Sunday, August 31, 2008

I won!

I am not gloating or anything but I won! We played miniature golf yesterday. We said we would just play one game. But I won by one point so Walter demanded a second game. Then I won by 7 points. Yippee!! (And he only pouted a little...)

Perhaps cancer improved my mini golf skills? Or its a positive side effect of all my treatments? Hmmm... I don't know. I don't really care. But now instead of losing consistently, I am mostly winning! Hah!

I also got to drive the new car yesterday. That was fun. Its a nice zippy little thing that has a tendency to have us going faster than we think (watch out for the speeding tickets!) We took an unexpected quick trip into Boston to deliver boxes to my friend's son at school so I got to see how it does in the city too. (Other than scaring the crap out of my husband with my Boston driving skills in the new car,) it was fine. It has a nice small turning radius and was fine for passing the stupid people from out of town who are lost... Tourists! Grrr!!! I grew up in a tourist town and have absolutely no patience for the morons who are arguing with their spouse as they try to read a map to figure out where the next historic marker is. They are closely related to stressed out college student parents who are concerned about leaving their 'baby' in the big city and are lost as well. (Mean while, their 'baby' is just waiting for the next party to start.)

Today, we were going to go hiking. We were trying to round up some friends to go with us. Apparently all of our friends lead much more exciting lives than we do and had other plans so we are going to the beach instead. We are leaving soon to beat the crowds, taking the sunday paper, getting muffins on the way. We will stop for clams on the way home as well. Quite a fun day. But then I really, really, really, really, really, really, really have to get some work done this afternoon. (But I won at mini golf - gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat, gloat.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our new baby

No, its not a real baby. Its a car. (In case you had problems telling the two apart.) We are all excited. It was a stressful week between selling the old car and buying the new one. And trying to fit work in around this. We brought it home Thursday night and didn't drive it all day yesterday. Today we will drive it. We will go play mini golf.

Yesterday I worked hard but not as hard as Walter. He went for a bike ride, took down the old fence, sanded the metal fence posts and painted some, sprayed for ants, and then he had to recover. Me, I only worked at home for a while, got my hair cut (curly poodle look is ALMOST gone but unfortunately the gray highlights seems to be permanent), then I met a friend for a walk, and made us another healthy, yummy dinner. Then we played scrabble where I only lost by about 50 points. (What was I supposed to do with I, I, I, I, M, N, Q?)

Yesterday I also noticed my basil plants. Earlier this summer I bought a basil plant and put it in the window where it promptly died. Probably from lack of water but I am not sure. Then I bought four little basil plants and planted two in a pot together for inside and two separately in pots outside. The one in the front of the house is doing okay. The one in the back of the house is doing awesome. But the ones inside weren't doing too well so I brought them outside and put them near the one doing really well - based on the premise that if one was happy there, then the others should be. But then one of the two I brought out, immediately died. Then yesterday, look what I found??? Some furry woodland creature dug up my basil plant and KILLED IT!!! Grr! Maybe we need a outdoor cat to patrol the back yard 24/7.

Last night I was really trying for a good night's sleep. I can only really sleep on my back these days (because of my stupid gall bladder and bursitis) and was doing just fine until FIVE AM when a small furry resident decided to join us and knead his claws into my scalp (he was probably admiring my new hair cut but he could have waited a bit longer.)

Then he was a royal PITA and purred really loudly while we were trying to get back to sleep. Then he knocked over all my pill bottles (we think he thinks they are kitty treats). Then he sharpened his claws on the bedroom carpet. Then he threw up on the carpet. Then we threw him out of the bedroom. But by that point it was useless to try to get back to sleep.

Now also my back is achy because I slept in the same position for so long. Walter brought me coffee in the 'No Whining' mug and said it was a hint.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Two Party System At Home

Well maybe we have the three party system (the cat clearly belongs to the KT (kitty treat) party and is lobbying for the rights of indoor cats - especially to remove the barriers to allow them outside). Last night our one registered Democrat and our one registered Republican decided to watch the Democratic National Convention, together. (This will never happen again.) Our conversation was as follows:

"I'm going to throw up."
"Will you be quiet?"
"He said the exact opposite of that two weeks ago."
"I'm trying to listen to the speeches here."
"That's not a convention - its a rock concert with a few politicians."
"Look, SHUT UP."
And finally, "I'm going upstairs to read so I don't have nightmares." (well, I didn't say the nightmares part but I did think it.)

We had never watched a political convention together before. At the last election, my husband was mobilized in the army and probably conveniently out of town at the time. We will never watch another political convention together again. Its just as bad if we watch local access TV and see town meetings in progress... I think the two of us will unite and work to disband the KT party's efforts instead. And keep our thoughts to ourselves on the presidential race in the interest of pleasant conversation.

In the meantime, yesterday was a VERY frazzling day. I went to work (big mistake) and there were 21 phone messages from one day! It took me an hour to get the 21 messages because the (damn) phone kept ringing and I kept answering it. Then the phone rang nonstop all morning and there was a steady stream of people dropping by to register for classes and ask questions. I ended up staying later than I wanted, got home too late to do the work I needed from home. then I had to rush to go get my nails done because I had forgotten about that appointment. Then we went to pick up our new car. Finally, we settle down to relax and its the damn convention on TV!

Thankfully there are only a few more days for the Republican National Convention (which we wont be watching together in the interest of marital harmony) and then the world of TV watching will return to normal finally. For the past month, it has been Olympics, DNC and then the RNC. All our favorite shows have been reruns. When will the new fall season start? Soon I hope. (See being part of the TV watching problem again...)

Today, I have to work, get my hair cut (didn't forget that appointment), meet a friend for a walk, and then go out to dinner with another friend. I also have work from home for three different groups. Some how I will squish it all in. However, when I am busy and running around I don't get to obsess about the foods I can't eat because of my stupid gall bladder. But a friend yesterday did offer to eat fried foods for me so I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rocket scientist vs. darwinist

Yesterday afternoon I drove by two teenagers in my neighborhood who were either rocket scientists or darwinists. One was walking his bike up a steep hill on the wrong side of the road, while talking on his cell phone and smoking a cigarette (Actually I found his multitasking abilities amusing as he had his phone held to his ear with his shoulder so he could smoke and push his bike at the same time). The other was walking in the middle of the road (which was a quiet little road), while listening to his iPod. Which has the longer life expectancy? The answer is C: they are teenagers so they are immortal.

