Twist of Fate

PALLIATIVE CARE NURSE BECOMES PALLIATIVE CARE PATIENT On October 17, 2013, RN and Author, Judith Redwing Keyssar, was diagnosed with stage 2c ovarian cancer. When a healthcare professional suddenly becomes a patient, it is an unexpected event and a challenge to mind, body and spirit. In Chinese the characters for “crisis” mean “Dangerous Opportunity.” One of the opportunities is exemplifying how Palliative Care makes a huge difference in quality of life, if initiated at diagnosis…

First Day of Chemo

I awaken early, headcache, can’t sleep. I listen to guided imagery about chemo and it relaxes me enough to get up, drink tea, do some yoga before this adventure begins. I set up an “altar” on the tray table at the hospital infusion center—a page of affirmations, rocks from Jerusalem in a heart box that Danielle put them in, rock from merijane, a turle of course, a crystal from Sylvia and my photos of the…

Miracles of Healing

MIRACLES OF HEALING and TRANSFORMATION DURING THESE HOLY DAYS This time of year—the “holy days”—a time for gratitude and love as we prepare for the Light to return. Thanks-giving, Hannukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanza. A time for remembering the power of light, at the darkest of times. Remembering the fact that “miracles happen” here and elsewhere, (the inscription on the dredl) and have happened throughout time. This year is no different, except that I am…

The Power of Water

Each drop so precious we know Life cannot exist with water The earth is mostly water We are mostly water The red tulips in the clear glass vase drank all their water in one night. In the morning they were all completely drooping down the outside of the vase. Seemingly dead. But then, the vase re-filled, fresh clean water. By the evening the tulips stood strong again, dancing their flowing dance of curvaceous stems reaching…

Reality Hits Hard

So, it is all true about the fact that once the steroids wear off, you feel like you either have the worst flu in the world or you fell off your bike and were hit by a car. Each and every joint aches and the aches are deep, deep and then accompanied by sharp, knife-life shooting pains that run down both of my legs from my hips. I am taking the anti-nausea meds for the…

Hair Thoughts

The freedom of illness The freedom of letting go of hair The freedom of letting go of images of self The freedom of letting go of what is important. Changing what is important Seeing differently Hair as power. Hair as image. Opportunity for transformation is HUGE HAIR—symbol in many myths and traditions—of power, of energy, of beauty. There is a native American idea that new thoughts are close to the scalp and the old ones…

Approaching a New Year

Friends look at me and smile “I love your hair” this way (gone) “you look great” “I still feel your spirit shining through” I have become more accustomed to not having hair To wearing hats and bright scarves wrapped stylishly around my round head Or not. When I’m around the beings who love me, I can bare my head and heart No matter the costume It is when I walk down the street Walk into…

Second Chemo

Waiting is part of this. Always. There are always lines and people who are sick and frustrated and coughing. You must learn patience as a huge part of this lesson. Nothing happens in the time you imagine it will. Chemo goes easily. I bring in the photos and the cards of the Yew trees and Platinum. It is early morning and not so busy, so Steph, my nurse today, asks if she can call the…

Mother, Healing, Self-Acceptance

I do not like this level of discomfort, pain, anxiety, fear, anger. The past 2 days I was just so sick of being sick, and I was NOT sick until I started this treatment. What an insane way to make people healthy! I do not like this level of vulnerability, of lack of energy, of inability to get comfortable in one position to even relax. I do not like looking in the mirror, though I…

The Half Way Point!

CHEMO 3 Today is day 2. Slept 10.5 hours with the help of drugs. When I finally woke up and went to the kitchen, Danielle had set up my tea and left a plate of high protein breakfast and veggies (my non-carb diet plan for days 1-4). These simple acts of kindness and love are what get me through this grueling process. I am so lucky to live in a healing home, with someone who…

Surrender

and a SURPRISE GUEST in the Circle I am reminded by friends of the importance of surrendering. For the past 2 days I had to surrender to these powerful medications, as what else is there to do. I cannot fight them. I cannot pretend they are not coursing through my veins and making me feel like a huge wave just flattened me on the bottom of the ocean, and I’m not sure how I will…

