Friday, July 27, 2007

Gracias a Dios

I feel like I'm wobbling on the precipice of a balance beam. Just before chemo, perhaps a couple of days, and especially as I sit here waiting to go back to Chair 12, I have great anxiety. Will I fall onto the soft blue mat and sustain relatively few side effects after chemo, or will I tumble to the hard wood floor, and feel pain and discomfort for the next two weeks, until I am poisioned again. That is the anxiety, the worry. It is, though, only a balance beam. Not a cliff. I might get hurt, but I won't die.

The good news is that the doctor said I'm doing great. When I recount my side effects, they are few. "Do you have severe sensitivity in your fingers or hands?" Nope, I'm cold sensitive for a few days after chemo and I've noticed my fingers peel some. "Are you nauseated?" Yes, but not severely; a burp might produce a little something, but I have never projectile vomited. "Do you have an appetitite?" Not really, but I take care to eat, and I love sweets. I've noticed that some ginger tea that came in a Get Well basket given to me by Mary and Anantha helps stimulate my appetitite.

I'm watching a thin, frail, bald woman walk toward the exit, using a cane, just finished with chemo. That is not me. Thank God. How did I get so lucky. I have hair, and though I am thinner (an acceptable weight at last for an aging, menopausal woman), I'm not frail. Still working out, though I've decreased my weights, some.

I asked my doctor if I still have cancer, and he said No. But I should think of the chemo as extra insurance, a precaution against getting cancer again. Or getting it in another place. And so I will consider myself cancer free. With another four months of precaution coming my way. That is not a severe burden to bear. Considering what others within my eyesight are going through.

Gracias a Dios.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I can taste it already

The fuzz that gets on my tongue after chemo. Chemo is tomorrow, less than 24-hours away. The anxiety is creeping near. The sensitivity to cold. The icky feeling in my body. The stupid fanny pack that tethers me to the chemical for two days, until Sunday afternoon. The way food doesn't appeal.

We are having good friends over tomorrow night, Sam and Chris. Bob wants to cook some of his "famous" dry rub ribs and I insist only good friends come over for that. First of all, the ribs are hot as heck and could cause you to pant out loud, and secondly, the black rib particles get stuck in your teeth, so you can't really laugh with your teeth showing. Unless you feel comfortable with the people who are eating them with you.

And thirdly, unrelated to the ribs, I need guests who don't care if I feel crappy. And that would be Sam and Chris.

If I need to excuse myself, they will be content to sip Scotch or Gin & Tonic on the deck with Bob.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We're baaaaack

from our road trip to Wisconsin/Illinois. I am now officially a cowgirl cheesehead. (right; click on photos for larger view.)

The trip was terrific.

I LOVE Madison, Wisc., and could easily live there if a) I had a job there; b) I had a place to live there; and c) my husband would move there. Alas, I will stay in Chicago (which is a pretty good place to live too). Both cities have horrible winters, but Madison has wonderful biking community. And if you go, stay at the Hotel Ruby Marie Bed & Breakfast. It was lovely. Very nice rooms, neat and clean, and a great free breakfast on the weekends. I had poached eggs, ham, toast and fried potatoes. Yummy. And wasn't hungry for a long, long time. We also ate at a very nice Indonesian restaurant. Double yummy. There was a farmer's market street fair going on, which happens every weekend in the summer. They had lots of food: cheese, vegetables, meats, cookies. Holy Moly. I wish my appetite was better (but maybe not).

Milwaukee was so-so, but Mader's (left) was great! The Knickerbocker, I wouldn't recommend. It was quaint, but old and run-down. But the location was good and the price was OK.

We drove down to Monroe to buy cheese and eat at Baumgartner's, a cheese store and tavern, where Bob ordered (and actually ate) a Limburger and braunschweiger sandwich (thickly sliced, I might add). I sampled a smidgen of the Limburger and it tasted like somebody's bad morning breath and a landfill, mixed together. Awful. Terrible. He felt like a real man for eating it (right). I can't describe the aftereffects throughout the evening, even on this blog.

Oh yeah, and we did a Frank Lloyd Wright tour in Spring Green, Wisc., (left). The man was definitely a genius.

We ended up in Galena, Ill., at the Ramada. It was fine, but honestly it is a new hotel without an elevator. (We were on the second floor.) I just couldn't believe it. Not even a service elevator for the cleaning staff. I saw a young woman dragging a 32-gallon trashcan full of wet towels up the stairs. The rooms were nice, though, because they were new. And we sampled the hot tub. We were whipped by then, so the next day we roamed the streets of Galena, but without a lot of shopping enthusiasm. We bought a few things at a French shop, and I found, and I can still hardly believe this, some burlap sacks that I have been looking for in Chicago for three years. There was a coffee shop full of empty burlap sacks. It was closed (though the door was open). The owner was inside and I asked him if he would sell me some sacks. I got six for a dollar each. That was my thrill purchase. (I fill them with cedar and use them for dog beds in the dog houses.)