Back when we were all young (well we were all young once but that may be many, many years ago), we were immortal. Cancer and all sorts of medical adventures were for old people. Those were the people who were really old - I mean at least 50 or something. Then as we age, we start getting ailments... But still, those nasty things were for the old people, at least 70 or something. Then when you get diagnosed with bad things, you decided we are all too young for this crap and if you are going to get bad things, you should at least be 90. Instead of being in your forties and feeling like you have the medical chart of a centenarian. (That's a big word for so early in the day - sometimes I even impress myself.) The answer to the question of when do you cease to be too old to lose the crap shoot of the medical diagnoses is approximately twice your current age or a minimum of 20 years older than your current age.

All of us lucky people with numerous ailments ask ourselves, what did I do to deserve this crappy roll of the dice of life? Why me? Did I play in toxic waste as a child? Not that I remember. Did I eat too much processed food? I think I ate less than the average American as my mother was always making us eat weird natural stuff. (I hate groats.) There are all sorts of theories on how to reduce your risk of bad things and increase your life expectancy. Eat your veggies, cut down or skip meat, drink no alcohol, well maybe a little, no tobacco use (especially while riding your bike), and don't walk down the street listening to your iPod. We all do what we can.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A little lesson

So my gall stone is coming out along with my gall bladder in a couple of weeks. (Anatomy lesson time) Basically your liver makes bile that is stored in the gall bladder. When you eat fatty food your body tells your gall bladder 'hey send me some bile to break down this food'. The gall bladder releases the bile and sends it into your intestine to help digest the food. When you have a gall stone that is in the way, when the gall bladder releases the bile, the stone causes it to spasm, which makes for all sorts of icky pain and other nasty sensations.

When they do the surgery, they make four little holes to stick instruments and cameras and all sorts of crap to snip off the gall bladder and pull it out. Sometimes (10-15% of the time) they get in there and find that the gall bladder is hiding in a weird position, or can't get a good view of where to snip, or any other reason they can come up with and they change from four little bitty holes, to one big incision. Four little bitty holes means you go home the same day and take about a week to recover. One big incision means 3-5 days in the hospital and 3-5 weeks to recover. Guess which one I am rooting for???

The good news is once you have the surgery, you no longer can have gall bladder attacks (that is just soooo logical). The bad news is that there is no guarantee the pain in my side (that is basically there all the time like a side ache) will go away with the surgery.

Next week I go in for my preop crap. Conveniently it is not on the same day as any other appointments so I get to spend two quality half days at Lahey next week. One for my preop and one for my next liver MRI. I can't wait. The MRI is the pain in the butt test where you have to lie there and inhale and exhale on command - basically holding your breath for seemingly long periods of time. But that is next week. (Currently I only have 9 (count them NINE) appointments scheduled in the month of September. I did have ten but one was a preop consult we did on the phone. I am sure that number will increase after surgery because I will have follow up appointments.)

This week I get to just worry about normal stuff. What to do with the millions of tomatoes I have all of a sudden is a good thing to worry about. I might make sauce. Also, I have a lot of work to do these days. This morning I need to get off my butt and go out for a walk so I can come home and get to work.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I survived bureaucracy and other miscellany

Yesterday was a big day. I survived dealing with many bureaucracies. First I dealt with our favorite, the registry of motor vehicles. I had to find out about selling our old car - did we need to have the actual title or not. Of course they don't put this piece of information on line - as that would be HELPFUL. I got to call and be on hold for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes a car salesman beeped in and I was able to renegotiate the price of our new car. But the registry cut me off of hold during that call so I had to call back and wait and additional 20 minutes to speak to someone for 10 seconds to find out what I needed.

Then I dealt with the car dealer and got to fill in lots of paperwork. (I do admit to a tiny bit of chemo brain as I drove right by the dealer, even though I was there on Sunday...) Nothing like a heart stopping moment when they say 'your deposit check won't go through!' Yikes, I gave him my debit card instead and called the back at the same time. My first thought was that someone compromised our account and we have no money left. But the money is there. That got my pulse going. Stupid little check checking machine.

Then I picked up a friend's son at the airport to get him checked in for college (and his mother thought he was lost and wasn't answering his phone but the battery was dead...) Then we got him checked into his 'lovely' cinder block dorm room. (I also admit to going the 'long way' home as the stupid ramp I wanted was closed due to road construction but I beat rush hour traffic which is the most important thing.)

I also managed to write up a bill of sale so we could sell Walter's old car, find the title to the car, and arrange for someone to come buy it.

(Did you notice I managed to fit in taking more pictures of my garden to bore you all?)

All in one day. I do feel accomplished. I also got some work done. But I didn't get all the work done I needed. Today I have to get caught up. but I also need to go for my morning walk, take my car for an oil change, and get to my support group. How am I suppsed to have time to play on line if I have to work too??? Grr...

Monday, August 25, 2008

A day of car salesmen

We went to three dealerships and made a decision yesterday. Today we get to wrap it up and finalize the deal. (First does anyone want to buy a car? 1996 Altima for sale, $750, needs work and a starter.) The first dealer we went to was a nice guy and let us both test drive the car. We also looked at some other cars in the lot. He was just nice. But we wanted to drive more than one car and his deal we thought wasn't so hot so off we went.

The second dealer was impossible to get into as the driveway was right next to a highway entrance ramp. Then we couldn't find the building. Then we couldn't find the guy. Finally, we find the guy and the car and he sent us off for a test drive without him. Then we came back and had to wait around and wait around for him to reappear. No deal offer at all.

Last, we went to a giant dealer which had a receptionist who didn't speak English, the sales manager we were told to ask for wasn't there so we dealt with another guy who gave us to a sales rep who had no authority and wouldn't give us prices or let us walk around the lot. His first question was what color car do we want? (I hate car dealers who do that.) Every time I asked him for a number, he said he would have to find out. Or its the new 09's and I dont have that memorized yet. Finally, he showed us two cars and tried to get us to make an offer. Their deal was only slightly better than the first dealer. We said we needed to discuss it and would get back to him.

