Monday, March 31, 2008

Its Monday morning

Wahoo! How exciting! NOT! I could have stayed in bed. Tomorrow I have to get up really early and take Walter to the airport. He wants to be there at 6 AM that is. At least there will be no traffic.

So I came across an interesting little news story this weekend. According to a recent study, not that I necessarily believe all new studies, thyroid cancer patients treated with radioactive iodine (that would be me) are at higher risk for other 'secondary primary cancers' such as central nervous system, breast, prostate, kidney, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, and salivary gland. We are also at reduced risk of getting cancers of the head and neck, lung, esophagus, and bladder. (Are these two things supposed to even each other out?) I also like how this study followed people for 2-359 months. I had to think, how long is 359 months? I am a little slow sometimes (chemo brain, scarecrow effect) and it took a while for my brain to compute that into almost 30 years, but it finally came through. (Why couldn't they just say 30 years in the first place?)

So what does all this mean to me? Well, now I have something to worry about - more kinds of cancer to get... Something to ask the doctors about - but they have already assured me that thyroid cancer has nothing to do with breast cancer... At least this wasn't a story that was over inflated by the media for once. Or at least not yet. They only announced these results about three weeks ago. Another one of the many little bumps in this roller coaster ride. Well, I go back to the oncologist at the end of April and will talk to him then. Anyway, does it really do me any good to possibly know why I got cancer this time? That is another point to ponder.

In the meantime, I am hoping my garden will finally bloom... No crocuses yet. Perhaps they are cold. It is another 23 degree morning. Tomorrow, they claim may hit 70. I won't believe that until I see it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

$5.20 profit

That is how much money I collected doing laundry yesterday. However the question remains - is it really profit or just resorting of money already had. It probably fell out of my pockets in the wash. Possibly from Walter's but he is usually better about that than me. Needless to say, that while I temporarily felt flush, the feeling didn't last long as I considering the source of the money. (And then spent $5.44 on lunch out.) It was quite a different feeling from the time I found a twenty dollar bill on the side of the bike path. Yes, I really did. I was RICH! And then I spent it. Sigh.

Anyway, more of my exciting life. Yesterday was very cold but I took a walk. Today I want to garden and take a walk. We are going to the diner for breakfast and then to the hardware store to buy parts to repair the toilet. How exciting can you get?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Its a lovely day

The sun is shining, melting the snow that appeared last night. My cold seems to be easing up. We had ice cream for dessert last night and bacon for breakfast so my cholesterol and fat content are at properly elevated levels as well.

I might even consider some yard work this afternoon myself. I need to rake the leaves that are stuck in the corners of the garden preventing the arrival of my crocuses, tulips, and daffodils. They seem to be a bit late this year - perhaps that have been under the weather. (That is such a bad pun I am embarrassed I came up with it.)

I did get out for a walk with a friend yesterday and even though we were exploring and kept having to back track, we didn't get lost and only got rained on a little bit. I am holding off today's walk for this afternoon, after coffee with friends. Today's forecasted weather at 9 am - high of 25, 20 mph wind, equals 11 degree wind chill! I would prefer it to be a tad warmer - call me a wimp but I am.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I am the scarecrow

If I only had a brain. Yesterday I went to CVS to buy three things, I got two of them and then walked around the store and couldn't remember what the third one was so I left. I remembered what it was just as I got back to my car. I went to Trader Joe's to buy three things. I bought two of them and then when I woke up this morning, I remembered what the third thing one was. I needed to bring a little pile of papers back to work yesterday. I put them downstairs on top of my purse. Halfway to work, I realized I forgot them. More proof, I have no brain. It just keeps piling up.

Perhaps, I do have one out. I can claim my cold is somewhat returning which could be causing memory lapses. Or perhaps I can just use my good old chemo brain excuse. Regardless I have no brain. Yes, that is correct my cold is somewhat made a come back. Enough already! Go away!!!!! I am sick of being sick.

Today is a lovely rainy day in Boston in the mid-30's. Its snowing about 10 miles from here so I guess it could be worse. However I get to go out in this lovely weather, with my cold germs. First I am going to my psychiatrist. Then I am off on a secret mission. (Yes, its a secret, or I wouldn't have used the word secret.) No, I am not going to tell yet. Perhaps another day. No, it is not a job interview, a doctor appointment, a medical procedure, or shopping.

Later I am going to work from home and then go for a walk with a friend if this lovely rain clears up.

The ice cream arrived. It is in the freezer. Some interesting flavors - watermelon sherbert, coconut ice cream with chocolate chips, some sort of vanilla with chocolate in it, and then a fourth pint that I cant remember. The bacon did not arrive. We will keep the house locked so don't even think about dropping by when we aren't here to help yourself.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We are not sharing

I want to be perfectly clear about this. We are not sharing. Nope, uh-uh, no way. Our next ice cream of the month that shows up quarterly delivery is due today and we do not feel that we need to share. No, we are going to hoard it and be greedy. We are going to set a bad example for children all over the world and not share. You can tell your children not to be like us! To be doubly unhealthy our bacon delivery is due in the next couple of days as well. That will not be shared either! (We definitely do not share these with the cat so you shouldn't feel left out!)

In order to get in the best physical shape for bacon and ice cream eating, I am going for a walk again this morning. I did get out yesterday and it was nice. I am enjoying being able to go for a walk when it is not freezing cold and I actually feel human. It does make it much more enjoyable. Then I will go to work for the rest of the day.

Yesterday I went and got a pedicure for the first time since September. My big toe nails were in really bad shape but seem to be returning to normal. The manicurist agrees it will probably be another six months before my toes look completely normal but right now they are covered with purple polish. Its these little things that make us feel better.

I also listened to the pain management conference call yesterday. The biggest message I got out of it is that if you are in pain you need to tell your doctor what kind of pain, its frequency and intensity and they will try to solve your problem. If you don't tell your doctor, you will continue to be in pain. Also, sometimes some medications don't work for some people so you may have to try a bunch of different ones before you find one that works for you. I felt that was very illuminating but certainly not earth shattering new news. Oh, well, it was free. I listened and got to play on the internet at the same time. (Multitasking!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Winning the battle

My cold is finally going away! Time for a party! I can breathe! I can smell! I am not coughing! And best of all I feel mostly human. Yesterday, I did not take my lovely new prescription and didn't go into la-la-land during the day. Once I am fully healed I will try the pills again but not for a few days.

I did also land a small part time job. I will work 12-15 hours each month for a local story teller - helping her market her CDs and promote her gigs. It sounds like fun and I can work from home in my pajamas (and no one will know) and still be productive.

After working for a few hours, I also went out for a walk yesterday. It was good to get some fresh air. However, I am still waiting for my crocuses and other bulbs to start blooming. They are sticking up and getting there but not quite ready yet. It is almost the season for walking and admiring gardens but not quite yet.

Today I have work to do at home. Then a conference call to attend on pain management for breast cancer patients. After all the fun treatments I have had, I am left with some lingering aches and pains. Apparently, this is not uncommon and I want to learn more.

Then the fun part of my day is later when I am going for a manicure/pedicure this afternoon. This is my first pedicure since September. One of my big toe nails has since broken off and only partially regrown. The other one is partly healthy, and partly dead and broken off. This is courtesy of chemo side effects. Perhaps in another six months, my toe nails will look normal again. However in the interim, a pedicure is not just about the polish but conditioning your feet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is it me or the drugs?

