Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too sick for chemo...

For anybody keeping tabs, round five of chemo was scheduled for tomorrow, but has been postponed due to me being too sick to party. The sick came on sudden-like during family dinner Friday night. Felt kind of like trying to give birth through your mouth. Over and over again. Won't go into any more detail than that, but it was so not fun.

Hasn't been as bad since, but hasn't been good either. The doctor didn't want to whack me with the chemo drugs while I'm in this condition. It's tentatively scheduled for Thursday.

On a cheerier note...this evening Daniel was talking about his dream job, which led to his dream car, which led to mention of an Audi. Brandon asked what an Audi is, and his dad said it's a sports car. To which Brandon replied, "So it's not a belly button?"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gym Class

You know the head school mistress in the movie 'Matilda'? The big lady with the big holler? That's how I remember my seventh and eighth grade gym teacher, Mrs. Burns. Granted, she was probably about 30 and 150 pounds, and maybe even she was really nice, but in my mind at the time, she was way too gargantuan and old to be bossing us around the way she did. There was no way she could do any of the stuff that she bellowed at us to do, and we resented the heck out of her for that.

One of the things I remember most is long-distance running. I don't know how big the grass field at the junior high was, it wasn't a standard football field, but I remember it being huge. I also don't know how many times we had to circle that field, but I do know it was more than should be expected of any human being. The first few times we had to do the long-distance thing, I held to the back, where I felt I belonged, and straggled in with the last few slow runners.

But a funny thing happened one day. I happened to be in a deep conversation with my good friend Lisa Sanchez. Lisa was a gymnast. Had aspirations of being in the Olympics some day. So Lisa didn't hang out in the back, she was right in front when Mrs. Burns bellowed 'Go'. And I was right there with her, carrying on that conversation. We stayed together for several laps, right in front, first and second place. Eventually Lisa apologized and pulled ahead. But there I was in second place. Second place. Me. Let me tell you, I have never placed in anything athletic wise. Nothing. Nada. It was an incredible feeling. I could feel that third place person on my back, and I pushed ahead. Funny how it's fine to be dead last, until you have a chance of actually placing. Then that's all that matters.

It turns out this was a huge calculated mistake, because it gave Mrs. Burns the mistaken impression that I was some kind of an athlete. She tortured me for the next two years, convinced I should be able make some kind of showing for myself. "Again! Do it again! I know you can do it!" And with each sprint or whatever, I wouldn't even place in the 'acceptable' range. Ah, the memories.

Anyway, back to this particular run, I pushed myself harder than I should have, trying to keep my second place position. Finally I had to relent to third, than fourth place, but I was determined to keep that position. Eventually I got to the point that I didn't think I could take another step, and Mrs. Burns called out "Just two more laps!"

I should have been relieved to hear there was an eventual end to this race, but instead I looked out at the field, which looked as big as the ocean, and thought 'Two more laps? Are you kidding me? I have to go around that field two more times?'

I did keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I did keep that fourth-place position. Mostly because every other girl in the class was content to be in the pack, far behind those that were pushing ahead. I dropped onto the grass afterwards, feeling my heart pound heavy in my chest, pretty confident that I'd never get up again. (Obviously I did, but it took a good, long time.)

I've thought of that run a lot this week. People keep saying, "Just two more rounds. Just two more rounds." And I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me? I have to do this two more times?"


Friday, January 22, 2010

Science Fair

My ten-year-old "actor-type person" son has been working on a science fair project for a couple months now, due today. Testing which size of propeller works best. He's worked diligently for days on the report and display board, with way less support than I suspect most fifth-graders get.

This morning I asked him if he knows what he's going to say for his oral report (I know, a little late. Shows just how much support he's gotten.)

He puffs out his chest and says in a big voice, "Ladies and Gentlemen, what we have sitting here before you will change your life." Then he laughs, and says, "Not really."

"What are you REALLY going to say?" I ask.

He then slumps his shoulders and begins quivering. "I'm s...s...o...n...n...ervous. I c...c...can't talk," he says in a timid little voice. Then he laughs.

"And what are you REALLY going to say?" Hands on shoulders, trying to look stern.

"Aw, don't worry about it. I'll think of something."

And that's where we left it. I can hardly wait till he gets home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Speaking of Tragedies...

Before I get to the story I want to tell, I'm pleased to report to those of you who have worried about me that I was able to make the transformation from slug to semi-human sometime over the weekend.

And again before I get to that story, I'm considering using the picture below as my Facebook pic. The one I have now just doesn't feel like the me I am right now. But my daughter tells me she'd be embarrassed. I'm still undecided. I mean, embarrassing teenagers is kind of a parent's job, isn't it? There is a reason for posting it here, however. And that's the story I've been talking about. And I know this'll be a shocker, but it's about hair. Again. Sorry. But at least this time it's about FACIAL hair. That's right - look, I still have mine! And that's what I'm worried about.

