Monday, June 30, 2008

Learning to like my new hair

I am really trying here. Good things about my new hair:

- It is short and its summer time so its not hot.
- The cat really likes it. He likes to sleep with his paws in it (okay so that can be hot too but it makes him happy.)
- It is basically wash and wear. I wash it, put some gel in it and it stays looking like a sheep's butt all day long. In fact it never looks any different.

However on the other hand, it is too short, too curly, too gray, and can't be styled at all... GRRRR!!!!!

So today I have a lot to do. Buy stamps, work, doctor's appointment (and bring my list), run errands, go to farm stand, work from home, and go for a walk. I think that's it. I did print my list for the doctor. I also printed out my giant list of what I ate and when I had pain that I started at her request back in April. I just have to remember to bring all this with me. Can I get through a doctor's appointment without any more follow up tests or appointments? That is the goal.

In addition to my giant list of food and pains and my little list of questions and my other list of prescriptions currently taking and finally my list of medical allergies, I have a big fat book to read in case I have to wait. (This doctors office is in a part of Lahey which usually does not have a good selection of magazines but I think there is a TV in the waiting room.) I am also practicing my OMWAH detection skills for my trip through the parking garage.

My other goal in working this summer is to ride my bike to work at least one day a week. Well its not today. Thunderstorms and I have to go to the doctor directly from work. Maybe tomorrow or maybe Wednesday, depending on the weather. Its only 3 miles. I should be able to do that.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting caught up after vacation

Well, I am still getting caught up on somethings after vacation. I am all set (finally) with laundry, unpacking, grocery shopping, and email. I am not caught up on weeding or house cleaning. Hmmm... I am not very motivated to do either. Unfortunately, we have had so much rain recently that the weeds and mushrooms are over taking. We have mushrooms in the front yard, back yard, garden, etc. I have seen at least five different kinds. It would be nice if it did stop raining for a few days - I feel like I am ready to grow mushrooms. On a more positive note my vegetable plants are doing quite well. I have lots of flowers on the cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes and some little tiny green tomatoes. So maybe the rain is good for something.

Yesterday I was good and painted the damn fence. There were two 8' sections that got two coats of paint. Walter got to do all sorts of fun stuff - like mow the lawn, paint the fence posts, etc while I painted the fence sections. It actually was nice to have the energy to do something like that. However then I got really tired and lay down for about two hours to recover. Then we went out to dinner. We even got kind of dressed up. This morning we are going for a walk to walk off the yummy dinner we had. Then we get to run all kinds of errands.

I am still working on my list for the doctor tomorrow. Actually before I go to the doctor I have to go to work. I have committed to working half days for the next five weeks at one job. Its going to feel weird to have to get up early and go to work! Then I will come home from that job and work on my other stuff from home. I will be busy. But maybe I won't feel so poor at the end of the month.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yet another example of chemo brain

Once again, chemo brain strikes. Yesterday, in an effort to be cheap, I decided to take all the left over bread from the freezer that I was saving and turn them into bread crumbs (who likes to eat the heel of the loaf anyway). I ground them up and decided that when I cooked dinner I would dry them in the oven. Well, silly me. Dinner cooked at 400 degrees. I had blackened bread crumbs... Wah! I will start over and use a lower oven in a few weeks.

Yesterday I went for a walk and got my nails done. Apparently when I fell but didn't really fall a couple of weeks ago (as noted in my medical lies post), I broke my big toenail on my right foot. Not a big deal except a chunk split off and was growing into my toe and getting pretty sore. Well, we think the pedicure corrected this but I have to watch it as she thought it was starting to get infected and may need medical attention! What! Its only a toe nail. Why can't my body just start healing itself? I am sick of doctor visits. Oh, but wait, I conveniently have a doctor appointment on Monday. I'll just add it to my damn list of issues.

Today I am being a good doobie. Walter is replacing a portion of our fence. It has to be painted first. Let's just say painting makes him crabby. I am going to paint the fence this morning. He will build a gate instead. An even division of labor I think because he wont be crabby. Then I guess it will be my turn to be crabby. but then we will go out to dinner. We were going to go to the beach but these pesky thunderstorms keep ruining that plan. Maybe later this week.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Making a list...

And checking it twice!... No wrong season. I am making a list but for my doctor's appointment on Monday. It is a follow up with my primary care physician after I saw her in April. I had so many things going on then, that she couldn't get to them all and wanted to see me back in two months so off I go.

My goals are:

1. Make a list of things to bring up with her.
2. Remember to bring the list with me.
3. Remember to get through all the issues.
4. Write down her responses so I can remember them.

This may be stretching my tiny chemo brain's capacity. The tough word in items 2-4 is 'remember'. I really don't think I have a brain these days. Ask anyone who deals with me on a day to day basis. My brain evaporated sometime in the past year.

Big news yesterday. I got my latest list of appointments from Lahey and, for the first time in a year, they can all fit on two sheets of paper - meaning I have less than 10 upcoming scheduled appointments. I have a mere 8 in the next 60 days. And to think I was starting to miss the place.

Last night we went out to dinner with my parents. Apparently I ate something my gall bladder didn't like. It was not happy. It complained loudly. Well, not a full gall bladder attack but it was not happy. I didn't even have the fried clams (which I know are horrible for you but are my absolute favorite meal). I had baked scallops and salad and half a baked potato. And bread. And beer (with blueberries in it which I liked but my mother and husband thought was disgusting - blueberry summer ale tastes very nice with fresh blueberries).

