Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My last PT

Yesterday I went for my last PT session. This isn't to say I won't ever go to PT again - there is a possibility after a few sessions with the people with big needles (a/k/a the pain clinic), I may be back for more. PT was helpful. Some areas which were painful are less so but there are new areas of pain (continuing the worsening cycle that had been going on since late November) and some areas just didn't improve. So I am off to the pain clinic. Gee, can't wait. NOT! I hate needles. I don't know how many times I can say this.

Once I was having knee surgery and they didn't want to give me general anesthesia for some reason and wanted to do an epidural (translate that to big needle stuck in your spine) and I almost refused to have the surgery. I didn't want a big needle. (I think they gave me some medication in my IV so I would agree to this in the end.) Looking back, it wasn't as bad as I thought but I still hate needles.

Yesterday I also went to work and went to the gym. It was another cold rainy day. Today is supposed to be warm and sunny. I plan on working from home, meeting a friend for coffee and going for a walk in the sunshine (not working on a tan or anything, just absorbing Vitamin D). I also have my support group and am meeting a friend for dinner. We had originally planned to have dinner in January. One or the other of us would get sick or there would be a snow storm and now it is the end of March...

Today I also need to go out and inspect my garden. All the rain followed by lots of sun shine should encourage lots of blooming plants. My biggest goal for today is to get ready for my job interview tomorrow morning. I need to be sure my resume is printed, my clothes are ready, and I have read up on the company before I go out today. Tomorrow I am sure I will end up rushing around so today I need to plan ahead.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The frustration is building

I am getting very frustrated these days (and sometimes crabby as a result). The list of things I can't do is ever increasing. And these are some of the little things - bringing anything up from or even down to the basement, or grocery shopping for heavy things like soda water and big bags of cat food, or laundry where I have to be careful even sorting and putting stuff in the washer and dryer, or gardening where I can't really carry stuff or move things around or dig or rake, or the list goes on and on. If I do these things it makes my back hurt. I am at the point where I do things anyway because I am not having any fun. And I can't do the little things. Like sit here in my computer chair (which is a good supportive chair correctly positioned for me) with out my back hurting.

My choices are: do the things I enjoy or want to get done so I am doing the basics in life and then my back will hurt. Or do none of the things I enjoy and my back still hurts. My frustration is at the level where I am doing the things I want but then my back hurts. Which means I get crabby, don't get enough sleep, which leads to more crabbiness. I think I am just sick of my body dictating what I am capable of these days. I want to plan a hike with friends. But I won't be able to carry much of a pack. I want to plan a day of bike riding but my back will probably hurt. Grr, triple grr, triple, triple grr.

Actually there are two kinds of back pain. The pain when you pick up something or bend wrong or twist and your back says 'don't do that' and gives a sharp pain. Or the other pains that are just chronic that continually providing aching and soreness regardless of what you do. I am avoiding the first kind of pain in general. I don't pick up things, try not to bend or twist. Its the other pain that I am dealing with.

Anyway, today I am going to the gym this morning and then a little work from home and off to work (back pain and all).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finding a new oncologist

When you have cancer, your oncologist is your go-to guy for everything. (Is it a headache? Is it a brain tumor? These are the important questions.) I like my oncologist. He's generally a good guy, takes time to talk, answers questions, appears like he genuinely cares. I got a letter yesterday and he's leaving practice and going into research full time. Now I have to find a new one. I am not sure how much say I have in the matter but I think I want to do a little research in this.

There are 11 oncs at the hospital where I am treated. Two are women but both are very young. By young I mean, young. How important is years of practice and accumulated knowledge? But then the rest are men. Some them specialize in other things. Some do not list specialties. But the one thing about my current onc is that he is a man. Men and women are made differently and sometimes its nice to have a female doctor. So the toss up goes between the male/female thing or the years of experience thing. I will have to think about this. I am not scheduled to see him again until November so there is some time here. But I don't want to just get assigned to someone. I think I want a little thought put into this. What is very sad is I know so many people I can ask what they think of their oncologist and also check them out that way. Now I am also wondering is it proper to send a thank you note to your doctor if he is leaving practice? I won't see him again before he leaves. I will ponder all this.

Anyway, yesterday was actually spring like. I wore shorts. I gardened. I went for a walk in shorts. I showed off my winter white legs to the outdoors and no one ran screaming away. (On the other hand, today is 45 degrees with promises of down pours and maybe thunderstorms.) I finally got pictures of my iris blooming - six tries later its even mostly in focus.
My second crocus is blooming as well.

And I have lots of little green things peeking up. I did put some fertilizer down and now its raining so I hope between the two, things really start growing this week. (Is it possible to garden and not obsess about it?)

Last night a friend came over for dinner and we played scrabble. She used the ploy of keep pouring us wine so that we would do badly in scrabble. It worked. She won both games. (Moral of the story: if you want to win at scrabble, you must think outside of the box.) Today I have a bunch of things to do but I am not over scheduled. I have errands to run, lunch with my parents, and a trip to the library and then to the gym. That's it but I think that's enough.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Auspicious Start

I woke up this morning. That was key. But the important word is morning. I slept all night for the first time in weeks. I am very excited. Perhaps I will be less crabby. Does this mean my back doesn't hurt either? No. It still hurts. The same chronic nagging pains. Grr. Grr. Grr. But today is starting off well.

Another auspicious moment was reached yesterday when I found a little yellow iris blooming in the garden. Today I will attempt to photograph it in focus. I have a couple fuzzy pictures from yesterday but today I will make a second try.

So yesterday I was busy (which means I did not have enough time to waste on the internet). I met a friend for breakfast and then did some stuff at home before running errands and going for a walk with a friend, got my nails done, and then out to dinner with my husband. Actually there was a third auspicious event yesterday. The woman who does my nails told me the last time I was there that she had a lump on her thyroid and was going to an oncologist for a biopsy. She has a benign tumor and a cyst, which they will drain, and she may need surgery but benign is benign. She said she was going nuts waiting for 7 days to get her biopsy results and wondered how I could do it. But she is definitely in a much better mood than two weeks ago.

Last night we discovered a new restaurant. I had heard good things and it was restaurant week so we wanted to try it. It was very crowded (so in the future we will always make a reservation) but the food was awesome. I will tell you the name but you must promise not to go when we want to so we can get in. Its Masa in Woburn. Very, very good. We ate in the dining room. Apparently they serve tapas in the bar so we will need to go back to try those. They also serve brunch so we will need to go back twice. I think back to the times during chemo and other parts of treatment where eating had no appeal. (Did I get back into my size 8 wardrobe? No, of course not. Where's the justice here? In treatment, cant eat, but don't lose weight? But I digress.) Now I appreciate going out to eat again and eating food that I enjoy. So I guess life is getting better. (If my back would stop hurting, I might say, life is good.)

