Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Well, that kind of sucked.

I went to round two of chemo today. It was really crowded. One woman
seemed like she was really having a rough time with nausea. The guy
next to me was quietly spitting globs of something into paper towels.

I got my pre-meds (an antinausea and a steroid and something for
heartburn) in my iv. She had trouble getting my iv started becuase my
veins just were acting shy and reclusive.

Things seemed fine after that; we were going through the Bent Objects
book and Pioneer Woman's cookbook. The only thing was that the one pre
med gave me really twitchy legs. I couldn't get settled. It bugged me.

When they started the actual chemo, the first drug went in for just a
few minutes and then all of a sudden I had a wave of horrible nausea/
pain in my lower stomach. And my face started to tingle and burn. So
my buddy went right over to the nurse's station.

All she said was 'my friend doesn't feel good'. Two nurses almost ran
over to me, and my face was absolutely tomato red at that point. Two
doctors appeared next (one was an intern; it's a teaching hospital) to
check my heart rate and oxygen saturation, which I guess was fine.

I didn't have any trouble breathing, but there was a portable oxygen
machine that came over to me at some point. I never had to get the
mask though-
I wasn't really panicking fully; I was trying to do deep yoga breaths
and stay calm. I knew that my drug orders included exactly what to
give in case of a reaction like this and the nurses are awesome there
so I felt like they were calm and knew how to handle this.

Everyone in the room was staring at moi. Including some guy in uniform
who was either a transport medic or security or something... Never did
figure that out. But I was very self conscious.

The chemo was stopped temporarily and I got meds to counter my
reaction. I had dry heaves for at least 10 minutes - joy. Then the one
medicine kicked in and that eased. They monitored my blood pressure
for at least half an hour. Then they started the chemo again at half
speed. So I had an hour to go, which was discouraging but I got
through it ok.

Then I went into the ladies room and managed to trigger the alarm
because I leaned on the armrail and the string was wrapped around it.
Oooopsie. The nurse was nice about it but I was MORTIFIED!

My friend gets extra karma points for today. She even left a cool
casserole with taco meat, sour cream, pasta, tomato sauce - D had two
helpings! Oh and brownies. What an awesome chick!

Almost halfway to the finish line

More spin art fun. Brought to you by the restlessness of steroids. I
have round 2 of 4 of my chemo today. Just want to Git 'er done!

Dr. promised me the bone pain should not be as bad this time. So
that's cool. I'd really like to make it to choir Saturday night
(Easter Vigil mass I have a solo if I get there) or at least on Sunday.

If everything flows about like it did or a little bit better with the
behaviour mods I plan to make, I will be so happy. Knock on wood!

My friend is bringing me today, and we will be reading books by our
favorite bloggers, like Cake Wrecks and Bent Objects. When I'm not
sleeping off Benadryl, that is.... at some point my eyelids will be
too heavy and I will conk out. I wonder if I will snore... Because
that would be so classy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Meme me, me

Poly did a Meme, this thing where she selects five words that make her think of you and then you must then hold forth on said words, or topics surrounding said words. Look, I'm already plagiarizing her. Parenthetically, she has been an awesome friend, even before The Other C word, and in spades now as I bitch privately to her about this aspect or that. So, no further ado...


Showering

Hmmm. This one could go either way, and I know one reader who would want it to. (Yes, You. Behave. )

My mornings have always started out with a shower. When you get up at 5:45 and you stay up all too often until 11 pm, it's a convenient jump start. Hot water is therapy for my achy back and neck and wakes me up nicely. Thus the morning that I almost passed out in the shower recently made me doubly sad. I have had so many disruptions to things that I do, that thinking I would have to start eating breakfast all achy and half awake BEFORE my shower just made me pissy.

The shower is unfortunately now also forced time to contemplate my surface effects. I am, what do you call it in scrapbooking? Distressed. Not me, my skin. Roughed up. I look at the four scars in their purply-red state, and try to remind myself to put scar cream on them later even though I know I will forget. I am glad that they are healed now, and I don't have to cover this one or that one with blue press-n-seal Glad Wrap to keep the water off them (which never worked anyway). I bend over and I notice the dent carved out of the one side.

