Sunday, May 31, 2009

Relay For Life - and the S label

I went to Relay For Life here last night and am going back this mroning (I overslept but still have time for the internet). Its a great event - fund raiser for the American Cancer Society - and takes place in many cities and towns nationally and internationally each year. We hope to raise $80,000+ this weekend.

My only problem with it is that people with cancer are given the S label by the American Cancer Society. I know its their official term and you get to use it starting with the day you are diagnosed. But I don't consider myself a survivor. I am someone living with cancer and dealing with it day to day. This year someone was complaining that the survivor t-shirts don't have the word survivor on them. That's fine by me. I don't want the S label on my body. But I did participate in all the S activities - dinner, walking, pictures, etc.

I also ran into several friends there. Two women who are in my support group and my next door neighbor. I didn't know she was in the same club.

I did take some pictures but will post them later.

Meanwhile, kitty is okay. He goes to the vet tomorrow afternoon and this will mean the end of kitty treats in his life. We will have to find diabetes safe treats for him. In the meantime, he gets to eat all the treats we have for the last day.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Free to cancer people

With a cancer diagnosis, you get free things. Like free weekends away, free dinners, etc. But they aren't really free - because you don't get them unless you have or had cancer. Tonight I am going to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life in town where I have been volunteering. As a 'survivor' (hate that label but it is an official ACS term so I will deal with it for one day), we get a honorary lap around the track at the high school and then a free dinner. After dinner, I will come home and sleep in my nice comfy bed - because I have a bad back there is no way I could stay there all night - and go back in the morning for the closing ceremonies. I was talking to a friend about this and she said she would rather sleep on a cement floor than have cancer. I think that about sums it up.

Yesterday I went to work and then came home and dealt with both the vet and my doctor's office where I had another 'discussion' with them about the whereabouts of the pathology reports for all my recent tests. They said they would print out another set and put them in the mail - a simple request I had made over a week ago. They also fixed my prescription so that it will go to the cheap mail order service instead of the pharmacy around the corner. Very aggravating but now I have the name of someone to call back if my reports don't arrive asap.

I also had a big discussion with the vet about the cat and then talked to Walter in detail. Basically, he has diabetes and nothing else. I also heard from a lot of people who's cats have or had diabetes and found lots of people saying lots of positive things - easy to manage, not too expensive, and cats return to a healthy, beefy, purring state relatively quickly. We are going to try the treatment route. This means two days of observation at the vet where they try to figure out his blood surgar levels and insulin dosage and then a repeat one day of observation a week later. If all is well, then only a follow up every six months. I will call them in a little bit when they open to see about bringing him in on Monday afternoon.

I think the biggest problem with this treatment will be me. I hate needles. I don't know if I can put a needle in him. I am a weinie. But I will go and have them train me and palm as much as I can off on to my husband until I learn to deal.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Aggravation

Yesterday afternoon I received an automated call from Walgreens to say my prescription is ready for pick up. Well, I didn't have a prescription being filled that I knew of. I thought perhaps we forgot to pick one up recently. So I called to find out. It turns out my doctor changed my thyroid medication dosage, didn't tell me and called it into the Walgreens I used to use for prescriptions. Any long term prescriptions I get filled through mail order, which is really cheap. So today I have call back the doctor's office, get the prescription sent to the mail order service, and ask why they still haven't sent me all the reports I asked for, last week.

Also, the vet never called with any results on kitty. I called just before they closed yesterday and they said the results weren't back from the lab. They usually get them the next day but sometimes it isn't until 48 hours later so we should hear today. Its just awful to watch him hobble around. Last night he came upstairs in the middle of the night and I pulled him up on the bed where he slept. He still doesn't seem like he is in any pain which is good.

This morning I am off to my new job again and see what my new boss thinks of the work I left. After work, I will call both the doctor and the vet and get answers - I hope. Tonight we are taking a friend's son out for pizza which means, being a 19 year old, he will get a large pepperoni pizza and eat most of it and we will get a salad and a smaller pizza to share.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Would you want to know?

Yesterday, I posted about an article about this new test that can tell you survival odds after a breast cancer diagnosis based on a blood inflammation. Then I started thinking (which my husband tells me not to do) and realized I am not sure I would want to know. If you are diagnosed with cancer, and they treat you, etc, then over 2 years out they run a test which tells you if you are more or less likely to die within the next few years. But they don't have any new miracle treatments so how helpful is it to be told you are more likely to die and there is nothing new we can do about it.

There are other tests around - the BRCA gene test which tells you if you have the hereditary gene for breast and ovarian cancer or the oncotypeDX test which helps make your decision on chemotherapy easier if you had no positive nodes. Many women who have the BRCA gene have a bilateral mastectomy and oopharectomy so they cant get ovarian or breast cancer as a preventative measure. But this new test just tells you that you are more likely to die. Well that's a great piece of advice. Should you cash in your retirement and move to live on the beach? And then what happens if you don't die - you are broke but have a great tan? Would this just add to the general off the wall stress level of a cancer diagnosis?

I think if it was me, I am not sure I would want to know unless they had a proactive regimen for fixing the odds more in my favor. I wouldn't want bad news and just have to sit around and cross my fingers for years that it would happen to me. Just my thoughts.

I made it back to day two at work. I left some work for my boss to review so we'll see if he likes it. I ran out of time and felt I was just throwing stuff together at the end so I'll have to see what he thinks.

On the kitty front, we have bad news which will probably be followed by more bad news today. I finally called the vet yesterday. They convinced me if he has problems walking I should bring him in ASAP. I wanted to wait for the weekend because of my back I can't carry him in his carrier and they didn't have any appointments on Saturday. So I brought him in and the vet checked him out. He has a rapid heart rate which may be a thyroid condition. She did a quick urinalysis and at the very least he has diabetes. We will get the results of the full test this morning.

The vet says for diabetes they recommend a three day hospitalization to get him stabilized on insulin and then shots once or twice a day for the rest of his life along with monitoring his food and water and regular vet checkups to monitor his blood sugar. And if we opt not to treat him, she recommends euthanizing him. (I can't euthanize a cat who begs for his kitty treats!) So today we'll get the rest of his news and then decide what to do. He is not in pain, he is losing weight and doesn't get around well. Right now he wants more treats.

We did find out he is microchipped and I am going to call this morning and see what I can find out. Maybe we can find out where he is from and what age he really is. We are guessing at 16.

In the meantime, I am going for a walk and then off to work this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is this good news or not yet good news?

In today's paper, there is an article about testing for blood inflammation can give good information on a breast cancer patient's survival chances. Well, yippee. But then if you keep reading, in the study they didn't take into account the patients age, other health issues, etc. So not so yippee. Its another half done test. So it means squat. Why can't they run a complete test? Grrr.. Just something to get me all steamed up again because its not done. I know if I go ask my doctor about it, I'll get the reply 'it isn't finished yet and still needs more research'. Grr, grr.