I have also decided to stop kitty's eye drops. Last one was yesterday morning. In 24 hours, he is no longer the total food hog and has reverted to his normal self, meaning he does not get stressed out begging for food. He just sits and stares at you until you feed him. I will continue to watch his eye and if it gets worse, I'll think about restarting them. Anyway, cat's eye drops are bad for my back because each one involved picking up his delicate 18 lbs and wrestling him on to his back and putting in two drops. And his cooperation skills are unparalleled. When he doesn't want to do something, he doesn't want to do something. And I wonder why my back would hurt after each eye drops session.

So today I will take my sleep filled body off to run some errands before the stores get crowded. Then when the sun comes out I will do a little gardening and go for a walk. But first I will do my exercises...

Friday, March 27, 2009

More contortionism

Through all this medical crap (which is exactly what it is - crap), I have learned new contortionism skills. I am now finely honing them to a new level. You go to the doctor and they say 'cough' or 'deep breath' or 'exhale'. Then then send you for 'tests' and 'procedures' where you get to do things like 'hold still, don't move, here's earplugs, and wait for verbal instructions'. They get very creative. Then physical therapy goes to a new level where you do things like lie down and they press on you and tell you to raise up on your elbows. But they are pushing down. (That's the part that doesn't make sense.) Then we get to the exercises - hold in your stomach (but not your breath) and try this position. Repeat ten times, two sets, twice daily. Move your right arm and left leg, but hold in your stomach and breath normally. I get so confused. Am I supposed to breath in or out? Which arm and which leg? How many sets? Aaarrrggghhh!

Then we added a new wrinkle. Try being coordinated while you sleep. Yes, that's right sleeping coordination. The therapist yesterday suggested I take a pillow and put it between my knees if lying on my side or under my knees if lying on my back while sleeping to see if this prevents any of the pain at night. Well that's easy, lie down put a pillow between your knees and go to sleep. And then you want to roll over and have to move the pillow around and in the rearranging your strain your back and the pain which you had been carefully avoiding starts. I am not a coordinated sleeper. The solution for me is: fall asleep in one position, wake up, rearrange pillows, lie there until I fall asleep again in position two. Repeat as needed all night long. But this means I don't get a whole entire night's sleep. The whole point of this is to go to bed and wake up 7 or 8 hours later feeling refreshed. Not happening. Grrr, grrr, grrr. Triple, triple grrr.

So yesterday I had a discussion with the therapist. We decided that it is time for one more session and then off to the people with big needles department. She told me a standard course of treatment is sets of three shots, every six months. I don't do needles. I don't faint or anything, but I can't look at them or see them at all. (Not a very convenient trait for medical procedures.) And now I might get three every six months??? EEEKKK!!!! I am a weinie about this and see no reason I should change this trait of mine. Possibly I associate them with pain or something. Anyway, I have found if I tell them I don't like needles, they give them other names and hide them from me. I think they are just tired of scraping patients up off the floor.

In addition to that today, I need to call the vet with the latest kitty update. He now looks like he has a blood clot floating around his eye. But is otherwise acting normal. Or as normal as he can be. Begging for food, walking on us, drinking water out of my water glass, supervising the bird feeders, shedding, being a food snob, etc. (In the middle of this state of 'I must eat everything all the time' he still is capable of being a food snob and turning his little nose up at some of the kitty treats which apparently are sub-par.)

Otherwise today I am meeting a friend for coffee, doing a little gardening, paying bills, calling the doctor, meeting a friend for a walk, getting my nails done and a few other things i will attempt to remember but did write down so they might actually take place. Chemo brain means my life is covered in post it notes so I can remember what to do.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another day of back pain

This is very frustrating. I go for PT today (after a job interview) and originally we had said that perhaps I should go back to the pain clinic after my next scheduled PT next Monday but I am not sure I want to wait. I don't get to sleep all night. Try that and keep a smiling face going all day long! Its not easy. Crabbiness lurks. Continually. Most aggravating.

Now the cat's eye still looks like it has a giant blood clot or something floating around in it. But he is eating, drinking and otherwise acting like a normal cat. The alarm clock went off this morning so he jumped on the bed and stood on my husband to reinforce the fact that he wanted to be fed. This is normal cat like behavior. I don't know. I'll wait another day before calling the vet.

But yes I did sneak it in I have a job interview this morning for a small company that wants a part time marketing director. I'll go give it a shot and see what they have to say. Job interviewing is a two way street. Not only do they have to like me and want to hire me but I also must want to work there. When I see a job posted, I check out the company too. There's the basic stuff like is it geographically convenient and what does their website say about them. If they are not up to snuff, I don't want to work there. I won't even apply. But once you go on an interview, what if they are morons, or they don't understand what marketing can do for them, or many other things. Anyway, I'll go see what they have to say because I still haven't heard back from my interview last week.

Today I am not overscheduled. I am just busy. There is a difference. I have to go to my interview, come home, go for my walk, then PT, and then work. Then home around 7. That is not over scheduled as I am not expected to be in two places simultaneously. The only potential problem is if the interview lasts too long and I don't have time for the walk I want. Spring is now here and outdoor walks are important. Yesterday I went for a walk with a friend right before going to work and I really didn't want to go to work afterwards. It was nice a warm out, sun shining. The kind of day to play hooky and stay outside. In the meantime, its breakfast time and maybe I have more flowers blooming outside.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another good news/bad news kind of day

I woke up and felt generally okay. My back was achy but not too bad. I went to the gym and used the treadmill and did my exercises. Came home. The vet came (kitty is too much of a weinie to go in the car so she comes here) and said his eye is much better and we can cut back the eye drops to daily instead of twice daily. His eating and drinking so much is a side effect of the steroid shot he got two weeks ago and the steroid eye drops and it should begin to taper off. We shouldn't be worried about it, unless he continues to eat and drink (like a pig) and then loses weight. Currently he is gaining weight - Mr. Pudgy Wudgy.

Then my crocuses started to bloom.

And a second bud appeared.

Then I decided to take a quick run to Costco to get a few things. Mainly to pick up the replacement sunglasses I ordered. Due to poor planning on my part, I didn't bring a bag or pay attention to how far I would have to carry stuff to my car because I parked at the bottom of the stairs. I said I can do it. Well. I did. I shouldn't have. My back hurt last night again. Grr. Triple grr. Triple, triple grr.

But then I went to my volunteer training a the Hope Lodge in Boston. It was very cool. The training was interesting. We got a tour. And there were snacks. And then I got a ride home.

I started to cook dinner and realized that the cat now has a giant bloody area in his eye - that was just cleared by the vet. I have a call into her but this is a new development. He is acting normal - begging for food and treats, watching the bird feeder, being a pain in the butt - but his eye does not look good. Neither of us are having a good morning. I will see what the vet says when she calls.

