Friday, November 30, 2007

The Birth of Hope

OK, when you find out you have breast cancer, they put you on this fast-moving roller coaster and for most women, within two weeks of the diagnosis you've seen a surgeon, probably already gotten a sentinel node biopsy (wow but they hurt) and maybe have scheduled your surgery. Being a contrarian in SO MANY WAYS I went about things a little differently by doing my chemotherapy first (at the suggestion of my savvy surgeon) and then scheduling my surgery. Most women never see the radiation oncologist until after chemo and surgery. BY CHANCE I actually got to meet the radiation onc out here because he came to the breast cancer support group in October. He is THE radiation onc for this area. But he came here from the University of South Carolina medical research establishment and after doing some big studies. More than any other thing, cancer is a disease which is treated via a statistical world view. I knew I needed to "pick this man's brain." And today Jenn and I went and picked and questioned and questioned and questioned AND questioned!

By using some of the information he gave me a couple weeks ago, and expanding on it, I got a great nugget of information that feels like a real super positive piece of information that really lifts my spirits and hopes.

One of the great downers of being triple negative is the fact that something like 60% of women have a recurrence of breast cancer within the first two years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer recurrence is not a good thing. I can reduce my statistical chances of distant or local recurrences to a certain degree, but the long term statistics for us triple negative girls is downright GRIM (and depressing!). He was able to enlighten me as to why. It turns out that the vast majority of triple negative women do not discover their cancer until the cancer is much more advanced than in my case. The tumor is usually bigger upon discovery and it is very common for the lymph glands to be much more involved. So, here I've been figuring I probably had something like two or three years left to live. What he's explained to me is that because I found my tumor at a much smaller and earlier stage, and because on my Sentinel Node Biopsy I had a very convincing negative for involvement in the lymph system (ergo, the cancer is not yet actively in my blood stream), I have something like a 90 to 95 percent chance of living 5 or more years cancer free.

Now I don't know about you, but this definitely sounds like a much better deal! Now this is definitely based on his knowledge and opinion and the uncertainties of life. He can't guarantee that the cancer won't reoccur, but I like 90 to 95 percent a whole lot better than a more than halfway chance of being dead in three years.

The radiation onc has been the single most important person so far in helping me to figure out what treatments to consider next. He has a careful decision tree with easy pros and cons. Today he was able to give light to hope. How often can someone do that?! I will not make my final surgical decision until after I've talked with the folks at MD Anderson, but I have a reasonable plan and strategy for what comes next, providing no new information comes in to change my knowledge base.

The SPEED with which a cancer patient is pushed through the chute is astonishing, and yet the doctor with some of the best information is last in the information chain. If I wasn't a contrarian, if I wasn't a information hound, if I wasn't assertively seeking and self-advocating for myself, I would have never met this man until after I had made uninformed decisions! I feel very blessed to have serendipitously met him and been able to pick his brain and benefited from his knowledge and experience. It is only an accident that I got this information. If god is in the details, then god has touched my life by allowing me to encounter this man. Today, hope was hatched in a small room in western Georgia and a doctor with the strange name of Dragun midwived it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Oldest Living Contractor!

OK, the dude gets here at 10:30 not 10. So far I'm going, "Just like every other contractor I've ever had to do anything with." (Unreliable) Much to my horror, he arrived with his wife. Mr. and Mrs. came in, and he started working on the fawcet. I suspect strongly that Mr. is at least 80 if he is a day. He's a very S.L.O.W moving fellow, but seems to be competent. He just doesn't move fast. The really fun part was watching Mrs. "help" Mr. Now, if you ever wondered about the importance of learning NOT to whine....THIS is the reason: Mrs. only speaks in a whining voice. She sounds like a characteracture of "The Whiners" from Saturday Night Live. She can not speak in a normal tone of voice. Everything she says is a whine. So now, horror of horros, imagine her chatting with me in this whiney voice and asking things like, "What kind of cancer are you being treated for?" "Who's your female doctor?" "Do you know Mrs. So-and-so?" "My sister in law has breast cancer and she took one chemo treatment and never went back. The doctor said she was making a mistake about that, but she got too sick from it to imagine ever having another treatment." "Have you had surgery yet?" "What's your floor plan?" "Who owns these townhomes?" "Where is your family?" "Are you from around here?" etc., etc. All said in a whiney, nasal voice. It took poor Mr. about four hours to install the fawcet, but he fixed the roof in jiffy time. He says he's coming back on Monday to put in the storm door. Mrs. says that it will take him all day to do the door. He doesn't say much, but when he off loaded the door from the pick-up, he said, "Anderson, that's a good door. It's the Cadillac of doors. Mmmmmm."

I have the weekend to maybe get the floor vacuumed and do some picking up, cleaning up, and maybe put up my Christmas tree. I was embarassed for Mrs. to see how chaotic things have gotten in here.

