Before breakfast yesterday morning, I decided to take Pepper out for her first walk of the day. Stepping carefully out the front door, she barked twice and growled in a low huskiness, not at anything in particular since her hearing is long gone and her vision seems to be fading in kind. I suppose, because her senses are so dulled, it was a way of announcing her presence. Even though no one was there to acknowledge her particular canine clarion call and demand for attention to be paid.

The trees came alive a bit and answered back – woodpeckers, robins, cowbirds and starlings with the mourning doves asking their usual question. I looked down at Pepper and thought how this was more her world than mine even though we shared the morning sun equally.

It had been a bit of a frustrating week. I had my pre-test and orientation appointment for hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) and already was prepped for the routine of forms and exams. I came armed with my last CAT and PET scans along with the lab report from my regular doc. The most recent PET scan from two weeks ago showed no evidence of disease so I was able to breathe again –  no surprises were expected. But that opened the gateway for me to undergo HBOT since the benefits of oxygen were available to healthy cells as well as the lurking rogues of cancer.

All went as somewhat expected – I had to correct the doc several times about my status since his interview was short and he only relied on a quick read of the forms. The tech in the treatment area introduced himself and gave me a rundown of exactly what was expected of me. The treatments will run 5 days a week for 6 weeks – and I was given a long list of things I could and couldn’t do. Breakfast as usual but I wasn’t allowed to bring anything into the chamber other than the cotton gown they gave me to wear. Risk of fire they said and they didn’t want my book or underwear to add any quick fuel to the flames in a pure oxygen environment. Which isn’t any kind of a comforting thought since they already explained they were literally bringing me down to a “depth” of 33 feet. Side effects were nominal with, of course, possible long term risk. But in my state, the benefits were well worth it.

The insurance issues had to be dealt with and even though they gave their authorization to proceed, no one could give me a good estimate of my out-of-pocket co-pay costs. And with the anticipated 30 visits, this could be no small amount. The treatment center came back with one estimate while the insurance company gave me two different estimates from two different customer service reps based on the actual hospital codes. I decided to wait until after May 1st when our new policy kicks in. At least there would be some consistency.

So after my morning walk with Pepper, I decided to work a bit in the garden to put all this aside. The economy has driven me into the dirt so-to-speak and the repairs, cleanups and trims that I used to leave up to others are now mine to be done. So with pointed trowel, straight edge shovel, and pairs of clippers and gloves, I dug through the corner of the garden I’d been working on, clearing away weeds and overgrown ivy. Under the Japanese maple, I chopped down into the taproots of the dandelions, pulling them out with stubborn snaps. I know they’ll be back but at least for a time I’ll be able to give the growing hostas and lilies some room to breathe.

Inside, I sat quietly in a back room, looking out at the rear yard, the oak leaves coming in early with the chaotically overgrown azaleas popping in pink and red.

Just an ordinary day – and how lucky I am.

Nap time for the Grand Dame