So yesterday I woke up feeling more like a human than in recent days. However last week when I saw the GI doctor, he prescribed a new medication for the weird abdominal pains that he thinks are just IBS. He said try taking it at night before bed and if that doesn't work, start taking it before meals as well. I tried all last week taking it at night and it didn't seem to do anything. So yesterday I said I would start taking it before meals as well and see if it works any better. I took one and went to work. While at work, I started feeling really crappy and spacy and put it down to my lovely, long lived cold. I came home and lay down for an hour and started to feel better. Then I took another pill before dinner. Then I started to feel crappy again and my food tasted yucky (to be very technical and precise). I am not sure if this was my cold acting up or the medication. Today I will experiment. No medication and see how I feel.

Otherwise, today is off to a good start. The Red Sox are playing their opening game in Japan and it is on TV. Unfortunately, they are off to a rough start but it is very early in the season.

I never made it for a walk yesterday so perhaps I will today. I am getting out of the habit! Otherwise, work this morning, followed by work at home and then support group. Nothing too exciting.

RIP MB 1960-2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

There is a light at the end of the tunnel

And perhaps it is not a train. I feel some improvement today. (I was informed I am slightly less pathetic today than previously as well.) I promise to continue to take it easy. My plan is to watch Ellen DeGeneres (another secret addiction - all my secrets are coming out here) as she is going shopping at Trader Joe's and I need to find out what she thinks. Then I will go to work. If I still feel like a human being after work, I will go for a walk to get some fresh air. I considered going for a walk this morning but as it is a tropical 20 degrees, I opted to wait until later.

So the question of the week is when is it too late? Last April, I had my annual physical that sent me down this long and convoluted road. After my appointment, my PCP sent me the results of my blood test that said my cholesterol was slightly on the high side, nothing to be concerned about, but does bear watching. My goal, until all my other fun medical adventures started, was to remedy the situation through better diet. Now after eating ice cream and bacon to alleviate all the side effects of treatment, ease post operative pain, and prevent any further complications, is it too late in the last three weeks before my next annual physical to do anything about my cholesterol? But, is this too late to make a difference? I mean should I try to be healthy for three weeks or should I just continue my bacon/ice cream eating ways at this point?

Coincidentally, Walter has an Army weigh in the same weekend so we are both on a healthy diet for three weeks. I think he can meet the weigh in requirements through our efforts but what about me? (Of course, its all about me.) The cat is not on a healthy diet but probably should be.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cured!

No, not me, the computer is cured! It had a bad memory stick - or something along those lines. I am not sure. I do know it was hard ware and not software, and I didn't lose any data on my hard drive (perhaps I should back up more often.)

Me on the other hand, my cold is still flourishing. (Apparently I am not very good at the suffering in silence part and was slightly whiney.) Yesterday, I watched TV, napped, watched more TV, and ate dinner that Walter cooked. The cat was most helpful in this process. He watched TV and napped too. He did have a little trauma in his life yesterday. Walter cleaned out his dish and dumped out all the old dry food, washed his dish and then let it dry on the counter. I was upstairs and the cat kept coming into the room and sitting on me and leaving. I couldn't figure out what was wrong until I went down stairs and found out that his food dish was unavailable to him. He must have 24/7 access to a full food dish or his life contains more stress than he can handle.

I do feel somewhat more human today and may even progress to going for a little walk later on when it warms up. I think I need some fresh air. Perhaps I will cook dinner tonight as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I need a new plan

My first plan to ignore my cold so it would go away, didn't work. My next plan to accomodate it and be lazy for a few days so it would go away, didn't work. I still have a temperature, feel like crap (to be technical), and could run out of kleenex! (I'll send Walter out for more if necessary.) What I really need is that fabled cure for the common cold (don't stop there, cure cancer too). Apparently I haven't been suffering in silence either. Well today, I am staying in bed. No chores, nothing. Herbal tea, books, cooking shows, replay movies. Damnit I have to get better! I was finally starting to feel like a human being again and now a damn germ got me!

The stove delivery men did show up nice and early. Good thing I was home! I have a wonderful new stove that heats up quickly, is level, and has a giant oven. One good thing this week.

Just put today down as really boring, whiny and definitely not exciting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Medical milestone

Its hard to believe but we have reached a medical milestone already. I went to pick up a prescription the other day and there was no charge. We have already reached our annual out of pocket maximum for the year on our medical insurance. I am not sure if this is a sad thing as it reflects how many doctor visits/tests/procedures I have had since Jan 1. Or if it is a good thing as any remaining visits/tests/procedures will not require any payments for another 9 months. This is your classic half full/half empty issue.

Perhaps with the savings we will have, I can spend money to cure my cold. No wait, there is no cure for the common cold. I will sit here and suffer. I have been informed I don't suffer 'silently', that I am whiney at times. Well you would be too if you were congested, your spouse was imitating your raspy voice, and you had to keep blowing your nose! I shouldn't complain, he is taking care of me. Actually, yesterday I did feel like a human being for a while. I haven't decided yet today if I am feeling better or not. This is day 4... As long as I don't run out of kleenex before I feel better, I will be okay.

Today I am staying at home and waiting for the stove delivery men. They are not very easy to schedule. They want to show up between 1215 and 215pm. I have a phone interview (with my raspy voice - I will have to convince them that I am real person) at 2pm. If they arrive too late, I will refuse the delivery and reschedule again. It will be nice to have a stove that is not tilted, the burners heat up relatively fast, and I can use the timer without resetting the clock. (Remember stoves that had the little dial clocks where you had to twist the knob the right way to use the timer but not the wrong way or the clock would be reset - that is what we currently have, vintage 1989.) My fingers are crossed that they will arrive on time.

Now that I am done with all my tests, treatments, and procedures (love that word!), I am running out of topics here. Perhaps I will have to expand my horizons and write about things other than doctors, cancer, cat, bacon, ice cream and work. There must be other things out there. No, not writing about politics, religion, Chinese olympics, conflict in the Middle East. Let me stretch my tiny chemo brain for a few days and see what I can come up with. Perhaps it is time to regain the human race and actually have a life and do things that are enjoyable again... Or perhaps I should finish getting my energy back first so I don't over do it (but that would be so unlike me).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cancer vs. the common cold

So much is made about finding the cure for both cancer and the common cold but neither has yet been done. Basically about 2 million (I cant remember the real number but its something like that - I'm claiming chemo brain here) Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year but almost every American will suffer from the common cold. Some of us extra lucky ones - get both! Millions of dollars are spent every year treating cancer patients but I think billions are spent every year on cold remedies. (I am not sure how much is spent on treating whininess but have been informed that I am currently suffering from that as well.)

There are some differences between the common cold and cancer. When you have cancer you generally feel okay except when undergoing side effects of a treatment or 'procedure' or if it has spread. A lot of care is given to make sure you don't suffer side effects. You get lots of medical attention and have lots of appointments and tests. Doctors and nurses rush to try different medications for the nausea, etc. You do have to watch out to make sure it doesn't spread so you can live as long as possible.

