welcome to the danger zone

Posts tagged “chemotherapy

Return to Mania

I once asked to be tested to see if I was bipolar. Alas, I am not. I know it’s not a really cool thing to be, but I was just hoping for a rational explanation for my occasional bursts of mania. Like today. However, I believe that it must be the result of getting sufficient sleep and upping my effexor. I’ve been super weepy the last few weeks, probably because I wasn’t sleeping, and under a lot of physical duress, but the last three nights have been heavenly.

With that little intro, let’s dive right in to the Dr. appt on Monday. The new course of treatment is to alternate Tamoxifen with Megase. We all know how I feel about Tamoxifen, (and why I am procrastinating in taking it today) and Megase promises to be a joy too. So I am two weeks on Tamoxifen, then two weeks on Megase and then switch back. Both are going to fuck with my endocrine system, and Megase has the added bonus of weight gain, which is just what I need. I suppose it’s a decent trade off for a healthy holiday season. I got the vibe from Dr. K that he recommended that I do this treatment first before we consider infusion because it may be the last healthy Christmas I have, so why fuck it up. I’m okay with that. It was a good appointment, and I made it clear that I would prefer in the future to have my cyst drained first before we start shoving tubes into my bladder and kidney. He said his job is to keep my kidney healthy – I said I get that, but please, lets avoid the catheter forever. This visit’s minion med student was cute, she kept apologizing for the fact that cancer and the catheter/nephrostemy killed my plans for Riot Fest and The Fest, and made me miss the Bouncing Souls and Leftover Crack. I told her she was not responsible, but she kept apologizing anyway. Even when I almost ripped her head off when she said “so I understand you refused chemo before, are you willing to consider it now?” and I had to again explain I never refused anything, I simply asked for a delay if it wasn’t going to exacerbate things. Poor child. I was still sleep deprived at the time so I think she thought I was about to tear into her throat and rip out her artery. Anyway, I made her laugh and then she stopped being scared. I go back in January at which time we look at the next step. As for the pufferfish, I know it’s busy attempting to get back to its monster size, I can feel twinges and jabs, but I still have complete use of my bladder, so I’m down with sucking up the pain. And I want this tube out of my back in six days, so I will do what it takes. There were no scans this time, because they will do a scan when they yank the tube – unfortunately they aren’t like the cyst draining radiologists who show me the pictures live and all the goop they drained out. Dr. K found my excitement with seeing all that shit hysterical.

For those of you who have never dealt with chronic pain, you don’t really get what constant pain does to you physically and mentally. It keeps you in a heightened state of stress. Your body never really relaxes. My jaw is constantly clenched. Medicating it only does so much. You find a good position and you don’t want to move so you stay as still as possible. You do a lot of sucking in your breath and hissing. My situation is accented by the hole in my back that is constantly trying to close itself even though the tube is preventing it. And let’s not forget the promise of painful terror that’s on my mind when I think about them trying to remove it. Because they are going to lie to me and say they will give me a local to block the pain. And I will half heartedly believe it until they make me scream and leap of the table. It’s a game we play, the radiologists and I. Let’s hope it’s the last time.

I’m in a pretty good mood. I am super excited that my California friends will be arriving in a little more than a week. I have missed them every day I have been gone. It’s going to be quite the reunion. I’m keeping my drinking to a minimum though, because I want to keep these kidneys healthy and happy so it’s gonna be all about the water for the next two months. I see palliative care today at 1:30. I will probably not be the happiest I could be when I get back, but it’s a gorgeous rainy day, and I am going to enjoy the drive because I love how the rain makes the tree bark black against the last of the fall leaves. And fog, there will be fog. It also means idiot drivers, but I don’t think they take my blood pressure today so there should be no freak outs in the Dr’s office. When I went in on Monday, my initial blood pressure was 177/100. I told them to take it later and it was 138/80, which it was clear that it was high because of idiots on the road. After that, I am going to hit the nice wal-mart in Palmyra today because I need a few things. And I also want to stop and score some whoopie pies for Ranae because apparently someone’s band found the ones she had in the freezer. I have to get some for the California girls too, so they can take them back with them. By the way, according to the scale at the Dr. office, I lost 17 lbs since last month – it was probably a lot more but my two week binge of drinking a half-gallon of chocolate milk a day put some back on. Still that’s a lot of weight – just another 20lb and I’ll weigh what I did when Andy was born. Then only another hundred until I am back at pre-pregnancy weight. I’ve decided it’s time to lose the skinny clothes, because at this point, the likelihood of ever squishing back into my plaid pants is slim. I even went as far as getting garbage bags to put them in. But then that burst of housecleaning energy went out and I decided to blog.

Sorry this is so mundane today, but I’ll take it. I’d like some normal days. I’d like some time when I don’t feel any pressure. And once this tube is out of my fucking back I think I might even schedule a weekend away so I can go swim again in an indoor pool. You have no idea how the knowledge that I may never swim again, or take a bath or enjoy a hot tub was weighing on my mind. It’s one thing when cancer kills your goals and dreams by stealing your time, but it’s a whole other ballgame when it steals the little things too – like walking and swimming. This disease is such a huge mind fuck…the psychological destruction is really overwhelming. When you start to lose options in your life, the things you have left become all that much more important.

One thing I did want to rant about today is more about Andy than me. People tell Andy to be strong. That he has to be strong. He doesn’t. He has to be Andy. I will be strong for me. Andy can be strong for himself if he wants to be, or not. It hurts me that people have made him feel like this is his battle too – he is strong, but he’s also human, and he feels fear and uncertainty like the rest of us. Those are valid emotions and he needs to know it’s okay to have them, and to sometimes be okay with being terrified. Telling either one of us to be strong is bullshit. Both of us need to be able to be who we need to be to get through this shit. Everyone has that right. You get out of bed in the morning and you do what it takes to get through the day. Some days are good and some are bad. A week ago, I didn’t want to even get out of bed. But I said “just get through today.” until I could get out of bed without having to be my own cheerleader. It’s not about strength, it’s about will, and being able to stay in the present moment. I do what I have to. When I decided I no longer need to do it, I won’t. As I have said before, it breaks my heart that my kid isn’t able to enjoy being a 20 something because I am sick. I know the weight of having a parent with cancer, as I lost my mom at 27. I wish I could save him from all of this.

That said it seems to be time for me to hit the shower and head out to Hershey. Maybe I will post again later after the visit or maybe I will be too upset to do it, who knows? But I suppose I need to take that stupid Tamoxifen too. Have a good day monkeys, and give someone you love a hug. Or someone you like. It is #hugitouthumpday after all. Peace.


Tarpits, Minefields, and the Joy of a Tuesday

Well here it is, Tuesday. I feel like I have slept most of this month away. I am up and awake now, before 10 am, out of bed, which is crazy, because the only reason I was getting out of bed before 10 am for the last three weeks was for dr. appointments and to puke. It feels strange and wonderful, and shaky. I’m craving a mint hot chocolate, but today is shower day, which I can’t take until Andy is awake to do a new bandage on my back.

So what’s new in my world? Lots and nothing. I’ve been down with the sickness pretty much every day. I feel better one day, and think I can actually be social and do things, and then someone is unknowingly carrying a rare virus that is usually defeated quickly by your immune system until it gets to me, and then hello, it’s a human with very little resistance, let’s dance. I am sure I’ve endured the black death the last few days, and probably some extinct pox. I’ve puked more in the last 30 days that I have in my whole entire life. And that’s with using appropriate nausea control techniques. And the things I have puked in and on are countless! Plus let’s not forget that tube in my back that gives me an added thrill every time my automatic nervous system spasms. It’s good times.

The tube in my kidney. What a pleasure source that bad boy is! I did get a mini-reprieve with it, though. When I went in for my tube change, I laid down my case for why it should come out, and almost won. But using logic, my plan was confounded. We agreed to leave a tube in, capping it off, sans the pee bag, for two weeks – if my kidney goes back to doing it’s job without complaint, then they will pull it. In the meantime, I’ve discovered the sweet spot on my hip where I need to place my hand when I need to cough, sneeze or breathe deeply, so I am not thwarted by pain.

But let’s talk about pain. Last Wednesday, I went in to interventional radiology to have the tube change done. I took a couple oxy and some medicinal herbiage before the ride so I’d be more comfortable when I got there. I was. Then they promised me some more medicine, when they did the procedure. Unlike the draining of the cyst, I don’t believe they give you any medication to help you be drowsy. No, they are very kind to you, promising pain relief until they wheel your ass in the procedure room. Then they tell you to get on your stomach, put your arms above your head and trust they will not hurt you. They lie. First they start poking you in the back with needles they claim are local anesthetics. Just a pinch they say. Just a pinch. Just a pinch of the claw of giant crustacean tearing into your flesh like it intends to eat you. I stay surprisingly still for the first two shots. Then the third hits a nerve or something and I elevate three feet from the table and mutter “ouch”. I think the team realizes that they might have hurt me. Now, I am shaking from the pain, and it’s freezing in there, so I shake for the rest of the procedure. They took out the old tubing and put a smaller less cumbersome tube apparatus in there. They did a really good job with the bandage. I get to roll back on my back and go to recovery. I’ve done really well they tell me. I just want to go home. They must have given me fentynal at some point because I’m mostly not in pain now. I get dressed and they even let me walk up to meet Andy.

I was hungry. I wanted one of those turkey and cranberry sandwiches from Panera. I went in with Andy at first, but realized I needed to be back in the car, so I gave him my order and went outside. He brought out the goods and I ate a cookie and some lemonade. I thought I was going to be fine. Just not really hungry. The sandwich could wait. Then the meds started to wear off. I didn’t bring any with me. In the next ten minutes, my pain went from 2 to 2.4 trillion. Every inch from my waist to my neck on the right side of my body was a fucking minefield of pain. I do not exaggerate when I say that speaking hurt me. Breathing hurt. Coughing was some primitive torture activity. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t talk, I could only whimper like I was hit by a car and left alongside the road to die. I wanted to die. I wanted fucking morphine.

Finally we go home, I thought I was going to be okay. Then I tried to get out of the car and walk into the house. Every fucking step was a new adventure in torment. I got in the house, and faced the steps where my safe bed and vial of oxy were waiting for me just a few hundred steps away. And every step found me crying and moaning and doubting that I would ever get to the bed. But I did. I shoved some oxy in my mouth, and advil, and tried to smoke but couldn’t really inhale. Then I tried to lie down. That was not easy. I literally had to throw myself down on my right side and not move from that position. I told Andy if I didn’t get some relief in an hour, that we would need to call an ambulance. I was having really bad pain in my chest and back and I was scared it was serious. But I also tore cartilage in my chest before and it often would be painful if I was in a position that pulled at it again, so it could have also been that. I was hoping it was that. I nodded off for an hour and when I woke, I wasn’t in as much pain, so that was good. I was still paralyzed and unable to move, but I was no longer in fear of imminent death. Another four hours of sleep and I was almost able to move. By morning, I could actually sit up. A few more hours, and I could walk. Things were improving.

I couldn’t make my appointment with palliative care. Reschedule. I didn’t have the strength or the energy. I had to blow off the Bouncing Souls show that I was so looking forward to. I shouldn’t complain, my kidney was working and I could move and most of the time, breathe. I was still having trouble coughing and sneezing. Then the black wave of depression crept into the space where pain had been hanging out in my brain, and down, down, down, way fucking down, we went. If you don’t have depression, you can’t understand. I try to make it as visual for the untainted as I can, and this was like the La Brea tar pits of depression and I was a fucking woolly mammoth. It was all over except for suffocation. That sucking quicksand of sorrow ate me up, and the crying started. Without belaboring the incessant crying and snot-blowing, let’s just say thoughts during the breakdown run from “I’ve failed as a mother, and Andy will hate me for the rest of his life” to “what the fuck have I done with my life?” to “I’ll never get that PhD, great work dumbass.” Until you really spend a lot of time reflecting on your life and the possibility of a very short future, you can never understand that level of sorrow or failure. People can tell you otherwise for hours, but you can tear any positive self image down to smoldering ash in a matter of minutes when you start to consider things that will most likely never happen because there’s just not enough time. I’m just now starting to realize the psychological impact this disease has on me. I keep it together most days, but when this shit crumbles, it goes down hard and and fast.

I hate to keep harping on this but I feel I have to remind people that I write this to sort through what is in my head more than anything else. If the details of this fucking monster inside me helps someone else, I am thrilled, but writing is always for me. I love that people read it, I love that people comment on it, but I love the way I feel drained and empty when I stop writing, like all the shit that swirls in my head has finally been released or at least organized. Writing also scares me – when I see what I have only been thinking appear on the page it’s like tearing off a scab and wondering if it is ever going to stop bleeding. How raw this gets depends on how much pain I am in when I write – and sometimes I hold back because I can’t face another entry that is just all about my grief, and I know I shouldn’t. I can’t – because there’s no where else I can go with this. I know there are therapists, and I know I have friends, but let’s be honest here, very few people pour out what is really inside to anyone else, because we all want to keep our pain, our shame, our fears hidden. If you don’t, I admire you – I know I have secrets no one will ever know.

So now it’s evening – I went out for a bit today in the car. Visited work until I started to feel nauseous and then took a ride and spent some time in a cemetery until I felt better. Then I drove and cried and screamed and came home exhausted. Smoked my nausea away, and hoped for sleep, but no, my feet are twitchy and my legs are restless and so is my brain. Part of it is knowing that next Monday we’ll be talking treatment and progression (or hopefully, lack of progression) of this stupid C-monster and the damn pufferfish. And as many of you know, my friends are hosting a benefit for me on November 7th here. Some of my oldest and dearest friends from California are flying in and I am thrilled – it’s going to be amazing to see them all again. And I am sure many of my dear friends that live here will also be there and I am so blessed and grateful that they are doing this for me, but there’s a huge part of me that realized just now that it’s like saying goodbye to my loved ones and I don’t know that I am ready for that. I know that sounds negative, because anything can happen, and I do believe that, but I am also very much a realist who prepares for the worst, and the very thought of maybe never seeing them again after that weekend tears my fucking heart out. Just like every day that I wonder if I have told Andy every thing I want him to know – and hope that he knows that he changed my life and I love him more than I have loved anyone in my life. That, my friends, is my nightly terror – leaving my son alone in this world. I don’t care about anything else. I just want to make sure that my baby is going to be okay and that he knows how sorry I am that all this has landed in his lap during the time of his life when he should be discovering what he loves and who he is and he’s stuck taking care of me. And the tears flow again.

I was trying so hard to keep this light and fucking positive and I can see that that has been a huge fail. So much is undone. And you’ll think to yourself, well get out there and do it! And the reality is that there are somethings you don’t just “go out and do.” When faced with what you are going to do, you have to let go of the dreams you had that can’t possibly fulfill because it’s just not possible. And you grieve for all of them. So much grieving. And even as I type this I’m trying to self-talk myself calm – I want to bolt and stop writing because it hurts so much. But this kind of pain is progress. Unlike the physical pain – which is nothing more than annoying. And at this point, more of an annoyance than a hindrance. There’s that at least.

Well, I am spent for tonight. I’ve tried to enhance this post with some cemetery pictures from today. It didn’t work. Maybe I didn’t save them in the right format. Who knows. The featured image was supposed to be this crazy tree that is way at the back of a pretty hidden entrance to a cemetery I frequent. It always has artificial flowers attached to it. And it’s updated regularly for the season. I like to sneak into the cemetery that way so I can check out the tree. People don’t appreciate the subtle beauty hiding in the places most people ignore. I’m always going to find my happy in an interesting cemetery. It’s like water is to my soul. Maybe Saturday when we go to Philly, I can convince Andy that we need a stop at Laurel Hill…it’s such a beautiful place in the fall. Just so I can take a drive through and enjoy the trees and death and decay. I am going to head to sleep, so I wish you sweet dreams, cupcakes. Thank you and come again.


Pufferfish Takes Its Show On The Road

Joyeux après-midi, mon petit kangourou amis I’ve been putting this off, not because I didn’t want to write it, but more because I am mostly a miserable bitch these days, and I don’t like that part of me. There is no position in which I am comfortable – the best I can get to is tolerable, and that takes a special medication combination that usually ends up with me falling asleep while typing. Or forgetting what I was typing. Or both.

WARNING GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF THE PERILS OF THE PEE BAG AHEAD. If you want to skip over the gruesome details stop here and pick up at the word SAFE.

I just need to bitch right now before I get into the trip to John Hopkins. My thighs are covered in black and blue marks from the tape constantly pulling as it holds the vagina tail to my thigh. It makes me feel like I have to pee constantly. Today there was all sorts of blood and clotty strings in the bag – gross as it is, it’s kinda like a sick set of sea monkeys. This is somewhat alarming when you go to bed with normal pee and wake up to bag of fruit punch. All the walking I have done this week cause irritation in the urethra and caused bleeding. I called urology who told me to stay in bed and drink more water which is silly, because the more water I drink, the more often the sacks of pee need to be drained. Then sometimes it causes a spasm, and then there’s more blood and tissue scooting along the tube. It hurts. I try not to take opiates and just stick to natural cures, which helps most of the time, but the last few days it took the muscle relaxers, medicinal herbs and tinctures and opiates to try and get to a point of just calm. And the hot flashes are still happening, not as often, but dear dog, just let me sleep. The nephrostemy is a piece of cake compared to the catheter, although the last few nights I wake up with the nephrostemy bag ready to burst because that kidney works really hard at night. Rant over.

SAFE TO RESUME READING

Andy and I made the trip to Baltimore to Johns Hopkins to get a second opinion yesterday. It was actually a pretty easy ride, it took just under 3 hours and we did not get lost once. I had to super medicate for the ride, because I didn’t know what to expect being in a car that Andy is driving for that long in my present condition. Needless to say I was quite comfortable when we arrived at JHOC. Well not really, with my vagina tentacle currently holding me down, I’m not ever really without discomfort. I suppose I could really just say I had a really good attitude when we arrived. Andy dropped me off at the door and I found my way to where I needed to be. I found the Women’s Health clinic on the 6th floor – JHOC is huge. Kind of intimidating. You get a wristband as soon as you enter the building – it’s like going to a show. Then there are there touch screen check-in kiosks when you get to where you are going. I tried, but I couldn’t get registered that way. Of course not. When I finally did get registered, I was handed a questionnaire and herded off to the waiting area. And wait for Andy and my nurse navigator to find me. While I was waiting, another female patient came back to the waiting area escorted by a nurse; she was clearly unhappy and shouting about how she should have gone to another hospital because they aren’t giving her the help she needs here. I’m trying not to judge, but her whale tail draws my attention as she’s huffing and bellowing in a seat four seats away. What I want to say is, bitch this hospital is ranked 6th in the nation in treatment, where ya gonna go? But I just keep answering my questionnaire.

I am supposed to meet my nurse navigator here. She said she’s meet me at 1:30, and when I look at the clock it 1:40, and I realize my ringer is off. I rifle through my purse, and find my phone and sure enough I missed her call. I quickly call her back and let her know I’m waiting, when they call me back to the exam room…she’ll meet me there. The nurse brings me back to do my vitals, and the nurse navigator arrives, her name is Liz. Introductions ensue, and I do some deep breathing exercises and surprise surprise, the combination of herbal medication and meditation has kept my blood pressure low. I’ve lost more weight. I’ll take that. I confess to my use of plant medication, and then of the JHOC minions comes in to review my medical history (because she didn’t have time to go through the 5 discs of medical history I provided to them minutes earlier). I tell the sad sad tale of the tumor gigantica and the first series of chemo and then the emergence of the cyst and its current incarnation and end with me crying that the tubes are not letting me live my life and that I how is this quality of life. The minion is very compassionate. They teach bedside manner well here. I regain my composure and make jokes. The Pietkiewicz Way. When faced with horrible circumstances, make a joke. Make many jokes.

