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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Any Day Now

I have a recurring behavior in my life. For many years now I have developed a real disdain for people who complain about everything. If they work for or under someone else they complain about the way things get done, or not, and often say "If I owned this company...", or " If I was in charge". If the weather is warm and sunny they complain that they can't sleep at night because it's too warm, or there are too many mosquitos... certainly more than any time they can remember. Hunters complain because are too many "other" hunters and not enough game. The "outdoor folks" complain because there is not sufficient snowfall to ski on and to fill resevoirs, then complain because the winter "just won't let go", and Spring is too late in coming. When the early summer is dry and wildfires abound in May and June, they complain when the rains come in July and August and flood the areas that were on fire the month before.


 Everybody complains about traffic, even in a town with six stoplights. Some will say that the town is dead and there's not enough business here to lure other merchants to open up, then they go out of town to buy things. "Things are too expensive here" they say. The thought of actually consuming less and buying local escapes them. I heard someone the other day pine "Is it too much to ask that we have at least one clear sunny day"...as if there was somewhere such a request could be directed to. God perhaps? Nature herself? I would bring up the government, about now, but I am above that. Besides there isn't enough space here to venture down that path.


I'm saddened when I hear the religious complain of those less fortunate and their "burden" on society.
I don't think I have to elaborate on this. I laugh when I read of the public outcry over waste in our landfills, then watch people buy plastic water bottles by the millions or virtually every food item known to exist... because of the convenience. We have to have strip malls (and larger) every few blocks so we don't have to drive across town for something. There needs to be a Starbucks or McDonalds, sometimes two or three in a square city block because... well, who knows why. Maybe its just to provide evidence that consumerism is alive and well. Either way, people will complain of congestion  and then concentrate their businesses to feed off of the same congestion.


Currently, I've read that people complain that professional sports have become too violent, the salaries too decadent, the athlete's behavior increasingly irresponsible. I guess that the fans are unaware that they provide the monies necessary to facilitate such behavior. The cheering during these sporting events is never louder than when one athlete applies a collision so violent that both will pay for it the rest of their lives. Our support makes it possible.  College athletes want to get paid now to play because, they say, life is too difficult trying to practice, play, and keep up with classwork. I think I'm on board with this if they did away with scholarships and have the athletes pay their own tuition. They've become too complacent about the value of education and don't deserve to have this important "blessing" given to them for free. It's wasted on them.Not to mention the tutoring they get because they're "too busy" to go to class.
  By now, I'm sure, you've discovered what my recurring behavior is... I complain about all the people who complain.  "My name is Mike and I'm a complainer". There I said it. I just want to go on record by saying that it would be a lot easier for me to control my condition if everybody else would acquire some common sense. Just saying...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Power of Example