Don't let your child whine, because it is sure an unattractive feature of an adult! But she's a good Christian woman, with strong opinions about most everything. I know. She told me. ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hired Man is Coming!

The full moon on a crystal clear October night. The celestial feminine.

I've hired a fellow to come do a bunch of chores for me tomorrow. My roof has a couple shingles that need nailing down, a fawcet needs installing, and I'm hoping there will be enough time for him to do a few other repairs here as well. I have those dang popcorn ceilings, and there's a spot that needs repair. Then, there's the stormdoor. I got this really, really cool storm door that will allow me to get fresh air in through the nifty screen feature (Not like your grandma's screen door!). I can open the door, get fresh air, and keep the cats in. Cool! I probably have more than a day's work for him, because I also got a peep hole gizmo for the front door, so that I can actually see the boogy man before I open the front door, and not after he's eaten me.

Baby girl McDonald is doing water aerobics, much to mom's dismay. I was looking through some pictures today, and found one of me about 32 years ago with my own little girl in my belly. One of the funny things was to look through the decades at the evolution of eye glasses and hair.

The next project will be to hire someone to help me clean this place up. I'm not a good domestic on the best of days, but being puny has let the "entropies" grow and reproduce inside this place. It's time to get a shovel and do some major cleaning. That's for a different week though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Well I got to feel a pair of fake boobs today. Tonight was the monthly meeting of the breast cancer support group. Somehow I managed to take Betty to the dermatologist this morning, take her to lunch, come home and rest for about 1/2 hour, then go to a meeting (back in Carrollton) for an hour, and then rest until time to go to the support group. That is a LOT for me to do in one day. I was like a wilted lettuce leaf too. Barely functional this afternoon and evening. But I made it. The good thing about making the support group meeting is that as I'm considering how much of me to cut off, I got to see and feel a set of prosthetic breasts. Boy there are a bunch of different kinds too! My concern was cool boobs. I don't mean as in "nifty," either. I mean, as in, "If I can't stand the thought of wearing a wig because it's too hot, I'm not real interested in prosthetics that increase the heat factor either." There actually is a kind of prosthetic that can be kept cooler (maybe not cool) in the same way that those Thermarest(tm) heat gizmos can keep your back warm. Helps me understand what some of the prosthetic options are. My lymphodema sleeve is now in, so I can go get it, and then I'll be ready to fly when the whole MD Anderson thing goes down in January. The compression sleeve helps to prevent swelling of the lymph tissues on my arm, which can be triggered by flying. Don't want lymphodema, so I'll be a good girl and wear the sleeve.

December 7th is my next appointment with the surgeon. It's my guess that I will need to have some idea what I want to cut off by then because we'll probably have to set a surgical date post chemo. I think I know the answer, but I'm reluctant to surrender to the decision until after I've collected all the information. Jenn and I will talk with the radiation oncologist on Friday to help clarify some of the statistical and likely outcomes. It's hard to see parts of your body as a statistical study. What will I keep? What will I cut off? Is there any benefit to keeping extra stuff, or is there a benefit to eliminating some of it? Some of the answers have to do with long term chances (or lack of them) for recurrence, and some have to do with local chances for recurrence. Can I do anything which will effect the local chance of recurrence? As a triple negative girl, it appears the answer is "No." The chances are the chances are the chances, it seems. But that will be further explored on Friday.

Right now I am doing lots and lots of things to actively treat the cancer. I saw the ladies in the support group flail around today with the problem that once treatment is over, there is nothing else you can actively do to treat the cancer other than to wait and watch and wonder if or when it will come back? Life is uncertain. All of us will die. But if you hear you have cancer, you can't help but wonder if you really know what kind of death you can anticipate? I know what the statistics say about me; what will be the reality? That is the hard part of try and figure out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Frightening Events Too Close to My Loved Ones

There was an incident close to where my daughter and son-in-law both work today. The whole thing sounds like a scenario off a tv show, but had real deadly potential. One of my daughter's patient's was there at the time of the shooting, so that brought everything even closer to home.

I was actually watching the news report of the incident when the doorbell rang. I got up to go see who was at the door, and it was those people I most wanted to see and know were safe. That was a good feeling.

Someone brought me an incredibly huge and beautiful fern today. I have no idea who. It just appeared. It's important to remember in the uncertainty and worry of the world, that good things happen too. Even mysteriously nice things.

Word is out that I'm going to be a grammy again pretty soon. I think the little girl on the inside is getting ready to move toward the light. ;)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thank God for the Rain

Just a nice, quiet, rainy day in Bremen. The rain is welcome. It made for a cold, dreary day though. I'm achy from the Neulasta and the weather, so just happy to hold the bed down today. I did work on a jewelry project that I can finish tomorrow. It's turning out really pretty, Jenn.

I'm spending time trying to figure out what would be a gift folks would like for Christmas. It's hard this year. If anyone has anything on their "wish" list, now is the time to let me know, because it's all done by computer this year. Jenn, Eric, Christy, Kari........what is whispering in your ear?? What do the kids want? I'm serious. Let me know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Adventures

Betty on a really, really good day about three years ago.

