Saturday, March 29, 2008
Pix to follow.
Meanwhile, although dispeptic as hell, I'm hanging tough post-chemo #2. When I get past Monday (the day I got admitted after chemo #1) I will be one very relieved bald woman. Until then, I'm sleeping a lot and nursing my tummy. Thank heavens for pharmaceuticals. In the meantime, the thought for the day is: I AM HALF-WAY DONE WITH MY CHEMO!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Yep, the doc kicked the tires and checked the oil yesterday and all is well. He says I should eat whatever I want to eat and was amused to discover a lot of what I'm craving is veggies and LENTILS. Lentils? He said in all his years of practice he'd never heard THAT one before.
Anyway, I guess it's better than craving hot fudge sundaes all the time-- I'd just as soon not come out of this bald AND resembling a large marine mammal.
So. Here's hoping I am not hospital-bound again. I HAVE packed a bag this time, just in case. Lots of clean undies and shirts and plenty of girlie lotions and potions PLUS a dang pillow. Those hospital pillows suck rocks. And nail clippers. Who'da thunk you couldn't clip a hangnail in a hospital? Good grief.
Anyway, chemo is at 2 pm tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed for me!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Oh, and while mourning the onset of baldness, I happened to rub one of my arms, only to discover that somehow my arm hair had sneaked away in the middle of the night. You know that little peach fuzz gals get? Gone. Yesterday it was there, this evening? none. Probably rubbed off on my bath towel! What a shock that was.
So. Any hopes I had of maybe keeping my stubble (the Britney look) are pretty much dashed. But, as Fred pointed out, I'll be ready for my Cards temp tattoos just in time for the Home Opener!
But if you happen to be in a praying mood, please petition anyone to whom you pray for my eyebrows. I would really, really like to keep them.
Pre-chemo appointments with the oncologist and geneticist tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Several hours later:
Okay, now we DO have a cafe press shop. I think we make about $1 on each purchase so we're not getting rich or anything, but it was BIG fun making the designs. And I'm planning on buying a hat to keep my head warm! But I think the products are less expensive than the other place AND you can get different stuff-- magnets, hats or whatever-- they say either Team Rosenberger or Team Hegemom. Goofy, perhaps, but I think they're a hoot!
Here's the shop link: http://www.cafepress.com/hegemom_shop
No pressure! Just me having fun!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Me, I'm well. Although I have acquired the distinct habit of "powering down" at improbable moments. For example, we were moving furniture around. Not hefting large objects, mind you. Just pushing a lightly-built loveseat, for example. Moving the legs of a disassembled table. Nothing too strenuous.
Suddenly, I felt the need to sit down. Not dizziness. Not nausea. I just ran out of gas.
I sat down in front of the Cards - Mets pre-season game and was asleep before I knew it. And falling asleep in front of Cardinals baseball is NOT typical of me, I assure you.
It is just the weirdest feeling.
In other cancer news, I have not lost any of the stubble on my head BUT I'm finding very little need to shave my legs and underarms. THIS is a MARVELOUS development in my book! Almost makes chemo seem less than crappy.
Speaking of which, my next chemo infusion is this coming Friday. And if you think, after my last go-round, that I am not nervous, you are wrong. They are not entirely sure what landed me in the hospital last time, so they cannot entirely assure me that it will not happen again. Not a particularly confidence-inspiring set of circumstances.
However, I've been on ulcer-healing drugs since I was admitted to the hospital and, so long as I stick to veggies and bland foods, my stomach is perfectly cooperative, so I'm cautiously optimistic. But don't feed me anything fried or spicy; I am not fit company when my belly aches. And tragically, chocolate is out of the question. Oh, the horror!
Wednesday is the day I go in for blood tests and so forth so the doc can make sure I'm healthy enough to poison again on Friday. I will also meet with my geneticist to see if there are any further operations the docs recommend. Very complicated stuff. Will, as Fred likes to say, burn that bridge when I come to it.
