Artistic Freedom

When I read something written by someone I know, I “hear” it in their voice. So, I’m curious as to how everyone hears my blog posts. People often say that I write like I talk—so that makes me think that they must be reading it in my voice. But, I’ve also heard of some people printing out my posts and reading them aloud to someone else. If it’s someone I know, that is kind of disturbing to me because instead of hearing my voice, they’re hearing the voice of the person reading. The control freak/blog diva in me wants to scream, “Stop that! You’re ruining it!” (But of course, I’m way to humble to actually do that—at least, I wouldn’t do it to your face, anyway.)

Then there is the matter of the folks who’ve never actually heard my voice—how do I sound to them? Since they’ve never met me, it’s hard telling what voice they hear opining about dowdy camisoles and multiple tourniquets. Do they hear my posts in the voice of Pepe LePew? James Earl Jones? Roseanne Barr? Buckwheat?

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My eyebrows are dwindling. What’s up with that? Sure, there are a few new hairs starting to come in, but they’re more like 5 o’clock shadow than actual eyebrow hairs. In the meantime, I am down to literally 3 eyebrow hairs on the right side, and I have no doubt that I soon won’t have any. While this has given me the opportunity to develop some serious eyebrow sketching skills (anybody need a personal eyebrow artist?), it has previously been a matter of filling in where the brows were thin—not drawing them on altogether.

However, there is artistic freedom in this. With no actual hairs to define where the brows should go, I can draw whatever type of brows I’m in the mood for on a given day. In fact, I think I might even be able to adapt my brows to my mood. Feeling inquisitive? How about one eyebrow arched? Need to think logically? Try the Mr. Spock eyebrows, like the girl who works at the Brazil Walmart. Frustrated to the point of clobbering someone with a hanger? (Which is exactly how hot flashes make me feel) Select the Joan Crawford look. I might even try a unibrow just to see if anybody says anything.

The possibilities are endless! Who knew chemo side effects could be so much doggone fun?!

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It’s Not Safe

A friend asked me whether I’m planning to walk, or run in the upcoming Race for the Cure. She was serious, but I had to laugh because I HATE to run. Hate it. Don’t get me wrong, if say, the house were burning down I would run out. I wouldn’t be moseying through the black smoke and falling rafters thinking, “Gee, I hope the house doesn’t fall down before I get out…I’d speed up, but I hate to run.” However, I’ve never enjoyed that lungs-on-fire, near death feeling that I get from sustained running. Some people run because they actually *like* that feeling, but since I don’t, I’m thinking maybe I need something else to motivate me to run. How about a stick with an iced caramella dangling out in front of me? Or perhaps a square donut?

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Surgery is scheduled for 11:30 on October 9th at the St Vincent Women’s Hospital. They’ll be keeping me overnight. Also, I have to be up there the day before to have some nuclear junk injected into the original site. That will locate the sentinel lymph node so that it can be removed for biopsy. I think in a way I’ll be glad to have this boob gone just so it’s not there to be poked, prodded, injected, impaled, smashed, magnetized, scanned, carved, stitched or stapled anymore. Really, it’s almost ridiculous to think of all the stuff I’ve had done in the past 6+ months. Are they just trying to *scare* the cancer out of my boob? My cancer’s probably thinking, “Dang! This neighborhood sure has gone downhill! Every time I turn around these days there’s some sort drive-by lumpectomy or nuclear injection. It’s just not safe anymore.”

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Proving once again that most breast cancer products are made with older ladies in mind…I’ve been looking online at post-mastectomy camisoles. Basically, what this amounts to is a loose-fitting camisole that opens in the front, and contains pockets on the inside to hold surgical drains in addition to pockets for lightweight faux-boobs. I saw one of these at the boutique a few months back—ugh! It was about the dowdiest looking piece of clothing ever! White with pink ribbon accents it just screamed, “Hello, I’m your grandma’s underwear!” At the time I asked the clerk, “Does that come in black?” Of course not….your grandma doesn’t wear black underwear. In fact, she only wears white underwear, that’s why the camisole only comes in white. Duh!

So, I’ve been looking online and guess what? There are no cool post-mastectomy camisoles, AND, you must pay by the ounce of ugly because these things are pricey! Like $50-ish. I will only need the stupid thing until my drains come out, and I’ll probably feel unattractive enough without wearing an official breast cancer housecoat. I just don’t think I can make myself buy one. But if anyone finds a leopard print version, I’m there!