Andy asked me on the way what I was hoping to hear at the appointment. I told him best case scenario would be to have them say “we’ll whisk you into surgery tomorrow and cut that cyst right out” and worst case is that I leave the way I came. I relay this to Liz and the minion, Shanae. I just want to be able to walk and sit and sleep without encumbrances and pain. That’s all. I don’t even care that my days are rather numbered – all I want is for them to be good days. I don’t like the bitch this pain is turning me into, I don’t like that taking a shower or making a sandwich or getting some juice becomes a gargantuan task that requires a logistical plan to move myself and my coterie of pee bags without any tubes catching on something or dragging behind. I just want to not have to wear a long skirt to go out to hide my vagina tentacle I hate the spasms and gasping when the pain shoots through my bladder. I hate that I feel trapped and isolated and incapacitated. I feel cheated.

I feel I am keeping it together pretty well. My mouth is drier than the sahara and I am out of water. Finally the Dr. comes in. What is with the Drop Dead Fred look these days? He’s a much classier DDF. He sits down, and we do a quick review of my history again. He’s a really nice guy, and probably just 30 years old (Ashley F, are you reading this? I didn’t see a wedding ring, you could be a stay at home mom, like for unicorns or cats) He’s rocking a emerald green and royal blue ensemble, so he’s a man of fashion sense and confidence. I like him. Then I brace myself for what’s to come. No, surgery isn’t an option, and not just because I’m a big girl, but because the cyst is smack dab in the middle of the area where I received the radiation treatments when I was first diagnosed. I already knew that I had received my lifetime dose of radiation in that area, which is why there was none this go round. When you get radiation, it forever damages the tissues in the area. This makes them slow to heal and regenerate if you cut into them again. And removing the cyst would require clearing the margins around it which as we know means goodbye rectum, bladder, and vagina, and hello tubes and bags (not all that different from my current rig of hoses and external bladders). And that would entail the removal of a massive amount of tissue in an very damaged area which would be brutally slow to heal and would run the risk of massive infection. The risks of that surgery would far outweigh any minimal benefit and would likely shorten, and without question, diminish the quality of, my life. He would start me on a regimen of more Tamoxifen (boo) and Progesterone which has the delightful side effect of making me even fatter and more miserable emotionally, or since I am not a big fan of Tamoxifen, there is a chemo drug called Doxil which has had some success. Don’t google it. It’s terrifying, but it could work. There’s some other hormone therapy and medications that have shown some success. The prognosis isn’t going to change. I have recurrent endometrial stage 3b cancer, that shows signs of metastasis in the lungs. It’s got a super low survival rate. Recurrent endometrial cancer isn’t one you survive. That said, Dr. T said that the issues I am having now are not really a result of the cancer, and in fact, the cancer is slow growing, and is mostly contained, and that the cyst is the source of all of my woe. For this, we discussed the risk of putting a drain in the cyst for several months to keep the fluid from building up and the possibility of it seeding cancer elsewhere vs. suffering with a catheter forever the duration. As the brutal urine extraction device is painful and unwieldy, I would rather take my chances with the drain. Dr, T agreed that at this point the risk is worth the procedure and said he would recommend that to Dr. K in his notes to him. So hopefully, the visit on the 21st will begin with “let’s pick a surgery date for a drain”. Dr. T said that if Hershey’s interventional radiology still doesn’t want to do it, then give him a call and see is JH’s interventional radiology will. He said the other option is another nephrostemy, but not a really good option. Finally, he said there is the smallest of possibilities that I could participate in a trial that is currently showing promise at JH, and just was published in a medical journal, but he would need a slice of my tumor to find out if there are these special satellite cells in it, because my tumor would have to have them in order to be considered for the trial. Other than that, Dr. T said he would have done exactly what Dr. K did, and would alternate chemo with hormone therapy as my cancer is not aggressively trying to take over. He brought up quality vs. quantity, and I quickly told him that I’m on the side of quality – that being riddled with silicone piping in my excretory systems is not how I want to go out. I would even suffer the permanency of the nephrostemy tube, if only, oh my dog, please, if only I don’t have to live with this catheter.

He also said that I should just continue treatment with PSHMC’s Urology department too. We discussed the potential for self catheterization during the day, and with the difficulty they have had inserting catheters in the hospital because the cyst is in the way, why would anyone think I would have an easier time of it at home? He did say there is a suprapubic catheter that could be inserted into my bladder through my belly, and while there would still be a bag, it would not be brutal and painful like the vaginal one is now. Wicked cruel vagina pee serpent. All I know is that it needs to go. It’s like a fucking albatross, except it’s not around my neck, it’s shoved inside me. So there you have it – even though I left upset that there was nothing else to really do, that wasn’t already being done, I felt validated that my Dr. was doing all he can. I knew that in my gut already, because it clearly pains Dr. K to give me bad news, but now, I’ve heard the same things from another well respected professional, so I can just say fuck off to the next person who says “there has to be something else they can do.”

So I held my breakdown in check until I was in the car, and even then, Andy and I just made death jokes. Being told this kind of news takes days to sink in, the sheer magnitude of what it means is overwhelming. I know I’ve told a handful of people personally, but with shitty news like this, blogging about it is easier than texts or phone calls. I don’t have to hear people tell me their sorry. I don’t have to see sad faces. I don’t want to be around people who are saddened by this. I want to spend my days laughing when I can. I want to say cancer fucking sucks. So I called my little fucking hummingbird friend Debbie, and had the conversation that only someone else who has had to face cancer can truly understand. And at the risk of alienating people, I need to be brutally honest, just give me fist bumps, stop asking me how I am. I have cancer, I’m sick and in pain, that’s my fucking reality and I am tired of pretending that my fucking world is fine. Yes, I can still laugh and smile and appreciate the beauty of the world around me, but asking me how I am doesn’t help me or you. And stop talking about miracles and me kicking cancer’s ass because while it may happen, it probably won’t – and I am not being pessimistic, I am a realist. I’m going to do all I can to prolong my life as long as it fit in with what I want out of life. Please don’t tell me what you think I should do, unless you yourself have been in my situation. Because until you are here, you don’t fucking know. And stop talking about this being a battle, and being a survivor or keeping up the fight, because you what that implies? That if I die, I failed. That I was not strong enough to overcome this disease or that I didn’t have the strength or will to beat this disease. That’s a judgment on me that I don’t need. Bottom line is this: In a perfect world, I will live a long disease free life. In a perfect world, I will go to my next appointment and Dr. K will have a cure. In a perfect world, no one will ever have to go through this again. It’s not a perfect world, and while I am not giving up hope that things can turn around, I am also not going to live in fantasy land, avoiding the very probably outcome. And I am gonna make death jokes. Because I can. I know I’ve said some of this before, but it bears repeating. I am comfortable with dying; I’m not afraid of it, but I am not going to stop living to wait for it. I am not ok with what is happening, but I am not going to sit in the window and wait for death. Support me by spending time with me and laughing with me. I need as much laughter in my life as I can get. And there are only so many names Andy and I can come up with for the hideous hose that rules my life right now. (Thank you Deb, for the conversation that was long overdue, and for letting me rant and not trying to make anything better, punches to you my friend)

Well it’s taken two days to write this. Oh and one other thing – think about this whenever you have to talk to someone who has something unfortunate going on in their lives – don’t say “ I felt so bad when I heard” or “I feel so bad that I didn’t know” – you know what that does? It makes the person feel like they have to make you feel better, which is the exact opposite of what they need. I hate that people get upset when I lay out the facts, because I feel like I am hurting them, and what I should be doing is using my energy to stay healthy. Not trying to make you feel better about my disease. I know it’s all done with love, and with a pure spirit, but it makes me not want to talk to anyone because it’s hard work to make other people feel better about my sad news. And now that I told the story, and vented, it’s time to release the sea monkeys in the pee bags to the ocean via the toilet-ocean pipeline, and then take some more pills and go to bed. I plan to venture out in the morning with Andy to go get supplies, so I can stop suffering from the assault of this nasty tape that is holding on my bandage on my back.

On the positive side of things, you can order replacement catheter bags from Amazon. I got to have onion rings when we went to JH. It’s only three weeks til OWTH in Philly/Baltimore. And since I can’t go to Riot Fest, I can use that money to get my passport. Sleep well my friends, and visitors, and critics. Hug your people and tell them you love them, and tell them how much they mean to you. And appreciate your excretory system. For real. Love you all.


No Bueno II – Return to Oncology Hall

Calvin-gets-existential

Go get your tissues, cuz it’s gonna be sad. Sorry. I really didn’t want to write this tonight, but my brain won’t let me sleep despite all my efforts to turn it off until this is in black and white on my screen.

Today was doctor day, in the new offices in the Cancer Institute. Heidi came to pick me up and take me to the dr. Andy wanted to know if he should come, but I told him no, he didn’t need to stay up all day and just get cranky waiting and get no sleep. The news would be the same whether he was there or not. We got there kind of early, and then waited about an hour after my appointment time before I was called. By that time, my “relaxation” medication had worn off, so I was clear and lucid for the visit. Damn.

There were an alarming number of cranky people in the waiting area. It’s not like the Hope drive office, where all the patients were women. My dr.’s new clinic is in the same area as the infusion suites and the labs in the cancer institute. It really only makes sense because he’s not just the gynecological oncologist but the surgeon, and the Hope drive offices were alll the way across the hospital campus from the hospital and the Cancer Institute. But it’s change, and change is uncomfortable. And there were really sick people there. And people who just wanted to get blood drawn. In my head, I am trying to guess the type of cancer that has attacked them. I see some women in wheelchairs and on scooters, and not just for fun, but because they need them, and I think…I don’t want this to be me.

When they call me, the nurse takes Heidi and I back to an exam room. At least she didn’t ask me when my last period was. She uses the medieval torture device of an automated blood pressure machine to take my blood pressure which registers at a scary 150/110 or something. Not normal and not good. I’m feeling fine, so I blame the machine. Those machines always get it wrong. Now, the scale on the other hand, it got it right. Even better than right, because after slurping down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and tortellini sandwiches and chips and peanut butter m&ms and Chinese food and Taco Bell the last few days, my weight was actually down, instead of up. I am friends with this scale. After the nurse, in comes a minion. Very nice minion, but very tired. I tell her my story, I tell her I’ve seen the scan, I know it’s bad, and I want to stop taking tamoxifen because I hate hot flashes. I also tell her to tell Dr. K no chemo until November if that’s the option. She asks me if I get nauseous to which I respond, no, I smoke weed, there is no nausea. She laughs at my forthrightness. I tell her Dr. K knows, he just doesn’t put it in the medical record. We review meds, blah blah blah.

And in comes Dr. K. Wellm he actually tried to kick the door in, claiming he tripped, as he was coming in. I ask him how bad it is, and then it gets all kind of  surreal. I can see on his face, no bueno. He says it’s larger; I say I know. He reads the report to me, which if I read once, then I’ve read 1000 times since last Monday. I get the feeling he didn’t really look at it closely before I got here. I can understand that when you see 22 patients in 3 hours, sometimes you aren’t as prepared. He’s really bummed, he says he feels like the grim reaper. I tell him I know it’s bad, but like, what are we talking here? I asked if they could drain the cyst again because it’s bigger than ever, and while it’s not causing me more than a 5 on the pain scale, it’s uncomfortable, like an alien baby. Or hey, a pufferfish. He said they can’t do it in radiology again because inserting a needle in to the cancer ball would create the opportunity to spread cells as they pull it out. I can see he’s struggling with this, and I feel bad – I don’t want my doctor to feel so horrible about this. He says he’ll make a referral to urology and see if they can insert a stent. Then we talk a little about options, I tell him I’m down to do chemo again but not until November. I have too much to do in the next two months. He’s okay with that. He wants me back in a month and he’ll come up with a plan. Maybe a trial. Heidi asks him some questions about chemo and stuff, and he says that we can try some other flavor of chemo since the last one didn’t work. I am just happy that he said to stop taking that fucking tamoxifen.

There was no avoiding asking the big question though, and I asked him about time, and how much I have left…he didn’t want to say. He said I would make the OWTH show in September. I said good, but how long, ball park, and again he hesitated and I said I just want to know if I am going to have another summer. I’d like another summer. And bless him, Dr. K. said I think I can get you another summer. And then he hugged me hard. Like really hard. Like the kind of hard that says I wish I could have done something to keep this from happening to you. I like having a Dr. who cares.

I see the urologist next Tuesday. They are filling out FMLA paperwork for Andy and I. I see the Dr. again on September 21st. I was super proud of myself for keeping it together during this visit. I joked. I tried to scoff at the spectre of death. My voice only got wavery once. I checked out without tears, and with another prescription for oxycodone. I even kept it together having a drink with Heidi, and at dinner and the ride home. I almost kept it together when Andy came to unlock the door. Until I had to say “he thinks he can get me another summer/” That’s when I lost it. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. No one should ever have to tell their child that they aren’t going to be around much longer. And every unseen milestone keeps running through my head. I can’t even write about that because it breaks my heart and tears up my stomach. If I have one regret in this life, it will be not be around to see him live his life.

Then the texts – maybe I should call people, I guess, but I don’t want to be all sobby on the phone. Crying isn’t going to change it or cry the cancer out. Mike and Amy and Alan know. They’re the only people in my family who need to know this right now. My dad will be 87 this year, I don’t need him to die of worry about this; he already spends too much time stressing about my sister and her drunken idiocy. And while I am very public about this disease and my life and shit in general, I reserve the right to be the one who speaks for me. I don’t want my siblings to share this with people I don’t know so that people are stopping me on the street. Or asking my friends.

And now it’s blogosphere official. The stupid psychic was wrong about this one…unless something magical happens. I need to get on that passport thing with my next paycheck and start saving for that trip to Ireland. I’ve also got to start getting rid of a lot of things. Physically and mentally. Am I scared? Yep. Will I get through this? There’s no question, good or bad. Even with everything that is uncertain right now, I feel weirdly peaceful that the other shoe had dropped. Weird I suppose.

Anyway, I was a bit peevish yesterday until I got kind of fuzzy and was distracted by a puzzle and did most of an entry about what you should and shouldn’t say to someone with cancer, but it was a touch bitter. Here’s the gist of it, without all of the snark:

  • Please don’t ask me how I am unless you have the time and desire to listen. Most times I will say “fine” because I know you are just being polite and I don’t want to burden you, but sometime, I may feel I need to talk about how I really feel. So, if you don’t really want to hear about how I am, just tell me I look good today, or Happy Wednesday.
  • Don’t get all weird when I make death jokes or talk about dying. If you are my friend, you know I have always been a touch far on the dark side. I only have two choices for how I will deal with this fucking puffermonster: laugh about it or cry about it. Laughing feels better and doesn’t require tissues, so expect me to joke about it. Don’t tell me we need to talk about happier things – this is my reality and I need to talk about it or joke about it now and again. Otherwise this giant dead elephant is in the room. (see what I did there?)
  • Don’t worry about having the right words to say or even saying anything. And don’t try to be positive about it all the time because cancer sucks, and while I try to stay positive, there are days I am very angry at my body and this c-monster. It’s okay to say it sucks to me. And if you can’t find the words, a hug, or a smile, or a fist bump will do. And you don’t need to be sorry. You didn’t cause this. I have a theory about who did cause it but they’re dead now, so it’s not like I can exact revenge. But don’t let our paths cross in the next life. I want every day from here on out to be about laughter and fun. Fun which will involve death jokes.

Finally, I know this is why you all stuck around…there’s an Indian Restaurant in Hershey that opened up on Fishburn Rd called Khana Indian Bistro, and the food was fabulous!!! Very fresh and well prepared and reasonably priced. It’s BYOB, but you can bet that the new highlight of driving to Hershey for medical appointments will be take-out Indian food. If you down there, check them out. The green chili naan and lamb Xacuti were excellent. Service was great, very nice people. And there appeared to be other Indian people there as patrons, which is a good sign since they would be authorities on Indian food. So go there, or if you are in Hershey, text me and ask me what I want you to bring me for dinner. Ha ha.

It feels like typing this drained me, or the stress of today just subsided, or that last oxycodone and “medication” are working but I can barely keep my eyes open. I guess I’ll be writing more often to share the tales of my urology appointments, I know, I know, you can barely contain yourself. Thanks for reading and hey, feel free to use the comment section on the blog, I like to know who was here. Sleep tight muffins!!


Sunday, Lazy Sunday

It started out like a good idea. I wanted to post a positive, inspirational quote in the FB group of quotes I started. So I googled. I’ve been struggling with the idea that this cancer came back to teach me a lesson – and what that lesson could be, so I thought, hey, why not a quote about dealing with the lessons taught by difficulties. Had I known that I would have to sift through a bazillion quotes about how I should turn to god in all this, I would have just written my own. As I’ve said before, I am all about people believing in whatever gives them comfort in their heart. Yet, I still get frustrated as hell by the idea that for me to get well, I have to have faith in a god. I don’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t want people to pray for me if that’s what they believe in, because positive energy is good energy in whatever form it takes, but please don’t tell me to put my trust in something I don’t believe in.

That said, the other day when I was thinking about dying, which I do a lot these days, since it’s not something that I can just put aside, I thought for a minute that I would get to see my beloved friend Joey again when I am dead. Then I though, oh shit, I will also have to see my mom. That’s not gonna go well. Ick, and a bunch of ex-boyfriends. Then I remember that we are all energy and no one is really gone anyway, their just a different type of energy, so the “dead” are always with us, just not as we remember them. Then the snowball started – all death related questions, so I thought I’d share a few for you to waste a few hours pondering:

Catholics are taught you are going to purgatory when you die, then you have to atone for all of your sins until you get to go to heaven or hell on judgment day. Also, the unbaptized and sinless get to go to limbo to hang out until judgment day too. So, if that is true, why do we pretend that when someone dies, we have an angel watching over us? Isn’t that like a lie? And where in the bible does it say that you get turned into an angel anyway? I thought the bible was pretty clear that angels are angels and humans are humans and never shall the two interbreed, or HELL. Not that I am worried about this for my own self, but I just wonder about it.

Another catholic concern: If on judgment day you get restored to your perfect human body, if you are going to heaven, which human body is it? Because I would like the one I had at 19. I was really happy with that one. I don’t want this year’s version. And, if you get the body you want at a certain age, and you are trying to reconnect with someone in the afterlife who never knew you at that age, how will they know you, and what if they choose an age when you didn’t know them, then how will you ever find each other and what if one of you is 19 and the other person’s perfect body was at 72, would you still be friends? Think about that. And if you get to pick the age of the body in the afterlife, why even bury dead bodies, because pretty likely you don’t want the one you died in. Unless you were 19. And if you are going to hell, wouldn’t you just get to keep the crappiest form of your body there was?

And why don’t we put wooden crosses at hospitals everywhere the same way we put wooden crosses at crash sites? I mean people die there every day. And at home. I just don’t get it.

Now that I’ve got you thinking, I’ll move on.

I’m doing okay. It’s almost 3 weeks of the tamoxifen. It’s not bad, except for the pimples, nausea, and hot flashes. And now, weight gain, or at least bloating. As if I didn’t have enough weight already. I am trying to figure out if I am dealing with the diagnosis okay or if I am depressed. I’m having pain again, which I manage the best I can depending if I am at home or at work. I am trying to stay off the opiates as long as I can. I feel like I am in limbo now until August, and wish I had a personal CT scanner so I could follow the progress of the ol’ pufferfish myself. I know it’s gotten bigger, because I can feel the changes in my body, and how it impacts my stomach and intestines. I just want the other stuff to disappear, and I wonder if it keeps growing, will they be able to drain fluid from it like before, or am I just going to have to suffer from it? I don’t like suffering. I don’t do well, even though I have a particularly high tolerance for pain. So I just need to know what’s next.

I am not sad. I’m just lacking motivation. There’s a lot of things that go through your head when you have a very uncertain future. A few weeks ago, I was reading an article about being less materialistic. It said before you buy something that you want, ask yourself will anyone want that when you are dead. Amazingly, it really limits the amount of useless shit you buy. Like before I buy another ball of yarn, I say what is Andy going to have to do with the unused crates of yarn you already have, for all the projects you were going to make and haven’t? Then I don’t buy it. It’s morbid and useful all at the same time. So if there’s something of mine you want, better call dibs now, because who knows what will become of it later.