Well, yesterday I started my new job. After much dithering about what to wear and what time to leave to ensure I wasn't late on my first day, I got to work on time and completely over dressed. The owners wear golf shirts. I might wear a golf shirt today. I am not sure yet but I will wear a sweater since we are expecting a tropical high of 59 today and its rainy. After I left one job I went to my other job and was exhausted by the time I left - even though I left early. But I went home and dragged my husband out for a short walk - well, I took a short walk, he continued to walk and then ran home.

Today I will work until 1 and then come home and go for a walk (or to the gym if its too rainy) and then go to a volunteer meeting. How exciting. My back hurts. Well that's not exciting either. But then I have no life

Update on kitty: he is still struggling around begging for treats and canned food. He inhales his whole can (which is twice as much as he used to get) in a few nanoseconds and then wants treats. He doesn't want to eat his dry food any more, just treats and canned food (but not that bag of treats, just the other kinds). But it is very difficult to see him struggle around the house. This morning he made it upstairs to our bedroom and jumped up (with difficulty) on the bed. But he doesn't seem like he is in pain or uncomfortable. (Just hungry.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Off to my new job

Today I start my new job. I will work 8-1 and then go to my other job and work 130-6. This will be a long day. Because of the holiday yesterday, I am working both. This will be a rare occurrence if I have any say in the matter. I would prefer not to work two jobs back to back - this is the point of part time work with flexibility. Anyway, this distinctly cuts into my time for things like walks, gardening, crocheting, reading, and watching cooking shows on TV but (does allow time for doctor appointments which is really the whole point).

Yesterday I only tried on about 10 things in my closet to figure out what to wear for my first day. I want to be dressy but not too dressy, but I do want to make a good first impression. And I don't want to iron. Anyway I have come up with an outfit that will just have to be plenty, black pants, maroon top, black sweater. I was thinking about a blazer instead of a sweater but I think that is too much for this office.

Now, I also have to figure out how to incorporate my computer time into my getting out of the house on time plan three days a week. I guess some stuff will just have to wait until later - I will stay off FaceBook in the mornings!!!

To celebrate Memorial Day yesterday, we went out for Chinese food for lunch with my parents. I was having a Chinese food craving. Then we made dinner on the grill in the backyard - is it unAmerican not to grill on Memorial Day? Grilled portobello mushrooms are yummy. And when we walked around to the front of the house to come back inside, guess who was waiting by the front door to be let back in?? Our indoor cat! He was just hanging out. He is still hanging in there but he gets wobblier every day.

Unfortunately my stupid back is sore - is that again or still? I am not sure any more. But my next injection is June 1 and maybe it will have more of an effect. You can get up to three cortisone injections spaced six weeks apart every six months if you need it. Some people get relief from one, others take multiples. One didn't work for me, so I am hoping two do.

But off to work before I am late! Its my first day and I want to make a good impression!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Retail therapy

After some deep thought, all I can come up with to write about is my excursion into retail therapy yesterday. (So you can see how boring my life is, if it can be thought to be a life?) My sister is getting married in a few weeks and I need shoes for the wedding - since I am in it, I get to wear what she wants which is black patent leather sandals, something I don't own. So I bought a pair of black patent leather sandals for the ceremony. But they have a heel so I bought a second pair of black patent leather sandals that are flats. So now I will have two pairs. Then I bought myself a pair of fun flipflops for the summer. I always get a new pair. The rules are they have to be fun and they have to be less than $10. I got ones with cork soles and little carved 'shells' on the straps. They look cool and were $9.99. So I got three pairs of shoes.

Because I was going to the shoe store, I also went to the book store. Sharing cars with my husband means he cleaned out both (so there were no pens, nail files, or anything useful in them). He also decided that the map book was old and out of date so he replaced it with a local one - which is fine if you don't go far away. But I got stuck in traffic on Friday, had no map of the area so I couldn't figure out a plan B so I needed a new map book. Because I went to get a map book, I also had to walk by the fiction section and found a new book I hadn't read (sometimes I think I must have read nearly everything out there) and had to get that too. Nothing like a little retail therapy to let you ignore back pain. (But I do get brownie points for going to the Talbot's outlet and not buying anything.)

On the way home, I stopped and got more plants. I had already gotten tomatoes and pepper plants so I only wanted marigolds and maybe some other flowers. In previous years I have grown purple bell peppers but hadn't gotten them this year because my usual source has gone out of business. But I found them yesterday so I had to plant them as well. This means my husband sifts the dirt from the dirt pile and I scoop it into the planters with some compost. Now I have 19 pepper plants - 6 bell, 6 cubano, 6 purple, and one red sweet pepper. I also have 12 tomato plants - 6 roma, 6 yellow cherry, and 6 black cherry (I have never seen black tomatoes so I had to get them). I think that is plenty of plants for this year.

After doing gardening, we can just say my back wasn't happy with me so I put ice on it for a while. Then it felt better for a while but worse last night.

News on the kitty front: yesterday he decided to walk from the arm chair to the sofa on the furniture. For some reason the floor isn't good enough for him and he likes to walk across the tables and other items. But this does require some jumping and flexibility but I consider this a good sign considering his recent state.

See I have no life. I am boring.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A 'Why me?' Moment

I figure I am allowed one of these every so often. Yesterday we went to a friend's wedding. This was a college friend who was in my class which is having its 25th reunion this fall. It was also Episcopal (which meant a lot of standing in church - standing makes my back hurt) and very nice and then a champagne and cake reception in the church hall. There were several college friends there as well - so we are all the same age basically.

At the reception I was looking around at all my friends standing and talking while I was sitting down to see if I could get my back to hurt less. I couldn't stand and talk for more than a couple of minutes. One friend was telling me how she is worried about her mother in law who has had four surgeries in the past five years - I've beat that count - but the thing is she is seventy something and I am forty something (but really only 29 if you must ask). I basically had a 'why me' moment? I couldn't even stand and talk to my friends who I never get to see. Two years of feeling like crap over something is really getting old. Okay, moment over. I'm done. Back to reality.

Today, I have errands to run, shoes to buy, go for a walk, get ready for work on Tuesday - the most important thing - and possibly more gardening. I went for the interview nearly two weeks ago and I was never sent directions so I used Google maps and got myself there - to the back of this big industrial park with pot holes - kind of scary. But then when I left, he gave me directions on how to get out of there more easily. But I don't know any landmarks for the last turn of the short cut so I have to figure this out for my first day. But Google is my friend, Google knows everything. I will find out what I need. (Put in the address at the intersection where I need to turn and find out what businesses pop-up.)

On the kitty news front, Friday night we were eating dinner outside and guess who escaped out the front door and came and found us in the back yard - this means he rambled around the front yard, down the side stairs and then across the yard. I actually was happy to see that he is still capable of and wants to get out and explore. I think this shows he is not that badly off. But still he doesn't come up stairs any more unless he thinks we slept too late and skipped his food or treats. His mobility is limited but otherwise he seems fine. Even a little perkier in the past couple of days.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why am I up so early?

