Friday, July 30, 2010

For the Record...OUCH!

Hi Folks!

What a week! On top of missing my number one son (he'll be home tomorrow, I can't wait!!), I had another week full of appointments. I was feeling better from the last chemo, but should have taken into account that I would experience fatigue. Me...being me...decided to plod on because getting out in the evening felt so good at the time. I ended up missing an appointment on Wed (THEY canceled...not me) thank heavens, because I just ran out of steam! However, yesterday and today were physical therapy appointments where they poked, prodded, stretched, deep tissue massaged and worked over some scar tissue from surgery. Can I just say OUCH!?!? Then they took me to the "gym" and had me exercise on the hand bike and the weight lifting machine along with some band stretches. Two days in a row of that was a bit much because my muscles are complaining!! LOL I know in the long run this will help, I've been through physical therapy before, but not after surgery. That's a whole other animal. I've been good up to this point about whining...haven't I? Ok, I've had my whine, I feel better LOL Onwards and upwards...tomorrow will be a better day...right? RIGHT? Please say YES!!!

After PT today, DH decided he wanted to see a movie. We haven't been out in quite some time, so off we went to find something to watch. We ended up seeing Charlie St. Cloud. Ok, I secretly knew that Zac Efron would be in this movie, and I'd heard he had matured quite a bit as an actor. Not to mention HE TOOK OFF HIS SHIRT....*ladylike drool* I should be ashamed of myself right? I mean I'm old enough to be his Mother for crying out loud. Still, I'm not dead yet, and I couldn't help smiling at some of the shots of his fantastic physique. I held DH's hand at the appropriate time and cried in all the right spots so he wouldn't notice the dreamy smile on my face LOL. It was a sad movie, but I liked it...color me weird. I won't ruin it for anyone who is hoping to see it even though I'm dying to say something here. *biting tongue*

I did a bit of stitching on my UFO yesterday, the Rose Quaker. I worked mainly on some leaves on one of the roses. I wish I could correct this so you could see the colors in this pattern. I have to say, this is one of my favorites. So here are a few pictures so you can see how I got on.

I've had some wonderful surprise phone calls this week. It's great connecting with family and friends I haven't heard from in so long. It's kinda sad, though, that it takes an illness like this to get those phone calls to come in. Either way, they have brightened my day! Thank you Dianne, Wendy, Renee, Needleworker, Gillie, Sonya, Mom, Marc, Miss M, Miss D and the others who've been able to catch me at home. I hope I didn't miss anyone. You guys really brighten my day.

Ok, off to watch some TV and veggitate while I spend my last night childless. Even though I missed him, I mean REALLY missed him, it was nice to have DH all to myself for a little while. He's my rock!

And you guys rock! Thanks for reading. *Hugs*

Monday, July 26, 2010

What have I done?

I think I've created a monster! A texting monster...that is.

DS has been begging for texting on his phone. He has been going off on trips with school, church and now the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. They use text to communicate when they are out in large groups and so last weekend we changed our phone plan to include texting. However....I think the only one he has been texting is ME! Ok, I don't have a qwerty keyboard on my phone, which means I have to punch a multitude of letter combinations to send out a text. *sigh* I can't wait for my new phone!! We just dropped DS off at the American University for this conference and I kid you not, in the last hour I've gotten 16 texts!!!!!!!! I finally told him to stop texting, I was going to take a nap.

I headed for my room, and before I knew it I was joined by a snoring husband and a loudly purring cat. My phone has quit buzzing, but now my room is. Is there no rest for the weary in this house? I think not!! LOL

So here I am...and I decided to try on my wig for the first time since I brought it home. I actually wore it to an appointment this morning, then down to drop DS off at the conference. We stopped at a Subway for lunch and ran into someone who I know that doesn't know I have cancer. She never even batted an eye when she saw me. It was comforting to know that she didn't stop or do a double take, so must be my hair looks like a little bit longer version of what it used to be. I feel much better now!!

It is a mild day, considerin...though very high humidity. I'm pleased to say the wig is not too hot, thank heavens! I think I can wear it during the summer, though not too long at a stretch. It is comfortable for a while, but does seem to get tighter as the day wears on. Wimpy aren't I? Actually, to tell the truth, my scalp still aches a little. It's funny how sensitive your skin becomes during chemo. But, I managed to get a quick picture of it this morning. Let me know what you think.

I'll be heading into Baltimore Wednesday for a proper wig fitting, and a little trim to make it look more like my hair. DH and DS seem to think it looks good on me but I value a lady's opinion. You can be as honest as you like. I still have to do a double take when I walk by a mirror. LOL

Hopefully DS will be too busy in the next few days to text, and then I'll have a proper qwerty keyboard for texting then. I'll let you know how that goes! Till then, keep smiling! *Hugs*

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I'm a bald bunny....

I'm a bald bunny, ain't got no fur...
I'm a bald bunny, Brr Brr Brr
I'm a bald bunny, feeling pretty silly...
I'm a bald bunny, feeling mighty chilly!

Just quoting a song from Veggie Tales. But I thought it was appropriate since I went and had all my hair cut off. Yep, I'm a bald bunny!!

I woke up early this morning in time to get the call from my son saying he would be arriving at the church at 6:45 AM. I quick grabbed a shower and noticed that ALOT of hair was going down the drain. And my scalp was sensitive to the movement of washing my hair. Add that to the strands falling out as I was combing my hair, I thought today had better be the day. So....OFF WITH HER HAIR!!

We picked DS up at 6:45 AM, ran to Mc Donalds for breakfast because we were all hungry, then took a nap until it was time for my pills. I decided I had better call my hair dresser again, since this is her last working day until Wednesday. I knew I wouldn't be able to last that long. I rummaged around and found a nice soft scarf, and away we went. And here is the new look...

I can't thank Susan enough for taking time today to fit me in. Not only that, but she wouldn't let me pay her! I'm going to miss my monthly pamper session when I get my hair cut and pep talk. Susan has been there every step of the way with me, praying and supporting me. We'll keep in touch, Susan!! After this is all over, I'll be back there getting my hair cut again. I think having her cut my hair off today was as hard for her as it was for me, but she treated me with kindness and dignity. You are a sweetheart, Susan! Thank you so much!!

