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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

no such thing as a quick fix

Mom, Me, Scott at my last hospital stay--they are rubbing my legs because of the severe bone pain

Well I am back on the westside after spending a wonderful holiday in Okanogan at my moms.  I was able to see friends and family (though kept small) and I am warn out.  I can't believe how tired I am, just from talking.........it has been awhile since I felt like gabbing so it is a good thing, but now that I am back home my body seems to be turning on me once again.  I am getting pretty sick of it, so sick I am just brought to tears because I no longer know the rhythm of my body and am unsure of what is going on. 

the nurse made great hot packs for my shin pain

I have finished chemo, so I begin Herceptin next Friday.  I know my body is detoxing and getting ready to function without chemo, but it is lagging in the process.  I have moved from having diarrhea to "normal" poop (something that should be celebrated, especially if you are plagued with chemo diarrhea) but now am beginning to bleed........I know that is too much information but it is what is happening, this is a blog about what is happening, so learn to roll with the punches here readers.  I had to cancel a prior colonoscopy because my platelets were too low, as a result I know have to wait until the end of January to have another one---------fuck.  Too long to wait. I have an oncology appointment tomorrow so I will be seeing if they can pull some strings and get me in earlier.  I can't live like this for an entire month.  I feel like a little kid who gets constipated and is scared of the toilet---it is a bad "Look Who's Talking" toilet monster movie...................................and I am 27.


Despite the #2 set back I am feeling better. I have manged to stay out of the ER for a week so I am taking the small victories.  My body is aching: my wrists, ankles, and knees are so sore by the end of the day I am reaching for pain medication.  It is hard for people to understand what I mean when I say "I just hurt."  I know prior to this experience I wouldn't have.  My body just hurts now..............imagine how hard daily things would be if your body just hurt. If going to take a shower was all you could do because afterwards your body hurts so bad you can barely sit up and make conversation.  Everytime you blow your nose it is bloody.  You want to smile but it hurts....I think you get the idea here.  My life has definitely changed and my body is learning to heal.........slowly.

fell asleep while eating, spilt soup--too many meds

 New year, new you..............that saying has never been so true in my case.  I am looking forward to 2011, even for the mere fact that I won't have chemo scheduled.  I know I am not feeling up to a big celebration, but internally I will be.  When I even think of waking up and not hurting (both physically and mentally) I cry.  I would give anything to wake up and feel like sitting and having coffee with Scott, feel like making a meal, like going to work, like walking around the fucking block.  I feel restricted by the steroid weight gain and am sure that is part of why I hurt so bad---I lost my breasts and gained a belly---my legs are probably really confused.  The last thing I want is pity, I just want people to understand how hard it is to live a "normal" life--and how much I want it back. 
 

Scott slept on the floor.....in a hospital.....that's love.
I feel like I have been tricked...........done with chemo (celebration), then forced to look at the reality of what building my life back up will require and there are many times during each day that I think it will be too much for me to handle.  I don't know if I will be strong enough.  When I was going through chemo I knew what I was fighting---chemo was evil, but I was holding its hand working to fight cancer.  Now I won't have the reality breaks that chemo gave me (the week or so I was so out of it I didn't have to be aware of what I was going through). I would go to the hospital and just know I had to get through that day, then the next and the next..........it wasn't overwhelming--it was compartmentalized and easy.  I know it is ridiculous and I am exaggerating (I am a therapist remember) but it feels like too much.  I know I won't have my old life back, and that at the end of this I will be better than I could have imagined..............it is the hard work in between that I am a bit afraid of. 

my mom, also on the floor....lots of love!

I thought cancer was scary, but this rebuilding of my body and my life back to something that I can recognize is scary, like pee in your pants, hide behind someone scary.  This journey is far from over, in fact...I think it is just beginning.  A journey of healing now that the "fight" is over?  I don't think so.  I think I need more fight and fire under my ass now than I did when approaching chemo..........

I thought that after chemo was done I would feel something different, I would feel healed………but I still feel broken.  Best part about broken things? They can be fixed!