After consulting with our automotive advisor (my brother who is a gear head), we decided to go with the car from the first dealer but will ask him to meet the third dealer's price. Mostly because we liked him best - easiest to deal with and no run around.

Car shopping is a horrible experience. However its much better than in previous years as the customer is now educated and knows what the dealer invoice is. But the invoice price is also just another number that the dealer gets incentives from the manufacturers so it is definitely not carved in stone. What I thought was interesting is that at the last dealer they didn't want to give us prices but every car in the lot has a window sticker on it. Their ploy ws to keep the customers in the building and bring the cars up to the customers - so they can't walk around and see what exactly is available and how much it is. That is why they will not get our business.

More importantly, I was right. Lahey was trying to call me on Friday. The unknown phone calls were from the preadmissions department for my upcoming gall bladder adventure. They work seven days a week and called me yesterday. Now I found out I am ill prepared for this - I dont have a living will or health care proxy (I keep meaning to but forgetting - you would think after this many medical adventures I would) and I am not an organ donor (but I don't think they want mine after chemo, etc anyway). Well, I can work on the living will and health care proxy in the next few weeks.

Today, for a change, I am off for a walk and then work at home. How exciting. Then I am going to the airport to pick up a friend's son who is coming out here for college. I hope to beat the traffic back out of the city but am not sure this will be possible. But I am doing a good thing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Life with Caller ID

Back in the dark ages, when we were growing up, we all had dial telephones that were leased from Ma Bell (talk about a monopoly - what a ripoff) but then came the great AT&T breakup and all the baby bells. Then we got fun options on our phones (anyone remember paying for touch tone access - or are we still doing that?). Then came answering machines and then voice mail and then the ultimate spy thing - caller ID. We could screen our calls.

Now does anyone answer their phone without looking at the little window to see who it is first? Or for the really lazy who have voice announce caller ID, wait to hear who it is before moving a muscle towards the phone? We always know who it is who calls and only answer the ones we want. Its dinner time, its a friend, you don't answer. Working at home, its your employer, you don't answer. Working at home, its your spouse or friend, you do answer. (Do you screen your friend's calls or only some of them???)

Friday I went out to work for a few hours and I came home and there were two messages which had a caller name of Unknown. Who is 'unknown'? I have no idea. (Well, duh, its unknown.) But the hospital when they call is often 'unknown' but why would they call me? I don't have an appointment for 10 days (and then I have five visits during the month of September alone). Now someone else could have called twice who is 'unknown' but I really don't know who it could be. However with my health issues, its probably some stupid doctor... If its important, they'll call back (and I won't read anything else into the 'unknown' calling me).

Yesterday, we actually went to the horse races and had a good time. We met the wedding party for my sister's wedding next year and had cake for my father's birthday. We also bet on horse races. I picked my usual highly skilled method of 'I like the horse's name/color of jockey silks/name of trainer' method and came out ahead $9.80. My husband did great research and bet based on scientific analysis and came out about the same. Needless to say we aren't quitting our day jobs anytime soon to be gambling addicts. But we did have fun.

Today, we get to deal with car salesmen. Do you think we will run into rocket scientists???? Probably.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who is smarter - cats or dogs?

I actually received an email yesterday from PetAge on how to determine who is smarter - cats or dogs. I didn't bother to go through the survey as I do not have a dog to compare to the cat. The cat who thinks he is so smart because he has learned how to sneak out the front door and nap under the bushes in front of the house while waiting for unsuspecting critters to come along that he can munch on - so much for catfood being his main source of food.

Well today's big news is that my husband's car got towed home from work last night. This is the first incident after the last repair which was to be the 'last' repair. Car shopping is on our horizon this weekend as a result. The real question is if we buy a new car - who gets to drive it? I think as the sick person who needs reliable transportation to go to doctors appointments, I should get it. He thinks because he needs to go to work, he should get it. We will have to negotiate.

Actually today we are off for a morning walk (a/k/a death march) and then a little car shopping before a family event this afternoon. Its actually at the local horse track - I haven't been to a horse race since 1981 when I went to the Chili Cook Off and Jalapeno Pepper Eating Contest at the Lexington KY track (and I still have the t-shirt). It should be interesting. Otherwise, my gall bladder doesn't like me. If I sleep on my right side my gall bladder hurts, if I sleep on my left side my bursitis hurts and if I sleep on my stomach the cat sleeps on my head. I hate sleeping on my back. (It might even make me crabby.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Adventures in dining out

Around here this week, and last week as well, its Boston Restaurant Week (which really lasts two weeks now and some restaurants have the week last a month, but who's counting). Anyhow its a special deal with restaurants offer lower priced, fixed menus in an effort to get people to go out and try different restaurants they couldn't necessarily afford.

Last week we went to a seafood restaurant where the food was pretty good but the service just wasn't there. I mean you aren't supposed to have to wait ten minutes to be greeted after being seated, are you? Or, if you want to sell the specials you should tell the patrons before you say 'are you ready to order?' Or, isn't the wait person supposed to come over and ask how your food is a few minutes after you are served? Needless to say, while the food was good, the service wasn't and the wine was pricey. We probably won't return.

Last night, on the other hand we went to a different restaurant and had very good service and very good food. But I just don't understand how wait staff can take your order and not write it down. I understand the premise - they don't want staff scribbling and if they just walk over to the computer and enter the order, it should be no problem. But what if someone side tracks them before they get over to the computer and they have to try to remember what that table told them as opposed to all the other orders taken that evening.

When I mentioned this to my husband, he pointed out that the wait staff probably didn't have chemo brain or whoopsy brain and should have no problems remembering like most normal people. He also mentioned that he wasn't sure that my brain capacity would have been there for this previously - not that I was ever a space cadet but that perhaps I was at a low orbit. Personally, I am not offended by this. I do now have the perfect excuse for being a space cadet and will milk it for all its worth.

Even though we enjoyed our dinner and like eating out, I have learned that my gall bladder doesn't always like eating out. Its much easier to eat for a happy gall bladder at home when one controls what goes into the food than out at restaurants where too often they are full of oil and fats. Its not that my gall bladder hates me its just that it makes its presence known when I eat things it doesn't like. Well, only four more weeks of dealing with this and no more gall bladder (but who's counting?).