Sounds like DS had a great time at Big Stuff. There are no pictures to tell the tale, so I guess I'll have to look on facebook and see if anyone there took pictures. He came home with a sunburn from the day at the beach followed by the evening at the pool. OUCH! It looked pretty sore, but he still allowed me a hug in front of his peers as he was walking towards us from the bus. I guess he missed us, though he'll probably never admit it! He bought me a CD of the group that sang there and I LOVE IT!! I sure missed him. But this is a temporary stop, as he came home to do laundry and will be leaving Monday morning for the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington DC next week. My little boy is growing up, and I'll be missing him for another week. I'm glad he's able to get out and away from all the stress here at home, it's good for him to be around non-sick folk!

I have a picture here of DH and Thomas. Now Thomas does like DH sometimes. When he's cold, he likes to sit in DH's lap. Just don't pet him or look in his direction. Thomas is allowing you to keep him warm, that does not include any touchy feelly nonsense.

"Don't think I'm suddenly your new pal, I just want the warmth of your body. Don't do me any other favors, please!!"

Thomas has added another favorite sleeping spot to his repertoire. He's quite long don't you think? I can just hear his thought processes. "Why don't humans make these chairs just a tad wider. I mean come on...with my head butted up against one arm, and my butt butted up against the other, I'm crinkling my ears and tail here. I'll have to groom for hours when I'm done just to smooth out my crinkled hair. Humans, don't they understand that they are here to provide for MY comfort? Sheesh....they are SO hard to train!!"

And last but not least, a little picture of the progress on my Rose Quaker. I take this with me on my Thursday chemo treatment and progress on my UFO. I belong to the Friendly Stitchers yahoo group and Thursday is our UFO day. Last Thursday I completely forgot about stitching!! I had to confess and assume the position for the obligatory lashing by the wet noodle. So many of the ladies refused to believe that an earthquake hit that following Friday, but Mouse graciously let me off for "creative excuse writing". LOL I get NO respect! You ladies DO know that the earthquake was for real, don't you? Anyway, I think it's coming along nicely, don't you think?

I'm feeling so good after this last treatment, I was out for the count by this time last treatment and was so dreading this one. But the doctor adjusted a few medications and told the ladies at the infusion center to slow down the administration of one of the drugs and low and behold, it was a transformation!!! I can't believe how much better I feel this time around. I'm still fatigued, but the headaches and the yucky feelings are just vague stirrings this time. I even have a great appetite and can drink whatever I want. I'm enjoying snow cones, yummy, thank you Susan!!

I forgot to mention, Miss M took me to my treatment last Thursday. I was getting a headache and she graciously ran out to get me a Tylenol at the gift shop and found this cute angel pink ribbon pin. I had to put it on right away. Wasn't that a thoughtful thing to do? So here it is on the shirt I was wearing that day. Thanks Miss M!! I love it!

Ok, off for a nap before church tonight. Good thing I was able to get past this so quickly, I have appointments every day next week! No rest for the weary I'm afraid. *sigh* Oh well, if God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it! Have a great day!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two down....Six to go!

Just a drive by dash off to let you know I'll be in hibernation mode for the next couple of days. This round of chemo went a little better. They slowed down the administration of the one drug and I tolerated that MUCH better! I also took a Tylenol while I was there. Last time the whole process touched off a Migraine and it was days before I got things under control. So far, no headache, YAY!

I had such good news at the doctors today. He told me I looked good, the blood work came back showing I had low iron stores, so he's going to refer to me to another doctor. *sigh* A Gastroenterologist...and we know what that means. Colonoscopy here we come....*groan*. But he also told me I could take less of the steroids (they made me feel yucky!!) and more of the Zofran (nausea medicine) and I feel a little more like I have options on how to make myself feel better. I'm glad!! He also told me I can take a 3 week break between the two different drug regimens and that will make my trip to Cirque du Soliel in October fall on a week when I'll be feeling my best! I could have hugged him!!! This is the same guy that blushed when I told him I was thinking about a pink wig, so I think my excitement would have been too much for him! LOL We bought these tickets in is going to be my 50th birthday gift and I've been looking forward to it for months. When I found out it would fall two days after a chemo treatment I was REALLY disappointed, but now it looks like I'll be able to go *turning cartwheels* (OK, not turning cartwheels literally, but in my mind I'm doing cartwheels and black flips too! LOL)

I did have an interesting experience while sitting at my chemo treatment. I saw the nurse get up and put a jacket on, and I saw my friend, Miss M, having goose-bumps on her arms....but I was sitting there getting warmer by the minute. I asked the nurse if getting warm was a side-effect of the medication. She said no, but welcome to the wonderful world of hormones. Good grief! They told me it would throw me into menopause if I hadn't reached that part already. Guess what!?!?! I was having a hot flash!! Wow, red letter day, I think that was my first one. It didn't send me screaming into the night looking for a tub full of ice cubes, but it was a bit uncomfortable for a while there. LOL As if cancer, surgery, and chemo wasn't enough to deal with. What a combo. BUT...In the immortal words of Babs...This too shall pass!

The other thing I learned about today was chemo brain. I told the nurse I had had about a week long brain fog. It was hard to read, to follow things on TV, to stitch, and that I was having trouble finding the right words to say. She said that was very common and to google chemo brain. I found that so many of the symptoms described what I'm experiencing to a T. I'm glad to know that it is real, and that it's not just a figment of my imagination. I don't know whether it will be long term or not. So all those misspelled words and unintelligible sentences were not due to my craziness. I'm relieved! I hope it's not long term, and it really was distressing, but now that I know, I'm glad to know it's common and hopefully won't last forever.

And on that note, I'm heading off to enjoy my evening and relax. I can already feel the chemo brain descending and I just want to go vegitate, and maybe make myself a snow cone. Did I mention that I got my hair cut yesterday, and that my hair dresser had read my blog explaining about having to buy the wig somewhere else? She also read that I was looking for syrup to make snow cones...and she knew where to buy the syrup! So when I got to the appointment, she had three bottles of flavoring AND she let me borrow her shave ice machine! I'm blown away by her generousity and her loving kindness!! Thanks Susan! I'm heading upstairs to make my first one! I'll say a toast to you!

