Merry Christmas To All – 2017
A Small New Years Potpourri

Looking Back at 2017: Trump and Cancer

From any point of view, the year 2017 was one of the most momentous in my life.

The last time I lived through something of as much significance, I think, would be in 1992, when I moved to Sacramento for several months to care for my mother during the final months of her life. (Story of that experience is here.)

At least as consequential as the death of a parent, however, is life in the United States these days under President Donald Trump. It's not like I need to explain it to you:

The man is disgusting in word and deed. He daily trashes the norms of civil society, politics and, possibly, the law. He has so defiled the tenets and principles of a democratic republic that scholars, historians and journalists worldwide now regularly warn of parallels to 1930s' Germany.

And he may yet find a way to dodge special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation.

Is there any other news these days besides Trump? Only monumental hurricanes seem to qualify and then just briefly.

Remember the days when the daily White House press conferences were broadcast live only during crucial events? When presidential speeches interrupted prime time TV only for declarations of war or resignations from office? When the president actually spent his days working instead of sending obnoxious and ignorant tweets in between golf outings?

Nowadays, the only time we don't see Trump on camera is when he wants to hide what he's doing, as when he has signed a few unpopular executive orders behind closed doors.

It is bad enough knowing there is nothing I can do to change anything. Worse, it has become apparent that members of Congress will not do anything to stop him either. Big talk, no action and that's unlikely to change.

By June, worry about the future of the United States was never far from my mind. I was and still am frightened for all citizens and immigrants, for the spillover into the rest of the world, and for the uncharted future.

As many of us have discussed in these pages, the political turmoil has been exhausting with hardly any way at all to avoid it every day. And then. And then in June...

“They” told me I have pancreatic cancer. If our lives are pretty well divided into public and private sectors, suddenly every aspect of mine was fraught, and on a particularly large scale.

I'm lucky enough to have been eligible for the Whipple surgery, am getting through chemotherapy now and will know in March 2018 if any of it has been effective against this dread disease.

Meanwhile, there have been some changes. When my surgeon first explained the Whipple surgery to me six months ago, he said it involves a long, six-month recovery period. I have not believed that for at least two months; my external incisions are long healed and unless I forget a pill, there is no pain.

Then, a week or so ago, internal processes seem to have at last settled down to normal, pre-surgery function for the first time.

To explain, a good chunk of my pancreas was removed along with the entire gallbladder, the duodenum, a small amount of stomach and nearly two dozen nearby glands. Then, of course, all the various hoses among these organs had to be reconnected in new combinations.

The way the health professionals track how well all these internal changes are healing is to ask me questions about bowel movements. I was shocked and quite a bit embarrassed when beginning on the first day after surgery, every person who walking into my hospital room ask some version of “Have you pooped yet today?” “Have you farted yet?”

And they haven't stopped asking since then. These folks talk about bowels the way you and I discuss the weather and they want to hear about size, shape and color. Geez – no one told me how hard it would be to get used to that conversation. I'm still not quite there.

Because my much smaller pancreas can no longer produce the amount of enzymes my body needs, I take a pill to replace those enzymes before eating anything – even a small snack. When, on occasion, I forget, the pain is not pleasant and it had been turning up occasionally even when I had taken the pill.

That is, until about 10 days ago. Since then, pain is almost non-existent and those damned bowels I've struggled with to get right since June are at last as normal as anything I had experienced before the surgery.

Here is the weird kicker: this change arrived almost exactly six months to the day of the Whipple surgery – the amount of time the surgeon had said it would take my body to recover.

So you won't catch me questioning a world-class expert ever again.

These two events are the whole of my personal 2017. Trump and cancer cover it for me and if anything else of note happened, I can't recall. What I wish for now is that both are overcome in 2018.

Now it's your turn to tell us about your 2017.



Comments

A big Amen, Sister! (And I don't amen just anything!)

Oddly enough, your 2017 highlights overlap a lot with mine. Trump has certainly overtaken much of what I see, hear and think about daily. And having followed Time Goes By for almost six years now, the announcement of your cancer and what that has meant for you this year has occupied a fair chunk of my time each week, as well.