When you have a cold, you wake up one day and feel like you have been run over by a truck, have a fever, congestion, cough, and achiness. You go to the drug store and pick up the items that will supposedly cover the symptoms but there is no magic cure all. You are told drink lots of fluids, take something for your fever/congestion/cough, and get lots of rest. If you are still sick after 10 days, go to the doctor. So basically you need to feel like crap for 10 days before you there is much modern medicine can do. The cold just needs to 'run its course' and for that duration you feel crappy and might have a tendency to be whiny or crabby... A cold can also turn into something else more fun like a sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pnuemonia which can also be fatal (if you do stupid things like go for walks in the rain while sick - but even I know better than that!).

The question then becomes which is better: cancer with lots of medical care or the common cold with lots of crappiness and being told to wait it out? On one level, cancer even sounds a little better. Okay, these are just rantings of my common cold induced chemo brain.

I am still sick - this is day three. However I think today is the day I will say I am no longer sick and return to the human race. There is only so much couch potatoing (being part of the problem again), resting, and going to bed early one can take. I need to get some exercise - I can't sleep because I haven't gotten any exercise (well maybe because I was running a fever and was up with the chills). We have no food in the house. I have to go to the grocery store. I think I feel up to going to work for a few hours if I survive a short walk and the grocery. I don't have ten days to sit around and get better. I also don't plan on going back to the doctor anytime soon. If I am still sick at my next regular doctor appointment on April 11, I will find out what is wrong with me then.

I do hope I am not as sick as my computer is and that my compter comes back to me relatively soon! They said it could take a week!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

News, news, and more news

Several bits of news today. First of all, I have finally learned why the cat wants to sleep on my head. I recently saw this cartoon which seems to explain it. However I am unsure as to why this would be the case, as I am the one who feeds him. Just another one of life's little mysteries. However this cartoon does aptly describe a typical night of trying to sleep around here. We just end up letting the purring/snoring feline hog the bed between us so we can get so rest.

Also, my computer needs major TLC. It seems to get several versions of the blue screen of death. This morning I will take it off to the computer repair place and hope they can fix it promptly. The biggest problem is all my logins are saved on it so now I have to remember my user name and password for so many different sites.... More than my tiny brain can handle.

Yesterday I doomed us by saying the doctor was always on time. We had to wait an hour. It was starting to get boring. I didn't finish my book or I would have had to count the holes in the ceiling tiles or something. There were no magazines around to read at all...

Anyhow the news from the doctor is that I do have a hepatic hemangioma on my liver that is nice and benign. They want to have another MRI in six months to make sure it is the same. I also have a small gall stone partially blocking the bile duct. Apparently gall stones are better if they are big because when they are little they can get stuck and you have a gall bladder attack. However if they are really tiny, you might just pass them and never have any more trouble. In the meantime, I can just wait and see if I have a gall bladder attack. The only real cure for them is surgery and I have had enough of that for a while thank you! I also was given a prescription for the abdominal pain for the IBS and another prescription for the hiatal hernia acidness. More drugs to take. I will go back and see the doctor in 2 months - that's okay I didn't have any appointments for May yet - to see if there is improvement.

The doctor did give me a suggested diet to try to see if I can relieve the symptoms of the IBS. I want to be very clear it says under 'Allowed Items' that I can have bacon. I have never been given a diet that allows bacon before. It does have ice cream under the items to avoid section. However the doctor did say I could try the items in the avoidance section and if they don't seem to give me trouble, I should feel free to eat them.

Today, I do feel a little better after doing a lot of nothing yesterday. My temperature is down. I have an interview this morning and then need to drop off my computer and go to a workshop. Why do I have another job interview? Because I received a low ball job offer... Grrr....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Books & Needles

Today we are off to Lahey to find out about my MRI and get the rest of the results. We will bring books to read as that will guarantee a speedy trip. Without a book, you are doomed to be there for hours, counting the holes in the acoustic ceiling tiles, and sent off to many more stops before being allowed to leave. Actually, this doctor always seems to run on time and visits are usually quite quick - but not to jinx myself on this one.

In addition to bringing a book with us when we go to the hospital, I also remember to tell everyone when a needle might be involved that I really don't want to see it. Yesterday, Walter did not remember this and went to get a filling. He said it went fine but he saw the giant needle with its two big stainless rings on it! I said he should have just closed his eyes.

Of course, today I have to go to the doctor and I woke up with a temperature. I didn't feel that great last night but now this changes all my plans for the rest of the day. I don't think I'll go to work this morning and probably not for a walk or my support group either. I am definitely going to the doctor. When do you get too sick to go to the doctor? I don't care. I want my results. A little fever of 100.4 is not going to stop me. But I will spend the morning in bed. Tylenol is a good thing. Walter already brought me breakfast in bed. Maybe I can convince him to cook dinner too. And make me lunch. And feed the cat.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Review time

Pencils please! After driving into Boston yesterday for the first time in quite a while, I decided it is definitely time for a review of some basics. First I must say I learned to drive in Boston so you can probably call me a Boston driver. However, I am not going to attempt to review any 'Boston driving' maneuvers here as I think they would be too advanced.

First of all, the pedal on the right, down by your right foot, is the gas pedal. You step on it and your car goes faster. You lift your foot up and your car will gradually slow down. You should use the gas pedal when merging on to the highway or when the red light turns green. The next pedal over, you may only have these two, is the brake pedal. It will make your car slow down rather quickly. It is important to use it when nearing red lights and stop signs. Or, if the car in front of you uses their brake pedal, you will see their brake lights, and it is time for you to use yours. You may also have a third pedal over by your left foot. That would be the clutch to be used in conjunction with your gear shift if your car has a manual transmission (if you don't know what a manual - or standard - transmission is, you probably don't have one. Or at least we hope not.)

Your car has other accessories you should familiarize yourself with. These include things light:
  • Turn indicators. They will tell other people that you are going to change lanes or turn a corner. If you use them, sometimes people are even cooperative and get out of your way letting you merge in.
  • Windshield wipers. They will clear your front window in the event of rain or snow and allow you to notice what the people in front of you are doing - especially before they use their brake pedal.
  • Seat belts. They will keep you inside the car in the event of an unfortunate incident involving other vehicles. This can possibly save your life.
  • Mirrors. These are not just for checking your hair and putting on make up. They also allow you to see behind you (without looking over your shoulder) and make sure there is no one in the next lane when you are attempting to change lanes.
  • Headlights and tail lights. These allow you to see where you are going in the dark. They will also allow other cars to see you and also help prevent 'unfortunate' incidents.
That wasn't too hard. If you had any questions about these, I suggest you go out to your car and review the features and their location in your car. (No I didn't have any unfortunate incidents yesterday and nor did I see any but I did witness quite a few morons - on a quiet Sunday no less - doing things they shouldn't.)

Otherwise yesterday was quite enjoyable. I met some friends to celebrate a birthday at the New Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. It has a restaurant with food by Wolfgang Puck (we didn't see him - I suspect he stayed at his main restaurant in LA) which was very good. The museum itself was quite interesting - great architecture, interesting exhibits and an amazing view of the harbor. We all agreed we weren't really into modern art but wanted to check it out, so we went!