It’s not that I don’t think there’s hope. Because I do. I just have lived my life with preparing for the worst and being pleasantly surprised when the worst doesn’t happen. And if it does, then I was prepared for it I just don’t want to be a fucking Pollyanna thinking that nothing bad will happen, because ignorance is not bliss. I still envision this annoying beast inside of me shrinking and disappearing, I drink the tumor tea, and chant healing sounds. I just don’t want to think that I can go on living like I have all the time in the world. I don’t and none of us do.

I went back and forth on the idea of a bucket list. I don’t like that cliché, but I made a list anyway – it’s pretty short, because I realized I did a lot of the things I wanted to, and the rest, well, either they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, or I put them on the list. Mostly, I just want to spend time with people laughing, (which is why I spent the entire weekend alone in the house, medicating) and just hanging out. There are really only three significant things, in addition to my 1000 books read plan, flying in a fighter jet, and do a couple barrel rolls, and maybe a loop, go to Ireland (with a side trip to Stonehenge) and get a van and drive cross country, hitting up all my friends in different states as I make my way back to the west coast. Oh and get a passport. I still haven’t actually gotten around to that. I do have other plans as well, but they aren’t “bucket list” per se, just stuff I am not going to put off doing any longer.

Anyway, this was kind of random. Maybe because I had a lot of pain this morning and I treated it. I also thought it was Father’s Day today, and called my dad to wish him greetings, only to have him inform me it was next week. Andy and I are going to see Against Me! next Saturday in Lancaster, and hopefully my shark sister and her husband will join us, and we can finally get Himalayan food before the show. As for now, I suppose I need to go through my washed clothes in the dryer so I have work clothes for this next full week of work ahead of me. For the record, last week I worked on two case dictations – 41 pages of typing and over 50,000 words total. And only 7ish cases left to go. So be well my friends, enjoy your Sunday, and hope that the next time I blog, I make sense. Be well.

Oh, and you should read this article on impermanence. Here ya go…

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/accepting-unacceptable

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Pufferfish’s Evil Return

Well, well, well.

I noticed from the upswing in hits on the blog that people have been anxiously awaiting this blog entry. It’s certainly not one I wanted to write, and it took a few days for me to get my head around the news from the Dr. and actually sit down and write. Mostly I have just been lying in bed, super-high on narcotics and whatever else is lying around, trying to pretend that none of this is happening. Do you think just once, my body and mind could cooperate? Just once, for a few blissful hours of mind and body numbing peace. No fucking way.

First, I couldn’t get numb enough. And believe me I tried. But then things kicked in and I was all sorta fuzzy warm and mellow and just kinda caught in that sweet spot between sleep and awake where you can just lie there and not care. Until the pain started. Then I had to revisit my dear narcotic friends, and a few Advil just for good measure. Next thing you knew, I was asleep. Well, for two hours anyway, because my increasingly smaller bladder had me up stumbling to the bathroom every two hours, as in the new normal in this house. And of course, I need to drink a lot of water, so that fun never stops. But here we are, Sunday morning, almost noon, and I am enjoying the bitter turmeric tea and encouraging it to kill cancer cells as I type.

I suppose I should reveal the news from the Dr. I have already had to text or tell a bunch of people, and first let me say, the words I hate to hear are “I’m sorry” – I know you are, you don’t have to say it. I also hate the sad look. So, if you can spare me any of that, it would be awesome. I am not going anywhere yet, unless the Tamoxifen gives me a heart attack or embolism. I’ll reveal the full prognosis after I set the stage, because even though the moments are etched forever in my brain, they aren’t stuck in yours yet.

So Heidi and I head off to Hershey that morning, bright and chipper. Okay, maybe the chipper part is an exaggeration, since I already viewed the CT scan report online, Friday night, after it was posted. I already knew one of the tumors had shrunken significantly, and that my bladder lining had thickened. I also knew that that fucking pufferfish was living, larger than ever, in the dark vastness of my uterine cavity. Inside of it was no longer a clear or murky liquid, but evil nodules of the deadliest kind (which they might not be, but in my mind, I’d already given the diagnosis). These were new and growing nodules. Evil bits that plague the pufferfish. However, despite the new larger size of the pufferfish, it was not causing me any real pain, that is to say, there was some achiness that I had attributed to just being lazy, but that I now knew to be pressure from the beast. It was not the relentless traumatic pain that I had before that warranted morphine just in order to function. In fact, I could get away most days without any medication at all.

Despite the two young deer that decided that crossing Interstate 81 was a good choice at 9:15 am, we arrived early at the appointment – and of course the waiting room was crowded, but not as crowded as it had been in the past. Of course, I was anxious, but I had kept deluding myself with the thoughts that Dr. K would just tell me it was nothing, put me on hormones, and send me on my way for three months. I was busy checking my facebook between talking to Heidi, or playing Red Herring and thinking “why didn’t I make that neato sign that says “I’m in remission”?” so I could take a selfie later. Then I was called. Well first they called for Diana, and ended up with the wrong person, then they realized their error and came back for me. And it was actually early for my appointment. Omen 1.

Well I went back alone, and was weighed and measured. When I looked at the scale, it looked like I gained three pounds, which was annoying, but turns out, I lost five. It’s hard to read upside down. I went in to the exam room with my nurse, and we did the blood pressure thing and reviewed my meds, and I gave a two for my pain level, and then this unfamiliar nurse left me and told me Dr. K would be in soon. And I waited. And waited. And waited. I heard and saw medical students wandering about, so I knew it was a minion day. This might take a bit.

And I waited. After 45 minutes, there was knock on the door. In came a young woman, who let me know she was a chief resident. She had a copy of my CT report, and asked me the usual minion questions. I told her I had already reviewed my report on line, and compared it to previous reports and she asked me what I thought. I told her I was pleased that one tumor had shrunk, but I was concerned about the other information. She smiled and said the tumor shrinking is good news, right? I agreed, and then she excused herself and told me they would be right back in a few minutes.

And I waited. By this time, I have concluded that this visit is going to have bad news. I never wait this long to see the Dr. It’s almost an hour. Dr. K has a southern drawl. I hear him going in and out of exam rooms, but never mine. My treatment coordinator, Anne, has not arrived to hug me. Something’s up. It’s not the usual laugh riot that my trip to the Dr. usually is. Even though I consciously want to explain away the delay, I know that the last time I had to wait this long, it was not good news at all. Nope. My gut knows this is bad. Omen 2.

Still waiting. The chief minion pokes her head in and says it will be just a few more minutes, smiles and exits. I hear Dr. K in the room next to me talking to the posse. I can’t hear what he is saying, but I am texting Heidi to tell her this is not good and I am still waiting. Then I hear him in the hall, telling someone to go find Anne and tell her he needs her. Then he says, tell her I’m in here, I am going in. And in comes Dr. K, at 11:45ish, with his somber face on. I notice this and say “hey, you have your somber face on,” and he sits down. It is never good when he sits down right away. Omen 3.

He whips out that CT report and begins. He says, well you already saw this, but I’m going over it. I say of course, I saw it, but my medical degree from google and web md are not helping me understand it. He says well the one tumor outside is significantly smaller. I nod. Then he says, but your cyst is back, and bigger, and again I nod. He says that this is not good. The chemo did nothing to the murky death cells in the cyst. They even grew. This is not good at all. We do not want murky death cell growth. He tells me that recurrent endometrial cancer is very bad, and I remind him I have used google and know this. He says that the only thing we can do now is try to stop the cyst from growing and/or keeping cancer from spreading. I nod, I’m on board for this. He sighs.

Anne arrived and she has a serious face on too. The chief minion in the chair aside me is silent. Dr. K says we can try another series of chemo, he can put me on a chemo pill, or we can do nothing. Ruling out “do nothing” as an option, I ask him what he thinks I should do, since he is the professional. and has a degree in medicine from a school and not web md, and he says that I have had a rough round of chemo and I should take the pill for three months, and enjoy my summer. Then he throws out “I am not going to bullshit you, if this things grows or spreads, this cancer is going to kill you.” Bottom line. He can’t give me a time frame or an idea of progression, but I know Dr. K long enough now that he wouldn’t be telling me this if it wasn’t a likely outcome. He then reminds me that I am not a candidate for surgery because of where and how this thing is situated and that even if I was, that again, he would have to remove my bladder, rectum, and as a new added bonus, my vagina. No, that is not anything we’d be considering anyway. Quality of life over quantity. I have done an amazing job keeping it together through all this, even making a few jokes. I ask for more oxycodone, while everyone scurries for my prescriptions and to write orders for CT scans in three months. Dr. K reminds me that I WILL be able to go see OWTH in September if they play in Philly. The grandchildren thing is still not something he can guarantee me, and frankly, it’s probably not likely.

Then he hugs me. I want to break down sobbing but I assure him I’ll be ok. Anne hugs me. I am in a state of shock, I think, and then I cry a little. I don’t want to go to check-out sobbing, because I will scare the other patients. I am choking it back. I am saying all the things that other people will say to me over the next few days in my head, there’s always miracles, get a second opinion, be positive – you know, all the shit that people say when they are trying to make you feel better. I let Heidi know I’m out and then I go to check out and stuff my bag with tissues, because the breakdown is coming.

I successfully hold it together until I get to Heidi’s car. Then I tell her my prognosis, and cry a little. Then we go to lunch. At Houlihan’s. I have two hard cherry lemonades. I am relaxed. I can deal with this, but I am devastated that I will have to tell Andy. I don’t want to ruin his future plans and make him feel like he has to put his life on hold while I wait for cancer to finish me off. I don’t want him to have to be without his mom. I don’t want to have to tell him.

For the record, I have told brother’s Michael and Alan that I am on Tamoxifen for three months, and that we will see what happens when we have CT scans in August. I didn’t tell them the endometrial cancer will likely kill me part. I am sure someone I have told or that reads this blog will spill the beans, but I couldn’t. I am also not telling my dad or my other brothers. I am sure again, that someone will tell them even though I DO NOT want them to know. I couldn’t not blog about it, because frankly I am tired of telling people and facing the sad face and hearing words that do nothing to make either of us feel better.

So for right now, I am in limbo. Knowing the history of this pufferfish and its habits, it’s more likely to keep growing than not. I am taking Tamoxifen twice a day, and hoping it helps. I am drinking turmeric tea and trying to eat better. I am chanting for healing. I am visualizing the pufferfish drying up and vanishing, but I also know better than to dismiss the likely reality. As I’ve pointed out to many of my friends, there are advantages. I’ll be able to get a prescription for medical marijuana when the law passes here in PA, and I will probably never have to pay back my student loans. One of the possible side effects of the Tamoxifen is that I may lose weight (I could also gain it, or die of an embolism, heart attack or stroke). So who knows?

Strangely enough, I am also okay with this. Knowing beats waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I can finally go get that new tattoo and get my ears pierced so I can get big gold hoops that say “sexy” and “baby” to rock with my bald ostrich head. And I only need to get through 2.5 months before my next CT scan before I know if the tamoxifen had any effect. Oh, and I get to return to work full-time on June 8th. Woo hoo. I probably could have had my Dr. write me off for the whole summer if I asked, but hell, I am tired of not getting a paycheck and having to rely on Andy for money. So we’ll see how this all works out.

That my friends, it the story. Now I’m off to make some lunch, or take a nap, or something. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon. Peace out.

PS. I have this goal of reading 1000 books before I die. I am on number 2. However, it’s heavy on feminist theory, so it could be a while. But you should be happy because it’s about feminism and you know how I love that. Just wait.

BTW, if you like this or any of my entries, hit the ol’ like button on this page. Maybe more people will read it then. And it gives me a happy star when someone likes my entry. It’s the little things, folks.

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Whiny Walrus Writing

I stayed home again today – this means there isn’t going to be a paycheck next Friday. Good thing chemo is Wednesday, since I won’t need food or have much of a life for a week or two after that. Yes, you read that right ladies and gentlemen, chemo is next Wednesday is chemo, which may very well be my last chemo, we can only hope. I’m so done with all of this – waking up to eyes crusted closed because I have no eyelashes to protect them, the dry scratchy skin on my face and legs, the weird wispy white hairs that grow in the interim while I wait for my hair to grow back, being fucking exhausted 24-7, the weird smells in my nose and the fucking metal taste that hardly ever goes away.

But let’s review where we are at before I continue. My CA 125 number is still in the normal range, which is good, but it didn’t go down for two treatments and it went up this week, so I’m a little anxious. My blood tests are good, but my counts are understandably down, especially my hemoglobin and my white blood cells, which means I am ultra-susceptible to infection, in addition to being exhausted. I’ve been watching my temperature all day, because I started running a low-grade fever last night, I have an earache, and I can’t stop sneezing. What did the doctor say during our last visit you ask? Well, he thinks that the chemo will have done its job, and I will start hormone therapy after this last treatment as long as my scans look good. Ideally, the tumors will have disappeared, or at least shrunk significantly. It will still be contained to the area where it started and left the rest of my body alone. We did talk about the surgery option, and that’s never gonna happen. He said I’m not a good candidate, and he said it wouldn’t be a positive experience for me even if I was a candidate, so what does this mean? The tumors stay, no matter what their size. His goal for me and my treatment is give me a good quality of life. He did say I am not dying at this time – I will still make it to the OWTH show in Philly in September, and he will let me know if the prognosis changes and I am dying. He definitely said he would let me know if I was dying. So no dying. As for my plan to have grand-babies if that is what Andy and his life partner decide to do, Dr. K said there were too many variables for him to guarantee that could happen, but I definitely will make it to OWTH in September. That means I will also probably make Halloween and Thanksgiving, and Christmas this year. More than likely, I will be around longer than that too. It doesn’t sound like my demise is imminent at this time. These are all good things.

So tell me then, why am I so unhappy? When does this new lease on life shit come around? It didn’t happen last time, it’s not happening this time, and it’s very disheartening. I know a lot of this has to do with my exhaustion and my inability to do a lot right now, but I also know that if these tumors are not gone, or drastically diminished, I’m a time-bomb. According to my Dr., my cancer is atypical of endometrial cancer. It should not have come back, but it did. It should not be responding to chemo, and it is. It’s not doing anything that endometrial cancer should do. It’s quite possible that the cyst was always cancerous, but it never showed any signs of malignancy until this last surgery, which is bizarre. It’s my own special type of endometrial cancer. How fucking lucky am I?

I didn’t want to write anymore about cancer. It’s just not as funny this time. It’s old and annoying. I am much more than this disease, but right now it’s the only thing that I can think about. At this point, I have so little energy, I am excited that I can make something to eat in the microwave. I made baked hot dogs for dinner the other night and needed a nap afterward. I need a nap after I take a shower. I can get in the car and go places, but it is work to get out of the car and go in the house. If I can’t drive through it or get it all in one store, it doesn’t get bought. Sitting up for extended periods is tiring. I don’t want to sleep all day, and that seems to be all I can do. Thank goodness for the DVR, because I fall asleep during nearly every show I try to watch. I am surprised I didn’t fall asleep eating or driving yet. This disease is a monster. After my last chemo, I had these weird pains all over my body like a whack-a-mole of pain – there’s a spot on my foot that still hurts, and actually feels like I broke two toes, but when I actually touch them, there’s nothing wrong. I’ll fall asleep and then suddenly, bam, a fiery pain rocket fires in my leg, and I’m awake. Then the restless foot thing happens and I’m whining for an hour trying to get back to sleep. My medication helps, but sometimes I would like to just have a clear head for a few hours. I keep telling myself over and over…just one more. There’s just one more treatment – please let there only be one more treatment.

Opiates make for weird dreams throughout all of this. Most of them are weird in a good way – like I want to go to back to sleep to resume them. There are also weird dreams when I am not taking them, probably because my brain is bouncing back from being in the poppy cloud. Last night I had a really sad dream though and it’s been hanging around all day, as if now even my sleep is conspiring against me to keep me from waking up with a smile on my face. Meditation, chanting, sunlight – I am really trying to keep the black cloud away, but it’s not working out as I planned. Don’t get me wrong – I am still really okay with the whole death and dying thing – I still feel like life is trying to cheat me – but whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. I mean, I could step outside and step on a Shenandoah splinter, and get hep c. I could be hit by an unattended, unoccupied, runaway vehicle that rolls away from near the One Stop. I could choke on a grape. I’m OK with that – what I am not okay with this uncertainty, and the fear. I’m not fearless. I might act it most of the time, but in my bed – I am scared little girl, who is afraid of what might come – not the death part, but the being sick part. I don’t want to be any sicker than I have been. Again, my future is now going to be controlled by my access to health care.

There is plenty to be grateful for though. We now have a dryer again, thanks to Crystal, so I can at least watch and dry clothes now, even if I don’t have energy to take them upstairs. Andy cleaned the kitchen, sort of – now if I can get him to take the recycling to the recycling center. The rest of the house is a shambles. It’s spring. Things are turning greener. Kellie hung out with me at my last chemo and let me beat her at scrabble. I went out to visit Paige and Preston and Kenny. I had some pudding. It was good. It’s not all gloom and doom, but I need to vent what I feel here, because in the tower, there’s no one but me to talk to. It’s not easy being positive when you don’t know what’s next – I do what I can. Mostly I am happy and laughing, because what else is there to do, but alone, I am reminded that life has not handed me an easy go of this. It’s not fair and it sucks, and it’s so easy to be on the outside looking in and think that there is an end in sight – there is, but like the rest of life, it’s all fucking gray – not black or white, or anything I can hang my hopes on. Sure, the glass is half full, but in my world, someone will come along and poison it, just to keep me on my toes.

Sounds like the dryer stopped, so I should go throw the blankets in, so I can have fresh clean blankets to wrap around my walrus body once I take my medication and drift into a medicated slumber. I want to get past this disease that has overtaken my life, and focus on politics, feminism, and social injustice. ( I know you can’t even wait for that). Plus my eyes are getting weepy and tired, and want me to rub them non-stop until they are sore and red.

So that’s it for now my friends…I’m just gonna quietly post this, because this one was all for me, just to help me process my frustration. As with everything this will pass. Be well.


The Robin Hunt

I made myself get out of bed and shower this morning. Blame the sun, all warm and golden, blasting through the multiple blankets that I use as curtains during the winter (over the real curtains) to block out the delightful breeze that cools my head which comes through these old windows in my bedroom. (also the reason I can hear every dog-damned word that is spoken/yelled/chattered in the street outside which is why I am sitting here typing instead of sleeping because I took two pills to try and sleep and no sooner than I was sliding into blissful opiate dreamland, inconsiderate people arrived home at 11:30 and had to make sure they slammed ever fucking car and house door they could find while merrily chattering all the way, and ruined that attempt.) So here we are.

In truth, I was going to write this entry early. Then I didn’t because I was consumed by a wave of darkness and to avoid contemplating the sucking blackness, I took a nap. However, after showering, I decided I needed to waste half of a tank of gas and get out in that sunshine and try and dispel the gloom that is wrapping itself around me like a blanket with static cling. I tossed on some sweats, a hoodie, and flipflops, because it is spring you know, and was at least 35 degrees, and out I went. I plugged the phone in for music, and then headed out to the valley. Driving around mindlessly while singing loudly always seems to sort things out, one way or another, so drive it was. I decided I wanted a peanut butter milkshake and a hot dog from Sonic, so I headed in that direction. Of course, my music of choice was loud and fast, as it usually is, unless I am trying to enhance a black mood, when we turn to something in the way of Elliott Smith. But today I needed to sing loudly about pain and depression and sorrow, past regrets and hopelessness, which would also be Elliott Smith, but without the painful plaintiff beauty of his chords. When I hit the quarter mile on the Brandonville Road, I laid my foot down on the gas as took it as it was meant to be driven, easing up as I hit the decline. It felt so good to be out, with the sunroof open, and have that minute or so with nothing more on my mind but that feeling of speed and screaming the lyrics to “Keep Falling Down” loudly, frightening the birds and friendly woodland creatures in earshot.

