Sunday, October 30, 2011

Living the Rehab Life

(You will be reading about an experience I had in June/July 2005. As you may recall, I was recovering from a fall where I broke my right femur. Rehabilitation was essential for me to learn to walk again; in fact, to function at all I needed to spend months in a rehab center far from family and friends.) 
On my first full day at Terra Vista, I discovered the true meaning of compassion, dedication and patient care. My aide not only told me he would completely make up my bed but he was also going to give me a full bath, also in bed. Now that proved interesting. 
My daughter, Adrienne, came to spend the day with me.  She sat quietly on the other bed in the room, watching the aide prepare me for my bath. I was actually excited, since I had not had a real cleaning since I had fallen. While in the hospital, I only received a quick wipe down and a daily bed change. I still had the words NO and YES on my legs -- indicating which leg to operate on. The black marker writing was smudged yet the words still legible on my thighs. I was also damp with sweat and had this awful odor coming from my hospital gown and the sheets that I had been wrapped in. So, when those were finally removed and I could no longer smell them, I already felt better. I know my daughter must have felt a bit uncomfortable seeing a male assistant caring for me in such an intimate way. Yet, there was no time for modesty. Yes, I could have insisted on a female aide but honestly, I was more than pleased with this young man’s professionalism. Turns out, he was studying to become a nurse. He certainly had higher career plans but at this time, he was doing the job he had and making me, the patient, feel good. My bath was wonderful -- even if I am still in awe as to how he really accomplished everything he did considering I could not move on my own at all. While at Terra Vista, he proved himself time and again as a dedicated health care provider. 
Physical and occupational therapy were tough. No easy way out here. You either do the work and get the results or you continue to lie in bed and go no where. It is completely up to the patient. I saw the full array of options. I saw those who chose to do nothing but complain. I saw those who stayed in bed and cried. And I saw those who, despite the pain, got up and got going. That was me. The words: “No pain, no gain” took on new meaning. I understood them like never before. I took a lot of pain medication to get moving, but in the end, by moving each day -- a little at a time - I was able to eventually, reduce the amount of pain medication I took. Getting better and stronger did work, with time and patience. I needed patience -- I had plenty of time.
Therapy is the most essential aspect of being in a rehab center. Terra Vista had a professional staff of therapists and thus, I took full advantage of every hour I had with them. Those hours were critical to my well being and I would remain bed ridden if I did not take their advice, guidance and skills seriously. 
I need to shift gears for a moment and simply give out a “huge thanks” to the entire rehab staff at Terra Vista. Those who were there (in 2005) were outstanding and without their help, I would still be unable to move let alone walk. I looked forward to my daily sessions. On Sunday, the only day the therapy room was closed, I was sad although my body probably needed the day off. It was obvious to them, as it was to me, that therapy was the reason I was there in the first place. So, doing what I needed to do was a real “no brainer.I am forever grateful to the OT/PT team that cared for me that summer. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Moving From the Hospital to Rehab ... A Whole New Experience

(This blog covers events that took place in June 2005. I had broken my right femur and had just completed surgery and a stay at the hospital. Now, I was off to rehab. A whole new adventure awaited me. Although the "reason" is not entirely clear, it was assumed by some that the broken femur was perhaps caused by the cancer drugs I was taking. One drug was intended to strengthen the bones while another was known to weaken the bones. A real Catch 22!  However, the break itself was "severe" per the surgeon. No matter what actually occurred -- and why I even broke my femur is obviously an aspect of this journey I would have preferred to never experience at all. As previously noted in my last blogs, the pain was horrific. Now that I had undergone surgery, I was finally able to see the pathway to recovery.) 

