Dry Toast

My surgery is scheduled for 4PM next Tuesday, and will be preceded by the dreaded wire localization, which is by far the worst thing I’ve had done over the past year. Really. The procedure is used to locate what the doctor needs to remove when it’s something too small to be felt. It involves first sticking a needle in the breast to inject numbing medicine. That hurts, but it’s necessary because the next step is injecting dye into the spot to be removed. The dye is very painful. And this is all guided by ultrasound, so the ultrasound wand is also being pressed into the area in question at the same time. But wait, there’s more…after that, a wire is inserted through the needle (does that give you any idea how freakin’ big the needle is?) and hooked into the spot. The other end is flopping around on the outside like a CB antenna. Anybody remember the theme from Convoy? (“Now we’ve got a great big convoy, rockin’ through the night…”) They tape the wire down and just about the time you think you’re done they lead you to the mammogram machine.

I’m no weenie, but this was traumatic enough for me that I A) had to lay down for a while because I was literally about to fall out, and B) had a meltdown immediately upon leaving the place to check in for surgery. Needless to say, I’m NOT looking forward to doing this again.

To make the potential for meltdown even worse, I am not allowed to eat all day. Pam, at Dr Schmidt’s office, told me I could have a piece of dry toast at 7AM. The question is…why would I want to? A piece of dry toast would not pacify my stomach. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it would only make it angry. I’m allowed to have clear liquids up until 11:30, though, which is some consolation, because I’m pretty sure iced tea is a clear liquid. If you disagree, I don’t want to hear it.


I had a follow-up with Dr Haerr yesterday. I started to tell him about the upcoming surgery and he already knew. He thought maybe Dr B had sent him a note, but I told him I wasn’t sure that Dr B even knew about it yet. Dr H looked through my chart, and wondered aloud how he knew that. Then he said, “Did you put that in your blog?” I just started laughing. Actually, Dr Haerr has never visited my blog, but Kelly the radiation therapist does, so in spite of the fact that she blew off the email I sent her, she’s evidently filled him in. (Yeah, Kelly, I’m talkin’ about you.)

Good Attitude

Y’all are not gonna believe this. I have to have *another* lumpectomy. We went to see Dr Schmidt today and he ended up sending me for a mammogram. The mammogram showed some calcifications. Calcifications, for those of you who don’t know, can be a sign of breast cancer. In the general population it’s about a 10% chance. Of course, I’m not the general population—I’m cancer girl—so, Dr Schmidt wants to do a surgical biopsy.

Now, you’re probably thinking (but you’d never have the nerve to actually say it—which is a good thing, because you might get hurt), “Why don’t you just lop the thing off and get it over with?” Well, to tell you the truth, that was my line of thinking, too. I thought, “I do not want to do another lumpectomy. This is getting ridiculous. As much as I’ve fought tooth & nail to save the boob thus far, I’m ready to move on and start planning reconstruction.” But, Dr Schmidt says we need to figure out what we’re dealing with first. So, I’ll be having another surgery in two weeks.

Of course, in the process of all of this, I had to meet with the radiologist to go over the mammogram. He came into the room to break the news to me that he was recommending a biopsy. Like Stuart Smalley, he was doing his best to be a caring nurturer, expecting me to be all emotional or something. (The whole time I’m thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…can I go talk to Dr Schmidt now?” and “Man, I’m hungry—I knew we should have stopped at Panera!”) “I’m sorry,” he said, “Do you have any questions?” He seemed a little shocked when I was like, “Look, I’ve done this before. I knew the purpose for coming up here for the mammo was to help determine whether of not I get to keep the breast. It’s really not a big deal.” He commented that I had a really good attitude. I thought, “Buddy, I don’t even have my good attitude with me at this point—it’s out in the waiting room with my coffee. This is my annoyed, let’s-get-on-with-it attitude you’re looking at.”


Wouldn’t it be great if everyone thought that way? Like, if anything that wasn’t sobbing or freaking out was considered a good attitude. Man! My life would be so much easier if when someone was sapping my will to live with some boring cancer story, I could just be really short with them and they’d still say what a good attitude I had. “You know Eunice, I thought that story about how my friend died from breast cancer would upset her, but instead she just had this really great attitude when she told me, ‘Cancer isn’t killing me, but your story is, please excuse me while I run away as fast as I can.’ She’s just such an inspiration to us all.”

Chin City

That’s not really the greatest picture of me. It doesn’t really look like me. But, I posted it because after about 562 attempts, I finally managed to get one with only one chin. Even so, as you can see, it involved the use of a cowl neck sweater, a strange camera angle, a come hither look, and some flab rolled up and held in place with hair clips.

