Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No. 7 slammed me

I don't know what was different, but this seventh treatment (who says seven is lucky) has worn me out. By Sunday at noon (Sundays are usually good days), I was flat on my back, napping most of the day. When I did get up, I felt like I was walking through water. I could barely move. I did my laundry, but it was tough. I even forgot the towels, which I never do. Bob took care of those the next day.

We had a guest over the weekend, but he was a delight, no trouble. (Bob took him out touring, so I actually had more time to myself than I would have). He left some lovely gifts for us, in addition to paying for our dinner and appetizers the night before. He left Bob some expensive single malt scotch and me some See's Candy. Oh man, that candy is good and it hits the spot. About the only things I can taste are sweet. I already couldn't taste very well before treatment no. 7, but now I can't taste at all. Bob made me a baked potato and steak last night, but I couldn't eat either. Even the potato, which normally tastes good to me. So the candy and some watermelon are my salvations.

So for my co-workers (and husband), if I'm acting like I'm under water, I am.

But this too shall pass. I will surface and take air.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My sister got upset

well, her co-worker really, because I haven't yet posted anything about my trip to her house last weekend. Jennifer, my sis, lives in Liberty, Mo., (just outside of Kansas City) in an adorable, old, refurbished home that looks like a bed and breakfast. One night, I took a long, hot bath in her whirlpool tub. (The house is for sale, if you're interested and want to live in Liberty.)

It was Jennifer's 55th birthday! So our goal was to go to movies all
weekend, and we did. We went to three at three different theaters. In one, you could even sit in red leather loungers and drink mixed drinks or beer with your popcorn. Let's see, I'll have to remember what we went to. A documentary on Broadway musicals, the Jane Austen movie, and one called Death at a Funeral. All were great or at least pretty good. Death at a Funeral was pretty light, but funny. I just love to go see movies and rarely get to go at home. So that was a treat.

I got to Jennifer's house late Friday night (her husband Steve was out of town) and stayed until Sunday afternoon. We had a great time of eating, sleeping, movie going and SHOPPING. I bought a few things, yes I did.

I would like to buy a couch from Ethan Allen store where she works if Bob would give me the OK. I know he would like it, but he doesn't always trust my judgment (even though I bought our house without him seeing it and he loves it). He's worried about the stock market right now.

Jennifer made me crispy okra (yummy!) and cut up a lot of watermelon. When I got home, I cut up some watermelon too because she gave me the idea and have been eating it like crazy. It makes me regular. We are pretty good companions because we both like to read, watch movies, go to bed early, and get up early.

Perfect if we ever have to live together in the "home."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Over the hump treatment

Yesterday, I had my seventh treatment. So seven down, five more to go. The day seems so routine now that I don't feel compelled to blog. But I suppose I have some sort of unspoken commitment to blog at least through the end of treatments and occasionally thereafter.

An old, old man in a wheelchair came up to me and ask me questions about my laptop while we were in the waiting room yesterday. He was asking me a lot of questions about wireless connections (duh, I don't know) and wireless cards (duh, again; my computer is equipped). He just bought a new laptop and had set his whole house up with wireless, but wanted to know more about Verizon wireless cards. He wanted to kick himself when he found out Loyola was had a free wireless connection. There were so many things he could have taken care of, he said. He was really old with food all over his clothes. But he was in to computers.

As I looked around in the waiting room yesterday, I noticed a lot of people were green. Not lime or forest, but sort of Martian green. Or the beginnings of Martian green. Not quite as green as a Martian, but beginning to turn. I wonder, does chemo do that to you? Am I green? Or or those the people who are very nearly about to be whisked up to Martian land. No longer to be seen, only to be remembered. Bob said I looked pale. (Pale green?)

Yesterday, I used my Netflix account to watch a free movie (instead of blog). I haven't quite finished it, but what I saw was excellent. I had sort of steered away from the movie because I thought it was science fiction. But it's not. It's fairy tale fiction with real-life Spanish war mixed in. Pan's Labyrinth. I recommend it.

I'm up early this morning. We have a guest and he came in very late last night on Amtrak. He's Bob's new friend, so Bob took care of him while I went to bed. I got a good night sleep so am up to drink coffee and read the paper in peace and quiet. But I had to put on a little make up because I haven't met him.

And I don't want to make a pale green first impression.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Audrey made me a cowgirl quilt

And it is the cutest, most adorable quilt I've ever seen in my life. I didn't know she cared. And for six weeks (nine months?) she's been birthing this wonderful quilt. I bet she was sad to let it go; she'd been working on it so long.