Thanks for all your kind comments, prayers and good thoughts! You guys rock!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Image Recovery

Don't you just love that title? I took a little trip to the Image Recovery Center yesterday. After my 2 hour experience there, I can see why they named it that!!

Yesterday was a GREAT day! Not only did I feel really good, and I mean REALLY good, but my ego got stroked a bit too! I woke up feeling so good, the best I've felt in a really long time. It is making me dread Thursday more than ever! LOL

I have to say, the consultant that I met with yesterday was wonderful! She has a difficult task. I wish I knew how to describe how I'm beginning to feel about the changes taking place in my body. Some of them I didn't even realize were "bothering" me until yesterday. I remember when in nursing school so many years ago, we learned that a "cranky" patient is dealing with so many things while ill. First, they feel rotten and cannot control how they feel. Second, they are dealing with loss. Loss of independence, they have to rely on others, and that is difficult for some people. Loss of identity, they become one of the multitudes and lets face it, Doctors are busy people. They don't always have the time to stroke people's egos and so you just become one of the members of the large cattle call that gathers in their waiting rooms. And then there's the loss of your "image". Whenever there is surgery, or diseases that effect the way you look, you lose yourself, the way you've always looked to yourself in the mirror. This lady I dealt with yesterday knew how to discuss the tough issues and leave my dignity intact. I have to say, she has a rare gift, and I'm grateful that she made the experience much easier than it could have been. When we left, DH said to me, "She would be a perfect funeral director." Sounds morbid, and like an insult, but he meant it to be a compliment. She knew how to put you at ease while discussing difficult topics in a calm and soothing voice and unhurried manner.

"It's AMAZING what they are doing with plastics these days!!" This is a quote I will NEVER forget! This quote has bounced around in my head many times since this cancer journey has begun! Back in the late 70's when the first Star Wars movie came out, I went to see the movie with a group of kids that lived on my floor in my dormitory at college. I sat with my good friend, Miss E. There was a part in the movie when Luke Skywalker lost his hand, and they replaced it with a bionic one, that probably worked better than his original one. As Luke was flexing his new fingers, Miss E leaned over and said, "It's AMAZING what they are doing with plastics these days!!" I giggled through the rest of the movie. I don't know why that struck me so funny. I even wonder if she remembers saying that (I'll have to ask her one day). But I have to say, that quote popped into my head yesterday many times.

I had no idea when I walked in there yesterday, what exactly I was in for. I knew I was going to get a compression sleeve which was the first thing we tried on. It came in two parts, the sleeve and the glove. I had given her my measurements last week, and she had it ready for me when I got there. And (forgive the pun) if fit like a glove. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get this on without's like trying to put a girdle on with one hand! LOL My arm instantly felt more comfortable. I didn't realize how much it was bothering me until then.

She left that on my arm, shooed DH out of the room, locked the door to the shop, and began to ask questions about bras. I was a little surprised, I didn't realize I was going to be looking at THOSE types of prosthesis!! Hm...I wish I could describe what I saw yesterday without going into graphic detail. My jaw literally dropped when I realized what they can do to make you look natural after a mastectomy. If I have to have radiation, that can seriously alter what the plastic surgeon is working on now. The "alteration" doesn't just happen instantly and you're done. It can occur over an extended period of time leaving tissue to shrink more as time goes on. So my Doctor can do the best that he can, but that doesn't mean it's going to stay that way. I now understand the look on his face when I told him I would have to have more surgery, chemo and possibly radiation. All his hard work during the first operation may be altered again and again as we go through this process. Anyway, there are prostheses that they can produce that are unique to you that can make you appear natural no matter what you are wearing. What a relief to know that! And she was able to give me some prostheses that I can adjust myself as I'm going through the process of having my expanders filled and before I have the final surgery. I didn't realize this was going to happen, but I walked out of there looking like my old self, and I have to say that lifted my spirits tremendously! Getting dressed in the morning has been a frustrating experience since the first surgery. None of my clothes fit they way that they used to. I finally stopped looking in the mirror, because, to me, I looked like a cross dresser no matter what I put on, and I felt like a freak show! LOL When I walked out of the back room sporting my new "look" I saw the look on DH's face, and I could tell he approved! *wink* Sometimes I wonder what goes through his mind.

Then our attention turned to wigs. She took a look at my hair color, and the style I was wearing yesterday, and disappeared into another back room. She came out with two wigs. Now I've been stressing over this because my hair dresser wanted to take me to a place that she knew of, I had been to another one at the medical center where I had the surgery, but I learned afterward that I had to go where my insurance told me I had to go, otherwise they wouldn't pay for the wig. The image recovery center is where I would have to buy it. I don't know how I'm going to tell my hair dresser, we've been friends a long time. Hopefully she'll understand. Anyway, the first one I tried on looked the best of anything I've seen so far. She put it on, and DH said...."That's the way you used to wear your hair in college!" He's right!! It was like turning back the hands of time. LOL It's not a lot different than the way I wear it now, just a little bit longer. Then, something neat happened. The lady told me that her cosmetologist wasn't there today, but I could make an appointment and she would "fit" the wig (make some alterations to make it fit my head), cut the bangs because they are a little long, and teach me how to brush and wash the wig. Then she would teach me how to apply makeup for when my eyebrows and eyelashes fall out. She would also cut my hair off (if I still have any left), apply the makeup and I would walk out of there all dolled up!

Last, but not least, I got a lesson in how to take care of my skin to have the best chance of healthy regrowth after all this was over. I'm telling you, I felt hopeful for the first time about all the changes taking place in my body. I felt "normal" when I walked out of there yesterday when I had all but given up hope of looking natural until more than a year had passed and all the plastic surgery was done and my hair had grown back. I definitely had my image recovered. What a great day! What a great Monday! And we all know what my Mother always says..."So goes Monday, so goes the week!" Maybe this round of chemo won't be so bad after all!