Today was a pleasure taking Betty to the podiatrist to get her toenails cut. I made the decision about a year ago that love for my ex-MIL stopped at her ankles. So once every three months that means a trip to the podiatrist.

Betty scared me a bit. She took a stitch in her left side that was awful and couldn't get any relief. I was beginning to wonder if she was having heart issues, when she started burping elephant burps like crazy. This wouldn't have been too bad, except the podiatrist was waiting to do her toes and listening to elephant burps. The stitch moved to the other side, and after another round or elphant burps she was fine.

She wanted to go out to eat, but I thought it might be better to go home and get a breathing treatment. Unfortunately she didn't. So, we went to Bilbo's house of BBQ and she seranaded everyone there with the elephant burps. But she was happy to get out for a dinner and seemed to enjoy it. When I got her home she wanted me to stay and visit. Go figure.

Tuesday we get to go to the dermatologist. You just don't want to know why.

I probably don't look so spiffy myself lately. Together we probably look like a couple of bag ladies. We're certainly a matched set when seen out and about, I'm guessing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey, Ham, Dressing, Corn Casserole, etc. Day

Floating gazing balls in the pond at the Renaissance Festival a few years ago. Just a pretty picture.

Everyone converged on Jenn and Eric's place and with the best of everyone's efforts had a wonderful feast. The table was full and so was everyone who sat at the table. We all left fat, and full, and very happy.

It's not quite 9PM and I guess the l-triptophan in the turkey is getting to me. I'm sleepy.

I hope if you are reading this, you have had as nice a Thanksgiving as I did.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holy Smokes!!

I got the enumerated bill for the first three rounds of chemotherapy. It's pretty interesting!

I get 3 different drugs: one costs $660 per treatment, one costs $1224 per treatment and the last one is (get this) $6786 per treatment. The total cost for all medical billing related to the oncologist as of 11/13/07 is $52,242. I am DEFINITELY a high maintenance woman these days!

I got a massage today, but the one last week really, really, really made a huge difference in the pain in my back. I'm so glad that whatever was causing that problem is getting worked out. I'm not nearly as cranky when I'm not in so much pain.

I am profoundly thankful that the farthest I have to drive for Thanksgiving tomorrow is about 0.25 mile to Jenn and Eric's. I see the traffic hassle on the tv and am so happy that I don't have to go be a part of that. Having all my family all consolidated in one place is wonderful.

My coup of the day is that I got Betty some sandals she likes, and she let me out the door with her ancient huarache sandals that make her shuffle and look like a bag lady. She may wake up tomorrow and demand them back, but for right now, I have them, and if she doesn't have a fit about it, they are going in the TRASH in the next week. You have no idea what a momentous thing this is!!!!!

Resting now. Looking forward to some of Mike's dressing tomorrow and some of Eric's turkey and some of Sissy's chocolate pie and of course some of Mike's ambrosia. It will be nummy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

They Call it the "Red Devil"

This is a small waterfall made into the carp pond at the garden at the Convent of St. Helena in Augusta, Georgia. Taken last year and just a pretty picture to put on the blog.

Adriomycin is the "A" in TAC. It's also the nasty stuff that is so good at killing my kind of cancer. It's also the nasty stuff that often is so toxic that it does nasty things to one's heart. The oncologist, therefore, is going back to the original studies done at MD Anderson on TAC to see if additional testing of the heart was done before completion of the six treatments. Seems logical. I don't mind going for additional MUGA testing. I had a good ejection fraction of 66% to begin with. The only hassle with the MUGA was the doofus radiation dosing guy who can't hit a vein with a shotgun. Otherwise I don't mind doing that one again.

They used the BIG syringe today putting the red devil into me. In that HUGE syringe it definitely looks menicing. I have to push liquids starting yesterday, today, and tomorrow to flush it as quickly as possible out of my kidneys and bladder. It's toxic enough that it can't be allowed to pool long in the bladder. I don't know what would happen if it did, but I'm not willing to find out. I'm not sure why it's not as scary to get the 57.5 ml of adriamycin in three smaller syringes but it is. That big, honking syringe that's about the size of Liam's forearm just gives me the total willies!

I got to overhear a conversation today when someone finished their last chemotherapy. The were asking how long to keep their port? The recommendation was to keep it for a year post treatment. You have to go once every four weeks through that year and get the "heperine lock" redone. That's so I don't get blood clots in my port. They aren't good, especially in the vein that is going straight into your heart!

I was lucky enough to be there today when a chemo friend was there getting one of her treatments. Next Tuesday is the breast cancer support group so we're going to see if we can get enough umph together to go out to eat beforehand. You something social! Who knows if three chemo gals (she's bringing another chemo friend) can get that much energy together for that length of time!