Yesterday, I actually got alot of work done. Today I will have to work hard again - I have a busy schedule. What's with this part time work business, work from home in your pajamas, if you have to work all day? I am supposed to be able to take breaks and do other stuff (including finding the cat after he sneaks out and takes a nap under the bushes in the front yard as he waits for more birds to land in his territory).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More news

Okay, I am in a rut. Here's more news but none of it really surprised me:

- The US women's team won the beach volleyball gold medal and are undefeated in more than 100 matches. I can't remember the exact number. It seems the only thing to derail the pair will be their thoughts on retirement to have children. I heard earlier in the games, they might be considering it. I can understand it. It must be kind of boring to win all the time... Where's the challenge? Raising children? Now that could be a challenge.

- Russian troops don't seem to be leaving Georgia. Does that surprise anyone? Not really. Hmm... They said they would and signed an agreement. Maybe they just forgot to tell the troops to leave.

- China is on top of civil rights again. Two women, 77 and 79, are sentenced to a year of reeducation through labor (that's right, a labor camp) for APPLYING for a permit to protest eviction. Look at their picture - they really look like government security risks to me. Also, more foreign activitists are being held by the Chinese government.

- And illegal factory knockoffs seem to be flourishing in China. Not that this is any kind of surprise. But this is an example of how different news casts tell you different things. On the evening news last night was a big story on how the days of cheap labor in China are over and manufacturing is shifting to Vietnam as costs are going up. Hmmm... Perhaps some proactive anti-counterfeiting legislation and action in Vietnam could prevent the counterfeiting from gaining ground there.

Nothing like watching the news to keep your blood pressure up. Also, I can use it as a cover to hide my boring life. The only exciting thing yesterday, other than the fact that I worked a lot and the cat tried to escape but didn't, was I got my schedule of preoperative appointments yesterday. They are scheduled for Sept 3 and consist of 3 consecutive appointments - preadmission, physicians assistant, and then pre-op center. I will bring a book and a snack as it goes through lunch time and expect to be there for a couple hours. I did call to reschedule as the very next day I get to go back for my MRI which consists of a prep appointment to put in the IV and then the actual MRI so I will spend another couple of hours at the hospital. (Its not hard to schedule the MRI, its hard to schedule the physician's assistant.) Two days in a row. This will fill my social calendar for the week. Can't wait. I tried to reschedule to combine them into the same day but its not possible. Oh well. I can look for OMWAHs and rocket scientists again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Newsflash

The first newsflash of the day is that summer appears to be missing. I am not a fan of hot weather - actually being a New Englander I consider anything over 80 degrees hot. But this morning it is 50 degrees. Yes that is right 5-0. It is cold. It might hit the mid-70's today. It feels like fall. But actually its really nice out and I am going for a walk (but I'll be in a sweatshirt).

Now here's more news - lots of cancer patients write blogs. This was reported in today's Boston Globe. (I actually knew this article was coming up and had offered to contribute but missed the deadline.) I do find it interesting how many people do have blogs or CarePages or whatever to chronicle their illness.

I am not sure how many millions of blogs are out there on the internet these days and I am sure that 90% of them consist of two entries: Day 1: 'I started a blog. Be sure to check back on what's going on.' Day 37: 'I forgot to update my blog. I don't seem to have much going on in my life. Today I took out the trash before going to work and have tuna fish for lunch.' And we are now at day 542 with no further entries.

One thing in the article I found interesting is that it corraborates my thoughts that writing for cancer or other medical patients is therapeutic. Over the centuries, when faced with illness many have documented it in journals or letters. Blogs are just the Web 2.0 way of dealing with medical trauma.

However in modern times, where privacy is much more of an issue than before, many bloggers need to remember not to open up too much of themselves on the internet, not just in a blog but anywhere. Anything that is online can be read by anyone. If you write about your boss, your boss could read about it. If you slam someone, they could slam you back. If you give out your email and address, anyone, including the guy in some former Soviet Republic, could use them to steal your identity. If its on the internet, it might as well be on a billboard on the side of the highway in every city worldwide. So think before you write. I do. My mother reads my blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Its different for everybody

Yesterday I went to the doctor with a friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She goes to a different hospital than I do. I found it interesting how different the treatment plans were for her vs. what i received. Some parts were the same but some were different. Her recommended chemotherapy is the same drugs administered differently than what I received. She is having more tests that I ever did before surgery. Needless to say, it was educational. It was nice not being the patient for once, and to be the support person and writer for answers to all her questions. It just reinforces that everyone's cancer is different and is treated differently.

Today, I get to call and deal with my appointments. Sometimes I think they do these things just to confuse us patients. (If we are confused, maybe we can't complain as much.) I have several different doctors who want me to come back and see them. Some of them say come back in X months and immediately you get a little reminder in the mail saying the date of your follow up appointment. Other doctors you never seem to hear from with a follow up appointment. The surgeon wants me to come back in December as a follow up to my June appointment. I called to ask and they said they aren't scheduling December appointments yet but I should have the date sometime in September. One of my other doctors wanted me to come back in October after my June appointment. I didn't hear anything and didn't worry about it. Then I was talking to her office and asked about the rescheduling and apparently they missed the note and now she doesn't have any openings in October so I go back into see her in September instead. So now in addition to remembering when I am supposed to go back and see my doctors, I also need to remember which ones schedule months ahead and which ones work on short notice.

I also have a follow MRI in a couple of weeks. When I scheduled it, I was told I needed a blood test due to the contrast agent and should go down to the lab to have it done. So I went. But inthe mail yesterday I received a reminder to go for my blood test. Now I have to call them and find out if I need more blood work. Grr. More confusion for us patients. Just to keep us on our toes.