Three guesses, and the first two don't count. I woke up and my back started to hurt. I had several choices - lie in bed and suffer, take pain pill and be loopy all day, or get up and put ice on my back and play on the internet. I went with plan C. The cat is happy because he got breakfast early. But I left my ice pack out of the freezer last night so I have to use the little lumpy one which isn't as effective but still makes difference.

Yesterday I did get to the beach. It was a great thing to do on a 90 degree day. But while driving to the beach, I learned something new. Reason 1,000,001 for not driving and talking on the phone - you won't pay attention to where you are going and might get a tiny bit lost. Needless to say, I will pay more attention in the future.

Today we are going to a wedding of an old friend, his second. It should be very low key with a cake and champagne reception in the church hall following the ceremony. There should be a bunch of old friends there as well who we never get to see.

But first, we are going out for our morning walk - when my husband wakes up. Then maybe some gardening. I wish my back would stop hurting! Grrr.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A new motto

Yesterday I went for a walk with a friend and then for Thai food for lunch where they bring out fortune cookies, which I think is kind of weird because they are usually in Chinese restaurants. My fortune said: "We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes." I think this might be my new motto. (On the back, it also gave me lucky numbers and the Chinese word for winter.)

While we were walking yesterday, I admit it was hot and my back hurt a tiny bit and my friend is on chemo so we weren't in the best shape, we were talking about how far we walked, could we make it back, and maybe we should drive the three blocks to the restaurant. We said we must sound really old and decrepit. But we're still here and that's the important part.

Last week, I went for a walk with my sister and her fiance's dog (not the fiance, just the dog) and the dog ran behind me and his leash rubbed against the back of my knees leaving a raw gash. No blood, just an owie (to use a technical term). I have been checking it every day and putting bacitracin or neosporin (or something like that) on it twice daily every since in an effort to make it heal. So yesterday, lo and behold I found out my stupid rash is back on the back of my leg. Grr, grr, grr! So I called the dermatologist, because she wanted to know if it returned, and I go back in a couple of weeks to get it checked and possibly a steroid injection on it. Most frustrating. Why can't it just go away and leave me alone?????

So today, in an attempt to overdo things a bit again, on my last 'day off' (starting next week I will basically work five days a week again - eek!) I am meeting a friend for a walk, going to the beach, and maybe run a couple of errands. Not much. But guaranteed to make my back hurt and tire me out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is it time to rename my blog?

When I first started my blog, I called it 'Caroline's Cancer Blog' because I was all freaked out and convinced that cancer was running through my body. Then I changed it to 'Caroline's Breast Cancer Blog' because I got to focus on only one cancer mostly. But now that it is somewhat resolved (or as resolved as any cancer diagnosis can be - which is never really gone, just currently not being treated, but still hanging over your head), is it time to rename my blog?

Should it be 'Caroline's Whiny Blog'? I mean I know I whine a bit (and more than a bit if you ask my husband for his personal opinion). But is it now more appropriate because all I do is whine about my continual medical ailments. Perhaps it is a little negative.

Or it could be 'Caroline's Crabby Blog' because I talk about being crabby as a result of my medical ailments. Back pain makes one crabby. Cancer makes one crabby. Gall stones, gall bladder surgery, MRI's, blood tests, and waiting for doctors to call back all can induce crabbiness. But again perhaps it is a little negative.

Maybe it should be 'Caroline's adventures in the medical world'. Or would that imply that I am a medical professional? Which I am clearly not. I am merely a not so patient patient.

It certainly shall not include the words 'Cancer Survivor' in the title because I am not a cancer survivor. I survived a lot of medical appointments (27 so far this year, 79 last year, and 55 in 2007 if you are keeping count - is there a frequent shopper discount card I can get?) but I am merely a cancer person or someone living with cancer. It doesn't go away. It lurks in the background (or did I already say that) for the rest of your life. (Note: The only reason I know how many medical appointments I have had is I keep a spreadsheet of all medical expenses so I can deduct them on our taxes - because I am cheap.)

I guess I need to think about this some more and get back to you.

In the meantime, yesterday was an okay back day - meaning I wasn't in a lot of pain by the end of the day. But I did wake up in the middle of the night and realize that there was no way I was getting back to sleep without taking a pill. This morning my back (lower, middle, upper) and neck are instituting a rebellion of some kind. I will do what I always try to do - and ignore them until they make my life miserable and then take a pill (and hope it doesn't make me too loopy). I am meeting a friend for a walk and Thai food and then going to work for the afternoon.

Yesterday I did get a lot of work done. My aunt called me to see about getting together and I couldn't because I had too much work to do. She said I always write about work but never say what I do. I am a marketing communications professional to use fancy words. (In layman's terms it can be said that I make junk mail and spam... Well, sort of, but not really, the goal is to find the people who want to receive the stuff I send out before it goes out.) I work for two small companies on a contract basis and for a local community ed program where I layout their catalogs among other things. I start a new job next week doing marketing for a small company who sells personal protective equipment (air masks, knee pads, etc) and scientific instrumentation. So I do lots of stuff. Sometimes I go to work and sometimes I work from home in my tidy little office (with the cat begging for treats at my feet) in my pajamas.

Speaking of the cat, his mobility is decreasing but is ability to beg for treats, food and water has not. His real problem is I haven't found any more catnip flavored treats for him. They are his current favorite (yes he has favorite foods) and we ran out. I will find some today. I think that's the least I can do. We should all eat our favorite foods frequently. Even if they are unhealthy. Life is too short not to enjoy what we like, but that's a story for another day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back pain

But first some comic relief:


As you might have noticed I have mentioned a few times that my back hurts, a lot, often, basically most of the time (on a scale of 1-10 of pain, on a good day its about a 3 - see here I'm going for the sympathy vote here - or you can call it whining because I am very good at that these days). I have anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and pain meds. But there are still nights where I don't sleep much which leads to crabbiness and other side effects.

But being an experienced patient, I also went to the internet and found all sorts of 'medical cures' for back pain. Many of which I have tried including exercises, exercising, anti inflammatories, and physical therapy. As well as the usual assortment of snake oil salesmen that inhabit the internet. 'Buy our $50 video and you will learn how you can cure back pain through deep breathing.' I know better than to believe what I read on the internet (unless its on Facebook and then it MUST be true).

My next stop was the library where I found a book called 'Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief: How to manage, reduce and control chronic pain'. Unfortunately I haven't learned much that is new. 'Four out of five Americans will have at least one bout of back pain during their lifetime... In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons for health care visits and missed work.' It also talks about chronic pain cycles, behavioral and emotional. Then it talks about the costs of chronic pain - physical deconditioning, loss of sleep, emotional upheaval, etc. However, it does explain some of my prescriptions that I didn't really understand how they work and it includes locks of icky pictures of really big needles going into someone's spine. There's even information on alternative medicines and therapies including chiropractic - which apparently is best for low back pain that has been present for less than four weeks - which is clearly not the case for me at all. (I have pain from my neck down and it has been around for nearly six months.)