One good thing about winter is that it covers a lot of sins. Like garbage. Now that the snow is melting and everything is still dead dead dead, all the trash so carelessly tossed out the windows of cars is heaped along the roadside in the little streams of melting snow that run along the road, and around dead deer carcasses. Carcasses, carcassi? Whatever. The Ringtown/Brandonville valley roads are beautiful in spring, summer and fall. In winter, they leave something to be desired. Driving them brings up a lot of memories – from trips to the dairy to get milk with my dad and siblings, driving past the first home I ever knew but can’t remember at the #5 damn, picnics at Stauffer’s park when my parents would spend the day arguing and the kids getting splinters from the rickety old wooden merry-go-round, summer vacations “back home” when I was living in California when we would drive all day, cooler in the back, listening to a mix of Springsteen and Led Zeppelin, and top 40 and that new “punk” music I brought with me from California, and late night drives with quarts of beer between our thighs, laughing and carefree. And hours of driving and thinking. It’s my go to to try and sort shit out, just like driving the coast in California was – well not exactly, because well, oceans make everything better, right, whole. But drive I did. To Sonic. Got my milkshake and some popcorn chicken with barbecue sauce because I hadn’t eaten yet to day. And which I later regretted, because it wasn’t really chicken per se, just some chicken like substance with coating. Should have just stuck with the milkshake.

Anyway, as I drove I noticed that many more homes in the area are littered with shit. No other way to describe it, because it’s just like extra stuff that people own that they won’t throw away but have nowhere to store it so it’s just outside their houses in different states of decay. And I started thinking about whether the outside reflects the inside, or if these people don’t care how their house looks, and when did we start being so concerned with collecting so much stuff that we don’t even have enough places to store it. I always used to envy the houses in the valley because they were so neat and tidy, so pretty, and always wished I could live there, to be away from our too small, too old, too mismatched house. To play in a yard with grass. To not be surrounded with ugly black coal banks everywhere (for you young ‘uns, there was a time when our little town was in the midst of gaping scar of strip mining, surrounded by slate banks – much of that is covered with trees and shrubs now). The valley was where all the happy people must live. Now, I’m not so sure.

Anyway, in my critical analysis of what these signs of decay and garbage mean to society as a whole, I realized it was spring. And spring means robins. I must now find a robin. (Fact: Robins, while not seen much in the winter, do not migrate, they just stay huddled together for warmth. When spring comes, they emerge to seek food – robins are individualistic birds. They only get together to mate and survive winters).

This is now a quest. There are crows. Hawks. Geese. Red-winged blackbirds. Sparrows. Chickadees. No robins. (or bluebirds, for that matter) Where are the robins? I am not going home until I find one. As I continue to meander, I drive past places with memories, still trying to deal with all that is going on in my head. I figure that cemeteries, with their vast open spaces, will be a prime source of robin findage. I head in that direction. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spot a red breast, but I am driving way too fast to clearly confirm robin sightage. I am fairly certain that it was one, but until I can definitively confirm that it was robin, we shall continue to drive.

People who know me, know that cemeteries are like one of my favorite places in the world. I love the peace and sanctuary of cemeteries. Unfortunately, and in my opinion, oddly, the cemeteries are still mostly snow covered despite the last two days of sun, and their clear open spaces with direct sunlight. Much of the snow elsewhere is melted, but not really in the cemeteries. And no robins. I do notice a tombstone of a friend’s husband – her name is on it too, waiting for her. I think how odd, that your space is already reserved. Not that I don’t have plans for my own death rituals (which some of you will now be please to know, no longer include Andy having to chop up my body for the vultures to eat for a traditional sky burial, but do now include my ashes being made into bottle rockets and other firecrackers that can be launched into the sky). I am also looking for a trash can now as well as robins, to get rid of the evidence that I have been to Sonic. I check three different cemeteries, and nope, no robins. Just crows.

I’ve been driving for a little more than two hours now. I have managed to negotiate the roads well, missing all of the deepest and widest potholes. I feel bad for feeling sorry for myself just because I have cancer, since my drive has reminded me that many of my friends have recently suffered tragic losses in their lives and illnesses in their own families, and that there are people who live in countries that have no electricity or water. Some watch their families slaughter or live in countries at war where their homes could be torn apart by missiles or a tank at any moment. And here I am whining about having cancer. I need to be slapped. Don’t get me wrong, I am still depressed. I still feel hopeless, and scared and angry. But I am starting to see that it’s not as bad as it is for some people in this world. I decided I am going to take one more road to see if I can find robins, and then head home. My world is dark right now, but I’ll get through it. I’ve been through darker and more painful times, I’ve faced fear before. I just wallow a few days and get over it. But first, I need that robin.

I drive past the spring where we’d get water in the summer and wash cars and drink beer alongside the road outside of Brandonville. I remember being very stoned and listening to the Cars debut album over and over. And being very wet. We washed a lot of cars there when we were teenagers. And drank a lot of beer. I cruise through Mahanoy City, remembering a time when it was a pretty town, much like Shenandoah used to be, but now is just old and tired, full of rotting/abandoned/decrepit/burned out buildings, and covered in the grime of the coal region. I drive out towards Frackville, past the prison, and co-gen plants, sad that this is what’s left for this area. And then I see it. A fucking robin. No mistaking it this time. A fucking robin. Mission Accomplished. It’s all hopping around, looking for food on a partially snow covered lawn. Boom.

And I headed home.

Now I’m here. I am not sure how I feel, but I know I’m going to work tomorrow because I already promised to cover intake for someone since it’s Monday and they need to be in court. And I’ll be there Wednesday, because it’s a morale event, and I said I would bring cream cheese. Thursday we are headed to Pittsburgh to see Off With Their Heads play and stay at my brother’s condo. Friday, we are going to the Warhol Museum, and I don’t know what else. Saturday, we are going to see Pennywise in Philadelphia. Now this may seem like an expensive week, but the tickets for OWTH were only $12, and the condo is free. Pennywise tickets were only $25, and Andy is paying for those as well as for the Warhol Museum. We need to do something fun, to get us out of this rut we are both in. Fortunately, we like many of the same bands, so it’s something we can do together. So at least I have something to look forward to this week – and next week is…drum roll….CHEMO and another stretch of being confined to my bed for a week while I try to like the way water tastes. Life could be worse, and that is what I am hanging on to. Because when I lie in bed, tossing, it seems like there’s not but a black hole that’s sucking me in.

My friends, it appears that most of the neighbors have finally gone to bed, and the next sound to wake me up with be newspaper delivery in about 4 hours. Fortunately I had a nap this afternoon. Tomorrow is work, and more blood tests (it’s CA125 test day) and I get two stickers this time, because last time someone was in the sticker room when I was done my blood draw, and I couldn’t get one. I will have to share a pic of my prizes in the “no sticker, no blood” collection. I’ve got all kinds now, and will have to start another sheet soon. Hopefully, blood sucking will be followed by dinner with my shark sister Ashley at this Himalayan restaurant we both want to try. So there are things to look forward too. Life doesn’t suck that hard, I guess.

The itching of my eyes indicates I should rest, particularly since I still don’t know where my glasses are. Hopefully, writing tonight will keep me from too much tossing and turning. Sleep well my loves, and pleasant dreams to you all, and happy Monday. Be a busy worker bee.


It’s Spring, Bitch.

Yes, I know that spring is still a few days away according to the calendar, but you really should go by my feet. I’ll explain. I hate shoes. I used to be barefoot all the time, but then I moved back to good ol’PA, where life is not cooperative with my need for foot freedom. This means that at some point, I can not longer plod through the snow in sandals. My foot liberty is curtailed when the temperature gets into the teens, or snow accumulated that it covers my toes. On my little escape to Maryland this weekend, my wiggly toes realized that the temperature was above freezing, and plotted an escape. Monday morning, my fake super cheap ugg boots were set aside for an old pair of Doc’s sandal and I called “Spring.” (note: I still think ugg boots are stupid, but I can say they are warm and when they are only 19$, you can’t go wrong – at least the snow doesn’t soak them as quickly, as say, sneakers) So there you have it, I have declared winter to be over. Today I wore capris to work too…

There are other signs as well here in Northeast-kinda-Central PA. Some are clearly evident, others not quite yet, but my springy senses tell me that even those will emerge by the weekend. Mounds of snow are nearly pure black as they always are within a day or two after a snow; the melting snow on the highway reveals tons of garbage pitched out of car windows by nasty pig people or overturned big rigs who can’t drive in the snow. Firecrackers ring out at night. Bath salt heads screaming the street increase in number. The vampire children emerge from their winter slumbers. And before you know it, the pajama pants parade will commence on the main street of town, when all the teen mommas who proudly announce their job is “stay-at-home-mommy” on Facebook will don their finest pajama pants, pop their spawn into a stroller (first dressing the little in seasonally inappropriate garb) and march proudly, sprag smoking twixt their lips with the ash dropping on the kidlet’s head, up and down the avenue. What a sight the herd of future and/or present CYS clients are! Trying to act like they aren’t pushing a baby buggy, their posturing screams “look at me, I’m a fertile breeder” as they try to attract the attention of their next baby daddy. The cluster of children who have children will then mass together at either the notorious One Stop Shop, where you can get birthday cards, cut rate sunglasses, cold cuts, beer, and all of your bath salt and paraphrenalia needs met, or they will move to the corner closer to the town’s main intersection, and sit on the curb, alternately ignoring or screaming at the little person, while they wave to the potential absent fathers as they walk/drive/stumble by. That very same corner where I once hung out with my girls in my wicked youth, when we would wait to be notified where that nights party was, or for some older boys to stop and ask us to go for quarts or to burn one. Things harder to do when you are pushing a stroller. Although from the looks of Team PJ Pants, I somehow believe they probably manage to push those stroller along narrow wooded paths or up slippery slate banks to get to a bush party. Some nights I wish I had a van and the authority to just scoop those poor babies up and get them to safety – but alas, as a caseworker I don’t have that authority without a court order. The final marker of spring will come when the days final hit 60 degrees, and the pajama pants are replaced by shorts and tank tops that would make Miley Cyrus look modest, and those poor tots being carted about are still roaming the streets at 11pm. Then you know, summer is just about here.

Pennsylvania black snow mountains…way to make winter even more depressing that it already was…

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I managed to escape the my mesmerizing hometown, and came down from the tower to visit with my brother and his wife this past weekend. As wonderful as it was to get away, and spend the weekend eating, drinking and watching my family drink to excess and give me tons of great blackmail video on my phone, it was exhausting and I was glad to come home. My brothers, as wonderful as they are, should never sing. They can dance, but the singing…no, never, nyet. But it was a good time, and amazing to be out of my bed, and socializing with humans, and Bailey, my brother’s playful and willful boxer, who was so excited to see so many people, jumped all over me while I was lying on the couch and gave me multiple bruises from his paws as he attempted to lick my head. I am seriously hoping I don’t have to have an exam tomorrow when I see my Dr. because I may end up in a psych hold for real this time because I am so bruised. No Dr, I wasn’t trying to hurt myself, my brother’s dog threw himself on me, and assaulted me. And then it’s a 72 hour involuntary with chemo. How super would that be?

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Sweet innocent Bailey the rescue boxer. (after he ran away from me when I let him outside without his training collar. I swear he laughed at me before he took off)

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Bailey, projecting innocence because he knew he was in trouble

Yes, tomorrow is chemo infusion number 4. It was a little sketchy earlier, because I came home from work and took my nap only to wake up feeling nauseous and with a low grade fever, but it passed. I probably have one now, because I am now on my second dose of my pre-chemo decadron, the lovely steroid that makes me feel 20 degrees warmer than I actually am. Which is why I am up writing at 5am, instead of sleeping. Decadron is also responsible for keeping me from sleeping. It’s intent is to keep me from getting violently ill from the chemo, but as a steroid will, it gives you a sense of invincibility. So, instead of sleeping, I watch the same episode of Vikings three times, did two digital jigsaw puzzles, sorted my snacks for tomorrow, did two loads of laundry, looked for claw clippers, because the toe and finger claws are growing quickly, cleaned out my purse, packed monka-monka, lotioned my feet, scanned some receipts, updated my C.V. with some additional training info, and ate some crackers. I am sure I did other things, I just can’t remember them. Oh right, I made seven hundred trips to the bathroom as I slurp water to try to plump up my veins for the good time poking tomorrow. I am sure anxiety has played a role too. Since I have to leave early today with my chemo-buddy for the day, Ms. Crystal, I might as well stay awake and just forgo sleep. I did have a few naps, after all.

It’s amazing how great my family, friends and co-workers have been, in being my chemo-buddies, giving me rights, cards, gifts, food (especially food). And even what might seem like little things, like text message and calls, just to see how I’m feeling – it means so very much. I am blessed with astounding people in my life. And I can’t forget how much Andy has stepped up to help too – he’s been working a lot of overtime to make sure bills get paid, and buys groceries, and brings me food when I ask. I am very proud of him – he can still be an asshole sometimes, but he’s still a kid – and feel bad he has to sacrifice to help care for his mom. And don’t tell me I shouldn’t, because that’s what moms do. So thank you for all of you who are there for me, even if I tell you I don’t need anything – I appreciate it all more than you know.

It appears that it is nearly time for me to get ready for today’s fun and to eat some breakfast. I’ll be back again soon – til then, aloha, sweet friends.

Photo Extras:

My sister-in-law, hiding under the table because she didn’t want me to take her picture. Then I explained that cameras can take pictures of people hiding under tables –

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My baby brother, my dad and my sister-in-law rocking out to Eminem

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Of Mice and Mummies

There’ something dead in my throat. I am guessing it probably crawled in while I was snoring and became trapped and slowly met its demise. Whatever it is, it’s really nasty and it adds to the nasty metal taste in my mouth that I cannot get rid of. Apparently, I forgot that you don’t get used to chemo as you move further into treatment, you just get sicker. And I am – I am still not up to getting out of bed and driving to Hershey to do my blood work, but that will change tomorrow, because I can’t put it off anymore.

This whole chemo thing is getting boring. TV is boring, being sick is boring, drinking tea is boring and this weather? It sucks. If I ever get cancer again, it better be in the fucking spring, because somehow I think if I could go sit in the sun for a few minutes a day, I’d feel better but alas, I am trapped here in the tower of gloom and clutter with nothing to do but toss side to side and hope to slip into drug enhanced sleep.

The chemo is killing my sense of humor too. I suppose part of that is because I am trapped here in solitary. Of course, I crack myself up, but I am a captive audience. A captive audience with no energy to escape. I did manage a shower today – and I made some toast, so I guess that’s progress. I just feel like my brain is turning into jello – I haven’t had any serious academic conversations in days, nay, months. I feel like a jumbo hamster on a squeaky wheel, just going around and around, with occasional escapes into the real world, until I am captured by the chemo beast and shoved back in the cage. Even pinterest doesn’t hold my attention for things I will never make or buy the way it used to. Red pandas only amuse me for a short while, and alpacas, well they just make me long for a house on the beach. I have this list of things I could probably make while sitting here if only my eyes would agree to stay open for extended periods of time. I mean things have gotten so bad, that I don’t even turn off Hoda and Kathie Lee at 10 am anymore, I just suffer their stupidity. I even find myself watching the 700 Club more than once a week and that doesn’t bring any laughs either. Okay, well it did today, when the only man who I believe is Pat Robertson told some viewer that it was okay that their daughter did yoga, but only if she didn’t chant afterward, because that’s the worship of Hindu gods. The funniest part was the seriousness in which Pat Robertson tried to mimic the chant. I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, I am gonna keep this short, because being in the tower and watching reruns of Kitchen Nightmares and the Middle don’t really make me the wicked conversationalist. I did however watch some show on the History channel last night that has had me thinking all day. Apparently, mummies have enough DNA in the remains that once the technology is available, we can clone, or reanimate them. Now – stay with me on this – the scientists state we aren’t that far off from being able to do this. I mean we have already injected human brain matter into the brains of mice successfully. Reanimation could quite possibly involve retaining all your memories and experiences of your previous life, and then you would start adding new ones. Would that be a good thing? I wonder. I mean some things you want to forget. And if you remember the past, does it also mean that all your ailments and illnesses are also with you? What if you died a particularly painful death? Would you remember that? And would you be reconstituted in the same state you were when you mummified? Would you want that? Would you want to relive all the experiences you had all over again or would you want a fresh start? I tend to believe we are energy just moving from one form to another, so I don’t know that I would like a restart for this life, if I was already dead. Wouldn’t you always wonder if you were still the same as you were, or if something was missing, or damaged? No one who knew you would still be around, so how would you know? And isn’t the choice of whether you come back or not, taken from your hands by whoever manages to bring you back to life? It seems like an easy question at first, but it’s incredibly complicated when you really think about it. I know there are people who have passed in my life that I would never want to have back in my life again, and then there are people I would love to have back, but I’ve moved on, and would they fit into the life I have now? And what about these mice with human brain bits? What do they do with them and whose brain bits are they inserting in there? And what if they escape and start reproducing? Are these random combinations ever a good thing? Maybe we should worry less about GMO corn and more about these human-mouse hybrids. Think about that.

SmartMouse

Well that’s all for now my friends. I’ve exercised my brain more than expected today, and I have some ice cold killers in Alaska to watch now. Have a wonderful afternoon, and wish me luck on getting to Hershey for blood work tomorrow, because I need another sticker for my collection. Plus I am sure the vampires miss me. Until next we meet.


Taste the Rainbow (A ‘Twas the Night Before Chemo Tale)

So here we are – 2:20AM, on the day I am supposed to do cycle three of chemo. I should be sleeping, and indeed I was, once again with the lappie in my lap. It was long day today – there was a weather delay and I did not want to go to work at all, but I went in, and got through the day. Yay me! I took my first 5 of my pre-chemo decadron, after some initial panic that I was all out. As I pulled out my plethora of pill bottles, and tried to read the labels without putting glasses on, I was once again pondering the fact that no two pills that I take are the same color. Decadron is green, morphine is robin’s egg blue, synthroid are purple and pink, and effexor is yellow. I have more, but I imagine you get the idea that I have like the skittles collection of medications. I don’t even think my dad takes as many pills as I do.

The rainbow of flavors, or rather colors, of my meds is not what brought me here tonight – no, my friend, it’s something much more serious. I can’t find my backpack. Or my iPod (yes, again). I believe both are in the house, I just can’t remember where. This is another of the great gifts bestowed upon my by chemo. Fluffy chemo brain. Sometimes I think my brains fell out with my hair. And as you know, the only thing of value that I own, or at least am still paying for, is my brain. I’m not real pleased when it won’t function like it should. I was hoping to use my backpack tomorrow when I pack for chemo. Yes, I said pack. I need to take my blankie, and monka monkey, and zombie sock monkey and snacks and my purse and my oxycodones (they do not give me pain meds during chemo, but I am free to medicate myself) and my sandals because stupid ass snow is preventing me from getting through this winter without having to put shoes one. Next time my body decides to betray me, I hope it chooses early spring, because having to do all of this during winter really sucks. But back to my issue – if anyone can help me find my missing stuff, let me know. I swear they are right here in the bedroom, but I can’t even keep an eye on the remote control or my phone for more than an hour, so like remembering where I put the backpack two or three months ago isn’t likely to happen.

