Hot Flashes From Hell

Dante missed one. His “nine circles of Hell” failed to consider another level of the failed human condition. In recent weeks I have personally experienced number ten. But, before I venture any further into this topic, I need to express love for my wife. I love you, Lisa! Now, let us proceed.

The tenth circle of hell is (drum roll, please) – female hot flashes. Since Lisa’s recent cancer surgery, she has been forced to stop taking hormone replacement therapy. In her case, a hormone patch – that tiny, sticky circular piece of fabric that stands between her hormonal mood swings, thermal nuclear body temperatures and my being stabbed to death in my sleep. I have started sleeping with one eye open and a fire extinguisher by my side.

Allow me to pause here, again and declare my adoration for my bride of thirty-two years – and, honey, you look terrific today.  Now, where was I?

Lisa’s hot flashes come upon her suddenly and, as of right now, without anyway to control. The thermostat in our house is set so low – we have to put our bread in the refrigerator to keep it from freezing. Our bedroom is in the fifties (and I’m not talking about the furniture style). While I bundle myself under every cover I can find – Lisa lays most of the night uncovered in a pool of sweat. If there really is truth to the idea of spontaneous human combustion, the belief that people can and have suddenly and unexplanably burst into flames, then I suggest that you not stand or sit too close to her (whom I cherish – you know that, Lisa – right?).

The real problem with these hot flashes is not only Lisa’s misery during each episode, but, during each attach – her sudden, unreasonable desire to kill me. I could be massaging her feet, feeding her chocolates and waving palm fronds to cool her body and if a hot flash hits – her head spins around and she turns into Gollum.

By the way, – Lisa, I think you’ve lost some weight and that top looks fantastic on you!

Aside from these blow torch meltdowns, Lisa’s recovery from surgery has been remarkable. One would hardly know she had surgery just a couple of weeks ago by the way she is moving and doing. As we wait for her radiation treatments to begin we do so with the hope that a cure for these deadly (not necessarily deadly to her but to me) hot flashes will subside. If anyone has a suggestion – please, please send it my way. I may offer a reward for any information that leads to fewer hot flash meltdowns. That information may also save a life – mine.

Before I close I must say:
Lisa! You look marvelous!

Stay Cool!  Steve

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A Half Empty Glass – Running Over

I am a pessimist. Leave it to me to always find the darkest cloud in the brightest sky. As the saying goes, “I always think the worst and I’ve never been disappointed”.

Of the many differences in Lisa and myself, my pessimism and her optimism may be the most glaring. We balance each other with those opposite viewpoints. But, more often than not, her fearlessness and belief that something good can happen by taking a crazy chance against the worst of odds, overrides my gloom and doom. And thank the Lord she wins those battles.

Her fight with breast cancer has been yet another episode in our lives that exposed my negative thoughts against her optimism. Perhaps it is understandable that I would be worried. In fact, I know that she has been worried. Our family and friends worried. Cancer does that. But, there is a silent understanding when battling cancer to never voice those worries to each other. Despite my dark outlook of things, I could not or would not ever announce my fears to anyone, especially Lisa.  Rather, we have talked about healing and beating the disease and victory and health and better days. An atmosphere of support and positivity has been palpable in our home these past weeks. Friends and family have come in and shared meals and gifts and, more importantly, encouragement.  That has been the greatest weapon in fighting this disease.

But, here I need to express something not easy. Perhaps someone will understand who has endured a serious illness. Perhaps someone reading will be better prepared for their own battle yet to come. The real truth is this:  I’ve never been more scared in my life.

The day Lisa was told she had breast cancer, was the day before we were to travel with her job to Kingman, Arizona. Although her mammogram had shown an abnormality, we were absolutely convinced it was not cancer. Our minds were on the four day trip west, getting our truck and RV ready for the journey, saying our good-byes.  Our stop to get the report of her biopsy was one of several we had planned as we tied up loose ends before leaving. It was just another task on our long list of things to do. I had called a friend earlier to tell him I needed to drop something off for him and would be there in the next thirty minutes – after our doctor visit. That never happened. The shocking news sent us and our plans into a tailspin. Lisa had cancer.

Upon returning home, I knew I needed to call my friend and explain that we would not be stopping by. And I would need to tell him why. My heart started racing as he answered and then I did something for the first time in my life, something I never thought I would ever have to do.  I told him that Lisa, my wife, had breast cancer. The words caught in my throat and I broke down and cried trying to explain. I once had to tell my parents that my older brother, Gary, had died suddenly in Frankfort, Kentucky where he lived at the time. That was an unbelievably hard thing to do. Voicing the words, “Lisa has cancer” may have been harder.  There comes with those words all the possibilities and they are horrible.  Thoughts like chemotherapy, loss of work, long term sickness, life disruption, and, as hard as this is to admit, losing my wife, all went through my mind.  Though the atmosphere at home was very positive and cheery, I have spent many nights lying in bed with the nightmarish possibilities of what we all know this God-damned disease can do. I admit I tend to think the worst. But, it is my hunch, the greatest of positive thinkers lie in dark places with the same nightmares when it comes to cancer.

Lisa’s surgery and post recovery has gone amazingly well. The joy of knowing the tumor is gone and no sign of cancer exists (to this point) is beyond words. If there is any benefit to being a “half-empty glass” type of person, it is that when things work out beyond your expectations, that half empty glass runs over in rivers. That is what we have felt these last few days. As we wait for radiation treatments to begin, we do so with greater confidence than ever before. The nightmares are subsiding.

It is beyond my ability as a writer to express our gratitude. How do we thank our family and our friends for the support they have shown? The “body of Christ” has been very much alive in our lives these past weeks as it has rushed to Lisa’s side offering a prayer, a healing touch, an encouraging word, a laugh, and a hope for better days. And, we thank the medical community that did its job and did it well. Nurses, doctors, surgeons all God’s instruments – for which we can never thank enough.

And, personally, I am thankful for that empty glass – that overflowed.

Love and live!  Steve and Lisa.