Today I will eat lightly to compensate and see if my gall bladder recovers. For a change of pace, I will have a salad with chicken on it. Actually today I am going for a walk with a friend, getting my nails done, and am going to murder the giant weed that is leaning over the fence from the neighbors. I will post before and after pictures. This is not your average, garden weed. It is at least 6' tall and hangs a good 5' into our yard. A weed is a plant where you don't want it and this clearly fits the description.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What was I thinking?

Yesterday I drove into Boston. What was I thinking? My Boston driving skills are completely out of practice. I had an interview in town that I needed to get to. At first, I was going to walk to the bus and then take the subway but I was dressed up and it was hot so I decided to drive to the subway and park in the parking garage. I left home in plenty of time to allow me to arrive 15 minutes early for my interview (always arrive 15 minutes early). I also took a few minutes to look for the cat who some how escaped again! (Yes, as you read, the cat escaped again yesterday afternoon. He was all mad when I got home. Then I made him wait until his supper time before I fed him. (Why should he get fed early after escaping?) This morning he is all needy again. He thinks he can suck up to me and I will be extra nice to him... Hah!) Anyhow, after driving around the garage for 15 minutes, I couldn't find a space so I left and gave up. That blew my 15 minute cushion. I no longer had the time to drive anywhere and take the subway. I decided to drive into Boston.

I actually arrived 40 minutes early for my interview so I could drive around and look for a parking space. It was street cleaning time in the neighborhood I was in so there were lots of empty resident parking spaces I could sit in to kill some time. Then I found a real live parking space with a meter. I got quarters at Starbucks and went to my interview. I even left before the meter expired so I didn't get a ticket!

Unfortunately I discovered that my Boston driving skills are horribly out of practice. I think I drove into the Seaport District in March on a Sunday and have driven to the airport a couple of times. But it really has been a long time - years in fact - since I drove into downtown. I grew up here. I learned to drive in Boston. I know how to drive in Boston. I am happy to drive in Boston. I wish all the people from out of town who can't drive in Boston would take the subway. (Why is the speed limit 35 on Storrow Drive? It is best driven at about 50.) When I found my parking space yesterday, I only had to back up about 20' on Tremont St to get to it (but I put my hazards on so I was sort of legal and the guy who was leaving the space made a U-turn out of it so I was probably more legal than he was). The only contact I made yesterday was into the car behind me when parking.

But when I left, I was in the right lane waiting at a light and the car next to me in the left lane decided to take a right turn and I almost hit them. My Boston driving skills are so out of date that I took me a second and I didn't have a chance to beep my horn or 'politely' gesture my true thoughts to him. Also, I got stuck behind a tourist from Ohio in a 4x4 on Fresh Pond's s-turns so I actually had to drive at something resembling the speed limit. But I did cut off a few tourists at the rotaries...

I don't know what I was thinking? Perhaps chemo brain struck again and allowed me to be delusional. I really hope I didn't drive like a tourist.

My brain was so scrambled that I really burned the crap out of dinner. I turned on the left burner on high to boil Brussels sprouts and decided to put them on the right burner instead. Then I put the salmon on the left burner and went up stairs to talk on the phone. I came down and the ENTIRE downstairs was full of smoke as I never turned down the left burner. I think the smoke alarm didn't go off because of open windows. The salmon was completely blackened (no, probably it was really charred, it was definitely beyond blackened) on the side with skin so I managed to pull most of it off. My pan may never be the same. It is still soaking...

Today I am off for my walk and then to work. Perhaps I will get some weeding done today. The weeds are growing with leaps and bounds. Otherwise, I am back to my boring life!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It must be National Drive Slow week

I really think so. On Monday night in the cab on the way home from the airport, I had to 'remind' the cab driver the speed limit was 55... He was going 35. I am not sure if he was confused by the ramp speed limit signs we had just passed, was trying to save gas, or was trying to run out the meter. Needless to say, he was slowing down our trip considerably. When was the last time you had to ask a cab to speed up????

Then on the way to work yesterday (when I was running a little late - moi?), I was stuck behind someone going 25 in a 35 zone. And changing lanes without the benefit of a turn indicator (around here, that's considered giving secrets to the enemy).

Later, I was rushing again (because I took too long in the store and was going to be late), and I got behind another 'intelligent life form' going approximately 10 mph under the speed limit again. And then I hit every red light!

At the end of the day, I was driving home during a hail storm, so I was one of those slow pokes - but I think I had a better excuse than moronism.

I know you thought you were safe but not here is the dreaded "What I did on my summer vacation" essay. I figured I could titled my post with something else and sneak it in here! (See how devious I can be?)

Last Tuesday, I flew out to MN and spent the night at my friends house in the southern part of the state. I stayed with her and her family, which includes very well behaved cats - 'Look they are on the kitchen counter, they have never done that before! Bad cat!' (Apparently if you say this you can make your guests believe they are very well trained and have never been on the kitchen counter before!)

We then drove up to the northern part of the state and stayed at a friend's cabin on a lake. It had a local flying chipmunk and a family of baby ducks. I caught them in their daily commute from their nest about 50 yards to the north of us to their day time post of 50 yards south of us.

We saw lots of farm land. I mean LOTS of farm land. Lots of corn and soybeans I think. Also, a few million cows and some horses as well. We did some shopping but we also went to Lake Itasca which is the headwaters of the Mississippi.

After a few days up north, we returned down south and hung out at my friend's house for a few days. We watched movies, ate yummy food, and otherwise didn't do a lot else. It was what a vacation was supposed to be.

