Monthly Archives: February 2010

Nan started Chemo today…

This morning my sister started Chemo.  It just bends my mind in 50 different directions every time I think about it.  The one thing I have been dreading the thought of happening my entire life has come to pass.

I got up this morning and called my mom straight away.  She was taking Linda to her treatment, so I wanted to know where I was going, who I needed to talk to and get the procedural stuff ingrained in my brain so I’d have a good idea what was going to happen.  My plan all along was to be there with her for the treatments.  I want to be there for her to cheer her up, entertain her, support her and just make sure she knows that she’s not alone.   However, it wasn’t like we thought it would be.

When I arrived at the Cancer Center, I went up to the third floor and spoke to the receptionist.  I said, “Hi, my sister is here getting her treatment and I’d really like to see her.”  The receptionist looked at me and said, “Who’s your sister?”  I smiled and pointed at what was written on my T-shirt.  “Linda’s Care Crew”, which on the back says “I’m helping my sister kick breast cancer’s butt.”  The receptionist laughed and pointed at the entrance door and buzzed me in.

The room Linda takes her treatments in is relatively small and intimate, however it is wide open and fairly spacious.  There are large windows that look out onto the city and the mountains, the chairs the patients sit in are beautiful brown leather recliners but, you still know you’re in a medical environment because of the fact that the IV’s that hold the treatments are right next to the chairs and the rest of the space is very medically devoted.  But, being that it’s that small, there’s only one person that could stay with her the entire time.  That person today would be my mother.  The nurses shooed my dad out early on because there’s not enough room for more than one person to hang out.  Our visits had to be brief, but Mom could stay which was a good thing.

I walked up to where Nan was hooked up to her IV’s and such.  My heart broke into a thousand pieces.  But, I walked up to her with a big smile on my face and said, “Like my T-Shirt?”  You could see the tears well up in her eyes behind the laugh and the smile she gave me.  I thought to myself “Mission Accomplished”.  The whole point of my t-shirt was to show her that I’m telling the whole world I support her.  Mom even laughed at my shirt too.  They thought it was pretty cool, or at least, that’s what they told me.  The nurses looked at it and thought it was wonderful.  So, much less to say, my choice of apparel was just what I wanted it to be, uplifting.

To see my sister sitting there all hooked up to those IV’s tore my heart out.  She’s been through so much.  It’s just not fair.  But, the most remarkable thing I saw today was when she got up and had to go to the bathroom.  She had all sorts of blankets and pillows on her lap and well, it looked like a bunch of stuff to move, so Mom and I sprung to our feet to help her.  Linda would have none of it.  She said, “I gotta do this myself.  I know y’all want to help, but I want to and have to do this on my own.”  There she is, her body has been through more trauma than anyone should take, she’s hooked up to chemotherapy IV’s and she’s telling everyone that she doesn’t want to be babied.  That woman is so strong!  She told tales of how her boyfriend tried to help her dress after her double mastectomy and she wouldn’t have that either, she said the activity helped her get well faster because, yes, it hurt, but she was able to lift her arms sooner.  I can understand her need to control as much as possible around her right now.  I mean, she’s had a hysterectomy, a double mastectomy and now she’s in Chemo.  I mean, how much is one person supposed to take?  So for her to want to stand on her own two feet despite all of the crap that’s happened to her…damn, she’s a strong one.  That’s why I think she’ll beat the cancer.  She’s too stubborn to let it win.  Let’s just hope her DNA agrees.

Ok, so why is she in Chemo?  Nan is what’s called “HER 2 Positive”.  HER 2 is a gene that’s gone and mutated on her.  Being HER 2 positive means that the likelihood of the cancer coming back is greater.  Kicker is, only 25% of people on the PLANET are HER 2 positive.  What’s the odds?  OMG.  So, the doctor told her, “you can wait 5 years and see if it comes back, or you can get aggressive and opt for chemo”.  And, to Chemo she went, she’s not giving the cancer a chance to come back.

So, there I am, standing in the cancer center watching my sister take her treatment.  They put the IV into her hand and she sat there from 10am until when I got there at 1:30pm, then Mom said they’d be there until at least 5pm.  7 hours of them pouring medicine into her veins to attack a rogue gene.

While I was there, they showed my pictures of Nan going to try on wigs at a place that specializes in wigs for cancer patients.  Yep, the one most heartwrenching things for me to see.  I nearly crumbled, but I held strong.  One picture they showed me was pretty funny.  She had on a wig that was my hairstyle.  Mom said it was spooky how much we looked alike.  I pointed to the photo laughed and said, “Yeah!  I like that one!  You look like me!”  They also showed me ones she tried on that were short, medium length and some that were long.  They all looked beautiful on her.  Linda told me about her trip to try on wigs yesterday on the phone, she told me that the wig place will shave her head for her (it took me 2 hours to stop crying after I hung up the phone after I heard that) and they’ll also supply her with headwraps to sleep in and other things to help her cope.

