Sunday, April 24, 2011

Coming Back to Life and a Shout Out to My Girls (by Susan)

Easter seems to be an appropriate time to talk about coming back to life.  No matter what your spiritual beliefs, this is a season to celebrate renewal and love.  George and I are both beginning to feel those twinges of new life, just like the green shoots that are nudging their way up in the front garden that we planted last summer.  During the weeks leading up to and just after George's stem cell transplant all we could think about was making sure George didn't get an infection, monitoring his blood counts, driving back and forth to the hospital every day, keeping the house spotless and preparing germ-free meals (and, in George's case, keeping the meals down!).  So, now that he's made it through the process and things are going well, other parts of us that had been put on hold are now waking up again.  And just like when hands or feet fall asleep and you get pins and needles when the feeling starts coming back, some of this waking up process hurts.  Both of us realize that we will have emotional repercussions from this long after the physical scars have healed.  You just can't come that close to the brink of life and death without it affecting you. 

As I wrote in my last post, my first reaction was one of just wanting to sleep a lot.  Then, after that cleared up, I decided to take advantage of several offers of nurturing and fun for the Caregiver - that's me :)  So, last week, I enlisted the aid of my girls to do some activities to start getting myself back into the world. 

First, I biked with my Tuesday night Chicks on Bikes group.  We had a great time and it just felt so good to work hard biking uphill and then get the reward of screaming downhill at the end and yelling as we came into the parking lot.  Then we had dinner and we had some great laughs and catching up over Indian food.  So THANKs  to Karen, Amanda, Robynn, Joan, Sherrie, Vera, Dana, Sue, Suzy, Kate, Karen L., Gina and all the rest of the Chicks on Bikes.  You rock and help me to stay sane.  

On Thursday George and I did a hike at Roxborough park with some of my dear friends from my Coors days - Kris, Chris, and Gen.    We had a wonderful time in the sunshine, talked a lot, and got some nature exploration in there.   These women have stood by me through thick and thin and all the ups and downs of our lives over the past - could it be -25 years?  Wow.  They also helped clean out my kitchen cabinets and get the house ready for our "bubble boy" before his transplant.  Now THAT's friendship. 

Then, on Friday I took the biggest splurge of all and had a spa day at the St. Julien with my dear sister Celia and my oldest friend Nancy (we have known each other since college). These two, along with Kyle,  were the backup caregivers for George - helping us with food shopping,  "babysitting" George on a few occasions so I could go out, giving us lunch, etc.  I got a massage, a facial, and a pedicure and totally pampered myself.  It felt so good I almost cried!  And thanks to George for supporting me in spoiling myself a little. 

SO - I realized that this whole process of getting George better has required a veritable army of support people, in addition to the team of doctors, nurses, apheresis specialists, lab technicians, x-ray technicians, etc. who have worked so hard for us over the past six weeks.   We know that we could not have done all this and could not have survived without our friends and family.  And, in some ways, we know that the research scientists and doctors who work so hard to some up with these amazing treatments also are motivated by a love of their fellow human beings and a desire to make a difference in people's lives.   This is what they mean when the cancer centers say that "love heals".   

While I'm thanking people, I'd also like to mention the Ojo Girlz for their offers of support, and Carolyn and Scott and also Carlin cleaning out our garage and also our yard.  Scott and Carlin, while not girls, are also great friends.  And many thanks to Kyle for his strong, silent type support and being the relief pitcher when I HAD to get out of the house.  And also thanks in advance to Caitlyn for flying in this week to take over so I can go back to work without worrying about it. And one final shout out to Danielle and the team from Flatirons for the Team Geo Love website, presents, food, and other "vegan" libations.

Tomorrow I go back to work.  The time has gone very quickly and I'm glad I could be there with Geo every day during this part of his journey.   It's going to seem strange to be back in the office, but life goes on and we do need to pay our bills (isn't that funny how that never goes away as long as you are alive?).   I know I'll miss my daily interactions with Geo, except for the times when he criticized my driving.  Now he's cleared to drive himself, so look out everyone in Boulder and Louisville!   But again, a big THANK YOU to my girls (and boys) - we couldn't do it without you!


  1. Thank you Susan for being so courageous and strong. Words can't ever express how much it means to know Dad has a co-warrior in this battle and a good companion in life!

  2. Susan, it was a terrible burden to have to go to the spa with you, but I'm glad I made the sacrifice. Seriously, I am humbled by the grace and good humor you both brought to this journey, and honored to have had a small role in helping. Blue skies from now on!

  3. What a wonderful blog entry Susan!! It sounds like you gave everything you had to help George and when you needed to were able to step away to take care of you. Caregivers are somthing else. It sounds like you are starting to see a finish line. I think we're still hovering in the middle, but the finish should be in site in 2 or 3 weeks. I'm looking forward to it; your hopeful, happy blog helps keep the faith.

    2011 is such a wonderful year to be cured of Hodgkin Lymphoma.