It's a weird noise.  It took me a perplexing while to figure out.  It was the beak of a Blue Jay in my backyard as it poked and scraped between some neatly-laid gravel. The little thing was picking out some of the bird seed that had fallen from the feeder three feet above.  I haven't had a chance to refill it, so I guess this was its way of letting me know -- the trough was empty.

The feeder towards the back of the yard has actually been a nice distraction over the last few weeks. It’s a prime source of entertainment as I rest in the shade of a Japanese Maple across from it. The backyard has now become somewhat of a recuperation ward for me.  It’s not a bad a thing, I consider myself quite lucky to have it.

Sometimes I wince in the morning as I gingerly pace myself to the hammock, primarily during the upswing days after chemo.  Waddling with concentrated effort with a good book, or mini laptop, tucked under my arm.  I feel like a silver-haired movie extra from the film Cocoon.  Remember that flick, with Wilfred Brimley?  "We won't get any older and we'll never die."  (You can thank a late-night rerun for that reference.)

Once I crawl into the hammock, I'm there for at least a couple of hours.  It was particularly nice on Saturday, now that I'm feeling better. 

Round two of chemo was pretty much like round one.  It again trapped my body into a suspended state of pain and fatigue.  I have accepted that I have reached the point of no return.  At least for now, the toxins are a part of me, which is a reality of the treatment.  As such, I need to expect that my daily pace will, on cue, grind down to first gear.  Everything from going to the bathroom to getting the phone is in extreme slow-mo for several days.

You start to get used to it. You count down to what many refer to as those coveted "good days."  That is, at least, until the docs zap you again -- and it starts all over.  Although, I'm realizing the "benchmark" of what one considers "good" is steadily dropping.  You don't aim very high these days, especially when the side effects now include losing some hair.  Thankfully, it’s nothing too dramatic --YET.   I first noticed it on the pillow, then reluctantly needed to confirm my suspicion with a gentle tug.  I can't really describe that feeling. It’s very surreal, I had now entered that "phase" of this journey. 

The oncologist warned me, that although, every patient's body reacts differently, I should expect to lose all of my hair.  He later revised that forecast (sorry -- work related term) after confirming that I was diagnosed at early stage Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Thankfully, my treatment protocol would likely not be as aggressive, meaning there is a chance my hair would just thin out.  At this point, I think, I have accepted the reality of the worst case scenario occurring -- still I hope for the best, and  continue doing what I can to save what I've got.

I know it sounds vain, and to be honest, I feel guilty about it.  I know there are some people who lose all of their hair -- sometimes after the first round of treatment.  All I can say, it kind of freaks you out.  It gets so bad that you're afraid to wash your own hair, you think this will be the time when it all drops to the drain.  So, there's a new routine: No vigorous shampoo regime for this guy, let me tell yah. No blow dryer, no product, and no more tug tests, just a gentle wash and pat dry.

Anyway, as I lay here on the hammock I have noticed something else this ordeal is teaching me.  I really don't want to sound like Oprah and her "Aha Moment", but you automatically start to tune into life differently -- maybe, I should say, process things differently.

Before my diagnosis, would I have ever really noticed the birds in the backyard?  The Blue Jays, red Cardinals, robins, or gold finches (otherwise known as wild canaries, I Googled to be sure)?  Would I have appreciated the laughter and excitement as much from my little niece and nephew as they discovered what they call a "secret passageway" in their uncle's backyard?  (It's really just some overgrown hedges on the side of the house.)  Or what about the baby rabbit that made a visit yesterday?  How about the bulbs my wife and I planted together last fall.  Admittedly, I had no idea what type they were, I bought the bag because the picture on the front looked cool -- I now know they are Irises.  I'm amazed that they have gone from something that looked like a walnut to 12-inch high flowers in a wide burst of colours. 

To some it may all sound hokey, to me it’s just what I needed. Today is a good day -- tomorrow promises to be even better.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu