Monday, October 31, 2016

The Post With No Title

I just finished unloading and loading the dishwasher.  My arms feel heavy, like they have been lifting weights.  It is taking a really long time to type, and I keep making many typing errors.  I put on my wrist support but that doesn't seem to make a difference.  In theory, I should probably stop typing and give my upper body a rest.  That would be the smart thing to do.  But honestly, I am kind of pissed off so I am going to show my arms who is boss and continue on.  I know, so mature.

I had the most fabulous weekend.  I did so many things, lived so many moments, hugged and kissed so many friends - it was lovely.

I went to the freezing, Friday night football game.  A friend of mine told me that because of my perspective she is taking in more of the small moments in her life.  She showed me some pictures of her son as they honored him during his last football game.  I was so moved by her sharing this with me, I'm afraid I was speechless.

I was able to witness the gathering of my daughter and her friends, one who they haven't seen in a long time.  I watched as they hugged and laughed, and cheesed it up for the camera.

I had breakfast with my sister in law and brother in law.  We laughed and talked about some hard stuff.  You have to talk about the hard stuff, right?  And then we planned for some fun stuff!

I did a sleepover at a fancy hotel with Abby and Lisa.  We ate a lot of really yummy food, drank delicious wine, talked for hours, snuggled in bed, talked for more hours, ate more yummy food, and began planning our next get away.

I had enlightening text message conversations with my daughter and her friends about things they definitely don't want me to talk about here!

I came home and watched Ean play baseball, talked to my parents, went out to dinner with Adam and some dear friends.  And then I just collapsed.  Honestly I was so tired.  But it was that kind of tired you feel when you have loved and laughed for many hours on end; the kind of tired where your cheeks hurt from laughing and you can still feel the salt residue on your face from laughing so hard you were crying.  That is the best kind of tired.

This weekend didn't come with its challenges.  It did.  I had to handle a home situation while I was away, but did.  The fork I was using at breakfast was too heavy for my hand and I felt like I was going to drop it, so I asked for a salad fork and that worked just fine.  I had a little ostomy bag issue once I got home, but managed to handle it without embarrassing consequences.  I made little adjustments (like any person would) to make the most of my time and experiences.  And we are starting to make some adjustments to our house in order for it to be easier for me to be independent. Our dear friend Danny put up some grab bars in my bathroom and shower.

I just reread this.  Its kind of boring.  Like, really who cares what I did with my weekend.  I guess it is just important to me, as things begin to change, that I remember that I went about living my life. That I didn't only celebrate the big stuff, but also the small stuff.  As we were planning a get away this weekend, Adam and I laughed a little thinking that it was like planning out my bucket list.  I guess you can't really help that when you have an illness like ALS.  Someone else reminded me that I can live a long time.  I really do know that.  But its possible that I won't.  So I go about trying to make the most of all my moments.  And if I get two years of these moments, its okay.  If I get fifteen years of these moments, better yet.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Old Lady Hands

When I was eleven or twelve
A classmate of mine
A girl
Told me that I had old lady hands.

She was twelve.

How could she have known
That her offhanded comment
Would forever shape the way
I looked at my hands?

How could she have known
That her offhanded comment
Would forever shape the way
I looked at my body?

Could you have old lady hands
And a young, sexy body?

Could you have old lady hands
And a beautiful face?

Could you have old lady hands
And a strong, intelligent, liberal mind?

I now look at my hands
My old lady hands
As they are.
Older lady hands.

They are the hands that have held my babies.
Sometimes one,
Sometimes two,
Sometimes even three.

They are the hands that have wiped tears,
Stroked hair,
held the hands,
of my own
and countless other children.
Still my kids.

They are the hands that have held the adoring face
of the man I love.
Scratched his back
Rubbed his shoulders
Comforted his soul.

They have blue and bold veins
Running through the back of them
Through the brown tanned and weathered skin.
Veins that carry the blood that pumps
To keep me alive.

They have peach palms
mapped with lines of love
And adventure
And sorrow
And misfortune
And experience.

On my pinky you can feel the scar
Of too many cuts
From too many brambles
Through too many trips
Through the woods of my childhood home.

On my wrist you can barely see the scar
Of a fist mistakenly going through glass
In an effort to help.

On my fingers the tan lines made from rings -
One symbolizing my commitment to my husband.
The other a commitment to my family and my heritage.

