What we found in the woods, pt. 1

My scans were fine. Before anything else I should always tell you that. (What I might say in a quieter voice is that at this point, I am expecting them to be fine, and that might invoke the Evil Eye, and so forget I said anything. Ptuh, ptuh, ptuh.)

It was Mother’s Day and I was celebrated and it was lovely. There were pancakes. There were greeting cards. There was Mexican food. There was a chamber music concert to attend. In the evening, J and Young J went to serve at a soup kitchen with a group from our synagogue, so Young A and I hung out. We tried playing badminton but the wind blew over our net incessantly. So we took to the woods. It is not easy to get A out of the house. I appealed to the fact that it was Mother’s Day and he needed to do what I asked. The woods were lovely, we don’t visit them enough considering how close they are. There were white flowers everywhere, and then, suddenly, right by the trail, there was an uprooted tree with a huge rock embedded in its base (see Figure A).

I thought it was quartz. I sent the photo to a geologist friend when I got home, and she corrected me: it is feldspar. Being able to name it, I wanted it. Wanted to pry it loose from the dead tree and bring it home to rest in our garden. It had been a while since I felt this emphatic about anything (see previous post re: Lexapro, more on that in a moment), so I considered it a good sign. Something to not ignore.

The next evening, while J. played basketball and Young A had his bar mitzvah lesson, Young J and I took to the woods. We brought a flat screwdriver and a hand trowel. We managed to loosen a lot of dirt, but the rock wasn’t budging. We passed a clearing by the creek where there were about eight deer resting, frolicking, existing without human interruptions. I felt very fortunate to have such easy access to these woods.

It wasn’t until a day and a half later that I got back to the woods. Work intervened, and the quest for more work, and also driving children around. Yesterday, mid-morning, I texted my neighbor C to see if she’d come to the woods with me to see about that rock. J also happened to be available. So the three of us headed to the woods, C bringing her pickaxe. I had fallen down a rabbit hole on YouTube, watching videos by people who describe themselves using a word I hadn’t known, rockhounds. I learned many things that I didn’t particularly need to know, including what the best tools are and that you should always wear a reflective orange vest when rockhounding, because that way no one will ever question what you’re up to.

J took up the pickaxe and in a moment, he’d loosened the rock. Then there was the matter of getting it out of the woods. He hoisted it up on his shoulder and, with a few breaks, managed to get it to the trailhead. We all walked back home, and I brought the car to pick up our treasure. Now it’s sitting in the driveway awaiting a good spot for it in the flower bed. I’ll try to clean it with a combination of water, white vinegar, and dish soap, because that’s another thing YouTube taught me about rocks.

What we found in the woods is now in the driveway

I’ve been feeling very low energy and having a hard time getting through the viscous liquid of days. Lexapro has evened out my emotions, but the cost appears to be motivation and creativity. I’m not enjoying this way of being. I feel estranged from myself. So I told my new doctor that I’d like to stop taking it. I’m currently tapering off it over the space of a week.

Today I went to see Dr. L for my followup appointment after my scans. All was well (but I already knew that). I was prepared with my big ask, which was to decrease the frequency of my scans to six months. It turned out to be not much of an ask at all! I won’t be scanned until November. Now the period between my lease renewals extends, from four to six months. I don’t think I’ll mind at all.

Also, Dr. L is working on setting up a new study of the ctDNA blood test I’ve been getting, and I qualify for the study. I’m excited to be a participant and give something back. I’ve been so fortunate, and hope this study will help future patients and survivors.

This Saturday I’ll be walking 5K around my neighborhood as a virtual participant in the Melanoma Research Foundation’s Miles for Melanoma fundraiser. I don’t like making a habit of hitting people up for money, but I know this is a good cause. If you are in a position to donate any amount, I’ll be so grateful. But even just your leaving a comment here will be a welcome sign that you’re here reading along after all this time… We’ve been through a whole lot together. (Almost as much as that chunk of feldspar and that fallen tree.)

6 thoughts on “Extensions

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