Follow the Leader

“Come, follow me, we check in here…we follow these flowers in the carpeting back here to this room – what are those flowers called – the ones they have in spas? you stay here, and I’ll go change my top.”

I follow her lead.

Hm, so this is what a radiology-oncology department looks like – empty children’s play tables, bright, florescent lighting, and green, plastic plants.

After returning from a changing room, behind a closed door, she sat next to me.

“I brought my shot with me. I’m going to have them shoot me when I go in for radiation. I should’ve done my shot at 6 this morning, but time got away from me.” She set the plastic-wrapped syringe, full of blood thinning medicine, on the chair arm between us.

“Look at my eyelashes, look at my eyebrows – my hair is becoming so coarse.” Oh, so this is what happens when a body receives chemo/radiation.

I inspect her eyelashes. I had noticed them two nights before at her birthday party. They are long and curl on the ends.  She’s beautiful.

Her name was called, and she got up, leaving me in the waiting room, checking the weather forecast on my phone. It’s supposed to rain tonight – monsoon – I should probably bring the stuff in from the patio – rain or shine, just in case.

Ten minutes later, I’m startled by a technician standing in the doorway, calling my name.

Who me? Yes, me.

I followed the tech to a room down and across the hallway.

The room, full of large, metal equipment, must be the place where radiation treatments are given.

My friend, standing in the middle of the room, raising her top enough to expose her stomach,  introduces me to Wanda.

“Wanda is going to give me today’s shot, and I want you to watch her, so you can do it tomorrow.”

Wanda greets me, with her kind Southern accent, and gets busy.

Wanda instructs,

“Wipe with alcohol, keep two fingers width away from her bellybutton, and shoot the needle at an angle, not straight in. Don’t push the air out of the syringe before you begin. The air is there, so you don’t accidentally leak any of the medicine. If you can’t do it tomorrow, just come back to me with her shot. I’ll do it for her.”

Oh, yeah, she has to return to this same spot tomorrow for another round of radiation, and she has to have a shot of blood thinner every day, rain or shine.

She’s following her medical team’s lead, and I’m following her.

On our way home, and with her driving, she told me, “I had my hair done yesterday, and my hair stylist told me she has a friend who has breast cancer. The friend with breast cancer just lost all her hair.  I know that I’m going to lose my hair once chemo begins. I told my stylist that I hadn’t begun chemo, but I was beginning radiation. My stylist told me her friend with breast cancer had had radiation and described it with an analogy:”

“Radiation is like killing a roach.

You spray bug spray on a roach, over and over again, until it stops moving.

The roach dies, but the roach still remains.

It’s like that with a tumor.

The goal of radiation is to kill the tumor, but the tumor remains,

dead but still there.”

Isn’t it invaluable what we learn from others’ who are willing to share their expertise?

Rain or shine, we’re led to the answers to our questions, if we’re willing to follow others’ leads.

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U-Turn, a Horseshoe Ω

After a 4 hour car drive to Page, we drove to the Upper Antelope Canyon’s entrance.  Six cars deep, we waited to talk to the parking attendant managing the parking lot. The cars’ drivers ahead of us took turns speaking to the attendant and then did U-turns, leaving the park.

Finally, it was our turn.

“Park is closed indefinitely ‘cuz of the monsoon last night. Come back later this afternoon.” – Navajo Indian woman attendant, who seemed far from enthusiastic about her job.

The Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons don’t post closures online –

We really didn’t come this far to turn around, did we?

Preferring to photograph Lower Antelope Canyon, we drove to that entrance.

A traffic jam and a closed gate indicated the lower canyon was closed, too. We drove further up the road. The road ended at a security gate.  The security officer warned, “wrong way, you can’t get to Page this way – you have to turn around. The lower canyon will be closed all day since they are pumping out water from last night’s monsoon, but you might be able to access the upper canyon this afternoon.”

We did a U-turn and drove to Page, stopping for lunch at the River’s End Cafe. Great lunch.

After lunch, we decided to head back to the Upper Antelope Canyon to see if the park had opened.

The expressionless attendant, as if programmed on repeat, said, “Lower canyon is closed and upper canyon is only accepting 4 o’clock reservations, no guarantees. A monsoon is on its way. Come back tomorrow morning at 8.”

This is a long way to come for a U-turn.

So now what? Do we try to get a room in Page and return at 8? Do we go to Flagstaff? Should we try to see something while we’re here?

We decided to visit Horseshoe Bend, even though it was high noon, the worst time for photography. It’s a long way to come for a day hike in Arizona’s noon heat, but we didn’t feel like overnighting in Page and taking another chance on the canyons’ openings. We’d write this adventure off as a long way to go for a workout and try not to be disappointed.

We parked at Horseshoe Bend’s trailhead, hiked over a hill and down a valley to the Horseshoe Bend’s edge, and may I say, the the shape in the earth, carved by the Colorado River, was the perfect representation of a day full of U-turns when things don’t always go as planned.

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Ω

“all around us, nature patiently teaches us that change is normal, natural, predictable and necessary.” –

Spirit of Purpose

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Really, Rabbit?

He said, “You become. It takes a long time.

That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily,

or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

Generally, by the time you are Real, most  of your hair has been loved off,

and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.

But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real

you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

– The Velveteen Rabbit

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