But again, no silver bullet here for pain relief. But there are a lot of ideas about managing chronic pain which I will definitely have to read more on (and perhaps actually renew the library book so I can continue to read it but with chemo brain I keep forgetting to read it - maybe I need to finish my chemo brain book before I move onto my back pain book).

Needless to say, I used to get to whine about cancer but now I have moved on to back pain? Is this progress? I'll have to figure that one out.

In the meantime today I am going to the local garden club's plant sale and then doing work from home. I might squeak in a manicure as well. But otherwise I get to hang out with the cat. Starting next week I'll be way too busy to hang out with the cat so I have to make the most of it this week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A really long wait

Two years ago, I remember sitting in my surgeon's office waiting for him to come in and talk about the next steps in my treatment. As I was waiting, I could hear him talking to another patient (in his 'church whisper' voice which always carries) and say to her "You are fine. Come back and see me in a year." I was very jealous as I wished he would say that to me. Finally after two years, that's what he told me.

I went for my mammogram yesterday morning. They took the images (and I found out don't talk during the images - you can breathe but not talk - or they have to retake them but its all digital so they know in 15 seconds if they have to retake them) and sent me back to wait in the waiting room so the radiologist could read them. But then they called me back in to say they needed more images and they wanted to mark all my surgical scars first and sent me back to the waiting room. (How was my stress level? Well, I took 1/4 of an ativan which helped but I admit to being a tiny bit stressed.) Then they came and got me again and told me everything was fine. GIANT SIGH OF RELIEF. I went up to see the surgeon and heard the magic words. Yes, I am happy.

Then I asked the surgeon about what about follow ups, etc. He said I will now see his nurse practitioner once a year after my mammogram, unless I have any problems. He congratulated me on making it to two years - most of the time if you are going to have a recurrence it happens in the first two years. He did say due to my aggressive treatment that I have a 2%-5% chance of my cancer recurring at this point and a 10% chance of getting a new cancer in the next ten years. How does that make me feel? I don't know. It will be what it will be. We can't predict the future. They still don't have a cure or a cause. But maybe if it does come back, they will know more by then.

A note on taking 1/4 of an ativan and going anywhere. I thought I was fine. Well, I had to practically dump out my purse to find the stupid ticket for the parking garage, I paid and headed for my car, and started driving out of the garage. I couldn't find the damn ticket again so I pulled over and really started looking. It was in my pocket. I didn't remember putting it there at all. Ativan makes me loopy. I thought 1/4 of one would be okay. But perhaps not. I will remember this for the future.

Now, what am I going to do? My big goal is to get a life. I mean I have a life sort of but it was really focused on cancer. It would be nice to move on but unfortunately I think the next issue will be back pain. Two years of cancer followed by how long of back pain? My health should not run my life. But in the meantime, I will work on getting a life. I start my new job on Tuesday. I still have my first job. Perhaps I will take a third job but will see what happens in the next few weeks. To celebrate this on Friday I am going to the beach and going to have clams. I can't wait.

Today I think I have some contract work to do as well as go to work and for a walk and some gardening. The weeds are winning and gardening is known to cause back pain.

Kitty note: He is still getting around and being annoying. He wants treats. He wants more treats. No, he wants the other kind of treats. I made tuna fish for Walter's lunch while he was in the kitchen - big mistake. He is a pest. But he is hobbling around. He does not seem to be in any pain and his appetite is going strong.

Monday, May 18, 2009

An adventure


Yesterday I went on an adventure. I met some cancer friends up in NH. We had a great lunch (of gigundo portions) and lots of laughs. We are planning a road trip to visit some other cancer friends in October in Indiana. We will now look at plane, car rental, train options and figure it out. All I know is that any number of women with chemobrain on a road trip will require a GPS but someone has one so we are all set in that respect. In picture, front row: Norma Jean, Betsy (Bunky's Mom), Shirley; back row: Ellen (Scarlett), Cindy D., Mia, Kathyann, and me.

Before I went up to see everyone, Walter and I went for a walk. When we left it was sprinkling a little, then it started to pour when we were at the farthest point in our walk, and we walked home upwind in the rain. We were a bit soggy when we got here.

Today is all about stress. Scanxiety too. Mammogram this morning and perhaps it will be clean? That might be nice. Its been two years since I had a clean one. Last one they said: probably benign, six month follow up. Which means they saw things they weren't sure about. I have lots of scar tissue and lots of radiated scar tissue which can cause some confusion. Anyway, I am stressed this morning so I got up early and went for a walk. I have to leave in an hour and have to run around, take a shower, get dressed, and get organized. This fast schedule gives me less time to sit around and stress.

Now I will say the cat is not doing much better. One friend yesterday said that feline diabetes can cause issues with their hind legs so we looked up feline diabetes and he has all the other symptoms. But we would need a blood and urine test to tell and that probably means a trip to the vet and a car ride in his carrier which is total trauma for him. And if it is diabetes, we would have to give him shots once or twice a day for the rest of his life. I hate needles and can't imaging injecting him. Otherwise, he still acts normal, begs for treats, follows me around, and demands attention so we will continue to wait and see.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I am so stressed

Tomorrow I go for another try for a clean mammogram. I haven't had one in two years. Red stress level.

I found the mothership of rocket scientists

They work in technical support at Norton antivirus. Yesterday I had another interlude with them trying to fix the antivirus software on my husband's computer. After taking forever, the tech support rep I was chatting with asked me if there was anything else I needed so he could close out the query. I asked him two questions, he answered half of one and disconnected the chat session. He thoughtfully provided his manager's email in his closing signature so I made sure I sent a nice message about the quality care I received. I do not expect a reply because based on my experiences with them, I can't see them taking the time. Enough of that rant but you can expect more because now I have to deal with them again for both of my computers because the idiot didn't answer my last two questions.

Yesterday I was brave and bought tomato plants and put them out. A lot of people around here say don't put them out until May 30. I looked at the long term weather forecast and I don't think we will have a frost so I did it. If it does get cold, I'll cover them up with newspaper. I did find out that gardening makes my back hurt. Which sucks because I like gardening. But I am taking an ergonomic gardening class in June so maybe I can learn some tips.

Today I am meeting up with some cancer friends in NH for the afternoon. It should be a good time and distracting from my orange level stress for tomorrow. Now I have to motivate because my husband agreed to go for a walk with me this morning (a rare occurrence) and he is 'patiently' waiting for me down stairs.

Kitty update: he is moving around less and less. He still can make it up stairs but he could barely jump up on the bed this morning. However, he still needs many kitty treats to make it through the day.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A long day

Yesterday was a long day. I met my sister to help plan her wedding next month - we have plenty of time - 36 days to be exact. But I lent her a lot of things from my wedding so it was a good start. We also took her fiance's dog for a walk. (Or he walked us. The giant black lab.) And he ran behind me while on his leash and I have a leash burn on the back of my knee - ow. But it makes me forget my back pain.

I also went to the funeral and family dinner for an old family friend. It was nice. But sad but she had been sick for a long time so it was time.