Otherwise, I will worry about back pain and cat eyes and go about my busy day. I am meeting a friend for lunch and a walk and then going to work and then meeting another friend for dinner. Lots of food involved in my day. And socializing. (Does this mean I have a life? Probably not but I am trying.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back pain update

Since I haven't whined about it enough I thought I would bring you all up to date on my back pain (instead of just whining about it). Basically, two degenerating discs - L3/L4 has asymmetric disc protrusion with mild stenosis and L5/S1 has a broad based disc bulge without significant stenosis. (Stenosis is a fancy word for squishing nerves into tinier spaces than they used to be in.) My back also has some instability where some days it was rotated and some days not. The PT has helped, particularly with the instability, but not as much with the pain in my back and hips and tingling down my legs.

I wake up some days in pain and sometimes in the middle of the night. I have pain meds and anti-inflammatories but still am not happy. Two more PT sessions and the probably off to the pain clinic for some other kinds of relief. The options that I know of aren't very good. Cortisone shots are only a temporary solution. Surgery for this type of thing is not necessarily successful in pain relief. I am not sure what else they can do. I don't want just another prescription. Does this make me happy? No. Does lack of sleep make me crabby? Yes. Grr, grr, grr. I am convinced my body came with a 40 year warranty and everything is now falling apart.

Otherwise, I am fine. No problems. Currently. I am sure something else will decide to act up as soon as we get this back mess under control. Triple, triple grr.

Anyway, yesterday I was pretty busy but did manage to arrange a job interview for Thursday morning. Today I am very busy. I will go to the gym now and then the vet is coming at 10 to check kitty's eye. Its not looking too good. But what if he loses sight in his eye (or even loses his eye)? How does that impact his quality of life if he only has one eye with which to inspect/supervise the bird feeder? After that, I am going to Boston (by subway) to go to some volunteer training at the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge. It should be interesting (and there will be snacks).

But that's my boring life. You just read about it. I just write about it.

PS No my crocus did not bloom yet. Sigh.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yesterday I was 3 for 3


I burned three out of three things I tried to cook. First I made us pancakes for breakfast and put the last ones in the pan and went upstairs for a minute. My husband rescued them when they started smoking (oops!). Next I made some brown rice for lunch. I really meant to set the timer but only remembered this an hour later. It had some little blackened parts but still tasted okay. Finally, I sauteed some mushrooms and onions - just a bit to get the moisture out - and went upstairs, remembered them and came running DOWN stairs. Just a little blackened around the edges. Then I decided it would be a good time to start using the damn timer. (But I feel I should get some points for consistency.)

Yesterday I was left to my own devices which isn't always a good thing. But my back hurt so I iced it and watched bad romance novels made into bad movies on TV - a very productive way to spend a Sunday morning - at least the cat thought so because he got to sit on my lap. I did eventually get out for a walk and a trip to Trader Joe's. Unfortunately, neither the weather or my flowers are cooperating on this spring thing yet. Today is only going to be about 30 degrees with windchill in the teens. My flowers won't bloom unless it warms up! However the weather forecast is rather optimistic for later this week so there is hope.

In the meantime, I am not overscheduled today. I am meeting a friend for coffee, going to the gym, the farm stand, possibly Costco and then to work.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring, damnit!

Okay, I am done waiting. I officially want it to be spring. It is officially spring on the calendar but 31 degrees and frozen ground is not spring. I want my flowers to start blooming. Yesterday I went and bought some seeds to plant and then figured out that I have to wait until mid-May to plant them. I guess I need to go back to being the patient patient. I still am not very good at that being patient thing. (Maybe some day. Maybe I can stop being a patient - that might help too.)

Today I am left to my own devices - which can be a bad thing. My husband went to work for a few hours and I am here by myself. Now I could be constructive and do things like fold laundry and clean the house. Or I could do things like watch the movies I recorded on the DVR and crochet and sit around in my pajamas for a few hours. Hmmm... which would you pick? I will go for a walk later and get a few things at Trader Joes (provided I bring the list with me so I get what I need instead of wandering aimlessly around the store and coming home with things we didn't really need).

Yesterday I got up and my back was not happy. It stayed relatively unhappy through the afternoon. I went for a walk and came home. Then I realized my back STOPPED hurting for a few minutes. How exciting is that? Then I moved and it started again. But at least it stopped for a little bit.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One healthy sign, we think

This isn't about me, its about the cat for a change. Four years ago, we took the cat to the vet who said 'he needs his teeth cleaned'. So we brought him back and left him for the day where they sedated him and he had his teeth cleaned. He seemed fine and then started to be lethargic and lose lots of weight (1/3 of his body weight in six weeks) and it turned out he had pneumonia (and had a chest xray, antibiotics, and shots just like people do). He got better but some how in the process lost the ability to meow. Four years and no meow. He tries to meow but is silent. In the last few days, he can now meow. Its like he is making up for lost time. He meows a lot - particularly when he is hungry (which apparently is all the time). He doesn't understand this suffering in silence business. But anyway, he is returning to his normal self after four years of silence. But it is a return to normal which is important.

Yesterday, I was job hunting as usual. Of course the world is losing jobs and here I am looking for one. I stumbled across a listing that seemed right for me for marketing for a jewelry store. I sent in my resume after reading their website and then realized that the listing also said feel free to stop by our store. I said 'what the hell', and got in my car with my cover letter and resume and went. I mean why not? I could continue to read the lovely Craigs List postings for things for which I am completely unqualified or I can make the extra effort and go deliver my resume in person. Unfortunately I got there and someone else beat me to it and was there talking to the owner with her resume. So I waited and then talked to her for about 45 minutes and think it sounds pretty positive. She said she definitely would get back to me so I'll wait and see. In the meantime, I have to send my thank you note this morning.

Otherwise today (and this is VERY exciting) we are going to start putting garden furniture out, set up the rain barrel, and begin getting ready for the season. I am excited. My damn plants just have to cooperate by appearing and flowering (the weeds can take the year off).

Last night, my father got inspired that we should all go out to dinner to celebrate the first day of spring. So we did but I sat in a squishy chair for a couple of hours and my back apparently doesn't like squishy chairs. Last night I was up in the middle of the night and took an extra pain pill - hence the late start today. But I will do my exercises. After lying in bed in pain in the middle of the night again, the idea of the pain clinic (with big cortisone shots) doesn't sound like as bad and idea - now you know I am in pain if I am thinking positively about needles!!!!

Well off to make some breakfast before working around the house. This afternoon I am going for a walk and will stop by the farm stand to see about new seeds for my garden and a source of nice (organic) compost (a/k/a manure) which I will go pick up in the old car, not the new one. (New car smell with composted manure - no way!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another good news/bad news deal

First a complete digression to say that I had an awesome dessert last night. When we went out to dinner the night before, we brought home our second dessert to eat last night. Macadamia pie. Think pecan pie that's not too sweet and substitute macadamia nuts... It was incredible. I might attempt to make it for Thanksgiving instead of pecan pie.

