Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Contortionist in training

Just call me a contortionist in training. I went to the doctor yesterday about my back and she asked me to bend this way and that way, put my foot up, bend my knee, turn, etc. When does it hurt? Well all the time, that's why I am here. So she said go off to x-ray and we'll take a picture and see what's going on.

Well, it wasn't one picture it was seven - three of the lower back and four of the upper (or maybe it was three of the upper and four of the lower - I'm confused but that could be chemo brain). Anyway, first it was easy, lie on your back and don't move. But watch the breathing. Sometimes they said 'hold your breath', sometimes they said 'breathe in, exhale, hold it', and sometimes they said 'stop breathing'. Then, they made it more complicated, bend your legs up, or lie on your side with your hands in front of you.

But my favorite was lie on your side with the arm on top straight down at your side and the arm on the bottom straight up over your head. I asked why and was told this is done to make your collarbone move out of the way of the picture of the upper vertebrae. Now all this was done while they would push and prod me to the right position. It was more fun than I needed to have. I felt all contorted by the end of that visit. I get to call today to find out the results but maybe a back doctor will be my next visit. To further enjoy myself, I went to the mall and finished my holiday shopping. That was fun (except the crowds, my back hurting, and needing lunch).

Today, I am going to the gym before the big snow storm arrives and then I am going to get my nails done and drive home in a snow storm. What fun, can't wait. But I will have nice shiny nails. Maybe bright pink?

However today I am also confused. They are messing with time and this whole leap second vs. the atomic clock business is way too complicated. Either we have leap seconds periodically, randomly. Or we switch to this atomic time which will make noon occur at night in future generations. Is GMT obsolete? Do we really care? The clock tells us important things like when its lunch time, if its too early for the cat to have dinner still, and if we are late for work. Do we really care about leap seconds? Anyway, just remember at the countdown for 2009, to add an extra second in there - I guess that means 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, pause, Happy New Year! See how confusing this is? Every one stop for one second.

Anyway, Happy New Year! See you next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sound effects

The cat and all his sound effects have been returned to our house (after a very fur filled car ride). He goes click-click, click-click, click-click when he walks (so much for sneaking up on the mousies) because his claws need trimming. Then there is the snoring. He snores like a buzz saw. He very thoughtfully sticks his nose in my ear while sleeping and snores away. It is most restful (not). We also have the purring issue. It can be difficult to watch TV with him purring loudly but he is showing us how much he likes being home with us. Last, he makes a weird little grumbling noise to protest things. If he is sleeping on you and you need to move, he will stay there but grumble a bit. So much for peace and quiet.

Today I am off to the doctor. (How fun.) I have my list for the new doctor to fill her in on my 'brief' medical history. I also have a book, today's paper (because I overslept and didn't have a chance to read it), a bottle of water, and my shopping list for the mall (that is temporarily in a 'safe' place). I was hoping for a three month doctor break but it is only six weeks due to my back. Grrr... But then maybe I won't have any appointments in January. (That is looking a bit doubtful because if they want to do any tests or follow up, I assume it will be in January because there really isn't that much December left). Grr, grr, grr.

After the doctor, because I have not punished myself enough, I get to go to the mall. I need a few last Christmas things - family Christmas will be celebrated Thursday - and I need to return a couple of things and see if CPR can be performed on my cell phone. When I come home, I am sure I will be a in a peachy keen mood and will need to go for a walk to recover.

Yesterday I did go for a walk and pretended to clean the house. Today I will also have to do better at house cleaning. I am sure that will improve my mood as well.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts on air travel


After spending two fun filled days as part of the flying public, I do have a few thoughts on air travel and other travelers (of course I have to have an opinion.

- If you don't bring something to read or do while flying, please do not expect the 'lucky' people who are sitting next to you to chat for the entire flight.

- If you do manage to take a nap while flying, please don't snore.

- If you are traveling with a small child, why did you let them cry for the duration of TWO flights?

- You need to get some food in the airport before getting on the plane if you plan on eating more than a tiny bag of peanuts.

- If they tell you the policy is credit or debit cards only for your drink purchase on the plane, don't expect them to take cash from you. They won't. You won't get your drink.

- Please brush your teeth and use deodorant before flying. The other passengers will like you better.

- Yes all suitcases really do look a like. Label yours, look at the name on the baggage claim. If its not your name, put it back on the belt.

- Passengers do not really feel safe when the pilots tell them they deice planes and take off in raging snow storms all the time. It doesn't really make us feel better.

Yes, air travel is wonderful. I can't wait to do it again. In the meantime, before my next flight (in the unscheduled future), we have now done all the laundry, but not yet put it away. (Hey, we are most of the way there.)

All of a sudden I realized I was going to make treats baskets for Christmas and we are having a delayed celebration on Thursday here so perhaps it is time to start cooking. Unfortunately, Walter is still on California time and stayed up late. I went to bed early so I woke up early and decided it was time to get started on my cooking. However, cooking by the smoke alarm is not conducive to sleeping late. (And when you stick the smoke detector back up on the ceiling, if you don't do it right, it will fall on the floor.)

Anyway, today we return to our normally scheduled programming. I am going for a walk when I am done cooking by smoke detector. Then I will attempt to clean the house (maybe, maybe not). We will also retrieve the cat from his vacation home (my parents house) and endure four fun filled miles of meowing and shedding.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

We've returned

We are safely home from CA with a pile of laundry, a million pictures to down load, and possibly a little jetlag. We'll just say that when we paid at the parking garage at the airport it was after 1am. Why I am awake is a mystery but I woke up and was accused of being 'perky'. So I did a little unpacking (removed the dirty laundry from one suitcase) and made coffee. Oh, and watered the plants.

All in all, we had a successful trip. We left in a snowstorm and the majority of it has nicely melted away while we were gone. We also enjoyed spending time with Walter's family. We did some local adventures in Sacramento and then went up to Placerville, in the foothills (halfway to Tahoe), and also spent a day at the wineries in Napa. We went to Mumm, Chandon, and Hess and sampled some quite yummy wine. We also had a nice Christmas day and dinner.

The travel portion of our trip was somewhat eventful. The snowstorm on the way out made us get one of the only flights in or out that day - and waiting for deicing always adds to the excitement. The return flight featured one of the longest, bumpiest approaches into an airport in a rainstorm/fog bank/clouds and hardest landings in a long time (BAM - we were there!) We did arrive only an hour late.

Today to compensate, I will be tired and crabby and take a nap at some point. I have had probably 5 hours of sleep but am not good at this sleeping late business.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from California

We are having a nice vacation. We flew out through a snow storm (drove at 30 mph on the highway to get to the airport) but took off only about 45 minutes late - most other flights were canceled. Then we ran around the Las Vegas airport looking for our connection, which we thought we missed but it was delayed so we made it.

The weather here is warm. There are palm trees. There is snow in the mountains but rain here. Today we are having a big Christmas dinner. Tomorrow we go to Napa for the day - and its even supposed to stop raining. I am taking pictures and will post some when I get back.

We are in Rancho Cordova CA - where a house blew up yesterday in a gas explosion. We heard lots of sirens. Then we saw and heard the helicopter. We were fine. It was just the other side of the highway from our hotel. (Mental note to self: If you smell gas, get out of the house.)

I did break down and call the doctor for an appointment for my back. Why wait until I get home to see if she can fit me in so I decided to call this week from here? That was great logic but she has lots of appointments this week but is unavailable next week so I will see someone else. But I will see a doctor and maybe find out a reason for this so I can stop living on advil. So much for my three month doctor vacation. Its two back to back six week vacations instead.

Anyway, merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas vacation


Yesterday we celebrated and early Christmas and opened our gifts to each other. This t-shirt is proof that my husband really does understand me. He also got me cashmere sweaters. (It is impossible to own too many cashmere sweaters.)

Today we are heading off to California for Christmas with Walter's family. Then when we come back, we will have yet another Christmas with my family. This sounds like a good idea - travel for Christmas and you get to have three holidays instead of one? Well, sure, no problem. Unless there is a snow storm due for the day you are trying to fly out. This is the weather forecast for today:

A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW IS NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON. THIS WARNING COVERS WESTERN AND CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS AND SOUTHWEST NEW HAMPSHIRE.

STORM TOTALS OF 5 TO 10 INCHES ARE EXPECTED BY THIS EVENING.

And the winds are supposed to gust to 40-50 mph. We are leaving for the airport early because it is already snowing, bringing the newspaper, and planning on having lunch there. We may have more meals there depending on how long we get delayed.

Yesterday Walter shoveled snow and I supervised. I also made a pot of 'use up everything left in the refrigerator soup'. It has leeks, cabbage, onions, garlic, and pasta in it. I then froze it so it will be waiting for us when we get back.

