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Monday, August 25, 2014

Pit Bull Freak Out? Not Me!

As I was waiting for basement workmen to come to the house, a lady in an SUV came driving by. "Have you seen a dog running loose?" 
"No, what does he look like?" 
"Brown with a white face," then tentatively, hesitantly, tearfully, "He kind of looks like a pit bull....??" She's in tears, "He's our baby!" 
"I have lots of pittie friends, no worries!!! I've worked with the bullies before. Let me get my guys in here to work, and I'll help you look for him." I even tell the Spousal Unit to keep an eye out for a lost dog. The lady gives me her name and number. She's shaking and in tears; her kid is manfully holding back his tears. About 20 minutes later, she drives by. "We found him!! He was just down the street!" Thank goD! I felt kind of good that I wasn't one of the Freak Outs when I heard the words "Pit Bull...."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brief Joyous Euphoria

Wednesday August 6th, my sibs and Spousal Unit met with the first oncology doctor, Dr K.  He's like a high functioning Asperger's person.  He was thorough, kind in a weird way and answered all my questions.

The great news (if great news can be had from the word "cancer") is it's NOT in my blood, it's not in my bone marrow, it's just (just??) Stage 2A lymphoma.  Highly treatable, high remission rate.  It's kind of just in my neck mostly.  They're prescribing chemo AND radiation (eeeuuuu to both). When he said where it wasn't, it was as though someone had let the air out of a balloon!  Phew!!  

What's fascinating to me is how people have heard this and say, "Oh, OK, you've got this; it's not that bad, you won't need that much help."  Etc.  Yeah, I will.  We'll see who shows up to the party, won't we?  Also interesting are reactions from old friends saying DON'T DO THAT SHIT, IT'S GOING TO KILL YOU!  IT'S GOING TO COME BACK AND BITE YOU IN THE ASS!  Now these people are admittedly freaking me out more than I can comprehend now because they have pretty decent powers.  I know they care and I know they've been through this before me.  I get that.  But can't you express this concern in a not-so vehement way.  I can unFriend those folks and for a few I've done just that.  Friends who also think "outside the box" metaphysically (so to speak) are saying more reassuring things.  I think I need a fair amount of protection and it's going to have to come from ME!  The Spousal Unit has too much on his plate to help.

Dragon's Blood #1 Etc. Etc. Etc. (3 Days Full of Fun & Games)

August 20th, 2014.

Dragon Blood #1 over and done.  I never have to go through the Big Unknown ever again. (Thanks Heather L. for that insight.)  It may be different but not how they do stuff.  It was strange and somewhat scary and surreal. My nurse was Kelly.  She was nice but never commented on the Grinch or my blanket.  The end nurse was Katie.  (She did comment on the Grinch!) Al was the volunteer, he seemed nice.

They stick you in a room by yourself.  I'm assuming this is so if it all goes south in a hurry you're not freaking other people out.  They "accessed my port" (stuck a needle in the damn wiggly thing), take blood (vampires) and give you shit for nausea.  Then you wait.  Then they give you prednisone and benadryl.  Which make you thirsty and dry as all get out.
The CHO (of the RCHOP) part begins.  I didn't feel any different.  They wait and watch you like a hawk. Nurse Kelly did say something about poison and I put the kibosh on that right away!

It's Dragon Blood~can be hard and challenging BUT, I'll be better, faster, stronger, more resilient when this is done.

"It's Dragon's Blood. It's RED!"  This is also the stuff that will (most likely) make me hair fall out.  That's ok.  I'm OK with that.  I have to be, honestly.  The damn stuff grows back.  Always has!

Then the R (Rituxan) shit is injected.  The part I was the most worried about.  It wasn't a walk in the park by any stretch but it could have been so much worse.  I flushed, itched some and kept them abreast as to how I felt.  I remember watching the count-down as that takes a long time, about 2-3 hours for the slow drip-drip.

I was really glad that my sister and Deb L. were there for part of this event. Even though my poor sister, who does NOT like closed in rooms at all, was pacing like a caged animal. I felt terrible for her.  Deb, of course, made fun of me.  But they were both dears to be there.

I had my Nulasta shot Tuesday. A prick in the arm.  I guess it's better than a prick in the arse.

Nulasta.  Why does that sound like it should be a condom?  "'ll last-ya all night long!" Or how about a name for pantihose?  Who thinks up this shit?

Afterwards, my sister took me to Moe's Restaurant in the Falls.  It was strange finding a dip I liked for my yummy potato puffs.   I kept switching.  Are my taste buds changing already??

All along I'm drinking water like it's my job!  Glug, glug, gulp!!