They say it takes more muscles to frown than to smile (Now you know why I smile a lot—I’m not happy, just slothful.) but I think the real question needs to be how many chins does it take to smile, because whenever I snap a smiley photo these days, there are at least three. And if I try my old standby trick of sticking out my chin in order to make my face look thinner, I only succeed in looking downright maniacal.

I didn’t think there could possibly be any worse pictures than the ones I’ve taken myself, until I saw a picture G’s mom took of me at the hospital when Macgyver was born. People, I have JOWLS! Jowls, I tell you! I look like Alfred Hitchcock, for crying out loud! And while I have always enjoyed Hitchcock’s work, I don’t want to look like him.


Somewhere I have an itch I need to scratch. It feels like an area in the radiated part of my chest needs a good scratching. The only problem is that I don’t have any feeling where I feel like I need to scratch. So, when I do scratch where I think my itch is residing, it just keeps on itching. Hubster’s theory is that my nerves are all jacked up from the surgery, and so my brain is getting signals telling me I itch in the wrong place. If that’s the case, I guess whenever I feel an itch I need to scratch everywhere else until I hit the right spot.

Maybe I should try scratching under my chins.

Things are Going to Start Happening to Me Now

In the movie The Jerk, Steve Martin’s character, Navin R Johnson, gets super excited upon the arrival of the new phone book. Jumping up and down, he shouts, “The new phone book’s here!” Navin is psyched because finally his name is somewhere in print, and the scene ends with him declaring, “Things are going to start happening to me now.” That’s kind of how I’m feeling these days. Many things have happened since I last blogged.
Whew! In less than one week I have two brand new nephews. Little MacGyver was born Monday night a little before 9:00. He weighs 8 lbs 10 ounces, which I think may consist entirely of skin stretched around a big lung. I don’t know him very well yet, but I can tell you one thing—he does NOT like taking a bath. And when he doesn’t like something, buddy, you know it.
I had an appointment with my oncologist, Dr Birhiray, Tuesday. For those of you who haven’t been around very long, that’s pronounced Beer-Hurray! (Now, isn’t that fun to say?) I love Dr B for a couple of reasons. First of all, he laughs a lot. There’s never doom and gloom at Dr B’s office. There are only things that need dealt with. We deal with them. We move on. We laugh along the way. Secondly, he never makes you feel rushed. Got questions? Ask away. Got more questions? Ask those, too.
After I got done meeting with Dr B, I went back to the chemo room to visit the nurses. Oddly, there’s a special bond that forms between chemo patients and the people who inject them with poison every other week. So, whenever I’m there, I stop in to see Karen and Leslie. Little did I know what was in store for me.
You ever have an experience that would be traumatic, were it not for the fact that it was so stinkin’ over-the-top crazy that it makes for a great story? The kind of incident where you’re laughing on the inside while thinking, “I can’t believe that just happened” and simultaneously trying to stay cool? And if you’re me, you’re also thinking, “I’m so gonna blog this.” What happened next definitely fits into that category. Leslie asked about my reconstruction plans. I told her that since I had rads, I’d need to have the lat flap surgery.
At this point, two women who are sitting there—hanging out, not doing chemo, just hanging out–interject themselves into the conversation. “No, you don’t! You don’t have to have the lat flap.” Then they start telling me I need to come to some informational meeting they’re having about reconstruction using the DIEP method. I don’t remember what it stands for, but basically it’s where they make you some new boobs out of your gut fat. Anyway, I’d read about it before, but it’s a relatively new and complicated technique and no one around here does it. These women had traveled to New Orleans to have this done.
So, they’re telling me how great it is, and suddenly the one woman, looks to be in her 50’s, whips up her shirt to show me the results that she was obviously so darn proud of. There she is, holding her shirt up while pointing to various features like some sort of breast reconstruction weatherman, “Tomorrow’s forecast should see highs around my collarbone with lows in the mid-torso region. Chance for blinding, white skin is 100%” The whole time, all I’m thinking is, “Wow…I’ve just been flashed by some middle-aged woman. I gotta blog this.” Things are going to start happening to me now—indeed!


Last Saturday, I celebrated a milestone: My First Post Chemo Haircut. Woo hoo! Now, I’m a little less butch. Yea me. And, you wouldn’t believe how many compliments I’ve gotten on it, even though it can’t possibly have changed by more than a ¼” at the most. I guess that’s where having a professional involved really pays off.


