Floating Upriver

Day 4 of chemo and feeling good so far. I feel somewhat tired from the emotional/mental stress, the environment of the hospital, probably the chemo and counter-meds but I also feel energized and lighter somehow – and I think it is because these tumors are diminishing in haste. The pain I had in my lower back and leg is gone. I have had no nausea and no major adverse reactions to the chemo and my appetite is healthy. They say the worst days will be right after I get home (which should be tomorrow!) but we shall see – one day at a time.

east_riverI woke up this morning to a wash of beautiful sun coming in through my hospital room window. My nurse, Gillian, helped unhook me from the monitors and IV so I could practice yoga. Once I was free I walked to the window and noticed the small window of the East River that I can see.

I was startled to see the river flowing backwards. Before I could recall that it was, in fact, a tidal river and this was nothing to be alarmed about I wondered if the world was truly upside down.

So many aspects of this experience have had that same startling quality. The inversions and reversals. Me growing placental cells? Me laying down and allowing myself to be fully cared for? Me a cancer patient? A coming Fall that seemed so full of bustle and work now a 3-month diversion into alien territory? Living in the ICU of a hospital for 5 days?

I have developed a couple of personal mantras in the last week. Every time they hook up a new chemo on the IV I say out loud 3 times “the chemo is my ally.” The second one came with an image of a circuit board. That there is this shock of new, high-power energy coming into our life and my goal is to “be a transformer, not a resistor.” This power is too great to simply muscle back on it. I need to, like an aikido practitioner, redirect and reprogram the over-eager energy of the disease into positive inner change. To see where this left turn leads and not just wrestle life back to the path I thought I was on.

I cannot resist this river flowing the wrong way. But I can let go, be buoyed by the consistent stream of visitors and healers, the thoughts, the prayers, the notes, the music, the intention, the light of so many. I can float toward the headwaters with openness and gratitude in my heart.

Love, J


  1. Tisha Howe says:

    Jay, you have been in our hearts,, and we are sending our light. Floating Upriver is so moving, insightful, and full of wisdom. I know you will have highs and lows, hope and dread, laughter and tears, but we are in awe of your strength,vision, and mantras. You are right that the loves of your life are the true measure. We are so grateful that you have Katie Rose. But you also have so many of us that you may not even be aware of. We love you. Nat and Tisha

  2. The fucking East River flows backwards?!

  3. Jay what you wrote is so beautiful and inspiring. You sound on life’s true course to me. A spiritual adventure for a brave sailor. We’re pulling for you and listening to you. Praying that these fair winds continue to blow.

  4. bart louwagie says:

    You know what direction the river is meant to flow. I would likely not have been the wiser.

  5. patty giesecke says:

    Jay…you probably know this but “I am so incredibly proud of you”!!! Can you put music to your above words, because what I am hearing…is a song that should last forever. We love you very much!
    The Giesecke Gang

  6. lisa henderson says:

    Hi Jay,
    This is Lisa Henderson, Kate’s sister. We have been praying for you, and will continue to do so. Praying God will grant you peace and strength as you fight this battle. Blessings and peace,

    The Hendersons

  7. The world does seem to rapidly changed course, but if anyone I know can take the helm (with his first mate at his side) and gently guide the vessel into wider, more wondrous waters, it’s you.
    J: Not Drowning but Waving.
    So much love, N x

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