Friday, February 29, 2008

The excavation report

What a fun day!!! NOT! My appointment for the 'procedure' (don't you love that word?) was at 1 pm but the little official appointment thingy I got in the mail said be there at 12 pm. So being a punctual patient I arrived at 12 pm and was told to get changed and someone would come get me in a few minutes. 30 minutes later, after getting all stressed out and agitated because I was so much looking forward to the digging out process, I went back out to the desk and asked. They said they knew nothing but would call down. Then they told me someone would be out to speak with me shortly. 15 minutes later a very useless individual came out and told me that the printout I received in the mail was wrong and I didn't need to be there an hour early and that they were running a little late as well so someone would be out in about 20 minutes or so. (I pointed out to this useless individual that when they had the planning phone conversation a week previously, they could have mentioned the fact that the printout would be wrong and I wouldn't need to arrive early. Apparently that didn't register with him.) Needless to say when they finally came to get me I was not in a good mood and a tiny bit stressed.

Then the fun part started. The port removal doesn't hurt. Its the giant needles of local pain killer that they use that hurt. Then it took over an hour of 'digging' to get the damn thing out. That was such a joy. There was a nurse there to monitor me who had amazing conversational abilities (she carried the conversation while I got a few words in edgewise - but it was very distracting which was the whole point) who happens to own four cats so we discussed her cats for the duration. At one point in the middle of the 'procedure', they all ended up getting spray goggles to put on because of the potential for spurting substances when he pulled the port out. Finally, after lots of tugging and pulling and pressure, it popped out of its little incision. I also found out that apparently some people (not sure who these people would be) actually like to keep their port as a souvenir. I opted not to keep mine.

At the end of the procedure, they gave me the discharge instructions. No showers for 2 days, then keep the incision dry at all times with special plastic bandages (that I need to go buy). Then keep the @#$&%$&)$%& steri strips (I suspected I might get them again) on for 10 days and then I can take them off too. Tylenol for the pain. No heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 7 days. Specifically NO SNOW SHOVELING (that's okay - Walter already thinks I can no longer shovel snow). Then the little tiny note, 'do not drive or operate machinery for 24 hours'. Well, um, they probably should have told me that when I asked if I could drive myself home. I just pretended I didn't see it and drove home very carefully.

Once I got home, I resorted to the wonderful pain relieving combination of tylenol, gum drops, herbal tea, cat on the lap, and Netflix movies. It wasn't that bad. I did put an ice pack on for a while but ice packs are much more user friendly in heat waves in August as opposed to record cold evenings in February.

I do actually feel a little better now that its gone. I no longer feel like something is stabbing me in the side of the neck and the actual place the port was feels better than before. The cat accidentally stepped on it (that will only happen that one time during the healing process yesterday) and I can already tell the difference. It was more sore before when the port was in when he stepped on it than when it was just removed.

Today I have much better plans. I do not have to go to Lahey Clinic. In fact, I do not have to go to Lahey Clinic for an entire week. I do have to call Lahey Clinic to reschedule an upcoming appointment. (Why should I wait for 2 weeks after my MRI to get the results when I know they are available in less than 1 week? My stress level requires me to see if I can make the appointment sooner.) Today, I am going to do nothing this morning and then go to the bank, CVS, library, walk with a friend, and grocery store. Then I believe I will again be part of the (fat sedentary American couch potato) problem and spend the afternoon with the cat, drinking herbal tea, and watching TV. Its a good thing I am now out of gum drops as my stomach is still recovering from my looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap barium for breakfast procedure on Monday. Tonight we are going out for dinner. I am sick of cooking and we have no food.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A (unbelievably) speedy trip

First of all I need to say that if you are stressed out and buy a big bag of gum drops to relieve stress and then get a stomach ache because you ate too many, it is your spouse's responsibility to have sympathy for the stomach ache.

I went to Lahey yesterday and got there in plenty of time for my dr's appointment so I decided to get my blood tests done before it. I needed blood work done before today's excavation. I zipped into the blood lab and then went and met with the doctor. I was back downstairs in 59 minutes! How's that for a speedy trip? I think it set a record that I got through both places that quickly! (Maybe because I didn't wait for the elevator and walked down stairs?) The real incentive to zip through is money - the parking garage is $2 for the first hour and then goes up to $5. I did not have to pay for parking at crispings or chemo but now I do.

Anyhow, so the doctor said. You have a sliding hiatal hernia. Nothing can be done to treat it unless you get heart burn issues so we'll continue to follow it. You have minor hemorrhoids. Try home treatment and see what happens (Hemorrhoid factoid (I really wanted to use that term) 50% of American adults over 50 (which I am not yet but close enough) have hemorrhoids so I am not alone.) You have Irritable Bowel Syndrome which is a fancy term for weird problems with your digestive system that we can't really define so we'll call it IBS. We won't treat it for now because you have enough drugs and tests but we will watch it.

The CT scan shows what is suspected to be a hemangioma on your liver and recommends an MRI to confirm. What is a hemangioma? (First of all you have to learn to spell it to be diagnosed with it. If you just Google hemangioma you find out it is a type of birthmark but if you Google hepatic hemangioma you will find out about this kind.) It is a type of vascular abnormality or benign tumor that about 7% of adults have. They are not an issue unless they cause pain in which case they go in and take out part of your liver. (We aren't there yet. No more surgery scheduled for me.) Mine is 1.4 cm. Most are about 1/4" but can be up to 20 cm (which would be huge!!! if you think about it). Anyhow, mine is unconfirmed at this point. It is also described as a hypodense lesion. There's another fancy word for 'soft and squishy'. I specifically asked if is it a solid (which would be very bad) and was told no it wasn't - hence the 'soft and squishy' term. Previously I had a vascular abnormality to go with my latest fibroadenoma which was the same kind of thing - squishes right down when they try to feel it but visible in an MRI. Maybe I am just vascularly abnormal? (I do know my spelling skills are improving with continual medical diagnoses.)

I got one of those doctor speak statements 'we really don't think its anything, blah, blah, blah, but with your background, blah, blah, blah, and the radiologist who read the CT scan recommends the MRI, blah, blah, blah, so we need to check it out further, blah, blah, blah.' So now, I get to wait around and stress out (and eat more gum drops and the dark chocolate M&M's which are hidden in the kitchen). My MRI is March 10 and then I go back to the doctor and we talk again at the end of March. I also need to go back for another blood test before the MRI. They suggested I go yesterday afternoon but I pointed out I had just been there and really didn't want two holes in my arm in one day. Needless to say I will be back at Lahey next week and can get the blood test then. It was a fun filled 59 minutes at Lahey.

Today's plans include going to my excavation appointment after working this morning (instead of sitting around and stressing out - but I can't remember if they told me I can eat and drink before it so I have to call... I may have blown it already if I can't. When life is stressful eat bacon for breakfast - new delivery yesterday.) Don't you just love the phrase 'dig it out'? I can't wait! Then post-excavation I plan on spending the afternoon with the cat watching a Netflix. He is more excited than I am. I may eat more gum drops and get another stomach ache too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Done crisping but not totally crispy

Well, now I am done with my daily visits to the crisper. However, the side effects occur in the two weeks following treatment so I will continue to get crispier. The last nine visits were for the boost focusing on the 'surgical cavity'. My skin and scar there have been fine but apparently the side effects will continue to worsen over the next few weeks. Things to watch out for including swelling, pain, peeling, weeping and oozing skin (doesn't that sound lovely), as well as the standard high fever, etc. I can't wait! At least I don't have to go there any more and have daily dealings with the @#&*$*(%@#$*(& parking lot. I really won't miss that.

Unfortunately I get to go back to Lahey today and tomorrow. Today for the follow up with the GI doctor and tomorrow to have my port 'dug out' (I just love that term, I am not sure I can use it enough). They promise they will use lots of lidocaine so it doesn't hurt but that term just really gets me - icky!

After that, I do believe I only have three doctor appointments in March. In April I currently have only two doctor appointments scheduled. I am sure that will change. I am just not sure what to do with all my free time. Gainful employment is the goal but that will take some time.

This morning however I don't have time to go to the gym. I am promising myself I will go for a walk later on, after the doctor's. And after I get blood work done for tomorrow's 'excavation'. I have to remember to stop at the blood lab before leaving. I think a big note to myself is helpful but will my tiny brain remember? I am not sure. I am working this morning so I actually have to motivate to take a shower and get moving.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I didn't dress appropriately!

