strip it away) says I can move to a health plan at a new employer and not be denied coverage just because I will have this pre-existing condition for the rest of my life. And to that end, on Tuesday I began investigating Memorial Sloan-Kettering in NYC, where I can just as easily be told there’s nothing to be done by a MedOnc there as I can from MD Anderson. But as it turns out, MSK is actually doing studies on drug treatments that MDACC is not. I would not have even thought to look at their site had we not started seriously discussing moving back east. I cannot begin to think it is only a coincidence.

Since we started talking about these ideas, it seems to be all S and I can talk about. Working at home as I tend to do a few days per week has been less than productive, since the chatting we normally do can so easily turn into falling down rabbit holes of “what if” and “just let me show you one more property listing”. I normally get agitated at the level of distraction is has caused, but I can’t feel frustration when I see him so excited about an idea, after being depressed and hopeless for so long. We’ve both been ready for a change for some time now. It just took a while to figure out what the catalyst would be. Here’s hoping we can maintain this level of enthusiasm and that the gods continue to point us in the right direction.

[1] One therapist actually assured me that there is so much metal in my neck, I could be hit by a truck and my neck would be fine. The rest of me would be broken, but my neck will be solid.
[2] i.e. cancer. I think they call it “lesions” because it just sounds less ominous and/or nasty than “tumors”.
[3] The house we are renting is for sale. Actually, the property is for sale and the house is just a victim in all this. The owner wants $700k for the 5 acre property, as it’s zoned commercial & the realtor thinks he can probably sell it for her, even at that insane price.
Category(s): health, hometown
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