Until then, lots of impromptu naps. Glad Liv hasn't taken it into her head to decorate mama while she sleeps!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Okay, the eggs are stuffed, none got dyed (I napped for like 5 hours today-- oy!), and the Easter bonnet is decorated and clothes laid out. (Thanks, Katie!) El Freddo will get up in the early a.m., per his usual, and scatter eggs, probably in a snow shower. I have visions of Liv in her Easter dress, bonnet and big, black wellie rain boots.
The dress came with a matching dress for Liv's bear, inevitably named either Nina or Lula. All stuffed critters are named Nina or Lula in this house. They're sort of interchangeable. Anyway, I decorated the bonnet as I always do and, in a clutch find, managed matching gloves. None of the Easter decorations are out, but I'm figuring I get a pass this year. Or I'm going straight to h*ll for being a lousy mom; one of the two.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I called before I came over to pick up Miss Livi; her Most Imperial Majesty did not wish to speak to me, she was having too much fun. When I arrived, dear, brave Carolyn had gotten out one of her sets of china and was letting Livi pour tea. Yes, real tea, real china.
I'd have to say this probably means Carolyn is a better person than I am. Actually, since I've know her for 20+ years I think I am qualified to say that Carolyn is DEFINITELY a kinder person and almost certainly a cooler mother than I am. I am fairly sure that Liv will not be allowed to touch my wedding china (except at holiday dinners) until she inherits it!
Gotta give props to Carolyn. She rocks.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Let me just say, it's really sort of stressful not looking like yourself. Wearing wigs that are darker than my hair, thicker, styled differently, whatever, is very strange. What is even more strange is that I am totally more comfortable going around bald or in a bandanna than I am in a wig. Weird, no?
I went to the grocery today after the gym (YES! I went to WATER AEROBICS today!!). I wore just a bandanna on my head and was totally comfortable. Even comfortable with the stares I got. But wearing a wig? I sort of worry that I look "wiggy." I guess I'm just really super comfortable in my own skin, not so much in synthetic "skin."
Anyway, I am resolved that I'm going to wear some of these wigs though. It'll be fun. I'll just have to actually wear some war paint makeup to compensate for the fancy hair. (It's sort of like I'm going to have to learn to "own" the new look, you know?)
Oh, and the new wig? Super short like my own hair, just blonder. I took scissors to the front of the wig to make the bangs look all spiky and funky like my organic ones and-- voila -- a wig I want to wear. And no, I was NOT about to pay a hair stylist $50 or whatever to style it. It's a wig for gawd's sake!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Well, I read Barack Obama's speech today. I think he's giving Mr. Sorkin a run for his money.
Monday, March 17, 2008
These are some really old pictures I came across today.
Livi pulled out a box I didn't realize was in her playroom and-- voila! -- it was time for show and tell.Let's see...the photos of me in Juvenile court would've been in the early 90s.
The photo of me before the Bar exam would've been 1991 at one of the awful Chinese restaurants in Jefferson City. I think this was taken the night between the two days of the Bar. So it would've been right before I went back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep before we took the multiple choice section the next morning.
The photos at the zoo would've been mid-90s, I think. I was a trainer back then. If you look at the picture of me with no makeup and a cup of coffee, you'll see what I mean about doing a LOT of aerobics. I keep telling you guys I was really, really crazy thin back then. Here's proof.
And how 'bout that photo in front of "The Living Seas?" That ride doesn't even exist at Epcot anymore; it's now the Nemo ride.
As for the wineries, me and Jackie cooking and me at the Lake-- how 'bout that blonde, blonde hair, huh? (Jeffe-- remember that trip? Remember the guy running into the dock?)
Wow. Long time ago.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
My nurses were, generally, a nice bunch if a little strange around the edges. Certainly the job of a nurse on a medical-oncology floor will make for some strange circumstances.