Yesterday I went back to PT. The therapist said she wanted to do a reassessment of where I am to compare to how I was in mid-February when I first went. The good news is that there is some improvement in certain areas. She is seeing more stability in my back and the area that gave me the most frequent, sharpest pain is now down to a periodic dull ache. I have even graduated to new exercises on my big inflatable ball. That's all the good news.

Then the bad news is that I only have a 30-40% improvement and she is seeing continued abnormal nerve tension in the nerves in my legs, which (if you remember anatomy) come down from your lower back. She brought up the fact that I have two more PT sessions scheduled and then she thinks if there is not significant improvement, I should go to the pain clinic people to see if they can do anything for me. (Those are the people with big needles and stuff - did I mention I hate needles?) So I go back next Thursday and the following Monday and then we will decide. In the meantime, I will keep doing my exercises and taking the anti-inflammatories I have.

My new exercises are using the big inflatable ball which is a good thing. Most of my old exercises were lying on the floor. This meant the cat thought I was lying down so he could sit on me. Have you ever tried doing exercises with a 16+ lbs. (of porky) cat sitting on your chest? Maybe that's why I have so little improvement - I'll blame kitty. The other thing about my new exercises is that I do them on a mat on the living room floor. This keeps me very well informed about how badly the living room rug needs vacuuming. Perhaps I shall do that today. No wait, I have a bad back, I can't vacuum.

Anyway on a more positive note, I have one crocus bud that I know of. I have lots of other ones sprouting but only one bud so far. I will keep my eye out for more - and take pictures of course when they start blooming. Today I am not as over scheduled but I have to finish my volunteer work and look at our taxes that have been sitting here done for over a week now. Then I am meeting a friend for lunch and another friend for a walk. Its going to be a nice wintry day - too bad its the first day of spring. We could use some warm weather!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today I am not overscheduled

There are two things on my calendar: go to PT and then go to work. But since I can't let that happen, I will do the following as well: spend 30 minutes cleaning the house, go to the gym, go to the hardware store and see about getting a new handle for the rake that broke, start a new crafts project (more on this below), do some volunteer work from home, and maybe return the cable box and get the dvr that I have been meaning to do for a couple of weeks and then set it up and reprogram it. Now I can be overscheduled because all these things need to happen before 12 noon when I go to PT. And I'm still sitting here in my pj's without any breakfast (but on my second cup of coffee).

So yesterday morning there was a commercial on TV for a local garden center that I can walk to (a dangerous occurrence) which inspired me for a destination for my walk. While there, I found this nice straw hat and I need a gardening hat. But it is very plain. Walking home, I started thinking - what if I decorate it? I have ribbons and little flowers left over from our wedding four years ago. I have tacky glue and a needle and heavy duty thread. I think I am on to something here. Here is a before picture of my hat. I will post an after picture later on. Never mind that I have enough problems finding time to read a book these days or that I have several half finished/barely started crocheting projects in the works.

I am ready for my trip to PT. I have my list (I always have lists) of pain issues - when it hurts, what I did, etc. I just want it to stop hurting. Yes, today I am tired and my back hurts. How's that for two novel occurrences in one day?

Anyway, this week is Restaurant Week - well this week and next week are Restaurant Weeks. This is very cool when lots of high end restaurants have a prix fixe menu for $33.09 pp for a three course meal. We use Restaurant Week as the time to go out to fancy restaurants. Last night we went out to dinner at a very nice restaurant and I had an amazing piece of chicken. It didn't taste like chicken. It was incredible. We split our dessert and brought home the second one so tonight we get leftover macadamia nut pie for dessert. See we are still working on the social life/having fun thing.

Proof that the cat really does drink out of the sink.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is this good or bad?


Sometimes I find it very supportive to go to support groups and talk to my friends who are also dealing with breast cancer. And then sometimes I find it more difficult. We don't always talk about cancer but sometimes we do. Sometimes its positive but also sometimes its negative. Well, negative in the sense that when I am with someone who is very sick and facing a shortened life span which is filled with medical treatments, it can be hard to walk away with a smile on my face. Then I start to think is that what is in store for me?

I remember when I was young I learned what chemotherapy was. I was told 'it makes people really sick to make them better'. If you are facing a life filled with chemotherapy (and all sorts of fun tests and procedures), is that much of a life? The constant scanxiety of 'we will give you an MRI/PET/CT every three months to monitor the progress and the success of your treatment'. That's living in a world of scanxiety.

Then I think well some day, we will run out of things that can be wrong with me and I will feel better. I will stop going to the damn doctor. I will stop hurting. I will stop taking so many prescriptions. This some day better get here soon.

Okay, I feel like I am being all down and depressing today but recently I have been feeling a bit dragged down by this back pain/hot flashes/lack of sleep combination. Who said 'never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep'? I don't know but its my tag line these days. (And it doesn't help when you can't sleep you lie there and think about all the BAD things...)

Okay, enough already. Yesterday I was busy and overscheduled. Today I am busy and less scheduled so maybe I will get through the work I keep meaning to do. But once it warms up this morning, I am going for a walk outside. Its supposed to be near 60 today but of course, I will be inside at work this afternoon when it is the warmest.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fatigue or being tired

I think technically there is a difference between fatigue and being tired. But all I know is I feel exhausted a lot. Now perhaps you think it is because I overscheduled myself but I don't think that's the case. How about I don't sleep enough because I wake up because either my back is hurting or a hot flash? Then I don't always get back to sleep because one or the other of them recurs? This can cause fatigue and tiredness (and crabbiness if you believe what my husband says).

All I know is that last night I went to bed early because I was tired and then was up in the middle of the night because of my back and then couldn't get back to sleep for a bit. Then I slept through the alarm (good thing I don't need to rush out for a job in the morning) and now am exhausted sitting here. But I already made beef stew for St Patrick's Day which is in the crock pot and am going to go to the gym this morning because its too cold to go outside. Apparently it is almost spring but still only 27 degrees this morning. I can't wait until later to go for a walk because I am too busy. Possibly a tad overscheduled but I am not admitting that today.

Yesterday my back only hurt minorly and mostly cooperated. I meant to ice it after dinner but I was sitting in a comfy chair and that would have meant moving to get the ice, etc. Actually I was very comfy and intrigued by this movie on PBS. It was very low key and pretty amazing to watch. In the late 1960's a guy retired and moved to the Alaskan wilderness and built everything by hand. He lived there for 35 years I think. We were flipping channels and stumbled on it and then couldn't turn it off. All I could think of while watching it is that he is very lucky his health held up during those years. If his health was anything like mine, he wouldn't have lasted 35 days, never mind 35 years.