For days I scrubbed my scalp gently with my fingertips to try to loosen as many as the buzzed hairs as possible. I rinsed them off me, off the shower walls, the shower curtain. They were everywhere. My expensive shampoo for colored hair is put away now, and I use Dove. Doves mean peace, don't they? I'm still not at peace with the GI Jane staring back at me from the shower mirror. I don't recognize her as "me".

Yesterday I spent over 20 minutes carefully shaving away as much of the stubble as I could, using a clean new razor (terrified I'd cut myself and bleed like a stuck pig) and looking at myself in the plastic mirror hanging in the shower. I didn't do a great job on the back, but the annoyance of feeling that brush cut fight against the wig is vastly improved.


J-fish

The day I started my "temp job" I noticed a peculiar white-orange fish about as big as my hand in a large, poorly maintained tank in the lobby by the elevator on my floor by the elevators. He was not looking all that perky and I swear his mouth is crooked like he has had a stroke. Hiding down behind the rocks, generally looking like his tide was ebbing away.

One of the Droids mentioned that he looked like he was on the bottom and seemed to be dying, and that the fish in that tank always died, and I was really fucking depressed by that. Keep in mind I hadn't even had my first surgery yet so EVERYTHING was looming over me and I really didn't need a damn fish dying and floating in the water to boot because who is going to take care of my son's fish at home and if THEY die will he freak out ?

On my third day of work he was VISIBLY perky and fine and Poly suggested calling him Jesus because on the third day he rose again.... I settled on J-fish. Now the other day I found out HE is a girl. (That's not the first time that has happened in my life. Oy. But with a fish, yeah.) I have a clever new name based on the name of the company and I hope I don't miss the naming contest (while I am working from home this week in and around my next chemo treatment) . I neeeeed to be the one to name that fish since I play with, uh, her every time I walk by, trailing my finger along the tank while she follows it and wags her fishy tail at me. Shut up. She does.



Catholicism

I am not a great Catholic. I don't say the rosary or go to confession and I don't really know all of the rules and prayers and... all I can say is that I married a Catholic, and he was happy in his church, and I started to go there, and it just slowly happened. I generally hide up in the choir loft and wish that certain things were different, like the manbased hierarchy and most definitely the abusive secrets and lies. But I love the music, especially the old Latin hymns, and I love this particular week of the liturgical year (between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday) because we sing and sing and some of my favorite ones get pulled out of the file cabinets every spring.

I have sweet friends in the choir loft who send me cards and call me honey when I drag my sorry self up there. Stanley winks at me and drops my solos down two steps so I can sing them. I have a dozen friends or so from school who have brought food to me while I have been in treatment. They are SO sweet and kind and encouraging and it's everything a Catholic school community should be sometimes.

Am I glad I went and sent my kids to Catholic school? Yes. They are consistently praised as good kids and have been surrounded by kind nurturing people who have expected good behavior and morals and volunteering and a host of other things. My daughter's high school teachers tell me repeatedly that they want to clone her. BECAUSE SHE LEARNED HOW TO BEHAVE in elementary school. She shows up at class and works hard and does what is expected of her. She doesn't put her makeup on in class or try to text or do some of the other nonsense she describes to me (after seeing it at school... like, um, a girl peed in another girl's shoes to get even with her for some stupid thing... wtf??? who DOES that???) I'm not painting myself as a better parent than ones who chose public school. To me the line of "do you care about your kid and expect them to behave and do what they're supposed to do?" is so much more important. Because are there some idiot parents and misbehaving kids in my son's school? Hell yeah. But as I said, I have some wonderful friends there who are being very supportive right now.