Medical-oncology is a floor where, of course, they put cancer patients. But they also put the Heinz 57 of whatever comes in the door and doesn't have another clearly-defined category of floor on which they belong. For example, there was one patient, the sex of which I could not determine, who, in a thick, Southernish accent, drawled "Help" every 7 or so seconds throughout the first 24 hours of my stay. Frankly, with the thick drawl, it could've been "hep" or "hemp" or any number of words, but I'm going with "help," since it seems to make the most sense.
That was absolutely the only word this patient could say. Seriously. His/ her discharge day was a happy one for me.
But I am jumping ahead. At one point at about 2 in the morning, this monosyllabic patient, whose wits were clearly no longer with him /her, got in trouble for grabbing or hitting a nurse. As tempers flared, the patient could only repeat the same syllable, only louder. Same intonation. Security was called, there was a lot of fuss, reports made, and still, the poor critter only intoned the word "help" over and over.
Then there was the gal who sounded like she was a cat trying to forcibly expel a hairball. For TWO FULL DAYS. Wraaaaah! Aaaach! Hhhha! quoth she, pretty much every five minutes. Probably could've timed my watch by her. Of course, being pretty heavily sedated, I was not nearly as bothered by any of this as you might expect.
Me, I was lucky. I had a sweet fluffy bird of a 71 year old roomie. She, accompanied by her courtly, polite, caring husband on their yearly snowbird visit to Florida and a cruise, had fallen ill and no one could figure out what ailed her. But despite her great discomfort, she was pleasant company and we told a lot of funny stories to pass the time. I hope she's doing well. She's a great little spitfire. We had a relationship partly of mutual envy; she envied my blood oxygen counts; I coveted her solid food. I actually miss her.
There were, of course, some pretty bad things that happened: one night, rather than take the time to move my IV which, since it had been put in the crook of my arm, got occluded ever time I fell asleep and bent it, a nurse sedated me into complete immobility. Never mind that I slept well. I think she gave me every pain pill and sedative in the box just to keep me still.
And then there is the fact that, since doctors often arrive for "rounds" at something like 6 am, nurses begin to prepare by prepping their patients around 4:30 a.m. This involves full noise and turning on of retina-scorching overhead lights. Neither my roomie nor I slept past 4:30 a single night we were there. Hospitals are NOT a great place to get a good night's sleep, let me tell you. Even when the nurses are not waking you at 4:30, nurses assistants (or at least mine) are occasionally giggly girls barely into their 20s who, true to their nature, are a puppyish bunch of happy, noisy creatures. Cute, but prone to causing quite a bit of noise on their progress through our rooms.
And did I mention there are vampires? Truly, there is a group of odd folks who, sometime around midnight, appear in your room and demand an arm for a blood sample. After my second or third day, I managed to fling up an arm for "taste-testing" without actually opening my eyes or even fully waking up. Not being needle-phobic is a good thing if you're going to be in a hospital.
In short, it was a deeply weird experience full of both funny and awful things. I'd have to say, on balance, I perhaps understand the state of mind of our prison population a little bit better this week than I would otherwise. You move from your normal, familiar identity suddenly and completely, into the patient-in-captivity and subject to the routines of others, completely dependent on strangers in a very profound way almost immediately. Your sense of self disappears quicker than you'd ever suspect.
Surreal doesn't even begin to cover it.
Friday, March 14, 2008
However, my doctor has assured me that if I do not drink enough water he will stuff my a$$ right back in the hospital, so I am dutifully walking around with my BJC Healthcare 30 oz sippy cup always within arm's reach. I'm tellin' ya; the next time I want to end up in a hospital, it's going to be because I fell off a horse or wiped out skiiing. This disease crap rots.
Don't ask me how, but I can tell my hair is about to go pretty soon, so I'm whipping out the pink hair spray and kiddo scissors for Olivia this weekend-- so you've got that to look forward to, photowise. The actual shaving I think I'll leave to Great Clips or someone with a razor that has not, as ours, been used primarily for shaving the North ends of Southbound chihuahuas.