Other than these things, my life has maintained a fairly balanced state this past year, with some bumps here and there along the road. I continue to volunteer with a few organizations in my community, and worry about the economic health of this city in northern Illinois, where my husband and I have lived for more than 40 years, and where our children now try to make a living. Rockford, Illinois, is one of those cities hit the hardest by the big recession of the 1980's, and then again in 2008. We are just beginning to regain stability and now I fear what this current administration will mean to that fragile recovery. So, yes, there seems to have been a number of connections between Trump and cancer in 2017, both physically and metaphorically. I'm with you in wishing that both are overcome in 2018.

I consider Trump a cancer, wish there was a simple procedure or even a not so simple one to remove him before he kills this country.

That's a large milestone for you, Ronni, congratulations. Interesting that the medical team is concerned with certain emissions of your body, which also are the locale for an orange-ish, ongoing, unwelcome 'pain in the ass!' And yes, that dolt can mess mightily with our systems, infusing fear and dread. I'm sick of it, but will form new resolutions soon to deal with that.

My "Ground-Control," (Freddy Mercury thanks?) which I've formed this year for ongoing consultations with myself, has helped through a first year of medical problems, not too serious, but could have been in that they were just short of organ dysfunction. This was from ignoring noticed physical symptoms of anemia which also influenced my ability to think well. Long story short, the 'aha' moment came ~7 months later when I got out of bed and realized I was bent over and couldn't stand upright.

Always been very healthy and taken damn good care of myself, this knocked my cocky know-it-all self into doubt-land. That part, aided with a wonderful TaiChi instructor who emphasizes high awareness and strengthening of muscles and joints throughout the body has given me room to grow in a never-before questioned place of security.

I'm gradually climbing back onto my personal totem pole as I build it with new changes and perspectives. My renewed positive spirit is taking me forward, perhaps to another rock ahead which will cause a new stumble.

A year ago this time I was very weak and bed-fast expecting to die within days. Well, mercifully it didn't happen and I have been granted another year. I am most thankful for that, but am most distressed because of the constant destruction of our government by the Orange one and his enablers; the Republican Congress that are only too happy to help him in his mad dash to take over the country. This constant barrage of bad news has destroyed much of my daily pleasure.

The fear of the future makes me ready to depart this earth as I see that almost half of our citizens are full of anger, hate and bigotry. I thought we were better than that. I fear it will take another generation to restore the harm that is being done. That's only if the courts and a revolution don't stop the evil doers before it's too late.

Doom and gloom was not what I signed up for. It's so hard to remain positive when I think of what's happening, but I am trying to shake the sadness and continue to be happy hoping for that miracle.

2017 was way too full of bad news and worrisome speculation. I'm determined to seek (and find) beauty more often and in more places this coming year.

I consider friendships -- whether old or new, near or far, even those yet to be formed -- the most meaningful thing in life.

Congratulations on your normalized BMs etc., Ronni, this is the most beautiful news so far today.

I join the crowd of those who are horrified and deeply offended that dt has so dominated our world. Everything Ronni and the commenters say reflects my own experience - I remember a piece from the WashPost at some point during the year called "Donald Trump is Making Me Ill" -- and I realized it was not a metaphorical statement but an absolutely taken-from-reality outcry. People - including me - are becoming ill from this scourge. What do we do. dt is infectious, but not that he infects us with joy - no, it is the exact opposite. He is a plague.

Ronni, you seem to me to be someone who is as affected by all of this horrible political turmoil that is all around us, but from you and from many of the commenters I have learned so much about resistance to whatever has knocked you down, pancreatic cancer, Darlene's scary time, Simone's scare. And yet you all keep speaking up, keep moving ahead, keep resisting, keep writing. Keep standing up and not giving up. I am grateful for all of you.

And lord knows I hope the coming year will be decidedly better for all of us - politically as well as physically and emotionally.

Big year for me too. I moved from my 2000 sq ft 100 year old house on 3 acres to a 500 ft apartment in a "retirement" community in town. I really miss my own washing machine and outdoor clothesline but everything else is an improvement. Can walk to the library, stores, doc-in-a-box. Everything cultural is much closer. Gives me more free time to pursue writing and photography. Moved because eyes were worsening. Ironically, they've stabilized. Now, I'm living in this dormitory for old people. It's kind of nice.