Weddings

Oh, hell. That's my first reaction. Weddings are expensive. They are generally for the families, to stand around and sniffle and see time racing by, and not so much for the bride and groom, who can be too shell shocked and overwhelmed to really enjoy the day. Occasionally the wedding is for a spoiled little snotty bride, to show off and be even more greedy than usual. I think about the amount of stress my sister in law went through to have a "small" family wedding (about 40 people in the room) and to me, she had to do almost as much work as if she'd had 200. She had the dress the flowers the dj the photos the invites the cocktail hour and on and on and on. Am I jaded??? I don't think so; I watch Say Yes to the Dress often, and vow to be a good mom when my daughter is picking her dress, and let her pick the one she loves most, and I am looking forward to her dress shopping someday.

I am encouraging my sister to elope. Or, possibly, wait until I am well enough to travel down there and let my daughter be her bridesmaid in a REALLY simple wedding at the church. The kind with no invitations or programs or anything like that. So there. I think we're on the same page. She doesn't even want a bouquet right now. Definitely not a white overdone poooofy dress.


i-pod

I love my ipod. It got me through the last year of my former job. I would play one particular track, an hour long recording of ocean waves, whenever I needed to focus and get some true work accomplished on a longer project. Sitting in the middle of cubeville with people using speakerphones constantly, I depended on having something to block out the voices.

Right now my ipod is tucked away. I can't really run right now. Maybe some people can while they're in the middle of chemo, but I was not really running regularly BEFORE I got diagnosed being that it was cold and almost Christmas and I make a lot of excuses.

My iPhone has really helped me get through the last 3 months. It was something of a consolation prize for being sick, but it was a great distraction while I waited for my first appointment with the surgeon. I bought app after app. (Most were actually free). In and around my surgeries, I read books on the Kindle app, played casino games, and even started a Twitter account. I am ashamed and amused by some of the really lame celebrities I follow, but it is entertainment, a distraction. Do not measure me as a human being by what I read on Twitter, or I'm sunk. More importantly, whenever I am feeling less than fabulous, I put a message on Facebook, and I get texts all day long from my supportive friends. It's awesome.



Enough? Enough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Buzz goes the bumblebee

Sunday night I put on a black tshirt to sleep in. A few minutes later I went out and said something to Suzy and noticed hairs all over my shirt. Suzy and the Mr were very kind about it, but I was exhausted and went in to bed may or may not have cried myself to sleep. You'd have to do a calculation of exhausted vs depressed and see which one actually multiplied out to... whatever.

Monday morning I fixed my hair in the usual way, (haven't even been blowdrying it lately, just air dry, finger comb, and put in styling paste.) There was hair all over the sink. I was grumpy all the way to work; Suzy was driving me so that she could use my car while she was in town. She went into CVS to get me a bottle of water so I could take some medicines, and got me a "Masked Sponge" SpongeBob doll and told me to throw it at anyone who bugged me. I had a vision of the cape flying behind him as he sailed through the air, and that helped.

I texted my friend who owns a salon and told her that every time I scratched my head I came away with 5 - 10 strands of broken hair. I was at work, feeling very self conscious. Droid J sits three feet to my immediate right and is very painfully shy and quiet and does not talk to me or to the other Droids hardly at all. Scratch, flick hair onto the floor. Die of "mortified". Wait a few minutes. Repeat.

The hair strands were very brittle and dry, because all the hair is dying. Yes it will come back later this year. But it's dying now.

So all day I was wiping away tears and sniffling and blowing my nose from time to time, in a shared office that is as quiet as that tomb that Geraldo cracked into on live tv. It was fabulous.
Around 230 Droid K, who has the serious medical issues of his own leaned back so he could see around my monitor and said "how ya doing?" Bless his heart. They don't know me well, and they're trying to be nice, and trying to balance that with not sticking their nose in my business. So I said "pretty crappy, my hair is falling out". He was kind, saying something along the lines of Yeah, my sister went through that too, with a sincere sigh of empathy. Ten million points for the Droids, in the bank.

I met SB at her salon just before four. At that point I was pretty much sniffled out and since my son was there, I was less inclined to cave into the weepy mode AGAIN. We actually took before and after photos.