Thanks to all of you who tried to help with my hydration problem. I've stocked my shelves with peppermint tea, freezer pops, and am on the hunt for some flavored water. I've also decided, that even though I'm not supposed to have caffeine, if a coke is calling my name, I'm going to answer! LOL ANY liquid is better than none! If it helps, then maybe I can drink something else to compensate. I'm also trying to hunt down a way to make snow cones here at home. I have a little blender that can chop ice, I just need to find flavoring, I have no idea where to look...but I think that might taste good.

I felt a little lost yesterday, as DS wanted to help me find my wig. We put him on a bus Sunday night for his trip to Florida so he missed all the fun. He'll be gone until next Saturday. I'll miss my cheering section! LOL I'm really glad he has this trip to take a break from the reality here at home. I can't imagine what Daytona is looking like this week, with Big Stuff going on down there! There was a huge touring bus full of kids from our church and there are kids pouring in from churches from all over the country there this week! I think I'm glad I'm in Maryland!! I know they'll all be great kids, but I also know how much they like to "Praise" very enthusiastically! LOL Will you join me in praying for their safety and growth while they're away? Thanks!

Back to bed for me. I was lying in bed thinking about this post, about my day, and thinking how tenderly the Lord is caring for me through this whole process, and I wanted to share that with you! Hope your week started as well as mine! *Hugs*

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

I was lying in bed tonight thinking (dangerous I know! LOL) and I had a thought. I know others have been through chemo before, and maybe if I ask nicely, someone might have a suggestion. Let me first say, though, I'm not looking for sympathy, I really don't feel sorry for myself, I just want to be prepared for the next round. I'm thinking that I'll never know some things unless I ask. And most of you have been so very kind to pray for me, think of me, send healing thoughts my way, that maybe you can send some practical help my way as well.

My first round of chemo wasn't fun. My primary problem was that I was supposed to stay hydrated and NOTHING tasted good to drink. Plain water was probably best, but has always made me feel yucky. There are flavored waters, and I did try some, but they either had an artificial sweetener which gives me migraines (and believe me I had a few after the first round) or they tasted yucky and left me nauseous. Anything with a lot of carbonation or high in sodium left all my tissues swollen making my body ache and the lymph edema flair up. Anything dairy left me with acid reflux. Anything with caffeine is on the no-no list as it can have a dehydrating effect, though coke and iced coffee tasted sooooooo good and soothed my stomach (in frustration I finally drank some though they told me if I did I was supposed to drink the same amount of something else to compensate). Ginger ale was recommended, but was too sweet...another nauseating effect. Anything citrus (orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice and lemonade) gave me mouth sores. Mouse mentioned peppermint tea (thank you Mouse!!!) and I'm going to get some before the next chemo session and try it! Maybe others of you know of something I could try. I could feel my body dehydrating and it left me so frustrated as it's something that should be easily controlled, but nothing seemed to work.

I know that some of you aren't able to leave a comment here, so if you could e-mail me with your suggestions at I would really appreciate it!! And just so you know, I belong to a breast cancer support group and I know there are other ladies who attend who haven't started chemo yet that I'm going to share this information with. So you won't be helping just me...I've been doing my best to share successful helpful ideas with others, because I honestly believe that sometimes the Lord allows things like this for a variety of either strengthen us for another task that lies ahead, or to offer help to someone else. We're all on this journey together, and any help we give or get along the way is not coincidence!! I'm still thanking God and praising Him for cancer!

I got to attend church last night for the first time in a long time
(our church has started having Saturday night services). I've been either recovering from surgery or chemo and haven't been able to attend. Because my white blood cell count will be lowered due to the chemo I'm afraid to be around large groups of people, especially church going huggers and kissers. I love God's people!! I just don't love the germs....I feel a little like Howie Mandel LOL. Having a smaller Saturday night service offered at just this time doesn't seem coincidental to me! Amazing how God provides, isn't it? Anyway, it was good to thank the people who have been praying for me and to show them that God has been listening and answering. The message was on God's Grace, and learning to relax in His Grace. Something I needed to hear! Thanks Pastor Kevin!

Last, but not least, I'm going to ask for prayer for the kids in our church. My son and a bus load of other teens and chaperons are leaving this evening for Florida for a week long youth conference. My son has been so good to me since I've been diagnosed. I am going to miss his sense of humor and his sweet spirit so much. Will you pray for their safety with me? He's been my companion through so much of this journey, I think I'll miss him in ways this year that I've never known before. Thanks for listening and thanks for your help! You guys are great!


(Just a small edit here...)

I've been e-mailing my buddy "Needlworker" (another yahoo groupie) about a proposed "gown" I'm tempted to make and bring to appointments. She and I have been tossing around ideas and she has me rolling on the floor!! What do you think? Should I really make this gown and would I have the intestinal fortitude to actually wear it to an appointment? Anyone have any suggestions? I'd love to hear them as well. And if I do make a gown, I'll be sure to post pictures. Let's see what we can come up with! LOL I told one of my doctors that I had my eye on a pink wig and his reaction was to turn 15 shades of red and shuffle through some papers he had in his lap. He had trouble looking me in the eyes after that. I think he's been searching for the correctly shaped screwdriver to use to tighten my loose screws! I tell you, I'm making a name for myself, not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing? LOL

Friday, July 16, 2010

A whole lotta shakin' goin' on!!