First I must confess. I ate a donut. I went to crisping after my CT scan and they had donuts. I have never eaten any food at crisping but yesterday I succumbed and had a donut (and a small cup of the ever so important caffeine.) Before leaving Lahey all together I then stopped and purchased a large coffee so I could actually drive and begin functioning as a human being. Because I was uncaffeinated upon arrival I drove like an OMWAH and hit a curb in the parking garage - but I did not get a flat.

Anyway, I did not dress appropriately for my CT scan. First they asked me if I had elastic waist pants on. If I did, I would not have had to put on their lovely pajamas! Silly me! I guess my ESP should have been turned on so I would know this. (Did I look like the type of person that wears elastic waist pants? That is a different question.) Also, I wore my regular little black boots because it was about 15 degrees out when I left. There was a woman there wearing school bus yellow, patent leather, ballerina flats (with the little bow) for her treatment. They were quite the fashion statement. Mental note to self, always wear cool shoes when going for treatments.

Getting back to my story, I arrived on time - at approximately 6:58am as requested. I had to fill out a very complicated form and then have a seat in the secret little waiting room. (Why is it a secret waiting room? Well, I think it is the hiding place of OMWAHs. The people there were sharing their stories of painful medical histories and previous hospitalizations. They were also wearing hats. In most waiting rooms, people don't share their medical histories in public.) Then I had to get into a lovely set of pjs and robe (with my boots) and drink not one but two looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap (with a slight berry flavor) barium beverages. A nice man came along and put in a very painful IV to ensure the day was complete. (No they couldn't use my port either. Its a good reason it is coming out.) Then the scan itself took approximately 10 minutes. An hour of waiting around for 10 minutes of viewing.

I got to lie on a table with the big donut CT machine. It has a little red light and as you slide back and forth you realize its not a red light but a laser. It also has a little sign that says 'Do not look directly at laser beam'. Possibly they shouldn't put it right in front of your face if you aren't supposed to look at it. I just lay still and every so often they slid me back and forth and asked me to hold my breath. Also, right in front of my face is a little panel that shows when you can breath and when you cant - completely with little faces - green for breathing and yellow for holding your breath. But as they slide you back and forth, you can't seen the little faces until you are back out. Perhaps these should be relocated so they are visible when you are supposed to be paying attention to them. Then I got to wait around again to make sure everything was in focus (or as they put it - to make sure I was smiling in the pictures). I was done by 830 which was much earlier than expected. Then I went to work until 515pm. This is the longest I have worked in months and it was a busy day. By the time I got home, I was so exhausted, I was in bed at 8pm. I didn't even get to go for a walk yesterday! There is a rumor that I overdid it yesterday but perhaps I will disregard that.

Today is the last crisping. This means I am 97.0588235% (note the improved skills with a calculator) done with crispings. However no big celebrating until I get through Wednesday and Thursday as well. Once they 'dig out' my port, I will be much more inclined to celebrate.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Breakfast of champions

Yes, I am awake (mostly but completely caffeine free so I am not sure how awake I really am) and sort of functioning and nearly ready to go to have my breakfast of looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap barium. I need to be there at 7. I normally try to arrive 10-15 minutes before an appointment but this is a bit early for that. I want to arrive exactly on time. This means I need to leave in about 10 minutes and am assuming there is no traffic and I will not have to dodge many OMWAHs in the parking garage. Needless to say, I can always do the parking garage sprint - where you run in from the garage all the way to your appointment and hope they won't check your blood pressure first thing. Anyhow, this is SO exciting I should get moving so I am not late.

But first here is my caffeine/breakfast plan - I need to have a plan for caffeine, the barium just isn't going to cut it. They always have free coffee at the crisping department and often have snacks. I will get some coffee there - probably wont have time to drink much but then will stop at the Lahey cafeteria and purchase a more substantial cup to ensure I am finally awake enough to drive to work.

Now I am procrastinating and will be late. Damn.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

94.1176470588% complete

Yes, I too can use a calculator. I am 94.1176470588% of the way through radiation treatments. That means only 5.88235...% left to go - or two treatments. Now if all my skin doesn't start peeling off in chunks in the meantime I will be happy. I did start to get a rash, which itches, which makes you scratch it, which causes irritation and skin breakdown, and peeling in chunks (but thats another story for another day).

Yesterday we did get out to go snow shoeing for a bit. It was very nice but I forgot my camera. Not to say I can take pictures in focus or anything but I would have attempted. I also went to the library. Upon checking out books, I was told I still had two books out, one of which was overdue. I said I don't think I have them but will go home and check. Voila, they were sitting there right where they should be waiting to be taken back. Moral of the story: before you go to the library, look and see if you have anything that should be returned.

Today, I have successfully convinced Walter that a walk (which he will claim is a death march) on the (plowed) bike path is a good idea. He has agreed provided we can go to the diner for breakfast afterwards. I think diner breakfast basically counteracts the benefits of a walk but that is the plan.

I also plan on watching our last Netflix which is Astronaut Farmer today. I was accused of possibly overdoing it yesterday by several sources. (I don't necessarily believe this is true). However today's plans do include movie watching to ensure I am rested enough for my looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap-barium for breakfast event tomorrow morning. Not only do I have to be there at 7 am, but that early arrival is to allow for barium ingestion. They have sent me several notices and called on this. I can't eat or drink anything either after midnight or for four hours before hand - depending on which notice you believe. Since I don't plan on getting up in the middle of the night to eat anything, this discrepancy is not really an issue. I have to get there and drink barium for an HOUR. Then they tilt me around on a weird table again and they will take scans over the period of 30 or more minutes. They may also give me an IV contrast agent (read that as weird dye that feels icky when injected). Then you have to wait around to make sure everything is in focus (I do hope they have better photography skills than I do as I don't want to have to go through this more than once). Then I will go to the crisper. Two kinds of radiation in one day - I will definitely be glowing - but that's okay, I will just go to work.

Now Netflix is a great idea. You pay a fee and they send you movies or other DVDs to watch. Our problem is sometimes we end up having them sit there for a few weeks before we watch them and then we watch them all and have no movies for days! I think to maximize this service you should watch one every day or two and that way you never run out. Also, do you necessarily have to consult your spouse as to what is in your Netflix queue? I am not sure about this. When I do consult, we end up with weird crap in our queue. When I don't consult, the assortment of movies ends up being received with some grumbling from time to time. I think I prefer the grumbling....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just something else thats normal

So the ice pick in the armpit syndrome is normally accompanied by peeling chunks of skin. I asked yesterday if this is anything to worry about - recurrence of surgical pain, nerve regrowth, and chunks of skin peeling off - after treatment to the area has ended. Apparently its all normal and to be expected and nothing to worry about. I have to remember that the damage continues for 5 to 7 days after treatment ends.... Not that there was ever really any radiation treatment in my armpit. But its all normal and to be expected. Peeling chunks of skin are icky!

Yesterday I did get an earlier appointment and was done by 245 and home by 315 in the snow. Driving was just starting to get a little funky at the point but the OMWAHs and other idiots did prevail - well yesterday I think the OMWAHs were smart and stayed home. It was the other idiots who were out there. My personal favorite was the guy driving on a snow covered road, over the speed limit, around a blind curve, while chatting on his cell phone. It was slippery but apparently he didn't care. I guess perhaps his cell phone would protect his head in the event of an impact.

While I was out driving around in the snow - having the time of my life - Lahey called to remind me of my appointment at 730 am on Monday. Well according to what I had written down, I need to be there at 7 am. At that point I would prefer to have an extra half hour of sleep so I called to clarify. Apparently I really do need to be there at 7, not 730, and this was confirmed by a person who's voice sounded suspiciously like the one on my answering machine telling me to come in at 730. Anyway, I can't wait. Not only do I get to be there at 7am, but I get looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap-barium for breakfast. A balanced meal I am sure.

