Saturday, August 16, 2014

Watering With One Leg

Watering my garden with the use of one leg is a snapshot of who I am as a person.   I take risks and I am tenacious.  It all started when I kept having dreams about riding a motorcycle, but I was always worried a cop would pull me over because I didn’t have the right kind of license.  So one day, I woke up and decided that the dreams meant I should get a motorcycle license.  We used to ride mini bikes, go carts, small motorcycles and such on our property in Sonoma.  It was an absolute blast!  So out of the blue, I decided to get my license. 
Okay.  So stop right there.  I know what you are thinking.   “Oh no, Nancy, don’t do it!  Don’t tell me you did it! What were you thinking?  Riding motorcycles is dangerous!”  And then there are those who have told me, “Cool!  You rock Nancy!”  “I could totally see you doing that!”  Or then there were the ones who still believe women shouldn't do anything like that.  You know, from caveman days?  They would look at me funny, with a subtle smirk and say, "Ohhhh!"  You see, I really I don’t care what people say.  If I really want something, I will find a way.  And that’s just what I did.  So many things had been piling up that I needed something I could do that was really fun.  Something for me.  But all it took was a second and everything changed.

So back to the story.  My husband really didn’t want me to do it.  He would often say that statistics showed that most of the motorcycle accidents happen to people in their fifties or older, they have more money to spend, and they don’t have the experience on a big bike that they need.  But I didn’t think it would ever happen to me.  I was going to be careful.  I took the motorcycle training class approved by the DMV, passed and got my license.  But I didn’t have much experience on a large bike.  I was going to do that when I got it.  I had a friend suggest that I could get the bike and learn to ride around the neighborhood.   

So I saved up my money and one day I decided I had enough and went looking.  Lo and behold, I found a beautiful black 2007 Harley Davidson Custom 883.  Just over 3000 miles. The guy who sold it to me agreed to let his girlfriend drive it home for me because I didn’t feel comfortable driving it on the freeway. 
The next day I made sure it was insured.  Then I decided to give her a whirl.  Nothing too far.  Maybe on the back roads or around the neighborhood.  I could get it to the road by myself.  I am super woman.  I can do anything I set my mind to!  So I did.  And I had to push it out to the street on very uneven surfaces… dirt, cement, through a skinny gate.  I had it turned around and was trying to plan my way to the street but had to turn it a little more.  Then it started to lean.  I had it for a second, but I couldn’t hold it up.  I’m super woman, right?  A 500 lb. Harley and I can hold it up?  What was I thinking?   I should have just jumped off when it started to lean.  Before I knew it, it was coming down on my left side.  And then I felt it.  It was like a sprained ankle but way worse.  I felt something wrench.  I ended up on the ground and tried to move it.  It hurt badly but I thought maybe it was just a sprain.  Then I tried again and it seized up and felt numb.  Then the pain started creeping up.  I got nauseous and looked around.  Usually the neighborhood kids are out, or a neighbor across the street is in her yard.  But I don’t remember seeing anyone.  I drug myself up the front steps, managed to ring the doorbell, and Nat came out.  The pain was creeping up fast.  He called the ambulance.  It was done.  It was over.  There was no turning back now.   I bought a Harley, yay!  And I dropped it in my front yard the next day.  I never even got it to the street to ride.   

This photo shows the first splint they put on my foot when I went to ER, the day I dropped the bike on my foot.  Poor little Zoe needs a vacation from providing dog therapy.   Notice the blue hue of Law and Order reruns in the distance.

Notice how I am in my chair again with my first cast after surgery on July 21, 2014.   If my Zoe could talk, I wonder what she would say?

Now notice this cast.  Isn't it beautiful?  A friend of mine from church liked the color so
    much that she bought a new car in this color.  This one will stay on for six weeks.
And all I get to do now is look.  My brother Ed gets to have all the fun.  He comes over every week or two to start it up for me so it will stay charged.  And then I get to listen to it.  It is such a beautiful bike.

So here I am, a month after the accident.  I had decided that I needed to get out of my chair and go outside.  (Anything I do now takes a very long time to do, and I am very tired and out of breath from lifting my body with my arms and one leg.)  And, I watered part of my garden for the very first time.  It was beautiful outside and it felt good to work hard.  This is where I have had some of my best therapy sessions, talking to myself, the garden, and the dog.  The neighbors probably think I am crazy.  Before the accident, I was going to keep my garden small, but I ended up with another big vegetable garden, which consists of a variety of heirloom purple tomatoes, hot peppers, red bell peppers, mint, basil, lemon cucumbers, green cucumbers, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes.  I have just begun to enjoy a summer garden salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, sesame oil, and balsamic.  So delicious!  And don’t worry, I have a walker and chairs I was using while I was out there.  I think tomorrow will be a good day to get out there again!

I will keep you posted on my progress, with more details of my current journey.  By the way, I did get to ride Seabiscuit before I bought her.  I am not sure now what I will do when I can walk again, but for now I get to sit here and write to you.  

God bless you all!



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nat's Cancer Diagnosis

You just never know.