I had to leave the Cancer Center at 2pm to be in class at 2:30.  As I went to leave, I broke a little bit as I hugged her, kissed her hand and told her she was my hero and how proud of her I was.  You know, I might not agree with her all the time, I might get mad at her or have that sibling rivalry thing sometimes, but you know, I would trade places with her in a heartbeat so she wouldn’t have to hurt.  That she wouldn’t have to say it’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes because of her mastectomy.  It just breaks my heart into thousands of pieces to see her like that, but her tenacity is amazing.  She just will not let it get her down.  She’s got to be one of the strongest women I’ve ever met.  She was my childhood idol, now she’s my adult one too.

Linda = Strength

Comedic moment…

It’s 8pm, invites for my WoW raid start at 8:45 and I need food.  So, I go into my emergency stash food, which is comprised of some frozen dinners because dipsy doodle here didn’t unthaw her pork chops like she was supposed to…I forgot, kill me.

So, I get into the freezer, grab down one of them, slap it in the microwave and I realized I’d rather eat frozen tv dinners rather than the food the ex used to cook.  It was just that bad.

Now, when the man cooks a steak and it doesn’t taste like a steak, you know there’s something wrong…then there’s the herb and mustard chicken he used to make too that you could see pools of fat on top of.  You know,  all of a sudden, TV dinners aren’t so bad when you’ve eaten things like that over and over again in your life.

Now I’m a good cook.  I make good food.  I make things that make your mouth water from appetizer to dessert.  What gets me though is that my ex used to call the pork chops, pot roast, casseroles, mashed potatoes, and all those other good “put meat on your bones” foods I make “Comfort food” like it was a derogatory comment and below him to stick his fork into it.

Hell yes it’s comfort food!  It makes me happy and comfortable with the nutrition I’m putting in my body! 

But you know what, when the person who criticizes comfort food makes food even a dog would turn his nose up at, there’s some comedy in the fact that I’d rather have a TV dinner than what he used to make.

Brass tacks is that you have to eat what makes you happy.  Fueling your body shouldn’t be a painful or distasteful experience.

Oh, there goes the microwave!  I’m going to go savor NOT having to eat the food my ex used to cook.

But I only have one thing else to say:  glad I’m not in Hawaii with my pal KP, because I’d probably have to stomach Spam.  EWWWWWW! 

*laughs*

Have a great dinner everyone!

An Uruite’s Lamentation

Today, I was talking to a couple of people in my World Lit class and telling them what it is like to be “from” the Myst Universe.

What got us onto the topic is that my sister is going to be starting chemo soon.  That’s hard enough to deal with, but I’ve decided to fight with the skills I have as someone with a D’ni heart.

When my sister was in the hospital for her back surgery so many years ago, my mother came into my room and asked me, “I know this might be too much to ask, but do you think we could take your Atari 2600 to your sister’s hospital room so she has something to do?”  I didn’t flinch.  I unhooked everything, bundled the cables, put it all in the box and handed it to my mother.  Any other 10 year-old might have pitched a fit, but I didn’t.  I held out the box and wished it had wings to get to my sister’s hospital room faster.

Fast forward 20 years later, and here I am again with my box of video games going to aid my sister.  However, we’ve come a long way from Activision’s Pitfall and other archaic games from the days of the Atari 2600.  I loved the games, I still do, but being my sister isn’t 14 anymore, she’ll need something that will be a little more fun and challenging.

Enter Myst.  I’ve boxed up my Myst 10th Anniversary Edition which includes Riven and Exile.  Along with that is Myst 4 Revelation, Myst 5 End of Ages and of course, the game that started it all for me, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.  Those aren’t the only games in the box for my sister though, there’s Monopoly and Monopoly Casino (play money, not real money), Age of Mythology, Portal, The Sims, CSI, World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online and that’s not even all of them.

As I was telling my classmates about the games I was taking over, they looked at me curiously about Myst and what passion I showed when I spoke about it.  For someone who has a multitude of faith issues and my spirituality is odd to most, the one thing sacred in my life is the Myst Universe, specifically the exploration of the Great City of D’ni, also known to most Uruites as ‘the cavern’, found in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and the novels that make up The Myst Reader:  The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana and The Book of D’ni.

The Myst Reader – My favorite book in the whole world.

I asked them to imagine, for just a moment, a world where there is no such thing as greed or maliciousness, where if you have a problem, you get help, where money has no meaning, where friendship and fellowship is the greatest of priorities, where you can find love given unconditionally and it’s all built on rebuilding a long lost civilization and solving spatial puzzles together.  Their jaws hung open.