Fear and Fatigue

Enough rain to make the street wets and the plants ache for more this morning. Melting down last night as I began the nightly ritual of wanting to sleep, needing to sleep and yet as soon as I lie down, my mind wakes up, the body pains increase, and soon I am agitated and unable to rest. Last night it was my right foot, that would not stop hurting despite pillows and bolsters and constantly…

What I Love About The Aging Process, as I Prep for Chemo

Preparing for chemo . Dreading chemo . Understanding that it will be a week of physical trauma and then I’ll be ok. I never know from time to time however, just what traumas will show up. Will my eyelashes and eyebrows come out THIS time? Will my toenails shrivel up? Will I have some new side effect that I haven’t even considered? I was supposed to go to a 65th birthday party today, and everyone…

Time For Pruning

ROSE PRUNING DAY! Pain, aching, queasiness, fear, fatigue, lethargy. These are not typically words I use to describe my state of being, but in the 8 days post-chemotherapy, this is how I feel all the time. Yes, some of the medications help, but they too have their side effects and issues. I now understand so much better why people do NOT want to take all the meds. How many pills can one put into one’s…

The Healing Power of Green

A day to celebrate GREEN. The healing color green. The color of earth when she has had enough rain. The color of SPRING as she approaches in her budding glory. Yes, we are in a drought. It is serious. It is cause for concern. And it is just the reality of now. I have been in a drought of writing, as you may have noticed. I missed writing about ROUND 5 of Chemo because it…

Spring in Albion

The gateway of redwood trees allows entry to this realm of beauty and healing to the vista of widened river hoping for the sea to the wild white waters of wind and ocean the knowing whales swimming deep below Blossoms How can one describe these tiny brilliant flowers Who go from bud to fruit so easily, so quickly really Each tree so different The apples in their pale pink to dark pink to almost white…

The Last Chemo!!!

THE LAST CHEMO It is day 2 of my LAST CHEMO TREATMENT and I am going to say the last ever because truly, down deep in my core, I believe that I am cancer-free and will not host these mutant cells again in my lifetime. SO BE IT, and so it is! In the next 3 weeks the medicines coursing through my veins will seek out any last tiny microscopic traces of cancer cells and…

On Reading Bill’s Book

Monday, April 14: On this day of the Full Moon, Lunar Eclipse, and Passover–a commemoration of the liberation of a people from slavery, of our own liberation from suffering and stuck and narrow places, into the light of a new day, into a new found freedom,  I wanted to share these with you. My cancer was discovered during the “Days of Awe” between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time of reckoning, and now, at…

First Day of the Rest of My Life

Last night at the meeting of our Palliative Care volunteer program, I began to read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Kindness, but could only get through the first line before the tears came. “Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things…..” The minute you are told, by a caring and thoughtful human who happens to be an oncologist, that you are now one of the many who have been called into the ranks…

SUMMERTIME—Re-Emerging into my “Work,” as my new Self

NOTE: I am in the middle of a WordPress learning curve. Thank you for your patience with any errors that have occurred. Thank you. -Redwing Summer is here. It is actually a HOT, sunny day in San Francisco! Another green season of growth and wind and wildflowers has passed and with it our illusion that days will just continue to be long and languid. Solstice is the longest day of the year, and although it…

Aging, Illness and the 5 Stages of Grief

Sunday, August 24, 2014 Denial Who, me? Aging? So, I turned 60 in January 2013, big deal. “Oh, you’ll see. Being over 60 is different,” friends said. “Not for me” was my constant retort. I have tons of energy. I’m healthy as a horse. I love my work as the RN Director of the Palliative Care Program at Jewish Family and Children’s Services. I have a loving relationship, great friends, and I know how to…

AUTUMN BLESSINGS

Recent Interview on KPBS San Diego: (click on the screen and you will hear interview) It is Autumn. The days are shorter and the nights seem longer and darker even though for these few weeks near Equinox, light and dark are almost equal. We know the longer times of darkness will come however, and it will be a blessing. It is “dojo” in Chinese philosophy—the 10 days before and after the seasons change, when our…