Maybe I will start with a tattoo, I know how to help that heal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas eve

Yep folks, you read that correctly..........Christmas Eve.............not Chemo Eve............that is the best gift EVER.  After my first road trip since treatment I made it home for the holidays.  One of my sisters has a terrible cold and drove over (I am still on pain medication and haven't drove longer than 15 miles in 5 months so I wasn't the 1st choice) but we all made it safe and sound.  So far so good.

I am feeling a bit better each day since my ER visit........another great gift.  I am a huge fan of Christmas, not necessarily the religious part, but the overly commercialized part, lights, trees, food, booze, and family.  I also love to give gifts (all year) so Christmas is well......like Christmas for me.

I am still not sleeping the best, but I am using my sisters laptop and watching holiday movies while the rest of the family sleeps, it works out pretty well.  I wish I was full of holiday wisdom and lots of profound things to say, like I sometimes came up with for Chemo Eve, but I am a bit exhausted, my arm is aching and my stomach is so bloaty I somewhat resemble Santa.  But I am here, having a great time with family, and the only thing I would wish for is Scott to be here too (but someone has to work!).  So my Christmas wish list is almost complete, can't ask for a better holiday.

Sometimes it feels like you are playing tag with life, and life is the little bitchy kid that punches you when they say "tag".......then you turn, watch life fall and scrape its face up on the asphalt............Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

let's chew the fat

Scott & I
Well folks, I hope you are sitting down.............I feel a bit better today.  I have pulled myself out of the pit of woe-is-me and laughed, smiled and joked.  It honestly didn't have anything to do with me, I just physically felt better and when I can keep away from the hospital or toilet for longer than 10 minutes, can stand up straight and can keep food and water down--you would be surprised how fast your mood swings in the up direction.

Unfortunately feeling better has nothing to do with my oncologist appointment I had this morning, but everything to do with my ER visit last night.  I hadn't kept food down in days and was starting to not hold fluids down either, Saturday night I spent on the bathroom floor throwing up stomach acid........Scott was pretty persistent to take me to the ER but I refused (did I mention I am super stubborn?).  Then when Sunday rolled around and it continued it was easier to persuade me.........Scott wanted me to go in before he got off work so he wouldn't have to go back after he got off.  So I caved, called Kerri, and to the ER we went. 

Happy Holidays!
I dislike hospitals a lot.  That is where sick people go......but unfortunately I am sick, and I am an ER frequent flyer.  I am so thankful that Scott works at a hospital that is close to our house and that has a fantastic ER and staff.  Prior to deciding to go to the ER I received a phone call from Scott and he told me that he was given a card signed by a lot of the ER staff and a hefty monetary donation.  I was brought to tears, lots and lots of tears.  Not only have these people seen me on a pretty regular basis clogging up their ER with my family, but Scott is new to the hospital.  Unbelievable.....what amazing people!  So to the ER I went, where I went straight back to a room (it was also pretty slow) and saw a great doc (who I have seen before) and my favorite part.........they listen to me, understand where I am coming from, know the meds I need and get right to it!  I was a bit worried that it wasn't going to work........pumped full of nausea meds and I was still dry-heaving and having lots of stomach pain. But after some more meds I fell asleep for a bit and the pain and nausea subsided!! So I got to go home--I was a bit worried that I was going to get admitted again, which is why I was so reluctant to go the night before.  Thank you ER Staff!!!!

So I am on pain medication to help with the intense, sharp, crazy pain in my stomach (that is still continuing today).  I went to my oncologist, was in tears telling him about the pain.........and was told to call if it didn't get better and was sent on my way.  Well fuck, couldn't you have told me that on the phone and I could have slept in past 7:45am?!  But on the plus side I felt well enough today to eat 2 decent meals, go to a movie with Scott and even brave the craziness that is Target this close to Christmas. Victory is mine!  Though probably not for long because as I write my intense pain is coming back....and I already took my pain pill.

But for now I feel half-ass normal so I will take what I can get.  I took another shower today, that is 3 in a row, doing pretty good here.  And let me tell you that I have the chub-rub from hell.  If you read that and have no idea what I am talking about, then you have thighs that have that empty space in-between them......I don't.  So when I wear my oh-so-sexy-cancer moo-moo's (yep, that is plural) my thighs rub together--so it is great that I can get out of bed, but my thighs pay the price....