In my pile of mail at home, I was greeted by my credit card bill for my plane tickets - welcome back!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Its going to take about a week

I am home. I got in last night. My flight out of Atlanta was delayed for 1:15 due to thunderstorms in Boston so I got in later than I want and am tired. I think it will take about a week for me to recover from:

- doing to much several times last week. Well, maybe only once or twice (a day).
- staying up late to (gasp) watch movies.
- eating too much but I was pleasantly informed by the scale this morning that my vacation did not destroy my diet (other than the scone incident... they were there and were yummy and I have no willpower... and there was the garlic bread incident....)
- dragging an overstuffed suitcase around - however it didn't open up in transit so I am happy.

Actually, it was great to be on vacation. It has been too damn long - more than a year. The only bad thing is I was on vacation with out my husband. The next step is a vacation with him. Never skip vacations - and never work too hard. No one has ever died wishing they had worked more and vacationed less.

Now that I am home, it is back to reality time. Today I only have to unpack, do some laundry, go grocery shopping, work, prep for an interview tomorrow, and admire my garden. The unpacking of the things I lugged all over the place and never used is clearly the worst part. I also have to open mail, weeding.... AAAAGGGHHH! I need another vacation!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The worst thing about vacation

... is trying to fit everything back into your suitcase to go home. You don't want to go back home and it seems everything got a little bigger and then there are the new clothes and other things you bought. I am procrastinating on this (who me procrastinate?). I need to go do battle with my suitcase and the problem is I have to win. I could take the wimpy way out and buy a little suitcase for the overflow but now the airline charges a $50 fee for to check a second bag. So its not just the cost of the bag but the baggage fee, which is all on top of the purchases I made.

Unfortunately I went to a yarn store. A very bad thing. It was a very nice yarn store. In fact there were two yarn stores. (I have to keep my friend's cats away from my yarn but that is another battle - two battles in one day is more than I can deal with.) Then there was the little side trip to the mall... No I didn't buy that much but yarn is bulky and my suitcase was already a little full.

I guess the real thing to do when packing on vacation is turn on your ESP so you know what the weather will be and what you will do while you are gone so you only pack clothes you will actually wear and things that you need. I definitely am bringing back home clothes I didn't wear, but could have... I was also so smart I brought a book with me that I had just finished and didnt bring the book I wanted to show my friend I was visiting. Well, maybe not smart, maybe chemo brain.

I have to stop procrastinating and go off and do battle. Then I will need to recover by going for a walk. Speaking of recovering, it will probably take a week for me to recover from having too much fun.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What happens at the lake, stays at the lake

Yes, we dont tell everything that happened. Especially the parts about (don't hit) the tree and putting (diesel) gas in the car. We wont talk about those parts. But there is no car damage and no diesel in the gas powered car. We did have fun. We stayed in a little cabin on a lake in the middle of farm country. There was nothing near by. It was wonderful.

I have eaten too many salads with chicken on them. Last night I had a salad with some steak on it. Quite yummy. I did eat something yesterday that made my gall bladder unhappy. It is quite happy to remind me of this. I will bring it up to the doctor next week. But that's next week. I am still on vacation for now. No doctor appointments for me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Running around the midwest

Off on vacation we are actually running around the midwest. Well, not really. We aren't running, we are driving and we are staying in the state of Minnesota. We have seen a lot of farm country, and a fair number of cows and horses. We have also seen a thousand falling down barns, tractors, pick up trucks, and green fields. We are staying on a lake at a cabin. There is a very friendly little chipmunk (perhaps I should bring him home for the cat...) There are many birds, including loons and a family of baby ducks.

I am managing to eat a healthy diet... but its not easy. There are more things that I can't eat than I can. However I did have some very yummy hot smoked salmon for dinner last night (lox is cold smoked so it is very different). If I have one more chicken sandwich or salad with chicken on it, I might explode, or turn into a salad... I am having chocolate, bacon, cheese, chips withdrawal.

Today we went by Mille Lacs which is the second largest lake in the state. We are in a small town to see a friend's son in a parade which should be kind of interesting. There is a very minor possibility that I am overdoing things... But only a minor possibility. I did stay up kind of late last night... and we have been out and about all day, and yesterday we were out all day, and the day before I was flying, and the day before that we were driving and doing laundry and unpacking and repacking while recovering from too much mini golf and other kinds of fun... But it is only a minor possibility that I am overdoing it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fashion sense and flying

Yesterday I flew from Boston to Minneapolis via Atlanta. Okay, so it is kind of the long way but I am convinced you can get anywhere in the world through the Atlanta airport. I also got to take a nice walk in Atlanta. According to my itinerary my flight was due to leave out of gate D3. I walked all the way down D terminal to find out that it was really leaving from gate C2. Then I walked over to C terminal and found the right gate. I took another stroll through the terminal to get something to eat that was not fried. The further south you are, the more fried food options there seem to be. After perusing all my options, I found a salad with grilled chicken on it. It also included olives and shredded cheese. The only dressing options were full fat. Very difficult to eat healthy in some places.

All this wandering around gave me ample opportunity to look at the fashionistas I was travelling with. First of all, if you are going to have to take your shoes off at screening, don't you want to wear socks? I mean how many other people have walked there barefoot? When was the last time they shampooed that rug? Clothing that includes lots of extra zippers for decoration will probably result in a body search, or atleast personal screening. I also don't consider the following good choices for travel: pajamas, ripped sweat pants, big metal barrettes, or shower shoes. There was a couple on one of my flights where the husband accompanied his burqa claid wife while carrying a copy of the Koran. Personally I don't have a problem with the religion or the attire but I am not so sure how comfortable others may be.