Betty has an appointment with a dermatologist next week to take care of some lumps on the side of her face. I'm hoping I have the umph to take her! It could definitely be interesting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Annual Physical

As if it wasn't necessary for the oncologist and surgeon and radiation oncologist to poke and prod me, I have to maintain a happy relationship with my internist. C. very graciously drove me in to Atlanta today, getting a BIG gold star for doing it during rush hour. Happily my internist will take over prescriptions for me on two Rx's that I had to go to a specialist for previously. This makes me VERY happy that I now don't need to see an additional doc.

We treated ourselves to a nice lunch out and then I went home and flopped into bed for a 3 hour nap! Phew. Wore myself out!

The FAT insurance check came today and I will happily deposit it tomorrow. Happy to be making a nice deposit.

The picture above is of a puzzle I worked today. These puzzles were new to me and my friend N. gave me this puzzle book. It's great mental exercise when waiting or having treatments. It's less challenging than a crossword, but more difficult than you think. Lots of logic required. I enjoyed working this one today. Thanks, N. :)

A little TV and some salad for dinner, and believe it or not, I'll sleep just fine tonight. Tomorrow I have to be at the oncologist early for treatment number 4! Yeah! Killing the cancer some more!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

35-36 Weeks

This is a picture I took at the Convent of St. Helena last year. It's some kind of water lily floating in their decorative pond.

There's a little girl on her way to meet us sometime in the next 30 days or so. Daddy put a lighted flashlight on mom's tummy today and that little girl had a total snit about it! Mom's tummy looked like the girl was doing a ride at Six Flags only inside Mom!

There are a lot of potential birthdays that she could potentially share with family in December, not the least of which is her Grammy's. Personally, I'm hopeful that she gets her own day. I'm also hoping that this baby comes a little faster than Liam, who took his time, arriving 72 hours after mom's labor started!

I took Liam to a playground today for about an hour. He ran and ran and ran and had a fabulous time. By the time I sat up for dinner and chatted for a bit with friends down at Jenn's, I was TIRED. I hate how easy it is for me to get tired these days. The question came up today about how long might it take for my hair to grow back in once I've finished chemo? I don't know. I suspect it will be slow. My hair has always been thin and slow growing. I do hear it is likely to be wavy when it comes back in -- that'll be different.

Tomorrow I have an appointment for my annual physical in Atlanta. I'm grateful to C. who is willing to drive me into Atlanta. I can't drive that far on my own anymore. We need to go somewhere nice for lunch. It's the least I can do for her for being nice enough to haul me around. God bless her.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Seeds of Goodness and Light

As much as I like to think of the cancer as Elvira and seek to kill her and eradicate all of her and her kind from me, I need to find balance. It is not enough to get rid of the dark, it is important to also invite the light to come in. I think some of my crazy ideas about "bathing" in the light of the moon, probably come from some kind of innate understanding of that idea. But I haven't yet discovered how to invite the light in, or how to balance the light with the vision to eradicate the dark.

It's not really a vision about light and dark, but healing and death of disease. Some say it's within my power to kill my own cancer with intentional, mindful effort. I don't know if that is true, but I have an open mind to it. I haven't yet worked out how to invite healing inside me. I'm halfway through the chemotherapy, and coming up to treatment #4. At this point I need to figure out how to invite the healing in and get on with that.

Sound too weird? Well, it just is what it is. Some would say that this is the place where I need to put my energy into faith. I think it is a piece of where I will find healing, but it's not everything. Some comes from yoga. Some comes from pottery. And there will be other ways I find to let in the light and healing. I just haven't discovered what they are yet.

Sacrilege? Truth? Something in-between? It's just where I am. Like the card above talks about, it's about seeking balance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Can't Seem to Get It Through My Head

I went to yoga today. It really challeneged me and worked muscles that haven't be stretched in those directions -- possibly ever. It's pretty amazing to see these women do poses that look like they were designed by a catortionist. They are all proportional and lean, so my fat belly and fat thighs get in the way of even attempting some of the poses. But I try to approximate as best as I can. I haven't been sore yet, but I can feel my abdominal muscles complaining now, so I'm betting I will be sore tomorrow. It's good for me to challenge myself though.

I used the little cart at the grocery store to shop afterward. This is my perky week and two things didn't seem like such a stretch. But the rubber legs caught up with me at home, and for the first time I pushed to the point that the rubber legs gave way. Not a good thing. I rested for a while. Then I brought in the cold stuff. Then loaded up the crock pot, and then I took a nap. It helped but I'm still feeling very puny.

Back still hurts.

I feel sleepy, even though I took a nap.

I find myself wondering how long it will take me to regain my strength once I am done with chemo? The whole rubber legs thing and extreme exhaustion make me wonder, how will I manage going back to work?

I feel very blessed to have the resources that I have and I'm so grateful for the aggressive treatment that I'm receiving, but for this to be my perky week, I'm still feeling pretty puny. I have to wonder if I'll continue to get more puny for #4, #5 and #6? I just have to go with the flow. Whatever happens is what happens and I will deal with it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Can You Hear the Angelic Choir?