She didn't shave me shiny bald; she just clipped with the clipper on medium, and then on lower setting. When she started I found myself with my hands clenched tightly together and my eyes nailed shut. After a few seconds I realized the point of no return was past, and I opened my eyes. I don't see well at all without my glasses so I didn't have to watch myself going bald. I tried to keep the shower of falling tiny bits of hair out of my eyes and nose. What a MESS. What a freaking, miserable, lousy mess. The razor was warm and very uncomfortable on my already itchy and irritated skin. I kept inhaling hair fuzzies. What a delight.

My son said "hey, it looks like mine" referring to when he gets a summer buzz cut... that helped a little, to know that he wasn't sobbing in the corner. He has been distressed about me losing my hair and people staring at me.

We took a few pictures of my buzz cut, just with our cell phones. There's a picture of me smiling, and you would think the whole thing was a breeze. I cropped it and played with it in a couple of iphone apps, and may or may not put it on here.

Then I put my wig on, and took a few more pictures. The bangs were all over the place and I look at the one picture now and think "I put THAT on facebook and people were very kind. What a mess!" So later I put another picture out there. I got dozens of replies. My friends were very sweet.

So the thing I have dreaded most after surgery is behind me. I have to slog forward now (I really need to get to work....) and next week is - yay - another round. But then I'll be half done. I am approaching this as something like labor, you have to do it, get through it, get it done. But I am tired today and it's rainy and I am grumpy!! Really, really need to leave for work.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sunday art

Played with my colored pencils tonight while we watched basketball,
basketball, basketball... these are actually little tiny squares of
watercolor paper that I picked up. So it's about 2x3", which is why
some of the coloring is heavy handed.

This is for my friend, Ethel. We were in elementary school together,
and somewhere along the line she moved to Atlanta.

Around a year ago I joined Facebook. I started connecting with friends
I worked with 20 years ago, and of course high school classmates.

Ethel and I got back in touch around October or so. We were diagnosed
at almost the same time. Funny, but not.

Every day Ethel writes words of Praise in her FB status and she has
been unwavering. So I think she will like the painting since Easter is
coming up soon.

We write back and forth at all hours of the day while we recover from
surgery, go in and out of the ER, and try to deal with chemo. She has
already shaved her hair; I'm not quite there yet.

I'm quite fortunate to have Ethel, Poly, Carol, and my neighbor Linda
to help me navigate all of this. I can only hope that I can be half as
reassuring when it's my turn.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Real

Sometimes when you are sick with a stomach bug or whatever
(:::cough::: chemo) you get to the point where you are convinced you
might possibly not ever be able to eat real food. Again. Ever.

That's where I was, around midweek. Thinking that dairy and tomato
sauce might be out of the question for a couple of months. And a
hundred other things except for chicken soup and the starchy foods
recommended by some of my friends via Twitter.

Chicken soup. I can live on chicken soup, right ? I accepted that
thought. Reluctantly, but with "it could be worse".

Then yesterday my friend, another one of my cooking angels, brought
over this crazy dinner of breaded chicken cutlets fried in olive oil,
ravioli, and simple homemade tomato sauce. She more or less said
"maybe we can get some real food into you and you'll feel better". My
brain said "don't do that". My stomach suddenly popped back into its
socket and said "hey... Uh, let's have a little". I had a kiddie
portion, and sat on the couch and waited to be sorry. Stomach said
"more please". I was deeee-lighted. Good stuff! Simple homemade food.
Real.

Today I went to work for a while and had more Good Stuff for lunch.
Not wanting to rock the boat, at work.

Around 2:30 my sister kidnapped me and took me to a bar. Obviously I
wasn't about to drink but she and her fiancée (!!!! Big fun here last
night!!!) were celebrating with friends and it was about 70 and sunny
and wonderful on the patio. Listening the the group of people
laughing and joking and feeling the sun warm my back was bliss. I even
stole 3 glorious sips of beer.