    As I have said before, I never got the chance to escort my parents into their "old age".  My dad was a young eighty four year old who lived in his own home, drove everywhere (even interstate travels), piloted a large power yacht around the Puget Sound, and in general navigated his life with a certain level of octogenarian ease that most of us desire at that stage of our life. For the most part, he embraced technology and lived life as it presented itself.  Except for a bout with prostate cancer (at age 71), the usual blood clot, and some mild heart disease, his health was good.  And yet...he died unexpectedly while taking a "quick" nap before a meeting with his lawn guy.
    My mom did have a serious health issue, emphysema, which required periodic use of supplemental oxygen.  Despite this, she was active at her senior center, lived in her own home, and maintained a brilliant sense of humor.  Her laugh was ( and still is with my two sisters) a real family treasure.  When she started to laugh, you were drawn into a lightness of life that transcended any worries or hardships you were experiencing. She was a tiny gem that sparkled through her eyes right up to her final days.  A brain tumor, and a series of strokes, took her at age seventy eight. Our parents, as every one's do, live on in their kids.  My sisters shine with my mom's optimism, laughter, and incredible resiliency. My belief in community, whistling under my breath,  and wry goofy humor comes from my dad.  That's how it works.
    Last week I had the privilege of helping my in-laws as they moved to a senior housing facility a mile from their current home.  With this move, they completed a "ten block" rectangle of housing locations that spanned over 60 years.  Four homes, two streets, one phone number.  They could have stayed in their current home a few more years but, as they are prone to do, decided it was better to move a little bit early rather than a little too late.  Mom decided it was time to "go through things" and simplify.  Dad knew the days of tending a yard and garden were behind him.  Neither wanted to move but intelligence, and wisdom, told them it was time.
     They are both people who take tremendous pride in their home and family.  A move to an apartment was both new and a bit sad.  I tear up just writing this because I witnessed first hand how difficult a decision, and process, it was for them to make.  A lifetime of memories (and mementos) reduced to wholesale exporting to family members, thrift stores, and garbage bins.  My mother-in-law did not want her kids to have the burden of having to deal with this task.  My father-in-law is a retired trial lawyer who would come home from work and "detour" to his garden before entering the house or taking off his suit.  Probably to ward off a potential migraine, but certainly to acquire some sense of peace after a day in court. Together they raised eight kids, several surrogate children (including me the past 31 years), and have conducted their lives with a level of integrity few people achieve.
    So, last week I went down to Denver to help any way I could.  A few of the jobs were carpentry related so those were easy to accomplish.  Mostly my work involved some small lifting and lending some moral support.  I was glad I had the time to be there.  It was an honor for me and helped me gain some understanding about my life and how we all "fit" together if we let HIS work unfold.  Having the resources to make such a move is certainly a blessing, but relinquishing your "home", and yard, for an apartment is a sacrifice that should not be taken lightly by any of us "kids".  We're all headed for the same decision some day.  Some encouraging words won't dispel the feelings that go with such a decision.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make a choice you know is right but...REALLY do not want to make.  A choice that is 180 degrees from everything you have valued your whole life.
    I am so blessed to be part of this family...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Simple's better...right?