Yes it did snow last night. We plan on snow shoeing later today, possibly with a friend. I am unable to shovel snow - what a shame. But I can go play in the snow. Actually Walter already went out there and cleaned out the driveway. I just have to finish my car and he will clean up the rest of the driveway. Life is tough. (However Walter did come in for a big home made breakfast so he is just as spoiled as the cat - but in denial.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Its not very restful

Its not the fatigue (because there is not radiation fatigue, just cumulative treatment fatigue) that makes you tired. Its not very restful when you can't sleep because of the little tingly nerves and the 'ice pick in the armpit' syndrome. Apparently its normal to feel little tingly electric jolts as nerves regrow that were radiated. This is normal to be doing this in my upper arm and side even though there was no radiation there. Unfortunately, they don't understand that I want to sleep at night and don't appreciate the tingly jolts waking me up. Then the 'ice pick in the armpit' syndrome is not conducive to a good night's sleep either. And it comes and goes. I wake up and it hurts. I lie there and think should I go find some tylenol or something and then it goes away. But then it comes back. But then it goes away. But then it comes back. I didn't sleep well. I can stay home and be crabby today.

Actually I can't stay home today. I have to take my crabbiness and go out today. Where else? But to Lahey. And its snowing. We are supposed to get 6-10 inches. I hope this is another one of those 'we will let the media blow it all out of proportion and send everyone into a tizzy and to the grocery store storms'. It is already snowing now. My appointment isn't until 2 pm. I will call and see if they have any cancellations for this morning so I can go earlier.

Perhaps I will be more coordinated today than yesterday. While walking out of a store, I pulled my car keys out of my pocket and also pulled out my clip on sunglasses - that I promptly ran over with my own grocery cart. They seem to have survived for the most part - no cracks but somewhat warped. Of course they are indestructible because they only cost $12. Its always the expensive stuff that breaks first. Its the cheap stuff that will survive anything and never wears out.

Also, yesterday I lost the daily battle with the stupid &*#$&%*(#&^ parking lot. I am not going to miss that after next week. It turns out that the Press for Assistance button is broken. You need to use the other Press for Assistance button that is located on a separate post. You are supposed to know that the little tiny arrow is pointing towards the other button, not to the broken button. This is why no one answers when you press it!

I don't think I will go to the gym today. They are putting in new carpeting in the locker room and areas of the gym that were never recarpeted when they renovated about five years ago. Its hard to work out when there are carpet guys all over the place - and right behind the treadmills - never mind that they are in the ladies locker room too! This may force me to go walk outside in the snow... A little fresh air might not be a bad idea.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eco friendly everything these days

It seems you can get eco friendly everything these days. How about a solar powered watch? No more battery replacement! I bought myself a new watch yesterday because I wanted a fancier one and I could get a really good deal at a store that is going out of business. (Walter claims it looks just like my regular stainless watch I wear every day except it is gold and silver, is square not round, has a white dial instead of a black one, and has little (and I mean minuscule) diamond chips. Otherwise, it is exactly the same.) Anyhow, the newest thing in watches is that they are solar powered. You never need to change a battery so you don't need to buy those environmentally incorrect batteries any more. They can run for months once charged and can charge enough to run for one day after 1 minute in bright sunlight. So now what do we do with our politically incorrect, battery run watches? Throw them out? If you think about it, new items are created to be environmentally correct and lower your carbon footprint but what are you supposed to do with the old item that you are replacing - throw it in a landfill? Even if it is recycled and remanufactured some how, it still is polluting. So now what do we do? I will have to ponder this as much as my tiny little chemo brain can handle.

Today's big excitement is a job interview - a potential for gainful employment. There's a concept. Actually this is a 20 hour a week job and would hopefully coincide with the other work I am already doing. The paycheck thing is the most exciting. Yesterday, I got my nails done in an oh-so-subtle bright fuschia in order to be fashionably attired for this interview. If they can't handle fuschia nails at an interview, I don't want to work there either.

Later today I promise I will go to the gym. (Fortunately or unfortunately - depending on how you look at it - we no longer have any Ben & Jerry's in our house.) My interview is this morning and it is too cold to go out side (tropical 14 degrees currently). It may possibly warm up enough to walk outside later but I am not committing myself. Other wise that is my day - a little work from home and a trip to the crisper. I am not sure I can handle all this stress and excitement.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I am sure I missed a few things

Yesterday I went for my walk and went past the local branch library which has been closed since last summer due to a flood from a broke water pipe. There was a man who had obviously stopped by to use the library and found it was closed. He asked me if I knew what was going on. In the next few minutes I learned many things about him: his family name (never heard of them), what street the used to live on (around the corner from where we were), the area of town his parents live in (far end from where we were), the town he lives in (20 minutes away), his employment status (retired twice), he is a caregiver (for his parents as well as his in-laws), his wife’s job (teacher), he is a grandfather, he wanted to use the internet( as a break from caring for his parents as they don’t even have a computer), and he likes to talk a lot (obviously). I probably learned other things from him that I forgot already but he seems to have shared quite a bit of information. I am not sure what I am supposed to do with this information now that I know all these things. Maybe its just more information for my beleaguered tiny chemo brain to forget.

That was the big excitement for my day. Well other than going to the crisper. It was my weekly meeting with the nurse and then the doctor. All of a sudden, in the past few days, I have started getting severe 'armpit pain' similar to that of an ice pick being stabbed deep inside or what it felt like post surgery when they removed lymph nodes (twice). I noticed that the incision was sore and all red around it. Well apparently this is a normal side effect of radiation even though that area was not being treated directly and the full treatments ended last Wednesday. Its the cumulative effect of the radiation that manifests itself more strongly around scar tissue. It often shows up after the treatment is done. The nurse recommended hydrocortisone lotion. The doctor recommended prescription strength hydrocortisone lotion. I used it. It still hurts. Ow.

I also mentioned my fatigue issues to the doctor. She said that it is not fatigue from radiation but a cumulative effect fatigue from being in treatment for so long. Her recommendation is that in March I either go to a spa for a few days or on another type of vacation. I like that prescription.

In addition, yesterday I got to talk to all sorts of departments at Lahey in preparation for next week. I talked to one group of people about my upcoming port removal. It actually sounds kind of creepy. They use lidocaine to numb the area and the just pull out the tube that is in an artery in my neck and then they 'dig out' (their words) the port itself from the scar tissue. Just to make sure that the one scar doesn't show too much, they will make another one right underneath it so I will have a pair of matching scars to remember this by. That is in addition to the one on my neck, and the other three surgical scars. (Five scars - I will start to look like a medical patient soon or something!) I also got to talk to the people about my CT scan. I need to get a blood test before the port removal and thought I might need one for the CT scan (they need to make sure you aren't allergic to the contrast agents) as well. It would be nice to get one blood test instead of two.

Today, I am getting a manicure. I decided that even if I am tired (but not from radiation, just everything else), am job hunting, going to Lahey all the time, and generally feeling like crap, at least my nails can look good. Last time, I got a slightly subdued pink. This might be the time for screaming fluorescent colors. I will check out the selection usually chosen by teenage girls to find something suitably non-subdued. I am also meeting a former co-worker for lunch and might have to go to work for a bit. This is all after I go to the gym this morning. Walter picked up my prescription last night (how nice of him) but he also picked up a quart of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk (how not nice of him). Since he bought it, we forced ourselves to eat some of it. It did make me feel better but today I must go to the gym.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

These things are just so complicated

Yesterday for lunch I had a miso soup purchased from Trader Joe's. Its the kind in a bowl that you just add water - or so I thought - and voila you have soup. No, this wanted me to add hot water to soak the noodles, dump out the water, add the base and seasoning packet (but not all, just to taste and it didn't say that on the instructions, only on the little packet), add more water, microwave, and enjoy. First of all, it seemed like a lot of work. Then rehydrated tofu is just like eating watery styrofoam. Finally, the worst part is - do I recycle the bowl or not? It is one of those weird plastic looking materials that are made from something natural. So, do I put it in the trash or in the recycle bin? More than I could handle. I couldn't decide so I left it on the counter. And the worst part was the soup tasted horrible and I didn't eat it. So much work and they forgot to put flavor into their seasoning packet - or maybe I dumped out the flavor with the first water used to heat the noodles. See how complicated this was?

Perhaps this complicated soup was the reason I was exhausted yesterday. Or maybe it was the walk I took. I admit it was a long one for me. I walked to the bank and back, by way of the water tower. So up over most of the big hill and then down and then back home. Maybe 4 miles (which is not out of the ordinary for me). But I was really tired yesterday afternoon. I had to be part of the problem again (the TV watching thing again) and sit down and do nothing for a couple of hours. I do need to find out when the national turn off your TV week is so I can plan something else to do for a week.