I did stay a little too long and ended up coming home and doing a lot of nothing in the afternoon - by nothing, I mean that once again I was part of the 'problem' and couch potatoed for a few hours. With the cat and some herbal tea. Probably the best combination. I think the cat enjoyed himself too (but he doesn't contribute to the enjoyment when he walks on the remote control). It is a sad time when you have been part of the problem so much that there are no new shows to watch and you end up suffering through reruns of shows you have seen several times. Perhaps this is my cue to start feeling better and watch less TV. If that doesn't happen, I can just work on our Netflix queue to improve my 'viewing options'.

Today's big plans include a walk (gee now there is a surprise) followed by work. Another boring day. Perhaps I will solve the mysteries of jury duty today as well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Staying within the lines

Did you know in the UK you can get a parking ticket if you don't park within the lines in the parking lot? Evidently, the person at the library yesterday did not know this as approximately 1/3 of their car was over the line. I think it is safe to say they would have had a ticket in the UK. It was a small car and a relatively empty parking lot. It was early in the day so its not like there was another badly parked car causing their error. Sometimes in life, you shouldn't stay within the lines but other times you really should. Like remembering to take your medication and following the doctor's instructions. Other times, its okay to break the rules - remember what Rosa Parks did?

Anyway, yesterday I went to a wellness event and heard a speech on cancer prevention by someone pretty important at Lahey - can't remember his title but from the Oncology department. Apparently the big issues in cancer prevention are no tobacco use, minimal alcohol, eat a balanced/low fat diet, exercise regularly, and get regular medical screenings. There was nothing startling new with any of this. Basically, you can only reduce your risk of getting cancer. The only potential way to prevent cancer is to start having organs removed so you can't get cancer in them. Medical science is progressing but not there yet. They did say patients who have medical insurance are more likely to go to the doctor and get screening tests. However, even so, many people do not get the screening tests they should. Needless to say, those are the people with higher mortality rates for cancer and other health conditions. This is not an area where it is okay to break the rules. Also, they did not get into issue of those of us who did all the right things but then still get sick. Sigh. More advances needed. Do you ever watch Star Trek and they talk about life in the 21st century on earth before they discovered a cure for cancer? Well, I am still waiting for that moment.

Enough sermonizing for the day. Go to the doctor when you need it! Today I am not going to the doctor. (I don't have to go to the doctor for two more days.) I am going to the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston with friends. Unfortunately this is the day of the annual St Patrick's roast and breakfast that is basically next door to the museum. Then the parade is farther away so I hope traffic and parking won't be an issue. I was hoping for an on street free parking space (where I would park between the lines) but perhaps I will end up in a lot (again within the lines). I also am a firm believer that a little bacon and ice cream are very healthy to include in a low fat diet. Probably dark chocolate as well. Perhaps brownies.

Otherwise spring is appearing. We are reaching the season where I drive Walter up the wall - I stop to look at the garden every time we go out. My crocuses, tulips, hyacinths, and day lilies are beginning to appear. Now they just need to flower damnit!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It was a struggle

It was a struggle but I survived. I am not exactly sure how it happened but somehow I ended up in an outfit for the day - with NO pockets! I always have pockets. I always have stuff in my pockets! I didn't have any pockets! It was quite difficult. I couldn't take a kleenex into my job interview in my pocket, I went to Costco on the way home and had to show my card to get in but couldn't put the card in my pocket while I was shopping! It was quite difficult but I managed. I survived.

This actually was my 'ace the interview' outfit. It did go quite well. I met lots of people. They seemed to have liked me. They mentioned offer letter this weekend. However until I see it, I don't believe it. Then I don't think I can accept it until after I find out what the doctor says on Tuesday.

In addition, I was called for jury duty in May. This is not your normal jury duty, this is US district court at the federal courthouse. I think I am on call for 15 days... which is most inconvenient as we were going on vacation. Grrr... More complications. Why can't my life be simple? (I think my life should be as simple as the cat's. All he cares about is food, naps, laps, being brushed, drinking water out of the sink, and watching for birds and other infiltrators on the front lawn.)

To continue our saga of OMWAH sightings, I must clarify two that I saw recently. There was a younger type person driving a rather beat up car who had right of way at an intersection. Who stopped and waited for everyone else to go. He had right of way but I am not sure he knew this. Perhaps he was worried about more dents in his already dented vehicle. Then there was the case of minivan-mom who backed out of her driveway and sat blocking both lanes of the road so that when you drove around the corner, voila! there she was. (But I didn't hit her, I just had to brake hard). Then when she finally started, I had plenty of room as she drove on the left side of the road, conveniently leaving the right side for me.

Yesterday I did manage to get out for a walk with a friend. (All the benefits of the walk were probably negated later by the number of dark chocolate M&Ms I consumed but I did at least walk.) Today I am going to an event in Arlington center and then will probably drag Walter out on the bike path for what he calls a death march - provided the lovely rain/sleet/snow combination we are currently enjoying ends in a timely manner. Turkey meatloaf for dinner.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My goals

It sounds so simple and so obvious to have goals in life. My current goals do not necessarily reflect my goals in life. Possibly I should call them plans, not goals. I am not sure but here they are:

1. To get the number of doctor appointments in my life down to a reasonable level. I think two each week is too many. I think one per month is more acceptable but I think that will take a while. Currently, I have two more planned for March, for a total of six in the month, and four planned in the month of April and that is before any discussions next week on what to do about my MRI results. Also, I have learned that Lahey clinic only sends two pages worth of appointments to you at any one time. If you have more than 10 upcoming appointments, they don't show on the schedule. I realize I have fewer appointments now than I did before but I really am getting sick of driving to Lahey.

2. To get another part time job. Now that all these pesky doctor appointments are getting fewer, I need to fill some of the gaps in my life (and wallet) with gainful employment. My hope would be to have two part time jobs that will give me some flexibility to continue to go to all the pesky doctor appointments as well as a little relaxation.

3. To get all my surgical scars to become nice and pale - invisible would be a good word for their desired state. Some of them have healed up quite nicely - its amazing the ex-port scar is almost invisible already and its the newest one. But some of them that were affected by radiation or lots of surgical tape are still red and nasty.

4. To become less stressed out about such things as the state of my health, will the roof leak again (it already did), and will my car get a flat from hitting a pothole really hard last week?

Then the less important ones such as lose 20 lbs, train the cat not to walk on the dining room table or sleep on my head, world peace, win the lottery, and go to Iceland. (Why Iceland you ask? Because its there and I want to go. I have never been. Do I need any other reason?)

Anyhow a report on the ostrich. You were right. Yuck, yuck, yuck. We did try it. We did NOT like it. I very rarely just can't eat something but it was just yucky. I had cheese and crackers instead. Walter ate half of his. The important thing is that we tried it. Tonight we will have turkey meatloaf as a more appetizing meal.

Today I am off for the job interview and then out for a walk with a friend. Not too exciting but it is my boring life.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Doctors should not be allowed to use the word 'but'

I think doctors should not be able to use the word 'but', or the word 'and' in place of 'but' or even a verbal comma in the same kind of pause. I went to see my radiation oncologist for a follow up yesterday as all my crisping is done. First of all she checked me out and said I was recovering fine. I asked her when the pain would go away and was told that some people the pain stops relatively quickly BUT some people the pain takes a long time to go away. (Now we aren't talking about severe opiate-required pain levels here. But every so often it feels like some one is grabbing, twisting, and squishing while sending electric jolts through the crisped areas - focusing on the surgical scars. What do you think of that?) She didn't define a 'long time' either. Now I am not sure I expected a specific number of days here. Anyhow, I expect it will continue for a while. I go back and see her in September and if it still hurts then, we will have a different conversation.