    Of course...it's a rhetorical question.  I know the answer.  In a strange way, I knew the answer before I ever considered the question.  You see...I have always feared the influence money has on me.  I don't know why, I've never had enough to base this opinion on.  And don't get me wrong, I have always sought money, at least in some modest fashion.  As well, I should say this is not an indictment of money or those who seek it.  This is merely a reflection on my own "monetary neurosis".  Money, much like firearms, is only a "thing".  It has, obviously, no ability of it's own to perform either good or evil actions.  I know this.  I see money more as "activity", or things I can do with it...i.e. travel, learn, fish, feed, house, repair, etc.  A verb,not a possession.  It doesn't mean power to me.  It doesn't have a "life" of it's own.  It allows me to "do" things, not just "have" things, if that makes sense.  I know this seems as if I am "splitting hairs", and like I just said it is my fiscal illness.  Logically, it acquires health care, education, utilities, housing, clothing, existence...it provides the necessities. First.  Or should.  Next it can provide opportunities such as vacations, travel, jewelry, cars, houses, toys...you know, things.  Primarily, this is the progression of thought people use as they seek to acquire money (how much) and then to plan how to use it (purpose).   If you are just a bit more advanced in your planning you place a large amount of thought about when, and how, you will "retire" from working and enjoy the last ten or fifteen (or more) years doing as you wish. Some people base their entire career selection on this criteria.  Suffice it to say...I am not one of these people.
    Where am I going with this ?  I'm part of a group of people that places great value on what we do (and where we live) for a living vs how much I can make. We truly care about what we do and how well we do it.  That's not to say I'm not interested in my pay, just the opposite, but my main focus is the project and how well I do things.  I guess I just want those "with money" to acknowledge what I do and "share" the pie without me having to gravel for it by tooting my own praises.  Believe me, what I do and the product I produce is an easy thing to see...unless greed clouds your vision.  One thing I have learned is that to acknowledge the efforts of others means to have to "back it up" with some level of compensation.  Words are great but they won't pay for health care or college tuition so, often, neither comes along.
    Now as a capitalist I will admit that every worker is responsible for their own financial well being.  It is my downfall.  Five children and some small mistakes have been my undoing.  I guess I just expect that those who make their money from my work should share in the "windfall".  My last project, which was a spectacular place to behold, took me two years plus to build, caused an incalculable toll on tools, vehicles (and body).  In the end I received my wages plus approximately $10k in bonus, 401k contributions, and severance.  It was my fault, I did not request or receive our agreements in writing.  I have trouble doing this.  The contractor (as opposed to the builder, me) was paid over $500k.  The crew received even less than I did.  Some time back I came to the conclusion that I was a much better builder than I was a business owner, but can't there be a middle ground ?
    Many will, at this point, inquire if I would like some cheese to go with my "whine".  I will answer YES!!! if cheese is a metaphor for $$$$.  I guess what I am hoping for is some type of dialogue about how business compensates it's workers.  The irony for me is that by the time I understood why and how I should negotiate my compensation for any given project, the national (and local) economy eliminated any and all opportunities to implement this newly found understanding.  The next thing I knew three years have gone by and I'm finding myself too old (in the eyes of others) to secure even  an interview.   I lost out, on my last job application (a county job I was supremely qualified for) to a young man who hasn't been alive as long as I have been building.  The hard part for me is that I feel better than I have in fifteen years. Go Figure....
   