When I was eleven or twelve
A classmate of mine
A girl
Told me I had old lady hands

I now take that as a compliment.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tom

I couldn't sleep last night.  Wasn't tired.  Couldn't focus on my book.  So I decided to Google.  Now most of the time I Google I end up crying and mopey, and immediately regret that I have done so. When you are a person living with ALS and you Google, most of what you find and read can really put a damper on your mood.  However last night I found a few articles that didn't depress me, but rather raised my spirit.  The first was a medical article about the symptoms of ALS.  Pretty dry, straightforward, cut to the chase kind of information.  The first half of it I understood.  The second was a bit too technical for me.  But in this first half I found that all the symptoms I am having were explained.  I learned a bit about why I am having those symptoms.  I even learned what MIGHT come next.  And for some strange reason this didn't upset me.  It was reassuring in a way that I am a typical ALS person (if there is such a thing) and there were really smart people out there working on collecting data and using this information to find a cure.

The second article I read was a piece written in 2013 by a man named Tom who lived right here in Lawrenceville who lived with ALS.  From what I read, it appears that his ALS affected his respiratory system and speaking before other parts of his body.  He was a gentleman who lived in town, worked at a local private school, was married, and had two girls and one boy - children younger than my own.  The piece discussed his ALS advocacy work, and the fundraising by his young children.  He spoke of his faith and the undying support of his "village", the cards and emails he and his wife read to keep up their spirits.  I felt like he was in part telling my story, feeling my feelings, living what I was living.  After reading his writing, I was excited that maybe I could connect with someone else in town who could relate to the things I was going through.  I Googled some more, and found that he had passed away the following year.  This information initially took my breath away.  I began to openly weep for this man I had never known, yet in ten short minutes had known so well.  I finally fell asleep thinking about this man and his life.

When I woke up this morning the image of this gentleman and his family would not leave my mind. I was no longer mourning his loss, but rather thinking about the very few things I knew about him. How he was so proud of his children, his faith in G-d, he loved and was touched by his community, he had a great smile, and he made the choice to work in a school.  I thought this is a man who loved life.  Today, even though I didn't know him, I am going to honor him, by loving life.  I am going to get up and enjoy my shower, and put on my favorite cozy sweatshirt, and eat chocolate, and hug and kiss my family, and smile and say hello to everyone I see.  I am going to make conscious choices to be happy and take care of myself, and let my "village" know that I appreciate them.  I will do my best to help around the house and not be afraid.  I will work within my limitations.  I will accept my limitations.

So have a happy day everyone.  I love you all.








Monday, October 24, 2016

BALLS

My favorite time of day is the exact moment I wake up in the morning.  I lay there for a moment with my eyes closed.  I take in the sounds from outside - the cars, the blue jays.  Sometimes I can hear the chickens from the house behind us.  Sometimes the kids' doors opening and closing as they are getting ready for school.  I can smell the toothpaste from their bathroom.  The dogs are often still sleeping and making running noises in their dreams. Sometimes I am awake before Adam and I listen for his steady breathing.  Sometimes I wake after him and I hear the shower turn on, or the creaking of his armoire door as it opens but often doesn't close.  This is all very normal.  A typical day in the Dauer house.  A day like every other day, but glorious and awesome in its existence.  Nothing has changed during that moment.  Everything is as is should be.  I used to take those moments for granted.  I don't anymore.

This weekend, visiting Sarah, was filled with more than those glorious waking moments. I felt those moments with my eyes open.  They came to me as I listened to her talk about her friends, her classes, parties, and politics.  They came to me as we rolled through campus looking as the colors of the trees, seeing the beauty of her campus, and having her point out where she sits in the library.  I felt those moments as I met her friends, listened to beautiful voices, and as we sat for delicious food.

I even felt those moments in my own clumsiness.  I felt it as I was trying to crawl into bed at the hotel and I fell over like a turtle and couldn't get up.  I didn't hurt myself and was able to laugh as Adam took advantage of the situation and smothered me with kisses.  I want these moments all the time.  I am looking and searching for these moments.  I want to feel the beauty in the ordinary.  I want to laugh and learn and love these experiences and people that I might have taken for granted before. Before.  Before ALS.  B.ALS.  Balls.  Heehee.  Balls.  (Now if I was on FB right now this would be the moment I would tag my first grade team, specifically Momma Cindi as this is funny only to a few).