The evening continued with the Boyfriend, now known as Future Brother
In Law, teaching my son how to make this insanely good grilled salmon
with a maple soy sauce glaze. YUM! I feel *normal* tonight. Really.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I've fallen

And I can't get up ;-)

Finally feeling good and it's 55* out so I am taking a short walk.

Plan B

Buffered by my cheerful doctor, who told me my chemo will be low toxicity, and some other things I vaguely remember equating to "mild", I had assumed that I would go in for chemo, hang out the rest of the week at home feeling not great, and then be back at work bright and early the following Monday morning.

Yesterday at 5:45 the alarm went off and I got in the shower... and almost fainted.

To be fair, the pain meds I started taking on Friday irritated my stomach so much that I basically ended up not being able to eat... anything... without it going, going, gone.... and maybe it's not a great idea for me to jump out of bed and right into the shower on an empty stomach for the time being.

The one thing I seemed to be at peace with on Saturday and Sunday was a little bit of chicken broth, and perhaps a few bites of the noodles and actual chicken.

This lead to yesterday which found me me weeping on the couch at 6:00 a.m., barely able to open my eyes, and telling Mr. that "I just can't do it." I was exhausted, shaky, and figured out a little while later I've dropped 7 lbs in one week. I have it to spare, but ohgeezthatswaytoofast. (of course he absolutely did want me to stay home... I am just worried about the money, the money, the money.)

SO I called in the sympathy card, and begged my mother to come and make white rice. I emailed my boss and worked out a plan for Mr. to get me a Mac book from her office and a CD to start testing. Did a little bit of work last night, because sweet monkey that rice was THE BEST RICE IN THE UNIVERSE. It made me feel good, it gave me energy; it was just a sunshiny ball of rice goodness.

I am taking it slow and working from home for a day or two, and then we'll see what happens. But the sun is shining and if I can fine tune my approach the next time, and the time after that, well then I will only have one more time. Right? right. Four times.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

NOW I feel sick

Somehow for most of the last 3 months I have been able to keep my head
in the sand and feel "not bad".

Don't get me wrong. The surgery HURT, given the lovely 4" incisions
and the resulting cramped muscles, and moving weirdly because you
can't just "sit up" is not big fun. But that seemed more of an
isolated event(s) than "I have a major illness". I had surgery, the
cuts got better, except for one, then we dealt with that one.

But I knew that chemo would be harder, and of course it is. I am
exquisitely grateful not to have vomited - let me assure you. THAT was
my main fear. Puking all the way home, all afternoon, all night... I
was dreading and expecting it despite assurances that my chemo would
be low dose.

Instead of the puking I have a smorgasboard of various things. I get
lovely steroid rashes that look and feel like instant sunburn on my
face and neckline. They come, they go. The steroids keep me awake and
restless. They work against me in the Jedi mind battle I'm in with my
digestive system's traffic lights.

The day I got chemo I went to a treatment room in my doctor's offices.
The nurse with the same name as my daughter and the same birthday as
me started my IV. You know from Happy Happy Fight, my manicurist
story, that I was ALL ABOUT happy little signs that morning.

They gave me Benadryl and Prilosec or something like it, and my
morning dose of steroid. The benadryl made me drowsy and so I pulled
my red blanket up to my chin. I snoozed while Mr. sat by, going half
insane. It's not easy on the people who stand by.

I'm happy that I slept because it kept me from watching the poison
drip down into my veins for the next hour. The nurse changed the bag,
to give me the second drug. I played on my iPhone and ate cheese and
crackers. The IV came out, and I had a passing wave of "that's it?
Really?" - I was free to go.

I went home and had half of a sandwich. Felt nothing. Scratched my
arm, just a little absentminded swipe at something there, and it
started to bleed. Oops.

The next day I got the neulasta shot. My friend came to pick me up
with her daughter in tow. They had brought me on Monday as well -
Little A had taken my hand and walked so sweetly down the hall with me
to the reception area, and then colored while I went back got my
bloodwork drawn. When they picked me up on Wednesday she had worn one
of her prettiest dresses for me. Again we walked down the hospital
hall, hand in hand. While I went to check in she had a Mood and took
off one shoe and laid on the floor.