As you may know, Day Ten is the day that I have lost hair on each round of chemo. Last time it was just my nose hair. I don't have much left. Just those eyebrows and lashes. And I'm getting especially nervous. Which...finally...leads me to my story:

Until a couple months ago, if you had asked my opinion of my eyebrows, I would have told you they're bushy and out-of-control. I spent high school looking perpetually curious, because one brow was always arched higher than the other. The more I tried to fix it the worse it got. I eventually learned to ignore and tolerate them. Until I took that "Look Good, Feel Better Class." It's the one I talked about before that teaches cancer patients to make themselves look like hookers so they'll feel better about being bald. (No really, it's a great class that is offered free by the American Cancer Society, and has been proven to help women do better through treatment.)

Well, during the class, the cosmetologist started to teach about eyebrows, in case we had to draw ours on. She started to show how to find where to start drawing, but then she looked at me, and said, "Wait! These are perfect!" She then used my formerly unappreciated brow as the perfect specimen for all things brow-like. I was pretty floored. Especially when she said, "I hope you don't lose those. It would be a tragedy for all mankind if those brows fell out." Yep, you read that right. A TRAGEDY to ALL MANKIND! I must add that we were all kind of giddy with all the product fumes we'd been inhaling. But still...I'm thinking the world has had enough tragedy without adding one more to the mix.

But the story doesn't stop there. There's still the issue of my lashes. Now those I have appreciated. But not for a long while. Back in high school, when I was hating my brows, I was, I admit, lovin' the lashes. I remember being on a date once in the backseat of a car. Another boy and his date climbed in next to us, all cozy like. And the boy looked past his date to me and said, "Wow, look at those lashes." I felt the girl next to me get all tense and annoyed. And while I was embarrassed and felt bad for the girl, I mean--talk about a jerk--I was still feeling mighty proud of those lashes.

But eventually I had five gorgeous kids with five gorgeous sets of lashes, which at first I figured came from me. Until I realized that all the comments went something like: "Wow, look at those lashes. Did you get those from your dad?" At first I would be all defensive and say, "they came from both of us." But eventually I gave up and started using phrases like, "I USED to have really long lashes."

That all ended with my cosmetologist friend. After the great love-fest with my brows, it came time to put on mascara. It was a really great mascara that made my lashes look super long. And once again she stopped class to admire them. She said she has women come to her and pay big bucks for lash extensions, with the goal of making them look just like mine. I know that totally sounds like bragging. And normally I wouldn't dream of repeating something like that. But we are talking about all...MANKIND! (Her words, not mine.) So you see, it's not me I'm worried about. It's all mankind.

And seriously, as much as I'm appreciating my facial hair right now, I'd feel pretty stupid asking you to pray for it. But maybe it wouldn't be too much to ask you to send good vibes my way for the next couple of days?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Round Four, Day Four

So here's how today started: I hear my son preparing for school and think, "I'm going to get up now and say goodbye."

Five minutes later: "I"m going to get up now and say goodbye."

Five minutes later: "I'm going to get up now and say goodbye."

Five minutes later, he's gone.

"Okay, that's all right," I tell myself. "He knows I love him. He's a big kid. But I'm now going to get up and have some breakfast."

Five minutes later: "I'm really going to get up now and have some breakfast."

Five minutes later: "I'm definitely going to get up now and have some breakfast."

Five minutes later: "I'll settle for a drink of water from the cup on my nightstand."

Five minutes later: "I am going to roll over now and take a drink from the cup on my nightstand."

Five minutes later: "I am definitely going to roll over."

So I guess this is that fatigue they keep talking about.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More on the Keemo Party

I've got something to add to that party, which was fun and all. Wouldn't trade time with Kimi for the world. But this is so not cool.

If you know Kimi, lucky you. If you don't, you should. She is a very brave soul who keeps an entire blog dedicated to her most embarrassing moments. Some of which are guaranteed to have you holding your sides with laughter. Like the time she had the brilliant idea of putting a knit glove over a light bulb to diffuse the lighting where her precious little baby was sleeping. You can guess the ending, but it's way better when she tells it.

That story is besides my point though. My point is a three-part story she posted somewhat recently. A very brave story. I won't go into details, but I think it's part two that's called 'Me and the Pee'. And you can guess where that one goes too. This pee thing is a problem she's had since she was at least in high school. That's the earliest hysterical story I remember hearing about anyway. If you're interested, here's the link to part one of the story:

So Kimi, with her major bladder problem, comes to visit me this one time during chemo, and since arriving home I've sneezed about a hundred times, and changed my clothes...well, let's just say I'm going to have to do a load of laundry before I can change again. Coincidence? I think not.