Okay, I just googled it (Google is your friend - you can find out anything on Google - but Google is evil and is tracking search patterns...). Its not until April. I have plenty of time to figure out something by then - or perhaps I will just feel better and not need to sit around and do nothing! In my search for this information, I also uncovered an article titled 'Why TV Makes You Fat'. (Obviously, if you eat ice cream and bacon while watching TV you will get fat.)

Today I am still relatively tired even though I slept well. Perhaps this is the radiation fatigue that I have heard rumors about. It is different from chemo fatigue or post-surgery fatigue. Basically, all three of these just make you tired.

Since I am tired, I keep forgetting about my little cross country trip here. When I last mentioned it I think I said I was driving around, getting lost, having car problems, etc. I do still feel stuck on the road but feel that I have at least made it back to the Eastern time zone (is that standard or day lights savings time - I can never remember). Progress has been made but still have many hassles to go.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Today is 80%

Today is crisping number 28 out of 34 which is more than 80% through (or to be exact it is 82.35294% - it only took three tries for my chemo brain to work the calculator to figure that one out - possibly I can remedy this through more coffee). Anyhow, the point is that I am FINALLY getting somewhere in this. Unfortunately, I only have 7 more crispings, including today but then I have 2 sequential days of doctor appointments immediately following so 9 more days of going to Lahey every !@#$&^%*% day. (Not that I am getting tired of going or anything.)

Actually the daily grind of going every day is compounded by the fact that I have to be careful on what I put on my skin - only certain lotions, etc. Some lotions can make burns worse, some can interfere with the crisping effects, and some can be useless. Also, it greatly interferes with my jewelry wearing. No necklaces, etc. that might get in the way of crisping. (Would they turn radioactive?) Its also just a pain the neck to get dressed in the morning and then get undressed and redressed in the middle of the day. I am also supposed to be careful about what vitamins I take. Apparently high doses of vitamins E, C, D and A I think can interfere with cell regrowth or something, blah, blah, blah, I can't remember it all but I am not supposed to take high doses of vitamins during crisping. Its a pain to remember all of this all the time!

My real goal now is to figure out what to do with my life when I don't have to go to Lahey every day and I actually feel somewhat like a human being again. It has been quite some time since this has been the case. Perhaps gainful employment is the way to go. (Now there's a concept.) I have been working on this. I had a job interview a few weeks ago and another one this week. I am working part time. I also hope that another job (work from home) will come through. Too many jobs? Possibly but I will just be happy with the income that these jobs provide. It is useful to pay for things like food, clothes, vacations, cat treats, ice cream, bacon - you know the important things in life.

Yesterday we ended up eating very badly. We went to the diner for brunch after a big walk but ended up eating very fattening things (breakfast burrito for me, Irish eggs Benedict made with hash for Walter), then eating the rest of the Valentines cookies, then a friend dropped off some left over cake we did not need. Serious vegetable and fruit intake is now planned for the week.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I am blaming chemo brain

Its my excuse and I am sticking to it. I had stated previously that the effects of chemo brain seem to have worn off but I am taking back that statement so I don't look like a total idiot. This was my day yesterday.

I went for a walk and decided to call my brother and talk as I walked. My cell phone battery was basically dead because I had forgotten to charge it for a week. This is an issue I have raised in the past. A cell phone won't work unless it is charged. You would think I would understand this by now and remember it. Obviously not. Therefore it must be chemo brain.

While I was walking I stuck my water bottle in my coat pocket so I had my hands free to talk on the phone. Apparently the top wasn't closed all the way on the water bottle so it dribbled water down the side of my coat and on to my pants. Since it was so cold out, I had a little frozen cascade of ice on my coat so I didn't notice it until it was too late - in other words, a lot had spilled. Again, this is something I have been trying to remember for sometime - make sure the little snap top is securely closed. It clearly must be chemo brain.

I went to take pictures of the beautiful flowers I got for Valentines day. It took six tries to get a picture in focus. And that was after I had to change the battery in the camera because once again it was completely dead. These aren't new issues for me - dead batteries and out of focus pictures - but you would think I would get it by now. However again it must be chemo brain.

Finally, I was doing laundry. I put the wet clothes in the dryer, cleaned the lint filter, turned on to the proper setting. And walked away before I pushed the start button. This isn't a difficult task - turn the nob and then push the button. I mean how hard is this? Well clearly chemo brain strikes again. That is four times in one day.

Anyhow, I am sticking with my excuse of chemo brain for the next few decades. I think it is a valid reason now for being an idiot some time. If anyone doubts me, they should feel free to go through chemo and see how their brain functions afterwards.

Yesterday, after my exciting walk we celebrated Valentines day. I got flowers and a box of cookies from a local bakery. (Walter got a computer game and a card. The cat got nothing - well just some treats.) I then prepared for going out to dinner by watching Gone Baby Gone on Netflix. It was actually pretty good. For dinner, we went to a local Italian restaurant where we both had politically incorrect but quite yummy veal with tiramisu for dessert. Today we are eating substantially less and will be healthier (once we finish the cookies) as we are going for a walk and then to the diner for brunch. Dinner will definitely be low calorie and healthy as long as my chemo brain doesn't make me forget that!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Looks are deceiving

If I didn't know better, I would assume today is a nice day to go to the beach. The sky is blue, a bunch of bike riders went by, its a beautiful day. However it is only 18 degrees. I am going to put on several layers of clothing and go for a walk. Why you ask? So I can eat a nice big meal tonight and have dessert. (Food is important in my life in case you haven't figured that out yet.)

Well actually, they say cancer patients who exercise for 30 minutes or more 5-6 times each week have a lower recurrence rate. I am all for lowering my recurrence rate so I go for a walk as often as I can. I could go to the gym but the treadmill is boring. I have learned to time my weekday visits to the gym so I can watch the Ellen DeGeneres show while on the treadmill. No show to watch on the weekends and its more crowded so I will go outside and hope I don't get hypothermia - that kind of defeats the purpose.

Otherwise, today is Valentines Day for us. However someone has not yet been to the store. Hmmm... I got him something. He will figure it out eventually. We are going out to a nice fancy Italian meal tonight at a local restaurant. I figure I should be able to stay up long enough to have a nice meal. We never go out at night because I am always exhausted. Today I am going for my walk and meeting a friend for coffee. Then I will rest up for going out with a Netflix movie and the cat.

Speaking of the cat, he has basically returned to his normal self and put his full concentration into eating his canned food last night. This means while eating it bombs could be dropping and wild animals could be running through the room but nothing is going to bother him while he eats. His bowl was spotlessly clean in less than 5 minutes. I think sometimes he just likes to worry me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

So maybe we aren't very smart

Sometimes I think this is true. Earlier this week, I stopped by the mall and saw what I instantly thought of as the ultimate OMWAH mobile - a big 1980's Cadillac in pristine condition. When I told Walter about it, he said it sounded more like a pimp mobile - well, it did have fuzzy dice and a gold grill! Maybe I just can't tell the difference between the two.

Yesterday morning was trash day. We collected it all Wednesday night and Walter put it out before he left for work. I wondered when I went out why it hadn't been picked up and why none of our neighbors had their trash out. When I returned home and the trash was still sitting there, I realized that it was only Thursday. Trash pick up day here is Friday. Here you have it. Two blatant examples of lack of intelligence in one week. What is the world coming to? Perhaps I will just claim chemo brain. Walter's excuse is that he claims he actually listened to me for once (what a silly thing for him to do)!

I had my first ray gun crisping yesterday. They actually put an attachment (somewhat resembling a ray gun in a 1950's space aliens movie) on the big giant crisper to focus the beam into the smushed hexagon which was determined to be the appropriate shape to match up with the 'surgical cavity'. Then they lowered it down so it was almost touching my skin and then zap. Also only one dose from above as opposed to before which had two doses - one from the upper right and the other 180 degrees away from the lower left. Otherwise, everything else was the same. I think I was there for about 14 minutes total.

Now the cat still has me worried. He didn't eat his food again! He also didn't come sleep on us last night, which he sometimes doesn't do. However he didn't come up stairs in the morning when he heard us moving around and he always does that. He did beg for treats and try to sit on my lap (but I was eating a grapefruit and he hates citrus fruit so he went elsewhere to pout). I just don't understand this not eating canned food business. Its usually the high point of his day and he couldn't care less recently. Maybe he figured out we were out of dried food last week for a few days and he is trying to make up for this. I just don't understand him. He can be very weird (and I wonder why he just walked into my closet... is there something in there I should know about?).