I also heard from the physician's assistant on my blood work - she sent me my Vitamin D levels. What about the rest of my counts? What about my ultrasound? I want to know!!! I'll call Monday. Grrr...

Yesterday I also bought some plants for my garden. I got some trailing flowers for the hanging boxes, impatients for the side gardens, and something else I can't remember (but I have chemo brain so that's my excuse). Today I will go get my tomato plants and some other plants. Then I will play in the garden this afternoon. And it will rain tonight and everything will be nicely watered.

Oh, yes, I got a job yesterday. Another part time job - 15 hours/week, 30 minutes from home. Its a little farther than I wanted but in this economy I am not being picky. I'll work three mornings a week and then work two or three afternoons at the community ed. Finally some positive cash flow. The big dilemma - what if the other job that I interviewed for comes in? Could I do three jobs? Hmmm.. But I do have a back up plan. I start the new job May 26 and the other lady said I would hear from her around June 8 so if the first one isn't as good as I expect, I still have something in the works. But in the meantime, I get to stop haunting Monster and Craigs List.

Daily kitty note: He is losing weight and can't jump up on lots of things any more. He definitely is having problems with stairs as well. We are debating moving his litter box upstairs from the basement. He still doesn't seem to get enough treats which we find very encouraging. And for brief interval this morning acted like a psycho kitty which is another positive sign.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another day

Another tiny step. Yesterday I never heard back from the physicians assistant but I did get the pathology report on my annual chest xray: Minute nodule left upper lobe is unchanged measuring less than 4 mm. Likely granuloma. Otherwise lungs clear. Surgical clips anterior/superior mediastinum noted. Otherwise cardiomediastinal silhouette normal. Degenerative change in dorsal spine, minimal. No interval change in appearance of chest. Minute nodule left upper lobe is stable. This means I have surgically implanted clips, degenerating disks (big surprise - not!) and the annual picture of my granuloma is identical to previous years. I still need my other test results. But as I am a patient patient, I will keep waiting (and suffering in silence).

Today I am busy. Volunteer work, wedding prep stuff with my sister, walk, real work, and then to a funeral. A family friend died last week. She was 85 and had alzheimers for several years. She is someone who was around all through my childhood. I have many memories of ski trips, camping trips, and other adventures where she and her family accompanied ours. They are memories to be treasured.

Also today I am going to call and change my oncologist. I have thought a lot about this. My oncologist left to go into research or something so the hospital assigned me a new one. A friend had her as her oncologist and had many issues with her. I can't deal with a doctor's attitude in the middle of my health stuff so I am opting to go with a different one. I am also bracing myself to deal with another 'rocket scientist'. I have to get Norton anti-virus on to my laptop. I did this before but then had to reformat the hard drive so I have to start over. Norton only hires 'rocket scientists' so I will grit my teeth and have another cup of coffee before beginning the process.

Yesterday I also had a job interview. Yes in the midst of all this, I am still trying to find another job. I want to work a couple of part time jobs and juggle them to give me flexibility and avoid the stress of full time work. Then I got an email from the interview I went to last week. The subject line was "Many thanks". I thought that was the thanks but no thanks notice. But it wasn't. It was 'ping me in the first week of June if you don't hear from me sooner email'. Could this be two live job options? What if I had three part time jobs or am I insane? (No don't answer that. We all know I am insane.) But I am hanging in here at the orange alert level.

A daily check on the cat: he is okay. He is sleeping a lot. His back legs are not right but he does walk around. He is eating and drinking okay and doesn't seem to be in any pain (but feels terminally deprived of an adequate intake of kitty treats).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some more news

I called the pain doctor's office back yesterday and spoke with the same person who told me on Monday the nurse would call me back. She said she would check and lo and behold the nurse called me back about ten minutes later. She said that sometimes it takes them a week to get back to people. If I had known that I would have been more patient. Anyway, the next step is ANOTHER big needle in my back. But not until June - they have to be spread out so the work most effectively. I have my pills in the meantime so I will struggle along (and suffer in silence as I do so well) in the meantime.

I also called back the physician's assistant about the ultrasound results and found out she wasn't in yesterday. I said I was fine to wait to talk to her but wanted her to call my cell phone so she might actually reach me instead of just playing a game of never ending phone tag.

The cat seems okay today. He mowed down his food - I wish he would stop to breathe when he eats. Don't get your fingers between him and his bowl of canned food - you might lose one or two! But he does seem fine. He is sleeping a lot and doesn't seem to be in any kind of pain. We are going to wait and see what happens and if he is in pain, paralyzed or incontinent, we will worry about it then. In the meantime, he is happy to supervise the bird feeder and protect the house from potentially invading chipmunks.

Today I have a busy day. I want to go for a walk this morning and then a job interview before going to work. There actually seems to be life on the job market these days - there now seem to be jobs out there and people are responding to resumes. This is my second interview in as many weeks and I have had several phone interviews as well. But anyway, I will not get a job if I play on the internet all morning!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

News on the medical front

Yesterday was all kind of medical news. First I will start with the cat. (I swear he is playing games with my mind as part of an evil plot to drive me insane.) The vet called me back and said if he is having problems with his back and rear legs this is probably a sign that all the things we have treated recently are related in some big bad way and the only way to find out what it really is would be to take him for expensive tests and x-rays. Currently he is acting normally, begging for kitty treats, drinking out of my water glass, demanding attention, etc and seems to be feeling no pain.

We are in wait and see mode for now. It is sad but he is also perfectly happy to eat kitty treats day in and day out and beg for canned food. But his mobility is definitely impaired and I think he has some vision problems at least in one eye. But he's happy and not in any apparent pain.

Second medical news is that I went to the dermatologist yesterday to find out about my rash and get my stitch out. The biopsy was inconclusive. I have either eczema, psoriasis, or an allergic reaction to a medication. But it is not cancer. (There is a rare form of breast cancer that manifests itself as a rash.) So the plan is to wait and see if it returns. The weird thing is that if it is eczema or psoriasis it should respond to the steroid cream I was given and it doesn't really. One spot will take more than four weeks to go away... even if I treat it. If it does return, I am to call and she said she can try injecting (oh, joy, another needle) into the spots and see if that helps at all.

Third medical news is that the pain doctor's office did not call back. I called on Monday and left a message. They called me back and said they would give my info to the doctor and have the nurse call me back. I know the doctor was in surgery on Monday so he probably didn't get the message until yesterday so I assume that the nurse will call today. If she doesn't call this morning, I will call again and see what's going on. Sometimes, they just schedule appointments for you and don't call.

Fourth medical news is that the physician's assistant I saw a couple of weeks ago called me on Monday to say that she had the ultrasound results and they were normal (just like the doctor's message said) but that she would call me again to discuss them. She didn't call yesterday so I will call today and leave my cell number so may be we can actually connect. If its normal, why do the messages keep saying they want to discuss it?