Today's big excitment is I am going for a walk before working at home and going to my support group. How is that for an exciting life? Maybe its time for more pictures of the garden or the cat.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fun at the beach

Yesterday, we got up early and went to the beach. I never go to the beach on sunny, summer weekend days because its too crowded, I burn easily, and its expensive. We considered going to a park on the ocean which does not have a beach but I really, really, really, really, really wanted to go to the beach. So we compromised. We got up early, stopped and got muffins (the bribe for Walter is to stop at the Gingerbread Construction Company for muffins anytime we go anywhere), and then got to the beach before 9 am. We were in the second row of cars in the parking lot - it was really empty. We got a nice space on the sand, with the breeze and far enough down so that we were past the worst of the crowds. We had our muffins and went for a walk. By the time we got back, many thousands of people had shown up and some had even infringed on our little spot. We didn't go swimming but did wade in to our waists. We left at 12 and went out for clams - steamed ones to keep the gall bladder happy. There was a line of cars down the road waiting to get in to the beach as well so I think we timed our visit quite nicely.

Today I am going for a walk and then doing some work from home. Then I am going to the doctor with a friend. But this time I am not the patient. Quite a nice change I think.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I have a new ailment

This is from my husband: he claims I have whoopsy-brain which causes me to make irrational decisions. I personally believe he just does not understand Caroline logic which has caused him to make this misdiagnosis.

Today we are off to have fun outside - by the ocean. We dont know quite where we are going yet because of whoopsy-brain but I am sure we will figure it out on the way there.

Yesterday we went for a walk and then did household work. I went out to dinner with some friends for a bachelorette party. It was nice to see everyone but of course I got tired and had to leave early. Now the question of the day is: If the posted speed limit is 35 MPH and there is light traffic, how fast would you drive? A: 50, B: 40, C: 35, or D: 27. Well, I found an OMWAH masquerading as a lost college student driving at 27 MPH while chewing on her fingernails. She looked very lost but at least she wasn't talking on her cell phone at the same time.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My birthday present

Now I know what I am getting (or doing) for my birthday - gall bladder surgery. I did want to have my surgery the following week but the surgeon only had scheduled surgery dates in September of the 12th and the 19th. All the other days he does trauma surgery instead. I picked the 19th as on the 12th we will be going to Maine for Walter's birthday. Now that I have that date I can schedule the rest of my life and figure out when I can work, etc. Also , it works well as Walter will be home for the weekend while I am recuperating.

One thing I have been perfecting recently is procrastinating. Here it is Saturday and I should have worked more this week. Some of it I can make up this weekend but some of it I can't so I will just be behind again... Grrr. I hate it when that happens.

One of my key stall for work techniques is to surf the internet because you never know what you can find there. Then I get sick of my computer and go out to the garden and admire the flowers, vegetables and weeds. This week I got to combine the two. Someone sent me a link to a YouTube video on gardening.

Today we are off for a walk as it is another tropical Boston day - 60 degrees and foggy. They claim tomorrow will be in the 80's so we are going to the ocean somewhere and Monday will be 90 but I won't believe it until I see it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hair update

It was a year ago today that I woke up on the day of my second round of chemo and my hair was falling out. We have since progressed through bald, chia pet, and sheep's butt look onto the poodle look. My grandparents had poodles. They were nice dogs. Probably nicer than sheep but I am not a dog person. The cat likes my hair. But I don't. I need another hair cut. Perhaps all the curly crappy stuff will be cut off and my original hair will begin to return. We shall see.

Yesterday I watched more obscure sports in the Olympics - Dressage. One reason it is so obscure is that the German team has won the all round gold medal 7 Olympics in a row. That means they have won continually since 1984. The Netherlands I think was second. Some American, I wasn't really paying attention, I believe came in 21st.

Don't tell anyone but yesterday I didn't really do any work. I should have worked for about 4 hours but I didn't. I went shopping and organized my office. I also met a friend for coffee and got my nails done. It was sort of a day off. Today now I have lots and lots of work to do.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Olympics

I figure its time to write about the Olympics since its what's on everyone's mind. We have the basic questions of how does Michael Phelps win all those races - and not sink to the bottom of the pool after eating 12,000 calories a day? (I heard a quote on the radio yesterday that all he does in Beijing is eat, sleep, and swim.) Then there is the ever controversial question of the age of the Chinese women's gymnastic teams - they really don't look 16. And what is with that really weird bandage/brace on the shoulder of the US woman's volleyball player? Its a bunch of weird black straps.

What I really want to know is where do all these sports come from? I know some sports, such as ping pong are just not that big here in the US, but I bet if I really wanted I could watch them regularly on some obscure cable channel. I don't think the US is in medal contention there. (Okay Forrest Gump played ping pong but that was Hollywood, a/k/a not real.) But synchronized swimming you do hear about occasionally but synchronized diving? Who knew the US had a team that was in medal contention? Rhythmic gymnastics is another one you just don't hear about, as well as badminton (its a sport played in people's back yards when they are sick of volley ball). I know there are other sports that are part of the Olympics that I can't even think of this early in the day.

Another question I have is why China for the Olympics? Was this meant to be their chance to show the world they are a modern country? They have some of the worst pollution I have seen - you can see the haze in the air on TV. They bulldozed neighborhoods to build Olympic facilities and (this is my favorite - think of it as a giant bandaid) they built 8' walls to hide businesses and homes so no one could see the poverty and real life on the streets of Beijing. We also won't even talk about the human rights, Three Gorges Dam, Tibet/Dalai Lama, Tiannamen Square, and the one child policy that has made wife stealing a modern crime. Okay, I am sure every city that has hosted the Olympics in recent years has been guilty of leveling neighborhoods to create space for the Olympic village but I wonder how generous the relocation packages were in Beijing? Anyhow it is a nice change in television coverage for two weeks this summer.

Anyhow, today is another day in my boring life. Here's a surprise. I will go for a walk and work from home and then am meeting a friend. How exciting! I am even getting my nails done.

Yesterday, I did go outside and garden for an hour in the sunshine. We had a sunny day for the first time in weeks. Today is cloudy and gloomy again but they promise Sunday will be nice again. Also, I went to the radiation oncologist for a follow up yesterday. She said, other than the fact that I amazingly had another bad mammogram in June (we already went that round on the roller coaster of life) and I have a follow up with the medical oncologist in October and the surgeon in December, that she doesn't need to see me again until March as everything else is normal, or healing normally. All the random pains I get are a normal part of the healing process for some lucky people. Red skin from radiation still is normal. Blah, blah, blah, blah. But why can't you get a clean mammogram? Grrr!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Its all in the news

Forget the internet, we can learn everything we need by reading the paper and watching TV - just like we did before th internet. Last night on the news was an article on breast cancer recurrence rates. Basically, the longer you live, the less likely you are to have a recurrence. I am not so sure that is all that reassuring. As the article states, the risk never goes away, it is just reduced. And you have to get to that five year timeline first of all. Now actually they treat cancer as a chronic disease, not a terminal one. Can you get a chronic disease twice? Well I did.

