I spent an hour or so at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm with my friend Bonnie yesterday. There’s a lot to appreciate when you travel with a lady who is actively recovering from a series of chemo treatments. Listening to her describe the treatments and what it means to have “chemo head” or the pain of spinal taps or other treatments can’t help but give me pause to think about how good I’ve got it. But the fact is that Bonnie was sitting in my car heading south to Woodburn. She had a smile on her face and was looking forward to the day. She was feeling good and confident.
Seven treatments done… five to go. Bonnie looks at life through a different filter today than she did a year ago. Life in general and a visit to a field full of color take on new meaning when you feel good enough to get out and walk around. For awhile, walking was a new skill for her after the first couple of treatments. When you kill cells in a brain they take time to regenerate and find all the right connections. Simple things that we take for granted become major accomplishments as the brain starts to assemble all the pieces it needs to allow motor function and speech. Each treatment brings new anxiety but marks another month and another poison session that is behind her. Her family and friends celebrate each day after she is released from another round of treatments.
I think one of the best parts of our conversations yesterday was when we talked about the transition back to life on the east coast when all the treatments are done. She has built a huge dependence on the medical team that is so vital to her treatment and recovery. It was rewarding to hear her talk about her plan to start learning about what to expect in the future as she moves back to a normal life… if you can call life normal once you’ve been throughwhat she has. Bonnie reads… a lot. She’ll absorb the research, articles and books that talk to the transition back from “chemo head” and a calendar with 5 more periods of pain marked on it. Savonn and the rest of the family will continue to support her, provide her with resources and walk along to make sure that all the questions get asked and answered. I just thought it was wonderful to know that she is looking forward and planning her way back to life at the Mill House.
Walking in the tulip beds after a couple of days of rain isn’t exactly like strolling down the hall to turn off a light. There are furrows to get over and puddles to avoid. The ground can be slick. My worry about Bonnie’s ability to navigate these hazards was pretty quickly dimished as I saw her move about. I chuckled the first time I turned around and saw her crouched down to get a photo. She was working the focus ring and fighting the wind and a blossom that just wouldn’t stand still. It doesn’t really matter if the picture turned out sharp. The sun was out. The field of tulips extended for a long way and there were many colors and varieties to see. We moved on and walked the whole field. Little kids and older folks with walkers showed up and seemed to be having a great time. We remarked about colors, textures, and forms. No rush. No worries. Life was good.