Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Books for Bonding

I have been trying to get back into the writing groove, so here's a short list of books that have helped me bond with my friends. Not all of them are the type you'd expect, either. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I first read this way back in sixth grade. I didn't own a copy so I borrowed Gobbie Salvana's. Everyone in our barkada read it. Over and over and over. Our barkada expanded, and not every new addition to the group read it, but those who owned copies read it, and watched it, and collected the dvds.

2. Frank Herbert's Dune. For the same reasons as in #1. It is also dear to me because it was one of the first topics that brought TDM and myself together (I was explaining why the Bene Gesserit sisterhood made such great secret agents and deserve their own movie).

3. Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. While there are a million other inspirational books on sale, this particular book got my Accountability Group together and helped put us in Abundance Thinking mode. Of course it's a daily challenge to maintain Abundance Thinking, but it's helped us deal with a fair amount of stress. I'd like to think I've learned how to manage my expectations so that I will either make better choices or learn to be more patient or create opportunities which did not previously exist. Any of these outcomes is something to be grateful for, because there's a great big value to these lessons learned.

4. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams and The Poisonwood Bible. Almond and I don't always have the same taste in books, but I associate Animal Dreams with her. She introduced me to a wonderful writer, deeply in touch with her characters and settings. I have since picked up Kingsolver's other titles, notably The Poisonwood Bible, and have come away delighted with my choices. I associate The Poisonwood Bible with my friend Blanca Amado, who lent it to me when we were both living in Canberra. It was one of those books that she sent around to her friends by post, her way of having a library in the mail. I posted it to her in-laws in Sydney. If only Philpost were that reliable, I would be more generous with lending out my books the same way.

5. Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye. I associate this book with Amy, because she lent me her copy in the early 90s. There is a scene in this book that I can't forget, where the heroine as a little girl crosses a dark bridge on her way home, and experiences an epiphany that she carries over into her adult life as a sculptress. Margaret Atwood is a highly regarded Canadian poet and novelist, and I have most of her books to date. I feel her sentences running through my head like cool water. If you enjoy short stories, Atwood rewrote the Bluebeard myth, in her book Bluebeard's Egg & Other Short Stories.

6. The Diary of Anais Nin, Vols. 1 & 2. When I was at the hospital, Reg noticed I brought the Vol. 2 with me to read while waiting. It turns out that Bear enjoyed reading Nin's Diary too! And we both watched the movie Henry and June prior to looking for the books. Imagine their amazement when I told them it was my mom who owned a copy of Delta of Venus. Reg was further surprised to learn that the UP Main Library had the other books I'd read, namely Children of the Albatross and House of Incest. If you do not enjoy Anais Nin's very literary erotica, you would enjoy her Diaries, because she was a unique product of her time. An excellent diarist. My Vol. 1 came from, the Vol. 2 was a previously owned book from

7. James Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful (series). If you love amusing stories about animals and how they loved to confound the local British veterinarian, these heartwarming tales are for you. I associate these books with my dad, because he used to howl with laughter at the end of each chapter. I would describe these as Reader's Digest-friendly tales. They're actually great for beach or airport reading.

There are more, but I am being called to dinner. To be continued.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Time to Do the Dance of Joy

The cyst is benign! *Shakes mah bootay.*

My doctors are really good. Very reassuring. I went to see my endocrinologist yesterday morning and waited for my turn for three hours. The good news was worth it. The lump decreased in size significantly since the liquid was removed via aspiration. She prescribed some medicine that I have to take daily for three months, after which I go see her again.

Yes, I can eat broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustasa and pechay again! Apparently new studies report that they do not disrupt iodine absorption needed by the thyroid to produce its hormone. I love my leafy greens, and I need their vitamins too. The doctor just advised me to take my multivitamins at night so as not to conflict with the thyroid medicine in the morning.

Life is good and I want to enjoy it longer by keeping tabs on my health.

("So say we all." - Battlestar Galactica's Bill Adama.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Held at Needlepoint

Pardon the long online silence. I'd meant to write about the Boracay wedding I attended, about meeting with my local fountain pen group for the first time, about my cable knitted socks, about last weekend's trip to Baguio.

It was at Jun and Jangky's December 19 wedding that we discovered that I have a cyst growing on the left lobe of my thyroid. I spent a week not thinking about it (read: traffic, bank holiday, other reasons to procrastinate). Come January I went to my family doctor. He sent me off for blood tests and an ultrasound. I spent some time hunting for an endocrinologist. When I found her, she recommended that I undergo an FNAB (fine needle aspiration biopsy). For someone who has never been hospitalized ever, the word "biopsy" is a bit freaky. (It took a trip to Baguio for me to build up the right attitude and motivation for it. I found myself walking around Burnham Park in a haze of disbelief, leavened by spending time playing with my little niece on the grass.)

The two doctors (family and endocrinologist) both explained in general what would be done. Imagine the cyst is a rubber jackstone ball with fluid in it. The needle will enter the cyst and draw out as much liquid as possible. Sometimes the solids stick together without leaving a gap. Sometimes the liquid accumulation recurs. The liquid is then sent to the lab for tests, including one for the presence or absence of cancer cells. It's just like a blood test, you'll be fine, they said.

Of course I know I'd be fine. There was just that part of me that really could not process the visual of having a needle stuck in my neck. This is despite the fact that I am not a squeamish person and can look at an open wound without fainting. The way I felt about it is hard to describe, but if you've ever been so anxious and stressed about something that you end up uttering gibberish and giggling uncontrollably, that would be close.

Anyway, it's done. Thank goodness. The pathologist stuck me in the neck twice, in an attempt to remove all the liquid. The first time wasn't painful. The second one was a bit painful, because of the attempt to aspirate until no liquid remained. (Well, it doesn't beat having a tooth cavity drilled.) It was mercifully quick. She ended up with 15.5cc of liquid! That is being tested, and I go get the results on Friday. All I have to show for it are two puncture wounds and a bruise worthy of Twilight the movie. On Saturday I let the endocrinologist figure out how to manage the rest of the cyst.

Some of you know me as fearless and practical, keeping my head in emergencies, coming up with reserves of strength when needed. I used to think I was invincible, and that is an attitude of carefree youth. I'm still young, but then again I'm not that young. Or maybe I should say, in my mind I am younger than this body I inhabit. Perhaps that is more accurate. This body feels tired.

I feel relieved that the biopsy is done. I ate enough fried chicken and cream of potato and basil soup fpr lunch to compensate for my early morning stress. (There was no vanilla ice cream, alas.) Thanks to everyone here and in Facebook who put me in their prayer lists and sent me funny thoughts. I had the strangest thoughts going through my head while there was a needle stuck in my neck for the longest ten seconds ever.

All throughout I could not blog. I could only send emails, chat and write in my journal. I put my mind to writing to my snail mail group. During the time I could not blog I got four postcards in the mail from around the world. Lovely surprises in these electronic times! They cheered me up immensely. I've posted three postcards and three letters. There's something so satisfying about using my fountainpens and different colored inks on lovely paper, writing to people who appreciate the same things.

TDM even took me out for breakfast yesterday to cheer me up. (Pancake House's bacon waffles are great for cheering me up. Now if they had Nutella waffles, maybe you could bribe me to have myself stuck with a needle FOUR times!) Thank you, sweetheart.

Hopefully tonight I dream of myself playing with my niece on the Burnham Park grass. It wipes away my cares.