Yesterday I was good and went to the gym. It was a bright sunny day but cold so I couldn't walk outside. Today is warmer but not sunny and I am meeting a friend for a walk. It will be nice to get some fresh air. I also have some work to do at home and then off to the crisper. The exciting life I lead (but perhaps it is all my tiny brain can handle)!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This is really getting old

This rushing around every day to get everything done I need to before rushing off to get crisped (well, zapped now) at 3 pm is really getting old. I rush in the morning to go to the gym or for a walk. Then I rush off to work. Then I zip out of work and rush to crisping. Finally, I get home and its 4 pm and I feel like I was rushing all day and I am tired. This is really getting old. I am tired of this. But only 9 more days of rushing for 3 pm. Then two other days of other stuff. Then I can actually have time to do things. (I might consider cleaning the house at that time but that is very close to the bottom of the list of things I want to do.)

Today is Valentine's day. We aren't really celebrating until Saturday. Well we did have Valentines bacon (of the month) for breakfast. We do save it for special occasions. I did promise to get up and make bacon this morning but wanted to have some coffee first. The argument was presented that I could get up and start cooking the bacon anytime soon. The bacon was cooked in a timely manner and was not over cooked (as was alleged). It was quite yummy. Unfortunately, now we have to wait until the next delivery for more bacon. (That occurs on a secret date that we do not disclose as we do not share.)

The question has been raised several times recently on the state of my hair. The answer is it is not yet ready for viewing. It is in hiding still (but not in an undisclosed location like Dick Cheney). It still needs a few more months of TLC before becoming public again. You will be informed when this happens. I might even post a picture.

In the meantime, now I need to get ready for my day. Gym (too damn cold and icy today for a walk - yesterday's snow turned to rain and then froze into a giant sheet of ice), then work, then ray gun zap, and then finally home. To continue our Valentine's day non-celebration, we are having beef, bean and chicken enchiladas.

PS My freesia now has a second flower!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I have been simulated

No, not assimilated like the Borg on Star Trek. Yesterday they did a simulation of my next set of crisping sessions, more commonly known as the boost. These focus on the 'surgical cavity' and use electron instead of photon radiation. (There's your medical/physics lesson for the day.) They won't go as deep into the tissue either. Just trying to zap any remaining nasty, evil little cancer cells in the surgical site. Unfortunately, as this is more surfaced focused, I might end up with a little round sunburn/skin issues area.

First was chemo to focus on my whole system for the short term. I am also on hormone therapy for five years to use hormones to go after the evil little buggers (just think of cancer cells dying off due to "hormonal issues'). Then was full radiation for a more localized approach and now its time for the little ray gun to focus on an area, judging from the size of the purple circle they drew on me with a Sharpie marker, that is about 1.5" x 3". Yes, I have a purple indelible circle on me. I can't use anything like alcohol to take it off because of the current sensitivity of my skin. I just have to see how many showers it takes to make it go away as I gently rub it. I can't even scrub it - again due to skin issues. I will just be partly purple for a few days.

Anyhow, today is crisping #25, a/k/a the last full crisping. They are very impressed with how well my skin is holding up. Anyway, tomorrow starts the first of 9 ray gun zaps. That means that Tuesday February 26 is my last crisping. However before we jump up and down and celebrate, the day after I have a follow up with the GI doctor and the day after that I get my port out. So finally, February 29 should be the first day in months that I don't have the joy of going to Lahey Clinic on a daily basis. I simply will not know what to do with my time! But I am sure I will find something.

Now, here is something to jump up and down and celebrate - the freesia I am forcing are finally starting to bloom. I had almost given up on them this year but one of them opened up yesterday. There are several others with buds so there should be a full range of colors in the next few weeks. They also look quite nice next to the cyclamen which is also blooming quite happily. I was having an experiment this year where I reused the same freesia bulbs as last year and planted them a month earlier. Apparently, freesia don't bloom until February regardless of when you plant them. Also, I don't think all of them will bloom. Anyhow, it is nice to have flowers and greenery in the winter.

Yesterday, I never made it to the gym. I am definitely going this morning. I had ice cream again last night and a corn muffin in the morning. Today I will attempt to eat healthier (banana for breakfast so far) and get some exercise. The problem is you eat nice healthy meals and get some exercise and then you are starving so you end up blowing your diet on something less than healthy (wheat thins yesterday afternoon as well). Then you are forced to go to the gym more and you get hungrier. Its a vicious cycle! How to break it - give up eating or exercising??? Which one?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I think they forgot about me

I got to crisping yesterday, and commented to one of the technicians that it was #23. Instantly they said 'did you have your CT scan and simulation again for the boost?'. Apparently I was supposed to have that before so they boost could be planned. Well, oops! They forgot. It was probably partially my crazy schedule for the last two weeks where I kept on having to rearrange crisping to coincide with other doctor visits. At any rate, today I have to go early and have the simulation, crisping, meet with the doctor, and meet with the nurse (no longer on Mondays). I will bring a good book as I can see this taking a fair amount of time.

I finally think my digestive system has returned to normal since last week's excitement. I think the prep for each test takes a certain amount of time but then you need to allow about 5 days for your digestion to recover. If you think about it, it is rather stressed. Even the test where I just had to drink the looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap-barium, I wasn't allowed to eat after midnight the night before but I think it took a week before my digestion liked me again.

I will say that I did lose some weight (1.2 lbs) from last week's adventure that has not returned (even though I had ice cream twice in one day). I did not have ice cream yesterday as I was feeling some guilt over that but I did stop by the mall on my way home and was starving (eat a small healthy lunch and the snacking begins) and had a sweet cheese croissant (that was actually pretty awful - definitely machine made from a mix - I hadn't had one in about 20 years and it will definitely be another 20 before another one).

Now the cat's digestion seems to have returned to normal as well. He completely skipped his dinner Sunday night and I ended up throwing out an untouched bowl of food last night. But I refilled it last night and he turned up his finicky little nose again. However this morning the dish is empty. We were starting to get concerned. (Don't you worry when your pets don't eat?)

Otherwise today, not much to do. A work meeting, work, off to Lahey, and then support group. No time to go to the gym today. Possibly tomorrow but it is supposed to snow and then change to rain.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ice cream twice a day

Is that wrong? Yesterday, I had a bowl of vanilla sheep's milk ice cream (sprinkled with cocoa powder) while watching a Netflix after lunch. Then after dinner I had a small bowl of butter pecan. I don't see it as particularly habit forming or addicting but is there anything wrong with this? I really am just trying to make space in the freezer.

Well, you would think the cat is happy with his giant bag of dried food. Then why didn't he ever eat his canned food dinner last night? I think he is working on being a bigger PITA than usual. He takes annoying to new heights some times. Yesterday I was sewing up a hole the pocket of Walter's jacket, so he had to sleep on the jacket at the same time. When I was done, he wanted to sit between me and my book. He also wanted to steal my ice cream (but could have cared less about having some of our dinner - sea scallops. Yes he is weird. He goes nuts for a can of tuna fish but doesn't notice tuna steaks.)

Actually dinner was quite good. Sea scallops as I noted with a yummy sauce. Recipe from a friend: 4 large garlic cloves, 2 T soy sauce, 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T fish sauce, 1 T sugar, 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes, 1 T fresh lemon juice, 10 fresh celantro leaves. In a saucepan, combine first 6 ingredients and heat to barely a boil. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Add cilantro at serving time. I did skip the cilantro as we don't like it. It was very yummy. I saved the rest of the sauce and will buy some fish for later this week to serve it with.

Tonight's dinner is butterflied leg of lamb which I will marinate this morning. We will also have sauteed mushrooms and salad. My life revolves around food these days.

I did discover something this weekend. If you are really tired and go to the grocery store, you will end up not buying some things you need. I meant to buy margarine but it was too complicated to compare two different ones, so I got neither. I also meant to buy seltzer but it was way back in the far end of the store so I didn't. This means I have to go back to the store again.... Also, at the farm stand I did not get enough fruit and vegetables for the week so I will need to go back as well. (I am sure you are saying why don't you get fruit and vegetables at the grocery store? I am spoiled by the quality at the farm stand and its actually closer.)