Hot Flash Rage

Wooooooo Hooooo! The genetic test results came back negative for both breast cancer genes. Praise God! That’s good news not only for me, but also for Mini Me, Garlic & Bagel. Aside from the obvious good news, I’m just thankful that I don’t have that hanging over my head anymore. One of the most stressful parts of this whole deal is all the waiting involved.*********************************

We met with Dr Schmidt yesterday and I got a date for my surgery: October 9th. They tried to give me October 2nd, but I had them push it out a week so I could do the Race for the Cure. Sometimes I think Dr Schmidt doesn’t quite know what to think of me. Keep in mind that the vast majority of his patients are at least old enough to be my mom, if not my grandma. Most of them aren’t asking questions like, “Hey, can I go to the Mellencamp concert a couple weeks after surgery?” Although he told me no firmly, but nicely, the expression on his face told me that what he really wanted to say was, “Are you smokin’ crack?! No, you can’t take your freshly stapled together self into a crowd of 7000+ people! Sheesh!”

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Remember how I said that I was on the verge of an episode of hot flash rage? Well, it almost happened in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Because Dr Schmidt is The Man when it comes to breast cancer, he’s got about 652,000 patients, at least half of which can be found in the waiting room on a given Monday or Thursday. This means that you’re pretty much guaranteed a substantial wait—anyone who’s been there more than once ought to know this is the case. I don’t mind because A) he’s the best and B) I know that part of the reason the wait is long is that new patients who have not yet been diagnosed are worked into the schedule ASAP. It wasn’t so long ago that I was one of those, and I’m thankful I didn’t have to wait weeks to get in to see him.

So, when we walked into the waiting room and it was almost completely full, we knew we were going to be there for a while. The seats we chose were back to back with a couple of elderly ladies. For the next 40 minutes we heard a running commentary about how long they were having to wait. Oh, there were a few little asides thrown in there, but for the most part it was, “Well! Those people came in after we did…I can’t believe how long we’ve been sitting here…I think they’re messed up back there…blah, blah, gripe, gripe, blah, blah.” Both went up to gripe at the girl behind the desk and asked when they’d be called. It was all I could do not to turn around and say, “You know, I WISH that the length of my wait here, and the fact that I might miss seeing Alex Trebek tonight were the only things I had to worry about!” Grrr!

The waiting room was so much more peaceful once they did finally get called in.

 

The Land of 10 Thousand Tourniquets

 I had an appointment with Dr Birhiray (that’s pronounced Beer-Hurray! for those of you who are new here) today, and it was the perfect occasion to debut my new t-shirt. The shirt is my chemo completion present to myself. The nurses were all crackin’ up when they saw me. Dr. Birhiray liked it, too, and I even got him to pose for pictures. Everybody say, “Hi, Dr Birhiray!”

Dr B also gave me some samples of another med that’s supposed to help with the hot flashes and enable me to sleep better. Hopefully this one won’t make me feel like I’m taking hammer blows to the head. Of course, some of the potential side effects include sweating and insomnia…gee, that’s kind of counter-productive. Let’s hope it doesn’t do that. I can’t imagine sweating MORE and sleeping LESS than I am now. I really would be holding up the coffee shop at spud gunpoint.
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Not to be outdone, Hubster brought his newly mountain-bike-accident-sculptured face along to the doctor’s office. Oh, sure, steal my 15 minutes of oncology office fame, Honey! Monday Hubster and G went mountain biking (those of you who know Hubster know where this is going) and within the first ten minutes he’d managed to take his face for a stroll down a big chunk of concrete. So, he comes back all bloody and Dad has to patch him up—picture Mick patching up Rocky’s cut eye for the umpteeth time so he can go back out and fight Mr. T, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what this was like.
You’d think from the picture that I’d be freaking out, but ‘tis not so. You see, with my husband, blood and mountain biking go together like peanut butter and jelly. I just expect them to be together. My fear was that we’d end up at the emergency room on a holiday. There has to be some pretty severe trauma to motivate me to do that. Like, maybe if he’d come back with a bunch of pieces of his head piled up in his helmet, or with half an arm tucked into his back pocket, or a spoke sticking out of his eye, I’d have considered it. Thankfully, Dad’s patch job worked and the ER was not necessary.
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I had the MRI today. It was pretty uneventful. The most exciting thing about it was the lady who was supposed to set my IV tried to kill my hand. She put a tourniquet on the forearm, about 4 inches from my wrist. Tight. Like as tight as humanly possible. My hands were cold, so she went to get me a hot pack, leaving the tourniquet on while she did so. She was gone at least a minute.