Scott and I have conversations about what would happen if zombies attack and we both agreed he would have to put me down because (even when healthy) I am not the outdoorsy survivor-type and I would hold him back.  He told me that if there was an attack by zombies he wouldn't eat me because he wouldn't want "catch" my cancer. Instead he would just put me down, then eat our basset hound Lucy.........


yep, he would eat that pretty face
I scheduled my next infusion, which will be Herceptin only, for January 7th.  It is only going to be about 45 minutes and the side effects are much less than chemo..........so it should be a "smoother" ride than before.  Today my oncologist actually said "it's a broad stretch but think of it like taking a Tums."  I know that was supposed to make me feel better (I think it did help Scott) but it sort of felt like punching me in the eye.  What if I do have the side effects?! God knows I have had almost every awful chemo side effect, who knows how I will react.......does that mean I can't take Tums?!  Treatment is treatment is treatment.  It is hard and it all reminds you that you have cancer. So yes I am excited that it is just Herceptin...........but it can cause heart failure and a barrage of other problems, it ain't no Tums.


I am waiting for the day that I wake up and don't have to take medication to make my body move.  I am looking forward to the days where I get to hug all the people who have been sending me love, support, positive thoughts, prayers, and everything else in their bag of tricks!!! When I can have a normal week of work, a date night with my hubby, friends, and get to be around babies and mamma's again!!!  Normalcy will trickle back into my life in bits and pieces, I can't wait until the puzzle comes together!

I miss births SO much! Great new family!!!

My stomach is starting to hurt like hell, but I am not running to the toilet so the day ends well in my book.  Oh, and I bought new pants today! Don't get too excited..............they were XL mens sweatpants............goodbye chub-rub (and any possible style), hello comfy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

get by with a little help from my friends

My Chemo Graduation Hat (made by Kerri)
I know it has been awhile, but after chemo and a hospital stay--I must admit that I felt some pressure for my first blog post "post" chemo.  Wierd, but oh so true.

I had a great last Chemo Eve and my final chemo wasn't too bad either.  It is just the crap that happened as a result of the last chemo that has kept me absent from the real world for awhile.

So...I am back, sort of.  I still feel like shit and today has been the first day I have made it to the couch for longer than a few hours.  After my 6th (final, most recent) chemo I ended up in the hospital (again) due to severe bone pain, neutropenia, and feeling just plain lousy.  The hospital was probably my worst visit yet--not because of the care I received--but because the amount of meds I was on.  It was insane.  I feel like I was the super drunk girl at the party and am embarrassed (been there, done that).  I was on so much medication I was nodding off like every pain-pill addicted person on Intervention; I spilt soup and water on myself; and was talking nonsense to everyone who would listen.......not my best moments. 


Scott and I at my final chemo--Chemo Graduation!
As a result of my hospital stay my body is not only detoxing from chemo, but from enough meds to put down an elephant (times 4 days).  I have diarrhea like you don't even understand (too much info?, too bad).  Instead of shower dancing I might as well take up toilet dancing because that seems to be my only stop other than the bed these days.  I have hot flashes that are pushing pain meds through my skin like cheese through a grater and if I see one more TV commerical for cologne I am going to hit my TV. 

I was fortunate enough during my hospital stay to have my mom here too.  I was a bit crazy with the meds but had the support of my family in the room which makes all the difference.  I may have been the drunken girl at the party--but I had a great group of cockblockers (you know, the drunk girls friends who just won't let you get too close........priceless).  I have received lots of messages asking if I am okay--being absent from facebook and the blog for so long--everyone knows I must have felt like real shit--I did (still do) but I am back, because this is the one strand of normal that I have left.