Enough about food. I did spend approximately four hours being part of the problem (watching too much TV) yesterday and slept well last night but am rather tired this morning. Between being tired and the fact that it is a tropical 9 degrees outside, I will drive to the gym shortly and walk on the treadmill. Then I go to work and then to crisping. That is my day. I think I am too tired for anything else.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

To add insult to injury

In today's paper, there were coupons for both the nasty stuff I needed to buy to make the evil goo and for the cat food I bought yesterday. Why couldn't I have gotten them BEFORE I made those purchases?

Well, anyway the cat is much happier now. He still had food, he wasn't starving (he gets canned food and kitty treats in addition to his dried food). However, he likes his food dish full to the top at all times. He doesn't like it when it has an indentation in the food from where he has been eating. Its really bad if he can see the bottom of his dish! We need to flatten out his food several times a day to keep him happy. Yesterday, it was getting low and he could see the bottom every time he ate a few pieces. He gets most upset (translate that to becomes most annoying) when his food dish is low. Then I bought a giant 18 lb bag of food (for the 18 lb cat, it was much bigger than he is). I cut a hole in the corner to scoop some food out. Unfortunately he is scared of big crinkly bags (especially big trash bags, but he likes little plastic shopping bags... so he's weird) so he had to run out of the kitchen but immediately returned when he heard the magic sound of food going into his dish. All now has returned to perfection in his furry little world. Well, almost, I need to grow some more cat grass for him.

Otherwise yesterday I managed to completely tire myself out. I went for a walk, then met a friend for lunch, went shopping, went to the grocery store, and the farm stand. I came home and was completely wiped out. I did nothing for about 2 hours - well I sat in front of the TV in a daze.Then I returned enough to normalcy to make salad for dinner to go with the pizza we ordered. I was too tired to cook. So I overdid it. Well, I am allowed. I will probably overdo it again sometime soon. I get tired. When I get tired, I get cranky, crabby, and possibly whiney. Walter prefers it when I don't over do it.

Now about this crisping business. It occurred to me that I had crisping #22 on Friday. There are only 25 full crispings. That means I have three more to go. However then I start the boost crispings of which I don't know how many there are. I assume I will find out one Tuesday when I see the doctor after crisping #24. This is something they keep secret from patients to keep them on their toes - they don't tell you how many you get for the boost until you have started your full treatments. I asked at #14 and she couldn't tell me yet. I didn't ask at #19 because I forgot. But I definitely will ask at #24. What #22 really means is that I am almost 2/3 of the way. There will either be 33, 34, or 35 treatments total. After tomorrow, I will definitely be at 2/3 of the way. This weekend could be 2/3 but we don't know for sure yet.

Remember my road trip analogy from some time ago? Well, to fill you in, I am somewhere driving around the US on back roads, no interstates, getting lost and side tracked, having car problems, etc. Daily stumbling blocks with car issues, directions, etc. It is taking so long, I feel like when I finally get back, I may have been gone so long that things will have changed completely by the time I get there.

Today I am going for a walk again and possibly meeting a friend for lunch. Then I think I have to fold laundry. In an effort to avoid overdoing it, I have a scheduled watching a Netflix for the afternoon. But I will make dinner. Tonight - sea scallops with a very interesting dipping sauce - recipe from a friend.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Which would you rather be?

The person receiving the colonoscopy or the person performing one? Now, while I am sure the doctor who performed is well compensated, I am not sure I would choose it as a career path. I am sure there are not a lot of five year olds running around saying 'Mommy, when I grow up, I want to perform colonoscopies for a living'. How do these people pick their careers?

Anyhow, it went fine. I have normal insides, at least in that area. (Some parts of me are normal at least. For those who want to dispute if I am normal, I got a piece of paper from the doctor at the end who wrote one word - Normal - so I have proof.) It actually wasn't as bad as it could have been. They give you good drugs. The prep is the worst. That is exactly what everyone was telling me. I do have some hemorrhoids (I know you wanted to know about them) and I get to go see a colorectal surgeon (another career path I would not have chosen) about them.

One of the worst parts was I woke up hungry yesterday. I kept thinking, I should go get a snack and I couldn't. I also just sat around and did nothing constructive. Well, actually I watched the Superbowl ads that I had missed on myspace (www.myspace.com/superbowlads). Everyone had been telling me about the Fed Ex one with the pigeons and now I have seen it.

So we went to Lahey and got crisped. Then we went upstairs to the Endocscopy unit where all these crazy careers are practiced and I got checked in so Walter went and had lunch. After I was done he brought me a bottle of water and FOUR peanut butter cookies. They were YUMMY! He gets a gold star for that! Then I had a snack when I got home and took a little snooze in front of the TV with the cat and then had dinner - chicken and prosciutto pannini sandwiches. Quite good if I do say so myself. But no more jello. I have had my jello quota for the next ten years thank you.

Today I am going for a walk, meeting a friend for lunch and doing laundry. How exciting - well the laundry part certainly isn't. I also am going to the grocery store to buy cat food before the cat figures out we don't have any more. I keep stirring up the little bit thats in his dish to make him think I am feeding him. He can be very easily deceived.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Its not a very good diet

The evil goo did its job but I only lost 2.4 lbs. And I bet most of it will be back tomorrow. There are better ways to lose weight - perhaps eating right and exercise are a better way. (Doh!) Last night when Walter came home, I convinced him to read my blog. He usually doesn't as he says he lives with me so he knows what is going on. His only comment was 'should I move the TV into the bathroom?' (How supportive!)

Anyhow, I was originally scheduled for 330 this afternoon but they changed it so its 145 pm but we need to leave at 1230 to go get crisped first. Any crisping I miss gets added on to the end and I just want these to be over. Walter is taking the afternoon off from work. As soon as he gets home, we will leave. He will drop me at my crisping appointment and then go eat lunch while I go to my appointments. I actually am a little hungry this morning so I am dining on jello, apple juice, and herbal tea. I have about 10 more minutes to go and no more clear liquids! Of course, I am sure I will be starving soon.

About my jello. Its not quite the culinary feat I mentioned. I found the bottom of it has a tough layer of not quite completely dissolved jello. I can make mousse, souffle, and a lot of other things, but apparently not jello.

Tonight for dinner I clearly am going to make something quite yummy. It will probably be fattening as well. Perhaps grilled chicken pannini sandwiches with swiss cheese? Hmmm... I have all day to think about it. The real food problem is (and don't tell the cat) but we are out of his dried food that he usually eats continually all day long. We only have what is in his bowl. He will be quite put out if he can't walk by and eat a piece or two. Actually, he will be a royal pain in the butt. Maybe I should run out to the store this morning and get him some more....

Yesterday I didn't get to do the work stuff I wanted but I met a friend for a walk. We walked during the snowiest hour of the day. It was very pretty but we got a little cold and damp. Today I don't think I will exercise. I need to save my energy for my big adventure this afternoon (and buying cat food). I also have to make sure I dress appropriately for my big adventure. This is one of those days: go to Lahey clinic, put on the Dr. Seymour Butz gown, get dressed, put on another Dr. Seymour Butz gown, get dressed. My clothing again must be fashionable and crushable - resist being put in a locker twice. I will spend some time perusing my closets (instead of thinking about food).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A culinary feat

In anticipation of tomorrow's big event, I am on a restricted diet. This morning I am allowed a last meal of eggs, toast, bananas, applesauce, etc. Then I am on a clear liquid diet until sometime tomorrow afternoon. This includes jello, boullion, consommé, black coffee or tea, clear juice with no pulp, Italian ices, and carbonated beverages. I like how they stuck carbonated beverages in there - I can suck down a Coke all day long and get over caffeinated but not eat anything. I have stocked up on my supplies. I have boullion, seltzer water, tea, apple juice, orange juice with no pulp, and my great culinary feat - orange and peach jello. I have two separate containers of jello ready for me. (Damn, I forgot to buy Italian ices... another potential trip to the grocery store!)

I really don't like jello much but was quite gratified to see that it did actually solidify correctly. It is quite complicated to make. You need to boil water (and you know how well I did on boiling an egg recently), stir in the powder for two minutes and then add cold water. Then you need to wait four hours to make sure it is set. This is my culinary feat of the week.

In addition, I had to make up my pitcher of evil goo. A part of the prep, I had to buy a 328 gram bottle of Miralax. Now the bottle says to use it a capful at a time. But no, my instructions are to take the entire bottle of Miralax and mix it with 2 qts water and some Crystal Light for flavoring. Then I get to drink this entire pitcher of evil goo in a two hour period this evening. (No I am not going out tonight.) I was given inside information to mix it up in the morning as it tastes better cold so it is sitting in the refrigerator chilling away.

