Archive for February, 2006

Pigheaded

Okay, so I finished chemo a week ago. But unlike other painful life accomplishments, say like defending a dissertation, you can’t just go out an celebrate after it’s over. You’ve still had chemo. You’ll still feel queasy, even with great drugs. You’ll have little appetitite. You get exhausted. And there’s still that surgery and radiation stuff to deal with.

As I was teaching yesterday, that horrid 6th day after chemo, I was reminded of an old wives tale from my undergraduate days. How long do you wait for an instructor who is late to class? When I was a student, we talked about how rank applied…you’d wait 10 minutes for an instructor, 15 for an assistant professor, etc.

Of course, when I was an undergrad, I only remember using this once. We were sitting around in the gym, waiting for “Golf Instruction” to begin. The professor didn’t show up and finally one student said we should leave. “But it’s only 10 minutes late and he’s an emeritus professor.” “Yes, but he’s dead.” Seems someone was reading the student newspaper. And you don’t have wait all that long for dead faculty.

Now, I wasn’t planning on dying yesterday. Instead, I was wondering how many times an instructor could wander to the back of the room and throw up before cancelling class. Does it make a difference if it’s an instructor or associate professor? Fortunately, I didn’t have to make that decision.

And now, after being that sick and tired, I’m packing to fly to Houston tomorrow. It’s the big annual computer science education meeting. And right after it is the meeting of the AP Test Development Committee, those patient folks who (thank the Lord) expect me to be something other than a cancer patient.

When Charlie’s in a good mood, he says this trip is pigheaded. (Don’t ask what he calls it when he’s in a bad mood!) But I haven’t needed medical care after any of my chemotherapy treatments and I can sleep 12 hours in Houston as easily as in Macon. And given that Ike is big enough to take on Linus and Linus knows it even though Ike doesn’t and they sometimes play out their dominance games while I’m trying to sleep, well, maybe I can even sleep better in Houston.

We went to a local Thai restaurant for lunch today. I stuck to a mild dish and couldn’t eat most of it (but it had such wonderful vegetables!). But I did get a fortune cookie. (I can still taste sweet.) It even had two fortunes, both of which I interpretted as singing the praises of bullheadedness: Oppotunities will multiply as they are seized. and Get your mind set, confidence will lead you on.

So, Houston, here I come. Pigheaded and all!

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Good for me, bad for Charlie

No, it’s nothing about Santa hats.

But my chemotherapy cycle has changed the last three times or so. Instead of being turned off by food right after chemo, I still have my prechemo urges (if not as much as an appetite). So this means when Charlie asks what I want for dinner, I tell him things like chili pie and onion shortcake (a new recipe I just got today and haven’t had time to try) instead of turkey sandwiches.

Now, Charlie still has sense and makes turkey sandwiches. And I even eat them. And yogurt. And pears in jello. And banana popsicles.

But ya know, I think we’ll both feel better when I start getting turned off by food. At least I’ll be a little easier to deal with.

So far, so good. Had my last Neulasta today, will see the doctor tomorrow. Charlie’s caught the cold I had last week and it is a miserable cold, chemo or no.

I’m getting lots more sleep recently and think that must have something to do with why I’m doing better. But it’s almost an hour after my normal bedtime, so I’ve got to get to bed soon. Maybe tomorrow I’ll only want white food.

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Done. Over. Through. Complete. Fini.

I had my last chemotherapy session today.

I was actually a little excited to have chemo. Okay, so it’s working great, but I get all hang-dog for days after it (and then had all those problems related to the cold after the last one), so it’s not like it’s a fun thing. But today, knowing it was the last, well, it was almost fun.

And, after I’d finished, some of the nurses showered Charlie and me with bubbles and gave me a certificate to celebrate my graduation. It really is the nicest place I never want to have business with again.

I’ll see the oncologist later this week to find out what’s next. (It will be no big surprise. I’ll wait for the genetic testing results and then see the surgeon. That’s really the big “what’s next appointment” and it’s still 2 weeks away.)

But there’s no rest for the chemically imbalanced. I’m off to Cancer Wellfit yet again. But then, that’s another part of why this is going so well, so I won’t whine. Too much. I mean, really, I had chemo today. If I can’t whine, who can?

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Thanks Joe Cocker

You give me fever
Fever
In the morning
Fever all through the night

Okay, so I’m gonna get all the joys of chemotherapy it seems. This last week it’s been fever. And fever and being immunesuppressed are not a good combination. I did almost nothing this weekend but sleep and think cool thoughts. But it looks like it was just a cold and it’s gone and we didn’t end up calling the doctor at 11:00 Saturday night when I hit the magic number of 100.5 degrees. (And given that my normal temperature hasn’t been over 98 since this started, maybe I should have gotten excited at a lower temperature, but, well, I didn’t.)