Chemo Eve Sexy Face
I am building myself back from the ground up--it is a bitch.  My body hurts everywhere, I can barely stand in the shower, I have no appetite, I cry all the time (right now, crying), we are out of kleenex so I am using toilet paper, I can't sleep and am tired all the time, it is even too much work to let the dogs out and feel functional enough for them to rely on me during the day.  I am so fucking sick of being sick I want to scream.  I was mean to Scott last night, just because he can get up and go to work and that just seems to foreign to me at this point.  I keep seeing the Starbucks commerical for "snow days" (I cry, then get fucking pissed because even if it was a 'snow day' I have nothing to take a 'snow day' from..............my world is pretty one dimensional at this point).


Final Chemo Crew

At this point I may feel like my life sucks and my body is so foreign I am not sure how it functions at this point, I know that this will pass.  I feel like my body is being torn apart from the inside out, every day.  I know I will feel better and everything will work itself out--however that will end up.  But right now I will wallow in a bit of self-pity and do my best to get my ass out of bed, and at least to the couch.  And keep my fingers crossed that I will  be able to make home for the holidays. And as soon as I find the transfer cable for my camera, I will put up some pictures from my hospital stay--some of them are pretty priceless.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chemo Eve, we meet for the last time

It is not only Chemo Eve, it is my last Chemo Eve!  I am sad to say that I am so drained that at this point I am emotionless.  If you were to have talked to me earlier today I would have stated "how excited I was"
 but now at 2:30am I am just tired and want to get some sleep before I have to wake up and jump into chemo..........unfortunately we know this probably won't be the case.

My life with cancer has been anything but easy--name a side-effect and I have gotten it, I have been hospitalized, had numerous ER visits and felt like shit, I have wanted to die, I have wanted to live and I have questioned what I have done in my life to be put through this amount of torment. I love what cancer has made me realize, the things I hold dear and the amount of importance I now place on daily activities---but what I don't love is the fact I will fight this battle for the rest of my life. No one, NO ONE, deserves that.


Now that I am done with chemo I still have a few more weapons in my arsenal to fight cancer, I will remain in treatment for 5 and a half years. I look forward to being a foster mom and becoming healthy during this time....................but I still remain covered in goose bumps when I think about the ticking time bomb that remains inside of me, a part of my DNA.............

Tonight was my final Chemo Eve, what a great time with good frozen pizza, booze and friends/family.  Chemo Eve gives me a good emotional place to being the battle with chemo, I have to say that it was a brilliant idea and I encourage those going through treatment to have a Chemo Eve Party and surround yourself with those who you love to bring as much positive energy to chemo the following day as possible--it has sustained me. I also think holistic therapies have made it easier for my body to handle chemo (massage, acupuncture, Ayurveda and numerous supplements).

I am too exhausted to say anything profound but I look forward to my first blog after I come out of my 'chemo fog' in a week or so...........thank you for all your positive thoughts, energy and love, I couldn't have fought this fight without you.

cancer, cancer, and more cancer
Chemo Eve:
"Twas the night before chemo, as I sit up in bed,


Thoughts of living and dying float through my head.

My chemo bag is on a hook by the door,

My blanket is folded and ready on the floor.



My husband in nestled all snug in our bed,

While visions of running and athletic stuff dance in his head.

Me in my moo moo and slippers too,

I count down the hours, now it’s just a few.



5 chemos down and just one more to go,

I look forward to a healthy holiday with snow,

Scott’s snoring creates such a clatter,

I hit him with a pillow and just get madder.



The moon doesn’t sit on my breast, there is no new fallen snow,

I had cancer you see, and my breasts had to go.

No reindeer, Santa or even a nipple,

My spirit remains strong, it has yet to cripple.

My lovely husband so lively and quick,

I knew when I met him he wasn’t a prick,

More rapid than eagles my fears begin to take over,

I really could use a good luck clover."



But a clover I yet to find, the love of friends and family keep me alive. There are not enough words to thank each of you..............I am as strong as all of you combined and with that dedication, support and love. I have tackled cancer head on and put my fear a side.  I am a survivor because you believe in me.
 
Tomorrow I face my last chemo, tomorrow I begin the rest of my life, tomorrow I am what you knew I could be.
 