All in all, it wasn't a bad flight. Lots of turbulence on the second flight. Air Tran now features XM satellite radio so I got to listen to the music of the 70s and decided it made me feel old. My friends did pick me up but there was a little confusion as to which terminal I was at. There is a minor possibility I over did it a teeny, tiny bit yesterday...

This morning we went for a walk and then we are off to go up north for a few days. In to the woods. Possibly fishing. But that would involve worms and other yucky things like cleaning fish... We aren't sure. We could just be lazy. After all, it is vacation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A perk of chemo brain

Yes, I have discovered one. If you have chemo brain, you can't remember what you are packing long enough to stress over forgetting things. I keep saying I need to pack something, walk into a room to get it, forget what it is, leave the room, and maybe an hour or two later remember what it was that I forgot. It also helps if you keep losing your list so you start making a new one trying to remember what was on the old one and then you can't find any lists.

I am not going to the North pole. I am going to Minnesota - which could be considered the North Pole in winter, but it is summer now - if I forget anything, I can go to Target. Actually, where I am going, I have been told has not yet been getting up to 60 degrees. I have added additional layers of warmth to my suitcase.

I am still tired today. I had to get up too early. I did go to bed early but the coffee hasn't yet kicked in.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vacation is very tiring

Friday we drove to Rochester, NY. Or I should say Walter did most of the driving and I was a mere passenger. Saturday we went to a kids and trucks show, played miniature golf, and went to my niece's soccer game. Sunday we played more miniature golf, went on a boat ride through a lock in the Erie canal (very cool), and went out to dinner. We also played scrabble. The current statistics are Walter and I are now 1-1-1 (I won once, he won once, and we tied once). However it is still early in the season. On the other hand, we played scrabble with my brother and were basically destroyed at that. (My sister in law, the wise woman that she is, made the intelligent choice not to play scrabble.) We did have fun.

Perhaps the tiring part is we were trying to keep up with 4 children - 10, 9, 6, and 3 1/2. Nothing to do with recovering from treatment or anything. It was lots of fun!

I am home for about 18 hours with just enough time to unpack, do laundry, repack, feed the cat, and look at mail. Then I fly off for the rest of my vacation and hopefully recover from the first half. The cat is mad at us for leaving him for so long. He had plenty of food. In fact he left a nice pile of it on the carry on bag I was going to take with me tomorrow... I will find another bag!

Now I can't procrastinate because I have to get ready. Stupid me needs to be at the airport at 6:15 AM!!!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A new concept

Vay-kay-shun. Yes, vacation. I am going on vacation. Well, I am taking two trips. One driving this weekend to visit family and then return home to fly to the Midwest to visit friends. This is a new concept. I haven't been anywhere on a plane since a business trip more than a year ago - to Chicago when it was 7 degrees. Needless to say I think the weather will be a bit better now.

This is clearly a new concept for me. Things to take on vacation - lots of books, camera, bathing suit (well, maybe), brain cells, prescriptions. Things not to take on vacation - stress and medical worries. Things to do on vacation - eat yummy food (well as fat free as I can), stay up late (I will really try), get out doors, sleep late (not sure how well I will do with that), and have fun. Things not to do on vacation - go to see any medical professional. I will have to work on all of this to make sure I have fun.

I am really looking forward to getting away. I may not work full time now but I really need a break from everything. Walter gets to come with me on the first part but then he will be home by himself (well, with the cat) for the second part. They will just have to tough it out without me.

In the meantime, I have lots to do to get ready. I have to finish packing to leave today, which includes laundry. Then I have to sort of get ready for leaving again. We return Monday night and I have an early flight on Tuesday - mental note - find itinerary so I go to the right terminal at the airport at the right time. This means unpacking, laundry, and repacking as well. In addition, I have work to do, meeting a friend for a walk, and cleaning the house, watering the plants, and finding the damn list of everything else I need to do before I leave.

Yesterday's doctor appointments went fine. I was told my biopsy incision is healed up nicely. It was fatty necrosis - if you Google this you will find out it commonly occurs after breast surgery, sometimes it goes away and sometimes it doesn't but it is basically a benign condition. However, I get to go back for another mammogram in six months with another follow up. Wah! I want a doctor to say 'you are fine, come back in a year'. (They didn't ask if I had any falls recently so I wasn't forced to lie.) I did get to do lots of quality waiting. I had to wait about half an hour for a 2 minute appointment with the surgeon. Then I had to wait an hour for an appointment with my therapist. I was there for three hours. To recover, I went for a walk.

Well, I can sit here and play on the computer or I can get moving to get everything done this morning. I think I am slightly less inclined to procrastinate as I am going on vacation. Its not like a doctor visit or work, where the motivation is just not there.

I will have limited computer access while gone so I may not update anything but I will be back at the end of the month - just in time for another appointment!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lies and the medical profession

No, this is not about the big deal things - does it cure this or that or cause fatal complications. This is about the other lies. Face it, we have all lied to a medical professional.

Do you really, really, really, really, really floss twice a day? Or you are human like the rest of us and have forgotten a time or two... or ten? But do you tell your dentist you floss every day? What about fried food and red meat? Of course you have a healthy diet! That steak and fries you had last week don't count when you talk to your doctor about taking care of yourself. You also exercise regularly. Well, you mean to. You talk about going to the gym or running or walking or whatever daily but do you do it? What do you say to the doctor? Yes, I exercise daily. See, these are all little lies we tell the medical profession without meaning to.