Today I consciously looked and listened for those glorious yet ordinary waking moments.  I sat outside and felt the cold breeze and the warm sunshine drift over my face.  I watched the red, orange, yellow, and purple leaves fall off all the trees in my backyard.  I listened for the chickens and heard the rooster.  I sat and talked with my parents.  I looked at Ean and Gillian and appreciated how grown up they have become.  I ate chocolate cake and spinach lasagna with gusto (not in that order but that would have been okay too!).  I gave the dogs a few extra biscuits.  I found pleasure in going through paperwork, rereading some thoughtful cards, and throwing away some junk.  I made healthy lunches for my teenagers.  I read.  A book.  I wrote.  Letters.  I am trying to think of what is best for others and also for myself.  And make it balance.

I am going to continue to look for these moments and relish in them.  I am going to use them to help guide me to make some difficult decisions.  Like some sort of spiritual guidance.  Maybe.  I don't know.  That just came to me.  I haven't thought that through yet.

Balls.  Heehee.



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rereading, kindness, and other events

I went back today and reread a few of my first blog posts.  I read the one I wrote about the Today's Good board.  I read the blog post about my friend, Dr. Mayer.  It was suggested to me by my therapist and some of my friends to go back and reread some of the earliest blog posts to see where this journey started, and if there were lessons I could learn from early on,

When I teach Writers' Workshop, one of the hardest things to teach my kids is to revise and edit, especially at the beginning of the school year.  The majority of them are only six years old, so asking them to revise their writing to make it better, or edit their mistakes, is a huge undertaking.  They are of the mindset (and rightly so) that what they initially put down on paper is perfect as is.  It is hard for them to see the purpose of revising and editing,  And even though I can model how to revise and edit my work, and have conversations about how professional authors ALWAYS revise and edit their work, they still go back to their stories during those revising and editing lessons, do a quick once over, and they are done.  Usually no revising or editing.  However, every once in a while, you get a student who takes what you are teaching them to heart, and they reread their work carefully, and see what they have missed, and add those descriptive words, those special touches, that higher level language, in order to make their story better.  And when I say better I mean more interesting to the reader.  Making it so the reader can make a better picture in their mind's eye of what the writer is trying to say.

So even though I am not going back to my writing pieces to revise and edit, I am writing this blog post because I realize I have missed a HUGE piece of my story.  Kindness.  The kindness that my village has shown me is off the charts, indescribable.  I am having trouble finding the words to adequately describe what this kindness has meant to me and my family.  This kindness has come in so many forms - prayers, hugs, cards, soup, books, journals, flowers, gifts, smelly soaps, teas, text messages, Facebook messages, private messages, phone calls, phone messages, donations to worthy causes, meatballs, bagels on a Sunday morning, nights out, smiles, laughs, silliness, rides for me and my kids, beers for Adam, red wine for me, and love.  Lots and lots of love. Each one of these expressions of kindness has changed me in its own individual way. Some have brought me peace, some physical comfort, some have made me reflect on my own giving, and ways I can help others. Your kindness has taught me and my family how to be better.

I am losing strength in my right hand.  I am having some trouble doing things like opening water bottles and jars, writing, and holding things without dropping them.  I am hoping that the medicine that I take for the ALS will specifically slow down this part of the progression of the disease.  I am right handed, and my right hand gives me the opportunity to stay pretty independent.  But maybe I need to revise and edit.  Maybe I can teach myself to use my left hand more, or find tools to compensate for this loss of function.

I am finding that I have longer moments of calm.  More time in the day when I am not crying or feeling despair.  In fact, I am finding that it is becoming a bit easier to laugh at myself.   For example, I was trimming the bottom off of some flowers that were delivered today, and the end of the stem went flying out of my hand and flew somewhere unknown.  I looked around but couldn't seem to find it.  I continued about my business, and it wasn't until later in the day as I was washing my hands in the bathroom that I realized the flower stem had been in my hair for the past two hours!  And this made me laugh, so hard that the dogs came running to see what the hell was wrong with me.

Thank you for the kindness.  I am going to reflect and find a way to pass it on.

Monday, October 17, 2016

What is inspiring?

Inspiring.  Inspire.  Inspiration.

I have been hearing those words a lot since I have been diagnosed.  Even before that.  First, let me say "thank you".  Thank you for using these words to describe me.  However, I am finding it difficult to understand.  That is not me fishing for compliments, and I thought about not even addressing this in my blog because I don't ever want people to think I am not grateful for the compliment.  I just don't see it.  Why is this particular situation inspiring?