Okay, now that I’ve told you about all the minor happenings like flashers and haircuts, I need to tell you something that you might find upsetting. The Foob has decided to retire. You’re shocked, I know. If you need to have a good cry, that’s okay. There, there. Let it out. Take a deep breath. Through your tears and snotty sobs you’re probably saying, “But, I thought The Foob would always be here for me. What about Foobhog Day? If he retires, he won’t be able to look for his shadow and then we’ll have 6 weeks of excruciating uncertainty about the weather!” Take heart, my friend. The Foob is not leaving you high and dry. He has already hired a successor. We thought about giving the new foob his own name, to distinguish him from the original foob. First, we thought we might call him Noob. Then we considered Foob Two, or Toob, but we didn’t really care for the shape that implied. In the end, we thought it best to pass on the name, rather than come up with a new one. Think of The Foob as the Dread Pirate Roberts of the prosthetic world—each one inheriting and carrying on the name and reputation. And in plenty of time for Foobhog Day.


My hair has reached the point where it’s becoming more and more of a challenge. Basically, I have two choices: helmet head or butch. I’ve been opting for butch. Though it’s never been my aspiration to look like Ponyboy from The Outsiders, it sure beats the heck out of looking like a Mom Jeans model. Last night Hubster was griping about my hair being so stiff. I explained that without copious amounts of product, I have a helmet head. “No…you don’t have helmet head,” blissfully ignorant Hubster tried to reassure me. “Yes, I do…you just haven’t seen it without all the hair goo,” I explained. He was unconvinced, so I went in the bathroom and brushed my hair out. Then, for added affect, I combed the front down into little helmet head bangs. I went back into the dining room where he was working on his laptop. “See?” I said, pointing to my helmet. “Wow…I guess you do have helmet head,” he admitted. Yeah. Not something I’m really happy to be right about.

And another thing…hair this short is not adequate insulation when it’s cold outside. I’m so thankful that I’m not actually bald anymore, but sheesh! I’m used to way more protection than this ‘do provides. Why on Earth anyone would choose to have hair this short is quite beyond me. Sure, it doesn’t take much time to do in the morning, but I really never spent that much time on my hair anyway. I’d say I save 10 minutes, tops, by having hair this short. Not a fair trade for frostbitten ears.


Some of you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, I have another sister who is also due with her first child next week. Yep, that’s right. We’ve just got more babies than you can shake a stick at around here. The good news is that since Potato-Fork sister is actually near her due date, we presumably won’t be having all the drama that we’ve been having with Sister Basketball Fingers & Blink. Routine delivery…that’s what we’re shootin’ for on this next one. Of course, Potato-Fork sister has been ginormous and miserable and ready to be done with being pregnant for the last several weeks. Lately she’s been trying all those various old wives’ tales that you always hear are supposed to cause you to go into labor. She’s tried everything from eating spicy food to juggling cats, with no success. The only thing she hasn’t tried is castor oil—she’s not quite THAT desperate. Fortunately for her, the doctor said she won’t let her go past her due date, which is next Thursday. So at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Heh heh.


So, some of you are probably thinking, “What’s up with this? This is supposed to be a breast cancer blog, not A Baby Story.” That, my friends, is where you are mistaken. This is neither a cancer blog, nor a sisters & babies blog. It is a blog chronicling my life during this whole cancer thing—and my life, folks, is NOT all about the cancer. Cancer is not my new identity…I’ll keep the old one, thankyouverymuch. In fact, I really don’t sit around and think about cancer much at all, and I tire very quickly of cancer conversation. Want to make my eyes glaze over in record time? Start talking to me about everyone you ever knew who had cancer.

What I do here is make observations on everyday life. My everyday things are sometimes different than yours unless you’re doing the cancer treatment thing, too. But sometimes they’re just normal, and that’s just fine by me.


I spent the better part of the last two days in the hospital. This time, however, it wasn’t because of me. Basketball Fingers, my youngest sister, was in there due to complications with her pregnancy. Although the baby wasn’t due until February 13th, he was delivered by C-section yesterday afternoon. Being 6 weeks early is hard on a little guy, and he’s currently hanging out in the NICU. The doctors have told BBF & her hubby that Blink, who weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs 1 ounce, may have to stay as long as 6 weeks. But, he’s improving quickly, and we hope that maybe he’ll get to go home sooner. BBF is still recovering as well, and hasn’t yet been able to visit Blink in the NICU.

My friends, please pray with me that God will hold Blink in the hollow of his hand, and that he’ll be blessed with rapid development of his lungs so he can go home soon. Pray also for BBF & hubby…they have waited so long for this, and the last few days have been full of uncertainty. They need continued strength, grace and peace as they wade through these circumstances together.