She also got the preliminary report on my MRI from the computer, which was very nice of her. Also, I must say it is not her specialty to decipher a report from an abdominal MRI but she did give me some information (using the word 'but'). The thing on my liver does appear to be a hemangioma (I am finally comfortable spelling and pronouncing it - he-man-gee-o-ma) which is nice and benign and stays benign and only needs to come out if it causes pain. BUT there is something going on with my gall bladder/bile duct that needs to be better explained to me. She couldn't really say - maybe galls stones/blockage/another thingy. It was very nice of her to tell me this and I know she couldn't really tell me more but now I have to wait until next week.

So when I go to the GI doctor I have a new list of questions: What is the plan for the hemangioma - do we monitor it, remove it, check it? What is this other thing with the gall bladder/bile duct/thingy - do we do more tests, monitor it, remove it? Which of these thingies (thingy is a very technical term, similar to the descriptive word crappy to define how one is feeling) could be causing the pain I have been complaining about? Do we finally have any ideas or is it just classified as 'weird abdominal pains that lots of people get from indeterminate causes'? It is good news about the hemangioma but of course I have to find out about the other thingy before I can finally start to relax. But that is next week and I will just have to deal with it then.

Yesterday after the doctor, I worked at home for a while and then went for a walk. I am very happy that the new season of Top Chef started and I taped it. I will fit watching it into my very busy schedule today. I have been waiting for a new season to start since October. This morning I will go for a walk and then work. I also have to prep for my oh-so-important job interview tomorrow. I need to iron (big fat sigh) and then I need to come up with a list of questions and points of discussion. I think the ironing is the bigger pain in the butt. Maybe I can just find another shirt that doesn't need ironing...

Anyhow today's exciting news is that we are having ostrich for dinner. (Stop saying yucky things!) It was on sale in the grocery store and I figure we can eat anything once. It is supposed to be a very lean red meat. Unfortunately I told Walter what we are having and now he thinks he can smother it with ketchup because it will taste bad. We are living dangerously here! If it is really yucky - ketchup is a good cover-up. But I will be prepared to enjoy it plain as I can be very brave about edible things - as long as they are dead. (No live snakes, bugs, worms, etc for me!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Things that are not conducive to a good night's sleep

I did not sleep well last night. Let's see, where to start. Oh first comes anxiety and stress. (What is the difference between them? Now there's something to ponder in the middle of the night!) If you are stressed and anxious about medical test results and recovering from all kinds of medical treatments already, these don't exactly go hand in hand. Good sleep promotes recovery. Stress and anxiety keep you awake at night. Grrr.

Another thing that does not contribute to a good night's sleep is a cat who wants to sleep, and purr and snore simultaneously, with his nose tucked next to my ear. Only our cat can purr and snore at the same time. Then when he moves his head, his whiskers go in my ear and it tickles. Try to sleep through that!

Also, my back is definitely protesting from lying in the MRI Monday night. It is stiff. Basically, lying flat on my back wasn't comfortable. I think it will be okay in a few days if I don't lie on hard surfaces for 45 minute intervals.

Tonight, I will work on a better night's sleep.

Otherwise, today I am off to the crisping doctor for a follow up. How much longer will the pain, peeling, itching, flaking, red sore spots stick around? It would be nice if it would all go away!!! Then I am going to work at both jobs probably and squeeze a walk and a quick trip to the grocery store in the middle. If I keep busy, maybe I won't be so stressed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Practicing holding my breath

That's what I did. I practiced holding my breath. First it was quite an adventure - luckily it was past all the OMWAH's bedtime and they were not lurking in the parking garage - or maybe they don't go out at night. I ate my late lunch (half a PB&J at 230pm) and made Walter a nice dinner of fish, broccoli and salad. We got there and I had to fill out all the basic MRI paperwork - is there any metal in my body - no surgical plates, welding dust, shrapnel, etc - as well as a piece of paper telling them why I am having the MRI (because I had nothing else to do on a Monday evening). To make sure you fill in the paperwork and return it, they hold your insurance card hostage while you do it. The little sign asked for my insurance card which I thought they wanted to look at. They took it and said, 'we will give it back when you return your completed paperwork!' Obviously some people don't take filling out paperwork seriously enough, or maybe they don't want to talk about their shrapnel or something. Possibly or to reveal their weight - I think they asked for it twice.... (And they never asked me if I had fasted before hand or not so I guess I probably could have eaten - just call it patient confusion...)

Then the nurse called me and took me to the dressing room. she got me a johnnie (Dr. Seymour Butz gown) and pajama bottoms. Then she tied the johnnie closed and said 'you can just pull it over your head'. Now I know some people have problems figuring out how to tie a johnnie and walk around partially exposed - men seem to have this problem more than women... However, I have never had anyone tie a johnnie for me before. I think I know how they work by now.

After getting dressed, they brought me into the MRI room where I had to lie on the table. First they put a big plastic shell thing over my abdomen - think bottom side of a turtle - and strapped it down. (I asked and its a camera!) Then they put in the IV - she actually had a light touch so I didn't grind my teeth as she dug into the back of my hand. (It didn't matter that I don't have a port any more.) Then I realized that if I had to lie there for 45 minutes my back would get quite sore. We had some fun rearranging me so that my back wouldn't start hurting. Then I found out I had to put my hands over my head on the pillow. The nurse said here's some ear plugs but listen for the instructions to hold your breath. Huh? Ear plugs and verbal instructions??? More patient confusion.

I didn't realize that I would have to hold my breath for up to 30 seconds - they didn't tell me until after it was over. The little voice would say (and not the voices in my head.... yet...) 'breathe in', 'hold your breath', and finally 'relax'. The catch was every time you had to breath in, you didn't know how long you would be holding your breath. Sometimes for only 2 seconds and sometimes for 30.... And sometimes you could relax for about 2 seconds and sometimes for several minutes. By the end of the 45 minutes, I felt like I had been swimming underwater and holding my breath for the duration and my shoulders were killing me! Today I will practice normal respiration.

Now about my port and the steristrips, my incision is healing fine with only minor scarring. I can tell this because the itchy little steri strips 'fell off' yesterday morning in the shower. Now I only have post crisping itching to deal with. (Yes, they itched while I was strapped down in the MRI as well!)

Today, I am off for a walk and then to work and my support group. It looks deceptively nice out. Sunny, etc but I think its only about 25 degrees!

Monday, March 10, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night

No wait, that's Snoopy's line, it was a dark and cold morning. It was very difficult to get up this morning because of the daylight savings/standard time change (I can never remember which we are on.) All I know is it was difficult to get up because it was dark out. I hate it when the alarm goes off and its dark out. Then it was cold because I forgot to change the clock in the programmable thermostat. Normally it goes off before the alarm clock and it is nice and comfy when we get up. But not today. It was cold. Its 21 degrees outside and the heat was turned way down overnight as it always is.

