Shenanigans

Mar 21

Shenanigans

Last week my darling littlest girl managed to wind a round hairbrush up in her hair. I spent at least ten minutes trying to untangle it, and got about ten single strands of hair out during that time. How she got it so wound up in two directions is beyond me. The brush was seriously stuck. Greta was not a fan of the yanking, and I told her we would have to cut it out if we couldn’t pull it out. My girls both love (LOVE) hearing stories about ‘when they were little’, and I told Greta to remember this night because this is going to be a story that we are going to tell for years to come. Greta was immediately onboard with cutting it out and giggling about the situation; she shed no tears. Maren, knowing the butchery that was going to come with the scissors, couldn’t even watch. She had to go to her room because she didn’t want to make cringing faces in front of Greta as we cut. In the end, Greta has lost some serious hair on the right side of her head. We have taken the round brush and put it in a ziplock bag so that Greta can save it and tell the story. (I was tempted to throw it away, so this is my compromise.) The next morning we cleverly did a hairdo that disguised the damage, but she took it out at school so she could show all her friends the real deal. That’s G, though. She’s all about a good story and she has the confidence to pull it off. Earlier this month she wanted ‘hair like Rapunzel’, so this is a serious setback! Our favorite local hair salon, Lunatic Fringe, took care of us again–I can’t recommend them highly enough. I called on Saturday, they let us come right over, and we walked out with an adorable sassy bob complete with two temporary-colored ‘mermaid streaks’ framing her face. (Sorry, I didn’t get a picture; G has been sick and down for the count for a few days since.) Greta walked out with extra bounce in her step, and we definitely made lemonade out of lemons with this...

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The order of the day

Mar 07

I’m sitting in the chemo room at my non-regular chemo office.  One of my nurses from my regular office is “subbing” here today, and I’m telling everyone I’m VIP and I travel with my own nurse.  (I really, really love my medical team.)  It’s making them laugh.  Laughter is a good thing with which to travel. This morning Dr. Wonderful sent me next door for a quick MRI of my brain after I told him I have had two migraines this month (I had many migraines through my 20s, but not many in my 30s, especially the last few years.)  The MRI showed that my brain is completely clear of any suspicious activity, so that is a nice layer of peace-of-mind.  I love those super short “everything looks good” medically boring reports.  I appreciate Dr. Wonderful’s attention to detail and the effort he personally makes to get as much information as possible to navigate the best treatment plan. Currently my pre-meds are dripping in and I’ll start the new chemo as soon as those finish.  Each time I start a new drug I pray for God to bless it: for it to kill the cancer effectively and efficiently.  I’m also staying on Herceptin; I will get that every week also. This office doesn’t keep their blanket warmers very hot, but the recliners themselves have heated seats, so it’s definitely cozy.  The warm blankets are most definitely one of the big cancer perks.  That and the machine that makes the good crunchy ice. Thanks for all the encouraging messages I’ve gotten over the past twenty-four hours; I really appreciate all the well wishes, prayers and love.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: since my people are my world, the world is a beautiful place from where I sit. Today is a great day in Greta’s world because it’s chicken nugget Tuesday in the cafeteria AND she doesn’t know it but her glass-blowing aunt is surprising her at school to have lunch with her.  Greta is a big fan of chicken nuggets and her aunts.  I got a e-reminder to put more money in Greta’s school account so I logged in from the chemo chair (with, you know, an...

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Prayers for lymph nodes, please

Mar 06

I had my quarterly PET scan this morning. Today’s scan result showed that I have stable lung tumors, and continue to have no cancer in my liver or bones.  It also revealed, however, that there has been progression in my lymph nodes.  My cancer, for whatever reason, is continuing to (slowly) progress and grow in my lymphatic system, but – thankfully — it is not leap-frogging into my vital organs.  My cell search test (the one that checks for errant cancer cells floating in my bloodstream) was again “zero”, another sign of almost-stability. Dr. Wonderful’s assessment of this report is that we can be grateful that I do not have rampant cancer in the vital organs; if I did, I would almost certainly be symptomatic and we would have a boatload of problems to mitigate.  The fact that cancer is growing my lymph system is bad, but it poises us with “problems for the long haul, rather than problems for the short haul” in Dr. Wonderful’s words.  Clearly, it is high-five-worthy to have my oncologist still talking about the long-haul.  My overall synopsis of today is that it is ‘good bad news.’ The obvious bummer of today is: progression.  Progression is never good, never what we pray for, never what we wish. The silver linings of today are twofold: One, cancer is active only in my lymph nodes.  I can live for a long, long, long time in this state with cancer confined to these nodes.  I do not have cancer symptoms from these metastases; no bone pain, no liver complications, no impact on my lung capacity. Two, I am changing drugs.  The last drug, which I started in July 2016, was becoming increasingly difficult for me to tolerate.  For the month of February, I was spending more time in bed than I was spending out living my life.  I am thankful for that drug’s role in breaking and braking the cancer for the season, but I am also leaving it behind today with a nod of ‘good riddance’.  (For those of you who know my usual affinity for my cancer-killing drugs, you know how bad I was feeling for me to have a “good riddance” attitude towards this...

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Chemistry

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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Laughter

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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