Earlier this morning (Tuesday August 21st) my brother's house I had breakfast on the veranda.....Yogurt, berries on some weird bran cereal with flux seed or oil in it, mango & aloe vera juice.  This is not my usual fare!

This was my view, which is pretty damn nice......
Not bad at all.  Que serene!!!

Wednesday was NOT a day I'd like repeated.  Marty had another damn arrhythmia episode at work and ended up at Ahuja Medical Center in the afternoon.  I didn't have my damn phone at my (basically useless) Wigs and Browns class.  When I came home the phone was off the hook ringing.  It was Marty at the ER.  Thank God for Al & Terry, who came BACK and picked me up.  Thank God for Laurie and Christ ScubaCook who came with pizza for poor Marty.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have had anything to eat at all.  

Doctor?  Patient?  Silliness?  

We waited for his room for SEVEN fkg hours.  Needless to say, I (like Queen Victoria) was NOT amused!  I had to wear a damn mask the whole time which makes me feel six shades of weird.  I felt so bad for my darling spousal unit, waiting in the stupid bed for another stupid bed.  Hopefully, that bed was more comfortable.  

It's Thursday, August 23rd.  It's a new day, another day, a better day.  God willing and the creek don't rise.  

(Yes Laurie, I said Crick not Creek.)

Wigs & Browns....Meh....

Well, Wigs and Brows "class" was a lovely idea BUT not all that and bag of chips.  Did meet a very nice lady, Sheila, an esthetician by trade at the "class."  She was very cool!  Otherwise, it was basically an advertisement to Wigs and Things, which is a very well stocked store and the people are very nice there.  But talk about sticker shock!!!????  A low-end wig for $179??  I am pretty sure my insurance covers one hairpiece but I could probably get about 3-4 wigs for that price.


The higher-end micro-filament wigs (which are very nice) were (gasp) $379 and up. I discovered that light brown-red and reds look good on me, not the darker browns.  I think I could rock Reba Red!!

I did learn some rocking ways to tie a scarf thought.

I'm looking forward to the ACS "Look Good Feel Better" class. Hoping that's a bit more comprehensive and robust.  This one was disappointing.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pre-Emptive Hair Strike

I hate cell phone selfies, just matter what you do, you look like a friggin' chipmunk!

After talking to Linda Panda (my Utah Support System), and thinking about my hair....I decided to do a pre-emptive Hair Strike and get my hair cut short. I don't like myself with short hair.  Frankly I think it makes me face look chubby and harsh and you see (da-da-da-DUM!) The Jowls.  (Boo!)

If I keep my hair, it grows quickly.  If I lose won't be quite as shocking! Even though I'm ok with the hair thing (not the eyebrows or eyelashes thing; that's a bit freaky, to be honest), I feel a bit more in control.  If you know what I mean.  I like me in longer hair but this will do.

Friday, August 8, 2014


No land speed records. Average 8mph. 
No long distance.1.75 miles. 
No hills conquered. 
And it made me a bit tired so I'll rest now. 
But oh it felt nice to be untethered for a brief time.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Too Darn Hot

Holy Hot Flashes Batman, the refrigerator looks REALLY awesome at times.....

"Oh, if you were just big enough for a lounge chair, a bar, a TV set and a computer..."

I had such a bad one earlier that one of my band-aids from the port placement flew off my neck!  I mean melted like a Dali painting and THEN flew in desperation!

I look at that box of HRT patches with tearful longing, "I miss you guys, you kept my body temp normal and toned down my moodiness."

Can't decide which hurts more: my butt (from bone marrow), my chest top (from the port thingie) or where the ENT tried to extract stuff from my neck.

And nobody told me I'd be wearing a bra 24/7.  Hey, port radiology peeps, nobody told me I'd need that kind of support....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Am

 I am female, a goddess, a woman, a wife, a singer, an actress, a photographer, a writer, a cyclist, a dog and cat mom, a friend, a sister, an aunt (and great aunt)....I am all this and more.  These are the things that define me.  I must not allow that crappy C thing to define me or steal what helps me feel whole and part of the Universe and Life.  It's just something I have to get through, to drive through, thrive through. I want to be a cancer "Thriver" not just a survivor. 

I have moments where I completely break down and feel immobilized, terrified and devastatingly fatalistic. I have other moments where the whole thing seems surreal, bizarre and twisted. I have moments of laughter, which are the best times of all.  I'm so grateful for my friends and family who encourage my absurd, witty side.

I'm so glad for the rehearsals for my show too even though it's a lot to deal with.  I am grateful for the silliness of my co-stars.