Between recovering from surgery and the need to find a rehab center that could take me, my stay in the hospital was longer than anticipated. However, that day finally arrived. I would be going to a place in Orlando, very close to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando so that I could be driven, via van, to my treatments. I had already missed one cancer treatment session, so the social worker helping me to find a rehab center took that into consideration. She wanted to find a location where they not only had on site transportation for wheelchair bound patients, but I could get to treatments quickly, and with little time driving to and from. My new “home away from home” would be Terra Vista.
It was evening when I finally arrived at Terra Vista, (a combination nursing home and rehabilitation center)  probably close to 7:30 p.m. I was exhausted from the experience and needless to say, it was quite a production getting me from the hospital to the rehab center. Not the actual ambulance ride -- that was okay. It was getting me from the hospital bed to the stretcher and then, from that to the rehab bed. Now that was a real production number and the medical personnel sent to assist me really had to work hard. I was terrified about getting from my bed to the stretcher that would take me to my “new temporary home” and away from the hospital that had been my home for more than a week. How in the world would they move me? I could not even imagine it.
I had been in the hospital bed for more than a week and was still in a great deal of pain. Fortunately, my nurse had given me a pain pill about 30 minutes prior to the arrival of the transport team, so it had time to kick in and begin working. At least, that was the intended plan... to hopefully minimize my pain during this move. Once I was on the stretcher and making my way from the room to the ambulance. I was finally outside for the first time since my accident and I enjoyed my quick moment in the warm, summer evening. 

The ride was basically uneventful. My blood pressure was checked and I was asked if I was okay a few times. The bumpy roadway did not help much, but I managed to survive. A quick move over the railroad tracks, that just happened to be close to my new destination, proved painful but again, I survived. We were finally at the entrance to Terra Vista. My first real view of the place -- my very first vision or reaction -- “Oh my God! I’ve been sent here to die! Why did I feel this way? After all, I knew I was on the road to recovery. I had just left the hospital and was now entering rehab, which was the next big step towards getting home. So, why my reaction? Why did I think I was dying? 
The very first sighting I had from my vantage point  (the stretcher) was a dark hallway, and a frail, tiny old woman slowly making her way through the corridor. I thought I was brought to a place where everyone was very old and well, perhaps, near death. Please understand, I rarely think like this. I have the greatest respect for my elders and I actually do not think of people as “old” -- it was just my state of mind. I was heavily drugged and all I could see was this little woman making her way past me holding a water bottle... she walked slowly, very slowly and was bent over so that she was looking at the floor and not where she was going. I truly thought they had made a big, huge mistake and had sent me to the wrong place. I was in an old-age home, I thought. Where was rehab? 
Fortunately, getting out of the hospital was the first big step for me. The next, literally learning to walk again. Baby steps. That is how I looked at it. Each day, I would take another tiny step forward. Using the walker, and with the aide of my physical therapy team, I began taking tiny steps at each session. My first goal seemed almost impossible, but as silly as it sounds, getting out of bed (and no longer having to use a bedpan) was step number one. I hated using a bedpan, perhaps almost as much as having to lie in a bed all day long unable to move on my own. Freedom would be slow. I saw my goal. It was just inches from my bed but so far away. There stood a bedside commode. My first goal. To get out of bed and onto the commode. Okay, so it was not the actual toilet. That was much further away and to get there, I needed to be more ambulatory. But to use the commode, all I needed to do was to learn how to slowly get myself up in bed, turn to the side, reach and pull my self up with the walker, and slowly turn and pivot in the direction of the commode. A few basic moves and I would be on my newest “seat of honor.” Gravity would make this “aspect of being human” easier for me and for the staff. After all, if I were sitting on the commode, well.. you get the idea.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Baby Step at a Time

(Events took place in June 2005.) 