They are singing; I'm sure of it. I chased down some of the details with the insurance companies today. One is being downright rediculous in it's incompetence. I'm getting ready to call the state insurance commissioner and see if they will help me out with them. The insurance company that I added during open enrollment and which went into effect on 8/1/07 and I was diagnosed with BC on 8/2/07 has decided that I'm covered and they've cut a check! A fat one. It will be nice to pay some bills instead of only collecting them!

Back still hurts.

I went to pottery this week and feel GOOD about what I was making tonight. I made a soap dish, a a couple of small bowls and a something-or-other, and a trivit. That's a lot for me. I very much felt good doing pottery tonight. When I feel good about what I'm doing, it's a lot more fun!

I changed the water in the fish tank in preparation for being "down" next week. I will cook dinner tomorrow for all of us. I try to earn my keep a little bit. Sometime this weekend I'll get groceries set up in advance of treatment #4.

Life is better when you know that the checks coming IN are bigger than the checks going OUT. I'm relieved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pain in the Back

I went back to the chiropractor today and got the full treatment so he can feel good about billing my insurance. I am not sure that anything he is doing is beneficial, but it's definitely benign, and what I do get is a once a week massage. Hallelujah!!! THAT is something that really helps my back. It's hurting tonight, so I guess I'll get the heating pad out, but I'm not optimistic about it actually helping.

I went by the school today and was able to release some things I ordered so that they'd go to my collaborative teacher and help him out. I bet he thought it was Christmas in November.

Lastly, my grandson is a condiment aficionado. He loves Ranch dressing and beyond all sane measure he loves ketsup. In fact, he likes ketsup so much he was eating it on his grapes last night. THAT is a dedication to the gustatory pleasure of ketsup beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

St. Margaret's Day

The church I go to is named after St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Her memorial Sunday is this coming Sunday. The reason this is important is because the parish will make a really, really BIG deal about it. There will be bagpipers in the processional and recessional. Those members of Scotish decent that have kilts will come decked out in full regalia. Everyone will wear the red and white tarten fabric that is the Stewart tarten.

I was at Hobby Lobby today and they had some plaid fabric, so I bought 3/4 of a yard to make a kerchief for my bald head this Sunday. (g)
I made dinner for us all today, and have learned that black beans can be substituted for carrots in a stew and it works out. I was a bit afraid it would be more of a mystery meal than a stew, but it worked out fine. Dang but it smells good though!
I had blood work done today, and took a picture to Hobby Lobby for framing, and then ran by Betty's. I'm POOPED! There's a cool beading class in Carrollton tonight, but there's no hope for me to do it. My arms and legs feel like they are weighted down with lead. But, my back feels some better after the massage yesterday.
Today was a double bonus day with Angel Mail. I love the harvest theme on the pot holder above. Me and my family have so, so much to be thankful for this year. We may not til the land or havest anything, but our lives are full of expectation, wonder and excitement as we wait for our new little girl to join us. Liam knows that there is a baby in his mom's tummy, and every now and again, he rubs his own tummy and talks about the baby he has in there. We're all looking forward to meeting her.

Very tired this evening.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A New Woman!

I've had this pain in my back for about three weeks now, and it's not getting better. I called the oncologist today to see what to do about it. He's on vacation all week. Not being a big fan of pain, I decided to take things into someone else's hands, and got an appointment for a massage.

I had a one hour massage today, and I am a new woman!!!! It is amazing what a massage will do for you! It's not the total cure for this back pain, but it sure did help. The funny thing that happened was that as she was massaging my face and scalp, I was wondering if it might freak out the massage lady if my eyebrows fell off? I looked when I got out, and sure enough there's a big gap now in my right eyebrow. I've been being careful with them because I knew they'd been feeling "fragile" and like they might fall out. Oh well, it'll just make my facial expressions more interesting, eh?

Now, if you need a laugh about Thanksgiving, go watch this clip. It's FUNNY.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Meercat Manor

Today's episode focus' on the cashier at Wal-mart. It's pretty clear that I am being treated for cancer because I wear a kerchief instead of a hot and uncomfortable wig. I'm also weak and so I zoom through stores on one of those shopping carts that go fast enough I can wipe out several able-bodied people in one sweep.

As I was checking out at Wal-mart today, the cachier asked me "How are you doing?" Fair. "How are your treatments going?" (That's kind of personal but OK, I'll go along with it.) "3 down, 3 to go." The cashier then opens up about her family. "My mother died from lung cancer, and my sister had breast cancer and they treated her with radiation, which cooked her skin something awful and she suffered something terrible with it, but she got to live 2-1/2 years longer because of it. My other sister had two different kinds of cancer but she's in remission, but she has to go for chemo on a regular basis to keep it in control." I looked at her, and in a rare moment of candid nastiness said, "Thank you for making me listen to your family's depressing history today." She hastened to say, "It's not depressing!"

