Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's in Store for 2010?

For the last two years, I've started the New Year brimming with optimism. In 2008, right after my successful auto stem cell transplant, I was giddy about the endless "what if" possibilities of the new year. I followed up with musings on the challenge of "rebuilding." A few days after toasting to health and happiness, I landed back at the City of Hope. That was the same year that I became debilitated from the high eosinophil count in my blood. And the year that my crinkling skin was diagnosed as cutis laxa. And the year that I made a difficult personal decision.

In 2009, I lived a charmed life for the first few weeks of the year. I vowed to live simply, drink more Champagne and sparkling wine and find the ultimate crab cake recipe.Very little effort on my part seemed to produce effervescent results. But by late-February, 2009 had lost its fizz.

And 2010? PPFFBBTT! That's a giant raspberry to the New Year. I woke up on January 1, sick and alone. I went on to get dumped and then thrown (cough, cough) out of a New (cough, cough) Year's open house party. (The two incidents were unrelated.)

I saw Dr. Forman last Thursday and learned that I've dropped 8 pounds in 4 weeks. That's in addition to the 8 pounds that went missing between Halloween and Thanksgiving. The 16-pound loss brings me down to a scrawny 114 pounds on a 5'10" frame. I felt dizzy because my blood pressure was a ridiculously low 80 over 36. I still have to pace my days because I become fatigued easily. The reason for this? We haven't a clue. I just know that, for the third year in a row, I'm back to "rebuilding."

This all sounds dismal, but one advantage of having a blog is the ability to look back. Yes, I had that little unplanned 11-day stay at Hotel Hope. But I bounced back and, just a few days after my discharge, took a solo trip to SF to visit my ailing friend Bob at the Veteran's Hospital.

And, yes, the eosinophils laid me lower than the chemo from a stem cell transplant, but that didn't stop me from taking two trips to SF to be with Bob that summer. My friend Kiki and I even got to see him on his last day on earth.

And I recovered in time to see my brother and his bride Bonnie get married at our house and garden in September.

I'm writing all of this to give me perspective. I was tempted to write off 2008 as a terrible year punctuated with illness and "rare" disorders and 2009 as a stressful one peppered with uncertainty. I'm already set to pop 2010 into the dumpster. And I'm always ready to belittle myself for not bouncing back more quickly after an illness, until the blog makes me realize that I was doing the best I could each step of the way.

Looking back, I see that our years and our lives are a a frustrating blend of good and bad, charmed and cursed, memorable and forgettable.

Now let's take a look at 2010, the year that I'm trying to salvage from the dumpster. I think life owes me a great year of health and happiness in 2010, especially since it's starting off so lousy. Don't you agree? That's what I'm hoping.

Truth be told, I don't know if life will continue to throw curve balls in 2010 or give me a breather on the bench, but I do know this. I'm strong enough to deal with whatever the year has in store. More important, at my weakest or my strongest, I could never make it without the love and support of my family and friends.

That reminds me of the second day of 2010, when I spent the afternoon with an old friend I've known since she was a toddler. She, her husband and two preschool children were here for the OSU Rose Bowl game, so I jumped at my first chance to see her since her wedding seven years ago. Our strong bond of reconnection more than made up for feeling like a social pariah just the day before. Good and bad. Charmed and cursed. Sometimes they're in the same day, sometimes in the same week, often in the same year.

Looking forward to a year with endless, positive possibilities. And a lot of resilience.


Ann said...

Susan, you are the embodiment of elegance and perseverance. I hope the obstacles of 2010 are overshadowed by an abundance of happy memories for you in 2011. Besides, Tet is right around the corner, so you could use it like a reboot. :)

PS, my verification word was brats. What is the universe trying to tell me?

susiegb said...

Oh Susan - you ARE strong, and what you've (successfully) come through has made you stronger!

I think you should go with the idea that if the previous 2 years started well and then difficulties appeared, well, this year it looks to be the other way round!!

Wishing you a wonderful 2010, and that your health (and weight) turn the corner and head in the right direction. (I have to say I am never in the position of wanting to put on weight!!)

pasadenapio said...

Yes, this simply must be a better year for you. We're all with you, dearie, one day at a time!

Nancy said...

I'm with Susie on this one. You have all good things to look forward to in 2010. You got the crapiness out of the way early in the year!

During this new year, I feel that your health will be fully restored and Krissy will find her life-saving marrow match!!!

Love you lots, Nancy

Nelle said...