When I finally awoke from the surgery and was back in my room, I could immediately tell the difference. While I was already beginning to feel pain, at least, it was manageable with pain medication. That was a real blessing after the previous three days. I could hold a conversation with someone and not end up screaming in pain, and I was finally able to adjust my bed so that I could eat without wearing my meals. Small progress at best, but I knew to accept any progress, even baby steps. 
In fact, that was my life now. Baby steps. The physical therapy team wasted little time reaching me following surgery. After all, it was their job to teach me how to walk, again. This process would prove difficult and extremely painful -- and at times, frightening. Fortunately, I highly respected the therapists and understood their role in my recovery. Without their aide, I would forever be in a bed. So, getting up and about was what it was all about right now, and I anticipated their arrival with excitement yet some fear. When two men walked into my room that first time, I tried to be upbeat and positive. I listened as they explained what would happen. They told me exactly, step by step, what they would do -- what I was to do and not do, and then we got started. They would move me to where I was to be in the bed and then, slowly, they would raise the header of the bed and I would wait until they were ready to help me get up. There was great anticipation in the room -- the three of us working together for a common goal. My first step .. post surgery. 
Once I was actually in a seated position on the side of the bed, they let me rest for a moment. Obviously, my body needed to adjust since I had been lying flat for days. In a way, it felt great to be off my back -- I did not realize how much my entire body ached. Ready, they gave me final instructions on how I was to rise up and to hold onto the walker they had placed by my bedside. I had never used a walked before, so I had no idea what to expect let alone how to really use to correctly. That was why they were here, to show me how to use this device so that I could eventually walk on my own. For now, of course, just getting up from the bed was a major ordeal. I was terrified. I was not sure my right leg could support me. Even though I had undergone surgery and was told it had been successful, I had no proof that my leg could support my body. The lead therapist told me that I was only to “toe step” -- that is, I had to place all my weight onto my right toes and not any pressure on my heal or entire foot. I would stand up -- my left leg on the ground but my right leg supported only by tip toes or “toe step.” That sounded logical, at that time, but proved quite difficult when executed. 
When I was given the signal to stand, I began to rise up and once I placed my weight onto the left leg and slowly adjusted myself to placing my right side  -- using that gentle toe step, I held onto the walker and found myself standing.  I screamed! That was my very first verbal reaction. I gave out a loud, blood curdling scream. (I had had a lot of practice with this, so it just came naturally.) I scared the daylights out of the two therapists and a nurse came running into the room to see what had happened. That was my gut reaction. A terrified scream! However, the therapists were professional enough to know that they needed to reassure me, and then, we took a major step forward. I moved the walker a tiny bit forward and took my first baby step on my new, titanium reinforced leg. Still terrified -- I looked forward, listened to the calm voice of the physical therapist by my side, and took another tiny step forward. Those steps were monumental. While I may have covered only a very short distance, I had taken a huge step forward in my recovery. 
Each day I would walk a bit further, aided by a dedicated group of therapists who were there for me every step of the way. And, when I was not doing physical therapy, I was busy with occupational therapy. Both were essential for me to reach my next goal -- to be able to walk well enough that I could leave the hospital and go to a rehabilitation center for the second part of my recovery. Ever hear the words, “No pain, no gain.” I think they were coined by a person doing heavy duty PT/OT for a long period of time.  Pain was part of the process; yes, it was very painful to walk but each step brought a new level of confidence. And yes, there were plenty of gains. When I finally made it to the door of my room, I was so proud of myself. You would have thought I had just completed a marathon. I was so happy! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Broken -- Screams of Pain