My hand, at this point, was not the same color as the rest of me. Then she came back, and since she still couldn’t see a vein, she put *another* tourniquet on my arm, in between the first one and my wrist, explaining to me that this was a “new trick” they had for making this whole thing *easier*. (And you know I was thinking to myself, “Gee, Self, this is WAY easier than it normally is when it only takes about 20 seconds and my arm’s the right color.”) Now my hand is really feeling asleep and it’s definitely not the right color. She’s still looking at it and feeling for a vein. I’m thinking, “Make a decision, Lady, are you going to stick it or not?!” I’m also beginning to wonder if she’s A) a Manpower temp, B) on work release, C) the cleaning lady or D)she stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Finally, she decides to put another tourniquet on…no, I’m kidding…finally she decided to release the blood back to my digits. And, thankfully, she called another lady over to put my IV in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep Fried Love

I am SO over this whole hot flash thing. Sheesh! I think I woke up about every half hour last night sweating like a pig. Could I be any more gross? Then, this morning I had been out of the shower for about 10 minutes when I broke out into a sweat. (Whew! Putting on a shirt is some hard work, I tell ya.) Between the sleep deprivation and the general nastiness of it, I think this whole thing is making me crazy. And it’s definitely making me crabby. (After that description, you’re all wailing and gnashing your teeth because you don’t live with me, aren’t you?) I know you’re probably thinking, “But, Moody, you’re already crazy. After all, you are the person who lint rolled her head, and removed surgical marker from her body with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.” Yeah, but this isn’t *that* kind of crazy. This is the flip-out-and-have-an-episode-of-hot-flash-rage kind of crazy. Who’ll bail my out when I’m arrested for holding up Java Haute with the potato gun Hubster & Mini Me made for science last week? “Hand over the Iced Caramella with whipped cream or I’ll spud your eye out!”

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Last night we went up to the Little Italy Festival with the Kx6. Okay, only half of the Kx6, but you know half of their family is equal to all of a regular family. The purpose of this jaunt was to secure some rosettes. Mmmm. If love could be deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar, this is what it would taste like. Hubster, Mini Me and I scarfed down 2 dozen in a very short amount of time. What made our visit to Clinton even better was running into our old friend Chris. Chris and I share the same sophisticated sense of humor, much to the dismay of our long-suffering spouses. It’s no wonder that we haven’t all gotten together for a long time, as neither Hubster nor Mrs Chris really liked the movie Dumb and Dumber, and care even less for the live version that Chris and I create.

My 9 Practical Tips for Those Starting Chemo

1. If it’s long enough, donate your hair. I read all the suggestions about cutting your hair shorter before chemo starts so it won’t be as traumatic when you lose it and I say “Baloney!” It’s going to be traumatic to lose your hair, just realize that right off the bat. But, you can either wallow in that, or make some good come out of it. The organization Locks of Love makes high-tech wigs for kids who suffer from long-term or permanent hair loss. You think it’s traumatic for you to lose your hair temporarily? Try being a permanently bald 13-year old. Wait until about a week or so after your first treatment, put your hair in ponytails, cut those puppies off and donate them. Then shave your head (Trust me, after seeing yourself with the “Look, Mommy I cut Barbie’s hair” ‘do, bald will look great) and wear the head covering of your choosing—or not.

2. Dress as you normally would, or maybe a little nicer when you go for treatment. Why? Because this fight is as much mental and emotional and it is physical. Cancer does tend to hijack your life, but you don’t have to let it steal who you are. If you dress like you’re sick, then you’re more likely to feel like you’re sick. Besides, when you dress nice, you’ll get compliments—and THAT will make you feel better.
3. If you wear make-up (or maybe even if you don’t) get yourself some Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals make-up. My mom got some of this stuff for me and it’s great for getting that natural look. The powdered foundation easily blends into your bare scalp without making you look like you’re wearing a mask. Who wants to look like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie? Good stuff.

4. Drink as much water as you can stand—especially the day before, and the day of treatment. Not only will it help flush the poison out of your system, but it’ll make nice, juicy veins for easier sticking.

5. If you’re at chemo during lunchtime, don’t get anything to eat that you really like. Seriously. The first couple of times, I didn’t realize this would be a problem and I got stuff I really enjoyed. By the middle of my treatment, I couldn’t even stand the thought of those things. It wasn’t because I puked them—I never did get sick like that—it was simply the association between that food and the chemo drugs making me feel yucky a few days later. Really. I still don’t want that formerly yummy pizza from Bravo because the mere thought turns my stomach.

6. Get a lint roller—for your head. When your shaved off nubs start falling out, they will most likely hurt. A lint roller helps remove them so you don’t have to feel their pain anymore. I was all OCD with my lint roller for a while because I was tired of painful nubs and also tired of my patchy-looking head. I actually blew through the entire roll of sticky paper just rolling my head.

7. Keep plenty of lotion on hand and apply frequently. Your skin tends to get dry during chemo. This goes for the scalp, too. In fact, I use Skin-So-Soft bath oil on my scalp every day in the shower. Now you all know how I keep it so shiny.

8. Eat small amounts frequently. I didn’t lose weight on chemo because I kept eating even when I didn’t feel like it. When you feel queasy, you probably need to eat something. If you don’t eat, you’ll feel more nauseous and more fatigued, which will only serve to wear you down mentally. Keep things like yogurt, granola bars, and bananas on hand and eat a little every hour or two.

9. When you feel good, get out and make the most of it.