Anyway, I realize some of you who read this are not on facebook or perhaps done check it daily, or hourly, or every five minutes, like some of us. I had a Dr. visit yesterday, to which I wore the beautiful fox hat (yes, I made it) pictured below:

foxhate2 foxyhate

I thought we were just gonna talk about my blood work, which I would like to announce, looks great. The tumor markers that show in my blood, known as CA125 are back in the normal range with means it appears the chemo is working. I am counting on this round of chemo being the last before remission. So after meeting with Anne and telling her all the things I am doing different this time and how it’s making the sickness easier to bear, she goes to get Dr. K – but she comes back and tells me he wants to do an exam, thus ruining my whole day, because a girl has to prepare for internal exams. I had no time to build the dread that is normally part of being probed. And as if lying on the table, while wearing my fox hat, wasn’t torture in itself, while the jabbing is going on, Dr. K’s pager goes off. Now his pager sounds exactly like the on-call pager at work. The screeching of the angry beast throws me right into a flashback, and I am fearful that they will have to treat me for PTSD. Dr. K tells me he can still feel the damn pufferfish, because it’s still a pufferfish, but is pleased that I am not shrieking in pain while he is doing the exam, which I interpret as meaning this is a good sign. I get another prescription for my pain meds, and more blood work papers and head on down to the vampires in the lab so they can drain more blood (and get my sticker) and then I am set free to roam around for the rest of the day. As per usual I decide what I am hungry for (Five Guys) and drive to go fetch it. I purchase my yummy burger and start driving home, looking forward to shoving it in my hungry belly. Until I don’t want a burger anymore. Now I want a blizzard from DQ. Except they’re close. At 6 pm. What kind of place does this…so now I need to get back on the interstate and drive ten more miles to McDonald’s for a McFlurry. Dinner was served, with a side of french fries, and the burger went in the fridge as the mad craving for red meat had waned.

And now here I sit. I want to sleep, and indeed, I do nod off from time to time, but the decadron makes me hot, and restless. And if I wasn’t having difficulty sleeping already, there are showing a Vikings marathon on the History Channel, in preparation for the new season which premieres on Thursday. I find myself obsessed with it, particularly the soundtrack. It’s like SOA but with horses and battle axes instead of bikes and guns. It even has a Jax Teller look-a-like in Earl Ragnar. I suppose I am also anxious about chemo, and being sick again, but not as much as usual. In less that 24 hours, I will be halfway through this round of chemo. Time to celebrate.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I don’t know when I’ll feel like sitting up again before next week, so if I don’t write tomorrow night, I’ll be back in a week or so. Thanks for sticking around my friends. I swear I’ll try to have my full sarcastic temperament back soon. You have no idea how much energy you exert trying to be funny. I might even try live blogging tomorrow. Maybe even video. But for now, I must rest. As should you. Good night, my friends. Be well.

UPDATE: At 4 am, after a second load of laundry because I can’t sleep, the back pack was located, in only a most obvious place. Next challenge – finding the ipod. Which is probably in a very obvious place as well.


This, That and Other Random Stuff All Tossed Together

For the first time ever, I completely scrapped the post I was writing and decided to start over.

I’ve started and stopped writing entries several times these past two weeks, (there’s extra bonus writing at the end – a longer post I started and didn’t want to keep writing so I’ll just slap it on the end of this one as a bonus). I don’t know what’s keeping me from writing – anxiety, exhaustion, procrastination – I mean I know it’s not because I don’t have anything to write about. Sometimes I think that I avoid it because I don’t want to have to keep whining about this cancer nonsense. I just can’t help that the stupid monster inside of me just kind of pervades my thoughts every day.

I do think of other things – like getting a pet goat, what book I should be reading, how I wish I had a maid, how I am hungry for brownies, that the season premiere of Vikings is next week, how I would rule the world when I am Empress of the Universe, calculations for the diameter of watermelons at the store – you know, important things. It’s not that I don’t want to write – I do – but half of the time, I find myself slipping into medication-assisted sleep, and the other half, I nod off, unmedicated. Some days I am all fired up about some social issue, I get ready to write and then I get distracted and next thing you know, drool is slobbered all over my cheek and my own snoring wakes me up.

Which is exactly what happened after I wrote that last sentence – I fell asleep, laptop in lap, and woke up this morning at 7ish. I had my wonderful morning cancer killing tea, and just finished some yummy oat meal. I realize I have little to complain about this morning – I feel okay, I can make tea in my bedroom with my loverly keurig, and oatmeal too. I am warm, and comfortable, and I can just spend the day doing nothing, which is what Saturday is often about here lately. I’m still undeniably anxious and restless about next week’s events but I’m grateful that I have such amazing health care that I don’t have to worry about the financial side of this. This whole cancer thing does put things in perspective, but I’m still not in that “live every minute as though it was your last” mindset. I am still too scared about what is to come to get there.

But let’s move away from this cancer nonsense and talk about what is going on in the world. I am sure we all know it’s cold. Well those of us in the snowy areas of the northeast do. My county has finally established a foot hold for a shelter for the homeless, but it’s causing quite an uproar because the shelter is part of a store front in the business district of the biggest town in our county, or I guess what has been formerly known as the county seat. The frightened townspeople are afraid that the existence of shelter will lead to more homeless people. Really? Like a funeral home would lead to more dead people? I often wonder when stupidity and hatred became the norm. Why is there so much opposition – I mean there’s already a drug and alcohol rehab on the main thoroughfare, and we still have the same amount of salt heads as ever. The homeless are still gonna be here, people…they will just squat in vacant buildings or spend the day in the library or the night in a laundromat or Wal-Mart , doing what they need to do to keep warm and alive. How stupid people are that thinking helping people who are in danger of hypothermia or frost bite will lead to more people wanting to live on the street. I just have such a hard time reconciling the emphasis in this area on being good Catholic and Christians and then in the next breath not turning your cheek, but rather turning your back on the people who need your christian charity the most. I feel like hell when I am driving my fat ass to work and I see someone walking in this cold, and people here are too worried about their “things” than they are about another person. These are the same people who will wax poetic on the value of a fetus, until that fetus is born and homeless and grows up in poverty. Then they will call my office and ask someone to go out and “take those kids away” forgetting that this was one of those fetuses that they insisted be born into to poverty. End of soapbox tirade. I have others, I’ve just decided if I am going to post anything, it’s gonna have to happen quick.

Round 4 of attempting to finish this – this is just an example of how tired this stupid chemo makes me. This is my fourth attempt to finish this post. I fell asleep three different times. Even after I drank coffee This is why nothing gets done around here. I get all excited with plans, I get all the stuff out for whatever project I have planned, and then before I know it, I’m under a blanket, dreaming about being attacked by a vicious and violent kitten I am supposed to be pet-sitting. Needless to say, that did not improve my opinion of cats. But on a night like tonight, being warm in bed with many blankets is not such a bad thing. Of course, since Andy is out on the road somewhere with friends tonight after a hockey game, I am now awake because I am worried about his safety on this hellishly frigid night. I couldn’t fall asleep easily anyway, with this howling wind. My multiple layers of blankets on the windows isn’t even keeping the icy breeze off my adorable bald head. I don’t want to text him because I don’t want him checking his phone wherever he is driving considering there is little visibility with the blowing snow. I just hope he had the sense to stay put wherever he is. Motherhood. It’s like an itch you can’t get rid of.

Well, since I have failed at humor and don’t have much else to write about until after my Dr. visit on Monday, I’m just gonna put this lame excuse for a blog post out of its misery. But not until after I share this facebook post from a young man who was one of my students when I was teaching at Lebanon Valley College…it’s nice to read these things when I often wonder if I have made a difference in this world…and according to this, I apparently have:

Everyone please keep Diane Pietkiewicz in your thoughts, prayers, etc. I’m not one for religion, but I’m making an exception and praying to the big guy. Diane is the most memorable part of my Academic collegiate experience. Best professor ever. She consistently made me look at the big picture, taught me never to settle, and that the history of our nation is far from that which we’re taught in highschool lol. She is fighting a bullshit disease, and deserves all the support in the world!

And since Joe talks about praying, I just want to say this…all of you lovelies should know by now that I tend to follow Buddhist philosophy, rather than religion. I am not one for praying although I do chant daily but I do appreciate prayers, in whatever faith and form they come in, because I believe in the power of focused attention. For me, putting positive vibes and thoughts out in the world can’t do anything but good, so I am grateful for whatever words or thoughts you put into action. I spend time every day visualizing this damn puffercyst inside me shriveling up and dying. So pray on, or chant, or just think good things. As a matter of fact, I am really grateful for everything people have done/are doing for me while I endure this latest go with chemo – everything from offers to run things up from the netherworld of the office so I don’t have to, to sending me surprise packaged, to simply asking me how I am. And I apologize for not being as shiny and happy everyday as I have been in the past – I try, but as I’ve whined about, I am so tired all the time. In fact, today as I was rolling over in bed, I realized I would have made a damn fine bear. But not a polar bear, because apparently they don’t get to hibernate. But a grizzly. I would be a fine grizzly. I could be a panda too, but they aren’t really bears, and they also don’t hibernate – but they are pretty lazy, which if me right now.

And with that, I shall try get comfortable and warm in bed, while I wait to find out if my kid is safe. I tacked on the post I tried writing the other right at the end of this one – I promise to try and rein in my adult ADHD next time and stay awake from start to finish when next I write. So stay warm and dry my darlings. Bonne nuit.

BONUS READING:

(I started this on the 29th of January, or so)

On the first day after chemo, chemo gave to me…so far, nothing that I can’t really complain all that much. I ate some chili (not always nausea friendly, but I am not known for always making the wises decisions), had some tea and ginger beer, and some nuts. No fever, took a couple oxycodone and a zofran (super effective anti nausea drug) and I am drinking water like a camel ready to hit the desert. Of course, that means I am spending a lot of time running to the bathroom, but if it means I don’t get sick, I’ll do laps. Andy cut off his dreads today and then I buzzed the rest of his head, because he wanted to show his solidarity in the current situation. He was pissed that I buzzed the last of the zombie grinch or some other weird Dr. Seuss character hair without him, but I explained I couldn’t go out in public to chemo looking like that…I love making and wearing funny hats, but hats get hot pretty quickly inside, and frankly, I love my bald head. It’s a weird time of year to be bald because it’s freezing outside, so when I am in the cold, I need to wear a hat, but at home it comes right off, and now that I don’t look like I wondered out of a nuclear bomb blast, I won’t be wearing hats indoors at all except to make my doctors, nurses and small children laugh.

The day was long yesterday, my doctor was running late and then I found out my co-pay went up, and I got to chemo late. It was quiet on the infusion unit yesterday, but the day was fun since my friend and co-worker Heidi took a vacation day to drive me to chemo and hang out with me. We played the Chupacabra: Survive the Night Game which could be very fun in you add alcohol and make it a drinking game. Otherwise, playing to best three out of five is enough. But between the game, and conversation and people watching, the day went quickly. My nurse had a bit of hard time getting my IV started…she didn’t want to go with the vein I thought would be a good choice at first, so she tried my hand – no go. She then decided to try around where I thought would work, and hit one, but today it has a huge bruise, which doesn’t typically happen for me, so on my point scale of 1-10 where ten is I feel nothing and 1 is “oh my god are you doing this for the first time????”, she only gets a 4.8 downgraded from the 5.2 or 5.3 she got yesterday. I knew I’d have a bruise on my hand, but I didn’t think I would have on my inner arm. (as of February 14th, I still have remnants of this bruise) It doesn’t hurt, it just looks ugly. But the doctor did say that my blood work looked good and I looked good and let’s just see what happens by the 3 cycle to see if this thing shrinks, and that it’s important for me to just stop what I am doing when I get tired, and walk away from it. I know I don’t now, because when I am at work I don’t think like “I’m sick” and just do the work, and exhaust myself so I suppose I am just going to have to remind myself my body is in a fight, and I need to put it first. Alas, I also need to work to have health insurance and to pay the premium. I am very excited about my first paycheck since December tomorrow. I am going to do something crazy with all that cash…like pay rent.

And speaking of crazy, a couple weeks ago, there was a contest on the facebook group, Saving Money, Living Smart, that I belong to…at Christmas, there was wish list to put on the items that you wish you could get for Christmas, and I put down a Keurig. Well a couple weeks ago, the group owner asked a few of us if we got our Keurigs, and then had a second chance contest to nominate someone who we felt deserved it. Well I felt I did…I mean, especially today, the day after chemo, and then next week, when Andy is sleeping after work, and I am too sick to get out of bed myself and I want a cup of hot tea and can’t go get one and have to wake him up. I don’t know if anyone else entered me too, but I told my story about how I found out about the cancer two days before Christmas and blah blah blah, and today, the FedEx guy shows up and what? Whoa. I now have Keurig from Saving Money, Living Smart and the Keurig Company. How awesome is that? As soon as Andy gets up from his nap, I’ll have him take a picture of me and my Keurig…what a great surprise and what perfect timing. (Even though I bitched all the way down the steps about who was knocking on my door because don’t they know I am resting.) This is fabulous…I can’t wait to take it out of the box and check it out once I get a picture. I just need to get one of those reusable cups for my ginger honey tea. I am excited. (and that’s where I fell asleep that time)


Randomosity

So hey there happy peoples, what are you all doing for fun tonight?

Movies? Bars? Sleeping?

Me? Oh just combing out hair nests, and itching from straggler hairs that end up all over my back and then in weird places – I’m barely going to have enough for the mohawk tomorrow – it’s going to look super weak, but oh well, the hair has to come off. Little known cancer fact – losing your hair doesn’t hurt, but your scalp is super sensitive and hurts for a while until it toughens up. I have to make a few hats to get through the hairless phase intially, because I didn’t lose my hair last time until April I believe, and by then, it was warm enough to go hairless most days. I still have all my hats from last time, both the ones I made and the ones given to me, but an encore of cancer calls for new hats. I’m gearing up for the next few freezing cold days ahead too.

T-4 days until my next 3d live chemo encounter in HD with HY. We are gonna play the chupacabra game! I have to see what other games I have to take too…good times ahead. For the record, chemo day itself isn’t the worst day, because you get pumped so full of fluids, drugs and other goodies, that you actually feel pretty decent that day…and sometimes even the next day, but by the second day after, it’s a nightmare hellscape. Needless to say, the days before are riddled with anxiety. But can I focus on my fears? No, of course not, because in the background the TV is droning so I don’t get lonely, and there’s a commercial for some sort of vagina freshening product that alleges a woman will gain swagger if her vagina is freshened daily with some spray or powder. Swagger? Really? How do I get a marketing job, because seriously, that’s about the most stupid commercial I have ever had to see. And what followed it? A commercial for adult diapers, encouraging me to wear a diaper in solidarity with those who suffer from incontinence. So wait, I am supposed to freshen my vagina to go buy diapers so people with urinary problems know I support them. My life doesn’t need to be this complicated, I have my own struggles!

I don’t really know what the point of my writing this evening is – I’ve been trying to keep myself busy so as not to dwell on the week ahead. I started making a poncho. I pinned stuff I’ll never do to pinterest. I planned to make other shit. I cooked and ate a pork chop. I cooked up some chicken and potatoes to make curry tomorrow and zoned out to Lifetime movies. So clearly, I must be suffering from anxiety. Part of it is the low grade fever I have had for two days – I want it to be gone so I can go to work Monday and Tuesday, and most importantly, not have it delay my treatment on Wednesday. I’ve been slugging back water to make sure my veins are super juicy for visiting the vampires on Monday, and when the nice nurse goes poking for a good vein on Wednesday. Another curious chemo fact – the vein used for the iv for is not the normal wrist or inner arm or back of your hand – it’s usually somewhere on the side of the lower arm, and if you get a really good nurse, she’ll get it the first time, because she (or he) will poke around with their finger until they are sure they have a good one. I have only had one miss in all my treatments so far – and she realized it right away. But according to the nurses, to insure juicy veins, you need to drink drink drink water the DAY before, not just the morning of. So if someone is going to stick a sharp needle of poison in me, I am certainly going to make it as easy as possible for that person to get it right the first time.

I think I am just kind of having the realness of what’s happening to me sink in. Up until now it’s been a bit surreal. But when my hair started coming out after only one treatment, it was like, hey ho, it really is cancer again. I made it through four days of work this week, and the last two were tough because by noon, I was wiped out. I keep thinking my body isn’t busy fighting a battle against cruel invaders, so I am just fine, but I get home and my legs are swollen and achy and all I want is sleep. Ok, eat and sleep. I’ve been stuffing feelings all week. Today, not as bad as the rest of the week, but man, when I found that Irish soda bread, it was game over. I can’t just eat a piece of it – nooooo, I have to keep picking at it until only crumbs remain. And it was delicious. There’s few things as delicious as Irish soda bread. And it’s a fine balm from what ever demon is clutching at your throat.

Tomorrow, Andy has said he will be joining me in the clean head club – I told him he doesn’t have to shave his beloved dreads – he’s worked so hard on them and they are actually starting to look okay. Not that I like them, but I know it’s a big sacrifice for him. Then I will try to vacuum up all the loose strands of hair that are EVERYWHERE. The best thing about losing all my hair is that I won’t have to wake up coughing up a hairball everyday. You think I jest? Not even. Practically everything I have eaten in the last week features at least one hair. Even tea. Tomorrow, I eat hair free, once again.

So that’s it, or all my psyche will allow me to address tonight. Time for me to try and sleep…the wind is howling out there, so it won’t be easy. Please keep sending me good vibes…the support is felt and appreciated. And to all of you who have sent me cards, thank you. I love cards. Even if you make it yourself. Cards are fun. They remind me of my pop-pop…but that’s a story for another day. I keep them all in a box and look at them, and not just cuz I’m a hoarder.

Pleasant slumbers my pals, may your dreams not be filled with hungry flying crocodiles and mirror that duplicate you into an evil clone. Don’t ask. XXOO

PS. I used the lovely sheep picture because there’s a serious lack of cartoons on line that are about chemo and funny.

a54371b940ce8b.image


Fall Out Girl

Hi there kittens!

It’s Tuesday. I’ve made five days of work so far. Woo hoo. I even manage to get through an intake, complete with the funnest amount of paperwork EVER! I can’t wait til next week!

I know, I know, my joy is infectious. Which is surprising because my hair started to fall out yesterday when I was busy showering for work and believed that I had been attached either by leeches or wet black snakes all over my body. Turns out it was just chunks of hair. You really can’t notice yet, and I am hoping it stays that way until at least Friday night, because if it lasts that long, I am having Andy shave the sides and I am gonna rock a mohawk this weekend. There’s definitely not enough left for liberty spikes, but hopefully I can get a really wicked mohawk going this weekend. Maybe I’ll even color it with some kool-aid for old time’s sake. This will probably be the last time I will ever dare a mohawk, so mark your calendars.

Much discussion was had yesterday about the impending loss of eyebrows as well – if you have followed this blog from the beginning, or if you know anything about hair loss from chemo – you will know that you lose ALL your hair. Legs, arms, pubes, eyelashes and eyebrows along with the hair on your head. I don’t mind the legs at all. Having no eyelashes is odd, but no eyebrows weirds me out too. I didn’t do anything last time about them, but I am going to this time. I don’t want to draw them on, because that just doesn’t work for me, but I might glue some on, or maybe crochet some, or use fuzzy fake caterpillars. Think of the fun when I drop one on the floor at work…EEK caterpillar! Nope, just an eyebrow. Think of all the things I can put above my eyes in lieu of eyebrows. Plastic farm animals. Spaghetti, cooked of course. Orange slices. Gummy worms. Duct tape. They can also come is different shapes – like a big V between my eyes to scare people. Or just one raised eyebrow. Or I can attach them to my glasses. For a change of pace, I can attach them to the back of my head, just to keep it interesting. It will be nice not to wake up with a mouth full of hair in the morning, or have to drag the nest of hair out of the drain. It takes at least 5 minutes off the time it takes for me to get ready in the morning.