 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Better Mood

    "It's not what you look at that matters...it's what you see."
                                                                             Henry David Thoreau


    I love this quote, and have for years, because it sums up my approach to life.  I used to use it on my kids, you know..."attitude is everything", much to their chagrin.  I could always tell from their pained, faraway gaze what they thought of this bit of wisdom.  I also remember that "parent" moment when I realized "life" would have to provide the understanding, I was just the messenger.  I drew up the "play",  but "Coach" would have to explain it. I didn't have the words.  That's okay though. They would just have to wait for their "rich uncle" to visit.
    For several weeks now I have been spending a large portion of each day with a very dear friend of mine who is suffering from depression.  He has for some time. Recent events, and his illness, had rendered him "nonfunctioning".  In daily life and at work he became unable to perform even simple decisions, often "locking up" and just staring at nothing in particular.  Inside, he knew he was shutting down, but he couldn't help it.  He wasn't eating properly, his driving was slow and erratic, and his moment to moment awareness was so slow that his bosses put him on a medical leave for safety reasons.  His past gave him intense sadness, and the future scared the hell out of him.  No awareness of the present moment, blessings..opportunities, etc.  All his thoughts were "If only I had...done this" or " How is...going to happen".  The nighttimes alone were filled with such dread that he was unable to sleep, even with powerful prescription medication.  His appearance and behavior scared me to death.  I saw him after church a few weeks ago and just decided his situation was just too much too ignore.
    Much like cancer, I had a lot to understand about depression.  I knew it was an illness, just like cancer, that required treatment to survive.  When some of us encounter sad or stressful situations, we react to things, accordingly, and move forward. We grieve, we get upset, whatever the correct response is, and most of the time we "get over it".  For whatever reason, those who suffer depression find it difficult to reverse the initial feelings and their mood continues to slide south.  Many of us have experienced this to some degree. Sometime before  we reached that "tipping point", most of us gain control of our mood and start climbing back up. Science has a large volume of studies that show the chemical brain changes that happen when this occurs.  As the depression deepens, the greater the chemical changes.  Some believe that specific mental exercises can prevent the severe plunges that many suffer from. For others, medication is prescribed to balance these chemical offsets.  I offer this only as I sift my way through the reading material I am studying to gain understanding for my friend.  My objective here is to address the role we play in each others life.  When I saw my friend after church, the first thing I noticed was how alone he was...and it broke my heart.  For twenty years I was used to seeing him with his wife and four kids. Now people were avoiding any meaningful conversation with him, wishing not to engage in anything too personal.  I could tell by his appearance that his illness was winning the battle, and...so could everyone else.  I just remembered thinking "I just can't take anymore sadness this year", even when it's someone else's sadness.
    I'm casually acquainted with the connection between depression and suicide, or homicide for that matter, and I quickly decided to dive into my friend's life to at least "be there" for him.  I admit I didn't know what I was signing up for, but the option to ignore his plight never occurred to me.  So many people have been there for me, on so many levels, over the years.  It's how God maneuvers through our world.  We have to be the ones who advocate, protect, befriend, and sometimes comfort those around us.  Helping my friend was easy.  I love him.  Helping a stranger in a similar way would really express my true humanity.  Maybe I'll get to see how that plays out someday.  I say let's perfect our "compassion" on the one's we love first.  Don't look beyond the people in your life that are crying out for help.  Once we develop the "eyes" to see other people's pain we begin to build a world where sadness recedes and joy expands.  No one deserves to suffer illness, it just happens.  We all encounter it at some point in our lives.  Mental illness, physical disease, tragedy.  Loving each other through it is the only way to have peace as we go.  My friend will be okay.  He's getting lots of help, his illness is curable, and...he's not alone.
    I apologize if this post seems a bit "preachy".  It's not my intent.  I just wanted to push the point that we have to be there for each other.  We are the one's who perform HIS work.  We comfort, we cure, we support, we teach, we protect, and we attend to each other's needs.  All the things LOVE does. 
    Here's to a prosperous and happy New Year.  I hate to see last year go, but I'm anxious to see what I get to learn this year.  I say let's inhale deeply, smile brightly, and move closer to the "light".