In June 2005, I was walking from my apartment in the early evening along with Edward. He wanted to go to a nearby restaurant for a quick bite. I had already eaten dinner but agreed to join him for conversation and perhaps, dessert. As we made our way towards the car, I apparently fell. I have no clue as to what exactly happened. I do recall feeling the sensation of falling .. and as the hit the ground, I felt an excruciating pain that tore through my entire body. “My leg!” I screamed. “My leg!” Hysterically crying in pain, I could not even imagine what had just occurred. All I knew was that the pain was intense. Extremely intense. I could not move my body and I only felt this horrific pain searing through my right leg. In blood curdling screams I kept shouting: “My leg!” My screams were heard all over the complex. 
Edward immediately called 911. My two children, both of whom heard my screams, came running from the apartment. They were both dialing 911. So were more than a dozen others in the complex who heard my screams. I later learned that some reported a woman in the parking lot was being “murdered.”  Emergency paramedics arrived on the scene and apparently began to access the situation. Per my family, the leg was obviously broken -- they could see the unusual appearance of it, and knew I had a serious break. Of course, at this point, we did not realize what I had actually done. 
The paramedics (God bless them) had to put up with my loud, non-stop screaming. I never stopped, despite being asked to try and calm down. The pain was too much to handle. I had never experienced anything so horrible. I would later tell others that even childbirth was a bit easier, although I am not a big fan of any pain. And unfortunately, nothing the paramedics did alleviated the pain I was in at the time. They did administer a pain medication via IV, but it did nothing. I continued screaming my head off. And they had to listen to me all the way to the hospital. 
I arrived in the emergency room of Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, FL and was assessed by the ER physician. I cannot tell you about any aspect of this, since all I could do was continue crying and screaming. Even when the nurse asked me to calm down, I kept on shouting at the top of my lungs. When I arrived in the X-ray department, the two technicians told me I had to calm down -- they literally said I could be heard throughout the hospital. “I had to stop screaming,” they said. At least, until they saw the X-ray and the actual break. Yes, it was my right femur and per the technician who finally saw the severity of it .. instead of telling me to stop screaming, I was told that the break was extremely bad and I could scream all I wanted. So I did! All night long.
Once in my hospital room, the nursing staff now had to put up with my blood curdling screams. And they kept telling me I was scaring and disturbing other patients. Do you honestly think I cared? I kept on screaming! For almost three days, I did not stop crying and screaming in pain .. and even with the non-stop pushing of the morphine button (which of course was monitored to only administer the right amount of medication) I was in unbelievable pain and nothing could stop it except for surgery. Unfortunately, I learned from the doctor who would perform the procedure, I had to first be weaned off the Coumadin, a blood thinner I was taking at the time. That is why my surgery was delayed; and thus, my journey into a three-day pain-a-thon. When asked for the pain level (using the standard scale of 1-10 for pain with 10 being the most severe) I kept saying that my pain level was 100. And it was! Ten was controllable with medication, but my pain was beyond anything that the Morphine drip could handle. It was 100 on a scale of 1-10 I said, and I never backed down from that. For those few days, I could only wish they would “shoot me and put me out of my misery.” Eating was extremely difficult -- I could not move and thus, could not have my bed adjusted so I could eat without the food all over me and my hospital gown. Eating was not a real priority -- getting my Coumadin levels down was the priority and the sooner, the better. Only when a safe level was reached, could I finally undergo surgery.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Living in La La Land ... Losing Time in the Process