On the other hand, we get lied to in return. Some of my favorites are: 'The doctor will be with you in just a few minutes.' Thirty minutes later you are counting the holes in the ceiling tiles in the exam room wondering if they have forgotten you. 'You will only feel a pinch.' Yes, that light saber sized needle you stuck in me only hurt for a second. Or the slight variation 'Its a painless procedure as we numb the area first.' But you used those giant needles again. 'Any side effects you feel will go away in the next few days.' Did you mean weeks, months, years?

Lying just happens. Now sometimes we do stretch the truth for our own benefit. Yesterday, I caught my sandal and tripped and fell down (yes completely down but on soft grass and no one saw me and I only have a couple little tiny scrapes). If they ask me at the doctor today 'any falls recently?' I will probably say no. If I say yes, I get a little label in the system 'fall hazard' and if I am admitted for anything I have to wear a special bracelet (basically labeling me as a klutz), and cant get out of bed without assistance. Not that I plan on getting admitted any time soon.

This isn't to say that lying is a good idea. However, if I tell the truth on this one, it will make things more complicated for me. I will just deny it and pretend it didn't happen. This is a trick question and they don't always ask it. Basically, I know I am a klutz and don't need a label on my medical file to remind me. Also, I am not sure there is a cure for klutziness (any more than there is one for the common cold or cancer).

Going back to my previous sentence: pretend it didn't happen. Wouldn't it be nice to just pretend the past year of my life just didn't happen?

Enough about that. What am I up to today? Going to work and then two doctors at Lahey. What fun. Can't wait. But maybe my steri strips will get taken off. If they don't, they will fall off in the next day or two.

Also, now I don't have to be the technology wienie any more. The show I watch ended last night and I watched the tape this morning. It only took two tries to set up the VCR correctly. Maybe we need to invest in some easier technology before the next season starts in the fall.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eeek!

Its bathing suit season. Now last year I was exempt from bathing suit season because of surgeries and chemo. This year it has returned for me. But now I have more scars! Unless I start wearing a wet suit they will be exposed. And the entire area that was radiated now turns bright red if I go into the sun - even if I am dressed. What's wrong with that? Its a giant rectangle of redness from my neck down to my stomach and halfway across my chest. Not exactly a subtle reminder. Apparently this shall eventually pass. But it might take a few years.

In addition, my stomach isn't any flatter than it was two years ago. That is when my then four year old niece, upon seeing me in my bathing suit, said that it looks like I was growing out of my suit and I should get a new bigger one.

I am going on vacation and will be out in public possibly in a bathing suit. Either I can get a wet suit, warn the crowds not to look, or find a miracle diet that will make me thinner in the next 48 hours. Hmmm... None of these look like very good options do they?

Well in addition to bathing suit season, its also baby duck season. I took my camera with me when I went for a walk yesterday and saw two. (I wonder if they know they are living in the same pond as the giant snapping turtle.) Normally, if I take my camera, it means I will see no wildlife but apparently yesterday was an exception.

Today I have lots and lots to do. I have to do some work, meet my mother, run errands, get my nails done, start packing for vacation, meet friends for a walk, call the doctors office to confirm my appointment, and I can't even remember the list. It would help if I could find my list that I wrote down so I wouldn't forget.

But yes I really, really, really, really am going on vacation. We are going to visit family for a long weekend and then I am flying to Minnesota to visit a friend who has borrowed a house on a lake (there are 10,000 lakes there so its nice to know we could squish in on a tiny corner of one of them). Ten days of travel. I have to pack for both trips separately. I have to get organized - now that's a challenge for my little chemo brain.

My steristrips still itch. I can confirm they will fall off while I am on vacation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Conversations

Me: Where you last night?
Cat: Licks paw.

Me: How did you get out?
Cat: Blank stare.

Me: What did you do outside all night?
Cat: Closes eyes.

Me: Don't you know its dangerous for you to be outside?
Cat: Looks at floor.

Me: Do you have any idea how worried we were about you?
Cat: Inspects toes and washes ear.

Me: Weren't you scared outside?
Cat: Walks away.

Talk about an exercise in futility. All he wanted when he came back in was food. He was no where to be found inside yesterday morning but when Walter opened the dining room window, there he was outside. We have no idea how he got out but either:

a) a burglar broke in and let him out and took nothing else (they could have tidied up the living room while they were here - that would have been helpful)
b) he has learned how to open doors (and close them behind him - but he will probably never learn to close a door).
c) he was in the front entry when we went up to bed and he just pushed open the storm door (learned through the chipmunk incident last summer).

C is the most likely option.

Another exercise in futility was going to the doctor yesterday. Well maybe not futility, but frustration. It was a follow up for the mystery rash with the dermatologist. After rushing over there, I find she is running 30 minutes late officially, which meant 1 hour late unofficially. I saw the LPN for a couple minutes and the doctor for about 30 seconds. The consensus was I have sensitive and dry skin. Try the really strong prescription stuff she had given me on all irritated areas for no more than a week at a time. Use lots of moisturizer all the time and moisturize when skin is dripping wet. Even though Dove is a really good soap for dry skin, maybe switch to Oil of Olay body wash.

However, I didn't get any follow up appointments. But they don't know what causes my skin irritations and rash either. So I guess it was good I have no more appointments but it would be nice to know what I have.

Today I have opted to work inside in air conditioning and am saving my errands for tomorrow's promised lower temperatures and lower humidity. I will get out for a walk this morning as well. If I go early before it gets too hot (temperatures expected mid-90's again with high humidity), its not too bad. I really have to get organized for vacation - but its been too hot to think. I guess I will procrastinate for another day or two.

