Saturday, September 29, 2007

My doctor called last night

He told me my white blood count was low, and that he might not have given me chemo yesterday if he had had all the test results back. Hmmm. That's why I go in and get my blood drawn early in the morning. Well, all in all, I'm glad I had the chemo. That's one more treatment down (three to go).

However, I have to go in for shot early Monday morning to stimulate creation of white blood cells. They say it may make my bones hurt because marrow is where they are produced (I guess).

Low white blood cells means I am at higher risk of infection (which may be life-threatening, according to my chemo notebook they gave me before I started treatments). Ikes.

I am supposed to notify the doctor immediately if I have a fever over 100.5 F. (My normal temperature is about 97.5 so I wonder if that makes a difference). Other symptoms are chills and sweating, sores in throat or mouth. Constant cough, shortness of breath, pain when breathing in. Earache, headache, (had both), changes in vision. Sinus pressure or pain (had some of that).

But we (doc and me) were both surprised counts were low since I felt so good. I still feel pretty good. But Audrey (at work) has shingles and that scares me a little bit. But too late, because we've been in each other's offices (well cubicles) several times within the last week.

So. We'll see. Hope I don't die from an infection. Lots of people are getting colds right about now. And there are several cases of West Nile virus around here.

Wonder if I should climb in a bubble.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I do not want to do this

I feel so good right now that it took every ounce of gumption in my body to drive to chemo today. The weather is gorgeous; autumn is my time of year. I was strong enough to go to the gym twice this week and walk the dogs when I didn't go. I was getting really close to being able to taste again. I feel so normal that I wanted to cry this morning knowing I have to start feeling bad again.

I thought I would tell my doctor that everybody on a 6-month/12-time regimen of chemo needs a week off, but now I'm not so sure. Feeling so good makes it twice as hard to voluntarily sit calmly for more poison. Especially when you don't even think you need it.

I still have to act normal. I still have to go out with people on the weekends, work in the yard, go to church--all hooked up to my weekend pump. It's embarrassing and inconvenient. All I really want to do is curl up and not talk, drink tepid water (because water with ice burns going down), eat crackers, not real food. If I were alone, that is probably what I would do.

I don't mean to feel sorry for myself because I don't really. I just want to do what I want to do when I feel bad. And maybe I won't feel bad. Who knows. Maybe I'll breeze through this treatment because I had a week's break. Part of the anxiety is in not knowing and anticipating the worse. That is NOT positive thinking, I'm afraid.

I have to keep up appearances, smile while I'm here getting poked, act like this is no big deal. And really it's not compared to what some people go through. There is some hacking going on in this waiting room, people with masks, but mostly everybody looks normal today. No green people. They're all reading or working crossword puzzles. Just waiting to see the doctor or to get hooked up to chemo.

It's so beautiful outside; I can't wait to bask in it, put my face to the sun, squint, sit, sip a beer (or even apple-cranberry juice, which tastes really good.)

Maybe next year.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chemo Woman (simulates) eating on a plane

Here is a video of Bob and me eating at a small cafe outside of the Schloss Charlottenburg (Sophie-Charlotte Castle) in Berlin.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I feel great

We returned from Berlin Monday the 24th. No photos yet cause Bob's still editing them. He took a couple of videos with his camera and I'm going to see if I can get any of them up on this blog. I'm not quite that technically sophisticated yet, so I'll have to do some reading about it. Berlin was great, but I'll wait to get the photos before I post on some of the places we visited.

I really feel almost normal. Yesterday, I went to the gym and it didn't even tire me out. I can taste food and I even get hungry sometimes. I think everybody on a six-month regimen of chemo (12 times every two weeks) should get a week off just to experience normalcy again. Just a little break from the icky-ness of it all.

I'm in a book club at church and our first assignment was The Secret. Now, I am totally against that book. I think it's silly, but one of our members wanted us to read it just to see how silly it really is. The book has been No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks, so somebody must get something out of it. Basically, it's a power of positive thinking book. And I do agree that positive thinking is essential to a good life. But this book says that if you just wish hard enough for a million dollars, you'll start getting checks in the mail very soon. Bah humbug. First of all, I don't think people should wish for wealth or a new car or the huge house of their dreams. I think wishing for the perfect job or happiness or a clean bill of health is fine. World peace and no war is even better. But wishing for material things seems a little un-biblical to me, though the author offers Bible verses that claim it is biblical. Bah humbug.

She mixes new age thinking with biblical thinking throughout the book. (The universe vs. God.) So she's working the whole crowd. And it's paying off for her. She must have positively thought about having a best seller and millions of dollars.

The book is a good reminder that we should think positively about our lives and circumstances. I do believe in that. I'm convinced I don't have cancer anymore, but maybe I should think more positively about chemo treatments. Instead of ruing the side effects, I should be glad that one more treatment is over and look toward the end. I feel so good right now that I can imagine the end.

And it feels good.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Off to Berlin

where I plan to eat boiled potatoes and Bratwurst (or Knackwurst: knock on noggin) and drink a couple of hausbiers (as Audrey instructed). And maybe they have something sweet that will taste good. I don't know nuthin' about Germany. (Though I've heard of Hitler and the trouble he caused.) So this will be an adventure.

I'm pretty much packed. Just need to gather what I want to take on the plane to read and eat. I'm sure I've packed too much stuff, but how do you know until you get there? Can't buy much because the dollar is 1.40 to their 1.00 (Euro) [or is the other way around.] Whatever. It's pitiful. Thanks Georgie for all you've done for our country.