(This blog contains information from books I kept in June 2005. I realize my last blog was approximately one year ago, leaving a gap from May 2004 until this entry. However, in my own defense (if that makes any sense) my life was totally dysfunctional at all levels. I was heavily drugged (all legal) and felt like “crap” 95 percent of the time. Time itself became another issue. I apparently did not keep very good records during some periods of time within my cancer journey. I know my chemobrain (if I can call it that) certainly took its toll. I stopped writing for many years -- using books only to chart my medications and sometimes, an occasional thought. It is from these medication journals and my own memory, that these entries will come from. I hope they make sense. At times, I really wondered if when I spoke I said anything logical. Forget writing. I was “wordless.”)
I found a medication journal I kept. Date: June 6, 2005. It was my 30th wedding anniversary. For me, there would be no party to celebrate. No cruise or extra special trip. If anything, I had to believe that my “gift” was living. I no longer took that for granted. And, while I would have loved to have taken a Caribbean cruise or a trip to Hawaii to celebrate this milestone, I found myself apparently “content” to be at home starting a regimen of potassium supplements per my cardiologist. I had to remember to drink plenty of fluids while on potassium and it was advised that the large tablets be taken with food as well. There would be follow up lab work to be done in about a week. 
I also had this horrific rash. For the purposes of this blog, I will refer to it as GA. There is a big name (GA is the letters) but I can never remember how to spell the damn thing. Plus, very few have even heard of it. When I did my research, there was not much about GA. I had a topical cream to use and my dermatologist would see me in a week. 
My life had not really changed all that much in a year. I still had way too many doctor appointments and now, I had added a skin doctor to the list. The rash was itchy and that drove me crazy. I did not want to scratch it, but my resistance to the itchiness was low. It was all over my arms and upper legs. It was on my hands and fingers, almost like jewelry since the rash wrapped itself around my fingers and wrists. Although it was not contagious, per the doctor and my research, Edward was not thrilled about having to actually touch it. I wasn’t exactly thrilled by having to see it the mirror. It just looked awful even if if wasn’t anything “serious.” The rash would come and go in cycles but I was never able to figure out the actual cycle itself. My specialist really had very little info to share with me about GA, so I was pretty much in the dark about my skin condition. I knew it wasn’t normal and I also knew that while it was not contagious nor could anyone else near me contract it -- I still had times when I felt uncomfortable by it and I know that Ed felt uneasy too. When it did not itch, I actually did not even realize I had it unless, of course, I looked at my skin -- hard not to do since obviously it was summertime and I could see my fingers, hands and arms all the time. 
I needed to use my emergency inhaler the next day while traveling about with my Mom and brothers. The car was hot since the air conditioning system did not work, so I began having difficulties breathing. I grabbed my Albuterol and took two puffs. During this week, while temperatures climbed into the high digits, I had to reach for the inhaler almost everyday. Yet, I still wanted to take walks. We would drive to the air conditioned malls to walk. My breaks would be to stop for a bite to eat, to have a quick drink or visit the restroom. I walked around Festival Bay and the Oviedo Marketplace. Wherever Gary drove me, I found a place to walk and put into action my game plan - to feel better. 
On June 8, 2005 I had my bilateral mammogram and ultrasound at Vin Con in Oviedo. The doctor assured me that the results were benign. No tumors were found and I was remaining cancer free. I slept for most the day afterwards. I was still exhausted all the time. I was taking heavy duty narcotics for my pain at regular intervals. I did manage to go out for dinner that evening with Ed and Adrienne. 
My breathing attacks were quite troublesome. I needed to keep grabbing my emergency inhaler at all hours of the day and night for relief. I was having trouble breathing while coughing and wheezing. I was also very thirsty and had dry mouth. Even when I took a drink to quench my thirst, my mouth remained dry like sandpaper. I had bouts of nausea as well and threw up some mucus. I put myself onto the oxygen concentrator early the night of June 10. I realized I was having difficulties and felt this was the most logical solution. 
Life in la la land was far from fun. I lived day to day taking my medications, taking walks whenever possible and then, feeling totally exhausted. This was not a life; it was not even an existence. It was a living hell.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back in the Spotlight!

(This article shares experiences that happened in May 2004.) 