One friend said all this preparation might be a good way to lose some weight. I am not sure I agree too much with that as I think I will probably gain what ever I lose right back. However I have taken a baseline weight and written it down. (No I am not telling!) I will let you know how much I lose.

I am waiting eagerly for my phone call as to the exact time of tomorrow's big adventure. They don't tell you until the day before. I am not sure the need for secrecy - perhaps it is to make sure people have been following the no seeds-nuts-corn diet and are ready to drink their evil goo and don't have the flu. Hmmm... Maybe I could ask and find out why they don't schedule until the day before. They have told me that I probably won't be until late tomorrow afternoon. (Gee, I can't wait!)

This morning I am off to meet up to discuss some work and then for a walk. Then I plan on watching a Netflix prior to going to crisping. My idea is to stay busy so I don't think about food and what I can't eat. After crisping (#21), I begin my evil goo consumption. What fun!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Things that are over analyzed

There was an primary yesterday in case anyone missed it. 23 states voted for president and several other local races. Its over. We all went and voted. Now the political campaign ads have stopped but the non-stop media coverage and analysis of who voted, why they voted, and where they voted begins. This shall slowly taper off but we will continually hear about what happened on Super Tuesday and how it impacted the race until the general elections. In case we wanted to forget about it, that's okay, the media will make sure our tiny brains don't.

In addition, two days ago there was a football game. We have almost forgotten about that. Not quite. There is still some news about it but the season is over. But the media is also here to remind us that basketball and hockey are now the big news but only until February 14 which is when the first baseball players report to spring training. Coincidentally into this gap between football and baseball, comes news of basketball trades. I have barely heard of basketball this year. There's a hockey team around some place as well that has been overlooked. Probably because of the election and football which the media has been shoving into our faces.

Also, in case anyone wanted to forget, 30 years ago today was a little bitty snowstorm they call the Blizzard (with a capital B) of 1978. The media wants to know where you were during the storm (sitting inside waiting for it to stop and then shoveling a lot), how did we survive (cross country skied three miles to get milk and bread at one point), and do we have any pictures to share (no, no one has pictures because we didn't have digital cameras and cell phones to take pictures to email in). It was a very intense storm. I was a teenager and remember lots of shoveling - I was young enough to enjoy a week off school but old enough to have to do lots of shoveling. But you know what? We have had many big storms since and will probably have many more. What made that one so special I think was that hundreds of cars were abandoned on highways and it took days to clear everything away. Roads were closed for six days in metropolitan Boston. However all of us had forgotten about it until the media brought it up again.

These days the media has a habit of grabbing onto something and distorting it and blowing it out of proportion - well maybe that isn't new - but it is most annoying when they do this with medical breakthroughs and make us all think there is a miracle cure and we are saved. I have learned in the past 8 months (has it really been that long? Yes, it has) that the best thing to do with the announcements in the media about new breakthroughs are to ignore them. Any new medical advance has to be tested and go through clinical trials and been approved by the FDA before it gets wide spread use and acceptance by doctors.

While I was in the middle of chemotherapy last fall, an announcement was made that a new analysis of old date incorporating hormone receptor status into previous clinical trials showed that the drugs I was getting were not effective for someone with my hormone receptor status. How did that make me feel? I was making myself sick for a drug that wasn't going to do any good? Not exactly. A clinical trial was done in the late 1990's. They now could take into account hormone receptor status and blah, blah, blah... You get what I mean. Was this announcement going to make any doctor change the treatment a patient was getting immediately? No. Was this announcement make thousands of cancer patients stress out and lose faith in their doctors and treatments? Yes. Who should we believe? The people who went to medical school and made a career out of treating patients and learning about treatment advances? Or the people that have lots of air time to fill and will grab at anything to fill their needed slots? Hmmm... I vote for listening to the doctors.

In the case of politics, why can't we just wait and see who wins instead of spending months over analyzing something that is in the past and can't be changed? I have nothing against the media and think that we can't afford not to keep up with what is going on in the world around us. I just wish they would keep us updated on what is new and not what is not-so-new.

That was my daily rant. Today I am tired. I think I stayed up too late. This morning I am going to the gym, then work, and then crisping, #20. Yesterday I also went to the gym, work, crisping and my support group. I am boring. The media would have nothing to write about my life!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How not to boil an egg


I know there are several different camps on hard boiling eggs. Some people put the eggs in the water and bring it to a boil and let it simmer, some just let it boil for a while, some bring the water to a boil and then put in the eggs, and some people even pierce the end of the egg to prevent it from cracking while cooking. I put eggs in the water, bring it to a boil, and turn it down to simmer for about 15-20 minutes and they usually come out just fine.

However, yesterday I decided to make egg salad for a sandwich for lunch today (because it has no seeds, nuts, or corn in it - this is harder than you think). I put the eggs in the pan and brought it to a boil and turned it down to simmer. I looked at the clock and said to myself come back at 6 pm and they will be done. Then I went upstairs to my computer where the evil, time sucking internet lives and got totally side tracked. At 635, I said its time to start dinner. I went down stairs and there the eggs were still simmering! This was 55 minutes later. (I am claiming chemo brain here, it may be better but I clearly still have it.) I quickly cooled them off and sliced them. If you over cook eggs, you usually get a dark ring around the yolk and the whites get a little rubbery. These did seem okay and I plan on having egg salad for lunch (but if for some reason I have 'digestive issues' later today, we will know why). Moral of the story: never ask for my help in boiling eggs.

Today is primary day or Super Tuesday if you may. I will also call it 'the last day of all the nonstop annoying political campaign ads for a while'. That is why there is a mute button on the remote control. For some reason, we have not received ANY political phone calls requesting our vote. I am rather surprised at this because even though we are on the do not call list, I thought political campaigns were exempt from this. Also, we have two different party members living here so we do cancel each other out sometimes but at least we vote.

Yesterday was crisping number 18 which I can consider to be half way. I am getting 33, 34, or 35 treatments and 18 is clearly more than half way finally - no matter who's math you use. I met with the nurse yesterday and she said my skin is holding up very well but that the actually burning from a treatment doesn't really show for 5-7 days after the treatment and when they start the boost, meaning it is focused on where the tumor was, the treatment is tougher on the skin as it is not as deep so I should expect a burn there. I am sure that will be minor (HA!) as it is right on a surgical scar as well (OUCH!). Well I may be crispy but at least I am finally more than halfway. I will probably find out the exact number sometime next week.

Yesterday's job interview went well - I even sent my thank you notes - but I won't know any more for a couple of weeks. It would be a 10 minute commute and they seem like nice normal people. This morning I am waiting for the rain to stop so I can go for a walk, vote, and pick up a prescription before going to work and then my support group. I also need to go buy milk, eggs, bananas and some lunch meat. I was at the grocery store on Sunday but again my chemo brain struck and prevented me from putting these items on my list... I think I go to the store about three times a week because I always forget something. Maybe if I could remember long enough to write things down, I could reduce the number of trips.

Monday, February 4, 2008

There was a football game yesterday

Yes, I even watched the first three quarters of it. You must understand when I watch the Superbowl, I watch it for the ads and not the game. (I don't really understand football, never have, never will. Numerous people have tried to explain it to me and I don't get it. That's okay. I am happy that way. I don't need to understand football to be a well rounded person.) I read a book during the game and then pay attention during the ads. I was not too impressed with any of the ads. Some of them made me smile, some of them were just plain stupid, and there were a bunch at the end I said "I don't get it". I did like the about the Budweiser Clydesdale who practices to make the team for the following year - that was cute - but I am not sure how it relates to selling more beer. I am trying to figure out how they got the Ford truck on the centrifuge... That was interesting.

I also watched the halftime show. I thought Tom Petty is starting to, shall we say, show his age. He still sounds great. Just like the album I got in the late 1970's when he first came out. I still have it around here on vinyl some place (not that I have an LP player anymore but I still have my vinyl collection). We were trying to figure out what you have to do to get to be one of the fans on the field in front of the stage. That would be really cool! I think they were U of Phoenix college students as they all looked young and energetic. By the way, the stadium where the game was played I think was bigger than my entire college campus. Where I went there were 210 students in my graduating class. The stadium sat 100,000! It was huge!