Friday, December 7, 2012

When they say "Life is Precious"...they aren't kidding

"Some people complain because roses have thorns...I am thankful that thorns have roses"
                                                                                                   Alphonse Karr



     I have come to understand, in a most profound way, the offset relationship between joy and wisdom and their role in the makeup of my being.  My joy is a deep form of happiness that flows, and is built upon, the wisdom my life has revealed to me.   It gives me "lightness" in life.  As my wonderful Godmother June would always (and still does) say "Ohhhh lighten up".  My joy allows me to laugh and smile, and to breathe deep all that the world around has to offer.  It operates in the  moment, which is always a good influence on me.  My joy assures me of the Love and attention my God has for me.
    Wisdom, on the other hand, is like a wealthy uncle.  I don't live with him, he rarely comes to my "house", but I see his presence because he "pays" for everything.  When he does come, it's always in a dark corner of my life. When my joy takes a "lunch break", wisdom slides into the booth alongside me, exposes a new perspective on something, pays the bill, and disappears.  When my joy returns, it's even more intense because of what I have learned.  I Love my uncle.
    Last Tuesday I went for my 6 week post operative Dr. appointment.  I'm sure it was clear, from my last post here, that my angst over this visit was quite high.  This is the point in this whole process where you find out if chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment will be necessary.  Once the prostate is removed, technically, there should be no detectable prostate specific antigens (psa) in your blood stream.  If there is a significant amount (more than 1 ng/ml of blood) of PSA, it probably means tiny, microscopic prostate tumors are present somewhere in your lymphatic or circulatory system.  At this point the effort is to hunt it down and kill it before it sets up shop in some other organ of the body.  It's easy to see why this step in the journey causes so much worry.  Especially in me.  I did a quick visit with the physical therapist to review my recovery successes and then after a short break I went to the Doctor's office to get the news of my blood test.  At this point, I could barely remember my name or birthday.  I was led to an exam room to wait.  The small battery powered clock on the wall sounded like Big Ben.  I could feel the quick steps of the nurses in the hall bouncing the floor up and down.  Twenty minutes later my door opened and in walked a nurse in purple scrubs.  "Dr. Stepan was hung up in surgery.  You can leave and get a bite to eat and come back in an hour or so.  We'll just fit you back in when you get here".  It felt good to exhale, but the thought of holding the next breath for as long as the last didn't thrill me.  "Okay" I said.  "Do you happen to have the results of my blood work".  It was worth a shot.  I really feel that the object of eating lunch is to actually swallow the food, and at that moment, it would have been impossible.  " Yes" she said,  your count shows less than 0.04, or an unmeasurable amount.  The test only measures to .04, and yours was less than that."  She had me at .04, she didn't have to add the 0.  "That's a good thing, right" I clarified.  She smiled at me for a quick second with kind, thoughtful eyes..."Yes it is".  They were the eyes of someone who had seen "not so good" numbers delivered before and they glowed with appreciation here.
    < 0.04.  That's how it appears on my lab report.  I don't think I will ever forget this figure.  Essentially it means zero psa.  As my doctor would later qualify that day, it means a low probability for my cancer returning.  By my cancer, I mean my prostate cancer. Not impossible, just not very likely at all.  None of this affects the possibility of other cancers.   My main weapon there is to create an immune system that will not allow any cancer to develop.  This is in the works, as we speak, (and will continue) for the rest of my life.  Virtually every study that's been done over the past thirty years or so (some longer) shows overwhelming evidence that correct nutrition can protect us from almost every known cancer there is.  It's fairly complex.  It requires big adjustments and a dedication to creating a clean "environment" for us to live in.  That's the path we are on...and it feels great.  I told someone the other day that I feel as good as I've felt in maybe ten or fifteen years.  I lost twenty pounds ( a year and a half ago), I had my knee repaired (one year ago), and with the diet changes we are making, I feel real good.
   Now the wisdom part propels me forward.  I have a greater appreciation for "all things, big and small". 