This is how dictionary.com defines inspire:

inspire

[in-spahyuh r
 
verb (used with object)inspired, inspiring.
1.
to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence:
His courage inspired his followers.
2.
to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.):
to inspire confidence in others.
3.
to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.:
to inspire a person with distrust.
4.
to influence or impel:
Competition inspired her to greater efforts.
5.
to animate, as an influence, feeling, thought, or the like, does:
They were inspired by a belief in a better future.
6.
to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence:
writings inspired by God.
7.
to guide or control by divine influence.

Living with ALS is not my choice.  That is pretty obvious.  What is it about being afflicted with an awful disease that people find so inspiring?!  I guess I could see if I was bravely going to work every day, or even getting dressed before eleven o'clock, or even doing one of the many chores that Adam now has to do, I could see that maybe -maybe - that would be inspiring.  But I am not.  I am finding it very difficult to live in any way that merely resembles what my old life used to look or feel like.  I am pretty sure that I could physically do some of those things, but my mind right now is telling me "no you can't".

Last night I opened the big envelope.  The envelope that was sent to me by the ALS Association. It took me about a week to open it.  It sat on my kitchen counter looking at me.  I almost felt like the longer it sat there unopened, the longer I would have to deny my diagnosis.  For some reason, last night I was ready.  It was filled with all sorts of information - everything from services that the Association can offer me, to support group schedules, to caregiver support, to booklets on medical definitions and research, to booklets about how any feeling you have is normal.  That last booklet was comforting because all the feelings they described, I am feeling - anxiety, fatigue, denial, walking around like this is happening to someone else - all of it.  But none of the information talked about how you will inspire others.  And I was searching.  I really was.  

The booklet also touched upon how every person afflicted with ALS is different.  How some will take a long time to accept their diagnosis, while others might be more resilient and jump right into being an advocate and fundraiser.  How some people might not want to see their friends for some time after being diagnosed, while others might want to be immersed with love and friendship.  How some people might be afraid to go to work, or their anxiety will take over their lives, while others will be able to continue on.  All of it is okay and normal.  Just because you feel one way or another, doesn't make you braver than another.  It just makes you different.  That was reassuring to me.  It sort of gave me permission to say, "Look, you are not crazy.  Your feelings are warranted and felt by others."

What does all of this have to do with inspiration?  I think until I can figure out why people are using that word to describe me - until I can believe it - I am just going to have to go on faith.  I will believe you that somehow you find this inspiring, find this struggle inspiring.  Maybe someday I will feel it too.



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Light

So it is officially, officially confirmed.  A third opinion.  I am a person living with ALS.

I went to Penn and I met with one of the director's of the ALS clinic.  (Some of this you might already know as I am writing on this blog AND posting on Facebook, which I am going to begin to limit my time on, but I'll get to that later).  I love her.  She was warm and compassionate, realistic and practical, understanding yet data driven.  Everything I needed her to be and more.  She explained everything to me in terms I could understand.  She asked about my kids, and the impact this is having on the family, and she answered every one of my questions.  But the one thing that she said that I keep going back to is "This is not your fault.  You did nothing wrong. You are doing life right."  Those words keep ringing in my ears as I work through this awful experience.

You see I was talking to her about health insurance, and disability, and all those things you have to think about when you are diagnosed with a life changing disease.  And I was telling her about how those things work in my family.  And she said, "This is not your fault.  You did nothing wrong.  You are doing life right."  I understand she didn't mean that there is a wrong way and a right way to do life.  There isn't.  I know she meant that there is no way that one can prepare for something like this.  No way for you to know that at age 49 your life will turn upside down.  No way for you to know that all the things you planned for have to be put aside.  I know, I am so dramatic.  Or as my son would say, "Mom, are you crying again?!"

I am starting on a medicine that will hopefully slow down the progression of the disease.  I have started new meds for anxiety and depression, and an additional med that will help with the charley-horse cramps I have every night.  I am wrought with guilt over not being able to work.  I can't even seem to communicate with my friends who are substitute teaching for me right now because I just feel so awful that other people have to do my work.  I know I shouldn't feel guilty.  I know I shouldn't feel anxious.  But I do.  My feelings and emotions seem unreasonable even to me.  I am grieving for me, my husband, my kids, my friends, my family, and even for the women about my age who look at me in the supermarket and are thinking, "my G-d, I hope what happened to her never happens to me."

