Bits n Pieces

I haven’t blogged for a bit. Life is pretty much back to normal. We have had a few household projects, the main one being redoing my office. I should say transforming my former junk room into a workable office space. It was one of these rooms that anything I didn’t know what to do with would get dumped in.  I had one small bookcase groaning under piles of books and more piles in every corner.  This summer when we redid the bathroom we sacrificed the office closet and that left us with some extra wall space, which is now sporting new bookshelves. I spent all weekend sorting, dusting (good Lord where does it all come from?) and re shelving books by author and genre. I made room for some of my sister’s books as well (she got two whole shelves!) and even parted with a small stack of my own (baby steps… I have a hard time letting go of books). Found homes for all the assorted “stuff” and organized my workspace.  I now have a combination library/office and the best part is I actually had the energy to work for two days straight instead of a few hours at a time and then having to recuperate on the couch.  At my last oncology visit I was told the chemo was all out of my system and I’m finally starting to feel like that is true.  Just a little post chemo weirdness though.. my eyebrows fell out again.. not all of them, but they became noticeably thinner and now have returned. My eyelashes completely fell out twice since returning.  I wasn’t aware that could happen but a little googling tells me it’s not that unusual and it will likely happen a few more times.  My fingernails never peeled or got terribly discolored though  that is a pretty common side effect of the chemo I was on. I kept them short and with layers of polish to keep them strong. Now, however, I have white lines in all of them and one thumb nail looks bruised.  All of the nails are peeling but from underneath. As long as I keep them polished they look fine.

I just realized tomorrow is the anniversary of when I discovered the lump that got me into this mess.  Maybe I’ll bake a cake. Or have a drink to celebrate.  Actually I probably should celebrate the fact that I found it.  Or not.  Most likely, not.  My doctors haven’t use the words “cured”,  “cancer free” or “NED” (no evidence of disease). I’m not sure when or if I will ever hear those words before the 5 year mark (countdown started after I finished treatment and began Tamoxifen.. so five years from September, 2012).  I have my first post diagnosis mammogram scheduled for November 12. Maybe I can get a little Ned out of them then.  I am prepared to be told there are changes from last year. I should hope so considering I’ve had surgery and radiation since then. Unfortunately that won’t make it any less scary to hear, I’m afraid.  And if the radiologist utters those words, regardless of what the changes are my doctors are obligated to follow up with more tests and then I get to wait on results again. I’m starting to get that I won’t feel free of this for many, many years, if ever.

I am flying for the first time since surgery this upcoming weekend. In preparation I visited the Lymphadema Clinic and was fitted for a sleeve and glove.  My doctors never said much about the need for this but I requested a referral. I was sent to P.T. where I was told compressing the arm if I’m not already having trouble would cause more harm than good (makes sense). Since I had heard that women who previously had no problems did when flying I asked if I could have a sleeve just to bring along as insurance and promised I wouldn’t wear it unless I needed to.  The physical therapist agreed and set me up with the Clinic.  At the Clinic I was told I HAD to wear the sleeve when flying because once I had problems they wouldn’t go away.  She then proceeded to explain all about lymphadema.  Who needs that!?   I have had no problems at all, but I only had one lymph node removed and I’ve been pretty diligent about exercising the arm and following as many precautions as I can.

 
In other news, I’ve finally narrowed down my tattoo to 3 choices.  As of this weekend it was 4 but I decided against f*ck cancer in a fancy script.  As I’m going to be a grandmother, that would be unseemly.   I know I’m a bit off schedule having insisted I would get one before I turned 50, but I couldn’t commit.   I’ll be in Austin next week. Where better?

These are the 3 top contenders.

The forget me nots in honor of my sister.

This means Survivor (too cliché?)

Care to vote?

Speaking of voting… robocalls are the devil.  We have one registered Republican, two Democrats and an Independent at this address and we all voted early since we will be away on November 6. These calls are driving me batshit crazy!

Just had to get that out.

My dance card is filling up again.

