Archive | January, 2011

…And Then I Don’t Feel So Bad

17 Jan

Because Carboplatin makes me feel so lousy, I thought I’d take the opportunity to make a list of a few of my favorite things at the moment as much for my benefit as yours. See, the Zofran and Compazine keep me from actually puking, which is great, but I still spend a lot of time feeling generally barfy. I make myself eat because I have to, and then whatever I just ate transmutes into the most repulsive thing in the world because it only makes me feel barfier. For example, I ate blameless, plain ol’ chicken and now the smell of chicken is revolting because it reminds me of feeling barfy. The medication additionally heightens my sense of smell so that even what my neighbors are cooking is offensive.

On top of this, my poor mom broke her wrist really badly this past weekend. She is having surgery tonight, Monday, to get a titanium plate and some screws put in. We’re all in need of a little pick me up. Lists, especially of things I like, always pick me up.

1. Downton Abbey

I love to get my manor house on and this PBS series is really satisfying my appetite for electricity jokes, Maggie Smith and nefarious footmen.

2. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

I love biographies and this one is knocking my Hellenic socks off.

4. Penny running around in the snow and then collapsing RIGHT in front of our heater

5. The Hohner Bravo II 48 Bass accordion I just bought.

Yeah. I’ve wanted to get an accordion for over a year and now I have it. I rule.

6. This fantastic ginger ale

7. Oh yeah. And this guy. And all my really wonderful family and friends.

he's wearing that trash bag thing because that's what came with our hair clippers...

Alright, you all out there in cyberspace, I haven’t done this on the blog before, but here’s my request: Post in the comments section what your favorite things are right now…what’s getting you through the month of January?


Transfusion Holiday

6 Jan

So,  I’ve been slacking on the blog.  I got a little caught up in the holidays.  Basically I was too busy eating to blog.  Eating and drinking.  Eating and drinking and then napping and then eating some more.  Sorry about that.

I do hope that everyone had a restful and enjoyable holiday season.  We had the pleasure of being snowed in at my parent’s house in New York which was really quite nice.  I like a good snow in every now and then.  We watched Planet Earth DVDs and hung out with my brother who was home on leave from the army.  Oh!  And my stepbrother got engaged on Christmas Eve!

In other exciting news I got a blood transfusion!  Yay!  Some people get engaged, some people get two units of A positive.  The week after Christmas my hemoglobin level was down to 8.  Yikes.  Now my hemoglobin is up to 11.  Which still strikes me as low because I’m used to my hemoglobin being up around 14 or so.  So the chemo goes…

The blood transfusion was pretty uneventful.  We just hung out in a hospital room for 5 hours or so and let the blood drip in.  I’m definitely more colorful than I was pre-transfusion, but I think I might be immune to anemia or something.  I felt fine when my hemoglobin was down to 8.  I mean, I was shoveling snow the day before they decided I needed a transfusion.  How did I not notice that I needed a little blood?  Let’s be real, my body probably just mistook all that red wine I drank for red blood cells.  Happens to the best of us.


me, having a true blood moment

I will take a moment for a PSA here.  Everyone, go donate some blood!  I would do it myself, but my blood is toxic at the moment.  Go forth and donate!

I have only six more treatments, two cycles, of chemo left now.  I am excited and nervous about this.  Excited because chemo is definitely taking it’s cumulative toll.  I have basically no hair anywhere left (except eyebrows!), I get heartburn like woah and have peri oral dermatitis, the steroids give me major moon face syndrome, minor scrapes take ages to heal and the bloody noses continue.  I get tired after a long day of sitting around the house and have to use this foul lidocaine mouthwash for my achy mouth.  I know.  Wah wah wah.  All of these are certainly better than the alternative (read: death by cancer) but it’s tough.  It’s tough on my self esteem and on my enjoyment of things.  It’s tough when your doctor thinks it might be a good idea to stick a hot poker up your nose to cauterize the blood vessels and stop the nosebleeds.  It’s tough to not ever really feel pretty or fit or useful.  It’ll get better.  I know it.  My hair will come back, my scars will fade, my face will de-swell, I’ll be able to ride my bike again and get a tattoo and go back to school.  It could certainly be worse and I’m striving to spend my free time constructively and on things I enjoy.  I’m taking good care of myself.  I am well loved.  I have much to be thankful for.

The flip side of this.  I am terrified of stopping chemo.  Stopping chemo means entering the land of wait-and-see.  Doing chemo at least feels like I’m taking action.  I’m being aggressive and taking care of the whole cancer situation.  When I stop, we all just start waiting and hoping that my cancer doesn’t come back.  I’ll be on my best healthful behavior and employ all the magical thinking at my disposal to ward of my anxieties and fears, but we’ll all just be holding our breath at every blood draw and CT scan.  Apparently the first six months are crucial.  When (if?) I go five years in remission, I’ll be considered cured.  Ten years and I get discharged from the care of my oncologists.  If it comes back, I’m no longer considered curable and we start treatments again, no longer trying to “save” my life but rather “extend” it.

My mom sent me an article she came across recently that examined the mental well-being of long-term survivors of gynecological cancer.  Most of the women were overwhelming grateful to be alive and reported increased satisfaction in their day to day lives and deepened interpersonal relationships.  Simultaneously, they reported deep anxiety and fear about recurrence.  I imagine I’ll be living with that shadow for quit some time and every decision I make…going back to school, buying a house, starting a family…will be effected.

Alright.  Enough gloom and doom.  Aren’t you glad I finally wrote a blog post!  Wasn’t that thrilling!  Here.  Here’s a picture of my bald head, just for fun.

Mrs. Clean

And then here’s a picture of me wearing the monkey hat my stepbrother gave my for Christmas.  He said if I was ever feeling blue, I could just put the hat on and look in the mirror.

Pretty effective, right?

Happy New Year!  Here’s to a 2011 that sucks less than 2010!

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