Oh, and we found the perfect store for me! (See it at right.)

Bob bought some Galena wine, and then we headed home. Since he had driven most of the trip, I drove home so he could see the countryside (I have been through Galena territory twice before), and took a long nap when I got home. Dogs were happy to see us. We were home.

And all is well with my soul.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Heading out

Bob and I are headed out for a road trip this weekend. First to Milwaukee, Wisc., where I've booked us a hotel at the Knickerbocker, then to Madison, Wisc., where we have a cool room at the Hotel Ruby Marie Bed and Breakfast, then on to Galena, Ill., where we have just a regular old Ramada room. But it looks OK and has a hot tub.

Now, I don't know if the first two rooms are really going to be any good. But we'll see. I don't have a great history of vacation-planning. Like line-standing. I'm always in the worst line at the grocery store (or the Target). It doesn't matter if I'm standing in the longest line, then see the shortest line and move. The shortest line always has a shopper that has 1) forgotten an item after the ringer upper has encoded half his/her products or 2) needs a price check. So I've just given up. And stayed in the line I was in. No matter how long it is. Do NOT follow me when I get in a line.

This driving excursion should be a nice break for us. I've felt a little puny this week, but today I am much better (so far). I've had to go to my car twice this week to take a nap because I was feeling very tired and ill. And yesterday, even after a nap in my car, I took a nap when I got home. So far, no gym this week. And that just ignites my guilt (for reasons I don't fully understand). My wise friend Kate says "Guilt is fruitless. Listen to your body." She's right, I'm sure. So I will.

We're going to buy some cheese in Wisconsin. We're not sure where, yet. (If you have suggestions, put it in the comments.) There was an article in the Tribune (or was it Chicago magazine) recently that named the best places to buy cheese in Wisconsin. Bob cut it out, but we can't find it. Cheese is probably not what I need, with this bound-up side effect of chemo. So, in this case, I don't plan to listen to my body.

In fact, cheese has been my staple lately. Cheese crackers, macaroni and cheese, cheese-flavored nachos. Can you tell I'm eating well? Lordy. I need some turnip greens and okra. Some fried green tomatoes and cream corn. Some real green beans and potatoes.

Comfort food for a cowgirl.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The blog about nothing

It's difficult to blog when you feel like you felt almost every day before CANCER. Pretty much fine. Normal for a 50-year-old.

This weekend was a chemo weekend, so Bob and I didn't make big plans. We had hoped to go down to Millennium Park Friday night and listen to (one of those B classical composers, Beethoven, Bach, I can't remember) but we didn't make it. Friday or Saturday. I was willing, but I think Bob didn't really want to put out the effort. He had mowed the yard, tended the flowers. I had done a little shopping. Got a big, BIG exercise ball for some physical therapy I'm doing on my shoulder. It seems you have to strengthen your "core" body to get the extremities feeling better. So we just "hung out" on Friday and Saturday night. He cooked for me both nights; he's a good husband. And! I actually got him to watch a silly movie, Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. No thinking involved.

Next day, Sunday, we did it up. First church of course. Bob's got to be there. He's the priest. After, I went to have my chemo pump removed. That's always a delight. It's difficult to sleep and shower hooked up to a pump (and the nasty fanny pack; read earlier blog). Bob napped while I went to the hospital. Back home, I decided to forgo my nap and we headed off downtown. We drove to the Blue Line and rode the train in. We wanted to go to an art show near the Tribune building. First, though, we ate at a New Orleans style restaurant called RedFish (I had an NPR member coupon). I ordered Cajun shrimp. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. It was hot! I like hot stuff, but with my newfound digestive system, I'm not sure if it likes me. And it didn't really. Serendipitously, I found a cure for constipation. Three Senokot S laxatives, two fiber pills on the previous evening, and Cajun shrimp.

By the time I got home from town, I was running to the bathroom every few minutes. But cleaned out and feeling groovy.

Before though, we did some shopping and drank a beer. It was a nice, normal, uneventful day. But also eventful because I haven't been able to enjoy a day like that in while. And so, this is the blog about nothing.

Remember the Seinfield episode where George and Jerry pitch a show to network officials. It's to be a show about nothing...just like their show. That's what this blog is about.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A poo coup

Or a better title: Vanity of vanities, a narcissistic sin.