Editor's Note: This is my official 30th blog. I began writing Marilyn's Byline in late June. I have been publishing articles every Monday and Friday ever since, only missing two dates due to a death in the family. I appreciate the tremendous response to my work. I like reading your messages and hearing how you have enjoyed sharing my experiences. It has been amazing for me, too. I continue to work on the manuscript for my book: High Maintenance ... Surviving Cancer at All Costs. Please share this blog with everyone you know who is surviving or living with a chronic health problem or simply needs to be given a "wake up call" to live life fully. Thanks. 
With “operation move” completed, we were busy with the next phase of our lives. The Orlando premiere of The Feldman Dynamic was just around the corner. There was a lot to do before we made our way onto the stage for our first Florida presentation. 
First, I had to meet with Dr. Shah and Laura to review my recent tests. Fortunately, the CT scans, bone scan and MUGA were all good. I was remaining cancer free. This news certainly made it much easier for me to plan for my Orlando “acting” debut. Seriously, being in The Feldman Dynamic was not a matter of acting. This was performance art at its purist -- at least, that’s how I understood it. There is no script and we are on stage eating a meal before a live audience. We had done this at the NYC Fringe so I had some idea of what to expect. My “stage fright” was not going to be as much an issue this time around. Yet, I did have things to do before show-time.
All four of us ran around the area putting up posters for the show. When I saw the actual listing of The Feldman Dynamic in the Fringe program, it became real for me. Were tickets selling? Would we have larger audiences this time around? We all wondered what our future would be.  Our tech rehearsal took place on May 19. There were lighting issues to be resolved and other technical matters that Brian and Adrienne dealt with.  By the time we got home, it was well past midnight. 
Our big day was May 22, our first Orlando/Florida premiere of The Feldman Dynamic. We were on stage at The Goldman Theater. Although we never had a full house, we did perform before larger audiences than during our NYC shows. And, those who attended gave “great reviews.” Many noted how “funny” our show was -- and I could hear the laughter as we sat onstage show after show eating and doing what we always did -- we spoke about our lives, shared day to day events, and simply opened up the minds of our audiences to the dynamics of our family and perhaps, even their own family. Maybe it was a therapy session on stage? But, truth is, I was really happy I had finally agreed to do this. I was enjoying myself and it was “fun” being a “Fringe” performer. Plus, knowing that my cancer was “behaving itself” and I was “maintaining” a cancer free status -- I could not fail. Even if we had a small audience -- I felt successful. And if we had a larger audience, I felt even better. Nothing could take away the success and happiness I felt. 
After one of our performances, we joined our friends Nancy and Amie (who had come to see TFD) at another show. Nancy continued to “beat” the odds with her own breast cancer battle, so it was wonderful to spend an evening with her and her daughter, one of Adrienne’s dearest friends. Our show ended and so did the Fringe Festival. For us, there was another piece of disappointing news. We had hoped to make to the Montreal Fringe Festival. In fact, we (The Feldman Dynamic) were already listed in local Montreal papers as the “show to see.” We were getting great advanced press coverage in Canada. However, because we did not have sold out shows here -- and we were still having financial problems, we had to cancel the Montreal trip. Another theater company took our place. And another disappointment for all of us. 
Adding to my “list” of stuff, I was still dealing with pain. My arthritis was really getting worse. My knees hurt a lot. My hands and fingers were swollen and disjointed. It was extremely difficult to write or type. My hips hurt when I walked. I hated being so stiff. 
Breathing was another issue on my list. I still had challenges when I overexerted myself. I had taken a trip to Downtown Disney with Adrienne one afternoon. It was a hot, muggy day and I did quite well going between the air-conditioned buildings and then, returning outside where the temperatures continued to climb. I finally reached the point where I needed some extra help. I had to grab the oxygen unit I had carried with me. After getting hooked up, we went back to the car and drove home. My day was over and I was totally exhausted. We did have dinner at a Disney resort before leaving the area, and I fell asleep on the ride home. Thank goodness, Adrienne was the driver! 
Being in the spotlight had its moments for me. Agreeing to do The Feldman Dynamic proved life changing in many ways. At this moment in my life, I welcomed anything that created a positive change. I sought out positive energy whenever I could. The pain I lived with -- physical and mental -- tried to keep me down. Instead, I looked for opportunities where I could try something new, go someplace different and definitely wanted change -- change for the better. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life Happens ... All We Can Do is Live in The Moment