In less exciting news, I found out that in my quest to make sure I had mid-length disability insurance I elect for the coverage that would last until I was seventy. Unfortunately, that means I need 90 unpaid days before it will kick in, instead of 15. FML. I am less worried about money than I am keeping my health insurance – if I were to lose that, I’d really be fucked. I am blessed with excellent health care coverage. But you know me, ever the pluck entrepreneur, I’ve got some stuff to make and sell if I find myself really desperate for cash. And no, I don’t mean my painkillers. Or Meth. Speaking of making things, last time I lost my hair, I made fancy little hair animal sculptures for those who so desired them – I hate to waste perfectly good hair. So if you would like a rabbit, or a puppy, or perhaps a lemur (they are all gonna look the same, I will just give them exotic animal names for your enjoyment) leave me a comment on this here blog, and one can be yours, gratis. I will even mail these special trinkets for those of you who may live on the favored coast, if you find you can’t live with out one. The one thing I am a touch negative about is, that when my hair comes back, it comes back curly, and I hate looking like one of the hair bear bunch (see below)

bear

I took a brief interlude to do some eyebrow research and as you can see there are a lot of creative options. I did not know, but wasn’t surprised to find out, you can also buy stick on eyebrows made with hair, for that realistic look. I am pretty sure I will find a better alternative. Like fur. But for your viewing pleasure, I provide the following collage. I’m quite fond of the black eyes of death. It will give me that Uncle Fester look I so covet.

imagineyebrow

Also during my little break, I finally checked my blood tests from yesterday to see what’s what. My CA-125 marker is lower than earlier this month, which is good, but still not in the normal range, but I will take what I can get. Other levels are lower than last time, and lower in a not so good way, which means I will either get a bag full of liquid vitamins and stuff at chemo, or, the dreaded neulasta shot. Let’s just hope I can get them up a little with better food choices by next Monday. It’s amazing what the internet can teach you, and while also filling you with dread. Like when I looked up CA 125. It’s the marker in your blood for ovarian/endometrial cancer. It was only slightly elevated in this test – two weeks ago is was about 10 points higher. Which means the chemo seems to be doing its job. Well, of course it is, my hair is falling out and I am tired as shit. Until this month, I didn’t know what a CA 125 marker was. I didn’t what a lot of things on my blood test meant. Now, I know – and believe me, I could have gotten through life without having to know, ever. But I do, and I imagine, am wiser for it.

I am trying to get back to healthy eating once again – I had made the most beautiful taco salad this morning with the other half of the marvelous avocado I had yesterday. I was swinging my bag on the way in to work and out flew the salad. A sad, sorrowful mass of spring mix, perfect avocado, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, taco meat and beans all lightly dressed with some sour cream, like a healthy oil slick on the office floor. And since the healthiest of lunches was destroyed, I had to eat cookies for lunch, and a bag of chips for dinner. We’ll try again tomorrow. I’m still a little broken up over it.

Well that’s about it, happy people. Tomorrow is hug it out hump day. I am limiting my hugging lately because, I am not sure if you know this, but people are germy. Like until you have to be careful about being around the infectious, you don’t really think much about germs. Now there are certain people I will conscientiously avoid, because they don’t wash their hands. I constantly use hand sanitizer to the point that I have icky dry patches on my hands. Last thing I need right now is the flu or a cold. I have also manage to get past some of the anxiety issues keeping me up at night. I slept a solid six hours last night. Go me! I’m going for the big six again tonight…so I must bid you all most pleasant dreams and restful slumbers. I’m hoping for a snow delay in the morning – it’s unlikely, but a girl can dream. And let me know about those hair sculptures. Peace, lovelies.


Sleepless in Shenandoah

Update on my new year’s resolution(s): I was unable to refrain from reading comments on articles posted on the interwebs. #resolutionfail. And this entry includes the name of the town in which I live. Let’s hope facebook doesn’t read my blog and find out.

I’m doing better. Not as insane as I was just six days ago, but not nearly normal either. I made it to work this week – three days in a row. I was in the office on Wednesday and had training Thursday and Friday. Next week I am planning to do a full week in the office, then Monday and Tuesday of the following week, and then it’s time to roll up the sleeves, pump up a vein and get down with the mad chemo party. Chemo buddy for the next adventure will be the lovely Heidi Y, and I am way to excited to be able to bring and play the Chupacabra dice game with we are there!!! Yay!!!

I’m struggling a lot with anxiety at night lately – this is new to me – I’ve never had this kind of panic/terror/unsettled feeling before. My legs are mad restless, and then as I close my eyes, all kinds of madness creeps into my mind and BAM, I am wide awake and trying to find a way into sleep. Last night I tried to meditate, listen to some talks about lovingkindness and the only thing that shut my mind down at approximately 3 am was a coconut vodka eggnog and two percocet. Yes, I know it’s not the wisest combination or something I should use on a regular basis, but hey a girl has got to sleep. I try to unwind in a myriad of ways – not a single one worked.

It’s a day later, I’m still writing this entry and it’s again 3:30am. I’m having a lovely hotcocoavodka, listening to some classical music and trying to write myself to sleep. I was going to read myself to sleep, but then I couldn’t find my glasses – until I got out of bed and settled down in the writing chair to write. I’m still having anxiety. I’ve realized that my body is also out of control with hunger lately, that too is partially anxiety. The other part is my body stocking up for the next great famine. As for the anxiety, I can feel it in my shoulders, my stomach and neck. It’s hard to be “ok” when your body is being a rebel.

There really isn’t much more for me to write about tonight – I mean there is, but I’m not feeling it. It’s like it just wants to stay bottled up inside – maybe it’s waiting for me to be funny again? To write better? To not drink vodka? Who knows, but I know that this is the best way out of my head for me. I can’t even describe how different this whole experience is this time – it’s so much harder emotionally and psychologically. I hate being a reader. I hate being curious – it turns up way more information than I am ready to handle. I know that much of what I learn is really not applicable to my situation, but it’s still now in my head. That is why I am trying to turn my intellectual pursuits in a more spiritual direction. No, I’m not begging God to heal me – not that I mind prayers, because they are positive energy that I need right now to help scour my body of this nasty annoying disease – rather I am seeking a way to center all this fear and anxiety. To find my spiritual core again – I shouldn’t freak out in the middle of a lovingkindness meditation because cause I can’t forgive myself and love myself completely while I am still blaming myself for choice I made in my 20’s that may or may not have contributed to cancer in my, well, my later life. And bam, writing that hit the crux of everything. I’m blaming myself – for my cancer coming back – was it negative thinking? Was it poor food choices? Is the laptop on my belly causing radiation to make cells grow? Is it negative thoughts? Too many sexual partners? Poor health care? Eating ice cream? Birth control choices? Hamburgers? I can’t accept that this is random and keep blaming myself, irrational as that is, that my negative thinking and bad decision making caused this and the only way out is to get back to a better spiritual core and man, I suck as a a human being.

And there it is, and now you see visually what writing this blog does for me, other than give me a place to randomly make commentary – it lets me keep picking the scab of what I am trying to bury until I make it bleed. And when it bleeds, as painful as that may be, I get to let go of a layer of self-blame and self-doubt. The other night as I was meditating, I couldn’t get to the place where I loved myself unconditionally – I know that this is an issue for a lot of people, but I couldn’t let go of the big grey concrete block keeping me from forgiving myself and being able to love the wondrous, loving and generous person I am – the creative and funny and intelligent being – the person who has a spirit of adventure and sense of magic – because all I could see was the person who made some less than stellar choices in my 20’s, choices I don’t regret, because they are the reason I am who I am and if I had made other choices, my life path would be completely different, but I still can’t get those monolithic barriers out of the way so I can love who I am completely.

~ Newsbreak ~ 4:11. One of the drunk ass neighbors on Lloyd St is making his relationship issues public in the middle of the street. I am always torn between being a lookie-lou and running to the window to hear more and just hoping the police arrive and make an arrest. I usually go with the latter, and I am tonight. I don’t understand the people of this town, at least once a night, somewhere in the two block radius of my house, someone is always in the street between midnight and five am, having some sort of argument, involving screaming, daily. The only time I don’t hear it is when I have the AC on. And it’s winter, so no luck there. ~End  Newsbreak ~

So yeah, back to my inadequate self, and my loathing of it. I believe tomorrow it may be time for a list here of my good qualities. And some clean up in this cave I call a bedroom. Some day, I will have my own studio, with a real desk, and storage for my mountains of craft supplies, and I won’t be all jam-packed in one room with it all like I am now. I wish I could apply some of my incredible life-coaching skills to myself. I am so good at helping others get their lives together, mine, not so much. Then I put off doing things until I shit in order, which I then don’t, and then I have just a mountain of unfinished projects and snakes of yarn everywhere. I just need a giant dumpster that seals itself shut after I toss stuff in it right outside my bedroom window. When did I become a fucking hoarder? When did I get so attached to my material shit?

I think it’s time to go now. Otherwise, I will start to analyze my actions and I want to sleep at some point. Sorry again for boring you with self-psychoanalysis. I’ll get funny again, I promise. But for now, I must finish my cocoa and crawl back into bed. Since I found my glasses, I will be starting to re-read “Awakening the Sacred Within” – I’m going to shoot for a book a week. For now my friends, this is it – and although boring, this entry is at least, somewhat shorter than most. We are almost one month through this winter thing! So, bon nuit mes amis. I was going to say don’t let the bed bugs bite, but for those of you in the child welfare system with me, that will simply evoke itching because we’ve all had to encounter the little critters at least once in our illustrious careers. Sleep well my friends. And remember to send those cancer killing thoughts my way. xo.

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The Taste of Metal and the Sting of Tears.

I’m giving you plenty of warning today.abcsnot

If you woke up to birds singing and cuddles and happiness, click that X in the top right corner and get the fuck out of here now. I’ll give you a few seconds to escape.

Still here? Well I am not responsible for how you feel all day if you read this. I’m giving you fair warning.

Okay, fine, the choice is yours, but you will be sorry. I am, and I am writing the shit.

I started having panic attacks yesterday. Serious sobbing, full on snot slinging, not enough tissues in this fucking box, I can’t catch my breath panic attacks. I am still having them, on a less severe scale than last night, but isn’t that how horror works? The most terrifying things live in the dark and no amount of light, sunlight, electric, candle, is gonna take the terror out of it.

I am still sick. I want to get the fuck out of this house today, and just go somewhere. Anywhere. No, not anywhere. An ocean – okay, Pacific ocean where my tears can get sucked into the gigantic vastness that oceans are. It seems like it’s been months since I got this news. It’s only five weeks, but it seems like forever. And all at once it seem like it all happened so fast. And here I sit again, with a fucking cancer garden dying deep inside of me. (That’s right you nasty poisonous bastard, you’re dying inside me, because you have no right to be there) It’s so very different this time – last time I was all like, okay stupid cancer, you will be gone in six months. The second time, you’re not so cocky. I mean, I was supposed to have made it past the recurrence window. This little monster sprouted and started taking over in a two month window. I know what my stage is, I know what my odds are, I know that it is definitely possible to win again, but it’s a 1000x more scary the second time. And a second time where they can’t just do in and cut it out like last time. I have to live with it inside, knowing that the only way it’s going anywhere is if the combination of chemo, positive energy and visualization of it vanishing make it go away. Stupid cancer. It takes so much more than your health.

Yeah, I am strong, and brave and have the guts to take this on again. But I am also a tearful mess who is so scared I am not gonna be around to see the way life is supposed to play out. What if I am not to see Andy get married? To see my grandbabies? To see my niece graduate or my nephews get married? I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of what I’ll miss. What I thought was in my future and what might be so unfairly snatched away from me now. Oh sure, I know you’re thinking, well miss fucking sunshine, that’s not a very positive attitude! You’re right, it’s not, but it’s a very real one. It’s whats’ gnawing at the back of my mind 24 hours a day. Most people are afraid of dying – I’m not. I’m afraid of leaving. I know I will always be connected to the people in my life now, we’re all energy, we all are connected, but I am not done with this life yet. I have plans. I need to retire in Bali, I need to join the Peace Corps, I need to make a half-assed attempt at surfing, I have several more tattoos planned, I need to drive cross country and couch surf a few months on the west coast. I still want to get a PhD, and teach. I am not pleased that my plans are compromised by something completely out of my control. And in my mind, I rehash every doctor visit, every test result, every procedure and I wonder why the fuck I can’t win the lotto, but cancer II? I win that. How could it just show up like that? What did I do wrong? And believe me, I look back over my life, at every less that stellar choice or thought I had over the last several decades, and wonder what I am being punished for? It seems like every questionable thing I have ever done is being returned to me in the form of a nasty little parasite that is eating me up from the inside.

I didn’t even think it was possible for a human body to hold so much snot. Where does it come from? I am so scared this time. I have never been this scared. I feel like a caged animal. The chemo sick is so much harder this time – five days later and I am still tasting metal and not sure whether or not food is going to stay down. I am out of effexor – this is probably part of my non-stop panic attacks, I know I have a prescription bottle in this house somewhere that’s half full, but I can’t bend over to look for it, because I feel like hurling. Every joint in my body hurts, and motrin, tylenol and percocet are like a roulette wheel to see if one will actually help. I can’t get the weird chemo smell out of my nose, no matter how many bazillion times I blow it. I think my blood is part ginger now. It’s the only thing that keeps me from spending my day huddled over the bathroom sink. I lie down one minute and feel fine, and then in five minutes, my stomach is cramped up so much, that I want to unhinge my jaw and tear my stomach out. And, for comic relief, how about a post-chemo fart? Toxic clouds are less vile. Dick Cheney is less vile. As if you aren’t sick enough already, your body attempts to suffocate you in a noxious cloud at random points throughout the day.

At least the crying has slowed down. Blood tests tomorrow. Woo hoo. And I have two more weeks before I have to go through this nastiness again. I really feel for that 17 year old girl who wants to refuse her chemo – how is it more compassionate to put her through this when it’s not what she wants. I’ve already had the conversation about quality of life vs. quantity with Andy and my brothers – if it ever gets to that point, I’m cashing in my retirement, buying a surfboard, renting a car and driving to California, buying as many edibles as I can eat without freaking out in paranoia, paddling out and waiting for a great white to eat me after it mistakes me for an elephant seal. I am not dying in a hospital, all weak and sickly, it’s gonna be on my terms. Morbid, yes, but when have I truly not been? Really, I continue to watch Meet The Press, and I know how that’s gonna end every week, and yet I go back.

So next time you want to tell me how brave I am, or how strong, just remember that I am also a very scared and tearful little girl, wishing someone would save me from this monster. Facing this a second time is not about a fight, it’s about getting up everyday and doing what I have to keep from being paralyzed with fear. When I smile, it’s because I can’t rub my nose anymore or the skin is going to come off. When I make jokes, it’s because I’m scared and I need to find a way to cope. I’m gonna keep coping – I have to – it’s not time to give up. I’m not a survivor – that’s a fucking stupid word. I’m a person who has a fucking obstacle ahead – I may not overcome it, but I’m still gonna try. I’m also smart enough to know if at some point I have X years or months left, I’m not gonna waste that precious time trying to give me 10 extra sickly days, when I can have 5 days of fun. Look out Disneyland if that happens. Or Ireland. Or Bali. Or all three, and Peru.

You were warned to not read this. If you’re crying or horrified, that’s on you, not me. This is my blog. I have to face this shit down daily, and this is my process. This is how I sort through the rapid firing shit in my head that just won’t stop. You only have to read this once, and never again. I’ll be the one having a breakdown during Fairly Oddparents or Iron Man 3. I can’t promise that I won’t be maudlin or dramatic in the future either, but I can promise that I’ll do what I need to do to get through today, and tomorrow. Like my friend Debbie reminded me, these are the real feelings, these are what people with monsters inside them really do feel, and it’s ok. OMG, where is this fucking snot coming from???? It has to stop sometime!!

So that’s that. I’m gonna try to slog down another ginger tea. And check to see if my prescriptions are ready. And maybe take a drive. It’s a beautiful gloomy day out there, and if I can unswell my eyes, maybe I’ll go hang out among the dead for a few hours with my camera. Or do laundry. The mundane shit goes on, even when you’re having a meltdown.

Enjoy your Sunday, mes jolis canards aperçus! (use your google translate if you must know)

PS. To all of you wonderful friends, who call/text/message me to see if I need anything, thank you. Mostly I don’t need anything – I don’t really eat much lately but these are things that I always can use: Fresh turmeric root, Ginger-Honey Crystals, Reed’s Ginger Brew – Regular, Premium, or especially, Extra Ginger, Ginger Ice Cream, Anti-Viral Tissues, and bottled water – but not Arcadia or whatever the store brand at Boyer’s is – I don’t care what people say, water has different tastes depending on where it comes from. And sesame crackers. My food tastes are really different this time, and what I am hungry for can change hour to hour. If you are worried about Andy starving, don’t be, but if you insist on feeding him, there’s nothing the boy won’t eat except mushrooms. Well, he’ll even eat certain types of those, but he also gets random drug tests at work, so no thank you.

IMAG1489abfeedsGingerBrewTurmeric Roots


My Body is Temple (Of Doom)

Yeah, it was that kind of day. The kind of day you won’t forget and you hope will never come again. It’s still all very surreal, even though I have a folder with hard copies of all that went on and I can sign into the computer and see with my own eyes what I don’t really want to know. Stupid internet. S tupid body. Stupid cancer. You all suck.

I actually was early for my appointment today, even though I didn’t get out of the house as planned this morning. I skipped a coffee because I didn’t want to jack up my blood pressure which I anticipated as already being high due to anxiety. Surprisingly, blood pressure was perfectly normal. Better than ever, and I didn’t even take any pain meds this morning And I only gained a pound and a half in two weeks, which must have mostly come about last night when I was stuffing chocolate into my mouth with pretzels in order to create chocolate covered pretzels and then stuffing more feelings with a bag of sweet potato tortilla chips Yes, I wasn’t really hungry, yes, it made me sick, but the food just kept being shoved into my chomping jaws. Just like after my doctor’s appointment today when I tried to quell my emotional upheaval with taco bell and a banana milkshake at Sonic. As if it matters what I ate today, because tomorrow is chemo and I won’t want food for at least 4 or 5 days.

Okay, okay, I’ll cut to the chase. They didn’t have my MRI results posted last night or today. Dr. K came in to see me by himself, even though I heard the chattering minions whispering outside my exam room door. Not the best indicator. He looked at my MRI images on line and said he really didn’t see too much different from the last CT scan, and again went over the treatment options I had. I asked a few more questions this time, being that I was less in shock than last time – until he started talking about options. My beastly cancer-garden cyst is in a place that should he operate to remove it would cost me both my bladder and my rectum, because the pufferfish and friends are in close proximity to both and somewhat connected and that means they have to take anything that is possibly harboring mutated cells in the neighborhood. Fucking cancer. I don’t really need to elaborate on what the end result of that would look like, because I am not even entertaining that option. Even if he did surgery, there’s no guarantee that it would be a success, for a plethora of reasons including the fact that it would just delay chemo until my body healed, which would cost me time, and it would involve a very long healing time, and would be risky and very hard for me to recover from. Not to mention that it would change the quality of my life forever. He again explained why there’s not going to be any radiation, and discussed chemo versus anti-estrogen therapy. He remains positive that the ol’ c-monster will respond well to chemo, but really what else can you do but hope for the best? So after much sighing, he gave me a big hug, told me Anne would be in with my schedule and paperwork, and said he’d see me in three weeks. No minions today – they appeared to be a fresh batch because it was a new semester and I am sure he didn’t want to traumatize them too much on their first day in gynecological oncology.