Like, it's not depressing because ....what, one sister is still alive....barely? If she felt she had to make some kind of testimonial, it would have been a kindness if it had been POSITIVE!!! Wouldn't it have been kind if she said something like, "My family is fighting cancer too. I wish you well." But the gory details of her sister cooking in radiation -- THAT was IMPORTANT for her to share with me this morning?????? WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING!!!!!! I know that somewhere deep in her heart, she THINKS she said something positive and was trying to be kind, but deep in my heart I think she's a stupid damn idiot that just FREAKS me out and gives me TOO MUCH INFORMATION about the 10 million things I can be afraid of in the future. Thanks for making my day!!!!!

How is one supposed to respond to people who do this? Because people do it all the time. This is the first time I've ever responded back in a crass way. But people tell me stupid, scary, depressing, and gory things about cancer all the time, like it's something I need to or want to hear. How much of a jerk do you need to be to do that??????

I don't understand. I just don't understand. I think I have to just see them as little meercats running around trying to survive and mouthing off with the IQ of a meercat. Jenny tells me a I need a "Bubble of Peace" to mentally hold around me for moments when a meercat comes close with unsolicited and inane comments. An angry part of me wants to make cards and hand them out saying, "Thank you for raising my anxiety levels about cancer. I'm sure because of you I'll live one less day. Thank you for being a stupid fuck!" But I probably won't.

Breathe........Bubble of Peace.....remember Shirley the mail lady. Remember all the cards in your basket by the bed. Remember all the dinners people have fixed. Remember the nice kid at Ingle's who just yesterday was kind. Remember the nice e-mails, calls and concern. Not everyone is a meercat. Many are angels aware and unaware, but I need to remember them when I stumble across a meercat.

Please don't be a meercat. As cute and harmless as they look, they have the IQ of a gnat and the self-awareness of a blood-sucking mosquito.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"God Bless You"

Today I ran by Betty's and got her grocery list. Then I went to Ingle's where they are a small grocery with one of those little scooter shopping carts. I did her shopping made more exciting by the fact that it was Saturday and that cart steers so weird that I'm a CRAZY driver. But she's stocked up with food and cigarettes and so I don't have to worry about her for a bit. Lately I've been letting the bag boys take my groceries to the truck because I'm such a weenie. Today it was a kid from my school. He asked me if I was the teacher from his school that had been out. I acknowledged that I was. Then he said, "We'll all be glad when you can come back." I don't know this dear child, but clearly he think's I'm dying or something. I don't know what, but when he finished loading up the groceries, he was all choaked up when he turned to leave he said, "God bless you." I guess I don't look like the poster child for what''s "healthy." I thought it was sweet of him though to show he cared. He didn't have to say a thing.

I took Betty her groceries, and she is increasingly peeved with me for not staying and putting her groceries away for her! I put the groceries down in the kitchen, and she wanted to know if I'd put them away? I put the meat away and other cold stuff (Because she's been known to leave meat in an odd spot and let it spoil.), but then I left. She said, "I'll put them away later." (That means, Peggy will put them away on Monday, is my guess.) Betty clearly is now used to me wearing the kerchief, and she sees it as "normal." Therefore, she had no questions for me about how I was doing. She doesn't perceive me as "ill" anymore. She just thinks I'm being rude when I don't put her groceries away like I used to do.

I'm very much more affected by the cold outside. I don't know if it is because I'm past all the hot I felt from menopause, or if it is a result of the chemo or what. But the cold chills me to the bone now, and it's hard to get warm again once I've gotten chilled. If I had a husband, tonight he'd be howling from the cold feet I'd be trying warm against him. Since I only have cats, I guess the heating pad and a surrender to the thermostat god will have to suffice. After years and years of being too warm, it is bazaar for me to feel cold!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Just One Thing....Maybe Two

OK, yoga didn't kill me last Friday so I went to yoga this Friday. I sounded like popcorn crackling today. I could actually hear my vertebrae cracking one, two, three, four, five, six and then I'd move and it would start all over again. Clearly bunches of things were being challenged by the movements (or lack of them). We'll see if I'm sore tomorrow. That was one thing for Friday morning.

While I was in yoga the nurse from a doc office called and left a message that an appointment that took a near act-of-congress, had to be cancelled. Peeved me to no end. So since I was in Carrollton anyway, I went to that doc office with my appointment calendar and certain indignation to see if I could work out a new solution. It turned out the doc met with me right then. We talked and I collected information for about 45 minutes. It was very productive, helpful and unscheduled. That was two things for Friday.

Then without having anything yet to eat today, (not good planning) I ended up going to my next appointment. I got to sit through it. But, this was three things for Friday.

I was supposed to go to Hobby Lobby afterwards, but I was HUNGRY and so I went to the closest good food place to get some. I felt better after eating, and visited a couple shops around the square to browse. (This was probably not the best bit of strategic thinking I've ever made.) Of course I got weak and wobbly and had to go home RIGHT then.