I don't know whether I can post some photos from there. If I can, I will. Bob's taking his computer (of course; though he did talk of not taking it; Right, I thought). So if I can download photos, perhaps I can post a few.

I get to skip a chemo treatment. Hurray! I'll feel good for an extra week. I feel pretty good right now. Hurray!

Gespräch zu dir später (talk to you later).

Auf Wiedersehen

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm losing my eyelashes

I just know I am. Everybody says they can't tell. But when I wash my face at night or take a shower, I find stray eyelashes all over my face. I guess I'll take that over losing my hair, which I'm not. Well, maybe I am because I do find a lot of hair in the shower drain in the mornings. So I'm constantly cleaning that out. And I seem to find more strands on the floor after I dry my hair in the mornings. But it's not noticeable because my hair is so thick to begin with. And for that I am thankful.

I'm reading a little book I saw in Sundance catalog called Cowgirl Smarts: How to Rope a Kick-Ass Life, Life Lessons from Cowgirls Who Tamed the West. (How's that for not quite being able to decide on a title.) So far, I haven't really learned anything mind-boggling, life-changing, but it's a cute book and it describes the lives of some real-life (well, they're real-dead now) cowgirls who bucked male hegemony in their day. We do that more these days but probably not enough. It also makes me want to be a real cowgirl and go out West and ride the ponies. Better take some lessons first. The more I read these types of books, the more I think I'm a real cowgirl at heart. For example, she has 17 (why 17? I don't know) Cowgirl Creeds like:
"Dare to be a cowgirl,"
"Buck the rules" (I like that one),
"Stay balanced in the saddle,"
"Ride the trail of adventure,"
"Dress for success--the cowgirl way," (Yes!)
"Give others a leg up,"
"Always get back on the horse,"
"Recharge your cowgirl spirit," and
"Die with your boots on."

I hope I don't die, but if I do, I'll try to do it with my boots on. I felt a little like I was going to die after my last chemo treatment, but I feel pretty good now. So it's over. It's the chemo that gets me. I know in my heart I don't have cancer anymore, it's just this damned "extra insurance" as my doc calls it that's wearing me down. Making me mad. Keeping me from "Riding high in the saddle," (another cowgirl creed).

To make it through my next four treatments (I skip one next week; off to Berlin!), I'll have to pull from the book's Cowgirl Spirit Words and be "determined," "dauntless," and "spirited."

Maybe I should add a Cowgirl Creed:
"Lasso those eyelashes and hang on for dear life."

Friday, September 7, 2007

I'm here

in chair 11, waiting to get hooked up to chemo. I like this nurse I have today. Bess. She's quick and efficient. The nurses are all different here in the Loyola chemo ward. Some like to chat; some seem preoccupied; some get right down to business. Which is what I like. The sooner I get hooked up, the sooner I get out of here.

Today I was a little anxious about coming in because I know I'll feel icky for a few days. So I took a half-Valium and that seems to have helped. I got these Valium when I moved from Nashville to Chicago. I was stressed to the max. Bob was in India and I was trying to get us all packed up. I had to get rid of a ton of stuff, and I was quitting a job I had had for 18 years. My eyes were as big as saucers. Somebody in my office (Janet) told me to go to the doctor and get some Valium. So I did. Lo and behold he gave them to me. They have served me well lately, when I feel anxious before a chemo appointment. I wish I could get more. Everybody needs a stash of Valium for various reasons. Even to sleep well. Maybe I'll beg a new doctor for some.

I saw the doctor and when he asks about my symptoms, I always seem well. "You're good to go," he says, ushering me out of his office and into the chemo lobby waiting room. "But my nose drips, sometimes blood, and I can't taste anything," I wail. (not really wail). And he says that's common with F5U, one of my treatments. I don't have tingling in my fingers or toes or numbness in my limbs. None of the bad symptoms they look for. So I'm fine, good to go.

This is treatment No. 8 out of 12. I have three weeks until my next treatment because Bob and I are going to Berlin in a couple of weeks, right about the time my 9th treatment is due. So I'm really happy to have a week's reprieve. I might even be able to taste German sausage and potatoes. Won't that be exciting? Well, it will for me.

I meant to bring a camera today so I could take a few pictures of Chair 11 and the nurses, but I forgot.

Chemo fog.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tomorrow I voluntarily walk into

the torture chamber. I do not want to do it. I do not want to do it. But I will--calmly. And I will take the poke in my port with a good sense of humor. I'll hold my breath, allow the nurse to poke a three-inch needle into my body, and even smile, and say thank you.

Then I'll visit with the doctor who will tell me I'm doing just great. All my chemo symptoms are normal, to be expected. The drippy nose, the vacillation between constipation and diarrhea, the fact that I can't taste anything I put into my mouth (excepts sweets, which is fun, but not healthy), my extreme tiredness for the first few days after chemo and slight nausea. And I will be cleared to get more poison. To kill what? I don't know. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. These are the consequences I must endure if I hope to live a good, long life. And I do. Relatively long. I've always said 86 will be the age I die. That's fine with me. I have no need to make it to 90, especially if my bones only make it to 83 or 84. I want to live only as long as my body wants to live. No longer.

I do not sound much like a cowgirl. But I am. Because tomorrow I will mount my Honda and ride into battle.

Yee Haw.