Susan ,
YES you deserve a wonderful and healthy new year. 2009 was one of the worst years for me healthwise. It's so odd that something else can make you feel worse than something that when you were going through it made you comfort yourself by telling yourself that this was the WORST thing you would ever go through! My infection left me wiped out. I lost 20 lbs in 4 weeks although I could afford the loss, unlike you. I am hoping and praying that you have a wonderful year, frankly that we both enjoy a big upswing healthwise.
Illness on the upside brings us a lot of new friends and helps us connect with people we would otherwise never have met. I am happy and grateful to know you!

Susan C said...

Ann, What's Tet? I could use a "reboot" whatever it is.

"Brats" reminds me of the story you told to illustrate how feisty you are before your 2nd SCT.

Susie, YES! This year has nowhere to go but up.

Ann, thanks for your support.

Nancy, Now that's something I'm looking forward to this year - Krissy finding her match.

Nelle, Now YOU had the year from hell in 2009. Let's both turn it around in 2010. I'm grateful to know you too.

Everyone reading this, Someone recently asked me why I wasn't posting updates on the blog. I told her it was because I don't have a story to tell and don't like to just whine about how I'm not feeling well. Thanks to all who have hung in there with me.

Sue G said...


Well, you just disproved my theory that no news is good news. I am sorry to hear that you have been having difficulties. I know too well how fatigue can come from behind and knock one on one's butt. I also know that each day is a blessing...even when we don't feel all that blessed in it.

Since I am the only person I know who can have five primary cancers, be on chemo for a year and a half, and GAIN weight, I don't know how to believably commiserate about your weight loss. But I do pray that this year brings you much health, much happiness, and much renewed strength (and weight gain, if you must).

Even the best and most capable warriors need a rest.

Margaret said...

So...if everything changes (as it does) and if nothing lasts forever (as it doesn't) it is logical to assume that these challenging times must pass too. Here's to hoping they pass sooner than later. Thank you for your candor and honesty and for letting us know how you're feeling. Sending you good thoughts and love.

altadenahiker said...

Wow. Were it not for this blog, I'd think your life was a series of madcap adventures -- trespassing lunches, cooking breakfast for 20, getting us loaded on excellent Sangria, dressing your dog in doll clothes, going about town in Purina tiarras, shocking the nuns in parking lots...That's the you I know.

Petrea said...

I'm with susiegb's theory, that this year is the other way around. More madcap adventures to come. You have a lot of friends ready to join in whatever adventures you go on, fun or not.

Susan C said...

Everyone, thanks so much for the love and support.

Sue, I do need to remind myself that each day's a blessing. I'm not very good at that when I'm feeling sluggish and out of sorts.

Margaret, you are so right!

AH, It made me so happy to read your comment. I almost forgot that I am that person and I'm at my best when planning those madcap adventures.

Petrea, Yes, hope you'll be available to join me in a madcap outing or two in 2010.

Gee, now I feel like throwing an all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy breakfast. A two-fer: Feed friends while consuming lots of fat.

Idelle Davidson said...


What's in store for 2010? Only good things along with friends who love to spend time with you!

Ann said...

For the record, you don't whine. You never come across as whiny when you post. We all check in because we love you and want to know what's happening. Whether it's to celebrate your madcap adventures or to commiserate your feeling unwell, we just want to know and share in your life. I also feel like I'm whining when I have those strings of blog posts all centered around poor health. Someone close to me once said that the long stretches of nothing on the blog lead her to worry and it would be such a relief to check in and see a single sentence, whatever it might be. Please never worry that you're whining when you write. You don't. You're taking us all along on your life's adventure and I'm thankful that you're generous enough to share. Take it from a certified brat, I know the platinum standard of whining. :)

Ann said...

I forgot to answer your question about Tet. It's the vietnamese name for Chinese New Year.

Barbara Roth said...

Please keep posting. You are witty no matter what the subject is you are writing about.Please keep posting often. You inspire all your friends to put more joy and spontaniety in their lives. Why if it wasn't for you, I never would have climbed out on a ledge over the ocean and looked into the window of a restaurant in the way we are moving to Encinitas. Will you boogey board with me?

Karen said...

Susan I thought of you when I read this essay in yesterday's Science Times. I bet you will relate to it a lot, particularly his description of his background.

Susan C said...

Ya' know, you all are the best.

Barbara, Encinitas?!? Woo Hoo! I now have a boogie boarding buddy. (Shall we get wet suits?)

Karen, I did see that excellent article. My friend Ronni over at also linked to it in her post yesterday.

Barbara Roth said...

We will definately need wetsuits. I am also interested in a Gerry Atric boogey board. So glad you are posting regularly again.
I only disagree with you about one thing, stuffed cabbage is one of my least favorite foods. When we get together can we go out for sushi instead?

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