Well, I had a RUDE awakening this morning! I was lying in my bed, minding my own business, when I felt the bed begin to vibrate just after 5 AM this morning. I've heard people say it felt like a dump truck driving by, but I don't EVER remember a dump truck making that kind of vibration. I've been through a few earthquakes in my day, and immediately knew that's what it was. I have to say, it's kind of a neat feeling. It wasn't a rhythmic shake, it was not that even. And even though it wasn't violent shaking, it still got my heart pumping a bit harder than normal. I guess it's the uncertainty that it MIGHT start shaking harder. It lasted about 10 seconds or so. Not long, but long enough to make your brain say.... Now THAT was weird! I immediately turned on the TV...and it was interesting to have breaking news that hadn't reached the airwaves yet! There were a couple of news casters looking into the screen saying they had felt the shaking and were waiting to hear confirmation. It came about 20 minutes later. A 3.6 earthquake, somewhere between Germantown and Laurel, Maryland. That's not that far as the crow flies from my humble abode! Other than a few shampoo bottles hitting the deck and a couple of rumpled nerves, I survived the whole incident. DH and DS (of course) slept through the whole thing. When I'm reincarnated, I want to come back as a guy who falls asleep at the drop of a hat and can sleep through anything! It should be fair payback for the lack of sleep I'm getting this go round! LOL

I know you haven't heard from me in a while. Well, chemo is an interesting treatment. I wouldn't recommend it unless your life depended on it! I have heard that some people breeze through without much of a fuss. I'm happy for them!! I'll try to keep my comments to a few low moans LOL. I'm not good with nausea. I'm especially not good with it when it lasts an entire week...accompanied by a headache that makes your teeth hurt they are so severe. So rather than moan to you guys, I'll just stay quiet until the feeling passes. We'll focus on the funny bits (and I'll post as many as I can) and we'll get through this. As my PCP tells me...this is temporary. A necessary evil. And one day it will be over.

So...what are the funny bits you ask? Hm....let's see. Oh, maybe there aren't any funny bits this week. I do have a few tales to tell!! They started filling the expanders! Wahoo! My "girls" are beginning to take shape. I can't begin to tell you how this feels. I've never experienced anything like this, it's totally foreign!! I have no idea how long this is going to take, but (now that I'm having chemo they slowed it down a bit) I'll be getting 50 cc injections of saline in each expander every other week. Now 100 cc of water doesn't sound like much, but when you walk in and see these two honking syringes filled with fluid waiting to be injected, it's a bit daunting!! I've learned to ignore the tray of instruments. LOL If you held the amount in your hand, it would appear to weigh almost nothing, but it throws my balance off for a day or two until my body adjusts. It's a little like wearing a tight garment for a day or two until your body adjusts to the expansion. It feels a little like invasion of the body snatchers! LOL I'm beginning to feel a little like Frakenstein's monster LOL Slowly but surely they are putting all the pieces back together. *shaking head* What a process! I've always been a shy person, but after having everybody and their brother want to check incisions and feel tissues, measuring and taking pictures, checking range of motion and such, I'm slowly becoming an exhibitionist. I'm beginning to wonder why they leave the room when they ask you to disrobe and put on a gown, as they are only going to take the "gown" off 5 seconds after they return. And WHY do they call it a gown? I'm NOT wearing a tiara...I'm NOT going to a ball, it's either a flimsy fragile paper cover, or an ugly white/blue see-through cotton that is neither warm nor soft and lets face it, they are not long and flowing, they barely cover the essentials if you know what I mean!! *wink* I don't feel particularly "pretty" wearing these lovely garments that others have worn having who knows what diseases. AND why do they keep their examination rooms so cold? I think it's a conspiracy! Anything to make your experience as UNfun as possible! LOL

Getting to the plastic surgeon's yesterday was a challenge. They had changed my appointment from the day before, and then changed the facility where I was supposed to be seen. I was going to get driving instructions from map quest, but DH (my hero?) printed out the directions before I had a chance. Glancing through them, I could picture in my mind a little of the way there, but the final destination was in a place I'd never been before. I ALWAYS print out the over-all map of the route, because I'm a visual person. I love having a map to follow. It's my comfort blanket. Well...DH wanted to conserve ink. *heavy sigh* That should have been a huge red flag!!! Halfway there yesterday, the directions suddenly took a complicated turn. Map quest left off one of the roads. Unusual, but without an over-all map, I couldn't follow where we were supposed to go. DH is ALWAYS running either just on time, or a couple of minutes late. So here we are, a little late, completely lost and without a map. Can I just say, my blood pressure was a bit high when we reached the doctors office? LOL I called the doctor's office and they directed me where to go. We weren't far. We MIGHT have made it on time even, if only the building that we reached was completely like a Chinese puzzle box!! We met a lady and her two children walking around the outside of the building asking if we knew the way inside. LOL Well the good news is....they were late too, so we didn't have to go inside with our shame hanging out totally alone! The last direction to get to this place is...."It's behind the Irish pub". I was sorely tempted to stop inside the pub for some liquid fortification before I headed up to the plastic surgeon's office. Oh, did I mention? I'm not allowed to drink alcohol...what an unfair bit of injustice since it might afford a bit of liquid courage! LOL

The rest of my day didn't get any better! I had an afternoon appointment in Annapolis with the physical therapist. It was my first visit there. I knew I would be sore from the expansion. I knew they were going to do an evaluation and would be poking and prodding and I was afraid I would be too sore to drive home. So I called my my good buddy, the lovely Miss M. Miss M and I always seem to find ourselves in funny situations. She makes me laugh like no one I know. Well she graciously changed her plans so that she could give me a ride yesterday. As I was leaving the plastic surgeons office she called and said she was at my door at home. Where was I? Poor Miss M was an hour early! She had rushed around getting ready, given up a chore she was supposed to do for her daughter, rushed two European calls off the phone so that she could meet me at my house in time, and she was an hour early. I still feel so bad!!! I rushed home and took her out to lunch before we had to leave for the appointment to try and make up for it.

The physical therapist exam was lengthy, and uncomfortable, and in the end....was the cause of MORE PAPERWORK. Can I just inject a primordial scream here? *AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH* Thank you, I feel much better! LOL Not only did I break my neck to get a referral to visit the office in the first place...but they only authorized 6 visits. After the initial evaluation, she determined I would need at least 6 more be made before I left the facility...because they were so booked up that it's impossible to get appointments and you should get them as soon as possible. BUT I only had 5 more visits allowed me after the initial consultation. AND I need a compression sleeve for the lymph edema that it was determined that I already have beginning to accumulate in my tissues...before my next Tuesday. I learned today that they have to take measurements and make a sleeve specifically for me, and that takes at least 10 days...not to mention the time it takes for pre-authorization from insurance. . And the same for a wig. You know what that means right? Yep...back to my primary clinic to bug my buddies there for more referrals and paperwork. *sigh* Can I cry now? I hate the looks of terror and disgust whenever I enter the clinic. They see me coming and scurry in a multitude of different directions like cockroaches in the light. LOL Now, not only do I look and feel like a freak of nature, but I'm being treated like one too. Ah...the humiliation of this horrible disease.