I injured myself Thanksgiving doing the Low Rope Course at a mountain retreat. Found that when you're 76 there might be some things to just watch. Now I'm doing P.T. for tendonitis in my left arm and something wrong with right knee-hip. The exercise are strengthening me in good ways.

Politics is distressing to my peace of mind. Before I moved I was writing, calling, walking in rallies. I'm taking a break from all that, limiting how much I pay attention. Sometimes I feel guilty I'm not doing more to help our world but I do it in other ways: helping people where I live who are legally blind or not very mobile. It helps me and them. Hopefully that counts somehow.

My year has been similar to yours, Ronni. First, daily horror and disbelief that so much of the forward movement our country has accomplished politically has been undone. We seem to be sliding toward an abyss.

Personally, four months of chemo treatments in the spring. It took me that long afterward to start to regain my strength.

Now I'm trying to only fixate on whatever is beautiful and positive in this world.

Trump and Cancer — what a headline!

Yes the year has been full of the disaster called Trump dividing not only families, communities, our country, and the world.

The only thing close to good about that is that I have found community on the RESIST movement and have marched regularly on national and local issues and feel it really is making a difference on some issues. Will keep going and am thankful for my state (Washington) Governor and Attorney General for taking stands against oppression and other horrors.

I also lost my husband in May. I put this after the government issue because it wasn’t unexpected and there isn’t a damned thing I can do to fix it. His will/probate was a huge mess dividing his family but I wasn’t involved as we worked out our division of property and other issues prior to his death. It was sad to see a family torn apart over “stuff” but ended fairly quickly and without lasting consequences at least for me. RIP Sandy.

I will continue to fight for my beliefs and try to keep it positive. Marching FOR what I believe in. Working FOR politicians up for election who can make a difference. Joining groups FOR helping people achieve their best lives without bigotry or poverty.

I am hopeful that we can all make a difference even if we do it in small personal ways and in our hearts.

I was a news and political junkie before this year. I've weaned myself off of that because having a malignant narcissist in the White House who has divided Americans almost to the point of civil war is more than I care to contemplate. I do watch the headlines just to reassure myself that we aren't yet at war with North Korea, and hoping to see Bob Mueller do the right thing, eventually.

Meanwhile, I remain grateful that my daily life goes on pretty much as before, and that I'm now two years past my cancer treatment with no apparent recurrence.

I wish I could just erase 2017 completely from my life and memory. The Trump disaster all of his dumb stupid tweets his signing worthless executive orders then holding them up to the cameras as if to say"see what I did Mama, aren't I a good boy. You can empty the potty now"
Plus our beloved Cavalier Spaniard dog Buddy keeled over and died suddenly. He was our comforter and constant companion. My husband and I are both 88 now and don't get out much. Both have health issues so Buddy was our main entertainment. Also some extended family issues which are causing us serious heartache
All in all 2017 was a horrible year.
Hoping for a better 2018 for all!

My 2017, you ask ? Hmmm, it's not been good, by any means ~~ the frightening dt era in which we live, the fears for the future of our planet, the unbearable fears for our children and grandchildren......the unavoidable aging process.

My family of origin was riddled with variations of depression.
I must "fight" my depression when it accelerates along with my current back muscle spasms. I have found relief the last few days with new prescription heavy duty pain meds but I am timid about having to go that route. I am a cancer "survivor". I have broken two hips.

I am -----> a first-rate sissy, and I feel so alone in this world until I find another Ronni blog laden with a mix of first-rate suffering, courage, intelligence, sharp wit, acceptance and yes, a love with which she continues to shower us all.

~~ Wishes for peace, wherever, whenever we can stumble even small bits of it.

Well, it was quite a year for me too. Having been shocked by the election, I was appalled by the inauguration...but on Jan. 20 my house was red-tagged due to earth movement. We had the next day to move what we could out — knocked the inauguration right out of my thoughts! In February I had a mild heart attack, in March open heart surgery for a new heart valve. Meanwhile, on January 31 my newest grandson was born. My husband and I are living (for now) with our daughter and family. So we’re in a household with three little boys 5 and under, both a joy and a stress! We’re in limbo, waiting and hoping for financial help from FEMA and a lawsuit.

