Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Brimful of blessings

I want to start off by thanking those of you who have been touching base with me and for the gentle nudges about, "so, um, the blog doesn't have anything new on it yet, does it?" 

You're so sly. I love it.

You're right! The blog does indeed not have anything new on it. And there is old stuff that is also not yet on the blog.

So here I am. Thanks for the reminders. 

Last Thursday I had my second of six chemo treatments and my sweet Emily went with me to keep me out of trouble. 

Everything went well, I had a fabulous weekend, good energy levels for the most part with a touch of fuzziness around the edges, all food staying where it belongs, and had a good time with Grandmama visiting. We even got a girls-only breakfast out. Thank you, Mommee!

Monday night we had the honor of hosting a retirement party for one of Dada's coworkers. I heard several of them say they very much enjoyed themselves, but I had an absolute blast. It was so nice to talk with people and let the kids run around in the yard  and have "far too much food" and enjoy the sunshine in the trees. Even the bugs were minimal! The weather cooperated beautifully and nobody was tempted to stay too late as it was a work evening, so we had a perfect shindig. Thank you all who helped plan, prep, clean, and party! Thanks for blessing our home with your fun selves. We loved it.

Yesterday was Damon's birthday. Can you believe that kid is 8 already? Me neither. I love the Facebook memory feature that shows pictures of my huge stick-outy belly and the big kids as little kids kissing it. And yes, I'm aware that Carrie's birthday has come and gone and there was no blog post about that yet. Hush. I'm getting there eventually...

Did I mention when I asked what kind of cake he'd like he told me, "a minion leading a storm trooper"? 

So far today I've had to kick Carrie off my laptop two or three times and it's only lunchtime. And she slept in until ten. Yesterday I had to kick Damon off of it at least three or four times. So as you can see, blogging is difficult when one has no access to her tools. Another part of the procrastination is having coherent blogging thoughts, which are much more difficult to come by once all the kids are home. Mainly because there is no quiet once all the kids are home. I hear that that is something I will miss once they all move out. Someone who has actually experienced such an event might have to let me know if that is true or not. To go to the bathroom in peace... but I digress.

Annnnnd my computer is sticky. Ewwwww.

Also, Dr. Pepper doesn't taste like Dr. Pepper when you're doing chemo. *sip sip* It tastes astringent like what I'd imagine cleaning solution would taste like. As I need the liquids anyway, bottoms up. Please ignore any belching you hear from my general area. My apologies. My mouth is just now starting to feel a little pebbly and strange again, but as I know that doesn't last forever it is easier to mentally manage. I've also been using my alcohol-free mouthwash this round but haven't started the baking soda and salt rinse again yet. Perhaps today. Fritos taste pretty much the same in case you were wondering.

After the first chemo, I had a few good days and then Immodium became my best friend. I think I already talked about that in a previous post. I find it interesting that two of the chemo drugs caution you against constipation and one of them warns about the likelihood off diarrhea; you would think you'd end up about even in the middle. My bod declares otherwise and ends up needing Immodium, though I have to say that this round has been much better thus far, and yes, I'm knocking on my wooden kitchen table as I type. All that to say thank you to those of you who are praying over such things, and I know some of you definitely are. It is greatly appreciated, even though I have no secrets, haha. Nobody wants to spend all summer in the bathroom. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mucho! Keep it up! I have no shame. ;)

Also knowing that bone pain would be approaching this time around, I got proactive and popped some Advil this morning when my femurs started to feel sore. No point in feeling like I'm 80 when I'm not there yet. Femur is such a funny word. Nothing like when your femurs start feeling funny. Teehee. My Doc said I could do Advil as long as I did it with food and only 400mg as 800 would be too much. Since mine are only 200mg, I can happily oblige. Aleve was recommended and works well for my Dad, but Mommee can't tolerate it and I already knew Advil works well for me, so my other Doc said to just skip it and stick with what works. I like that they are willing to work with me and be flexible instead of me blindly following orders. 

I've had super incredible friends pop in to visit, take me to treatment, bring us dinner, clean our bathrooms (seriously!), go grocery shopping for us, give us blankets and candies to settle my stomach, lavish us with books, flowers, coffee mugs, and other gifts, offer to take the kids to karate, give us money for pizza; it's been amazing. My sister in law's Bible study made us 14 freezer meals. Fourteen! Then her family drove them out to deliver them and visit with us. People all over creation are praying for us. And still you ask how you can help. You all are so loving and so supportive! We are truly blessed. Every day. Your love and the ways you show God's love, grace, and mercy blow us away. How could we ever not believe that He is good!? 

Two bits

And then there were none. Hairs, that is. Carrie officially has the longest hair in our household, and she can actually get it into a half-inch ponytail. Me? Not so much:

Thanks to Mommee, Lainie, Jessie, and Theresa for the scarves and head wraps. Adding them to my bandanna stash, nobody will ever know the difference since they're so used to seeing me in them already! Hehe!