In addition to being on vacation from the cat, we will be on vacation from the computer so I may not be updating for a few days. But I will post again once we return. Probably with lots of pictures as well.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Old fartism


This is a sign I have now reached old fartism. I had to break down and get a new one. I used to have a little pill box. Then all my pills and vitamins didn't fit so I got another one that was bigger. Now my pills don't fit again so I had to get another pill box. I am officially turning into an old fart. (When I start talking to myself with real conversations not just occasional muttering it will be time to worry.)

This morning I am contemplating all the snow that is outside. That I can't shovel. Bummer. I am so upset I can't go shovel snow. I will just stay inside where it is warm and sit at my computer. It is a problem though. Tomorrow another storm is due in the morning and we have a 1 pm plane from an air port that is an hour away. The storm is due to start around 8 am. I think we will get up early and leave when the storm starts. Then we will get to sit around the airport for an extended period of time I am sure.

Anyway today I think is a good time to pack for our trip. I haven't started yet. We have a party to go to this afternoon so I should pack before then. I will consider this.

Yesterday, kitty survived his big trip. As I carried him out of the house, the trash truck was going by which scared him even more. (He is such a wienie.) He shed all the way there. And then was fine instantly upon arrival. We also got to go out to lunch with my parents before the storm hit.

Otherwise, we are having our Christmas presents this morning with a special breakfast. I hope to get to the gym as well. Perhaps I can walk outside but it is snowy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deception and supervision

First of all today's morning activities will focus on deception. We have to take the cat to his home away from home - my parents house. It is nice house with lots of bird feeders. They are home a lot and provide laps with the bird feeders in view. What is wrong with this? The problem is going there involves 4 miles in a car. The cat is scared of car rides. He will hide if he thinks he is going anywhere.

I will deceive him by packing his stuff up in stealth mode, slowly putting things into a bag on the counter. If I carry around the bag, he starts to get suspicious and hides. He makes himself as small as possible and cowers in a dark corner. This is the only time he will refuse treats. Once everything is packed in the bag and we are almost ready to go, I put him in the bathroom and we rush around like maniacs getting his litter box and other stuff out to the car. Then I get him, put his leash on him, and off we go in a cloud of shedded cat fur. Once he is there, he is fine. When we come to pick him up, we have to call my parents and give them advance warning so they can contain him somehow. Otherwise he hides when we walk in the door - how's that for a welcome home?

My supervision today will be making sure my husband properly shovels the snow that we are supposed to get. Probably 8-12" or more. (Cancer people don't shovel snow - they don't know what causes cancer - maybe its shoveling snow and other manual labor.) Anyway, I will supervise and possibly clear off the cars. Then another storm is due on Sunday but hopefully we will sneak out of town before that one hits. We are changing planes in Las Vegas - I hope their snow melts before we get there because I bet they don't have snow plows and deicers in the desert.

In the meantime, I am going to sneak over to the gym while doing laundry this morning to recover from the great coffee disaster. A pillow landed on my coffee cup which caused it to dump upside down in my bedside drawer and all over the mattress pad and dust ruffle on the bed. Lots of laundry, and a tad bit of crabbiness as well because this was BEFORE my first cup of coffee. This afternoon will bring the packing mania that has yet to happen.

PS My husband just read this and said that being a smart ass possibly causes cancer...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The category of 'what was I thinking?'

Yesterday was clearly a case of 'what was I thinking?' A few weeks ago or so I did something stupid to make my back hurt. It doesn't cause extreme pain but is achy and stuff so I have been trying to be nice to it. Tuesday I went to the gym and lifted because it was yucky out and I didn't want to go outside. Yesterday was also yucky so I went to the gym again but I didn't want to lift so I decided to use the rowing machine. I am not sure my back appreciated that. I only used it for five minutes (its boring and I can't read the captions on the TV from across the room). Then I went on the treadmill and walked home in the freezing rain (and found out my boots leak).

When I got home, I looked at the inch of liquid concrete type snow sitting in the driveway and said I should do something about this as it is raining and the temperature is going down. I didn't shovel it (shovel connotes lifting which I did not do and cancer people never have to shovel snow). I used a shovel to push it to the sides. I only did a little bit of the driveway and the front walk. And not even the entire front walk.

Anyway, between the rowing and the snow pushing, my back is not very happy with me. But that is why there are things like advil and tylenol in this world so I am all set. Also, my husband did ask me what I was thinking as well. Perhaps he thinks I am impaired. (But I can claim chemo brain). Tomorrow we are supposed to get a big snow storm and fortunately he will be home and will be able to shovel it all. I will show him how smart I am and admire the scenery from inside. (And wear my boots that don't leak if I do go out.)

Today, I have to go to the mall. I can't believe I forgot I have to get one more present. I meant to go earlier this week but forgot. And the only store around that has what I need is in the mall. I am going to go in just a few minutes to get there before the crowds. It does mean fighting rush hour traffic but that will beat fighting holiday crowds. Then I will go to the gym (and stay away from the rowing machine) before coming home to do some work and then go to work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tolerance - the world needs more of it

The world needs more tolerance. I mean why can't different people live together and respect each other's differences? Why does everyone have to be alike? If we were all the same, we would be boring. And boring isn't fun. You don't have to like everyone, you can think they are weird, ugly, odd, kooky, and otherwise just plain different but there is not reason you can't co-exist with them. What harm do they cause you?

For example, I really do not like spiders but I am not scared of them. I would just prefer they live elsewhere than near me. There is a spider residing in the upstairs bathroom. He (okay I am making an assumption, it could be a she) walks around on the ceiling over the medicine cabinet.
Now while I really would prefer he lives elsewhere, I am not about to squish him for no reason. I prefer to leave spider removal to my husband and cat. (The cat occasionally gets additional protein in the form of spiders and flying insects.) However, I only see the spider when my husband is not around. I asked him if he had seen the spider and he said no. This is a smart spider - hides from my husband. If he was seen, he might be 'dispatched' or at the very least sent to the great white north (a/k/a the front yard). The end result is I am living with the spider and I am okay with that. He hasn't made a big nasty web. I am not sure what he is eating because I haven't seen any bugs around for him. But we can live in harmony and tolerance. The world might be a better place if everyone could live with people who were different.

The video of the day:
My favorite part is the little kid who broke into a store to play with toys. But a couchmobile isn't a bad idea either.

So yesterday I met a friend for dinner. At 9 pm driving home, I was exhausted. I am a wimp I guess. I did learn something yesterday. If you actually take time to style your hair, put on make up, and dress decently, people notice. I had a job interview yesterday (and won't know anything for a few weeks) so I actually made an effort to look okay and people noticed. Perhaps there is a message here - and I should make the effort more often.

Today it is a nasty snowy/sleety mess outside. I will go to the gym and buy the last couple of little Christmas items I need on the way home. Then I will work from home before going to work. My life is a boring rut.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All's well that ends well

After a month's vacation, the missing emu has been returned. This is most important. We even know his name - Emer. (I assume that is a good emu name.) He will be home with his family for Christmas. He has to get back to work sitting on the nest (perhaps he felt he needed a vacation from that). Anyway, he made it 16 miles away. But the important thing is he is fine and is now home.

Now yesterday, I received in the mail my spring 2009 catalog from Bluestone Perennials. I like Bluestone Perennials but I am not ready for a spring 2009 catalog yet. Winter doesn't start until this weekend (it may feel like winter but its not yet - the days are still getting shorter). However, now that I have it (and once I find it from the 'safe' place I put it), I will start contemplating what new plants I need for the garden. But it is quite early.

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I set up an in person interview this morning at a local company for more part time work. So this morning I cannot procrastinate (a/k/a waste time on the internet as much) before going to the gym. Its raining and in the 30's with the temperature dropping today so I will not walk outside. I will go where it is warm and dry.

In addition, I resolved the mystery of my refill prescription of Tamoxifen. I am trying to switch to mail order prescriptions because it is cheaper with my insurance. Actually, I will pay a total of $40 next year for two daily prescriptions if I use the mail order. However, I called the doctor last week and asked for a refill to be called in to the mail order place. I checked over the weekend and it was not received so I called the doctors office again. Apparently they called in the prescription to the local pharmacy I used to use. I guess they weren't paying attention to what I requested. Anyway, it seems to have worked out. Maybe it will arrive before we leave on vacation.