(This blog is about events that occurred in late March to early May 2004.)
There are things that happen in life that sometimes we can not explain. We may have an idea why something happened, but we may also want to forget or we may prefer to look the other way.  This was one of those moments. (Believe me, it was not a moment in time I care to remember.)
Without much fanfare, I will simply say “we” found ourselves in a real “homeless” place. In late March of 2004, we (Edward, Brian, Adrienne & I) moved into an extended stay hotel in Lake Mary, FL. Again, this was not a time of happiness or security. I felt unloved and being “homeless” was not exactly a mark of pride. We lived in one room ... two beds, a small kitchen with a table and two chairs and a lounge chair. There was, of course, a bathroom. For most of the time, three of us actually lived here. Edward continued to go between here and his office in Orlando. While Adrienne went off to college, Edward was at work and Brian was either working a part time job or looking for work -- I sat and waited. I was alone in a hotel room for most of the day. When someone came home, I was anxious to talk, to have someone other than myself to communicate with and very happy to get out and go someplace else. Once I had access to a car, I was on the road. There were those brief times when I ventured out by myself using my HUGO walker. I would walk past my place as well as past other hotels and extended stay locations nearby. I also walked by some office complexes near where I was staying. However, most of my days were spent sitting in this one room. If I did venture out, it was probably to the laundry room. 
We had taken most of our stuff to a storage facility while we ponder the future. Being broke did not help and just trying to pay expenses here was tough enough. Now, we needed to figure out how to find a new place to live -- and a place we could afford. That was a big challenge. 
My health was suffering. Besides being mentally depressed, I dealt with various physical symptoms. There were bouts of nausea and diarrhea. I knew I was not eating well, even though I tried to cook meals in our tiny hotel kitchen. We often ate out, and again, this was not helping us financially nor was my diet any better. At Passover, we found ourselves the guests of Rabbi Sholom and Mrs. Deborah Leah Dubov of Chabad, who graciously provided us with a place for the first Seder. 
Day after day, I spent time with Brian and Adrienne (when they were available) searching for a new place to live. The Jewish Family Service suggested an apartment complex in Sanford, so we had gone out there to take a look. As we checked out apartments and realized how expensive everything was, my physical and mental conditions grew worse. Prices were ridiculously high in many cases and what was being offered did not seem to meet our needs. We had already moved from a three bedroom apartment, and now, the best we could probably afford would be a two bedroom. All I could see was that we kept going “down” instead of “up” and I tried so hard to remain positive. 
I knew that my “cancer journey” would not be easy but I never thought I would end up “homeless” at some point. Attempting to remain positive, I would say to myself: “I’m not on the street. At least, I have a roof over my head.” Sometimes, that worked. There were those moments, however, when the tears just would not stop flowing. This situation affected everyone -- and I knew I had to remain strong in order to survive. 
Fortunately, our “homelessness” was short term. (It was just slightly over a month and yet, at times, it felt like years.) We did get an apartment in Sanford; the place recommended by JFS. We packed up our “stuff” and moved into our two-bedroom unit. Adrienne would have a room of her own; Brian would be sleeping in the living room. As already noted, we were definitely tight on space. Besides needing a place to sleep, Edward also needed space to do his freelance graphics. 
My life continued to be a roller coaster ride. I woke up on several mornings -- screaming! Adrienne would run in to find me waking up from a nightmare. My oncology nurse, Laura, had recommended some OTC (over the counter) options to help me sleep better. I kept forgetting to buy the items. I have always hated “moving day” and this time was no exception. However, once I was in my “own” place again, I wanted something to help me feel normal -- again. On our first Friday night in our “new” place, I lit candles for the Sabbath and picked up a challah for us to eat. Edward had spent time trying to make the place easier to settle into as well. And, Adrienne (known for her organizational skills) quickly set up her bedroom. 
It was not the beautiful four bedroom home we purchased and moved into in 1988. Nor, was it the “luxury” three bedroom apartment we had been living in. However, as we slowly unpacked boxes and put photos onto the walls and set up the kitchen, etc. it began to resemble a place I could call “home.While it would never really feel “homey” 100 percent, I could slowly feel the roller coaster ride slowing down. I could catch my breath. Surviving was not only possible, it was the only alternative. 

An Expression of Thanks

I guess by now you’ve noticed I missed several deadlines. This was not intentional.
Edward’s father, David Feldman, passed away on Sept. 27 and we needed to go to Broward County for the funeral. On behalf of Ed and our children, Brian and Adrienne, we truly appreciate the kindness shown by everyone. We thank you for your messages of condolences and we also appreciate all the best wishes sent from family and friends during this difficult time. 
I will be resuming my regular publishing schedule and again, thank you for the amazing support of Marilyn’s Byline.