My steristrips itch. Grrr!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A retrospective into the last ten days or why I feel like Chicken Little

Well, maybe it was a little longer than the last ten days. Anyhow, this latest trip around the roller coaster started a few weeks back when I thought I found a lump. This causes my stress level to inch increasingly upwards. Then I had the bad mammogram which turns into more stress. Followed by each day to wait for each test and their results, my stress keeps going up and up. It was slightly relieved by the discussion with the doctor before the biopsy that perhaps we didn't need to do it. However it didn't end until I got the second phone call on Friday giving me the results. This week I feel mostly back to normal but still am finishing out the roller coaster. But I do feel like Chicken Little. My increased stress caused undue stress and concern by others. But now we know it was all unfounded. While I do appreciate the concern, I just wish it didn't happen - that I didn't have the little adventure in the first place.

Every doctor visit now turns into a stress inducer - what if they find something else? For example, I had that stupid rash which basically went away. But the last patch on my leg ended up with a big dry patch of skin around it. Then I got a rash on my arm last week which I thought was poison ivy or a bug bite. I covered it with a bandaid with cortisone and some tape to hold the bandaid on so I wouldn't scratch it while sleeping and voila - I have a big red irritated rectangle on my arm where the tape was. I also have another area of irritated skin. I was going to cancel my follow up dermatologist appointment today but now that I have new things appearing, I will go and see whats going on. In the meantime,I keep my stress level down and pretend they aren't going to find anything new. But the last time I was there she was muttering things about eczema or psoriasis. Grr... Not that they are terminal but they would be annoying.

Then I have another trip back to the surgeon later this week for a follow up on the biopsy. Which even though we know it was benign, it must have been a something... So is there any more follow up? I don't know? I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really want a clean bill of health from a doctor. I haven't had one of those in a long time.

So you see, this little roller coaster I am on intensifies with each doctor visit. In the last ten days or so my stress level on a scale of 1-10, probably reached an 11 (just think about the amps on Spinal Tap). My goal is get two doctors this week to tell me that I am okay for now so I can go on vacation and relax until my next doctor appointment in three weeks.

In the meantime, today's stress inducer is where is the cat. We can't find him this morning. He didn't sleep with us last night. He usually demands breakfast and attention in the morning and is no where to be found.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It was freezing cold

Welcome to summer in New England. The temperatures were expected to hit 90 so we went sailing. I was wearing a sweat shirt because it never got hot out on the water. But as soon as we went ashore, it was hot. Too bad we missed it! That's okay. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be hotter. Last year, due to my fun and adventures in the medical world, I didn't get to go sailing at all so it was especially nice to go this year. I can't do as much in terms of hauling in the sheets, halyards, and mooring and dock lines but that's the work part. I also got tired enough that I took a nap. I haven't taken a nap in months. I try to avoid them so I sleep better at night but I guess I was a little tired from this week's roller coaster. (I took this picture lying down inside on the dinette and looking straight up the mast.)

I couldn't go out for fried clams either - my traditional post sailing meal. I had grilled chicken and a baked potato instead. Not quite the same thing. We rushed home to watch the Belmont Stakes and actually turned on the TV about at the half mile point so we got to see the end. Too bad there's no Triple Crown this year again but hopefully Big Brown will be okay. (I only follow the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont on the day of the actual races. I think I read Black Beauty and Man O'War too many times as a child.)

Today I am going out for a walk before the heat kicks in and then lots of chores to do. Wah! But not weeding. It will be too hot for weeding. I will let the little weeds grow for now.

It is very exciting after 3 years my peonies are finally blooming so I had to share. However I planted six plants, 4 made it, and only two bloomed.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A day of technological snafus

Yesterday was a good day with my good results. But it was a day full of technological snafus. As I said, it started with no internet access. Then I was supposed to have a work call at 9 am. The doctor's office called at 9 am and during that 3 minute phone call my work call came in and went straight to voice mail. Then some mysterious person called my cell phone and didn't leave a message - I hate that. I think its a Lahey clinic phone number but they changed their phone system a few years back and the old number, if any number at all, shows up in caller ID, so you don't know what number to call back. Then the surgeon's office called to reschedule my follow up.

I also am on an email list where I receive messages in digest format. for some reason yesterday, I missed some digests. This leads me to ask did I miss other email messages - like the important work related ones I am waiting for? Grrr... Technology and me. Grr, grr, grr.

Speaking of technology. I once again failed to record my favorite show on the first try this week. I set up the VCR on Tuesday night for Wednesday night's show. Well, I thought I did. On Wednesday, it wasn't set up to tape anything so I had to reset it. You would think I was trying to go to the moon or something with the number of tries it takes me. Anyhow, this week is the last episode of the season so maybe I can learn new skills over the summer. In the meantime, I am blaming chemo brain.

Today the big plans are to go sailing we hope. The big news, well the other big news, is that my peony is finally about to bloom. Only 3 years later. I will post pictures (of course). Yet even more big news is that I got my hair cut again. What is so news worthy about this is that it seems that more of the gray hair was trimmed off. Its still curly and somewhat resembles a sheep's butt, but has some style now as well.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Results are in!

Benign - both the bone scan and the biopsy. Now I can have a fun weekend (with my itchy steri strips)!

The trials and tribulations of my life!

This morning I couldn't connect to the internet. It wasn't me - it was a statewide problem... Needless to say I am behind on my day already. And aggravated.

One little bitty biopsy and here I am exhausted again. Yesterday by about 4 pm I was completely tired out. You would think its only a little biopsy… A tiny little incision… I haven’t seen it but they said it would be about 1/4”. Anyhow, I am as tired now as I was months ago. Maybe its ‘old fart-itis’.