" We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world"  Helen Keller
  
    I was going to make this my last posting for this blog.  I have been convinced otherwise.  My JOY encourages me to continue, my LOVE for people requires it.  I want to express my, previously unfathomable, gratitude for everyone who has read and commented, prayed for and encouraged me regarding my blog.  It started out, and remains, a personal journal of my private thoughts and events as I deal with all this.  As well, it was also meant to soothe and allay some fears for others as they encounter any similar situations.  I have heard from several others, battling breast and cervical cancer,(as well as prostate) who expressed the same feelings and determination, and appreciated the support and insights they received here.  It's just good to know others are out there in the same struggle, praying and thinking about them.  This visit from my "rich uncle" is over, for now, and yes...he is still paying for things.  He is keeping me steeped in valuable perspective and appreciation for all I have...my family, my friends, MY GOD, and this feeds my JOY.   MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Carrying A Dream

  "Life is too short for drama & petty things..
   So, kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly, pray always

                                                                   Pope John XXIII


    I just can't get off the idea of my cancer being a "gift".  I believe that.  I say gifts, as in something that improves or enhances life, because I honestly, and humbly, feel that way.  They are the gifts of appreciation, gratitude, clarity of thought and perspective, family, love, and LIFE itself.  How can these things be anything but gifts to us ?  They are truly the basis for all happiness in life.  I personally think the objective, at least partially,  of religious faith is to highlight, enhance, and secure profound protection OF these gifts.  At least that is the intent "on paper" as they say.  A couple problems do come into play here, though, in my experience.  One is...real life. Work, parenting, bills, relationships, and thus, stress, heartache, disappointment, ailments...all components of daily life, and oh yeah, ego. They cloud our perspective of how things are really going for us.  They skew our view of the world around us. Our concerns become petty or "self" centered. And for good reason.  The "quality" of our life depends on our decisions.  Or...does it?
    I don't know that I would be so concerned about my next vacation, the condition of my car, or the paint job on my house if my health situation had (or may still have) taken a different turn.  A quick poll of any surviving family members, I feel, would bear this out.  I miss my parents, friends, and other family members that are no longer here, and I regret letting these life "issues" carve into the time I could have spent with them.  It's always about the future and seldom about the right now.  I do know this...if I could, I would trade any amount of expense, comfort, or personal gain to reclaim time with either loved ones lost or time with my children before they left home.  I would quickly ignore the distractions of work to spend more time with my wife.  I would learn, more intimately, what it means to "savor" moments. Moments that create and flavor the memories of "real life".
    Am I suggesting that we should ignore the value of paying attention to these "big" details of life.  Not at all.  Do I believe it's important to value our responsibilities?  Unquestionably.  Whatever the circumstances of our life, this is how we "journey" from beginning to end.  If we are blessed with wealth, we have certain responsibilities.  If we are blessed with children, we have certain responsibilities.  If our health is strong, we have to value and protect it.  All these things are critical.  The tipping point, for me, becomes the level of focus (on these things) I operate at.  When we narrow our view of life to just our own perspective, the world shrinks and suffers.  The common good becomes the "victim".  Stalemate, which benefits no one, wins by default.  I love the political process in this country.  The world loves our political system.  The breakdown comes when selfish attachment to a specific viewpoint becomes an immovable "mountain".  Enough of that.  I suggest only this ( as my friend Dave Weins says)..."if it doesn't work for everyone, it doesn't work".  My "new" perspective has shown me how blessed we are to have each other.  How do we honor this?
    My personal attachment to stress or worry has become my new challenge in life.  Or rather, the de-emphasis of them is my greatest objective.  I feel as if I have become an "addict" of these feelings.  I rationalize, as I have said before, this approach to life as being the symptom of a high level of concern I feel for the ways things are done.  Trust me...it's important, but not THAT important.
    This week (Dec.4th) is my post-operative appointment to determine if any of my cancer remains...and I don't know how to feel about it.  My "fight or flight" response has been slapping me around a lot the past few days or so.  My angst has been welling up all week...almost to the levels of my pre-surgical feelings.  It snuck up on me because I thought I was past this "weakness" to dread.  I sort of "knew" (this is a relative description) what the surgery would bring.  I think I approached surgery as the end of cancer for me, foolishly.  It was just the "task" in front of me.  Now...the "rubber meets the road".  The course for the next year will be set.  I truly am sorry if I have seemed uninterested,lately, in what is going on in my family's lives.  I just can't focus on anything else. I really do not want chemotherapy.  But who does?  We"ll see...
   The last paragraph may seem to contrast with my opening thoughts.  It's not so.  Most of my thoughts are overwhelmingly rooted in appreciation for life.  It just shows the "swings" I feel in dealing with all this.  I like things I can understand and some of this is both unknown and scary to me.  I was fooled into believing I had moved beyond fear.  I personally don't think I could ever "get over" the fear.  It's like lightening.  I can work to avoid it, but I can't make it go away.  One misstep and "ZAP". HaHa.  I can only "stay indoors" and ponder the benefits.  It's my way of containing thoughts that can become consuming.  Occasionally I ask myself , "So...how's that denial thing working for you"?
    So...we will drive to Grand Junction, again, and we will see the doctor, again (a shameless Forrest Gump reference).  And...we will deal with what comes.  My bride and me.  I don't think she thought this part (the sickness and health line) of our vows would be an issue, none of us does, but here we are.  And I am so grateful for her.  If my blood test is negative, I will probably do one more entry to let everyone know the news and to sign off.  I do have more subjects to explore but I will start a new blog to move on from this chapter of my life.  So...cross your rabbits foot, make a wish on a falling star, "hope to shout", all those silly things we do to favor good luck for some good news.  Oh yeah...prayers are still being accepted.  Remember to help those (around you) who need help, even those beyond our own worlds.  That's how we grow.  Much Love to ALL....MA

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Road Home-Part two

  
"We've been through...some things together.  With trunks of memories still to come.  We found things to do... in stormy weather. Long may you run"  Neil Young "Long May You Run"
  