My Keemo Chemo Party

Yeah, I know. Chemotherapy isn't exactly a party, but this was as close as it gets. My beautiful sister/niece (okay she's my niece, but I love her like a sis) volunteered to come keep me company. Believe it or not, she eats healthier than I do these days so she brought herself an ultra-bland salad, and my good hubby brought me a chicken/rice/veggie dish from Rumbies. I've managed to put on an extra NINE pounds since chemo started. I'm told to be happy I'm not wasting away, but happy is never a word I associate with weight gain.

But as for today's chemo, the fishies swam fast, their fastest yet. Just two more rounds to go. Feeling fine tonight, just waiting for the lovely smörgåsbord of side-effects to set in.

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Keems, Me, and my extra NINE pounds.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Feeling good for now

This is my good week. The one just before chemo. Monday I did (drum roll please) water aerobics! Yep, went to the gym and put on a little swim suit (no shaving needed thank you very much) and a little swim cap (as if I need it) and got into the pool. I didn't actually aerobic much, just ran back and forth in the water. But it felt good to be weightless for a while.

The whole locker room thing was kind of awkward though. I wore my winter cap there, then went into a dressing closet to change into the swim suit and cap. After the workout I got in the shower with the swim cap on, and wore a towel on my head (again as if I needed it) to the dressing closet to get dressed and put on my winter hat. That's where it got weird, cause then I had to put my makeup on in the big dressing area with a ski cap on. Could have planned that better. I considered just taking the stupid thing off, but there were about a dozen women there and it would have almost been like sitting there naked. The way the one senile lady with the glazed eyes does. Except worse. So I just ignored the confused glances and put my makeup.

Then yesterday I one-upped myself and went to a yoga class. Had to do it one armed, which is surprisingly difficult. (I kind of overdid with my right arm and they gave me some strict restrictions. Like stop using the arm.)

All those things are great, but I'm feeling anxious to just get to Monday and get the next round over with. Not that I look forward to feeling icky again, but I just want to be done. Done being a chemo patient. It somehow feels wrong to feel good while I'm in the middle of it. And yes, I know that doesn't make any sense. I should just be enjoying this week. But there it is. I want to be DONE!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More on the hair...of course

I don't know if any of you are getting tired of hearing about my hair. I know I am. But the topic seems to be front and center in my life right now. For a change, the latest doesn't involve my head hair. But I have to digress a sec to explain. On my first round of chemo, I lost about half my hair on day 10. The rest, or almost the rest, came on day 10 of round two. About 5% remained, leaving the equivalent of a bunch of 1/4" porcupine pokeys covering my scalp. Very flattering. But I'm told not to shave close, just in case I cut myself (chemo patients don't heal well.) So round three I was kind of watching for those final pokeys to come out. But do they? No, in fact after careful scrutiny I suspect they may actually be growing. What did come out is my nose hair. That's right. My NOSE hair. In case you ever wondered whether that hair is important, let me just tell you that it is...terribly...important. I'm considering investing in Kleenex stock. Or maybe wearing a bandana directly under my nose. Maybe a tissue attached to those lovely chains that grannies use to hold onto their spectacles. It's not like I need to worry about scaring people, given up on that. I need something however, because the drip is constant. Sigh.

It's all about the timing

So yesterday I half-jokingly post that maybe I'll settle for not scaring small animals as my latest goal. Not two hours later, my son's scout leader comes to the front door with a book he's supposed to work on. While she's at the door, her cute little dog--about the size of a rat--manages to roll down her car door window and jump out (the equivalent of 1000 foot drop to a human) then darted into the house, in an absolute frenzy. The embarrassed scout leader tried to pick him up, but he slipped away and headed into the living room, excitedly sniffing out our dog's living situation. I went after him while she explained the details of the book to Brandon. I'm here to say that no harm came to the little guy in the process. But it is fair to say I scared him plenty. Not sure how much lower I can set my expectations.

Monday, January 4, 2010

So much for goals...

Despite the timing, I'm not talking about the New Year's Resolutions I've broken, though I've already done that too.

No, I'm talking about the goal I mentioned a while back while trying to figure out what to do with my hair, or nonhair. How I just hoped to not scare young children. Seemed like I was setting my sights low enough.

Well, I answered the door the other day and discovered a little girl, about four, asking for her big brother, who was here playing with Brandon. And I could see it in her eyes. The 'That is one freaky lady and I wish I could run away but my feet seem to be glued to the ground' look. I reached up and realized that my around-the-house scarf was riding well above my ears.

So much for that goal. Maybe I ought to shoot for not scaring small animals.