So far, I still have eyebrows and eyelashes. One of my Docs ruefully told me I may still have to shave my legs. Talk about a lack of justice. Sheesh. ;)  My other Doc said my hair will grow back, and probably curly. Then I will look exactly like my mother! At least now Merida hair for the summer, whoohoo!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Shave and a hair cut...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Last day of school

Friday, May 18, 2018

Further proof of God's faithfulness

And the power of your prayers: both my bone scan and my CT scan results came back clear which means the cancer has not spread to bones, lungs, abdomen, anywhere other than where it had already been found. Thank you, God, for your protection and your faithfulness. Thank you all for your prayers and support. The only other thing the bone scan revealed was arthritis, which wasn't any real surprise other than location. My doc said it was in my shoulders as she touched her own collarbones. As I feel it in my hands and neither of the above places (yet), we'll just roll with that later! 

She also reported that all my blood work looked perfect. I have all those numbers but they don't mean anything to me other than they're good, haha. I do remember that platelets are 132,000 and I'm fairly sure she said 12.7 for hemoglobin for those of you who know what such amounts translate into. I'm content knowing it was good news. 

She looked me full in the face and said I'd probably lose my hair this week or next week. I appreciate the concern and the sweetness, but hair has always just been hair to me: no biggie. I am glad that I cut it short first before it falls out. I'd imagine it's still heartbreaking to see short tufts on one's pillowcase but it would be harder to see long locks. I am excited for the shaving to happen, actually, but as Damon's awards ceremony is next Tuesday I'd like to wait until at least that evening as I don't want to scare any of my smaller friends unnecessarily. Waving one last time to the bus with no hair is an entirely different story, one I'm looking forward to with relish! *Insert maniacal laughter here*

Now you know everything that we know. We have a meeting next week with my radiation oncologist to discuss our options and then an EKG to determine my baseline heart stuff before the possibility of the Herceptin messing with it. More firsts! 

And lasts. Next week are the very last days of 9th, 6th, and 2nd grades. The boys have squabbled since they got home this afternoon about anything and everything which bodes fantaaaaasticly for the long summer ahead... 

Liam has begun the orthodontic journey that is getting braces. He survived a few weeks of having rubbery separators between his teeth and today those were removed and his custom made expanders were... installed? Can I say installed? Think metal bridges attached to molars which will widen both his upper and lower jaws. I have a "key" which will be inserted and rotated in his upper expander every day for a month and in his lower expander every other day for two months. He's understandably sore and his Turtle Speed One eating habits have, alas, deteriorated into the realm of Slower Than Molasses. Thankfully we have the weekend to recover before he tries to get breakfast into him on a school day. Braces go on the day after my third chemo treatment. Sounds like a movie marathon kind of weekend to me!

In other news, Dada wrapped up a week of helping train other quality folks from around the globe. He put in mucho hours and had some fun, yummy dinners out this week. I know because I partook in some of the leftovers, hehe!  I may or may not have had some steak for breakfast this morning which sat decidedly better than the Raisin Bran I had yesterday. 

Carrie has been participating in a wood working project for one of her classes. She chose to make a clock and is nearing the final touches. You know, details like, oh yeah, a clock kinda needs hands. She did a nice job painting on Roman numerals and has stained it. She has been procrastinating a bit on the entire process and was flabbergasted to discover that school lets out an entire week before she thought it did. And then there is her brother, who could probably tell you how many hours and minutes and seconds there are left until dismissal on the last day. 

Damon had field day today and said his favorite part was the jumping race where they had to jump over "these triangle things". Sorry, that's all the information I got out of him while he's on the iPad away from his brother. Divide and conquer. 

Have a great weekend! May it be relatively peaceful in the madness that is May. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Snippets and scans

Today I have two scans, two more personal medical firsts, and I'm kind of excited about them. Definitely intrigued. 

I'm having my very first CT scan done and my first bone scan. While I am not thrilled about more injections into me, this time of contrast dye, I think the technical aspect of both sounds fascinating. I'm sure Liam is going to wish he was with me when I relate the procedure with the camera passing over me. If you're interested, I thought this link was fun: bone scan 

Once again, I'm not supposed to eat or drink anything as of two hours before the tests. Some sites say I'll be drinking water throughout them, so that would be okay with me... I hate feeling like I'm shriveling up from the inside out.

I've been struck by how much chemo reminds me of pregnancy. I know I've told some of you this already, but let me enlighten any who are curious as to how that could be. 

I always called pregnancy a "total-body takeover" which I think was coined Vicki Iovine in her "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" which is absolutely hilarious and spot on. There seem to be no body systems not affected by being pregnant.

Chemo seems very similar, which makes sense to me a non-medical person, because it's sheer volumes of chemicals being dumped into an otherwise unsuspecting body. I can picture my cells holding various bits and pieces and musing, "hmm. What am I supposed to do with all this new stuff?" I can see baby cells slamming them together like a 6 month old sitting up child whacks blocks together, maybe only connecting pieces by accident. Then the big cells look at each other and shrug, "okay, we'll give it a try!"

My GI tract is just off enough to cause excitement that nobody wants. The various medications had predicted anything from constipation to diarrhea, and let me just mention that I am not having constipation issues. Immodium is my new friend, people. 