    I'm pretty sure this song is about an old hearse Neil drove during his early days in Canada, but the lyrics just fit my mood these days.  I have lots of great memories of my life so far, but...there are "trunks of memories still to come".  I plan on filling those trunks.
    This Monday, Nov.12, marks four weeks post operative for me. I add this tag because, in my mind, the cancer process started Aug. 30th...D-Day.  The day my diagnosis was delivered was when my "process" began.  It isn't all about the physical effects of cancer. In fact, for me, most of the adjustments are emotional and spiritual.  We all die.  Some early in life and some in old age.  Sometimes death comes slowly.  Sometimes it happens abruptly.  But...we all die.  If it happened now, for me, I have some peace with things.  My focus has become the use of time I'm fortunate to have...now.  My diagnosis has caused me to ponder more.  It isn't just the imminent struggle or needs of the day.  It's more...what do I do with my gifts, my heart, my moments from here on.  Have I acheived what I was created to do.
    Each week has provided improvements. Physically I'm getting stronger and experiencing less fatigue.  I do enjoy my afternoon naps, but I am less dependent on them.  If my schedule doesn't allow for it, I don't have to rest to make it through the day.  I may go to bed early that night, but I don't "crash and burn" mid-day.  The daVinci method sort of creates a skewed expectation that less trauma has occurred during surgery. And, indeed, at the incision point it is much less invasive.  Internally, though, the same organs, vessels, and tissues are still removed and require considerable recuperation.  When they say recovery takes four to six weeks, they are pretty accurate.  I have been fairly active for a couple weeks, but no lifting.  I run errands, I drive back and forth to town, I do light duty house chores such as dishes and cooking, but no heavy work.  I can sense the damage it would cause if I did too much, and I definitely don't want to repeat this process.  I started doing some excercises... push ups, leg lifts, and stretching, after three weeks, but nothing more.  Oh yeah, Kegel Exercises as well.  They started before the surgery and resumed as soon as the catheter was removed.  They are VERY important, and necessary...if you are interested in not wetting your pants or wearing "diapers" the rest of your life.  Be very serious about these efforts and your quality of life will be measurably better.
    As for my emotional health,well...that has required a different approach.  First, as I have stated before,  I lean markedly on the side of anxiety.  I fret.  I worry.  I work hard to preempt events that I think are coming.  In other words, I stress over things that haven't happened yet. You can imagine how this trait of mine went into overdrive when I received my diagnosis.  As I moved deeper into the process I found two areas that can be labeled as "controllable".  One is the ability to rework my diet and exercise, and the other is the ability to focus on my "internal" or mental processes.  There is no way to eliminate cancer from my body...if in fact it was not fully removed through surgery.  Eliminated by me, I mean. Only time can reveal the truth here.  I can "train" myself to focus on the things I can control.  Things that really do matter.  I can improve my odds considerably by consuming the healthiest possible diet.  Modern science has a tremendous amount of data here that is proven to make a difference not only in the prevention of future disease but in curing the current ailments that we may have.  I can improve the fitness level I have and that not only improves the odds for good future health but greatly improves the quality of life I experience now.  Finally, and maybe most importantly, I can build hope on all the small victories I encounter along the way.  My surgery and subsequent pathology reports, my overall improved feelings from diet and exercise, the care, love, and support of family and friends.  All these "victories" as I call them give me a feeling of lightness.  I laugh a lot,  my mood is brighter, and I allow myself to ponder the future.  I am considering, after 35 years, of making a career change.   All things we all do when we feel hope.  Hope is the key, not just to cancer patients, but to all of life.  It is what gets us out of bed in the morning, it keeps us from giving up when life gets "dark", and it assists our amnesia when we need to forget a past event that would otherwise anchor us with sadness.  I don't speak here of avoiding loss.  I speak here of grieving and then moving forward.  Hope Saves Our Life and it is important to develop and safeguard the events that feed and nurture it.  Maybe the way each of us accomplishes this is different, maybe the sources of our encouragement and strength vary, but knowing the importance of protecting what is most valuable to us is the key.  The old you, the one that existed before cancer, is gone.  We are no longer  the person who "has not had cancer".  You are now the person battling through and beyond cancer, with a new way of seeing and approaching life.  Things are different now...for the most part,  profoundly better.
    Spiritually...where to begin.  Honestly I can not imagine navigating this process without the presence of God journeying with me.  I don't want to explore too much here for a couple of reasons.  One is because I respect the beliefs and efforts of each individual, and the other is the awareness that we all walk our own path and encounter our creation at different levels.  I don't want to inject my experience of faith, unless I am asked to specifically, so as not to deny or minimize the experiences of others.  Don't get me wrong, there is no other subject I enjoy more...just not here.  Have your people call my people and we'll "make it happen".  I only want to "highlight" the importance of staying connected to, and investing in, the source of our creation.  You need to know you are never alone.
    I look forward to the next few weeks.  That wonderful holiday of gratias is coming...and I have so much I am thankful for.  This year I will not just "give thanks"...I will celebrate it.  I will enjoy all my family and I will honor those who are not here anymore.  Honor them for their contribution to making me who I am.  When I thank God, this year, for my abundance of blessings, I will have a keen awareness of these gifts and what they mean to me.  And...I will use all this knowledge to reinforce my feelings of HOPE.  I am anxious to undergo my first PSA test Dec.4th.  I will probably be just as anxious to do the subsequent tests every 3 months thereafter, but this will not affect my life in between.  Please reach out to those you encounter in your life, who may need your gifts.  You never know when that person in need may be you... Love to All