When I learned of my diagnosis, one of the things that made me the most anxious was my fear that I might only have a few good months, which is what the doctors initially told me before I began my treatment. It is very difficult to decide what to do or who to see when you have a perceived timeline to work with. I was, and still am, afraid that I will waste this time between now and September which is when we find out the results of my radiation treatment, and what the next steps are. I worry about seeing family and friends pretty much every day, especially since Santiago is my home but my family is in the states. This turmoil makes one make rash and manic decisions about trips and plane flights. Sorry for all those emails about a week ago, friends!
I was trying to do this insane trip back to the states in August and September and see all these people in different cities and states (Houston, Los Angeles, Boston and Maine to be exact), but it was stressing everyone out, including me, so I think I am just going to go with hope and optimism and wait to plan that trip home until I know more and I´m feeling better (knock on wood…) Plus, I need to rest and recover from treatment, and Jon needs to go back to work; he also tends to get pretty sad when I am gone that long. In addition, Dr. Majlis and the neurologist said they would like to monitor my health on a weekly basis in case an emergency arises. So far I don´t have any headaches and have been feeling good for a large portion of the day, but I have quite a bit of fatigue in the middle of the afternoon and have to rest. Also, even though I am lowering my dosage of steroids, I have a good deal of insomnia. Usually I sleep about three to five hours at night, and then the fatigue consumes me in the middle of the day. I definitely couldn´t make it through an entire school day right now without laying my heavy, air filled head down on a pillow. The feelings of fatigue are supposed to subside after a few months but we don´t know how much or when.
I thought I´d let you all know also, since my last post was about the terrible effects of steroids, that my skin is calming down, which has been a positive sign for me, but I am still really bloated and my face is puffy like a chipmunk. My fingers are so swollen I can´t even wear my wedding rings and have instead taken to hauling them around on a chain around my neck a la Carrie from Sex and the City, not because I don´t want to wear them, but because I can´t fit them on my swollen sausage fingers. When I try to relax I have quite a lot of jaw tension and clicking from the bones in the back of the head, both of which worry me at night or when I take naps on the couch. From around 3-6 AM I spend a lot of time on my phone in the dark, trying not to wake Jon, while staying connected to people, answering emails, blogging, planning trips, reading, and working on my scrapbooks, etc. It is quite productive, but I would definitely prefer to be sleeping or moving around. It doesn´t get light here in Chile till late, so my family members were lounging around in bed till the sun came up around 8:30 or 9. Darn you, Chile, for not falling back on Daylight Savings this year!
My new motto is “There´s No Time Like The Present”, and my list of things I would like to do and see (aka my bucket list) has been written and is quite substantial. I hope to continue to check some of those things off in the next few months. Upon looking at my bucket list, I realized that travel definitely an essential part of who I am. The sights and cities I would like to visit takes up much of that list. I absolutely love to see new places, indulge in new histories, and learn more about the great, wide world. I know that some people probably don´t understand our love of travel and choose to spend their time and resources on other things, but for me travel is extremely therapeutic. Nothing can match the adrenaline pumping through your veins as you board an aircraft to a new destination. (This could also be nervousness about possibly not making it to your destination…) Nothing can beat the feeling of pouring through the guidebook circling and underlining sights or researching mouthwatering restaurants online, anticipating the trip. I absolutely love to travel, and I know my life would be empty without it.
In that vein, one of the places that Jon and I have wanted to visit is Easter Island. It is, I believe, the most remote island in the world. There is nothing around but wide-open ocean, and when you step foot on that Polynesian blip of volcanic rock in the middle of nowhere, it certainly feels like you are alone in the world. We had so many of the sights completely to ourselves. The island itself is tiny, just about 17 miles by 5 miles, and contains these mysterious Moia statues put there by the local inhabitants, the Rapa Nui. Easter Island, as you might have guessed, is not a traditional travel destination for people because it´s so hard to get there. There are only a few LAN flights a week from Santiago and one from Papeete, Tahiti, to give you an idea how difficult it is to get there. But pretty much all of our expat Chilean friends have been and highly recommended it, so we both had a hankering to go. I found decently priced tickets and bought seats on the flight for my mom, Jon, and me. Surprisingly, business class was cheaper than economy so we had a wonderful experience sitting up in the front of the plane. Jon could lie down and have space to stretch his legs for once, the service was amazing, and the food and beverage options were so much better! It definitely makes it hard to fly economy with Jon´s knees crammed into the back of the seat in front of him. Why do they make those seats so small??!
But I digress. Since we are getting close to our new destination of Salvador, Brazil (I told you I like to travel) and I´m finally getting sleepy, I´ll write a separate blog to give you all more details and images from our trip to Easter Island once Jon and I finish editing the pictures. It was truly a special, special trip and a completely magical experience. I´m so glad I got to experience that with my mom before she went back home. She was not expecting to go to Easter Island when she came down, but I hope she had as good a time experiencing the island of Hanga Roa as Jon and I did.