Feb 13

“Sheesh, we are making you quite anemic with this chemo juju, aren’t we?” said my nurse today as she handed me the printout of my bloodwork.  The team takes my blood and checks my counts each week before they start administering my drugs.  I usually don’t give it more than a passing glance; they always tell me if there is something of note. “Yes — I’ve asked before, but is there anything I can proactively do to help with that?” I ask (again). “Nope.  You just need to make sure you take naps!” There you go, folks.  My official prescription from today’s nurse: nap on, warrior. It’s a good reminder for me: my blood chemistry is fighting against my normal-ness, and I need to remember that my exhaustion from, for example, bringing in groceries is not due to being out-of-shape.  It’s due to the fact that my red blood cells aren’t re-oxygenating my blood when I expend energy.  My blood chemistry is weakened to the point that it’s not supporting daily tasks very well.  Imagine holding your breath while you jogged to the mailbox and back to get the mail.  That winded, shaky feeling is how I feel when I go up stairs or walk briskly from parking lot to store (as I do in wintertime!).  Reminding myself that this is not motivation/will/gumption issue, but rather a biological reality helps me to be okay with my limitations. It’s been a while since my last scan; my next one is next month for those of you who are wondering.  Please pray that my miracle would continue to grow, and that I would have regression (less cancer, smaller tumors)! This morning I woke up and found the girls snuggled together in Maren’s bed.  They both still had sleepy eyes, and I’m glad that they find each other when they wake up on the mornings they don’t track me down.  I gave them a taste of their own medicine and wriggled myself into the middle of them whilst making sure to leverage my knees and elbows into their squishy parts as they do to me when they climb in my bed in the early morn.  It’s good to start the day with giggles.  Much...

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Jan 30

Brad just came in, looked at me, and started laughing. This happens a lot to us — in both directions. One of us is usually laughing at the other. It is a mark of a good marriage, no? I am sitting on my bed, knees up, with a tiny Bluetooth keyboard on my legs and my phone propped on top of it while I type.  It’s awkward: awkward-looking and awkward-functioning.  I’ve been computer-less for the past week-plus, and I’m so writing-starved I’ve resorted to this ridiculous set-up.  He was right to laugh. It was so funny to him that he felt the need to take a photo of me.  And him pointing it out was enough for me to laugh at the ridiculousness of it too.  Until then I just thought I was being resourceful; inventive, even.  We both belly laughed as I filled him in on my day.  A good laugh heals so many things.  I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. I’ve socialized more with Apple Genius’ than I have anyone else this week, and there are a good half-dozen with whom I’m now on a first name basis.  We high-five.  We’re friends.  I kind of feel like the cool kid at school except I’m actually the hot mess at the Apple Genius Bar.  Doh.  I’ve made three trips to the store and my computer is spending the night there for the second time in a week.  They should really serve beer at that bar.  For the record, the team there has been above-and-beyond with trying to get me back in the game. There’s a long version and a short version for what is going on, neither of which is very interesting. The analogy one of the Genius’ gave me is that my computer is like a Volkswagon Beetle and it’s currently carrying the load of a pick-up truck. It’s not happy. The Apple people are helping me to restructure the load so that my VW can putter along, but it’s capacity has been met. Doh.  Luckily I am remembering that this is not a real problem; it will be fine. Meanwhile, I’ve got my silly little phone/keyboard combo going tonight so I can...

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Weekend Warrior

Jan 24

On my way through the store today to return pants for Greta, who has grown out of ALL of her fall/autumn pants (!), I spotted a shirt with Weekend Warrior emblazoned on the front.  That’s a good description of these days.  And, spoiler alert, Greta chose to keep the pants that had some sort of bling, sparkle, or pattern.  This girl lives big in all she does. I’ve lost track of how many different chemotherapy drugs I’ve been on, but it’s more than a half-dozen or so.  Each drug is (surprisingly) different in it’s behavior within my body and the side effects it produces.  This drug, which I’ve been on since August, hits me within hours of leaving the chemo chair; it’s an almost-immediate impact.  Most Monday evenings, I end up feeling like I have the flu.  That feeling lasts for a couple of days, and I spend most of those days resting, sleeping, or engaged in relatively sedentary things because moving hurts–just like your body hurts when you have the flu.  By Friday, the acute side effects have worn off, and — while I’m still tired, achey, and recovering — a nap becomes optional instead of a necessity.  Saturday and Sunday — the days that Brad, Maren and Greta are home from work and school — are my best days of the week.  It’s a wonderful schedule in that regard. I’ve been on this protocol since August, and my last dose of hair-killing chemo was in July.  I’ve officially had one haircut (at my favorite salon: Lunatic Fringe–shout out to my locals!) and will need another soon.  Maren and I downloaded the Bitmoji app this weekend (which allows you to create an animated caricature of yourself that you can then use when texting, etc.)  It was fun to make a “Jen” at this moment in time: a strawberry blonde spikey pixie hair style.  I was also pleased to see that there was a ‘bald’ option in the Bitmoji app; they also allow you to add wrinkles, choose your body size, and other specific features.  It was both fun and representative of most of the population. The match-up of my starting a chemo drug that sucks much of my energy with both...