The Neulasta stings. One of the nurses injected it into a fatty area
on the back of my arm. I knew all this extra weight would be helpful
someday. Heh.

The chemo was already giving me sort of a weird mouth taste. I can
only decribe it as "you burned your mouth on hot food, and now you're
drinking milk that may or may not be spoiled."

Steroids kept me from sleeping Tuesday night or wednesday night. Being
a zombie is not conducive to working from home.

Friday around four a.m. the aching started. Neulasta stimulates white
blood cell production in bones. Achy, achy bones.

I now feel like I was thrown down a flight of stairs. And I am trying
to find foods that work for me, being both appealing and ok with my
stomach, to cushion the irritation from the advil and/ or Tylenol that
I'm taking for the pain. I'm struggling with that a little - d made me
soup, and one sniff made me reject it. Yikes.

My head itches. The itching hurts. That, assume, is the hair dying.
Daily I look into the little shower mirror, and tug a test strand near
my face, waiting. It will be the low point, I'm sure.

But then I will keep moving forward somehow, because you see, I am
really much too stubborn to die right about now from this mess. So the
only was out is to go through.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

First down

So, I managed to get through chemo this morning with no problems. I am
feeling ok, just a headache. To be fair, they did give me a few things
to hold off side effects so I may go a little downhill from here but
it's not bad right now.

This is an accidental click of the blanket... I took a nice nap when
the benadryl kicked in

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oh look

He left me some wine. I think.....

Good morning

Why hello steroids; I certainly never thought I'd be taking these.
(But then, I never thought I would spend four grand fixing up my
boobs, either). I guess I will go outside and see if I can hit some
home runs later....

Oh look, I still have Christmas plates in my cupboard. I watched THE
OSCARS so it must be almost spring, right? CYO basketball is almost
over so I will have my helpers back soon.

Hated SJP's dress. Loved Cameron Diaz. The Precious women looked
beautiful in those blues (except Mariah needs to stop acting like
she's 17). I saw a chinchilla scarf at the benefit Saturday night that
came to mind when I saw ZS in that purple dress...

No time for more; things to do people!

(Dear boss, I promise to do some work from home after my appointment
today and only bill for what I truly do. Thank you for giving me so
much room to deal with this other junk. )

Suzy is coming for a visit next week - cue the cheering crowds. I need
help with the piles of clutter everywhere here.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Clearly

... I should have left my credit card home today.

My sister in law treated me to a manicure (along w my daughter) and
then we did a little bit of shopping. Got some cute dragonflies -
earrings and a barrette I am going to somehow put on a scarf or a hat.
Plus a cute coat that was under $20. Nice.

While my daughter is getting a 'do for tonight (black tie dinner we
all go to every year) I am covering my gray roots one last time. I am
sick of looking at them and thinking "they look bad. But my hair is
going to fall out. " So damn the MasterCard, full speed ahead.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Hey y'all


Visit my dear friend Jen's Etsy store...




Updates

They cleaned the tank at work and scrubbed off whatever was growing on
the walls. J-fish looks happier and perky.

The fountain in the lobby got filled. It turned green (from pennies
thrown in???). They turned it off. Then they added PLENTY of chlorine.
The pennies are still there. I am sure someone said "I wish this damn
fountain would just work " while they threw in a coin.

Chemo starts next week. My son is scared. I am pretending some other
girl is going to do it. That's better than the other day when I was
driving to work and called my friend sobbing. I love my friends. Some
cook for me. Some drive me places. Others just listen when I need
them. All are wonderful.

Suzy is going to visit soon. Yaaaaay.

This weekend we go to the big benefit dinner with tons of chocolate.
Yawn. But there will be champagne! I'll be saying goodbye to all
things like wine for a while. But not to this blog (hopefully) - I
will plan to keep posting.