Between all that, I worked from home for two groups, went to work, and went for a walk with a friend, made a ricotta and spinach pie (Moosewood recipe), and went to the grocery store. I think that is all I did but just assume I wasted lots of time on the internet as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Learning more from the daily paper

First of all the quote of the day was President Bush on the shoe throwing Iraqi reporter. He said "He just wanted to be on television. I don't know what his beef was." Hmmm, George, perhaps he is a bit perturbed with his country being invaded by the US military. Or perhaps he doesn't like you and your politics. This could be a very long list. Not everyone wants to be your friend just because you are the US president (but only for 35 more days).

Now here's another news flash. Using the internet is encouraged to understand what medical ailments you have but you should include your doctor in the mix. In other words, don't self diagnose yourself into having a brain tumor - let your doctor tell you. From the patient's perspective it is actually kind of nice having lots of medical information at your fingertips but sometimes information overload does happen.

Also, who am I to decide by reading something online that is what I have. For example, I just went to the symptom checker on the Mayo Clinic's website. I put in hip pain that is dull and triggered by every day activities. This gives me a list of potential ailments: bursitis, hip labral tear, osteoarthritis, rhuematoid arthritis, avascular necrosis and tendinitis. So which one do I have? (Well, I know I have bursitis). I leave it up to the doctor to tell me because I have no idea of how to differentiate between these. They went to medical school, not me. You can do this for hours. Pick a symptom - sniffles - is it a cold, allergies, bubonic plague? If you are bored, its another way to waste time on the internet.

I have been checking the paper and there have been no reports if the missing emu found its way home. However, there are still lots of people with no power around here. Also, the accused Boston city councilor who originally had rallies to push his innocence in the corruption charges, has asked for a news blackout on his case. From rallies to a news blackout. Now that's a u-turn.

Finally, the last story of the day is the great acorn shortage. They (being the bunch of scientists) don't know why but do you have acorns in your yard? We certainly didn't. Actually, they do think its cyclical and last year was a bumper crop of acorns so the year after that is always a low production year. Also this year the rains also hurt the acorns. See now we can all feel smarter with all these little news flashes.

Otherwise, not much going on. Yesterday we went for a walk and then did a bunch of stuff around the house. Today I am meeting a friend for a walk, will work from home, and then go to work. I do need to call my doctor today. I called last week for a refill on a prescription and want to switch to the mail order service because its cheaper but, in checking this weekend, I found the refill was never called in. I was hoping not to deal with doctors at all for a few months. Grr.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An anniversary

Yesterday (call me slow but chemo brain allowed me to forget to post this yesterday) was an anniversary of sorts. It was one year since my last chemo infusion. When I was first diagnosed I was told a cancer diagnosis is a year out of your life. Well its been 18 months and I still don't feel back to normal. (To avoid discussion, normal is defined as to my previous state, not whether I was ever normal at all. That is an entirely different topic whether I was ever normal, sane or rational. My husband would be happy to have that discussion but since he's not writing this, we are not having the discussion right now.)

A year from diagnosis, I definitely did not feel normal. I had lots of fatigue issues, general overall crappy feeling, a crabby gall bladder, and my hair was too damn short. Well now, my hair is getting longer and able to be styled to my discretion as opposed to being limited by its length and it has returned more to its normal color (with a few more gray highlights that I would like but it is distinctly less gray than before). It also still has some Yertle tendencies which my husband insisted on photographing yesterday but will not be shared here. My gall bladder has been removed and now seems to be healing. But I still have fatigue issues. Not as often and not as much but I still run out of energy sometimes and am ready to collapse as a result. What I usually do is just go to bed really early.

Then someone told me recently you don't count it as a year from diagnosis or a year from the end of chemo but you count as a year from the end of all treatment. Well I finished radiation at the end of February last year - do I start counting then? Or do I count from when I had my gall bladder out in September? Whatever the date, its definitely been more than a year out of my life. Also, yesterday a friend and I were talking, she finished her radiation a year ago and I asked her if she feels normal and she said, no not completely.

This is the 'new math' version of how long a cancer diagnosis screws up your life. A year from whenever it ends and then you will feel better. Maybe it will be the anniversary of the anniversary of the anniversary of diagnosis or something. Well new math and all just doesn't make sense to me, I am still waiting to feel normal again. (And suffering so well in silence.) Anyway, happy anniversary to me.

Yesterday, I met a friend for coffee, ran some errands, made brownies, and we went to a party. It was nice to see people I haven't seen in a year. Today, we are going for a big walk and then making sure our Christmas presents are all set and organized. We just have this week before we go to California for a week. This means, we also have to take kitty to his 'vacation' home. This is a very traumatic experience for him as it means two car rides - which he hates. He will not be suffering in silence during them.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I found the work of 'rocket scientists'

Yesterday I needed to mail our Christmas cards (for those of you who are on the list, your card is on the way; if you aren't on the list, tough cookies). We had signed, sealed and stamped them all but the two international cards. I knew I needed two international stamps.

Yesterday I braved the downtown post office in late morning. My goal was to drop of my pile of stamped cards and purchase two international stamps from the machine, hence avoiding the line. I entered the post office and went to the mail slot to mail out all 50+ cards. The slot was designed by a rocket scientist so that it would only allow 3 cards at a time. I stuck them through the slot 3 at a time. It took a minute or two.

Then I went to the self service machine to purchase my stamps. One international stamp is $0.94. Here's the rocket science. The machine only allows purchase of one item at a time. There is a minimum purchase of $1.00. I started the transaction for one stamp. At the end it gave me three options: 1. Purchase a $0.94 stamp and a $0.42 stamp; 2. Purchase a $0.94 stamp and a book of $0.42 stamps; and 3. Continue with out purchasing. It did not give me the option of purchasing two $0.94 stamps. I gave up and stood in line.

I mentioned this issue to the woman at the counter and she said (and I quote) 'Don't blame me I didn't design the machine'. Hmmm... I did say to her that it seemed silly that you couldn't purchase two international stamps from the machine in one transaction and she said that yes she didn't understand it and the USPS wants to encourage the use of the machines.

I can understand the $1.00 minimum transaction on the machines. But wouldn't it make sense to make them a little more user friendly? I can't say its because its the government because the USPS is actually separate these days. But it does reek of illogical 'government planning' or general 'rocket science'.

Anyway, after I recovered from that trauma I had a relatively good day. I got my nails done (that was very important), went for a walk and ran a million errands. Today I am meeting friends for coffee and then am going for a walk before going to a party. Well, hope we get to go to the party. My friend who is having it lives in the area hit by the ice storm so we shall have to see if she gets her power back today. If not, maybe we'll go out to dinner.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Not a day to leave the house

Yesterday was a nasty day. I should not have left the house.I should have stayed home and watched TV and drank tea with the cat or something. I could have finished the Christmas cards even. But now, I went out several times. It was rainy. Not only was it rainy, it was pouring rain for much of the day. In addition, it was a tropical 34 degrees out too. Not a nice day (and I feel sorry for the missing emu out in the rain without his family).

Today it is pouring rain again. Apparently there is 1/2" of ice on everything about 20 miles from here. We don't have ice. We have down pours and its 32.2 degrees. I am not leaving the house until it stops raining. I have lots to do today but I will do all the stuff from home that I can before going out around 11 - and it better clear up by then. Cold rainy days are just plain yucky.

Actually yesterday I did get a lot done. I went to the gym, worked from home and went to work. Today I have to work from home, run a bunch of errands (when it is dry) and meet a friend for a walk before a phone interview and a manicure (the highlight of my day).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

They just don't get it and more avoidance

First a correction on yesterday's news - its not two city councilors in Boston who are accused of corruption but the state senator and a city councilor. but of course they are innocent until proven guilty but there is photographic evidence. Now the people in Illinois I really don't understand - why is your governor still governing? These people don't get it. Another item I found very interesting in yesterday's news: Search on for missing Emu. Yes there is an escaped emu on the loose and his family misses him. If he stops by our bird feeder, I am not sure how the cat would react.

Are you wondering why I am not blabbing on and on about my health issues these days? Well, once again I am in avoidance mode. I have two more months until I go to the doctors again and I am avoiding all health issues in the meantime. Unless I am dripping blood or in extreme agony, I am not going to see a doctor during that time. I am on a medical vacation. (See note below on the two week rule.)

There are several reasons for this. First of all, my medical issues have caused me too much stress and anxiety in the past year and a half so I need a break. Second, I need to finish completely healing from my gall bladder and then I can decide if there are any other issues to be dealt with. Third, if anything 'new' happens, two months isn't going to make that much of a difference. I see two doctors in February and one more in April and another in May. I will get checked out then.