Talk about cold, yesterday on the beach was cold. Unfortunately, Walter heard the weather report on the way there. "It will feel more like January today with strong gusty winds and a high in the mid-30's. Wind chills are currently down around zero." Oh, yeah, it was NOT warm at the beach. However there was ample parking. There were six other cars there when we left. There was no line for the portapotties either. The wind was actually blowing the sand down the beach and you could see it. There was also lots of spray from the waves breaking.

We also walked down wind first, as going up wind, there really wasn't any beach to walk on. Then we had to walk back up wind - that's when it was really cold. After freezing on the beach, we decided we definitely needed hot food to recover and had a giant plate of fried seafood preceded by clam chowder and clam cakes. We aren't sure if it was worse for us or worse for the environment as the restaurant uses single use styrofoam dishes. I think in the summer they use paper products instead of styrofoam. For dinner we had salads with grilled chicken in washable ceramic dishes to compensate for the grease and the styrofoam.

Today's plan is go for a walk, once it warms up a teeny bit. This hour earlier thing means my morning walks will be colder again. I think I will walk to the bank to test the powers of my washed debit card. Then I am off to work (with a very large lunch to eat late) and then to Lahey for my MRI this evening. How inconveniently scheduled - right when I would prefer to be home watching Jeopardy.

I was thinking about it. Of all the medical tests and procedures, MRIs are probably the most boring. They take a long time, there is no sedation so you are aware, and you can't move at all. At least for other things either they are short, you can move around, there is someone there with you, you get drugs, and/or at least can talk to someone. During an MRI, you have to lie perfectly still for 45 minutes or so and listen to a really loud machine. If you don't position yourself perfectly correctly, you can start to get somewhat uncomfortable as you are not allowed to reposition yourself at all. Remember - no fidgeting! Grrr!!!

Also, that would mean, no itching healing places for the duration either. My steristrips and my crisping areas are both pretty itchy today. Grr, grr, grr.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More ponderings

First of all, if one accidentally washed one's debit card in the pocket of one's sweat pants and it went through both the washer and the dryer, what are the chances that it still will work? It was in its protective sleeve in case that would make a difference.... (Not that I could possibly have done this! ;-) Anyhow, that was a big fat oops!

The second pondering is should we actually believe what fortune cookies tell us? We went out to dinner last night and this was my fortune cookie. The question is what is the credibility factor for fortune cookies? While it did not tell me I would become rich beyond my wildest dreams or that I would inherit a lot of money, it would be nice if it came true. Should I use the lucky numbers on a lottery ticket? Or since I received the fortune cookie yesterday, is my good fortune over, as it is now today?

Third, if we go to the beach, as promised by Walter, will we freeze to death as it is 42 degrees out with a 17 mph wind, wind chill of 34. (I don't think I'll mention that part until we get there.) However, I don't think we will be sitting in the sunshine working on our tans either.

Last, if we go out for a giant lunch of fried seafood (hello Mr. Cholesterol) should we eat anything more than salad for dinner? I am looking forward to fried clams, maybe some scallops, a clam cake, and some fries and onion rings. They are quite good where we are going as they fry everything in lard. The more unhealthy the cooking process the better things taste. I promise we will not have ice cream this evening as that would be a bit much.

Otherwise, yesterday I did get to the gym to work off the tax season stress and we had a quite a good meal out at dinner. After the fried food pig out today, I will go to the farm stand and get us some vegetables for salads to see if we can be healthy again. Not an exciting life we lead at all.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Its starting

The steri strip itching is starting. They are driving me up a wall. I caught myself scratching them as I woke up this morning. I don't dare pull them off as they are still securely stuck about halfway. The rest is sticking up a little and itching. They are supposed to stay on for ten days. This is day 9. I am going to try to leave them on for a few more days. I hope that the longer they are on the tinier the scar will be - well actually its a double scar. In case you couldn't see the first scar from when they put my port in, they cut right below it to take it out - so a double wide scar! How subtle! (Well I guess the other option would be to reopen the first incision, which would also guarantee a big fat scar.) Also, the first scar never really faded much. I think it might be due to the fact I kept having to put tape on it when I covered my port with numbing cream. Every time I got to chemo, my scar would be bright red. Here's to hoping they eventually fade somewhat. Now I just have to pretend it doesn't itch - think positive thoughts or something - because I can't really put anything on it.

Otherwise, my little crisped areas are healing but are still very sore. I can't itch them either, even though they are healing as that causes open sore spots which are much worse. Can you say 'radiation burns'? Doesn't that sound like something out of a bad science fiction movie? Too bad this whole saga isn't out of some bad science fiction movie instead of my life.

Anyhow, moving on to more pleasant things. First I got a VERY subtle hint this morning from my husband when he handed me my cup of coffee. I said "Is this a hint?" He said "Yes, no whining today, no whining tomorrow". Hmmm... Do I have to do what he says? Or I can just whine to other people? Actually, this isn't very fair. We are going to have our taxes done. I think that is something that requires whining.

Yesterday was a fun filled day. I did make it to the Lahey pharmacy before my psychiatrist appointment. And, in the words of a friend, I must be doing something right as they didn't commit me. I also made it to get a manicure. After a long period of indecision, I settled for a dark pink. It in no way resembles the fuschia I previously had but photographs pretty much the same so I won't bore you with a picture. I also got some volunteer work done yesterday and am trying to reschedule my job interview.

Today, after learning that a digital camera does not work if left on for over a week and after taxes, I am going out for coffee with friends. (I may need a stiff drink after the taxes part but coffee will have to do.) Then we are going out to dinner to celebrate my mother's birthday. She wants to go have Peking duck and I certainly am not protesting as it is quite yummy. I really think my life is boiled down to food, doctor appointments, and taking care of the cat and husband.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Questions for the day

I decided today I will not worry and stress about upcoming tests and their results. Instead I shall focus on the more short term issues in my life. For instance, I am getting a manicure today - what color polish should I use? You think this is an easy question but I have switched to this new polish that doesn't use tuolene and formaldehyde like many other polishes. However it comes in a limited number of colors. It does stay on really well - probably lasts for 10 days unless I am bad and garden or something. Anyhow, so whatever color I pick, I will have to look at for at least a week and then coordinate outfits and everything. Last time I chose fuschia, this time I need something different. See how complicated this is?

Another questions is what to make for dinner? We were going to go out tonight for my mother's birthday but we changed it to tomorrow night. I was going to go shopping tomorrow and get fresh food for dinner tomorrow after eating out tonight. Now with the schedule change, I don't want to go shopping for food today as we are out tomorrow night and on Sunday so whatever we don't eat will just sit there and get icky for three days or maybe I would have to go shopping again on Sunday. This is my little Suzy homemaker dilemma. The real problem is we don't have any vegetables to cook, salad, bread, juice, or fruit. (We do have plenty of cat food and cat treats.) I have to go investigate the freezer and see if I can come up with a nutritionally balanced meal with what we already have. How long are frozen vegetables still good in the freezer??? I think there might be some glaciated in the back. I know we have frozen spinach and we also have a frozen spinach pie. I don't think I can serve spinach as a side dish to spinach pie. We might be able to survive on a quick emergency trip to Trader Joe's.

