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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: January 17, 2018

The Messiness of Life

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

Last fall, my husband and I were fully prepared for a busy 2018. We already knew he'd be retiring; we'd be selling our Oklahoma home and building a new home in Wisconsin which involves a move of almost 900 miles with four cats, two dogs and two horses; and our daughter is getting married in Seattle June 8. So it was safe to assume the first half of 2018 would be chaotic (in a good way!) but it has turned out to be even more complex than we thought. That's because my husband was diagnosed with cancer on Oct. 30.

Given the testing that preceded that, you'd think I would have been prepared for the words from the doctor, but it was still stunning. And after about five minutes of absorbing it, my next thought was: what totally miserable timing.

Life has a way of taking us on unexpected detours; some enjoyable, some terrible. My mantra on this one is "there is no way out, but straight ahead." Some things you just have to accept, and make the best of, and this is one of those times. My sister the nurse flew out to be here for the surgery, and last week we met with the Radiology Oncologist to walk through his radiation treatments which will start in early March. We were blessed during that appointment twice: my cousin from Oregon, an oncology nurse, was here visiting us (total serendipity) and was able to go with us; and all three of us really liked our bright, personable doctor, who hails from Africa. He reminds me so much of a man my husband and I worked with who was also an Afrikaner " smart and a wicked dry sense of humor. We know we are in good hands, and with the support of our families, work, neighborhood and church friends, we'll get through this okay.

So my life partner and I have made some adjustments to our plans, changed some of our scheduling to accommodate his likely period of fatigue during radiation, and are staying on track. We have spent more than half of our lives together; work very well as a team; and have been battle-tested before, always emerging victorious. I plan on doing so again " to do so, we must continue straight ahead.

As always I am continually overwhelmed by how kind people are. We got calls, cards, visits, plants, food, and many mailed gifts of wonderful cheese, sausage and New Glarus beer from our dear Schmid clan. My family has been unbelievably supportive, thanks to all of you, you are wonderful; and our kids are traveling this road at our sides. Our granddaughter is a delightful distraction from worry; while I have always shared everything with my husband, my son correctly identified that I am, regrettably, a "baby hog." He gently reminds me I have to occasionally hand Baby B off to Mike.

A lot of planning for our move is already complete; we will be living in our camping trailer while we are temporarily "homeless" between the home sale here and the completion of our new house. Lucky for us we have a pre-approved buyer who wants the house here as soon as possible if not before, so we will be vacating before the new house is done. This will be a 3 or even 4 month test of my previous boasts that "I could live in a "tiny house." Of course most tiny home owners don't have four cats and two big dogs".. stay tuned for a potential column on how THAT goes.

Our house here is already 50% or more packed up, and endless lists created for address changes, medical records, new doctor referrals and finding horse and small animal vets in central Wisconsin. The lists are therapeutic and comforting to me, and I am determined to believe all the little stuff will sort itself out okay.

I have so much to be grateful for. Every night, I call to mind at least five things I have to be grateful for, and I have no trouble exceeding this number. High on my "gratitude" list is that we have medical insurance and will not go bankrupt as a result of this illness. (I don't comprehend this conversation about people being forced to buy medical insurance, described as something they don't "need or want." I guess someone might not want it, but how do you know a year in advance you won't need it? What person doesn't want to know they would be cared for if the unexpected suddenly happens to them, like it just did to us? No one, regardless of how healthy they may seem, is guaranteed continued good health. My guess is any person who can afford health insurance would want it " it's when you are choosing between food, shelter and other absolute necessities of life you might "roll the dice" and not try to obtain health insurance. Or maybe I'm missing something here " that's certainly possible.)

We will get the care he needs; we won't face financial ruin; we have the help and support of so many people; we are a good team; we have our faith. Straight ahead, and everything will work out.

I never know what kind of response my columns will provoke, although I often get some general feedback sometimes I can tell I hit a "sweet spot" by the volume of more specific feedback. The all-time winner, with not only many e-mail comments but a half-dozen letters, was the column on supper club salad bars. Last week's column is already be the second most responded to. Apparently many people remember Mercurachrome, and not only did it prompt a long e-mail exchange between my extended family members, a Times reader commented about it on her Facebook page along with an actual photo of a bottle, prompting a lot of back-and-forth there too. I just wouldn't have expected it, but it's always gratifying for me when the column results in some lighthearted fun.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.


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