All these years I have worked closely with cancer patients as a Chaplain.  I have often felt as if Oncology was my calling.  But when it hits an immediate family member, it's a whole different story. 

One thing is for certain, you sure find out who your real friends are.  Friends that we have collected over our 27 years of marriage have come out of the wood work.  Thank God for the friends and family who have kept contact: my large family - six brothers and sisters; Nat's three brothers and sister; the myriad of cousins and nieces; my friends and colleagues from Memorial Hospice in Santa Rosa, CA; Nat's friends and colleagues; our new friends from The Grove in Hercules, California; and our friends and family on Face Book.  We don't know what we would have done without you, and your prayers have carried us through this whole process.

Speaking of your prayers...

I want to share an experience I had with my husband while he was still in the hospital after major surgery.  I felt the need to pray for him, and as I reached out my hands to pray for him, the words began to flow out of my heart.  But something extraordinary happened - I began to feel a tingling and what felt like chills or an electrical charge in my arms, which came from within my chest.  I have felt this before when I have prayed for people, but the difference this time was that after I lifted my hands from Nat, the feeling lingered in my arms.  I told Nat about it, and laid my hands back on him and kept praying.  As I was praying, it came to me that the prayers that everyone had been praying for Nat were coming through me.  I kinda brushed it off, thinking it was kinda silly, but the thought came to me again, and this time I told Nat.  When I told him, the power I felt surging through my spirit into his, got even stronger.  This all lasted about 10 minutes... this inexplicable, yet very real electrical-like current that was flowing into my husband as I prayed for his healing, comfort, and strength. 

It was incredible, and I know without a shadow of doubt that this was real.  No one can take that away from us.  And that same feeling came back to me when I began sharing the experience with some friends after church on Sunday.  They were moved deeply by what I told them and seemed to feel the magnitude of what had happened.

So even though this has been the fight of and for our lives, God's presence and power have sustained us beyond what we could ever imagine or understand... or fully know.

I will keep you posted as the story unfolds, but for now, Nat is recovering from a 11-1/2 hour major surgery that removed his entire colon.  He now has an ostomy and cannot urinate. The tumor was removed, which was about 5" x 2.5".  But it had grown through the wall of the colon and attached to major blood vessels and to the ureter (the tube that runs from the left kidney to the bladder).  They scraped those structures off, but left titanium markers inside so they could target the area with radiation.  We are not sure if or how much is left, and whether there is lymph node or other areas that are affected as well.  As soon as he is strong enough, they will treat him with chemo concurrently with the radiation for a number of weeks.  The pathology report from surgery is pending and we are meeting with Surgeon Dr. Samuel Ooommen to review the results on November 18th.  He and Oncologist Dr. Jason Sun will be coordinating the plan of treatment in consultation with a board of Oncologists.  The staff at John Muir Medical Center in Concord should be canonized.  What an awesome team.

We are trusting God fully as He guides us through this process, and provides the healing that we are all praying for. 

Peace and Love to You All,


Monday, July 29, 2013

It's been awhile, hasn't it?

Time seems to fly by for me lately.  I'm becoming increasingly aware of my age.  I'm beginning to feel like Rumpella Stiltskin.  All of the sudden I woke up from a thirty year nap, and am thinking Lordy, Lordy, I'm not forty.  And, it's not so nifty, cuz I'm over fifty!  But the upside is that sixty is the new forty, they say.  So I'm really thirty.  Hahaha!  NOT!

We often wish we could go back.  But I'm not so sure that would be a good thing, at least for me.  As many mistakes as I have made,  God has somehow managed to take my junk and turn it into treasure.... perhaps to help other people.  Remember Sanford and son?  One man's junk is another man's treasure.  Easy to say.

I hope you are well, but if you aren't, I am praying that God will bless you with His strength and comfort.  And I pray that with time, God will help you, and turn things around for you; that some good things will come your way. Know that God is only a conversation away.  It may seem crazy or silly to you, but it's not really.  You may find that Someone has been there all along, just waiting for you to pick up the phone and call.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How Can I Ever Thank You Enough?

Hello my dear friends,

I'm sitting in front of my computer while dinner is sizzling on the stove.  The one surviving gold fish is swimming gracefully in the tank across from me, searching diligently for food.  My dachshund Zoe is also scouring the floor like a little vacuum cleaner, hoping and praying for something edible that fell to the floor.  For dogs, that means anything.  Nat is in the other room playing games on his phone.  He returns tomorrow to work in the City, commuting in on the BART train.  It is Sunday evening and I'm feeling a bit unsettled.  I am off tomorrow, with some personal business to tend to.  But, Tuesday is the beginning of another work week for me, when I will load up my Jeep and my computer, and head to beautiful Sonoma County.  We are both exhausted with our commutes, but I feel very  blessed as one who gets to work with the staff of Memorial Hospice, as a Chaplain.  It's hard work, but it is also work that I can feel good about when it is all said and done.  It is something that I feel called to do... to help people with their spiritual concerns at the end of their lives.  At least for now.