Anne came in and more hugs ensued. And crying. And laughing. And she gave me my schedule and reminded me to pick up the good ol’ decadron and compazine so I would be prepared for poisoning tomorrow. She kindly color coded my schedule for me so I know when I have chemo, and dr. appointments and blood tests. Blood tests are going to be weekly this time because the radiation from last time has compromised my bone marrow and they want to make sure my blood counts stay where they should be. I also signed a release for blood transfusions. I got kinda excited about that, because fresh blood is a pretty good thing, I like when I get blood, it makes me all energized. We talked about herbal medicine for side effects and to compliment my treatment and I’m going to explore that with her okay. No zofran this time, just compazine to start for the nausea. She’s a great coach, and told me I did this once and I could do it again – the difference being this time the monster is still inside, and last time they cut the shit right out. And last time they took organs I was not longer using anyway. This time, I’d be missing parts I’m kinda fond of. Which again, not considering as an option. I’ll be seeing her pretty regularly at the ol’ Cancer Institute, as I go through this cycle. I also made sure I got my note saying that chemo would be poisoning me and I would be missing work. And a lovely catalog of hats with fake hair attached as if I am going to be seen sporting fake hair – if I want fake hair, I’ll draw it on with my sharpies. And off I went, to get my first of a bazillion blood draws. I did get a penguin sticker for my bravery during the blood draw. I am going to keep my stickers on my folder. My new rule is no sticker, no blood.

And in a repeat of two weeks ago, me and the phone returned to the car, and did our texting. And crying. Much shorter this time. I just wanted to get home, so I ran in to Karn’s and located both the delicious Halos and some Ginger Brew, so I can get through the next week. Then I comforted myself with the aforementioned taco bell and banana milkshake. It didn’t really work, but I did see my beloved pony-pony and that made me smile. He was hiding in the barn trying to stay out of the freezing wind. Another day out of the glue factory.

I was going to drive around for a while but I decided to just go home and curl up in bed and pretend none of this was happening. Of course, I had to check my online medical record when I got home, so I could add to the joy of this day by reading the MRI report. Apparently, pufferfish is now sporting two tumors, instead of one. Two. Two bloodsucking leech tumors. Two. The second one is 8cm long. The first is 10cm. So they aren’t exactly petite. Doesn’t change the treatment, but causes additional emotional damage. More crying, more curling up in a ball, more cursing my luck and trying to figure out what I did in a past life to be poor, fat, and get cancer in this one. Of course, as you can read, I’ve rebounded somewhat because I am writing about it. Cancer fact – every tumor after your first one is not only considered to be the same type of cancer as your first one, but also considered to be the same stage as the first, so they are all IIIB. Lucky lucky me. If only cancer was the powerball – I wouldn’t have won the jackpot, but I would have five numbers. Cancerpalooza.

So yeah, I am feeling sorry for myself. I’ll get up tomorrow and pull it together and get to chemo with my new skull blanket and some projects to keep me busy for the six hours of poisoning ahead. Cross your fingers that the weather folks are right this time and there’s no more than 3 inches of snow tomorrow. And that I don’t get the evil wicked winter plague that Andy has. And that there’s no more brutal wind. Oh there’s the bell saying take the decadron – be right back. Decadron pills are green. So now I take a pink, purple, green, white, yellow, red and white, and brown pill every day. If I start to take morphine again, I will add a blue one again. A rainbow of pills and no unicorn. So that was my day peeps, what did you do?

It’s time for me to load up the iPod with some podcasts and go down and make sure I turned the oven off because I actually made dinner since by the time I get through chemo sick, the roast would have been ready to throw away. I have to get up early again and pack my stuff. I know this wasn’t one of my funniest or most amusing entries, but hey, we have to take the bad with the good. I am sure chemo will be eventful. Apparently they have me scheduled for an infusion chair instead of a bed, and I am hoping that will change by tomorrow, because I am there for six hours, I should get a bed. I may or may not feel like writing tomorrow after all the fun, but I am sure I will be back in a few days, snarky and sarcastic as ever. As always, keep sending the good juju my way. And I’ll keep you entertained with these thrilling bloggy bits.

Night night my friends, and in case you were wondering, the Daily Show is back. And Crunchwrap sliders do not slide, they must be chewed. You’re welcome.IMAG1485


Magical Mystical MRI (or The Time I Got “Blue in the Face” Instead of “Trying to Breathe”)

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Let me begin with this: I am not going to be making a resolution involving vodka and orange juice, because I decided that my relaxation cocktail is just that: pineapple, orange, and veggie juice with coconut vodka. It’s mighty tasty. I am having a lot of anxiety this evening (as will be discussed in the next paragraph) and I am trying to chill because I need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for my Dr appointment tomorrow. I know I gained a little weight. I am not sure how, but I feel fluffier. I’m not stressing about that, because in three days, I’ll be so sick that food will be my enemy once again and the only thing I’ll want to eat are my go-to foods: pineapple juice, english muffin, oatmeal, yogurt and ginger beer. I want to make a pork roast tomorrow for dinner but I am afraid if I eat my friend, the pig, before chemo, I will lose my love for the other white meat the way I have lost my taste for artichokes and parmesan cheese the last time. And if I can’t eat bacon, what’s the point of living? Right now I am trying to coordinate with my brothers to get me to chemo and back because Andy is afflicted with the winter death plague, and I cannot be trapped in a car breathing his germs for an hour while we drive to Hershey. As it is, he is forbidden to be within six feet of me. And if he gets close, I pelt him with a hand sanitizer. So right now, it’s looking like I will be arriving two hours early for my appointment, and then waiting an hour or two for a ride home after we’re done. It’s gonna be a long, long, long day. But when in my life has anything been simple or easy. Enough stressing about what hasn’t happened yet, we have to review today’s adventure.

Let me preface this with this: the internet is a dangerous tool. Useful, but dangerous. Damn Penn State Hershey didn’t put my MRI results in my “My Health” account like they do with with my CT scans. How am I supposed to make myself anxious all night before my appointment if I don’t read them like I read my CT scan reports? Hmm? How can I prepare for the worst if I don’t have the info? I, of course, interrogated the nice young technician who did my MRI as to what she saw. She confirmed that there is indeed something in there, but I knew that – when I asked her if I should be prepared for an unpleasant surprise at my visit tomorrow, she would not commit. That typically means yes, I should be, because when they don’t put your fears to rest immediately, they are trying to find a way to avoid a straight answer. So we shall see. But again, I can’t worry about that until tomorrow. That is the point of the relaxation cocktail.

Well it was a lovely ride to Hershey. The fog was thick and murky on the interstate, as I tend to like it. It feels like driving in a thick cloud. I forgot it was a travel day and that Canadians would be in our country and on our roads, making driving difficult, which can also be said of New Yorkers, and also those from New Jersey. They should just stay home and enjoy their holidays in their own country/state. I had to stop and get something to eat because I was feeling nauseous, so I also took a percocet because it’s hard to tell if I am feeling sick from not eating or withdrawal, so I addressed both. I tossed back my chocolate milk and rolled into the parking lot at The Cancer Institute, realizing I would need to pick up my parking pass tomorrow for this lot for my treatments. I scurried into the building, looking like I rolled out of bed and fell into the door because I was trying to dress in things with no metal so I wouldn’t have to change into a gown. Nope, that didn’t work. I soon realized I had to go in the main entrance, and I meandered down to the radiology department, the same place that had tried to empty the cyst for the last year. I was the only one there, so I was personally escorted to the MRI room. I filled out my questionnaire about all of my surgeries and tests and radiations and chemos and skin pokings and jabbings and big giant incisions and medications and answered some math word problems about trains and wrote a short essay on what I did on my winter holiday. I signed releases I didn’t read. Then I was escorted to the changing area. It was pretty much the same deal as going through radiation, except there are no animal themed changing rooms and no waiting corral. I did get a locker for my stuff, and I actually had two gowns that covered me, instead of feeling like I always had to close some area that was exposing skin.

In typical fashion, I needed to repeat my name and birth date about 3,129 times. I had to show them my tattoos – MRI tip – an MRI will cause certain inks in tattoos to swell/itch because some inks have metal particles in them, particularly bright, vibrant colors. It’s not the best idea to get a tattoo right before you get an MRI. The technician asked me if I wanted some music during the procedure, and I said sure, but you probably have nothing I listen to – and to my surprise, she said give me the names and I will use Pandora. So I rattled off some of my faves: OWTH, Against Me!, The Go Set, Pennywise, Alkaline Trio, excited that I wasn’t going to be forced to endure One Direction, or Creed, or worse, Nickelback,

We entered the MRI room and to my surprise, the MRI machine is not so different from a CT scanner. However, there is the obvious lack of decorative stickers. I pointed this out immediately, and suggested some Brave, or Jungle Book, but no Toy Story 3, because I am still traumatized from that one. The tech said she’d check but they probably cant because of the risk of metallic particles.

Curiously enough, the room itself has a background hum that sounds like the womb sounds that my Sleep Sheep makes, which would have been soothing if not for their loudness. Unlike the CT meat slicing machine, the MRI tunnel is entered feet first. I had to get an IV started because there would be contrast dye for this one. They put some boards and blankets on my belly, and start the IV, which actually hurts at first. I told her to choose my right arm, because I was saving the left for chemo on Tuesday. Chemo tip – always go for the left arm. You will get a lot of fluids and will spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom – you want that right arm unencumbered. We got the IV issue worked out and that arm got strapped down. I was given a emergency call bell in case I started to freak out for the other hand. Then they put my headphones on, and I get launched into the tube. It’s a pretty small space, and I am a pretty fluffy girl. I had wiggle room but not much. The music started to play, and amusingly, the first song is an Alkaline Trio song, Blue in the Face, which ends with the line, your coffin or mine? I found this so amusing but being that I had to remain still I was not allowed to chuckle. The MRI imaging is done in time limited sessions. 45 seconds, 1.5 minutes, and then 2, 4, 5, 6, and (2) 8 minutes. Then the dye is injected, and you do 2 more 2 minute and 4 minutes sessions, and then (4) 18 second images images holding your breath. The instructions to hold your breath are supposed to come through the headphones – the tech broke into the music to tell me to follow along, except the instructions were in spanish, and she then had to just tell me what to do each time.

The actual imaging sessions are noisy. I was doing okay though, because I had music. Curiously, even though I had given her the names of the bands for Pandora, I got mostly Alkaline Trio and the Menzingers, and no OWTH for the first session – there was some Taking Back Sunday and some AFI – but no OWTH or Against Me!. This was tolerable initially, and I shouldn’t complain, because it could have been worse, like noted above, Nickelback, or even, ~shudder~ Macklemore or Pitbull. When the tech came in to start the dye, I asked her to restart Pandora with OWTH and the other requested bands – I got one OWTH song, and then it went right back to the Menzingers – weirdest thing ever, I wonder why that is? Anyway, the last sessions were the most difficult to stay still during because the machine was literally rattling. And your body gets really hot. Like it’s cooking. But I did really well keeping still, I turned on my meditative brains and pretended that I was a corpse. Of course, then runaway brain came along and I started to think about what it would be like to be buried alive, and this is as close as I hope to ever come to it. Then I started to think about all the poor people who were buried alive and what that must have been like to wake up in a box underground and be trying to claw your way out, and then the terrible realization that this is it, and you are trapped and never getting out. I then realized that I need to modify my living will to specifically state that under no circumstance whatsoever am I to be buried, or placed in any boxes unless my heart has been removed from my body or my head severed. That freaked me out. I realized then that the only suitable way to die would be drowning and then eaten by fish. Fear of being buried alive moved to my number 2 fear. Clowns were downgraded. Fire is still at the top. Again, drowning would be the only acceptable way to go.

Returning to our discussion track, there’s a lot of noise during an MRI. Banging and whirring and swishing and thunking. I did okay with most of it, the music minimized it but it still all seems to be going on by your ears, instead of where they are taking pictures. At one point it felt like the hair on my legs was being magnetized Totally bizarre feeling. It’s not constant. It starts and stops, and they tell you through the headphones when the next imaging will start and how long it will last. I only got caught off guard once with the loud banging, and fortunately, since you are in a restricted space, you can’t really jump out of your skin. I kept referring to my meditation practice and controlled my breathing the best I could, trying to relax. This is an important tip for those having an MRI. Work on your breathing. When it was all said and done, and I got to sit up, my whole body was stiff from staying still for so long. Even though the actual imaging session are short, the whole process lasted about 1.5 hours. Keeping still is a lot more work than you would think it is. As I mentioned, I asked the tech what she saw, but I also asked her why they do MRIs on a Sunday. She said they have to staff the MRI 24/7, and since someone has to be there all the time, they decided to make use of those hours by scheduling outpatient scans so they use the time effectively. There are a lot of emergency and rush procedures during the week, and it’s really stressful. Weekends are more laid back, there’s no tension and it can accommodate both staff who want to work only weekends and patients who need an urgent but not immediate scan, or people who can’t take time during the week. My tech said she actually prefers being there and doing procedures on the weekend. I have to say, it is a much more pleasant experience for the patient too because you aren’t jammed into a room of sick people to wait and you don’t feel rushed and everyone seems more calm and relaxed. There’s also better parking and fewer people in the buildings. After I regained my sense of stability, I was given my key to my locker and changed into my clothes and then scurried (IE. Walked slowly and stiffly) to reward myself with a chestnut praline latte at the hospital’s Starbucks. Twas yummy.

I took a longer scenic route back home – I had planned on going to dinner with my sharksister, Ashley, but she came down with the flu or plague or west nile last night, and we had to cancel. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing her, but we’ll have time, I have 4 months of appointments yet. We were going to go to Pho Miss Saigon in Hershey – a super yummy pho/noodle house – I still don’t have much of an appetite, but I was looking forward to Vietnamese iced coffee, which is my most favorite. If you frequent the Hershey area, I highly recommend the spot, particularly if you like pho or noodle dishes. It was still quite foggy as I headed home and was dark, so more stupid people than usual were about to hinder my ride home. Tomorrow is doctor and blood work day, and laundry. Weirdly, I need to make sure that I have a fresh blanket and sheets on my bed for after chemo – because of the whole weird smells thing, I need to have things as fresh as possible the first few days. Andy is also going to need to clean the car and quit smoking in it, because the odor of cigarettes is the one scent that makes me want to immediately hurl once I start chemo. At least I know what to expect. I also don’t have to have the nasty neulasta shot, at least not initially, so that’s a huge plus. That shit is the worst part in my opinion – the pain in your bones is as horrible as the pufferfish. I’ll have to get a picture tomorrow while I still have my hair…I figure it will be gone by the beginning of February I’ve started work on a fox hat, and I have patterns for a raccoon, panda and queen crown.

So that was the MRI. To summarize, much like being buried alive but without the bugs or dirt or paralyzing fear. Also much noisier. Not for the claustrophobic. In other news, I facebook blasted that my cancer is back – it may seem like an attempt to get attention to some, or putting “my business out there” but you know what, I don’t really care. People are naturally inquisitive – they want to know – and I don’t think this is something I need to keep private. It’s scary and people are curious. If I make it easier for someone else, all the better. With that ma petites, I shall leave you for today. I’m gonna finish my cocktail, and tuck myself in. Hopefully I’ll have more details tomorrow. Sweetest dreams my friends, and like I said on facebook, send me your good vibes, positive thoughts, prayers, animal sacrifices or good juju, I can feel it and it helps.

And don’t be afraid to ask me questions – it doesn’t bother me a bit.


Return, Resolutions, Repeat

I'm back....

I’m back….

That’s right, my lovelies – I did not run over any armadillos, I did not get a cat, I did not mix vodka with orange juice, I did not become a brain eating zombie, I managed to stay awake for at least one hour a day, I resolved to clean the house when absolutely necessary (which it never truly was), I did not use a drone to attack the neighbors, I ate no cauliflower, I checked my phone once a day, and I never told facebook what city I live in, no matter how many times it asked. 10 Resolutions made, 10 completed. Completing such daunting tasks gives me such a sense of satisfaction. I don’t know that I can top this in 2015, but damn it, what’s live without challenge?

I’ll get to this year’s resolutions in a moment. I really want to give the real ending to the attack on the cyst, because I couldn’t before I told my dad (aka pop) the facts – I didn’t want to ruin the holiday for him or for my niece – I mean I had to ruin it for Andy and some of my brothers, co-workers and friends, and of course, it was a bit of a downer for me too, but I couldn’t do it to my dad. I think I’ve told most people, if I haven’t and this is where you get the news first, I’m sorry. It’s not the thing you get any enjoyment out of telling people and one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how many people I tell, there’s always going to be someone that I forgot to. I can think of five or ten or fifteen now. Fact is, I’m tired of telling people. Here’s a fact: Telling people you have cancer (again) is fucking hard. You feel bad that your are giving people bad news, you feel you have to make them feel better, they always ask how they can help and it’s just generally a bad thing. If I tell you, just tell me that you love me. Or if you don’t love me, just say, hey, whatever you need. I’ll keep talking if I feel like talking about it, and if I don’t keep talking about it, and you have questions, ask me. I have a blog, seriously, it’s not like this shit is secret.

Anyhow, I read the CT scan before the surgery. I saw the words “possible malignancy” – I saw the look on the ER doctors face when he had to tell me there were some concerning items on the scan. I know my body. I knew something was wrong. After surgery, when Minion 1 arrived, and I asked her about the offending nodule and if they found cancer, she danced around it, saying that they “don’t think” anything is wrong, but they are only using human eyes. I much preferred the way I found out the first time – the resident held my hand and said it straight up, we can’t confirm it yet, but from the preliminary pathology, it looks like cancer. This time, I knew I was going to hear not very good news at my appointment. I know when they take a biopsy, they look at the sample to make sure it’s a good one. They don’t just randomly snap out a bit of tissue and hope for the best. And while they are checking, they can notice whether they have good cells or abnormal cells. Sure, they may not know if it’s malignant with certainty, but they know if something’s up or not. Minion 1 needs to work on her delivery. I should give lessons.

I also knew I wasn’t healing as quickly as I have in the past. I had some pretty hideous bruising. I lost my appetite. I knew things were different, but I wanted to believe what the Minion 1 told me. So when I got to my appointment on the 22nd, I was ready for the news, or at least I thought so. I went by myself because Andy was in Pittsburgh with my nephew and brothers for a Steelers game. I didn’t want him to not have fun because I had an appointment. I asked my niece’s mom to go with me last minute, but she couldn’t. So I just resigned myself to going it alone. I got there on time, checked in, and waited. I got weighed, and found out I’d lost 40lbs since October. That’s a lot. And then I waited. My blood pressure was almost normal, but there was much excitement by the nurse when I told her I was off the morphine and just taking percocet. I wasn’t in pain. That’s good. Yay. No need to undress. Hang out, Dr. will be in. Now, Dr. K is a presence. He’s a tall, funny guy, with a southern twang to his voice and he’s always cracking jokes with nurses and staff and patients. I suppose you have to when you have to give the news he’s giving. He’s almost never late. I can sometimes hear him talking to other patients when I wait for him. Today I can hear him telling one that they will beat this thing, and that they will be in to review the chemo and radiation schedule with her, etc, etc, etc. Not good. It’s still taking a while for him to see me. I wonder where my treatment coordinator is – I have presents for her and Nurse Sue and Dr. K – just little holiday gifts to say thanks. I don’t hear Anne outside either – not good. Finally, Dr. K arrives with Minion 2 from the ER nightmare. They sit down. Sit. That doesn’t usually happen, so yes, it’s another harbinger of doom. Dr. K looks at me and doesn’t mess around – the biopsy shows cancer, and launches into how we could treat it. No surgery, no radiation, two different ways to address it with chemo, there’s no protocol for cancer in this area, quite frankly he doesn’t even know how or why it came back, it shouldn’t have at this point, once you pass two years, there’s a much less likelihood of recurrence. I just kinda look at him, and tell him I don’t have dying on my agenda. He said that’s good because he hasn’t, and isn’t, giving me permission to die. I’m not crying, I’m almost relieved because now I know – I awkwardly hand him the card and ornament I brought him – tell him I don’t know if he Jewish, or celebrates Kwanza or Christmas, but he can hang the ornament on his Hanukkah bush if he wants to – and thank him for taking such good care of me. I can tell this is as hard on him as it is for me. I think the Minion 2 wants to bolt, but is glad I am not crying and that I am, matter-of-factly, addressing what I need to do. Dr. K tells him to talk to me about the MRI, since he hasn’t staged it yet, and needs the MRI to determine what all is happening in the dark recesses of where the stupid pufferfish lies. I tell him I think the unwieldy beast is starting its dark resurgence because I’m having some discomfort in the area, and he says that’s what he wants to see on the MRI. Minion 2 has ceased sweating, I truly believe he thought I would lose it like I did when they offered my the psych hold in the ER. I maintained calm. OK, I was in shock, but it still didn’t involve crying.