Now the most important part of the Superbowl is the right selection of food. We are in diet mode so we weren't too bad. We had pretzels and dip - homemade with garlic, onion, parsley, etc. Then we had our pre-dinner salads. The main dish was home made pizza - with onions, mushrooms, prosciutto, black and green olives, and roasted red peppers. Walter 'helped' me assemble the pizza. (I am a true believer that 'too many cooks spoil the broth' but his help was quite appreciated as he cut up all the vegetable for the salad.) The first question: Do you stretch out the pizza dough or roll it out. I usually stretch it out. Someone had to roll it out. My home made pizza is NEVER round. I make a big rectangular pizza that fits on a cookie sheet. If we needed round pizza, it would take forever to get in the right shape. I can make a thinner crust if I just cover the entire cookie sheet. I have a round pizza stone somewhere but it always seems to be the wrong shape.

Next question: is it crust-sauce-cheese-toppings or is it crust-sauce-toppings-cheese, or is it crust-sauce-cheese-toppings-cheese? I kind of prefer the cheese on top of the toppings. We had some dissension and ended up with the cheese-toppings-cheese variety. Also, should you use oregano and pizza seasoning or just pizza seasoning? What is the role of garlic on pizza? Are capers considered a topping? (The answer to that is only when Walter is out of the room.) Irregardless of our pizza assembly issues, it was quite yummy. Walter had the left overs for breakfast. (I had an orange and a banana - who's healthier today?)

In addition to all the Superbowl related food issues yesterday, a friend came over and we went for a long walk. Then to the farm stand and the grocery store. You know you need to put gas in your car when the gas gauge doesn't move until you have been driving for a bit and then the gas light comes on... (I didn't run out but was definitely scraping bottom.) I was exhausted by the time I got home which is why I didn't make it through the Superbowl. Perhaps next year I will stay awake for it...

Today, I have a job interview this morning, then work, and then crisping. I am not sure I will get out for a walk today. I don't think I have time. I will fit it in tomorrow.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Seed and nut free

This week I have the wonderful seed and nut free diet for five days leading up to the oh-so-exciting event Friday. I don't really see this as an issue but it does impact our vegetable and fruit eating. Well mostly vegetables. No cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. They all have seeds in them you eat. So our salads this week will be somewhat boring. Green peppers, carrots, onions. It also means no pizza or lasagna unless I check the sauce to make sure it is seed free. I think it will be much easier just to avoid those foods. Also, no corn. No chunky peanut butter. Probably no peanut butter at all. Also, I have to watch what spices I use - no caraway or celery seeds either. Hmmm... boring food. Anyhow, today I had toast with seeds in it topped with chunky peanut butter for breakfast and tonight for dinner we are having pizza. Last night we ate the last of the butter pecan ice cream we had as well.

Today I have to buy jello, Italian ices and boullion because I have a liquid diet for the day before too. We do have some boullion cubes but I am really not sure how old they are. There is a distinct possibility they are more than 5 years old. I suspect they have a very long shelf life but I am not going to be a guinea pig the day before a colonoscopy and see if they are still good. Maybe I'll lose more weight as well. Nothing like a bunch of GI tests making you skip meals, mess up your digestion and stress you out to make you lose some weight.

It has been mentioned that I am beginning to sound more like my normal self (not to say I am a normal human being. What is normal? Define normal). I mostly feel better. I get tired. I hate going to Lahey every day. My chemo brain cloud is mostly gone (I am never going to say it is completely gone because it is a great excuse for being a space shot). But I think a sense of normalcy is starting to return. Just because I am feeling better doesn't mean that I will write wittier or more profound things here.

Today a friend is coming for a walk and lunch. I have to run some errands and possibly consider cleaning the house. The most arduous thing to do today is put the slipcover back on the sofa. Someone (who is short and furry but shall remain nameless) left us a present on it so it had to be washed. This is the exact reason for having a slipcover in the first place. However, it is very difficult to put the damn thing back on. After I recover from that I might consider cleaning the house. The dust bunnies are starting to get restless.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I was really inspired to write something

But I can't remember what it was about. It will come to me eventually. Anyhow, I think I forgot to mention that I got the results of my upper GI series and it says I have a hiatal hernia. Apparently this is something you can have and forget about unless you have lots of heart burn. It does NOT require more medical tests and lots of nasty treatment. If you want to go look it up feel free but it basically means that a portion of my stomach has pushed up through the diaphragm. There is no treatment or cure unless massive heartburn causes esophageal erosion or it twists and cuts off circulation and those are very rare.

Now I must clear up something. My brother is accusing me of being ageist and sexist as I continually cite OMWAHs for their driving skills or lack of. I must clarify. You do not need to be old or male to drive like an OMWAH. I knew girls in high school with the same level of driving skills. The real criteria are:
  • the totally inability to pull into a parking space without 3-4 tries to back and fill,
  • to parallel park into the same space for 10 minutes,
  • the inability to discern in a parking lot who is actually waiting to pull out of a parking space vs. has just pulled into one,
  • to have little scrapes all over your car from parking lot 'adventures',
  • to have to constantly replace your car due to numerous collisions (that weren't your fault - the guy behind you didn't see you slam on your brakes at a yellow light - but everyone stops for yellow lights), or
  • the inability to drive at or over the speed limit.
Age and sex are not a consideration. However it seems the population of old men who wear hats when they are driving seem to belong to this club with a fairly high frequency. Possibly because their wives have given up driving so they are forced to do it when they possibly shouldn't. (PS to my brother: if you ever drive like an OMWAH, I will tell your children and they will shame you for life. Could you imagine having to give up the keys to your car to Kenny????)

Yesterday, I did have an exciting time. I went for my walk with a friend, had coffee, went to CVS to buy the necessary supplies for my colonoscopy (which clearly will be the high point of my week, if not month), went to the library, crisper, grocery store, and bank. I ended my day at the manicurist. I now have pink fingernails. I am very happy. In fact I do feel the need to share them with you. I will say my picture taking skills were impaired by my cat. The manicurist said that even though my toe nails are in such bad shape I can probably get a pedicure in another month!

Today is nice and sunny and low 40's. I am going for a walk to walk off bacon-of-the-month club for breakfast. (We do not share it.) Later I am meeting friends for coffee. My very exciting life. I still can't remember what I was so inspired to write about so this will have to do. Maybe tomorrow I will...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Now its my doctor who is sick

Today's doctor's appointment was canceled because my doctor is out sick. They called at 7am to tell me this! I was quite surprised to have the phone ring THAT early but maybe they try to get people at home before they go out for the day. I have to call later to reschedule. Well, what that does is mess up my schedule. I had everything neatly scheduled to go to the library, a walk with a friend, doctor's apt, crisping (which was rearranged to coincide with the appointment) and then the all important manicure. Now I will rearrange everything to avoid little gaps. I can leave later and go for my walk, then the library, then crisping, and then manicure. Will I be more productive because I can leave later? No, now I just have more time for procrastinating on the computer.

Well, actually, its not my computer, its the Internet. The internet can be an amazing time suck. In website design and marketing, you want to get people to your website so you link to it, publish it, advertise it, and generally tell everyone to go there. Then you need to make your website 'sticky' so people stay on it and use it more. This is what makes websites such giant time sucks. How many times have you gone to a website for one little bitty thing and then the next thing you know you have book marked it, read a ton of things, signed up for regular emails, and possibly printed stuff out? That was a sticky website for you and sucked you right in. Not every website appeals to everyone but a good website, if it is of interest to you, will keep you there for days! Anyhow, that is the little marketing lesson for the day. A good example of a sticky website is www.freerice.com. It challenges the visitor and serves a good cause. Can you go there and leave again right away? There's a challenge for you.

Otherwise, yesterday's doctors appointment was fine. Apparently I am tolerating hormone therapy just fine. Some of the side effects will go away with time but I am on it for five years. The doctor says that by the time I go back and see him in three months my real hair will be as long as my wig is now! Well, I don't know about that but I will wait and see. He also claims that my missing toenails will return within six months. Hm. I am skeptical here. I thought it would be longer but again I am merely the patient and he is the one who has been to medical school and would know these things. I did have to deal with both the evil little parking lot (and won) and the giant parking garage. I saw several OMWAHs and even parked next to one (How do I know this if I didn't see them? It was a brand new, giant, two tone Lincoln town car.) I also had plenty of opportunity to catch up on my reading as I was at Lahey from 2 until after 5 pm. I had been meaning to finish that book for a long time so it was a good opportunity.