Final news on the medical front is not about me or the cat but Farrah Fawcett. There was an employee at UCLA medical center who was selling her medical information to the National Enquirer. She set up a sting to figure out what was going on - even though she was in treatment for cancer. I admire her. She is speaking up for what is right even though she is at a very difficult point in her life.

Today I am going for a walk and going to exterminate the nasty weed that is invading my garden. This involves an expedition behind our house and possibly climbing up the retaining wall. (But don't tell Walter, he thinks I should wait and let him do it.) I also have mundane things to do like - paying bills, possibly some ironing. Life goes on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why should the government get all the fun?

We are now living with Homeland Security's alert levels. I don't think they should get all the fun. I think we should have stress levels as well. I tried to find the definitions of the alert levels on line but couldn't so here is what I think they are:

Blue - the level we will never go back to unless we have world peace
Green - no major risks, feel free to do what you want
Yellow - the level we will live at and never be able to carry sharp objects or liquids on airplanes
Orange - the scarier level which means we will have to be x-rayed to go on airplans
Red - the really scary level which means we should all move the remote wilderness and become self sufficient.

As a comedian noted recently, what are you supposed to do when the alert level changes? No one knows. They invented these but they never told the general public what they are supposed to do. What are we lemmings? We will blindly follow their directions at the time? I don't know but I do know that I have my own stress levels and I know what to do.

Blue - this is the healthy level, there is nothing wrong with you and you never have to go to the doctor.
Green - you go to the doctor for follow ups for little things occasionally.
Yellow - you have some things wrong with you and get lots of tests
Orange - you have lots of things wrong with you and are waiting for tests so you get to take anti-anxiety meds
Red - you have lots of things wrong with you and are waiting for the results of texts so you get to take lots of anti-anxiety meds.

I think I usually live at the yellow level but this week is the orange level. I have pills. I'll be able to deal unless additional stress happens. Then I don't deal well and get crabby.

Speaking of additional stress, I have decided the cat is playing games with my mind (or what I have left of a mind). First we had the weird eye thing. Then we had the lump on the jaw. This morning he was having problems moving his hind legs. For about 30 seconds that is. While I called the vet. As soon as I hung up, he was walking pretty much fine. We have noticed his back legs and feet seem a little weird recently but for half a minute this morning in the kitchen, he couldn't move them. I called the vet, Walter carried him to the couch, I hung up from the vet, he walked back in to the kitchen for treats. He is playing mind games!!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Allow me to summarize

I have to prepare for my call to the pain doctor to review how my back is doing since my cortisone injection two weeks ago. One word: pain. Actually, I will expand on it a little. For the first few days after the injection, I was feeling some what better. My husband even commented that I was a bit 'perkier' (his word, not mine) than I had been recently. Then came the evil car ride to Vermont - 3.5 hours in a car - where I figured out my back doesn't like car rides. It was followed by an evening of lots of pain (and meds and ice packs) and then incredibly painful leg cramps in the middle of the night. The next night was almost as bad. But I prepared for the ride home with help from an ice pack and a pillow.

Week two was a little better but I did have some significant leg cramps and pain issues. Mostly my hips and lower back and pinching on my spine, and pain radiating up into my shoulders and neck when its really bad. Like right now, my spine is pinching, my shoulders and neck are stiff and sore and my calf aches where I had really bad cramps in it last night. And today I am a tad 'loopy' because I took a muscle relaxant at 4 am because of my leg cramps. I hope it wears off before I need to drive because perhaps I might not be functioning properly for a few more hours. Now I can just call my doctor's office and tell him to read my blog.

Actually I will call him and see what the next steps are - more shots or something new. As long as its not surgery, I pretty flexible.

Today, I am somewhat busy but not overscheduled. A walk, some phone calls, some work from home, meet a friend for coffee and go to work. Only one more day of this annoying stitch in my leg from where they biopsied my rash. If I clean it twice daily and cover it with a new bandaid, I get giant red marks from the bandaid adhesive (just my sensitive skin acting up). But if I leave it uncovered the thread from the stitch catches on things. Grr, grr, grr.

But meanwhile, I need to motivate and focus (even though I am 'loopy') and go for my walk.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another rocket scientist

In an attempt to prove that we really do have a life, last night we went into Boston, had dinner and then went to a comedy show (but we went to the 7pm show because we are basically wimps). It was a nice night. We even took the subway into Boston - but avoided the area where the driver was texting and crashing subway cars. (Personally I think he should be fired and prosecuted criminally but that's another story.)

We went to a British pub type place which advertised English pints of beer. That is 20 oz. which is a bit more beer than I wanted but they did have some good British beer on tap. I said to the waitress (a/k/a rocket scientist) 'do you have half pints of beer?' Having been to England, I know they usually sell beer in pints and half pints. Her reply (and I am not making this up) 'No, we don't have half pints. We have 10 oz glasses.' I said 'fine, I'll have a 10 oz glass'. Last I heard 10 was half of 20 so if they have 20 oz pints, 10 oz would be a half pint. Needless to say I got a small glass of British beer which is what I wanted.

Then when she brought our meals, Walter wanted a small beer. He said 'can I have a 10 oz Guinness?' Her reply (and I'm not making this up) 'do you mean a half pint?' Apparently somewhere between our appetizers and our entree's delivery, she learned the that half an imperial 20 oz pint is 10 oz.

Anyway, we had a nice evening drove the ten minutes home from the subway in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm. But I did get a good night's sleep last night and feel much more human today. Yesterday I was a 'touch crabby' and was informed that if I didn't take a nap before we went, we weren't going.

Today, I only have a few billion things to do - perhaps I will be a 'touch crabby' again if I am not careful. I am going to the grocery store, the farm stand, for a walk, do some gardening, fold laundry, help my mother at her art show this afternoon, and send a thank you note with writing samples from my job interview Friday.

This actually has me in a quandry. The woman I interviewed with asked for writing samples so I gave her two press releases I had written. She said she wants more and wants me to send her links to things on line with explanations of my contribution. Most of the stuff I have written in recent years has been background materials which are not on line and the stuff I wrote earlier (before everything went online) I only have in hard copy. So my plan is to dig through my archives (a/k/a the piles of crap in my office) and find some samples to send her snail mail with a nice note. At any rate it has to go out today so that she gets it before she leaves on vacation for 2.5 weeks.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I did what I wanted to do


Yesterday, I said I was going to be productive and I think I did a darned good job. First, I did call the doctor about my ultrasound. At first, the nurse said 'the doctor will review your results and either she or the PA who put in the order will call you with the results. This will probably be Monday, unless its urgent and then it will be today.' Of course, they called when I was busy and left a message 'the doctor reviewed your results and they are normal but the PA will call you Monday to give you the details.' If its normal, what is there to tell me? Call me confused.

I also said I was going to ace my job interview. Well I did go and met with them but now I need to send a thank you and some more writing samples. I am trying to figure out what samples to send...

I also got caught up on my volunteer work. And went for a walk. And went wedding dress shopping with my sister (and she finally bought a dress). And I got a manicure pedicure - the highlight of my day - coral fingernails and bright green toes. I am not kidding. They are bright green.