So instead, I’m doing the dry mouth thing now. Fortunately, I have lots of free samples from my dental hygenist (one of those angels on earth) and was feeling guilty about not using them.

My last treatment will be over in seven days. I cannot wait.

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The Red Dress Dilemma

Okay, so last Friday was National Wear Red Day, a day to wear red “to show their support for women’s heart disease awareness.” (From the Wear Red Website, of course.)

And, having a red dress that gets out rarely (it was originally a Pentecost dress, because heaven only knows Pentecost is at least as worthy as Christmas!), I wore it.

And I ended up feeling like a traitor to my disease. I mean, last Friday, I didn’t own anything pink, and after all, that’s the breast cancer color and how dare I wear something for some other disease. I should be bedecked in pink, shouldn’t I? Okay, maybe the almost bald head and carrying around a plastic bag, just in case, might be some sort of indicators that I have some involvement in breast cancer, but still…

Of course, it’s amazing how these woes get answered. The women of St. Francis presented me with a prayer shawl Sunday. It’s the first they knit as a group and every time I pull it around me, I feel the love and prayers. And it’s pink and it’s perfect. And it seems to go with everything. At least, when I really need it, I don’t care about how it goes with my outfit…I’m sure it goes perfectly.

And since chemo has gone differently this time, I do need it. I hardly felt the effects of treatment for the first 4 days, but on the 5th day, I crashed, hard. I couldn’t make it through church and was in bed before Charlie even knew I was home. Day 6 is usually stronger, but was rough. Today is day 7 and I woke up feeling better, but it didn’t last. Okay, so I expected to be 100%. I’m never 100% any more and should be thrilled that I really do feel better, but again, that would involve a reasonable person.

And really, is someone who sees a dress as disloyalty all that reasonable?

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Madras Curry

Okay, I was warned that food would taste different.

And oh, it does!

Actually, this is a good thing. I don’t taste salty much any more, so am using a lot less salt on my food. But it’s also making drinking enough at home rough. I usually drink diet soda and the sweetener just gets awful tasting right after chemo. Okay, so fewer diet sodas is also a good thing, but that means I drink less than I should. (A reasonable person would drink water instead, but I think it’s long been established I’m not a reasonable person.) Fountain drinks use a different sweetener, so I try to eat out soon after treatment, if just to get enough to drink. (I actually had no trouble with a baked potato and cup of gumbo 2 days after treatment…I’m thrilled!)

I’ve also been warned not to eat favorite foods, because if I got sick, well, they stop being favorite foods.

But I was not warned about Madras Curry.

Now, despite its geographical anomalies, Madras Curry is the Thai-3 entry at my local Chinese restaurant. Yeah, you can think about that for a few minutes, but it’s not going to make sense. Apparently the Chinese running the restaurant are as bad at geography as Americans, or maybe they’re just giving in to American’s thinking all curry comes from Thailand, but last time I checked, Madras was not in Thailand (but then again, it’s now known as Chennai in India, so maybe the Thais took the name?).

Anyway, I do long for Madras Curry, but usually much later in the chemo cycle. It was a favorite before I started treatment. It’s a spicy food I can eat (the Pad Thai at the same Chinese restaurant, surprisingly appropriately named the Thai-1 dish, is way too spicy now). Madras Curry is full of big vegetables. I’d be an absolute fool to pick up an order on the way home (especially since Charlie’s home and he’d stop me from eating it). But I want it.

But the strangest thing about Madras Curry is that I’m sure I stink of it. I just know the odor is oozing out of my pores. When the smell first started, I decided the odor was one of the chemo drugs, Adriamycin. But I have no real reason for thinking it’s Adria, and I think I’d prefer smell of Chinese/Thai/Indian food than of chemotherapy drugs, so I’m sure I am a walking advertisement for Madras Curry.

Of course, no one else can smell it, so maybe I’m just a crazy woman who thinks she smells like a delicious curry.

But the good news in all this is that less than 3 days after treatment, things are going well enough for me to hallucinate smells. I made it through classes the day after treatment, and more importantly, today (a day I usually sleep in). I still can’t concentrate on much (except Asian geography?), but I’m doing remarkably well physically. Charlie and I did 20 laps (almost 2 miles) at Wellfit last night and I snuck out to attend the Laughter Yoga class today. It was amazing, almost 30 people, most of them cancer patients, walking around for 45 minutes laughing.

Laughter may not be as good as Adriamycin and Neulasta, but it was pretty good medicine!

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