I believe in the two week rule for medical stuff. If something isn't going away or getting better in two weeks, you go to a doctor. If I have something in the interim that violates the two week rule, I will see medical attention. But I am not letting any pesky residual issues stress me out for the next two months. I will ignore them. (I also believe in the two day wallowing rule - when you get bad medical news, you can wallow in self pity for two days but then you have to move on with your life and deal with it.)

I have carefully honed my avoidance skills during the recent financial collapse and election season and am continuing them onto my medical life.

In the meantime, I did manage to get a hair cut yesterday and am happy to report the curly, Dr. Seuss character hair is almost completely gone. It is still too short but is returning to its normal color and texture. (As my husband pointed out, my resemblance to Yertle is disappearing. How thoughtful of him to notice. But at least he did notice my hair cut.) However the hairdresser did say it will take another year to year and a half to get my hair to the length I want it. Yesterday I also was very busy with too much to do.

Today I am a tad overscheduled again. The mystery of the day is that a guy is supposed to come over and clean our gutters this morning. But it is rainy and sleeting. I am not sure he is going to show up. I will have to wait and see. Once that is resolved, I will go to the gym, meet a friend for coffee, work from home and go to work.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am amazed

If you start your day by watching the news or reading the paper you can find out all sorts of amazing pieces of information. First of all, our politicians seem to be losing it. In Boston, we have two city councilors who are now accused of a conspiracy to take bribes for liquor licenses. They were caught on tape accepting money. But of course are claiming their innocence. Hmmm... The pictures don't lie. Nor do the financial records for the Alaska senator who was convicted of taking bribes...

Then there is Senator Craig from Idaho - the guy who was caught in the mens room of an airport supposedly soliciting. He thought he could plead guilty so he could keep it quiet and not go to trial and his constituents wouldn't find out. Well, let's see, his constituents did find out so now he wants to with draw his guilty plea. If he was innocent in the first place, he wouldn't have needed to worry about anything. But by trying to keep it quiet, he created a bigger problem. What is that saying? The truth shall set you free. Perhaps there is a lesson here.

The biggest news is the governor of Illinois who was arrested for trying to use his power for personal gain and sell President-elect Obama's former senate seat. But its not just this one issue, apparently he has been doing this for years and is supposedly 'delusional' and 'narcissistic' among other things that I can't remember because its too early in the day. (Why do these adjectives remind me of President Nixon?) All these politicians should probably look for other careers after they are back on the 'outside'.

Anyway, now the real news flash of the day, are you ready for this, drum roll... Cancer will soon be the leading cause of death world wide. Now this doesn't tell us why but it does say that cancer rates are greatly increasing in many countries. However, mortality rates are decreasing in the US and Great Britain. But why the increases? Tobacco use and bad diets? We need more information but some how I don't find this reassuring.

While I am pondering this news, I will go about my overscheduled day again (I have to work on this scheduling business). I am going for a walk, work from home, run some errands, go to work and get my hair cut. Its actually transitions and deadlines at work are causing me to work more hours which interfere with the rest of my life. So I have less time for the fun things, like walks and cooking.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The common cold conspiracy


I met a friend for coffee yesterday and we were talking about cancer (Yes we talked about other things to but since we both had cancer, we get to talk about it. Cancer people get to openly discuss cancer and ailments and doctor visits because we aren't scared of hearing the word cancer again from a doctor. They already said it to us once and we hope not to hear it again but sometimes that happens.)

Anyway, we were talking about cancer and we were talking about that other incurable ailment - the common cold. I know I have written about this before (the last time I had a cold I wrote about this, I don't have a cold right now but do have some sniffles which may be allergies). There are many similarities between cancer and the common cold. They don't know what causes it, they don't have a cure for it, and they just throw a bunch of drugs your way to deal with the symptoms. Regardless both ailments result in multi-billion dollar industries nationally. they are huge.

I mean what is the size of the Kleenex (i'm sorry the facial tissue) industry these days anyway? During cancer, chemotherapy causes you to lose your nose hairs and your eye lashes so your nose and eyes run constantly hence the need for lots of kleenex. (You also need lots of kleenex to recover from those doctor visits which bring bad news.) During a cold, you are constantly blowing your nose as well. Perhaps the common cold/cancer things are just a conspiracy by the kleenex industry to stay in business. How much would their industry shrink if they weren't needed for colds and cancer? Hmmmm... Ever think of that? No I bet you didn't. (Now I feel like the guy in the movie 'Sneakers' who thought everything was a conspiracy.) I am not blaming anyone here, its just my warped mind going down some weird track as I sit here with the sniffles in a house that is getting dangerously low on kleenex.

Yesterday was freezing cold. We hit a high of 19 degrees or something tropical like that. And it was windy so it felt really cold. I went to the gym instead of walking outside. Today they promise it will be warmer so I will go for a walk later. But first I have to take the car to the garage to see if they can fix it to pass inspection (without costing a small fortune). I will also work from home and go to work. In addition, I have a list of calls and stuff I need to do but keep forgetting. Its written down so there is hope I will actually get around to it sooner or later.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So my planning skills are a bit off

But I do have chemo brain so I have an excuse. I had a great weekend but did prove I no longer have planning skills. I left late because I did not allow time to scrape off my car. Silly me. It is December. I should have thought of that.

Then I did stop and run some errands on the way up - one of my friends was running later than me so I took the opportunity to stop. So I was late, my other friend was on time. She got to walk on the beach. (You will learn the importance of this later). We were staying at a beach front hotel in Wells, ME (which I do recommend for a summer weekend).

Our goal was to go to Kennebunkport - get a good parking spot and spend the day walking around. We did do this. But my planning skills allowed me to leave my bottle of water in my car while I went in my friends car. Good thing she has planning skills and had a bottle of water for me.

After walking around and shopping for a while, we had a late lunch and watched the Christmas hat parade from inside. That is the best way to watch it - warm, eating yummy food, and sitting down. We finished our shopping and went to the local monastery for outdoor Christmas caroling. It was quite nice. We each got a candle and some roasted chestnuts. We decided there were probably a couple thousand people there - all with candles singing along.

We returned to our hotel room for nutritious snacks. Our plan was to get up in the morning and go for a walk on the beach. however, there was one little bitty complication that we did not factor in:


video
Cold, sleet, snow, wind. So we just had coffee and hit the road. But then I got five minutes down the road and realized I did not have my extra warm coat. It was still hanging in the closet in the hotel room so I had to go back. Great planning skills on my part but by the time I got back to the hotel the sanders had gone through and I didn't slide out into the middle of the intersection a second time. Also, my planning skills allowed me to wear green socks with brown pants and black boots yesterday. Such a fashionista.

Perhaps I overdid things slightly but not too much. Today I am going to go to the gym (to work off some of the healthy snacks we had all weekend) and them am meeting a friend from fishing this summer for coffee before going to work. I think all I do these days is go to work and have coffee with friends. Perhaps I do need a life still.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The difference

In the news this morning is an article about Anne Romney, wife of Mitt the former governor and aspiring presidential candidate. Apparently she just had a lumpectomy and had what is considered precancerous tissue removed. This is called DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. This means it has not invaded outside of her ducts. The difference was mine had invaded outside of the ducts so it was called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Mine had also gotten a tiny bit into the lymph nodes.

The difference is she had surgery and the article said they hadn't decided on the rest of her treatment but probably it will be radiation for five or six weeks. Because mine was invasive, I got the joys of more surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I don't know her medical history but I did have relatively regular mammograms. Okay, it had been 18 months since my last one when I had the 'bad' one. If I had gotten one sooner, would it have made a difference? Or would my tumor have been too small to be seen in a mammogram so I would have waited another year for one? Then how much more might it have spread? These are the questions I can't beat myself up for.

But my point is (I always have a point or try to but sometimes I ramble or my chemo brain makes me forget or my life is too boring to have a point) get regular mammograms and go to the doctor for checkups regularly. No one should never see a doctor... No one should not have health insurance... In addition, if something is bothering me, I use the two week rule. If it is still bothering me or getting worse in two weeks (or sooner if its really bad), I will go to the doctor. I don't think I need to go to the doctor for every round of sniffles or colds or aches and pains.

The difference of going to the doctor and having regular exams can save your life. Just do it.

In the meantime, today I am not going to the doctor. I am going to Maine. Of course it is going to snow while driving home tomorrow but I will drive slowly, blah, blah, blah. I am not one of the idiots that goes speeding by in a blizzard - besides its only supposed to be an inch or so.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Its the burning question!

We all want to know but no one can tell us. The question is - how long do we have? No one knows. Our doctors can't tell us. There is no way to figure this out. Until now. As further proof that everything can be found on the internet. (What did we do before the internet - I think we made things up and went to the library.) Its also further proof that the internet is a giant time suck but that is a story for another day.