OK, so I put a site meter on my blog to see how many visits I get. It's a horrible vanity. I just want to know if people are reading my blog. There are a few, some people I don't know, but mostly relatives and friends. I see only locations, no names.

But I guffawed (and so did Bob) when I saw that one person who had visited got to my blog by doing a Google search. And guess what she (or he) was searching for? "Hard pebbles stool." I just love it, my blog came out on top of that search. (However, it is no longer on top.) Still, is that not truly a poo coup? That was my biggest excitement of yesterday. I am the poo blog. Perhaps I should change the name of my blog. Of course, the person didn't stay very long when they found out I knew absolutely nothing about "hard pebbles stools," but if they had read down a little further (or is it farther) on my blog, they would have found my favorite book on the subject.

Another person got to my blog by searching for "cowgirl bars." Now, I love cowgirl bars, and in fact, have always wanted to start one, but it would have to be for early drinkers. 'Cause I can't stay up much past 10. 10:30 at the latest. Or it could be a morning bar, for really early drinkers.

I know of a good cowgirl bar if you're anywhere near Santa Fe. It's a restaurant too. The Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Very cool. Lots of different beers and sweet potato french (or cowgirl) fries.

Maybe they have buffalo pebbles.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Proof Positive

I have always had a Cowgirl Attitude:

That's me in the middle at my fifth birthday party,
bloody-nose Patty on the left, and best friend
Melody on the right (in my every day clothes).
These were my only two friends, and the only
people I invited to my party. You don't get many
gifts that way, but you don't have to give many

More proof:

Bob and me

And even more proof!

Cowgirl and Indians

(I don't have nearly so much hair now; it's
shrinking, but I haven't gone bald, just cutting it
off more and case.)
See me and friends from work below.

From left: Beth, Kate, Kris, me, Deb
at the company picnic.

I bet the people at my work hate emptying my trash can

I think they probably do rock, paper, scissors (or paper, rock, scissors, or whatever) to see which one has to empty my can.

I seem to have developed nose-bleed syndrome, which creates a lot of soiled tissues, and is actually ironic. Because I remember as a kid how I had a next-door neighbor (I think it was Patty W.) who used to get nose bleeds all the time. She got attention for it. People rushed to her aid, told her to hold her head back, oooohed and aaaahed until the nose bleed was over. So I recall thinking, You know, I want one of those nose bleeds. It was a time in my life when I wasn't getting much attention. I was the fourth of five children, and Becky had come along when I was four and stolen my last-child status. So I was desperate. [The entry in my baby book written by my mother under Problems of Cooperation says: Baby sister Becky was born during this year. Terri loved her, but could not help being a little jealous of her, since up to now she had been the center of attraction.]

I remember climbing into Becky's crib (she wasn't in it; she was probably being held and dawdled over by my mother, who had forgotten about me by then). So I climbed into her crib and tried to dive nose first onto the floor. I wasn't successful, of course. Instead of a nose bleed, I got a big bump on the noggin. I'm sure my mom doesn't even know this story. She was with Becky, who not only became the last and favorite child, but had red hair to boot.

So nose bleeds during chemo must be the result of thinning blood. (Which is why I can't take Ibuprofen, o rue the day, my drug of choice for all my old-age aches and pains.) The other day I was at church meeting new visitors and talking to old friends. When I got into my car to go home and looked into the rear view mirror (don't we all do that?) I noticed a big, red, dried substance on my left nostril. I had been laughing and talking and feeling generally cool with a bloody booger on my nose.

Will somebody please tell me about this next time?!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I need my own, dedicated, personal bathroom at work

None of this sharing stuff. None of this possibly someone else could walk in at any time as I'm swaying around, rocking back and forth, and crooning while having a Pebble Poo. (Sorry, Audrey, and all you fancy pants, poo-talk challenged people; this blog is NOT for you.)

I cannot have complete and total freedom while sharing a bathroom with someone else. Or while worrying that I might have to share a bathroom with someone else at any moment. Even when I know Bob's in the house (he has an uncanny ability to need to go to the very bathroom I'm in at the very time I'm in it, despite the fact we have three, yes three, toilets in our smallish, three-story house), I have trouble feeling free to sing and dance on the toilet.

So you can imagine how restricted I feel at work. And feeling restrained leads to being even more bound up. I cannot take this any longer. I used to advocate for a nap room. I think work places should have little catacomb-like spots we could squeeze into and take a 20-minute nap. Then we could get back to work feeling refreshed and creative. Better than strong coffee.

But my desires have altered. Now I want my own personal port-a-potty. (Not like this one in Japan.) But, private and soundproof.

And I want it now!