Also on the news yesterday was an article about finding your personality when you get a cancer diagnosis. I totally agree with the author on this one. Its important to keep your sense of humor when faced with a medical diagnosis. It is also a prime opportunity to do something different with your life. (I wouldn't mind finding medical technicians who can put in an IV or needle on the FIRST try and not leave a big black and blue mark.)

Another article on the news this morning. The Unabomber is upset about the museum display of his cabin. He says, and I quote: “has obvious relevance to the victims’ objection to the publicity connected with the Unabom case.” I am not sure he is in any position to complain as he terrorized the country for 18 years and is now serving a life sentence.

A friend sent me this article the other day - on John Edwards narcissism. He had an affair, while his wife had cancer, and he lied about it. Other than the part about cancer, this just puts John Edwards in the same category as a lot of other politicians. He had an affair and he lied about it (when was the last time a politician had an affair and admitted it?). He is just getting more publicity and bad press over it because he ran for president while this was going on and his wife has breast cancer. What he really did is end his career and probably his marriage.

All that aside, this is just me procrastinating on going for a walk and not dealing with the fact I get to go back to the doctor today. Its a follow up with the radiation oncologist. I have my list of problems, medications, and medical allergies. I have a book as well. I need to go for a walk first.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yes I go for a walk every day

Read this: "Previous studies suggest that increased physical activity may lower the risk of breast cancer incidence, but less is known about whether levels of physical activity after breast cancer diagnosis can influence survival. We prospectively examined the relation between postdiagnosis recreational physical activity and risk of breast cancer death in women who had a previous invasive breast cancer diagnosed between 1988 and 2001 (at ages 20-79 years). All women completed a questionnaire on recent postdiagnosis physical activity and other lifestyle factors. Among 4,482 women without history of recurrence at the time of completing the questionnaire, 109 died from breast cancer within 6 years of enrollment. Physical activity was expressed as metabolic equivalent task-hours per week (MET-h/wk); hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. After adjusting for age at diagnosis, stage of disease, state of residence, interval between diagnosis and physical activity assessment, body mass index, menopausal status, hormone therapy use, energy intake, education, family history of breast cancer, and treatment modality compared with women expending <2.8> women who engaged in greater levels of activity had a significantly lower risk of dying from breast cancer (HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.39-1.08 for 2.8-7.9 MET-h/wk; HR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.35-1.01 for 8.0-20.9 MET-h/wk; and HR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.29-0.89 for ≥21.0 MET-h/wk; P for trend = 0.05). Results were similar for overall survival (HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.32-0.60 for ≥ 1.0 versus <2.8> P for trend <0.001)> age, stage of disease, and body mass index. This study provides support for reduced overall mortality and mortality from breast cancer among women who engage in physical activity after breast cancer diagnosis. (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2008;17(2):379–86)" (See http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/17/2/379)

Thats some heavy reading first thing in the morning. (This is also further proof that everything can be found on the internet. If you want to prove or disprove something, look it up and it will be there. If its not on the internet, it doesn't count in life. But just because it is on the internet, doesn't mean it is true. However, I assume the paragraph above is true because it comes from a reliable source.) I am not sure exactly what all the numbers mean but basically what it says is that all my daily walks are good for me. However this morning its 59 degrees (that's summer in Boston) and raining. Should I go for a walk? Or should I procrastinate and pretend I will go for a walk later on today? I doubt I will go for a walk later because I have too much to do today - work, work from home, support group, and feed friend's cats. This may be my window of opportunity. But if I get moving and go for a walk, I can come home and take a hot shower to recover. Besides tomorrow I have another doctor appointment which can be a somewhat stressful event so perhaps I need a destressing walk today. This may prevent general crabbiness, whining, and complaining.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hmmm....

Its a rainy Monday morning. My bursitis is aching. My gall bladder is sore. My butt hurts. Anything else? Yes, I have a headache. Maybe I should go back to bed. But I can't. I have to work today. I have lots of work today. My life is boring.

Yesterday I did find a way to keep the cat inside. He snuck out and it started raining. He instantly wanted to come back in! Now I just have to figure out a way to make it rain when he sneaks out - voila - permanent indoor cat.

Actually, this week I have lots of work to do from home and a doctor appointment, a therapist appointment, and possibly a job interview for more part time work. One of the joys of being self employed is continually looking for more work. Such is life. Well, time to commute in my pjs!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

They need to get their story straight

On the news around here, is a big story that Whole Foods (a/k/a the Wal-mart of organic food) has recalled its ground beef due to a breakout of E. coli. I drove by a local WF yesterday and they had a big banner on the exterior of the building announcing a special on ground beef. Either its recalled or its on sale. I am not sure which. And I am not sure if it can be both recalled and on sale. If you have any of this ground beef sold between June 2 and August 6, you can bring it back for a refund if you have a receipt. I hadn't thought that receipts were usually required for refunds in recall cases but they apparently want them. You would think if you brought it back and it had a WF sticker on it, you could get your money back without a receipt.

You might have noticed I am not a WF fan. I do consider them to be the Wal-mart of organic food because they have done a darned good job of putting smaller local companies out of business or swallowing them up. They may pay their employees decent wages and benefits and don't experience more than their share of bad PR. However their products are expensive and come with giant carbon footprints.

There used to be a nice local chain around here called Bread and Circus. They started in the 1970's with organic food. They were a little bit more than a regular grocery but not outrageous. WF bought them and now they are gone. No traces of them left. There was another little local chain, Wild Oats, that tried to combine organic and traditional grocery (you want your Diet Coke and Doritos with your organic lettuce). They were bought by Star Market and integrated into Star Market/Shaws and also kept separate as Wild Harvest. WF is now attempting to buy them. But there is a court injunction against this merger.