If you go to http://longevity.aarp.org/ you can find out how long you have. then if you go to www.realage.com you can find out your 'Real Age'. I find it very interesting that AARP thinks my age is 10 years less than my chronological age and that I should live to be 95. However my Real Age is 15 years more than my chronological age.

So now I have two polar opposites in answers. Which one is correct? I have no idea. What did this exercise accomplish? More time wasting on the internet. Which one should I believe? The one that I want to! Or perhaps a combination of the two - which still gives me another thirty years or so. (Or I can continue to claim I am 29 and that would give me another 60 years.)

Anyway, today I have yet another busy day. I worked again last night and today I am tired. Unfortunately I have things to do like - work, volunteer work, take the car for an oil change, meet a friend for a walk, run some errands. Perhaps I should fit in taking a nap. But I am not sure I have time. What I do have time for is to pack.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Maine overnight with some friends. We go to Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport, ME (home of the Bushes but we won't see them). Prelude involves lots of shopping in stores who provide snacks all day long, we also go to a local restaurant for lobster rolls, and end by singing Christmas carols by candlelight with 1000 other people in a giant field, while eating hot roasted chestnuts (a/k/a freezing with friends). Then we go back to our ocean front hotel room (open door to deck over cold North Atlantic in December - its rather chilly but means I can walk on the beach on Sunday) and have snacks and wine. This means I will make a massive dent in my remaining Christmas shopping.

Sunday I will return home but of course it is supposed to snow. Nothing like an 80 mile drive in a snow storm to increase the blood pressure. They are now talking about flurries with some bursts of snow but they don't think it will be any significant accumulation. But that is tomorrow. Today I need to motivate and work, and do all sorts of stuff.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What is wrong with this picture?

So yesterday's big adventure was to go get a new license plate at the registry of motor vehicles. I forgot to write down where it was so I did a little 'exploring' to get there. Upon arrival, I got a parking spot right out front and went in to the reception desk (not the concierge). The woman in front of me was just finishing.

When it was my turn, I said 'I need a new license plate'. She gave me a number and I walked over to the benches to sit down. Before I got to the benches, my number was called. I went up to the counter asked for a new plate, the guy had to go get one out back, and then I was out of there. (He was even relatively polite but not much of a sense of humor.) I think it took me longer to undo the old plate and rebolt on the new plates than it took me to get in and out of there.

What is wrong with this picture? Polite state employees and I didn't have a chance to read my book. This is even after recent budget cuts had reduced the number of hours the registry was open so I assumed a wait. Nice things can happen at state offices. (And there were no OMWAHs there.)

After that easy little trip, I decided to take a side trip to Target and run some errands. This of course made me late for work. And as I was driving to work, I did get stuck behind an OMWAH.

Today I have to work from home, go for a walk, and then go to work. How different is that than any other day? Not much. I am boring.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rejection

Yesterday I went to get my car inspected. It was REJECTED!!! I should have suspected it. Last week, Walter went to take it to be inspected and they said it wouldn't pass, messed with something and said drive it 100 miles to reset all the computers and it should pass. But your license plate is too old so you need to get a new one as well. I thought he just went to a picky garage for the inspection and yesterday I went to one that I had been to before after we made a point of driving more than 100 miles.

I was rejected because I need a new license plate and someone messed with something (disconnected the battery or something) and now I need to drive 300 miles to reset the computers. Today, I am going to resort to plan B and call the dealer to schedule and oil change and ask them to check it out. In the meantime, I have a big fat "R" sticker on my car. (And Walter got to say 'I told you so' which was the high point of his week.)

However, today the highlight of my day will be going to the registry of motor vehicles. I don't care what state or country you live in, it is the same everywhere. It is a government office where I will get to go stand in line and then deal with 'qualified professionals'. (Perhaps it is time to swipe the cancer card - I have cancer I can't stand in line for ever.) Actually they are a little more humane these days. You check in (after standing in line) at the concierge desk where they give you a number. Then you get to go sit on a bench and wait to be called. Needless to say, I will bring a big fat book. I can also check the wait times online before I go. It will be a quality use of my time. I am also making the assumption that I will deal with 'qualified professionals' there. I will report back tomorrow on my adventures. Perhaps there will be OMWAHs as well.

Otherwise today is not very exciting. I am going to go for a walk, out to lunch with a friend, drop some clothes off at the consignment store, and go to work. I am tired today. I worked last night which I am not used to. I will also work tomorrow night. I can do this. I can work more hours this week. However, the cat is concerned I am not home enough to keep up his intake of kitty treats. He is most upset.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yesterday even the cat had a bad day

I didn't have what we call a stellar day yesterday. As a result I was crabby. Because I was crabby, my husband was crabby. It started off with I didn't sleep well, had a bad dream, and then things went down hill. I rushed home from my walk for a phone interview, that was late. I rushed home from work, for a conference call (and skipped another meeting because of it), and wasn't needed. I was crabby.

The cat's day was worse. He likes to sit in the front entry way. Sometimes I put him in there and let him 'supervise' the bird feeders for an hour or so. (He can't annoy me when he is 'supervising' out there.) But yesterday morning, UPS delivered a couple of packages while he was in the front entry and scared the crap out of him. They basically just open the door and throw the packages in the front entry. He was very upset and yowling. So I let him in. Then he immediately wanted to go back out there. Make up your mind! Are you scared of the UPS delivery person or not?

The word for today is: public transportation. This is for the Big 3 automakers as they go back to Washington to ask for a bail out. I have heard they will fly commercial instead of their separate private jets. (Perhaps they should have carpooled.) Personally, I don't think they get it. You can't spend money on corporate jets (or exclusive overseas retreats for AIG executives) and expect good press. This is like the teenager who wants more allowance but also wants their parents to buy them all the designer clothing at full price on top of that.

Anyway, I will make every effort to put all crabbiness aside today. I have a lot to do - including getting an inspection sticker for my car - and work from home, go to work, and do a bunch of other stuff.

Monday, December 1, 2008

On being green


Yesterday we went for a walk and stopped to pick up a prescription on the way home. I noticed several cars sitting there idling n the parking lot with people in them waiting for others shopping. Why? Why sit in an idling car? About your carbon foot print, wasted fuel, laziness not to go into the store? I can go on and on.

Anyway, being green is buying a hybrid. Not being green is sitting in your idling hybrid while waiting for someone else.

Not being green is recycling your single use water bottles. Being green is buying one bottle and refilling it over and over again. 70% of water bottles do not get recycled in the US.

Being green is having house plants for natural air filtration. Not being green is spraying evil chemicals around to 'clear' the air. At least my plants are currently blooming so they can clear the air and they can look pretty.

Enough rant for this morning. Maybe I need more coffee. Another over scheduled week for me - but what is new about that? This morning I have work to do, a job interview phone call and then go to work. I actually have to go to work four days this week as well as do work from home. I also have to fit in my socializing, getting the car inspected, taking the other car for an oil change, doing some volunteer work, and running some errands. Its a good thing I don't have doctor appointments because I don't think I could fit them in.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crabbiness recovery


Yesterday I was significantly less crabby than the day before. We got together with family and went for a giant walk in the woods (where we saw a whole bunch of old junked cars) and had lunch. Then I went home and did a lot of nothing for a while to recover from the giant walk. It is very tiring to try to keep up with small children - they don't sleep, they are recharging, while us adults are busy doing things.

I also did laundry and made most of dinner. I delegated some to my sous chef... but then got to wash the dishes. Not an exciting life (but then I never claimed I had one). Today we are going out for brunch after our morning walk. We were going to go for a walk after brunch but now the weather forecast is for (gasp) snow changing to rain - which is not conducive to outside activities. Then I get to fold laundry when we get home. I am so excited I cant wait (for laundry folding)!

No it is not another exciting day in my life. Perhaps I will sneak over and pick up my new eye glasses this afternoon too. My current pair have been repaired twice (with Krazy Glue) and aren't quite even any more, hence my impatience...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Warning: Crabbiness alert!

As noted, I kind of overdid things on Thursday to the extent that I went to bed at 730pm. Then yesterday I went out three times - once to the farm stand, once to the library, and once for a 15 minute walk just so I could say I actually did go for a walk (and wasn't a total slacker all day). I even convinced Walter he could cook dinner.

By 9 pm, apparently I was a crabby b***h. Not just crabby, but crabby enough that it was commented that I was extremely crabby. (I even was mad at the TV for having too many commercials and not just showing the conclusion of the show I was watching. I was also mad at the cat for sitting on my lap and making my hip and back hurt.) It was strongly recommended that I just go to bed and get some sleep to reduce crabbiness. I then slept for 10 hours. Perhaps the crabbiness has gone away, perhaps not. I have only been up for an hour and am on my first cup of coffee.

