Just Catching My Breath

When the kids were young we always took a lake vacation. We pack up the boat, stuff the car full of food, games, fishing poles, clothes and kids...enough for a week and head to the lake. We rented the same little cabin every year on the King's River Arm of Table Rock Lake. Oh the memories that were made!  We all know that from great memories come even greater stories. You know, the legendary family stories, the ones that get better and perhaps more embellished each time they are recounted. Those stories can either glorify or embarrass you. Either way, they always produce copious amounts of laughter when they a told and retold.

As you have probably surmised I am the "star" of the story I am about to tell you. It came to mind last night as my husband and I were getting ready for bed. We always chat after the lights are out, lying on our sides facing each other. Last night after he commented on how much better I clearly was feeling I told him how I was already dreading Tuesday. We were silent a minute and then I released a snicker as this story came to mind and I asked into the dark "You know how I feel right now?" "How?" was his reply. "Remember that time at the lake we ran out of gas..." So here is the story. It was a Monday. We had already been at the lake for a couple of days and were getting into the "finally relaxing" mode. It was about 9 o'clock in the morning. The kids were excited to get out on the lake and play and they knew that Monday would be a quiet day. All the "weekenders" and "day travelers" had gone home to go back to work. It was like having the lake to yourself. The water looked like glass that fateful day as my husband guided our boat out of the dock and we worked our way up the river arm towards our favorite place to play. The cooler was packed with lunch and snacks and drinks for the day. We cruised up the river with a rock wall rising to the South and vacation homes dotting the sloping shore to our North. It was plenty wide for several boats to pass each other, but on this day we were alone. It was hot out it, still and a perfect day! Then it happened. The boat cut out a little, stuttered, then stalled and started to drift then stopped. My husband looked puzzled a minute as he stared at his gauges. It appeared we had plenty of gas but after further evaluation the truth was evident. Despite what the gauge said we were out of gas.

We sat there for a while, thinking someone might come by. It was hot and after 30 minutes it was doubtful that we were going to get rescued any time soon in our remote location. We have a cell phone but no signal. Plan B (or is it C?) is that someone needs to swim the "short" distance to the shore and go to one of the houses and hope somebody is vacationing or retired and actually living here. It is decided that I will do it because if help did come by, I don't know the first thing about towing a boat with another boat etc. It didn't look so far to swim. I slipped off the shorts I had on over my bathing suit and donned my life vest. Regretfully, my filp flops were back on the dock with everybody elses. The houses were all surrounded with grass though and the knoll seemed to fade into the mud on the shore of the lake like green moss. How bad could this be? This whole time my kids sat silent just watching the drama unfold. I deposit myself over the back seat and on to the swim platform and jump in. My oldest son grabs the red flag that boats carry to indicate that someone is in the water and holds it high over his head. I start to swim.

First, let me say, it is a lot farther than it seemed. I was in my 30s and physically in decent shape but about half way to my goal my arms were rubbery. I flipped on to my back clutching my vest and used my legs for all they were worth. My lungs burned as the oxygen/demand deficit grew. I could see my family in the boat all staring at me. I would come to know later that the kids speculated on whether I was going to make it (like this was some life or death thing) and then asked if I had life insurance (pahahaha). I stayed on my back and kicked for all I was worth until I hit the reeds. I then rolled over and found myself in knee deep mud that was so...cumbersome. I could barely walk through it and finally ended up crawling on my hands and knees until I hit solid ground. I rolled on to my back and just laid there on the soft grass. As legend has it, one of my children said "Mom's dead!" when they saw me laying there. Which takes me back to telling my husband how I felt in bed last night. Recovering from my chemo is like swimming that lake, then crawling through the mud and reeds. I have to drag myself out and I feel so completely exhausted that all I can do is lie there, but no, I am not dead...just catching my breath :)

Footnote: Nobody was home in those houses we saw. I had to walk, bare footed, looking like a drowned rat, all the way out to the main road where a retired couple let me use their phone. We were rescued. This is what family memories are made of, right?!

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Hugs to you Michelle. Great perspective. You are so strong. Keep catching your breath. It will be past you before you know it!
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Just like the kids in the backseat..."am I there yet?" Thank you for this story. We can share your fear. Waiting with you for Tuesday. XOXO
Michele likes this comment
Keep swimming, or crawling, or whatever it takes, Michele! I know you can do it! Hugs!
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Like all your perfect recollections and wonderful memories. You will get there and you will come out the other side. We are all with you all of the way - you will beat this I feel so positive for you. Hugs Annabelle
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That is a hilarious story Michele! And a great analogy..boy can I see and feel where you are at..it's hard sometimes to go on just because you are so tired..mentally more than physically..you have to somehow come up with the emotional stamina that will take you through this..how much does one person have? Can you get more? Where? The cost? It's tough and you are somehow going to find it..if I could order you some I would:) hugs and prayers:) lori
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Wow, what a story, Michele. You were definitely the hero of the story, then and now. Hugs, Mari
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In the infamous words of Dr. Phil, "every story needs a hero" LOL
Michele, Thank you for this story...I did read it the other day while I was at work, lunch break. I enjoyed very much, was able to kind of sit back and just enjoy...you are amazing and just keep going...I'm hoping a break is soon in sight for you...Jeanne
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Nice story and, an EXCELLENT . . PERFECT analogy of what (for me, too, anyway) your lungs feel like on chemo and for a while after. Thanks for sharing.
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What a day! What a journey! Can't wait to read the next chapter...
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I love this story. :) How are you feeling now?
Recovering from yet another treatment, Sharie. My last one will be a week from today and then I only have to catch my breath one more time ;)
I'm sorry you have to go through this yet again. Question: have you ever looked into the Burzynski Clinic?
I'm sorry you have to go through this yet again. Question: have you ever looked into the Burzynski Clinic?
I'm sorry you have to go through this yet again. Question: have you ever looked into the Burzynski Clinic?
Never heard of it....so clearly you know I have to google it now, LOL! I was diagnosed over 3 years ago with Stage 4. The mere fact that I am breathing astounds my doctors and I am breathing and working and living my life every day. I am about to enter my last round of chemo next week and then of to MD Anderson for a PET scan, a check up and radiation advice. Cancer is an "inconvenient truth" in my world LOL :)
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January 31, 1963 - June 10, 2020

Vital Info


October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

June 10

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3


As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp


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