I have this pain in my right, middle of my back that keeps bothering me. I put the heating pad on it but I think I'm going to mention it to the oncologist next week because it just keeps coming back, and coming back and it hurts!

Thankfully, I got invited out to dinner or I just wouldn't have had any. I got a little time to visit with Jenn. For a day that was planned to only have two things to do in it, a bunch of stuff ended up in there. My wobbly self just about couldn't handle it either. It's really, really hard to understand that I can really only do one, maybe two things in a day. That's it. The one person I can't seem to convice of that truth is ME.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm Officially an Old Lady

Every parish I've ever been in where they had a full-time administrative person, there's always been a gaggle of old ladies that came in on newsletter day. They would do in three hours what any two people could do in 1-1/2, but it doubled as social time for the old ladies. Today, I was officially inducted into the old lady world by folding and sorting the church newsletter. I'm glad to be doing something useful, and getting out of the house. No gaggle of old ladies today though; it was just me.

My friend T. was honored tonight for being the teacher of the year at my school. I wantd to surprise him by being at the ceremony. He didn't show up for the ceremony, so I called him afterwards. He was so incredibly out of his head that I felt really bad. It was obvious that he was unable to travel or do anything remotely cognitive until at least after his surgery on the 20th. I hate it that he is so debilitated. I hope he gets major relief from his pain with the surgery.

It was fun to see E., R., A., T., L., and A. & M. Even Mr. R. spoke to me, and I never thought he had a clue who I was, but I guess it's pretty obvious when you're the only hairless one around.

Today I had nearly no nausea and felt more myself than I have felt in a week or so. I wanted to be able to do the newsletter and attend the ceremony and I was able to do it. That makes me happy. T., I hope you feel better really soon. :(

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Phew....guess I wore myself out!

This is just another miscellaneous nature picture I took that I thought I'd use to spiff up the blog.

All of yesterday's activities seem to have tired me out! I made one phone call today about insurance and that is about the entire productivity to my day. At 2:30 I lay down to take a nap, and woke up at 6:30!!! I guess I'm making up for last week when I didn't sleep much at all!

Tomorrow I have places to go and things to do! I'm excited to have a couple things on my schedule. Hope I can pull some "perky" out of myself by tomorrow!

Sorry that grammy ended up being a dud tonight kids. I had planned to keep the little fellow for you all, but it seems my body was not cooperative. Mmmmm, last night's dinner was just as nummy tonight as last night. The heat is kicking on tonight, and it's cool enough that that cats are glommed onto me. I am good as a passive heating pad it seems.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Zofran the Magnificent

OK, if you EVER feel nauseous for a period of time and you don't want to manage your nausea by going to sleep (which is what a lot of anti-nausea medicines do -- just knock you out), there is a special drug called Zofran. Now Zofran has recently become a generic drug. It must be made of platinum or something because in it's generic state the insurance company allowed me to have 12 tablets. Twelve doesn't seem like a lot until you hear the following. When I went to pick them up, I knew they had a reputation of being expensive. I asked how many the insurance company let me have. Then the pharmacist volunteered that I was very lucky. It's unusual to get as many as 12 per month, and those 12 had a price of $520. I gulped and asked, "How much is the co-pay on that?" The pharmacist smiled and said, "$10." AMAZING!

I'm feeling a tiny bit better since taking a half of one. I was able to eat some dinner and enjoy it. Food has not seemed like an appealing idea for several days now since my treatment a week ago today. This is the longest the nausea has lasted. I hope it's not as bad the next treatment!

I did grocery shopping for myself today. Which is only manageable because they have those motorized carts at the store. If it wasn't for them, I'd have to make a list and send someone. The little carts make it so I can go out and get my own.

I enjoyed so very much, getting to have dinner with my family. My grandson and I made some sugar cookies (Just before bed too -- I'm sure mom and dad appreciated that!). It was a precious bit of the Norman Rockwell America to just sit with him at the kitchen table and make little dinosaur sugar cookies. Precious moments.

Thanks to R. for your card marathon. Three cards came today! You're too, too good. Thanks also to G. for taking time to call me today and let me know you cared. It really makes my heart sing when I hear from friends and family. Thanks E. & D. for dropping comments off at the blog too. I'm nauseated these days, but feeling very blessed with friends and family.

Like the Waters in a Desert Refresh the Soul...

Sleep is better than medicine.

Amazing what one night of good sleep will do for the body and soul!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Living an In-authentic Life

I have taken more Psychology courses than anyone ought to have, and so I'm one of those strange people that actually want to remember and ponder their dreams. I only slept for about an hour this morning from 5 to 6 am, but during that time I had a long, protracted dream that was extremely disturbing in content. A dream that was menacing and acidic and made me reach back in time, almost 30 years, to find a corollary to find similar feelings.