Intermixed with all this grieving and guilt and self pity, I have moments of clarity and gratefulness (is that a word?).  I think often of the things that are the same and things that are different.  And not everything that is different is bad.

Same:  The love of my family.  The love of my friends.  The unconditional love of my dogs.

Different:  How often I tell my friends and family I love them.  I say it more.  And mean it more deeply.

Same:  For some reason, my husband still thinks I am sexy.  (TMI?  Too bad.)

Different:  I believe him more now than I used to.  Weird, huh?

Same:  My desire to be in control.

Different:  My inability to always be in control.

Same:  My intolerance for mean people and cruel intentions.

Different:  I am more willing to call people out for meanness and cruel intentions.

These are just a few.  I think of them often.  I should write them all down when they come to me.

In a few weeks I will go back to Penn, but this time meet my doctor at the ALS Clinic.  Here I will also meet with my multidisciplinary team - a nurse practitioner, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist, and others.  They will work together with me and come up with a plan, and guide me and support me through this process.  I am so grateful to have found this facility.

I am making some plans.  Some long term, some short term.  Fun things.  Painting and wine with friends (that will be some painting - between the loss of dexterity in my hand and the wine!),  a few possible trips, going to see Sarah next weekend at college, the Take Steps Walk for CCFA  this Saturday (is it still a walk if I now roll?), and plans to attend baseball games and band competitions.  I am also trying to come to terms with my faith, and my new relationship with G-d.  There are questions I have, and I am hoping that my faith can help me with the answers.

So I see that even though I started this blog post angry and sad, I have come to the conclusion that I can still see light.  I am slowly moving toward a place where I can be happy and sad at the same time.

Live to love.  Love to live.







Thursday, October 6, 2016

Grieving and Processing

Remember four days ago when I said this:

"I am a teacher.  This diagnosis is one giant teachable moment.  How I handle crisis and illness, how I handle difficulties and potentially embarrassing situations, is something that will be observed by my children, my students, and my community at large.  It is my opportunity to continue to make an impact.  I want to be able to laugh at myself, and show determination.  Yes, I do feel sorry for myself. Yes, I have said why me.  I don't think I would be human if I didn't.  And who knows - three months down the road I could have a totally have a different perspective.  Right now, in this moment in time, I am a teacher.  And I will continue to be so as long as I can."

Specifically this:

"And who knows - three months down the road I could have a totally have a different perspective." 

Well, it hasn't even been a week and my perspective has changed.  Yes, already.  I mean I still believe that this is one giant teachable moment, but I would rather have something else to teach.  Even Statistics.  I failed Statistics.  I had to take it twice.  I would rather teach Statistics.

I believe I might have hit rock bottom.  (I mean, I say that now, but look how much has changed in four days).  I went into the bathroom Tuesday night to take a shower, and in my attempt to take off my t-shirt, I lost my balance and bashed the bridge of my nose into the bathroom mirror.  I know that doesn't seem like a big deal to most, but I was just trying to take off my shirt.  By myself.  Something I have done every day, even multiple times, by myself, probably for the past 45 years.  And I couldn't do it.  I got hysterical.  Not because my nose hurt (it did), but because I couldn't take off my fucking shirt.

That night, after Adam took off my shirt, and I took a shower, and I iced my nose, I went to sleep.  All night I dreamed about falling.  Falling from my wheelchair, falling while using my walker, tripping over steps.  And every time I fell, I woke up.  I was so anxious and distraught the next morning I couldn't get out of bed.  And this is what happens.  I can't get out of bed, I can't go into work, I can't put forward my grand plan of making an impact by continuing to be a teacher.

So I stopped.  I just stopped.  And I am taking some time to grieve and process.  Grieve what I have lost, and will be losing.  Process how I am going to move forward.  Granted, I thought I had it all figured out, but alas, I don't.  Someone I love very much said to me - you have just been given probably the worst news you could be given about your health.  It seems a bit unrealistic to be able to jump right back into work, especially since what you do is so taxing on your mind, emotions, and body.

