It was a lovely weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And while Andy and I live a few short hours from the beach, this was the first time that we’ve seen the Atlantic Ocean together. After arriving Friday night, I physically jumped up and down with excitement – it has been so long since I heard the crashing of waves, or breathed in the salty air of the ocean (2015 in California, to be exact). It was a quick, but lovely trip, with so many highlights – including meeting and staying with his fantastic Aunt Donna & Uncle Ralph in Myrtle Beach, meeting extended family in Wilmington, NC, watching Andy’s Aunt Mary Ellen hug him once and then need to hug him again, long walks on the beach, sitting in a jetted tub with sorbet/ice cream (decadent!), getting a slight sunburn (in spite of sunscreen and a marine layer), fun conversations with Donna and Ralph, an appearance by Buzz Lightyear, sand between my toes, afternoon thunderstorms and watching a chilly sunrise next to Andy.
Thank you – SO MUCH – to Aunt Donna & Ralph for hosting us, for welcoming us to your beautiful home-away-from-home. And also to Andy’s cousin Jessica, for hosting a Sunday outdoor gathering: I was so thankful to meet family and get to know you all. It meant so much!
Our return trip was long and thankfully, uneventful, a quick 5 hours from the beach to our local mountains. At some point I could feel my allergies kick in, and though the blooming trees look beautifully colorful and bright, with the promise of spring and warm weather, they also bring about wicked allergies. Monday evening had me reaching for my allergy medication which thankfully helped.
Physically I’m feeling good, albeit a tad tired. My skin and eyes feel a little more sensitive – sun, salt and sand probably isn’t the best combo – but in the long run, I’ll be OK. And it was WORTH it! The areas that received sunburn (and nope, not a lot – just a bit) were a bit red and warm, but seemed to manage well. Donna’s Witch Hazel lotion felt wonderful, and gave me hope that I won’t be permanently using the creams and lotions from the NIH (and no, they are not bad, but someday I want to return to my coconut-lemon body lotion, etc). I used an electric razor to shave and while my legs felt fine and did great, my underarms were less comfortable for a day or two – currently, the slight burn has disappeared, for which I’m thankful. I did manage my lymphedema to the best of my ability, wearing compression socks nearly the entire time (hence the long, beachy dress with boots), and of course did my best to stay hydrated.
And finally, I wore my wig more consistently – I’m not 100% sure what it was…perhaps meeting new people, or just not wanting others to think of me as an ill person – I just wanted to feel normal, to fit in, and not seem like I went through chemo and Stem Cell Transplant. I’m still grappling with this one: I’m certainly not ashamed to have a haircut akin to Annie Lennox or Sinead O’Connor; sometimes though, I just want my long hair back and to not have a physical reminder of what I’ve been through. For our beach sunrise walk, though, with temperatures in the low 50s and a cold wind driving off the ocean, my wig acted as an extra layer of warmth, for which I was grateful. It also didn’t blow away, which was good too.
Thank you again to Aunt Donna and the rest of the family – I look forward to more beach reunions in the future!