Call me picky.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
It's been a long, strange trip which, this morning, journeyed down my esophageal tract to take a peek at all the trouble. Turns out there really isn't much going on down there. A bit of irritation. But NO cancer. NO gall stones. NO major ulcer. (a modest one which probably isn't big enough to account for the hospitalization all by itself, but still counts as a stress-related ulcer)
So the good news is they don't have to take anything out of me or, for the most part, put anything in. A little Nexium. That's about it.
That's it. I get to go home. I get to start my next chemo at the end of the month, by which time I should be bald as a cue ball. (Yes, there will be photos.) We're hoping there will be no further stomach troubles and will be medicating accordingly. Will that work? Hoping so. Don't really know. It's an adventure, right? At least I know what chemo's NOT supposed to feel like.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I had a portable IV pump with 4 hours on it, a bag of saline with 6, a sunny day and an elevator.
Five minutes later I called El Freddo and told him I was out the door and headin' for Ballas Road.
It is amazing the number of people that stopped and laughed with me-- I was absolutely chortling with joy in my escape. A lot of folks admired the little Easter egg Livi got me in the gift store that's hanging from my IV stand. Many encouraged me to run.
If you've come late to the story, here's the upshot: I ended up in the ER Monday night and they've yet to release me! The claim is pancreatitis, but I'm thinking they're keeping me for the sheer fun of it. Watching me surf past Fox News several times a day has got to provide some jollies on the nursing floor.
Anyway. The thinking is, strangely, that this condition is probably not cancer or chemo-related. No, it's not pancreatic cancer. Yes, I might have gall stones. Blech.
So I'm trapped for the time being. Perhaps one of you would be so kind as to smuggle in a file in some baked goods?
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Good grief, my appetite is back, I'm not asleep and things seem to be going pretty well.
Here we are at the food court at the mall having just taken Liv's pic with the Bunny. I'm also doing a "dry run" with one of the new wigs. Turned out okay, methinks.
Although, of course, VAST donations would be appreciated, but whatever you can give would be nifty. She is doing this out of the goodness of her heart, because she's a true believer, and a really really good person. If she doesn't get $2000 in pledges (she is at 62% which is pretty awe-inspiring since the walk is not for a while yet--November, I think?), she has agreed to make up the balance out of her OWN POCKET.) So let's not let her do that. I donated, and I'm paying medical bills. Every dollar counts.
Okay, noodgnik lecture over. Thanks for listening and, maybe, for throwing a bit of cash her way. And if you can't donate, of course, send her some warm, fuzzy thoughts for being such a GREAT person. She really is.
And I believe I am.
The sun is shining, I'm drinking coffee and I slept well. How 'bout that? I think I might survive the TREATMENT for this awful disease! heh. Not much doubt in my mind about beating cancer's a$$ (refer to title of blog), but the treatment is a whole different matter. That stuff can kill ya!
Oh, and here's a weird little side effect. Has anyone heard of "chemo brain?" Well, it's if you google it, it explains how chemotherapy sort of scrambles your brains for a while. And it has. The ODDEST side effect is that I have to really work to type out words correctly. This post, is taking me twice as long as usual, because I have to make so many corrections. Either the spelling of words I can actually spell comes out all wrong or I start typing words I didn't mean to type. VERY surreal.
That and it's not terribly easy to read books in bed, which is my obsession. Thank goodness for iTunes and downloadable books. I've been listening to Julia Sweeney's book about Chinese adoption for a couple of days and it's hilarious. I must say though, iPod ear buds STILL suck.
I've downloaded 3:10 to Yuma and will be eyeballing more soon.
I told you-- technological entertainment is the key to undergoing cancer treatment!
Oh, and, needless, to say, el Freddo was right at my side throughout the seriously traumatic first treatment, holding my hand (getting his bones crunched in the process, I suspect), feeding me chocolate, fetching me water, walking me to the potty (my but I was a glamorous site, I'm sure, all pale, bedraggled, and trailing wires and electronic drip thingies. Yuck.
AND my adorable M2, my dear, beloved BC mentor met me at the infusion center, introduced me around and brought that wonderful, lifesaving chocolate as well as big warm hugs. I can't think when I've been happier to see anyone's sweet face! M2-- I just love you!!