The Wild Oats concept was great. I don't know anyone who can do all their grocery shopping at an organic grocery because they just don't have everything. Everyone was forced to alternate regular and organic grocery trips. Another thing they tried to do was sell organic food at reasonable prices. I could do all my shopping at Wild Oats.

Another interesting thing about this beef recall from WF is that you would think with their 'organic, healthy, homemade' image, they would get their beef locally or even grind it in the store. No, this recall is based on beef from a Nebraska meat packing company. So why pay their prices for beef that is just as processed, handled, and transported as any other beef you get elsewhere?

Well enough about that. (They just really tick me off and I won't shop there.) Another one who needs to get his story straight is the cat. He is an indoor cat. But why was he caught in the front yard outdoors, twice yesterday???? He seems to think he is an outdoor cat. His food dish is indoors that should make him stay inside more often. These pictures are of his very stressful morning yesterday. First he had to subdue the catnip toy. Then he had to take a serious nap to recover. His substance abuse problem is emerging.

Yesterday we actually attempted to have a social life. We went to a friend's house and saw their new baby and new house. It was actually nice to get out and see people. Murphy's law - there was one little tiny rain storm that passed through the state yesterday afternoon. It went over their house and not really anywhere else.

Today we are going to buy cheap gas. There is a grocery chain around here (Stop and Shop - yes, I know they are part of a big chain but unlike WF their prices are somewhat reasonable and they don't have a holier than thou attitude) that has gas stations now. Apparently, shop at their stores and get points towards money off your gas price. I think I earned 50 cents off per gallon. That is definitely worth taking a detour on the way to run errands today to get cheap gas. Okay, my life is really boring if buying cheap gas is all I have to talk about.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

They make it so confusing

I think they do this just to make sure us medical patients are on our toes. They say 'you have an anal fissure and here is some goo to put on it'. The goo comes with instructions: "This medicine is a vasoldilator* used to prevent angina (chest pain)." Hmmm... My anal fissure does not cause chest pain. but then it says. "It may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor." Well that is helpful. But then it gives all kinds of instructions on how to use it for chest pain. Not very helpful. (*I dont know what this word means but it is on the package instructions.)

So I use Google. (Google is your friend. Google can tell you how to run the world or treat any medical condition.) I start googling and find out that yes indeed nitroglycerine ointment is used to help with anal fissures (I am sure you wanted to know all about anal fissures so I am so glad to be able to help you out with this). But it only works 60% of the time AND 20% of the people using it get headaches. I have a headache. And last night I felt weird so I went to bed early. Grrr.... I have decided I will try it for the weekend and then on Monday if I still have headaches and feel weird I will call the doctor back. Grr, grr, grr.

Today we have a weekend at home. For a change. For the first time since June. We have plenty to do, starting with a little morning walk (and Walter calls them death marches...). Then weeding, lawn mowing, make brownies for a party this afternoon. Yes, that means we will even have a social life!!!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Caught up on my magazine reading

At the dentist office the other day, they were running a few minutes behind. I seized the opportunity to read the latest issue of People magazine - always full of intellectual discourse. I did learn that Lindsay Lohan has a girl friend. Do we care? Not really, but apparently her girlfriend is helping her clean up her life finally. What is she 22 and already done a few stints in rehab? (I think I have that right but maybe not.)

Yesterday I got to read another issue of People magazine from last fall - the one where Britney lost custody of her children - while waiting for the doctor. I don't think she has custody back. (Another 20-something who has already been through rehab. Grow up why don't you?)

Then due to the rain, I went to the gym instead of walking outside, and read my latest Newsweek and Business Week while on the treadmill. I also read Cosmopolitan Jan 2008 issue. It contained their annual astrology predictions for the year. Apparently 2008 is supposed to be a good year for me - well, I'm still waiting for the good part.

My new doctor was actually very nice and very thorough. She sent me for another MRI of the hemangioma on my liver in early September. It should be nice and stable and then I don't have to worry about it. On the good news, I don't have hemorrhoids. No, I have an anal fissure. What is that? Exactly what you think. And its a royal pain in the butt. I get lovely goo to put on it for a few weeks and if it doesn't suddenly decide to heal in the next few weeks, I get to go see a surgeon for more tests. (Gee, I can't wait.)

On the other hand, I can try stop taking prilosec for heartburn from my hiatal hernia. I would prefer not to take medication daily if I can get away with it. So we shall see what happens. Also, she thought the weird achy spots in my abdomen are not related to my digestive tract and probably muscular/skeletal. I will keep track of them and see what happens after surgery. They could just be related to my friendly little gall stone. (Perhaps I should name it - hmmm... I will think about it.)

Otherwise, today is just another boring day in my life. Walter's car is in the shop so he is taking my car. I am trapped at home with the cat and my computer so I will have to work all day and provide kitty treats at frequent intervals so I won't be pestered. Then I am meeting a friend for a walk - if it ever stops raining. Its another tropical summer in Boston. High's in the 60's and rain. We do get hot weather but not this week. (Wednesday's high I think was officially 69...) I've been wearing sweaters.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Off to the doctor, again

Well, at least yesterday I had a positive medical appointment, even if it was only the dentist. And the hygienist though I looked like I had lost weight. That was a good start to the day.

I also discovered online yesterday that there is a new presidential candidate: Paris Hilton. Go watch her latest TV ad at www.funnyordie.com. What is really sad is that her energy policy actually sounds pretty good. Who would have thought she had it in her? (I am going to be really glad when the election is over.)

In the meantime, this weekend the Olympics start. Do we care who wins the most medals? Not really. Do we care that the Chinese think they can clear the skies of smog in two weeks? Apparently, in today's paper, you can almost see the sun during the daytime now. My bets are still on the smog prevailing.

Anyway, today I am off to the new GI doctor. This is to replace the older than dirt GI doctor who told me all my weird pains were IBS and to take a pill to make them go away. Unfortunately the GI doctors are the ones who prescribe all those fun tests - colonoscopy, upper GI, etc. But since I have already had them, maybe I don't need to have them again! Well there's hope. But I have all my lists - just need to reprint them from my computer - and a book, and a bottle of water.