I am learning that I might have some unrealistic expectations for myself.  I think I have these unrealistic expectations for myself because I so desperately want for things to be "normal".  I want to be able to walk down the steps at a quick pace, jump in my car and run to Target for a few things, take my dog for a walk through the trails, and take my fucking shirt off without whacking my nose!  I want to be the old me, the one who is able and not disabled.  The one who can do it.  I have always been the one to do it.

Last night Gillian was inducted into Tri M, a national music honor society.  As I was leaving my seat to transfer back into my wheelchair, I stumbled and fell back into the seat.  I tend to say "I'm falling" when I am falling.  I am not sure why I do that.  It is pretty obvious that I am falling, so there is really no need to declare it.  I was embarrassed, but I know that it made the people around me really uncomfortable and sad.  So I sent a text to a few friends later that night apologizing for making them feel uncomfortable.  What the hell?!  Why did I do that?!  Why did I feel compelled to apologize for something that is completely out of my control?!  

This is what I have to process.  This is what I have to grieve.  I recognize that this writing is raw, and scary, and full of sad things.  But I do not have anything positive to say right now.  I am in a woe-is-me moment, and I need to be here for a while.  Maybe more than a while.  It will be intermixed with positive moments and Facebook posts, as I try to climb back up.

Last night I had the falling dreams again.  Falling from my wheelchair, falling out of my bed, falling from the rocking chair in my classroom.  But last night some of the times I was falling, there was someone there to pick me up.  Sometimes it was Adam.  Sometimes Lisa.  Sometimes Sarah.  Very often it was Janet, my friend and principal.  Sometimes they caught me.  Sometimes I fell and they were there to help me up from the ground.  Sometimes they got to me in time.  Sometimes they didn't. You don't have to be a genius to analyze these dreams and see their significance.

So bear with me my friends.  I am still me.  Please continue to love me.  Even like me, when I might not be so likable.  I am desperate for normalcy, but I no longer know what that is.  I am going to be writing sad and scary things, and bearing my soul to you, not because I want to, but because I have to.  This is part of the grieving and processing.




Sunday, October 2, 2016

Beginning

I am a teacher.  I am also a mother, a wife, a woman, an advocate, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a cousin, an aunt, a lover, a friend, a dog adopter, and many other titles.  There is not one title that defines us.  Now I am also a person with ALS.  
I am not sure why and how I am being so calm about the whole thing.  Granted Thursday and Friday of last week I was not calm.  I was a fuckin' mess, a blubbering idiot.  Numb one minute, and hysterical the next.  Now I feel calm.  Maybe because reality hasn't set in, or because now that I finally know what it is that has weakened my body I feel empowered.  I don't know.  I don't really care why, but I feel calm.  I sat with some close friends over bagels and treats this morning and spoke about all of it without crying.  And for those who know me, I cry over EVERYTHING!  Maybe it is survival mode.  Who cares, right?  It feels good to be calm.  
I have received such wonderful, caring messages from friends, family, and acquaintances.  It makes me remember how much good there is in the world, and how I believe that people are instinctively kind. Lately, in today's political and world climate, it is has been hard to see that.  I am lucky because I get to see it every day.  I see it in the young children I teach, the people I teach with, and the kindness that has been shown to me.  
Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - begins this evening at sundown.  It represents a fresh start, a time to reflect on the previous year and all you have done, and see how you can make the next one better.  Rosh Hashanah always seemed like the holiday that was perfect for teachers.  Teachers get a fresh start every September - a new group of kids, sometimes a new curriculum, or even if its the same curriculum the opportunity to reflect on how it was taught last year, and work on making this year even better.  Getting this diagnosis is like getting a fresh start.  I know, it seems like a stretch.  Hear me out.  Getting this diagnosis I get to reflect on what is going well in my life, and the things I would like to change.  I get to stop putting things off.  I am going to eat the chocolate cake and go to the zoo (without judgment - that is for my kids!) when I want to.  I am going to tell people how much I care for them, even if it makes them uncomfortable.  Why wait?  
I am a teacher.  This diagnosis is one giant teachable moment.  How I handle crisis and illness, how I handle difficulties and potentially embarrassing situations, is something that will be observed by my children, my students, and my community at large.  It is my opportunity to continue to make an impact.  I want to be able to laugh at myself, and show determination.  Yes, I do feel sorry for myself. Yes, I have said why me.  I don't think I would be human if I didn't.  And who knows - three months down the road I could have a totally have a different perspective.  Right now, in this moment in time, I am a teacher.  And I will continue to be so as long as I can.