Today I have a lot to do. I am only up so early because my husband had to go into work this morning. I am going to meet friends, go for my walk and then we are going into Boston to go to dinner and see a comedy show.

On the medical front, my cortisone shot finally seems like it might be doing some good. But there is still a long way to go here. Right now, I have less tingling in left leg, but still get severe hip pains. My back has some 'significant' areas of pain. I'll call the pain doctor Monday and see what they want to do. When we were at the conference last weekend, one of the presenters, who was a doctor, said there is no reason for anyone to be in pain ever. Well, I'm all for that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Its time for the crabbiness to end.

I need a return of 'my cherub-like demeanor' to quote the comedian John Pinette (who we are going to see tomorrow night). I have been a touch crabby recently (in case you haven't noticed) and I think this is due to the fact that I haven't been sleeping well between back pains and leg cramps (so bad that I wake up in agony). Also, perhaps we should add a touch of scanxiety as I wait for the results of my ultrasound. And add in a touch of stress over job hunting. Finally, sprinkle in a little guilt for not getting all the volunteer work done that I need to because I have been busy.

Today I am going to call the doctor for the results of my ultrasound. Then I am going to a job interview with a plan to ace the interview. Finally, I am going to get caught up on my volunteer work. And take a walk. I admit I am a slacker. I missed my daily walk on Saturday and again yesterday. That is twice in one week. It is a big stress reducer for me. By the end of today I hope to be a new person. (Gotta have dreams, don't I?) Monday I will take on the pain doctor for advances there.

Yesterday was an incredibly long day. I was at the conference at 730 am. I stayed until noon when I stopped briefly at home because Walter got home early. Then I went to work from 1-7. I was tired and crabby. I think I shouldn't be tired and crabby all the time but the being in pain thing is not conducive to preventing this.

Right now I have to motivate if I am going to stay on schedule. I am going for a walk, right now, no procrastinating. My calf muscles have huge knots in them from leg cramps last night so this may be more of a 'hobble' at first but I am going to get moving.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

They must have confused me with someone else

First of all, I would like to mention that yesterday somewhere online I was reading and people were using the word 'scanxiety' like it was a real word and not something made up by us cancer people. Then I looked it and here it is: scanxiety 'the tension which builds particulary amongst those who have or have had cancer as they move towards their regular check up scan, hyperscanxiety being the period as they await results!' I couldn't have said it better myself. I also agree with the hyperscanxiety which follows. Perhaps that is the state I am in now, combined with increasing back pain issues that allow me to whine a lot these days.

Anyway, yesterday I went off to my volunteering. I was going to the annual conference for the New England Direct Marketing Association where my official title is 'exhibitor wrangler'. This means when all the exhibitors come in, I help them find their booths and see if they have what they need to set up - like chairs and extension cords. And help them move around if they don't like where they are ('their booth is hiding my booth, they need to move it back'; 'that booth is blocking the wheelchair ramp, you need to move it'). But generally we have fun and sit around and talk and meet people that I met last year. This is I think my third year doing this but last night they told me they thought it was my fourth. This morning I go back to the conference and am due there at 7 am (which will be 715 at the rate I am going).

I got an email earlier this week saying I was invited to the dinner on Wednesday night. I politely declined as I had another meeting to attend. Then they asked me again and I said 'no really I have another commitment'. Yesterday when I arrived I was told 'are you sure you can't stay for dinner?' 'No sorry, I have a meeting from 6-8pm for another volunteer commitment.' 'Would you change your mind if I said you were getting an award at the dinner?' In that case, I did change my mind. I canceled on the other group, do feel guilty for it but did receive a 'Distinguished Service Award' for my skills in 'exhibitor wrangling' at the conference each year. I was totally surprised and very grateful. And it made me feel like may be I am getting back to being a normal person.

But the big news of the day is that Walter is coming home this morning and I don't have to pick him up tonight. Which i good because I am going to the conference until1 1245 pm and then going straight to work until 7 pm. He's cooking dinner. I will leave instructions. The cat is better. He is now done with antibiotics which is good because I was sick of the twice a day challenge. Now my back just has to stop hurting and I would feel lots better. But I am already running late so I have to get moving now!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I am having a crabby week

I decided that I am having a crabby week. Why you ask? Because my stupid health is running my life. I am sick of doctors, pains, pills, co-pays, medical procedures, and all the related stress. I am supposed to be getting better and getting my life back and I have already been to the damn doctor 24 times since January. Yes, some of that was PT but still too many damn trips. You get to a point where even if you are going to the doctor for a relatively minor issue - say skin rash or a PT visit - its a mini trip around the roller coaster and it brings emotions back to the surface. I think one of the best ways to to be stressed out health issues is to stay far away from all medical professionals for an extended period of time. Right now I would be happy with a three month break. But I don't see that happening any time soon. Sometime in my life (like 2 years ago), I could go months without going to the doctor. Now I am there so much I notice when they get new valet parkers at the hospital and when the lady at the pay station for the parking garage gets a new hair style. Enough whining and being crabby for now - but I am sure it will recur.

On today's news there was a story about the President and Vice President stopped for burgers yesterday at a place in Virginia. They stood in line like the rest of the world and paid for their burgers themselves. I think this is great except two things - they need more vegetables. It appears they got burgers with lettuce and tomato but no side salads. They should be setting an example to the American public on eating their 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Also, can you imagine the conversation at the White House with the secret service:
Mr. Obama: "Hey, we want to go for some burgers for lunch. Road trip everybody."

Mr. Secret Service: "I'm sorry, Mr. President but we haven't checked out that place."

Mr. Obama: "What? This is a spontaneous trip, no one will know where we are until we get there."

Mr. SS: "We need to check these places out before you go in. Please wait in the car."

Mr. O: "Make it quick, we need our burgers."

Just a quick glimpse at the human side of the new administration - but they should eat more veggies!

Now it is possible some of my crabbiness is a result of being over scheduled. Today I have work to do at home and then am volunteering all afternoon at a conference before I go to an evening volunteer meeting for another organization. Then tomorrow morning I am volunteering all morning from something like 7 am until 1pm and then will go to work from 1-7 and then pick up Walter at the airport around 9. Perhaps I will be tired on Friday. But I can't be because I have a job interview that I have to prepare for. I definitely see more crabbiness looming here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When everything gets rearranged

So yesterday I had a wonderful time and had a pelvic ultrasound - it was nearly more fun than I deserved. The only advantages to ultrasounds is they are quick and painless. The cold gel is cold but that's about it.

The technician was nice and I assume well trained wherever ultrasound technicians are trained. And I am sure she learned where one's internal organs are supposed to be and what they should look like. But then there are people like me who have had unnecessary ones removed when they started complicating my life (fibroids led to a hysterectomy, gall stones led to a gall bladder-echtomy - yes there is a big word for it but I can't remember the name of it). Obviously my insides must have resettled to fill in the gaps after my spare parts were taken out. I was actually told after my hysterectomy that everything kind of rearranges itself internally after surgery.