After that I head to work, then work at home, and then go for a walk. My usual boring day in a slightly different order.

Now the other news is that we think kitty is developing a substance abuse problem. Yesterday I found one of his many little catnip toys ripped open and the catnip missing. Perhaps this is why he has been taking so many naps recently. Do we need to take his toys away from him? He has a little pile on the bottom shelf of a table downstairs where he has 24/7 access to them. Sometimes I find them scattered all over the living room. Perhaps we need an intervention.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm still pondering

Twice recently I have been asked in group situations, what is the best thing to come out of my cancer diagnosis. The only thing anyone in the two groups could come up with is being more on top of one's medical issues. I mean the rest of it - an unwanted hair cut, nausea from chemo, surgery, other side effects, medications, and stress - who wants any of it. (No I really didn't want to go bald.)

What I find interesting is both times this question was asked by a professional therapist type person to a bunch of breast cancer people. I think all of us are still waiting for something good to come out of it. Maybe they were trying to get us to see the positive in this. Well, maybe some one has seen something positive. But not me.

Another pondering, was it really bad of me to eat garlic bread and garlic hummus the day before a dentist appointment???

Yesterday I did go to my support group for the first time in over a month. I also worked and did lots of work from home. Today I am going to go for a walk, the dentist (and yes I flossed), work, run errands, and work from home. I think that's plenty for one day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reality has returned

Now its back to the real world. I have no life so of course it is very boring. Yesterday I worked at home, met a friend for lunch, and procrastinated on the internet from doing more work. The most exciting things to happen is lots more flowers are blooming in the garden (so prepare to be bored with more pictures in a day or two) and I am reaching a stage where I will have more tomatoes than I can eat (so I will make salsa and sauce).

Today is not exciting either. A little work from home this morning, a walk, and then off to work and possibly my support group. Tomorrow I get to go to the dentist so today I will be sure to brush my teeth at least 3 times and floss at least twice. Not to say that I don't keep up with dental hygiene on a regular basis but before the dentist I am usually a little more diligent. Thursday will be the high point of my week when I meet a new GI doctor to discuss my various ailments. I can't wait. It should be lots of fun. I have my lists ready. But that is Thursdays problem. Today's problem already is procrastination.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I didn't catch any fish

But I had a blast! It was a great time. I wasn't sure what to expect. If you think about it, go off with a bunch of complete strangers and learn a sport that I had no interest in and stay at a religious retreat. Hmmm... Sounds kind of sketchy.

First I got stuck in traffic as you only can on the way to the Cape on a Friday afternoon in the summer. It should have taken me 1h 15 minutes, took me 2.5 hours. So I was all stressed out. I was told to be there at 4pm. Well, I was there at 5pm. Everyone was very nice and there were people later than me. the group was made up of 10 participants plus about 14 volunteers - some from the organization Casting for Recovery, and some previous participants.

We had introductions on Friday night and everyone there was a cancer survivor - most breast cancer. In fact, all weekend everyone was a cancer survivor except the reporter and the fishing helpers I think. Saturday we practiced casting on the lawn and then down at the beach. Sunday we went fishing with a helper - so we didn't fall in, give up, or get tangled up. I caught all the seaweed in the world. I also lost my first fly twice - we found it once. Then I lost my second fly twice but we found it again. (Then I lost it when I got home...) I also caught the same piece of shrubbery about 20 times. But no fish. I think they knew we were there and were in hiding. Other people, the volunteers who would fish in the mornings from 430-7am did catch fish.

All in all, it was a great weekend. It was great to learn something new and make a bunch of new friends - I do think I will stay in touch with them.

Now back to reality. But the important news is Walter is home as well which makes me happy - now I don't have to mow the lawn. But I do have to go for a walk this morning (don't tell anyone but I didn't really walk this weekend) and then I have to work from home, meet a friend for lunch and then go to work this afternoon. I have lots of work to do this week as well. It will keep me busy. I also have to break in another new doctor this week and go to the dentist. More on that later.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Recombobulated today

Well, I think I am. Yesterday morning my brother was here with my older niece (10) and nephew (9). My nephew woke up early and had some cheerios. Then I offered oatmeal. He picked out the flavors and I made it. Then he wouldn't eat it. My brother woke up and we had to carry the old table in the corner of the dining room to the basement and bring in the three sections of the new table (my grandmother's). We did this working around my nephew and his oatmeal. Then my niece woke up and my brother was making her oatmeal. I said 'why boil water when you can use the microwave?'. Voila, the answer to our problems. My nephew has never had nuked oatmeal and that is why it was different and he wouldn't eat it. How was I supposed to know? Any how in all the confusion, I never really read the paper or watched the news - what I usually do in the morning to wake up slowly.

Today, I will go for my walk and read the paper. I have already watched some of the early news. I am drinking coffee and going for a walk. Then I have to go to work, come home and work for contract stuff and leave to go fishing for the weekend.

This will be interesting. It is for breast cancer survivors (I hate that term - call me a breast cancer person instead). It is free. It is catch and release (someone else has to take any caught fish and release them for me). If it is awful I can claim gall bladder attack (see how convenient this could be?) and hop in my car and go home. I have heard very good things about these retreats. I expect that I will not catch any fish. Fly fishing in salt water???? But the weather forecast is relatively good. And its on the ocean in August on Cape Cod. and its FREE.

Unfortunately, Walter comes home tomorrow while I am gone. Poor planning but originally he was coming home on Sunday but then his flights were changed. That's okay. He will have a day to take care of stuff that accumulated while he was gone.

Now I did have another rocket scientist (or Darwin candidate) sighting the other day. Okay, well maybe just a stupid idiot. I went to the library. I parked next to a big ostentatious SUV. They had left it running. Why idle a parked car??? Hello, gas is expensive these days? Well, they did because their dogs were in the car. Maybe they should have either left the dogs at home or parked in the shade with the windows open. Stupid idiot.

Another Darwin candidate rode his bike yesterday. First, he slowed down at a red light and then ran it. Then he made a left turn in front of me without looking for traffic. I did stop to avoid him but I am not really sure he even noticed there were other vehicles on the road. Unfortunately, I believe there are more Darwin candidates and rocket scientists out there than we care to imagine.