Why crabbiness? Well, it is somewhat of a mystery but I still get tired. I mean its only been two months since the last surgery and I wasn't yet myself before then. I am getting really sick of this running out of steam business and then being exhausted for days. But when I finally go back to the doctor in February, I will discuss it with them then. Part of my recent problem might be this working nights business. But I only have three more evenings to work, and might be able to leave a little early on two of them. I will see how it goes.

Today, we are off to see visiting family members before they return home. I didn't see them yesterday because I was that tired. Then I hope to get in some kind of a walk - either with them or after they leave. Tonight I will again hope to prevent crabbiness by taking it easy. Perhaps I will pick up my new glasses later today. (Does squinting increase crabbiness??)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Don't do it - its another avoidance day

Today is a day of avoidance again - but this time of your scale. Do not weigh yourself (unless you are trying to gain weight). Face it, you probably ate more than you normally would yesterday and today the scale will tell you how much you ate. You don't want to know so just avoid the scale. If you want to weigh yourself, step on the scale and mentally subtract three pounds from what it says.

Yesterday was a bit chaotic but fun. We went for our early morning walk and my brother and his family descended on us about ten minutes after we returned home. Chaos ensued. Our house got very messy but that is to be expected with (four little and two big) kids around. We did go to the park (a/k/a the land of the giant slides) before heading to my parents for more chaos and more people (and a large dog). 15 people and one large dog does not make for quiet times. But it was fun and good to see everyone. We also went for another walk, which meant two walks in one day. Then we drove one guest home to Boston. By the time we got home, I was exhausted and went to bed early. I admit I was in bed by 730pm and asleep.

Today I will do slightly less - possibly significantly less - and definitely eat healthier. I see many vegetables in my future today. I think its also avoidance of shopping today. I am having a big debate with myself - my new glasses are ready for pick up but I really don't want to go to Costco today but I really want my new glasses. Hmmm... Maybe I'll wait until this afternoon and see how busy things really are. But we will get together for family stuff today, at some point.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

82 days and counting

I have 82 lovely days without a trip to the doctors. I am very excited. 82 days of no blood tests, Dr. Seymour Butz gowns, procedures, waiting for doctors, or tests, (or OMWAHs in the parking garage - I will probably find some elsewhere but not there!) I made a deal with my therapist even that I will not see here in December as planned but wait until sometime in February around my upcoming appointments.

In the meantime, its Thanksgiving. Three of my four pies are made. I have a sous chef (one of my nieces) coming to help make the last one. I had a different sous chef (my husband) for apple and carrot peeling (carrots are not in pie but will be served with a maple glaze with cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice).

Otherwise, you can watch me on TV if you want.
Cancer and Hope from Josh Lobel on Vimeo.

Today our first thing to do (after we finish drinking coffee) is to go for a morning stroll (or death march - it depends who you ask) to ensure our appetites are at their maximum for this afternoon's meal. Then we need to retrieve a dinner guest who is coming by subway and head over to my parents. Actually my brother and his wife and four children are coming for a few hours this morning (of peace and quiet). I have plans for them all. (Little do they know).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Realy taking a break

This morning I have a therapist appointment. I have decided I will tell her I want to take a break from seeing her as well.I don't want to go to Lahey any time in the next three months unless I am dripping blood from something. I want them to rearrange the furniture in the waiting rooms (and maybe get new magazines) before I return. (Not sure if they ever get new magazines.) Anyway, I just don't want to go there at all. I think I am justified in this. I need a real break.

I will focus on losing weight and getting another job in the meantime. How is that for ways to fill my time? I will also work on training the cat to improve his mouse hunting skills. He gets a big fat F right now. We found mouse evidence in the kitchen and even caught a mouse in a trap. The cat prefers napping. Maybe we could get a roomba and teach him how to ride one like this.


Otherwise today I have to make four pies between now and noon tomorrow. Luckily I have a sous chef (husband) in charge of apple peeling. He is also in charge of peeling 3 lbs of carrots. I am not sure he knows this yet but will shortly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Going for the insanity plea I think

So it really is a clever plot to drive me insane. Yesterday I called the surgeon's office who told me last week to come back in six months. They said the letter was a standard letter just reiterating what the doctor had said and I should ignore it. Okay, fine. I can live with that.

Then when I got home from work, I got a copy of the pathology report from my mammogram and it says: Post biopsy clip stable, negative ultrasound. findings are probably benign. Bilateral follow up is recommended in six months. Overall assessment - probably benign. Hello! I am sorry but the words 'probably benign' should not be told to anyone with a cancer diagnosis. I have had two. I don't like that combination of words. Grr, grr, grr, grr, grr, grr.

And there was a handwritten note from my primary care physician saying: Please be sure you are booked for a follow-up mammogram in six months. Grr, grr, grr, grr, grr, grr.

So now I have two doctors and the radiologist saying follow up in six months. I will say, yes I can feel lumpiness but I have lots of scar tissue, made lumpier by radiation, and then from more scar tissue from the stereotactic core biopsy last June. So I am not surprised there is lumpiness and neither was the surgeon - he said it is normal and may never go away. But is there something else hiding in there? I don't know. Maybe a six month wait to see if nothing changes is better than more biopsies at this point. In the meantime in three months, I see both my radiation oncologist and my medical oncologist and can talk to them as well. Grr, grr, grr, grr, grr, grr.

Insanity may be the way to go at this point. I am not sure I want to jump on the second opinion band wagon since I will have seen four doctors in the meantime - how many more do I need to see? Grr, grr, grr, grr, grr, grr, grr. (You can tell the level of my aggravation by the number of grrs.)

I am going to the gym this morning to take out my frustration on the weight machines and the elliptical. I will drive the 10th of a mile there because of the rain. I will also get some work done this morning from home and go to work as well. And its a yucky rainy day - the kind where you want to stay in bed and drink tea and watch bad TV all day. Grr, grr, grr, grr, grr, grr.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In search of the truth

Today I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I will call my doctor's office this morning at 845 am (that is the earliest they are there) to ask why they sent me this mystery letter. Did they see something or not? Or are they just trying to drive me insane? If I ask very nicely, perhaps I can expect a call back later today. Actually, they usually do call back the same day. Its just I won't be home all day so I will have to make sure I have my cell phone with me at all times, it is on and the battery is charged. (90% of the time, I don't have it, the battery is dead or it isn't turned on.)

Yesterday we had fun. We went with a friend to visit an old friend, his wife and their three children (who were very cute - the kids were, well not to say the parents aren't nice looking but the kids hold the cute title for the day.) After that we went out for sushi for dinner. Quite yummy.

Otherwise, today I have a completely over scheduled day. I am so over scheduled, I wont even get to go for a walk or to the gym today and Walter is going to cook dinner. I am not sure what he will make but he is on vacation this week and I am busy all day so I thought why can't he make dinner. He is quite capable. Why should I rush home to cook when he is on vacation? I also managed to delegate some of my errands to him as well. How sneaky of me!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another boring day

Yesterday was another boring day. We did laundry, cleaned the living room and dining room, went for a walk with a friend, and that was it. We did nothing fun and interesting and exciting. We are boring people. The cat didn't even try to get out (to drive me crazy) because now its too cold for him outside (he is a weenie).

I did manage to stew about my stupid letter from the doctor. I am very aggravated. They don't send a letter like this unless they see something. They should have compared my current mammogram to my previous ones and compared scar tissue and all the other left overs from tests, surgery, and procedures (I really hate that word). So did they find something new? I have to wait until tomorrow morning. Then I have to call my doctor and wait for him to call me back. Grrr...

In the meantime, perhaps I will continue my house cleaning routine. Well, not to over do things, I am not going to clean that much. (My dust bunny buddies would all go away if I really cleaned!) We are also going to visit an old friend and see his wife and three kids this afternoon. I do need to go for a walk. So it will be another blah day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An evil plan is afoot

I have decided there is an evil plan afoot. What is this plan you ask? It is to slowly drive me insane. Monday I get the all clear mammogram come back in six months for your annual bilateral mammogram but you are fine. Yesterday in the mail, after 5pm on a Friday afternoon, I get this letter from the hospital:

If you really have a clean mammogram, you don't get this letter. Also, they do an initial reading of your mammogram and then I think a more in depth look at it later on. so now I get the letter and get to stew over it all weekend. Perhaps my sanity will be checking out by then. I am very, very, very, very, very, very aggravated and will call my doctor promptly on Monday morning for an explanation.