So much for time off for good behavior!  Yesterday I had my port removed exactly one week after my last infusion. Apparently, that’s not the norm judging from the comments from the nurses and docs. Fortunately my oncologist was on board and agreed there was no reason to keep it any longer.  Today I meet with Radiation Oncology to set up the next course of treatment. I don’t think I get measured and tattooed today but I’m prepared just in case.  Afterwards we’ll do a little shopping. It’s a rainy day so no need to rush home. Next Monday I meet with the genetics counselor.  We haven’t made any travel plans for this summer since we don’t know exactly when my 6 weeks of radiation will start, but we are going to Boston for a weekend to visit our daughter and see Springsteen. Image That should be fun and I’m pretty sure I’ll be done with all of my cancer nonsense by then.   Speaking of nonsense, did you know they don’t recommend regular screening? Or at least not for me. No PET or CT scan.  So does that mean I never get to officially say I am cancer free?  hmmm.. not sure how I feel about that.  I’m going to address it again at my next follow up.  I’ve been pretty passive and agreeable so far. That could  change on a dime. 

Besides having cancer full time for the last 8 months we have been doing all the normal every day household stuff and are in the process of redoing our bathroom. They start next Tuesday!  Image  That’s what I see in my mind.. that will not be the reality, but I’m pretty happy with what we’ve chosen and it’s nice to have a project.  While planning this out all winter we acquired an antique clawfoot tub from the old family home.  It is a monster, weighs a ton!  We were planning to have it refinished but then decided to just go with a nice deep soaking tub Image.  There is nothing I love better than a nice long soak with bubbles and a book (which is why I will never fully commit to my Kindle).  Now we are faced with what to do with the tub in the garage. I’m thinking maybe filling it with flowers next year! Image

Back to getting tattooed.  I am pretty sure my port scar is permanent, having been cut twice in the same spot, so I’m thinking that would be a great place for a tattoo. How about this?  Image It’s the Chinese symbol for survivor. Whatever I end up with, it won’t be a pink ribbon!

The magic of ordinary days

This morning it looked like a fairyland outside. We had rain yesterday, along with snow and some sleet. This morning the trees were covered with ice and the sun was shining.

Too nice to stay put, so we went out for lunch (I had a gloriously greasy burger and fries without the usual side of guilt), did some shopping then went to see Liam Neeson’s latest movie, The Grey. It was awesome! Go see it!

Finally a trip to the book store where I cleaned house! I got 9 hardcovers and the most expensive thing was the tote I bought to carry them home in.

For the whole day I didn’t once think about cancer or treatments and I even managed to forget I was wearing a wig.  I should do this more often and there is no reason not to. Working at home has always been a bit isolating and even more so now.  Right after my treatments, even though I feel well most of the time, I don’t have to be anywhere and it seems prudent not to expose myself to the germy public in the days immediately following an infusion if I don’t have to.  Before I know it, a week has gone by and I haven’t left the house at all.  Then I have to force myself to.  I’m going to stop being so cautious and get out there more. If I get sick, I get sick.  Six months is too long to play hermit.

Today’s giggle:  I must have been on automatic pilot when I got ready to go out today.  I stepped out of the shower and saw that I had plugged in my curling iron.  I should put that away for now, along with the hairspray and gel.

Updating Netflix

When I first got my diagnosis I was about halfway through Season 1 of Breaking Bad, a story of a man diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer who starts manufacturing meth to make money to leave his family.  I finished seasons 1-3 and next in line was the entire series of Six Feet Under and I’ve just finished Season 2 with 3 more to go.  I had a glance at my queue this morning and after I finish this series, next in line is 50/50 and and waiting in the wings is Season 2 of the Big C and Season 4 of Breaking bad.  Do you sense a trend?  Interspersed among all the maudlin is a lot of comedy, admittedly mostly dark comedy, and some horror and adventure as well, but a whole lot of medical drama, cancer and death.  I’ve decided to offset the morbid viewing with reading only uplifting and funny books and have just started Cool, Calm and Contentious by Merrill Markoe.  Perhaps I’ll save Love Story for another time.