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I prefer saltwater

Jan 09

It’s been long enough since my last blog post that I’m starting to get real-life phone calls, texts, and questions about how I’m doing. Not to worry, I’ve mostly just been busy.  Thanks for the love! I’ve had some yin and yang over the past few weeks.  My last blog post talked about The Gift Quest 2017, where I sought and secured a Christmas item for Maren; the exchange for said item (after it traveled via airplane from Washington DC in my friend’s niece’s suitcase) took place Christmas Eve in the UDF parking lot by my house. Christmas itself was awesome.  Maren — whose excitement is usually measured by the depth of her dimple rather than emotive displays — jumped up and down and twirled and fell on the ground with excitement when she opened her longed-for treasure.  I got her reaction on video and it will be a precious stand-out moment of her childhood.  So sweet.  Greta opened a special treasure too, and her reaction was no less adorable.  Their sisterly bond as they play together is fantastic.  I felt loved and known by the thoughtful gifts I received and I so enjoyed it all. One of my favorite revelations was Greta’s cries of, “I knew you’d get it!  I knew you’d get it Maren!” as Maren opened her surprise gift.  Apparently Maren confided in Greta weeks and weeks ago that this was the thing she really wanted, but made Greta promise not to tell.  Greta didn’t tell — she kept her sister promise — but she said she prayed, and prayed, and prayed Maren would get it.  Not to worry — in true five-year-old form, she also prayed for her own much-wished for gift.  Greta never lacked confidence that her wishes would come true; Greta never lacks confidence.  It is really sweet to me how the girls clearly have their own relationship that is separate from us; I’m so glad they have each other. Right away after Christmas, we were set to jettison to Virginia to spend the week between Christmas and New Year celebrating with Brad’s family.  I went down (hard) with the flu on Christmas night and literally slept on the bathroom floor.  Our 7:00am departure...

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Gift questing

Dec 21

It’s December 21st, people.  December twenty-first.  (This becomes meaningful later in the post.) As I listen to my parents reflect upon my childhood Christmas’s, we all laugh about what they remember.  When I was very little we would pack up and drive to my dad’s family in Westlake, Ohio.  One year, according to the telling of the tale, my dad basically dropped his four girls off at Grandma’s house and then spent the next three days driving to every toy store in the region in search of a My Little Pony Beauty Parlor Salon.  He finally spotted one (that they didn’t know they had) waaaaay up high on a top rack, and that was the gift that got opened under our tree that year.  A particular Fisher Price village one year.  Another year, Cabbage Patch was the rage: I think Mom and Dad had help from a superior shopper to secure those.  I opened up the first Nintendo one year when I also awoke with the flu; I remember playing Duck Hunt while laying horizontal with my head on the pillow because I felt terrible but was also excited about my gift. Gift quests — the hunt for the one thing your child wants — are like a parenting right-of-passage, I think. Except, in my era of clickity-click, the quest doesn’t require nearly as much effort as it seemed to for parents raising children in the 80s.  I imagine my dad driving from store to store and am still humbled by the love that shows.  Remember?  I’m a gifter.  Gifts speak deep to my heart on many levels. Greta is five.  She wants All The Things.  We don’t get many catalogues, but the ones we do get are circled with over ninety-eight percent of the items with big ‘G’s on them.  She’s more toy-of-the-day type… her interests are creative and ever-changing and fanciful and whimsical.  She’s easy to delight.  She has told everyone who asks her what she wants for Christmas in specific detail, though she’s not very consistent in her answer.  Like I said, her interests are always evolving; one day her homemade box creation is a puppet show theater, the next day it’s a space ship. Maren...

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