If there is one place I’ve ever felt like I belonged and where I was actually home was in Uru Live.  It’s an online world I wish with all my heart was real.  On the way home from school, I had my soundtrack from Myst 4 playing in my car.  Bless sweet Jack Wall, who wrote the music for it and Exile.   Here, have a listen as you read some more:

Myst III: Exile’s Main Theme.  For the lyrics, see this link.

Myst IV: Revelation’s Main Theme:

Well, as I listen to the music from Myst 4, especially the title theme I’ve linked above, I imagine myself entering though the doors of the concert hall in Ae’Gura:

If I would be in D’ni society, it’d be most likely that I’d be in the Guild of Messengers, the news reporters and mail carriers that spread the news around D’ni.

As I sat in my car listening to the music, I could only imagine me sitting in the packed concert hall in a gold and yellow guilds-woman’s cloak with intricate scrollwork up the panels on the front, emblazoned with books with wings – the symbol of the Guild of Messengers – with a small golden clasp with the guild symbol at the throat; the room filled with musicians with all sorts of odd D’ni instruments, a choir and so forth, with the orange glow from the lake warming the room.   To be able to look around and see the Crimson cloaked legislators, the green cloaked chemists, the black and red cloaked writers, all taking part in being D’ni would be absolutely breathtaking.

I often dream of cavern, to walk over the well-worn stone that millions have tread upon to make it look more like melted wax than stone.  The smell of the cavern air, walking through the shopping districts to smell the amazing food from the Guild of Caterers, visiting with the craftsmen showing their intricate craftsmanship on pens, inkpots, journal covers, robes, and the rest of all the wondrous crafts of D’ni.  To walk up to the grand library and see rows, upon rows, upon rows of bookcases holding amazing worlds just waiting to be linked to.  To step up to a book pedestal, look at the warm light glowing from the linking panel and touch it, having the warmth envelop me as I’m transported to a world beyond my imagination, like Ameteria or Edanna in Exile or the humid smells of Teledahn or feel the cool breezes of Kadish Tolesa or Er’cana in Uru.  Each place with it’s own unique characteristics and personality.  To see a Bahro first hand, oh, to touch one!  Or maybe even a Squee or Urwin any of the magnificent animals that inhabit any of the ages.
I was digging around on the Mysteriacs website to find what they showed as a Christmas cookie…
 
Tears started pouring down my cheeks.  My beloved city.  You could make out the shopping district that is in front of the Hall of Kings, but it’s disproportional from what we, as true cavern dwellers who took part in Uru Live and saw the city know.  The highlighted section in front on the right, looks remarkably like Tokotah Alley, but the way the artist has rendered it, it is too far away from the harbor, and it’s facing the wrong way. 
Here, have a look:

However, I took into account that the artist who drew this might not have taken part in cavern as I know it or my other fellow Uruites do.  However, those who do not know the city as we do, will be given a glimpse of the beauty we know and have lived, albeit virtually, but in a way we touched perfection.  Lag filled, frustrating perfection, but even among that, we had each other.

I just purchased a copy of my pal Doc “Artemesia” Pearce’s book, “Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds.”  She was nice enough to give me four mentions in it, about my craftsmanship when I created D’ni pieces for There.com:
The Shroomie Safari Co. – Teledahn
We Bring Shroomie to you!
 The Bahro are my friends…and they don’t like you very much.

This piece was actually meant to be a bedspread for a child.  It’s the D’ni numbers 1-25.


This one is my signature sweetheart, the 4-seat Uru themed buggy that was meant to have the feel of stone with quasi-bahro markings.  There are only a few people who own this one. 

But in everything I do, there is always a touch of my beloved cavern in it.  There are so many people who I’ve told, “Cavern Blood Runs Deep”.  It’s a part of who I am.  It’s a part of each Uruite, who has lived through seeing the glory of our world alive and functioning, and seen it’s death more times than we ever cared to.  There are so many things I have loved that have died prematurely.  My friends Izzy, Gina and Janet, my beloved “homeworld”, so many things I’ve seen go before they’ve been truly given a chance to blossom.  It breaks my heart when I think of it.  They call Uru “the world the players wouldn’t let die”.  I guess that’s true for me, because D’ni lives in my heart.  I read about it, I dream about it.  I often call my Myst Reader my bible because it holds so much of the virtues we care so deeply about, but it is not proselytized, it is meant to be soaked in and made a part of you.

Every night when I get into bed, I open my Myst Reader, read a few passages (my favorites are from the book of Ti’ana: Anna’s discovery of the digging machines and Anna’s journey from Irrat to Ae’Gura).  After I’ve read my fill, I turn off my light, snuggle into my pillows and journey to D’ni.  It makes life a little easier to bear.  I just hope it will do the same for my sister as it does for me.