Anyway, enough drivel for the morning. Off to the gym before I get unmotivated (and the treadmills fill up).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring is springing - not quite sprung yet

I finally feel like spring is springing. The winter was hard for me because I couldn't go skiing! I could snow shoe but not ski. Very disappointing and I kept looking at all the lovely snow and wanting to go... Grrr!!!! Anyway, yesterday I went out in the 60 degree weather (in flip flops and avoided the few snow drifts in the back yard - snow drifts and flip flops don't actually go together very well) and did a little clean out. Actually, I took the little rake and cleaned out the gardens but found I can't bend over and pick things up with out my back hurting. So I raked in the front of the house, got my husband to pick things up, and then moved to the back of the house where I repeated. I have to figure out gardening with back pain because it could be a very long summer as well.

Anyway, under the leaves I found all sorts of new plants growing. Next step is compost. This is so exciting. I can't wait for spring. I just need to see some flowers to keep me happy. The crocuses should bloom soon. There are some that definitely have potential for blooming soon. Of course I will post pictures.

Yesterday, I got together with friends and we walked along the harbor in Boston and talked about summer things to do on the ocean. I think we all need summer! It was a nice day and my back survived relatively well. But then I came home and ended up icing it. I think all the time now either I am freezing cold from lying on an ice pack or having a hot flash with nothing in the middle!!! Very, very, very aggravating!

I think I have been lax on filling you in on PT. I am now down to weekly PT sessions. This is because of slow progress in improvement, full schedule of therapist, and me having to pay a $20 co-pay every time I go. I actually would prefer to go once a week for more weeks than to go twice a week for fewer weeks. I have three more sessions scheduled and then we'll go from there. So this week I don't go back until Thursday. In the meantime, I will do my exercises twice a day. Yesterday I also got a big inflatable ball to incorporate into my exercises as well.

Apparently the cat is upset with me. His food dish was substandard for hours yesterday. He likes his food dish to be full to the brim all day long and have his food nice and level all the time. I have put him on a diet and will only fill his dish in the evening before we go to bed and will even out his food during the day. This isn't good enough for him. He wants more. Well, he is a little pudgy so he needs to suck it up and get over it. And I have the nerve to give him eye drops three times a day as well. His life is so tough! Today I have work to do and will go for a walk before going to work. Such an exciting life I lead.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Uncomplicating things

My life is just so complicated. I mean I try to balance working part time, working from home, going for walks, volunteering, support groups, getting together with friends, hanging out with my husband, cooking, errands, taking care of the cat (most important according to him), keeping up with my blog, facebook, and a million other online communities, reading, gardening, physical therapy, going to the gym, doctors and dentists, and the many other details of my life. So last week I got a brain storm. (I am not sure what I was thinking but it sure seemed like a good idea at the time.) I make my husband's lunch for work every day. It usually is a sandwich, celery and carrots sticks, and an apple. Last week, I said 'what if I make a different entree salad every day'. How smart was that? DUMB!

I have a cookbook with some great salads. I chose (after consulting my husband) chicken Caesar, nicoise, antipasto, taco, and pork noodle salad. Each day a different one. Well, this means the day before I needed to prep a container of lettuce with vegetable toppings, a container of toppings that might make the veggies slimy, some home made dressing, and then anything else needed to round out the salad. For example for the chicken Caesar, there was a lettuce container,a chicken container, a cheese container, and a dressing container. Every day I had to set aside time to make all these different containers. And on the days I had to work or had late meetings, I had to make them the morning of the day before... While we did like the salads - I had the same salads every day - in the future, they will be interspersed individually, once a week or so. Not five days in a row! Very time consuming. This week is sandwich week. Much less complicated.

Yesterday, my back was not reasonable and cooperative at all. I ended up spending some quality time with an ice pack on it. Then I end up being freezing cold and have to put on a sweater and drink some tea to warm up. This morning I got up at 5 and put some ice on it and went back to bed. Its supposed to be getting better damn it! (Great,now I can start lecturing my back on how it is supposed to be getting better - that's an exercise in futility - kind of like training the cat...) I did notice yesterday that my crocuses are really appearing as are tulips and daffodils and iris. No flowers yet but some greens are showing.

Today we are going to celebrate a friend's birthday and going into Boston to walk on the harborwalk and out to breakfast/lunch/brunch/coffee type thing. It should be fun. The weather is going to cooperate mostly. The sun will be shining and there will be a breeze off the tropical North Atlantic ocean... I will wear a warm coat. But it will be good to see my friends. This is all part of that social life I am trying to return to...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The 'cure'

I've been mulling this one around for a while in my head. Several friends have said to me basically that aren't they cured of cancer once they are through treatment? Actually I don't think they are - that's the whole point. There is no cure for cancer. They treat it where it is found and then give systemic treatments as prevention. So I had surgery and then radiation to treat it where it was. Then systemically I had chemo and am on Tamoxifen. But am I cured? No. They got what they could of my cancer but do they know if it is gone for sure? No. Also, once you are in the lucky group to have cancer, you are considered to be more likely to get 'lucky' again and have another cancer or just a return or recurrence of your previous cancer.

So the goal of the elusive cancer cure still goes on. I personally am hoping for the Star Trek version of life where they talk about how they cured cancer back in the 21st century... But I'm still waiting.

Enough moaning and being maudlin for this morning. Its a beautiful spring morning but still a bit chilly. My tulips and crocuses are starting to come up. Perhaps I will see flowers outside sometime soon. That would be very nice. The snow drifts are melting dramatically and parking lots are returning to their summertime sizes. I went for a walk in some conservation land yesterday and it alternated between mud and ice with a little slush in the middle. But I am being optimistic and going to look for containers for my garden this morning.

Last night, we even went out for the evening and had fun. We went to dinner and then saw a Celtic music concert. It was a lot of fun. Fun is a word that has been absent from my vocabulary for a long time. I am going to attempt to return it to my life more frequently in the coming months.

I survived my overscheduled day yesterday and even ended up with a new pedicure of bright pink with green striped. Today I am less over scheduled but am still busy. I am meeting friends, doing a little shopping, going for a walk, writing a press release for American Cancer Society volunteer work (if I write this down I might remember to actually do it instead of just procrastinating), maybe even some work from home, and the highlight of it all will be doing laundry. Some how I need to fit that key ingredient of fun in here... That would be the meeting friends part I guess.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mail order prescriptions

There is this great new invention where you can order your prescriptions by mail and they send them to you. This means you do not have to deal with any 'rocket scientists' at the local pharmacy check outs and wait in lines to drop off your prescription and then to pick it up. You simply need to remember to log on to your computer at the right time and then they show up in the mail.

Back up. What's wrong with that sentence? The key word is REMEMBER. I have chemo brain. I can't remember. For two weeks now, I have meant to refill my prescription so I would get the refill before I run out of my cancer prevention Tamoxifen - something that is near and dear to my heart here. First of all I have to remember to go to my computer. Then I have to remember my user name and password. Then I log in and do I want to refill both prescriptions but they will send me one now and one in a month? Or do I want to remember to do that again in a month. So complicated... Using my brain... That is the problem.