So. It's a new day today. You probably won't find me on a treadmill today, but I wouldn't put water aerobics out of the picture for, say, Wednesday.... :-)
Saturday, March 8, 2008
(second from left)But I'm still in there swingin'. What more could La Russa ask?
Friday, March 7, 2008
Drugged up on tons of prescriptions they gave me. Headache to beat the band. Faintly nauseous, but then again, only faintly conscious.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I had calls from two separate researchers, a nurse, a doctor's office, a laboratory on behalf of an insurance company (I didn't entirely understand that, either), and probably a half-dozen other healthcare providers who will now probably be pissed because I didn't write down whatever they told me on the phone. I sure as heck don't remember everything everyone said to me today.
Boy am I ever glad el Freddo is going with me to chemo on Friday. I managed to write down what I had to bring with me when the nurse called me today, but damned if I think I'll actually remember any of the 800+ instructions it sounds like they'll be giving me when I get there.
I remember one researcher today said that on Friday I was to 1) go to the cancer center; 2) go to the lab; 3) see him at one of those places; 4) get a pregnancy test.
He really failed to see the humor when I started giggling on the phone; me, the middle-aged mother of an adopted daughter. It's all right there in the paperwork in front of you. Hello?
I've noticed many healthcare types have a distinct humor deficit. No offense meant, of course. But either cancer entirely took away my "funny," or these guys are about as far from a laugh riot as you can get and still be in the same room with them.
So. Back to that poor researcher who told me I'd need a pregnancy test. Apparently, for his study, I had to also get a pelvic exam before I could be "randomized" into his study. I made an appointment while I was still in the cancer center with him so that he knew for sure when I was going. He then stressed repeatedly that I was to call him IMMEDIATELY when the pelvic was done until, finally, I inquired, "May I wait until my feet are out of the stirrups to call you?"
I thought the boy was going to pass out.
Anyhow, the plan is, I'm going to chemo on Friday, they're going to take LOTS of my blood for any number of nefarious purposes and replace it with poison, sedatives, and anti-nausea drugs.
Yep. Twice in the span of less than seven days I have seriously dinged the front bumper in what was formerly known as "the beautiful red minivan." Now I think maybe it's the dinged-up (dingy?) red minivan.
Last week I hit the side of our garage while pulling in. Today, I scraped someone in the parking lot.
Great. Turned it in to my insurance and felt like a moron.
Well, the only good news was I found that, despite the size of my big, giant head, I can, in fact, wear regularly-sized bandanas. So I got that going for me, which is nice. Other than that? Zip. I think I'd like to go hide in my room now and possibly never come out again.
(Image courtesy of Veoh.com; ouch!)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Good to know.
Anyway, I think we're getting this wig thing under control. If you already looked at the pix of the first wig, look again. I changed the pix after letting the wig "relax" overnight.
So...now a chemo bandana. Whattya' think?
I swear it's hard to wear a wig, folks. I can't get past the idea that I'm wearing a toupee. heh. Can't help it.
Nonetheless, once I play around with this some more-- maybe find some wig "gel" and whatever other products are available-- I'll be satisfied with it. The bangs aren't "piecy" enough and it's flatter than I usually wear my hair, so adjustments must be made!
Ah, the life of a fashionista cancer patient...
Monday, March 3, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Okay, well maybe I'll behave myself more when I'm on chemo and throwing up a lot. But for right now I'm feeling like a million damn dollars.
I got the okay from my surgeon yesterday and the stamp of approval from my oncologist. Both of them say I'm as healthy as a horse. (Well, a horse with an excised tumor, anyway!) So, since my wounds are healing up very nicely and I'm not really sore, I helped el Freddo put up the screen on the new trampoline so Liv could go play.
As you see, I couldn't resist playing a little bit, myself. No dignity, whatsoever. Just having a ball! Liv, too. Considering her favorite things in the world are bouncing and making a lot of noise, this is the PERFECT gift for her!