I needed today to connect with my art and nature and I thank my darling Spousal Unit for getting my carcass out of the house.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lipstick & Makeup

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother put on lipstick with no mirror.  A skill set that my sister and I both inherited. My mother wore mostly the deeper reds; she never really changed her style with that.

Unlike most of my peers, my mother wanted me to wear makeup! Like many, many women, our family seems to look a bit better with some color on our lips.  I vividly remember my mom giving me a tube of Yardley's of London lipstick saying, "Wear this so you don't scare people."  I was about 12 or so. The lipstick was a frosted pink and tasted actually quite good unlike Mom's Revlon.  Then she bought me blush, eyeshadow and maybe mascara.  My mother also bought me a striped mini-dress which got me hauled into the principal's office in 8th grade for being too short.  I think we could only have our skirts 2 inches above the knee while kneeling down.  Oh, yes, seriously.   I had a Twiggy haircut too.  When I look back on it, my mother wanted me to be in style.  However, having moved from an arts-oriented Cleveland social circle to a rural, mostly Baptist-populated middle and high school, this hip look didn't cut it.  You were a Greaser or Preppy or a Jock.  Period.

In the late 60s, the whole "hippie-natural" look was coming in and wanting to be "cool" I jettisoned the makeup thing and started growing my hair long.  My mother didn't approve of this AT ALL!  I was the ONLY girl in my high school who was putting makeup ON at the end of the day instead of frantically scrubbing it off!  "I can't go home without some makeup on, my mom will kill me!"

I still don't feel quite dressed without lipstick.

Coming Of Age In An Orange Jumpsuit

There's a family story, now a bit of a family legend having to do with fashion and my coming-of-age.

Mom had bought me (I kid you not) a bright orange short-short jumpsuit with a scoop neck, short sleeves and a white zipper.  Very mod.  I believe I was probably 16 or thereabouts, maybe older.  My whole family and my either soon-to-be (or newly made) European sister-in-law were invited to a dinner at the Blank's house on the east side of Cleveland.  (Mrs. Blank had a kind of "secret" crush on my father, which even to a teenager, was somewhat obvious.)  I asked Mom what I should wear to this dinner party and she suggested the orange jumpsuit.  "Seriously, Mom, don't you think it's a little short and casual?"  No, she said, it'll be fine.  Having Miss Manners for a mother, I relied on her judgement.  All righty then.  Orange it is.  (By the way, it is one of the only items of orange clothing I have ever worn in my entire life to date.  I hate orange on me.)

Now Mr and Mrs Blank had 3 sons: a precocious, annoying one, a nice, cute one and and kind of middle-of-the-road one.  And Mr. and Mrs. Blank were NOT happy with my father because, as I recall, Dad had helped a non-WASP move into their little WASP-island community.  Quelle horreur!  Mrs. Blank obviously, patently disapproved of my attire and we set into an evening filled with snipes, innuendoes and frosty conversations.  Cocktails began and Mrs. Blank proceeded to get slightly blitzed. Mr Blank was also feeling no pain.  My brother was wondering when this evening would end and I'm sure my sister-in-law was wondering what the hell kind of gauche American heathen's nest she's inadvertently stepped in. My mother, with all her many faults, had impeccabile social manners and kept up that good old Yankee upper lip stiff and unfailingly polite.  She skillfully steered the conversation in "safer", more neutral topics but even "Weese" couldn't keep that boat on course.

I have to tell you that I grew up in a family that is smart, quick-witted and well-spoken.  I was the family oddity; I didn't feel comfortable in social situations being very shy, a mumbler and insecure.  I never made eye contact; a tract I still struggle with. I always admired my family's quick repartee and was secretly envious.

Dinner came; there was more liquid libations and the veiled niceties were quickly going by the wayside as Mrs. Blank and my father were now starting to take the verbal gloves off.  It was getting ugly.  I remember looking at my brother across the table; he looked miserable and embarrassed.  It was cold in the house, and I starting rubbing my arms.

"Are you warm enough, dear?" said Mrs. Blank in a nasty, uppity, almost sickly sweet tone.

Without missing a beat, I looked her dead in the eye (very unusual for me) and distinctly replied, "Yes, but not from the love exuding from the table!"

(Exuding? Yes, I used that word.  Not bad.)

Silence.  Dead silence.  Tension.  My eyes dart across the table and meet my brother's. He gives me a little head bow as if to say, "Bravo!"  I had made the passage from little girl to young adult in one sentence.  There was a hesitation and then conversation returned to a fairly civilized tone.  The horrible evening wound swifty to a close with me as the clear winner in the verbal game of repartee.