So yesterday I had all sorts of fun and games rescheduling my doctor's appointments. First I call the surgeon's office and get scheduled with him and cancel the radiation oncologist follow up. But she can't reschedule the rads onc because that is outside her department so she offered to transfer me to the right department. But she sent me to the medical oncology department (unless you have had the joys of cancer, you probably didn't know there are many kinds of oncologists). Hang up, call back, get the right department, give them my clinic number (which is the medical version of your social security number) which the receptionist gets wrong and thinks I am a man named Blaine... Start over and finally it is rescheduled.

Now my calendar looks like this: full physical in April, mammogram and surgeon follow up in May, radiation oncologist follow up in August, medical oncologist follow up in November. What is wrong with this picture? What happened to June, July, September and October? What? Maybe I don't have to go to the doctor in those months? What will I do with my time? That's right I am supposed to get a job or something... As long a my back stops hurting and I stop getting tired, gainful employment of more than 20 hours/week is for me.

Otherwise, today is another overscheduled busy day. Just like yesterday. And I overslept. Yes that is right I slept late which is very good considering my back has been keeping me up and night and we are going out tonight. Sleep is a good thing. But since I slept late, I am getting a late start to my day. So time to get moving.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

News and more news, but what to believe?

Yes, I read the paper (and do the cross puzzle and read the comics) and watch the news. There have been some recent stories that appalled me and amazed me. First of all, we have our 'pal' Bernie Madoff. He stole billions in a Ponzi scheme that for some reason went undetected for years. He is going to plead guilty today in court. There will be no trial so we will probably not hear any of the details but we will hear from some of his victims. I think the hope is that he will go to jail for the rest of his life, go directly to jail, and never return to his penthouse. Unfortunately with no trial, we won't hear about how this happened. I heard yesterday that his family is under investigation to see if he had help - which is believed to be the case so perhaps there will be trials later on... after the money is all safely in the Caymans or Switzerland. The appalling part of this is that it was so big and done for so long.

Speaking of appalling, how about the case of the doctor who FAKED HIS RESEARCH. What? How did that happen? I don't know but this is just further proof that all research needs to have additional research to show that it is really the case. This isn't to say that people routinely fake research but just because one test shows it worked doesn't mean it will be reproducible and will work again.

But what is really, really, really appalling is the story of the guy who tried to get out of a lawsuit by claiming he had colon cancer. He had fake doctor letters and even pretended on the phone to be a doctor telling the judge about it.

So we hear about these three losers (or you can feel free to substitute another term in there) and then the media tells us to believe them. How can we? There was a story on BBC recently about a breakthrough in prevention of metastases from breast cancer. But this was only proven to work on mice. So they tell us and now we have to wait a few years before they can prove it might work humans. Sigh. Am I that patient? Not sure. Do I believe the media? No I am more of a skeptic every day.

Otherwise, I had another overscheduled busy day yesterday (surprise, surprise). After work I had a meeting and by the end of it, I was completely exhausted. I went home and went to bed. Why am I so tired? I don't know. Maybe because I haven't been sleeping very well recently. But as a result of being so tired, I actually slept pretty well last night for a change. My back was hurting moderately when I went to bed so I took a pain pill - which might have helped.

Today I am not as over scheduled (saving that for tomorrow) but I do get to deal with unsnarling doctor appointments. I was supposed to have a follow up mammogram in May, per the surgeon. I saw the radiation oncologist in February and she said she would make sure that it was in the computer for May with a follow up with the surgeon and I should come back and see her in August. Well, yesterday I got my latest appointment listing and I have a mammogram for May and an appointment with her on the same day. So now I get to call her office back and the surgeon's office and perhaps the mammogram office to untangle this mess. gee, can't wait. I'll have a book to read while I am on hold. Are you confused now? Well, so am I.

On the other hand, the cat is doing better. And he doesn't hate me for the eye drops (yet) but he does rebel sometimes. More kitty treat bribes required. But his eye looks better.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Anterior uveitis

No, I don't have it, the cat does. It is a relatively common type of cat eye ailment but eye issues are fairly rare for cats. Well, at least we think it is just that. There could be a tumor in his eye which would be a different story. Apparently eye tumors for cats are not that uncommon but are usually contained in the eye. If it was a tumor behind the eye, that's a far different story.

The guess is anterior uveitis and the only way to confirm it is to pack kitty into his carrier and take him to a cat ophthalmologist. He doesn't travel well and would not do well with any transport. So plan A is the shot the vet gave him yesterday followed up with eye drops three times a day. I have to call the vet on Friday morning to see if it looks better. If not, then we go to plan B which may include kitty transportation. I am not sure I can carry him and his box with my back the way it is these days. We will wait and see but at least its not my ailment.

However, I am the one with the three times a day wrestling session to get drops in his eye. He doesn't like them and has already communicated that to me. He is very laid back until he decides he doesn't like something - cat carrier, car rides, pills, eye drops, shots, etc - and then he is very difficult to deal with.

In addition to having the vet here to take care of kitty, yesterday I worked from home, went to PT, met a friend for a walk and went to my support group. Yesterday's PT was not as successful as the previous one. There was no reduction in pain levels. I had some relief after last Thursday's session but the pain has been slightly increasing. Yesterday did not ease up the increase and the discomfort is growing. The therapist tried an ultrasound modality and then an electronic stimulation. She tried the ultrasound last Thursday and I felt better after but yesterday she added the electronic stimulation and said that if it helped, they could see about getting me a machine for home that I could use in the middle of the night if I had significant pain. However, not every one feels relief with the electronic stimulation and I was one of them... Three weeks into PT I would have hoped for more relief. This is disappointing to say the least. But I will go back on Friday and then weekly for three more weeks.

My walk with my friend was very nice - we walked in a place neither of us had ever been to (cemetery along the river) and we hadn't talked in quite a while. Then I went to my support group and for some reason walked out of there feeling more depressed than going in. A support group is a place to discuss our pain points and issues but sometimes it rubs a little too hard and is emotionally upsetting.

Today I will try not to have such high expectations (but it was a full moon yesterday so perhaps that is why). I have to work this morning and want to go for a walk when the rain stops. Then I am going to work and to a meeting and won't be home until about 830 tonight so a long day for me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Exercising and the cat

This morning I did my exercises, as I do twice a day in the faint hope they will improve my back. Four of them are done while lying on my back and one while lying on my stomach. Apparently, this is when the cat believes he should demand my attention by sitting on me. It is counter productive for him to do this but he doesn't seem to care. He either wants to sleep on or next to me (and my hair - which he really likes) or have me feed him. His life is so complicated.

Last night I actually got some sleep so I feel better. I didn't sleep all night but I slept most of it. Perhaps some crabbiness will be avoided. My back seems a little better but I am still reserving judgment at this point. I will talk to the PT about this today and see what she says.

Yesterday I did actually go to the gym because it was snowing. Today I hope it will all melt and my garden will reappear and I can wait for my flowers to bloom.