I recently met a woman and her son in their home after receiving a referral from one of our RNs.  After I described myself as being like a pastor, she asked me if I have my own church. I looked around the room, and at her and her son, and said, "This is my church."  I continued, "People like you can't get to a church right now, so I have come to you to help you through this time."  She smiled and was happy that hospice offered this service.  She is struggling to come to terms with her life, what it all means, her faith in God, and the doubts and concerns that she is grappling with as she approaches the end of her life.  It must be very, very difficult and scary to know you are dying.  But in some ways it is a gift because some amazing things happen along the way, such as the healing of one's spirit, reconciliation to God and estranged family members, and priceless memories and conversations with loved ones that take on such a deeper meaning when you know that time is limited.  And it is a GIFT that I get to spend time with this amazing woman and hear her life story.  I learn so much from my patients.  They are truly a gift to me.  

So beyond my work, what am I thankful for?  Well, I am thankful for today.  For my husband, son, brothers and sisters, friends, and colleagues.  Every day is a gift.  Life is a gift.  Each breath we breathe is a gift from God.  Thank you for all of you - every last person - that I meet and exchange a smile with, or a few words, a lunch, a work-day, an afternoon, or a life-time.  I  love you all... REALLY, I do! Thank-you!

Chaplain Nancy

Sunday, October 21, 2012


No one likes change. Pure and simple. Some of the simplest changes can throw a normally calm, cool, and collected person into a maniac. We all like things to stay the same. Go ahead, throw something completely unexpected into your schedule, and watch what happens. Like a sudden change in a doctor's appointment. Or, turning forty. Or let’s say, coming home and finding that your kitchen light is no longer working. How many times do we flip the switch until we give up and accept that we need a new one? So let's get a bit more invasive. How about a change in jobs? New people, new expectations, new tasks, and responsibilities. Or how about a change in health which requires a complete change in lifestyle for you? A new diet, medication, limited activity, hospitalization, or a terminal illness. We don't even want to go there. I pray you would find strength and comfort wherever you are in the process of what we call life.

So what is your change at this time in your life? How will you respond? Will you panic? Yes, maybe at first. Will you keep trying to make it work? Probably. Will you turn it over to God? Not right away. With change comes loss and grief and then a feeling of disconnect and drifting endlessly, feeling as if things will never settle. That takes time, my friend. So be gentle on yourself, and be gentle on others. Just know God is with you, and that you are loved. Open your heart and mind up to whatever God has for you right now. Yes, turn it over. Cry on God's shoulder. Cling to God's promises for you. And, never ever forget that you are loved very deeply by so many people—family, friends, and co-workers. You are important, needed, and loved.

Always remember that somehow, some way, and somewhere, you will find your bearings again. You will be stronger, more focused, and more compassionate. And with change, there is always a new beginning; and with that comes something to look forward to. But it all takes time. So don't give up! Keep pressing! Keep hoping! Keep believing!

I am praying for you!
Chaplain Nancy

Monday, September 10, 2012

I haven't blogged in quite some time.  So much has happened.  My brother Ed was airlifted from Crescent City with heart failure in October of last year, at California Pacific Medical Center in SF for a month, and living with me for the past 10 months.  He came very close to death.  He is doing so much better, but they are still saying he needs a heart transplant.  The cardiologist said his heart wasn't getting better unless there was a miracle of God.  So, I'm asking God for that miracle.  And your miracle?  I'm asking God for that too.  Hang in there, my friends.  You may not understand why, but there is one thing for sure, God will never leave or forsake you.  God loves you.  God sees you.  And God is still at work, even in the tough times.

Chaplain Nancy

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear God...

Praying has got to be one of the most difficult tasks to do.  What do you say to someone who has it all, knows it all, sees it all?  What is the point anyway?  And besides, God is too busy to hear our prayers.  Am I really that important to Him?

It took me years to get to the point where I was able to understand these questions more fully.  The reason we pray to a God who is greater than anything or anyone, is not to crawl up to the throne trembling, in order to ask for something.  It is because God loves us and wants to spend time with us.  God wants to have a relationship with us.  God's nature is such that He simply wants our attention, love, and friendship. 

We don't have to say a certain prayer, or be in a certain place, or say the prayer with a certain tone.  We just have to sit quietly before God, without any distractions, perhaps with a cup of hot coffee and open Bible in front of us.  We simply have to take the time to pray, even if we don't have much to say.  And maybe the time to listen to what God has to say to us. 

Let me challenge you today.  Take fifteen minutes alone with God this morning and talk to him, like you would anyone.  Tell him about your concerns and your frustrations.  Thank him for your gifts.  And, ask him to help others.  Sit quietly, letting your thoughts come and go, and perhaps writing down some things in the form of a letter, or as a prayer list.  Breathe deeply, listen to that still small voice, open your heart to God and let Him fill your thoughts and your deepest inner being completely.  Do that every day when you get up, before you do much of anything, and your days will go much more smoothly, you will feel more at peace, your capacity to love and be loved will grow and expand, and life will be more hopeful and joyous each and every day you honor this practice in your Spiritual life.

Then skip a day and tell me if you notice the difference...

Chaplain Nancy