For some reason, I completely blanked out in my mind the incredible idiots I have seen recently on the road. On the way to Lahey the other day, there was a moron (clearly not a rocket scientist) who was stopping on the main road to let people take left turns in front of him when they had the top sign and he had right of way. You aren’t supposed to stop in the middle of the road!.

I just figured out that so far this year I have been to Lahey more times this year, 58 trips so far, than last year, a paltry 55 visits. That actually is 113 visits in just over a year. Or one approximately every 3 days or so. BLAH! I am not sure I like those numbers. Well this coming week I only have three appointments and two are on the same day. Then hopefully, I won’t have to go back until the end of the month… or 3 weeks later! Wouldn’t that be nice?

We have been enjoying some nice spring weather – 50’s and rain… The cat had a very enjoyable day yesterday.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I wish they would make up their minds!

So to back up a little, on Friday when I had my bad mammogram, the radiologist suggested a scintographic (I think that's who you spell it but even the tech I asked didn't know how to) mammogram where they inject dye and then do six five minute scans. However my surgeon nixed that and said biopsy to be sure. Then on Tuesday when I went to my therapist she suggested as a stress relief that I take half an ativan so to be less stressed.

Yesterday I get to my lovely biopsy all stressed out, even with my half an ativan. (I was driving there and couldn't remember if I had taken my regular pills because I am a half wit when stressed). Anyhow, I check in, wait around, get changed, wait around, finally a nurse comes and gets me and we go sit in a little room where she reviews the procedure with me and has me sign the release. Then the doctor doing the procedure comes in and says "I just looked at all your films and have talked to the radiologist and surgeon and told them I am not sure why we are doing a biopsy and not a scintographic mammogram or MRI. And the surgeon and radiologist agree we could skip the biopsy and do the other tests instead if you want." WHAT? So now after leaving me all stressed out for days and telling me I have something you are saying I can just know I have something and let you guys look at it some more. I said I wanted the biopsy at that point. All the other tests would do is confirm there is a something but not tell us what it is, which is the whole point of a biopsy. Oh, and when I mentioned I had taken half an ativan they weren't sure I should have been driving....

Finally, they did do the biopsy but the doctor said she was fairly sure it would prove to be scar tissue. I need a pathology report saying that to be fairly sure on anything these days. She also did tell me my bone scan was clear. The biopsy itself wasn't bad. A lot less painful than some of the other stuff I have been through and it actually only took about 10 minutes. Anyhow, all this changing their minds is stressful.

After I came home, I did a little work and watched 27 Dresses with the cat on my lap and drank herbal tea. It is a definite chick flick but I do recommend it.

Today I am a little sore but okay. I slept pretty well as well. Now we just wait for the results. Grrr... So my stress level is down a little bit but at least I didn't go camping with a bear like my sister in law did!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Waiting is hell

But yesterday I was in the waiting room from hell. First of all I procrastinated a tiny bit and was running a little late (but avoided all school bus delays even though I turned around after starting to come back home and make sure the stove was off) and arrived at the parking garage to find a line of cars backed up three deep at the entrance in both lanes. Apparently, it was backed up the entire length of the garage! That definitely was not a good start. It took quite a while to get into the damn garage and find a space, far away from the morons who don't realize there is someone behind them and start to turn into the space on the right, now maybe that one on the left, but wait, that one over there looks better. And never mind using turn indicators or looking in the rear view mirror. Finally I park and walk rather quickly down to the nuclear medicine department.

I check in and was given another lovely bracelet to add to my collection and told to have a seat. Its not a large waiting room - maybe 20 seats. There were a couple of women who were together a few couples, one woman in a wheel chair and a small family which consisted of husband and wife and grandfather AND a 3 year old who was not being supervised or disciplined in any way for playing light saber with a rolled up piece of paper and running in and out of the waiting room, out into the hall, out of sight of the parents, who were ignoring him. The grandfather did tell him to leave the lady in the wheel chair alone but otherwise they didn't say anything to him. To get his mother's attention, who was deep in conversation with her husband, he would yell "Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom" about ten times and then she would would say "What?" and then would tell the child "do you want to go home?" Home is probably where this child should have been. Running around a hospital, especially in the area full of radioactive materials is probably not a very good thing. It was very stressful to sit there and be light sabered. (Don't get me wrong, I like kids. I don't like bad parenting.)

Shortly after I was rescued from the waiting room by this nice technician who couldn't find a vein for my injection so she had to start an IV in the back of my hand. The back of the hand for IV's is relatively painful but it wasn't there long. I was told to return in 3 hours. To fill this interlude, first I called a friend who works there and was unable to make contact. Then I called my therapist and found I could be fit in an hour later. To fill that hour, I made a very important trip to Kohl's buy one get one free sandal sale. Nothing like new shoes to make you feel better. (Walter does sometimes call me Imelda so I might as well live up to my name.) I got to wear my new gold sparkly ones later in the day to put me in a good mood.

Then after a session with my therapist and a salad for lunch I was ready for the rest of my adventure. I went back to the same lovely waiting room but luckily the bad parenting family was gone so it was rather peaceful. Another technician came and got me and I had the scan. Basically you lie down on your back and they scan you from head to toe in six sections, for about three minutes per section. They started with my head and moved down my body. Every time I almost feel asleep, the table would move to the next section and wake me up. However it was rather restful. Now I just wait for results. I am not sure when I will get them - probably on Monday.

Speaking of restful, it was nice to hear Senator Kennedy had a successful surgery and that he was up and walking around a day after. What I don't understand is that they stated he had a restful night in the hospital. Excuse me? I have never had a restful night in the hospital in my life! They are always in and out for something. My support group thought perhaps he had an armed guard at the door to prevent anyone from taking his vitals in the middle of the night or something.

