Dena Taylor | Dena Taylor
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Been there, threw up that. Let's not do it again.

“Can’t wait to see what you do for an encore.” This is my brother-in-law talking, in the car on the way to my Mom’s house after being discharged from the hospital in early December. This is meant to be funny because I was in the hospital two years before at pretty much the exact same time. And three years before that, albeit two months earlier in the year. “We were just thinking that maybe next time, you could pick somewhere more… tropical,” suggests my sister. That way they could hit the beach while I slept off the anesthesia; see the sights while my incisions healed. While I’m going to do everything in my power to prevent a hospitalization encore (diet, exercise, never leaving my apartment), certain miseries like Kardashian Barbie Dolls, another Nick Cage Ghost Rider movie, and bowel-blocking adhesions (like the ones I just had), are out of my control. [caption id="attachment_1305" align="aligncenter" width="189" caption="Coming...

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Occupy Dena: the protest in my gut – Part II

(Tuesday - Sunday) Day 7: Tuesday, Nov. 29 Enema! Like pepper spraying protestors, only soapy water, from behind. Mwah-ha-ha! Hold 30 minutes. Manage one. Run. Don’t. Entirely. Make it. Humiliation! Hooligans! Little effect. Grasp hope, dignity. Previous day’s x-rays unimpressive. Bit o’ barium through, but slowly. Walk halls, suck on hard candy, start Reglan drug, all to stimulate protest eradication. Right arm off limits. Left taking beating. Second IV. Running out of veins. [caption id="attachment_1245" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Right arm off limits due to lymph node removal from mastectomy in 2006."][/caption] Small client project, introduction of ice chips and Mom disrupt monotony, save sanity. Back rub by Sis combats increasing soreness. Day 8: Wednesday, Nov. 30 Week since occupation began. Goons holding out. Menacing jackwads! At doctor’s request, second opinion doctor visits. Looks like Friar Tuck, bald with bedskirt of long graying hair. Repeat my history. Stethoscope to bowel, quiet. Thinks ileus vs. physical blockade. Could resolve on own. Surgery unlikely. Happy,...

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Occupy Dena: the protest in my gut

Part I (Wed-Monday) I’ve been remiss. Absent. Immersed in the Lost Thanksgiving; the Twelve Days of Sickness; the numbing void that ended up being 10 days in a hospital room with bad cable and reruns of Unsolved Mysteries. Here are highlights. They include talk about poo. Consider yourself warned. Day 1: Wednesday, Nov. 23rd  8:30am: an angry protest of stabbing pains, mild nausea manifests in my belly. Would have thought appendix had ruptured if that mess had not already been removed in 2009. Must be gas. Struggle to work, eat rice cake, sip water, and lame attempt at walking it off. 2am: nausea intensifies and prevails. Instant relief. Day 2: Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24th  7am. They’re back, bastards! Douse them with sips water, bites of bread. Have morning constitutional (will be last for over a week). Lug self onto morning flight to DFW to spend holiday with Mom. Misery. Surprised and somewhat sorry I...

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Five years later, it's still the moment that counts

Back when I was sporting a chemo-induced chrome dome, I remember someone saying that if I were cancer-free for five years, I would be considered cured. A loaded statement and a tall order, but something to shoot for, if making it five years without a recurrence was within my control. It was like being on parole: “Stay out of trouble and you won’t end up back in the slammer, where your chances of ever getting out and seeing an organic vegetable again are going to be slim.” I would follow the recommend course of treatment. I would eat kale. I would do my best, the five-year marker, my saving grace, firmly lodged in the back of my head. [caption id="attachment_1166" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Will kale kure?"][/caption] Five years seemed like 50 then, and yet here I am, in my fifth year, cancer free. Party! Right? [caption id="attachment_1172" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="Woop!"][/caption] Not so fast. First of all, I’m not...

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Farewell Cabin Remote & Homer, Alaska

I didn't get stranded on Cabin Remote but I did get pulled into some client deadlines. Now that I'm out of those woods, I can walk out of the Alaska wilderness too, in this last Alaska 2011 entry. Cheers. Wednesday, Sept. 21 The boxes of garbage bags are at the ready; it's packing day. Mom and I leave tomorrow and with us will go as much food, laundry and garbage as the float plane can hold. My brother and his wife are staying for one more week but after that they won't return until the spring. They are preparing for winter; everything must go. Paul takes me for a ride around the neighborhood. The huge puddles of water that occupied the road are slowly receding. We stop by the beach, the tide is irritable. Paul collects rocks for the road. [caption id="attachment_1094" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Graveling with a fussy tide."][/caption] We wend our way through...

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Cabin Remote, 9/19-9/20

Rain, rain, stay.  From Sunday night to Tuesday it rained. And rained and rained some more. Having come from Austin where we broke the record for the number of 100+ days in one summer, I was delighted. The harder it rained, the happier I was. Monday morning I wake up in the top bunk but struggle to actually get up. I flashback to waking up in the top bunk when I was in Tanzania, only there I was surrounded by mosquito netting. I remember having to pee in the middle of the night but not wanting to make the trek to the bathroom for fear my bare butt would fall victim to a malaria-infected she-squito. But I always gave in because I heard if you hold it in too long your bladder will explode, you'll sprout a squirrel tail and start speaking Xhosa. I didn’t get malaria. Going to the bathroom at Cabin...

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Cabin Remote, 9/18

Stopping to get ice. The dogs’ nails on the cabin floor and insatiable enthusiasm to further dampen the rain forest wake us up; wag and pace, wag and pace. The air in the cabin is colder by some ten degrees putting it in the 50's. Paul lets the dogs out, starts the generator, makes a killer fire in the stove. Buckets of rain water are brought in to facilitate impending bathroom visits. Melinda prepares three cups of coffee, half of mine is made of almond milk. She also makes a fruit salad. Everything tastes good because so much effort was put into getting it here. We are also pleased to see the sun peeking through the clouds, past the treetops. It's a sign, an opportunity that must be seized for we have no way of knowing how long it will last. [caption id="attachment_1059" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Alaska -- outdoing itself at every turn"][/caption] Paul...

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Breast Cancer, Row 7

Flight from Seattle to Anchorage Mom and I are sitting in row 8 reading as the remaining passengers board. An older man in front of us engages in conversation with his rowmate. He had breast cancer, he says. I prick up my ears. I know men can get breast cancer, I've just never (over) heard it first hand. In the span of about 7 minutes I hear him describe the cancer that was found a little over a year ago. He had chemo; it knocked him off his feet. He was 60. His older sister has had breast cancer too. He was tested for the BRCA gene. He encouraged his two daughters to get tested too. I couldn't make out the results. He went on tamoxifen for two months. He got a bloodclot in his leg. He is wearing compression garments. He has to get up and move every hour to prevent another...

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And we're off to the Greatland…

Yesterday we -- my 81-year-old mother and I -- boarded one of four flights from Dallas to Alaska, to visit my brother and favorite sister-in-law. In a few hours we will board a floatplan which will drop us in the middle of nowhere where we will be staying in a cabin-in-progress for the next six days. This place will not be anything close to 100 degrees. I will wear long sleeves, long pants, socks! I will drink hot tea instead of iced. I can't tell you where we're going. If you showed me a map I still wouldn't know -- Alaska is a big beautiful place. All I know is that I won't be showering for a week. I won't be shaving my legs. There will be no Schick and no one will care. In  NoSchick, my name will be Walks with Leg Moss.   We are going to walk in the woods. Eye...

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