This all makes sense but I am sure it complicates the techs lives when they ultrasound people like me. If things are all moved around and not where they should be they must have to play some fun games. 'well, we think her large intestine is this thing here, it should be over there, but that's where her stomach is now'. At any rate, I'll get the results in a few days.

Yesterday I also went to work, took the car to the garage, and met a friend for dinner which was originally scheduled for January - just call us slow. Today I have to walk back to the garage (2 miles) and pick up my car before going to my therapists and then to work. My life is boring.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back from VT

But first a longer look at my thoughts on Swine (oops H1N1) flu.

As some rocket scientist said on the news this morning 'it doesn't seem like many people are dying of it'. Well, then its not a big deal so we can all stop panicing...

We are back from VT. I decided to be proactive in dealing with back pain which meant I put a pillow behind my back in the car, had an ice pack on my hip for the duration, and went for a walk when we got home to loosen up. Something helped because I wasn't in total pain last night, just moderate pain. I actually slept for about 7 hours again so there is some continual improvement here. But actually I think the cortisone shot helped for about three days and that's it.

I just delivered Walter to the subway to go to the airport as he is off on a business trip for most of the week which means I am left to my own devices. This means I will eat the foods he hates. I bought two eggplants and think I will make eggplant lasagna. I also got some beets and will make a beet salad. Perhaps a quinoa salad as well. But today's lunch is definitely a homemade hummus sandwich on whole wheat with a little onion and a tomato and balsamic vinagrette salad on the side. Yummy!

The cat survived our weekend away. We had a cat sitter come in twice and feed him and most importantly shove antibiotics down his throat. Basically, we have come up with a solution, hold a kitty treat, he opens his mouth and you drop in the kitty treat. Then you repeat this but drop in an antibiotic (and he usually doesn't even notice) and then follow with another treat. But he did miss us and is definitely back to normal. Cat toys all over the living room.

Today, I have a busy day. I have to leave in a few minutes and take the car to the garage for an oil change and brakes. Then I will walk home, take a shower, get dressed and go to my ultrasound. Then I will stop by and get my chest xray as well. After that swing back home, make my lunch and get to work by 1. Then tonight I am going out to dinner with a friend who I haven't seen since last fall. At some point I will need to pick up my car as well but that may not be until tomorrow AM. Eek!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Field trip report

I am lying on the bed in the very nice B&B we are staying at free of charge as part of our Weekend of Hope trip. We are being spoiled with a very large room with a king size bed, flat screen tv, windows on two sides with a view of the mountains. Breakfast will be good. I already know what I will have: cheese omelet with bacon on the side. Local bacon, good Vermont cheddar. This is all at no charge.

The Stowe Weekend of Hope is a wonderful organization. They put together this weekend every year and local hotels donate rooms so people can stay at no charge so it becomes affordable for all of us people who seem to spend all our money on co-pays at doctor appointments. Then they also get local businesses to donate 10% of their sales over the weekend as well.

Attendees go free the first year and then at some incredibly reduced rate in future years. I think we will be back. The sessions were very good. We heard from the director of Gilda's Club, a nutritionist, and a doctor who is also a thirteen year survivor yesterday morning. In the afternoon, I went to some thyroid cancer presentations as well.

I was very surprised at how many people here I know. I ran into two women I met last year at Casting for Recovery and a woman in my weekly support group. It was also great to make new friends.

One thing I am learning is that the best way to deal with cancer is to go meet other people with cancer. Go to events where everyone talks about cancer. We are not alone. If you live anywhere near Vermont, I recommend attending Stowe Weekend of Hope to connect with others.

This morning, we are going to skip the closing ceremony which is at 11 and head home. Walter has a business trip tomorrow morning so we have to go home and unpack, do laundry, and repack. Perhaps he will fit in mowing the lawn (and decapitating all the little maple trees that are growing in it). I am not looking forward to the long car ride because I think this is what gives me lots of pain. I am refilling my ice bag before we leave.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

From up in VT

We are up here at the Stowe Weekend of Hope and so far its pretty good. We got here later than we wanted yesterday and there was a registration snafu - we went where they told us but then had to go some place else - a little crabbiness ensued but it worked out in the end. The opening speakers were very good and gave a good idea of what we will see today.

Unfortunately it appears my back does not like car rides. It was very sore last night so I iced it and took pain meds. Then in the middle of the night, I had an incredible pain in my left calf - not like a charley horse - much much worse than that. It went away and I got back to sleep so I probably slept a total of seven hours last night - which is nearly a record for me these days.

But now we are running late. Off to breakfast and then the opening ceremony at 9.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fear and Cancer

Some one said to me recently that they fear cancer. I say don't fear cancer. Don't waste your energy on fearing cancer. I don't fear cancer. If I get cancer again, I can deal with it. I mean at this point what is a doctor going to say to me? You have cancer. Well, I've already had it twice. That doesn't really scare me. They have to tell me something new to scare me. Now they can stress me out by saying I have cancer but that's another story.

Anyway, what is cancer anyway? Its a million different things and it all boils down to a few key points.

- There is no cure currently for cancer. They can treat you and do their best to get it out of your body but its a crap shoot. Did they get it all? They don't know until it comes back. Or if you get it again, you could win the crap shoot of life a second time by getting an entirely new cancer.

- The treatments they have for cancer are no fun. Surgery where they cut out body parts, radiation where they fry you to a crisp, chemotherapy where they make you sick, hormone therapies where your body goes into a weird menopausal state. But even before that the tests and procedures for diagnosis are not a walk in the park. 'Let me stick a needle in there and pull out some cells, you will only feel a pinch.' is a classic example.

- Then you spend a long time in limbo - 'is that a headache or is a brain tumor, oh no its spread. I'm going to die!' Another friend recently was having 'digestive' issues and she read up on colon cancer. She was happy to note that a symptom of colon cancer is weight loss and since her weight has been proceeding in the opposite direction, she felt safe in the fact that she does not have colon cancer. You live with these little mind games in your head. Which is fogged by chemo brain and stress and doesn't always work rationally.

Finally I have found one benefit to having cancer. You get to go places for 'free'. Well its free if you have had cancer so actually the price is relatively high. But this weekend we are going to Vermont to the Stowe Weekend of Hope, www.stowehope.org. Its supposed to be another great resource for us cancer people. You get to go the first time for free and for a small fee for future visits. Anyway, we get a weekend in Vermont and are leaving as soon as my husband gets back from 'just a couple of hours at the office'. That actually gives me time to finish packing, find the anniversary card I got him, and maybe even run out and get him an anniversary gift.

Its also time for a kitty update. He is a million times better. He is back to his normal obnoxious self - demanding food, treats, water, laps, at all hours of the day and night. He still is on antibiotics so we now have a twice daily wrestling match to get the pill inside him. If I am lucky I can give him a kitty treat and then he thinks he is getting another treat but I stick a pill in his mouth which he inhales and then realizes it wasn't a treat.