After running over to our church to pick up DS from vacation Bible school today, (a process that took 2 hours!!), I found a message on my answering machine. Finally...a ray of hope in my otherwise boring mundane day. It was a message from a clinic where I now have an appointment Monday for a fitting for a compression sleeve, a wig, and other "prosthesis". This is news to me, that I will be getting special "garments" and "prosthesis" to make me look like I used to until the final process of reconstruction is complete. Hm....and if the lady had been within arms length I would have given her a huge hug!!! She told me, don't worry about pre-authorization or doctors orders, they work closely with my breast doctor and that clinic there to get all the paperwork I needed, I wouldn't have to be involved in any of that stressful "nonsense". Where has she been from the beginning? Or maybe I'm just traveling in the wrong parallel universe? And can I seriously trust what she says? *shaking head* Maybe if I pinch really hard I'll wake up. *PINCH* Hm.....nope, still here thinking the same thoughts. I hope she's for real!

I had a few things I've been working on, so I'll share a few pictures. The first few are some Mill Hills kits Christmas Ornaments that are in various stages of progress. The two mittens are finished, the sled is almost finished, and the last blobby looking thing will be a nativity scene when it's finished. And last but not least is the progress I'm having on my Rose Quaker. I worked on this during chemo and it's coming along pretty well. I LOVE this pattern!

And for the brightest part of my I was sitting here typing earlier, the phone rang and you'll never guess who it was... Gillie!!!! Gillie, if you're reading this, I want to say THANK YOU!!! If you've been praying, God is listening! My day turned around from the moment you said hello! It was so good to hear your voice and share a giggle, you made my day! I'm also sitting here waiting for some dear friends who live in Pennsylvania (I've known for 20 years now) who should be arriving soon. I'm blessed with wonderful people in my life who always seem to pick me up when I need it. So thanks, Gillie, Bob and Peggy! I guess God knew I needed your shoulders at this particular point in time and you were willing participants. Thanks for being there, my friends!

I'm off to get started on my weekend. I hope yours turns out as well as mine promises to! *Hugs*

Friday, July 9, 2010

One to go!

Hi gang!

I wanted to write this yesterday, but by the time I got home, called my Mother and a friend of mine I needed to ask for a ride in two weeks, I was beginning to feel not so hot. They told me I would be fine the first couple of days, but everybody's different (so I'm beginning to find out!).

The chemo session itself wasn't bad. I was able to joke around with the nurse, DH and DS were able to accompany me while I sat there and before we left I felt like the nurse was a long lost friend. They had a little trouble finding a vein, but that's typical of me. I was able to stitch (yeeehaaa!!), and the time went by very quickly. I didn't feel badly at all when I left, just a little tired from sitting so long. Not bad at all. Then I got home. UGH!! Well I won't bore you with the gory details, lets just say it took three calls to the on call doctor, three different types of nausea medicine before they found the one that stopped the icky feeling. I'm not normally a wimp, but when it comes to an upset tummy, that's my weakness!! After a good night's rest though, I feel pretty good. Let the good times roll!! I go back today for a shot to help with white blood cell production and we'll see how that goes! I'm resting for the next three days. I feel better when I'm quiet. A friend called last night in the middle of all the yucky feelings I was having and she said she was praying for me, I told her "Pray harder!" LOL She is so sweet, she started crying then and I feel awful. It was meant to be a joke, but I guess it came across in my voice that I wasn't feeling too well. I made her laugh before I got off the phone though. I'm blessed with such good friends!!

Wednesday night was our support group meeting. DH and my friend went with me. I love the ladies in this group!! But there was a new person there last night. We'll call her Miss D. She and I have similar backgrounds and a similar sense of humor I think. We usually start the night by going around the room and introducing ourselves and tell what step we are in our "progress". Miss D introduced herself "Hi I'm D and I'm an alcholic!" We all laughed because that's pretty much how the group meetings start. LOL!! Miss D was to have her surgery yesterday. She has 5 yr old twins and was looking really nervous about everything. I wanted to talk with her, but the meeting went on and I wasn't able to speak to her much. And when it was over I was ready to go home, I had had a busy day (I'd also had my first "fill up" for the expanders and things were beginning to ache). While at the hospital yesterday having lunch before the infusion, I ran into Miss D's mother. So I went over to say hello. Miss D was in surgery at that moment. So I gave her mother my phone number and told her to feel free to call. Her mother and Miss D had discussed me on their way home, and said they wished they could have asked me a few more questions. Now they can! Tell me THAT wasn't providential?! God certainly works in mysterious ways!! After my chemo session I went back up to the waiting room to ask for Miss D's phone number (I forgot to get it at lunch) and she said she has just gone into recovery and everything went well. They also got to see that I was doing well after my first session of chemo, so it was a warm fuzzy all around. I hope they do call me if they need anything. I found out they live about 5 miles from me!!

So that's the news. You may not hear from me for a while now, don't's just me hibernating for a bit. Oh, and Gillie!! I DID mean to write heat advisory in my last post, but you know, after reading the post...head fit in there just as well! LOL I told you guys I was mental, did you not believe me? LOLOL!!! Good catch, Gillie! Maybe I should run my ramblings by you for editing before I post? I have to admit, with everything running through my head it's hard to keep things straight...appointments, times to take medicines, people's names, directions to different clinics, phone calls I'm supposed to make etc. With all the meds floating around in there too, it's a wonder I spell anything right! But you guys keep me honest ok? Don't want to lose ALL my marbles over this! LOL Thanks for reading, praying, sending good thoughts etc. You guys keep me going!!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


*Heavy sigh*

I think I'm on mental overload. I need a vacation. Oh, before I forget, I should explain the title...LOL Having lived with a military man for so many years, we've learned acronyms by the bucket laod, but the above is one of my favorites...LOL I will keep it clean, but you can insert any number of words for the third letter... Same Old "Stuff", Different Day. LOL

I wish you could see my appointment calendar. It's a mess, and I only enter things in pencil because sometimes they change from second to second (and I'm not exaggerating). Maybe I should take a picture and show you what I mean...Hm....nevermind, I WILL take that picture...hang on a sec.