In the meantime, I have lots to do. Laundry, meeting a friend for a walk, some significant house cleaning, and prepare for my second interview Monday morning. (I just stuck that in there to see if you were paying attention.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Even the dentist gave me a good report

Yesterday I had a dental cleaning (something I hate - its right up there with a lot of other medical 'procedures'). First the hygienist wants to know any recent updates to my medical history in the past six months - and I forgot to bring my list! I think I told her everything but can't be sure. I am pretty sure I got the highlights (or are they low lights). Then, the what medications are you on question - I can ace that one in my sleep now. But then she said my teeth were great. No buildup. etc. But keep flossing (I have never been told I am flossing too much or even just enough - they always want you to floss more.) Even though it was only my teeth, it was nice to get good medical news again.

On to more boring things, I did a lot of work from home yesterday and then went to work after the dentist. I did go for my walk - but wore layers of polartec because it was so cold. Around here the temperatures have been January-ish, not November. Today, I will pull out my polartec again because I am meeting a friend for a walk. But I need to be productive again and get some work done from home. My biggest problem in working from home is avoiding the call of the evil Internet and its time sucking abilities.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is it time to take a break?

I have been debating with myself on this one. Do I still need to go see my therapist? I am up in the air on this. Maybe I'll talk to her next time I go. Maybe I'll consider taking a break from her and then seeing how I feel.

A yucky medical diagnosis is the equivalent of PTSD. It takes time and a lot of dealing to learn to live with it. I still have my support group. I am not sure I want to go see my therapist any more. Maybe in my three month break with out doctor appointments, I will take a therapy break too.

Every trip to Lahey Clinic is another roller coaster ride. Therapist appointments are not as stressful as doctor appointments - in fact they are not stressful at all. But if I took a break from my therapist, it is possible that I wouldn't go to Lahey at all which might be a good little break in another way. To physically not go near the place for months. I go back and see her next week and maybe we'll talk about it. Also, if I don't have to go back and forth to Lahey all the time then I can have more time for important things like job hunting and working.

In the meantime, I am really trying to work on this getting a job thing. I did send out another resume yesterday and they emailed me back right away asking for a phone interview (which is a very good sign). I hope to set that up in the next day or two. I also worked from home a lot and went to the gym because it was too cold to walk outside.

Today I will go for a walk (wearing many layers of clothing) outside before going to work. We are experiencing 'unseasonable' cold - they say we have January weather forecasts right now - highs of low 30's, lows around 20, and a little gusty breeze of 25-30 mph. I am not sure which is scarier - the latest stock market chart or the chart of our recent temperatures. Both have tanked in the past few days. (I think its time to return to stock market avoidance. Or we can pretend we work for one of the big 3 automakers and zip around the country in our private jets while asking for federal dollars - they are also practicing avoidance.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An offer I could refuse

After a few rounds of phone tag with my insurance company, I finally made contact with a human being and discussed their offer of 'case management'. Basically we agreed that they should have called me more than a year ago and that I am on top of my treatment options. Since they were so tardy, it was an offer I could refuse. Actually I told them I think they had called me last year as well and at the time we also said they were a little late. Little did I know of all the fun and adventures I would have in this past year. Anyhow, picture me sliding under the radar again.

Yesterday I was working very hard at home. I had lots of work to do. Then the power went out (they are doing some telephone pole replacement work in the neighborhood). I waited a few minutes and it didn't come back so I decided to take the opportunity to go to the gym. When I returned home from the gym, I found the power must have come back on right after I left. So I wasted more time resetting clocks and was significantly less productive than I should have been. Today therefore I have to work extra hard. Unfortunately I have errands to run and other things to do as well. So I guess the real issue is I won't be able to waste time on the internet (the worlds biggest virtual time suck).

Today I have already gotten a late start. I worked last night until 9 and then was up late for me. I slept in this morning until another family member (who shall remain nameless but is not the cat) cooked breakfast using the smoke detector as a timer... Now I am awake and drinking coffee. Working nights may increase my caffeine intake. Its not the working nights that bothers me, its the staying up late that does.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The doctor had the same script as me

Yesterday at my mammogram, I ended up having an ultrasound as well - because if you feel a lump or a 'something' you get to be part of the special group and go directly to ultrasound, do not pass go, do not collect $200. But the ultrasound found nothing. The mammogram found nothing. The doctor read the same script as me and said 'come back in six months for your annual mammogram'. He also said any lumpy stuff now is all scar tissue that will probably never go away. But it is normal and fine and nothing to worry about.

The part I don't get is doctors who say 'come back in six months for your annual check up'. Six months is not a year. Six months is half a year. I wish they would teach math in medical school. Anyway this now means I don't have a doctors appointment for 2 months and 27 days. But then to make up for my big gap, I have two appointments in one week. I will worry about them then and not before then.

What to do with all my time? I know, I could get a job and work more. There's an idea. Actually I have been looking for more work but I only want part time work. I want flexibility in my life to work my contract work, community ed work and volunteer work. Too many types of work but as long as most of it is paid, that is fine.

Yesterday I spent several hours sitting around Lahey and then came home and took a short walk before going to work. The cat made me late for work. Just before I was supposed to leave, he turned back into his outdoor cat mode and snuck out. If I go out and try to grab him when he first gets out, he hides and I can't get him so I had to wait around for a few minutes and then I took the kitty treats out and shook them. Voila, he reappeared, happy that he had gotten out, but I was late for work.

Otherwise, now I am very busy. Today I have lots of work to do from home, my support group and then go to work tonight. I am working a couple of nights a week for the next few weeks. This means I have to practice staying up late - I work until 9 pm. Yes, this could take practice for me. I still have a tendency to get tired. Maybe I could use it as practice for actually having a social life again - another interesting concept.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Its mammogram Monday

What a fun way to start the week. I have a 9 am apt for a mammogram and then I go see the surgeon for a follow up. If all goes well, I have a script for the doctor to say 'everything is fine and I'll see you in six months (or a year)'. But I have lots of lumpy scar tissue so I don't know, there could be a detour to ultrasound in there as well which could be followed by other fun adventures.

It also means I can't take my morning walk until after my appointments and if I get sucked into the giant black hole of hospital tests, I may not get a walk in at all. Egad - trauma in my life!

Yesterday we went off on an 'excursion' and went to Portsmouth and had lunch did a little shopping, visited a friends store and got started on Christmas shopping, and met up with friends, drank wine in the afternoon (a rare occurrence). We came home and I beat Walter at Scrabble. All this socializing is not helping my diet. Today's dinner will be turkey tenderloins, spinach, and Brussels sprouts. I am not going to lose weight if I keep eating a lot of crap.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Should I trust them?

I am not sure what kind of relationship you have with your health insurance company. With mine, I prefer to keep a low profile and have all my claims slide on through under the radar. Then Friday I get a phone call from a nurse at BCBS asking me to call her. I didn't have time on Friday and meant to call this week. Saturday I get a letter from her. I guess they really want me to call them.

They are offering me a free service called "Case Management". It is is for people with 'a chronic illness or catastrophic health event' and provides 'no cost' 'personalized planning'. Its advantages include 'individual review of needs, with referrals to local agencies', 'coordination of health insurance benefits', 'access to medical information and resources', and 'a single contact person for information about benefits, medical procedures, and services'.

This sounds like a lot of marketing hooey (to my trained ear - I write a lot of marketing hooey) to get a better handle on us sick people who go and maximize their out of pocket spending early and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance dollars each year. It also sounds like an offer you can't refuse (maybe I watch the Godfather too much).

I think I would no longer be sliding under the radar if I was in 'Case Management'. Actually I guess I am no longer sliding under the radar if they called me and send me a letter on the same day. What if my profile is raised and then they start looking at all my claims and start making me get all sorts of preapprovals for everything? But do I trust them? I am not sure. I hate dealing with big insurance companies and worrying about claims etc. Grrr...

Yesterday I actually went to a party for a friend's birthday. I stayed out past 10pm. This is a first in a very long time. I ate way too much (but it was very yummy - lobster) and lasted until a little after 10. I was pretty tired. I was up late enough last night to see SNL intro but was on the wrong channel so I missed it.

Today, I am going on a walk (because I weighed myself after eating too much at the party and the scale is clearly going in the wrong direction). Then we are off for a fun day. We are going to Portsmouth, NH for the day to Strawbery Banke, to a local brew pub for lunch (the husband bribe), and then to visit a friend's store who is having a friends and family day special (what I really want to go see). I will also go to bed early tonight.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Further proof that I have no life

I just took a look at my blog from a year ago. What was I writing about? Being forgetful due to chemo brain, getting Walter to plant bulbs for me, being lazy, working from home, and going for walks. Basically the same stuff I write about this year - except last year I was in chemo, this year I am not. This is just further proof I have no life. I am not sure what it says about those of you who have been reading this for a year of nothingness.