Another question for the day is will I get my daily walk in before the rain starts? I prefer to walk outside particularly as the days are getting warmer but I have appointments this morning and can't walk until this afternoon. At some point it will start raining and then I would have to go the gym for the walk to nowhere on the treadmill. My life is extremely complicated here.

Lastly, can I motivate (stop procrastinating and being sucked in by the giant time suck of the internet) to get to my therapist appointment early enough so I can walk up to the pharmacy and get more the lotion for my crispy skin? The pharmacy at the hospital is a good ten minute walk each way from the therapy department so its not like its right next door. If I try to drive, I would have to park in OMWAH land (a/k/a the parking garage) and then move my car. I won't have time afterwards and don't have enough lotion to last much longer and I don't know any other place they sell it. The crispiness has continued as they promised me. Now I have a big red rectangle covering the entire area that was crisped. It is not necessarily sore but there are a few area which are extremely sensitive and raw. How does that sound - raw, peeling skin? Why am I asking - I know it sound icky and it is.

See how complex my life is? Perhaps I should be like the cat and stay home and take a nap. Or just go to freerice.com or the Icanhascheeseburger.com or whatever it is and waste a couple of hours....

The news of the week is Walter cooked dinner last night. I had a late meeting and he thought he had a conference call that was canceled so he got to cook. He made sauteed chicken with onions, zucchini, and asparagus and it was quite good. Mental note - get him to cook more often.

Otherwise, today's segment of my boring life is therapist, manicure, walk, volunteer work, and some weird meal for dinner. How's that for exciting? It does beat the cat's day - he will sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, watch birds out the window on 'his' lawn, sleep, eat, sleep, eat. Actually that doesn't sound too bad...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Achieving perfection in patient confusion

When I made the appointment for my MRI next week, they gave me a piece of paper which says in big bold letters - no eating or drinking four hours prior to the test. Seems pretty clear to me. I thought I could eat a late lunch and then be fine with not eating. Yesterday, they called me to confirm things for my test. They confirmed that I do need to be there 30 minutes early (after last week's scheduling issues I wanted this clarified). They also asked about claustrophobia (MRI's are not for the claustrophobic) but I am okay there. I did have my blood tests so I am all set. Then she said I could eat or drink before the MRI. I said then why did I get a piece of paper telling me not to eat or drink. She said 'let me check'. She checked and said yes I can eat and drink. Hmmm... Perhaps I shall still have a late lunch and then only drink water before the test. I would hate to get there and have them say 'sorry, you ate food, we have to postpone the test'. Grrr.... Just a little confusion to distract me from the stress. They are getting very good at this! I swear its part of a big plot - keep them confused and they won't complain.

Otherwise yesterday was not exciting. I went on a walk to no where on the treadmill at the gym. Then I went to work where I managed to mess things up somewhat (but they were corrected later). I managed to waste approximately 30 minutes on this one website: Icanhascheezburger.com. Only go there if you have many hours to waste. I am not responsible for any time wasted there. Unfortunately I think it is updated daily. Oncey ou are done there and still have more time to waste, try www.freerice.com to expand your vocabularly and do a good thing at the same time.

Today I am going outside for a walk and then to work and then a volunteer meeting. The big excitement for the day is Walter is cooking dinner.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Were they being nice?

So I went to Lahey yesterday morning trying to find out basically if I am losing my mind (a very debatable question these days), or if I am having normal healing issues (a most positive position), or if there was a 'situation' (I am so tired of these types of 'situations') to be dealt with. After pushing and prodding (can I push on your incision? Does it hurt?) and ultrasounding my neck and throat, they determind that currently I am having normal healing pains at this time and that I do not have a 'situation'. They did not say 'its all in your head' which was very polite and also reassuring of them. At least they don't tell me (yet) they think I am losing my mind. Anyway, so it went well and everything is okay there.

I did find many OMWAHs yesterday in my travels to and from Lahey. I think my favorite was the one who made a rolling stop and pulled out in front of me without yielding and then drifted over to the left side of the road, put on their turn indicator, and then turned left in front of someone else. I don't think they thought there were any other drivers on the road or perhaps that they were operating in stealth mode or something. However there is a close tie with the person who put on their left turn indicator, pulled over to the right lane,and then turned left. I thought that was a very creative maneuver. And that was all before I got to the Lahey parking garage!

I did get to go for a walk outside yesterday around a big lake. It was quite nice to walk some place different for once. At this time of year the walking options are somewhat limited - the plowed bike path - the same part of it every time, the hilly streets around our neighborhood which can be icy after storms, or the treadmill in the gym which just doesn't go anywhere. It was also nice and warm so it was a most enjoyable walk.

I have a job interview later this week. It was supposed to be this afternoon but they rescheduled (but they did say I am still the number one candidate). Anyhow, the big question - what to wear to the interview (never mind what I can do for the company)? I have a wardrobe that fits a slightly smaller sized me and another wardrobe that fits a slightly larger sized me. I have a wallet that fits consignment stores and sale racks. I have one interview outfit which I wore to the first interview. Now I need a second interview outfit. I did find a suit yesterday but the jacket fits and the skirt doesn't. Why did I buy it? Because I needed a jacket. Well, stupid me I should have gone to the consignment store first. Now I have a new pink sweater, a blue fuzzy jacket, and the perfect little blazer to make an outstanding impression and ace the interview when it finally happens. All for the same price as the suit. The trials and tribulations of being the fashion plate can be so stressful! Now I have to go return the suit.

Yesterday in the mail, I learned just how quickly we will hit our out of pocket maximum for our health insurance. Last year it took about 3 months of treatments to hit that. This year, I think we will hit it by the end of March if not sooner. So far with the bills received for treatments as of the end of January, we are 60% of the way there. We actually have very good insurance through Walter's work which has a catastrophic out of pocket maximum... you know that limit you never want to hit. We are quite easily. I never knew how much radiation would cost - and the answer is quite a bit! Then there's all these other fun 'procedures' that I get so much enjoyment from a well.

Today's big excitement is I get to go to the gym and walk to nowhere on the treadmill since my interview was postponed I will actually have time. I thought I was going to have a day without exercise - most unwelcome as exercise is a great stress relief and also helps counteract the ice cream bulge.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Well what is it?

Well, I don't know and that is why I get to go back to Lahey this morning! (I was kind of starting to miss the place anyway.) Yesterday at work, I noticed I was getting little sharp pains in the front of my neck and some pressure type pains in the side of my neck. These are new and are just appearing now. My port was on my chest but a tube went up to my neck and into a vein there which they just yanked out as part of the excavation Thursday. So now the question is are these pains: a) normal part of the healing process (and I am just a wussie or something), b) all in my head (good possibility as my tiny chemo brain has problems keeping up these days), or c) a 'something' to be concerned about. (There is also the fourth option that they are caused by the cat sleeping in the bed and stretching out his paws into my neck, ear, or whatever is convenient for him.)

Anyway, as a result of these weird things (you will note the use of highly technical terminology here), I get to go back to Lahey this morning to have them checked out. I am hoping for option a or b even though option a could be slightly embarrassing. Option c could lead to more tests and visits. (Option d would lead to a lonely cold cat if he couldn't sleep in the bed with us.) Needless to say, I am overjoyed at the opportunity to go back to Lahey. I think I might have been missing the OMWAHs and all the quality literature in the waiting rooms. Needless to say I will bring the most important thing to accompany one on a trip to Lahey - a good book.