Tastes and smells are affected, so even if something sounds appealing, which is getting rarer, it doesn't always stay that way once it's in front of me. For a Hobbit, not enjoying eating is just pitiful. Even cookies aren't appealing right now. Cookies!

I told the kids yesterday that my mouth felt like I'd been sucking on a camel. Not a freshly washed camel, mind you, but one that had been through 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Liam, of course, asked how I knew what a camel tasted like. You know that puckery feeling your mouth gets if you fall prey to temptation and eat way too many sour Warheads or something similar? Or even an obscene amount of movie theater popcorn? My mouth and lips and soft palate all feel pebbled. PSA: do not attempt to enjoy Atomic Fireballs in this condition. You have been warned. I was afraid I was going to have crisped children as I was pretty sure that I could actually breathe fire. Wow. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but now I know. All Fireballs will be joining my hair ties and other supplies until chemo is over. Yikes. 

I've been told alcohol-free mouthwash and a baking soda with salt rinse help, and they do. Gum, not so much. Gonna take some getting used to, sadly.

Remember the hair, skin, nails changes, ladies? Yep, that too. It is easier to pluck as my hair is loosening, so there's a perk, I guess, but I'm sporting a third eye between my eyebrows and another on my chin right now that make me think not-so-fondly of high school days...

On the plus side, short hair is much easier to keep clean-ish and my hairballs don't look like tumbleweeds any longer. One of the reasons I stick with long hair is I'm too lazy and cheap to do the required maintenance cuts every 4-6-8 weeks to keep a short 'do looking the way it should. I won't have to worry about that this time. Soon I may look like Sinead O'Connor and then Mr. Clean! Wheeeee! Talk about streamlined mornings. Eyeliner, earrings, and out the door. I've already quit with the mascara as I'm losing quite a few eyelashes when I rub them. Just not worth taking more off with the mascara, I suppose. Yes, Mommee, I will remember the sunscreen. I promise. Ain't nobody want to see a peely, sunburned, egg of a head. Did I already talk about the chicken pox? I can't remember and I'm too lazy to look. When I was a kid, my brother graciously shared his chicken pox with me one summer. I remember lying on a sheet on the couch and wanting to scratch something, anything, but being told not to because it would leave a scar. I remember thinking, "there has to be someplace I can scratch where nobody will ever see." My aha moment hit and I elatedly began scratching my scalp for all I was worth. It felt wooooonderful, and now all I can wonder is, how pockmarked will my scalp be in a few weeks when I get to see the damage I inflicted? Oh well! Serves me right! The kids have already asked if they can draw constellations on my head with magic markers if the scars are there. I know you're all dying of not surprise. 

Feelings. Wow, the feels are all over and dripping off of the map, just like during pregnancy. Some moments I think, "I've got this" and the next I feel like I need to watch every sad movie I've ever seen in a marathon so I can finally get all the tears and snot and frustration out. The problem is that those feelings usually creep out towards bedtime when I'm most tired and vulnerable, and everyone knows that when you cry at bedtime that your eyes are all swollen and icky the next day and your pillow is wet and your nose stuffs up so you can't breathe through your clogged nose which makes you breathe through your mouth and dries out your throat... no thanks, I've got enough going on, thanks. I will have to schedule my prescribed good cry and not at bedtime. 

So all of these lovely issues, and no baby at the end. Why did I sign up for this again? Hmmm. Turns out living with breast cancer is relatively easy. Living with the treatment of it is an entirely different can of worms, one I'm not even sure I want to open the whole way. Bleh. 

Enough about me. I do not want this blog to be hijacked by cancer. It gets enough from me as it is. 

Picture this: a second grade, rather tall for his age boy in pajamas and a hoodie, backpack weighted down by 6 hardback library books and 1 self-owned paperback, a lunchbox, his daily folder, a snack container of cheezits, and a small flashlight. Additionally he's carrying a cloth grocery bag stuffed with his pillow and two throws, waiting for the bus. His face is tearstained because he's not taking the sleeping bag which is bigger than he is. I compromised on the extra throw, one for under him and one for on top of him, but he's still not having it. Today is the read a thon and phys ed, and his heart was set on lugging even more than he already had to school. We already had the talk about "are you sure you wanna take so many books? This is really heavy!" "I got it, Mom!" We already talked about how no matter what he's going to have a fun day. To shift perspective and thus hopefully attitude, I mentioned that while he's reading in his pajamas all comfy and cozy with his friends, I'd be at the hospital again getting poked for more tests. He's subdued where he had been mutinous, but I hate that I have to ever play the cancer card. This morning was not my best from a digestion standpoint, and making it out to the bus stop with him was looking iffy but we made it. He boarded the bus with all his Stuff and life went on. I hate how this summer is going to be hard on them in regards to what I physically will and will not be able to do, but we will soldier on. I can't wait to hear after my scans how much fun he had and what the best part was. Which reminds me, I need to pack a book for all the waiting I'm going to be doing in between scans while waiting for the dye to get where it needs to go... maybe this weekend I can stay in my pajamas and have a read in! Come on over, and bring your books! 

Counting today, there are only five days left of the school year. Can I get an eeeeeeeeeeeeek?!