Yesterday I did sort of have a life. I went to lunch with a friend and for a walk with another friend.My social life was interfering with my work obligations so I didn't get nearly as much work done as I needed to. Hence today, I have to do work this morning. But first I get to procrastinate on the internet, go to the gym (too rainy to walk), and then I will do work.

We also have a party to go to tonight for a friend's 'significant' birthday that should be fun. I haven't been to a party in a looooonnnnngggg time. Its hard to go to parties when you feel like crap or are tired. My goal is to arrive on time and then make it until 10pm before going home. that would be a very late night for me to be out.

Otherwise, as you can see I clearly have no life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Parking impaired

Yesterday I took the new car (with its microscopic turning radius - I think it really turns on a dime) to run some errands. I found an on street space which was slightly smaller than it should have been as the car behind was a good foot or two over the line. I said "I can get this new little itty bitty car into it". Well, I couldn't. Three tries later some one was pulling out of a space right on the end of the block so I gave up and took that one instead. Then I realized an SUV fit into the space I couldn't. So I am not the best parallel parker. I never was, never will be. I would love to claim chemo brain for this one but I am not sure that I can.

After my errands I went to work. There is nothing worse than being stuck in an office doing paperwork and a FLY BUZZING AROUND YOUR EARS. I tried to kill it but it kept on landing on me and on the new computer (and I didn't want smushed fly on either of those). At one point I left the office for about 10 minutes and when I returned it was gone.

I also got a manicure/pedicure yesterday. Nothing like making you feel better by having your nails look good.

Today I really have to get all the work done that I was supposed to do earlier this week but my social plans have a way of interfering. I am meeting a friend for lunch and another friend after that for a walk. Then I have a scheduled work call. But before that I have lots of other stuff to do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Okay, I admit, I did it.

I went to the tv studio yesterday for filming. This doesn't mean I will be moving to Hollywood anytime soon. It was for a local cable access program who is doing an episode on the place I go to for my support groups. They wanted to interview a bunch of us lucky people who are dealing with it first hand and asked me.

Now we talked for all of 8 minutes, they said I would be on for a maximum of five minutes. But until its finished, we won't know exactly how the editing scissors trim it. I could be on for five seconds - other people's stories could be more exciting than mine - you know what an exciting life I lead! If it actually is produced, I will provide a link where it can be viewed on line. (Because I was filmed yesterday, I actually made the effort to style my hair and put on make up in hopes of making me look younger, thinner, and taller.)

Other than that I did not have an exciting day. I procrastinated instead of working from home so I didn't get nearly enough work done. But I did go for my walk and then to work. Today, I have to get motivated and go for my walk so I can get work done this morning before getting my nails done and going to work. I am lazy and I know it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hair adventures

Yesterday morning I noticed that I have gray hairs that are only pigment deprived on the ends. This leaves me to believe that more of them will go away with subsequent hair cuts and my hair will not have as many 'distinguished' strands as it currently does. Yesterday also featured the return of Dr Seuss character hair. It was suggested by my husband that I post of daily picture of my hair and ask readers to pick the Dr. Seuss character it most closely resembles. I told him that was not an option.

Also, yesterday the cat had a big adventure. He got out again (still thinks he is an outdoor cat - a little snow on the ground will cure that) and terrorized the neighbor's cat. Apparently the other cat was in his yard under his bushes watching his bird feeder. This made him mad so he started harassing the other cat by chasing it and beating him up. Shere Khan is larger than the other cats and runs faster and has a longer reach so clearly it is a one sided battle. (For the record, Shere Khan is a featherweight at 15 lbs and can reach the kitchen counter with his paws. Average cats weight 8 lbs.) The other cat was trying to be safe from him by hiding in the bushes since he couldn't out run him or out fight him. I solved his problem by bringing out kitty treats and distracting Shere Khan (and making him come back inside where he belongs). Now he is still mad and wants to go outside and protect his lawn and his bird feeder again. (But since I have kitty treats, I will prevail in this little battle.)

Now here is another example of the misleading media. In today's paper was an article which says South West Airlines is reducing December plane fares. How exciting! We are flying to California on South West in December. But then the fine print says 'only for flights in the first two weeks of December and then again in early January'. So I was all excited for nothing.

In addition, there was article about breast cancer and vitamin intake. It states that a new study contradicts a study announced last spring that increasing Vitamin D and calcium intake can help prevent breast cancer. Well I could have told them this, I have taken extra Vitamin D and calcium for years because of my thyroid issues and to prevent osteoporosis and I still got breast cancer and have osteopenia. They didn't need a study, they could just have asked me. (Because I am so smart and have so much overwhelming medical knowledge). Based on my personal history, I can tell you also that Caucasian women living in an industrialized country have a higher rate of breast cancer as well. See how much I know?

Today I have to go for a walk, do work from home, and go to work. I also have to remember to bring my camera to work. Can I do this? I am not sure. I have an electronic reminder on my computer but can I remember this long enough to get my camera into my purse and take it with me??? Also, today is filming day. I will find out more about that later this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Advertising

In watching the news this morning, there were ads for three different hospitals. They all claimed to be warm and fuzzy and be state of the art with the latest clinical trials. Basically, they are saying they will have the best care. But, this is the part I don't understand, how do you choose your doctor and where you get treated? You go to your regular doctor and if something bad (a/k/a cancer) is discovered they refer you to a specialist that they are affiliated with or know. They use their medical training to decide which medical specialist you need. Then you have to make sure they are in your network, etc so you insurance will cover your treatment.

Where is the freedom of choice here? There really isn't much leeway. You need the right kind of specialist to make sure you get the right kind of treatment. Can you pick your hospital by a TV commercial? I personally like having a hospital close to home that has a full range of capabilities. I will also check their reputation to make sure they are good but I am not going to drive an extra thirty minutes just to get a 'warmer and fuzzier' hospital with 'the latest' clinical trials. And I definitely am not going to choose them based on their TV commercials. This would be like choosing your prescriptions based on the ads in magazines...

I also trust my doctors judgment and their training to make sure they are referring me to the right kinds of doctors. they have the training, not me, to know if I need a specialist or not. But I will pay attention and ask questions so that I understand what is going on. If I don't or I disagree, I will ask why to learn their reasons. This is why we pay professionals to help us. I think the hospitals should take those advertising dollars and spend them on more nurses and other medical staff to help us patients where it really counts - in treatment.

Okay, I am off my soap box for now (for today). Yesterday I was really busy. I went for a walk, to the gym, retrieved my missing comforter (and blanket I had forgotten about) from the cleaners, went to a job interview, went to work, and came home. (I still feel like a moron that I lost the cleaners receipt for five months and it was in plain sight but I will say the cleaner didn't flinch when I handed them a slip with a pick up date of June 7.) Today Walter has the day off which means he thinks he can get lots done around the house. I need him to help me with some stuff and then we are going to get new eye glasses.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I am a moron.

I am a moron. I am an idiot. I have two brain cells. No wait, I have chemo brain and that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Look what I found yesterday.
I was attempting to get caught up on the house cleaning that has fallen by the wayside in the past year and a half (no, I didn't not do any cleaning for that long but there are some organizational issues that need to be addressed). I was organizing my bedside table. This is a particular trouble spot because of the pill bottles, etc covering the top. And the cat has a habit of walking across it and knocking over things 'in his way'.

This receipt was upside down on the bedside table under some other papers. It is for the comforter that I reported I lost a few months ago. I was right, it was at the cleaners. But, when we dropped it off, our phone number was scrambled so it wasn't listed under our name. (I will say we aren't sure who dropped it off and that there is a clear language barrier at our local environmentally friendly cleaners.) The real mystery is what is the other blanket that is there with it.

Call me stupid. Call me an idiot. Call me a moron. But I have chemo brain so I am not any of those. This is what happens to us cancer people. You can claim chemo brain instead of being an idiot for the rest of your life. (And to answer your question when am I going to stop using this as an excuse the answer is never.)

Yesterday I didn't take it as easy as I should have. I did some house cleaning, folded laundry, and did some clean up work in the gardens as well as go for a walk. I was so tired I ended up taking a nap. Usually I hate napping because then I don't sleep as well at night. Well, I still managed to sleep well. (Yes, I go back to the doctor next week and will ask him about this fatigue issue that doesn't seem to be going away.) In the meantime I need to get a good nights sleep tonight and tomorrow so I look my best for TV filming on Wednesday.

Today is a busy day. Job interview and then work all afternoon and maybe a phone interview tonight or tomorrow morning as well.