Kate comes into my cube this morning with a sneaky look in her eyes and begins to beckon my coworkers into my cube. I thought we were all about to meet the new employee, Mary, and I had just eaten a Metamucil cookie, and they really stick to your teeth. So I'm quickly searching for my dental floss, swooshing water around in my mouth, and thinking, "Great, the new girl really is going to think I'm from the country."

Next thing I know, Audrey is presenting me with this bundle, a bed roll, all tied up in ribbon like a Martha Stewart project. I untie the ribbon, (the back side is blue, bandanna print) and look at the front side of the quilt. It is full of cowgirls and boots and horseshoes and sky and stars. It is the most fun cowgirl thing I have! Well, in addition what Polly sent me a couple of weeks ago: the cutest-in-the-world poster which I had framed last week. (You can see it beside the quilt I'm holding. Click on the photos to make them larger.)

I couldn't figure out why, if this was Audrey's project alone, everybody needed to be in my cube for the presentation (besides the fact it was a fantastic quilt). I asked Audrey. She said they wanted to see if I would cry. Now, that's a little low as I have been propelled into menopause by my chemo. I asked Kate later if I did cry, and she said "A little." But I think I just had the sniffles. How could I cry when I was so happy. I would have paid big bucks on Ebay for this quilt. (And I would have bid on it, be assured.)

But instead, I got it for free!

Thanks Audrey. You're a real pal.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Halfway finished

Gitty up little doggie. Today, I'm halfway finished with chemo treatments. Six down, six more to go. I wasn't nearly so anxious because what I worry about most, in addition to being nauseated and tired for a few days, is how the chemo affects my taste buds. Well, I haven't really tasted anything for the last two weeks, so I didn't get so anxious about that particular symptom.

Generally, I just don't feel like myself and have come to accept that I won't until I get off these treatments. By December, I'll be eating and pooping and drinking and sticking my hands in ice just for the fun of it if I want to. (Which I can't imagine that I will.)

Today I got the special room again. That worries me a little because I always thought the rooms with the beds were reserved for the sickest of the sick, but I've gotten the room two treatments in a row. I love having it. I can take a nap and have a semblance of privacy. I'm not in a pink chair staring at another chemo patient all hooked up. I also decided I would read today instead of take my computer to blog and watch movies. Then I forgot to bring my best reading glasses. (I'm up to 2.25 and my glasses are about 1.75.) So it was tough; I had to hold my reading material out at arm's length and tilt my head back. I looked a bit British, I think. Prudish. (Sorry Caroline.)

Last night I met a woman who had ovarian cancer and knew something about chemo fog. She showed me her Nintendo DS Lite where she plays brain teaser games to keep her mind sharp. She made me do the tutorial. I was not in the best of shape. Had a long day and a margarita before I met her. But still. I scored an F+. I had the mind of a fashion designer. So now I have to get the game just so I can prove I'm not really an F+ mind. (I could blame it on chemo fog and menopause. Love it.) The reason I went back to get my master's was to prove I wasn't a 2.5 GPA; not really. And I did pretty well. Graduated cum laude, maybe magna, but I can't remember (because my mind does not retain information well). 3.8 or so. I worked my butt off on that degree, though. I mean it.

But I digress.

In lieu of having a Nintendo DS Lite, to keep my my sharp, today I tried to work the crossword puzzle and the Suduko puzzle, which I've never even looked at before. I didn't do so well on either.

But I tried. And I'm halfway finished with my chemo treatments.


Saturday, August 4, 2007


I haven't posted lately mostly because life has been rather uneventful. Well, except for that little incident where Bob broke his hand. Last Saturday we decided to walk to one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, La Notte. On the return trip, Bob claims I pointed up and told him to look at something. When he did, he tripped on an uneven sidewalk and fell in what I think was slow motion, though he claims it seemed like it happened fast. He cut his hand and because he is a bleeder (like Louie), we finished our walk home with him dripping blood all along the way. He seemed to fall on every part of his body, but it was his left hand that took the brunt of the fall.

We got home, cleaned the wound, and he sat on the couch and fell asleep, though I tried to encourage him to come up to bed. The next morning (a Sunday, in which he had to perform a baptism and celebrate the Eucharist), his left hand was swollen to the size of a balloon, a purple balloon. Something was wrong.