You are never really prepared for the news. I’m still not sure I have accepted it, and probably won’t until they hang the poison bag on the rack and it starts dripping into my arm. Dr. K and I hug, he assures me that we will kick cancer’s ass and be laughing about this in no time. He tells me this is a shitty way to end the year, and a shitty way to start a new one, but go home, enjoy the holiday, and they will call me with the chemo schedule the day after Christmas. I tell him I trust him, he got me through it the last time and will this time. I shake the Minion 2’s hand, and like a scared bunny, he hands me the packet of papers for checkout and flees the room. I head to checkout. As I stand there, alone, having just been told my body has betrayed me, it hits me, and I tear up. I have cancer. Fuck. The receptionist asks me about the papers – I tell her all I know is I have a 4 week appointment on the 5th, and Dr. K wants me to have an MRI. She asks if it is scheduled – I tell her I don’t know – I was just handed papers by the Minion 2. She looks, and doesn’t have a clue why I have been handed all of Dr. K’s results and notes. I suddenly realize I need a note for work, and another prescription for percocet. I ask if she can get that for me when she asks him about the other papers. She does – he tells me I’m off until after my 4 week check up. I realize we never even looked at the incisions. Good thing I heal OK. She comes back with all my papers – I ask her if she can give Anne and Sue my cards and ornaments. She will. I’m still not really connecting to any of this. I get my appointment for the MRI and visit summary and head for the elevators.

I don’t break down until I am in the car. Then I am a snotty, sobbing, weeping, sniveling, snorting, coughing, choking mess for about five minutes. And alone. Horribly alone. And also very glad to be alone because I don’t have to worry about making anyone else feel better about my breakdown. I text who I need to text. I need to get groceries while I am down here. It’s funny how the trauma and the mundane activities intersect here. I need to get food. I also need to get home. I start the car and go to Giant, and mindlessly wheel the cart up and down the aisles, tossing shit in I don’t really need, but I have a fuck-it-you-only-live-once attitude and decide we’re having a fucking rib roast and ask at the butcher counter for a small incredibly expensive rib roast. Two hundred dollars later, I’m checking out of Giant with my rib roast. I forget to buy water. I’m not even hungry. I need to go home and that’s the last place I want to be. My iPod won’t fucking charge. I’m not going home until I have the opportunity to sing loudly with my iPod, and preferably with OWTH, until the pain inside is purged. I must also see my friend, Pony-Pony. I need some normality in this surreal scene. I also need gas. Actually, GAS first.

So I drive – first to a gas station. I fuel up and head to the MHS barn to see Pony-Pony. He’s not there. They probably are making him be the stupid donkey is some live nativity somewhere. I keep driving. I see my friends, the goats, at the goat barn, and I yell “fuck you” at the sheep in their pasture. My iPod is still not charged. I see some cows. I see another pony, and another, none of which are Pony-Pony, but at least I saw them. I keep driving. I realize my blood sugar is quite low, and I am a little shaky – I’ll got to Hardee’s. This whole time I feel like I am in weird freaky film where my character is in a dream world unbeknownst to everyone who sees her. It’s like none of this is real. I finally get the iPod charged enough to commence screamsinging. Fortunately, RTE 322 is not busy and I can cry and sing and drive all at once with no worries. It’s not real. It’s not real. I get to Hardee’s and order some sort of burger and onion rings. I manage to choke down the onion rings. I head home.

The drive was cathartic. And pretty scary. Occasionally I would look down at the speedometer during pauses between songs. I pushed 100+mph more than a few times. It’s not really my fault the car goes that fast. I slowed down several times. I wanted to get home and then I didn’t. I would have to tell Andy and then other people. This is the part that sucks. I finally drove home – I walked in and Andy was all excited to tell me about his trip and the game – and I killed that with a look. He asked how the visit went and I lost it. I sobbed and cried and told him how sorry I was he had to go through this all again. My kid is a good hugger. He told me I was the strongest person he knew and it was just cancer, and I could beat it. Then he proceeded to hug me some more. When he was adequately covered in snot, he went and got the groceries from the car. I didn’t want my expensive rib roast being stolen in this neighborhood

The C-monster is such a fucking burden. Not only do you have to worry about being sick, but you have to worry about bills and work, and the house and telling people and not upsetting people all while being told that this is the time you are supposed to focus on yourself. If there are people who are able to do that, I wish they would have a network where you could find out their secret. Because once you recover from the shock, you have to think about who to tell, and when and where and how and how are they gonna react and if they are old, like my dad, are you going to kill them? And then there’s the logistics – appointments and chemo and food and laundry and the joys of all the changes in smell and touch and taste. And when you have been the head of household for the last 24 years, that just doesn’t stop, you still worry about that. It’s just a lot. And no matter how much you have people tell you they will do whatever they can to help you, you don’t want to ask, because you don’t want to be a burden, and you want to be strong and tackle this yourself.

I’m tired of writing tonight, and I am tired of watching this fucking pathetic Steelers game while I type. I’m tired of being sick and doctor’s appointments, and not wanting to get out of bed. At least there’s minimal pain. At least there’s plenty of food in our house and we have functioning utilities. I can still write. My bed is comfy. I have a new blanket to take to chemo with me. It’s all gonna be over in 18 weeks (it better be). Tomorrow is the MRI – it will be a whole new experience for me, so look forward to that blog entry. I sure hope there’s no metal inside that suddenly gets torn from my body like I’ve seen in horror movies.

Good night my happy people…I’ll be keeping you updated – hug on your loved ones and do something fun with them before they can’t, or you can’t. Sleep well. Oh, about those resolutions, still working on them. I won’t be bound by your constrictive linear timetables. Kisses.

Oh yeah – three years ago yesterday, I got my first diagnosis. Happy Anniversary. I didn’t know the 3rd anniversary was also cancer.


Almost to the Finish Line

Well here we are…one week out until the last chemo treatment for banishing the ol’C-monster. I must say I’ve got some mixed feelings. I don’t mean that I’ll be sad that treatments are over, because I will be OVERJOYED that they are over. I will be thrilled to one day soon walk up some stairs without being winded, or to know that feeling ok will be replaced soon with feeling pretty good to feeling healthy! But as I’ve written about before, there’s new fear that’s planted in your brain once treatments are over…is it coming back? Who the hell came up with 5 year survival rates? And why does a person with cancer have to be told about them?

And lately, I have an even bigger question…are there staples inside me, because sometimes when I put the laptop too close to where my incision was, it gets really warm and then it stings for a while. Do I need to stay away from super magnets?

I’m kind of scared too, because knowing I see a Dr. every three weeks and there are all these blood tests makes me have a little comfort, because if something else is wrong, they will know right away. Once all of this is done, I’ll only be seeing the Dr. once every three months at first, and it will be up to my body not to betray me in the interim. I was fortunate enough not to have had any real complications and not very aggressive cancer cells, so in retrospect, for me, this didn’t really seem that difficult at all. Although during those days when everything smelled nastier that dead fish in the hot sun, and food of all kinds made me retch, and the bone pain, ah, the bone pain that fell like pac-man was chomping ghosta right out of my bones…that was tough, but honestly, looking back, this all could have been sooooo much worse.

I’m not going to write too much tonight. I’ve been fighting off a fever all weekend, along with a very sick tummy that responded only to some lamb biriyani and some na’an. Something about curry cures my sick tummy, but once the curry was gone, the sick tummy came back. I need to rocket out of bed bright and early tomorrow and go get my blood test since I was too sick to do it Saturday and they were closed today. I can’t make up my mind if I am hot or cold, so it’s blankets on, then off all night. I am really looking forward to just not having to think about being sick anymore.

So I’ll end this with another paraphrased quote I read, and unfortunately, I don’t know who to credit it to, but anyway, it went something like this…that I’m not that strong or courageous, the only difference between me and those who give up, is that I told myself…just get through today, just one day. And did it all again the next day, until I got here. … I know that when all of this is over, there will be other challenges to face, all I hope is that I can meet then with the same spirit I met this one. Bon Soir, mon, petites.


C Monster Playlist

So here it is…the C-Monster Playlist on the ipod…and a picture of me in my dead cat and zebra hats… I wear them to chemo, to amuse myself.

Dead Cat Hat…I’m smizing, but I forgot “long neck” – Sorry Tyra!

 

Wearing the Zeeba hat at chemo

and…

wait for it…

My playlist

A Brief Moment of Fucking Joy…

2.2 hours of fabulous driving music for trips to Hershey.

Voices ~ Matt Skiba & The Sekrets

We Have It All ~ Pennywise

Beautiful Morning ~ Jealous Sound

Bruises To Prove It ~ Say Hi

Mercy Go Round ~ Cheap Girls

Little Talks ~ Of Monsters And Men

They Always Fly Away ~ Blouse

Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards ~ The Go Set

Welcome To Your Wedding Day ~ The Airborne Toxic Event

Blister In The Sun ~ Violent Femmes

Burn It Down ~ AWOLNATION

Lost and Searching in America ~ Against Me!

If Ever I Stray ~ Frank Turner

Pistolero ~ Roll The Tanks

Count Your Bruises ~ The Flatliners

Alone In The Basement ~ Japanther

American Slang ~ The Gaslight Anthem

Drive ~ Off With Their Heads

Heartbeat Song ~ The Futureheads

Last One To Die ~ Rancid

2-way Revolution ~ BADiTUDES

I’ve Got Friends ~ Manchester Orchestra

Anyone’s Ghost ~ The National

Walking Is Still Honest ~ Against Me!

Welcome To 1984 ~ Anti-Flag

Sorrow (Acoustic Version) ~ Bad Religion

California Stars ~ Billy Bragg & Wilco

Cruel World ~ Dead To Me

Shadowplay ~ The Killers

All Fall Down ~ Matt Skiba & The Sekrets

Never Tear Us Apart ~ Me First & The Gimme-Gimmes

Yesterdays ~ Pennywise

A Million Miles Away ~ The Plimsouls

November Was White, December Was Grey ~ Say Hi

Until We’re Dead ~ Star Fucking Hipsters

Harsh Realms (EP Version) ~ Tom Gabel

Go (Club Mix) ~ Tones on Tail

Can’t Hardly Wait ~ Whiskey Sunday

Sleep Is For The Weak ~ The Dreadnoughts

All The Way Down ~ The Primitives

Devils ~ Say Hi


Don’t Mess with the Zofran

Hector, the Vulture.

I feel terrible. Honestly, I hurt all over, the heat is not making it better, and I am bloated like a beached blue whale. Maybe a humpback. Or a grey. Definitely not a beluga. I’m alternating percocet and zofran to keep me painless and puke free. I thought I’d be used to this by now, but apparently, it is getting progressively worse. I am only thankful that I have just one more treatment after this. One or two more weeks of hell after June 4th, and then this is over. I can start to get well again. I’m looking forward to that, with a passion that you, my sweet friends, have no idea.

I am so tired. I mean tired that yesterday I went out twice…once for ½ hr to the Kielbasa Fest, and then went to the mall with Lisa for another ½ hour. I needed hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works. Even just thinking of these outings is wiping me out. I want to hit the bed, but if I jump back in, I’m there for the rest of the day and I really want to blog because it’s my weekly brain dump. I get to pour out all my jumbled thoughts and then move on. And this week there’s been a few that keep haunting me.

First one: What if the cancer comes back?

Right, right, right, positive thinking…I know. I can do this most of the time, but until you are in this position, you have no clue how hard it is to keep focused on the idea that this is a one time deal and in another 3 weeks, the ordeal is over and I’m well again. I know it is real and possible that this was just one brush with the c monster, and that worry has never prevented anything from happening. But I can’t help thinking that what if it’s not? I’ve made it through it fairly unscathed and feeling pretty well comparatively speaking, but I don’t want to have to do it all again. I look at every mole now thinking it is skin cancer, I fear the mammogram and colonoscopy I need to have because what if they reveal something; what if there’s some stupid ass cancer cell floating around in my body that the chemo didn’t wipe out and it takes root somewhere. No matter how hard I try to put this thought out of my head, the reality is that it isn’t going to go away. I am always going have this fucking cancer spectre haunting me, and even when I sleep the narcosleep, it’s never quite gone.

And fair warning to those who don’t want jarring mental images from this next bit…I’m giving you a heads up it may cause you nightmares, but since this is my fucking blog and my personal neuroses, I get to write about whatever I want, because it’s my therapy.

What about sex?

I know the Dr. told me it might be uncomfortable initially but there’s no reason I can’t have a normal sex life. What is normal? I haven’t had sex in at least 12 years. That’s right, you read it here first…no sex in over a decade. I was okay with that. But now I’m afraid. I’m missing a lot of parts. Will things feel the same? I mean it’s not like it is a pressing issue…I’m not even attracted to any one right now besides Johnny Depp, Ryan Hurst and Eric Balfour, and it is unlikely that any of them are going to be asking me on a date anytime soon. No urgency. But what if? Plus I’m a bit uncomfortable in my skin these days, between the flabby fattiness and the battlefield of scars, and the other physical changes, I am also very scared that I will be alone the rest of my life. But that’s another journal entry, or not. You don’t realize the impact that being gutted of your girl parts has on your identity as a woman, until you don’t have them any more. I have been so focused on getting through this, I haven’t had the time to really mourn the loss of those things, that for me, made me a woman (despite the reality that they had probably atrophied from lack of use anyway) AND let’s not forget this menopause business. It’s sneaking it in here and there, with all the other fun side effects, so I get the delightful hot flashes, or at least that is what I think they are, every now and then, when I think I am finally getting to enjoy a moment of feeling normal.

So here’s the secret, my sweetlings:

I AM NOT ALWAYS POSITIVE. Sometimes I am downright sunk into despair. Fortunately, I don’t allow myself a lot of time in the tar pit of gloom, because I’ve been stuck in there too often, and I know the consequences of being mired in the pool of sucking darkness for too long. Therefore I slap the smile back on my face, visualize dark and funny things, and then get on with life. And I need to thank those of you who have stopped me and told me that I inspire you, those of you who have sent me messages, or posted on my facebook or twitter, and have said that I help YOU be more positive, because that really humbles me. I didn’t set out to do it, but I am glad that I have, and on days like today, when all I really want to do is take some more percocet and cuddle into my pillow and sleep away another day, it reminds me that not only has cancer taught me some super valuable lessons, but it gave me a way to help other people too – make them laugh, or smile, or just think. So thank you to you my gentle readers.

Now, I’ve purged a lot of the negativity I’ve been feeling today. I’m ready to move on to lighter topics.

First, why is there no “Make A Wish” foundation for adults? Seriously, I understand the importance of this for children, but hey, I’d like to go to disneyland too. And the fact is, that while childhood cancer is a horrible thing, and children deserve to have joy while going through these painful treatments, so do I!

Even moreso I believe, since children are cared for by parents and family, and someone is caring for them all the time, and people do wonderful things for them because they are in pain and being deprived of a typical childhood, and I am not. Children with cancer have parents who will make sure they get to treatments, who will hold them and comfort them, who will make sure the bills are paid, and that they are comfortable, and that there is a roof over their heads, and try in general to make life better for them. Adults with cancer have to worry about bills, rent/mortgage, food, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, health insurance, caring for their families, car repairs, gas, oil, making sure they still have jobs, and in cases where things are terminal, funeral plans, etc. etc. Adults with cancer have to deal with so much more, because they are adults and have adult responsibility. I’d like to have breakfast with Mickey and Tigger too you know. But NO CLOWNS. CLOWNS CREEP ME OUT. I’d like to have a few wishes granted, like an ipad or even a cheap laptop that doesn’t fight me every day, or my wildest dream, a car that doesn’t increase my stress level by a 1000% every time I have to drive it to Hershey. In fact, my wishes are really quite simple, comparatively. I’d settle for a weekend at the ocean, say New England, in a tiny room with a big bathtub, and an ocean view. I’d bring my own food even. Hell, I’d settle for a night in a hotel that doesn’t have bedbugs and has an indoor pool and hot tub. Actually, I’d settle for finding a pool where I could swim everyday, because water heals me. I’d even settle for a damn foot rub.

Secondly, why is my bald head so unsettling? My head is very very beautiful. It’s nicely domed, it keeps me cool (seriously, it is amazingly comfortable) but people do one of two things when they see me – they either stare like they’ve never seen a woman with a bald head before, or they can’t look at me at all. My friends and coworkers are all fine with it, but the general public is far more comfortable with women in clothes that barely cover their breasts and bum than they are with my naked head. I don’t quite understand it.

Well, I paused for a brief nap while typing this…falling asleep suddenly is one of my new tricks. As is random bruising. And a serious loss of salty tastes. That’s troubling, but I am hoping temporary… I never put salt on things before I had cancer, now I’m salting all kinds of stuff…even chips aren’t salty enough. The last two days have been all about the Zofran (the anti-puking drug) and Percocet (the anti-whimpering drug). I’ve got nausea coming at the most bizarre times. At least there’s no weird smells this time. Just when I think I am used to this new chemo, I get a whole new set of side effects. Itchy feet. Mouth dryness. I hate the bloating the most, it’s second only to constipation. I’d rather spend the whole day in the bathroom with explosive poopies than be constipated. This has all been very curious. And perhaps most distressing of all, I’m not losing a ridiculous amount of weight at all. You’d think there’d at least be that perk. But NOOOOOO, I’m just as plump as I was after surgery. I gain ten pounds of bloat from the steroids right after chemo; by Friday I am down ten, and right back to were I was before chemo. No bikini body at all. And I drink tons of water. Weight gain is not a typical side effect, but can happen. And of course, as with all things that are not common but can happen, it happens to me. BUT…there is only one more treatment, and I can deal with this. Right? Right? Of course.

As always, chemo brain has caused me to forget half of what I was planning to write about when I began this entry. One thing I wanted to ask is that you share this blog with one of your friends and ask them to subscribe. I want to get to 50 subscribers, you know, since I’m not going to Disneyland or getting a foot rub. And ask them to share it if they like it. Because you never know what I will reveal in my blog…like for instance, do you know they have creamsicle flavored Oreos now? Like a little bit of heaven in cookie form. Delicious. Fabulous. Amazing. I am going to stockpile them, and when I am feeling healthy again, I am going to coat them in white chocolate and sprinkle them with orange sanding sugar and enjoy them with a latte.

I also haven’t forgotten that I must reveal to you my secret project. I am still working on it. It probably won’t be done until after I finish chemo, but you will be delighted. And, if I haven’t asked you personally, there is this bell ringing ceremony after I finish chemo which will be June 4th, at sometime between 1 and 2, depending if I start on time or not – you are invited to join me at the Cancer Institute in Hershey. It only lasts a few minutes. I am still trying to figure out the details for a cancer is over party this summer, so you can also join me at that once I figure it out. It will involve alcohol. At least for me.

But alas, the chemo has sucked all my thoughts away again, so I will leave you with this paraphrased quote I read on FB this morning… “no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine” . (note to Debbie, Kelly BFF, and sharksister Ashley, I know, I know, it’s perky and totally out of character…I personally would be bringing my own cold fog and thunderstorm, but it doesn’t make a good closing quote). I am including some pics with this post from chemo, including my sharkey friend Ashley, who has spent the last three chemo sessions keeping me company and making me laugh, and who will unfortunately be on the west coast when I get to ring the bell. But at least she will be in a teepee. Which is better than having poison dripping into your arm. And there will be video.

Oh yeah, and stay tuned for the c-monster playlist. It’s next.

Ashley, my private RN, chemo buddy, NBFF, and sharksister…she only looks friendly..LOL

Hector, the Vulture.

Hector, my cancer companion Vulture! He guards me during treatement.

Taxol. Poison.

The Bell!!