Thank you once again for the inciteful post and comments. Here’s hoping that 2018 is kind to all of us!

Energetic and articulate. That seems to be how you experience and describe life, Ronni. You do set a fine example, and your commenters go right back at ya with our stories that complement yours.

As I've mentioned before, according to one MD, I'm not supposed to be here. (nya, nya, I am so here)

There was a whole lot to dislike about 2017, but on the other hand, we got through it, perhaps finding personal achievements that made us optimistic.

2018? We'll somehow get through what comes next too. The immediacy of these current events make them formidable indeed, but in the long run, they will be a blip (blot?) in the road.

Meanwhile, that old saying crops up in my head frequently these days: "Old age ain't for sissies"

Onward to whatever is next!

2017, - - perhaps the year of good 'movements'! For we have those of
The Crabby Old Lady, Yea!
And we have many varieties of the 'Resist' movements! Also good.

Good days, bad days. I sleep a lot - it's better to be unconscious.

I never would have believed this mess could happen in America. Isn't the system supposed to be self-correcting? Maybe we need time out to re-think democracy in today's world...not some twisted version of the 1770's.

What ARE America's values? We need to think it over.

Although I don’t have cancer, your description of 2017 sums everything up nicely. (Or, not so nicely, as the case may be.) I worked too much in 2017 and will cut back the Summer hours accordingly. I will save as much as possible since I am too young for S.S. My husband can start collecting from his 401 in 2018. I’m hoping to convince him not to spend it. I don’t trust the government or anyone in it and feel the need to squirrel it away. We keep talking about marching on Washington, maybe this will be the year.
Ronni, you’ve been a bright beacon. I wish 2018 is kinder and gentler to you and all who visit here.

2017 was a tightrope walk, mixed with hope and determination.

My sister is being treated for breast cancer. A lump, an operation, sixteen rounds of chemo, medication, side effects, heart failure from chemo, more medication, and she will be getting a defibrillator early January.

Without the defibrillator, she could suffer a heart attack.

But like you, Ronni, my sister keeps her sense of humour and positive outlook.

I was with her in the oncology department, where we witnessed a million acts of kindness from nurses, volunteers, doctors.

Thank goodness for Medicare.

I wrote sporadically on my blog, my saving grace was to keep up my fitness routine- Pilates, line dancing, cycling, walking.

We had a beautiful Christmas up north. Lots of laughs, great food and chats about the state of the world.

Dinner. Back later.

2017: Yes, the worst of times. We still need to understand better the vortex of despair into which so many of our fellow citizens have fallen and of which Trump is the symptom. And then we have to fight our way out of it and restore decency and hope. This will almost certainly take more years and more energy than I have ahead of me. But I work at it in several resistance communities.

2017: also the best of times. I turned 70 this year and along with Erudite Partner (EP) decided to do as much as we are able of the things we've hoped to do that require mobility. So this summer we walked across northern Spain, in addition to other adventures. I don't know how long I can keep this up, but I intend to keep going as long as I can.

Best wishes for all for 2018.

Counting our blessings...Ronni's improved health, a heating system that works, kids that have launched successfully, an economy strong enough to withstand (so far) dysfunctional leadership, and so many more.

Enjoy 2018 and the adventures it brings.

Ronni, your blog is like a NYC coffee spot- friends drop by for java, conversation and good times.

Ronni's Place is solid dark brick and stone outside, oak tables and a fireplace inside. There is a small stage with open mike nights for local writers, poets, blues singers.

You're at your favourite table surrounded by your cyber pals.

You're back in the city that never sleeps.

Your apartment is upstairs.

Ollie's looking out the window. He's smiling like he knew this would all happen.

Fat snowflakes are falling.

Happy New Year.