This is the calendar page for the month of July. Just keep in mind that this is not filled in yet. I will have weekly appointments with the plastic surgeon for "fill up" sessions and the physical therapy clinic still hasn't called for appointments to the lymph edema clinic. I made two appointments yesterday, and will be making more as the week progresses. And to think that last week, other than the weeks that are marked off for special events, this page was clean!! I spoke with my boss Monday just before he left for his trip. I had e-mailed him a week or so ago and asked him to call me when he had a free moment because I was going to ask about going back to work, but that's before the "stuff" hit the fan and I was told I would start chemo this week. He still wants me to come back to work, even though I can't lift anything heavy, and I'm not supposed to break the integrity of my skin (I have to stay healthy and free of infection while on chemo) which is hard to do when dealing with sharp items such as glass, mat boards, saws, utility knives etc. I'm such a clutz anyway, when I was working I was always wearing band-aids LOL (Grace is NOT my middle name!!!) His response was, he would rather have me sitting out front waiting on customers if that's all I could do, then not working at all, for my own sanity's sake as well as the sake of certain customers who have been asking for my help. I have groupies!!! LOL!! (I feel like Joan Crawford when I say..."They like me, they REALLY like me!") I almost fell off my chair, he must have been in a good mood anticipating his family trip when he told me that! Or maybe he's feeling a little sorry for me, whatever works. But you decide, I'm going to have a few days when I'm feeling sick and tired, not to mention all those appointments (that aren't even listed on the calendar yet)... do I really have time to work? Hm....? The money WOULD be helpful...?

I had my teaching session yesterday for the infusion clinic where I'll be having chemo. DH and DS trailed along with me and the nurse was very nice. She had had breast cancer herself and had some of the same things done that I've had. I was able to "pick her brain" a bit and asked questions that I've been wondering about. That was more helpful than the rest of the stuff she had to tell me. The one thing that I learned that brightened my day is that I CAN stitch while getting the treatments. I'll be there about 2 hours while they give me at least three medications. I have to return Friday for a shot to help with white blood cell production (a steroid). I had to laugh when DS asked if I would have "roid rage". Let's face it ladies, I'm part Irish (hence the blarney) and do have a wee bit of a temper. The nurse just told him to tell me to go to my room when I was misbehaving that way. (That's what her kids told her) LOL

The rest of my day was spent on the phone. Between making appointments, calls from clinics about procedures and paperwork that they need, calls to the insurance company and other silliness, I rarely have time to myself OFF the phone. I also have very caring friends who call. When this is over and done I think my final surgery will be to have the phone surgically removed from my ear!! I'm not exaggerating (DS is keeping a tally sheet) but I spent 5 hours on the phone to friends yesterday. When is an addicted stitcher supposed to stitch???? By the way, I'm not complaining about talking to my friends. They have kept me going and I cherish each and every phone call!!!

The last call last night was my absolute favorite call though. I got a card in the mail from a friend I've had since I was 7 years old. She had run into my mother in the grocery store back home (gotta love small town living!!) and asked how I was. She was shocked to learn what was going on with me. So when I got her card, I picked up the phone and called her. She and I have one of those friendships that we can not see each other for years, but when we talk it's like we just saw each other yesterday. We share the same weird sense of humor and we belly laughed for hours last night. DS kept poking his nose in my room last night and would roll his eyes when he realized I was still on the phone with her. I can see the gears turning in his head, thinking, what in the world could she be talking about for hours? One thing that sticks in his head though, is that he's learned that his Mom can have friends that make her laugh hysterically and that she can talk with for hours.

DS has been spending more time with me lately...I'm not sure if he's worried I won't be around much longer, or if he realizes that I'm not the Wicked Witch of the West that he's always thought I was. Either way, we're bonding in a new way now, and I think we're both beginning to appreciate the other in different ways than before. Another positive thing that's come out of the cancer. Who would have thought that something as evil as cancer could have a positive effect? I'm still thanking God for cancer!!

And on that note, I'm off to get ready for an appointment with the plastic surgeon. I had to laugh last night when DS (who has never met Dr. S) did a google search to see if there was a picture of him out there. He ran across a doctor's picture, who he thought was him, and said, "He looks like an OLD Steven Spielberg". LOL!!! That picture did!! But it was the wrong picture. It's strange, I guess my head is full of stereotypes, but Dr. S doesn't fit my image of a plastic surgeon. He's a very nice man, very caring, seemed genuinely sorry when they found cancer in the sentinel nodes and knew I would need more surgery...and just doesn't LOOK like a plastic surgeon. LOL All total opposites of what I expected. I'm glad I have a caring individual in my corner!!

Ok, off to take a shower (they STILL feel great after all those weeks of sponge baths!! LOL) and try to look for something cool to wear! We broke a heat record yesterday (103) and the head advisory is still in effect until 11 PM tonight. This must be the year for breaking records, as we broke a record snowfall earlier this year. What a world!?!?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Driving Miss DJ

I know, I know, two posts so close together. Can you handle it? I know you can!! LOL

Just had to BRAG that I got to drive today!! I took myself to the dentist, then came back and took my son an hour later! I think I should have stopped there. LOL It was nice to have that independence....I must say. I haven't driven since before the surgery on May 27th. It felt GREAT! Until...I think I tired myself out. *sigh* Ah well, this too shall pass. I had a few more errands to run after that, and now I'm tired, had to come back and take a nap. *Shaking head* Hopefully one day I'll have all my energy back...we'll see...LOL

The person in charge of referrals at my clinic called while I was at my dentist appointment to tell me she had given DH the wrong referral and asked what clinic I needed the two referrals for. She had gotten a note from my Doctor about them and realized her mistake. So...not only did I find my piece of mind yesterday, I got to keep it! Whoever is watching out for me from above deserves a HUGE thank you! (And thank YOU too if you were the one praying for that help from above!)