Today is another overscheduled day; conference call, PT, vet, walk with friend, support group, work from home. Not much. I'll squish it all in.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Signs of spring

Well, first I should say its Boston so spring is kind of iffy for another month or so. But the signs are here:

- We got a 10" snow storm last Monday and it all melted in a week. This is different than January where it sticks around for a month or so.
- I saw a robin. I didn't get my camera out in time but I really did see a robin.
- It was actually nearly 60 degrees two days in a row.
- My crocuses are starting to appear. They are very little still but its a start. I am also at the point where I need to check the garden every day when I leave the house and return. My husband thinks I am crazy (but I know I'm not - maybe just a touch obsessive about it but that's another story).
- The cat once again, after a three month interlude where he didn't care, wants to be an outside cat. He sits in the front entry and pushes on the screen door. Not happening, especially until we find out what is wrong with his eye. (But the vet has been called and we hope to see her this week.)
- It is snowing again today. See its Boston. This is the view out my front door this morning. Yesterday we had grass. Today we have snow.
This is the view out my office window. That road you can see is Mass Ave - which is the main road in town. I use this view to tell if I want to go out or not. If the main roads are bad, they are all bad. They are bad this morning.
So, spring will be iffy for a while but in the meantime, perhaps I will get some flowers.

Speaking of the cat, this morning while I was trying to get a little extra sleep, he decided to sit on me. It is not conducive to easing back pain to have a delicate 16 lb cat sit on you but he can be very persistent. Apparently he had issues. He could see the bottom of his food dish. He wanted some treats. And he was thirsty. Walter doesn't feed him or give him treats usually. Sometimes he will break down but usually leaves it to me so the cat begs me all the time. He never runs water in the sink for the cat which is what he really wants. He was taught this bad habit while he was staying at my parents now it is mostly the only way he will drink water. He doesn't like water in a bowl. He doesn't like the fountain water dishes. He wants running water in the sink (and has been caught drinking out of the toilet - eeeewww!).

I was trying to sleep late this morning because once again my back hurt last night. Grrr, grrr, grrr, grrr. I am not happy. I will talk to the therapist tomorrow about this. I need to be able to sleep. Grrr, grrr, grrr, grrr. Lack of sleep is conducive to crabbiness.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

And a wonderful time was had by all



We went to the beach yesterday - did I forget to say that? It was great. nothing like the beach with blue skies, sunshine, 36 degree water and snow drifts. Yes, snow on the beach. Needless to say we did not go in the water (but there were people wading!!! - they must now be familiar with the term frostbite). There were some snow balls thrown as well. But both of us missed.

After the beach, we went out to the local clam shack for clams which were made to be unhealthy by frying them but I am sure they were organic free range clams out of the ocean. On the way home, I got the brainstorm to stop by and feed my friend's cats who is away for the weekend (the friend is away, the cats are at home). However the brain storm did not include remembering the key to her house so I had to go back over.

We also went out to dinner last night for Chinese food to celebrate my mother's birthday. When the check came, I knew I got the right fortune cookie because the Learn Chinese side was "To see a doctor". Of course, me of all people would need to know how to ask to see a doctor if I was in China. Anyway, today we will eat much more healthily (is healthily a word - I thought I made it up but spell check seems to think its okay). We are also have salad week. Usually I make Walter's lunch every day and usually its a sandwich. This week we are having salads every day. I will make two - one for each of us. The idea is to increase our vegetable intake so as to counteract our non-healthy intake yesterday.

Once again on a Saturday night my back chose not to cooperate. I was up for several hours in the middle of the night and then finally got up this morning early to ice it. Grrr.... The laundry theory doesn't apply because I only did a little laundry yesterday - the rest is waiting for me today. I did find out yesterday that bumpy roads make my back hurt. Grr, grr, grr, grr.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A very important day - we are going to the beach!

Yes, its Boston. Yes, there is snow on the ground. Yes, its March. Yes, the water will be too cold (36.3 degrees - I checked) to swim or wade. But we are going to the beach. The weather forecast for today is sixty degrees - that is ABOVE ZERO. This is one of my favorite places to go in the whole world. I can't wait. And on the way home, we get to stop for clams. My favorite food. I can't wait. (Or did I say that already?) Can you tell I am excited? It will be low tide in early afternoon which means there will be lots of beach to walk on. I can't wait. I can't wait. I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning!

My husband is going to the beach too. He says he will be patient while I take millions of pictures. I can't take millions but I can take a lot - my camera battery is recharging as I write.

In addition to going to the beach and having clams, we are going out to dinner for my mother's birthday tonight and I will do laundry this afternoon. This will be the test. The past two Saturday nights my back has been very sore. I don't know if this is a coincidence or not or if it caused by the one thing I usually do every Saturday - which is laundry. Hmmm... We will see. This is a test.

Speaking of my back, yesterday it was actually mostly okay for the whole day. The PT tried an ultrasound modality on the really sore place on my lower back and it seems to have made a difference. But then today I woke up and it is causing me pain. Grrr!!! But I will just suffer in silence at the beach and while eating clams.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Instability or PT # 4

No I don't have a mental instability. I have a back instability. (I admit I came home and told my husband I have an instability and he couldn't stop laughing - thank you for your support 'dear'.) Anyway, so at PT yesterday I talked to the therapist. She said that we now finally have seem to gotten to a group of exercises which seem to be doing something for me. My back is unstable - which is why it is different or inconsistent at every visit. We are trying to stabilize it. I will continue to go to PT for two visits next week and then one visit a week for the following three weeks and then go from there.

She did clarify one issue. I thought my choices if PT didn't work were - cortisone shot, surgery or back brace and would start with cortisone. She explained that if I was referred to the spine pain center, they would go through a comprehensive set of diagnostics there (and I am beginning to feel like a car in the shop) and then make recommendations and not necessarily for any of those three. It would depend on what they find. In the meantime, I am doing my exercises and continuing my daily walks - I was told that the worst thing I could do for my health would be to stop walking regularly. (Tomorrow we might even walk on the beach because it will be 60 degrees - but there will be snow drifts so no swimming or wading.)

Otherwise, yesterday I had a long day. It started with a 7 am conference call and I got home from work at 630 pm. Today I get to be lazy for an hour or so (read that as waste time on the internet) and then will do some work, have a conference call, meet a friend for coffee, and go back to Trader Joe's for the things I forgot to buy yesterday because I didn't bring a list - crackers and shampoo. Just another little perk from chemo brain - daily trips to the store for the stuff you forget because you can't remember it long enough to write it down.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Off for another over scheduled day

Yes, I am feeling over scheduled again - perhaps I should incorporate that calendar thing into my daily life. I already had a conference call and did some work. Now I am off to my therapist, the gym, Walgreens, Trader Joe's, PT, and then to work at 1pm. Somewhere I there I need to squish in breakfast, a shower, some basic house cleaning, make lunch, and feed the cat enough kitty treats to keep him happy for the day. I am also feeling a little frustrated by the lack of progress with my back but I will go discuss this at PT this morning.