Now today is the big adventure - squishing and needles. Probably followed by steri strips. I am so excited I can't wait! I hope to be home by mid day. I am moderately stressed. Well, now not moderately, possibly very stressed or even severely stressed. I also have prescriptions for this. It was recommended I take half a pill before going. I think I will do so. Then the waiting begins. This afternoon after I return I will watch "27 Dresses" to make me feel better. I might do some work from home but am not sure. It will depend how I feel. Oh, and I have a phone interview for a good job this evening.

Needless to say, while I sit here and type I am PROCRASTINATING (wouldn't you be?). I still have to eat breakfast, take a shower, send a couple emails for work, and leave here in an hour and 10 minutes. Perhaps I should get moving????

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two giant snapping turtles and counting

Yes I have seen two of these ugly things recently. Last week while driving to Lahey (where else do I go), there was one on the side of the road (protected by orange traffic cones) which is a short cut along some wetlands. His shell was at least a foot long!

Then yesterday, I went out on the bike path near us after work and there was a slightly smaller one on the side of the bike path. His shell was probably 10" long. I took his picture with my cell phone (and if I can ever figure out how to get it from my phone to my computer I might even post it). He was probably crossing from the wetlands on one side to the other. (However now I know not to ever go swimming in the little pond!!!!) The weird thing was when I went back that way about 20 minutes later he was gone. So he either walked really fast for a turtle and crossed the bike path or turned around really quickly and went back down into the wetlands. About 15 years ago, I saw one on the bike path in about the same area. You don't see them often.

Yesterday my phone rang at 10 of 8 in the morning. Who calls that early? Well it was a friend who had the day off and wanted to go for a walk so we did. It was a nice way to start the day.Then I did remember to run my errands and pick up my prescriptions before going to work.

Today is scheduled nap day, I mean bone scan day. Last year I took a nap during my bone scan so I will probably do the same this year. I have to be there at 9 for the injection, which means leaving here at 820 and trying to avoid all the school buses. Then I am going sandal shopping and to run some errands and maybe meet a friend for lunch before going back for my scan at 1245. An all day adventure at Lahey. I hope to be home by 2 so I can get some work done before my support group.


I was offered the option of taking the Ted Kennedy approach to medical issues and going sailing today but unfortunately I will have to opt for my current schedule.

Monday, June 2, 2008

But now I feel really stupid

Saturday I went to the library. Upon checking out, I was informed I still had one overdue book. They gave me the name and author and I went home to look. I started in all the obvious places - the living room, under and next to my bed and quickly moved on to taking all my books out of my bookcase. I spent an hour looking and basically gave up. I decided either I must have sold it to the used paperback book store we went to a few weeks ago or that I left it in the hotel when we went away.

Sunday morning I discovered the book sitting in the middle of the coffee table in the living room. Its the only book on the coffee table and there really isn't that much other junk. I obviously am just really stupid sometimes.

Otherwise, I had a nice day - once I got over my stupidity. We went out for a long walk and had breakfast at the diner. I had an egg beater omelette with toast and only a little bit of cheese. We ran some errands and then I went to a bridal shower - imagine that - me at a social event! I hadn't seen some people in quite some time. It was very nice, good food, and I also met a bunch of new people.

We had an invasion this weekend. On Saturday I went to take a shower and found TEN ants in the bath tub - yuck! Yesterday I only had to kill off four before showering. (I have adapted to killing ants. Anything else, I pick up and move out side. Ants I do not consider to be worthy of the move. They get terminated.) We put out a bunch of ant traps (no they are not organic or anything but they will prevent us from a major infestation) and got some spray for outside. If this doesn't work , we need to pay the exterminator many hundreds of dollars for them to come regularly to get them under control. Too bad the cat won't chase them down for us. He got rid of the mice that way!

One side effect of all this stress is insomnia. I have been up since 3. I couldn't get back to sleep. I am sure I will end up crabby as a result.

Today I will go for a walk, pick up prescriptions, go to work, and that's about it. Possibly some house cleaning but don't count on it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Today I feel a little smarter

No I didn't say a little less stressed, just a little smarter. See I did some research. I found out what a stereotactic core biopsy is and I had some people confirm what it was like. Basically you lie on a table face down with your breast in a hole. The table is raised and they squish it like for a mammogram and stick needles into you. On a scale of 1-10 for fun and enjoyment, I'll put this at about a -35. In my experience the needles they use to deaden the area are more painful than anything else. Also, this involves needles of which I am not too fond. Any bets as to if I will end up with steri strips as well? The itchy little buggers!

I also reread my own blog from last year (since I have chemo brain and can't remember anything) and learned that the bone scan is very boring and a good time for a nap. I will plan my nap schedule accordingly.

Another event which made me feel oh so smart was that yesterday the phone rang and the woman on the on the other end was from a summer camp looking for Mary who needed camp for her 5 year old. She was very embarrassed. I had called the camp as part of one of my part time jobs which is why she had my number. Anyhow, it makes me feel so much better after getting all confused with children on summer program wait lists that we had last week at work.

Yesterday I also did all kinds of things. I met friends for coffee, went to the farm stand, the bank, the library, and two consignment stores where I got a deal on four tops and a pair of earrings. Retail therapy has been proven to relieve stress.

Today, Walter and I have a plan. We are going for a walk and out for breakfast and then to run some errands. Then I am going to a bridal shower. I am working at keeping myself very busy. When busy I cannot dwell and stress. When bored, I do dwell and stress. Off to my busy day!