Warning: rambling ahead

I haven’t written for a while. I think my last blog mentions hitting the halfway mark of my chemotherapy. Since then I have passed another halfway milestone. I’ve completed 6 of the 12 Taxol treatments.  While I have been saying all along that side effects are not mandatory and I had no intention of volunteering for any, I’ve kind of hit a bump in the road Image. And yes it feels as big as the obnoxious sign mid-sentence. Today was the first day in a week I’ve left the house aside from my weekly cocktails with the girls.  By cocktails I mean poison chemotherapy being pumped directly into my chest and by the girls I mean Dr. T and the awesome nurses at the center.  In the way of drinking pals I could probably do worse. However the cocktails suck and this is one major ass hangover. I still have no nausea or neuropathy. I have daily nosebleeds and numbness of my fingers that I am assured is not neuropathy because I can “shake it off”. However it is happening more and more frequently.  My hair continues to grow and is about 1/2 inch long now and starting to curl. Still no sign of eyelashes.  I kind of miss em but in the grand scheme of things.. meh.  What has left me housebound for a week is just being plain exhausted.  I swear I can feel my marrow moving thick and sluggish through my bones and my joints ache nearly constantly.  I have muscle pains and headaches but they come and go. Most of the time I feel like I am moving through mud.  I have some energy in the morning, so I do whatever computer work I have waiting, clean the house a bit and exercise (and yes,  remaining upright counts as exercise some days), shower, eat lunch and then at the time that I would be heading into town with whatever errands I have I end up lying down for “just a minute”.  If I’m lucky I wake up before the mister returns from work 5 hours later. I’m still waking up at 4 or 5 a.m. but instead of waking up to those crazy dreams I blogged about earlier, I’m up thinking about all the things I want to accomplish, but just can’t seem to get done.  It will all get done but unfortunately I don’t think I will be contributing too much to the effort and I hate that.  The effects of this treatment really are cumulative and I’ve gone from one day of recovery with the first one to not leaving the house for a week with the 6th. This wasn’t part of my plan. I was going to breeze through it. I guess it’s time for a new plan. This week I will be content to get in some pansies.  Image  If that’s all I end up planting this year, that’s enough.

Since I’ve been on house arrest I decided to catch up on some independent films I missed. Can I just say.. Tree of Life.. what? This is a movie you can nap through and really, it doesn’t matter.  For real. Image

I’ve seen a few other films but they were fairly underwhelming and hardly worth a mention.

In other news.. coupons.  Who doesn’t love a  good coupon? Last week I came across 4.00 off Claritin but I didn’t need any and am not sure how long I will be taking them so I very kindly left two coupons on top of the boxes for someone to use.  This week I noticed it was on sale and wouldn’t you know I’ve been using it daily. I thought about those coupons I had left. On a hunch I looked and they were still there. A week later! There are two things that make this worthy of a mention. First.. no one bought Claritin in a week? Or if they did they ignored the savings?  Two.. and this kind of grossed me out.. that shelf wasn’t touched in a week. This is an allergy med in the pharmacy department and no one dusted? Really? In a whole week?  That shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.  I wonder what other things have been deposited on those shelves and left to fester.  *shudder*.

My thoughts have been all over the place in this post, but I want to mention a little girl in our community who lost her battle with cancer this week. She was six years old and had faced many challenges since her birth. I didn’t know her, but I understand she loved all that was pink,  purple and princess related. If you pray, please send up a prayer for little Megan and her family.  Image Balloons optional.

Today my glass is half full.

I am normally a half full kind of person, though I definitely do have my half empty days. Don’t we all!   Yesterday marked the halfway point of my chemotherapy. I have completed 8 of my scheduled 16 rounds, 4 AC and 4 out of 12 Taxol.  I remain very lucky and grateful. My side effects are minimal. No neuropathy or nausea, some aches and pains that are easily taken care of with light exercise and a hot bath.  I’ve had to take nothing stronger than the occasional Tylenol.  I’ve even managed to keep a cold at bay so as to stay on track with treatments.  And.. my hair has been coming in since a week before my last AC treatment! I fully expected to lose it again on the Taxol, but that hasn’t been the case. It initially was snow white and now has some color, but not the color I was hoping for. It’s definitely gray.  But it is hair. And it is my hair.  I’ll take it and learn to dye love it.

I find myself feeling a little guilty these days at my good fortune. So many people at the cancer center look like they are not faring nearly so well with the side effects. Of course I don’t know what kind of cancer or what stage they are in but still… I wish I could share some of my luck with them.  Yesterday while waiting to be called back after my labs were drawn I met Boomer, the center’s therapy dog.  What a cutie!  He approached each and every patient and brought smiles to all, even some that were looking pretty down trodden up until that moment. My husband and I got a good laugh at the thought of one of our hooligans being therapy dogs.  It would certainly make it interesting for the staff!

Image

Clover and Comet

I was catching up on my reading of the many blogs I follow before posting and one made mention of making lemonade out of lemons. My comment was that I always have preferred to open a bottle of vodka and drink until the lemons are gone but in light of my newly (forced) healthier lifestyle I will give that lemonade thing a try. We’ll see how that pans out.

A fine line between educating yourself and making yourself crazy.

When I first found a lump, before I even saw my GP, I became a googling fool.  With each progressive test and referral it became a near obsession.  I’m sure I’m not unique in this. In fact, although I never mentioned my nocturnal forays into the darkest reaches of the internet to my doctors, they all said something to the effect of  “don’t spend all your time on the internet” “try to stick with sites that give accurate information” (I was given a pre approved list at this point) and later on.. “don’t listen to well meaning friends who have been through chemo. Their experience won’t necessarily be your’s” (and hasn’t that been the truth?!). But just like when a woman becomes pregnant for the first time and wants to immerse herself in stories of pregnancy, labor and motherhood.. you can’t always filter the information so all  you hear about  are the great experiences, perfect patient/doctor relationships, spouses and family that support without fail and happy endings.  Even while inwardly cringing and wondering at the motives of a person who will share tales of 36 hour labors, nurse Cratchets that took glee in their misery, babies who cried 24 hours a day for 2 years straight.. you still can’t help listening.  And researching. And comparing.  Since my diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and impending radiation I have clocked plenty of google time. I’m not sure why I continue to and what I expect to find today that I didn’t find last Thursday.  

This isn’t new behavior for me.  Even before I had access to the internet.   There was a time that I worked as a medical transcriptionist out of my home. I worked for many different disciplines, including cardiology, family medicine, obstetrics, ENT and later psychology and psychiatry.  When I started out I would recognize myself in the patient’s list of symptoms.  The more unusual and obscure the more likely I was to be experiencing the same thing.  I didn’t bother to see a physician regularly during this time.. I had the power to diagnose myself!  I would type along, anxious to get to the diagnostic part of the report and find out exactly what was wrong with me.  Of course nothing was wrong with me and I knew that, but it was easy at times to “go there”.  Compare yourself to someone else based on a handful of similarities.   If have the same diagnosis and treatment plan as another patient and she terribly sick with the chemo, will I be?  If I’m not does that mean the chemo isn’t working? What if it’s the wrong dose?   If someone with my exact diagnosis who did the same treatment has a recurrence 3 years down the road, is that my future?  Why is my hair coming back while still on chemo while someone else’s has made no appearance 3 months after stopping? I’m sure that means mine is going to fall out again, right?  

It’s honestly crazy making, but on the other hand, comforting in some way or we wouldn’t do it.  Btw.. I stopped trying to diagnose myself about the time I switched from medical to psychiatry.  Now I only diagnose friends and family.