Your Montreal Fan

***


Trump and Cancer! Each ine by itself would be enough to knock anyone down, but together?? Amazing you, Ronni, are still standing, let alone experiencing some good signs. I have always appreciated good bowel movements and even moreas I get older. 😊 One thing that happened just recently - my ex-husband (still friend) was diagnosed with an atrial myxoma- a benign mass INSIDE his heart. I took a week out of my life to be with him for a week (he lives in Brasil). It just felt like tge right thing to do... and it was. He will have open heart surgery to remove the mass on January 11. Hoping fir a full recovery. Symptoms were dizzinesz and loss of coordination. It’s rare. Wishing for a good 2018.

When it comes to this blog, I quickly skim through if not over the politics and enjoy everything else.
2017 Headlines:
*2017 is the year that I finally retired from full time technical sales (37 years).
*It is the year that we (wife and I) decided to start getting ready to sell our house and plan a move to FL next year to be near family.
*It is the year that I turned 70 and finally truly looked and felt like a elder--if not elderly.
*I got my new eyes--aka cataract surgery and finally found at least one procedure that
totally reversed one aspect of aging.

These are the obvious headlines, but there are many subtle personal breakthroughs that I will reserve for a conversation over a few drinks, should we ever get the chance. :)

Happy New Year to All and Especially to You, Ronni--you are a great role model and inspiration. John


Ditto to your year.....Trump disappointment and triple negative breast cancer. Can't wait to kick 2017 to the damn curb!

I can appreciate this has been a most unusual year for you to put it mildly. I found that bodily function and those naming and descriptive words entering my vocabulary after I had my first child. I learned just how important those infant stools were — their color, consistency, quantity, frequency. This type of information has seemed to receive necessary increased focus with people entering older ages, too. I expect monitoring those excreting functions is vital whatever our situation, especially when ill, but would be particularly critical given how they rearranged your innards.

Working in medical settings, I sometimes had patients complain to me of feeling sluggish, or having no appetite in conjunction with being constipated — these processes we so take for granted until they don’t work as they should. Guess it makes sense — not too much else so important to maintaining life — taking food in somehow, and getting rid of the residue.

Glad all is going as well as it is for you and, selfishly, for those of us who enjoy knowing you through your words. Keep on..........

Like Joared, I found working in hospitals around older patients , the monitoring bowel and bladder functions was paramount. I lost all my own inhibitions when I realised how important these things are, the more so when I had rectal surgery about 15 years ago, terrified of the first natural "movement".

It's served me well in the last year with a sick husband who has become fairly dependent on me. He has had to get used to my asking intimate questions about his functions and has gradually become more relaxed about it.....even to joking point.

2017... let me see...

The wife had 3 hernia surgeries. One of each type. She looks like she has been in a knife fight. :-)

Her mother (93) moved in with us full time in April. She slowly declined and passed away in December 2017.

My grand daughter, who lives in Japan and will be 2 next week, visited twice - once in December 2016 (I'm counting that as a 2017 event) and again in June. A double header - yay!!

I mostly ignored political news as it was just depressing - I really feel better since I did that.

Not a great year but an ok year (except for you know who).

We went to the doctors office the other day and I pulled into a space marked "patient parking only". The wife said I can't park there as I'm too impatient. .

I replied "instead of learning patience I'm working on just not giving a crap" and parked there anyway. :-)

Happy New Year

@Bob - a winning attitude!

Montreal fan: +1. That comment beautifully expressed my sentiments.

Ronni, I am so happy to hear you are feeling rather well these days.

Like many others here, I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of 2017: Still not feeling right after surgery in 2016, and am going to put taking better care of myself on the top of the agenda for 2018. Spending time these days in pediatric ICU trying to support a friend whose child has a return of brain cancer. Coping with mental illness in several members of my extended family. The short-fingered vulgarian still at the helm. And to top it off, a minor car collision yesterday (no one hurt).

Will 2018 be better? Who knows, but I'm planning to attend the Women's March here in the city in January 20 and am contemplating using your "disgusting in word and deed" on a sign. Doctafil's description above of "Ronni's Place" made me smile.

Remember that "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy is told there are two words she shouldn't say, one of them is "swell" and the other is "lousy"? 2017 was pretty lousy on all fronts. Hoping 2018 will be swell.

My name's in the hat for the book! Thank you for the chance!

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