While I was there (and DS was with me) I asked if we could go ahead and get his meningitis shot. If looks could kill, I'd be a dead DJ today LOL. I told him to relax his arm, the nurse said she would give it to him on the count of 3...she said one and gave him the shot. I wish I had had a camera. The look on his face was priceless. I'm still chuckling as I write this. A complete look of surprise and shock came over his face when he realized he'd been "tricked". But he had to admit afterward that he didn't really feel much and was surprised how little it hurt. LOL!!!

I'm having an issue with ADT. We have had an alarm system on our house for years since the house next door to ours was broken into a few years ago. I lived in an apartment many years ago and got up one morning to find the doorknob broken and hanging by one screw. Thankfully the deadbolt was still in place. DH had gotten up one morning at the crack of dawn (Army training you know?) and had left. Thieves had tried to break in thinking no one was home. I still check and double check locks to this day. If the deadbolt hadn't been in place who knows what would have happened!?!?! Anyway, for some reason the alarm on our system keeps going off at weird hours telling us that our battery is low. We had someone in a week or so ago who was supposed to have fixed the problem. At 2:30 this morning the alarm when off and I think I'm the only one who hears these things. I had to make like a bread truck and haul buns out of bed to shut the stupid thing off. *sigh* Since then it's gone off twice more. ADT is sending someone AGAIN tomorrow to see what the issue is. I hope they fix it this time. That system gives me piece of mind at night!! And believe me, right now I need all the pieces I can get! LOL

Well, if you made it this far, you are a trooper! Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone has a very happy and safe 4th of July! *Hugs*

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Praying for Peace of mind...or is that Piece of mind?

Hi there!

You may be wondering about my title I have up there...LOL I couldn't resist the play on words. Yep, I'm praying for peace of mind and a piece of my mind. I'm having a battle today!!

I haven't written in a little while because my life is so out of kilter!! I feel sometimes that my life is crawling along at a snail's pace...and at other times, it's flying by at the speed of light. It seems I make appointments for things and time seems to stand still until they get here, and then things are thrown at me from left and right. I'm saying up front that I am right handed and when you throw things from the left, I often miss them!! LOL

Since my last post I took a little trip. Where did I go you ask? I took the fast way down from the third floor...on my bum...hitting every step on the way down. Are you saying OUCH? Thank you, because that's what I said too!! (And a few other words I won't mention or my Mother will be washing my mouth out with soap!) DH and DS were at a ball game, and I was loading up on my usual meds before bedtime. (My friend reminded me I should just say NO! to drugs LOL) Seems I was always the most sore at night when I was trying to sleep. I was heading down to the kitchen to get a drink when my foot just seemed to miss the step and hit nothing but air. Yep, I was airborne without a parachute, my hand was caught up in the banister and thrown over my head (the arm that had just had surgery...and I think I ripped a couple of stitches DOUBLE OUCH!). I landed spread eagle on the living room floor. I got to my feet...and headed for the freezer for some cold compresses just as the guys came home. I wasn't sure what part of my body to use the ice packs on. LOL Needless to say, I opened an area of my incision under my arm, I had a HUGE bruise on my bum, and my wrist took a beating too. Not to mention my poor ego which has taken a licking and kept on ticking since this whole thing began. DH has a new nickname for me now. BABBs. Black And Blue Buttocks. While teasing me because of the bruise (which he has said looks like a duck, or a turtle, he can't decide which) I told him to kiss my BABBs!! Fortunately he didn't take that to heart, and took very good care of my incision, my bum and my ego (in that order!). The incision has finally healed over, just in time for the next step in the plastic surgery process...inflating the expanders. As the Doctor says, next week we start fillin' 'em up! Amazing we come!

Yesterday was one of those days. I had an appointment with the plastic surgeon in the morning, and the medical oncologist in the afternoon. In between I took a break from reality and went to see the new movie Toy Story 3 in 3D. If you haven't seen it, and you liked the first Toy Story, this one was very cute, although I did shed a few tears toward the end. I'm a softy what can I say?
I'm glad I did go, it was just the thing I needed before the firestorm started! Not only am I starting the process of inflating the expanders next week, but I'll be starting chemo as well. NOOOOOOO I thought I had another two weeks, I'm not mentally prepared for this. Now this is were I need peace of mind...beginning to see the picture? Not only am I starting chemo next week, but guess what!?!?! I need another referral.

I did nothing but talk on the phone from the moment I woke up (which is what woke me up in the first place...the phone) until 5:00 when the offices closed. The Physician's Assistant that gave me my post op appointment last week, forgot to refer me to the lymph edema clinic so called today to tell me to make an appointment...and OH YEAH, you need ANOTHER referral! I called them this morning and STILL have not heard back from the physical therapy clinic. *sigh* I DID hear from the infusion clinic about chemo and set up two appointments for next week. Then I called the insurance company to see what exactly I needed for chemo and physical therapy so I could call my clinic and get things rolling. I got a prescription for my wig (that should be fun!!) though, and am trying to coordinate a time when some friends of mine can help me select my new do! I called my primary clinic to see about getting the referrals, and spoke to my doctor who said she would write up the referrals and have them waiting for DH to pick up on his way home. DONE (or so I thought).

Then I realized I had made an appointment for chemo at the same time as a dentist appointment. I had to call and get a different appointment. Thankfully, because of the 4th of July holiday, people are canceling their appointments for tomorrow, so got both my son and myself an appointment for tomorrow...morning...8 AM (ugh!!) Don't they know I need my beauty sleep!?!?!?!

Then DH stopped by the clinic on his way home, and they didn't have my referrals. No sign of them in the computer. NOTHING!! This is were I lost my piece of mind. LOL And believe me, I'm going to find it, and hand it over to the ladies at the clinic tomorrow!! It's always the referral process that freaks me out, because it's like dealing with a brick wall. They THINK they know what I need, but the insurance company tells me something different. They refuse to bend, and so does the insurance company. I absolutely HATE being in the middle of two immovable objects! It shouldn't be this hard, especially when I'm in the middle of a war with my own body. WHY DO THEY HAVE TO MAKE IT SO HARD? I'm beginning to hate going to the doctors. It's more painful than my BABB!!

I'm heading out to look for my piece of mind. It has to be around here somewhere....