Otherwise I am doing okay. My stress level remains high and could lead to crabbiness (but don't tell Walter - actually I think he already knows). Today I am also going to a workshop on getting a job - anything to help these days. I will probably fit in a walk before the rain starts later - unless I get sucked into Lahey for hours. I also will go to my support group. We are having quesadillas for dinner. Anything else you want to know?

Monday, March 3, 2008

I now have an ex-port

This morning Walter said to me 'how's your port feeling, or your ex-port?' So I guess now I have an ex-port. It actually feels okay for the most part, except when the cat walked on it. The place in the side of my neck where the tube went into a vein feels okay mostly as well, except if I raise my arm up to high - possibly because it is healing in there... Hmmm, maybe I should keep my arm down. Doh, if it hurts, don't do it! Some day I might learn that one.

So yesterday's big adventure was to go to Nordstroms. I can't say I was too impressed. Its just another fancy department store. I didn't buy anything there either but I did find a jacket I liked but I didn't like it enough to buy it. (I liked it $20 worth, not the $70 worth it was priced at. I did buy a jacket at a different store that was priced at $20 and I liked $20 worth.) However, it was nice to get out with a friend and go someplace different. We also went window shopping at Tiffany's - always a fun thing to do - but definitely didn't buy anything there. We did go to a restaurant that specializes in dessert. We had a very healthy lunch of a half sandwich and salad and then split a dessert which cost more than our lunches. It was relatively yummy. The problem with fancy dessert places is they take an old favorite, such as Boston Cream Pie, and tweak it to make it fancier (they added almond flavoring). We liked it but weren't too impressed. However they had really yummy, quarter sized whoopie pies which were quite good.

It is possible I slightly over did it yesterday. I did go for a short walk in the morning first before shopping. Then when I came home I lay down on the couch with the cat and herbal tea for a couple of hours and watched some bad TV (again being part of the problem - actually the real problem is I don't remember what I was watching). I am not sure which is more restful - the cat, the couch, or the tea. However, I did not sleep well last night and have been informed I am tired and whiny today. Well, at least I am not crabby.

Today I am going for a walk this morning and then off to work while I contemplate my four (count them) days until I need to make a return trip to Lahey. I do believe I might have free time. Actually, drat I just realized that I am going to the monthly support group at Lahey on Wednesday night so that means I only have two free days before going to Lahey and I am actually going there twice this week not once. But since its not a doctor's appointment, does it really count - something new to ponder.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Red Square

Now for most people Red Square is a landmark in Russia. However for me, its a big red square on my chest. After the 'excavation', they put gauze pads on top of the steri strips (love those things) and sealed it up with a giant clear plastic bandage. After showering yesterday, I got to remove it. Unfortunately, my skin didn't like it and it left behind a big red square on my chest. Since under going all these treatments, 'procedures', and surgeries, we have discovered that, although I am not allergic to latex or anything, that many kind of tape or adhesive cause my skin to turn all red. And if they are applied and removed daily (like after surgery or a 'procedure'), they actually peel off the outer layers of my skin that takes weeks to heal. This means that even though I purchased these very expensive clear bandages to keep my steristrips dry, I will only wear them while showering so I don't rip off a big chunk of skin. This could still be a problem even if they are only on for a short period of time. I may just let them get wet in a few more days. I'll see how this progress. I swear, if its not one thing its another. (If its not the heat, its the humidity!)

Now yesterday, the ice cream fairy did not return (which is a good thing because my waist line may not be able to handle it) but the snow shoveling fairy appeared. I have no idea who this is but their efforts were greatly appreciated. When Walter went for drill yesterday morning there was only about an inch of snow. By the time it stopped, there was closer to 4" and it was the consistency of wet cement. I tried a tiny bit to push it to the side but it was really too heavy and I just left it for when Walter came home. Then I went out for a walk and when I got home, the snow shoveling fairy had stopped by and cleaned it all up. It was the most wonderful thing! Thank you whoever you are.

Now today I am going shopping out at Nordstroms. There is finally a Nordstroms around here and it is in a mall that has gone very upscale. The idea is to go window shopping at the expensive stores (e.g., Tiffany's, etc) and to look at the sale racks at Nordstroms. I am meeting a friend who found four pairs of pants for $100 total on the sale racks there. I don't think I can normally afford their prices but it will be fun to look.

Otherwise, I will not do much as I have a feeling I will be tired enough from my shopping expedition. I do think I will go for a short walk this morning to get some fresh air but not too far. See I don't lead an exciting life.

Tip from the cat this morning, if you want food because the level of food in your dish is too low, go sleep on your owner's head and they will wake up and feed you.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The return of the ice cream fairy


Yesterday the ice cream fairy returned and brought yummy flavors (as well as some other more nutritional food items). This was a great surprise and very much appreciated. I did have to immediately perform a quality control check to ensure it was up to snuff so to speak. I am happy to confirm that the Cherry Garcia lives up to its reputation. Later today I will check the chocolate chip!

Now in Hollywood they talk about the 'baby bump'. Well, around here, its more the 'ice cream and bacon bump'. But we are not worrying about that these days. We have more interesting things to concern ourselves - will the snow stop so I can go for a walk outside? How long after it stops snowing does the bike path get plowed? What movies should I put in the Netflix queue? When will the next Netflix arrive? Is it really bad to have ice cream for lunch if balanced with carrot sticks?

Happily there are no more gum drops. Perhaps now my digestion can finish recovering from the looks-like-milk-tastes-like-crap barium for breakfast finally! Also, the residual pain level from the excavation is now a minor discomfort and can be ignored, except when someone walks on it. Or when I try to sleep on that side or on my stomach. Its actually quite aggravating that now I have to sleep, gingerly, on the radiation side or on my back. If I sleep on the 'port' side, I also have to be careful. Most annoying but I can see the end is in sight on this one.

Yesterday I did not go to Lahey Clinic. It was actually quite enjoyable. I did call and reschedule my MRI follow up appointment to a week earlier so I have a week less to stress. Then I met a friend for a walk and went to the library. While I was out Lahey Clinic called but did not leave a message. Did they miss me? I don't know, they didn't say. I could see in Caller ID they had called but the number displayed is never the right one so I don't know which department and can't call back. Perhaps they will call again Monday.

Caller ID is nice. You can screen calls from the people you really don't walk to talk to (telemarketers, sales people, annoying people, people who might want to borrow money, people you aren't in the mood to talk to, etc - not that I would screen calls, I always answer politely but admit I might hang up on the telemarketers). However the downside is if you aren't home, you can tell someone called in your absence. Then should you call them back? Should you just pretend they didn't call? Before caller ID, you would never know if someone called and didn't leave a message. Now you know they called but not what they wanted and are left in this limbo. Ain't progress wonderful.

So today, I am left to my own devices as Walter has army drill. I have to do laundry. He carefully carried it down to the basement for me as I am on a restriction of no heavy lifting. (The cat is not on restriction - I can lift him up.) I also plan on watching the rest of my Netflix - Gameplan which is a cute but somewhat formulaic movie that has its moments. I also want to go for a walk. I need to walk off the ice cream fairy and bacon of the month. That's my exciting day.