After rolling it around in my mind and a few other people's minds for the day, I've (I think.) finally unravelled a ball of emotional yarn that reaches down to the core of who I am. The circumstances of the dream are irrelevant, the story the dream tells me is very important.

I've lived a very self-reliant life. I've made myself be independent of others as much as is feasible. I made a path for myself that clearly did not wish to impose or "burden" others. I don't care to be viewed as complaining, dependent, weak or hypochondriachial (My mother's life pattern.). In defining myself so distinctly, I didn't take cancer into the picture of who I am presently. I try to be independent, but I can't. I try not to whine or complain, but the reality is that much of my present biological and emotional feelings are centered on some pretty unpleasant realities. I don't wish to be viewed as hypochondriachial, but in point of fact, I have some very demanding medical needs that while real, echo the unreal of my primary caregiver. I have raised a facade that shows the world, "I'm doing ok -- or as ok as I can." The reality is not as tidy. I want to whine sometimes. I am sick a LOT. I do need help and can't be independent. I am clearly out of my emotional waters and my psyche jerked me back with a dream to make me see how inauthentic I am living right now. I may not like my circumstances, but I do need to live with them. I may not feel comfortable with the belief's and feelings that I'm experiencing, but my dreams tell me I need an "attitude adjustment." I need to say more clearly what my needs and feelings are, even if they are things I don't particularly care or like about myself. My words and my life need to be congruent, and they haven't been.

I don't want to wear out my social network with whining, complaining or negative feedback, but I do think my dream is telling me to be more honest. I'd rather be more honest than immerse myself back into such a disturbing dream world. So if you're around me, get ready for some honesty instead of superficial feedback, the next time you ask, "How are you doing"?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

From the Biggest to the Smallest

Unquestionably I come in the large-economy size. So even when I'm puny I'm a very large puddle of puny. Today at church I was weak and very wobbly. More so than I thought I'd be. I just so wanted to get out, but then when I did, I had the rubber legs phenomenon going.

I *loved* the sermon today, which focused on the saints among us who minister to us in countless ways, such as hair stylists. Our lives long, we have all kinds of people who interact with us and provide us with encouragement. For me, it's Shirley, the mail lady -- lately.

Today, though one of the tiniest among us needs our thoughts and prayers. If you have a moment in the course of your day, week...think of a little fellow named Luke who is only four pounds and struggling on the trip of life. He's already come a long way, but has a long way to go and is very frail right now. He needs us to hold him up in prayer for a bit.

As I contemplate my mortality lately, it had occurrred to me that the sacred place my ashes could end up fertilizing the soil, is the same place where some of my mom ended up. So, while we contemplate All Saint's Day today, and the impact of the known and unknown saints -- it is slightly troublesome that the distance I wanted from my mom in this life, might be very, very short in the world of "ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

Pray for Luke. He needs all the help he can get.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

OK, I couldn't make today interesting.

This is a picture from my summer trip to Connecticut. I just wanted to brighten things up a bit on the blog. Who can't smile at daisies?

Usually I can entertain myself and keep busy. Today was a lost moment in time. I don't have the attention span to really do much reading, unfortunately. I've had a lot of muscle aches and pains today, likely from the neulasta. Evidentally there is a four-day span before that kicks in for me. So, today I just was a bum.

I am filled up with quiet, personal time. Something so precious and difficult to find under normal circumstances is so abundant now that I long for a little excitement -- just a little. It seems somehow selfish and wrong to complain about an abundance of time, in a hurry-up, super-busy world.

God bless the ladies at my townhome that have taken care of me by pushing the trash dumpster out to the road, and back. Blessings on the mail lady who is so kind and generous of heart. Thanks and blessings on all those who think of and pray for me. I know it all helps.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Yoga: An Achievable Thing

I had lots of preconceptions of what I thought yoga was. None of those preconceptions turned out to be true, at least today. It was challenging, but not some sweat-soaked experience of ups and downs. I was definitely not the lithesome thing the others in the room were, but it was still mostly achievable. Toward the end of the session my chemo nausea kicked in and I was afraid I was going to have to leave, but with some quick intervention I was able to stay despite the inconvenience.

I came home however, took a compazine for the nausea and conked out for several hours. I feel good for having tried something new. I expect I'll try again, and it'll be better next week because it's not my week for chemo. I won't be lots stronger, but I'll be less likely to wish to hurl. :)

Thanks R., for the card. It is a mountain, but I'll get there!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Can you believe.....?

I don't know if I can really do it or not, but I'm giving yoga a try tomorrow. I've never done it before, and I'm pretty weak but they say that yoga is a good thing to do while in chemo, so I'm giving it a try. I'm desperately hoping I will not make a fool of myself, and that I don't get all knotted up and stiff. Other than that it's all just another adventure.

I did pottery for a bit tonight. I'm not good at it either, but it's something different to do. I can do it while sitting down too, so that makes it feasible. Hope you have a nice evening. I'm sleepy and have to go.