Yesterday, I was a bit busy as well. I went snow shoeing with a friend and worked from home and went to work. I even mopped the kitchen floor (which the cat did not like because God forbid his little paws get wet trying to get near his food dish) and got rid of some of the stuff that has been 'stored' in the basement and unused for 20 years. I guess the rule of thumb is that if you haven't used something for 20 years it has definitely hit the junk category and can be disposed of in a guilt free manner. I actually gave it away on Craigs list to people who will use it.

Now I am already running behind for the day so off I go.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PT Update # 3 - The case of the inconsistent back

Yesterday I went to PT. It was actually kind of interesting as the therapist had a student with her so she was explaining what she was doing and asking the student questions about observations on my back instead of just asking me if things hurt. Apparently, I have an inconsistent back. It is different every time I go. Meaning that sometime it has some twisting or scoliosis like issues and sometimes it doesn't. This is significant in that it means there has been no progress because we haven't figured out what kinds of exercise will actually help me and that there has been no significant decrease in pain level. Which means I am still in the same amount of pain with the same frequency as months ago. (Lack of progress at this level causes significant whininess and crabbiness.) I do my exercises as requested. I do what I am told. I don't break the rules and go to yoga or skiing and it isn't helping. Grr, grr, grr. Every time I go, I get new sets of exercises to try. First I had two exercises, then I got two different ones. Then I got two more. Now I have two of the old ones and three new ones.

Tomorrow, when I go back, I am going to talk to her about what else we can do. Do I get more PT sessions? (My insurance would cover them.) Do we try different things? What else can be done? I am not going to PT for my health - well I am but I want some progress. The therapist told me its just as frustrating from her point of view as mine as we can't find a resolution to this.

In the meantime, Yesterday I did manage to get some work done, go snow shoeing briefly, and go to my support group with a chocolate cake. We had a retirement party for a friend who is going out on disability while she has more treatment. A very yummy chocolate cake that violated every diet law known to man - but that is why it tasted so good. And I did my exercises. Today I am going snow shoeing with another friend and to work but first have to do more work from home. I don't lead an exciting life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Personalized Medical Care

I find this very interesting. There has been lots of talk of the 'one-size-fits-all' route that traditionally has been the route oncologists have taken to treat cancer. Now, the first step to personalizing medical care is underway. Mass General will begin using genetics to personalize medical care. From what I understand (and I am a mere patient), if you go to MGH and are diagnosed with a new cancer, they will do all kinds of genetic testing on it and primarily look at the cancer's genetic make up instead of where it occurs in your body to determine the course of treatment. The theory being why give someone expensive treatment with nasty side effects if it isn't doing much good.

On one hand, this sounds great. They will look at you specifically and say your cancer should respond to this and this but not to that and that so we will give you these and not those. Very cool. But on the other hand, will insurance pay for the tests? Will your genetic make up then be stored in some giant big brother type of database? Right now doctors go by best guess. They look at your cancer and say 90% of the people with this kind respond to this kind of treatment. If it doesn't work, they go on to the next drug. But you can basically become a chemistry experiment while they try to figure it out. Since they don't know what causes cancer, it is not as easy to treat as you might think.

I think that if I am (un)lucky enough to have any more cancer diagnoses, I know what I want for the first round of testing. Enough of this crap shoot medical treatment for me!

Now in the meantime, yesterday we got another little bitty snow storm. About 10". Plenty, thanks. We're all set. No more needed. And its very frustrating because I really, really, really, really want to go skiing. But will settle with snow shoeing. Grr, grr, grr. I also was very productive at home and got lots of work done.

Today, I have PT (and I'll be sure to tell you all how it goes), meeting a friend for snow shoeing and going to my support group where I am bringing a chocolate cake to celebrate a friend's retirement. Chocolate is required to celebrate things like this. Maybe I'll get some work done as well. Maybe I'll just waste time on line. My new time wasting website is www.jacksonpollack.org. Warning, you may be there for hours.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Brain cells wanted!

On Saturday (and its taken me until Monday to remember to write about it), we went to see our tax preparer, run some errands and go to lunch. We even had a list of errands to run - grocery, library, bookstore, etc. We were in the center of town walking around and my husband reminded me that I had also wanted to go to the consignment store to see if anything I had brought in had sold. I had forgotten about that and hadn't brought the receipt I needed so we couldn't go. I have no brain cells. We then had a discussion on how to retrieve brain cells. I think that right up there with curing cancer and the common cold should be research on a way to recover our missing brain cells (and all the missing socks that get lost in the laundry). The really sad part is that I can't remember what I had forgotten for days! I am brain-less.

Yesterday, we didn't do much. I went to the gym. It snowed most of the day but we really didn't get much. It is still snowing and will continue most of the day with the worst part this morning. Darn, and I can't shovel snow. I am so upset (NOT)! I am going to make Walter a nice breakfast so he is well fed before he goes out into the storm to shovel. Then maybe later I will go snow shoeing. It seems kind of silly to snow shoe to the gym to walk on the treadmill when I could simply snow shoe outside.

This is one of those days where school is canceled everywhere (which means I don't have to go to work). Non-essential state employees are told to come in at noon and basically they want everyone to stay off the roads. I can see the main road from here and it is completely snow covered and the plow just went by. However I do have lots of work to do from home which will keep me busy. I have to write two press releases and design three brochures. Otherwise, I think I'll stay here and drink herbal tea all day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A whiney day!

I have decided that I will be whiney today (I will alert my husband to this and he will avoid me). I think I am entitled as I haven't had a whiney day for at least a few days. Why am I going to be whiney:

1. The weather forecast says that we will get some snow flurries today for an inch or so of accumulation and that tonight another storm moves in and we will get somewhere between 8-12 or more inches of new snow by tomorrow afternoon. And I can't go skiing.

2. I am frustrated in my job search. I had an interview with one company last week for another part time job and talked to another guy about more contract work but am stuck in the limbo of 'we'll get back to you' land. This means being patient. I am not always very good at that.

3. The cat did something to his eye so it is all blood shot. We don't know what it is but it has been this way for about two weeks - I apply the two week rule to the cat as well. It is not oozing, seeping, or bothering him but is blood shot. I am worried about him. I talked to the vet and she said we have three choices - wait some more, have her come see him, or take him to an ophthalmologist (evidently there are cat eye doctors - I wonder if they ask them to read an eye chart?) I opted for waiting some more but now I think its getting worse. And its Sunday so I will have to call tomorrow during the snow storm...

4. My back hurts. In case I forgot to mention this my back has been VERY bad. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. I am writing down when it hurts (all last evening and last night) and keeps me up at night (last night I was walking around at 4 am to see if it would help). Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.

5. Hot flashes are a pain in the butt. They are a special side effect from my Tamoxifen. Grrr, grr, grr, grr.

6. It just started snowing. See #1 above.

Maybe I should take my whininess to the gym or something.