Thank you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Benefit Pin Up Calendar!!!!!

http://www.lulu.com/product/calendar/2011-kick-breast-cancers-ass-pinup-calendar/13991265

This 13-month wall calendar, featuring 13 gorgeous Pacific Northwest pinup models, makes a great gift for anyone who loves pinup photography. All proceeds from this calendar will benefit an amazingly courageous young woman, Dori Greenaway, who was diagnosed at age 26 with invasive ductal carcinoma (stage 3 breast cancer)....

Thank you to everyone involved in the making of the calendar..........it is truly amazing!!! If you are interested in purchasing the calendar it is $20 and just click on the link above.

hugs~Dori

Thursday, December 2, 2010

bulletproof

So I have went from having a 'stomach' to a 'belly' and from having cheek bones to well....no cheekbones--I look like I am glowing, but it is actually just sweat.  And I have decided that I like it, I may only slightly resemble my old self--but I am killing cancer; I will take that over cheekbones every time!

I saw a pink feather mini christmas tree today and I almost bought it for chemo eve--then I realized I only have 1 more so it would be a waste---ONLY ONE MORE (next Tuesday)!!!!! And since I had an allergic reaction last time, I think my body is ready for it to be the last one just as much as my mind is. 

this was opened on my 5th round of chemo...

In honor of my last date with chemo here is a recap of my first, from one of my first blogs after my 1st round of treatment:

"You know those days in college where you had partied so hard you couldn't remember the day of the week it was when you woke up, where you went, if you actually had fun, and what you did or did not do? Well, welcome to chemo. It took me awhile to rationalize with myself that today is Monday---almost a FULL WEEK since chemo--WHAT?! Where the hell was I? Well I can tell you where I was--in bed, a.s.l.e.e.p. pretty much for a full week. I can't recall how I got up to use the bathroom, take medications or eat, but apparently I did (I must be magic). Or......it could have something to do with the water/Gatorade fairies I have because every time I rolled over dying of thirst--there it was. Brilliant little things (hugs to mom and Scott).

My 1st round of chemo (the good old days, hair and all)

So now I am a bit out of the stupor but still so weak it takes a lot for me to sit upright on the couch. My arms feel like they are being held down by weights and my throat constantly burns. I have an acne like rash all over my chest and on my face--so when I look in the mirror I resemble myself in 7th grade (not the best memory). I have mouth sores (around my mouth), thanks to chemo and heart burn so bad that it burns up into my ears. I hope that chemo is ravaging the cancer cells like it is every other part of my body...whew this is going to be a long road (5 more times).

I took a shower today (you should applaud here)and conditioned my hair. HA HA HA--conditioning my hair is like polishing a turd (I am pretty sure that is a saying). I will be losing my hair soon, conditioned or not. I am actually looking forward to it, once I lose it, the night sweats will be much easier to deal with....

Not much as happened in my world in the last week. I just hunkered down and held on. That is my plan for the rest of treatment...go with it. I can't really fight it because chemo wins (every time), but if I embrace the nasty, tongue-in-cheek bitch that it is maybe our friendship will create a miserable balance of health and sanity. Many authors have to go to experience things (trips, step out of their comfort zone) "eat, pray, love" shit before they can write their first book. My experience just landed smack dab in my lap--well technically my boob, but I'll take it just the same.

Usually when life throws me lemons I would exchange them for limes to put in a corona, but this experience is helping me let go.............of a lot. I hold grudges, I have to be right, I don't like to lose, I would prefer to look "good" a majority of the time, I get anxious, I get angry, I sometimes react before I think things through, I want the house cleaned "my" way, I want to be sure everything is just how "I" want it..............me, me, me, me. But it was me with control.......now I am me with no control over any part of my body, which trickles down into the rest of my life......at the end of the experience I hope to be more lighthearted, less of a control freak and appreciate the small, daily things. #1 being able to get out of bed without having to run to the toilet--but you get the idea.

I have said it before, I don't want to be who I was before, cancer is a life changing experience (and I am embracing it the best I can). I imagine for many it is devastating and their life recuperates in a much different way than I am foreseeing mine. This is a shitty, long detour, but one with scenic routes, loved ones, good meds, amazing people and a lot of self-reflection. So buckle up--you are all in it with me."

Thanks for staying on this crazy-ass ride with me.