But he had to go to church and do his job; there was no one to call on such short notice and he wouldn't have called them anyway. So after church, I dropped him by MacNeal Hospital (a neighborhood facility that we know is quite good), and I went to have my chemo pump removed (something all chemo patients with a fanny pack are eager to get rid of as soon as possible).

When I returned to the hospital, they had X-rayed the hand but knew nothing. We met (through the curtains of the adjoining suites) a sweet, young man who asked us about our accents. Turns out, like Bob, he had grown up in West Tennessee, but had moved here long ago and sounded like a native. We talked for several minutes before I asked him why he was in the emergency room. Because, he said, his leg which had been amputated below the knee a month before, was hurting. Why was it amputated? Because he hurt his ankle on his job with no insurance, ignored the pain, which turned out to be a broken ankle; it got infected and had to be amputated. Don't even get me started on why we need universal health care.

Three hours later after I had taken Bob to the emergency room (it took so long because a wreck with nine people came in), he was released with a cast of sorts and instructions to call an orthopedic doctor because they couldn't tell if the hand was broken. He got an appointment for Wednesday, and the doctor, in three seconds, found he had fractured his hand, and put it in a purple cast.

Lordy. A husband with no left hand is, well, a man with no left hand. You get the picture. The first few days in the cast (and even in the pre-cast), he spent negotiating his disability. At first it was rough (for both of us), but he's beginning to figure things out and is learning to do the little things that you really do, I must admit, need a left hand for. Obviously, mowing the yard and trimming the hedges are out for a while, but even opening a pill bottle is difficult. And, woe upon woe, typing is dang near impossible. And for a man addicted to the a) Internet and b) e-mail, that is quite the tragedy. Though he is hunting and pecking and getting through it. I mean, really, with our special form filler (Roboform) it is not that difficult to purchase over the Internet (both of our weaknesses).

So we will see how life with a cast pans out.

For my own edification, I would like to list my most recent chemo symptoms so I can refer to them later. You can stop reading here. I could put them in my Palm, but I've been having trouble with it lately.

OK, so chemo was Friday, and Friday and Saturday and even Sunday I feel pretty good. Though I get the hair on my tongue and food doesn't really appeal. It sometimes tastes good, but I could go without eating and it wouldn't really bother me. Also, the cold sensitive thing happens. The nurses said I wouldn't even be able to reach into a refrigerator, but I haven't found that to be the case. Though holding a cold can of pop (as they say up here) or a beer (which doesn't appeal), hurts a bit. And I can't drink water with ice in it. Even last night when I drank water with ice in it, I got the dry-ice mouth. A feeling like my mouth is kind of sizzling like dry ice does. Oh, and my fingers (especially the first few days after chemo) feel like numb bananas. Huge and swollen and numbish. Less so today.

But by Monday, I was dead-tired. I felt like I was walking in water. I went to work, of course, but by 2 p.m., my head was hitting my desk. So I went to the car and took a nap, which helps, but leaves me feeling a bit like a zombie for the rest of the day. By the time I got home from work, (around 6 p.m.), I needed another nap. This occurred on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with slight variations.

On Tuesday, I took my nap at work and at home, but then went to the gym. Possibly a mistake. It was very, very hard. Because in addition to feeling tired, I also feel nauseated and take the nausea pill during this period (sometimes more than one a day) just to feel well enough to actually stand on my feet.

On Wednesday, I didn't go to my car to nap, but to a bench outside my work area where the people who smoke go to smoke. It was kind of an off-smoking time so I was basically alone. I didn't mean to lie down on the bench. I just mean to sit and try to wake up, but I found myself prone within minutes and actually fell asleep. (Kate says she is amazed at how quickly I can fall asleep and how I can do it anywhere; it's true, Bob and I both can. That's why we're married.) The problem with sleeping outside is that there are small varmints (well, ants) out there and they took advantage of me. I have been finding little whelks (this is the correct spelling; we looked it up. I always thought it was whelp.) all over my body. So that was probably not a good idea.

Thursday, I was beginning to feel normal again. Not quite so tired. So that's good. But I didn't go to the gym, nor did I do my physical therapy exercises for my shoulder (for the seventh day in a row: bad, bad, bad).

Friday, better. I worked from home and got a lot done. And we went to see the Color Purple downtown (8 p.m. show) which was absolutely spectacular. Very lively. I actually got hungry before we had dinner. Which was lovely since we paid more than a hundred bucks for our dinner and that was with an NPR member card discount.

Saturday. Today. Feel pretty good. MUST go the gym. Must do my physical therapy. Must do some chores. Must. Must. Must.

Five treatments down; seven to go.