Port (And Not The Wine) Whine

Thank you to my sister and Kim!  If I ever need to storm the beaches of Normandy with spies disguised as The Entertainment, you're the ticket!  A two pronged approach to "git 'er done!"  Margit kept folks on their toes and Kim kept me laughing. I've been thrown out of worse places than Akron City Hospital.

The Grinch went with me into surgery, LOL!

Took forever to get me processed for the surgery. (The Female Sibling Unit was NOT amused).  I did make one of the intake nurses laugh to the point where she dropped her pen.  I guess it was the "squeaking  while walking" reference.

I had a few melt-downs especially after they'd taken me back, given me the Dreaded Gown and left me there for what seemed like an eternity.  I surreptitiously texted my Battle Team and they were back with me in nothing flat.
The nurses who did the intake were very nice, esp. Sandy.  She answered a ton of questions and was patient and kind.  We only had one potential duke-it-up when she wanted to put the IV in my hand or wrist.  Oh, hell no!

My Battle Team escorted me to the pre-surgery area.  This was dismal little room about the size of the stateroom in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA where I half expected to see a bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling and a weasly little guy with glasses, a trenchcoat and a fedora smoking cheap Turkish cigarettes.

"Vee haf vays of making you talk..." he says with a sadistic giggle.

My sister rolls her eyes and looks around this cubicle.  "Oh. (Pause) Cheery."

 Nurse Marcia (yes,  of course, we did the "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" reference) talked with  me about The Procedure.  Why in the hell do they call it that?  You're cutting me open and sticking plastic shit into my body.  It's surgery.  Dr. Rosenblum came in and we talked about where to put the damn thing.  98% of the time it's on the right hand side.  But, nooooo.  I have to be different. Big Surprise.  Not.

Nurse Marcia comes back into the room with some guy (Jeff the Radiologist) with his protective gear on.

"My God, you look like an extra from Star Trek!"

"They say black makes me look slimmer."  (OK, this guy is going to be all right.)  They explain a few more things and my Battle Team kisses me goodbye.  Into the surgery room I go.  They start to transfer me over to the table.

"You folks know you're putting the port in on the left hand side, right?"   Pause.

"Oh!  That's right!" A somewhat frantic scramble ensues as they switch everything around.  Grinch, mind you, has been with me the whole time.  They put him on a shelf to observe.  The usual fussing begins (mind you, I'm still wide awake and bushy tailed).  I gaze up at the ceiling looking at the ugly tiles (why can't they put stars or something pretty up there?) and say, "Man, this is real. This sucks," and start tearing up.   I think it might have been the oxygen port and the mask (on me). The action stops.  I mean stops. The prep nurse (can't remember her name) puts her gloved hand on mind and just holds it.

"I bet it's really overwhelming. It's OK, we're here for you. Take your time."

"We all have breakdowns. I had one the other day, here at work.  It's fine," say Jeff (the radiologist).

 I finally suck it up, wipe my eyes and she starts the prep.  Cleaning and draping, telling me what she's doing the whole time.  I'm a bit more chatty now; we're talking about different things.  I tell them I'm a singer, photographer, cyclist (always good conversation starters.  "I guess I might not be doing that metric century this year...damn!").

"Would singing help you?"  Interesting question. Fascinating, actually.

"Yeah, it would, I think."  So I sing "As Time Goes By." I would guess that would get my breathing more concentrated and controlled.

"I need a port and a doctor!" says the prep nurse.

For some reason this strikes me as rather amusing, "Yeah, that might be helpful."  Dr. Rosenblum comes in, gloved hands upright.  Now, again, why this suddenly strikes me as eerily akin to Groucho Marx's Dr. Hackenbush is beyond me.  Marcia starts administering the drug cocktail.  I don't doze off.  Oh, no.  We all actually have a surprisingly coherent conversation about singing and exactly what IS a metric century anyway?  I can feel the shots they give me.  I can feel him stitching me up, which is surreal. The doc finishes, says something nice which I can't remember and leaves me with Marcia and Jeff (the radiologist).   I look at them and say, "I'm not exactly a church-going gal or even a Christian but I have a really strong feeling I'd like to ask you to pray for me, Jeff."

"Do you want to do that now?"

"Yeah, I kinda do." So while I'm laying on the bed, the Grinch next to me, Jeff, Marcia and I join hands and he says a simple prayer.  They roll me out and Kim comes down to meet me and take me home.

I feel this lump in my chest. It's all bandaged up and such.  I'm sore.  My arse is still sore.  I had nightmares this morning.  But I'm home and I'm safe and I would like to believe it going to be just fine. And I'll do my damn show and at some point that damn metric century.